Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ten things on assurance of salvation

1. Every believer should aim for full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:22).
2. Assurance is not of the essence of saving faith. One may truly believe and yet lack assurance.
3. True Christians may sometimes doubt the truth of the gospel. Genuine believers may question whether they are truly saved.
4. The objective basis of assurance is that God accepts believers as righteous on the basis of the obedience, blood, resurrection and intercession of Christ. "It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns?" (Romans 8:33 & 34).
5. We know that we are the children of God because we love him and keep his commandments. If we love God, we will love his people as our brothers and sisters. (1 John 2:3, 5:2 & 3). We must, therefore examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith.
6. The Holy Spirit gives believers assurance of salvation by enabling us to cry to God, "Abba Father". He makes us consciously aware of our adoption into God's family by pouring his love into our hearts. (Galatians 4:6, Romans 5:5).
7. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. (Romans 8:16). In "our spirits" we may believe in Christ and be persuaded of the truth. We may be able to detect evidences of a transformed life as we reflect on our love for God and his people. Above the witness of our spirits, the Holy Spirit himself testifies that we are God's children. This direct witness of the Spirit gives assurance at its fullest and deepest.
8. Assurance of salvation will bring forth great delight and gladness in the heart of the believer so that we rejoice in Christ with inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8).
9. By sinful attitudes and actions, we grieve the Holy Spirit by whom we were sealed until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). This may lead to a loss of the witness of the Spirit and undermine the believer's assurance. When this happens, we should ask God to forgive us for Christ's sake and seek him until we know his fatherly smile again.
10. All Christians should pursue full assurance of salvation and be content with nothing less. The Puritan Thomas Goodwin boldly urged believers to "sue God for the witness of the Spirit". For more on this Puritan see my Thomas Goodwin, His Life, Times and Quest for Assurance here.


Unknown said...

Scripture teaches that one’s final salvation depends on the state of the soul at death. As Jesus himself tells us, "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:13; cf. 25:31–46).

One who dies in the state of friendship with God (the state of grace) will go to heaven. The one who dies in a state of enmity and rebellion against God (the state of mortal sin) will go to hell.

For many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals it makes no difference—as far as salvation is concerned—how you live or end your life.

You can heed the altar call at church, announce that you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal Savoir, and, so long as you really believe it, you’re set.

From that point on there is nothing you can do, no sin you can commit, no matter how heinous, that will forfeit your salvation. You can’t undo your salvation, even if you wanted to.

Gary said...

Many Christians have said the following to themselves during a very difficult period in their life: Am I really saved? Here are the thought processes on this issue for an Evangelical and a Lutheran:

The Evangelical's Assurance of Salvation:

1. At age ___ I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. At that moment I asked Jesus to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior and to forgive me of my sins.

2. But since I am currently questioning my salvation, maybe I didn't "do it" correctly. Maybe I didn't fully understand what I was doing. Maybe I didn't fully repent. Maybe I didn't really have complete faith. Maybe I did it just because my friends were doing it. Maybe...

3. I don't know...maybe I should "do it" again, just to be 100% sure.

The Lutheran's Assurance of Salvation:

1. Have I been baptized into the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, thereby receiving God's promise of the forgiveness of my sins, salvation of my soul, faith, and eternal life?
Answer: Yes.

2. Have I outright rejected Christ as my Lord and Savior?
Answer: No.

3. Am I living a life of ongoing sin in willful disobedience and defiance of my Lord?
Answer: No.

Therefore, I KNOW I am saved!

When your assurance of salvation is based on what GOD did and not what you did, it makes all the difference in the world!

Gary said...

Q: On what should we base our assurance of salvation? I know the Word and the promises of the Gospel are our rock, but how do we distinguish between real faith and mere intellectual assent? I ask this because many evangelicals make me nervous when they say that if one has doubts about one's salvation, one is probably not saved, because the Holy Spirit is supposed to provide inner assurance. (I guess this ties in to the whole Pietist problem.) But in the face of emotional ups and downs, moral failings, intellectual doubts, and confusion over doctrine, how can one know if one truly has faith in Christ?

A: Lutherans believe that faith is created and strengthened not by looking inside of one's self (to one's own faith and/or doubts) but by looking outside of one's self (to God's Word and promises in Christ). Therefore, assurance of salvation is to be sought by looking to God's Word and promises in Christ (which create and strengthen the faith through which one is saved), not by looking inward at the strength or weakness of one's own faith (which creates either pride and false assurance or doubt and lack of assurance). Anxiety regarding doubts, strength of faith and certainty of salvation are signs of faith (however weak it may be), not signs of unbelief, since the unbeliever has no concern or anxiety about doubts, faith or salvation.