How Can You Know You Have Eternal Life?

Date: 09/18/2021 
How can we know if we will have eternal life?

Can a Saved Man Choose to Be Lost? - Paper or Digital PDF

Can a Saved Man Choose to Be Lost? - Paper or Digital PDF
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Doug Batchelor: It's been many years, but it still feels like yesterday. Living in a cave high above Palm Springs, no money, no prospects, just drifting through life deeply confused about who I was and wondering if life held any purpose. Coming from a wealthy family, I could have had it all. Money, power, fame--but this all struck me as plastic and empty. It wasn't until I was at the lowest point in my life when I found true meaning. Somebody had left a Bible in my cave, and I quickly discovered why this is the number one best-seller in the world.

Friends, I can't even begin to tell you what the Bible has done for me. It's the awe-inspiring living Word that has the power to transform human hearts. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you'll know the truth, and the truth will make you free." And this is still the truth today. And it's the reason that I'm standing here today, thankful to be able to proclaim His Word and eager to bring hope to those in need. I truly believe that today's program is going to fulfill that desire and leave you with a rich blessing. And don't forget, stay tuned for our very important free offer at the end of this presentation.

Doug: Something I've observed in airports, if you're ever in the boarding area before the flight, you can almost pick out the people who are what you call "confirmed" and those who are on standby. Those who have confirmed tickets, they usually, you know, they're sitting, they're reading, might be resting. And the people on standby are often standing, they're pacing, they're looking at their watches, they look a little edgy and nervous, and especially during boarding time they're almost hoping people won't show up so there will be a seat left for them. They don't have confidence or assurance and they're not very happy. They don't have peace.

I've seen that same dynamic play out in the Christian church, all of my experience. And I've just heard a lot of people, both in writing and in visiting, in the last few months that have expressed they've been a Christian for years, but they don't have peace. They worry all the time about will they be saved. So in the message today, we're going to address that subject. Now, can a Christian experience the joy of salvation and peace if they are living with constant dread and worry wondering if they're saved? That's really the issue we're dealing with. And I know a lot of people in that category, even as we posted, you know what the message was going to be on, on Facebook, several people said, "This is what I worry about all the time."

Now, there's a tension, there's a balance here. Let me explain this, you know, and you've got two extremes in the Christian world. You know, on one side, you've got a group, they usually come from a Calvinist persuasion--a lot of lovely people, I expect to see many of them in heaven. But they believe what you would call "once saved, always saved." Once you're saved, you can't be lost. And this theology kind of grew out of the need to give people some assurance, because otherwise they thought if you don't know, you're going to be in the other group, and that might come from our many in our Puritan background where, you know, John Wesley was called a Methodist because he had a method for everything. And in some cases, they thought it was perfectionistic. And it's like, you know, if you're saved but you think or do something wrong, you're lost, and you need to repent right away because if you die between the sin and your repentance, you're doomed. And so, there's a risk of living in constant fear, kind of like the little girl that's walking along, plucking petals off the flower, and she says, "He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not." "I'm saved, I'm lost. I'm saved, I'm lost." And that's not a very happy experience either.

Between these two extremes, I think you find the truth. I believe there is plenty of scripture that tell us that you need to live an obedient life, and we'll go to some of those in just a minute. But I believe there's plenty of scriptures that tell us that a Christian can have peace and joy and assurance and confidence about their destiny and their relationship with the Lord. And that's my goal today.

Now there are probably three, maybe four categories that all believers fall into. Category one, those who believe they are saved and they are. Paul said, "I fought a good fight, I finished the race, I've kept the faith. Hereafter there is laid up for me--I know whom I believed in." Right? Lots of scriptures about that.

Category two, there's those who believe they are lost and they are. Paul describes those who say, "Well, let's eat and drink, tomorrow we die." And they've just, you know, they've basically turned their backs on the Lord and they are lost, they're living lost, and they are lost.

Then there's those who think they are saved and they're not. We all know about Jesus teaching, where you got that group that says, "Lord, Lord, what's wrong? You know, I taught in your streets, I cast out devils-- many wonderful works," and they'll say, "Depart from me, workers of iniquity, I don't know you." They thought they were saved but they're not.

Now the fourth category is a dicey one, and let me explain. Are there people who think they're not saved but they are? Well, all things are possible with God, but there's some challenges there. Let me explain. "Without faith," Hebrews 11:6, "it is impossible to please God." So if people are going through their experience and they have no faith they're saved, are they safe? Psalm 78:21, "Therefore the Lord heard this and He was furious; So a fire was kindled against Jacob, because they did not believe in God and did not trust in His salvation."

