Why We Lack Assurance of Eternal Life



Why We Lack Assurance of Eternal Life

Richard Hollerman

Down through the centuries, men and women of faith have failed to have a solid assurance of their relationship with God. While they may think that they came to God in the way that their church or religion dictates, still they have doubts—sometimes many doubts about their eternal destiny. Why is this so?  While there are a variety of different reasons—and all of them are worthy of study—we’ll limit ourselves to just one reason for these lingering or persistent doubts.

Suppose you had a hundred friends who confidently said they felt fine and healthy—but every last one of them would proceed to die. It may have been car wrecks, heart attacks, strokes, or cancer, but they all died after proclaiming their feeling of well being. Would you be more cautious about your own physical condition? These people had a false sense of security that led them wrongly. How would that affect you?

One of the major reasons why people lack assurance of their own salvation and relationship with God is related to this matter of false assurance of others.  Let me explain what I mean.

We know that there are numerous religions in the world. Most of them believe in some sort of “higher power” or “god” and they worship and serve what they are convinced is right and proper.  We know that most of these religions are inherited from their parents, their grandparents, and those before them. It may also come from the culture around them.  In other words, a Hindu, in all likelihood is part of that religion because his or her parents and relatives were also Hindus. This would be the same with people from other world religions—such as Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and others. In other words, people generally don’t passionately search and research available information in order to discover the truth for themselves, but they just accept what they have been taught and what others around them believe and have been taught.

But what are the chances that people have learned the truth in regard to “religion” or any other topic?  We know that truth is the truth and all non-truth is non-truth (which the Bible would call “lies”).  Without doubt, most people—the vast majority of people—have been led astray and do not know the truth. They do not live in the truth or order their lives by the truth. The principle is expressed by John: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21). The truth is no lie and no lie is of the truth. But assuredly, most world religions are based on untruth—i.e., religious lies.

Let’s proceed.  There are some 360 million Buddhists in the world (religionfacts.com/ big_religion_chart. Htm). This religion has no conception of eternal life in God’s kingdom as taught in Scripture, but they do think they are spiritually right and sincere in their own way. People are willing to devote their lives to this religion and some have even set themselves on fire to kill themselves.  However, since we believe in God’s Word, we know that these devoted people are absolutely wrong, regardless of how sincere they may seem. Objectively, they are in sin, cut off from God, and don’t have eternal life (cf. Ephesians 2:1, 12; John 3:14-18, 36; 1 John 5:11-13).

When we consider the fact that these 360 million people can be wrong when they think they are right, we may be led to question ourselves: Could I be wrong when I think I’m right? If so many millions of Buddhists are totally wrong in their belief system, totally wrong in their theology, and totally wrong with their expectation of the afterlife, is it possible that I too could be wrong—when I think I am right?

Consider also the Hindu religion. Almost a billion (at least 900 million) Hindus are in the world and they think they are spiritually right when they worship three false gods and over 300 million lesser false gods.  We know that this violates the basic law of God that says, “I am the LORD your God. . . . You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3).Thus, Hindus are gravely mistaken.

These Hindus think that they are spiritually secure—but they, like the Buddhists, dwell in spiritual darkness and death (Ephesians 2:1; 4:17-19).  They don’t have a living relationship with Christ Jesus, thus they are lost, although they think they are right. Could we be under the same delusion? Do you see what we are observing here? If the Buddhists and the Hindus think that they are right, but they are lost and under God’s wrath (Romans 1:18), could it be that we also “think” that we are right but we too are lost?

We must also refer to the Muslims. These devoted followers of Islam (whether the Shiites, the Sunnites, or one of the smaller sects) now number 1.3 billion souls! We know that they are utterly devoted to Muhammad and the Koran. Some devoted ones have memorized the entire Koran—a book the size of the New Testament in the Bible. Some are willing to blow themselves up in a suicide mission, thinking that they will immediately go to Paradise and enjoy carnal pleasures for all eternity!

But the tragedy is that these devoted people are wrong, utterly wrong. Since they reject the person of Christ, deny that He was crucified on a cross, and deny His resurrection, they simply cannot be saved from sin and have eternal life (John 20:28-31; Romans 10:9-10; 1 John 5:11-13). Without Christ, they don’t have a hope of heaven or Paradise. Regardless of how much they crave for Paradise they will never go there—unless there is a change. Unless they repent, they will be eternally lost. But the point we want to emphasize is that they think, they believe, they are convinced that they are right with God and will spend eternity with Him!

The same is true of the Jewish people in the world. There are some 14 million Jews of all kinds (Reformed, Conservative, Orthodox, Atheists, etc.). While most Jews have a very limited view of eternal life, at least some of them think that they will be with God for all eternity. But Jesus declared, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24; cf. 14:6). Yes, there may be a very small minority who have come to Christ; however, by far the majority are lost in their sins but they think they are right.

The same is true of the various forms of religion in the broad realm of Christdendom. Of the some 2.2 billion of professing “Christians,” there are 1.2 billion Catholics. Those who have compared this religion to the Bible point out that there is a vast difference between what Jesus Christ requires for eternal life and what the Roman Church believes and teaches. But here is the same disconcerting fact: These people think they are right with God (or at least hope they are right with Him) and they think they will go to heaven, but they have a false assurance. They have not been “born again” which Jesus says is essential to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-7).

