Summary: This message addresses the question of how we can know for sure our eternal fate.
A recent survey revealed some interesting information in regard to America’s view of eternity. According to the polls conducted by the Pew Research Group and ABC News: Eighty-seven percent of Americans believe that there is a Heaven. Seventy-four percent believe that there is a Hell. Sixty-eight percent believe that they are going to Heaven. Eight out of ten people believe that after they exit this life, they will face eternity. The alarming fact is that thirty-two percent of Americans have doubts about where they will spend eternity. I would like to ask you the famous question, “If you were to die today do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven?” More than likely there will be those of you who will confidently say yes, there will be some of you who will confidently say no and there will be a good majority that answers, “I hope so.” For those of you who answered yes, this message will simply reinforce that belief. If you answered no, this message will hopefully open the door where you can learn what you need to do to confidently answer yes. For all of you that said, “I hope so,” this message will help you to be able to confidently answer this question one way or another. Today the question before us is, “Can I be sure that I’m going to Heaven?” For the answer to that question we are going to turn to Paul’s letter to the Romans and see three ways that we are united to Christ and how that should allow us to be certain of our eternal fate.
I. We are united with Christ through His death.
A. Paul skillfully shows us that one cannot die to sin and live in it at the same time.
1. The Greek word used here for “united with” is more accurately translated “planted together”.
2. The word is commonly used for the joining of two things that proceed to grow together as a unity, as in the fusing together of a broken bone or in the grafting of a branch into a tree.
3. We were “crucified with Him”. Believers, by definition, are those who by their union with Christ died with Him on the cross.
4. The “old self”, literally “old man” (palaios anthropos) is the believer before they trust Christ, the person who was ruled by sin and an enemy of God.
5. In the waters of baptism we are united with Christ and that “old man” is put to death and the power that sin once held over us is broken.
6. Our crucifixion with Christ did not take place on Golgotha’s cross, as if we were somehow literally yet mystically present there. We were not transported back in history; rather, the living Christ has become present in our history, specifically in the event of our baptism.
7. The power of the cross was there applied to our fallen soul, putting it to death as to its sin-ridden existence.
B. One cannot help but be amazed when you stop to consider what Jesus did for us on the cross.
1. When the Lord Jesus died, He died to the whole subject of sin once for all. He died to sin’s claims, its wages, its demands, and its penalty. He finished the work and settled the account so perfectly that it never needs to be repeated.
2. If you are really honest you will admit that you have a hard time wrapping your brain around the whole concept.
3. Faith can ask why, but it is not discouraged by the inability to understand fully.
4. It is more essential to believe in Christ and what He has done than to be able to completely explain how He did it.
5. Not understanding all the details is no excuse for withholding belief.
II. We share with Christ in His resurrection.
A. Paul shows that in relation to Christ we cannot separate death and resurrection.
1. If we have become united with Christ’s death in the baptismal event that is the likeness of His death, then we also have become united with Christ’s resurrection in that same event, which is also the likeness of His resurrection.
2. Death fulfills the demands of sin. But death opens the way for resurrection. Resurrection lies beyond the control of death. It is the victor over death.
3. With the old self rendered powerless, it is no longer necessary for a person to continue in bondage to sin. In Christ we are set free. Since sin exhausted itself in bringing about death, from that point forward it is powerless to overcome new life.
4. How can the Christian find the strength to overcome the world and the pressure of sin? This strength comes from the knowledge that the future is absolutely secure in Christ and the realization that He has conquered death and sin once for all on our behalf