God wants you to trust in your salvation. By the way, this message is very important because I think there's some of you there who are just so close to eternal life, but you're doubting, and you got to get past that. And you'll be there if you can get past the doubt. But the faith issue is an eternal pivotal issue. John 3:18, "He that does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." And so, you know, there may be people in foreign lands and they don't know about salvation and they haven't heard about Jesus. They don't know they're saved, but they lived up to all the light that God has given them; we can't put anything past the Lord. And so, I think with that category four, yeah, I don't believe you can be too firm and deliberate in saying there are some people out there that doubt their salvation and they can't be saved. But it's a difficult place to be in when you consider all the Bible has to say about, "You need to believe."

A man came to Jesus with a son that was a demon possessed and said, "Lord, if you can do anything," he said, "If you can believe, all things are possible." Two thieves on the cross next to Jesus when he died, one said, "Lord, remember me," he believed. The other one said, "If you can do anything, save yourself and us." "If" disqualified him. And so, those are your categories.

Now first, let's talk about the idea of 'once saved, always saved" and some people have got this false security. There's a lot of people that go through their Christian experience and they're trusting in something that it's not safe to trust in. So we need to understand that you cannot live in high-handed disobedience and say, "Well, I prayed Jesus into my heart, so I'm saved." The Bible is pretty clear that you need to live a committed life. That's why Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom, but he that does the will of My Father in heaven." John 15:2, and then verse 6. Christ said, "Every branch in Me that doesn't bear fruit, He takes away," and these are branches in Him. They got His name, they say they're part of His people and part of His church, but they're fruitless. They're taken away, and go to verse 6, "Anyone who does not abide in Me is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them together and throw them in the fire, and they're burned."

So, the Bible is pretty clear, and there's lots of scriptures. And by the way, this debate between once saved, always saved and free will is the big debate in Christianity that has been going on for hundreds of years. And the reason is people are saying, 'How do you give people assurance of salvation if it seems like it's dependent on their works?" It's not dependent on their works, but on the other side, you got people who say, "There's nothing that you can do to be saved, it is 100% the work of Christ. Nothing you can do." And I'll say, "Is everyone saved?" "Well, no." I said, "Well, how do you get started?" "Well, you need to ask." I said, "You got to do something." You got to ask Jesus in your heart, is that something? Right? And so, you got to start somewhere. And even Christ said, "This is the work, that you believe on the one the Father has sent." That's a work.

So, the idea that you have no choice, I reject that. I'm in the group that believes we do have a choice. If every human--our destinies are predetermined by God, you end up making God an accomplice in sin. It's like, "I've created you to sin. I'm going to punish you for doing it, but you have no choice." Does that make sense? That that wouldn't be fair. So, you've got these two extremes, but the Bible is pretty clear that yeah, a person can be saved, and then lose their salvation by rejecting or discontinuing their following of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:27. Paul said, "I keep my body under, and I bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I preach to others, I myself could be a castaway." Paul makes it pretty clear that even he, if he didn't struggle to keep his body subdued, Paul said, "I die daily." Well, what happens if he didn't die in his self daily? Then he'd be living for the wrong master.

Revelation 2:5, Jesus said, 'Repent and do the first works," by the way, He's speaking to the churches here. "Repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent." Go to chapter 3, verse 5 of Revelation. "He who overcomes will be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name from the Book of Life." So there are conditions to salvation. Let's find out what the Bible says. Romans 11:22, "Therefore consider the goodness and the severity of God," he's talking about the people that God saved from Egypt that were later judged. "The goodness and the severity of God: on those who fell, severity; towards you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you'll be cut off." If that was clear say amen.

It says, "If you continue," so once we accept the goodness of God, we need to continue in it. It's a--being a Christian is an ongoing relationship. It's not a one-time prayer, go back to the world and live like the world. Matthew chapter 24, verse 13. "He that endures to the end will be saved." It's an ongoing endurance. Christian life is not a sprint, it's a shuffling marathon.

Now, here's a part where I hope you'll find it encouraging. God does not save you and then sit back on the sidelines like an Olympic judge and wonder how you're going to score. God saves you and then He commits Himself to you, He ties Himself to you, He becomes proactively involved in your salvation. It's not just God standing back to see what you're going to do, it's God doing it with you. We are saved for good works for it is God that works in you to work out His will. And so, look at some of the metaphors that the Bible uses to describe salvation. One of course, God is our Father. The Bible says He adopts us. Romans chapter 8, verse 15. "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear," God doesn't want us to live in fear, "but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'" That was in Aramaic, it's still today, they use that word. It's the most tender relationship of a little child to their father. And God says, "I love you like you're my child, and I've adopted you. And as you are learning to walk and you're in My household, I'm not going to leave you."

