SPECIAL TOPIC: ASSURANCE

A. Can Christians know they are saved (cf. 1 John 5:13)? 1 John has three tests or evidences.

1. Doctrinal (belief, 1 John 1:1,5,10; 2:18-25; 4:1-6,14-16; 5:11-12)

2. Lifestyle (obedience, 1 John 2:2-3; 2:3-6; 3:1-10; 5:18)

3. Social (love, 1 John 1:2-3; 2:7-11; 3:11-18; 4:7-12, 16-21)

 

B. Assurance has become a denominational issue

1. John Calvin based assurance on God's election. He said that we can never be certain in this life.

2. John Wesley based assurance on religious experience. He believed that we have the ability to live above known sin.

3. Roman Catholics and the Church of Christ base assurance on an authoritative Church. The group to which one belongs is the key to assurance.

4. Most evangelicals base assurance on the promises of the Bible, linked to the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22-23) in the life of the believer (i.e., daily Christlikeness).

 

C. Believers' primary assurance is linked to the character of the Triune God

1. God the Father's love

a. John 3:16; 10:28-29 

b. Romans 8:31-39

c. Ephesians 2:5,8-9

d. Philippians 1:6

e. 1 Peter 1:3-5

f.  1 John 4:7-21

2. God the Son's actions

a. death on our behalf

1) Acts 2:23

2) Romans 5:6-11

3) 2 Corinthians 5:21

4) 1 John 2:2; 4:9-10

b. high priestly prayer (John 17:12)

c. continuing intercession

1) Romans 8:34

2) Hebrews 7:25

3) 1 John 2:1

3. God the Spirit's ministry

a. calling (John 6:44,65)

b. sealing

1) 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5

2) Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:3

c. assuring

1) Romans 8:16-17

2) 1 John 5:7-13

 

D.  But humans must respond to God's covenant offer (both initially and continually)

1. believers must turn from sin (repentance) and to God through Jesus (faith)

a. Mark 1:15

b. Acts 3:16,19; 20:21

2. believers must receive God's offer in Christ (see Special Topic: What Does It Mean to "Receive," "Believe," "Confess/Profess," "Call Upon"?)

a. John 1:12; 3:16

b. Romans 5:1 (and by analogy 10:9-13)

c. Ephesians 2:5,8-9

3. believers must continue in the faith (see Special Topic: Perseverance)

a. Mark 13:13

b. 1 Corinthians 15:2

c. Galatians 6:9

d. Hebrews 3:14

e. 2 Peter 1:10

f.  Jude 20-21

g.  Revelation 2:2-3,7,10,17,19,25-26; 3:5,10,11,21 

 

E. Assurance is difficult because

1. often believers seek certain experiences not promised in the Bible

2. often believers do not fully understand the gospel

3. often believers continue to willfully sin (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 9:27; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 4:10; 2 Pet. 1:8-11)

4. certain personality types (i.e., perfectionists) can never accept God's unconditional acceptance and love

5. in the Bible there are examples of false professions (cf. Matt. 13:3-23; 7:21-23; Mark 4:14-20; 2 Pet. 2:19-20; 1 John 2:18-19, see Special Topic: Apostasy)

    See Special Topic: Christian Assurance for a different outline of this doctrine.

 

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