Christian Biblical Counsel: ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

Background

Assurance of salvation is the awareness of belonging to Christ and having complete confidence that He has given us everlasting life. Many Christians lack this kind of assurance. Because of ambivalence about their relationship with Christ, they don’t really experience the joy of the Lord. The only thing they are entirely sure of is that they have doubts. Uncertainty can stem from any of the following:

Not being truly converted. A Christian is a person who has trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:9–10).

A person who lacks this experience cannot possibly be certain about having eternal life. Salvation is not based on a person’s performance, but on his or her relationship with Jesus Christ. Confident Christians can say, “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Trusting feelings rather than God’s Word. Some people, especially new Christians, expect a sustained, emotional elation; and when this is missing or lags, doubts come. Our eternal relationship with God cannot be based only on emotion. We must rest on facts based on His written Word. We are to commit ourselves to the finished work of Christ on the cross. Having trusted Him, we continue in this relationship, confident that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Sin and disobedience in the life of the Christian. These will result in ambivalence and uncertainty: “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8, KJV). Sin must be acknowledged and confessed in order to maintain unbroken fellowship with God.

The Christian who does not nurture his or her life in the Word of God, prayer, fellowship, and witness will dry up, opening the way to uncertainty and doubts. The biblical admonition to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) is not just an idle phrase. We grow or we die.

 

Helping Strategy

1. The inquirer who is unsure of salvation: If the inquirer does not know whether or not he or she has trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord, due to misunderstanding the true nature of Christian conversion or due to dependence on his or her own performance, Share Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD.

. Emphasize that salvation means a relationship with Christ through the new birth (John 1:12; 3:3), not through our own efforts (Ephesians 2:9).

2. The inquirer who has been depending on feelings: Our experience must rest on the biblical facts of the Gospel, not on emotion. Share Christian Biblical Counsel: ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

3. The Christian who is disobedient, harboring sin in his or her life: Share Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION. Emphasize 1 John 1:9 and 2:1, and Romans 12:1.

4. The immature Christian: If the uncertainty and doubt is the result of arrested spiritual development, stress that either we grow or we die. Share Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION.

5. With all the above, emphasize the need to pursue a vital spiritual relationship with Christ:

A. Read and study the Bible. Offer to send Your New Life In Christ Bible Study to help the inquirer get started.

B. Pray. Through prayer, we:

• worship God

• confess our sins to Him

• express our gratitude and thanksgiving

• remember the needs of others

C. Seek to develop relationships with other Christians through a Bible teaching church. This will provide fellowship, Bible study, and opportunities for service to Christ—all necessary to develop the Christian life.

D. Pray with the inquirer that he or she may begin to know a life of joy and assurance in Christ.

Scripture

 

Salvation:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24, NIV).

“When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same any more. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, TLB).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

 

Salvation Is a Fact, Not Just a Feeling:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39, NIV).

“For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!” (2 Corinthians 5:21, TLB).

“And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns” (Philippians 1:6, TLB).

“Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12, NIV).

“And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive [eternal life], because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see” (1 Peter 1:5, TLB).

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, NIV).

 

Confession of Sin for Restoration:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1–3).

 

“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996

Assurance (of salvation)

1.   Job had assurance.

Job 19:25–27. For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

2.   The Spirit testifies with our spirit.

Rom. 8:16–17. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

3.   We know that we live in him; we know and rely on the love God has for us.

1 John 4:13–16. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

4.   You may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:13. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

5.   Paul had assurance of eternal life.

2 Tim. 1:12. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

6.   Now we are the children of God, and we shall be like him.

1 John 3:1–3. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

7.   A Christian has a living hope through Christ’s resurrection.

1 Peter 1:3–5. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.[1]

Assurance of Salvation

Safe, Sealed, and Secure

by June Hunt

I.     Definitions

A. What Is Eternal Security?

•     Eternal security is the biblical doctrine stating that authentic Christians permanently possess everlasting life based solely on the gift of salvation given by God.

•     The eternal security of every believer is a fact that is—

—  Initiated by God the Father

“He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4)

—  Accomplished through God the Son

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

—  Guaranteed by God the Holy Spirit

“You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14)

B. What Is Assurance of Salvation?

•     Assurance of salvation is the confidence that true believers possess eternal life and will one day live in heaven in the presence of God.

