Summary: Knowing for sure that you are eternally secure is not a matter of inspecting your behavior; it is a matter of taking the Lord Jesus Christ at His Word: "He who lives and believes in Me shall never die [spiritually]."
You Can Be Sure
You’re Eternally Secure (John 11:25-27)
Read John 11:25-27.
For years I believed in heaven and hell and I was scared to death I was going to die and spend eternity in hell.
Like most Americans, though I believed that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead, this gave me no confidence that I’d miss hell. I thought I had to do my part to make it to heaven, and I was afraid I’d wouldn’t be good enough to make it.
After nearly 15 years of this frustration, at the age of 20, God showed me that we can be sure we are eternally secure if we believe what God says in His Word on the subject.
I’ve found many people struggle with this concern. There has been and remains a crisis in assurance in American Christianity. Very few people “Christians” know for sure that they are going to heaven when they die, that they are eternally secure.
The reason is that they have the same problem I had. They are looking in the wrong places for assurance. They look in their commitment, which is imperfect. In their works, which are imperfect. In their fervor for God, which sometimes wanes. In their hatred of sin, which sometimes is not as strong as we’d like. In their love for other believers, which oftentimes is not what it should be.
There really is only one place to look for assurance.
I. Jesus Promises the Believer Certainty
about His Eternal Destiny
Look at John 11:27. Martha knew she believed that all who simply believe in Jesus will never die spiritually. She didn’t hem and haw. She expressed no doubts. She was certain she had eternal life and would be raised on the last day just as she was sure that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
Point: assurance is not like having 100 lottery tickets out of 10 million. It’s not even like having one million tickets out of ten million. It is like already having the lottery money in the bank and having a receipt proving it.
II. When You Believe What Jesus Said,
Read John 11:25-27.
When a person believes in Jesus, he is certain he has eternal life. And as long as keeps on believing, he stays sure.
As “the resurrection” Jesus guarantees that all who simply believe in Him will be part of the resurrection of the righteous. That is, He guarantees they will be in His eternal kingdom with glorified bodies.
As “the life” Jesus guarantees that all who simply believe in Him will never die. Clearly He is referring to spiritual death here.
In other words, the promise Jesus makes is that the one who believes in Him is eternally secure, no matter what happens in his or her future.
DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? Jesus’ question asked Martha whether she was sure she was eternally secure?
Note: it is impossible to believe what Jesus said and not be sure that you yourself are eternally secure.
Notice Martha’s response. Martha was certain she believed in Jesus and she was certain she was eternally secure.
Martha does not hesitate to affirm her belief in Jesus and His promise of eternal security to her and all who simply believe in Him.
But note as well: A person may believe many things about Jesus and not be sure of his eternal destiny. He can believe that Jesus existed, that He is God, that He died and rose again, and that He is coming again, and yet be unsure whether he will be in Jesus’ kingdom or not.
Such a person will say he believes in Jesus, but he will also admit he is not sure of his eternal destiny.
The reason is simple. Most people believe in some form of works salvation. Most people believe that only those who persevere to the end of life in faith and good works will actually make it into the kingdom. Some believe in what I call “Lose it theology.” That is, you lose eternal life if you fail to persevere. Others believe in what I call “Prove it theology.” That is, you prove you never were born again in the first place if you fail to persevere. Either way, persevering in faith and good works is, in this way of looking at it, a condition of eternal life.
And, since none of us can be sure we will persevere in faith and good works, if assurance is based on perseverance, then we can’t be sure. As one 5-point Calvinist told me, “While I see what I think are the works of God in my life, I must admit I might fall away and fail to persevere. And if do, then I will go to hell.” That’s why I call by lose it and prove it theology “Daisy theology: He loves me; He loves me not; He loves me; He loves me not…And you hope you end your life on “He loves me.”