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Assurance of Salvation

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  • Assurance of Salvation

    Hello. So, this was brought up in another thread, but I would like to discuss this topic more specifically. One other member posted how important "assurance of salvation" is as a Christian. I believe of course that if one is a Christian, they have salvation in Christ. However, passages such as Philippians 2:12: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling," makes me wonder about truly being assured of salvation here on earth.

    Along the same thread, a lot of books currently popular (Francis Chan "Crazy Love, and Kyle Idleman "Not a Fan") place a lot of emphasis on the fact that believing one is a Christian does not make it so. The Word backs this up. So, can we be assured of salvation, or not. Looking forward to a great discussion.

  • #2
    Two questions:

    1) What do you mean by salvation?
    2) What tense of salvation? Past, present, or future?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Paprika View Post
      Two questions:

      1) What do you mean by salvation?
      2) What tense of salvation? Past, present, or future?
      Good questions.

      As to the second, from a basic Arminian viewpoint I believe it is possible that one may know he or she is presently in a reconciled state with God through faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 5:1,9-11). As security is linked explicitly to one's relationship to or with Christ, one may rest assured God will guard him or her for final salvation until the time Jesus returns. However, I would hasten to add that this does not guarantee one will enter the kingdom of heaven/God. Why not? We are still living in a probationary period (or a period of testing, if you prefer) where humans yet may choose to forsake Christ and cling again to the present age which is coming to an end. A believer may become an unbeliever, an unbeliever a believer.

      I personally believe it most helpful if we stop thinking of assurance abstracted from a personal relationship to God. Apart from a faith-union with Jesus Christ, one is alienated from God. Only persons who are reconciled to God through Christ are safe. Salvation is union with God. The relational nature of salvation cannot be overstated. It is important to remember that we are the only ones who may breach the relationship. Security is to be found only in Christ. God is committed to saving us, but only on the condition of faith (which naturally entails faithfulness). God is always faithful, but we may not be. We may consistently yield to temptation and gradually drift away from the God who saves. If we insist on going our own way and finally forsake Christ who died and rose for our behalf, he will respect our freedom to walk away.
      If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-131)

      Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:12,13)

      We should have no worries as to whether God has unconditionally chosen to save or reprobate us from eternity (which we could not change even if he did). The only issue is human faithlessness not a secret or hidden divine decree. The impetus is on us to not spurn the grace of God. We cannot justly impute any blameworthiness on God's side for withdrawing his grace from us or insincerely calling us to respond to the good news when Christ has not died for all (as in Calvinism).2


      Notes

      1 All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV).

      2 Admittedly, I'm quite biased when it comes to the Calvinist-Arminian debate. It must be noted that a Calvinist would not consider God unjust for indiscriminately calling all persons to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ even if Jesus' death was intended to procure the salvation of the elect only. Obviously I am at variance with this view. (Note: In Calvinism "the elect" are an unconditionally prechosen group of human beings whom God has decided to save before the foundation of the world without respect to foreseen good works or faith. I also disagree with Calvinists that the biblical terminology of election is used to signify human beings who have been unconditionally chosen by God to salvation according to a peremptory decree.)
      Last edited by The Remonstrant; 03-19-2014, 07:43 AM.
      For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

      Comment


      • #4
        It is certainly possible to feel assured of salvation. As you imply, that doesn't necessarily mean that you are actually saved. 1 John 5 seems like a very relevant passage:

        Source: 1 John 5:1-13

        Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

        Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.

        Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

        © Copyright Original Source



        This passage encourages us to ground the believer's confidence primarily in God's own testimony concerning Jesus. Those who believe have eternal life. As to the existential question of how we can know whether we have true belief, multiple evidences should be considered. Do you love God? Do you love Christ? Does your life for Christ lead to obedience? Do you love other members of Christ's body, your spiritual siblings?

        Comment


        • #5
          Philippians 2:12
          Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.


          He uses the plural pronouns "ye" and "your" because he is referring to the church collectively. Since the apostle is absent and may not be around much longer, the church needs to work out its own salvation without him.

          Philippians 2:15-16
          That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.


          The church's salvation requires that it be blameless and shine as a light to unbelievers, attracting more converts. If the church dies off, Paul feels like he will have wasted his time on them.

