First, some important news. Starting October 2 the Bible in a Year Blog will resume daily posts that follow a one-year Bible reading plan. We will read through the New Testament first, and then on January 1 will begin daily posts covering the Old Testament with the final OT post on October 1 of 2019. Now would be the time to commit to a plan of reading the Bible all the way through in one year. You will read about three chapters a day on average. The Bible in a Year Blog will provide helpful commentary for your daily reading. If you prefer to start with the Old Testament first, plan on joining us on January 1.
“How can I know that my salvation is secure?”
Doubt plagues all believers at some time. For some it is a frequent occurrence. How can a Christian have assurance of their salvation? With the book of First John as a starting point, let’s look at how some great writers have answered the question.
The book of First John provides seven tests that a believer can use to confirm his salvation. First there is the test of obedience: “And hereby do we know that we love him, if we keep his commandments” (I John 2:3). True faith leads to action; it isn’t abstract or theoretical but practical. Next comes the test of brotherly love: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (I John 3:14). As you consider these tests, note that salvation is not a result of these behaviors. Rather, the existence of these behaviors reveals our born-again condition. Because we have the Holy Spirit we are able to love our brothers as we should. John also wrote about the test of the Holy Spirit. Those who are saved receive the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit within them testifies to the truth of their salvation (3:24, 4:13). Additional tests in First John are the test of faith (believing the Gospel), the test of confession (being willing to admit our sin), the test of worldliness (hating the ways of the world and instead devoting ourselves to Jesus), and the test of habitual sin (no one who belongs to God continually repeats the same sin without remorse or repentance).
John MacArthur provides a series of questions to ask yourself:
- Have I experienced the leading, encouraging, assuring work of the Holy Spirit in my life?
- Have I experienced any aspects of the fruit of the Spirit?
- Have I known and shown love for other members of the body of Christ?
- Has my heart longed to commune with God in prayer?
- Do I have a love for God’s word and are its truths clear and compelling to me?
John Piper mentions five New Testament texts that deal with assurance:
- Romans 8:7-9. Do you submit to God’s commands or are you rebellious?
- I Corinthians 12:3. Is Jesus really your Lord? Do you seek His will in all things?
- Romans 8:15-16. Do you have a humble confidence before God that casts out fear? Do you cry out, “Abba, Father!”?
- I Corinthians 2:14. Do things of the Spirit attract you? Are you hungry for His truth and His fellowship and His power in your life?
- I John 4:7. Do you love people? Do you have good will toward them? Do you find fulfillment in working for the joy of their faith?
Charles Spurgeon urged his listeners to first examine their public life. Was it full of dishonesty, stealing, swearing, or drunkenness, or taking God’s name in vain, or failure to keep the Sabbath? Then he said they should look at their private life. Were they praying, studying the Bible, meditating on God, or were they a stranger to God and spiritual matters? Going deeper, “Hast thou ever wept over thy lost condition? Hast thou ever bemoaned thy lost estate before God? Say, hast thou ever tried to save thyself, and found it a failure? and hast thou been driven to rely simply, wholly, and entirely on Christ? If so, then thou hast passed the test well enough.” Finally, he asked, can you say that Jesus Christ is in you? If not, you are lost. “But if Jesus Christ be in thy heart, though thy heart sometimes be so dark that thou canst scarcely tell he is there, yet thou art accepted in the beloved, and thou mayest ‘rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ ”
Finally, put yourself on trial. If you were brought before the jury, and asked to give proof of your belief, could you do it? Would you have evidence to present of the change in your heart, in your thoughts, and your habits? Would those closest to you be able to give convincing testimony? What would your checkbook say about your priorities? What would you, yourself, say about the changes in your attitudes since you met Jesus? If these questions give you only doubts rather than conviction, today is the day to erase your fears and confirm your salvation. If, instead, you do well on today’s tests, then celebrate your victory and keep these proofs close in your thoughts so that you may be well equipped to persevere in your faith.