You fifty-somethings will remember that line from the old SNL when Gilda Radner did her Rose Rosanna Danna schtick. But for the past several months I thought I might be in some trouble myself, and the experience gave me an opportunity to evaluate my trust in Christ and assurance of salvation.
Back in October I thought I had pulled a groin muscle on the left side. Gimped around for a few days and then realized the pain was more localized than a muscle pull. Probably a hernia, I thought. The only problem was that there was no bulge or any other sign of a hernia. Then in January, after consuming a pound and a half of Pat’s brisket down at Moose Creek BBQ I began to feel symptoms that indicated an intestinal blockage.
Over the weeks that followed the symptoms became more intense, and I concluded that I needed to have it checked out. Well, there are only a few things that can cause an intestinal blockage, one of which is cancer. So I admitted to myself the very real possibility that I might in fact not be long for this earth. I told no one of my fears, not even my wife Connie, for fear of worrying her. But when I increased my life insurance she became suspicious.
During this time I dropped a few hints to friends and colleagues, one of whom was an adult female I have known for many years and who is not a Christian. I was able to share with her that even though I did not want to leave my family or experience the pain of cancer, I had absolutely no fear of dying itself because I know for sure where I am going when I die–there is no doubt about this. She smiled in a kind of anxious confused sort of way that revealed to me that she could not relate to this at all. Or maybe she thought I was (literally) full of crap.
So I explained to her that my assurance had nothing whatever to do with my own righteousness or lack thereof. I believe the biblical gospel and my trust is in the person and work of the living Christ—100% plus nothing. That didn’t help wipe the confused expression from her face, and even now I wonder what thoughts went through her mind after that. Like most people she probably went on her way and forgot all about it.
During my whole ordeal my mind kept going back to the same Bible verses that have bolstered my assurance over the years:
But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and comes not into judgment, put has passed out of death into life (John 5:24).
Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes has eternal life (John 6:47).
These things I have written to you who believe on the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
During these past months I have been at peace in terms of my assurance of salvation, even though at the same time as I look back I can see many wasted hours and opportunities that are gone forever. But at the end of the day I am banking on the Lord Jesus Christ. If I thought my salvation depended in any way upon my own goodness or righteousness I would throw in the towel now and resign myself to a dark eternity.
Honestly, this experience has gotten me back to the bedrock truths of the faith and the person embodied in those truths. And it has enabled me to in a small way be a witness to the pagans I rub elbows with daily. Make no mistake about this: you are not imagining that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket without Jesus. It’s true. And in the daily grind of life these unbelievers do not want to be preached at, especially by plastic pop-evangelicals with their WWJD wrist talismans and Left Behind trash fiction or the false God of The Shack.
One thing I could never quite pull off as a pastor was sitting in meetings with pussy cat preacher boys in their shirts and ties, checking their day-timers and talking about Gwaaaaawd. In my job now I can just be me. I try to be friendly and courteous, and I work hard to do a good job. I do not carry a big Bible or try to hold Bible studies in the lunchroom. I do not invite people to church because, quite frankly, I can’t stand going most of the time, just to hear a few narcissistic praise ditties followed by some dandy bouncing on his toes preaching a watered-down warm fuzzy mouldering crock of the stuff that was plugging my colon.
But when the rubber meets the road It is appointed to men once to die, and after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). People are gripped with fear many times as they face their own mortality. When they meet someone whose meaning and hope goes beyond the bad economy or which rich bozo we are going to vote in next November, they sense a peace alien to their own experience. When they meet someone who is not only not afraid to die, but who knows beyond a shadow of doubt that when they are absent from this body they will be present with the Lord, they are faced with the precariousness of their own spiritual condition. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to share in a very genuine way my assurance of salvation with someone I have spent many years building a positive connection with.
The upshot of this story is that I went in and got it checked out. They found four small polyps, which they removed, and a lipoma (a benign fatty tumor that can block the colon). Problem detected and solved. And I do not need to stop eating red meat after all. Praise the Lord!
To those readers who have any doubt about their eternal salvation I urge you to click on the Videos Page of this website and watch the video titled: How to know you have eternal life.