After a couple of high-profile deaths in our church, I decided to change what I originally planned to say in this column.

This past couple of weeks, we “lost” two members of our church, one being Police Officer Bobby Hornsby and also my predecessor, the Rev. Pat McDonald, who served as education and administration minister at First Baptist Killeen for more than 12 years.

I put the word “lost” in quotes because lost generally means we don’t know where something is. However, we know where Christians are, so they are not truly lost, as we know that they are in the heart of God.

Brother Pat McDonald was not always a vocational minister. He served proudly as a member of the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam years, graduated from Texas Tech University and worked as an engineer. He, of course, was a husband, brother, father and grandfather.

But perhaps more than anything else, he made an impact for eternity by sharing the plan of salvation with almost everyone.

Ecclessiastes 3:11 says “(God) has put eternity in their hearts.”

Pat would regularly share the eternal hope we have through Jesus Christ in salvation to all whom he met.

Even if you did not know Brother Pat, I hope you read this column, not so much about who he was but about where he is now and how you also can get there.

The Bible says we can know whether we have eternal life. “These things I have written to you, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

God doesn’t want you to hope so, think so, maybe so. He wants you to know so.

Sadly, many think they are going to heaven, but Christ said He will say, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). So how can we know if we have eternal life?

We can know we have eternal life because it is the gift of God. Eph. 2:8-9 says that our salvation is not of ourselves or our works but only as a gift of God. We cannot earn or deserve it, but we must receive it.

Secondly, many people do not know whether they have eternal life because they know they have sin in their lives.

We all are imperfect and do not live as we should, and that is of course shown in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned,” the Apostle Paul wrote.

Thirdly, some people think they may have eternal life because they know God is full of love and mercy (1 John 4:8b).

But they may have doubts because they also know that God is a just and righteous judge (2 Tim. 4:8, Heb. 12:23). So we have a problem that God loves us, but must punish those who sin.

Fourthly, God solves our problem by providing Jesus Christ who paid our penalty for death for sin (Isa. 53:6). Jesus took our sins upon Himself, and in exchange gave us His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).

There is a final point that can absolutely help us have a “Blessed Assurance” that we have eternal life: faith.

Faith is not head knowledge, or just agreeing with all of the points above.

It is not a temporary faith where we pray for our temporary crisis.

It is an eternal faith, best summed up with the acrostic “Forsaking All, I Trust Him.”

Somehow, many are not assured that they have eternal life because they will pray to God for an open parking lot at the grocery store, but put their trust in their own works for their eternal salvation.

We can have eternal life, not on how good we are, but how good He is. Only God is good enough to give us eternal life through faith.

Hebrews 10:22 says we can draw near to God “with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” I hope after death, you are not “lost.”

By faith, draw near to God through Jesus Christ, so that you can sing “I once was lost, but now I am found.”

Tim McKeown is the education and administration minster at First Baptist Church of Killeen.

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