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The Assurance Of Salvation


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The Assurance Of Salvation

  1. 1. THE ASSURANCE CONTENTS OF SALVATION I What Would s it possible for you to know You Say? . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 that your sins are forgiven? Blueprint Can you be sure that you For Assurance . . . . . . . . 4 are on your way to heaven? FOUNDATION: What about the fear of The Bible’s Authority . . . 5 judgment and the frightening PILLAR 1: possibility of going to hell? Can Christ’s Work. . . . . . . . . 8 you know without any doubt PILLAR 2: that God has saved you from Your Faith In Christ . . . 11 the eternal consequences of sin? PILLAR 3: This booklet, written by Our Your Obedience To Christ . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Daily Bread managing editor Kurt De Haan, takes a look at PILLAR 4: Your Love For what the Bible has to say in Other Christians. . . . . . 18 response to such questions. The CAPSTONE: specific focus of attention for The Spirit’s this study will be the words of Assurance . . . . . . . . . . 20 the apostle John from his first Objections . . . . . . . . . . 24 letter, which addresses this issue A Personal Journey . . . 30 of the assurance of salvation. It is our prayer that as you read Assurance Checklist. . . 32 these pages you will discover the answers you need. Martin R. De Haan II Managing Editor: David Sper Cover Photo: Terry Bidgood Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1987,2002 RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan Printed in USA © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. WHAT WOULD Not worrying. “I YOU SAY? think it’s a waste of time to worry about whether or not D o you like spinach? I’m going to heaven. There’s What about prime no way to know for sure. rib? Would you like I won’t know until I die.” to visit the South Pole? Are Fearing the worst. you optimistic about the “It seems like I’m always nation’s economy? If people failing God. And when I do, were polled on these types I’m afraid I’m going to end of questions, they would up in hell after all.” give one of three different Trusting God’s answers: promises. “I’m sure I’m ❏ YES on my way to heaven ❏ NO because of verses like John ❏ UNDECIDED 5:24. I put my confidence In the same way, in the promises of God’s opinions about whether Word.” or not a person can be Remembering a sure of going to heaven day. “I know I’m going to fall into one of these three heaven because I remember categories. Some people say the day I prayed to receive yes, others say no, and still Christ into my life.” others are undecided. Leaving it up to The ideas listed below God. “I would never represent variations of these dare to say I am going to three possible answers heaven. That’s up to God when people were asked to decide.” about their hope for eternal Feeling unworthy. life. See if you can identify “Sometimes I feel that God with any of their responses. loves me and is going to 2 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. take me to heaven. But kind of person God wants when I’m depressed, I feel me to be? If I follow Christ’s unworthy and hopeless.” example of love, I’m sure Depending on I’ll be okay on judgment God’s love. “If God is day.” as loving as people say He is, He won’t send anyone YOUR TURN to hell.” Suppose someone were Replacing feelings to ask you if you are with facts. “Knowing sure of your salvation. I’m saved isn’t based on What would you say? Why? feelings but on facts. I If you answer yes, then the believe the Bible has theme of this booklet those facts.” should be no surprise to you. The following pages, though, will help you to Assurance of evaluate your reasons for being sure of heaven and salvation is not encourage you to rely on based on feelings the truths of God’s Word. but on facts. If, however, you answer no or undecided, then you The Bible has need to be cautioned: those facts. This booklet will challenge you to think through the issues. It is designed to Trying to be a good offer biblical answers to person. “I’m trying hard help you sort out the facts to be a decent person. I and evaluate your feelings. treat others as I want them to treat me. Isn’t that the 3 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. BLUEPRINT FOR the evidences that can give ASSURANCE us strong assurance. If we picture those evidences as H ow can you know elements of a blueprint, we anything for sure? will see how each part adds For example, if you strength to the complete lived in a region prone to structure. earthquakes, how could The six elements that you be sure that the place are described in John’s you called home wouldn’t blueprint for assurance are: collapse today or tomorrow? • The Bible’s Authority It would be reassuring to • Christ’s Work examine the blueprint of the • Your Faith In Christ house or apartment building • Your Obedience To where you lived and find Christ that the foundation, walls, • Your Love For Other and roof were designed to Christians be strong and trustworthy— • The Spirit’s Assurance even able to withstand a The diagram that we will severe earthquake. be using throughout this In a similar way, how study pictures the logical do you know your hope of progression of truths that heaven will hold up when are essential for one to be God’s earth-shattering able to say he is sure of his judgment comes? It would salvation. The foundation on be reassuring to have some which our other reasons for evidence that your hope is assurance must rest is the not merely wishful thinking. authority