How to be Eternally Secure
If you were to die today, do you know for certain that you would go to heaven? If your answer to this question is not a resounding yes from the depths of your heart, you will need to pay close attention to this and the following few articles.
There are three sources for an assurance of salvation. First is objective faith in the scriptures; second is a subjective observation of one's sanctification (spiritual growth); third is to be sealed by the Holy Spirit. We will discuss the first source of assurance in this present article.
Assurance and the Scriptures
I was sitting in the doctor's office's waiting room reading while my wife, carrying our first child, was examined. The letter to the Romans began to illuminate my mind by how much Paul was using the past tense. For example, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" (Romans 4:3 from Genesis 15:6). "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered" (Romans 4:7 from Psalm 32:1).
Faith began to take on a whole new meaning in my mind. Paul quoted scripture regarding Abraham's faith and David, who spoke about the blessing on men whom God credited (past tense) righteousness apart from works. When did God do this was the question resounding in my head. As in Abraham's case, the only answer I could consider was at the time he believed. We can say, Abraham believed God's promise; God had him look at the stars and said to him, "So shall your descendants be," and at that moment, God considered Abraham righteous. There is no other way to view justification properly.
In time, Christ died for the sins of those for whom He would suffer sacrificially. God stands outside of time; it does not control Him. Whenever a person believes, whether before Christ's sacrifice or after, he is made righteous by Christ through faith. Therefore, Paul says, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:28). Thus, the Roman Catholics, among many others, got it all wrong. Salvation takes place in time when a person believes. Salvation is not faith plus works but faith apart from works.
From where then does assurance come? That day, that wonderful day, when I placed my faith in the word of God, which told me that Abraham was justified before God for putting his faith in what God said, I was given assurance of my salvation. Abraham believed what God said; I believed what God said about Abraham. Similarly, it is given to all who believe in what God has said, by what He has written. To receive assurance and be eternally secure in our own soul, we must believe the Bible to be true. Therefore, the first source of security is objective faith in the written word of God.
Faith from a Whole Heart
God, speaking to the entire nation of Israel by the prophet Jeremiah said, "For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 'Then, you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 'And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13). He spoke to the nation, but only individuals respond to Him with all their hearts.
Faith is a simple act of believing what God said; nevertheless, it is not shallow. To find God, a person must search with all their heart. This kind of searching is another way of saying a person must be all in, all the way. There are no half-hearted people in the kingdom of God. The person who believes in this way is a new creation. "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The person who receives assurance proceeding from objective faith is not relying on their faith because their focus is on God's promises. Subject assurance will be the focus of next week's article. I received complete assurance of salvation that day and did not concern myself with my sanctification until many years later.
The person who receives assurance through faith in God's word is the person whom God imparts saving faith. Saving faith is not half-hearted but enabled by God to place full confidence in His promises. "By faith, he (Abraham) lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:9, 10).
I hope that your focus is on God's promises and that your heart resounds with an assurance that they belong to you.