Four Ways God Guarantees Your Salvation
June 17, 2017
“Jesus, if you are real, come into my life.”
It happens that I’m writing these words very near the 48th anniversary of the day when I knelt on the concrete steps outside my home in Russellville, Alabama and prayed those simple words.
That was not a “textbook” prayer. It’s not what they teach in evangelism class. But I was as sincere as I knew how to be, and God in his kindness heard that prayer and answered it.
That was 48 years ago. Today I am almost 65 years old. The largest part of my life is already behind me. Who knows how many more days I have on earth? That thought lingers in the mind because a dear friend died last night of a heart attack. He was about my age. I know he was ready to meet the Lord. Of that I have no doubt.
How can we be sure?
How can we know?
But life is uncertain for all of us. So let me rephrase the question a bit. How can I know that my salvation will still be there when I come to the end of my life? It would be terrible to believe in Jesus and then come to the end and discover he wasn’t there to take me home to heaven.
How can we be sure?
How can we know?
We find a powerful answer in Hebrews 6:13-20. We can know now, and when the moment comes, we can die in faith, knowing that the Lord will be there to meet us. Here’s a sentence that sums up this passage: God gave us a promise guaranteed with an oath that gives us an anchor for the soul that rests on Jesus who is already in heaven on our behalf.
Let’s look at the four guarantees God makes in this passage.
Guarantee #1: God Made a Promise
“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater to swear by, he swore by himself: ‘I will indeed bless you, and I will greatly multiply you.’ And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise” (vv. 13-15).
What was the promise Abraham believed? When Abraham was 99 years old, God promised to make him “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). This must have seemed incredible. Ninety-nine is a little late to be starting a family, and even if you could, how could you ever start a nation? No, the promise was clearly impossible, a pipe dream, a vain hope, just wishful thinking by an old man.
Abraham waited 25 years!
But somehow Abraham believed what God had said. If you go back to Genesis, you find that God repeated the promise five times—in Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, 22. It’s as if God is saying, “I know you find this hard to believe, so I’m going to repeat myself until you believe it.”
Here’s the amazing thing. God made the promise when Abraham was 75, but it was not fulfilled until he was 100. That means he had to wait a quarter-century to see the promise come to fruition. That’s the “waiting patiently” of verse 15. How did he manage to hang on during those long years? Many times he and Sarah must have doubted and wondered. At one point, they schemed together to “help God out” which led to the union with Hagar and the birth of Ishmael, a shortcut that brought nothing but trouble.
Romans 4:18 says Abraham “hoped against hope.” The Cotton Patch Version says it this way, “He kept the faith even when the cards were stacked against him.” Here’s what God said to Abraham:
It will happen.
It will blow you away.
You only have to wait for it.
Abraham kept the faith
Abraham never gave up because he was God-centered, not man-centered. As long as Abraham looked at his circumstances, he could find a thousand reasons to give up:
“I’m too old.”
“She’s too old.”
“Nothing like this has ever happened before.”
“We’ve tried to have a baby for years and it hasn’t worked.”
“Our friends think we’re nuts.”
His only hope was to believe the promise of God. He did, and after 25 years his faith was rewarded.
God wants us to trust him alone
This is where faith meets the acid test. Are you willing to believe God even when the outward circumstances argue against it? Here is a marvelous principle of the spiritual life: God wants to bring us to the place where our trust will be in him alone. He brings us to that place by removing all human supports. From time to time we find ourselves in a position where only God can help us out. At that moment, we tend to panic. That’s unfortunate because when we get to a place where only God can help us out, we’ve become excellent candidates for a miracle from God.
That’s the first guarantee—God’s promise. If God had stopped there, it would have been enough to take us to heaven. But he added something to the promise so we could be perfectly certain of our salvation.
Guarantee #2: God Swore an Oath
“For people swear by something greater than themselves, and for them a confirming oath ends every dispute. Because God wanted to show his unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us” (vv. 16-18).
We all understand the basic concept of taking an oath.
Every four years in America we have a presidential election. After the campaign is over and a victor declared, that person cannot assume the office until they swear an oath. In a public ceremony watched by millions, the new president must swear an oath to uphold the constitution. That oath is administered with the person’s right hand raised and their left hand on the Bible.
