Monday, October 20, 2008

Do you have an Assurance of Salvation?

Are you saved? Do you even know if you are or not? When were you saved? Would you like to have an assurance of your salvation? Wouldn't you like to know without a shadow of doubt that you are saved?

I know I would. So, how is one saved? There seems to be many different answers to this question, however, they all have one thing in common. Believing in the Lord Jesus who paid the ultimate price on Calvary for all of the sins of all of the people that have lived and will ever live forever and ever. Amen.

This is a statement that most Catholics and Protestants will agree on. Yes, Catholics and Protestants do agree on things :). So what do we disagree on? What is so different between the two groups regarding salvation and why? The biggest difference that I have seen, being on both sides of the fence, is what does it mean to believe.

From my Protestant background, this meant that you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior. This is something that I did when I was a little boy. He became my Lord and Savior, and I decided at that time that I was going to live for Him. From that point on, I was saved and my salvation was assured. My salvation was complete and I did everything that was necessary in order to be saved.

According to most Protestant tradition's, salvation is a one time event, where you accept the Lord by faith - Sola Fide. All you need to do is believe on Jesus, and you are saved. There are many verses in the Bible that would seem to support this belief, however, we should always look at the context of passages as well as take into account the whole body of Holy Scriptures in order to understand God's message to us. What does the Bible say about the infallible assurance of salvation:

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).

Here is where I was always taught that I can have an assurance of salvation. If I believe on the name of the Son of God then I know that I have eternal life. What I never asked myself was, what does it mean to believe in Jesus? Is it just purely mental assent that Christ is Lord, or is there something more?

When studying Scripture, it is unhealthy to just pluck a verse out of the Bible without taking into account the context of which it was written. In order to understand the context of which John is speaking in 1 John 5:13, we should not immediately go searching to other books in scripture. In fact, it would be ideal if we can find the answer to that question within the same book. John does even better than this. He actually explains at the beginning of this chapter what it means to believe in God.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.(1 John 5:1-2).

So let's break it down. 1 John 5:13 tells us that we can be sure of our salvation if we believe in Jesus. 1 John 5:1-2 tells us that we know if we believe in Jesus and love the Father if we love his children. Then we know that we love his children by carrying out His commands. It is clear that those who believe on the name of Jesus, keeps his commandments. This is not anything new. Jesus even says it Himself.

If you love me, you will obey what I command.(John 14:15).

Is there an assurance of salvation? Yes. So long as you keep God's commandments.

We believe that the Holy Scriptures are inspired from God. They are infallible and free from error. So regarding the assurance of salvation, let's see what Paul has to say:

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.(Rom 11:22).

So, we are called to continue in God's kindness. If we do not continue in his kindness, then we will be cut off. In other words, we have to continue within the unmeritted favor of Christ (God's grace), if we are going to attain salvation.

Here is a great article titled, Assurance of Salvation. This will do more justice to this topic than I can ever do.

Just in case you do not take the time to read the article, I do want to share one quote with you. It is how we are to answer the question, "are you saved"?

"As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13)."


Chad and Tammy said...

Is there an assurance of salvation? Yes. So long as you keep God's commandments.

Again, I believe that salvation is a work of God alone.

Ephesians 1:4-5 says: "...just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him; In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will..."

And Matthew 22:14 says: "For many are called, but few are chosen." Romans 9-11 expands on this in much more detail.

I understand that the concept of predestination is a little off topic here, but the point I'm making is that it isn't what I do that earns my salvation. It's all God's work.

That said, there are places in the Bible where the writers encourage us to test ourselves to make sure we are truly in the faith. One way is to examine our fruit. Is the Holy Spirit actively working to make us more like Christ? Is God drawing us into a closer relationship with Himself through His Son? Is the Holy Spirit causing us to more frequently turn away from sin? Do we have a desire to reach the lost for Christ?

Finally, if you have an hour on your hands (I know, not likely for many people but maybe make an exception this once), the message in this video is very powerful and convicting and it is right on topic:

Carlus Henry said...


...salvation is a work of God alone

Amen. Salvation is a work of God. It is a free gift that Christ offers to everyone. It is, however, still up to us to accept that free gift through His gift of free will.

God created us in His image of love. He desires that we love Him. In His wisdom, He knows that true love must be offered through free will. That is why He did not create robots. He created Man and Woman and put them in the Garden of Eden and allowed them to choose to love Him, or eat the forbidden fruit. Free Will.

predestination is a little off topic...

How do you describe predestination? Is this a theology that you believe in? isn't what I do that earns my salvation. It's God's work.

Yes I agree. There is nothing that I can do on my own accord that earns salvation. Once again, it is a undeserved free gift of God. However, I think that it is pretty clear, especially in the verses that I quoted, that there is something that you can do that will force you to be "cutoff", and that is if you no longer remain in his kindness.(Rom 11:32)

So the question that we should ask ourselves is what does it take to remain in God's kindness? Whatever those things are that are required to remain in His kindness, isn't that participating in God's gift of salvation? Notice I said participating and not the cause of. This is the same way that Paul is referring in his letter to Timothy:

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.(1 Tim 4:16)

Is Paul suggesting that Timothy be the cause / source of his own salvation? Of course not. But he is suggesting to Timothy that he can not only be instrumental in his own salvation, by remaining in God's kindness, but also the salvation of others.

...writers encourage us to test ourselves

I don't understand this. I would like to see some scriptural evidence where we are encouraged to test ourselves. I have never heard of this concept before, and I am really curious.