When asked the question, “Do you know for sure where you will go when you die?” the most common answer I get seems to be,
“I don’t know.” Its common companion is, “I don’t think you can really know for sure.” It’s perhaps the most important question to answer in this life – and most people know they don’t know.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Many churches, denominations, and teachers proclaim that a person might become unsaved after being saved, or might not be able to be saved because they aren’t part of the elect. Many seem to think that faith is a good starting place, but we need to do some kind of works in order to complete or keep our salvation. Other major religions I know of leave the question of eternal destiny to be decided at or after death. This thinking usually makes a person’s works the ultimate determiner of eternal destiny, because doing the wrong works, or not doing enough of the right ones, can negate other good works, or even faith. Certainty in this life is impossible, because we don’t really know what we will do or how we might fail in the future.
However, this is one of the beautiful differences between biblical Christianity and other faiths. We believe in a God who is truth and loves truth; He works by faith and knowledge, not by doubt and fear. We may not know how we might mess up in the future – but He knows the future, so when He redeems us, He does so knowing the full cost of that redemption. It’s a redemption that was accomplished with an atonement that paid for all sin – past, present, and future.
So He tells us in I John 5:3, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” This is consistent with the themes throughout Scripture of God’s truthfulness and faithfulness, and of His call to us to respond with reckoning, confidence, and trust.
When we simply take God at His Word, having answered the call of His Word to faith, we can know.