          "Crazy Love" preaches pure false doctrine. I don't know much about that other book you mentioned. You said that believing one is a Christian does not necessarily make it so. This is overstated. Most false believers would certainly call themselves "Christian." But few would actually express assurance of their salvation. That is because instinctively, they know that if salvation is based on their works then they can have no assurance. The only people with assurance who are unsaved are those who, for whatever reason, are very assured of something other than Jesus (generally, their own strong ability to keep the law, or their own twisted version of the law).

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Obsidian View Post
            "Crazy Love" preaches pure false doctrine. I don't know much about that other book you mentioned. You said that believing one is a Christian does not necessarily make it so. This is overstated. Most false believers would certainly call themselves "Christian." But few would actually express assurance of their salvation. That is because instinctively, they know that if salvation is based on their works then they can have no assurance. The only people with assurance who are unsaved are those who, for whatever reason, are very assured of something other than Jesus (generally, their own strong ability to keep the law, or their own twisted version of the law).
            Or they may be assured in something about Jesus that's not actually true. 1 John gives a list of doctrinal, attitudinal, and behavioral tests that ought to be applied to those who say they belong to God, and they are substantially more nuanced than just, "Would you say that you believe in Jesus?" It's not just a matter of whether a man thinks he believes in Jesus, but of whether he actually does, in the way that God requires.

            Comment


            • #7
              Philippians 2:12: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling {TheNoviceCometh}
              Philippians 2:12
              Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. {Osidian}

              Wondering why the word “OWN” is missing from the above rendition of this passage.
              Anyway, to me the passage does not appear to be dealing with attaining salvation or loss of salvation but rather with “living” your salvation. The word “own” was particularly helpful to me in attaining this understanding; although the absence of the word does not necessarily change my understanding of the passage.

              “As you have always obeyed” appears to indicate living in a saved condition” Work out “your” salvation, again appears to indicate the presence of salvation rather than or maintaining or attaining salvation. Live and be true to the personal relationship that you have with The Father…

              Nothing here to indicate attaining or losing one’s salivation. IMHO

              Comment


              • #8
                I think the best explanation for the passage is that it is referring to collective salvation of the church, as described above. The only ambiguity results because the context does not clearly define what he means by "salvation." In chapter 1, the word "salvation" seems to be referring to Paul's deliverance from jail. In chapter 2, he doesn't say exactly what he means by it. But given that the plural pronouns are speaking to the church collectively, and given that he talks about obtaining their salvation by holding out a light to others, I think he is referring to the continuing life of the church.

                “As you have always obeyed” appears to indicate living in a saved condition
                It means they obeyed Paul when he was present. And they even continued obeying Paul after he left. But he is saying that they will ultimately have to look out for themselves. Even though he expected to obtain "salvation" from his chains, as discussed in chapter 1, the overall discussion definitely touches upon Paul's mortality. He is saying that he won't be around forever. The church's continued salvation will be up to them.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                  Or they may be assured in something about Jesus that's not actually true. 1 John gives a list of doctrinal, attitudinal, and behavioral tests that ought to be applied to those who say they belong to God, and they are substantially more nuanced than just, "Would you say that you believe in Jesus?" It's not just a matter of whether a man thinks he believes in Jesus, but of whether he actually does, in the way that God requires.
                  What RB said.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                    Two questions:

                    1) What do you mean by salvation?
                    2) What tense of salvation? Past, present, or future?
                    In this case, I mean salvation as in being a follower of Jesus Christ, knowing that I have been redeemed and saved by what He has done and not what I have done. This means that I am presently saved, and am currently part of His bride and will be known as part of His bride on the final day.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Obsidian View Post
                      Philippians 2:12
                      Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.


                      He uses the plural pronouns "ye" and "your" because he is referring to the church collectively. Since the apostle is absent and may not be around much longer, the church needs to work out its own salvation without him.

                      Philippians 2:15-16
                      That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.


                      The church's salvation requires that it be blameless and shine as a light to unbelievers, attracting more converts. If the church dies off, Paul feels like he will have wasted his time on them.

