Can Christians Have Assurance of Salvation?

September 27, 2014 at 8:16 AM 9 comments

race_smallFirst up, let me say that this article – like all my others – is not to invite debate. Debate to me has always been pointless. Even in the Scriptures, neither Jesus, Peter, Paul, or others were able to convince all people of everything. If Jesus could not convince everyone, then why would we think that we – mere human beings – can convince others that our position is correct? It can’t be done.

As one brother in Christ told me one time, it is not so much that Christians tend to have disagreements over issues. That will happen. The real issue is how we treat each other in spite of those differences.

With respect to assurance of salvation, there are essentially two main groups. First, there is the group (of which I am part) that says salvation is eternal. Once God grants it, He will never take it back. Second, there is the group that does not believe the Bible teaches eternal salvation as such. They believe that salvation can be lost if the Christian does not stay on the proper path.

Folks, this particular issue has been debated for centuries and the debate continues. Nothing I can say will convince anyone that maybe…just maybe…the Bible teaches that salvation is eternal, it is not dependent upon our works to maintain it, and that Jesus is truly the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Like most of you, I have read and studied the arguments on both sides and have come down on the side that favors eternal salvation; that nothing I can do once having received salvation, will cancel it. I realize that this does not sit well with those who believe salvation is tenuous at best, but this is where my study has led me. As a bit of an aside, I’ve had PostTribbers tell me that eternal security (or “once saved, always saved”), like the PreTrib Rapture, is not taught in Scripture. They believe and assert that both doctrines are promoted by hell itself and came over together via John Darby. I couldn’t disagree more and the debate has been alive long before John Darby came onto the scene, but again, we are all responsible only to God for what we believe. As I mentioned previously, our approach to His Word as well as His people with whom we might disagree should always be thoroughly covered in deep humility.

That said, I would like to note that this particular article is really written only for those who believe that when people receive authentic salvation and become Christians, we are then also promised that eternal life is ours forever. Nothing we can do will take us out of His hand and that includes, of course, our puny will that so many seem to think is stronger than God’s. Once we have received salvation, we become new creations. The old is passed. All is new. Our sins are completely forgiven, past, present, and future. We literally become “born again,” or “born from above,” (John 3). I am not sure how it is possible to become unborn again or unborn from above.

This article deals with the assurance we have as Christians that our salvation is and remains eternally secure. Those who believe otherwise will see no “truth” in this article, so I would simply ask that you ignore it. I have no intention to debate the issue with anyone. It is for God to open eyes and that includes me. It is not as if I have not studied both sides of the issue.

Assurance of salvation is what causes us to proclaim “I know I am saved!” It creates joy within us that accompanies salvation and is not dependent upon our works (or lack of them). That joy is also ours to prompt us on to continue to submit to Him that the perfection of His will might be ours and that His strength from the indwelling Holy Spirit would create within us not only the desire to walk in His ways, but to accomplish His will in His strength, not ours.

I don’t like to use individual texts as “proof texts” for a theological position and this is why I’ve written a book on this subject, Finishing the Race. The book delves much more deeply into this subject that this simple article. I’m not trying to sell books. I’m simply saying that I’ve written much more on this subject, so please don’t judge me or my beliefs based on this one article. Paul’s encouragement to “finish the race” to believers he knew, taught, and worked with was the human side of it. Paul couldn’t tell who was saved and who was not so those who obviously finished the race were saved. That is the goal and I believe to fall short of that goal is a loss of rewards not salvation (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12).

With that said, let’s look at John 3:36, which states the following truth:

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

The problem for many with this verse is that it appears way too simple. “What, all I need to do is believe and that’s it? Salvation is then mine for all eternity?” Put simply, yes, all that’s needed is to believe in Jesus. This was true of everyone He met while on earth, to the last person who hung next to Him just prior to His death on the cross, all the way to Paul and to everyone who came to Him after the Church was born in Acts 2.

Of course, I realize that not everyone believes the Church was born in Acts 2. I also realize that some hold that prior to Jesus’ death, the OT system was still in place, while after His death, resurrection, and ascension, it was not until Paul preached the “mystery” that the Church was born. I also realize that there are those who believe that terms of salvation were different under the OT system as opposed to the NT system. In short, I disagree with those assertions. You are certainly free to make up your own mind based on your study of His Word.

As far as John 3:36 is concerned, please note that believing – the one requirement for salvation – is really not that easy. It is not based on how we feel or even what we necessarily know. It is based on our understanding of who Jesus is and what He accomplished for us. Do we/you believe that Jesus is God/Man, lived a sinless life, offered Himself as the full propitiation for our sinfulness, and that through faith in Him, we gain eternal life by being “born again”? That’s the question. The question is not what you think you can offer God or what you can accomplish for Him.

Throughout Scriptures we read of people who would not/could not believe in Jesus. That is the only human aspect of it. That is our part. We must believe. Some come easily, some come with great difficulty, but most do not come at all. Yet, God calls all to Him, but He will not believe for us. He might strengthen our belief, but He will not believe for us. Once we gain salvation though, we become fully His. We are no longer our own. We become enslaved to Him and He will not allow us to wander away permanently.

