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Can the Christian know with assurance that he has eternal life? The Scriptures promise that whoever believes on Jesus Christ as their savior shall have everlasting life. This great Biblical doctrine does not rely upon a few proof texts, but is the broad teaching of the whole Bible.

The Bible consistently teaches that no one whom God has brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ will ever go to hell or be lost again. This is the Biblical doctrine of perseverance of the saints. God never starts a project that He does not finish. He is persevering. If God has started something in your life, He will finish it. If you have been born again, justified by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone you need never fear that you will be spiritually lost again. You were dead in your trespasses and sins until the Holy Spirit regenerated you spiritually. God never begins a project that He does not finish. Moreover, when He does it, God does it perfectly!

Yes, legalism teaches just the opposite. Legalists do not want the believer to have the security of God's sovereign grace and redeeming love. Spiritual insecurity and immaturity keeps people depending upon these religious leaders and their system rather than confidence and trust in God alone. It is the revealed will of God that each regenerate person should have assurance that he or she is a new creature in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 5:13). May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and our hearts to these wondrous truths.

The Bible consistently teaches us that when a sinner believes in Christ as Savior at one moment in time, God keeps the believer secure forever. He does not have to keep on being "born again" over and over again. However, He does when necessary discipline an erring Christian as a beloved child. Salvation once possessed cannot be lost. This belief in God's merciful and secure salvation is not a license to careless living, but on the contrary is a powerful incentive for godly living (John 10:27-30; Romans 8:38-39; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 12:12; Hebrews 10:14; 12:6-13; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

In Philippians 1:6 the apostle Paul teaches us, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Has God begun the good work of salvation in you? Have you been born again? Has He put His life in you? Have you confessed your sins to Him and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your savior?

God began a good work of salvation when you believed on Christ and He will consummate it when Jesus returns. "Being confident" is in the perfect tense in Greek indicating the apostle Paul had come to a settled conviction earlier about their salvation and he still is confident that it was true. Salvation is the good work of God (Ephesians 2:8-10).

First John 5:13 reads, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life." "These are written that you may know," no just know, but "to know with a settled intuitive knowledge." You can have eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ (John 20:31), and know that you have it. Despite anything Satan and the antichrist suggests believers do indeed possess eternal life now. The assurance of one's salvation always rests essentially and satisfactorily on the direct promises that God makes to the believer in His Word.

We know that we have eternal life! There the witness of the Spirit within the believer and there is the witness of the Scriptures. "To know" often rendered "to be sure," "to be assured," "to have no doubt." "I write you this so that you may know that you have eternal life" (TEV).

We do not earn eternal life; it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10). Jesus Christ is the gift. We receive Him. "He who has the Son has life" (1 John 5:12). Do you have the Son? We receive the gift of eternal life by faith. Not to believe is to make God out a liar.

The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle John to write the Gospel "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, you may have life in His name" (John 20:31). Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ? Do you have His life in you? He went on write his epistle to give assurance to those who have believed on Christ. "These things I have written to you who have believed in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). Do you have this assurance of eternal life? You can know with absolute knowledge that you are having eternal life. "You have" is in the present tense, indicating that you already have eternal life; it is not a future promise, but a present reality.

John 10:27-30 teaches us "eternal life" is the gift Jesus gives His sheep now (Jn. 6:27, 40; 1 John 2:25; 5:11). "No one shall snatch them out of My hand," Jesus said (Jn. 10:28). "No wolf, no thief, no bandit, no hireling, no demon, not even the devil can pluck the sheep out of My hand" (A. T. Robertson). From the man’s outlook we become one of His sheep by believing on Jesus Christ, and from the divine view we believe because we are His sheep. Colossians 3:3 says, "Your life is hid together with Christ in God." Moreover, verse twenty-nine tells us the greatness of the Father is the ground of the safety of the flock. "No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." "I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10:30). "Shall never perish" is a strong double negative affirmation in the Greek like, "they will indeed not ever perish." The security of the sheep is found in the ability of the Shepherd to defend and preserve His flock. Thank God, the security of the believer does not depend on the ability of the believer, but our great sovereign God and Savior Jesus Christ. No one is strong enough to snatch the believer from the Father's hand. It is double security because Jesus holds us in His hands and the Father has His hands around Jesus! Jesus and the Father have the closest possible unity of purpose (Jn. 10:30). Jesus and he Father are One in will and goal of salvation for all who believe on Christ.

"Eternal life" here is characterized as a gift from God, not something earned, which will "never perish," and "no one can snatch them out of my hand," and "no one can snatch them out of My Father's hand." Our salvation can never be stolen or taken away. This is true eternal security; we are safe in the Father's arms. Who can separate us from the love of God? None! (Romans 8:38-39).

The sheep have an intimacy with Jesus Christ, listen to His voice, understand the message of salvation and follow Him. This passage is one of the clearest statements that the believer in Jesus Christ for salvation will never be lost. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He has never lost one of His flock. "You do not believe because you are not one of My sheep" is very clear.

Will the Lord Jesus Christ lose the purchase of His blood? Definitely not is the answer the apostle Paul gives in Romans 8:29-39. God's ultimate goal is to make us like Jesus and He will not fail. The realization of the goal is certain (Rom. 8:28-30).

