What is the Assurance of Salvation

What is the Assurance of Salvation

Assurance is the state of being sure or certain about something; it is a strong and definite statement that something will happen or that something is true. But how can you know anything for sure, especially when it has everything to do with where you will be spending eternity? What assurance do Christians have with regards to their salvation?

I still remember the day when I took the board examination for Medical Technologists years ago. Stepping out of the examination room, I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass and be given a license to practice. Well, I thought I did well and I could tell you that I really gave it my all but I was still uncertain about the outcome. That feeling of uncertainty definitely made me anxious over the next 3 days while waiting for the result to be released.

In a similar way, how do you know your hope of heaven will hold up when God’s earth-shattering judgment comes? What guarantee do you have that you will not fall away from Christ, remain a Christian until you die and will in fact live with God in heaven forever?

What does it mean to have assurance of salvation?

To have assurance of salvation is to be absolutely confident that we are saved and that if we die suddenly, we would go immediately to heaven. Assurance of salvation means possessing salvation – possessing the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:36). Salvation is eternal life; it is the life of God; it is Divine life. If we possess eternal life, then we are saved!

However, many Christians do not believe that it is possible to be sure of salvation now. They feel that they need to keep working in order to meet God’s standard. If we were saved by works then they would be correct. But salvation is a gift received by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

It should be noted that this is one significant disagreement among evangelical Christians for a long time. Many within the Armenians and Wesleyans have held that it is possible to lose your salvation, while Reformed Christians held that it is not possible for someone who is truly born again.

Scope of the doctrine of assurance of salvation

The doctrine of assurance of salvation also referred to as the perseverance of the saints, means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere until the end, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.

This definition has two parts:

A. First, it indicates that assurance is given to those who are truly born again, for it reminds them that God’s power will keep them “in Christ” until they die, and they will surely live with Christ forever in heaven.

There are many passages that teach that those who are truly born again, who are genuinely Christians, will continue in Christ until death and will then go to be in heaven with Him.

1) In John 6:38-40 Jesus says that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. He says that He will raise that person up at the last day – which, in this context of believing in the Son and having eternal life, clearly means that Jesus will raise that person up to eternal life with Him (not just raise him up to be judged and condemned).

Moreover, this text emphasizes that Jesus does the will of the Father, which is that He should “lose nothing of all that He has given Me” (John 6:39). Once again, those given to the Son by the Father will not be lost.

2) Also in John 10:27-29 Jesus says that those who follow Him, those who are His sheep, are given eternal life. He further says that “no one shall snatch them out of My hand” (v.28).

Although some have objected to this and reasoned that even if no one else can take believers out of Christ’s hand, we might remove ourselves from Christ’s hand. But it’s important to note that the most forceful phrase “they shall never perish” (v.28) is emphatic and might be translated more explicitly as, “and they shall certainly not perish forever.”

3) Paul’s writings and other New Testament epistles also indicate that those who are truly born again will persevere to the end such as in Romans 8:1 where it says that no condemnation remains for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the entire penalty of their sins has been already paid.

4) Another assurance of true believers persevering to the end is Paul’s statement in Philippians 1:6 that the work God has begun in them will continue and will be completed at the day of Christ’s return.

B. The second half of the definition makes it clear that continuing in the faith is one of the evidences that a person is truly born again. This aspect of the doctrine must be well understood and kept in mind to avoid giving false assurance to people who were never really believers in the first place.

While Scripture repeatedly emphasizes that those who are truly born again will continue to the end and will certainly have eternal life in heaven with God, there are other passages that speak of the necessity of continuing in faith through life.

1) 1 Peter 1:5 says that God does not guard us apart from our faith, but only by working through our faith so that He enables us to continue in Him. So those who continue to trust in Christ gain assurance that God is working in them and guarding them.

2) In John 8:31-32 Jesus said to the Jewish believers that “if you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” Jesus is saying that one evidence of genuine faith is continuing in His words, that is, continuing to believe in Him and living a life of obedience to His commands.

Similarly, Jesus says in Matthew 10:22 that “he who endures to the end will be saved” as a means of warning people not to fall away in times of persecution.

3) Other passages that emphasize the importance of continuing in Christ include:

  • Colossians 1:22-23 – those who continue in the faith show that they are genuine believers.
  • Hebrews 3:14 – this verse provides an excellent perspective on the doctrine of perseverance. We can know that we have come to genuine faith in Christ if we continue in faith until the end of our live.
  • 1 John 2:19 – John clearly states that when people fall away from fellowship with the church and from faith in Christ, it shows that their faith was not real in the first place and that they were never part of the true body of Christ.

