3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
22 Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around Him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
If we were to ask every Christian this simple question: Are you going to Heaven when you die? I think we might be surprised and saddened at how many would answer ‘I hope so.’
All over the world there are people who have been Christians for decades, yet they find it very difficult to answer that question with a firm and definite yes.
And this question is more important than we might think. It is absolutely crucial to our faith, because when we doubt our salvation, we are in effect questioning the validity of God’s promises, and the truth which the Bible proclaims.
In Genesis 3:1 satan asks the question which he continues to ask us today: “Did God really say?” This is such an important question, and how you answer it will go a long way to forming the foundation of your life of faith. If you are able to answer with a clear conviction in your heart, “Yes, He did say, and I firmly believe in His promises, and I know that when I die I will be with Him for all of eternity,” then the foundation of your faith will be rock solid.
Life will still challenge you, and satan will keep asking you that same question over and over again, but you will not be shaken, because your faith is based on the promises of God. In the words of Hebrews 6:19, you “have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
However, if you find yourself questioning the validity of God’s promises, you will be just like Peter. One moment you’re walking on water without any doubt that the faithfulness of Jesus will sustain you, but the moment you forget His promises and look at the storms of life all around you, you will sink like a stone. James 1:6 says, “He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” You can’t build a life of faith on a foundation like that.
Our theme today is the blessed assurance of the truth of the Word of God.
In 1 John 5 we read, “God has given 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 so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13)
We have to know that truth. Everything we stand for and believe in depends on it.
The sacrificial blood of Christ is sufficient to fully atone for the sins of anyone, once and for all, at the moment of salvation.
If we harbour any doubts of our salvation, we are in effect saying that the sacrifice of Jesus is somehow insufficient to secure our eternal salvation.
Whenever we get into the debate of the issue of eternal security, the question which is often raised is about people who have made a commitment to Jesus, have accepted His offer of grace, but they continue to live in habitual sin.
Firstly, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, even after we are saved. It is impossible to live life above sin, but nowhere does the Bible teach that God will cast aside those who are genuinely born again because they sin after conversion.
We need to spend some time looking at what the Bible does teach us about our salvation, rather than jumping to conclusions about what it doesn’t teach.
It promises us security. Jesus said in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life.” 1 John 2:25 echoes His words: “This is what He promised us - even eternal life.”
Jesus says ‘I give’, not ‘I will give.’ What this means is that His promise of life applies and can be claimed here and now.
Paul opens his letter to Titus by writing, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness - a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.”
Our salvation is secure through the promises of God.
What this also means is that our eternal destiny doesn’t depend on our works or our ability to secure salvation. And that is just as well. If it did, the promise would be empty. But it doesn’t depend on us. It depends on Him.
God is the source of the promise. He is the one who put the plan of salvation into place. He provided the means of delivering on the promise, and He is the one who did all that was necessary in order for the promise to be delivered.
This is one of the reasons why the Cross of Calvary is a victory and not a defeat.
As Jesus says in John 10:28, “They shall never perish.”
That little word ‘never’ is so important for us. Never means what it says. It’s a promise not restricted by time because it transcends time. It is an eternal promise.
We also need to consider the power of God for a moment. Have you thought about the awesome power of God lately? God, who spoke, and the whole universe came into being. I’ve quoted Louie Giglio before on this subject. He said, “Some people say the universe was started by a big bang. I’m okay with that too. I think that when God spoke and created the Heavens and the Earth, there was a fairly large bang going on.”
In the beginning, God. He has no beginning and no end. He is the One who stood on nothing and created everything.
He formed us from the dust of the earth and breathed life into us. He tells the sun when to shine, He put the mountains in place, He controls the ebb and flow of the oceans. Genesis 1:17 says matter-of-factly, “He also made the stars.”
This awesome, all-powerful, majestic creator of the universe holds all that we can see and cannot see in the palm of His hand. And in that same hand is you.
Surely, a God with all that power is powerful enough to hold securely those who love Him and belong to Him?
He holds the power of life and death, and He has chosen to give you life.
We can only imagine just what it must have been like on the morning of Resurrection Sunday. The rumble of the massive stone as it rolled away, the sheer brilliant white light of the angels and the terror of the Roman guards.
The power of God that morning was unmistakable as Jesus conquered our greatest fear – death itself. If you are a Christian, then you need to know this: God has used that same power in your life. You have the power of God alive and active within you.
There is no force or power on earth or even in hell that can tear you out of His hand.
Romans 8:38-39 says it best: “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In John 17 Jesus prayed an amazing prayer. In verse 24 He prays, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
In this wonderful chapter we find that Jesus prayed for Himself, for the disciples, and then He prayed for the Church and all believers of all time – and included in that list is you and I.