•     The assurance of salvation is a certainty of mind and heart for those who …

—  Confess sin.…

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Confess means “to agree.”

»    Agree with God that you have sinned.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

»    Agree with God that the penalty for your sin is eternal death.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

—  Repent of sin.…

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” (Acts 2:38)

Repent means “to change your mind.”

»    True repentance is a change of mind about sin.

»    True repentance is a change of direction from sin.

—  Believe that the penalty for sin was paid by Jesus Christ through His death on the cross.…

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

Believe means “to rely on, to trust in.”

To believe in Jesus is not mere intellectual assent, but reliance on Him to be your personal sin substitute.

—  Receive and rely on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.…

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

»    Lord means “master, ruler, owner.”

»    Once you ask and rely on Jesus to be your Lord (your owner), He becomes your Savior.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

C. What Is the Problem?

•     You can have the fact of security without the feeling of assurance if you don’t know what the Bible teaches.

For example, some churches teach that if Christians sin, they immediately lose their salvation. Therefore, even though a man may be genuinely saved but loses his temper, he assumes he also loses his salvation.

•     You can have the feeling of assurance without having the fact of security if your confidence is based on anything other than biblical truth.

Actress Shirley MacLaine stood on the beach and waved at the ocean, declaring, “I am God, I am God!” This New Age devotee may feel assured of possessing eternal life. However, based on the Bible, she is neither God nor saved.

D. What Is the Balance?

The believer can have the feeling of assurance based on the fact of eternal security, which is based on God’s eternal Word.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

(Isaiah 40:8)

II.    characteristics of those who do and don’t have assurance

A. What Is the Difference?

Anxiety over Salvation Assurance of Salvation
•   Guilty  conscience •   Clear  conscience
“Let us draw near to God with a   sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to   cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure   water.”(Hebrews 10:22)
•   Confusion  about God’s judgment •   Confidence  in God’s mercy
“We do not have a high priest who is   unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been   tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then   approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy   and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Hebrews 4:15–16)
•   Works-orientation •   Grace-orientation
“It is by grace you have been saved,   through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by   works, so that no one can boast.”(Ephesians 2:8–9)
•   Legalistic  lifestyle •   Liberty  in lifestyle
“It is for freedom that Christ has set   us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a   yoke of slavery.”(Galatians 5:1)
•   Insecurity  about God’s view of you •   Security  about God’s view of you
“He has reconciled you by Christ’s   physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish   and free from accusation.”(Colossians 1:22)
•   Fear  of the future •   Faith  in the God of the future
“I know whom I have believed, and am   convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that   day.”(2 Timothy 1:12)
•   Feelings  determining decisions •   Facts  determining decisions
“There is now no condemnation for   those who are in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 8:1)

Question: “I have been in a sinful lifestyle all my life and now wonder, How can I continue to live this way if I am really saved?

Answer: The Bible says that those who truly belong to Christ will leave their sinful lifestyles. Salvation is based on your heart. When you humble your heart, truly repent of your sins, and entrust your life to the Lord Jesus Christ—giving Him control of your life—God says He will “give you a new heart” … a heart not hardened toward the things of God. This doesn’t mean you will never sin, but it does mean you will have a changed life. When you have a changed heart, you will have a changed life, and the Lord declares that He Himself will cause the change.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26–27)

B. How Can You Know If You Have Salvation?

Salvation Checklist

From the Book of 1 John

The Bible is the best commentary to provide accurate answers to real questions. Have you wondered, Can people really know if they have eternal life? The Book of 1 John answers this question with a firm yes.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

(1 John 5:13)

•     Do I live by the truth, rejecting deeds done in darkness?

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (1 John 1:6)

•     Do I enjoy fellowship with other believers?

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

•     Do I have a love for God’s Word and seek to obey it?

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him.” (1 John 2:3–5)

•     Do I reject the values I see in the world system?

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15–17)

•     Do I look forward to the return of Christ?

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2–3)

•     Do I sin less than I did before I claimed to become a Christian?

“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6)

•     Do I experience opposition because of my love for Christ?