of God’s Word. Such evidence is available Standing on the foundation to us. The New Testament are four supporting pillars. letter of 1 John describes Each pillar represents 4 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. evidence that our salvation A solid foundation is is secure. The finished work essential to any belief. Like of Christ and our personal a building, it must be on faith in Him are solid unshakable ground. This reasons to have assurance. was illustrated when a major The Bible also tells us that power company was erecting our obedience to Christ and a nuclear power plant. our love for fellow Christians Millions of dollars were are evidences of true, saving spent on the massive faith. The capstone resting structure that would on the pillars is the inner house the nuclear reactor. assurance that the Holy But inspection showed Spirit gives to us. The Spirit the foundations to be points to the truths of God’s inadequate. As a result, the Word, the sufficiency of safety of the community was Christ’s work, the reality of uncertain and the project our faith, and the evidences had to be abandoned. of our obedience and love. God intends for Christians to be sure of FOUNDATION: their salvation. For that The Bible’s Authority reason, He has established THE SPIRIT’S ASSURANCE O C B H F E L R A D O I I I T E V S H N E T C E THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY 5 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. a solid bedrock of truth— with the Father and with the many statements of His Son Jesus Christ. And assurance that are found these things we write to in Scripture. One of the key you that your joy may be sections of the Bible that full (1 Jn. 1:1-4). addresses this issue of The first thing John bedrock certainty is found wanted to establish was in the New Testament letter that everything he wrote of 1 John. The opening about Christ could be words of John’s epistle trusted. Second, he desired make his purpose very that his readers would clear. He wrote: share with him in the joy That which was from the of their salvation. beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which “Faith does we have looked upon, not feed on thin and our hands have air but on facts.” handled, concerning the Os Guinness Word of life—the life was manifested and we have seen, and bear witness, The apostle’s words were and declare to you that appropriate not only for his eternal life which was first-century readers but with the Father and was also for us today. Because manifested to us—that of what God inspired John which we have seen and to write in his first letter, we heard we declare to you, can know what it takes to that you also may have please God and we can be fellowship with us; and sure of forgiveness and truly our fellowship is peace with God. 6 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. As John was about to of God’s inspired Word. conclude his epistle, he For the purpose of again reminded his readers our study in this booklet to pay attention to what he we will concentrate had written. He told them: primarily on the assuring These things I have truths that John mentioned written to you who in his short letter. believe in the name of Thinking It Over. the Son of God, that you What happens to a house may know that you have built on a sandy beach eternal life (1 Jn. 5:13). when strong winds and high John let his readers waters beat against it? Why know that what he don’t emotional feelings recorded would give them make a good foundation on great assurance. From what which to build assurance of the apostle has told us, as our salvation? Have you ASSURING WORDS • “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40). • “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:28). • “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 Tim. 1:12). well as what we read in the had doubts about your rest of Scripture, we know relationship with God? Why that the foundation for our do tough circumstances faith is found in the pages have a way of making us 7 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. doubt what God has said? funds from the now healthy Are you now willing to bank account. accept the Bible as What about our spiritual “bedrock” truth on which account with God? Jesus to base the assurance of has done all that is your salvation? necessary to provide complete salvation for every PILLAR 1: person who has ever lived Christ’s Work or ever will live. The huge THE SPIRIT’S ASSURANCE O C B H F E L R A D O I I I V T E S H N E T C E THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY If you were unemployed debt of sin has been paid. and owed $90,000 to a And that includes you, no bank, you would probably matter how deeply or how feel that the situation was often you have sinned. hopeless. But what if a It Satisfies God’s billionaire told you that he Demands. The apostle would cover your debt and John wrote that Jesus’ deposit $1 million into your sacrifice was sufficient to account? What more could meet God’s holy demands you do to clear up your for justice. Because God is debt? Nothing more than perfect, He cannot tolerate accept the gift and draw sin (1 Jn. 1:5-6). But there 8 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. is hope for sinful man. sufficient sacrifice. The Old John stated: Testament sacrifices pointed He Himself [Jesus Christ] forward to the sacrifice of is the propitiation for our the Lord Jesus Christ on the sins, and not for ours cross. only but also for the It Is Finished. whole world (1 Jn. 2:2). The great truth of 1 John The word propitiation concerning the