Based on God's Word we can know that we have eternal life. It has nothing to do with our feelings, and everything to do with the integrity of God. In God's mind, once a son, always a son (Rom. 8:15-17; Galatians 4:4-7). God chose to adopt us, and that is a permanent relationship with Him. Once you are a child of God, you are always a child of God. Once you are in God's family, you are there forever.

How can God not freely give us all things? Since God is for us, who then can possibly stand against us? Most people ask, but is God really for me? He answered that question once and for all at Calvary (John 3:16; Romans 5:6, 8). "He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). Since God is for us, He is always for us. Christ died as my substitute on the cross. How much does God love you and me? Jesus died for our sins while we were His enemy. God spared not His own Son to save us. Since God has taken care of the greatest possible gifts in the giving of His Son, surely we can depend upon Him to take care of the lesser gifts.

God saved us by His grace and He continues to sustain us by His grace. Everything needed in securing our glorification will be freely and completely bestowed in God's sovereign saving grace. How could God possibly fail to glorify the believer who has been justified by faith when He has already given His unspeakable and incomparable gift of His only Son?

"Who can bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?" (Rom. 8:33). Since God has justified us, no charge can be brought against those whom God has chosen (Rom. 8:33-34). God not only imputes our sins to His Son, but He takes the perfect righteousness of Jesus and imputes it to the believer. You and I stand clothed with the perfect robes of the righteousness of Jesus Christ before a righteous and holy God. No one can lay any charge against me because I am arrayed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. "No condemnation" is the verdict of God (Romans 8:1).

What shall separate us from the love of God? (Rom. 8:35) Nothing. We are secure in the love of God in Christ. "The Lord is for me; I will not fear, what can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6). God really does love us and nothing, nothing, nothing can separate us from His love.

Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ guarantees our sanctification and glorification. Our salvation from beginning in regeneration to its completion in glorification is ultimately God's work, which we believers appropriate by faith.

What is the worst thing man can do to me? Kill me? Even that will only usher me into the very presence of God the Father in heaven (Acts 7:56-60). Who can stand against the LORD God? Nobody. Nothing. The LORD God will protect His investment. Next to His only begotten Son, we are His most precious possessions He has because He purchased us with His own blood. Nobody and nothing can harm the redeemed people of God.

1 John 3:2 tells us we are even now God's children! Yet, the greater glory is to come because we are now the children of God. Our destiny and glory is to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29). "We shall see Him as He is." Our destiny is to be conformed to the image of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:52-54; Philippians 3:21). The transformation will result from seeing "Him as He is." Everyone who has Christ "purifies Himself, just as He is pure."

The open vision of the coming Lord will bring us face to face with Him, and "what we shall be" will be in the likeness of Him because "we shall see Him as He is." Through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit we are being conformed more and more to His spiritual likeness, but there is a day coming when this body of our humiliation will be changed to an outward expression like His body of glory.

When a person uses the promise of eternal security as a license to sin it only proves the deceitfulness of his own heart and proves he has never been born again. It proves he does not understand grace and has never experienced the radical change of the spiritual birth.

When sheep hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, they are obedient. Do you hear His voice? Are you following Him? Are you obedient to His voice? Have you been born again? These are evidences that Christ by His Spirit dwells in you (Romans 8:16). The Holy Spirit gives origin to the grace of full assurance to the believer (1 John 2:20, 27; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30).

Our salvation does not depend upon our obedience to the law, church membership, or our baptism by immersion. Salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ alone to save you?

A. A. Hodge wrote, "True assurance begets unfeigned humility; false assurance begets spiritual pride (1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 6:14)." True assurance "leads to increased diligence in the practice of holiness; the false leads to sloth and self-indulgence (Psalm 51:12, 13, 14)." True Biblical assurance "leads to candid self-examination and to a desire to be searched and corrected by God; the false leads to a disposition to be satisfied with appearance and to avoid accurate investigation (Psalm 139:23, 24)." True assurance of eternal life "leads to constant aspirations after more intimate fellowship with God (1 John 3:2, 3)" (Commentary on the Westminster Confession).

Key Scriptures

Romans 8:16; 28-39;1 John 1:7-10; 2:3; 3:14; 4:16; John 10:24-30; Hebrews 6:11; 2 Peter 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:12; 4:7-8; Ephesians 113-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:21; John 3:16, 36

Abiding Principles and Practical Applications

1.  Do you really think the owner of the sheep is going to lose any of His sheep when He has gone to the cross, died and risen from the dead? (John 10:27-30) If we have believed on Christ as our personal Savior, we have double security in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

2.  The apostle Paul had a settled and firm persuasion concerning this very thing, that He who began a good work will bring it to a successful conclusion right up to the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Paul's confidence is in the grace and power of God (2 Timothy 1:12). Our salvation is in God's hands. When you have been saved by His grace, you can trust your eternal life to Him.

For Further Study

Blessed Assurance 
Philippians 1:6 Believer's Perseverance Eternal Security in Jesus ...
Predestined to be Conformed to Christ 

Romans 8:28-30 Salvation in Five Words
John 17:6-8 How to Receive Eternal Life
John 17:9-12 How May I Know I Am Saved?
Saved by Grace
Peace with God  Romans 5:1-11
John 3:1-16 You Must be Born Again





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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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