This article is a revision of the section entitled “Assurance of Your Salvation is Possible” at pages 37-38 of The Salvation Meter book. There are two basic reasons I revised this section.
First, a sermon is never finished, merely preached. In the same way, there will always be ways, as well as a need, to revise and improve the discussion of this crucial reason why a person should use The Salvation Meter. My hope is this revision will give the book a “dynamic” aspect.
Second, this revision contains much more detailed information and discussion than in The Salvation Meter book. Through these additional materials, I hope this revision assists anyone who reads, teaches, preaches, or merely considers the substance of this test.
As stated above, a second motivation for writing this book is I want to see every believer live the victorious abundant Christian life. Many saved people in church live a less than victorious life because they are constantly questioning their salvation. The result is that they live their lives on a spiritual wobble board continually impairing their ability to live the victorious Christian life. These believers do not ever seem to gain an assurance through continually questioning if they are saved. John MacArthur described these folks when he wrote at page 7 in his Foreword to Dr. Donald S. Whitney’s book How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian? (How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian? – What the Bible Says About Assurance of Salvation, (1994) NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80935):
At the other extreme is a chronic uncertainty that leads to a preoccupation with oneself, one’s fears, and one’s failings. It results in a vacillating, feeble faith. That tendency plagued the church in earlier ages, and sadly there are still whole denominations today where true, settled assurance is almost unheard of.
An article entitled “Assurance of Salvation” from the bible.org website (link: 1.3. Assurance of Salvation | Bible.org ) identifies five reasons people lack assurance. First, some people have “a doctrinal misunderstanding and the consequent lack of faith in the finished work of Christ.” The Bible teaches that a person can have assurance of their salvation. The below discussion of certain Scriptures establishes that the Bible teaches assurance is possible.
Second, “people people often lack assurance because they cannot remember or point to a specific time when they received Christ.” No doubt, it is reassuring to have a recollection of the specific circumstances. However, consistent with the basic thrust of The Salvation Meter book, what transpired years or even decades ago is not nearly as important as answering the critical question is what does my life today show about my spiritual condition?
Third, people often lack assurance because they question the “procedure” of their salvation. There is no “magic” prayer or certain set of actions or words that result in salvation. Salvation is a spiritual condition that results from a person’s conversion event. There are many specific “procedures” through and different circumstances under which God saves a person.
Fourth, because of their struggle with certain sins, people lack assurance that their conversion was real. A saved person still has a sin nature, and therefore, will struggle with sin. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin per Romans 7:24 (NASB95), which reads:
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Fifth, lack of assurance can emanate from being involved in a church that teaches works-based salvation or security. Ephesians 2:8–9 (NASB95) makes it clear that works do not save a person or “keep” a person:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
If you are in a works-based church, you need to run for the door as fast as you can.
2 Timothy 1:12 Teaches Assurance Is Possible
The Bible teaches that a believer ought to live a victorious confident abundant life. The Apostle Paul demonstrated his confidence even in the face of very difficult times when he wrote 2 Timothy 1:12 (NASB95), which reads:
12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
The NASB95 translates the Greek verb peithō as “I am convinced,” and it means to convince someone to believe something and to act on the basis of what is recommended—‘to persuade, to convince. See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 422). United Bible Societies. In this passage, Paul presented the reality that in the past he had been convinced of his assurance and that his assurance remained as his present “state of affairs.”
The Wuest translation (see Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 8, p. 124). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) of 2 Timothy 1:12 reads:
On which account I am also suffering these things. But I am not ashamed, for I know with an absolute knowledge the One in whom I have permanently placed my trust, and have come to a settled persuasion that He is of power to guard that which has been committed as a trust to me with reference to that day.
Although other interpretations of what Christ guards are possible, the most likely reference is to Paul’s life. In reference to verse 12, Lea et al. (see Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (Vol. 34, pp. 194–195). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers) write [emphasis added]:
The phrase “for that day” expresses the duration of the time in which God can guard this deposit. God will guard it until the return of Christ. Paul was affirming that God can keep a life or ministry committed to him in a position of perfect safety. God will keep the recipients of his promises safe to the end. Paul’s more hesitant but promising friend Timothy could find strength in such truth to propel him to bold witness for Jesus.
Another commentator (see Arichea, D. C., & Hatton, H. (1995). A handbook on Paul’s letters to Timothy and to Titus (p. 183). New York: United Bible Societies) agrees that Paul entrusted Christ with his own life:
As for the second alternative, what Paul is entrusting to Christ would probably be his own life, with the assurance that Christ can guard his life even to the end of the age. The eschatological tone of the verse, as shown by the mention of Day, favors this interpretation.
Paul taught that a believer can have assurance of their salvation. Saved people who lack assurance of their salvation must take hold of Paul’s teaching. They must settle the issue once-and-for-all so that they know that they know that they know they are saved. Then, they can live the confident victorious abundant Christian life with complete assurance that their heavenly home awaits them! One cannot imagine a more rock-solid foundation than Jesus Christ!
