When you buy a new automobile you usually get a warranty that provides assurance
as to the quality of the merchandise.
What kind of assurance do Christians have? The apostle Paul, whose life was and is an example to all Christians, was inspired to write the following:
“…the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me ðat that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love hisappearing,” 2 Timothy4:6-8.
Would it not be wonderful to face the judgment with that kind of assurance – given by the Lord Himself? Yes, we all may want that, but not all will have it.
Why? Because Paul’s promise came out of his faithful Christian life. If you read that passage clearly, those words were inspired and given to Paul. He could truthfully say:
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…”
Can a Christian have the kind of assurance Paul had? Yes, but only if we have fought the fight, finished our course and kept the faith – like Paul. That automobile warranty had conditions that had to be met, like maintenance and proper care. And our souls require “maintenance” and proper care.
Some Have False Confidence
King Saul was given a specific task in 1 Samuel 15. On his return he told Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord.” But he had not. Did he think he would receive God’s blessing even though he refused to do what God told him to do? His “assurance” was not justified. We too can have a confidence that is not justified.
What Assurance DO We Have?
First, we know God is not our adversary but is ‘on our side’, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4-5. Satan is the enemy, and one of his best weapons is often the over-confidence of Christians.
In 1 Corinthian 10:12-13 we read that God has promised a “way to escape” the temptations that will always be there. Satan’s power to tempt us to “fall” is therefore limited, and we must resist it in order to “escape.”
God’s power will always be stronger than Satan’s, 1 John 4:4. Knowing that strengthened Paul’s resolve and helped him to “finish” his course, and “keep" the faith. Times can come when our desires, our own weaknesses give way to Satan’s temptations, and instead of resisting Satan (James 4:7), we give up and give in. God’s power has not weakened, but our will, our own decisions take us where we should not go. Remember, we can take that “way to escape” that God provides every time, but that is a decision we must make.
What Assurance Do We NOT Have?
Christians in the 1st century had assurance, but they were warned they could “fall,” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13. Paul also said he had to control his passions lest he be a “castaway,” 1 Corinthians 9:27 (“rejected from present testimony, loss of future reward”, W. E. Vine’s Expository/New Testament Words).
How can someone say “I know I am going to heaven” when they cannot be certain how they will respond to temptation in the remaining years of their life. Many Christians have thought they could, but some of them were wrong, for some “fell.”
Assurance Comes With Conditions!
As it is with that automobile warranty, there are conditions that must be met. Oil change on schedule, lubrication, timely maintenance, and inspections. When those conditions are met, our warranty is validated.
Some want a guarantee that heaven is their destiny even though they reject the love of God by their lives of rebellion. Paul’s assurance in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 came after years of trials and heartache (see 2 Corinthians 11). He had to control his own passions, take that “way to escape” himself. We have no unconditional guarantee, nor did Paul. The apostle John, in his first epistle, used the word “if” twenty-one times in just five chapters, including:
“If we walk in the light…” 1:7
“If we confess our sins…” 1:9
“If any man love the world…” 2:15
“If we love one another…” 4:12
The responsibility is ours, and His promises are for those who are faithful to Him. We would be shocked to discover that God did not keep His word; did not require that we follow and obey His word. Those conditions are motivated by His love, and we have the promise of eternal life with Him and the saints of all ages. Who, in their right mind, thinking clearly and with maturity, would prefer today’s temporal pleasures to those eternal joys that await God’s people?
Perfection? Of course not!
Faithful service? Of course!
Earn your salvation? Of course not!
Let us thank God for His assurance, and pray that our lives will show our gratitude,.
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