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Doctrinal Matters

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The Survey Says…

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Rarely do you hear a Christian confidently assert, “Yes, I know that I am saved!” More often than not, if a Christian is asked the question, “Do you know you are saved?,” the response goes something like this: “I hope that I am,” or “I think that I am,” or “I really don’t know if I am saved or not.” This is truly a sad state of affairs.

In light of the manner in which many Christians respond to the question, “Do you know you are saved?,” I decided to poll a particular church a few years ago to find out what kind of “assurance” the members had of their eternal salvation. I conducted an anonymous survey in a congregation of about 200 members in the heart of the “Bible Belt.” In the survey, I asked several different questions, but I deemed none more important than the one that pertained to the reader’s eternal destiny. The question read as follows: “If you died within the next ten minutes, do you believe you would go to Heaven?” The results of the survey revealed that nearly 9% of the members knew unreservedly that if they died at the time they were taking the survey, they would not go to Heaven. (Needless to say, such a response was shocking on its own merits!) Nearly 50% of the congregation was unsure as to whether they would go to Heaven. And only 40% believed they would go to Heaven if they died that very day. In other words, almost 60% of the congregation either knew they were lost or did not know if they were saved!

How sad it is that so many members of the Lord’s church (the “saved”) either know they are lost or do not have assurance that they are saved. (Is it not paradoxical to speak of the “saved lost” or the “unsure saved”?) What makes these figures even more disturbing is that (according to the results of a survey published in the U.S News and World Report in March 1991) approximately 78% of Americans fully expect to go to heaven when they die. Thus, if the particular congregation surveyed is representative of the church worldwide, Christians have even less confidence in their eternal destiny than the average person on the street. In fact, the above surveys indicate that the average American is twice as likely to claim heaven as their eternal home as the average member of the Lord’s church.

God did not send His Son to die for us so that we could be uncertain about our salvation. Rather, Jesus came so that we might know we are free from sin (John 8:32), and so that we might know we have eternal life. The apostle John wrote: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13, emp. added). By a simple self-examination in light of the Scriptures, we should be able to know whether we are saved or lost.

Christianity is not an “I-hope-so/pie-in-the-sky/by-and-by” kind of religion. Rather, it is based upon knowledge, reason, and the assurance that if we accept the grace of God and are faithful to Him, He will save us from our sins (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9; Revelation 2:10). It is from such knowledge that we thus derive the “peace of God that passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). How very sad that so many have forgone that peace.

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