Catholicism’s Conundrum By Terry James Let me start by saying I have family and friends…
Assurance of Eternal Life
By Mike Gendron
Are you aware of one of the greatest truths revealed in the Bible? Did you know it is possible for you to know right here and now, with absolute certainty, that the moment you die, you can enjoy the presence of God forever. God wants you to know that salvation can be secured by His faithfulness and power to all who trust the Savior Jesus Christ. The apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit revealed this wonderful truth as the purpose for one of his letters, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) Anyone who repents from trusting in things that cannot save them (Hebrews 6:1) and puts all their trust in Jesus will never face the condemnation of God ‘s wrath. Jesus said, I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
All believers have a special relationship with God. To all who have received Christ, “to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12,13). The relationship God the Father has with His children is an eternal relationship (John 8:35). It is permanent. Nothing will ever separate His children from His love (Romans 8:35-39). Our heavenly Father will discipline His children (Hebrews 12:10-11), but He will never condemn them. In a way it is similar to the unchanging relationship we have with our earthly parents. Nothing we could ever do will change who our parents are.
Most people go through life hoping they will go to heaven when they die. They hope, after living a good enough life, they will receive favor from God and a place in His Kingdom. Roman Catholics are taught they receive salvation through water baptism, but they can lose it in an instant by committing a mortal sin. Only by confessing the sin to a priest and doing penance can they be justified again. This cycle is often repeated hundreds of times in a Catholic’s life.
Those who depend on their personal righteousness, performing good works, or adhering to a religious system, can never be assured of salvation. They will never know if they have ever done enough. It seems absurd to put your faith in what you can do instead of what God has done. Those who believe God’s word know that “salvation by grace” means to trust solely in the source of grace — Jesus Christ. When salvation depends on God there is no chance for failure. A wonderful acronym for G-R-A-C-E is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Whenever man is involved in attaining and preserving salvation there can be no assurance.
We have assurance through the Father. Some believe it is possible to walk away from God or renounce your faith and lose your salvation? Jesus said no one has the power to do so. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). The Father has the power to assure the life Jesus gives is everlasting, not temporal or perishable.
We have assurance through Jesus Christ. Christians are often accused of being self-righteous and boastful because they know for sure they are going to heaven. The accusers fail to understand it is not what man does for God that qualifies him for heaven, but what God has done for man. God made His holy and perfect Son become sin for us, so we could become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all…by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:10,14).
The Catholic Church teaches that mortal sin results in the loss of eternal life. John refuted this teaching in his first epistle when he encouraged believers not to sin. “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). This comforting truth is also revealed in Hebrews 7:25, “He (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.
We also have assurance through the Holy Spirit. Many skeptics refuse to believe that a repentant sinner can simply believe the Gospel and be assured of eternal life? Yet the Apostle Paul could not make it any more clear, “You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation. having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). The moment anyone understands and believes the Gospel, they are sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who guarantees they will be co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
We have assurance through God’s promises. The gift of salvation is secured forever by the faithfulness of God. He promises never to take back the gifts He has given. “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). His “promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed” to those who have the faith (Romans 4:16). “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works, if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6). Paul is making it crystal clear that salvation can only be assured when a repentant sinner receives it as a gift of God’s grace. Anyone who believes that salvation can be earned nullifies God’s grace. Whenever man is involved in attaining and preserving his salvation, there can be no assurance.
This may be your first exposure to the great biblical truth of eternal security. If you want to be certain of your salvation, then put aside any teaching, experience or feeling that opposes the Word of God. You will never have the subjective feeling of assurance until you comprehend and believe the objective truth of the Gospel. Once you do, you will be more certain of living eternally in heaven than one more day on earth.