1 John 3:10 and Teaches Assurance is Possible
1 John 3:10 (ESV) establishes that assurance of your salvation is possible:
10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The ESV translates the Greek adjective phaneros as “evident,” and it means pertaining to being clearly and easily able to be known—‘clearly known, easily known, evident, plain, clear.’ See Louw et al., supra, at Vol. 1, p. 341. One commentator (see Akin, D. L. (2001). 1, 2, 3 John (Vol. 38, p. 150). Broadman & Holman Publishers) makes it clear that John considers there to be two kinds of people who can be known by their actions:
This verse brings to a conclusion John’s discussion in vv. 4–10 concerning the identifiable nature of the child of God. John reaffirms that both the child of God and the child of the devil can be identified by what they do. There are only two classes of people in John’s diagnosis—those who are children of God and those who are children of the devil. John knows of no intermediate group. Sharp lines are drawn between those who practice sin and those who practice righteousness. One is fathered by the devil, and the other is fathered by God.
Another commentator (Womack, M. M. (1998). 1, 2 & 3 John (1 Jn 3:10). College Press) emphasizes that knowledge of salvation, which results in assurance, is available:
How do we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are? Very simply: by their fruits.
The fact that a person’s spiritual condition can be known by their actions ought to give them assurance. In other words, the Apostle John told his audience that assurance of salvation was evident because a person’s life presented evidence of whether they had a relationship with God or Satan.
Saved people who lack assurance must grab hold of John’ teaching that assurance is possible.
1 John 5:13 Teaches Assurance is Possible
The Apostle John reinforced his teaching that assurance was possible when he wrote 1 John 5:13 (ESV), which reads:
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
The ESV translates the Greek verb oida as “you may know.” It means to possess information about—‘to know, to know about, to have knowledge of, to be acquainted with, acquaintance.’ See Louw et al., supra, at Vol. 1, p. 333. This verb is in the perfect verb tense which means John described a completed verbal action that occurred in the past, but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present (in relation to the writer). The emphasis of the perfect was not on the past action so much as it was on the present “state of affairs” resulting from the past action. See Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.
By 1 John 5:13, John intended to tell his audience that they could know for certain if they were saved. The “default condition” for a believer is complete and full assurance of their salvation.
Other resources that pertain to assurance of salvation are a publication entitled “How Can I have Assurance of My Salvation?” at the Gotquestions.org website (https://www.gotquestions.org/assurance-salvation.html and a publication from CRU at assuranceofsalvation.pdf (cru.org).
The above discussion about assurance of salvation raises some questions for you to answer. Please answer the following questions about the biblical truth that you can have assurance of your salvation.
Question 1-49: Do you agree that that full assurance of your salvation is possible? Please explain your answers keeping in mind the teachings of 2 Timothy 1:12, 1 John 3:10 and 1 John 5:13.
Question 1-49A: In an effort to expand your answer to Question 1-49, please keep in mind that 2 Timothy 2:12 teaches that Christ guards Paul’s salvation. If Christ does that for Paul, then He does it for every believer. Does this teaching help you better appreciate that you can have full assurance of your salvation?
Question 1-49B: In an effort to expand your answer to Question 1-49, please keep in mind that 1 John 3:10 teaches that actions or behavior (e.g., fruits) can provide assurance of salvation. Does this teaching help you better appreciate that you can have full assurance of your salvation?
Question 1-49C: In an effort to expand your answer to Question 1-49, please keep in mind that 1 John 5:13 teaches that Scripture says a believer can possess assurance of their salvation. Does this teaching help you better appreciate that you can have full assurance of your salvation?
Question 1-49D: If you lack assurance of your salvation, could it be due to a doctrinal misunderstanding about the finished work of Christ? Please explain your answer and include a description of any church teaching that may influence your thinking.
Question 1-49E: If you lack assurance of your salvation, could it be due to the fact that you cannot remember or point to a specific time when you received Christ? Please explain your answer and include a description of any church teaching that may influence your thinking.
Question 1-49F: If you lack assurance of your salvation, could it be due the specific “procedure” connected with your conversion event? Please explain your answer and include a description of any church teaching that may influence your thinking.
Question 1-49G: If you lack assurance of your salvation, could it be because of your struggle with sin in your life? Please explain your answer and include a description of any church teaching that may influence your thinking.
Question 1-49H: If you lack assurance of your salvation, could it be due your involvement with a church that teaches works-based salvation or security? Please explain your answer and include a description of any church teaching that may influence your thinking.
Question 1-50: If you do not believe that full assurance of your salvation is possible, what would persuade you that full assurance is possible? If you remain steadfast in your belief that assurance is not possible, are you still willing to spend the time and effort to use The Salvation Meter? Please explain your answers.
Question 1-51: Do you strongly agree, moderately agree, moderately disagree, strongly disagree or are neutral about you having complete assurance of your salvation? Please explain your answer. Please record your answer at Indicator 1-G of your Personal Salvation Assessment in the Appendix.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my new (published in October, 2021) book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have website in which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, your eternal destination is hell unless God intervenes. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved and a more concise description at my (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).
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