Some Christians experience anxiety because they are not confident they will go to Heaven when they die. When believers are asked if they are saved, many respond tentatively, “I hope so” or “I think so” or “I’m praying God will accept me, though I’m not worthy.”
Hardly do I hear believers respond with the confidence of the apostle Paul: “We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands . . . We are confident . . . and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:1, 8).
In order to have peace in the present, we must have confidence in the future. When we have the assurance that our sins are forgiven and our destiny is in Heaven, we can face the future without paralyzing fear. We can be anxious for nothing and experience the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6, 7), because “if God is for us who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
We Are His Children
It’s my observation that the reason seasoned believers are not as confident as they should be about their eternal destiny is that they haven’t lived a perfect life since becoming a Christian. They are confident their sins were washed away when they accepted Christ and were baptized, but what about all the horrendous things they have done since then?
I was 8 years old when I was baptized. I have never doubted that every sin I committed prior to that day was forgiven. But I’ve lived 65 years since then. I’ve committed a lot more sin since becoming a Christian than I did before I gave my life to Christ. Will God still save me in spite of my repeated disobedience?
It’s so important that we understand what happened when we were baptized into Christ. Our sins weren’t just washed away, we were adopted into God’s family. We were born again as God’s child. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
He Is Faithful
When one of my sons was 17, he disobeyed an important family rule. I was very disappointed in him and confronted him. He confessed, apologized, and asked forgiveness. But somehow that wasn’t enough for me that day. I began to grind him down. “How could you do this? You know better. Why would you even go there?” To his credit he didn’t bolt out of the room screaming, “I can’t live up to your expectations! I’m tired of being a preacher’s kid. I’m out of here.”
Instead, he broke. He put his head in his hands and started to sob. “Dad, I am so sorry! Please forgive me. Dad, could we pray or something?” With that, I broke; I started to sob. We knelt by the couch, arm in arm, and both blubbered out a prayer. Strange, I never felt closer to him than I did then, when he needed and received my forgiveness.
Both my sons have disobeyed me and disappointed me over the years. Do you know how many times I have threatened to disown them and almost cut them out of the will? Not even once. Not even close. I never considered it. They’re my kids!
God is a more gracious and loving father than I am. He disciplines us as a father disciplines his children, but unless we renounce him, he will not renounce us. “If we disown him, he will disown us. If we are faithless, he will remain faithful for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:12, 13). If we are faithless, if we stumble and fall though still trust in him, he will be faithful. He won’t disinherit us because he cannot disown his promise to save his children.
That means there is no sin you’ve ever committed that he cannot forgive. There is no sin you will ever commit that he did not already die for. That’s why one of my favorite hymns is “It Is Well with My Soul.” It has this line: “My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—My sin—not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord O my soul.” It’s not just what I did before I became a Christian but even what I’ve done since. That blessed assurance gives me peace of mind.
Bob Russell is the retired senior minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright 2015 by Bob Russell. Permission to copy this column may be obtained by writing Debbie Carper, Southeast Christian Church, 920 Blankenbaker Pkwy, Louisville, KY 40243. Find Bob’s books and sermons online (www.livingword.org).