Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Problem of "Assurance"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Can any human being have assurance of personal, eternal salvation? The usual answer is "Yes," but people often overlook the sad reality that in the final judgment Jesus says "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, ... and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me" (Matt. 7:22, 23). Something extremely sad had gone wrong! They had been self-deceived, and their faith they thought was real turned out to be a counterfeit because it had not "worked" obedience to God's commandments.

So, how do we solve this problem of "assurance"? Just saying, "I feel good! That proves I have assurance of eternal salvation!" might prove to be tragically wrong. On the other hand, constant worrying and fear are not God's plan either. Some thoughts that may point to an answer:

(1) There is something that deserves our attention more important than our own personal salvation--the success of Christ in the great controversy with Satan. When our concern is caught up "with Him" in His work and His success, our self-centered worry and fear are gone.

(2) If you try to ground your "assurance" on your own faith, obedience, works, etc., it will leave you forever wondering if you have enough "faith," or "obedience," or "works." The focus of your interest and concern is still on self, no matter how you try to dress it up with pious terminology. The inevitable result is one of two things--either spiritual arrogance ("I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing!," Rev 3:17), or spiritual discouragement ("I wish I could be good enough to go to heaven!").

(3) Even if we mouth the right phrase and say, "My assurance is 'in Christ,'" our personal claim to be "in Him" is worthless if the evidence of being "in Christ" is lacking in the life. There is no conflict between "faith and works." True faith is demonstrated in works, and they must be seen in the Judgment Day, not to save us, but to prove that our faith is the genuine thing.

(4) Our real assurance is, therefore, what Christ accomplished for the human race. We were "justified by His blood" (Rom. 5:9) which was shed at the cross; He elected us to be saved eternally, "chose us," and wants "all men to be saved." You'll have to confess that if you are saved at last, your salvation will be due to God's initiative.

Now, are you resisting His will? Interposing a rebellious will against Him? Resisting the Holy Spirit's convictions of sin? Thank God for sending Jesus to die your second death, for saving your soul; and let His Spirit guide you in the paths of obedience. Stop worrying about yourself.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 7, 2000.
Copyright © 2011 by "Dial Daily Bread."

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