Can We Say Who Is Surely Saved?

Written: 26 October, 1999

Since I'm new to this religion thang, maybe some of the folks here can set me straight -- or make me more mixed up than ever. I replied to Mad Jack's post on the CBR Community board wherein he had complained about encountering some Christians who were trying to convert people.

I replied, in part:

I've never been harassed by evangelical (is that the technical term for those who go around trying to convert people?) Christians before. I kinda wish I did run into some now; I'd like to talk with folks who were really passionate about Christianity. Long before becoming a Christian myself, I was interested in hearing about it. The only times that it ever turned me off was when people told me "You're going to hell if..." (fill in the blank). That is definitely the wrong thing to say to someone, because that Christian doesn't know where you'll end up for sure, just as they can't say that they are definitely going to Heaven. Nobody knows how things will turn out for each person, nobody knows what is going on in each person's head, etc., etc., etc.

The poster named Al read that, and replied to me:

Sorry, What? That's the point, Rob! "I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except by me". One of the fundamentals of Christianity is that yes, you do "know" you're going to heaven. Or, rather, we have faith in that. But to the Christian, that's a surety if we believe in, trust and obey the Lord.

So, I replied to Al:

I agree about the faith, trust, and obey part, but all I'm saying is that just because someone says that they are a Christian doesn't mean necessarily that they are going to Heaven, does it? In one of the Gospels (I forget which one), Jesus says that at Judgement Day, some people will say "Jesus, I preached in your name," and He will say "Get away, I know you not." I believe that it's up to each of us to be saved, but we can't know if other people are really saved. And, judging by the shock that that person must have felt when Jesus said "Get away, I know you not," we can't say definitely that we will be saved even if we think that we are Christians. That's my personal opinion. All we can do is trust that God will be just and merciful to ourselves and those around us, even those who don't believe in Him. Whenever I have a question now about why God would let unbelievers go to Hell, or any other question I have, I just ask myself: "Do I trust in God, or don't I?" If I don't trust in God, then I'm saying that I know as much as God, equating myself with God. If I do trust in God (not to be confused with "testing" God by, say, jumping off a cliff), then I trust that God is working in the lives of unbelievers and I shouldn't unwittingly try to give them a good reason to look down on Christianity. Anyway, the thing about not telling unbelievers "You're going to hell" was something my pastor mentioned the other day, echoing what Mad Jack said, that that's not the way to win converts. It just insults people, and it makes them question why they would want to worship a God that would send good people like themselves to Hell, making them believe that the God of the Bible is unjust.

So, my question is.... Can one truly say that one is saved, that one is going to Heaven (and are those two things synonomous, as I think they are)?

At my church each Sunday, we read in unison a printed confession of sins -- which changes each week and which is written in plain everyday language -- and then that is followed by a moment of silence where we silently confess our individual sins to God in prayer. Then that is followed by ab "Assurance of Pardon" where we read in unison a statement saying that if we meant what we said and "truly turn back to God's way" that God forgives us, pardons us, and cleanses us. That weekly assurance that my sins have been forgiven is something that I think I need, to be reminded that God is continually forgiving me. That gives me the assurance to believe that, yes, I am going to Heaven, I am saved. I think it is comforting to feel that, to feel like I know it, but on another level that attitude of "I am going to Heaven" seems hard to reconcile with Jesus' desire for us to be humble people. Walking around thinking "I am going to Heaven, and those prostitutes are not" sounds like the Pharasees talking to me.

Another thing that makes me hesitant to have a certainty about who is going to Heaven and who is not is the mystery of God's workings, and the all-powerfullness of God. Some people say that we have free will to believe in Jesus or reject Him. Others say that what we believe is part of God's plan.

There are some people out there that simply can't accept the idea that Christianity is true. Therefore, they are prevented from being Christians. Would God punish someone who so highly valued the idea of seeking the truth that they rejected Christianity because they honestly didn't believe it? I don't think so, but then I'm the kind of person who hates the idea of people not being with God, i.e. going to Hell.

I think that if I rejected Christ now, I would be deliberately turning away from God, because I believe that God helped reveal to me the truth of it, using things like that "red moon" that I saw which made real for me the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. But what if I'd died last year in a car accident or something -- I'd have died an unbeliever. Where would I have gone?

What about the idea that "faith, without action, is dead"? What about the parable of the wedding where the king kicked out the guy who didn't dress for the wedding, and said "Many are invited but few are chosen"? What about people who convert on their deathbed -- are they saved? What about people who were Christians but later in life ignore their faith -- are they still saved?

This is why I don't even want to get into this Heaven/Hell stuff....because I think a lot of it is just us trying to outguess God. Instead of getting a headache worrying about where I'm gonna end up, or where my family members are going to end up, or where animals are ending up, I'd rather just trust in the rightness of God than trust in human opinions on the subject. I have faith that God has guided me to Him, and I am trying to show that I want to be with Him (by going to church, being baptized, reading my Bible, & praying), and so I have hope that He will let me be with Him in the end. He knows that I don't want to be with Him just because I want to avoid Hellfire, or because I have any interest in any sterotypical depiction of Heaven, but simply because I have always believed in the "good" and now I realize that God is the source of all that is good, the creator of good, and that's why I want to be with Him.

Whew.....anyway, I'm not sure if I've dug a deeper hole for myself by expanding on my opinions here....but just wanted to restate what I felt and open it up to the rest of the board, how you folks feel about it.