By Pastor Riley Fraas
Having established from Scripture the truth that Christians may be sure of their salvation, in this life, and without direct revelation from God, it now remains to be seen how this assurance is to be obtained. The one who is really interested in knowing whether he is eternally saved will not be content with anything less but following God’s instructions for obtaining this blessed assurance. The honest Christian has no interest in deceiving himself. He doesn’t just want to soothe the conscience. He wants to know the truth. For him, ignorance is not bliss. So he must follow the means that God has given to obtain full assurance of salvation.
The first, most principal ground, and root of the Christian’s absolute confidence in his or her own personal and eternal salvation is in the person and work of Jesus Christ Himself. Though our sins are great, and our fears are many, yet Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God fully bore the wrath of God for sinners. There is a way of salvation which God has given. This way is in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus has promised that,All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37) This verse and others like it make clear that the only true way of seeking salvation is in Jesus Christ the Son of God. He is the objective ground of true assurance. The one who seeks salvation in good works, reputation, religious observance, or any other gods or savior is barking up the wrong tree! Salvation is only to be had in the way that God has provided, and this way is His Son Jesus Christ. Secondly, we find in this verse that there is full assurance of salvation for all those who come to Him, who are given to Jesus by the Father. For all those who are trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation from their sins, who are believing in Him, resting all their hopes on Him and not in themselves, or any other person or thing, as He is revealed in Scripture, there is absolutely no reason for them to doubt their salvation. Now, a couple of further comments need to be made on this point:
1. Eternal salvation is fully assured for believers in Christ, because He is a full Savior.
Christ as the Savior of sinners lives forever. The one who is saved in Him, is saved forever. It is absolutely certain that he will be in no wise cast out. Salvation is eternally secure for the believer in Jesus Christ, not because of any worth, value, or strength of faith in the believer, or just because of some law or principle which dictates that he can never be lost, but because Jesus Christ Himself continues as Savior. He is ruling and reigning in the hearts of His people, and he will not allow one of his sheep to go astray to the point of being finally lost. Though the sheep, left to his own abilities and loyalty, is by nature able to wander very far from the sheep pen to the point of being irrecoverably lost, yet the Good Shepherd will not allow the sheep to get to that point. (Luke 15:4) Though the sheep strays, he will still be found and brought back to the fold, like the one sheep for which the shepherd left the ninety-nine in Jesus’ parable. The believer’s confidence and assurance is therefore eternal. And it is not based on anything but the personal character of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The moment one places saving faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement for sin on the cross, that person is fully saved forever and nothing is ever going to be able to change that, because no one can thwart the will of the Savior who keeps him in His loving care. The idea that a true believer, born again by Christ’s Spirit, and given to Him of the Father may then lose his salvation at a future time is an affront to Jesus as the Savior of all those who come to God through Him.
2. This means coming to Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture.
The one who comes to the wrong Jesus, does not come to the Savior. For though there is only one Jesus Christ, yet there are many who remake Jesus to suit their own imagination. Some like the harmless baby Jesus in the mangers at Christmas time, who never seems to grow up. Others like the social-activist Jesus, or the greasy-grace Jesus. The Jesus of Scripture is the eternal Son of God, who became man to save hopeless sinners. He is God. He is holy. He is righteous. He is compassionate. He is the Lord of glory. He lifts the downcast and demands the impossible. The one who comes to Jesus as a sidekick, a buddy, a good luck charm or a life-accessory is not coming to the true Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture. Those who would be saved by Him must study the Scriptures to ensure that they are trusting in the true Savior, and hear Him speak to them about who He is in a church where His word is preached faithfully.
3. This principal ground and root of assurance is something that the believer will have to return to again and again, especially when fears and doubts abound.
Christians in this life are being made perfect, but they are not perfect. Their life is a pattern of a progressive growth in grace, being made more and more in conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. They often stumble, occasionally so horribly that it’s hard to tell the difference between them and an unbeliever based on their lives. At these moments they won’t get any certainty of their salvation by looking at their own lives. Self-examination in a time like this will only drive them to despair. They may even question their own faith. I do not say that they don’t have faith, but when they think about their own faith, they have big doubts. At times like this, their only assurance can come from meditating on Christ’s finished work: that he fully satisfied the guilt of sin for all those who come to God through Him, and that He lives on forever to intercede for them. This is the unshakeable foundation of salvation. By meditating on these truths, the believer beset by sin and doubt will be able to regain a full assurance of salvation, not by looking inwardly, but by looking to Christ.
It is possible to be absolutely certain that one is saved forever. The main root and ground, the unshakeable solidity of this assurance is in the person and work of Jesus Christ the Savior of sinners. All other supports and evidences for salvation are based on this. If one is to really know whether one is saved, one will have to use the means that God has provided to obtain that assurance, and the principal foundation is Christ Himself. He alone is the objective ground of assurance of salvation for the believer. In following articles of this series we will explore the subjective evidences of eternal salvation in the life of the believer, and the danger of false assurance.