VL from Germany raises a super question:
My name is Vincent; I am 20 years old and I write you from Germany. My question is: Is it Biblical to ask Jesus for eternal life and believing that I received his life? In Matt 7:7-8 Jesus said: “Ask, and it shall be given you […] for every one that asketh receiveth.“ I ask because this way is easier for me to believe in Jesus for eternal life. I can go back to the moment I asked Him in faith for that life, and I can rely on this promise in Matthew. Is that Biblical? Is that believing in Jesus? I believe that He is the Christ, the Savior of the world and that He guarantees eternal life to the believer, but I always had problems to understand how to receive the gift of eternal life. If it is possible by asking, then surely I know that I received.
My answer is yes and no.
Yes, God answers favorably those who ask, seek, and knock (Matt 7:7-11). That is especially true regarding the promise of everlasting life. See Jesus’ words in John 4:10 to the woman at the well: “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” The living water is the message that the gift of God is everlasting life (John 4:14) and that the Giver of the gift is the Messiah, Jesus (John 4:25-26). Messiah Jesus gives everlasting life to all who believe in Him for it. The gift and the Giver.
The Lord did not say that asking is believing. He said that asking would result in Him giving the saving message.
No, God does not promise that all who ask for everlasting life get it. In fact, what we are to ask for is not everlasting life, but the message that results in everlasting life.
Millions of people have begged God for everlasting life, and many of those were not genuinely seeking the truth. They wanted the life, but they did not want the truth that leads to the life. Many are blocked by their tradition from believing the promise of everlasting life to the believer. In order to come to faith, they must get beyond their tradition.
VL says that he came to believe that “He guarantees eternal life to the believer.” Great. Are you a believer, VL? If yes, then you know He has guaranteed eternal life to you!
But our anchor verse is not Matt 7:8. That verse tells us that if we are sincerely asking and seeking and knocking, then God will give us what we ask, in this case, the saving message. But Matt 7:8 does not contain the promise of life. For that, VL and all of us need to go to verses like John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35, 47; 11:25-27; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-9; 1 Tim 1:16. Those are good anchor verses for one’s assurance.
Maybe an illustration will help. Let’s say that Bill Gates promised Microsoft employees that if they ask him for advice, he would freely give it. And let’s say that he also promised that Microsoft would pay for any college or grad school for any Microsoft employee who applied. If you asked Bill Gates for the college scholarship, he would not give it to you simply because you asked. He would tell you what he already said—that you need to apply for it, but that once you do, it is guaranteed. In the same way, Jesus does not promise everlasting life to those who ask for it. He promises it to whoever believes in Him for it. Asking does not guarantee receiving.
I was on staff with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) for four years. The Cru philosophy was that people like or even need a way to close the deal. We gave them a chance to pray a prayer for salvation. So, I get where VL is coming from. But we are not saved by praying a prayer. We are saved by believing in Jesus for irrevocable salvation. Yes, believing is not active. It is passive. It is simply a matter of being persuaded of the promise of life to the believer. But that is the only thing anyone can do to be born again. There is no special prayer. Once someone grasps this simple truth, he is sure that he has everlasting life that can never be lost.
VL, rest on your belief of the promise of everlasting life to all who simply believe in Jesus. If you believe in Him for that life, you have that life. It is that simple.
And when you share your testimony, use a verse that mentions what whoever believes in Jesus has everlasting life. That makes the issue clear. If you share Matt 7:7-8 with someone, he will not yet know what he needs to do to have everlasting life. While he can come to the truth without your telling him, why delay the process? Tell him the promise of everlasting life and give him a verse or verses that clearly state the promise.