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BRIC House Gathering no 7

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While we were ! i& sinners, Ch '! (ed for us.

What makes you think you’re saved?

Reasons Why People Lack Assurance

1. People often lack assurance because they cannot remember or point to a speci c

time when they received Christ. Some doubt or wonder if they were ever really saved.

ere is a speci c point in time when salvation occurs—the point when regeneration takes

place. e issue for people is to know if they now really trust in the person and work of Christ.

2. People often lack assurance because they question the procedure they went through when they accepted Christ. Many evangelists and preachers emphasize the need for some form of public confession of faith like going forward at the end of a service or raising your hand. If people receive Christ privately, they may wonder if they should have made a public confession or prayed a di erent prayer.

3. People often lack assurance because of struggles they have with certain sins. ey wonder if a true believer would have these kinds of problems. e real problem is ignorance of man’s sinful nature, the spiritual warfare we are in, God’s means of deliverance, and the need to grow and mature in Christ.

4. e primary reason behind a lack of assurance is doctrinal misunderstanding and the consequent lack of faith in the nished work of Christ. is means a failure to understand the Word and its teaching regarding mankind, his sin and inability to work for or maintain his salvation, God’s perfect holiness, and the nished nature and suciency of the work of Christ.

5. Finally, people often lack assurance because they have erroneously been taught that they should look to themselves and their works as the primary proof of their salvation. is is a major issue today. Robert Lightner writes:

ose who think the sinner must make Christ Lord of his life, or at least promise to do so,

before he can be saved make assurance rest on the evidence of a surrendered walk. MacArthur cites this as the only way a believer can be assured of his or her salvation. ‘Genuine assurance comes from seeing the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in one’s life, not from clinging to the memory of some experience.’ 1

Foundations for Assurance

e Word of God is God’s witness to the believer (1 John 5:11-13). e Greek text includes the

article with the word “life.” Salvation in Christ is not just the gift of life, but of “the life,” the one which comes only through faith in God’s unique Son. e clear declaration of Scripture is that the one who believes in Christ’s person and work on the cross as God’s provision for his sins has:

1. Eternal Life

1.1. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36 ESV)

2. Forgiveness of all Sin

2.1.

“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”” (Acts 10:43 ESV)

2.2. “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your esh,

God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. is he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:13–14 ESV)

3. Freedom from Condemnation

3.1. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24 ESV)

3.2. ere is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1 ESV)

4. Justi cation

4.1. erefore, since we have been justi ed by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1 ESV)

4.2. “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the esh? For if Abraham was justi ed by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justi es the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:” (Rom 4:1–6 ESV)

4.3. “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justi cation.” (Rom 4:25 ESV)

5. Salvation

5.1. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8–9 ESV)

6. A child of God by Faith

6.1. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12 ESV)

6.2. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” e Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we su er with him in order that we may also be glori ed with him.” (Rom 8:14–17 ESV)

Security of the Believer

Contemporary Christianity needs to deal forthrightly with the universal human problem of insecurity. e natural gulf between the invisible, in nite God and nite, fallible humanity makes the quest for assurance and security a very signi cant theological issue.

Slogans such as “once saved, always saved” and “eternal security” often easily gain a reverential status normally reserved only for biblical texts and become symbols of “evangelical orthodoxy.” Indeed, it comes as a shock to some when they discover that their symbols are not actually biblical terms.

e Bible does teach that salvation does not depend merely upon human e ort. God is

the author of salvation (2 Cor. 5:18-19; John 3:16). God justi es or treats as acceptable sinners who receive Christ in faith (Rom. 3:21-26). e great message of the Reformation says: No one can earn assurance or security with God. Assurance of salvation is God’s gift! Security does not come by absolutions, church attendance, good works, reciting Scripture, or performances of penance. God who has begun the work of salvation in Christians also provides the necessary assurance to bring His work to its completion in the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6). God in Christ protects and keeps Christians (John 10:27-29; 2 ess. 3:3) just as Jesus took seriously the task of preserving the disciples while He was on earth (John 17:12-15). We do not possess the strength to secure ourselves.

e biblical view of security, however, is probably best epitomized in the Christian

doctrine of perseverance (Eph. 6:18; Heb. 12:1; James 1:25). Christians must realize that their security does not lie in a fairy-tale approach to life where once a person becomes a Christian everything is a bed of roses forever and ever. Such a view fails to take seriously the traumas of human life.

e biblical view of assurance or security is rooted in the conviction that when Jesus

departed from the disciples, the Lord did not orphan them or leave them without support. He promised Christians that He would come to them and would provide them with a companion Spirit (the Comforter or Paraclete) who would not only be at their side but would be within them, as much a part of them as their very breath (John 14:16-18). e Spirit would be their sense of peace and security, their witness concerning Jesus, their attorney with the world, and their guide or teacher into all truth (John 14:25-30; 15:26-27; 16:8-15). Along with great promises of assurance, the Bible contains strong warnings that call Christians to consistent living, even as they have yielded to temptations and sin and capitulated to the hostile forces of evil (1 Cor. 10:1-12; Heb. 2:1-3; 3:12-19; 6:1-8; 10:26-31; James 5:19-20). ese and many other warnings are not merely phantom warnings

unrelated to Christian life. ey are meant to be taken with great seriousness. ey are no more a game with God than was the death of Christ.

ese warnings appear in the NT within clear statements reminding believers that

temptation is accompanied by God’s presence. Christians are expected to resist temptations and ee ungodly activity (1 Cor. 10:13-14). Evil patterns of life are inconsistent with Christian transformation. e writers of the NT were convinced that Christians would heed these warnings and resist the devil (James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9). It is virtually unthinkable for a Christian to do otherwise. e Christian is anchored to the person of God. Evil has to be dealt with. e Christian can nd in God an enduring security for the soul. Such is the meaning of Heb. 6:17-20. God’s consistency is the basis for a Christian’s security in the midst of the world’s traumas.

e security of the believer is not merely focused upon this life on earth. It has a

dynamic focus on the life to come. e NT writers are convinced that a Christian will take very

seriously the warnings in this life because this life is related to the life with Christ in heaven.

e Christian, therefore, is expected to persevere to the end (1 Pet. 1:5; 1 John 5:18; Rev. 3:10).

e con dence or secure sense of the believer with respect to the life hereafter is rooted

in the united witness of the NT writers that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the hinge point of the Christian faith. In raising His Son Jesus, God provided Christians with the sign of the destinies and the basis for their security. Without the resurrection the Christian proclamation would be empty (1 Cor. 15:14). Moreover, in the coming of the Holy Spirit, God provided the guarantee of our marvelous relationship with God (2 Cor. 1:22). In our identity with Adam, humanity experienced sin and, consequently, death. However, as we identify with the ultimate power of Christ in the resurrection, we, too, shall experience the e ective meaning of the security of the believer in the triumph of God (1 Cor. 15:20-28). 2

2 “SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER,” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, n.p.