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Christian Basics-Chapter 6, Assurance of Salvation

Written by: Guenther, Herb and Debbie    Posted on: 05/05/2003

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN

          Assurance of Salvation

    We believe the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe and only those who receive Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit and thus become children of God. 1

    In earlier chapters we looked at mankind's separation from God. We have examined just how Jesus Christ came to earth to love us, and restore us to fellowship with God.  We now ask the questions, what must I do to be saved, and how will I know that my personal salvation has been secured. This is where we get down to the nitty gritty.  It's now just you and God.  Let the distractions of the world drop away for awhile and seek to understand with your mind and heart the gift that has been given to us.

    David in the twenty seventh Psalm spoke of his need for a secure relationship and position with God.  He speaks of God as being both his light and salvation.  God is able to provide both guidance and protection for us as well.

                        Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation - Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me, to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confidant.

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call O Lord; be merciful and answer me. My heart says of you, "Seek his face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.  Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my savior.  Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.  Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.

I am still confidant in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong in heart and wait for the Lord. 2

    You are now, at this moment, existing in one of two states.  You either are, or are not a child of God.  If you are, the following will bring you comfort and joy.  If you are not a child of God, and you have read the earlier chapters, you should be worried, because you have a fundamental problem.  Do not despair however, God through the person of

                                (34) Jesus Christ has made provision for you, personally, to approach Him with joy and gladness, and not fear.

                          How can I be saved

    Let's look at some examples from the books of Luke and Acts. These accounts are meaningful to us because they present the plan of salvation in a nutshell.  From them we see that God does not intend for us to jump through a lot of hoops to receive salvation.  Remember forgiveness from God and fellowship with Him are gifts that he wants to give us.  Jesus has come to earth as a man for the purpose of enabling us to have peace with God our Father.

Luke 23:39-43 "...Then he said "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.""

Acts 2:37-42 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord may call."  With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."  Those who accepted the message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.  They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 2

Acts 16:30-34  He then brought them out and asked, "Men what must I do to be saved?"  They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household."  Then they spoke the words of the Lord to him and to all the others in the house.  At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.  The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and the whole family was filled with joy because they had come to believe in God. 2

    We will discuss these events two times.  First using everyday language, and then using some of the terms used by Christians to more fully describe the processes of being saved.

    The thief on the cross had nothing to recommend him for salvation or a heavenly reward.  He had waited till the last possible moment to contemplate his life.  He recognized his guilt and had faith in Jesus' holiness and His place as King.  All he had was faith and Jesus granted salvation to him.  He became fit to live in heaven that very day.

    Next we look at the crowd, and the jailer and his family.  Before they were able to be saved, they had to be exposed to the word of God. This took the action of God on their behalf.  Suppose that some of the people in the crowd had missed the bus (chariot) that day and didn't make it to the town square?  Suppose that the apostles had said "those guys are laughing at us, this crowd may turn ugly, let's get out of here".  Suppose Paul and Silas had said "Throw us in jail will ya, well you can roast as far as we are concerned."

    But this didn't happen to these people.  They heard the truth and

                                (35) were moved to action by it.  They also recognized that they had a fundamental problem in regards to a holy and just God.  They took immediate steps to assure their salvation.  They repented of their sins and were baptised.

    The people, upon hearing the word of God, accepted that they were in need of God's help.  They believed that God had sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for them personally.  Remember that all of us have two things in common with the people in the passages above.  We are sinners, and we have heard the truth, God's good news to us.

    Suppose your car starts to make a funny noise and you choose to ignore it.  Your ignoring the problem does not make it go away, or get it to the garage.  In the same way, hearing the Gospel needs to move us to action.  The Holy Spirit will help you in this by preparing you for the message but still you must make a conscious action.  You must repent of your sins and ask God for forgiveness from your heart.  No one else, not your family, or your church, or me, can do this for you. You must ask for forgiveness for yourself, by yourself, with God's help.

      The basic steps to eternal life and peace with God are.

1. Hear the Gospel (Good News). 2. Admit that you are a sinner. 3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross. 4. Through the help of the Holy Spirit and your conscious decision repent of your sins and ask for forgiveness in Jesus' name and welcome Him into your heart.  You do this through prayer.

    If you have any doubt of your salvation there is no reason to postpone it.  If you are unsure about your relationship with God and would like to have the security of His promise to you then pray the prayer below now from your heart.

Dear Father,     I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness.  I believe that Christ died for my sin.  I am willing to turn from my sins.  I now invite Jesus Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.  I am willing, by God's grace, to follow and obey Christ as the Lord of my life.

    Romans 10:13 says "For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."  Don't go by your feelings but take God at His word.  If you have truely called upon God for forgivness in your heart you have peace with God.

