Assurance

Saving Faith and Assurance

When considering assurance of salvation, sooner or later we come to the question of saving faith. The ultimate issue concerns the nature of my faith, is it genuine or spurious? If I didn’t have some kind of faith, I wouldn’t be concerned with assurance at all. I wouldn’t even consider it.

However, if I have made a profession of faith in Christ, but am troubled about the reality of that profession, what I want to know is whether my faith is true saving faith, or something less. At some point I thought I believed in Christ, but is my faith now genuine or not?

Many refuse to allow questions about the nature of faith, at least in the heat of evangelistic efforts. Just ask Christ to save you, and if you are sincere, you will be saved. Never doubt it. To doubt that God saved you is to call God a liar, or so we are told. Some go so far as to assure people that “if you ever made this decision before, you don’t need to make it again. But if you have never before made this decision, you need to make it today, and if you do, you will be saved, never doubt it.”

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Books of Note - How Can I Be Sure? (Questions Christians Ask)

Doubt. For some it is the seedbed for growth and for others it is a miserable, dark and depressing pit. Everyone has doubts about things. For instance, I doubt I will ever climb Mount Everest, go to the moon or live to see the Detroit Lions have a winning season (sorry Lions fans). But while these are doubts that have little to no impact on my life, what about doubts that hit closer to home? What about doubts that strike at the heart of our personal beliefs which shape our decisions and everyday lives? What about doubts that center around our deepest held religious beliefs? What if I doubt the genuineness of my own faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior?

Doubt is a normal part of the Christian life and seeking to address this issue, John Stevens has written How Can I Be Sure? And Other Questions About Doubt, Assurance and the Bible as part of the Questions Christians Ask series from The Good Book Company. In this short and accessible book, Stevens scratches the surface on the problem of doubt in the Christian life and how to handle it with Biblical counsel.

Many Christians have false ideas and impressions about the nature of doubt and its place in the Christian life. Perhaps it is these false ideas about doubt that cause too many Christians to struggle with it as mush as they do and for as long as they do. After all, if a doubting Christian were looked down upon by his or her peers would they be more likely to tell someone about them?

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Book Review - Assurance of Salvation: Implications of a New Testament Theology of Hope

On Saturday, July 2, 1966, as a six-year-old boy, I told my mom that I would like to “get saved.” She replied that the next day following the sermon I should go forward during the invitation. That next morning my dad and I walked down the aisle of the First Baptist Church, and he helped me accept Christ. On Monday, we celebrated with fireworks.1 Seven or eight years later while at a youth retreat I felt the urge to re-pray the sinners prayer, but that didn’t end my occasional struggle with doubting my salvation.

The decade of the seventies brought a great fascination concerning the rapture.2 I remember discussing with my friends that many people believed Jesus was coming back in 1976. I hoped it was at least late in the year so that I could first get my driver’s license. The reason for this small reminiscence is that in my early teen years I would come home from school and find the house empty. I immediately feared the rapture had taken place and I was “left behind.” I, however, had a sure-fire solution to this dilemma. I would call the church office, and if someone answered I knew I was safe! (Thankfully the congregation had a number of employees, so someone was always there to answer.) Since I would immediately hang up when I heard a voice, they probably wondered who kept making the prank phone calls.

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"If our postmodern friends are correct and all certainty is arrogance, wouldn't personal assurance of one's own salvation be just about the ultimate conceit?"

Phil Johnson talks about “Settled Certainty” at Pyromaniacs.
Related: see “Brian McLaren’s Emerging Universalism” in the Baptist Bulletin.

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