Thursday, March 6, 2014

Can You Be Sure of Heaven? Part 2 - Is There a Pulse?

Salvation isn't joining a club or signing up for a free newsletter. It’s not hedging your bets for eternity by praying a prayer or walking forward in a church service.

When the Bible speaks of salvation, it does so in paradigm-shifting and life-altering terms. Jesus described it as having “passed from death to life” (John 5:24). Salvation is nothing less than a rescue wherein God delivers us “from the dominion of darkness” and brings us into another kingdom – “the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).  Those who are truly saved are new creations in Christ, and “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

But if salvation is new life in Christ, a new life in which the believer enjoys peace with God, forgiveness of sins, and assurance of heaven, how sure can we be that we have that life?

In my last post I suggested a diagram which describes people in four different “boxes,” based on two barriers – a salvation barrier (saved or not saved), and an “assurance” barrier – sure of heaven, or not sure. 

So my question for this post is, can we live in Box 4? Can we be sure of heaven?

The answer is yes. But assurance of salvation comes from 1) persevering in obedience and holiness, and 2) trusting in God’s promises to protect and keep us. Scriptural assurance is based on both human responsibility and divine sovereignty. In this post I want to focus on the human responsibility side of things.

Let me be clear: persevering in obedience and holiness does NOT mean that you earn salvation by any action or work on your part. The Bible is emphatic: For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:10). The truth is that all the works of salvation have all been performed by Christ. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9, emphasis added).

But being assured that you’re saved and put right with God does involve seeing “fruit” – evidence of this new life. Anyone can claim to be a Christian. But without a track record of obeying Christ's commands and progressing in a life of holiness, Scriptural assurance is not possible. The Apostle John put it this way: And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments (1 John 2:3, emphasis added). The truest measure of new life in Christ is not a "birth certificate" (a recorded decision) but a "pulse" - the steady, ongoing beat of following Christ.

Next time I want to talk more about this "pulse" of our new life in Christ.