How many us are able to say, if we were to die now, that we are confident of going to Heaven? Is this something that we can even be confident about? Unfortunately there are those who believe that it is impossible for Christians to be sure about our destination after death. On the other extreme, there are those who believe that once they have embraced Jesus, it is impossible for them to lose their place in Heaven. The truth is somewhere in between. The Bible teaches that we can certainly be confident about our salvation… but only if certain conditions have been met. Let us have a look, from the epistle of 1 John, four things that we need in order to have confidence in our salvation:
1. A Dwelling in Jesus (1 John 2:28)
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28)
In order to have confidence about our salvation, we must abide in Jesus. Abiding in Jesus involves abiding in Jesus’ truth, instead of false teaching. In the preceding verses, the apostle John warns about those who would come teaching false doctrines about Jesus. Instead of listening to them, Christians must abide in the doctrine which the apostles have taught since the beginning (1 John 2:18-24). To abide in Jesus is to abide in the words which Jesus taught (John 15:7), and to keep Jesus’ commandments (1 John 3:24).
When we abide in Jesus, we will “not be ashamed before him at his coming”. Confidence is being able to see Jesus and be joyful. The apostle Paul had such a confidence, for he looked forward to Jesus’ second coming, and exhorts that all who love Jesus’ appearing will receive the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:6-8). In contrast, those who are unprepared will wail when they see Jesus come again (Revelation 1:7).We can be confident when Jesus comes if we abide in Jesus.
2. A Good Conscience (1 John 3:19-22)
“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” (1 John 3:19-21)
In order to have confidence regarding our salvation, we must not do anything that would hurt our conscience. Certainly we do not want to hurt our conscience by committing any sin. Sin has devastating consequences (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). If we sin, we must repent and confess it before God, in order to maintain fellowship with Him (1 John 1:7-9). It is imperative that we do not do anything that would go against our conscience, because one consequence is that our conscience may become seared to the point that it becomes immune to sin (cf. 1 Timothy 4:2). Furthermore, if we do anything against our conscience, we can be sure that God knows about it, for He knows our hearts and He knows all things (1 John 3:20).
When we live in good conscience, we have “confidence toward God.” When we are able to live our lives in good conscience, we know that God, who sees our hearts, will approve of us. We can therefore have confidence that, when our soul finally returns to God, He will accept us and not reject us.
3. A Perfect Love (1 John 4:16-17)
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:16-17)
In order to have confidence in our salvation, we need to have a perfect love. To have a perfect love, we are to love others unconditionally and sacrificially as God does towards us (Romans 5:8; Matthew 5:43-48). Our love must be manifested not just verbally, but in action (1 John 3:16-18). Additionally, the love of God is perfected in us when we keep His Word (1 John 2:5).
When we have a perfect love, we will “have boldness in the day of judgment.” From the Judgment scene in Matthew 25:31-46, we see that one of the bases of judgment is whether we have displayed love towards those who are in need. If we have displayed perfect love towards others, we can be confident in the judgment because we know we had done what God wants us to do.
4. The Truth of Jesus (1 John 5:13)
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).
In order to be confident about our salvation, we need the truth of Jesus. Only in Jesus, can we find salvation, and only through Him we can find the way to eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).The apostle John has written to us in order to testify of the Deity of Jesus, for he himself had witnessed Jesus (1 John 1:1-3). The miracles recorded in the Gospel of John proves to us that Jesus is truly the Son of God (John 20:30-31). If Jesus is the Son of God, we must believe on Him, and obey His plan for salvation (John 6:24; Mark 16:16).
When we have embraced the truth of Jesus, we “know that [we] have eternal life.” Jesus has promised that those who believe on Him will live forever (John 11:25-26). Therefore if we continue to hold fast to the truth of Jesus, we can be assured of our salvation. Heaven is too important for us to be uncertain about. God has made Heaven sure for His people. Let us strive faithfully so that we can be confident about our own salvation.