An Anchor for Your Soul
If someone told you they were leaving you a grand inheritance, but then you learned they have multiple personality disorder (now called Dissociative Identity Disorder), you would probably find little value in their promise. It would have little or no impact on the way you live. God has promised an inheritance to His children, and God is immutable. He does not change. If you are a child of God, your inheritance is reserved for you in heaven (1 Pet 1:4). It is difficult to lose what is held in trust for you, by someone totally trustworthy, at the safest place in the universe.
In this world, the Christian is whipped around, as if on a stormy sea. Jesus Christ has gone into the presence of God the Father in heaven, and He works as our permanent Mediator (1 Tim 2:5). Christians have put their hope in Him (Col 1:27). He has tethered us to Himself. He is the anchor for your soul behind the veil in the holiest place of heaven (Heb 6:19).
Under the guise of Christianity, there is a sad soul who believes she has chosen to follow Jesus, and because she has controlled her own salvation, she is acutely aware that she could lose her salvation. She has decided to follow Jesus once, but she feels her faith in Him wavering with each wave of trouble. She has no blessed assurance, or eternal security, because she was strong on the day she made the decision for Jesus, but she is often gravely weak. She just might deny her faith in Him before she dies.
Is God mighty to save? Is the salvation in Christ alone only a temporary salvation? If God controls someone’s salvation, can He lose her salvation? Our premise: the God of our salvation is Almighty, and He saves His people eternally. Nothing established in eternity can be altered in time.
Certainty of heaven, or perseverance of the saints, or the preserving grace of God are some of the phrases used to describe eternal security. The believer in Jesus will never perish, and she glories in the Lord for it.
If one can fall away from grace, it brings into question the validity of grace. Is it grace at all? What good is it if God the Father chose you, God the Son redeemed you, and God the Spirit effectually called you, if in the end you could fall away? God’s sovereignty in salvation would be very questionable. Born again Christians have no issue with trusting God to preserve them to the end and for all eternity. This is not because of a feeling or their own decision, but because God’s Word confirms that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).
“Whoever believes will in Him have eternal life (Jn 3:15),” provides us with some evidence of eternal security. First, believers have their position, “in Him.” He is in heaven, and because of our union with Christ, we are seated in the heavenlies with Him (Eph 2:6). Second, notice the present tense of the verb, “have.” This is a reality in the present time, not some future speculation. Third, what is real is “life.” It is new life, abundant life, and eternal life. Jesus is our life (Jn 14:6), for Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20). Fourth, this life is “eternal.” It is not temporary. It is not merely a figment of time. If it is true in eternity, it is true now in time. What is settled in eternity cannot be changed in time. Fifth, the verb “have” signifies a possession. Christians have this life in their souls. It is the life of the eternal God.
Eternal life is getting God out of heaven and into man. The one who receives Christ has received life. This is not natural life that all people possess. It is of another kind. It has a different quality to it. It is the life of the age to come. In other words, heaven has already begun for the Christian. It is partial, but it demonstrates itself to be very different than life in this present evil age and in this culture of death.
Eternal life also speaks of duration. A politician may have the staying power to remain in the U.S. Congress for decades, but eventually he will give way to a successor. The life of a professional athlete, in the capacity of his performance, averages only a few years in any major sport. Retirement looms and change in life must occur. Not for the Christian, the life she now lives is irreversible. This life begun in her will only prove irrevocable. God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).”
There is further consideration for us in John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Notice how Jesus segregates humanity into two distinct groups. One has eternal life, while the other never sees it. So how does this life manifest for those who have it?
Eternal life produces change in different facets of one’s life. A Christian with the mind of Christ knows the truth of the Gospel. He is not afraid of the bad news of human depravity. We should never be offended by someone’s poor evaluation of us, as Christians, because we know we are actually far worse than their assessment. Although the world around him thinks his faith is foolishness, a Christian revels in Jesus Christ his Savior.
Eternal life produces change in a Christian’s affections. A believer is one who is persuaded of the truthfulness of the Gospel. She loves Jesus, and she is not ashamed of the Gospel. She wants less of this world and more of the next. While the world feasts on bad news, gossip, and scandal, the heart of the Christian is aligned with news from heaven, which is found in the Bible. Heaven is eternal. The Bible is the Word of God, which is eternal. So, when a Christian reads the Bible, she is receiving good news from home. We are not of this world (Jn 17:14), but we are ambassadors anticipating the end to our temporary assignment here.
