One evening at Bible study a few years ago, a comment was made that immediately sent me into a spiral of questioning my salvation. I drove home with fearful thoughts swirling in my head. When I finally arrived, I knelt down beside my bed and wept before the Lord. What if I’m not a true believer? I wondered.
Assurance of salvation is something most Christians have struggled with at some point. Am I truly saved or am I just fooling myself? Will I spend my whole life thinking I’m fine only to be one of the people Jesus declares he never knew (Matthew 7:21-23)?
These types of questions make anxiety pulse through our hearts. Our sin lies before us and we worry if that angry thought or this sinful action could be a result of a heart not yet saved. Soon, we find ourselves looking so inwardly that despair is our closest companion.
Am I One of the Elect?
How are we to know if we’re included in the elect? What if God doesn’t want to save us? These questions, though very normal, come from a place of misunderstanding God’s character as well as a deeply inward focus.
Is it within the character of God to refuse to save someone who is desperately seeking after him to be saved?
It is the Father’s will that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in him will be saved. If you are seeking him, he will not turn you away. Jesus will not cast you out! Unbelievers typically assume they’re fine with God and don’t care enough to wonder if they’re wrong. Yet, we must remember that if we are seeking him, we are only doing so through the enablement of the Holy Spirit.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40 ESV)
“The only way we can have affection for Christ is if the Holy Spirit has changed the disposition of our hearts and given us an affection for the One whom we formerly despised.”R.C. Sproul
But we certainly shouldn’t stay in a state of morbid introspection, constantly questioning if every sinful motive, thought, or deed could mean we’re doomed. There has to be a balance, and we humans are not the best at walking on the middle ground, are we?
Confirm Your Calling and Election
In God’s Word, we find the admonishment to confirm our election (2 Peter 1:10). Peter reminds us in this chapter that true faith bears fruit. In his Gospel, John tells us to abide in Christ, our True Vine, that we may bear fruit. He reminds us that only those who abide in him will bear fruit and those who have no fruit to show are cut off (John 15:1-8).
True believers will bear fruit as they abide in Jesus. How do we supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love as Peter encourages? We abide in Christ. How do we abide in him? By his grace and power, we seek him day after day through prayer, studying his Word, meditating on his character, meeting with our local church, and hearing the Bible preached. And remembering that all of these things are not accomplished in our own strength but are granted to us.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)
Fixating on the Fruit
It’s wise and good to look at our lives and search for evidence that our hearts have been changed by God. But the call here is not to remain fixated on the fruit. Peter and other New Testament writers long for us to keep diligently seeking after Jesus. To become paralyzed in an inward gaze would be the opposite of what they intended.
Rather than asking, “am I elect?”, the question should be, do I believe Jesus died for me? Do I believe his sacrifice is sufficient to save? If the answer is no, then believe today. Turn away from your sin and trust in Christ today. Start praying for the Spirit to enable you to kill sin habits and flee temptation right now.
We will not find assurance when we fix our eyes on ourselves because our “good fruit” will always come up short. We must turn our eyes upon Jesus instead. Bask in his forgiveness, praise him for his grace, and plead the blood of Christ alone.
Like Robert Murray McCheyne declared, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.”
Fix your eyes on Jesus, friends. That is the answer to the question of assurance of salvation.