It is evident from Paul’s statements in Galatians 2:4, 2 Corinthians 11:26 and 2 Corinthians 11:15 that many false believers are being ushered into the church and disrupt the fellowship. But this does not necessarily mean that all unbelievers within the church are false brothers and sisters. Some of them could be in the process of moving towards genuine saving faith.

What can give believers genuine assurance of salvation?

If those who finally fall away are said to have never been saved to begin with, then what will serve as evidence of genuine conversion? What can give real assurance to a genuine believer?

A. Present trust in Christ for salvation

Do you trust Jesus today for the forgiveness of your sins and have confidence that He will take you without blame to heaven for all eternity? John 3:16, the most famous Bible verse about salvation, uses a present tense verb that maybe translated “whoever continues believing in Him” may have eternal life. A continuing present relationship with Jesus is evidence of genuine salvation.

B. Evidence of a regenerating work of the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:16 says “the Holy Spirit bears witness within our hearts that we are God’s children” and this is just one aspect. (See also Galatians 4:6) But if the Holy Spirit is genuinely at work in our lives, He will be producing the kind of character traits that Paul calls “the fruit of the Holy Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Do you see these character traits exemplified in your life? Do you build others up in the church and not tear them down or discourage them? Do you edify others in every conversation, every prayer and every work that you put into your ministry?

Another evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit is continuing to believe and accept the sound teaching and doctrines of the faith. Those who begin to deny the major doctrines give serious negative indications regarding salvation.

Finally, a major area of evidence that we are genuine believers is found in a life of obedience to God’s commands (1 John 2:4-6). Of course, we will never live a perfect life while we’re on earth but we must strive to imitate Christ every single day and aim to be like Him.

C. Long-term pattern of growth in our Christian life

Peter tells us that there are some character traits, which if we keep on increasing them, will guarantee that we will never stumble or fall. He tells us to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. He then exhorts us to be more zealous and diligent to confirm our call and election (2 Peter 1:5-10).

The way to confirm our call is to grow in these character traits; for us to grow in our Christian life (sanctification). This implies that our assurance of salvation can grow and increase over time. Thus, young believers can have a stronger assurance in their salvation as they grow over the years toward Christian maturity.

Conclusion

Assurance of salvation is necessary because a person is either saved or lost. Either he’s “in Christ” or outside. If we are “in Christ” then we ought to have assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation is not presumption or pride but taking God’s word for it.

On the other hand, the doctrine of the assurance of salvation, if properly understood, should cause genuine worry and concern to anyone who is backsliding or staying away from Christ. Such person must be warned that only those who persevere to the end have been truly born again. Anyone who falls away from their profession of faith in Christ and life of obedience in Him was never really saved.

Only in Christianity is there assurance of salvation because of the finished work of Christ. Jews who practice Judaism are doing their best to follow the Law while Muslims could only hope that at the end of their journey here on earth, their good deeds will far outweigh their bad deeds.

Things to ponder: Do you have assurance of salvation? Are you continuing in your faith in Christ? Are the fruit of the Holy Spirit evident in your life? Are you growing in your spiritual walk with God?

Recommended Resources:

Saved Without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation – eBook   By John MacArthur

Am I really saved? Am I going to heaven? How can I know for sure? Every believer has wrestled with these questions at some point in their journey. Saved Without A Doubt tackles this challenging topic by examining scripture to uncover the truth of salvation, while addressing tough questions that can hinder our faith. Readers will develop a Bible-based theology of salvation and be encouraged to securely rest in their personal relationship with Christ.

For Pastors and Preachers:

The Assurance of Our Salvation (Studies in John 17): Exploring the Depth of Jesus’ Prayer for His Own – eBook  By Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Known as the ‘Thursday night discourse’ chapters 13-17 in the gospel of John constitute what is perhaps the most intimate teaching of the disciples by Jesus. But chapter 17 is of particular interest because it records an the most intimate interaction–a prayer–between Jesus and God the Father. It is striking, revealing, and intense.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, widely regarded as one of the finest and intense expositor’s of the Bible is perhaps the ideal preacher, for unpacking and opening up this prayer both to our hearts and our minds. In The Assurance of our Salvation: Exploring the Depth of Jesus Prayer for His Own Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides his customary verse-by-verse exposition of John 17 and in doing so lays before us the richness, the depth, the wonder–and teh assurance–of God’s plan of salvation.

14 Replies to “What is the Assurance of Salvation”

  1. Dear Alice,

    I am happy with the spiritual food you keep feeding us with.

