One of those “old dead guys,” Augustus Toplady, once wrote: "Assurance is the ring which God puts on faith's finger."
Indeed, one of the greatest questions people ask is: “Am I really sure I am a Christian? Do I really know that when I die, I am assured I am the Lord’s? Or, am I just a fake?”
Those are big questions. And as we enter Hebrews 6:9-12 this weekend in our verse-by-verse study, we will see 7 necessary signs of salvation. Stay tuned for that.
“This I know, that God is for me” (Psalm 56:9).
The greatest treasure we can possess in all this life, the one we must gain before we die, is this assurance. Not glib self-flattery but awe-filled wonder that, in spite of everything I’ve done against him, God is for me in Christ.
Today, I (Darin) would like to look at this topic of assurance of salvation broadly. Let’s remind ourselves what the Scripture says—and may God give us wisdom on such a crucial topic.
1. Don't confuse your sense of assurance with your justification—it's not a strong faith that saves you but a strong Savior. Salvation is totally of God (Jonah 2:9). And this is good, because if God does all the saving, you can know you're all the way saved.
2. Treating grace as license is evidence that grace was powerless, a sign of hypocrisy, not salvation. (Jude 1:4). Grace is not a license to sin. It is a magnet to holiness. To treat grace as license is not a valuing of grace but a cheapening, since true grace both pardons sin and empowers obedience.
3. Jesus assured us that the way is narrow that leads to life (Matt. 24:10-13). People can fall away by veering to the left or to the right. Sadly, it seems many are falling off on both sides. Jesus warned it would be this way. Lord, help your people, we are in dark days.
4. If you hold grace cheaply, you hold Christ cheaply, and nobody goes to heaven who does not have Christ for their treasure. Grace leads to repentance of sin and liberty, not license to sin and anarchy. Paul writes hard against sins of license but the kind of "backsliding" he seems most concerned about is into legalism. Legalism nullifies God's grace (Gal 2:21). License perverts God's grace (Jude 4). The true grace of God helps us stand firm (1 Pet 5:10). In that, we find a sign of salvation.
5. Our assurance of salvation is established on the unchanging promises of God, not the ever-changing emotions of our hearts (Heb. 6:19). Our assurance of salvation isn’t based on our anticipated obedience but the perfect obedience of our Savior. Are we saved by works? Yes, the works of Christ. Our works are the fruit of our faith, not the grounds of our salvation. However, if we have no works, we show we have no true, saving faith in the risen Lord.
6. “Once saved, always saved,” yes, but only if you're truly saved. Our assurance of salvation is based on true faith, not presumed faith. We have assurance that God has saved us from the condemnation of sin because He is currently saving us from its power.
7. Jesus is more committed to you than you are to him. That’s the basis of our assurance. God's firm commitment to his own glory over all else is our firm assurance of his grace and mercy over all our sin (Isaiah 48:9-11). Assurance makes man “always feel that he has something solid beneath his feet and something firm under his hands — a sure friend by the way, and a sure home at the end” (J.C. Ryle).
8. Dear struggling believer, don't ever give up the fight of mortifying sin in the flesh, for the fight itself is one assurance that God is in you. When my sense of God stalls, this assurance helps me get going again and dig deeper: "He rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).
9. If you want Jesus, it is because he wants you. Contrary to critical caricatures, the doctrine of election is the heart of assurance. "Christ Jesus has made me his own" (Philippians 3:12). With this glorious assurance, we can face anything. Assurance of salvation is not only knowing God loves me but also knowing anything can happen and God still loves me (Romans 8:38-39).
10. You can be assured you're a true Christian if when the Holy Spirit pricks your conscience you bleed repentance (1 John 1:7-10). A deepening repentance, a growing faith, a greater appreciation for Christ & a more thorough submission to His will are sources of assurance. This is what the Gospel does for us: "We have come to know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16). We are given the inviolate assurance of God's love for us, and are launched into a journey of relying on his uber-trustworthy love.
11. God's purpose is not that I'd become a more obedient slave but that I'd enjoy the assurance of being a beloved son (Galatians 4:6-7). God wants us to serve him not in the dark energy of fear and anxiety, but in the bright energy of assurance and hope (Romans 7:6). Only by God bringing Christ back from the dead through the blood of the eternal covenant can we have an assurance of salvation and redemption that is full and free.
12. People ask, "How can I know I am saved?" Too often we give non-biblical assurance. Here are 3 biblical evidences that you are saved. 1. Your life has been transformed (2 Cor 5:17). 2. You have love for the believers (John 13:35). 3. You persevere in the faith (Matt 24:13).
13. There is no better or deeper rest than being able to go to sleep in the assurance of Christ's righteousness & the guarantee of God's favor. If you are in Christ, your sins are surrounded on all sides by the mercies of God. Overruling assurance. Jesus isn't "pulling for us.” He's not a cheerleader. He's our life, righteousness, assurance, and inheritance.