Tuesday, March 18, 2014

God's Promises: We Can Be Sure of Heaven! Part 5

Can you be sure of heaven? Yes.

Assurance of salvation comes both from persevering in obedience and holiness, and from trusting in God’s promises to protect and keep us. I've spent several posts looking at the first part of that statement, but now I want to highlight the second part by focusing on a few of God's wonderful promises to protect and keep us.

Let’s start with Ephesians 1:13-14. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

In the ancient world, the process of posting  letters and packages could include a wax seal, which identified the owner/sender and guaranteed safe arrival at the destination.The Holy Spirit seals us, which identifies our owner (we belong to Christ!) and guarantees our arrival in heaven. The Holy Spirit is also God's guarantee, the "down payment" of our inheritance. 

Or here’s 1 Peter 1:3-5: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Notice the Lord takes responsibility for our salvation. He “caused us to be born again.” (No one engineers their own birth, after all). And having caused us to be born again, He is now protecting us by His power. Our inheritance is so certain that it is called “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” God keeps it in heaven for us, and guards us for that day when we will come home to Him to enjoy it.

Then there’s 1 Corinthians 1: 8, 9: [God] who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. “Sustain” is a legal term that refers to the guarantee that settles a transaction. It is His faithfulness (not ours) that called us to Himself in the first place and guarantees our imputed righteousness ("guiltless") unto the day of Christ Jesus.

Perhaps the most complete and comforting statement of our assurance is Romans 8:28-39. If I had to pick one passage to showcase God's power and faithfulness to keep us to the end, this would be it. But I've already devoted five posts to this glorious passage, so I won’t repeat. But I encourage you to read each of the five here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Let me mention just one more text, the words of Christ in John 10: 27-29:  "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

When our Lord says, “they will never perish,” it is recorded in the strongest possible way in the Greek language, a double negative. In English that’s not good grammar, but in Greek, it strengthens the promise. “My sheep won’t never ever perish!”

It reminds me of that wonderful old hymn “How Firm a Foundation.” The last stanza is:
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

In the end His commitment to us trumps everything - our sin, failings, and potential for unfaithfulness - and brings the deepest peace and greatest assurance that He will get us safely home. He will never (no never, no never!) forsake a true child of God. 

For the next and last post on this subject, I’d like to ask, But why do some sincere Christians struggle so much over this question?