The doctrine of assurance of salvation is an essential Christian doctrine. Over the course of the next few lessons we will look at specific ways by which we can be assured of our salvation in Jesus Christ.
This doctrine is not just important but vital. Salvation, coming to Jesus in faith, belief and repentance (turning away from sins to follow Him), is a once and for all act that eternally changes the believer’s destiny and character. It is something that the believer can have full security in and be assured of, providing him with security for his life and a guarantee of his destiny.
Before we look at specific ways from scripture by which we can know that we are assured of our salvation, we must look at some reasons for why this doctrine is so important.
The reasons to follow are merely glances but I hope they provide you with a foundation as to why assurance of salvation is such an essential doctrine for the Christian.
First, assurance of salvation causes us to examine our life and question, in a healthy manner, if we really are born again.
In Order to Know We Are Saved
5) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?2 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV)
Christian do you know that Jesus Christ is in you? Are you assured of that?
Assurance of salvation is an important doctrine because doubts regarding our salvation can cause us to open up our hearts to examine our lives to see if we really are believers in Jesus.
Now this can sound a bit scary. The challenge is that when we wrestle with this it can cause us to go down the proverbial rabbit hole of doubt which can sometimes be used by the enemy to distract and trip us up.
However the Christian must also know that being concerned about salvation and his or her standing with God is actually a good thing when looked upon with a healthy speculation.
Every now and again it is good to check yourself and to look back and remember a time when you know your life’s trajectory changed for the better. Salvation does not always have to be an earth shaking event but you should be able to point to a change in your life from when you first believed in Jesus, asked Him to save you and repented of your sins.“…salvation must mean something to you.”
There are many well-meaning people who consider themselves Christians who are actually not truly born again. I do not mention this to scare you, reader, but to re-orient you to Jesus. You see many people think or say they are Christians because their parents or family believe, or maybe out of guilt or fear of hell they were told to walk down an aisle. Yet in their hearts they never actually experienced a real transformation of spirit.
At the end of the day, reader, salvation must mean something to you. Examine your heart and seek God in this manner.
So then the doctrine of assurance of salvation is important because it causes both the lost and the believer to examine their hearts and to question if they really are born again. As a result you will either become a Christian for the very first time, or become free in Jesus and let Him handle that matter in your life, relying on Him alone for the assurance of your salvation.
Either way the outcome is good, this is why examining your life and questioning is a good thing. However a word of caution— once you are saved, it is settled once and for all, you do not need to come to Jesus for salvation again. It is settled and you can rest easy— do not let the enemy beguile you into endless rounds of doubts anymore. Be assured!
So We Know What Has Been Overcome
16) 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 (KJV)
Another reason to study the doctrine of assurance of salvation is so that we can know and appreciate what has been overcome, namely death. It is important to understand that Jesus did not just overcome the physical moment of death for us by giving us eternal life with Him but also the fears and frightening emotions that we have regarding death.
Oftentimes misgivings regarding one’s salvation and standing with God coincide with a fear of death and the afterlife.
Because no one has experienced physical death, when we think about it, it can cause us to recoil in response. It begs the question then— what can overcome these fears even in the believer? We can feel and know we are saved and yet death can scare us into doubt with great effect.
Why then does salvation and its assurance help us ward off these fears once and for all? Well first off when we are saved we are born again and in order for something new to be born, something old must die.
Remember in the preceding paragraph we mentioned that no one has experienced physical death? What about spiritual death though? Did you know Christian you have experienced this once and for all when you came to Jesus for salvation?
20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 6:5-11 (KJV)
Salvation is the great remedy of man’s lost and sinful condition. Through it we become new men and women restored to what God originally intended us to be, set apart as a holy people for His pleasure, with a home set for us in Heaven.
There is no more fear of death because His death and resurrection overcame it for us along with all of the dark, emotional responses we may still feel toward it.
