Several years before he departed this life in 2008, Zane Hodges shared with me in a letter this statement he had come up with:
“There is a vast, chasm-wide difference between saying these two things:
(1) You are safe for now.
(2) You are safe forever.”
He added that the second message “is the gospel according to Jesus Christ our Lord.”
When I was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, I sometimes used a question that violated what Zane was talking about. I’d ask, “If you were to die tonight, and God asked you, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven,’ what would you say?” I meant well. But I was not focused enough with my question.
What I should have asked was this, “If you were to die forty years from now, at a time when you were an unrepentant alcoholic and had not been to church in over a decade, what would you say if God asked, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’”
Let me give you a real-life example. The mother of GES Board member, Bernie Hunsucker, June Blackwell (now with the Lord), told me when she was eighty about a nurse she witnessed to. She told the nurse about Jesus’ death and resurrection and the promise of everlasting life if she simply believed in Him for it. June then asked, “Do you believe that?” The nurse smiled and said that she did. But June was not done. She then asked, “So what if you committed murder forty years from now and died before you could repent? Where would you go?” The nurse said, “I’d go to hell.” June’s response was priceless: “Let’s go over it again. You still don’t understand that the everlasting life Jesus promises the person who believes in Him lasts forever.”
Zane is right. Hundreds of millions of people on earth today are convinced that they are saved for now. They believe that if they died tonight, while they were doing well in their works, then they’d make it to heaven. But they do not believe the promise of John 3:16 that the believer will never perish but has everlasting life. They believe they may perish and that any salvation they have is revocable.
Should we tell them that the believer is safe forever? Of course. The Lord Jesus did. Repeatedly (e.g., John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35, 47, 11:25-26). So did His apostles (Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-9; Jas 1:18; Rev 22:17).
A person is not saved by believing that Jesus gives him a chance to make it to heaven if he perseveres in faith and good works. A person is saved once and for all the moment he believes that Jesus guarantees him everlasting life simply because He believes in Him. He remains assured that he has everlasting life as long as he continues to believe the promise of life. But even if he stops believing and loses assurance, he remains eternally secure. No strings attached.
So, which is it? Are you safe for now? Or are you safe forever? It makes a big difference what you believe.