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Contending for the Faith
How can a Christian have assurance of salvation?
Friday, September 13, 2012 at 3:00pm

Assurance of salvation is something many believers struggle with. The Bible commands Christians to take a close look at themselves and ensure they are truly in the faith, to make sure they aren’t self-deceived into thinking they’re truly saved when they’re not.

Paul says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you ... unless indeed you fail the test?”  (2 Corinthians 13:5).

And Peter says, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; ...” (2 Peter 1:10).

The question of what constitutes the marks of real saving faith is not nearly as common today as it should be, although it has been asked often down through history. For example, during the first Great Awakening in America that occurred between 1725 and 1750, many people responded to the preaching of powerful theologians such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. However, about six years later, critics charged there was nothing real about the Awakening because many people who claimed to have been converted showed no evidence of it.

To respond to the Awakening’s detractors, Jonathan Edwards (perhaps one of the keenest minds ever in American history) took up his pen to write his famous “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections” that outlined his thoughts on discerning the true spiritual condition of a person who claimed to be a Christian.

The opening line of Edward’s work reads: “There is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, and what is more concerns every individual person to be well resolved in, than this: What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards?”

Both the Bible and Edwards’ work correctly state that being a true believer is tied to more than simply signing a card, walking an aisle, being baptized, and participating in religious activities.

So, what does comprise a true salvation experience?

First, there is a personal recognition of one’s sin, a willingness to repent of sin, and a submission to the truth of Scripture that says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved ...” (Acts 16:31), and “... Whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered” (Joel 2:32). A person who has done this is born again (John 3:3), and is regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5) so that they no longer reject God’s ways.

Two pieces of evidence will accompany this genuine saving experience: (1) Godly affections that (2) bear Godly fruit. Of the first, Edwards says, “True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.” Simply put, the believer in Christ has a new appetite that they didn’t have before. The new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) has new affections and has a hunger for genuine spiritual food.

These new affections then exhibit themselves in the life of the believer in some form or fashion. James asks, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). The answer James expects is, “no. Real saving faith, says James, will manifest through a person’s life. Or as one theologian once said, “We are saved by faith alone; but the faith that saves is not alone.

Edwards puts it like this: “The principle evidence of life is motion; so the principle evidence of saving grace is holy motion.” What he means is that you can tell someone is physically alive by the fact that they breathe, move, and act. In the same way, you can tell someone is spiritually alive by their movement toward the things of God and the spiritual fruit that appears. Jesus said, “... Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33).

Does this mean a true Christian won’t struggle with sin? Not at all. Paul makes this very clear in Romans 7 where he outlines his battle with his old nature. However, while struggles with a sinful habit in the life of a Christian can be expected, living comfortably with that sinful habit and the belief that it's not sinful shouldn’t be.

We don’t need to wonder if we’re saved. We can have assurance of salvation. Submission of the will to Christ will be followed by holy affections that consistently manifest in a new spiritual life. If you have these things, then God is saying to you through your life and His Word:

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13).

Who is it that has the Son? It is those who have believed in Him and accepted Him.

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12).

If you have Jesus, you have life. Not temporary life, but eternal.

God wants us to have assurance of our salvation.

We cannot live our Christian lives wondering and worrying each day whether or not we are truly saved. That is why the Bible makes the plan of salvation so clear. Believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved (John 3:16; Acts 16:31).

Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior, that He died to pay the penalty for your sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21)?

Are you trusting Him alone for salvation? If your answer is yes, you are saved! Assurance means “having been put beyond all doubt.” By taking God's Word to heart, you can “put beyond all doubtthe fact and reality of your eternal salvation.

Jesus Himself affirms this regarding those who have believed in Him:

and I give eternal life to them, 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 10:28-29).

Eternal life is just that ... eternal. There is no one, not even yourself, who can take Christ's God-given gift of salvation away from you.

We hide God's Word in our hearts so that we do not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11), and this includes the sin of doubt. Take joy in what God's Word is saying to you, that instead of doubting we can live with confidence! We can have the assurance from Christ's own Word that our salvation will never be in question.

Our assurance is based on God's love for us through Jesus Christ.  PTL!


Source:  Adapted from an article at www.compellingtruth.org


  "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."  1 Corinthians 16:13  

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Amen and God bless you.

"Saint Pete", Sr.

 

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