This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

The assurance of salvation

What if. . .

. . .we could live our lives trusting in the unconditional love of God? What a novel concept!

We would know that He loved us no matter what we did. We would experience the ups and downs of life with the blessed assurance that Jesus is there regardless of the situation, that He will never leave or forsake us.

Oh, but wait! That’s “easy grace,” isn’t it? We can’t preach that, can we? Everyone will take advantage of it and do whatever they please because they will know they’re going to Heaven anyway.

Let’s don’t dare preach that, even though the Bible does say we are sealed to the day of redemption.

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby YE ARE SEALED unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

“. . .after that ye believed, YE WERE SEALED with that holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13

We preachers will have no control over people to make sure they toe the line if we don’t preach that they can lose their salvation. We’ve got to warn people continually to walk the straight and narrow so that they’ll be so scared of hellfire and damnation that they’ll live right.

Really? Is that what makes people live right?

Could it be (hear me out) that what REALLY makes people live right is “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine”? Could it be that if we could rid ourselves of the “He loves me, He loves me not” mentality (based on how well we’re performing right now), we would actually live better lives because of our intense gratitude and love for Him?

Bible teacher Andrew Wommack wrote an interesting book called Spirit, Soul & Body in which he contemplates the novel concept that if we truly get saved (we’re not talking about walking the aisle and shaking a preacher’s hand or filling out a card at the altar or meaninglessly reciting “The Sinner’s Prayer”–we’re talking about being truly born again), we cannot get unsaved. That if you’re truly born again, you cannot get unborn. That if Jesus redeemed you, He’s not going to unredeem you based on your performance.

If we have to be without sin to be able to enter the pearly gates, then why wasn’t the law enough? Why do we need grace? If we sinned, we could just go to the Temple and make the proper sacrifice and we’d be good to go. There must’ve been a need for something more comprehensive–His amazing grace.

And if I couldn’t live good enough to earn salvation, how in the world am I going to live good enough to keep it?

And if committing sin means I am no longer saved, how much sin does it take? Where is the sin-ometer that tells me when a person has crossed the line, has fallen away, has become unredeemed?

I do believe there is such a thing as apostasy. I believe a person can renounce Jesus Christ and blaspheme. I believe someone can leave Christianity and become an adherent to another religion that does not believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Only Door By Which One Can Be Saved. In that case, I believe they cannot go to Heaven.

But then you have to ask: was that person ever truly saved? Maybe they professed a faith in Christianity, the religion, but not Christ, the Savior.

And in the case of apostasy, we’re not talking about just committing sin or backsliding. We’re talking about renouncing all ties to Jesus and refusing to be identified with him. There are many, many backsliders who can tell you that truly God is married to a backslider–that they felt His presence deep in their spirit man even while they were living in outright sin. So if His Spirit is still there, are we saying that these people couldn’t go to Heaven if they died?

Are we saying that a person has to be living a totally stellar life to make it to Heaven if they die suddenly and unexpectedly? As a tree falleth, there will it lie? (And why are we reading Ecclesiastes and quoting a verse about trees to define salvation?) If you get killed in a car wreck and you have something you haven’t repented of, you can’t get to Heaven even though you have been born again?

Hmmm. . .makes it sound as though it’s about works, doesn’t it?

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:6

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Here are 4 of my 5 kids. They sometimes disappoint me. They make me mad occasionally. They have at times sinned against me. But since they are truly my children, nothing they can do can make me love them less. And I gave birth to them; I can't make them unborn.

Am I saying we can live any old way while here on Earth and suffer no penalty? Absolutely not. First of all, even if Wommack is right and your spirit is sealed no matter what you do, if you live in sin you will pay the price in the body realm–perhaps with sickness, premature death, legal prosecution, jail-time, a horrible quality of life. You will also pay the price in the soul (mind, will, emotions, conscience) realm–with torturous thoughts, a guilty conscience, troubled emotions, no true peace or happiness or joy.