    What do you now, as of this moment have?  1 John 5:12-13 says "He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God." 3  See John 10:28-29

    God knows your heart (in these contexts your heart is your conscious will and personality) and will dwell there with the Holy Spirit.  (Eph 3:16-17, Romans 8:11, Gal 4:6, and 2 Cor 1:21-22)  He will guide you and give you help and wisdom to live the Christian life now and forever.

                                (36)     Christians use some technical terms to define the events and processes that together describe the change a Christian experiences when becoming a Child of God.  Care must be taken that we don't get too excited about the terms, or the order, or the steps.  These terms are to be understood together as a unit and not separately and out of context.

Repentance.  The word used for repentance in the Old Testament means to turn or return.  In the New Testament the word means a change of mind in relation to sin and God.  God sent John the Baptist before Christ in a call for repentance (Matt. 3:2) and Jesus began His ministry in the same way (Matt 4:17).  Repentance means that we realize both the holiness of God's law and our inability to keep it.  Our deep emotions are involved in repentance, 2 Cor 7:8-11 tells us that "Godly sorrow brings repentance".  Repentance is a deliberate, willful turning away from sin and following after God.  True repentance always leads to a change in conduct or attitude. 7

Conversion.  When we think of the word conversion we may think of things such as a conversion van.  Note; A conversion van is not a VW microbus owned by an itinerant evangelist!  As in the case of the aforementioned van, the process of conversion has aspects of change and a new existence in the same shell or body.  Conversion is a change or a turning point in the life of the believer.

    Before conversion we walk according to our own will and wisdom. After conversion we follow the will of our Lord Jesus and defer to His wisdom.  Conversion means commitment to God in response to mercy from God, and consists of repentance and faith. 5  It need not be dramatically sudden or emotional, nor does one have to be fully aware of what is happening, although a conscious conversion usually proves to be a blessing to the believer.

    When God sent Paul to convert the Gentiles He told Paul to "turn them from darkness to light" (Acts 26:18).  God is still sending His messengers today to provide the light of the gospel to a world in darkness.  When we witness the truth of the gospel, it is to be in the aim of helping them become a new person in Christ.  When we have been turned towards the light it is as if a veil or screen is removed from before our face, now we can see clearly. (2 Cor 3)

Faith.  Faith (or saving faith) is not the same as belief.  In James 2:19 it says "Even the devils believe that - and shudder".  Certainly Satan recognizes the reality of, or in other words believes in, Christ but does not live by faith in Christ.  In the same way many people will make an outward profession of belief in Christ but show no evidence of living by faith.  True faith in the believer is produced by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

    Before a person can intelligently believe in Christ he must be aware of the guilt of his sin.  He must also know that God is righteous and judges sin.  Since all of mankind are sinners it brings the realization that there is no gift or act that we can do to earn our salvation. (2 Tim 1:9, Titus 3:5, Eph 2:8-9)  Therefore salvation is by faith alone.  Faith that the work of Christ on the cross, and His resurrection are Gods final judgment of the sin of the world.  As we enter into salvation through faith in Jesus Christ He becomes our sin bearer.  John 1:29 states that Jesus Christ is "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". 6                                 (37)     Saving faith is trusting Jesus Christ alone for salvation.  It means resting upon Christ alone and on what He has done rather than what I have done to get me to heaven. 11

Regeneration.  This is the divine side of our change of heart.  From the human side we call it conversion.  God takes the initiative in regeneration or rebirth, but we must respond in faith.  Read 1 John 5:12-13, and Eph 2:4-5.  The concept here is that as natural man we cannot understand or enter the spiritual kingdom of heaven.  What needs to happen is that we become born from above, or born again.  The term "born again" sometimes causes confusion.  What it loosely means is that God works a fundamental change in the state and condition of our human essence.  This new position is as a member of His family, He becomes our Father.  Our nature is changed so that we now desire to follow His lead and live according to His precepts.  The change is so profound that it is as if we where born new and different from our original nature or "born again".  (John 3:3-8)

Grace.  Grace as it relates to salvation speaks of kindness bestowed on one who does not deserve it.  In grace the question is not whether or not a person deserves favor or blessing, but only whether he has been judged to qualify for such a favor.  In Romans 3:24 Paul says that Christians "are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ."  In every instance where grace is mentioned it is entirely due to God's favor not human works.  See also Eph 1:7-8.

Election.  Election has to do with certain persons or groups of people receiving God's grace.  This choice is based on God's sovereign pleasure and not on the value, goodness, or disposition of those chosen.  In the Old Testament God chose Abraham and his descendants. In the New Testament 1 Timothy 2:3-4 states "...God our savior, who wants all men to be saved...".  We know that "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).  We know that Christ's death was sufficient for all man's sin, for all time (1 Peter 3:18).

Predestination and Foreknowledge.  These are very difficult aspects of election to understand.  God, existing in eternally, is fundamentally different from us, who live in time.  We are used to a sequential existence of cause and effect.  God is omniscient, He is aware of all things at all times, from all times.

