Salvation is God’s gracious deliverance of a sinner from the power and penalty of sin. God saves when one turns from sin and every effort to save oneself and relies on and surrenders to Christ alone for salvation. You may wonder if you can lose such salvation; can you? Maybe you feel like you are not saved—how can you know if Christ has saved you? Is it important? Should you know?
Eternal Security and Assurance of Salvation
There is a difference between these two doctrines and that difference depends on the standpoint salvation is viewed from.
Can you lose your salvation? The answer to that question cannot be answered from your standpoint or perspective. God is the one who saves through Jesus Christ; your salvation depends on and rests with Christ (John 6:39; 10:27-30; Jude 1). From God’s point of view, then, your salvation can never be lost because your salvation does not depend on you but Christ! The fact of your deliverance from sin’s power and penalty rests with God.
How know if God has saved you? This depends on your standpoint or perspective—assurance of salvation means you are certain you possess eternal life in Christ. Do you know if you are saved from sin? Can you know that you have eternal life?
Can I Know for Certain that I have Eternal Life?
Yes, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can know for certain that you have eternal life—you can be assured of salvation:
Rom 8:38-39 “I am convinced that neither death, nor life…will be able to separate us from the love of God”
2 Tim 1:12 “I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day”
1 John 2:3 “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments”
1 John 5:13 “These things I have written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life”
Those who believe that no one can really know whether they have eternal life do so because they see salvation as dependent in some way on themselves. This is not what God says though (Eph 2:8-10; Titus 3:5).
Should I Know for Certain that I have Eternal Life?
Yes, you should! Why? The Bible tells you to seek and gain such assurance:
2 Cor 13:5 “test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!”
2 Pet 1:10 “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you”
Heb 6:11-12 “we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises”
1 John 5:13 (quoted above) John tells his readers that he wrote his epistle so they would know they have eternal life. This implies the necessity of reading the letter with a view to gaining such assurance
Assurance of salvation is the result of living a Christ-like life. If you just “assume” you’re saved, that can quickly and easily lead to complacency, sinful habits, disobedience, unfaithfulness, and self-deception. Knowing you are saved comes from living for Christ.
How Can I Gain this Certainty of Eternal Life?
In order to know where you’re headed on a journey, you need to be going in the right direction. You will know you’re going in the right direction when the “signs” and “landscape” around you matches the “map” you’re following.
A sure knowledge of salvation is the work of the Spirit living in your life (Rom 8:16; 1 John 3:24; 4:13). As you “walk in the Spirit” He gives you the conviction—the deep seated knowledge, confidence, assurance—that you are a believer.
Have a firm grasp of what the Bible teaches about salvation. The more you know about salvation, the stronger foundation you will possess for trusting Christ. The clearer vision you have that salvation is entirely by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone the better you will be able to see God’s work of salvation (note our doctrinal statement).
Examine your life (2 Pet 1:10-11), looking for evidences of salvation. God’s Word (the “map”) tells you what “signs” you should see in your life:
- Faith in Christ (are you relying entirely on Christ, or yourself?), 2 Pet 1:1
- A love for holiness, 2 Pet 1:4; 1 John 1:6-7
- Growth in Christian virtue, 2 Pet 1:4-9
- Obedience to Christ’s commands, 1 John 2:3
- Love for other believers and a desire to worship with them, Heb 10:25; 1 John 2:19; 4:7-12
As you seek and see the evidences of Christ in your life, you can know that you have eternal life. If you truly are a Christian, the Spirit should control your life (Gal 5:16, 25) and as He does He assures you that you belong to Christ.
When people take salvation for granted they neglect continually examining their lives to make sure they are headed in the right direction. The result is people profess to be Christians (they have the form of godliness) but their lives are contrary to true Christianity (they deny its power).
What are the Results of Having a Certainty of Eternal Life?
A settled certainty that you posses eternal life will result in:
- Commitment to the assembly of God’s people, Acts 2:42; Heb 10:25; 1 John 2:19
- Living a life of confident victory and growing Christ-likeness, Rom 8:28-39
- Growing knowledge of God’s Word and proportionate maturity in life, Eph 4:11-16; 1 Thess 3:2-3; Heb 5:14; 12:11; 1 Pet 2:2
- A lifestyle characterized by holiness, 1 Pet 1:13-21
- Loving other believers, 1 Pet 1:22-25
- Diligently examining my lifestyle and character, 2 Pet 1:4-11
- Willingness to suffer for Christ, 2 Tim 1:8-12
- Contending for the faith, Jude 1-4
What about those times when you really question whether you’re saved or not? What are some causes of a lack of assurance?
- A wrong understanding of the truths of the gospel
- A weakness of faith that results from not cultivating it or the fruits of the Spirit
- Excessive care for the things of this life, Phil 4:6-7
- Prayerlessness, Heb 10:22
- Not being careful or diligent, 2 Pet 1:10-11; Heb 6:11-12
- Not responding to sin, 1 John 1:9
- Disobedience to the commands of God, 1 John 2:3
- Worldliness, 1 John 2:15-17
You can know that Christ has saved you and you should know. Don’t rely on writing down the date you prayed a prayer; don’t depend on what someone said you did. Truly knowing that you are saved comes from the Spirit. When you have a stronger knowledge of salvation from the Word (the sword of the Spirit) and live out your salvation, the Spirit gives that genuine, settled, confidence and assurance that you are a child of God.
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Wednesday evening, April 4, 2007