10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 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.
13 When God made His promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
As you read through the Bible it becomes clear that one of God’s greatest desires for us is that we would know with an absolute certainty that our salvation in Jesus Christ is secure. Jesus consistently spoke of this promise, particularly in John’s gospel. The most well known verse in the Bible also emphasises this truth: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is a message that has been preached and taught for centuries, yet one of the things you hear most often in the Church is, “I hope I’m going to heaven when I die.”
There are many Christians who doubt their salvation. Many others doubt their security in Christ. To live with this kind of burden and insecurity leaves people weak and ineffective in their Christian walk. Life, with all of is uncertainties and challenges is hard enough, but if you’re a Christian who doubts the absolute truth of your salvation, then you are building your life and faith on a very unsteady foundation. James 1:8 says, “He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
Are you able to say that no matter what happens, you are 100% certain that at the end of your life you will be with Jesus for all of eternity?
Thankfully, the Bible reassures us that we can know this truth, and we are able to build our lives of faith on the eternal promises of God. Hebrews 6 in particular emphasises the hope of the Christian and the eternal security we have.
We are taught that as Christians we possess a hope that is not just wishful thinking, but a deep-seated confidence based squarely upon the promises and the power of God. But the Bible goes even further by saying that God has sealed His promises with an oath.
We’ve all watched courtroom dramas where witnesses are sworn in with the words, ‘so help me God.’ When they say this, they are calling on God to witness that what they’re about to say is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Of course, as we know, it is hard to believe this promise because as sinners, our word cannot be trusted.
But not so with God. He seals His promises with an oath sworn upon Himself. In court, men swear by God because there is none greater. Therefore, if God is going to make an oath, He must swear by Himself, since there is none greater than Himself. In other words, God stakes His reputation and His name on His ability to do what He has said He will do. He will keep His Word because His credibility and reputation depends upon it.
And having given us His personal assurance that our eternal security is based in Himself, He now reinforces this assurance with three great truths to prove that this hope of eternal security is reliable, steadfast and sure. If you ever have doubts, and want to believe God with all of your heart, then build your faith and hope on these truths. They are able to break the doubts and fears regarding your soul’s salvation.
The first truth is built on the promises you have claimed.
Hebrews 6:18 uses an interesting phrase: “We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us.” The KJV says “fled for refuge.”
The image here is of the ancient cities of refuge described in Numbers 35 and in Joshua 20. “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. When he flees to one of these cities, he is to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state his case before the elders of that city. Then they are to admit him into their city and give him a place to live with them. If the avenger of blood pursues him, they must not surrender the one accused, because he killed his neighbour unintentionally and without malice aforethought. He is to stay in that city until he has stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then he may go back to his own home in the town from which he fled.’ So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. On the east side of the Jordan of Jericho they designated Bezer in the desert on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh. Any of the Israelites or any alien living among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly.” (Joshua 20:1-9)
These 6 cities, 3 on either side of the Jordan River were set up to provide a sanctuary for someone who accidentally killed another person. According to Jewish law, the dead man’s next of kin was required to punish the murderer. However, if a man accidentally killed another, he could flee to one of the cities of refuge and there he would receive a fair trial. If the death was proven to be accidental, the killer could remain in the city of refuge, protected from the anger of the avenger, until the high priest died. Then he was allowed to return to his own home without fear of retribution from the dead man’s family.
Now what has all this to do with the promise of our salvation?
Quite simply, Jesus is our city of refuge today. Whether our sins are intentional or accidental, we’re all guilty. Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and 6:23 spells out the penalty of our guilt: “the wages of sin is death.” The righteous, holy God is the one we have offended, and He is the avenger of blood. He is hunting us down because we are to be put to death for our sin. But now we flee to Jesus and find protection from the penalty of our sins. He says Himself in John 5:24, “whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
In the words of that wonderful hymn Rock of Ages, “Simply to Thy cross I cling; naked, come to Thee for dress, helpless, look to Thee for grace. Foul, I to the fountain fly, wash me, Saviour, or I die.”
We are secure in Him forever. Hebrews 7:25 says of Jesus, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”
When the accidental murderer fled to a city of refuge in Israel, he was merely claiming the promise of God. It was a matter of faith. In exactly the same way, when we as sinners flee to Jesus, the refuge of the soul, we are merely taking God at His Word, and claiming His promise that He will forgive those who flee to Jesus, and do nothing more than simply cling to the cross.
Every sinner that takes Jesus at His Word and responds to Him on the basis of pure faith can rest assured of God’s eternal protection through Jesus Christ. That is the promise we have claimed.
The second great truth you can build your faith on is whom you are anchored in and to. Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
The clear promises of God stand as an anchor for our souls, both firm and secure.