    One way to think of foreknowledge is in terms of a horse race. Suppose we were to pick up today's paper and find out which horse won yesterdays race.  We now know that Beetlebaum won the 2:00 race, this is a fact that cannot be changed.  However knowing that does not in any way take away the need for Beetlebaum to show up and run fast to win the race.  In the same way God's knowledge from the beginning of time that you will, or will not, become a Christian does not take away from the importance of your making your own decision.

    We do not understand why you have had the privilege of hearing the good news of the Gospel while some others have not.  We don't know why some people suffer the effects of war, or poverty, or disease while others do not.  But the purpose of the Bible's teaching on election and predestination is for us to come to see that salvation is all of God and not of ourselves.  This should inspire devotion and love to Christ in gratitude for God's unfathomable love. 8                                 (38)                 What will happen to me when I'm saved

    Note that this division is arbitrary, your salvation is a process and the new you is not a paint by number drawing that starts in one spot and proceeds to the next until you appear as a new Christian. Rather the new person is created by the act of God and illuminated for all to see by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    You are commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. There is a great deal of conflict and difference of opinion on when and even hoe this is to be done.  We will look extensively at baptism in chapter 11. It is important to note however that in almost all cases in the New Testament, acceptance of a belief in and the sufficiency of Christ to save are followed by the believers baptism.

    We receive the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit acts as our counselor and guide.  The Holy Spirit makes plain what otherwise would be beyond our understanding.  The Holy Spirit equips us to do the work of God. We will study the Holy Spirit in the next chapter (chapter 7).

    We become justified.  Justification means that no sin remains charged to our account.  Christ took the punishment for all of our sin, not just for that up to the point of when we became a Christian.  We cannot be more or less justified, but either are, or are not.  Guilt is totally gone from the Christian, and gone forever.  Therefore, for the Christian, justification is past. 9

    We are sanctified.  The Greek word is hagiasmos which is translated as sanctification or holiness in the King James. Sanctification is the present portion of salvation.  This means that we are set apart from the world, and from sin, so that we may have intimate fellowship with the Lord. Justification is once for all, sanctification is a continuous process, from our acceptance of Christ, right up to our death.

    Sanctification deals with the power of sin in the Christians life and there are degrees in this.  We are immediately set apart from the world and for God when we are saved, however we do not become perfect. As soon as we are indwelt by the Spirit of God, and all saved people are, we have available to us the power of God to deal with our sin. Ideally we will continue to grow steadily toward godliness but this is rarely so.

    We are glorified.  This is our coming reward when we die or are raptured.  Here we join in Christ's glory as His child.  In glorification the Christian escapes the power and presence of sin.  God through Christ will give us the ability to be like Christ and be in His presence forever.

    No matter how we describe the wonderful gift of salvation, what ever words we use to describe it, we cannot explain how our God loves us so faithfully.  He has looked for us when we least expected it, given eternal life to us who do not deserve it.  No sacrifice is needed on our part.  We need only recognise honestly who we are and who He is. He will then bless us with light and love, guide us here while we live, and bring us home to the place He has prepared for us when we die.

    The following hymn is a favorite of many, and of mine.  It expresses the joy that we have in the wonderful gift we have received from a wonderful Saviour.                                 (39)             Amazing Grace!  How sweet the Sound 10

Amazing grace!  How sweet the sound - That saved a Wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears releaved; How precious did that grace appear.  The hour I first believed!

The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be.  As long as life endures.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

When we've been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We've no less days to sing God's praise.  Than when we'd first begun.

            Discussion questions.

1. Share something that you remember of your acceptance of Christ.

2. Have you shared with anyone what Christ means to you?  Tell us something of what happened if you did.

3.  What would you tell someone who wanted to know why you were confidant of your relationship with God?

4. If you have received the gift of salvation by the grace of God, prepare a short Testimony of your personal experiences to share with others when the opportunity presents itself.  Jesus wants you to be prepared to share about His work in your heart with others.



1 From the Statement of Faith of Elmbrook Church  777 Barker Rd Waukesha Wi 2 Bible quotes from the New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible  c1978 New York International Bible Society  Printed by Zondervan Grand Rapids MI. 4 This passage originally published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Minneapolis MN  Bible Verses from King James Bible. 5 I want to be a Christian pp 121-122 by J I Packer c1977  pub by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton IL 6 What We Believe pp 85-87 by John F Walvoord c1990 pub by Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids MI 7 Know What You Believe pp 112-113 by Paul E Little c1970, 1985, 1987 pub by Victor Books 8 ibid pp 116-117 9 True Spirituality pp 73 by Francis F. Schaeffer c1971  pub by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton IL 10 Amazing Grace!  How Sweet the Sound  by John Newton, vs 5 by John Rees.  American melody from Carrell and Claytons Virginia Harmony 11 Evangelism Explosion  revised addition, pp 36-39  by D James Kennedy c 1970, 1977.  Published by Tyndale.                                 (40)

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