How Can I Be Sure I Will Go to Paradise?
Death exposes the human heart. Note what was said during Isa's crucifixion. The events of that historic time proclaim truth for us all.
With him they also led away two criminals for execution. When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him there. They also crucified the two criminals, one on his right and one on his left.
But Isa said, “Father, forgive them! They don't know what they're doing.” And they divided up his clothing by throwing dice.
The people stood by and watched. And the leaders mocked, saying, “He saved others. Now he should save himself—if he's really Allah's Messiah, the Chosen One!” The soldiers also ridiculed him and offered him vinegar to drink. They said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” And a sign was fastened above him which read: “The king of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging beside him jeered, “So you're the Messiah, eh? Save yourself, and us too!”
But the other criminal responded in rebuke, “Have you no fear of Allah, even when sentenced to the same? We deserve what we got—justice for our crimes. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Isa, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And Isa replied, “I promise you, today you'll be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:32-43)
Though murdered by evil men, Isa died according to the eternal plan of God omnipotent. Cruel people, both Hebrews and pagans, mocked him with delight. Rather than cursing them, Isa prayed they be forgiven. He came for that very reason, a sacrifice for us all.
At the climax of a lifetime's interaction with sinners, we see Isa between two criminals. One joins the mockers and dies with his sins. The other admits his guilt, acknowledges Isa's majesty and seeks his mercy. An aloof sovereign might well ignore such a request from so despicable a subject. But we are all guilty, and King Isa shows mercy to all. Only one thing remains. Like the repentant criminal, we must put our last and only hope in the king. Note what Isa declared:
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. … All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:35, 37-40, NIV)
As one who gives away all his food, so Isa sacrificed his body. No mere human effort compares. Nothing we sinners might do can erase our past, meet Allah's holy demands, and usher us into heaven. But if we turn to Isa, he will never send us away. We can be sure of Paradise simply because only he can offer such a gift, and only he can keep such a promise.
Formerly, you were dead because of your immoral behavior and sins. Engrossed in them, you went about following the ways of this world, the ways of the ruler whose regime occupies our very air, the spirit who even now energizes people who disobey Allah. At one time we all carried on with them, driven by our physical cravings, fulfilling the desires of body and mind. By nature we were just like all the others, destined for punishment. But Allah, who is so abundantly merciful, and because of his great love for us even when we were dead from all our immoralities, he brought us to life with the Messiah. It is his unmerited kindness that has saved us. Allah also raised us up and gave us a place in heaven with Isa al-Masih. He did it all so that in the ages to come he might show us the immense wealth of his gracious, unmerited kindness through Isa al-Masih. So it's by his unmerited kindness you have been saved through faith. It's not of your own doing, but the gift of Allah. It's not by human effort, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:1-9)