Can we really know ourselves in this life that Heaven is our eternal destiny and be absolutely certain of that? Can we help others come to Christ and receive that same assurance?
Victoria and Townsend Story
England’s Queen Victoria (1819-1901) heard a sermon at St. Paul’s Cathedral and asked her chaplain, “Can a person be absolutely sure of eternal safety in Christ?” The chaplain said he had no answer. A newspaper published this conversation and it was read by John Townsend. He was a quiet and unassuming evangelist, and he began to think and pray for the queen. Finally he sent her this note:
To her Gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria, from one of her most humble subjects, with trembling hands, but heartfelt love. Because I know that from the Bible we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the Home that Jesus went to prepare,1 may I ask your Most Gracious Majesty to read and consider John 3:16 and Romans 10:9,10? These passages prove that we can have full assurance of salvation by entrusting ourselves to the Lord Jesus and receiving by faith the everlasting benefit of His finished work. Your servant for Christ’s sake, John Townsend.
Many people joined Townsend in praying for God to save Victoria and two weeks later he received her reply:
To John Townsend. I received your letter and I have carefully and prayerfully read the Scriptures you referred to. I called on Christ by faith and I now rest in Jesus’ finished work for me. I trust by God’s grace to meet you one day in that Home of which He said, “I go to prepare a place for you.”1 Victoria.
Victoria’s Assurance and Witness to Others
England’s Queen bowed her mind, heart, and life to Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Risen Christ now sits at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power, and dominion, and above every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the age to come.2 After Victoria trusted Christ alone for salvation, she gave away copies of a small booklet to others. The tract was called “Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment” by George Cutting (1834-1934).
By God’s grace, John Townsend possessed eternal life in Christ and he was concerned for others too. That’s how it should be. Evangelism is the redistribution of spiritual wealth.3 Witnessing is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread, even when other person is high in rank. We are all equally needy at the foot of Jesus’ cross. Townsend was sure that his sins were dealt with because of Jesus’ sinless life, death, resurrection, and intercession and that after he died he would go to be with Christ forever. Townsend was blessed by God and he wanted others to share in Jesus’ blessing.
Years later Queen Victoria was visiting tenants on one of the royal estates and an old lady nervously came up to her. The woman curtseyed and said trembling, “Your Majesty, will I see you in Heaven one day?” Victoria smiled and replied, “By Jesus’ all-availing blood, you most certainly shall, my dear! I have His word on it!” This reminds me of a hymn by Fanny Crosby (1820-1915): Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.
Scriptures About our Eternal Destiny in Christ
The story of Townsend and Victoria also reminds me of several Bible verses:
1. The Gospel of John is “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Note: Christ is God’s Son, fully God and fully man in one person. Jesus is a member of God the Holy Trinity, equal to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in power, glory, and eternity. Faith in who Jesus is and all He does brings us everlasting life. Christ is the key who unlocks Heaven for us.
2. “Whoever believes in Christ is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18) Note: Scripture teaches that believing in Christ is more than mere intellectual agreement with the Bible. It includes trust and commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior which produces a change in heart and loving obedience to the Lord. All who truly come to Christ will never be condemned, rejected, or damned.
3. Christ said, “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40) Note: We are more than conquerors through Jesus who loved us. Nothing in all creation (including death and the devil), will be able to separate us from God’s love in Christ our Lord (see Rom 8:37-39). Our confidence is not in ourselves, but in Jesus, the Friend of repenting sinners. Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with us to the end.
4. Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this He meant the Holy Spirit. (John 7:37-39) Note: Christ gives us living water, not stagnant but fresh, flowing water, as from a spring or mountain stream, that revives and refreshes us. Now we can be happy in Jesus no matter what goes wrong. God gives us righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17).
5. Christ said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27,28) Note: Our security lies in the power of Jesus the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd who laid down His life for us on the cross and rose again. He is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, our refuge, our shield, and our stronghold.4 Christ’s hand is more powerful than any enemy. Praise Him!
6. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely, permanently, forever, to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” (Heb 7:24,25) Note: Christ prayed for Peter’s restoration and for peoples’ forgiveness while He was on the cross.5 In John 17:6–26, Jesus prayed for the protection and unity of His disciples, including us, and I believe He is still praying these ways for all His followers now. That’s the reason we will never be defeated.
Security is not the absence of danger, but the presence of God (Father, Son, and Spirit) with us, no matter what the danger is. We are well kept because the Lord keeps us. Since the Lord has our names written in Heaven,6 He will take care of us all along the way, through this life, until we reach our Heavenly home.7
This is Christ’s precious gospel, beloved! It’s good news and it’s true! May God help us to embrace it, to preach it to ourselves, to tell it to others, and to live in peace!
Notes (various translations are used): 1 Allusion to John 14:2,3. 2 Eph 1:20,21. 3 John Blanchard. 4 Psalm 18:2. 5 See Luke 22:31;23:34. 6 Luke 10:20; Heb 12:23. 7 1 Peter 1:5.