Preface: “When Christ came to the earth, humanity seemed to be fast reaching its lowest point. The very foundations of society were undermined. Life had become false and artificial. . . . Disgusted with fable and falsehood, seeking to drown thought, men turned to infidelity and materialism. Leaving eternity out of their reckoning, they lived for the present”—Ellen G. White, Education, p. 74.

Heaven. It is a place that Adventists and most non-Adventists would like to be someday. Yet, for many people, the process of actually reaching the heavenly kingdom is still a mystery.

The problem lies largely in the fact that the Christian church—more specifically, the Adventist Church—has often forgotten the entire basis of our Christian life: knowing Jesus Christ. “Have a personal relationship with Christ” is a statement so often heard that it has become meaningless to many people. But a living and exciting experience with Christ depends upon our relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, many have fallen into the thinking that what we do, our deeds and works, is enough to get us into the gates of heaven. Have we forgotten that salvation is a gift—ours to take? Our eternal life rests totally upon one thing: our acceptance of, and personal relationship with, Jesus Christ. Our “good deeds” come as a result of that. What a difficult concept to understand for those who have been so used to thinking in terms of behavior alone!

God has adopted us! We are His sons and daughters. We are no longer slaves because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Now, as heirs, we must remind ourselves of some important points:

We need to commit ourselves to Christ each day of our life. If we’ve been trying to battle the devil through our own powers, we’ve missed the whole point of the Christian experience with Christ. We must allow Christ to work in us, to work with us, and to work for us.

We can cultivate a relationship with Christ in the same way that we would with any other friend. Just as we must spend time cultivating a friendship, or any relationship, we must spend time every day with our Savior.

We perform benevolent deeds as a result of our relationship with the Lord. Righteous deeds are not a way into heaven. They are a result of our experience and relationship with God. Heaven is a gift from God that we must accept simply by having a loving, honest, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul said inEphesians 6:10, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”

If we are God’s sons and daughters, let us act that way. Eternal life comes, not as a product of our deeds, but of our dependence on the might and power of God and our daily walk with Him.