all-sufficient carries the meaning of work of Jesus Christ is satisfying God’s justice. emphasized throughout the God’s nature demanded New Testament. On the that He do something cross Jesus said, “It is about our sin. Yet what He finished!” (Jn. 19:30). He did was to show us mercy knew that He had emptied instead of the judgment we the cup of God’s wrath. His deserved. God sent His work was done. It is so only Son to take our sin complete that God requires upon Himself and become nothing more from us to be the object of God’s wrath added to that sacrifice—no against sin. If we have personal merit, no religious received Christ’s offer of ritual, no exhausting work. forgiveness, then we are All we need to do is trust forgiven and no longer have ourselves to Him! to fear eternal punishment It Is Offered To Us. for sin. John told us, “He who has In the Old Testament, the Son has life; he who God said, “It is the blood does not have the Son of that makes atonement for God does not have life” the soul” (Lev. 17:11). The (1 Jn. 5:12). Jesus offers blood of animals could new spiritual life to all never provide the all- who will believe in Him 9 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. (Jn. 7:37-38). Because indescribable gift” (2 Cor. Christ has defeated sin and 9:15). death through His atoning sacrifice and His victorious resurrection, we can be “The gospel is not restored to God. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ a set of swimming covers all our sin, gives us instructions for a acceptance with God, drowning man, releases us from bondage, delivers us from wrath, but a pardon and and enables us to stand reprieve from unblemished in God’s death for a presence. God wants you to rest man who does on the finished work of not deserve it.” Christ. His sacrifice has Paul Little infinite value. Salvation is available to all who will accept the gift. The apostle Thinking It Over. Paul wrote: What have you been For by grace you have trusting to make yourself been saved through faith, acceptable to God and to and that not of yourselves; help you gain entrance to it is the gift of God, not of heaven? Could you pay the works, lest anyone should price for your sin by being boast (Eph. 2:8-9). good enough? Thank God If we accept Christ’s for all He has done for you offer, we can exclaim with to make your salvation the apostle Paul, “Thanks possible. be to God for His 10 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  11. 11. PILLAR 2: Christ. When we speak of Your Faith In Christ faith in Christ, we mean a THE SPIRIT’S ASSURANCE O C B H F E L R A D O I I I V T E S H N E T C E THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY If you wanted to fly from personal expression of New York to Paris, you trust and dependency on would go to the airport, Him. It is not enough to buy a ticket, and get on the acknowledge intellectually plane. It wouldn’t do you that Jesus is the only One any good to sit around who can take us to heaven. saying, “Yes, I know the It is not enough to know that airplane is trustworthy and what He did was sufficient to the pilot is well-trained, and pay the penalty for our sin. I will get to Paris if I get on We must put our trust in board.” You need to board Him, accept His offer, and the plane. It’s not enough to place ourselves in His hands. know the truth; you have to In 1 John 5:1 we read, do something about it. The “Whoever believes that same is true if you want to Jesus is the Christ is born go to heaven. of God.” Your faith in Jesus What Is Faith? Faith Christ—your belief that He involves a response to the is indeed the Christ, the Son truth we know about Jesus of God—is what God 11 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  12. 12. requires for you to become a in the flesh is of God member of His family. (1 Jn. 4:2). John also told us, The apostle Paul stated, “Whoever confesses that “No one can say that Jesus Jesus is the Son of God, is Lord except by the Holy God abides in him, and he Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). Now, in God” (1 Jn. 4:15). People we all know that anyone may view Jesus as the can say the words “Jesus is greatest man who ever lived, Lord.” But Paul is referring as the supreme example for to more than just producing us to follow, or as the most these sounds. He means impressive revealer of God’s that no one can call Jesus love. But if they do not “Lord” as the expression of confess Him to be the Son his deep inner conviction of God, they are not saved. “except by the Holy Spirit.” What Does Faith Where Does This Prove? Your belief in Jesus Leave You? Maybe you Christ is positive evidence are troubled by the suspicion that the Holy Spirit has that your profession of faith given you new life. A person wasn’t real. We have all seen who is hostile or unreceptive examples of this. A young to Christ shows no evidence man goes through the of the Spirit’s life-giving motions of accepting Christ activity. John wrote: because a girl he wants to By this we know that He date has said she won’t abides in us, by the Spirit go out with him until he whom He has given us becomes a Christian. (1 Jn. 3:24). By this you Sometimes people profess know the Spirit of God: faith in Jesus Christ in a Every spirit that confesses moment of deep emotional that Jesus Christ has come turmoil and then forget 12 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  13. 