    However, you keep on saying that the born again Christians when they leave this world they end up in heaven. My question to you is: Who are the people who are going to inherit the coming Kingdom of God which Jesus is coming back to establish?

    1. Hey David, happy to hear from you again.

      Yes, believers in Jesus will end up in heaven once they leave this world, either by physical death or at the rapture when Jesus will come back in the clouds to gather together all those in Christ, whether dead or alive, to bring them all to heaven.

      For a more detailed explanation of this event, I would like to refer you to this article: https://biblical-christianity.com/what-happens-at-the-second-coming-of-christ

      Now, regarding the millennial reign of Christ at the end of the 7-year tribulation, believers will reign with Jesus. Who are these believers? These include those who received their glorified bodies at the rapture and those who survived the Tribulation. If we read Revelations 19, we see that the saints who have gone to heaven will come back with Christ for the millennial reign.

      This means that Christians will stay in heaven only for a period of 7 years, the same time that the Tribulation is happening on earth. Revelation chapters 20-21 tell us that there will be a new heaven and a new earth and the holy city of Jerusalem will come down from heaven. And the believers in Jesus will truly inherit the Kingdom of God here on earth.

      I hope that answers your question. Should you have further questions, please feel free to reply back to this comment thread.

      Shalom!

  2. It is fortunate that you have chosen this subject in your post because it is so enlightening. I have never really asked myself before if I am assured of salvation. I believe that we can be assured of salvation if we are in Christ and remain in Christ. If we continue to live by HIS teachings and obey His commandments. That we never doubt HIS words but continue to believe in HIM in our lives. To be assured of salvation, we need to have Christ in our lives.

    1. Hello Rebecca,

      When I was a new believer I was always fearful that I will not make it to heaven because I might stumble along the way and get lost. I wasn’t sure of my salvation because I was not always obedient to God’s commands and often times I neglect my quiet time. I was afraid I could lose my salvation because of my shortcomings.

      Until I started to really meditate on God’s word and that’s when I realized that Jesus has paid the price of my salvation in full. There is nothing more I could do because Jesus already accomplished it. When I put my complete trust in what the Lord Jesus has done for me and received Him as my Savior, I was assured of my salvation.

      You’re right, if we are in Christ we have assurance of salvation and we should never doubt that. However, Scriptures are also clear that assurance of salvation is given to those who have been truly born again and the sign that we are truly born again is if we will continue being in Christ until the end.

      Praise God for His amazing grace; God saved us despite our sinfulness.

  3. Hello

    First off, I want to thank you for all of the work you put into this website, it’s fantastic that you have chosen this topic to build a site.
    About this post, it really makes me to better understand how I can be sure of having salvation is Christ. That’s something I always have struggled on, but now I have a great insight from your post. I see now that this two things come together: being in Christ will lead you to live in sanctification; on the other hand, living in sanctification is a proof that you are in Christ… Excellent!!!

    1. Shalom Mike!

      Many Christians are still in doubt as to their standing in the Lord. They often raise the questions, “Am I really saved?” or “How can I be sure I will go to heaven when I die?”

      When a person gets born again, the Holy Spirit will start to indwell him and will testify that he belongs to God. In other words, that person will receive the seal of ownership as proof that he belongs to God.

      But how do we know if we have been truly born again and have received God’s seal of ownership? How we live our life will determine that. A person who was truly born again will manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and will continue to live in sanctification (growing in Christ). For a more detailed explanation of salvation, please navigate to this post: https://biblical-christianity.com/the-three-phases-of-salvation

      God bless!

  4. Hi Alice,

    Thank you so much for your post regarding a heavily difficult and often confusing topic for most of us.

    While I am religious/spiritual my life’s journey has taught me not to fall too hard by those that overly ‘interpret’ such vastly important works.

    You did raise an excellent point that I seldom get to raise myself:- you are saved when you were saved by being born again – so where is the doubt? Surely, the Divine knows how to keep the word of God?

    Of course the Divine does, such idiosyncrasies belong to the human real. So..

    One more thing “If the Divine/Jesus/God saved me then the ‘doubt’ must come from ‘me’? Any other conclusion is by a whimsical God that is acting ‘confused’, again, not a Divine characteristic.

    I sincerely applaud and welcome your post and it was my utmost pleasure to have read it. It confirmed what I believed.

    I’d be interested if you’d turn what you have said here into a YouTube video or YouTube Series? YouTube is littered with high tech graphics of ‘the-other-place’, many of the commenters feel like they are doomed no matter what.

    I think it’s time for those who can express it best add a bit of common sense to the masses.

    Regards,

    Philip.