“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13)

•     Do I genuinely love other Christians?

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” (1 John 3:14)

•     Do I truly believe in Jesus by fully relying on Him for my salvation and my future?

“Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:10–11)

•     Do I experience answered prayer?

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.… This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 3:21–22; 5:14–15)

•     Do I have discernment of spiritual truth?

“We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:6)

Question: “After I prayed a prayer for salvation, I thought I was saved but I have lost all interest in the things of God. Could I have lost my salvation or was I never really saved?”

Answer: There is no “magic formula” wording that guarantees salvation. Just saying certain words for salvation does not mean you experience authentic salvation. A person can profess Christ, but not possess Christ. Salvation requires yielding your will to God’s will. Many people intellectually understand who Jesus is, yet they have never yielded their will to His will—they have never allowed the Lord to take ownership of their lives. That is why Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” (Matthew 7:21–23)

III.   Causes for Doubting salvation

Let’s assume your father purchased an airplane ticket for you to fly from New York City to London. You board the plane and take off for England—you placed your faith in the pilot. Halfway over the Atlantic Ocean, you mistakenly believe the plane has turned and is heading back to New York. Question: Is your destination London or not? Your incorrect belief is not the determining factor, nor does it alter the course. The pilot and the plane are landing in London!

If you exercised your faith to rely on Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, you relinquished control of your life to His control. He became the “pilot” of your life. Regardless of how you feel or think, your eternal destination depends on the Lord. His blood shed on the cross literally bought the full forgiveness of your sins. With that purchase came a free gift—your ticket to heaven for eternity.

A. Common Causes

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”

(2 Corinthians 13:5)

•     Questioning a childhood decision

•     Failing to forgive an offender

•     Continuing in unrepentance of sin

•     Lacking the willingness to change sinful patterns

•     Depending on church membership

•     Relying on personal effort and works

•     Lacking faith in Scripture

•     Expecting feelings or emotions to confirm salvation

•     Intellectualizing spiritual truths

•     Confusing backsliding with loss of salvation

B. Common Question about Doubting Salvation

Question: “What happens to someone who is genuinely born again, experiences a changed life, but later disbelieves … at least for a period of time? If a person stops believing, doesn’t that person also stop being saved?”

Answer: No, the Bible says once you are truly born again—once you receive the new birth—you receive an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.” Every honest believer experiences periods of doubt. Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is the flip side of the same coin. Sincere doubt signifies a search—a search that God honors.

“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3–4)

C. Root Cause

Wrong Belief: “I can’t be sure that I’ll go to heaven until my life is over and the good works in my life are weighed against the bad ones.”

Right Belief: I am sure that I’ll go to heaven because I have responded to God’s requirement for salvation—not good works, but believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and giving Him ownership of my life.

“When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4–7)

Four Points of God’s Plan

Do you know how to enter into an authentic relationship with God? God has a personal plan for you.

#1  God’s Purpose for You … is Salvation.

—  God’s purpose is to save you by offering you an intimate relationship with Him. He wants you to respond to Him as a trusting child, relying on Him to satisfy the deepest hungers of your heart. He wants to fulfill the purpose for which He created you.

“ ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

#2  Your Problem … is Sin.

—  Everyone has sinned. We’ve all chosen to do what we knew was wrong. The Bible says that our sin separates us from God. The penalty for sin is death—spiritual death—eternal separation from God.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.… The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 3:23; 6:23)

#3  God’s Provision for You … is the Savior.

—  God’s provision is Jesus Christ, God the Son, who came to earth for the purpose of dying on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. Then God the Father supernaturally raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus the Savior died for you because He loves you, and He doesn’t want you separated from Him for all eternity.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

#4  Your Part … is Surrender.

—  Surrender your will to God’s will so that you can receive His best for you. You need a loving relationship with the Lord. Will you believe that Jesus Christ is God the Son and rely on Him alone as your personal Lord and Savior, giving Him total control of your life?

“To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

If the Lord is leading you now to enter into that relationship with Him, you can tell Him what is on your heart.

