Peace through Assurance of Salvation

Day 36 - May 2 / Elder Stu Lindner

1 John 5:13

"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."

During the Protestant Reformation, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) spoke for Rome when he said, “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is assurance.” Interesting that the question of whether or not we can know we are saved was at the heart of the Reformation.

Reformers were convinced that since salvation was accomplished through God’s work alone, believers could rest assured that Christ’s life, death and resurrection secured the full salvation for his people. Assurance is one of the greatest gifts of the Reformation. As God has said in Phil.1-6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

In the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 18, “Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation,” addresses four particular questions.

First, what is assurance? 18.1 says that assurance is a true hope and certainty of salvation for those who truly believe and love Jesus and who seek to live pleasing to Him.

18.2. This assurance is not the false hope of those who have not received and rested in Christ. It is not a guess or a wish. It is “an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation.”

18.3 The inward evidence and the testimony of the Spirit. Because the Spirit is in work in us, we can know that we are saved and that God will keep us to the end.

The Roman Catholic Church rejected the doctrine of assurance, partly because they believed such assurance would lead to lawless and licentious behavior. Someone who knows his salvation is secure would have no incentive to obey God.

The Reformers responded that knowing your salvation is secure, that you have peace with God, lends “strength and cheerfulness “ to obedience. Believers obey God, not out of desperation, but out of gratitude and because of the Spirit’s continued work in their lives.

Assurance can take a long time to have and, therefore, is not essential to faith that a person must have it to be saved. It can be built up, on the part of a believer, by diligent application of the ordinary means of grace: reading the Bible, praying, attending worship, partaking in the Lord’s Supper. By doing so, believers strive to make their calling and election sure. (2 Peter 1:10). We can look forward to Christ’s return with great joy and without fear.
Prayer Points:
  • What impact does assurance have in your sharing Christ?
  • Pray God would reveal any doubts about your salvation
  • Give thanks to God for your eternal security
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