With respect to John 3:36, J. Sidlow Baxter states,

There are many whose hearts are moved upon by the Holy Spirit who nevertheless refuse Christ…but one thing is clear: there is a human side to it, and there must be a human response. [1]

God grants salvation to those who believe. These are two sides of the same coin and they both “belong to spiritual assurance…on the divine side there is the clear promise given. On the human side there must be a real resting in it.” [2]

How many times have you heard believers say “I sure hope so” when discussing whether or not they are saved? I believe we can have that assurance if we focus on the truth of His Word and ignore our ever-changing feelings. I believe God will help us know that we are truly saved.

 

[1] J. Sidlow Baxter, Awake My Heart, September 27

[2] Ibid

Entry filed under: Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , .

Point of Clarification Regarding the Rapture and Tribulation Globalists Push Socialism While Distracting Us with Issues

9 Comments

  • 1. Dan Lowell  |  September 30, 2014 at 4:47 AM

    The definition of repent is to ‘feel sorry’ for your actions. Feeling sorry for hurting God’s feelings is, to me, the essence of repentance. Not ‘ oh I feel sorry I might miss out on heaven’ but true heart ache at hurting a loved one. This spiritual paradigm shift cannot be dismissed. Once you know it, you know it forever.

    Salvation is God’s to give. He gives it to those who repent. True repentance cannot be changed.

    Just another trip through Deacon Dan’s mind!

    Chuckling along to heaven…

    Dan

    • 2. modres  |  September 30, 2014 at 6:37 AM

      Hey Dan,

      Of course, the end result of repentance is not simply to feel sorry for something but to actually change something within that person’s life. Repentance then is the catalyst that CAN move us to God and away from self. However, it is not always the case.

      You are fully correct when you say that God gives salvation to those who repent by not only feeling sorry for something (the way we live, the words we speak, the overall direction of our lives), but by following repentance until we ourselves move in the opposite direction away from that which causes us to feel sorry.

      It can happen instantly or take place over a period of time. When repentance has done its full work (if allowed), salvation is at the end.

  • 3. Sherry  |  September 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    “Repentance is a grace required under the gospel. Some think it legal; but the first sermon that Christ preached, indeed, the first word of his sermon, was ‘Repent’ (Matt. 4.17). And his farewell that he left when he was going to ascend was that ‘repentance should be preached in his name’ (Luke 22.47)…Repentance is not arbitrary. It is not left to our choice whether or not we will repent, but it is an indispensable command. God has enacted a law in the High Court of heaven that no sinner shall be saved except the repenting sinner, and he will not break his own law.

    Some bless themselves that they have a stock of knowledge, but what is knowledge good for without repentance? It is better to mortify one sin than to understand all mysteries. Impure speculatists do but resemble Satan transformed into an angel of light. Learning and a bad heart is like a fair face with a cancer in the breast. Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell.” ~Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/gospelrepentance.html

    Currently, my mother is in hospice. Everyone she knows has explained the Gospel to her…except that they soft-soaped her sin nature before a most holy God-that miserable condition that every person is in apart from Christ’s salvation. That condition that causes the wrath of God to fall on the unrepentant. Without mention of repentance on her part, which is key to believing in and on Christ Jesus, she blasphemes and cusses and curses those she knows without any sorrow for it just as she has always done. Someone told her she won’t be judged for her behavior now that she is a “Christian.” I talked to her landlord, our brother in Christ, about this since he initiated the last conversation with her which led her to ask the hospice’s pastor about eternal life, and he said we need to love her and let God do His work now. I agree yet I can’t help but wonder if she is being loved to hell by us…

    Unless you repent, you will…perish (Luke 13:3)

    • 4. modres  |  September 27, 2014 at 8:20 PM

      Thanks Sherry. You raise a good question. Of course, my article was about assurance of salvation, but your emphasis on repentance is a necessary precursor to being able to receive it. I think this is the reason WHY many do not receive salvation even after the Lord opens people’s eyes to His truth. They harden their hearts.

      I hope others will join me in praying for your mother; that she will not only hear the truth, but that God will open her eyes and soften her heart so that through repentance she will embrace the truth about salvation.

      • 5. Sherry  |  September 29, 2014 at 6:44 AM

        Thank you, modres, and God bless you and everyone who lifts up my mother in prayer. I’m blessed, indeed, by the kindnesses shown in this most important act of love.

        I pray for those who are not assured of their salvation that God will use your post for their edification and encouragement and that those who believe Jesus will let go of us will see the truth that He promised it would never happen.

      • 6. modres  |  September 29, 2014 at 6:46 AM

        Absolutely and please keep us posted on your mother’s welfare and salvation, will you?

      • 7. Sherry  |  September 29, 2014 at 6:47 AM

        I will…

  • 8. Lester  |  September 27, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    On this issue I must agree 100%. Father says”I will never leave you or forsake you” However I disagree with those that join a church and sign a document of salvation thinking they have eternal life! a truly “born again” spirit child of God will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their life has changed by the SON. Father will never give up on any of us. He will accomplish what He started in all of us. Now on the rapture doctrine, I have many mixed thoughts on where this came from and what scriptures really prove it to be truth. I see that all of us will die and be raptured naturally or by martyrdom. As for the flyaway theory, I must dissent. However what is coming will blow the scientists out of their computer chairs and we will be revealed to be like HIM and the Kingdom will proceed on Father’s schedule. Finishing the race is what Paul hoped for and accomplished to be in a better position in spirit. Suffering with Jesus he found a higher overcoming place in HIM.

    • 9. modres  |  September 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM

      Thanks Lester. Our eyes should be on spending eternity with Jesus in all His glory regardless of what He allows to befall us in this life.


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