So yes, sin carries with it a huge penalty while here on Earth. And if you believe in differentiation of rewards in Heaven, then sin will also carry a penalty there. A friend of mine recently told me about her belief of how we won’t receive as many crowns or rewards if we did not live holy lives. But it doesn’t mean that we won’t be saved.

“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:14-15

A person who has lived not as holy a life by building wrong things upon the foundation of Jesus Christ will suffer loss–that’s certainly punishment. But he can still be saved, according to the Scripture.

I haven't seen my cousin Susie in many years. We don't email, we don't call, we have no communication really. Our relationship has been physically nonexistent for a long time simply because we live far apart and our lives are busy, each of us with 5 kids. But we are still family, born of the same blood. I did not disown her just because our relationship has been lacking. We love each other.

I am convinced that the assurance of the security of eternal salvation will actually make a truly saved person (again, remember that many will say “Lord, Lord” and not enter in because they were never truly born again) live a holier life. The knowledge that Jesus Christ has forgiven us of all sins past, present and future ought to fill us with such a joy and gratitude that we want to do whatever it takes to please Him.

I, who have lived my life under the fearful knowledge that if I don’t perform well as a Christian I will be found wanting on the Judgment Day, have become assured of my salvation for the first time in my life. And it has brought a joy and peace that I have never known before, as well as the desire to live the holiest life possible for the Savior who loved me so.

What if. . .

. . .we accepted the security of our salvation in Christ our Lord and rested in that knowledge without the fear that He will disown us if we are not perfect? What a novel concept!

(More to come about this subject as I discuss my thoughts on “Why repent of sins if we are eternally saved?” “What does it mean you must endure to the end to be saved?” “But can’t He blot out your name from the Book of Life?” I welcome comments because iron sharpens iron, and I believe that challenges to our belief system actually make us stronger. And if we disagree on this subject, please know that I love you all and hope you can still love me.)

Hope you enjoy Chris Tomlin’s song “Amazing Grace”! This video has lovely landscapes in it.

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Comments on: "The assurance of salvation" (17)

  1. Thanks for the great article, I have read many articles and books by Andrew Wommack and Joseph Prince and I believe they are teaching the true Gospel and Good News of Christ. Romans2:4Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

  2. Thank you, Leon. And thanks for posting that Scripture–I love it! I come from a tradition that teaches that we must constantly measure up lest we be lost–that we can fall from grace from something other than apostasy. So this is a bold move for me to print something like this! I have spent my life imagining a set of scales with my good deeds on one side and the bad ones on the other. That image is technically not a Christian one (not a New Testament one). The quality of my life has improved vastly since I cast aside that image of measuring up. And ironically enough, I am wanting to measure up now more than ever–but not because I feel that it is a Heaven or Hell issue but because I WANT to! My chains are gone, I’ve been set free!

  3. I recently came to understand it this way. We are the bride of Christ. If we fall madly in love with our groom (Jesus) then our desire is going to be to please our husband. There is going to be some stuff that our groom doesn’t want us doing and He will let us know. We will make the changes and adjustments because we love Him and all our affections are turned toward Him.

  4. Just saw where I could sign in to my blog account to comment: Not sure if the previous comment went through so if not here it is:

    I recently came to understand it this way. We are the bride of Christ. If we fall madly in love with our groom (Jesus) then our desire is going to be to please our husband. There is going to be some stuff that our groom doesn’t want us doing and He will let us know. We will make the changes and adjustments because we love Him and all our affections are turned toward Him.

    • I totally agree. But we of the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Holiness/etc.-type churches tend to lean toward the idea that the groom can divorce us as soon as we are displeasing to him. So for you and me, Shannon, this “blessed assurance” viewpoint is radical. It has changed my life, though. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Just read a work by Martin Luther “On Christian Freedom” and this was his point exactly. Our being saved has less to do with how good we are and more to do with how good God is. Martin Luther spent his whole early life plagued by that feeling of not being able to measure up. It was only when he truly understood the scope of God’s grace and love that he was saved and freed from the bondage of doing good works to get to heaven. Great post, Leslie.