13. about it the next morning. your way to heaven. If so, If you are not sure that take time now to put your your faith is real, evaluate trust completely in Christ for why you feel that way. It your salvation. Anchor your could be that your former faith on what the Bible tells expression of faith was us about Christ. indeed shallow and not from Maybe you can point the heart. It could be that back to a definite time in your life when you sincerely decided to put your trust in “We are told that Christ as Savior and Lord. Christ was killed for If so, your present doubts may be more a matter of us, that His death unreliable feelings than a has washed out our dependable indicator of sins, and that by your true spiritual condition. In this kind of situation, the dying He disabled fact that you are genuinely death itself. concerned is a very That’s the formula. encouraging sign. If you acknowledged That’s Christianity. your sin and admitted your That’s what has need of forgiveness, and if to be believed.” you asked Him to save you, C. S. Lewis believing that Christ paid the penalty for all your sins, you have done all that God you never really understood requires. You can be sure all that Christ has done for you are saved. Trust God’s you until now and you didn’t promise. Thank God for realize that you couldn’t earn your salvation. And when 13 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  14. 14. future doubts come, talk to Some police departments God about them and reflect have a canine division on what the Bible has to say. made up of dogs specifically Thinking It Over. Do trained for police work. It is you believe that Jesus Christ amazing to watch these died on the cross to pay for animals in action. The dogs your sins? Are you trusting have a special relationship in His finished work for your with the person they are salvation? Are you resting trained to work with. They on what the Bible says? If have a strong sense of you can say yes to those loyalty, and they respond questions, what should you quickly to their masters’ do when doubts about your orders. Whether they are salvation begin to trouble walking down the street you? If you have professed or running after a criminal, faith in Christ, have you there is no doubt whom seen evidence in your life these dogs belong to. The that you are a child of God? police dog’s quick obedience to his master’s voice reveals PILLAR 3: Your his identity. Obedience To Christ In a similar way, those THE SPIRIT’S ASSURANCE O C B H F E L R A D O I I I V T E S H N E T C E THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY 14 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  15. 15. who believe in Jesus Christ your spiritual state is should be easily identified evidence that your faith by their obedience to their is real—but you would Lord and Master. This like a little more tangible obedience is marked by evidence. Well, here it is: keeping His commands Look at your conduct! and by turning from sin. Apply the test, “Do I keep Keeping His God’s commandments?” Commands. As we look again to 1 John, we read: Now by this we know “The man that that we know Him, if we believes will obey; keep His commandments failure to obey is (1 Jn. 2:3). This verse tells us that convincing proof we who have accepted that there is not Jesus as our Savior can be true faith present.” sure that our salvation is A. W. Tozer genuine because of our obedience to Him. Maybe you have a solid It shouldn’t be hard for grasp of the doctrinal truth you to determine whether or about the finished work of not your life is marked by Jesus Christ and you have obedience. We are not accepted Him as your suggesting, of course, that Savior, but you still have you must keep all of Christ’s times when you doubt that commandments perfectly. your faith is anything more No one does. The apostle than mere head knowledge. John in this epistle had Maybe you are encouraged already spoken strongly that your concern about against people who say, “we 15 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  16. 16. have no sin” (1:8) and ‘’we obedience to Christ is a have not sinned” (1:10). He rejection of sin in our lives. had already told us about If we say that we have God’s gracious provision fellowship with Him, and of daily forgiveness and walk in darkness, we lie cleansing through confession and do not practice the (1:9). Yet all the while he truth (1 Jn. 1:6). Whoever made it clear that a believer’s abides in Him does not life is to be characterized by sin. Whoever sins has righteousness rather than neither seen Him nor by sin. Take an honest known Him. Little assessment of your life. children, let no one If you realize that you do deceive you. He who love the Lord Jesus and are practices righteousness is walking in obedience to righteous, just as He is Him, you may take that as righteous. He who sins is an indication that you are of the devil, for the devil born again. has sinned from the Remember, you don’t beginning. For this need to be perfect. And purpose the Son of God your salvation is not based was manifested, that He on obedience. But if you might destroy the works genuinely want to obey the of the devil. Whoever has commands of Christ, and if been born of God does not you see evidence of your sin, for His seed remains growth in holiness, you will in him; and he cannot sin, have one more reason to because he has been born believe that you are truly of God (1 Jn. 3:6-9). saved. These verses may sound Turning From like John is saying that we Sin. The other side of our must be perfectly sinless 16 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  17. 