We began this study by considering the opinions among Americans regarding heaven. From the very religious to the non-religious, the majority believe they will spend eternity there. We used three everyday examples to show how people are commonly wrong about things they know and the importance of basing knowledge on valid sources of information. Next, we examined the Bible and proved it to be the only valid source of information regarding God's will for mankind. By proving that apostles of Christ and true prophets cannot exist today we know the Bible must be complete. Not only is it complete, it is eternal and therefore will never change. With the understanding that people frequently base what they know on invalid information we considered three reasons why people believe they are saved. Some trust their good works, others bear no responsibility for their own salvation, and many others trust their emotions as proof of salvation. We undoubtedly could find many more reasons, but regardless of the evidence men use as proof of salvation there is only one way you can truly know you're saved: you have to, with fear and trembling, carefully study the word of God and obey what you are commanded to do.
Before I close I'd like to make a few comments about confident assurance. As we determined earlier, confident assurance is an invalid source of information. Confident assurance must come after knowledge has been verified. We cannot verify knowledge by confident assurance. Just as dangerous is relying upon an invalid source to verify knowledge. If you do so you may think you've verified what you know, but since the source you’re using to verify your knowledge is itself invalid you may proceed with confident assurance, thinking you really know what you’re doing when in fact you don't know at all. The Holy Spirit commended the Bereans for their determination to verify information they'd heard. Acts 17:10-12 records this commendation: "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few." The Bereans were hearing the apostle Paul! Acts 19:11-12 tells us about the extraordinary miracles God was performing through Paul: "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." But the source of the information wasn't sufficient for the Bereans. They believed, not because of whom they were hearing, but because they could verify in the scriptures the truth of what he said. We must be just like them! With fear and trembling we must work out our own salvation, confirming that what we're hearing from another is true and obeying if it is. It's truly concerning to see the number of people who willingly follow a man while largely ignoring what he says. In November 1978, 913 people committed mass suicide (with women feeding poison to their children) on the orders of religious leader Jim Jones. In April 1993, 80 followers of religious leader David Koresh (including 23 under age 17, 14 of whom had been fathered by Koresh) were killed in a firestorm at their compound in Waco, Texas. These are just a couple of prominent examples. I could mention many more. Less dramatic but just as dangerous are the false teachers who may not lead their followers to physical death but whose teachings lead them to spiritual death. There is nobody alive today with the spiritual stature of the apostle Paul. Therefore, in my opinion, we must be more determined than the Bereans to be diligent in our study of the scriptures after hearing our preachers today. Paul warns us of those who, with good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple. We are to mark them and avoid them (Romans 16:17-18). Paul also warns us about ministers of Satan who transform themselves so as to appear to be ministers of righteousness: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) Jesus tells us that false prophets look like sheep on the outside but on the inside are actually ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). Please don't base your eternal destiny on the words of a man: confirm in the word of God that you really do have eternal life.
I pray this study has been helpful to you. I wrote it because, in my discussions with others, I've been struck by how many people believe they are saved but have no valid scriptural reason for this belief. God, in His infinite mercy and love for you, has told you exactly where to find the knowledge of your salvation: in His word. If you are lost it will not be God’s fault. Unfortunately, many today are confident in the knowledge of their salvation but are wrong. If I may be of any help to you, please write to me. Feel free to send me an e-mail any time (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you for the time you've taken to consider this vital topic.