We have already died— our old selves that were slaves to sin died once and for all when we were born again when we trusted in Jesus for salvation. Spiritually we have been crucified with Christ and the death in our future is just a passing into Heaven.“For the Christian physical death is merely a transition to be with Jesus forever, there is nothing to fear…”
You see if you are not saved then the physical death is not just that but a spiritual one as well where you will be separated from Jesus for eternity. That is the only death that need be feared.
For the Christian physical death is merely a transition to be with Jesus forever, there is nothing to fear for the only thing to be feared (a spiritual death) has already happened. It was not a spiritual death for all eternity but a spiritual death of the old man that was originally destined for an eternity apart from God because of sin. That part of you is no longer because you have been born again. How glorious that is!
Additionally we can be assured of our salvation and not fear death because Jesus overcame death through his resurrection on the third day.
However it is not just the act of physical death that we overcome through salvation’s gift of life in Heaven eternal and Jesus overcoming the grave, but also the idea of death and all of its fears, anxieties and dreads. That is really what we overcome through Jesus. Remember, whosoever believeth in him should not perish. This alone allows us to mediate on and proclaim:
15) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?I Corinthians 15:55 (KJV)
There is no sting in death for the Christian for the grave has no victory in our lives. However constant preoccupation with the fears of death can reverse this equation and make death become an idol and victor over us. Do not let that happen reader, know you’re assured of your home in Heaven with your Creator and live this life to its fullest for Him without fear of death.
We must always remember that we can boast in this manner not because of what we have done but because of what Jesus has done for us. So then lay aside the weight of death.
1) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)
10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:2 Timothy 1:10 (KJV)
What is it that can provide a balm of healing to man’s deepest dreads of death? It is salvation and assurance of salvation. Knowing that we know is the remedy and we can know because Jesus has abolished death and brought us life and immortality with Him though the good news of His sacrifice for us.
So then being assured of your salvation is essential in that it causes us to examine our life in order that we may be assured that we really are children of God. It also puts to rest any fears of death in our lives because our self that was a slave to sin died with Jesus and was born again through salvation and because He overcame the grave for us.
To Help Us In Battling Our Flesh
Assurance of salvation (knowing our salvation is secure in Jesus) is also there to help us power on in this life despite the constant imprint of sin upon us.
13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:13-14 (KJV)
When we are saved we are sealed with a guarantee by the Holy Spirit; God living in us and enabling us to live in ways that are Christ-like in character, mindset and attitude until we are fully perfected in Heaven for all eternity.
Yet we still wrestle with sin and the flesh in this life. There is tension and at times the tension can be so great that it can cause us to doubt our standing with God and our salvation.
Knowing we are saved does not always help us when sin besets us, specifically when our old nature battles us. For example even when our intentions are pure in a given circumstance the results of actions that follow even pure intentions sometimes are not pure.
Questions then plague our minds like “if I am really saved how can I and why do I still act this way even when I don’t want to?”
It sometimes feels like we are on a hamster wheel going in circles. So what do we do?
Well first we must remember in cases where our intentions are good and pure that we must focus on that aspect of the situation and know that while we want to go in the right direction we still must battle sin and our flesh.
While we have been spiritually reborn as saved Christians we still live in the flesh. We are no longer slaves to sin, as we know that old man has died with Christ, yet sin is still there in our lives in this life.
Sometimes this comes in the form of things within us or in the sinful world outside of us; regardless we must focus on our intentions and if they are motivated by God living in us.
Also sometimes feeling that we are saved is not enough because during times when sins beset us we “feel” as if we are not saved. When we may not feel we are saved it is important to know we are saved. Assurance of salvation provides the answer in these times. Let’s look at an example to make all of this clear.
Think of a professional Olympic athlete who has been chosen for the games. His fate is settled, he is and will always be a fully-fledged member of an elite class of athletes. No one can take that away from him.“…during times when sins beset us we “feel” as if we are not saved. When we may not feel we are saved it is important to know we are saved.”
