Can we really have assurance of our salvation?

Dear Pastor Charles: I have been a member of a Christian church for most of my life. I fully believe that the Bible is the Word of God and I believe that Jesus is my Savior. My problem is that when my pastor asks us if we know for sure that we are going to heaven, I cannot honestly say for certain that I am. Other people around me seem sure of their destination and I want to feel that way too. Am I asking too much from God? Is it really possible to know for sure or are these people just deluding themselves? Please give me a straight answer that I can understand. Uncertain…

Dear Uncertain: 
      You have asked a question that is very near the core of what it means to be a Christian. Here is a straight answer for you that you can understand. Yes. God wants you to know for sure. How else can you truly serve and love Him with “all your heart and all your soul and all your mind” if you cannot trust Him to deliver what He has promised over and over again in the Bible. Dear friend, please do not think that your problem is unusual. In fact, I can honestly say that there are times when I do not feel that closeness to God that gives me complete assurance of my salvation. I’ll bet you never heard a preacher admit that before. 
      
      Consider for a moment what the Apostle John is saying to you in       1 John 5:13, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  Let me ask you a question. Do you believe in the name of the Son of God? In other words, do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the One who paid in His own blood for your salvation? My guess is that your answer is “yes, I believe with all my mind.” You see, we human beings are very practical by nature. We believe in what we can see, feel, touch, smell and hear. We can see a chair in the corner and we believe that it will not collapse when we sit down in it because it is sturdy looking. We trust that the person who made the chair did a good job. We trust that the materials are strong enough to hold our weight. With all this evidence we are convinced that it is safe to walk over to the chair and sit down, resting our full weight upon the chair and trusting all these things we have observed. Plus, if the chair is in our own house we have probably sat on it before without it collapsing. The chair has proven itself trustworthy so we are not afraid to rest in it.

      In learning to trust God we go through the same process. First, we hear the Word of God which gives us faith. Romans 10:17 says,  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  With this faith we have been given, we believe the message and we make public our new found confidence in God as in Romans 10:9-11, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  Then we begin a lifelong journey of spiritual growth in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to remember to nourish this growth with a proper spiritual diet which includes liberal amounts of the Word of God, worship, prayer, fellowship with other believers and service. As we faithfully participate in the Kingdom of God we gradually become aware of His real presence in our lives and we are given assurance of salvation in our hearts. When I don’t feel God’s closeness in my life, I always go back to the basics. I run through my checklist to see what went wrong. Usually I find that I have been neglecting one part of my relationship with Jesus, either in prayer or in my study of the Word. Then I remember how He has always been there for me, even when I wasn’t there for Him. I know I can trust that ‘chair’ because I have sat there before so I just rest my full weight upon Him in the confidence that He is more than able to deliver all that He has promised, even if I am not.

      There is an old hymn that I love called “Standing on the Promises”. Jesus left us with many promises but one of my favorites is found in John 14:1-3, Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” My uncertain friend, rest your full weight upon Jesus today. Trust Him with all of your cares minute by minute and you will soon learn to trust Him with your eternal destiny. 

      My prayer for you is that you will grow to a full and complete richness in all that it means to be a child of God. If you have given your life to Christ, remember your checklist: study the Word, worship regularly with all your heart, pray without ceasing, associate with other believers regularly and serve faithfully. 
                                      
                                                                        God Bless, 
                                                                         Pastor Charles… 

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