We could also cite the 225-300 million in Eastern Orthodoxy, the 86 million in Oriental Orthodoxy, and the 85 million in Anglicanism (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/List_of_Christian _denominations_by_number _of_members). We could go on to the millions of Evangelical believers, the Pentecostal and Charismatic believers, the Mormons, the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses, the oneness people, and others. They too think that they are right with God and will go to heaven when they die. But surely the vast majority are also sadly mistaken. Like the others, they also have a false assurance!

Do you see the point we are making? Nearly all of earth’s population think they are right with God (or spiritually secure in whatever “god” they believe in), but they are greatly mistaken. They have a false assurance. As Scripture points out, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). People think that they are on the way of life, but they are actually on the way of death.

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter through it” (Matthew 7:13). He continued, “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (v. 14). “Many” are on the broad way that ends in destruction while “few” are on the narrow way that leads to eternal life.

Now, if billions of people can be deceived about their spiritual condition and destiny, could you or I also be deceived? Could it be that we also have a false assurance? This underlines the extreme gravity of the situation!

Jesus warned that “many” think they are believing and doing right, but at the Judgment Day, they will be shocked to discover that their lifetime assurance was utterly wrong (Matthew 7:21-23). It was a false assurance. It was a belief that one is believing right, doing right, in the right religion, observing the right rituals or doing the right religious activity. People will think that they have been following the right priest, the right preacher, the right pastor, the right teacher, the right guru, the right prophet, and the right religious leader. But, as Jesus said to religious leaders of His day, “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14).

At this point, you may be prepared to cry out in helplessness and perplexity, “What is the answer? What can I do to escape this fate? How can I avoid this false assurance that billions and billions of people have fallen for?  How can I be assured that I am truly right with God and prepared to enter His eternal kingdom?”

Let’s make sure that we understand this present point we’re making. One reason (among other reasons) for our lack of assurance of our relationship with God is this matter of the assurance that others have!  If billions of people around us or around the world are lost in sin but think or assume they are on the way to heaven, we may question our own assumed assurance. We reason, “If they can be mistaken about their destiny, what about me? If they think they will be going to heaven, or Paradise, or Nirvana, but instead are going to hell, can I really be absolutely sure of my own eternal destiny? Can you see this point and do you agree that this is a serious and common problem?

The problem is seen on a daily basis. Most of you have had two “Jehovah’s Witnesses” come to the door. As you discuss the Lord with them, you can see that they have a great assurance that their organization is absolutely right and they too are right (as long as they stay within the organization). But, objectively, we know they are absolutely wrong about multiple doctrines. The Mormons may knock on your door as well and they, too, are convinced that they are right. But as you compare their bizarre teachings with the Bible, you can see they are totally wrong. The Prosperity Teaching TV evangelist comes on and tries to persuade you to his way of thinking. But you detect that he is gravely mistaken and deceived. You go to work and discuss the Bible with your devoted Catholic friend. Here again you see that this acquaintance is seriously in error—but he thinks he will go to heaven (after a stay in Purgagory). The same with your Protestant friend, your Bahai acquaintance, and your Jewish neighbor. How can these people think they are right but actually (objectively) be totally wrong and in sin?

The issue of your spiritual assurance could be answered in a very long manner but we’ll confine it to a very short one. In order to make sure of your own salvation and possession of eternal life, consider the following points that God has revealed to us in His written Word:

        1.    Make sure that you go to the infallible and inerrant Word of God (the Bible) for your answers (John 5:39-40). Don’t cling to the Koran, the Book of Mormon, Science and Health, the Catholic Magisterium, or any other fallible Book or group of people. Go to God’s Word itself for the answers! Begin reading in Genesis then perhaps go to Matthew, John, Acts, and Romans, then read the remainder of the New Testament (2 Timothy 3:15-17).


        2.    Seek the Lord with all of your heart and be unwilling to rest until you find the answers found in God’s Word (cf. Proverbs 2:1-6; Psalm 119:104-105). God rewards those who are serious in their quest for His truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).


        3.    Believe in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:1; 20:28-31). Believe in the good news of Christ’s bearing your sins on the cross and then rising from the dead to new life (John 5:24; Romans 1:16; 10:9-13).


        4.    Repent of all of your sins and be baptized into Christ Jesus, acknowledging Christ as Lord in all areas of your life (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 20:21; 26:20; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:6).


        5.    Live according to the words of Christ Jesus and the teachings of God’s Word (Matthew 28:20; 4:4; John 14:15, 21-24).


        6.    Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love others as you love yourself (Mark 12:28-31).

There is much more that I could share with you, but I suggest that you check out the pages on our website for more answers.  Don’t be deceived by the false and misleading ways around you. Seek God with all of your heart and be willing to cast aside all that is false. God, through His infinite mercy and wisdom, will give you spiritual assurance and ultimately a Home with Him!


Check especially the “Salvation” section under “Biblical Subjects.”




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