For millennia, thinking people have wrangled with the problem of human existence. The primary areas of discussion concern humanity’s origin (summarized in the question, “Where did we come from?”), purpose (“Why are we here?”), and destiny (“What happens after death?”). Philosophers of every culture, language, and era have applied their minds to solve these fundamental riddles of life. This unending search for satisfying answers should not surprise Christians, since God has told them that “he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ec 3:11, ESV). So the greatest human thinkers continue to apply their finite minds to the task of understanding the eternal that God has set in their hearts.Fortunately for the Christian, God has answered these and many other questions through His revelation of Himself in Scripture. From the first pages of the Bible, the believer learns that the origin of humanity is God Himself: “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness'” (Ge 1:26, ESV). Scripture also teaches the believer what the purpose of his existence is: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Co 10:31, ESV; cf. Co 1:16; Re 4:11). Scripture asserts, however, that humanity cannot fulfill its purpose because of its sin (Ro 3:23). What one does with the problem of sin, the Bible teaches, determines his destiny. If one goes on in his sin, he will face death, but if he turns from his sin, he will enjoy eternal life (Ro 6:23). John the Apostle summarizes the two possible destinies for all people: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jo 3:36, ESV).
Since Christians have God’s Word on these matters, one might conclude that there would follow a strong sense of confidence concerning humanity’s origin, purpose, and destiny. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially in the matter of human destiny. That is not to say all believers are in full agreement on the other two issues. Concerning human origin, professing believers hold a variety of views. Nevertheless all agree in principle that life begins with God. Concerning the purpose of humanity, few Christians would disagree with the truth that the purpose of life is to glorify God. Scores of Christians, however, lack assurance regarding the third issue, the matter of their own destiny. They might agree with the biblical truths concerning Christ’s efficacious atonement for the sins of His people and His justifying work for those who believe. But on the heels of these truths follows a nagging sense of doubt. “These things are true, but are they true for me? Am I completely sure that my destiny is an eternity with God?” In other words, the difficulty for these people lies not in the area of objective truth, but in the area of subjective assurance of the objective truth. This lack of assurance gives birth to years of doubt and spiritual affliction for many believers.
To give you a taste of my new book, Assurance of Salvation: Implications of a New Testament Theology of Hope, here are the first three paragraphs from the introduction:
You can continue reading the introduction online. The following pdfs are available: