Monday, October 31, 2011

All Christians Are Saved, But Some Lack Assurance

By Pastor Bruce Oyen

Christians Can Know they are Saved
     One of the great privileges of the Christian life is to know we are, in fact, saved. To be saved means we are  forgiven, at peace with God, in possession of eternal life, and, therefore, on our way to heaven. A Christian can humbly yet confidently say "I'm saved, and I know it!" A well-taught Christian can say with the song writer, "I am bound for the Promised Land! I am bound for the Promised Land!" (In this context, "the Promised Land" is heaven.) AChristian can say with the song writer, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!" Yes, a Christian can, indeed, have assurance of salvation.
     The apostle Paul was so certain of this that he wrote to the church in Ephesus and told them this wonderfully reassuring statement: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your own selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8 and 9. The New King James Version is quoted throughout this posting, unless otherwise noted)
     I put three words in italics to make a point. They are: "you have been saved ." Isn't that remarkable? He could tell them they had been saved! He didn't tell them "you might be saved," or "I hope you're saved." Rather, he confidently told them "you have been saved."
     This isn't the only time Paul made such a statement of assurance of salvation. Consider more of these statements.  (When part of a verse has been left out, you will see an ellipsis, which is a series of dots: .........)
     Here are more of Paul's statements:
  • In 2 Timothy 1:9 he wrote that God "has saved us and called us with a holy calling....."  
  • In Titus 3:5 he wrote: "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us......" 
  • In 1 Corinthians 1:18 he wrote: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (old King James Version) 
  • In 1 Corinthian 15:1 and 2 he wrote: "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved....." 
 These Verses Teach Us We Can Know We Are Saved
    So, from Ephesians 2:8 and 9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 1:18; and from 1 Corinthians 15: 1 and 2 we learn the same wonderful truth: a Christian can confidently say, "I'm saved, and I know it!"
All Saved Persons Have Something In Common
    Those who are saved might have different skin colors, different languages, different education, and other differences. But one thing all saved persons have in common is the fact that they all have done what makes them a saved person. Therefore, when Paul made the statements quoted above, he did so because he had reason to believe the ones to whom he wrote had all done what must be done to be saved. That is, they had all believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as their own Savior. He told the Ephesian Christians: "you have been saved through faith." And that faith was in Jesus.
    Acts 16: 30 tells us the Philippian jailer asked missionaries Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?." Acts 16:31 says he was told, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved......" He did what he needed to do to be saved, and it immediately brought him salvation.
    Luke 7:48 tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ told a woman who was remorseful over her sins and sought his forgiveness, "Your sins are forgiven." Then in Luke 7:50 he told her this: "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." She put her faith in Jesus. She did what she needed to do to be saved, and she got salvation.
   This is the consistent testimony of the New Testament: those who do what needs to be done to be saved, get the salvation they seek.
Some Christians Lack Assurance Of Salvation
   Though Christians can know they are saved, many of them lack this assurance. There are many reason why a Christan might lack of assurance.
Help From H. A. Ironside About Obtaining Assurance Of Salvation
   Many years ago, some Christians who struggled with a lack of assurance of their salvation sought counsel from the now-deceased pastor, evangelist, and Bible scholar, H. A. Ironside. I think what he told them might be of help to some of you who read this posting. It was helpful to me when I first read it back in the 1970's. His counsel is found in a chapter of his short but good book called, "Full Assurance."
H. A. Ironside's Counsel About Election, Predestination, Faith, And Assurance.
   Sometimes misunderstandings of what the Bible says about election, predestination, and faith cause people to struggle with lack of assurance. Therefore, you might profit from the counsel he gave on those three subjects.
    Here is his counsel, preceded by a statement or question from someone. Their statements or questions and his counsel are in red to easily distinguish it from my words.

“But what if I am not one of the elect?”You can readily settle that yourself.. Without attempting to delve into the mysteries of the divine decrees and the divine foreknowledge, it is enough to say that all who come to God through His Son are elect. Our Lord makes this very plain in John 6:37. He says, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Now do not linger too long on the first half of the verse. Be clear about the latter half, for it is there that your responsibility is found. Have you come to Jesus? If so, you have His pledged word that He will not cast you out. The fact that you come proves that the Father gave you to Christ. Thus you may be certain that you belong to the glorious company of the elect.

D. L. Moody used to put it very simply: “The elect are the ‘whosoever wills’; the non-elect are the ‘whosoever won’ts.’” This is exactly what Scripture teaches. The invitation is to all. Those who accept it are the elect. Remember, we are never told that Christ died for the elect. But what does the Word say? “Christ died for the ungodly.” Are you ungodly? Then He died for you. Put in your claim and enter into peace.

Meditate on the Holy Spirit’s declaration through the apostle Paul: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” Nowhere are we told that Christ came to save the elect. The term “sinners” is all- embracing, for “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Are you sure you are a sinner? Then you may be certain there is salvation for you. Do not exercise yourself in matters too high for you. Just be simple enough to take God at His word.

“Sinners Jesus will receive:
Sound the word of grace to all
Who the heav’nly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.
Sing it o’er and o’er again:
Christ receiveth sinful men.”

“Sometimes I am afraid that I am predestinated to be damned; if so, I can't do nothing to alter my terrible case.”
No one was ever predestinated to be damned. Predestination is a precious truth of inestimable value and comfort, when rightly understood. Will you not turn to your Bible and read for yourself in the only two chapters in which this word “predestinate” or “predestinated” is found? The first is Romans 8:29, 30—”For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. More over whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

The other chapter is Ephesians 1. In verse 5 we read:
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” And in verse 11, it says: “Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

You will note that there is no reference in these four verses to either heaven or hell, but to Christlikeness eventually. Nowhere are we told in Scripture that God predestinated one man to be saved and another to be lost. Men are to be saved or lost eternally because of their attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him” (John 3:36). Predestination means that some day all the redeemed shall become just like the Lord Jesus! Is not this precious? Do not try to make a bugaboo out of that which was intended to give joy and comfort to those who trust in the Saviour. Trust Him for yourself, and you will know that God has predestinated you to be fully conformed to the image of His Son.

“And is it so, I shall be like Thy Son, Is this the grace which He for me has won? Father of glory, thought beyond all thought, In glory to His own blest likeness brought.”

“But the Bible says faith is the gift of God and that all men have not faith; perhaps it is not the will of God to give me saving faith.”Faith is the gift of God in this sense, that only through His Word is it received. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” All men may have faith if they will; but alas, many refuse to hear the Word of God, so they are left in their unbelief. The Holy Spirit presents the Word, but one may resist His gracious influence. On the other hand, one may listen to the Word and believe it. That is faith. It is God’s gift, it is true, because given through His Word.

“Not all the blood of beasts On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace, Or wash away the stain.
“But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb, Takes all our guilt away;
A sacrifice of nobler name And richer blood than they.
“My faith would lay her hand On that dear head of Thine,
While like a penitent I stand, And there confess my sin.
“Believing, I rejoice
To see the curse remove,
And bless the Lamb with cheerful voice, And sing redeeming love.”
—Isaac Watts.
A Link To The Whole Chapter Of Counsel About Assurance In Ironside's Book
     What is quoted above from Ironside's book is only a short portion of his counsel to those who struggle with lack of assurance of salvation.  
     To read the whole chapter, buy the book, or click on the following link. Unfortunately, only the first 7 of 28 statements or questions he deals with are put in bold print. So, you will have to look carefully for numbers 8 - 28.

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