Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Safely in His Arms

Some time ago I was talking with a devout Muslim about the Islamic religion. During that conversation I asked him about his view of eternal life and salvation. As he was describing his beliefs, which included the need to be fully devoted to Allah, he added this comment: "of course, none of us can know for sure if we will even be accepted."

Imagine that! Imagine dedicating yourself to a religion and to a supposed "god" who demanded total obedience but refused to give any assurance of acceptance. And now think about how this is radically different from the message of the Gospel. God, the one revealed in the Bible, is a God of truth. He is one that makes promises and forms relationships. He is one that gives assurances and provides a way to be saved.

Dear believer in Jesus Christ, God wants you to be fully assured of your salvation. In 1 John 5:11-13, the apostle John wrote: "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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." 

This is why, throughout the Bible, the message of the Gospel is communicated in clear, forthright terms. For example in Romans 10:9, Paul tells us plainly "if you declare with your mouth 'Jesus is the Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." He does not say "you got a really good shot at being saved" or "you might be saved". He says emphatically, "you will be saved." 

Jesus himself was clear on this point: "I give them eternally life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28-29). In other words, our salvation is guaranteed precisely because God is the strongest person in the universe! The apostle Paul understood that the promise of salvation rested fully on the power of the living God. In Romans 8:38-39 he writes, "for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Still, some believers, in what can only be described as utter folly, insist that their salvation is not guaranteed. They place needless weights upon their own shoulders, having convinced themselves that they somehow might lose that which the Father has given. But salvation isn't a gem that we frantically clutch in our hand, afraid that we might lose it or that it might one day be stolen. It is a seal stamped onto our hearts by the Holy Spirit, a mark upon us that cannot be removed. Martin Llyod-Jones, preaching on the inability of any person or thing to separate us from God's love, once wrote, 
"Yet some people foolishly say 'Ah yes, but he does not say that you yourself can not do it.' I see, you are the great exception, are you? You are the one in the universe who is stronger than God and stronger than the principalities and powers, and the height and the depth, or any other creature. My dear friends, you are included. Nothing, not even yourself, can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

1 comment:

  1. See this article on the retirement of Cincinnati's Archbishop.
    One of the elite of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy says “I hope I will stand before the Lord and he’ll say, ‘You can come in. You did pretty well.’"
    If that's all the assurance he has, what hope is there for the layman?