By Tom E. Winkleman

I was raised on a small northern Minnesota farm, without any of the modern comforts -
There was lots of room to play - I was the greatest Indian or Cowboy - running wild thru the woods; with hardly a care - except -
EXCEPT: Once in a while, I went to the Country Church just down the road. The teacher said, 'Ask Jesus into your hearts and you can go to heaven.
Almost every night, I'd ask Jesus to come into my heart, but I'd never feel or know if He came in; I was sure I should... so the next night I'd do it again! Night after night!
Later on, I wanted to own a large ranch; maybe the biggest in Minnesota! There would be a lot of cattle wearing the 'Flying W' Brand.
Now, I heard a different message at the same church:
REPENT! Turn from Sin, NOW! or burn in Hell, SINNER!!!!!!
Sometimes, watching the sunset, I'd think of God and Heaven - how just before I died, I'd do that important thing 'Turn from sin' - wouldn't have any time left to sin then anyway!
Soon I had to leave the farm; I was drafted and about 6 months later I got orders for Vietnam - after a leave at home I would drive to Minneapolis, then fly to Oakland where I was to report in.
BUT: on the way to Minneapolis an oncoming car swerved into my lane and crashed into me head on.
At the Minneapolis V.A. Hospital about 1 month later I was in awful pain - constant pain. I wished I had died... But I would be in hell... too scary to go there!
Then I heard a TV preacher with another and different way to go to heaven... GIVE YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST! NOW... MAKE THAT DECISION!
This I understood to mean: If I gave my life to Christ and gave up my future plans, did special work for God and lived perfectly, in exchange, I would be able to go to heaven. Giving my most important thing; my life, to attain heaven when I died - the exchange seemed worth it - BUT - that is NOT GOD'S WAY to heaven! The preacher didn't know God's Salvation!
13 months after the accident I was discharged from the Army and the Hospital on the same day. All my Signal Corp. buddies returned from Vietnam without any injuries! And, slowly, the fact I had bargained my life for heaven faded.... except I was sure I was going there.
The next years I spent building up the farm - resenting the car wreck: I had to sell my horse, legs cramped up making riding impossible.
Then, after a special meeting: the preacher came around and asked everyone... He said, 'Do you know for sure you are going to heaven?'. I thought, 'Sure, sure I'm going there!' BUT... If he had asked, 'How?', he'd have found.... my way wasn't God's way!
Later on; I went to a new church. The preacher said, "Turn in your Bibles to Acts 16:31 - See - the Bible says, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!' "
I thought, 'Wow! They do know the bible here!'
One day while driving along, I suddenly understood:
'HEY! Christ died to pay for sins; my sins - ALL SINS! I'll go to heaven because He paid for my sins - It's believing! Not giving my life, or doing something. WOW!
"HEY!" I shouted, "That's the GREATEST news I ever heard!"
That Christ's death was absolutely enough - and by accepting IT AS A GIFT, I can know right now, I do have eternal life."
THEN... Amazement gave way to anger! I thought, 'If salvation is really by believing and the Bible says it is (Jn 3:18) then; why did those other people tell me that untrue junk? I was going to HELL and thought it was HEAVEN!'
WOW! I don't have to do anything; like change my life, stop doing something or give my life to Christ - Except Believe Jesus died as complete payment for my sins and accept it as a gift without trying to earn or deserve heaven.
Eph 2:8-9
Man's way to heaven isn't God's is offered to all, as a free unconditional GIFT only! Understanding this changed my destiny from Hell to Heaven!
You, too, can change your Eternal Destiny:
1. Heaven is perfect (as God is) Rev. 21:27. To go there you must be.
2. ALL have sinned. Rom. 3:23
3. God's Son, Jesus Christ, died as complete payment for your sin. 1 Pet 3:18; Heb 10:12; 2 Cor 5:21
4. Salvation is a free gift. Eph 2:8-9.
"For by grace are you saved, through faith (believing it) and that [salvation] not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not of works, lest any man should boast.
5. You can know you have eternal life. Now -
1 Jn 5:13: "These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God.. that you may know you have eternal life. [Jesus means Saviour).
NOTE: 'Asking Jesus in your heart' cannot save, it doesn't acknowledge Him as Savior - that He died for your sins and that by trusting in what He did on the cross you will have eternal life like the bible says,
Heb 1:3. REPENT: (Luke 13:3) means 'change of mind' or believe in the Greek original Bible.
ROM 12:1-2: tells believers to serve God since they are saved - not as a way to get to heaven!
Well, I can't change what they told me.... but I can tell you what the BIBLE REALLY SAYS. Check it out in your own Bible. It does have the answers, God will help you.
Please read these verses: Jn 3:15-18 & 36; 6:47; Ro 3:20-24; 4:5; 5:8; 6:23