“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless, I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”—2 Timothy 1:12
Evangelist D. L. Moody once said, “I have never known a Christian who was any good in the work of Christ who did not have assurance of his salvation.” Many people would agree with that sentiment, because assurance of salvation brings a measure of confidence, and freedom to serve. Because of Jesus Christ, the soul that is saved no longer has to work for salvation. The Christian can work out the salvation that God has wrought in the heart. It is not presumptuous for a person to say that they know they are saved, any more then it is presumptuous for a person to say they know if they are married, or if they are male or female. There are many facts in life that are knowable, and irrefutable. My heart goes out to anyone who lingers in doubt over his or her salvation, for I know how troublesome that can be. Therefore, consider how to be assured of one’s salvation.
First, assurance of salvation will come when the plan of redemption is clearly understood and embraced. In all the world, there are only two systems of salvation offered to those who believe in God, and life after death. Either a person can be saved through grace, by faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ, or, they can be saved by a system of good works, which may, or may not, include faith in Christ. The difference between the two basic systems of salvation offered to humanity is the difference between night and day. The Catholic Church embraces salvation by good works, as do many other religious structures, such as Protestant Arminianism, Buddhism, the Islamic faith, and all the cults, including Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In contrast to a system of salvation by good works, is the belief that salvation is by grace alone, apart from good works. Ephesians 2:8, 9 explains. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Here is the gospel truth. Every person is born physically alive but spiritually dead. Because of the Fall, the essence of every person has been corrupted in the totality of their soul to such an extent that they are separated from God, and will remain separated until there is redemption, and spiritual healing in the heart. The Biblical commentary is that every person is a sinner by nature, and by choice.
The heart of the Natural Man is full of corruption, when viewed in the light of God’s perfection, and must be banned from the face of the Holy One who will not fellowship with evil. This banishment need not be permanent, for God comes to seek and to save, as He did with Adam and Eve.
Nevertheless, the fundamental first truth remains. The Natural Man is dead before God in his trespasses and sins which is why the Natural Man does not naturally desire to have fellowship with God. Romans 3:11-12 declares, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
One of the most sentimental teachings of modern-day evangelism is that people are searching after God. There are ministries that have been built around the “Sensitive Seeker.” The idea is that there are people wanting God. They just do not know how to find Him. Therefore, the Church must become “user friendly”, by not making anyone feel uncomfortable. Nothing should be said against personal, or social issues, despite obvious corruption. Unsaved people are invited to come to a church service that will be comfortable, inviting, and non-threatening. The emphasis will be on drama, theatrics, high tech videos, and musical performances. Sermons will be short, and focused on self-improvement. Nothing will be mentioned about sin, hell, repentance, the exclusiveness of the gospel, or the judgment to come. Jesus will be presented as Someone who will make your life better. God is a Cosmic Genie who has many wonderful gifts to give to you if you approach Him in the right way. Many “Seeker Sensitive” churches are now mega churches with pastors who are very popular in the evangelical world.
The reality of the Seeker Sensitive Movement is that the creation rejects any fellowship with the Creator. Unless man is given spiritual light, he will grope in darkness, reflected in nonsensical religious activity, including all that is found in the Seeker Sensitive Movement.
Whatever is going on in many of these mega churches is not worship. Many people leave without having a sense of being in the presence of God. They are not awed by the Divine Majesty. They have no love for Jesus. They came in for an hour of good entertainment. They leave satisfied, and confirmed in their self-righteousness, and their sin.
However, they did enjoy the religious rock music, the slick videos, the clever theatrics, and the uplifting message that reaffirmed their self-esteem. Modern Evangelicalism has found a new way to make people feel comfortable about going to hell. If God does not intervene to save a person from their sinful self, there will be certain destruction. The only way God has ordained for souls to be saved is by way of the Cross. Jessie P. Bounds understood this and wrote in 1906 these words.
“I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss.
The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.”
Who will come to the Cross?
The Scriptural answer is this. Those whom the Holy Spirit draws will come to Christ, for salvation is of the Lord. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). Only when it is understood that it is God who does the saving, can it be understood that it is God who gets the glory.
If God is the One who saves, then He is the only One who can sustain what He has redeemed. Paul put it this way in Philippians 1:6. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Have you been to the Cross? Has Jesus saved you? Are you sure of your salvation? The way to be sure is to call upon the name of the Lord. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
Second assurance of salvation will come to the heart when the promises of the Bible are believed. Will you not believe these promises?
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32).
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
“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” (John 3:36).
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).
God has spoken plainly on the matter of assurance of salvation. Either a person believes God the Word of the Lord, or he does not. God’s ear lies close to the believer’s lips to hear if he will even say, “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.”
Third, assurance of salvation will come to the heart when there is a discernable difference in the life that is being lived. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul declared that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When salvation comes to a person the heart is new. It is sensitive to sin to the point that evil is no longer loved.
However, when a person has made a profession of faith, been baptized, and joined a church, only to return to works of unrighteousness, then a false profession of faith has been made and there can be no assurance of salvation. “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly” (Prov. 26:11). On the new heart God writes His law.
When salvation comes to a person the will is new. There is power to resist sin. Paul speaks of this ability with words of exhortation in Romans 6:12-14. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
This does not mean that Christians do not sin, for indeed they do. But there is this difference. The Holy Spirit brings conviction to grieve the new heart, and bring it to repentance. Christianity is worth little if it does not change the life-style. In 1875 Fanny Cosby expressed her new heart as she wrote the following.
“I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.”
When salvation comes to a person the emotions are transformed. The Bible declares the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the new heart will be expressed in “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” (Gal. 5:22). It was St Francis of Assisi, who prayed,
“Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master; grant that I may so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life”.
A fourth way to find assurance of salvation is through suffering for the sake of righteousness. Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matt. 5:11). To suffer for righteousness sake is to suffer for being like Christ, or upholding the historic faith of the church.
When Christians lift their voices to protest social sins, such as abortion, homosexuality, segregation, and racism, there will be a strong negative reaction.
When Christians contend for the historic faith, and protest new movements, such as that of the Sensitive Seeker, because they are contrary to sound doctrine, there will be resentment. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:12).
Here are four ways to gain assurance of salvation.
First, understand that salvation is of the Lord.
Second, believe the promises of the Word of God.
Third, look for, and cultivate, a discernible difference in the heart, will, and emotions.
Fourth, anticipate a measure of persecution for righteousness sake. That too is a sign of salvation.