You know the song: Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song, praising my savior all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my savior all the day long.
So many in our churches cannot sing that song with an honest heart because they struggle with salvation doubts. I have heard it said that as many as 60% of those who claim to be Christians have regular doubts of whether they are going to heaven when they die. I don’t know if that is simply anecdotal or a true number. I can tell you with absolute certainty, that I have counseled many over the years who were struggling with this issue. When I was 19 years old I went through a time of wondering whether I was truly saved or not. I was saved as a child and as I matured I began to question my “experience”. I settled my doubts at a church altar late into the night. I was closing the church after a late night event and I was wrestling with this issue. I went into the quiet sanctuary, opened my Bible and prayed. That night I spent several hours just dealing with my doubts, talking to God, reading Scripture and coming to grips with my doubts. I have never doubted since. I want to help you have the same assurance today.
There are reasons why people doubt:
- You can’t recall a sensational feeling of excitement and change. Many falsely believe that a salvation experience will be dramatic, earth shattering, tears flowing, angelic visions, the temple veil tearing apart kind of experience…. Sometimes a person’s salvation comes through a simple prayer of repentance. It may not necessarily be dramatic, but be assured that all of heaven is in full blown celebration! (Luke 15:10)
- You don’t have the exciting testimony that everyone else has. You know what I am talking about. We have all been to the testimony night at church where the one guy stands up and shares his story. He recalls the clothes he was wearing, the position of the sun, everyone’s emotions in the room, the sermon that was preached, the song that was being sung while he walked down the aisle! I praise the Lord for this testimony, it is so powerful. However, not everyone has a recall of the details of their salvation event. I don’t remember every detail of my salvation event. I can’t recall what the preacher said or even what day it was. The important thing is not that I recall the details of the event, but that the Lord knows every single detail and recorded my name in the Lamb’s book of life.
- Your own theological framework goes against peaceful assurance. Maybe you were raised to believe that one could lose their salvation and you often wonder if you have done enough to keep it. Please read these verses carefully and claim the promise! “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your SALVATION (emphasis mine.). In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1: 13-14. If Christ is strong enough to save you, he is strong enough to hold you and keep you saved.
Ongoing Doubts Have Negative Consequences:
Insecurity of the believer. You will never grow spiritually if you consistently struggle with doubts and it will impact your quiet time and prayer time.
Insecurity in witnessing. You begin to ask yourself, “How can I share my faith if I am not sure I have it?”
Insecurity in faith. It is hard to have faith in something that you are not even sure you have. James 1:5-6. When you struggle with your faith you become unstable in every area of your life.
Sometime when you’re in an airport, observe the difference between passengers who hold confirmed tickets and those who are on standby. The ones with confirmed tickets read newspapers, look at their phones, chat with their friends or sleep. The ones on standby hang around the ticket counter and nervously pace. The difference is caused by the confidence factor. I want you to have confidence and stop all the doubting!
That night, by myself in that church, I found a great verse in 1 John 5: 13 and God used it in a mighty way to affirm my salvation. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” Four words jumped out to me from that verse, THAT YOU MAY KNOW. There was a way to know, not just guess or hope, but know. I needed to know. I could simply stop here and tell you to pray the sinners prayer again, but that wouldn’t give you the tools you need for long term assurance. Walk with me through these key scriptures and take this spiritual inventory. The Bible is very clear on what a saved person does and doesn’t do. Let’s take a look at four ingredients of salvation and as you explore these verses ask the Lord to either affirm your salvation or show you your need for it. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start.
Ingredient 1: Repentance
Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. 20 Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will send Jesus your Messiah to you again. Acts 3: 19-20
What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Has their ever been a time in your life that you walked away from you? Your sins, your ambitions, your way of life. Is there a distinct point in time where you were unquestionably changed? I don’t mean that you stopped sinning or became perfect, but people recognized a new you. Salvation is not just saying a magic prayer, it is total repentance from your former way of life. Has that happened to you?
Ingredient 2: Presence of the Holy Spirit
For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children. Romans 8: 16
He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. John 14:17
The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me, because he will take what I have to say and tell it to you. John 16:14. NCV
There is a still small voice in you that gives you assurance. He convicts you of sin, makes the Bible make sense and leads you in making decisions. If you never experience the inner presence of the Spirit of God then maybe he doesn’t reside in you. Are you consistently convicted of sin through the Holy Spirit living in you? The writer of Hebrews reminds us in 12: 7-11 that those he loves experience “chastening” or “conviction”. Not just feeling guilty or “bad” about doing wrong, but God given conviction. Worldly guilt says, “You shouldn’t do that.” Spiritual conviction says, “this is sin and you should turn to God instead.”
Ingredient 3: Christ-like love
Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. 19 It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, 1 John 3:18
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is love.
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. 1 John 4: 7-12
Regenerated believers will have the love of Christ in their heart. Not simply a love for some people, but a love for the unlovable, the broken, the lost. A Christ like love in our hearts is only attained through receiving the righteousness of Christ through salvation. When Christ takes over your life and his Lordship guides your heart, you will see people differently. His love will saturate every areas of your life. You will not view others based on race, ethnicity or demographic categorization. You will see people as He sees people. As you grow spiritually, this will intensify.
Ingredient 4: Obedience
And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. 4 If someone says, “I belong to God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. 5 But those who obey God’s word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did. 1 John 3: 3-6
Is there a consistent pattern of blatant disobedience to God? Those who have been saved have a strong inner compulsion to obey God and his word. Do you feel that inner need to obey Christ?
Are these ingredients in your life? If not, maybe your doubts are actually the Lord’s way of showing you the true spiritual condition of your heart. Remember that he is “not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9b. Ask for that assurance today and stop doubting. Ask for Christ to come into your heart today, sing the song with me and believe it! Blessed assurance Jesus is mine….