These two words, firm and secure, mean that God’s promises can be relied upon because they are unchanging and unmovable.
It’s important to note where this anchor is placed. It is not in the shifting sands of this ever-changing world. It’s not even based on our obedience and ability to hold on to God (which is just as well.) It is placed in Jesus. In fact, He Himself is the anchor.
That great anchor of the soul is Jesus Himself. The fact that we are in Him right now, and not only once we get to Heaven serves as an anchor to prevent us drifting about on the wild seas of doubt. We are literally anchored in Jesus Himself here and now. He is in Heaven with the Father, and we are eternally tied to Him. He is the firm and secure anchor of your soul. If you are in Jesus, then you have that eternal security. You have a very good reason to celebrate today!
Another important point is that unlike an ocean liner, we are not anchored down, but we are anchored up. We are not tied to this world, but we are tied to Heaven. As Paul says in Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in Heaven.” We’re also not anchored to be at a standstill, but we are constantly moving toward the anchor point. Every minute is another minute closer to glory.
Of course, there will still be challenges in our lives.
We continue to struggle with our own sin and its consequences, plus of course, we face many trials and tribulations on our journey through life. So like a ship we may still drift while we are at anchor, but we can only drift around the anchor point. The anchor will continue to hold and secure you. Jesus will never allow you to drift away from Him.
And the third great truth we can build our foundation of faith on is the one who has gone before us. Verses 19 and 20: “It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”
Other translations use the title ‘forerunner,’ a word that literally means a scout, or one who goes in advance to a place where the rest are to follow. We know these words from John 14 so well: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Here the difference between Jesus and the Old Testament high priest is clear. The Old Testament priest entered in behind the veil in the Temple once a year and always alone. No one could follow him into the Holy of Holies. Yet, when Jesus entered into the Holy of Holies in Heaven, He promised us that one day, we would join Him there. He went on ahead but will receive us in Heaven later on.
He has gone before us to announce our future arrival. The saints already in glory are expecting you!
He has gone on ahead of you to prepare for your arrival in Heaven. That truth should make us see the inevitability of our own deaths in a completely different light.
The first mountain climber to reach the summit secures a lifeline to the mountain that the rest of the climbers use to climb up. He prepares secure anchoring points for those following him. Jesus has entered Heaven ahead of us, and He has securely anchored our salvation in Himself. Remember – we’re anchored up, not down. And now, by faith in the Word of God and in the finished work of Jesus at Calvary, we have the firm promise that we too will ascend to what Revelation 21 refers to as the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, and we will join Jesus there.
The very fact that Jesus is our refuge, our anchor and our forerunner gives us confidence. Our salvation is firm and secure. It is our blessed assurance. It is irrevocable because as Hebrews 6:18 says, “by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” John wrote in his first letter: “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.
I want to ask you the question on the bulletin this morning: Are you sure? Do you know that you are going to Heaven when you die, or are you keeping your fingers crossed and hoping for the best?
The truth is that if you have received Jesus, you are headed home. If you are saved, your destination is as secure as if you are already there. There is no need to doubt, there is no need to be afraid.
There is a great need, however, for us to take God at His word and to believe Him implicitly. We should be rejoicing in the salvation that is already ours. Once that truth is embedded in our hearts, we’re able to live with a joy and a peace that cannot be shaken. Take hope in the fact that God has saved you through Jesus and trust in the fact He will see you safely home to Heaven.
So once again, are you sure? You can be. God can give you that blessed assurance that Jesus is yours, and that you really are the heir of salvation, purchased of God, born of His Spirit and washed in His blood.
Homegroup Study Notes
Read 1 John 5:10-13 and Hebrews 6:13-20
Most of us go through life hoping for things to improve.
We hope for a better job, better weather, better health, etc.
This is what could be described as a ‘hope so hope’ or wishful thinking, and is radically different to the firm hope the Bible teaches about salvation.
What is Biblical hope?
Many people say they hope to go to Heaven when they die, but why do you think so many Christians say the same thing?
Life is hard, and the reality is that the depth of our faith is often determined by the circumstances we face at any particular time.
What can we do to guard against the times when our faith is weak?
How have you experienced the promises of God’s blessed assurance in times of struggle?
On Sunday we considered 3 important foundations on which we are to build our life of faith and hope:
1. God’s promises
2. Jesus, our anchor for the soul
3. Jesus, the one who has gone ahead of us
Discuss each of these truths in your group.
How are we able to use them to dispel the doubts about our salvation?
What other Biblical truths are we able to claim?
Read 1 John 5:13 again, and close by praying that God would remove all doubts, and fill our hearts with the truth of His eternal promises.