Can I Know

I'm Going To Heaven?

     "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he who does not believe God has made Him a liar; because he has not believed the testimony that God gave of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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; and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God."  1st John 5:9-13.

     Here is a sweet young lady who knows she loves a certain prince charming, but is uncertain that he loves her.
     A married man picks up signals that his wife is infatuated with another man. He is tortured by the uncertainty she will stay true to him.
     A man has an unexpected heart attack. Doctors and nurses work feverishly to save him, and the family waits in foreboding uncertainty.
     Someone lost in the jungle where killer animals and poisonous snakes lurk. Night comes and the sounds of movement bring uncertainty.
     Most terrible of all, it is time to die and we face the uncertainty that we are not properly prepared to be accepted by God.


Because of sin.
     It is a rather common experience for newly saved Christians to fall to Satan's temptations in thoughts, words, and actions in those first days after they have received Christ as their Savior. Satan then accuses them and taunts them that they would not have sinned if they were truly saved. Even mature believers have experienced these Satanic tactics.

Because of neglect in spiritual growth.
     Peter gives all believers the exhortation "…Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue…knowledge… temperance…patience…godliness…brotherly kindness…and love" and then adds, "For if these things are your and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things…has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins."   2nd Peter 1:5-9

     I know from personal experience what it is to suffer the consequences of failing to heed Peter's admonition. I was saved when I was eleven. Even though I was certain that God's call to preach was upon me, I gave no diligence to add the essential qualities of spiritual maturity to my saving faith. Just before I turned seventeen I had a climactic experience in which I truly surrendered to preach and prepare myself for ministry. About three weeks later I was enrolled in a Baptist University.  I think I entered into fellowship with the most fervent Christians on campus the first two or three days I was there. Soon I began to compare their zealous service and witness for Christ with my rather careless attitude over the last six years. I experienced doubts about my salvation for many days.

     True believers will have many sad experiences when they doubt their salvation.

Loss of fellowship with Jesus and the Father.
     It is self evident that believers who doubt have fallen into the sin of unbelief. This is usually accompanied by other sin. John reminds us, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth." 1st John 1:6.

There is a loss of joy. 
     John also reminds us that it is when we are in unhindered fellowship with the Father and the Son that our joy is full. 1st John 1:3,4. Doubting our salvation evaporates this joy.

Our service is hindered. 
     D. L. Moody, an evangelist greatly used mightily by God said, "I have never known a Christian who was any good in the work of Christ who did not have the assurance of salvation." Neither have I.

Our witness for Christ is stifled. 
     It's impossible to doubt our salvation and have a vibrant, confident witness of being saved through faith in Christ.

Our battles with temptation end in defeat. 
     Our source of spiritual power comes from an unbroken and unhindered faith in our God to give us victory. "And this is the victory that has  overcome the world, ---our faith." 1st John 5:4b. When there is doubt our faith is weakened and victory is turned into defeat.

     It is truly a sad time in a Christian's life when they are walking in doubt, misery, and defeat instead of fellowship with God, fullness of joy and victory over temptation.


Some trust their emotional experiences. 
     While conducting a revival in southern Kentucky I was told about a man who came to the altar on several occasions, praying earnestly each time he came. In his words, he "couldn't seem to do any good." However, not long before I came he was praying and weeping at the altar and happened to open his eyes. He looked down on some tobacco cuds that someone had spit out on the floor. He said they seemed to "glow like stars. It was then I knew that I was saved!"

     I fear for people who put their faith in emotional experiences like that. There is not one verse of scripture that teaches we receive the assurance of salvation from feelings. Many of us experienced feelings of relief, joy, peace, and love when we got saved, but we had those feelings because we were saved. We weren't saved because we had those feelings.

Some trust their religion. 
     Jesus referred to Nicodemus as "the teacher of Israel"  He also said to this devout rabbi, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3. Certainly the parable of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:10-13 should make clear to us that religion is powerless to make us acceptable to God.

Some trust their works. 
     Any person trusting their works for salvation should ponder what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:21-23. He made it clear that there will be people who will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven even though they called Him Lord, Lord; prophesied in His name; cast out many demons and had done many wonderful works. The reason: "I never knew you." No matter what our earthly religion we need to be sure we are not trusting our works for salvation, but that we know Jesus Himself through saving faith

Some trust their own righteousness.   
     The problem is that no matter how righteous we are in our eyes, we still fall short of pleasing God. The Bible does not teach that we are all equally sinful, but it does teach we are equally sinners who come short of the glory of God. "…There is none righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10. None of our righteousness will pass the searchlight of an all holy God. Indeed, we read "…all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…" Isaiah 64:6.


The apostle Paul had true assurance. 
     While in prison and fully expecting the death penalty, the apostle Paul testified, "…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day." 2nd Timothy 1:12.

True certainty and assurance comes from knowing Christ. 
     In Philippians 3:4-5 Paul told where his faith was before he came to know Christ. He was an Israelite, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee, the most zealous of his day and righteous before the law. In verse 8 he wrote, "…I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…" In verse 9 he explained that through faith in Christ he received a perfect righteousness that made Him acceptable to the all holy God. Paul had true assurance because he had come to know Christ by saving faith.

True assurance comes from the Word of God. 
     Nowhere is this made more clear than in the epistle of 1st John 5.1, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…´ The gospel is not a message about a religious system that needs to be obeyed, but good news to be believed. When any sinner hears the gospel story of how Christ died for their sin, was buried, rose again, and ascended to Heaven and that Jesus will save them when they trust Him as Savior they will be saved the instant they place their faith in Him.

"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater…for this is the witness of  God which He has testified of His Son."    "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life and he who does not have the Son of God has not life." Verses 9,11, 12. God has extended to all mankind the gift of eternal life. That gift is enclosed in His Son. When we receive Jesus as our Savior by faith we also receive eternal life. "These things have I written to you who believe in the name of the son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life…" (verse 13).  There we have it. The reason John wrote this epistle was so that all of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior may have a know-so assurance that we have eternal life. It is not written that we know that we have eternal life by our feelings, our religion, our works or our goodness, but because we have believed (relied on) Jesus Christ to save us.

    How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord,
    Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
    What more can He say, than to you He hath said,
    To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted