The Christian’s Security and Assurance in Christ
That “Salvation is of the Lord” is a good thing, for if man had any part in it, it would be inherently unstable (John 2:9). If being saved were a cooperative effort between humans and God, then our moral frailty would engender eternal insecurity within us. Thankfully, well-known verses like John 3:16 promise that God saves people by faith in the person and work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Another Scripture avers: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9) Our deliverance, from sin and its merited judgment, to eternal life, stems from the unbroken, trustworthy word of God and His almighty, unfailing power (Titus 1:2; Heb. 7:25).
Not only can we receive the Lord and His salvation, we can also know that we possess eternal life in Christ (1 John 5:13). A nineteenth-century preacher exultantly declared: “It is delightful to get out of the realm of ifs and perhapses, and peradventures, and just rest upon the wills and the shalls of a God who cannot lie.”1 The Son of God’s finished sacrifice, triumphant resurrection, and glorious ascension into the Father’s presence assures believers that the true way of life is now open through their great high priest (John 14:6; Heb. 6:13-20). It is a divine gift, completely flowing from God’s grace, irrespective of our works (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7). Thus, the saints are eternally secure and can enjoy conscious assurance of their unassailable standing in Christ.
Safe and Secure from All Alarms
The Lord Jesus clearly taught the truths of eternal security and assurance of salvation, saying: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29). When one adds that believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit, they have the amalgamated power of the triune Godhead perpetually preserving them until they reach their promised home in the Father’s house (Eph. 1:13; John 14:1-3). Having begun the work of salvation in them, He will faithfully complete it (Phil. 1:6). Those who have redemption in Christ Jesus are saved from sin’s guilt, penalty, and power; furthermore, they will one day be saved from its presence by the future redemption of their bodies at the Lord’s return (Rom. 8:23).
The Lamb of God’s blood cleanses them from all sin, for His sacrificial death as a propitiation paid for sin is the foundation of our justification (1 John 1:7; Rom. 3:23-26; Heb. 10:11-14). What is more, believers are positionally viewed as “in Christ,” and viewed as already seated in God’s presence (Eph. 2:5-7). They are described as “the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27). These scriptures present these truths as unconditional and certain facts. To lose salvation would mean that God’s unbreakable promise could be broken, the trinity’s omnipotence could be vanquished, and the history of Christ’s redemptive work be undone. Someone would need to amputate us from the intimate position that we have in Christ. In short, born-again believers cannot be lost!
Believers Who Don’t Really Believe
Of course, the Bible recognizes that not all professors are possessors. Put differently, one may say one is a believer yet not really have saving faith in Christ. In His parable of the sower and the soils, the Lord described these people as those who do not have root in themselves, because the word never penetrates the depths of their hearts (Luke 8:12-14). Eternal life entails knowing God through Christ—not merely knowing about Him (John 17:3; compare James 2:19). Repentance— turning from one’s sinful and rebellious independence of God—and faith—complete trust in Christ alone to save—are both essential elements of receiving the gift of salvation (Acts 20:21).
Our Lord distinguished between true and false disciples (John 2:23-3:1; 6:70-71). On the night before His crucifixion, one would be hard pressed to discern whether denying Peter or betraying Judas Iscariot was a genuine believer; yet the Good Shepherd knew His own (compare Luke 22:31-34 and John 13:10-11). While there is no security for false professors who do not have faith in Christ in the biblical sense of that phrase, true believers can never be separated by any tribulation, problem, or catastrophe from God’s love in Christ (Rom. 8:28-39). Like Peter, our great high priest prays us home to heaven, where our spiritual inheritance is secure (Heb. 7:25; 1 Pet. 1:3-12).
More Happy But Not More Secure
Salvation rests securely in God’s immutably righteous character. Mackintosh cautions about looking for assurance of salvation anywhere but in God’s word: “It is essential to the enjoyment of settled peace that the heart should rest solely on the authority of Holy Scripture. Nothing else will stand. Inward evidence, spiritual experiences, comfortable frames, happy feelings, are all very good, very valuable, and very desirable; indeed, we cannot prize them too highly in their right place. But, most assuredly, their right place is not at the foundation of the Christian position. If we look to such things as the ground of our peace, we shall very soon become clouded, uncertain, and miserable.”3 Our confidence lies not in feelings, but in faith in the Lord’s word.
How can someone know if they are saved? The Bible adduces the following evidence of eternal life:
- Trusting in Christ alone for salvation and continuance of belief in Him (Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:19-29; Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 10:38-39; 1 John 5:9-13).
- Recognizing the authority of God’s word (John 5:24; 1 John 4:6; John 14:23-24; Acts 2:42; i.e. “hearing His voice” John 10:16, 27; 2 Tim. 3:14-4:5; Rev. 1:3).
- The indwelling Holy Spirit’s assurance (Rom. 8:9, 13-17; Gal. 4:6-7; 1 John 2:24-27; 4:13.)
- A changed life, exhibiting holiness and “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-25; John 15:3-8; Matt. 13:23; James 2:20-26; 1 John 1:7; 5:3; 1 Thess. 5:4-11).
- Loving other believers (1 John 2:9-11; 3:14; 4:12).
- Hating and overcoming sin, loving God, and longing for heaven (Rom. 7-8; 2 Cor. 4:16-5:11; Col. 3:1-17; 1 John 5:1-5).
A classic hymn says: “On Christ salvation rests secure / The Rock of Ages must endure.” God the Father has decreed salvation, His Son has become the sacrifice, mediator, advocate, and high priest who effects it, and the Holy Spirit applies, seals, and empowers it. The Godhead’s promise assures all who believe in Christ that they have eternal life and shall never be cast out (John 6:37). Believers have an assured future in heaven with the Lord.
1. Archibald G. Brown, “A Mighty Arm,” This God Our God: Creator, Judge, Savior. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2013), 46. [Italics original.]
2. I’m indebted to my late friend and brother in the Lord, Randy Amos, for this phrase.
3. C. H. Mackintosh, The Christian: His Position and His Work (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, n.d.), 24.
by Keith Keyser