I’ve fielded another Bible question. This time the topic is about assurance of salvation. Since in my view this goes to the heart of the gospel, I have decided to make this too an article for my web site. This will not be a detailed discussion, but a summary of Biblical teaching regarding the believer’s assurance of salvation.
We should not look for assurance of our salvation in ourselves. Our hope of heaven is not in ourselves, but in the Word of God, and in the God of the Word, who is a God of His word. Let me elaborate on that.
We know that we as human beings are all sinners; and Christians are no exception. We sinned before we believed in Jesus, and we will sin again even after our coming to faith in Christ. So we cannot trust in ourselves for our salvation.
That means we cannot trust in our own efforts, our own good works. It is a false hope, a misplaced faith to trust in our efforts to procure our salvation. This includes placing our trust in: our intellectual comprehension of the perfect doctrinal understanding; the work of obedience to being immersed into Christ; in the perfect church, or the perfect church attendance, etc.
And thankfully, we are not asked to. We are required, not to come to God based on our best efforts, but to come to Him in faith. And He has said that we receive Him by believing in Him, and are therefore children of God by faith (John 1:12). We are justified by faith and therefore have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). If we confess and believe in our hearts in Jesus as the risen Savior, we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).
And once we believe and are saved, the path of justification, the means of walking in righteousness before God doesn’t change. It is by faith. (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11.) So as we began our walk in Christ by faith, we continue in faith. We received the Spirit by faith, we began in faith, and we must not then revert to trying to bring our walk to completion by our own efforts. (Galatians 3:2-3)
So what this will sometimes mean for us is faith in spite of how we feel. We are not only sinful, but weak. That includes weakness toward sin, but it also can mean self-doubt. Our life on earth is fraught with painful circumstances, to say nothing of outright pain. This can be debilitating, and in moments of weakness we doubt our self-worth, and sometimes by extension our worth in God’s sight. And so we don’t feel saved.
At such times, we must fight the temptation to give in to our feelings. Again, don’t trust your own efforts or feelings, trust in a God that has revealed in His Word how to be saved, and how to walk before Him in righteousness. If we are feeling unworthy and self-condemned, the rely upon God’s faithfulness to His own Word. He is greater than our hearts (I John 3:19-21).
If we are feeling a conviction of sin, then we should take that as the Spirit’s work and the Lord’s discipline. In that case, we should confess our sins and then keep on walking in Him. Note that God’s Word tells us that walking in the light, having fellowship with the Father through Jesus the Son will still involve the blood of Christ purifying us from our sins. (I John 1:5-10)
Some might object, “That’s too simple.” It is indeed simple, but it is nonetheless the gospel. It is grace; it is the Lord’s salvation. For assurance of salvation, trust in Him and His Word, not yourself. Or, as I said before, our hope of heaven is not in ourselves, but in the Word of God, and in the God of the Word, who is a God of His word.