Are you assured of your salvation and if so, how? Should you worry about assurance? At the heart of these questions is the interplay between the objective truth of Scripture about the securing and security of your salvation versus the subjective experience of your feelings and fruit of salvation in your life. Assurance is the confident realization that your salvation is secure.
Here’s Where They’re At
When the topic comes up with your adult children or other believers you may hear statements like, “No one can know for sure they are saved,” or “There are people who think they are saved but aren’t,” or ”If you are saved it doesn’t matter how you live,” or “You can save yourself through hard work and being good.”
Here’s Where You’re At
You know you’ve asked Christ to be your Saviour but sometimes you’re unsure if you’re saved. You doubt your sincerity, your faith, and the truth of Scripture at times. You ponder your failures as a Christian and wonder whether you were ever saved at all. Theologically you believe once you are saved nothing can separate you from Christ, but experientially you aren’t so confident.
Here’s Where Scripture’s At
It is possible for Christians to believe but lack assurance they are saved. John wrote, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). God wants you to have assurance of your salvation.
Assurance is attainable since Paul wrote he was “...convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38). In spite of the afflictions and tribulations he experienced Paul was confident as he spoke of the crown of righteousness waiting for him (2 Timothy 4:8).
There are both objective and subjective reasons for assurance of salvation. The objective reason is the finished work on the cross (Hebrews 10:14). Assurance is grounded in the work of God in Christ outside of and apart from you (Romans 8:32). God did what needed to be done and will give you everything you need in Christ for eternal salvation. It is faith in Him, not in you, a church, or in faith that saves. It is also not the intensity of your faith but the Object of your faith that saves.
The Gospel transforms so a changed life is subjective confirming evidence of salvation: love for the brethren (John 13:35), the testimony of the Spirit (Romans 8:16), and the desire for holiness (Romans 8:5). A sinful or inconsistent Christian life destroys faith and hinders assurance (Romans 8:4-12; 15-16). And claiming doesn’t count (1 Corinthians 6:9)—Christ must also know you (Romans 8:9). Those who start but end up leaving show they were never of us. Genuine faith sticks (Hebrews 3:14).
Where to Go From Here
The Bible makes the plan of salvation clear: Believe in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). Have you repented? Do you believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sins and rose again from the dead (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21)? Do you trust Him alone for salvation? If your answer is “yes,” you have established the foundation for your salvation!
Sincerity, effort, or focusing on your faith doesn’t grant true assurance. The real ground of God’s acceptance is the grace that He has showered on you through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (Revelation 12:10-11). You overcome Satan’s attempts to rob you of assurance on the ground of the blood of the lamb. Stand firm on the promises and passages noted here that indicate salvation is God’s work. Christ is your judge and He is the One who died, rose again, and intercedes for you.
Show that you are a child of God by putting to death the deeds of your sinful nature (Romans 8:13-14). Live each day filled with God’s Spirit as an outgrowth of loving, delighting in, and knowing Jesus for who He is.
Stick with it (Hebrews 3:14). Grow and thereby prove your faith is genuine. To paraphrase John Newton, you may not be what you ought to be, and you may not be what you want to be, and you are not yet what you will be. But don’t be what you were.