Often when asked if one would go to heaven if they died at that moment, the answer is something like, “I think so” or “I hope so”. Such answers betray a lack of confidence in the heart of the one answering. Two questions need to be answered concerning this confidence.
First, is it possible to have absolute confidence, no doubt whatsoever, concerning eternal salvation? The answer to this question is a resounding, yes! How is it that we can have such confidence? Because God tells us through His word that we can be confident. As Paul, the prolific writer and apostle to the Gentiles wrote to Titus, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Tit. 1:2). Paul knew that not only did God promise eternal life, but that since God can not lie, one may have confidence in it. As he came to the close of his own life he wrote, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Tim. 4:6-8). The Hebrew writer, after stating again that it is “impossible for God to lie”, said, Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Heb. 6:18-19). Just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus told His apostles; “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). This same apostle said, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13). Indeed, we can know, with certainty if we are going to have eternal life in heaven.
A second question that needs to be answered is more personal. The answer will vary from one person to another. This question is, “Should I have confidence in my salvation?” This is a question for each individual to answer for themselves. Look back at that statement of confidence made by the apostle Paul (II Tim. 4:6-8), and notice that he was confident, but it is after he has fought a good fight and kept the faith. His confidence was dependant upon his obedience and faithful service to the Lord. John wrote, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:3-4). The Hebrew writer said, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). It takes obedience to the Lord to bring about confidence of eternal salvation. Obviously, those who are disobedient have no reason to have confidence of a home in heaven, but instead “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:27).
Connected to obedience to the Lord in order to have confidence is the necessity of knowing for oneself what the Lord requires of us in order to be considered obedient. That knowledge has been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, through the inspired writers and now found in the pages of the gospel (I Cor. 2:9-13; II Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 1:16-17). Yet, unless one has searched the scriptures for themselves, they know not if they have been instructed correctly or not. Paul told Timothy to “study to show thyself approved unto God…” (II Tim. 2:15). The Bereans were said to be “more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and search the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). After all, Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). John wrote, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). In short, one should not have confidence in their salvation unless they have put forth the effort to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:21). With literally hundreds of differing doctrines being taught, obviously, they cannot all be right. In fact, there is only one right. What God said is right and all other is wrong. As Paul said, “let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in they sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged” (Rom. 3:4).
Friends, it is a wonderful feeling to have confidence in your salvation. One certainly can have such confidence, but only if he or she has obeyed the gospel of Christ and continues to walk in the light. (Send any questions or comments to: email@example.com)