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Assured by God

This drawing is now closed.

Is it possible to know for sure that you are saved, that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that you will spend eternity with Christ in Heaven? If so, you want to know, don’t you? Yet, many Christians struggle with doubt concerning their salvation and miss out on the joy God intends for them in knowing their salvation has been secured for them by the blood of Christ. At the same time, many unbelievers have been given a false basis of assurance and believe they are saved when, in fact, they are not.

Burk Parsons, along with a distinguished cadre of theologians including R. C. Sproul, Albert Mohler, and John MacArthur, has written an excellent book addressing these concerns in Assured by God: Living in the Fullness of God’s Grace. At only 180 pages, it is a short, easy read, while thoroughly expounding the Biblical basis for assurance of salvation.

Would you like to have a copy? Well, you can. Simply email me here, make sure the subject line says “Book Give-away II,” and you’ll be entered in a drawing that will take place the first week in September. I’ll be giving away two copies. You must email me. Entries will not be taken in the comments. Also, I am not able to reply to these emails. If you send your entry, you’ll just have to trust that your name is in the hat.

Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:


Biblical Tests of Faith

While remembering in our quest for assurance that every Christian remains in this life a redeemed sinner, is it nonetheless possible to test the validity of our profession of faith? The answer is yes. The New Testament presents clear and objective standards as to what constitutes a credible profession of saving faith in Jesus Christ, by which we may become biblically grounded in our assurance of salvation.

The apostle John presents three concise tests of our faith in his first epistle, an important aim of which is to help true believers attain to assurance. John writes: “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” (1 John 5:13). First is a doctrinal test: true believers see matters of truth in accordance with the teaching of the Bible (2:18–27; 4:1–6). He is concerned in part with heresies current in his own day, against which he asserts the need for believers to receive his apostolic testimony about Jesus: “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (4:6). The heresies of his day denied the deity of Jesus, so John emphasizes this doctrine: “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” (2:22–23).

In other portions of the Bible we are informed of other doctrines we must believe, including Christ’s substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3–7) and justification through faith alone (Galatians 1:6–9). If we believe the Bible’s teaching about God, Jesus and Salvation, this objectively indicates that we have saving faith, and according to Jesus’s teaching, it is only by the regenerating work of the Spirit that we can “see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Therefore, doctrinal fidelity indicates that Christ’s redeeming work has been applied to our hearts by the ministry of the Spirit.

John’s second test of faith is a moral test (1 John 2:3–6; 3:4–10): “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (2:4–6). Boice explains this: img“Simply put, those who know God will increasingly lead righteous lives. It does not mean that they will be sinless. But they will be moving in a direction marked out by the righteousness of God.”

Ryle marks moral looseness as another cause of believers lacking assurance: img“A vacillating walk, a backwardness to take a bold and decided line, a readiness to conform to the world, a hesitating witness for Christ, a lingering tone of religion, a clinching from a high standard of holiness and spiritual life, all these make up a sure receipt for bringing a blight upon the garden of your soul.”

Although our assurance of salvation is grounded not in our spiritual performance but only on the redeeming work of Christ, it is nonetheless God’s design that a lack of godliness will result in a faltering assurance. The Westminster Confession of Faith well states that img“true believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some special sin, which woundeth the conscience, and grieveth the Spirit” (18:4). This being the case, an incentive for continued growth in godliness is our desire to the joy of assurance that comes through increasing Christ-likeness.

The third test of faith is a social test. John mentions this repeatedly in his letter, most notably in 1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.” As Donald Macleod notes, faith in Christ “revolutionizes our social preference. . . . We love our fellow Christians.” For this reason, nurture of Christian fellowship and increased communion in the life of the church is strongly conductive to strengthening our assurance of salvation.

These sets of faith are given to inspire assurance in those with credible faith, not to inflict doubt on those with and imperfect faith. John began: “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1:4). Assurance comes not through faith in our faith but through faith in the Redeemer Jesus Christ. We are bound to follow the apostles’ teachings to examine our faith, but we must do so remembering that while our strongest faith is unable to save us, the weakest faith in Christ grasps a mighty Savior in who we may rest out souls.

—Richard D. Phillips, Assured by God (P&R 2006), 83–84.

Posted 2007·07·31 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Assurance · Assured by God · Burk Parsons · Donald MacLeod · J C Ryle · James Montgomery Boice · Richard Phillips · The New Creation

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