The Assurance of Salvation
One of the more annoying problems in Christians' lives is the
issue of assurance of salvation. We've all been there. We've all
wondered if we are really saved or not. We've looked at our
lives and actions and thoughts and sometimes just said, "How can I
be saved if I am like this?" I've counseled many Christians who
have doubted their salvation and who have worked themselves into a
worry and sometimes even depression over the issue. I've always
thought that the solution was pretty basic. I ask the person, "Why
do you think you might not be saved?" Almost always the reason is,
"Because I have a sin in my life. Because I can't beat this one
sin. Because of my thoughts. Because I keep failing." "Okay," I
say. "So you know you're supposed to be doing better than you are,
right?" "Yes," they say. "I am supposed to be doing better and I'm
not. This is why I doubt that I am saved." So, I give them this
Let's say that we are on a 20 foot boat out in the ocean. We
are sailing along when we notice two men in the water. There is no
other boat around, so it is obvious these two men are in trouble.
We take a life preserver, tie it to a rope, and throw it to them.
It lands just a few feet short. We start yelling and yelling for
them to grab the life preserver so we can pull them in. "Come on,"
we yell. "Grab it! Grab it!" One of the men, exhausted, reaches
out his arm for the life preserver but falls short. "Grab it!" we
yell again. He reaches again and his arm plops down in the water
from fatigue. The waves slap his face, but he tries again. The
other man is simply floating face down in the water. He isn't
struggling at all. But, the first man is trying for that life
preserver. He is fighting against the ocean, the wind, and the
waves, all which are greater than he is. That is when I ask the
person, "Which one of the two men in the water is alive?" Always,
the response is, "The one reaching for the life preserver."
"Right," I say. "He is struggling for life. Dead people don't
struggle for life.... and spiritually dead people do not struggle
against their sin. Only those who are dead, who have no life in
them, do not struggle. The fact that you are struggling against
your sin is one very good sign that you are very much alive in
Christ. If you were not struggling at all, then it might be true
that you weren't saved. But, since you war against your sins, then
it sure sounds like you're saved to me." Usually, the eyes brighten
at this point. I then keep going.
"Do you believe there is only one God in all existence, all
places, and all times?" "Yes," they answer. "Do you believe in the
Trinity, that God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?"
Again, "Yes." I continue. "Do you believe Jesus is God in flesh?"
"Yes." "Do you believe Jesus is the only way to salvation?"
Again, "Yes." "Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins and
rose from the dead three days later?" Another, "Yes." "Good," I
1 Cor. 2:14 says, "But a natural man does not accept the
things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he
cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised."
I continue by telling them that a natural man is someone who is not
saved. Now, these are absolutely, definitely spiritually discerned
truths that they answered yes to above. They are that there is only
one God and that God is a Trinity, that Jesus is God in flesh, that
Jesus is the only way to salvation, and that Jesus died for your
sins and rose from the dead three days later. In other words, the
fact that the person confesses these things and believes them is
further, very strong evidence, that he is spiritually alive.
Usually, the person is encouraged even more.
And finally, I tell them that Jesus gives us eternal life (John
10:27-28) and He does not fake us out when we ask to be forgiven and
for Him to be Lord of our lives. He said in Luke 11:10-12,
"For everyone who asks, receives; and he
who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.
11Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a
fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?
12"Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a
scorpion, will he? 13"If you then, being evil, know how
to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your
heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
In other words, you get what you ask for
from the Lord (except for sinful and selfish things, of course); He
does not bait-and-switch. If you ask for eternal life from Jesus,
that is what you get--no matter how you feel, no matter how your
emotions may mislead you. The truth is that God's word tells us
that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to us if we ask. The Holy
Spirit only indwells believers.
We all have our struggles and we all need to take into account
the fact that we are still sinful and we are going to struggle with
our sin. But, if you begin to doubt your salvation because you
don't "feel" saved, then stop trusting
your feelings and start trusting God at His word. Ask yourself if
you are struggling against your sin. If you aren't, maybe you
aren't saved. But, if you are, then that is a sign of life. Ask
yourself if you believe in the Trinity, that Jesus is God in flesh,
and that He died and rose from the dead. If you do, that is a sign
of spiritual renewal. Ask yourself if you believe what Jesus said
about Him not faking you out, about Him giving to you the Spirit if
you ask. If you do, then that means you are believing Him at His
word. Take your eyes off your feelings and failures and put them on
Christ, His word, and His sacrifice. Trust in Him and Him
alone....not what you feel, not what you fail at. He didn't save you
because of your works or your "goodness." He did not save you
because of what is or is not in you. He saved you because of what
is in Him: love and truth.
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