Stumbling to Assurance
by Dick Peik
I assumed that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. I felt it was impossible to be certain where you were going when you died. Nobody I knew ever claimed to be saved. That would have been rather audacious—like bragging! Getting to heaven took work! That made sense to me. I thought there were no free lunches, and certainly not in terms of getting into heaven.
In 1959, as part of my effort to be good, I very logically enrolled in a religious college of my own church denomination. There I got my first dose of liberalism in the organized church.
“The Bible is a good book,” they said, “but obviously it contains many mistakes. Scholars have been able to correct these errors.” My response to all that was, “If that’s true, then that means these scholars know more than the Bible! And, if that’s true, then I am responsible to check with these scholars to find out what is true and what is false in the Bible before I can believe it. That’s crazy! Surely a just and fair God would never give us a book like that!” All that drove me into nothing but major confusion.
About that time, a Christian friend explained to me that, according to the Bible, Jesus had said He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that He was the only one who had ever lived a life good enough for God. When He died He had paid God’s penalty for our failing to live good enough lives (our sin). If I simply believed in Him, both His life and death would count for me. I would get credit for what He had done! All that made sense, and in the fall of 1959 I accepted Jesus as my Savior.
The fellow who led me to Christ explained what Scripture said in John 1:12, 3:16, and 3:36—I was eternally secure because of what Jesus had said and done. He promised eternal life to all who simply believed in Him.
Through Bible studies, I learned that my position in Christ was unchangeable even though my experience in Christ might have its ups and downs. Regardless, I knew I had a secure salvation. Nothing I had done, was doing, or might do in the future could cause me to lose eternal life.
After graduating, thinking God may want me to pastor, I went to seminary. This school taught that eternal life could be lost. Ironically, it also held that a clear passage like John 3:16 must always take priority over a debatable passage like Heb 6:4-6. On top of that, occasionally I heard the idea that thinking eternal life could be lost would help a Christian avoid sin. My conclusion was just the opposite, even back then. I was convinced that assurance of eternal life is a great incentive to holy living.
Also, I was taught what I later learned was Lordship Salvation—that a person must at least be willing to allow Christ to be Lord of his life before he can become a Christian. Fortunately, by God’s grace, I saw that error before I began in the pastorate.
After completing seminary, I pastored for almost 30 years. However, in 1980 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). By 1997 I could no longer speak clearly enough to be understood, so I resigned from pastoring.
As of today my problems are too many to even name, so I will just stop there. I know Rom 8:28 is true, and I am experiencing Phil 4:19 now (“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”), and I know I will in the future as well. Beyond that, I am assured that one day I will have a new body in heaven with Him.