Assurance of Salvation?
Are you 100% certain that you are saved? If you are, what are you basing your certainty on? If not, what are you basing your uncertainty on? Let us settle this, for it is absolutely critical that we come to the correct conclusion on this!
Is there such a thing as, “false assurance of salvation”? Yes, there certainly is, and it’s prevalent too! Can we verify that there is “false assurance”? Yes, we can! For the Pharisees and Sadducees were totally confident that they were saved. We read, But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! …do not presume to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.’” (Matthew 3:7,9) Again, with respect to Israel, we read, “Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed.” (Romans 9:31) Again, it is written, “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15)
We see then, that Israel based their assurance of salvation on the wrong things. They based it on being descendants of Abraham, law-keeping, and circumcision. Indeed, come Judgement Day, “Many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me.” (Matthew 7:22-23) And here the verdict is clear, the Lord “never knew” these people as His! Neither were there just a few that had a false sense of the assurance of salvation, but “many”!
So what about today? Can people in our day also have a false assurance of salvation? Yes, they certainly are able to! Let us see how.
Today, many are relying on what they have said in some prayer, in baptism, in turning from their sins, in confessing their sins, by inviting Jesus into their hearts, in trying to keep the ten commandments, or just simply trying to be a “good person”! Then there are others who look to evidences of salvation as their assurance. They may say, “I’ve spoken in tongues,” or “I keep the Sabbath,” or, “I don’t do sinful things like others,” or something else along these lines. Yet, not any single one of these ought to give us the assurance of salvation! In a few minutes, we’ll see what should be giving us the assurance of salvation.
I Can’t Have Assurance?
Yes, there are folks who say we can never have the assurance of salvation! Why? Well, they say we can never know that we’re saved until Judgement Day! Why do they say so? It is because they say that we may fall back into sin and lose our salvation, or lose faith, and so become lost once more. So if asked if they’ll be in Heaven, they’ll simply respond, “I hope so!” These same said people will often say, “Salvation is a lifelong process.” Yet, is this truly the case? For does this not mean that we are being our own saviors? Certainly! Yet, there is only one Savior, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Our faith ought to rest in Jesus Christ, and not in oneself!
Real Assurance of Salvation!
No, our “assurance of salvation” is not based on some “warm and fuzzy feeling”! Much rather, it is based upon God’s Holy Word!
With a certainty we know that God is holy. We also know that, “None is righteous, no , not one.” (Romans 3:10) Therefore, we also know that God is “Separated from sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26) So, quite simply, the question becomes, How can I be placed back into a right relationship with God who is holy? Very straightforwardly, God says that it “Is not your own doing.” (Ephesians 2:8) It equally emphatically states, “All our [my] righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (~Isaiah 53:6) This, then, leaves me as a helpless sinner! Therefore, my assurance of salvation will also exclude myself! For if I can’t enter Heaven’s glory by my “own doing,” than neither is my assurance based on my “own doing”!
So what then is the basis of my “assurance of salvation”? It is based on Another and His doing, and His promises! For we know that it is written, “Jesus said to him, I am they way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) This means that Jesus, and not me and my doing, is exclusively the way to the Father! This means that my salvation is as secure as the Savior is able! My assurance of salvation rests not in self to perform well enough to gain Heaven, but my assurance is based solely upon the ability of the Savior to save me! It is a matter of whether I will totally trust the Savior to save me or not. Once I come to the settled conclusion that the Savior is able to save me completely, then I will have my assurance of salvation! For we must rest upon what God’s Word says. We must not rest on our feelings and our performance. For these are shaky at best! It is like building your house on the sand! We are to build on the Rock! Then our assurance will be “Rock solid”!
We really need to comprehend that Jesus came to save us! He did not come to make it possible for us to save ourselves by our obedience or faithfulness. Neither did He come to help save us. No, this is what Jesus did to save us, “For Christ also suffered once for sin, the righteous for the unrighteous.” (1 Peter 3:18) Again, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only [uniquely born] Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10) Yes, Jesus was sent to be the “propitiation” for our sins! What does this mean? The word “propitiation,” means to make full satisfaction for. And we know that Jesus did this for us some 2000 years ago! Indeed, at that time all the sins of your life time were counted to Jesus Christ and He was punished for them all! So we read, “The LORD laid on him the iniquity of us all,” and “He was crushed for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:5-6) Thus we read, “God…having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14) This Jesus verified, when He cried the victory cry from the cross, “It is finished”! (John 19:30) Yes, “The debt is paid in full”! “The job you gave me to do is complete!” And God raised Him from among the dead on the third day to give His “amen” to a fully satisfactory work!
We then enter Christ’s victory on our behalf, by faith! For we see that it is written, “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) Question is, do you have faith that what Jesus did for you is absolutely satisfactory to save you for time and eternity?
We find our assurance in the promises of God in His Holy Word! Scriptures such as these, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) These are the kinds of verses that give us the assurance of salvation!
It is because of Christ’s fully satisfactory work to completely save us, that we can “know” that we are saved, and this is what gives us the marvellous assurance of salvation! For we read, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) And here is another wonderful promise of God for those who believe the ^gospel message (^“The gospel…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
We know then, that the genuine assurance of salvation cannot be there if we think that our continued obedience or faithfulness is required to keep salvation and thus gain Heaven. For in a moment, one could slip into sin or be cast into a mindset of doubt, and then what if one were to die at that very moment! No, but the believer is, “Sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
Yes, “He [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost”! (Hebrews 7:25) Why? What He did is absolutely sufficient to save us! Yet, we need to believe that it was enough for me! Do you? Why not take God at His Word, and find rest in Christ and have the assurance of salvation? Yes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”! (Romans 10:13)
Victor J Reimer
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Photo credit: “climbing” by Alexandre
*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.