It is just the same with the Christian— his name is sealed in the book of life and his life sealed with the Holy Spirit just as the athlete’s name is signed on papers and certificates and he is sealed with a seal by a governing athletic authority.
Yet what happens when the athlete does not stick to his diet or his exercise regime? What happens when he loses a competition? What happens when he tries but the competition does not turn out as he had intended it to even when his intentions were rightly motivated?
While hurt and not feeling like an Olympic athlete certainly crosses his mind in these times along with feelings of regret at not keeping on his course, he must cling to the fact that he is an Olympic athlete because of the powers that have deemed him so and nothing can erase his name from his papers of membership.
He must know this and get back up and keep at it. He need not fear or remain in a state of bad feeling. He must recognize that his status is assured and move forward. The same goes for the Christian.
There is also a high standard for the athlete and for the Christian. He being an Olympic level athlete means he must meet certain qualifications and standards as a professional. The Christian being God’s child is also to live a life following God’s will.
The title Olympic athlete has weight to it and when he fails, that weight can be enough to crush him but that is always the wrong response.
His title should be a call to get back up and keep at it; it is a weight that lifts him up, not one that tears him down. This is what our standing with God should do for us as Christians. Will we feel bad when we fail? Yes but we need not stay in that state because it does not erase who we are in Him nor our salvation in Him.“If you have been trusting in yourself for salvation or trying to maintain a good standing with God to keep your salvation or to always prove you are a Christian it is the wrong way of approaching things and in fact it is selfish. In this state you become your own God and you think you know better than Him.”
Again our intentions are guided by the Holy Spirit. He enables us to act in true accordance with God’s will for our lives and in truest good. That is what we must center our attention firmly upon, just as the athlete must center his attention on his standing and his desire to be the best athlete he can be.
Is the Christian life hard? Yes. Is there weight to it? Certainly. While the vast riches and gravity of salvation can never be overstated, it is specifically the awe-inspiring gravity of salvation that can cause us to wonder how we can ever meet its standards or keep our salvation. This is especially true in those times when sin and the flesh hold us back and keep us from being all that we desire to be in Jesus. However this is a false way of looking at salvation.
We don’t have to do anything to keep our salvation or even earn it in the first place. All we must do is accept Jesus’ gift of salvation for us and then rest assured of the work He alone has done for us.
Reader what you have to realize and internalize right now and solidify by the end of this series is that you do not have to keep yourself in Jesus because God does that for you.
Your salvation is secure in Him; you can be fully assured of it. Sin will always be there, yet repent and move forward. Remember too that being saved is by grace alone.
8) 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.Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
Therefore take the burden and pressure off of yourself to maintain salvation and/or earn it. You don’t have to—, salvation is not of works, it’s of God and His grace.
If you have been trusting in yourself for salvation or trying to maintain a good standing with God to keep your salvation or to always prove you are a Christian it is the wrong way of approaching things and in fact it is selfish. In this state you become your own God and you think you know better than Him.
The good news is that God actually knows better. Therefore rely on Him for salvation and then you can be truly assured of its greatness for you and can live a life truly effective for Him.
We have looked at few foundational reasons for why studying assurance of salvation is important. Christian, be concerned about your salvation and use that concern as a way to truly examine your life in Christ to see if you have been truly born again.
Let assurance of salvation show you that you have not only overcome death because of Jesus but that you also have no reasons to fear it anymore. Live free of the fears of death to serve God.
Lastly, when sin drags you down into its mire of doubt, regret and shame, remember your name is still and will always be written in the book of life and that you are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Focus on your good intentions even when things go bad for that is truly who you really are. Lean not on your own strength to attain or maintain salvation with God, for it is His grace alone that saves us and keeps us assured of our salvation.
In our next lessons we will look at specific reasons for why we can know we are saved and be assured of our salvation in Jesus.