Plain and Simple
This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life;; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5:11-12
Some people believe it is prideful to think they can be sure of their salvation. They think only God knows when people are saved, because no one is ever completely free from sin in this life. Many of these people see the Christians life as a classroom, and they think God grades on a curve. If they’ve done enough right and avoided enough sins, maybe just maybe, they’ll score high enough to pass.
John though, gives us a completely different perspective. The issue isn’t having more deeds on the good side of the scale than on the bad side. The central, singular point of salvation is this: do we have the Son? Salvation is a gift. We can’t earn it. In fact we acknowledge our complete inability to do enough good things right to twist God,s arm to let us into heaven. Instead we stand before Him with empty hands and open hearts, trusting that Christ’s sacrifice paid for our sins completely and ushered us into God‘s family. In faith we turn from our own efforts and embrace Jesus God‘s Son.
John’s message is plain and simple, but it threatens those who want to prove themselves to God and others by giving enough, serving enough, and attending church enough to earn acceptance. The focal point of faith, John tells us, in Christ, He is all we have and all we need. Then out of full hearts we give, serve, and attend church because we are already accepted, not because we’re trying to become accepted. It makes a huge difference!
Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with a person-Jesus Christ.
“ All self effort is but sinking sand, Christ alone is the rock of salvation”. –
H. A. Ironside
There is no uncertainty according to the Bible with our salvation and it is not something we have to convince ourselves of. Far too many people attend church week after week, participate in its rituals and activities without being confident in their salvation. Often it is made works-based rather than faith-based. Salvation is more than membership classes, baptisms, rituals, service, or human effort. Salvation is a transformation of mind, heart, and soul. Paul writes in Philippians that salvation is to “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…..” It is impossible to be saved without a change in thinking, conduct, and action. Salvation is more than mental assent to the truths of the Bible. It is the practicing of biblical principles, living out the Christ life. It requires more than an “amen.” It calls us to pattern our lives after the life of Christ Himself.
Jesus was clear about the cost of salvation when He said: “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”
Salvation is the free gift of God but it always produces change-dramatic change. Not that we become perfect but that we become different. We view life from a different perspective. No longer are we driven to succeed in the world irregardless of how we attain success but our every thought, action, and deed is filtered through the pattern set by Christ. Our standard of measurement is not horizontal- that is to say in comparison to other humans- but it is vertical- how do we measure to the standard set by Christ. This change is no some self-willed effort to earn our place in heaven but the automatic outcome of a transformed life.
We need apply some biblical principles to this question of salvation:
The first principle is the question of whether we are the same or something different. No one can truly have Christ as their Savior without change and it is impossible to live the same way we lived before we met Him.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].”
2 Corinthians 5:17
The second principle is the question of whom we pattern our lives after. Jesus was clear in His call to discipleship.
26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God]— he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow after Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] cannot be My disciple. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not [carefully consider the cost and then for My sake] give up all his own possessions.
The third principle is a transformation of thinking and conformity.
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
Finally the Bible teaches that we can know that we are saved, born again.
The one who believes in the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies confidently on Him as Savior] has the testimony within himself [because he can speak authoritatively about Christ from his own personal experience]. The one who does not believe God [in this way] has made Him [out to be] a liar, because he has not believed in the evidence that God has given regarding His Son. And the testimony is this: God has given us eternal life [we already possess it], and this life is in His Son [resulting in our spiritual completeness, and eternal companionship with Him]. He who has the Son [by accepting Him as Lord and Savior] has the life [that is eternal]; he who does not have the Son of God [by personal faith] does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life. This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him.
1 John 5:10-15
If you’re not sure of your salvation why not measure it against these principles and in whatever place it doesn’t measure up ask God to lead you into the path of righteousness. One of the sure signs of salvation is a humble, repentant heart before God followed by submissive obedience to Him and His Word.
Dr. John Thompson