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How can I have Assurance of my Salvation?

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Question: 

Hello, I have a question or two for you. How does one know that they are saved? I have faith in Jesus. I know NOTHING I do can ever merit salvation. I do my best to shun evil or sin. When I do sin, I make sure that I repent. Yet I do stumble and fall from time to time, which gets me down, so much to the point, I think, am I saved? Not obvious sins, such as adultery, but losing my temper, or thinking about MY needs too often, or getting upset when someone wrongs me. I have heard that there is such thing as a false conversion. I hope that's not me? How would I know? Thanks so much! God Bless you!

Response: 

There is much to be said for having a healthy "fear of God" (2Cor.5:11; Phil.2:12; cf. Ps.19:9). But this is a respect and reverence that appreciates His disciplining of us when we stray, rather than a paralyzing terror or panic that dominates our every thought (cf. 1Jn.4:18). As you read scripture, you learn about who God is, and one thing you cannot help but understand is that He is merciful and gracious and good. There is much "assurance of salvation" to be had on every page of the Bible as we come to know Him "with whom we have to do" better and better day by day. There is no true way to know Him apart from Jesus, and Jesus tells us that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father (Jn.14:6-14). We know our Lord and His tender mercy and grace from all He said and did - and especially in His death for us on the cross.

Scripture is very clear: all who are believe in Christ are saved (Jn.3:16; 14:1-3; Acts 16:30-31; Rom.1:16; Eph.2:8-9; 2Tim.2:10; 1Pet.1:5; etc.). God's entire purpose in sending His Son into the world was not to judge the world, to look for opportunities to condemn us (Jn.3:17). On the contrary - He wants everyone to be saved (1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9; cf. Jn.12:47; Acts 17:27).

For God loved the world so much, that he gave His only beloved Son, in order that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him.
Psalm 103:11  NIV

If that is true even of those who hate Him, how much more is not true of us (Rom.5:6-11)? In fact, nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in His Son (Rom.8:31-39).

But God commends His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. So how much more is it not true that now, after we have been rendered righteous [through faith] in His blood, we shall be saved from the [coming] wrath through Him? For if when we were His enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, how much more is it not true that [now], since we have been reconciled [to Him through Jesus' death], we will be saved by His life?
Romans 5:8-10

For if we were saved by believing in Him, in His work, His death on the cross for us, now that we have believed and been made alive with Him, how can we fail to be saved since we have been united with Him in that eternal life He has given us? In Him we have/possess/hold on tight to eternal life (Jn.10:28; 1Jn.5:13; cf. Rom.6:23), and if we believe in Him, we are "in Him". We are children of God, sons and daughters of the Father through faith in the Son, in whom we already have life eternal as a heritage (Jn.1:12-13; Rom.8:14-23; Gal.3:26; 4:5-6). This means that we are forgiven as sons and daughters by a loving Father when we do err, based upon the fact that Jesus died for all our sins. As a result, we possess forgiveness in Him.

In whom (i.e., Christ) we possess our ransoming [from sin] (i.e., redemption) through His blood, the forgiveness of our transgressions according to the riches of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7

Sin is certainly an important issue, and by fighting against it as you are doing, confessing and repenting and making a proper effort to pursue sanctification (Heb.12:14), to be holy as He is holy (1Pet.1:13-25), you are in fact doing what He has called you to do (and I heartily commend you for it). It is very important not to get complacent in the Christian life because that is where the trouble begins. If we are not moving forward, we are necessarily moving backward. We have to continue day by day with good defense (the fight against sin in the power of the Spirit: Gal.5:16-26), and good offense (growing closer to Jesus through learning the truth, believing it, and applying it to our lives). Only in this way will we be fit for the ministries to which we have been called (2Jn.1:8).

So strive all that much more then, brothers, to make your calling and election secure through these good works. By devoting yourselves to these things (i.e., virtue, growth and the Christian production which springs from faith) you shall never be tripped up along your way. For it is by such means that your path into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be smoothly and generously paved.
2nd Peter 1:10-11

On this last point, it is a scriptural principle that the success of the work we are doing for the Lord is a reminder and a comfort that we have a reward in the Lord for the things done by means of this body (1Tim.3:13; cf. 1Cor.15:58; Gal.6:9-10). And if we are indeed confident of reward, that is based upon our proper service; and if we are properly serving and having legitimate success in that service, we have grown in the Lord first to get to the point of being useful to Him; and if we have grown in Him, then we must have been firmly planted in the first place in "good soil" (Matt.13:33) - therefore we most certainly are "in Christ" and possessed of a sure salvation, one that responds to this living faith we have demonstrated in Him (Jas.2:14-26).

For everyone who has been born from God overcomes the [devil's] world. And this is the victory that has overcome the [devil's] world: our faith [in Jesus Christ]! For who is the one who overcomes the [devil's] world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1st John 5:4-5

In my experience, Christians who ask the sort of question you are asking are generally the ones who have the least to worry about. Nevertheless, it is good to ask - we all need to "test ourselves" from time to time to make sure that we are really and truly "in the faith" (2Cor.13:5). The only way that a believer has anything to fear is when he/she stops believing. Sin is an issue here only because if we become complacent about sin or fall into a pattern of sin or if we do not wish to give up certain sins it becomes increasingly difficult to "look God in the face" (i.e., we become "hardened by sin's deception":  Heb.3:13). The longer we give in to a life of sin and rejection of God's truth as believers, the more we risk having our faith eroded and degraded - and it most certainly can come to the point of dying off altogether:

And he who was sown on the rocky places, this is the one who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy. He (i.e. his faith; cf. Lk.8:13) has no roots, however, but lasts only a short time. So when tribulation or persecution occurs on account of the Word, he is immediately tripped up (Lk.8:13: "becomes apostate").
Matthew 13:20-21

But that process of apostasy is not an overnight thing. As I say, if you care enough about the Lord, your relationship with Him, and your eternal life to ask this question, then you are almost certainly not in any immediate danger of losing your place in the family of God. Children are only ever ejected from a loving family when they arrogantly, defiantly, willfully, utterly, and decisively put themselves out through total rejection of parental authority and do so in an irremediable way. Otherwise, they are right to be concerned not to disrespect the authority of their parents (or punishment will surely result: Prov.3:11-12; Heb.12:7-11), but they are also very much within their rights - indeed should be confident - that their parents love them and are not going to arbitrarily abandon or forsake them. We have it from our Lord that He will never forsake us (Heb.13:5). The only thing we really need to do on this score is make sure we never forsake Him.

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we persevere, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.
2nd Timothy 2:11-13

You can find out much more about all of these issues at the following links:

God’s Plan to Save You

How to be Saved

What it Means to be Saved

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security II

Bible Basics 3B:  Hamartiology: The Biblical Study of Sin

The False Doctrine of Eternal Security

In the One who went to the cross to save us from death that we might live forever with Him in eternal life, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill


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