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  • Writer's pictureMichael Gott


“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith …” Hebrews 10:22 NIV

For any usefulness to the kingdom of God a person must be confident of their own personal salvation.  Far too many people are not sure.  I often quote C. H. Spurgeon for insights.  He said, “We count it no presumption to say that we are saved, for the Word of God has told us so in those places where salvation is promised by faith in Christ.  The presumption would lie in doubting the Word of God.”  Notice the emphasis in balance, certainty and yet humility.  Our assurance of salvation does not depend on ourselves and what we have done but entirely on what He did for us—the finished work of Christ on the cross stands as our eternal source of confidence.  What God gained for us on the cross, He will not lose!

I discovered reading John Stott a simply beautiful statement which is so Biblical and basic, “Clearly one cannot enjoy a gift unless one knows that one possesses it.  Therefore, if God means us to receive and enjoy eternal life, He must mean us to know we possess it.”  Certainly we are on solid ground to say that the Lord wants His own children to be very sure that they belong to Him.

A person can definitely be a Christian without full assurance of salvation, yet without that assurance they will not definitely be a dynamic Christian.  So the question arises, how can anyone be sure?  How can a person have “a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (NIV)?  How can anyone be that absolutely certain?

We must understand, to become a Christian, there will be a personal crisis moment when a person yields all they know about themselves to all they know about Christ.  It can be a dramatic encounter with Him, or it can come after an extended step-by-step process when suddenly the final response and climactic moment comes.  Vance Havner said, “It takes the form of a radical break to turn from earth’s trash to heaven’s treasures.”  This conversion experience is as great as any miracle Christ ever performed in the New Testament.

Here is what great men of faith like D. L. Moody tell us, God’s most used people come from the ranks of those who had a clear cut, decisive conversion experience.  He said something like this:  personal faith in Christ makes us walk faithfully, assurance will make us run forcefully.  The Spirit’s inner witness is the strongest proof that we personally know Him.  Someone said, “Before we are converted to Christ, we love things and tend to use people; after conversion we love people and wisely use things.”  That’s the difference!  There is no substitute for a new birth experience of conversion and a changed heart.

Dr. J. I. Packer said, “Feelings of confidence about our salvation need to be tested before they are trusted,” so that, every believer should never be content with faint hoping.  Each person who has doubts should ask God to bring them to a point of confident assurance so that it’s no longer flickering hope but confident certainty.

I know I have been saved, that moment of open declaration could never leave me—but I refused purposely to seek out the exact date on the calendar or the exact hour when I responded to Christ under the hand of the Holy Spirit.  The reason is that it is not the date that is important but the encounter with Christ.  Yet, with certainty there was a moment when I did take that decisive step.  There has rarely been any uncertainty that haunted my soul, certainly not in the last fifty years.

Once a person understands the nature of conversion: that it was His drawing power, not my deciding wisdom that saved me, everything changes.  It was not my great faith but His great mercy.  Long before I ever thought of Him, He was thinking of me and He said it was not you who chose Me but “I who chose you!” (read John 15:16)  He gave me the faith to choose Him, but in the end it was not my faith that saved me, it was Christ!  Yes, I came to Him, but it was because He drew me to Himself—it is all built of grace, mercy, and His desire to save me was behind it all.  My confidence is in Him, not in my power to believe but His power to save.  He drew me to Himself.  So I focus on the greatness of grace which produced pardon and peace, security in my salvation.

Salvation comes to us because of putting our faith in the Lord Jesus.  The word faith is used over 300 times in the New Testament alone.  “… without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6), and furthermore, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  It’s all a gift; faith to believe and forgiveness to enjoy is all from Him.  In English there is an easy way to describe and illustrate faith:  F, A, I, T, H—Forsaking All I Trust Him.  So our hope is built on nothing less than God’s faithfulness.  It’s not that I am firmly holding onto Him, but He is firmly holding onto me.  I can trust His grip!

Briefly allow me to address and dismiss the idea that this is being presumptuous to claim assurance of salvation.  New Testament confidence of the believer is based on God’s unchanging grace.  So, we should understand that if there is a charge of presumptuousness, it lies in doubting God’s Word rather than simply trusting it.  Paul spoke of “the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” (II Timothy 1:12, NLT)  It is foolish of us to doubt that is true for us.

So that, when Jesus spoke of “he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13), He was not saying that salvation is the ultimate reward of enduring, but rather because enduring to the end is a hallmark of anyone who is saved.  It is not my own emotion that produces confidence, it is His powerful promises and prayers.  So, this is an example of what Jesus prayed to the Father, “I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished …” (John 17:12)  It was true of the apostles, and it will be true of us, “… not one of them perished …”  He had already said, “I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish …” (John 10:28)  Those words alone should be the lasting and living source of our confidence.  To me that is not only truth, but it gives unshakable confidence.  This is “the love that will not let me go.”

Lewis Sperry Chafer has put the shoe on the right foot in saying, “The ultimate answer to the insecurity or security of the believer rests on the question of who does the work of salvation.”  He is the “author and finisher”—He finishes what He starts!  Did my salvation start with Him or me?  “If God lights the candle, none can blow it out,” said Spurgeon.

The Duke of Windsor was King of England very briefly before he abdicated.  I saw a black-and-white documentary summary of his life in which he told of his father’s disciplining of him.  The King would say to him with tones of stern admonishment, “My dear boy, you must always remember who you are.”  I am sure our gracious God and Father in Heaven would say the same to us, “Remember who you are,” for we are His and we belong to Him.  We remember who we are and whose we are.  Spurgeon declared, “God promises to keep His people, and He will keep His promises.”

And as we go through troubles and trials which disturb us occasionally, we remember that God did not promise a carefree journey, only a safe arrival!  Finally, think of this:  if you stood on the brink of hell and shouted loudly unto it—“Which of you can condemn me?  I’m a sinner saved by God’s grace.  Speak now or forever hold your peace!” the only sound you would hear would be your echo!  You are His forever!

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