He prayed for the power of God – a power that defeats even death and the grave in our lives.
We also need to remember this: Jesus never prayed a prayer that God did not answer. He asked the Father that we might be with Him where He is. Do you believe God answered His prayer?
The Father honoured His request, and because He does not and cannot lie, our salvation is sure.
We are secure in Jesus. In fact, He is praying for us even now. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”
The word completely is significant here as well.
Have you fallen short of God’s glory?
Are you falling short of God’s glory?
Will you fall short of God’s glory?
Yes to all of the above, but your salvation in Christ is a complete salvation, simply because it depends on Him and on His saving grace, not on your feeble attempts to attain to the glory of God.
In John 5:24 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, 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.”
Will not be condemned.
Have you ever answered, “I hope so” when asked if you’re going to Heaven when you die? If you have, read John 5:24. Then read it again. And again.
“I tell you the truth, 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.”
Every born again believer possesses everlasting life. Jesus didn’t put stipulations or conditions on that promise. There is no small print.
We have everlasting life, and we will not be condemned.
And this promise applies here and now. The perfection which is ours through the blood of Jesus is effective the instant we turn to Him.
What this means is that God sees us as fully justified here and now – despite the fact that we continue to sin after salvation.
In Heaven there is no sin, and in that place we will live perfectly holy lives, but until such time as we die, we sin even though we are saved.
This is a struggle for many Christians, as our ongoing sin shames us, and we feel that surely God must be fed up with us by now.
Surely His patience is going to run out, and He will eventually revoke His gift of salvation.
Is this your struggle? If so, listen again to the words of Jesus: “I tell you the truth, 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.”
When God looks at you now, He doesn’t see you as a condemned sinner. He sees you as someone who has been cleansed by the blood of Christ. He sees you through blood-tinted spectacles.
You have been made perfect by the sacrifice of Jesus. He has paid your sin debt in full. You stand fully justified and righteous before God.
But what about our sin? If God hates sin so much, then surely it must have at least some effect on our salvation?
Let’s try to answer that question.
Firstly, we aren’t justified by our works, but through His sacrifice. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.”
That makes it very clear that our works, our good deeds contribute nothing to our salvation.
He also quotes from Psalm 32 in Romans 4: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Now, in answer to the question that our sin must have some effect on our salvation - if good works can’t save, then how could we lose our salvation through failure, through our bad works?
Our good works do not achieve salvation, and the sin of a Christian does not lose it either.
Our sin is covered and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. When He said “it is finished” on the cross, He meant what He said.
The saved stand perfect before the Father.
Paul says something very interesting in Ephesians 5:30. He says, speaking of Jesus, “We are members of His body.”
You’ll remember that we looked at this concept on Trinity Sunday. In the most mysterious yet beautiful way, through our salvation we are brought into the mystery of the Godhead, the Trinity. Not that we now become God, but rather we are fully fledged, first generation members of the family of God.
We are members of Jesus’ body. The saved are a new creation in Him.
We are part of the body of Christ, we are flesh of His flesh, bone of His bones.
Is it possible for the Son to lose His relationship with the Father? No! And since we are part of His body, is it possible for us to lose our relationship with the Father?
It is impossible. It cannot happen, and that is the security, the blessed assurance we have.
We are His. Forever.
Do you doubt your salvation and your eternal security in Jesus? There is no need to, because His Word makes it abundantly clear that He has done all that is necessary to secure your salvation.
The lies of satan and the non-believing world will tell you otherwise, and believe me, you will still hear that question over and over again: “Did God really say?”
The simple answer is, yes He did.
If you are a Christian, then rest assured in the knowledge that Christ holds you in His hand.
You have a good reason to rejoice.
You don’t know what tomorrow holds, but you do know what eternity holds – you will see and experience the glory of God forever.
Homegroup Study Notes
Read John 10:28-29 and John 5:24
How would you answer if you were asked if you were going to Heaven after you die?
Why do you believe that so many Christians are unsure of their answer, and usually reply “I hope so?”
satan has always used the same method of sowing doubt in our minds about the goodness of God.
Read Genesis 2:16-17 and 3:1-5
Discuss in your group how satan causes us to question God’s love and His goodness.
How have you questioned the goodness of God in your life?
Do you think it is possible to read passages of Scripture like John 5:24 and to believe with an absolute certainty the words Jesus promises?
In other words, is blessed assurance possible?
Why, or why not?
What about your sin? Even though you may be a Christian, you continue to fall short of the glory of God. How does your weakness affect your faith?
Is it possible for a Christian to lose their salvation?
Close by praying for each other. Ask the Lord to fill your hearts with an absolute certainty that Blessed Assurance in Jesus is a reality.