A Sure Salvationby Watchman Nee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Can a believer know that he has eternal life? Can he know that he is already saved? Concerning this matter, I would not say anything and would not ask you to say anything. Let this book—the Bible—speak to us. Let us now read a few portions of the Scriptures to see if we can know that we have eternal life.
First, please read 1 John 5:13: “I have written these things to you that you may know that you have eternal life, to you who believe into the name of the Son of God.” We have to grasp the last sentence of this verse. Does it tell you to hope? Not at all. It says that we should know that we have eternal life. To whom does John write the letter? To those who believe into the name of the Son of God. Who is the Son of God? He is Christ. What did John say when he wrote to those who believe in Jesus Christ? He wrote so that they may know that they have eternal life. Does a believer have eternal life? The Bible says that we can know this. John’s purpose in writing is to let those who believe into the name of the Son of God know that they have eternal life.
Next let us look at Acts 13:38-39: “Therefore let it be known to you, men, brothers, that through this One forgiveness of sins is announced to you; and from all the things from which you were not able to be justified by the law of Moses, in this One everyone who believes is justified.” What does the first sentence say? Does it say, “Brothers, be hopeful”? or “Brothers, you should believe”? Not at all. It does not say to hope or to believe; rather, it says, “Let it be known to you, men, brothers, that through this One forgiveness of sins is announced to you; and from all the things from which you were not able to be justified by the law of Moses, in this One everyone who believes is justified.” Can we know that we are justified and forgiven? Paul’s word says that we can. He says that we should know that we are justified and forgiven. Those who believe should know this and should not need others to tell them this.
How do we know that we have eternal life and are saved? First, we have to know how one can have eternal life. If we know the way of justification and the forgiveness of sins, we will know whether or not we have passed that way. If we have passed that way, we have eternal life; if not, we do not have eternal life. Let me now tell you the way to obtain eternal life. Many people know this way, and many have heard this from others. But I still want to repeat it.
The New Testament mentions at least one hundred fifty times that those who believe will have eternal life; they will have life and not be condemned but will be saved. What does John 3:16, a verse most familiar to us, tell us? It tells us that God loves the world. How does He love? To what extent has He loved? He loved to the extent that He gave His only begotten Son. God has given His only begotten Son to the world, and Jesus has died for sinners and accomplished the work of redemption. What happens after this? It goes on to say that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.
This verse has three main points. It mentions a great fact, a great condition, and a great result. The great fact is that God has sent Jesus to the world to redeem men and to be their Savior. The great condition is the one thing that everyone should do—believe. The great result is too good; it is something man has never thought of: whoever believes will not perish, but have eternal life.
The great fact is that God so loved the world. To what extent did He love? He loved to the extent that He gave His only begotten Son to the world to die on the cross for men’s sins and save all the sinners. This is the great fact. Nothing is greater and truer than this.
Now there is a great condition, a great demand placed before every man. Man has to fulfill this condition. What is this condition? Everyone should believe that God has accomplished such a fact and should believe in God’s accomplishment. This is the unique condition and something that everyone should fulfill. The great fact is accomplished by God, and the great condition is to be fulfilled by man.
What then is the great result? It is that we would not perish but have eternal life. This is to be saved. Since the Lord has said that those who believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life, do you think that after we have believed, that we will still perish? Even if the Lord could be unrighteous, He could not be unrighteous to such an extent. Of course, our God is a righteous God! Whoever believes will surely have eternal life and will not perish. God will accomplish this according to what He says.
O friends, I present this matter before you. The Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross in order to save sinners. He shed His precious blood to cleanse us from our sins. All those who believe in Him will not perish but will have eternal life. All your problems can be solved here. Today I only ask you, “Do you believe in Jesus?” All those who believe have eternal life.
If a person does not understand the way to be saved, he cannot know whether or not he is saved. A person who wants to be saved must first know the conditions and the basis of salvation. If you do not understand the basis of salvation you cannot know whether you are saved.
Once I was in Amoy discussing the topic of salvation with a successful businessman there. We discussed it from nine o’clock in the evening to half past eleven o’clock, but the matter was still not settled. During the whole time he could not say that he had eternal life. He said, “Three months ago, someone came here to preach the gospel and said that those who believe have eternal life. At that time I believed, and I put aside my sins; I thought that I was saved. But a month later my faith was gone, and I fell into great sins again. Does this not mean that I became unsaved? Now you are here. When I heard your preaching, I was revived again. But I am afraid that after you leave, in one or two months, I will become cold and backslidden again and become unsaved like before. Therefore, I cannot say that I am saved.”
I showed him many verses from the Scriptures and told him that the Word of God cannot be wrong and that one only has to believe. He was still not clear. In the end, I stood up to say goodbye to him, “Sir, I have to leave now because tomorrow I have meetings and some guests are waiting to see me. Therefore, we cannot continue. But let me say a final word. Are you saved by yourself or by the Lord Jesus?” Having said that, I began to walk away.
After taking two steps, he called me back. I asked him why. He said, “We have talked for three to four hours, and I was not clear. But now I am clear. Being saved does not depend on good deeds in the past, nor on the good deeds in the future, but rather on whether or not one believes that Jesus bore his sins and died for him. No matter how many sins one has, these sins have all been put upon Him. As long as a man will believe, he will be saved. We are not saved by ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. It is the Lord Jesus who has saved us. Why then should I still say that I am not saved?” Finally, this man knew that he was saved. How happy we both were! The few hours spent in discussions and reading of the Scriptures were all useless. But the one word at the end gave him the understanding.
Many believers do not say that they are saved because they do not understand the basis of salvation. They think that all the misconduct in the past is put on Jesus, but that if one misbehaves after he has believed, he will perish. This is to revert back to the Old Testament position. In the New Testament, one is first given the standing; by faith one is first filled with the new life and then one comes before God with a true heart in full assurance of faith. One does not come to God by doing good. Rather, one comes to God based on the position he has received. This position will never be lost.
Today many do not have the joy of salvation because they are trying to preserve their ongoing salvation with good works. Salvation does not come through a lifetime of labor; that will not save a person. If you ask a genuinely saved person how he is saved, he will definitely answer, “It is Jesus who saves me. I do not have any ability to save myself. It is all from the Lord.” Only this kind of person will always rejoice.
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