Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Salvation Assurance. Got it?

Here's a great article from Todd Friel of Wretched Radio.

God wants you to know that you are saved. The entire book of I John was written for that very reason (I John 5:13). Do you have that assurance? Do you know that you are saved? Have you lost the fear of going to hell?

God wants you to walk with Him in confidence. He does not want you in the Slough of Despond. If you are wobbly in your confidence, let’s see if we can get you out of the pit.

This is going to sound radical, but I wonder if you are shaky because of your fear of sinning.

Don’t get me wrong, you and I should be afraid to sin, but the question is, “Why?” While there are several reasons, I suggest there should only be one reason for the believer. If you have been afraid to sin for the wrong reason, perhaps that is why you have no assurance.

There are two wrong reasons for being afraid to sin.

Reason 1: Wrong Theology

Are you afraid to sin because that will demonstrate you are not actually saved? Uh oh. That is wrong. Ponder this carefully.

Your fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control) is an excellent sign that you are saved (Galatians 5). While external transformation takes effort, it is relatively attainable. But having a heart change is impossible unless God has saved you.

Let’s not sugar coat this, if you are living in willful, unrepentant, persistent sin, you are not saved.

On the other hand, your sins are only POSSIBLY a sign that you are not saved. Note this well: Christians sin. That’s right, true born again believers will sin (I John). If you sin, that does not prove that you are a false convert.

“But wait,” you say. “Doesn’t the Bible say that if we keep on sinning we are of the devil?”

It sure does, but that is the key: you keep on sinning.

Let’s not sugar coat this, if you are living in willful, unrepentant, persistent sin, you are not saved. You need to repent. Now.

But if you are a man or woman who is growing in holiness (love, joy, peace, etc.) and you are not living in on-going, willful sin, then be assured: you are IN HIM.

You are saved. You have forgiveness of sins. You are adopted into His family. You are His child. You have all of the rights and privileges of an heir. STOP DOUBTING.

“But wait,” you protest. “I don’t want to sin so that grace might more abound.”

That is good, but hear me well: YOU WON'T. If you are in Him, you will not, nor cannot be a grace abuser. Why not? Because you have a new heart and new desires.

Reason 2: Wrong Motive

Perhaps your motive for not sinning is to prove that you are saved. That too is wrong.

What should be your motive for not sinning? It is NOT to prove that you are in Him.

Your fear of sinning should be motivated by your position in and love for Christ. You loathe sin because you are in Him and you do not want to sin against the One you love so profoundly.

Let me demonstrate what I am describing with the Tale of Two Christians.

Doubting Danny

Danny has a born again experience. He can remember when God brought him low and he repented of his sins and trusted Jesus. He reads the Bible every day and his family notices that he is a different person. He has even lost a lot of his old friends because he is “so Christian.” But Danny has doubts.

Danny has mortified his gross sins. The pornography has ceased and the anger is gone…almost. You see, occasionally Danny still gets kind of mad. Not nearly as mad as he used to, but he still finds himself getting annoyed in traffic and short with the kids.

When Danny gets wound up, he recognizes his sin, apologizes to God and then frets that he is not actually saved. His worry ebbs and flows based on how well he is doing.

Assured Alice

Like Danny, Alice has a born again experience. She can remember when God adopted her and she reads the Bible every day. Her family notices that she is different. Alice has no doubts she is saved.

Why not?

Alice used to be a raging gossip who loved her soap operas. Now she hates those things. Unfortunately, Alice will sometimes find herself in a conversation and she will realize that she is spreading gossip. She bridles her tongue, apologizes to God and praises Him that He has rescued her and has given her a new heart. She asks Him to help her not sin again. As the day progresses, she will thank God for His amazing grace toward her, a sinner.

Unfortunately, Alice sins again. While flipping through the channels to find Wretched TV, she lingers for a few seconds on a channel that she promised God she would not watch again. Alice gets mad at herself. Turns off the TV and apologizes to God and thanks Him that He has so graciously saved such a fowl creature. Alice is filled with awe at God’s loving-kindness. She cries.

Alice is resolved to not sin again because she is HEARTBROKEN every time she does. She does not battle sin to prove she is a Christian, but she battles sin simply because she is a Christian who loves to please the Lord with obedience. She knows that when she sins, she has increased the suffering of her Savior and treated Him with contempt, something she hates.

The thought of abusing God’s grace is the furthest thing from Alice’s mind. Let me repeat: the thought of abusing grace is the furthest thing from a Christian’s mind. Grace abuse is the last thing a Christian wants to do. Let me beat that horse. Not only will Christians not abuse grace; they won’t even want to abuse grace.

Our motive for not sinning should not be to prove we are not a false convert, but because we stand in awe of His grace.

Look to the cross, rejoice in your Savior. Do not fear. You will not abuse His grace as you walk this way. In fact, you will sin even less.

Please, do not be a doubting Danny. Be an assured Alice (unless you are a man, then be an assured Alan). Trust Him. Rest in Him. Because you are in Him.

Then go, and serve your King.