Prayer of Surrender
“Lord   God, I want a real relationship with You. I admit that I have sinned. Many   times I’ve gone my own way instead of Your way. Please forgive me for my   sins. Thank You, Jesus, for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my   sins. Come into my life to be my Lord and Savior. I surrender my will to Your   will. Take control of my life and make me the person You created me to be.In   Your holy name I pray. Amen.”

“[Jesus says] I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

(John 5:24)

IV.  steps to solution

A. Key Verse to Memorize

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

(1 John 5:13)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

Occasionally a shepherd will lead his flock to a watering hole where the sheep intermingle with the sheep of other flocks. Afterward, how are they separated? The answer is simple: The sheep know the voice of their shepherd!

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

(John 10:27)

Read John 10:28–29 and see for yourself what promises Jesus, the Good Shepherd, provides.

•     “I   give them .” v.   28
•     “And   they shall .” v. 28
•     “No   one can  them out of my .” v. 28
•     “No   one can  them out of my Father’s .” v. 29

Question: “I accept the Bible’s assurance that no one can snatch a true believer out of Jesus’ hand. However, because of my own sin, can’t I snatch myself out of His hand of protection, as well as out of His very presence?”

Answer: No, Jesus specifically said “no one”—not “no one except yourself”—can snatch you out of His hand … and that includes you! In addition, notice just before those words, He said, “They shall never perish.”

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28–29)

C. You Can Have the “Blessed Assurance” of Salvation

This classic hymn of the Christian faith declares the definite assurance of salvation.

“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.”

Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9–10)

Stand on the promises of God.

“This is what he promised us—even eternal life.” (1 John 2:25)

Submit to Christ’s living in you and through you.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Understand that when you have Christ’s life in you, you have eternal life.

“This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:11)

Rely on God to finish what He has started.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Expect the Holy Spirit to confirm the truth to your spirit.

“You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:15–17)

Discover the assurance of eternal security.

“You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14)

D. You Know for Certain That You Are a Christian

God wants you to know whether or not you are an authentic Christian. In fact, He has devoted one whole book of the Bible to let you “know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Read the Epistle of First John and notice how the word know is repeated seven times throughout this short book in order to make this point clear to you. Then evaluate your life in light of this truth.

How Do You Know …?

•     “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” (1 John 2:3)

•     “If anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5–6)

•     “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” (1 John 2:29)

•     “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6)

•     “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:9–10)

•     “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:24)

•     “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.” (1 John 5:18)

Question: “I believe in Jesus, but see no indication that my life has changed—so am I saved?”

Answer: The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The Greek word “believe” means more than a mental belief that Jesus is the Savior. Believe means “to rely on, to trust in” meaning to entrust your life to Christ, giving Him control of your life. Unless you see your need for Jesus to be your Savior and trust Him to save you, allowing Him to have ownership of you, He isn’t in your life.

How do you know if your prayer was sincere?

—  A “life change” may not be immediately evident, but you will have a changed life. The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

—  As God works in you, your character will be more and more conformed to the character of Christ. Romans 8:29 says you are “predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”

—  Others will begin to see “the fruit of the Spirit” in your life as evidence of the Spirit of Christ in you, producing His very life in you. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).

E. Can a Person “Fall from Grace”?

Some people look at Hebrews 6:4–6 and wonder, Could I lose my salvation?

“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

(Hebrews 6:4–6)

The key to interpreting this passage properly is found in accurately determining who is being addressed and what exactly their spiritual status is. Consider the following three interpretations of this passage:

This passage refers to:

Position 1:       Some say that this passage refers to those who were never saved—they professed Christ, but never possessed Christ; consequently, they were not authentic Christians. The problem with this interpretation is: (1) If they are not saved, from what are they falling away? (2) How could they be brought back to repentance if they had never repented in the first place? (3) This passage refers to those who had repented and were partakers of the Holy Spirit; thus, they were indeed saved. (See Ephesians 1:13–14.)

Position 2:       Some say that this passage refers to those who were saved but have “fallen from grace” or “fallen away” and have therefore lost their salvation. The problem with this interpretation is that this would mean that a “backslider” would lose his or her salvation and never be able to regain it again. It is difficult to find anyone who believes that “backsliders” lose their salvation forever.

