Assurance of Salvation in the Bible
Many Christians, by virtue of poor teaching, have no assurance or certainty of their own salvation. Because of this they reject the doctrine of eternal security (that the true believer in Christ can never lose his or her salvation).
But we believe that not only does God want us to know that we can have assurance of salvation in this life, but He also wants us to know that we will never be lost. When Christ paid the full penalty for our sins 2000 years ago, remember, all our sins were future at that point. If the Bible teaches our sins are forgiven at the point of true faith in Christ, this must logically include all of them, even all future sins. Thus, “He forgave us ALL our sins” (Col. 2:13). Therefore, come what may in life (please read Rom. 8:28-38), the person who trusts in Christ alone for salvation will go to heaven when he dies because God Himself informs the believer that he now possesses “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” because it is “kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4). The salvation God offers is perfectly secure precisely because it involves a gracious act of God and is in no way dependent upon human merit or good works for its accomplishment. It is simply a free gift (Rom. 3:24)!
Because salvation occurs by God’s grace and is in no way dependent upon anything we do to earn it, and because the divine penalty for all sin was fully paid by Jesus on the cross, the Bible teaches that those who have genuinely received Christ as their personal Savior may from that point forward be fully assured that they now possess eternal life. Again, consider the following Scriptures carefully:
- I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24, emphasis added).
- I tell you THE TRUTH, he who believes HAS everlasting life (John 6:47, emphasis added).
- I write 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 5:13, emphasis added).
Again, these verses teach that God wants believers to know they now possess eternal life merely by their personal trust in Jesus. If any person NOW possesses ETERNAL life, how can it be lost?
Unfortunately, the above Scriptures do not reflect the teachings of the cults which maintain that salvation is a provisional, lifelong process partially or wholly earned by a person’s own works and individual merit.
Biblically, of course, salvation can be viewed as a process, but only in this manner: that sinless perfection and glorification are not received until after death. And so we struggle in this life to increase our sanctification and “work out” (Phil. 2:12), not work for, the logical consequences of our having already been saved and of having already received the gift of eternal life. Thus, biblically, true salvation—in the sense of our right standing before God and forgiveness of all sins—occurs at a point in time (the point of receiving Christ as personal Savior), even though the practical implications of salvation (progressive sanctification or growth in holiness) are worked out over a lifetime.
Thus, 1) complete reconciliation with God (full forgiveness of sins and cancellation of the penalty of sin); 2) regeneration (being made spiritually alive to God and the imparting of eternal life), and 3) justification (the crediting of Christ’s full and complete righteousness to the believer) all occur in an instant, at the moment in time: the point of faith.
They are irrevocable since they are all gifts from God, and God says that He never takes back what He gives: “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). This includes God’s calling to salvation and His election (Eph 1:4,5,11; Acts 13:48).
- Salvation, or an eternally valid right standing before God, occurs solely due to the death of Christ (what Christ accomplished on the cross) entirely apart from works and personal righteousness (1 John 2:2; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 10:13; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
- On the cross Jesus Christ paid in its entirety the full divine penalty for all sin (Heb. 10:12,14).
- In terms of our standing before God, full salvation occurs at a point in time (1 Cor. 5:17-21; 1 Pet. 2:24). It is not a lifelong process that occurs or increases over time, which is sanctification.
- Complete salvation is secured solely by personal faith—by trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (John 1:12; Rom. 10:9,10; Eph. 2:8,9). Good works enter the picture only as a result—not a cause—of our salvation (Eph. 2:10; Rom. 12:1,2). Thus, good works are not even a partial cause of our salvation (Rom. 11:6; Gal. 3:13,21; 4:9,10; 5:1,4).
- At the moment of saving faith a person is fully—not partially—justified (Rom. 3:28; 5:1). In other words, a person is declared righteous by God Himself—fully and finally. All his sins are forgiven and God declares him legally righteous (perfectly righteous in God’s own eyes), even though he continues to remain a sinner because of the presence of a sinful nature (Rom. 3:28-4:6; Jas. 2:10; 3:2; 1 John 1:8-10). What this means is that in an instant of time a person has passed over from spiritual death to spiritual life, and that nothing else is required for him to go to heaven (see John 5:24). Once justified, a person can never lose her or his justification (see Rom. 8:30-38; 11:29).
- At the moment of saving faith a person has also been regenerated—God has made him alive spiritually and imparted eternal life to him. Regeneration does not occur at the point of baptism or death; rather, it occurs at the point of saving faith. The fact that regeneration involves the imparting of eternal life underscores the finality of biblical salvation (John 6:47; 1 John 5:13).
- Because a person now possesses eternal life, his salvation, as a result, can never be lost (Eph. 1:11-12; 1 Pet. 1:3-5). Such a person is eternally secure from the point of saving faith, regardless of his sins or his works (Rom. 8:28-38).
In conclusion, in the field of comparative religion, what the Bible teaches about salvation is truly revolutionary—eternal salvation, wholly by grace, as a free gift, is found nowhere else.
- We wrote our book, KNOWING THE TRUTH ABOUT ETERNAL SECURITY (Harvest House)—to prove this Scripturally.