Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
How can a Christian be normal without having assurance that they truly are a Christian? A normal Christian is to preach the gospel to every creature, yet how difficult this is when one does not know for sure that they have received the very message they are proclaiming? How can a normal Christian enter into the battle of spiritual warfare without knowing whether they are wearing one of the most important pieces of armor - the helmet of salvation (protection for the head)? Assurance of salvation is a critical aspect of the normal Christian Life. This is surely known by our enemy, the devil. For he knows that if he can cause us to doubt whether we are saved or not, he can easily defeat us from going forward in our Christian walk and possibly cause us to retreat. In this lesson we shall endeavor to provide a firm foundation of assurance of our salvation.
The only real ground for assurance comes from truth. Satan can cast a multitude of doubts in our mind based on experiences, feelings, and false teachings; but we must remain firm on the truth if we are to remain assured. Fact, Faith, and Experience were walking along the top of a wall. Fact walked straight along the wall turning neither to the left nor right, without ever looking behind. Faith followed behind doing very well as long as he kept focused on Fact. Soon, however, he became concerned about Experience and turned to see how he was doing. Faith lost his balance causing Experience to fall off after him. We need to stay focused on the facts found in the flawless Word of God. Let's consider some facts about God's offer of salvation to man:
It is not God's desire for any person to be cast into hell. In fact, God says that hell is a place prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). In 1 Timothy 2:4, we are told that God's desire is for all men to be saved, and conversely in 2 Peter 3:9 we find that God does not want any person to perish. God's offer of salvation is genuine. What further proof could we seek beyond the fact that He gave His only begotten Son in order for us to be saved (John 3:16)?
Romans 10:13 says, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved". Revelation 22:17 says, "whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". Jesus is the propitiation (satisfaction or appeasement) "for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). God's offer of salvation has been made to everyone excluding no one.
Consider the following proofs:
John says "this is the record" (1 John 5:11) and "these things have I written" (1 John 5:13) that you may know that you have eternal life. God has clearly said that we can know that we are saved.
When we read books like 1 John which repeatedly states that we can know we are saved (1 John 2:3, 2:29, 3:14, 3:19, 4:13, 5:13), we must conclude without hesitation that the normal state of a Christian ought to be one of surety when it comes to salvation. Despite this, a great multitude of Christians have struggled with doubt. Let's consider some common reasons that people doubt their salvation:
Many people received Christ as a child (which is truly the best time to get saved), but because of this they cannot remember much about the point in time when they accepted Christ as their Savior.
Is it necessary to remember the time and place where you received Christ? Let's remember a few important facts. First of all, Jesus likened the process of being born again (regeneration) to the wind in John 3:8. We cannot see the wind, we can only detect it by the effect it has. Given this, we would have to conclude that getting saved is not something that can be felt or detected, only the results are observable. It seems very possible then that one could receive Christ and not remember the time or place.
Secondly, it is far more important to determine if we have been born again rather than when we were born again. I do not remember my physical birth, yet I know it happened because I am alive.
Many people have prayed for God to save them only to later question whether they said the right things or not. People doubt because they didn't get saved at the church or perhaps because they did not even say a prayer. Part of the problem with this lies in our fallen nature that tries so desperately to obtain salvation through our own works. Often we have to tried achieve spiritual objectives through rituals and routines.
Jesus told Nicodemus that "whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:15). Paul told the Philippian jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). Ephesians 2:8-9 says "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast". Prayer in itself has never saved anyone. We don't need to have faith in our faith or in our procedure; we need to have faith in the finished work of Christ. Believing that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again is what brings eternal life.
Many people hear another person's testimony of salvation and begin to doubt because they did not have the same experience. The fact is that the Bible gives many accounts of salvation experiences and each is different. All we know of Matthew is that Jesus told him to follow Him and he did. The Ethiopian eunuch got saved in a chariot after hearing Philip preach to him from the book of Isaiah. Timothy was saved as a child (2 Timothy 3:15) Paul has perhaps one of the most exciting experiences having seen the risen Christ (Acts 9:3, 17).
How many people gave a testimony of their salvation in the New Testament?
Paul is the only person to actually repeat his testimony in the written word. Everyone has a different experience and for some perhaps more dramatic, but this does not mean that Paul for example was any more saved than Matthew.
Our feelings should follow our faith which is focused on the facts. We should never place our faith in our feelings. We are emotional creatures. One day we may feel spiritual and the next we may not. Paul said, "have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3).
Many Christians may doubt their salvation because of some sin they have committed. Remember that when Jesus died for our sins, He paid for all of them - past, present, and future. Some are worried that they have "fallen from grace" (thanks to false teaching). First, those that fell from grace did so by trying to keep the law, not because they sinned (Galatians 5:4). Second, "fallen from grace" does not mean they became unsaved, it means they stopped relying in the unmerited favor of God (grace) and were trying to work for salvation. We never earned salvation to begin with, why must some believe that they have to live right to keep it?
The Bible clearly teaches the eternal security of the believer. Christians are called the "children of God" (Romans 8:16). We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit at salvation and are given a new nature. All of these are permanent conditions and not one example is ever given where they are revoked. Would God cast His children into hell?
Some people lack assurance because they really are not saved.
Many people have written books describing various tests to see if one is saved or not, but we ought to be very careful with such tests. This can lead believers to doubt their salvation or even worse, for lost people to receive false assurance. If we are not careful, we will begin trusting in our experiences rather than in the facts. The best test for salvation is the Word of God - does it say we are lost or saved?
John 3:36 says, " He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him". According to the Bible, are you lost or saved? According to 1 John 5:9-13, if you believe the record that God has given concerning Christ (i.e. the gospel) you have the Son. If you have the Son, you have eternal life. Now, according to the Bible are you lost or saved?
James explains that faith without works is dead (James 2:15-20). You can profess to believe something, but the real proof of whether you really believe it can be seen in your works. The proof that Abraham believed God can be seen in the fact that he was actually going to sacrifice Isaac. The truth is that we only do what we really believe. According to the Bible, are you lost or saved?