17. before we can be sure of Our obedience to Christ, heaven. But that’s not what then, has its positive and he’s saying. His emphasis is negative aspects: We are that we who have professed to keep Christ’s commands, faith in Christ have passed from death to life, from darkness to light. If a person If our lives claims to be a Christian are marked by but continues to live obedience to in sin—disobeying Christ’s commands and living like Christ, it is another an unbeliever—then such a powerful reason person is deceived. to be sure we A believer’s life is not to be characterized by sin but belong to Him. by doing what is right in God’s eyes. In other words, and we are to turn from sin. what John was saying is this: If our lives are marked by If you profess faith in Christ, this kind of obedience, it is then your life will show it. another powerful reason to You will not indulge in be sure we belong to Christ. sinning as a way of life. Thinking It Over. John had mentioned the When you read the Bible cleansing that is available or hear it taught, are for Christians who do sin you quick to obey God’s (1 Jn. 1:9). Although a commands? List some ways Christian will sin, sin will your life demonstrates that not have mastery over him you are a child of God, and he will not give himself related to Jesus Christ. If to a decadent way of life you know you have put (Rom. 6:11-14). your trust in Christ but you 17 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  18. 18. have been walking We Are Different. disobediently, ask God Those of us who believe in for forgiveness right now Jesus Christ, though, are to and express your new be different. We should love commitment to obey Him. Him first and foremost, and we should be drawn together PILLAR 4: Your Love by that common interest. But For Other Christians the Bible says we should go THE SPIRIT’S ASSURANCE O C B H F E L R A D O I I I V T E S H N E T C E THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY In many pursuits of life, beyond that. We are not people are bonded together only to love Christ, but we by a love for something, are to love one another. but not necessarily for each In fact, our love for fellow other. For instance, members Christians is so important of a baseball team may not that it is another reason like each other, but they play on which we can base our together because of their love assurance. Look again at for the game. Or members the words of 1 John: of an orchestra may never We know that we have speak to one another, but passed from death to life, they meet together because because we love the of their love for music. brethren. . . . My little 18 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  19. 19. children, let us not love in six times (see 3:13-17). True, word or in tongue, but in the Bible makes it clear that deed and in truth. And by Christians are to have love this we know that we are for all mankind, desiring the of the truth, and shall salvation of everyone. But assure our hearts before the apostle John here was Him (3:14,18-19). saying that our love for other John said that your love Christians is an evidence of for other Christians will give salvation. He called our you the assurance that you attention to the fact that we are a member of God’s are a family. We love one family. This is a characteristic another in a special way that should be obvious to because we are brothers and detect in your life. You sisters in Christ. The whole may have some uncertainty, concept of “fellowship” in though, about exactly what this first epistle carries the kind of love John had in idea of sharing. And that mind. The word love sharing flows out of our standing all by itself can sense of oneness in Christ. mean many things to many Do you enjoy being with people. But when John spoke Christians? Do you derive of our love for believers, he pleasure from talking with was quite specific. them about your common We Are A Family. salvation? If so, you can John used the word love take it as further evidence to describe the sense of that you are a child of God. oneness that fellow believers We Are To Be Self- have in Christ. Notice that Sacrificing. This brother/ he specifically mentioned sister kind of love is not loving “the brethren,” and merely a subjective feeling that he used the term brother that Christians are to have 19 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  20. 20. for one another. It is an 13:4-6 and review the active love. It is self- characteristics of love. sacrificing. The pattern is Read Philippians 2:1-11 Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. and notice the relationship By this we know love, between our union with because He laid down His Christ and our love for our life for us. And we also fellow believers. Are there ought to lay down our walls of bitterness that are lives for the brethren. But keeping you from loving whoever has this world’s another believer? Take steps goods, and sees his brother today to remove the barriers in need, and shuts up his to brotherly love. heart from him, how does the love of God abide in CAPSTONE: him? (1 Jn. 3:16-17). The Spirit’s Assurance Unselfish, sacrificial, Imagine for a moment that Christlike love is one of the you are the pilot of a small pillars on which assurance plane. As you travel along, rests. The apostle John, you can check your after calling for a love-filled progress by looking down life and defining what it to find familiar landmarks, means, made the statement, or you can look at the “By this we know that we plane’s navigational are of the truth, and shall instruments. It would be assure our hearts before disturbing if the compass Him” (3:19). This should said you were on course give you assurance. but the landscape looked Thinking It Over. unfamiliar, or vice versa. Do you love Jesus Christ? But when the instruments Do you love His spiritual and the visible landmarks family? Read 1 Corinthians agree, you are reassured 20 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  21. 