Eternal life is one of submission to the will of God. The born again believer is not interested in free will. She hates the sins entertained by her will. Why celebrate what we know is corrupt in us? Pride exalts the notion of free will and vigorously defends it. Pride is sin. Jesus said, “Not my will…” Rather, the Christian is concerned about his progress in sanctification. What is God’s Spirit doing to make him holy? This is the desire of the true believer. Like a bride to be wed, the Christian prepares herself to be holy, blameless, and beautiful for her wedding day. It only grieves her when sin disturbs her rehearsal. She wants to please the One who has pledged His love for her.
With so much dispute, regarding “world” in John 3:16, there is very little discussion about the perseverance of the saint, in that, “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (Jn 3:16c).” The believer never perishes. This is an allusion to the second death. A man dies once in the body, but the second death is the death of his resurrected body and soul in the punishment of eternal hell. Jesus Himself declares this can never be the reality of one of His own people. Just as Noah was brought through the flood waters (1 Pet 3:20), so the Christian will be brought through diverse tribulations. No doubt Noah fell down in the ark, but he never fell out of the ark. The steps of the righteous man are ordained by the Lord (Ps 37:23; Prv 16:9; 20:24; Jer 10:23).
God has ordained that one sip of living water results in the eradication of thirst (Jn 4:14). Thirst is a grievous lack, but those in hell thirst forever (Lk 16:24). The believer in Jesus will never thirst. The implication is sustaining grace. Never means, “never.” Men lost in the desert wilderness thirst, but we will never be lost, “for I am with you,” is God’s promise. Where can the Christian go from God’s Spirit, who lives in her?
I have to laugh when I hear someone accusing a Christian of judging him. Christians have no need to judge anyone. The Bible claims all have sinned (Rom 3:23), and therefore, all men are already condemned (Jn 3:18). The wrath of God is pending against them (Rom 1:18). Telling someone to be good in a moralistic sermon is ludicrous. Men are not good (Rom 3:12), nor can they generate good works untainted by sin (Is 64:6). It is impossible to please God without faith (Heb 11:6).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (Jn 5:24).” The Christian is never condemned (Rom 8:1), for he has passed from death to life. He does not come into judgment. The Day of Judgment is a rewards banquet for the saint. Note again the verb “has.” It is a current possession. The believer already has eternal life, so who will bring a charge against God’s elect (Rom 8:33)? With no valid accuser of the brethren, there is no fear of the Judge, who is known to have already paid the sinner’s penalty payment in full.
Without preserving grace, fear is the prevailing sentiment. People hide this by attempting to look successful in the world. A few probing questions, and the sinner is exposed and very agitated. The saint is very bold because even to lose his life is gain to him (Phil 1:21).
“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day (Jn 6:39).” All that the Father gives to the Son will come to Him, and His promise is to never cast her out (Jn 6:37). The guardian of our salvation says, “I lose nothing.” Jesus promises to raise him up on the last day (Jn 6:40, 44, 54).
Jesus spoke of His being the Good Shepherd (Jn 10). He made some promises to His sheep/people: first, to give them all eternal life; second, to ensure they will never perish; third, to ensure on one would snatch them out of His hand, nor His Father’s hand.
In the context of raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus promised His people would never die (Jn 11:25–26). If Jesus is “the” life and “the” resurrection, then to be in Him is to have these things already. Our regeneration is proof of our coming resurrection. We have already been made alive in Christ, but you will never be more alive than in the moments after you die.
Jesus promised to ask the Father to give His disciples the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would never leave them (Jn 14:16). Paul said it another way, “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” The glory of God resides in the soul of the believer. His promise is to never leave, nor to ever move out (Jn 14:17).
Finally, Jesus prayed for His own people. In John 17:12, He declared to His Father, “I was keeping them in your name…and not a one of them perished.” Judas was a counterfeit. He had all the privileges of Jesus’ ministry, but the faith that fails in the end was never real in the beginning. It is not a matter of you holding onto Christ, but it is a matter of Christ holding on to you. If He has you now, then you will soon be with Him where He is (Jn 17:24).
The whole message of blessed assurance in the Bible is to encourage the Christian to know without a doubt that heaven is a sure thing for him. To deny the believer in Jesus the knowledge of this rest is simply a work of the adversary. Rest assured, my dear brother or sister, there remains a Sabbath rest for you, prepared for you, and it will be yours when Jesus fulfills His promise to come for you. Be encouraged. He is coming soon. When in doubt return to His promises found in Holy Writ, and be amazed when your faith is strengthened by the mere reading of His words. They are life to you, and that life never ends.
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 20, 2021