Can We Be Sure?
A beautiful incident in the experience of Queen Victoria is worth remembering. It has been published and is unquestionably authentic. The Queen had attended a service in St. Paul’s Cathedral and had listened to a sermon that interested her greatly; then she asked her Chaplain if one could be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety. His answer was that he knew of no way that one could be absolutely sure.
This was published in the Court News and fell under the eye of a humble minister of the Gospel, John Townsend, an intimate friend of George Mueller, whose life of faith led to the founding of his well-known orphanages. This John Townsend was the father of the famous “Sister Abigail,” another Christian of extraordinary faith and service.
After reading of Queen Victoria’s question and the answer she received, John Townsend thought and prayed much about the matter, then sent the following note to the Queen:
“To her gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria, from one of her most humble subjects:
“With trembling hands, but heart-filled love, and because I know that we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the Home that Jesus went to prepare, may I ask your Most Gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture: John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10?
“These passages prove there is full assurance of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for those who believe and accept His finished work.
“I sign myself, your servant for Jesus’ sake, John Townsend.”
John Townsend was not alone in praying about his letter to the Queen. He took others into his confidence, and much prayer from many hearts went up to God. In about a fortnight he received a modest-looking envelope containing the following letter:
“To John Townsend: Your letter of recent date received and in reply would state that I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me, and trust by God’s Grace to meet you in that Home of which He said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ (Signed) Victoria Guelph.”
Whether one is an earthly monarch or an inconspicuous, unknown person, the way of salvation and of eternal life is the same. The Scripture passages John Townsend commended to the reading of the Gracious Queen were these two: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10.
These passages, and many others, in the Word of God, pledge us His Word that one who, by simple faith, received His Son as Saviour has eternal life now and here. The Apostle John tells us that His Gospel was written “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name.” John 20:31.
Salvation by faith in Christ is repeatedly declared in the Scriptures to be the present possession not merely future, of those who believe. Thus the Lord said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24.