21. THE SPIRIT’S ASSURANCE O C B H F E L R A D O I I I V T E S H N E T C E THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY that you are flying on Confirming What course to your destination. We Know. Our own When we talk about the spirit may tell us that we Spirit’s assurance, we are are children of God because talking about an inner our assurance is built on confirmation that we are the five reasons we have children of God. The person already considered: who believes the Bible • The Bible’s Authority knows that he has become • Christ’s Work God’s child through faith. • Our Faith In Christ But this person also has the • Our Obedience To confirming presence of the Christ Holy Spirit. In 1 John we • Our Love For Other read: Christians By this we know that The Holy Spirit confirms He abides in us, by the in our heart what we already Spirit whom He has believe to be true. In fact, given us (3:24). He who we know that the Spirit is believes in the Son of involved in every step of this God has the witness in process. It is the Spirit who himself (5:10). helps us to acknowledge the 21 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  22. 22. truth of God’s Word. The courage. They can even Spirit helps us to recognize induce some to give their the finished work of Christ. lives for a cause. But they The Spirit assures us that do not enable their followers our faith is genuine. When we live obediently to the Lord, He encourages us to “You did not continue. And it is the Spirit receive the spirit who produces in us the love of bondage again for our fellow believers and assures us that this love is a to fear, but you mark of a Christian. received the Spirit Cooperating With of adoption by Our Spirit. Our experience squares with whom we cry out, Romans 8:16, “The Spirit ‘Abba, Father.’ The Himself bears witness Spirit Himself bears with our spirit that we are children of God.” Notice, the witness with our text does not say that the spirit that we are Spirit witnesses to our spirit, children of God.” but rather He witnesses with Romans 8:15-16 our spirit. This means that He strengthens the witness we are already receiving to say that trouble, from our own spirit. persecution, famine, Producing Inner nakedness, death, spiritual Peace. Man-made powers, anything that has religions or philosophies happened or will happen, can help people face nor any physical distance tragedy and death with could separate us from the 22 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  23. 23. love of God which is in Thinking It Over. Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:35-39). Take a few minutes to You can have that glad, review the blueprint for triumphant confidence! assurance outlined in this If you have accepted booklet. What will happen Jesus Christ as your Savior, if you base your hope of base the assurance of your salvation on how you feel salvation on what the Bible rather than on the authority has said. Christ has met of God’s Word? What if you God’s holy demands for fail to remember the finished you. Salvation is offered work of Christ? What if you as a free gift. Recognize begin to think that faith is that your faith is all God not all God requires from requires from you. Then you? What if you are examine your life for habitually disobedient evidences of obedience to God’s clear commands? to Christ and love for other What if you fail to love Christians. As you do these your fellow Christians? things, God will give you the How can the Holy Spirit inner witness of the Holy use the Word of God to Spirit. witness with your spirit? THE SPIRIT’S ASSURANCE O C B H F E L R A D O I I I V T E S H N E T C E THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY 23 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  24. 24. OBJECTIONS been far from perfect. Now I can only hope my E ven though the Bible faith is acceptable to God.” does give us good She died as she had lived— reasons to be with a sad uncertainty. confident about our Case Two. The relationship with God and owner of a small business our hope for eternity, not was faithful in church everyone is convinced. The attendance and was reasons are many. In this compassionate to the poor. section we will first look at But he never enjoyed the three representative people assurance that he would go who have struggled with to heaven. To a pastor he assurance. Then we will discuss two difficult Bible passages. Finally, we’ll “Right now I feel consider some personality good about my factors that cause doubts in the minds of many people. relationship with God. But I don’t CASE STUDIES always have this The following true stories are representative of the feeling. I often find kinds of problems Christians myself worrying have with assurance. about the future.” Case One. An elderly lady who was on her deathbed said to her son, said, “Right now I feel good “I believe in Jesus Christ. about my relationship with I love Him and have tried God. But I don’t always to live for Him. But I have have this feeling. I often 24 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  25. 