How can you be sure you are going to heaven?

Ralph-

Regarding your salvation: Do you believe that when you die (you personally) that you are going to heaven? In as much as we do not know when we are to die, how do you know you are going to heaven? On what basis? I am assuming that the answer to the 1st question is "yes".

My reply is below:


You are right my answer is yes. Your question tells me that you don't understand my position on this matter. Yes I believe you can walk away from the faith and thereby forfeit your salvation, but I don't believe that if I sin I will lose my salvation. That might sound like double talk but it isn't. Let me explain. I believe our salvation is the forgiveness of our sins and a reconciliation with the Farther bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. To that point, I think most Christians would agree with me, but here is where I part from both people who believe in OSAS and those who are off in the weeds on the other side and believe one sin and to hell you go.

I believe we are saved by faith and that we remain in that reconciled relationship with the Father through faith. Now I believe that faith is more than just a believing in Jesus, it is manifested by a changed heart, which in turn will be evidenced by a changed life. Read the book of James and you will see what I am talking about. No, we are not saved by good works, but good works will accompany any true salvation experience.

I needed to get that background explained so you can understand where I am coming from. So I am saved and there has been a change in my heart, meaning that I realize that I am a sinner and that sin is wrong and I desire not to continue in my sin but rather to follow Jesus Christ:

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." [NASB-U]

I believe I am eternally secure as long as I continue in my faith, meaning that I desire to follow Jesus Christ and not the world. He will complete the good work started in me, however, I also believe that if I choose to quit following Him and again follow the evil desires of the world that He will allow me to go and I will again become lost and an enemy of God:

James 4:4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. [NIV]

A sinner cannot become an enemy of God because we are all born into this world as enemies of God, we are only reconciled through faith in Jesus Christ. So this passage can only be referring to believers who decide to be friends with the world and thereby quit following Jesus.

But what happens to me if I sin? First let me address the idea that a Christian can be a believer and live like the world:

Hebrews 10:26-27 [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. [NIV]

1 John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

And there are more. So if I am a true believer my life will not be characterized by sin, but that does not mean that I won't ever make a mistake and sin. When I do, the Holy Spirit will convict me. When the Holy Spirit convicts me (or any believer) I have a choice to make. I can agree with God that what I have done was a sin and repent and feel remorse, or I can ignore the conviction because I like whatever it was that I have done and want to continue doing it. The choice is; do I want to continue to follow Christ or the world? God won't just let go, He will discipline me and try to draw me back. Just as this passage shows:

Amos 4:6-10 [6] "I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [7] "I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. [8] People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [9] "Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [10] "I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD." [NIV]

But in the end, it is my decision just as it was when I first came to know Christ. So you see, it was not the sin that caused me to lose my salvation. The sin was just a symptom of the disease, the disease of apostasy. If when I sin I repent, my relationship and my salvation remain in tack and I remain eternally secure.

So how can I be sure I am going to heaven if I die?

1 John 3:9-10 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. [10] This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. [NIV]

I can look at my life and tell whether I am still following Christ or not. As long as I am following Him, I am eternally secure and will go to heaven. It is only when I quit following Him that I need to be concerned.

Ralph

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