Have you ever bet on a “sure thing”? Whether it is a horse race (Dancer’s Pride in the fourth race at Aqueduct) or a football game (Ohio State over Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl!) or any other attractive wager, we have all learned that there is no such thing as a “sure thing.”
And yet, we still go out and purchase those lottery tickets or subscribe to those magazines so we can be entered in that $5,000 per week for the rest of our lives, don’t we? Our conviction that there are indeed sure things, or at least that the risk is one that is worth taking because it is “almost a sure thing” keeps us in the business of risking things we do not have to win prizes we do not want or know what to do with if we would indeed ever win them.
Our life experiences in general have taught each and every one of us that there is no such thing as “a sure thing!”
That “reality” rings in our ears when we read, in the Bible, statements such as are recorded in 1 John 5:13, where we read, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may KNOW that you have eternal life” [emphasis mine]. Can we REALLY know we have eternal life? If so, how?
Taking the Bible as our authority (that is the subject for a future article!), we can come to an understanding of what it means to know – really KNOW – that we can have eternal life.
Our verse (1 John 5:13) begins with the very simple statement that it is written to “you who believe in the name of the Son of God.” That means that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the starting point for answering the question “Can you be sure you have eternal life?” A person cannot be sure they have eternal life just because they are a good person.
How good to you have to be to be good enough to get in the perfect place called heaven? Only through a personal – that means for each one of us individually – relationship with Jesus will we even SEE heaven! But, if you and I have a personal relationship, the Bible tells us very clearly that we can KNOW we have eternal life!
That understanding arises out of our grasping the consistent biblical truth known as the Trinity (also a subject for future articles). We can know we have eternal life because of the current ongoing activity of each Person of the Trinity – the Power of the Father, the Prayer of the Son, and the Seal of the Holy Spirit.
When we talk about the Power of the Father, we are talking about the strength of His hold on each and every one who believes in Jesus.
Jesus tells us in John 10:28-29 that “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” When he says “no one”, that is exactly what he means. Taking Jesus at his word, which is what we all should do, points us to the fact that because of the power of God the Father who, once we believe in Jesus, has such a strong grip on us, no one can take that gift of eternal life away from us.
That, my friends, includes ourselves. We are not more powerful than God are we?
We can also be sure we have eternal life because of the Prayer of the Son. We regularly recite what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” You know, it begins: “Our Father, which art in heaven …” But in fact, the real prayer which Jesus the Son of God prayed is when he prayed the night he was betrayed and before he was crucified.
That prayer is found in John 17. This prayer is seen as the prayer which Jesus is continually praying for you and me and all those who truly believe in him. It is known as “Jesus’ Intercessory Prayer” There, he prays simply to the Father for you and for me. He says, “Holy Father, keep them in your name…” What this tells us is that Jesus, right now in heaven, is asking the Father to keep us in his name. The constant prayer of the Son of God is all the confidence we need to give us the assurance we need of our receiving the gift of eternal life.
The Power of the Father and the Prayer of the Son are important factors. But we can also be sure we have the gift of eternal life because of the Seal of the Spirit. In Ephesians 1:13, we read, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”
You and I, once we believe in Jesus, have been sealed by the Spirit of God. A seal on an envelope means that the contents are guaranteed not to be tampered with until opened. Until you and I finish our course here on earth, we are sealed by God.
Can you be sure you have eternal life? Yes, if you are personally trusting in Jesus. How do you know that for sure? Because of the Power of the Father, the Prayer of the Son, and the Seal of the Spirit.
More next week!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Times-Gazette and the News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Port William UMC.