25. find myself worrying Scripture passages, and about the future. I’m afraid (2) their own emotional I might die right after I makeup. commit a serious sin.” He went on to cite Paul’s DIFFICULT comment about working out BIBLE VERSES our salvation with fear and Some people want trembling, and then he said assurance, but they he was afraid he might be a are troubled by the castaway. He concluded, “I interpretation of certain sure wish I could know if passages. We will examine I’m going to heaven—but only two of these, trusting I’m afraid that’s impossible.” that we can make them Case Three. Another models of how to interpret person who is having others that seem to problems with certainty contradict the doctrine is a young housewife who of assurance. received the Lord a few 1 Corinthians 9:27. years ago and underwent a This verse has troubled remarkable change. She some Christians because it believes that assurance is speaks of being disqualified possible, and she longs for after years of faithful service it. But she is plagued with to Christ. Paul wrote: feelings of doubt and fear I discipline my body about everything—including and bring it into her relationship to the Lord. subjection, lest, when The lack of assurance I have preached to for salvation in these case others, I myself should histories comes from two become disqualified. sources: (1) their faulty What did Paul mean interpretation of key when he spoke of being 25 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  26. 26. disqualified? To answer this translated “disqualified.” question, we must examine The root word means, “that other statements the apostle which has not stood the made on this subject. When test.” Because Paul was we read his epistles, we referring to the prizes given discover a number of winners in the Olympic passages in which he contests, he likely had in expressed his certainty. mind the rewards that will He knew that he was a be given at the judgment child of God, an heir with seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Jesus Christ. He knew that He was thinking only of nothing could separate him from God. Read the conclusion of Romans 8 and sense the atmosphere “Faith rests on the of certainty and joy. Read naked Word of Philippians 1 and notice that Paul spoke of death as God; that Word gain. Then read 2 Timothy, believed gives written just before he was full assurance.” executed. What an air of H. A. Ironside confidence! When you turn to 1 Corinthians 9:27, therefore, you must remember that this verse being disqualified from was written by a man who receiving a prize. He did knew he was on his way not want to lose his reward to heaven. for service through failing to With this in mind, let’s satisfy his Lord. He was not look at the context and the afraid of losing his meaning of the Greek word salvation. 26 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  27. 27. Philippians 2:12. reverential awe that should Paul’s instruction that we fill our hearts as we live must work out our salvation day by day in humble with fear and trembling has dependence on the Lord been unsettling to some. and in anticipation of our Therefore, my beloved, as future glory. you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but how much more in my absence, work out Only one your own salvation with conclusion can fear and trembling. Notice that Paul did not be reached: The say we must work for our Bible does not salvation. The Greek word contradict itself translated “work out” refers to “working down to a point in teaching the of completion.” Paul was assurance of speaking of salvation as an salvation. ongoing process through which we grow and develop in the Christian faith. Philippians 2:12 says We have looked at two nothing about gaining Bible passages that have salvation. It refers to troubled some people who the maturing process in are seeking assurance. cooperation with the Lord, And we have seen that who “works in you both to neither passage denies will and to do for His good the possibility of being pleasure” (v.13). The “fear confident of salvation. We and trembling” indicates the could demonstrate that the 27 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  28. 28. same is true of other Many believers are problem passages, but plagued with doubts. If when the verses are you are among them, don’t rightly understood and condemn yourself. Your read in the light of other problem relates more to portions of the Bible, the your psychological makeup conflict is resolved. Only than to your spiritual state. one conclusion can be Don’t despair. reached: The Bible does not contradict itself in teaching that we can be sure of our salvation. “When a person is PERSONALITY in Christ, he is safe. FACTORS All the devil may As mentioned earlier, do is worry him.” some people acknowledge W. P. Loveless that the Bible teaches the possibility of assurance, but they can’t seem to find it for themselves. We saw Consider this illustration. an example in the young A man was fishing on a housewife we mentioned quiet lake after dark. The in Case 3. She confesses air was still, and the moon her sins, prays for others, was reflected perfectly in seeks God’s guidance, lives the water. After looking at it obediently, and shows a for a while, he whimsically lot of love. Yet she often cast his lure into the has times when she is reflection. The image dreadfully afraid that shattered into a thousand she is not a child of God. pieces. Now, had the moon 28 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  29. 