God's not like some fathers where he's disengaged. I feel like every father out there wishes he had been more engaged in his children's lives. God is a good Father, and He is actively engaged in your protection. He's actively engaged in your provision, in your salvation, in your growth, and as you fall, keep in mind, God doesn't go, "Dumb kid, I can go adopt another one," and walk away. He gets there and He picks you back, and He's right there engaged in helping you continue.

So, when you fall, don't think, "I guess I'm lost. The relationship's over." If you fall, turn right back to God. He will pick you right back up again, and you keep moving on with Him. He is anxious to save you. He's proactively involved. He will actually use your mistakes to teach you. If you don't stop believing and stop following Him, God is going to bring into your life anything and everything you need to be saved. He'll be working out your salvation with you, in you, during that time. And that might mean He disciplines. Hebrews 12, verse 5, "And have you forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, or be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens," so if you're being chastened--who does He do that to? He loves you. "Whom the LORD loves He chastens, And He scourges." Now, that's not just a verbal when it says, "He scourges," I mean, God spanks us. "Every son who He receives," so when you're--you misbehave or you're doing something wrong or you're, you know, sometimes you might be thinking, "I thought I was doing something right, and I'm going through a trial."

Keep in mind, God allows good and bad to come to everybody. I mean, read the book of Job. Jesus was good and He had some trials, didn't He? And so as you go through different trials, embrace God, embrace the trials. He's teaching you through them. And when I'm going through a hard time, I say, "Lord, help me quickly learn whatever it is You want me to learn through this so we can get it over with," and just embrace it. Someone said, "If you draw near the one who holds the rod, it lessens the blow." Draw near to God during those times, that He's a Father.

And then Jesus is our shepherd, and, you know, there's so many analogies of this in the Bible. You can't improve on Psalm 23. "The LORD is my shepherd; I will not want." That means, "He's going to give me everything I need." "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He makes sure I'm fed well; He leads me beside the still water." You've got the bread of God's Word, you've got the living water. "He restores my soul." That's something that implies you go down, He restores. You get discouraged, He restores. "He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." God is our shepherd, He'll take good care of His sheep. He stays with His sheep. The hireling flees and leaves the sheep, the good shepherd, like David, lays down his life to fight the bear and the lion and save his sheep, and Jesus will do that. In all of these metaphors, He tells us about His love and His commitment.

By the way, in Psalm 23 it also says, "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." That interests me, because the shepherd used the rod and the staff both for defense and discipline of the sheep. There was a crook on the staff, and when the sheep were getting out of line or off the path he'd take it and he'd yank them back in. And that's kind of how it is for us, the Lord is constantly kind of tugging us back into the trail, but He's engaged. He's actively involved, do you see that? Jesus said, John 10, "I am the good shepherd." He's not a hireling. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep, and He does for us.

Well, now before we get too far from the sheep metaphor, I'd like to add another category. Once you come to Christ and you accept Him, you can have assurance and confidence in your salvation, but you need to hang on. Philippians 2:12, listen to all the "hold on" verses in the Bible. "Not that I've already attained--" I'm going to read this verse again later. Paul says, "Not that I've already attained, or I'm already perfect," this is the Apostle Paul, and he said, "I'm not perfect." Oh, you think he's an apostle. Many worship him as a saint. He's not perfect, he'll be in heaven. But during his earthly ministry, he says, "I don't claim that I'm perfect. I've not arrived yet." He said, "I press on." Friends, as long as you keep pressing on you can have confidence, but listen to what he says. He says, "I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me."

So here you've got a picture of two hands holding on. Now, it makes a difference if you're both holding on. If you've got somebody and you're holding their hand because they're leaning out to look over a ledge, and they grab you and they got a good grip on you because they're trusting you to hang on to them. You're holding them, they're leaning out, looking over a ledge. If suddenly their grip goes limp, you know, it's harder for you to hold them. It's a lot easier for two people to hold on if they're both engaged in holding. And the Lord is hanging on to a lot of us, and we've gone limp. You need to hang on. I can yank my hand out of someone's hand if I want to. He will never let go of you. That ought to give you confidence. So if someone's letting go, it's not Him. If you want, you can yank your hand out of His hand, but He says, "I will not let go of you." And many times He continues to pursue us and hold on, even when we try not to. 1 Corinthians 15:1. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel that I preached to you, which you also received in which you stand, and which you are saved." This is so good. "The gospel by which you are saved, if you hold fast that word," they continue to say, "That you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain." Hold on.

