ASSURANCE (of SALVATION)
There are many who say you can never know for certain where you will go after this life is over. Many "hope" they will go to heaven and not to hell. Many work feverishly hard so that, based on their goodness or good works and their being "better" than others, they will earn God's favor for all eternity. There are two key questions and then some related concerns.
First, can ANYONE know for sure his/her eternal destiny? Well, we may be left to wonder, except that the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:13 "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life". We are convinced from the Scriptures that, yes, you CAN know with certainty.
But the second critical question has to do with HOW we can know and what is the basis for our certainty. Our certainty can NEVER be based on how we FEEL nor can it be based on what we THINK. Our only legitimate basis for certainty is the faithful promises of a faithful God! If we "obey the gospel", walk with the Lord in continual fellowship, yield to God's authority and will - essentially doing what God wants in God's way, we CAN know with certainty. This requires us to know the Word of God AND to know the God of the Word. By knowing the Word of God we come to know who God is and what God's expectations of us are. By knowing HIM we gain access to the power to actually be and to do what God expects. Jesus said "If you love me keep my commandments". God rightfully has expectations of us. We have the entire word of God filled with promises, MANY of which have already been fulfilled, to convince us that what God says He will do, He WILL do! Paul knew God's Word but also knew the God of the Word - "...for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." (2 Timothy 1:12)
Assurance, then, CAN be had. But it comes from believing, trusting and obeying the faithful word of the faithful God and from abiding in Him Who alone is life eternal. There is no other way to have true and blessed assurance.
Caution! A very real concern is that many have been "given" a FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. Some have false assurance because they have been persuaded by some counselor that because they "prayed a sinner's prayer" or did some specific thing that they certainly will be granted entrance to heaven. (See Easy Believism). Others are trusting in their baptism, their confirmation, their having "spoken in tongues" or any other number of things that can give rise to false assurance. Yet Jesus warned in Matthew 7:21-29 " “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
True assurance cannot be given by one person to another. True assurance will come when "the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God" (Romans 8:16). Let me repeat - assurance CAN be had, but it can only come from believing, trusting and obeying the faithful word of the faithful God and from abiding in Him Who alone is life eternal. There is no other way to have true and blessed assurance.
Hebrews 9:12 - "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."
John 6:47 - "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life."