“It is impossible … if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance.” (Hebrews 6:4–6)

Position 3:       This passage refers to those who are eternally saved, and therefore it is impossible for them to “fall away” from salvation. They can’t repent again for salvation because they have already repented once for salvation. While we should all repent of any sins committed as Christians, we receive “eternal redemption” at our initial conversion.

“He [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)

Conclusion:    This passage presents a truly impossible scenario: It is impossible to repent of our sins more than once in order to receive salvation, just as it is impossible to crucify Jesus for our sins more than once. And more so, it is unnecessary because the one horrific sacrifice that Jesus paid with His life paid for all our sins—“once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Therefore, for those who have genuine salvation, their onetime repentance for salvation secured their eternal salvation. Such salvation cannot be lost!

F.  From Fallacy to Fact

Fallacy:

“I know I am saved now, but I may lose my salvation if I commit some horrible sin.”

Fact:

Christ’s death paid the price for all of your sins—past, present, and future—therefore, sin can hurt your fellowship with God, but it cannot destroy your relationship with Him.

“Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)

Fallacy:

“God saves me, but I must also do my part to keep my salvation.”

Fact:

We do not work to earn our salvation, and we cannot do any work to keep our salvation. Rather, works are the fruit and evidence of our salvation.

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8–10)

Question: “If we are not saved by our works, but by our faith, why does James 2:26 say, ‘Faith without works is dead’? Does Scripture contradict Scripture?”

Answer: No! Scripture never contradicts itself. The primary purpose of the Book of James is not to communicate how to be saved, but rather to describe what your life will be like after you are saved. James lets us know that true faith in Christ transforms your character and your conduct. In other words, if there is the root of faith, there will be the fruit of faith. You do good works not to become saved, but rather because you are saved. Good works are not the means to salvation, but clearly the manifestation of salvation. Ultimately, if there are no “good works,” then there is no authentic salvation. That is why James says,

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)

Fallacy:

“I am no longer in the family of God.”

Fact:

The believer has been adopted into the family of God. In biblical times, anyone adopted could not be unadopted.

“You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ ” (Romans 8:15)

Fallacy:

“I was saved once, but now I have fallen from grace.”

Fact:

God is powerful enough to save you and to keep you. However, unconfessed sin in the believer’s life brings conviction and may lead you to doubt your salvation. Genuine believers cannot lose their salvation because God with all His power protects those who are His possession. As a child of God, however, you need to confess and repent of the sin.

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” (Jude 24)

Fallacy:

“I was saved, but I feel lost and unloved when I sin.”

Fact:

Salvation is based on fact, not feeling.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37–39)

Fallacy:

“Although I have been born again, I can lose my salvation.”

Fact:

Anyone who is born again cannot be unborn.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)

Fallacy:

“I feel that Christ has left me.”

Fact:

Christ never leaves anyone who is in His family.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Fallacy:

“I once had eternal life, but now it is gone.”

Fact:

Eternal means eternal … never ending.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)

Fallacy:

“I believe in Jesus, but I cannot be perfect.”

Fact:

God does not expect you to be perfect but expects you to rely on Jesus, who is perfect. The very reason Jesus became a man, lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, and was resurrected was so that you could appropriate His perfection as your own.

“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)

Trusting   your life to Christ results in three glorious gifts of grace.… You are saved   by the Savior.… You are sealed by the Spirit.… You are secured by the Father   for safekeeping until the day you inherit your home in heaven and see your   Savior face-to-face! This is God’s guarantee for you.
—June   Hunt

“You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

(Ephesians 1:13–14)

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cole, C. Donald. How to Know You’re Saved. Chicago: Moody, 1988.

Crosby, Fanny. “Blessed Assurance.” In The Celebration Hymnal: Songs and Hymns for Worship. Nashville: Word Music, 1997.

Geisler, Norman L. Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Ironside, H. A. Full Assurance. Rev. ed. Chicago: Moody, 1968.

Lutzer, Erwin W. How Can You Be Sure that You Will Spend Eternity with God. Chicago: Moody, 1996.

Roush, H. L., Sr. Sounds of the Heart. Belpre, OH: H. L. Roush, Sr., 1990.[2]


[1] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[2] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Assurance of Salvation: Safe, Sealed, and Secure (1–16). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s