When we trust in Jesus Christ, our eternal security in Christ becomes a spiritual reality whether we understand it or believe it. If we have trusted in the person and work of Christ and accepted the gift of salvation, we are saved. But how can we be assured of this?
What is assurance of salvation
Assurance is the confident realisation of that security. It is the realisation of what we have in Christ such as eternal life, forgiveness of sin, and being the object of God’s personal care as his children. Assurance has to do with our comprehension of the facts and provisions of salvation through faith in Christ. This is a crucial doctrine because, properly understood, it will touch the believer’s life in several areas. Not only does it give assurance of salvation, but with that also comes a greater assurance of God’s provision in all areas of life.
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
When people do not have assurance, we should always begin by sharing the gospel to be sure they have truly trusted in Christ. Once this is confirmed, then move on to the matters of assurance.
Reasons Why People Lack Assurance
- People often lack assurance because they cannot remember or point to a specific time when they received Christ. Some doubt or wonder if they were ever really saved. There is a specific point in time when salvation occurs—the point when regeneration takes place. The issue for people is to know if they now really trust in the person and work of Christ.
- People often lack assurance because they question the procedure they went through when they accepted Christ. Many evangelists and preachers emphasise the need for some form of public confession of faith like going forward at the end of a service or raising your hand. If people receive Christ privately, they may wonder if they should have made a public confession or prayed a different prayer.
- People often lack assurance because of struggles they have with certain sins. They wonder if a true believer would have these kinds of problems. The real problem is ignorance of man’s sinful nature, the spiritual warfare we are in, God’s means of deliverance, and the need to grow and mature in Christ.
- The primary reason behind a lack of assurance is doctrinal misunderstanding and the consequent lack of faith in the finished work of Christ. This means a failure to understand the Word and its teaching regarding mankind, his sin and inability to work for or maintain his salvation, God’s perfect holiness, and the finished nature and sufficiency of the work of Christ.
- Finally, people often lack assurance because they have erroneously been taught that they should look to themselves and their works as the primary proof of their salvation. This is a major issue today.
Foundations for Assurance of Salvation
The Word of God is God’s witness to the believer (1 John 5:11-13). The Greek text includes the article with the word “life.” Salvation in Christ is not just the gift of life, but of “the life,” the one which comes only through faith in God’s unique Son. The clear declaration of Scripture is that the one who believes in Christ’s person and work on the cross as God’s provision for his sins has:
- Eternal life
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:11-13
- Forgiveness of all sin
About him all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
- Freedom from condemnation
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
- Justification (declared righteous by God)
Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast.
- A child of God by faith
But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children.