We are all liars by nature
Why do we take an oath of office?
Why do witnesses take an oath before testifying?
We swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth because we are all liars by nature. The oath cannot guarantee a person will not lie, but it solemnizes the occasion so that if the person is found later to be a liar, the penalties will be much greater.
If you plan to lie, don’t take an oath! Lying under oath is called perjury. That’s a crime that will send you to jail for a long time.
So why does God swear an oath? We know God cannot lie. Everything he says is true the first time he says it. Don’t get confused about this.
Men take oaths because they lie all the time.
God swears an oath because he never lies.
God swears an oath because he never lies
We ought to believe God simply on the basis of his promise. But God knew we would doubt so he swore an oath in his own name to send a Savior who would deliver us. That’s the ultimate meaning of the promise made to Abraham. God always intended to bless the whole world through the ultimate seed of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ.
When you combine the promise with the oath, you get the “strong hope” of verse 18. But there’s one more thing we need to know. Verse 17 says God did this (combined the promise and the oath) because he eagerly desired for us to trust him. The phrase “eagerly desired” more literally means “even more willing” or “abundantly willing.” The Living Bible says God swore an oath so we might be “perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether he might change his plans.” That’s important because we often change our plans. We make promises, and then we break them. We say we’ll do something and then we do something else.
What if God were like that?
No one could ever be sure of anything.
Thanks God for his oath!
When we mess up and do something stupid,
When we say something that hurts our loved ones,
When we lie to our friends,
When we give in to temptation,
When we yield to bitterness,
When we turn away from the Lord,
We often think, “God will never take me back.” If God were like you and me, that would be true. But God is not like us. That’s the whole point of this passage.
God does not change, which means he will be there when we need him most. In the midst of our difficulty, when we have failed, when we say, “I deserve to go to hell,” the Father speaks from heaven and says, “I have made a promise, and I swore an oath. Your sin cannot cancel my grace.”
It is impossible for God to lie
Thank God for his oath!
He takes us to heaven in spite of ourselves.
But that’s not the end of it. We have God’s promise and God’s oath. Now we pass on to the third guarantee of our salvation.
Guarantee #3: God Gave Us an Anchor
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain” (v. 19).
Everyone has an anchor.
The only question is, how well does it hold? If your soul is anchored to your money, what will you do when the money runs out? If your soul is anchored to your spouse, what will you do when your spouse is taken from you? If your soul is anchored in your career, what will you do when you are fired? If your soul is anchored in your happiness, what will you do when hard times come?
Everyone has an anchor
If you put your anchor in the sand, it will never hold. You need a place for your anchor to rest so it can’t be moved. Nothing in this world will ever be strong enough to hold when your life falls apart. We need an anchor that cannot be moved no matter what happens, which means we need an anchor that is quite literally “out of this world.”
That’s what we have!
We need an anchor that is “out of this world”
Most of us think of an anchor that goes down to the bottom of the ocean, but we have an anchor that goes up to heaven. Our anchor rests in the Holy of Holies in heaven, behind the curtain, in the very presence of God himself.
Guess who’s already there? Jesus! Our anchor has come to rest in heaven, behind the curtain, in the presence of God. The word “forerunner” describes a smaller boat that went ahead of a large ship to guide it into the harbor. When the storms are raging, the “forerunner” boat goes ahead of the large boat and drops the anchor in the harbor so the large boat is safe during the storm. When the time has come and the storms are past, the big boat enters the harbor also.
Jesus leads us home to heaven!
Jesus leads us home to heaven!
You couldn’t be safer than you already are because we are already anchored in heaven! It’s not as if Jesus said, “I’m going to show you the way, but then you’re on your own.” It’s more like this: Jesus went ahead of us into heaven, and then he became the anchor for our soul.
We’re hooked up with Jesus in heaven.
We’re as safe as Jesus is safe!
We’re as safe as Jesus is safe
If we could lose our salvation, that would mean Jesus himself had been thrown out of heaven. But that could never happen. That’s why the “hope” of verse 19 doesn’t refer to our subjective feelings. It’s not like saying, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because we’re going to the football game.” That’s just a human feeling. It might rain, or it might not. Our “hope” is not like that. It’s not wishful thinking. Our “hope” is the certainty that what Jesus has done for us guarantees our entrance into heaven.
