March 27, 2012

Assurance of Eternal Life

Who will stand before the throne of God in honor rather than in judgment? Who will be saved rather than lost? Who will make it into eternity without guilt and condemnation? Can anyone know for sure? Or do most say, “I will have to wait and see if I’ve been good enough”?
My husband talked to a man last week who asked him, “How can anyone know for sure?” He was concerned about his eternal destiny and repeated this question several times. Part of the answer given was that the Bible says much about eternal life and how to have it, even how to know that you have it. This good news is stated plainly in verses like these, and assurance comes through believing them.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever 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 that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11–13)
My husband shared with this man that when he believed in Jesus Christ and received Him and the salvation He freely offers to those who believe, the Holy Spirit changed him. Part of that change is a deep assurance. He said, “Besides the affirmation of the Bible, I just know.”

Some Scripture passages are less obvious, yet imply details about eternal life and being sure of it. When I read these passages in Revelation this morning, I thought about the core of my assurance. It never is, nor can it ever be, based on myself or what I do. Salvation is always about Jesus.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9–12)
This is about worship in heaven, in eternity. A great crowd stands before God from every people-group in the world, every language. This says that salvation is not about Anglo-Saxons or denominations or specific groups. It is available to everyone and the way of salvation is the same for everyone.

Those who are standing before the throne and before Christ are dressed in white robes. This symbolizes their worth and status before God. I discovered that the Jews used to array priests who were approved for ministry in white robes. They served God by being declared blessed and spotless, yet the Bible is clear; no man is spotless. We must be forgiven, redeemed, justified, and cleansed through the sacrifice of Christ. Our robes of righteousness are never earned but imputed, put on us by the grace of God. 

This is why the angels, the elders and those who represent Christ, and the entire multitude are singing praises to God. The saved ones worship Him because they know their own merits have no value before this throne. They also know who gave them this blessed place. They had previously sang another song:
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I (John, the writer of Revelation) looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:9–14)
Implied in this litany of praise is the reason a person can know they will live forever. None of those in this crowd are relying on their own belief system or performance. They stand there because they know that Jesus is worthy. To Him belongs all power and glory and worship. No one can pat themselves on the back and say, “I made it.” They know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Pleasing God and eternal life are all about falling down on our knees before Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Lord God, these days You have brought this truth to my heart again and again. I realize how deeply all people need to know Jesus and have the assurance of eternal life with You. The way to life seems so clear to me, only because You reveal such things to Your people by grace through faith. I know I’ve done nothing to merit this amazing revelation. Yet because of You, I can bow even now in worship at the wonder of the Father, the saving power of the Son Jesus Christ, and the gracious blessing of Holy Spirit. You assure me again and again of my eternal destiny as You declare that all glory concerning this amazing salvation belongs to You alone.

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