I felt the affronting stare. I remained confident, bearing down, looking for more accepting faces; but there still remained one. One face rejected the words. After the lake-side sermon not all were content. The singular-one came to correct my words. He asserted “Pastor Cliff, we are saved by grace not by works. It is a free gift.” Not having time, I couldn’t reaffirm the message or clarify, although I’m sure he was dug-in, immovable. He is a good guy, a firm adherent to an incomplete message. Like others, he is incidentally damning himself and others through an inoculation from salvation, through an over-simplified, partial Gospel message given at spiritual birth.
I confess, I was in that state for quite awhile too. I was indoctrinated to a half message, a misunderstanding of what it mean to be saved by faith. Many walk in a false assurance.
When I was first taught, I too believed as him. I would argue with Mormons and Catholics, asserting they were depending on works for salvation. I could really kick their butts in that day; I was 1 ½ years into my faith. I was a giant! That’s funny huh? It is a little embarrassing to look back. I was obedient but certainly not perfected in my understanding and action.
Early on, I was given scriptures of “assurance of salvation” in a Bible Study. We memorized a couple of these scriptures. I never really understood exactly why but I’m a “good boy.” I guess I was supposed to use them when I sinned and as a result had doubt.
As I studied the Bible, my views eventually changed. It took me a few years of personal study to detangle myself from the half-message Gospel. I didn’t share my new found revelations at first; I felt like I was going to be branded as a heretic.
For your reference, I wrote a blog “Aenology: That Big Word” that builds this more complete statement of how you can tell if your faith saves. Here is a quote from that blog; a synopsis of the “if then statements” of I John and Hebrews.
“If we are in the light and obey, if His word remains in us, we give to those in need, acknowledge Jesus, and if we love our brother, we do not love the world, hold to the courage and the hope, firm to the end, and continue in faith then the truth is in us, we know Him, His love is made complete, the Son and Father remain in us, His love is in us, God lives in us, we truly love God, we are His house, we share in Christ, and are saved.
If we remain in faith in Jesus that results in love for one another until we die then we truly have fellowship with God and eternal life.
1 John 2:5-6 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. NIV
Bull’s-eye! This is the target ‘Walk as Jesus walked and be saved.’”
Assurance of salvation belongs to these. Your assurance of salvation is misapplied if your system of belief is not as previously shown in the Word. If your understanding remains as “If you believe in Jesus you’ll be saved.” it will affect how you carryout your faith. In this you are living in a delusion thinking you are forgiven and Heaven bound.
Most professing Christians will miss many crucial scriptures because of this false-start. When you “know” you are saved and have put on this assurance because of your misunderstanding, you are blinded from many other scriptures and few can escape this trap. They are locked in their misunderstanding by these scriptures of assurance. Misapplied assurance is destructive.
Assurance rests on Jesus. He is God “compassionate and merciful.” He showed His love for us with Jesus on the Cross and the resurrection. He promised this eternal life to the faithful. Jesus is faithful and can be trusted fully. But assurance is only for His faithful.
Here is a synthesis of the assurance scriptures.
In Christ we have confidence, he will finish His work in us, nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus, we can know we have eternal life, we have a purpose, the Holy Spirit is in us as a deposit, we have the Son of God in us, and nothing can take us from His hand.
This is a great comfort to those who are “working out their salvation with fear and trembling.” We need this comfort. We will win! Our souls will be preserved :”if” we stay in the faith using our warfare tactics and armaments. See my blog “War for Your Soul: What is the war we fight?” We are guaranteed to win and gain the salvation of our souls. It is promised; be assured!