29. actually been broken? Of 2. Communicate with course not! The reflection God through prayer, had. He had only to look and confess every heavenward to assure known sin. himself that the moon was 3. Obey God’s still there, shining in all of commandments, its beauty. and do what you Likewise, the joy of a know is right. Christian’s salvation can 4. Spend time with be shattered by doubt, strong Christians, satanic attack, unfortunate and let their love circumstances, gnawing help you. fears, or depression. But 5. Reach out in concern losing the joy of one’s to others because you salvation does not mean love them. that salvation itself has 6. Recognize that been lost. The believer must your doubts and look upward in faith to God depressions may be and to the assurances of more emotional than His Word to have his spiritual. This will confidence restored. help you avoid If you are plagued by unnecessary feelings times of doubt, consider of guilt because of the following guidelines your supposed lack for maintaining assurance: of faith. 1. Read your Bible, especially the book of 1 John, to remind yourself of the solid foundation on which your salvation stands. 29 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  30. 30. A PERSONAL assurance of my salvation JOURNEY is based on the unchanging Word of God and the Dennis De Haan, finished work of Jesus Christ contributing editor of Our in dying on the cross to pay Daily Bread, struggled with for my sins. My pardon and doubts about his salvation. my hope are in Him—not in Here’s his personal account my changing feelings. of his journey to assurance. I am also helped in knowing that some people I first professed faith in are by temperament more Christ as my Savior at inclined to doubt than the age of 15. I wish I others. Some people are could claim that in the years blessed with an optimistic since then I have never once nature that fills them with doubted my salvation. But I faith about life in general, can’t. My experience has while others are by nature been more of an arduous introspective, cautious, journey of recurring doubts fearful, and deeply sensitive. than a spiritual fairy tale God did not make all people that ends in living “happily alike. Thomas, one of Jesus’ ever after.” In looking own disciples was a doubter. back, I see that I made Yet Jesus accepted him just the common mistake of as he was—doubts and all. equating assurance with The Bible teaches that a positive feeling. When I assurance of salvation is the was up, I felt saved; when work of the Holy Spirit, who I was down, I felt lost. bears witness with our spirit Today, it doesn’t matter that we are the children of just when I was saved, for God (Rom. 8:16). I find that I have come to see that the this inner confirmation 30 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  31. 31. comes as I fellowship with to deal with it again. Unless, Christ, am obedient to the of course, I sin again. Word, and rest secure in If doubts still occur, I the love of God. I must be must resist them as I do any careful not to allow hatred other temptation. In some or ill will toward anyone to ways, I’m glad for doubts, remain in my heart. When because they force me to doubting, I try to take an decide anew that I will honest inventory of my believe God and trust life, for God’s Spirit cannot completely in Jesus. How witness with my spirit when often I’ve simply told Him, I grieve or quench Him “Lord, I don’t feel saved, but I trust You anyway. Thank you for settling it all on the “In some ways, cross of Calvary!” Someday all doubts will I’m glad for doubts, be gone and we will see our because they force Savior face to face. But me to decide anew until then we walk by faith and not by sight. that I will believe If we concentrate on God and trust obeying God’s Word and completely remembering what Christ has done for us, something in Jesus.” wonderful will occur. Slowly but surely we will begin to “doubt our doubts and through disobedience. I’ve believe our beliefs”—and also come to see that once that, through the witness of I’ve confessed a sin and the Holy Spirit, brings turned from it, I don’t need blessed assurance. 31 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  32. 32. ASSURANCE ❏ Do I practice sin less CHECKLIST than before I was a Christian? I f you have received (1 Jn. 3:5-6). Christ as your Savior, ❏ Do l show love the assurance of your to other believers? salvation will be continually (1 Jn. 3:14). strengthened when you are ❏ Have I had able to answer yes to the answers to prayer? following questions: (1 Jn. 3:22; 5:15). ❏ Am I aware of the ❏ Do I enjoy fellowship witness of the Holy with God, with Spirit to the truths of Christ, and with God? (Rom. 8:15-16; other believers? 1 Jn. 4:13). (1 Jn. 1:3-4). ❏ Can I discern between ❏ Am I troubled when I spiritual truth and sin or when I see it in error? (Jn. 10:3-5,27; others? (1 Jn. 1:5-10). 1 Jn. 4:1-6). ❏ Do I try to be ❏ Do I believe the obedient to the basic doctrines of commands of the the Christian faith? Bible? (1 Jn. 2:3-5). (1 Jn. 5:1). ❏ Do I reject the wrong ❏ Have I ever values of our present experienced world-system? opposition because (1 Jn. 2:15). of my Christian ❏ Do l love Christ and convictions? (Jn. look forward to His 15:18-20; Phil. 1:28). return? (2 Tim. 4:8; (Adapted from Salvation Is Forever 1 Jn. 3:2-3). by Robert Gromacki.) 32 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  33. 33. Get your free Bible Resources catalog! Discovery Series booklets can be valuable guides to help you learn what the Bible says about a broad range of topics. Each 32-page booklet can be used in your personal Bible study or in a small-group setting. Your free Bible Resources catalog includes a brief description of each Discovery Series booklet. To get your copy, write to us at the address below and ask for a catalog. Or follow the link below to request your copy today. USA: PO Box 2222, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2222 Canada: Box 1622, Windsor, ON N9A 6Z7