A lovely Caucasian grandmother approached me after service in South Africa almost 20 years ago with her daughter and grandchildren in tow, just to appreciate me for my ministry at a local Church pastored by one Pastor Bishop. Bishop’s father had attended the service too and was a retired Pastor himself. He had named his son ‘Bishop’ in the hopes he would end up becoming a preacher someday and truly the son was on the path. The lovely lady had attended the service and gotten healed of deafness in one of her ears . As she made to leave me, she said ‘I’ll see you again, and if I don’t, I’ll see you up there’ as she pointed upwards towards heaven. Her smile, her bright eyes, her sense of assurance was such an awesome thing to behold. It was such blessedness and I will never forget it.
That contrasts with the fear many Christians carry till their very last minute. Such doubt about eternity is unhealthy for us and weakens our Christian testimony. Like Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”(1 Corinthians 15.19). Our salvation extends beyond our lifetime with hope beyond the scope of human earthly existence. The life we receive in Christ is eternal in duration as much as it is divine in essence(John 3.16). The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that those who the father gives him will never perish because they have eternal life and no man can pluck them out of His hands(John 10.28-30). It is obvious that the salvation experience was never intended to be a temporary experience but a permanent one. The saved one should be able to rest in the security of that experience and be assured of heaven when he closes his eyes to the light of this world. He is assured he has made heaven already and will only fully enter its bliss when he sheds his earthly body.
“He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now co-seated as one with Christ!” Ephesians 2:6 TPT
According to God’s Word, we are raised with Christ in the heavenly realms at the right hand of God. It is our place of residence and it is impracticable that people who are in Christ end up in the darkness of hell fire. We are safe and secure in Him. Righteousness qualifies us for heaven, and Christ has become our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1.30). He was made a sin offering for us on the cross(2 Corinthians 5.21). That substitutionary work also made Him our righteousness after the demands of justice were met through His death. We are now the righteousness of God in him. This righteousness again is a gift given to us gratis by the simple exercise of our faith in His sacrifice at Calvary(Romans 5:17). We are now righteous with His righteousness. Paul, in spite of all his qualifications as a Jew and a Pharisee, still prayed not to be found in Christ with a righteousness of his own except that which is by faith in Him. His righteousness is ours and has given us access to the very throne of God. Our righteousness will never be based on our works, neither will our ability to make heaven because they are intertwined.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”” John 6:40 NKJV
Let me be clear that one who truly believes will definitely experience transformation in character. The true proof of salvation is walking in the light.
“He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” I John 2:10 NKJV
Walking in the light of the love of God is proof of salvation.
“Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” I John 3:6 NKJV
Walking in the light is living a life of holiness.
It is not a condition for salvation but proof of it. There are fruits that will automatically result from it. We are God’s workmanship created unto good works as a result of our salvation (Ephesians 2.8-10). The only sin that will lead to eternal damnation is the sin of the rejection of Christ and His gospel of grace.
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:18 NKJV
The one who has embraced Christ and His finished work of grace has been positioned for heaven and only needs to hold on to that hope till the end. Various passages of scripture encourage us to maintain our faith. It is my belief that a deliberate rejection of Christ even after initial faith can lead to a loss of it. While some will disagree with me about this position, we need to look a few warnings. These passages suggest the possibility of people starting out in faith and ending up in unbelief.
“but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”
Hebrews 3:6 NKJV
“Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:38-39 NKJV
As his end drew near and my dad sensed it, he visited a friend of his whose liver had been ravaged by disease. Trying to prepare him to meet God, the friend told him, ‘Tunde, I have given my life to Christ. Two Angels have been standing above this ceiling in the past two days and I know they are here to take me home. I know where I am going’. This true experience testifies to the reality of an after life with God that belongs to all of his children. God does not want us to live in the dread of never making it there but rather in a blessed assurance it is ours by faith in Christs finished work. Like Paul, he wants us all to be able to say;
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21 NKJV