““I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and forceful people lay hold of it.” Matthew 11:11-12 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/mat.11.11-12.NET
We tend to equate praying for forgiveness to Jesus with being saved for all eternity. While praying in repentance before God for our disobedience to God and acknowledging to God through prayer His death on the cross as punishment for our sins and His resurrection from the dead to appropriate to us His righteousness so that we can live with God forever in heaven and the new earth is the first step in salvation, it is only the beginning of our salvation. Perhaps this is why Jesus says the greatest man on earth is less than the least person in heaven. While all would say John the Baptist is going to heaven, Jesus does not equate his place in heaven among those already in residence there. Instead, Jesus encourages the intentional, disciplined, focused, strenuous pursuit of God and His kingdom while we live as evidence of where we shall always live. John the Baptist did finish well. He was beheaded for his faithfulness to proclaiming God’s Word. Yet our days are not yet complete. Are we faithful? Are we diligent in our pursuit of God? Are we making every effort to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, or do we rely upon a prayer made years ago that we hope obligates God to receive us into His kingdom though we have made no effort to seize that kingdom ourselves or help others to do the same?