That’s why the hope is called “firm.” The word means “never failing.” It comes from a Greek word that combines a word meaning “totter” or “fall” or “fail” plus the word “not.”
Our anchor will never fail.
Our anchor will never slip.
Our anchor will never give way.
Our anchor will never slip
Our anchor holds because it rests on Jesus in heaven!
That’s why my friend Jack Wyrtzen liked to say, “I’m as sure of heaven as if I’d already been there 10,000 years.” He’s right. If it depends on you or me, then we’re in trouble because we often fail, and sometimes our soul gives way. Sometimes we doubt, and sometimes we do stupid things.
If your salvation depends on you, you’re in big trouble. You’re not strong enough or smart enough or good enough to make it to heaven on your own. But when you go “all in” on Jesus, then God gives you an anchor for your soul nothing on earth can destroy. Your anchor will hold through cancer, family crisis, divorce, financial collapse, loss of dreams, and every bitter disappointment that comes your way.
Our passage contains one final guarantee. This is the one that holds it all together.
Guarantee #4: God Provided a Priest
“Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because he has become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (v. 20).
We all need a priest.
God knew this, and that’s why he provided an entire system of priests in the Old Testament. It worked like this. God prescribed a system of sacrifices and offerings that the people brought to the priest who presented them to the Lord.
The priests in the Old Testament kept on dying
There was only one problem with that system.
It was never meant to be permanent.
The people had to keep on bringing the same offerings day after day, month after month, year after year. To make matters worse, the priests kept on dying because they were mortal, so no matter how good or noble or holy the priest was, he always had to be replaced.
As the graveyards filled up, the people were constantly reminded their whole system was temporary. What they needed was a priest who never died. Throughout all the long centuries between Moses and Christ, the Israelites kept looking forward to something better, something death could not destroy. The fact the sacrifices had to be repeated meant the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin. That river of animal blood could never meet the deep needs of the heart. It symbolized something better that had not yet come.
We need a priest who will never die!
God solved the problem in a most unusual way, one the Jews could never have imagined.
They needed an undying priest.
They needed a complete and final sacrifice.
That’s why God sent Jesus! He was the priest who was himself the final sacrifice. Because he died for the sins of all, his sacrifice was complete. Because he rose from the dead, he now lives forever. Verse 20 says Jesus is a high priest forever. He will never be replaced because he lives forever. His sacrifice ends all other sacrifices. His death defeated death once and for all. No one will ever take his place.
This means we can never lose our salvation because Christ lives forever. Let me say it another way. If anyone could lose their salvation, we would all lose ours too because it doesn’t depend on us. It all depends on Jesus.
It all depends on Jesus
What can you depend on?
Not your perseverance.
Not your good works
Not your faith.
But only in God.
Hebrews 6:13-20 assures us our salvation rests upon God alone. Think about what God has done:
He made a promise.
He swore an oath.
He gave us an anchor.
He provided a priest.
What more do you need?
What more could you want?
It’s all grace, all the time, in every situation, for every person. We are going to heaven because of what God has done through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This answers the question, “How do I know my salvation will be there when I die?” It will be there because Jesus will be there because he is a priest who lives forever.
Jesus lives forever
It’s all wrapped up in Jesus.
If you want to go to heaven, you need to know him. There is no other hope and no other way. God has done so much and has gone so far that if you go to hell, don’t blame the Lord.
He made a way for you to be forgiven.
He offers you a new life.
He will give you a fresh start.
He will walk with you through this life.
He will take you home to heaven.
Run to the cross!
All he asks is that you trust his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 18 the writer of Hebrews describes Christians as “we who have fled for refuge.” That’s us. That’s what it means to believe. That’s how you become a Christian. If you want to be relieved of the awful burden of sin and doubt and fear of the future, if you want a refuge, if you need an anchor for your soul, run to the cross.
Run to the cross. Lay hold of the Son of God who loved you and died for you. Lay hold of Jesus and never let go. No one will ever regret trusting in him. When ten thousand years have passed, you will still be singing “Amazing Grace.”