We often joke that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. But is this really the case? Is everything else up for grabs? Is there nothing more that we can know with certainty?
There is something more, and it is the most important thing that we can ever know. Jesus promised that His true followers have assurance of their salvation. Their future is secure; their destiny is certain. What an amazing guarantee! But hold on for a minute — that’s a big IF! This assurance of salvation is only for those who are genuine Christians. Can you say, without any hesitation, “I am a true follower of Christ”? Are you absolutely certain you are God’s child?
A lot of people today think they are Christians, but many of them are deceived. Don’t be fooled! Not all who claim to be part of God’s family are genuine members. But how is this distinction made? How can you know if you truly are a follower of Christ? How can you be sure of your salvation?
Jesus had several important things to say on this subject in John 8:30-36. Read His words very carefully:
As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ?You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
OK. Let’s think about this. Have you noticed that many people today claim to believe in Jesus? Apparently the same was also true in Jesus’ day. However, don’t confuse believing in Jesus with following Jesus. They are not the same things. Believe does not always equal believe unto salvation. Believe does not always equal a real embracing of Christ that leads to eternal life. In the verses above from John 8, “believed” actually means believed to some degree.
Now, of the people who read this Weekly Walk, I would guess there are very few who do not believe in Jesus. As I interact with people who never go to church and talk to people who wouldn’t even claim to know the Lord, I often ask, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Most respond, “Oh, yeah, yeah. I believe in Jesus.” In fact, statistics show that over 90% of the people who live in the United States believe in God. Clearly, there is some confusion about what the word believe actually means. Let’s find out what Jesus Himself had to say about this matter.
In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said,
“Not everyone who says to Me, ?Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ?Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ?I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
That last phrase is an eternal condemnation to hell. And don’t miss the fact that Jesus talked about many. There won’t be just a few people who appear before the Lord and say, “Lord, Lord.” Many people will stand before Him and be eternally rejected. And these people are not all at the liberal church down the road. They’re not just the pagans in your neighborhood who never go to church. Notice the works that these people did — they prophesied in Jesus’ name; they spoke for God; they cast out demons and performed many wonders in the Lord’s name. I believe that this passage is talking about evangelical Christians. The church. The body of Christ. . . us.
Among those who are true disciples are those who are not genuine. They will say, “Lord, I counted the offering. Lord, I taught in Kid’s Church. Lord, You’re supposed to see everything. I’m not sure what the problem is here, so let me just review my life history for You. I was even in a small group.” Then Jesus will say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”
You may be thinking, “Well that’s fine, but is that really what John 8 is talking about when it mentions believers?” If you read beyond verse 36 you’ll see very clearly that Jesus was referring to those who were not true followers. Take a look at their responses to Him. In verse 33, they verbally opposed Jesus. In verse 48, these believers verbally abused Him and said, “You’re just a Samaritan, and You have a demon.” And then in verse 59, when He really pressed the point, they tried to take Him out and kill Him. Were they genuine believers? Apparently some were not. So Jesus looked at the many and said, “Okay, you all believe in Me? Fine! Let’s talk about what that really means.”
Today, you need to ask yourself the most important question ever: Am I a genuine disciple? Am I a true follower of Jesus Christ? If the answer is yes, then when you die someday, you will hear, “Well done!” and enter into an eternal, heavenly joy. If you are not truly saved, then someday you will die and hear, “Depart from Me!” and enter into an eternal, conscious torment in hell. Loved one I trust that today, if you are not a true follower of Christ, you will make the decision to turn from sin, trust fully in the Lord, and learn to walk with Him.
Adapted from the message and booklet, “What the Savior Promised, Assurance of Salvation” by James MacDonald. For a copy of the audio tape or CD visit Walk in the Word’s on line store.
Reprinted by permission of Walk in the Word, Copyright 2002, all rights reserved.