If you visit one of our South African game reserves you may be exposed to the stark brutality of the food chain in action. I’ve seen zebra, wildebeest, and even a giraffe, harangued into fatigue, pulled to the ground and torn to shreds by lions.
“Nature, red in tooth and claw,” as Tennyson said. When you see a herd of impala grazing, you get a distinct feeling that they are just some predator’s meal waiting to happen.
Imagine a young buck learning the facts of life from his dad: “Son, we antelope are totally harmless, we munch on grass all day, we can’t crouch down or hide in any way, oh and we are made of meat. Lions are built for speed and strength, they have fangs, claws, and camouflage, and eat only meat. Any questions?”
“Yeah. How do we survive?”
There is only one hole: find safety in numbers. Lions, leopards, and other predators tend to catch and eat one antelope every few days. So if the prey huddle together in a herd and then scatter, they only have to be faster than the others in the herd to survive.
There is safety in numbers.
Some people treat their spiritual lives the same way. They think, “God is holy and just and he hates sin, will punish it forever in Hell, but I don’t need to be perfectly holy, just holier than most of the people I’m with. If I belong to a world religion consisting of millions of adherents, then God can’t possibly disregard that religion. There is safety in numbers.”
But Jesus disabuses us of that misconception…
3 False Assurances Many People Have That They Will Be Saved
1. Awareness Of The Gospel
Luke 13:23-24And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
This man wanted to know how many people go to heaven and Jesus doesn’t say “Don’t worry, most people get to heaven, so you only have to beat the axe-murderers and Satanists.” No, he says,… “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Yikes. Only those who strive (or “agonize” from the Greek) get to heaven?
But then Jesus goes further. He says there are even people who want to get in who won’t!
Pretty shocking! Doesn’t the Bible teach whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life?
Notice that Jesus uses two different words to describe similar actions with two very different attitudes.
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Both types of people desire to enter the narrow door to salvation, but the one wants to enter with an agonizing, blood-earnest striving, while the other wants to enter with a casual seeking.
It’s the difference between a browser who merely flips through books for sale and the determined shopper who knows exactly which hardcover he wants and won’t let the shop assistant rest until he has located it.
The spiritual realm is the same. Many browsers find great assurance from the fact that they want to go to heaven and are aware of the gospel. They mistake intellectual assent with saving faith which changes your life tostriving.
How would you characterize your spiritual life? Agonizing or just browsing?
2. Affiliation With A Church
Luke 13:25-27 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’
Notice the assurance these people are clinging to. It’s not, “But Jesus we are your children, we know you and love you and obey you.” Their assurance is … ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’
I once had coffee with actor Kevin Spacey. Well, we weren’t at the same table, and he didn’t even know I was there, but I ate and drank in his presence.
This is what some churchgoers are like. “We were always aroundChristianity, we prayed at meal time, we lived our lives within Christian circles, with Christian customs. Doesn’t that count for something?”
Living near Christianity does not a Christian make.
You are saved if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
3. Advantage Of Upbringing
Luke 13:28-30In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Many Jews believed that everyone in the nation was saved, except the very bad people, like murderers or tax collectors. But Jesus is saying that some Jews who think they are first in line for the kingdom will discover that they are Johnny-come-latelys, while some who are considered to be the least eligible for the kingdom will be reclining at the table already.
This would have shocked Jesus’ audience. And frankly it shocks many today to find out that our Christian upbringing gives us no special treatment on judgment day.
There are people who were brought up Hindu, Muslim, atheist, on the wrong side of the spiritual tracks, who will get into heaven because they came to know and trust Jesus, while some who had Christian parents and who grew up in Sunday School will be turned away because their faith was never real.
There is no safety in numbers. You have to believe in Jesus for yourself, to be saved.
What is a true assurance?
The Bible gives many assurances: hatred of sin, love of obedience, love of the saints, cheerful giving, desire to serve…but every true assurance of salvation is located in one place: the heart.
It is your desires, motives, and attitudes that drive your behavior, not merely external actions, that evidences a changed heart.
For more see this post by Eric Davis “Soul Diagnostic: How to know if you are a Christian.”