Doubt and uncertainty are toxic to the human condition. Where doubt is present, everything turns gray, and the things that should bring joy do little toward that end. What doubt regarding eternal life does to the spiritual man is akin to someone trying to sit in a plastic chair that’s been out in the sun one too many summers. They attempt to sit gingerly, ease themselves into it, ever trepidatious that at any moment the plastic will give, and they’ll end up on the internet with their family howling with laughter as background noise. Even when they’ve finally seated themselves, they’re hesitant to move around or get comfortable because, in the back of their mind, the nagging thoughts persist. If the chair were made of iron rather than plastic, there would be no hesitation, worry, or concern.
If all someone did was wave a hand in church, but there was never a rebirth, a transformation, a renewal of the mind, the doubt will persist, and they will be leery of walking boldly toward eternity, and rightly so. We have seen the collateral damage of the touch your screen and say this prayer generation in the form of a stunted, withered, malformed, and powerless church.
My wife’s a fan of stretching her faith when it comes to how far she can drive after the little red low-fuel light comes on. As yet, she hasn’t called me from the side road asking to bring some gas, but it’s bound to happen.
Whenever I try to tell her that more gas went into her tank than the allotted capacity, she smiles and says, “I never doubted I’d make it home for a second.” As for me, if I get anywhere near a quarter of a tank, I start getting uncomfortable. It causes me psychological discomfort to know that I’m low on gas, and no matter what I try to do to distract myself, I can’t.
I traveled the highways and byways of this nation enough to know that fifty miles until the next exit seems like an eternity when you’re low on gas, especially before the time of cell phones and automobile clubs that come and help you out if you’re a member. Flat tires are flat tires. You can’t help those. They happen when you least expect them, and you have to deal with it. Running out of gas isn’t accidental. It’s something that could have been avoided had the driver had the presence of mind to pull over and fill up.
I will freely admit I’ve had times when, unlike my wife, I doubted I’d make it to the next gas station. What I’ve never doubted, not for a second, is that I’d have the promise of eternal life. It’s not because I’m some super-Christian; I’m not. It’s because I read my Bible and believe it.
Issues arise when we believe what people tell us regarding eternal life over what the Bible tells us. If the Bible says one thing and the grinning head on television says another, believe the Bible, always, without equivocation.
Eternal life is a gift and a promise of God for all who belong to Him. What I have to determine as an individual is whether I do belong to Him, whether I’m a sheep or a goat. Sheep follow. Goats wander.
John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
Jesus made it clear: those who are His sheep hear His voice. They are in tune with the Shepherd, and when the Shepherd speaks, they don’t pretend as though they didn’t hear or fail to hear Him because they were distracted by something else.
Not only do His sheep hear His voice, but they also follow Him. If we only hear His voice but do not follow Him, are we still His sheep? If we hear His voice but choose to go our own way rather than obey Him, are we still His sheep?
Jesus knows those who are His. They hear His voice and follow Him, and to them, He has promised eternal life. He also declared that no one would snatch His sheep out of His hand. You ask why I’m certain about eternity. Because Jesus said no one could snatch me out of His hand, and I’m not about to wiggle out of it voluntarily.
You can tell a lot about a person’s spiritual condition by how they frame the questions they ask. If the first thing out of the gate they want to know is what they can get away with, what they can do insofar as skirt the line but not cross it, if it acts like a goat and rebels like a goat, it’s a goat.
I’ve even had people get into units of measurement with me as though the cutoff is a pint of beer rather than a pitcher. If I am a sheep and He is the Shepherd, then my only desire is to listen for His voice, hear Him, and follow, not to determine how much time I can spend roaming the crags and cliffs and still end up with the flock.
The problem with being a wandering sheep is that wolves are still a reality we must contend with. A lone sheep away from its shepherd makes for a mighty fine meal.
The crux of the issue has been improperly framed for so long that the words of Jesus no longer resonate, and His promise fails to provide the expected comfort.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.
Jesus is the only perfect shepherd. I choose Him.
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