- New believers are often told “once saved always saved” to indicate that since they have done something specific, like repent, be baptized, join a church etc. they will be in heaven after they die. Some denominations even go so far as to say their group is the only one in heaven – all others are in hell. Occasionally they pick out a single verse to establish their doctrine, either for or against. This doctrine is called “eternal security” and is based on the following verse.
Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you or forsake you.
Jesus said this. We can be sure He meant it, but that does not mean we don’t end up in hell. In fact some individuals who have been to hell and back (it doesn’t happen often) tell us Jesus is there and people do indeed talk to Him. They are angry and rebellious, as you might suspect, but Jesus has not forsaken them – but they have of Him.
John 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Another promise. There are thousands of promises in the Bible and this is just as solid as any other, but there are people who jump OUT of his hand. The promise of salvation is not what God does, but depends on what you do. Your salvation depends on the unqualified acceptance of your sin and His redemption.
By the way, this is a lifetime experience. I was saved 50 years ago (nearly) and my level of understanding, experience, and dedication bears little resemblance to what it was so long ago. I have grown. God does not judge us on our level of sophistication in spiritual things. But only our attitude.
1 Samuel 16:7 – God looks on the heart.
We are saved by faith; we are not necessarily damned by faithlessness. The third point is this: NO church or denomination can tell you unqualifiedly that you are either going to hell or heaven. In order to do this they would need to travel to the afterlife and make a census, then return with their findings. There are some pretty scruffy characters who made it to heaven and some clean and washed up-standing citizens who are no where near heaven. These things, that is our destiny, is not decided by men.
While a denomination cannot guarantee you “eternal security” neither should anyone fret and worry about “eternal insecurity.” God’s intention of the Bible is to set us free, not to keep us in bondage to an unknown future.
A woman named Kat Kerr has books and tapes about her frequent visits to heaven. She has pictures and tales about a happy and strange land of options, fun, travel, and excitement. On one of her tapes she records that a 18th century pirate repented and is now conducting pirate ship treasure hunts for our departed relatives if that is their pleasure. This points out that what we are good at in life is what we can have in heaven. It also means that if you live like the devil, don’t be shocked if you end up dying like and with him too. Life is a preparation time for an eternity – the choice is yours.
One of my students told me recently – your students want you to guarantee them that they will go to heaven. I said, “Sadly I can’t do that.” The promise and assurance of salvation cannot and will not come through men or their doctrines. It is the warm assurance of our heavenly father who, through Bible study and prayer, gives us that. And it is a totally individual and personal experience.”
If you are looking for eternal security, try reading John 10. I can do no better than the Lord in this matter. May you find his peace.