                      "Crazy Love" preaches pure false doctrine. I don't know much about that other book you mentioned. You said that believing one is a Christian does not necessarily make it so. This is overstated. Most false believers would certainly call themselves "Christian." But few would actually express assurance of their salvation. That is because instinctively, they know that if salvation is based on their works then they can have no assurance. The only people with assurance who are unsaved are those who, for whatever reason, are very assured of something other than Jesus (generally, their own strong ability to keep the law, or their own twisted version of the law).
                      Wow, that is interesting. I have yet to hear any pastor or fellow Christian say that "Crazy Love" preaches false doctrine. Interesting. Anyways, many false believers would call themselves Christians, with that I agree. My issue here is that there will be many "Christians" (in quotes because they are not actually Christians) that will feel that they are absolutely assured of their salvation. For example, in the NIV version of Matthew 7, Jesus says : 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

                      This seems to imply that these people will feel that they are saved, but are not. Now they do feel they are saved because of the works they did, which is false, but they still will feel that they are saved. Thank you for the replies by the way. After reading Crazy Love, this has been an issue I have struggled with, as the book seems to challenge everyone to question their own faith in God, and their own salvation.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                        Or they may be assured in something about Jesus that's not actually true. 1 John gives a list of doctrinal, attitudinal, and behavioral tests that ought to be applied to those who say they belong to God, and they are substantially more nuanced than just, "Would you say that you believe in Jesus?" It's not just a matter of whether a man thinks he believes in Jesus, but of whether he actually does, in the way that God requires.
                        This I think is absolutely spot on. It is easy to say that one believes in Jesus, but the bible continually shows that believing in Jesus (being attached to the vine) will change us in a positive way. That by following Him, we will be changed to be more like Him. Sometimes in the current Western culture I feel like we make believing in Jesus "fire insurance" instead of truly believing and following in the way He demands. Thanks for the post

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TheNoviceCometh View Post
                          Sometimes in the current Western culture I feel like we make believing in Jesus "fire insurance" instead of truly believing and following in the way He demands.
                          I wholeheartedly agree with this observation (though I would prefer "commands" to "demands").
                          For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TheNoviceCometh View Post
                            Wow, that is interesting. I have yet to hear any pastor or fellow Christian say that "Crazy Love" preaches false doctrine. Interesting. Anyways, many false believers would call themselves Christians, with that I agree. My issue here is that there will be many "Christians" (in quotes because they are not actually Christians) that will feel that they are absolutely assured of their salvation. For example, in the NIV version of Matthew 7, Jesus says : 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

                            This seems to imply that these people will feel that they are saved, but are not. Now they do feel they are saved because of the works they did, which is false, but they still will feel that they are saved. Thank you for the replies by the way. After reading Crazy Love, this has been an issue I have struggled with, as the book seems to challenge everyone to question their own faith in God, and their own salvation.
                            Obsidian, if I recall correctly, is a devotee of Zane Hodge's so-called "free grace" teaching, which strikes many of us as a strain of "easy-believism." Hence his opposition to the ideas to your, my, and Chan's beliefs on this matter.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TheNoviceCometh
                              For example, in the NIV version of Matthew 7, Jesus says : 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

                              This seems to imply that these people will feel that they are saved, but are not.
                              They seem to feel optimistic about their salvation. But the text does not say that they have assurance, or certainty.

                              Now they do feel they are saved because of the works they did, which is false, but they still will feel that they are saved.
                              They definitely point to their works. I just have a hard time believing that any person can get a whole lot of assurance out of his own works. But I guess maybe some people can.

                              I will concede that I don't believe the primary purpose of Matthew 7 is to preach against works salvation. Preaching against works salvation is just a side effect of it. The main point of Matthew 7 is just that some people will twist Jesus's words, and that we can't believe everyone. But the people condemned are clearly not lukewarm Christians. They are religious leaders.

                              This I think is absolutely spot on. It is easy to say that one believes in Jesus, but the bible continually shows that believing in Jesus (being attached to the vine) will change us in a positive way.
                              I think it's questionable to interpret being attached to the vine as simply believing in Jesus. I think it refers more broadly to walking in the Spirit, or something similar.

                              Sometimes in the current Western culture I feel like we make believing in Jesus "fire insurance" instead of truly believing and following in the way He demands.
                              If we don't first have fire insurance, and we don't first know that we have fire insurance, then how can we possibly follow in the way that he demands?

                              Hebrews 11:6
                              But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


                              Matthew 6:20
                              But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal


                              What good would the heavenly treasure be, if we could not access it? If we could lose the treasure by committing sin, or if we could lose it by believing in Jesus but not having a good enough type of faith (like RBerman teaches), then how is that treasure any better than the rusty treasure on earth? Hell is way worse than any moth.

                              Matthew 10:42
                              And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

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