Security and Assurance

July 13, 2008 at 7:21 pm | Posted in Questions for Pastor Glenn, Security and Assurance, Theology | Leave a comment

I am often asked questions about security and assurance:  How can I be sure that I am saved?  I have done some awful things, can I really be forgiven?  Though I know God has saved me, will I do something to lose my salvation?  The answer to these questions always comes down to one matter, whether a person is trusting self or God.  Are you willing to take God at his word?  God says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;” “he who believes in the Son has eternal life;” “whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  I could go on and on, but the point is God has already spoken on this matter, and nothing can change it.  If you struggle with thoughts of this nature, memorize John 3:16 and 1 John 5:11-13, and constantly remind yourself of what God says.  If you trust in Jesus, you are saved.

The last of the questions above deserves special treatment, because many believe that they can be saved today, even have assurance of it, but lose that salvation tomorrow.  There are many reasons why this is not true, but the first and simplest answer is the tenses in the Bible.  First, God has justified those who trust in Jesus.  That means the Judge of the World has declared them innocent.  Justification is not a future event but a present reality.  God has already done it!  (Romans 5:1, 9)  Redemption is also a present reality; God has already redeemed those who trust in Jesus.  That means he has purchased their lives for himself; he has already paid the price and it is a done deal.  God delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption” (Colossians 1:13-14.  See also Romans 3:23-24)  The same could be said of reconciliation with God; of forgiveness; of regeneration; all of these are done deals.

Second, eternal life is also a present reality and not just a future promise.  Notice that, “he who believes the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36)  “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son, he who has the Son has the life.  …  These things I have written to you who believe in the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5:11-13)  Here’s the key question:  Is it possible to have eternal life today but not have it tomorrow?  If so, it wasn’t really eternal life.

There is a man in the church where I grew up who has been trying to convince the people there of an Arminian theology.  When I returned one time, he took up the conversation with me (actually another person put us together with the purpose of addressing the issue).  After he had presented his case for why a person can lose his salvation.  I said, “John, the difference between you and me is that you are trusting yourself to hold on to Jesus.  I am trusting Jesus to hold on to me.”   Though he hasn’t yet changed his theology, that comment caught him off guard and he had no response.  Ultimately, the one who believes an Arminian theology trusts himself to hold his salvation rather than trusting God to hold him.  Are you fully trusting Jesus to hold on to you, or are you somehow subtly trusting yourself?

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