While in Ontario, Canada, Sue and I passed two Jehovah's Witness women standing on a busy street corner with racks of books and pamphlets they were giving to those passing by. As we passed, I felt a compassionate drawing toward them and so retraced my steps and politely opened a conversation with them.
I began by asking them how, according to their church, a person can know they are saved and will go to heaven. The one who was obviously the leader answered that we cannot know if we are saved until we die. She then quoted the words of Jesus, "He who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matt. 24:13).
I responded with the question, "Does that mean that at the end of our life if our good works outweigh our bad works, we will be OK?" She replied, "Yes." I then asked, "So what was the need for Jesus to come and die for our sins?" They did not have an answer.
The conversation then turned to who Jesus is when they mentioned the name "Jehovah." I asked, "Do you believe Jesus is Jehovah?" She answered with an emphatic "No!" (Jehovah Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel). I then asked, "Why then did Jesus receive worship from people?"
I went on to say, "In the Old Testament only God is to be worshipped and it would be blasphemous for anyone, even an angel, to receive worship, but Jesus allowed people to worship Him." I then quoted John 8:58, where Jesus identified Himself with God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and identified Himself as I Am. I pointed out that Jesus said to the Jews, "Before Abraham was I Am," and that the Jews then attempted to stone Him for blasphemy.
At this point the leader politely brought the conversation to a close. I exhorted them to "follow Jesus" and went on my way with a sense of knowing I had obeyed the Lord and borne witness to His name.
Since then, I have thought on their human-centered concept of salvation that if our good works outweigh our bad works, we will be OK. The Bible, however, is very clear that we have already been weighed in God's balance and found wanting. What God said to of the Babylonian King Belshazzar is true of the entire human race, You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.
The human race in general, and every individual in particular, has been weighed in God's balance and found wanting. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," Paul said in Romans. 3:23. "All we like sheep have gone astray," the prophet Isaiah said, "We have turned, every one, to his own way" (Is. 53:6).
The whole world stands guilty before a righteous and holy God. God would have been righteous and just to have sent every one of us to hell. Not a single angel would have protested. John makes this point when he said that the one who does not believe in Christ is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
This sense of guilt before God is innate in human beings. This is why humans are incurably religious. Everywhere you go, people are religious and are seeking to assuage that innate sense of guilt with a religion of works or by hiding within a group, like these two with whom I conversed.
God, however, does not offer "group" salvation. Every individual, whether a pope or a pauper, must deal personally with God. All are alike in His sight. He is not impressed with human pomp and circumstance. The ground is level at the cross.
In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul said, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ , that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."
The good news is that we can have assurance of our salvation, not based on what we have done, but based on what He has done. We do not have to wait until the end of our life to know if we are saved. Here are five ways to be sure:
1. We realize that we have already been weighed in heaven's balances and found wanting. Know that you already stand naked, guilty and condemned before a righteous and holy God.
2. Flee to Christ. Put your faith completely in Him. Do not try to hide in a group or church. Lay hold of Christ by faith and take Him as your personal Savior and Deliverer.
3. As you put your trust completely in Him there will come an assurance in your heart. The old time Methodists called it the "inner witness," based on Paul's words in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
4. Walk in faith every day. Your life will not be perfect, but it will be different. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Trust Him every day for His strength and power to be a living witness to others of His mercy and grace as He promised in Acts 1:8.
5. As you walk with Him in faith each day, that inner sense of assurance will grow until you will know that you know that you are saved as much as you know your own identity. You will have no doubt that if you died today you would immediately go to be with Him.
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, revivalist and Bible teacher. His latest book, The Faith & Vision of Benjamin Franklin, is available from Amazon. You can read about his vision for America and another Great Awakening by visiting his website at eddiehyatt.com.
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