    • Wow, Martin Luther and I agree–on one thing at least! 😉 Amen to this. I can empathize with how he spent his early life; I spent mine the exact same way. As much as I loved the Lord, it was tormenting to think that HE might not love me quite the same if I wasn’t performing well in life. My viewpoint now has freed me in a way that makes me want to shout! Thanks for commenting, Shelly.

  6. WOW! I agree with you totally! Have you read any books by Brennan Manning? “The Ragamuffin Gospel” coincides with this perspective. I have been in some churches where the same people would get “saved” every week. Something wrong with that picture!

    • Thanks for your comment, Chris. I haven’t read any of Manning’s books but would like to. I, too, have seen people “get saved,” backslide, “get saved” again, and so on. And I agree with you–that is faulty theology!

  7. Don’t know if anyone was listening to KLove this morning around 9, but they discussed this in brief with a caller. This lady called in and talked about how she no longer fears death or the end of the world because she knows Jesus, and the radio DJs asked her how she can be certain she’s going to heaven. She said she guessed she couldn’t know for certain but she hoped she would make it. The talk show hosts read a few scriptures and explained that if she had accepted Christ as her savior and believed He is who He said He was, then she could know with assurance and peace that she was His, that it was a done deal and she didn’t have to worry about whether she would get in. It was a short conversation but very powerful.

    • I didn’t hear this, Megh, but wish I had. I truly believe that the lack of assurance of salvation is one of the key components of people’s unhappiness these days. That load of guilt of trying to measure up so that we won’t be “un-born again” or “unsealed” doesn’t actually make us live any better, I am convinced. And it doesn’t allow us to truly trust our Father because we’re too busy worrying about whether or not He will give us the nod on Judgment Day. If we trust Him fully, we will more readily obey Him.

  8. Loved this post. Amened all the way through it. I didn’t grow up in a church that believed you could lose your salvation. I was taught once saved always saved but I was surrounded by folks who loved to pour out the guilt and condemnation which led to struggles with feelings that I could never measure up and be good enough or work hard enough to please God. I experience the freedom of the true knowledge of the depth of His grace at times but still spiritually struggle to permanently break the bonds that the ingrained condemnation put upon me. I thank you sincerely for the reminder that your words/God’s Words give me. It is true Joy to grasp and hold onto this understanding.

    • Thank you, Donna. I’m right there with you, still struggling to permanently break those old bonds of “gotta measure up or else.” But I’m getting further away from it every day, and yes, it is true joy, as you said! My skies are bluer, my grass is greener, and I feel the need to live holier now than I did when I was told that I BETTER live holy or I could get “unsaved.”

  9. wonderful, wonderful piece.. God bless you.

  10. Thank you, Selah. It took me a long, long time to be freed from a performance-based Christianity. What a liberating feeling this is!

  11. Thank you! I have been on a journey with Jesus over the past 7 years dealing with this very topic. Just today I prayed God would lead me to the right sources as I seek to know Him more and I found this post. Your explanation is exactly what I have been thinking/learning. I was raised in a wonderful, loving Pentecostal family, full of preachers that believes you can be lost from any sin in your life. Therefore, I have lived my life trying to follow all the scriptures perfectly and repenting all throughout the day. God is working on me to rest in His finished work. Thank you again!

    • You don’t know how this blesses me! I thank God for leading you to that post. I, like you, have spent many years in the Pentecostal realm (still am in that realm). But until the past few years, I, too, had been taught that any little sin could cause you to lose your salvation. For example, I could yell at my kids in momentary impatience while driving them to 4-H club and if I got killed in a wreck on the way before I repented, I would be doomed to perdition. I do NOT believe that any more. I have found that changing my perspective (based on the Word, I believe) has not made me a victim of that “easy grace” mentality so many preachers preach using fear and control tactics. I don’t want to go sin; instead, I want to live a more holy life to please this magnificent and loving God I serve! May God bless you on your journey, Jennifer. Thank you for tuning in to my blog!

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