John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
One of the Christmas gifts I received from a well-meaning relative was a book that was written by the pastor of her Southern Baptist Church. As I casually flipped through the book, it didn’t take long to find false doctrine that conflates faith in Christ with faithfulness in following Christ.
Following is an extended excerpt:
Jesus is the Bread of life. We find our salvation in Jesus, and in Jesus alone. He alone is the Source of our salvation, and He alone is the Sustainer of our salvation.
When we pursue Jesus as Lord and trust our lives to Him and determine that we are going to follow Him regardless, we find in Him all the assurance for our salvation that we need. And that will then put our minds and hearts at rest and led us into the arena of peace we so need. You need the assurance of your salvation, and that is exactly what Jesus means when he says. “I am the Bread of life.” He gives you the full assurance of your salvation when you trust your life to Him and follow Him faithfully for the rest of your life. Jesus is the Bread of life.
The author mixes truth with error in the above excerpt, and in so doing manages to mix God’s grace with man’s works for providing the assurance of eternal life. Man’s efforts are imperfect, can be inconsistent, and fleeting. Even if one has followed Jesus faithfully (based on his own quantification standards), how can he be sure that he will continue to do so for his entire life?
This false teaching would naturally lead to unhealthy introspection for a believer, and could also reinforce a non-believer’s natural inclination toward thinking that works were necessary to receive eternal life.
In John 5:24, Jesus mentions nothing of our faithfulness as a basis for assurance of eternal life. So, the author makes assurance of eternal life contingent on either adding to, or actually contradicting what God’s word says is the basis for assurance.
How can teaching something different than what God’s word teaches on something as important as the basis for assurance of eternal life constitute following Him faithfully? Quite a conundrum, isn’t it?
In his booklet entitle “The Gospel,” Ron Shea has a section on assurance that is built entirely on John 5:24. In that section, he anticipates the error of basing assurance on man’s faithfulness versus God’s promises. Please see excerpt below:
According to this verse, how can you be sure that you have truly been saved?
- You can be sure that you have truly been saved if your life begins to change, showing that God has really come into your life.
- You can be sure that you have truly been saved if many years from now you are still walking with Christ.
- You can be sure that you have truly been saved if you bear the fruit of good works.
- You can be sure that you have truly been saved if you heard the gospel and believed it.
Hint: the last answer is the ONLY biblical basis for assurance. Our faithfulness in following Jesus is not a biblical, nor even a reasonable basis for assurance of eternal life.
The Bible repeatedly refers to eternal life as a gift. It is received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It is not for sale or barter.
Many of the same churches and ministries that so loudly celebrated the birth of our Savior yesterday do not really view Him as our Savior at all, but rather as our helper. They do this by insinuating works into the eternal salvation of mankind.
The book that I mentioned above has been relegated to the same place as the after Christmas sale flyers that will begin in a frenzied rush today – the recycle bin. After all, if we are going to save the planet…
If you would like to know how to have eternal life click here: The Gospel