Even with all the drive and discipline in the world, I seriously doubt I could ever slam dunk over Kobe Bryant or out-strum Eric Clapton. But there is truth in Mary Kay’s statement. Passion plus perspiration are a great recipe for success.
Jesus says that even getting into heaven demands serious effort. “Strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24).
He’s not talking about good works, for clearly, no one is good enough to earn their way into heaven. “None is righteous, no not one…For by works of the law no human being will be justified” (Romans 3:10, 20). Meeting all of God’s requirements is no more possible than a preschooler getting an A+ on a calculus exam. We fall miserably short of God’s perfect standard.
Nevertheless, Jesus does say we must “strive” or “agonize” to get into heaven. He speaks of urgency. Desperation. Helplessness. The same kind of zeal that would drive a man across the Sahara in search of water. It is an all-consuming quest for the only thing that matters.
Do we have that kind of passion for God and for eternal life? This isn’t something to gamble on — eternity is at stake. Thankfully, God tells us exactly how we can be saved. 1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Know. What a beautiful word. We can know with absolute certainty that we are saved. Not wish, or hope, or pray. We can know! A closer look at John’s letter reveals three tests to see if we have eternal life.
First, the doctrinal test. We must believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only begotten Son of God, fully God and fully Man. “Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23). Do I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sin and rose again on the third day? Have I confessed Him as my personal Savior and Lord?
Second, the moral test. Real Christians don’t just say they love God. They show it by their love for others. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love, abides in death” (1 John 3:14). Children of God will resemble their spiritual father and develop the same kind of love, unity, and forgiveness he has shown us.
Finally, the spiritual test. “If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21). The Holy Spirit gives a calm and steady assurance to genuine believers. He whispers His love into our ear and reminds us we are children of the King.
Pass these three tests, and God promises you are saved. Fail any one of them, and it would be wise to go back and search the scriptures for yourself. Eternal life can be yours, if you want it badly enough and you’re willing to pay the price.
(This article first appeared in The Minister’s Message of our local newspaper, The Hi Desert Star.)
Question: When did you first become certain you were a Christian? What Scriptures or experience did God use in your life? Click here to share your thoughts.
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