Discipleship 101: Helping New Believers Understand Eternal Security
Many things are important for a new believer to understand in order to follow the biblical admonition to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). But nothing is more important than to understand why to belong to Christ is to belong to Him forever. God has not welcomed him into probation. He has welcomed him into paradise – life in the presence of God forever.
Why is that so essential? There are several reasons but three are worth citing.
Many have been saved out of a background of conditional love
Many people who trust in Christ have a background of experiencing love that was conditional with people loving them only as long as they measured up to certain expectations. People like this may think God is the same and even wonder if God would ever change His mind about them.
Satan may make them doubt their salvation
Satan is the adversary of every believer and especially the one who has just entered the family of God. He would love to convince him that what he has gone through is just an emotional experience characteristic of a person who suddenly becomes a religious fanatic.
People experience emotional highs and lows as new believers
People simply experience different levels of emotions as they start growing as new believers, including both highs and lows. Those emotional lows may cause them to wonder, “Have I truly become a Christian?” or “Does Jesus still love me?”
So, how might we help new believers in this area? There are several things we need to stress that will be of great help and encouragement to them.
1. The assurance of eternal life is based on fact not feeling.
Make sure the new believer understands that the assurance of eternal life is based on fact, not feeling. One of the best verses to go over with them is John 5:24. There we are told, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
As they look at that verse with you, it is helpful to ask the following questions:
Did you hear God’s word?
Did you “believe” what God said and trust Christ as your Savior?
Does “everlasting life” mean later or right now?
Does it say “shall not come into judgment” or might not?
Does it say “has passed from death” or shall pass?
Immediately they see that their assurance of eternal life is based on fact, not feeling. Whether they are at an all-time high or an all-time low, they are still a child of God.
2. It is how they handle doubts that matters.
Satan will not treat new believers as an exception. Satan will try to make them doubt their salvation just as he tries to make every believer doubt at some time or another.
During those moments, new believers need to remind Satan of the truth of John 5:24, but they also need to tell Satan, “If you have an argument about my salvation, your argument is with God, not me. God said it, that settles it.” In fact, Christ went so far as to say that in order for one to lose his salvation, he would have to be greater than God Himself – and even Satan is not that. Jesus said in John 10:28, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone 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 My hand.”
James 4:7 reminds us, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” That literally means “take a stand against the devil.” Satan needs to know that he is talking to the wrong person. Once Satan sees that he cannot worry believers about their salvation, he flees from them.
3. Assurance of eternal life is based on the promise God made to believers, not the promises believers have made to God.
Every believer wants to assure God that he will attempt to love others the way God has loved him, that he will study the Word and grow as a Christian, and will spend time talking to God through prayer and letting God talk to Him through the Word. In fact, every believer ought to seek to live the holiest life for Christ he can and take the admonition of 1 Peter 1:16 seriously. “Be holy, for I am holy.”
However, the assurance of eternal life has nothing to do with the promises he makes to God, but the promise God has made to Him. Jesus promised in John 6:47, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” Even though we may break our promises to Him, He never breaks His promise to us.
4. The more new believers bathe in the love and grace of God, the greater their assurance of eternal life will be.
A new believer needs to understand that when it comes to her salvation her focus needs to continually be on what Christ has done for her, not on what she has done for Christ. The reason is that when God accepted us, He did not look forward to our performance. Rather, He looked back on His Son’s performance on a cross. There on that cross Christ exclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30) meaning “paid in full.” Christ did not make the down payment for our sin. He made the full payment. Sins past, present, and even future were paid for on the cross.
That is what makes His love so unconditional. It has absolutely nothing to do with what we have done, do, or plan to do for Him. It has absolutely everything to do with what He did for us on a cross. That is what makes His grace so overwhelming as well. It is favor to those who actually deserve the opposite. The more a new believer bathes in the love and grace of God, the greater will be his understanding of the assurance of his salvation.
A believer was once asked, “Do you think that when you die you will live forever with God?” He responded, “Why sir, I have already begun.” Eternal life with God begins the moment we trust Christ alone as our only way to heaven. In death we simply pass to our new residence! Many things in life can change, but our relationship with Christ is not one of them. To belong to Him is to belong to Him forever and ever – and ever!
Listen while you read!
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