Lesson 4 – Assurance of Salvation
THE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
Our first means of assurance of salvation is God’s Word. While man’s word may be untrustworthy, God’s Word remains sure and steadfast. It is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18; Num. 23:19). Whatever God says stands firm forever (Psa. 119:89). What God has said is not a matter of conjecture. His Word is neither vague nor intangible. It comes to us today in written form, the Bible. The Bible is God’s very Word, inspired by Him (2 Tim. 3:16). We can take this Word, believe this Word, and trust this Word.
What then does God say about salvation? He says that the way of salvation is a person, Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 10:43; 16:31). He says that whoever believes that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord is saved. He says that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:9-13). Have you done this? Have you believed in Christ and confessed openly that He is your Lord? Have you called on His name? If so, you are really saved. God says so. That settles it.
Not only do we have God’s Word outside us telling us we are saved, we also have a witness inside us, telling us the very same thing. What the Bible speaks to us from without, the Spirit confirms within. First John 5:10 says, “He who believes into the Son of God has the testimony in himself.”
Sometimes, after we have received Christ, we may not feel saved. Nevertheless, if we check within the deepest part of our being, with our spirit, we will find a kind of inner witness, an assurance, that we are children of God. “The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). If you doubt that you have this inner witness of the Spirit, try this simple experiment: try declaring boldly, “I am not a child of God!” You will find it very difficult to even whisper such a falsehood. Why? Because the Holy Spirit within you bears witness, “You are a child of God!”
The third means of assurance is our love for other brothers and sisters in Christ. First John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers.” A saved person undoubtedly senses a kind of love for others who are also saved. You sense a desire to fellowship, to enjoy Christ with others. This is the spontaneous result of being saved, one of the clearest signs of a saved person. This love transcends the cheap, selfish “love” of today’s age. It is a love that is impartial—it loves those who are alike and those who are different. This is the real oneness and harmony the world longs for. Yet it is ours when we receive Christ. “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity!” (Psa. 133:1). This is the testimony of a saved person.
By these three witnesses—God’s Word, the Spirit’s inner witness, and our love for the brothers—we may know and be sure that we are really saved.
THE SECURITY OF SALVATION
A man with millions in the bank has the assurance that the riches are his. But if the bank insists on leaving their vault unlocked, our rich friend will have a real problem with the security of his riches. He knows he is rich today, but he does not know about tomorrow. Is our salvation like that? Is it something which we have today but may lose at any moment? The answer is, unequivocally, no. We can boldly say, “I know that whatever God does, it will be forever” (Eccl. 3:14). One wonderful fact regarding our salvation in Christ is that it is irreversible, that is, it cannot be undone. Once we are saved, we are saved forever because our salvation has as its basis the very nature and person of God Himself.
Jesus told His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). In other words, salvation was God’s idea, not ours. In eternity past we were chosen and even predestinated (marked out) by Him (Eph. 1:4-5). Furthermore, it was He who called us (Rom. 8:29-30). Since it was God’s plan to save us in the first place, it is also His plan to keep us in that salvation. Could God choose us, mark us out, call us into salvation and then abandon us? No, God’s salvation is eternal.
According to the law of God, where transgression of the law is, death must take place (Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:4). It is not a matter of God loving us, overlooking our sins, and forgetting about the law’s judgment. If God were to do this, His very throne would topple. God is bound by His own law to judge sin. What can He do?
Since God desired to save us and since we could not pay the debt of sin ourselves, He in His mercy decided to do so Himself. Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the incarnate God, came to die on the cross to pay the debt for our sin. Having no sin Himself, He alone was qualified to die this substitutionary death. His death, being reckoned by God as ours, was acceptable to God, and He raised Him from the dead. Now when we believe in Christ, His death is counted in God’s sight as our own. Thus, our debt of sin is righteously paid, and we are saved.
Now, can God take back this salvation which Christ has purchased? Absolutely not! Since the debt was paid, for God to demand it again from us would be unrighteous. The same righteousness which formerly called for our condemnation now calls for our justification. What powerful security this gives to our salvation! Even a worldly judge would not demand the same fine to be paid twice. Certainly God, the source of all justice and righteousness, cannot do so.
When we were saved, we not only received something; we also became something. We became children of God, born of His eternal life (John 1:12-13). A human father may be able to take back a gift he has given to his child, but he can never take back the human life which he has imparted. Although the child may misbehave, the child is still the father’s. In the same way, we are God’s children. Although we may have many weaknesses and may require His discipline, our sins and weaknesses cannot change the fact that we are His children. The life we received by our second birth is the eternal life, the indestructible life, the life of God, the life that can never die. Once we are born again, we can never be “un-born.”
THE JOY OF SALVATION
We have seen the assurance of our salvation, that is, how we know that we are saved. We have also seen the security of our salvation, that is, how we can never lose our salvation. But is that sufficient? Unfortunately, many Christians are content to go only this far—having salvation, but having little joy or enjoyment of that salvation.
Our salvation is like a rock, immovable, but the joy of our salvation is like a delicate flower, easily upset by a little breeze. Therefore, it is something we must cultivate and nourish. What, then, can we do to maintain this joy?
First, we can confess our sins (1 John 1:7, 9). When we confess our offenses to the Lord, His blood cleanses us, and our fellowship with Him is restored. After David sinned, he prayed, “Restore to me the gladness of Your salvation” (Psa. 51:12). There is no need to wait. The precious blood of Christ cleanses us from every sin.
Second, we can take God’s Word as our food. Jeremiah said, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your word became to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). Often we discover that after reading and praying over God’s Word, our heart is bubbling over with enjoyment. No famished man is happy. Likewise, we should not remain famished Christians. We should continually feed and feast on God’s Word (Matt. 4:4).
Third, we can pray. Often after opening our heart and speaking out to the Lord, we sense a deep joy and refreshment. Isaiah 56:7 says He will cause us to rejoice in His house of prayer. Real prayer is not the recitation of familiar words and phrases— it is a pouring out of our heart and spirit to the Lord. Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24). Real prayer is releasing and enjoyable.
Finally, we can fellowship. The greatest enjoyment for a Christian is to be together with others who love and enjoy Christ. No human words can utter the sweetness we experience when we praise Him and speak about Him together. First John 1:3-4 says, “That you also may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write that our joy may be made full.” Real fellowship is not a duty, but an enjoyment—the greatest joy on earth. Thus, we have the assurance, the security, and the joy of our salvation. Praise Him for such a full salvation!