Assurance of Salvation: Simply Considered
The most important
question for anyone is, “How can I be assured that I am saved?”
The answer is really quite simple, ““Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
You wanted more? Well,
let us unpack that simple phrase. What does it mean to
“believe?” Belief means to accept, as true, a statement as it is
presented. The Biblical statement about Christ is that He is God
(John 10:3) and that He provided the ultimate sacrifice for
individual sin (I John 2:2). Do you accept that two-part
statement as true? If so, you are saved! (For more on the
concept of faith, see
Faith: What It Is and What It Is Not."
“That’s all?,” you ask.
“There has to be more.” Well, not really. Inherent in that
statement is that you believe that the Bible is true. Inherent
is that statement is that a statement believed is a statement
That is, if you believe
that two-part statement, then you will act like a Christ-one.
(Christian is what “believers” in Christ are called.)
Well, then, what do
Christians do? Christians read and study their Bibles. They
pray. They are baptized and participate in The Lord’s Supper.
They are members of a church where others believe this two-part
statement to the extent that the Bible is taught and preached,
the two sacraments just named are practiced, and erring members
are disciplined. They evangelize. They raise their children “in
the nurture and admonition” of the Lord. They experience the
fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). They do not regularly
and flagrantly practice the evils of the flesh (Galatians
5:19-21). They “love their wives (husbands) as Christ loved the
church.“ And, they practice all the other “good works” that the
Bible calls them to practice.
Indeed, herein is the
failure of most of those who want assurance, and those
who counsel them how to find that assurance: the consistent and
fervent practice of good works is the evidence of one’s belief.
And, being active in good works, Christians "strengthen their
Chapter16, Section 2).
The reference verse of this assurance is, "Now by this we know
that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I
know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and
the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the
love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in
Him (I John 2:3-5, NKJV).
So, the Christian who wants
assurance and who is not active in a full life of good works, is
avoiding perhaps the most crucial area that can give him
assurance! In fact, he will decrease his assurance, because he
is living a sinful life. Sin, without active confession
and active obedience (applied practically in putting on right
behavior), actually increases one's
true guilt and feelings of guilt, driving the person further
The error of
those who want assurance, and those who counsel them, is to
focus on “feeling” saved.
transient. God and His Word are “the same yesterday, today, and
I feel good one moment,
discouraged the next. I crawl out of bed some mornings ready to
attack the day. Other mornings, I literally crawl out of bed.
get sick, I feel bad. When I get well, I feel good. Someone imposes
on me, I get angry. I barely avoid a serious auto accident and
find myself trembling with fear. I worry about the safety and
welfare of my children. Dear readers, feelings come and go,
moment by moment, hundreds of times each day. Do we want to
trust in those frail moments?
Or, do we want to
trust in God and His Word which never change? Who always speaks
Yes, the choice is that simple:
feelings or God and truth (the Bible). God is perfectly just.
He is completely trustworthy. Surely, we can rest our
eternal salvation in His hands, not our own feelings.
Still, you may ask,
“But I don’t know if I really believe.” You cannot escape
that way. I have already said that if you believe, your life
is characterized by all the activities above. There is evidence
of belief or there is not evidence of belief.
You may persist, “But I
don’t do many of those things. I believe that I should, but I
Ah! Pay dirt!
Gotcha! Nailed! The crux of the matter. If you don’t
practice those things in some consistent and complete way, you don’t truly believe!
This notion that you can believe
and not practice consistent with that belief is the problem of
doubt of modern Christians that they do not “feel saved.”
The Bible’s use of faith (the
noun form of “believe”) is always succeeded by action. When
Peter doubted, he began to sink. He did not say, “Lord, I
believe, but I am sinking!” The father of the demon-possessed
child cried out, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark
9:24). He did not cry, “Lord, I believe, but not enough to help
my son.” If fact, in the previous sentence, Jesus said, “All
things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).
“For as (a man) thinks
in his heart, so is he,“ Proverbs 23:7. What a person truly is
(believes) in his innermost being (heart), that he cannot avoid
practicing. “For out of the abundance of the heart (belief), the
mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
Reader, you may have
work to do!
1) If you do not believe
that “belief without action is a lie,” then you must prove me
wrong from Scripture, for the Bible has definitions that
often differ from secular ones. You can do a word search
on "faith," "believe," and "belief"
here. 2) If you believe that you are a Christian
and are not practicing the many activities of the Christian’s
life (above), then you must implement those in your life. If you
need practical help, read
The Christian Counselor's Manual,
homework manuals, and other books by Jay Adams
and Wayne Mack. They will give you clear and practical
directions. 3) If you consistently practice these activities,
then read on, and praise God!
I want to add one
qualifier. No one practices everything that God requires
perfectly. At issue here are the overall activities and
direction of the life. If you do not want to practice the
activities of the Christian life in a full and meaningful way,
you are not a Christian, pure and simple. If the large majority
of your activities and conversation is what God requires, then
you are a Christian and are saved, pure and simple. The fact that you
falter in these activities only means that you are not yet made
perfect. That state is reserved for heaven.
The power of individual
Christians and that of churches is being neutralized by church
people who spend too much time worrying about whether they are
Christians or not, instead of attacking the Gates of Hell. God
is fully trustworthy in everything that He said. If you believe
it, you will live it, fully but not perfectly, pure and simple.
“Trust and obey, for these is no other way, to be happy in
Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Other resources on
this website will help you understand these matters.
Get on with the life of a Christian. Stop wanting
something more (feelings, an audible voice from heaven) than God
gives. "Believe (and act) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
you will be (are) saved."
1. Understand that
“faith” is the noun equivalent of “believe” and a synonym of
“faith.” . Do a word search for “faith” on this website. See
the Section The Relevance of Faith in
2. Do a word search
for “emotion” on this website or read all the articles in
the Worldview Area of
Psychology, Counseling and Emotions
3. Do word
searches in the Bible and read all verses that contain them
on these words: heart, belief, believe, and faith.
4. Other articles
on this website:
5. Read my book,
It Is Impossible to Please God.
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Effective Christian Life