Having confidence in salvation can be good – or bad. Paul, in a final inspired statement, declared: “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 at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Just how sure are you that you are in the right way, on the way to heaven? Could you say what Paul said? Is it possible for anyone to “know” they are saved? Or must we live always in doubt, never able to have the assurance of the forgiveness of God? Men in history have declared their doubts, their fears on this subject. Criminal attorney Clarence Darrow wrote: “Life is like a ship on the sea, tossed by every wave and every wind; a ship headed for no port, having no harbor, with no rudder, no compass, no pilot, simply floating for a time, then lost in the waves.” What a sad perspective, with no hope. Bertrand Russell, a renowned skeptic, had a similar view: “The life of man is a long march in the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, toward a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long.” Where do you fit into this issue? Are you with Paul—or with Darrow and Russell? What assurance do you have? And, is that assurance based on the Bible, God’s Word? Or is it just a “feeling?” Some have a false assurance; but claiming assurance is not the same as having real assurance. The same Apostle Paul quoted previously later told King Agrippa he had been mistaken: “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). Paul just “knew” that killing Christians was pleasing to God. But he was dead wrong, and he made it right by becoming Jesus’ disciple.
Perhaps some of us are full of false confidence, having convinced ourselves that we are ready to meet the Lord. Jeremiah the prophet told Judah: “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). By God’s inspiration, Solomon wrote: “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
We have all been “certain” of some things, only to find later that we were mistaken. We cannot afford to be mistaken about our eternal destiny! We cannot know we will stay true to God, nor can we know how we will deal with future temptations. However, we can take God’s Word — the Bible — and compare our life, our “conversion” with what God has commanded therein. There we will discover how we stand in our relationship with God. John wrote: “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3-5).
Compare your life with the Bible’s instructions, lest you have a false assurance. See if your “conversion” is in harmony with New Testament conversions in the book of Acts. Don’t depend on feelings and emotion. How did Paul gain such assurance? Paul was assured of his eternal destiny at the end of his life because he had finished his course. He had “kept the faith.” There had been many trials, many temptations to go back to his old way of life. Instead, he “fought a good fight,” beating back each of Satan’s assaults. He ran the entire race. He resisted Satan, and he won the victory. You and I can do the same, but we must let God’s Word be the judge, not our own feelings.
Isn’t it about time man learned what God’s Word says about becoming a Christian? A “crown of life” awaits those who seek the truth and obey it, John 8:32, 17:17. Will you seek that way of truth? Will you live by it? That is the only way we can have God’s “Blessed Assurance.”