“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
When it comes to where I will spend eternity, sometimes I have doubts. A surprising confession, perhaps. But I have another confession which is bound to confuse the issue: when it comes to where I will spend eternity, I have complete and unrelenting faith. These two statements may sound hopelessly muddled, but all is not what it seems. The solution to this seeming conundrum is found within the nature of the human will.
An analogy may help. If just prior to successfully completing my first skydive I stand at the edge of the open doors of a plane, 10,000 feet above the earth, I might be scared, doubt that I’m going to outlive the experience, and even be unsure if I’ll have the nerve to go through with it. But reservations notwithstanding, there is a defining instant when I do, in fact, choose to jump. Potentiality becomes actuality in a moment in time. And that moment is the portal to faith. Once I leap, there is no turning back to get into the plane. Gravity precludes that option. What’s done is done. Furthermore, though I knew beforehand there was no turning back, I freely chose, with my will, to do it.
As I begin my descent, I can continue to doubt–this time about whether my parachute will open, or if I’ll break my ankle on a mound of boulders below, or perhaps that a flock of geese will fly into my path and smack me right in the face. All events that are less than pleasant, but none of which affect the reality that I jumped out of the plane, by faith (that all will be well), and that the outcome, as I go hurtling toward the ground (yikes!), is now out of my hands. At this point in the analogy, it is plain to see that my continued doubting is in no way incompatible with my original faith. To the contrary, it is instead a corollary of that very faith. If I hadn’t jumped, there would be no impending consequences for me to doubt. Think about it.
Now, let’s apply this example to the matter of salvation. Many of us have heard sermons that try to tell us that if we have any doubts about our salvation, then we aren’t saved, and thus eternity for us will be bleak indeed. Baloney! If we jumped, we jumped, doubts and all. There is no merit in the notion that doubting means you don’t also have saving faith. Faith acts, even in the face of equivocating doubt. Faith jumps. Faith is a done deal. It is unbelief (not doubt) that doesn’t act. Unbelief sits it out. Unbelief is still on the plane.
With these thoughts in mind, consider John 10:28. Jesus is speaking to those who are His (“My sheep”) when He says: “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” Now, answer the following questions for your life: Did you jump? Then you are one of His sheep. Did the parachute open? Eternal life is promised to those who jump. Can you get back in the plane? To do so would mean missing out on eternal life, and Jesus promises that’s just not going to happen.
It should be clear by now that there never was a contradiction between my two opening statements. It is not a man’s doubts, but his choice of unbelief that separates him from God. For Followers of Christ, simple faith is enough to know where we will spend eternity. Our faith is our assurance. This because the outcome rests and depends on God’s steadfast promises, and not on our wavering doubts.
For those who have already made the leap, I hope this encourages you today. And for those standing at the portal, I hope this encourages you to step out in faith, even now.
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