Summary: Depend on Jesus' forgiveness, not your goodness, to be sure of Heaven--as shown by the story of the sinful woman who showed her faith in Christ's forgiveness by wiping his feet with her hair, and kissing his feet vs. the Pharisee who did so much less.

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How to Know . . .

How to Know You’re Going to Heaven

Luke 7:36-50

This morning we’re doing the first of our “How to Know” Series and the subject is

How to Know You’re Going to Heaven.

The most recent research I could find on the issue of how Americans feel about Heaven is from the Pew Research Center. According to their December, 2015 survey, 72% of Americans still believe in heaven, and 58% still believe there’s a hell.

Americans define heaven as “a place where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.” And hell is “a place where people who have led bad lives are eternally punished.”

So the consensus among Americans is what it has probably always been: Good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.

However, this morning, we have just read a story about Jesus that would call these assumptions into question. We have two people who had the unique privilege of sharing Jesus’ attention during his earthly ministry at the same time. Exhibit A is a well-respected, highly religious and at least outwardly moral person. Exhibit B is a rather notorious, immoral and sinful woman. At the conclusion of their time together, Jesus gives assurance to only one of these people that they’re going to heaven, and it isn’t the one the general consensus of Americans would assume. It is rather the notoriously immoral and sinful woman who receives Jesus’ assurance of heaven rather than the well-respected, highly religious and moral man.

So that leaves us with some questions. What is it that results in the assurance of heaven? What qualities did this sinful woman display on that day that the religious man didn’t that resulted in her receiving this promise of heaven from the Lord Jesus Christ?

What this story reveals is this: Depend on Jesus' forgiveness, not your goodness, to be sure of Heaven. Depend on Jesus forgiveness, not your goodness, to be sure of Heaven!

As we’ve seen the story begins in verse 36 of Luke 7. There were told that a man of the Pharisees, whom we’ll find is named Simon, has been invited Jesus over for a meal, and Jesus agrees to come.

Now to fully understand what’s going on in this story, it’s helpful to understand exactly what a Pharisee was. The Pharisees were a sect consisting of about 6,000 men in Israel who were concerned about exacting righteousness according to the Law of Moses, and something else called the tradition of the elders—an exacting righteousness that permitted no contact or association with pagan, Gentile or sinful people. The movement had begun several centuries earlier among Jews who were concerned about the concerted efforts of the Greek people who at the time were in control of their land to secularize, paganize or Hellenize their culture. They recognized that God had warned against those things in the Old Testament because it would pollute and corrupt the pure worship of the one true living God that was prescribed by the Word of God.

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