I’ve often seen people made to question their salvation status. Questions are asked of what they are doing for God, are they really sure, or what would happen if you died today. These type questions seem to produce guilt and manipulate people to conform and perform. All the while, it doesn’t seem like these people are shown what true salvation is; they are only given a list of ever deepening obligations to attempt to uphold to make it in to Heaven.
This whole system has come to sadden me deeply. When we are truly shown Jesus’ love, we are then able to freely return it and have a deep seated assurance that Heaven is guaranteed. This is how we know for ourselves.
So, how do we know about others? While it is true, the new spirit in us will be able to help us discern if others have this new spirit, it doesn’t give us any right to condemn if not. Condemnation seems to be mostly used as a defense to justify one’s own deficiency. Often, fingers are pointed to others as being more deficient, therefore I’m okay. God doesn’t judge on a scale like this though. Further, this is exactly what Jesus spoke against in the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector. We aren’t justified because we are higher than others on some sort of righteousness scale–we are justified by Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Like the thief on the cross, who was redeemed in his final moments, we have no inclination to know when God will redeem someone. The very reason the thief was on the cross was because he had already been condemned by man as un-redeemable, but Jesus deemed otherwise. The thief’s story now stands the test of time of God’s grace and redemptive power even if the person has no chance for spiritual growth in this life. There are many internal conversations we may not be privy to in someone’s life, especially near death. If God’s plan is that no one should perish, we have no right to say whether a person has made it or not based on our human observations. Likewise, we have a hard time grasping the depths of God’s grace and are not righteous to tell Jesus how he can and cannot judge. This is also conveyed in the parable of the vineyard workers.
Likewise, I recently heard a religious leader preach a funeral. He stated that the deceased had gave his life to God in his final moments, but also lamented of how much more he could have done had he been saved earlier in life. Like with the thief on the cross and the vineyard workers, this assumes we know how God’s plan should work out and when.
Our only ability lies in showing others Jesus’ love through us, by the methods that he desires, and letting him handle the rest.