The Assurance of Know-So Salvation
by George Sweeting
t's shocking to realize how many people are made miserable by the disease called doubt. Doubt has robbed thousands of the thrill and joy of salvation.
People who read their Bibles, earnestly pray, faithfully attend church, and live uprightly in all their dealings yet have no assurance of forgiveness and live defeated lives.
First, let me answer two questions: (1) Is assurance of salvation possible? and (2) What does the Bible say? In 2 Cor. 13:5, Paul writes, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." And again in 2 Pet. 1:10, we are told "give diligence to make your calling and election sure." The assurance of salvation is one of God's beautiful gifts. According to these two verses, every believer ought to know that he possesses salvation.
But let me go a step further; assurance is not only possible but necessary because it is that reality which brings purpose and power to our lives. Christian assurance is a fortress of strength against the wiles of the Devil. Assurance adds zeal and vitality to Christian service, but an uncertain salvation is a sad experience which repels.
Don't waste years in doubt— riiove forward to enjoy the greater things of God. Assurance is not necessary for salvation, but it is necessary for a victorious, overcoming life.
What does the word "assurance" actually mean? Assurance for the Christian is "the unwavering confidence of an intelligent faith in a present salvation."
The Word of God
But you may ask, "How can I have this assurance?" Let me suggest three things. First, we can know we . are saved by the Word of God, As we apply the promises of the Bible to our lives, doubt leaves.
The apostle John knew the difficulties of doubt. He saw many grop-
Dr. Sweeting is president of Moody Bible Institute.
ing yet never finding, wishing but still waiting, looking yet still longing because of doubt.
"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God," he says, "that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:13). The object is that "ye may know that ye have eternal life."
The word "know" means "to recognize the quality of." The apostle John wrote these verses so that we might recognize the quality of our position in Christ. This is not an opinion or a matter of inference but a revelation from God. Assurance is based upon the truthfulness of God. Therefore, failure to believe is to make God a liar.
Trust God and His Word, and fear
will flee; conscience will be calmed,
and your heart will be at rest___
Here's an illustration. Imagine a> prisoner being offered a pardon. He reads the official document, but is so overwhelmed that he is dazed by the news. Suppose you ask, "Have you been pardoned?"
He would say, "Yes." i, You might ask, "Do you feel par-jdoned?"
r' He replies, "No, I do not; it is so 5 sudden."
jj "But," you ask, "if you do not feel
^pardoned, how can you know you
"Oh," he says, as he points to the document, "this tells me so."
My friend, the Bible is God's document of pardon to every believer. Assurance is possible by believing the Word of God.
Often There areTniSCoTlcepnons which make some Christians believe that assurance is impossible. A salesman friend recently said to me, "But I cannot know I am the Lord's till the day I die. It's presumptuous to be so certain."
I assured him that assurance is not an arrogant presumption but a humble knowledge of present acceptance by God. This confidence is based on the finished work of Christ. It is not self-confidence, for the Scripture says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved
us...." (Tit. 3:5). Is it presumptuous to accept what God has said?
The Philippian jailer called out, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). The jailer believed and was converted! Is is presumptuous to believe God?
Perhaps you ask, "What if I'm not one of the elect?"
Jesus said, "Whosoever believeth ... should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This includes you. Salvation is offered to all. The Bible says that all men are sinners, and if we call upon the Lord we shall be saved. Dwight L. Moody used to say, "The elect are the 'whosoever wills'; the non-elect are the 'whosoever won'ts.'"
Assurance is not just the prerogative of a select few, but of all God's people.
Others think they must know the day and the hour of their decision. This is wonderful to know, but not necessary. A dear friend of mine was very concerned because she could not recall the exact time of her conversion. She was sure that she had received Christ as Savior and Lord, but she didn't know when. I assured her that her certainty of salvation was more important than knowing the exact date she was saved.
"But," you say, "if you don't know the date, how can you be sure?" May I ask, "How do you know you are alive physically?"
"Oh," you say, "I breathe, I eat, I think, I resolve."
It is exactly the same spiritually, if you have been converted, you will be interested in spiritual matters; you will breathe the atmosphere of heaven by praying, you will read the Bible, and be faithful in the local church. Should it be that your life is no different from the unconverted, then perhaps you have never beet converted.
Then there are others who believe they must go through the valley oi terror and tears before they cat know. Tears which result in genuh* repentance are beautiful and to b<
desired, but mere tears of remorse cannot avail.
God's salvation rests upon fact The Bible says, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3, 4).
These are gospel facts. After facts comes faith, and then feelings. Many people completely lack assurance because they fail to realize a very important point: faith brings assurance!
The Holy Spirit
Secondly, assurance of salvation is possible by the witness of the Holy Spirit. At your conversion, you became the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. This heavenly Holy Guest wants complete lordship of your life.
Yielding, to the Holy Spirit brings a definite assurance. Many, through carelessness and lack of knowledge grieve the Holy Spirit and know little or nothing of the witness within. Paul the apostle said, "Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom. 8:15, 16).
What solid certainty this provides! Since God is our Father and we are His children, we cry, "Abba, Father" or literally, "My own dear Father." This cry is born of the Holy Spirit. This is the witness of the Holy Spirit.
But thirdly, assurance of salvation is based upon the works of the believer. By works I mean fruit. Are you a Christian? Let's notice some Bible tests.
The first test is obedience, 1 John 2:3,4. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
Here's a real test: do you obey the Word of God? What is the answer?
Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).
Constant assurance depends upon practical obedience to the Word of God. Obedience is a good test, for Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). Peter said, "He that... worketh righteousness, is accepted'L^cts 10:55).
Here's a ilifl test: do you possess Christian love? A love for God's people is evidence of personal salvation. "He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now" (1 John 2:9). "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous" (1 John 3:11, 12).
Some professing Christians are destitute of love for others. Are you following Cain or Christ? The love test is important.
Thirdly, do you love God's Word? David said, "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Ps. ' 19:8-10).
The natural man is at odds with God. "Everyone that loveth is born of God" (1 John 4:7). Do you love fellow-believers? "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death" (1 John 3:14). "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).
Fourth, do you love God's house? The psalmist declared, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord" (Ps. 122:1).
Fifth, do you have the fruit of the
Spirit? "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22, 23).
You Can Be Sure
Abraham, in the face of the unknown, had complete assurance. "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out not knowing whither he went" (Heb. 11:8).
David had full assurance. "I will behold thy face in righteousness (Ps. 17:15).
Daniel had glad assurance. "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Dan. 11:32).
Job had blessed assurance. "I know that my redeemer liveth" 0ob 19:25). Paul had abundant assurance. "... for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12).
The apostle John believed in a "know-so" salvation. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal
lifp" (1 Jnhn fi-13)_______________
When that great Christian and scientist, Michael Faraday, was dying, several journalists questioned him as to his speculations concern-i ing the soul and death. "Speculations!" said the dying man in aston-f ishment. "I know nothing about ^ speculations; I'm resting on certain-| pes. 'I know whom I have believed, ^k am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day'" (2 Tim. 1:12).
You too can have the faith of Abraham. You can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are a member of God's family.
Have you personally put your faith in Christ as Savior? If not, trust Him today, and you will experience His blessed assurance—today, tomorrow, and forever.