Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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By on February 2, 2016

It has been about thirty years since the airlines were first required to ask security questions of passengers who were either purchasing tickets or seeking to board a plane. I will never forget my first questioning by a ticket agent in Oklahoma City. She knew me as a local pastor and a frequent flier, so she wanted to get it just right. The conversation went something like this”

Agent: Pastor, with all these new security concerns I am required to ask you some questions.

Me: Though tempted to say “Shoot!” or “Fire Away!” I resisted the urge and replied, Go right ahead.

Agent: Has somebody given you something that you don’t know about?

Me: Mmmmm…I don’t know.

Agent: I didn’t ask that correctly. What I meant to ask was whether someone has come up to you without you knowing it and given you something.

Me: Mmmmmm…Uh..I don’t know.

Agent: I’ve just really goofed this up. Do you know what I mean?

Me: Yes

Agent: Well…have they?

Me: No.

Agent: Then here’s your ticket and have a good flight.

Fortunately both the ticket agent and I had a good laugh and I proceeded to the gate. But for some reason I felt less secure after her questioning than before. (If this were a text I’d put a smiley face here!).

Times have changed, and so have the procedures. You cannot travel these days without being impressed with the fact that security is a big deal. It wasn’t long after this, in fact, that the Department of Homeland Security was birthed, and with it the TSA, now prominent in every airport.

Ironically, most people are far less concerned about their spiritual and eternal security than they are about their physical and temporal security. Interestingly, God’s Word makes it clear that our eternal security is a matter we can both settle and know!

Does this fact surprise you? You see, there are some folks who believe that God just never lets you know whether you are going to make heaven when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. First John 5:14 states These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

If you are unsettled about your eternal security I challenge you to read First John carefully and prayerfully. Look for the security questions and underline the verses that spell out the characteristics of a true believer. Sometimes they even use words like “This is how you can know.”

I don’t want to mess around with airport security. But just in case someone gets through and succeeds in creating havoc and death, its good to know that I am eternally secure. After all, to be absent from this body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).

Either way…I get home.

Rejoice evermore!
Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1:12


    You helped me confirm my eternal security a long time ago. I am forever grateful to you. This message just received today was very timely and a Lordly confirmation.. While I was out on my mobility scooter today I had the opportunity to present the plan of salvation to one of my neighbors.. Having the Jesus smile always helps. Hope you are doing well. Ted

  • bill henwood

    April 3, 1993 – my spiritual birthday – I look far more forward to it than I do my physical birthday!

  • Pingback: How Long Can We Go? –()

  • bumbutcha

    Tom – 1 John qualifies those who are secure in Christ in the following terms:
    “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 Jn 2:3-6).

    “…the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 Jn 2:17).

    “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not [j]shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 Jn 2:28-29).

    Our security is marked by keeping his commandments/word, abiding in him, doing the will of God and practicing righteousness which are the marks of an obedient Christian – one who yields to the spirit and not according to the flesh. In contrast, those believers who engage in chronic sin and choose to be habitually disobedient are not eternally secure are they?