How do we hold on to Jesus? Believe His Word, keep reading His Word. It has an ongoing transforming influence. Philippians 2:15, "That you might be blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation," that describes today, "among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life."

That's why everything we do-- you know how many scriptures I'm giving today? We're a Bible based church. Amen. Because this is where the power is, it has a sanctifying influence on it. Hold fast to the word of life. Hebrews 3:6, "But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence," see, that's what I want to inspire in you today is confidence that you're His children. That you're still His bride. You're a soldier in His army, that He's not forsaken you, that He that begun a good work in you will perform it, that He's the author and the finisher of our faith. And you may look at your life and say, "Oh man, I got so many problems."

Do you see any progress? Hopefully you're growing. He wants us to be growing. And that's what sanctification means. You may not feel like you've arrived, like Paul said, but do you see the Lord working in your life day by day? So, you're a Christian, and you fall, you sin, you make a mistake, do you feel guilty? Good. That's the Holy Spirit. You know the Holy Spirit is convicting you, and you are still a child of God, but you better listen when the Holy Spirit says, "Repent." So you don't throw your hands in the air--if you know that when you came to Christ and you received Him, you were baptized, Peter said, "Repent, be baptized, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promises unto you and your children," there's a promise. He gives you His Spirit.

Even Christ, as our example, got baptized, not for His sin, but as our example. He began His ministry, Holy Spirit came down, and He does that for all of His children. By the way, what did the Father say when Jesus was baptized? "This is my beloved Son." Adoption happens. You become His son, His daughter at that time. And he gives you the Holy Spirit as a guarantee. Romans 8:9, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." So this is not optional, friends. We need the Holy Spirit in our lives. Amen. 1 John 4:13. "By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He's given us His Spirit." Now the Spirit is sort of an ethereal thing, and sometimes we might wonder, "Well, I think I feel the Holy Spirit." Has nothing to do with feeling, has to do with faith. God promised to give you the Spirit. Does He keep His promises? Now I believe you will feel it, but first comes the faith, and then comes the feeling. If I give you a check and it says $1 million dollars on it, you probably wouldn't get very excited, because you'd think, "Doug's crazy, He doesn't have that much money." But then if you look on the check and it says Bill Gates, you go, "Oh!" Your faith that the check is good--how many of you would it affect your feelings? Would you feel pretty good? Yeah, see what I'm saying? That's how it works. If you believe you're saved, you're going to feel better. If you believe you're saved, you're going to--you know what? It's easier for you to be good if you believe you're saved.

When they were building the Golden Gate Bridge, about halfway through construction, you know, it's a very dangerous place. It's high up, the wind blows all the time, the bridge was swaying, and they lost 25 men in the construction process. A guy named Strauss said, "That's unacceptable." And they spent $100,000, now for us today it's like $100 million. They spent $100,000 and they built a net all the way across the chasm where the bridge is underneath the bridge, so that if any man lost his grip and fell, the net would catch him. Actually, nine or ten guys did fall through the remainder of the construction progress, and they called them the halfway to hell club, because they fell and they got caught. But the interesting thing was once they put the net there, productivity on the bridge went up 25%. Because the men had confidence, and they were able to do more.

If we spend all our time wondering if I'm going to make it, you're focused on yourself. If you believe, and you have confidence that God's going to finish what He started in your life, if you do these things we've talked about, then you're going to have peace, you're going to have assurance. You keep your hand in the hand of the man that stills the water, right? It's like that old spiritual says, "You put your hand to the plow and hold on." And if you hold on to Him, He's never going to let go of you. He's married to you, He's adopted you. You're in His army. He wants you to be successful. The Bible is filled with promises that God is going to finish the work that He started in our life.

Doug: You know, the power of choice is an amazing gift from God. But when a person is saved, do they choose God or does He choose them? And once a person is saved, do they still have the freedom to reverse that decision? Well, this is probably one of the most deeply discussed concepts in the Bible. But if we're confused about what really constitutes true salvation, well that could be the most expensive mistake we ever make. Fortunately, you don't have to be confused about the good news. "Amazing Facts" would like to send you a special gift called "Can a Saved Man Choose to be Lost?" This is a short, but very insightful book for anyone who has questions about the once saved, always saved teaching that's now exploding through the Christian church. So don't wait friend, to get your free copy, call the number on the screen and ask for offer number 112, or visit the web address. And after you read this incredible resource, make sure and share it with a friend.

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