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William

Can I Be Sure I’m Saved?

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by R. C. Sproul

 

At a practical level, people who are struggling with their assurance of salvation often approach me and ask, “How can I know I am saved?” In response, I ask them three questions.

 

First I ask, “Do you love Jesus perfectly?” Every person to whom I have asked that question has responded candidly, “No, I don’t.” That’s why they are not sure of the state of their souls; they know there are deficiencies in their affection for Christ, because they know that if they loved Christ perfectly, they would obey Him perfectly. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). So as soon as we disobey one of His commandments, that’s a signal to us that we do not love Him perfectly.

 

Second, when a person acknowledges that he doesn’t love Jesus perfectly, I ask, “Do you love Him as much as you ought to?” The person usually gives me a strange look and says, “Well, no, of course, I don’t.” That’s right; if the answer to the first question is no, the answer to the second question has to be no, because we’re supposed to love Him perfectly, but we don’t. Therein lies the tension that we experience about our salvation.

 

Third, I ask, “Well, do you love Jesus at all?” Before the person answers, I usually add that I’m asking about his love for the biblical Christ, the Christ whom we encounter in the pages of Holy Scripture. Why do I say that?”

 

Many years ago, I taught at the Young Life Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and I did a lot of work in those days with and for Young Life. When I was training staff in Colorado, I said: “Let me warn you about one grave danger of this ministry. I don’t know personally of any ministry to young people in the world that’s more effective than Young Life at getting next to kids, getting involved in their issues, getting involved in their problems, ministering to kids where they are, and knowing how to get them to respond. That’s the greatest strength of this organization—and it’s also your greatest weakness. Because Young Life, as a ministry, makes Christianity so attractive to kids, it would be easy for kids to be converted to Young Life without ever being converted to Christ.”

 

In just the same way, it’s possible to love a caricature of Jesus rather than Jesus Himself. So when I ask people “Do you love Jesus at all?” I’m not asking whether they love a Christ who is a hero for kids or a Christ who is a good moral teacher. I’m asking whether they love the Christ who appears in Scripture.

 

Now if someone can say “Yes” to that third question, that’s where theology comes in. Consider this question: “Is it possible for an unregenerate person to have any true affection for Christ?” My answer is no; affection for Christ is a result of the Spirit’s work. That is what regeneration is all about; that is what the Spirit does in quickening. God the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of our souls and the inclination of our hearts. Before regeneration, we are cold, hostile, or indifferent (which is the worst kind of hostility) to the things of God, having no honest affection for Him, because we are in the flesh, and the flesh does not love the things of God. Love for God is kindled by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, who pours the love of God into our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

 

So if a person can answer “Yes” when I ask whether he has an affection for Christ, even though he may not love Jesus as much as he ought to (i.e., perfectly), that assures me the Spirit has done this transforming work in his soul. This is so because we do not have the power in our flesh to conjure up any true affection for Jesus Christ.

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by R. C. Sproul

 

At a practical level, people who are struggling with their assurance of salvation often approach me and ask, “How can I know I am saved?” In response, I ask them three questions.

 

First I ask, “Do you love Jesus perfectly?” Every person to whom I have asked that question has responded candidly, “No, I don’t.” That’s why they are not sure of the state of their souls; they know there are deficiencies in their affection for Christ, because they know that if they loved Christ perfectly, they would obey Him perfectly. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). So as soon as we disobey one of His commandments, that’s a signal to us that we do not love Him perfectly.

 

Second, when a person acknowledges that he doesn’t love Jesus perfectly, I ask, “Do you love Him as much as you ought to?” The person usually gives me a strange look and says, “Well, no, of course, I don’t.” That’s right; if the answer to the first question is no, the answer to the second question has to be no, because we’re supposed to love Him perfectly, but we don’t. Therein lies the tension that we experience about our salvation.

 

Third, I ask, “Well, do you love Jesus at all?” Before the person answers, I usually add that I’m asking about his love for the biblical Christ, the Christ whom we encounter in the pages of Holy Scripture. Why do I say that?”

 

Many years ago, I taught at the Young Life Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and I did a lot of work in those days with and for Young Life. When I was training staff in Colorado, I said: “Let me warn you about one grave danger of this ministry. I don’t know personally of any ministry to young people in the world that’s more effective than Young Life at getting next to kids, getting involved in their issues, getting involved in their problems, ministering to kids where they are, and knowing how to get them to respond. That’s the greatest strength of this organization—and it’s also your greatest weakness. Because Young Life, as a ministry, makes Christianity so attractive to kids, it would be easy for kids to be converted to Young Life without ever being converted to Christ.”

 

In just the same way, it’s possible to love a caricature of Jesus rather than Jesus Himself. So when I ask people “Do you love Jesus at all?” I’m not asking whether they love a Christ who is a hero for kids or a Christ who is a good moral teacher. I’m asking whether they love the Christ who appears in Scripture.

 

Now if someone can say “Yes” to that third question, that’s where theology comes in. Consider this question: “Is it possible for an unregenerate person to have any true affection for Christ?” My answer is no; affection for Christ is a result of the Spirit’s work. That is what regeneration is all about; that is what the Spirit does in quickening. God the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of our souls and the inclination of our hearts. Before regeneration, we are cold, hostile, or indifferent (which is the worst kind of hostility) to the things of God, having no honest affection for Him, because we are in the flesh, and the flesh does not love the things of God. Love for God is kindled by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, who pours the love of God into our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

 

So if a person can answer “Yes” when I ask whether he has an affection for Christ, even though he may not love Jesus as much as he ought to (i.e., perfectly), that assures me the Spirit has done this transforming work in his soul. This is so because we do not have the power in our flesh to conjure up any true affection for Jesus Christ.

 

They did say that demons always deny the flesh.

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This is a very important topic and many new believers struggle with these kinds of questions. In a recent sermon on Limited Atonement our pastor gave us some very practical nuggets of wisdom. He said that by asking if we are elect (and by extension saved) it seems only to cast more doubt onto the question. Makes sense because only God knows for certain who are really his. Rather a more direct question that we can answer is: do we accept Christ? Do we understand what he came to do, repent of our sins, and do we cling to him as our only hope for salvation? This is something we can answer. While affirming God's sovereign grace in election it is at the same time true that sinners will find compassion if and when they turn to the Lord (Isaiah 55: 6,7).

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1 John 5:13 - "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." That tells us God gave us the word so that if we know we believe, we know that we are saved. We obviously can know that we believe in the Son. If you do, you are saved. Go by what the Bible says, and don't compare yourself to others who may appear to be saved, making you think that you may not be because you don't do or say as much as they. They may be more mature, but if you know by Biblical definition the Son, you are saved. You may be more mature than you think, too.

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