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Assurance or Ignorance

Assurance or Ignorance?

     A few weeks ago, while watching a crime drama on television, something was said which truly reflects the world’s attitude toward heaven, or who will go to heaven.   A suspect with a gun was surrounded by the police force tasked with bringing him to justice.   Unfortunately, he was able to “snag” a hostage during the chase, and was threatening to kill the hostage if not allowed to escape. He said to the officer: “If you pull that trigger, she (the hostage) dies and we all go to heaven.”     Certainly, the context of the scene would not allow us to think the suspect (in the show) was in any kind of proper relationship with God. Nothing had been shown to indicate that any of the folks were even religious.  

     This is how the world thinks about heaven and who will ultimately go there.   The prevailing idea is that God is a merciful God.   I don’t know any who will question or argue with this. However, I wonder if the whole world has forgotten that God is a just God! in Isaiah 45:21 the Old Testament people of God, Israel, had to be reminded of this. They were dwelling in ignorance, even to the point of worshiping wooden and graven images, yet felt they had assurance of God’s blessing just because they were “God’s people”. Their relationship with God was based on their fleshly relation to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.   Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

     How many of God’s people today, “Christians”, are living in ignorance, thinking they have assurance of eternal life based solely on the premise of being called the “people of God”?    There is no assurance of salvation in the scriptures, without obedience to God. Therefore, those who don’t obey God need not expect to spend eternity with Him.

       In 1Thessalonians 1:8, the justice of God toward the disobedient is clearly put forth as the Spirit had Paul to write to those brethren.   Of this we can all rest assured.   In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:   Then, In Acts 17:30-31 where the apostle Paul was in Athens at Mars Hill, we find a passage of scripture that speaks of both the ignorance of man and the assurance of God toward man. These verses also speak of the time when the wrath and the vengeance of God will be released on all who are disobedient. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:  31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.  God has assured man through His Word, that salvation was made possible and available through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, not a single soul was saved or will be saved just because Jesus died, was buried and resurrected.

     Many seek assurance of salvation by misapplying John 3:16. This verse clearly reads “should not perish” and not “shall not perish”. There is a huge difference in the two. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Christ’s death on the cross and His coming forth from the grave was to procure the “means” by which all can be saved, provided they are willing to be obedient and remain so. If we do not access, and contact the “blood of Christ” we have no hope of heaven or assurance of eternal life. 1Peter 1:18-19 tells us those who are obedient to the gospel are “redeemed” by the blood of Christ.   Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 

   We do have the “promise” of eternal life if we have obeyed the gospel and remain faithful throughout this life.   This was what Peter was directed to say in Acts 2:39 as he preached to those Jews on Pentecost.   For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.  Of course, we know from 2Thessalonians 2:14 that the “call” is the call of the gospel as it is preached and taught to those outside of the body of Christ.  None are “called” of God in any other way. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But what assurance do we have?   As we go examine 1John 2:25 we see that we only “hath” eternal life in promise. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

     Let us strive to know the Word of God so we can be obedient and continue to do the Will of God.   We cannot afford to assume we are going to heaven, especially if we have not obeyed the gospel and remained faithful.   The fact that God is a “just” God will in no way be negated by His mercy.   Obey God today, by being obedient to the gospel, and then be assured of eternity with God by continuing to follow His Word. Don’t live in ignorance and, just assume that you are saved.

                             Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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