On our last evening of the fall term for Let’s Do Theology, I had the privilege of sharing my testimony with the ladies as I reflected on a hot summer’s day in 1970. God has been gracious to give me detailed memories and it is good that I might look back on that time of my salvation. Praise be to God that I know my conversion was real!
The question at hand is this: Can we know we are saved?
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
Exactly what does assurance of salvation mean?
Dr. Gregg Allison writes, “Assurance of salvation is the subjective confidence that is the privilege of all genuine believers that they will remain Christians through their life.” When Allison’s definition is supported by 1 Peter 1:3-9, the scripture underscores that God is faithful to preserve believers for all time.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:3-9
Was your conversion real?
We can be wrong or deceived in life and there are questions that are valid. It is possible that we can find comfort in our answers, but we should also know that eternity is at stake when we consider the genuineness of our salvation. Romans 8:16 teaches us that experiences must be tested by the Word of God, that the Spirit himself would bear witness with our spirit and we would be known to have come to Him if we keep his commandments and live life grounded in the truth of the Scriptures (Isaiah 8:20, 1 John 2:3).
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. – 1 John 3:14
It is true that as believers we love because God first loved us (1 John 5:2). Ask, where is this love evidenced in your Christian walk? Do you thirst for God? Do you take joy in Christ’s church? Do you live under the authority of God’s Word? Do the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship, Bible reading and study play a part in sustaining your life? It is right and helpful that we should ask these questions.
We live in a society where feelings take precedence over what we know or believe and this attitude has infiltrated the church. Many evangelical Christians are looking for emotional fulfillment and excitement instead of rich doctrinal thinking coupled with living out the very promises of God. Few things can be as troublesome to the Christian as doubting her standing with God. Long-term doubt has potential to lead an individual into depression, despair, and disobedience. Yet, we are called to live daily in the joy of assurance. We have been born again to a living hope! It’s important we place trust in God’s saving power. Our confidence is in what Christ has done on our behalf, not in things we have done or will do. The work done in and through Jesus on the cross was sufficient for all time.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. – Galatians 2:20
Let’s leave the intellectual aside and not depend on head knowledge for a moment…Take some time to search your heart and your soul. Do you believe in Christ alone for salvation? Does Christ dwell in you? Do you have the Spirit of Christ?
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. – Romans 8:9-11
God loves to assure His people that they are His children and He is their Father (Matthew 7:9-11, Ephesians 1:17). There is no reason to live in doubt and fear for another moment when there are steps we can take in search for assurance. If you are unsure of your standing before God and would like to know more, I would welcome a visit with you. I might add, Let’s Do Theology’s Sunday evening class will resume January 10th at FBC as we continue our study of Soteriology, the doctrine of Salvation.