From my own experience, one of the most miserable things that can happen to a believer is to live without assurance of their salvation. It triggers many erroneous belief patterns: (i). There’s a lack of peace with one’s self (ii). There’s a lack of peace with God. (iii) Attributing any negative event in one’s life as God’s punishment for sin(s) committed. (iv). One becomes an easy prey for the devil’s deceptions (v). One lives under the bondage of the doctrine of men trying to please men rather than God. These are not exhaustive but I believe are the common ones people can identify with
The Necessity For Assurance Of Salvation
As a Christian, it is crucial to have assurance of salvation because it is a promise to the believer which he or she must lay claim to: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.(Romans 5:1). “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14). “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10). “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
These are but a few promises to the believer which must engender peace with God or assurance of salvation. From the text, I draw a few lessons: Christ Himself is our peace and through Him, we have a right standing with God which must lead us to peace with God and with ourselves. From this position of justification, we must live lives consistent with our salvation. We must never presume on grace or take our salvation lightly: “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election”
J.C. Ryle, in Justification [kindle edition] said this of peace, which I am using interchangeably as assurance of salvation. He wrote: “This peace with God is a calm, intelligent sense of friendship with the Lord of heaven and earth. He who has it, feels as if there was no barrier and separation between himself and his holy Maker. He can think of himself as under the eye of an all-seeing Being, and yet, not feel afraid. He can believe that this all-seeing Being beholds him, and yet is not displeased… I know of no happiness compared to that which this peace affords. A calm sea after a storm, a blue sky after a black thunder cloud—health after sickness—light after darkness—rest after toil—all, all are beautiful and pleasant things. But none, none of them all can give more than a feeble idea of the comfort which those enjoy who have been brought into the state of peace with God. It is “a peace which passes all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7.)
“A peace which passes all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7.) That is reassuring, isn’t it? Jesus in His conversation with a disillusioned band of disciples gave them an assurance of peace: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:1, 27). Despite all these assurances, however, some people still struggle with assurance of Salvation. Why?
They Are Not Saved.
That sounds like an oxymoron. Why seek assurance of salvation when you are not saved? Of course if you don’t have it, that is Salvation, there is no point to have assurance of it. You must first be in possession of it before you can be assured of possessing it. Some people have not come to a personal saving knowledge of Christ, but probably because they have grown up in Christian homes or have Christian parents, they assume they are saved. And when doubts arise, obviously there will be no grounds to stand on but sinking sand. We must never give false assurances to anyone who is not converted. We must ensure whoever is seeking assurance of salvation is indeed saved. Anyone battling doubts about their salvation must indeed ensure they are saved: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you ?— unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Living In Unrepentant Sin.
Sin robs our joy, peace and assurance of salvation and until one has come clean with God by confessing and forsaking their sin, there is bound to be a lack of assurance in our walk with God. Sin is a burden we must always bring before God. In Psalm 51:7-12, we see the devastating effect of unconfessed sin in David’s life after his infamous adultery with Bathsheba. His joy of salvation was gone. He was “dying” within. This is not only true of David, it is true of any believer living in unrepentant sin. They lose their peace and assurance of their salvation.
When people are taught wrongly about the Christian faith, it leads to wrong beliefs which produces doubts about one’s beliefs. A simple question as “will you go to heaven when you die?” will tell if a person is assured of their salvation. Some will answer that “only God knows those who will go to heaven”. Of course God knows, but the believer in whose heart God has worked must also know: “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” (Hebrews 10:22). Assurance of salvation is “the children’s bread” and they must have and guard it.
The Grounds For Assurance Of Salvation
Salvation Is A Work Of God
Salvation is a work of God. We didn’t save ourselves. Christ told His disciples they didn’t choose Him, rather He chose them. If we are indeed saved, we must look upon our salvation as a work God Himself did in our hearts. And when God works in our hearts, He brings His work to a perfect completion: “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Also, salvation is a gift God gives to us and when God gives a gift he doesn’t take it back (Romans 11:29). If we have it, we cannot lose it and no one and nothing can take it away from us: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).
Assurance of Salvation Is Based On The Character of God.
We don’t look to ourselves for assurance of our salvation. We look to God and His finished work on Calvary in Christ. Ecclesiastes 3:14 says “whatever God does endures forever”. This is crucial when pondering over our salvation. If a work of grace has indeed taken place in our hearts, then we must know God’s work will never be undone. In Jeremiah 31:3, God spoke through Jeremiah to the Israelite saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you”. The love with which God loves His children is everlasting. Not only that, He continues with His faithfulness. We impugn on the character of God if we call into question His work of grace in our lives. We must always look to God through His word for our assurance, rather than to ourselves and our fleeting emotions.
God Will Cause Us To Preserve
Will God look on unconcerned while a child of His goes astray? Scripture doesn’t teach that. Once a person is saved, God as a loving Father will ensure the person walks in step in His will. Many people in questioning eternal security have created a God who cannot crack the whip and call His children to order. They have assumed a Christian can live in sin perpetually and end up in hell. No! One of my most cherished truths in the Bible is Hebrews 12:4-11 which speaks of the relationship between God and believers. God disciplines and chastises those who are His to the end that it will yield “peaceful fruit of righteousness”. We can be assured that God is actively involved in keeping us sanctified. We are not left on our own, rather, He is working through us to conform us to the image of Christ and present us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy (Jude 1:24).
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely , and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).