    1. Hi Philip,
      Thanks for commenting.
      When it comes to the assurance of salvation for believers, it’s so very important to stick to the Word as many among the so-called Christian denominations tend to lean more on “good works” while others solely depend on “grace.” But what does the Bible really say?

      There is assurance of salvation to everyone who has truly been born again and we should never doubt that. But where does doubt come from? Like what you pointed out, it’s not from God. If we have Christ in our life, we have assurance of eternal life. What do good works have to do with the assurance of salvation? Good works just validate what has taken place when we placed our faith in Jesus.

      The word of God couldn’t be clearer, assurance of salvation is for those who are
      continuing to believe (John 3:16). You are saved when you were born again and the evidence that you were truly born again is if you continue in your faith up to the very end.

      I might consider turning this article into a series of teaching videos, thanks Philip. God bless!

  5. Great article here. I know I am saved and going to heaven. This article does a good biblical breakdown of what scripture says about salvation. I appreciate the fact that you give a clear black and white image of salvation because the reality is that you can’t be lukewarm in being in relationship with Jesus.

    1. Hi Austin, I hope you’re doing well by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Glad to hear of your faith in what God has done to save you. The Bible is clear that if we received Jesus as Lord and Savior of our life then we are saved because he who has the Son has eternal life.

      Sadly, there are many Christians who become lukewarm in their faith and relationship with Jesus. Just like the church of Laodicea who used to be on fire in the Lord but turned lukewarm. Let this be a warning to us today to be always zealous in the Lord (Romans 12:11).

      Shalom and God bless you.

  6. Hi Alice,
    You make a number of valid points about the assurance of salvation and why the genuine Christian cannot lose it.
    However, perhaps you can clarify the following two scriptures, which seem to indicate the opposite. “Now the just shall live by his faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Heb.10:38
    Also, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened …….if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance….Heb:6:4-6 Thanks.

    1. Hello Vincent,

      Thanks for your comment. And yes, the Word of God is clear that genuine Christians cannot lose their salvation because Jesus Himself has guaranteed it for them. What about those who will fall back or fall away? It’s very important to emphasize that falling away is a sign that a person was not really saved to begin with. They may have been enlightened and believed as a result. They may have experienced the the goodness of God but they did not continue. Remember that the second part of the definition of assurance of salvation is that only those who persevere to the end have been truly born again.

      But the more important question is, can those who fall away be restored again into repentance (Hebrews 6:4-6)? Let us not forget that the book of Hebrews was written to the Jewish nation who has just come to the knowledge of Jesus’saving grace as their long-awaited Messiah. But because of the threat of persecution, they were tempted to return to legalistic Judaism. The author of Hebrews was arguing for the superiority of the person and work of Christ. That if they rejected the clear evidence of this truth about the Word and the Holy Spirit then there was nothing more that God could do to convince them.

      There are many biblical texts that talk about insincere repentance and apostacy. Matthew 27:3-5 talks about Judas who felt remorse after what he has done but he was not saved. Take a look at the nation of Israel who experienced many miracles and yet many of them perished due to their rebellion and unbelief. Matthew 7:22-23 is about believers who performed miracles in the name of Jesus and yet at the last day Jesus says He never knew them. So I believe that the author of Hebrews is talking here about false believers associated with God’s people and the blessings of salvation, but who were not truly saved.

      Hebrews 10:26-27 says that if we continue to sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth then there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. God can no longer save us if we continue to willfully sin and reject the Holy Spirit. To fall away is to deliberately reject the light that was given about Jesus Christ and the gospel. Repentance then becomes impossible when a person has been fully exposed to the truth about Jesus’ sacrifice and blessing but falls away through deliberate unbelief and denial of Christ.

      God gives this warning (you can never be restored) to prevent Christians from falling away.

      God bless!

  7. Many thanks for your article.

    Your heartfelt writing and reaching out through the Word is a beam of hope to many.

    The understanding and clarity will help many in their Walk or future Walk with God and his Son.

    Keep up the Work.

    How long have you been a Believer?

    1. Hi Robert, thanks for dropping by. I appreciate your comment and I take that as a sign that I’m on the right track.

      I was raised in the traditional faith (RC) but I’ve always considered myself to be a Christian until such time that God opened my understanding on what it really takes to be a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I came to a point of surrender in July 2001, that was 16 years ago, and by the grace and mercy of God Almighty I am still active in the ministry. God is faithful and there really is assurance of salvation to those who are truly born again and will keep on til the end.

      What about you Robert? When did you come to know the Lord and how did He bring you into His sheepfold? I hope you will share your testimony here? I’m sure it will bless many souls and encourage them to continue in their walk with God.

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