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Pointers along the way #225

To be sure of eternal life
- Jacob Ninan

This is the life and death question, "Are we sure we have eternal life?" God has made the answer as simple as possible - those who believe in Jesus have eternal life (Jn.3:16). The religions of this world cannot offer such an assurance. They all talk about earning salvation (or whatever they offer) through good works or rituals. But then one can never know if one has actually earned sufficient merit to have attained to it. But those who believe in Jesus have an inner assurance - a witness - that God has accepted them (1Jn.5:10). This is what gives us confidence and boldness as we face different situations in daily life or even death.

'Believing in Jesus' is so simple and yet so life changing that we need to make sure that we believe in the right way. The right way is to trust in Jesus as the only basis for our salvation. In other words we do not have any confidence or consider any merit in our 'good life' (you know, I am not like the others, I haven't done any of those sins, etc.), good things we have done (remember how I helped someone or gave some money), good things we practice (I pray every day and never miss church!), our heritage (we have been Christians for so many generations), etc. We are not thinking of placing our good stuff on one side of a balance (scales) and hoping to outweigh the bad things we have done which are placed on the other side. On the contrary we are convinced that nothing can make us acceptable to God except being washed by the blood of Jesus. We are convinced that if Jesus had not died in our place we would have no hope of eternal life at all.

On one side we are fully convinced of our own sinfulness and the punishment we deserve for our sins, and on the other side we are eternally grateful for the unmerited favour God has shown us by taking the punishment on Himself. The world - and unfortunately some parts of Christianity - tries to tell us not to dwell on negative things such as sin, punishment, hell, etc. But we cannot appreciate the salvation offered by God until we see the wretchedness of our sins and our sinful nature. If we try to avoid thinking about such 'unpleasant' subjects such as our sins, it will be no wonder if we cannot have this blessed assurance of eternal life.

Those who content themselves merely with intellectually believing the stories about Jesus or 'accepting' Him cannot have this assurance. The publishers of the Amplified Bible point out that the word 'believe' used in the New Testament in this context refers to 'adhering, cleaving to, trusting, having faith in, and relying on.' Accordingly, they explain that believing on the Lord Jesus Christ means to have an absolute personal reliance upon the Lord Jesus as Saviour. It is this exclusive reliance on Jesus that marks true belief. God responds by giving us the assurance in our heart that He has accepted us. It is our privilege to have this assurance, and if we lack it, we can ask God to give it to us.