Assurance of Salvation

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” ~ John 6:37, ESV

It is hard for many to believe in the assurance of salvation. Some people want to believe in a gospel that says Jesus forgives past sins, and gives us complete victory over sin in this lifetime. Much of this boils down to how they define the law, sin, grace, etc. They claim that Christians can only be saved if they have developed a perfect character. This false gospel leads to anxiety and worry instead of grace and peace.

Lately, God has been working with me to simplify the way I communicate the gospel. Any diligent student of the Bible is able to understand the basic message of the scriptures. The plan of salvation is simple enough for a small child.

The problem is with well-meaning Christians who have made a simple truth seem complicated. I know that am guilty. I tend to be less clear than I should be when proclaiming divine truth. In reality, although it is a profound mystery, the central message of Christianity is easy to understand.

First, salvation is not limited to a specific group of people, but is available to everyone on earth. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me” has the assurance of salvation.

Second, the condition for salvation is that we “come” to Jesus. God is not going to force anyone into heaven who hasn’t made a conscious choice to follow Jesus. Although He is calling us, and stands there with arms open wide, we must follow His command, “Come to me!”

Third, if we go to Jesus then He will “NEVER” cast us out. This doesn’t mean that we cannot turn our backs on Him and lose our salvation through unbelief, but it does mean that as long as we cling to Christ as our only hope of salvation then we have Christ’s promise that we are saved for eternity.

The plan of salvation is explained in one sentence by Jesus: “Come to me and have the assurance of eternal life.” How much easier can He make it for people to understand? If you are struggling to have peace with God, and do not yet have the assurance of salvation, then follow these simple instructions: Go to Jesus, accept the free gift of salvation, and take heart in the fact that He will never cast you away.

~Stephen Beagles

Saved for Obedience

I don’t want people to think that I encourage sin by focusing on the gospel of Jesus Christ. The reality is that God saves us for obedience to His moral law. Those who love God will want to be obedient to His word.

The problem is that the law of God demands perfection and “there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20, NASB). Here, King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, states clearly that no one is perfect–not even those who are regarded as righteous before God. This is why “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24, KJV). We never outgrow the need to recite the Lord’s prayer: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4, KJV).

If we desire to be obedient before God then we must be obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel requires us to confess our sinfulness and ask God’s forgiveness for our sins. Not only are we dependent upon the mercy of God to forgive our sins, but we are required to forgive other people when they sin against us. If God can forgive our sinfulness then we should be willing to forgive others. Who are we to judge? We are all sinners in need of the free gift of salvation.

Only when we have internalized the gospel of Jesus is the spirit of God released into our hearts to transform our characters. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to make the right choices in regards to obedience to God’s law. Those who God forgives are also cleansed from unrighteousness: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, KJV).

What happens when we commit a deliberate sin? Do we lose our salvation? The only sin that cannot be forgiven is disobedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we turn our backs on the free gift of salvation then we cannot be saved. However, sins against the law are forgiven as long as we maintain a loving faith in Christ. But we must understand that God saves us for obedience; we damage ourselves when we deliberately do things that we know are wrong. While we may not lose our salvation, we may lose out on the blessings God has promised to those who are obedient.

A person who engages in willful acts of sin must also be aware of the doorway that they are opening to the devil. Each act of sin weakens their defenses against the evil one. Those who commit these sins may eventually be lured away from Christ.

But what about those who engage in hateful acts of crime against humanity? Can a person deliberately rape, murder, and torture and still be considered a Christian? The answer to this is obviously a “NO”, because even if these people claim they have “faith” they reveal that their faith is not motivated by love for God. Faith is not a justification for harboring hatred for God and our fellow men. Faith that is not motivated by love is worthless and does not lead to forgiveness.

However, there is a difference between spending too much time watching a crude television show and taking pleasure in causing another person to suffer. It is possible to have faith and commit sins of ignorance and imperfections. Gross sins of blatant immorality, however, will be judged by God and He is not to be mocked: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7, KJV). God knows our heart, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV).

Those who desire to be obedient to God and give their hearts to serving Christ are given the free gift of salvation. The only requirement of salvation is loving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have the assurance of salvation are transformed by the Holy Spirit and grow into keeping the laws of God. Though we never get to the point where we can claim sinless perfection in this lifetime, our motivation will be to become more like Jesus Christ. God saves us for obedience.

Do Christians sin? Yes, sadly we all do things that we shouldn’t do. We all stand guilty before God. But praise the God of heaven who forgives our sins through the blood that was shed by Jesus Christ. If this doesn’t inspire love and confidence in God then I don’t know what will:

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10, NIV).

~Stephen Beagles

What is the Will of God?

Over the years, I have heard many people stand up in a church meeting and ask: How do we know the will of God? This is a question that perplexes many people who believe that God will reveal His specific will for every area of their lives. The problem is that they never seem quite sure that it is God who is speaking in answer to their many prayers for guidance.

It would be nice to wake up every morning with a daily “to-do list” from the Heavenly Father. But from what I know about God, He wants us to pray for wisdom and guidance to help us make the right decisions, and then use our own free will to honor and glorify Him:

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).

This does not mean that we are left alone to make our own decisions. God reveals His general will for us in the Holy Scriptures, and there might be times when He makes His will abundantly clear to us. But in most cases, He is happy to allow us to use our own minds concerning the thousands of decisions that we make every day.

Theodore Roosevelt once said this about decision making: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Don’t be afraid to make a decision if you honestly believe that it is the right thing to do. If we make a mistake, we are called to learn from our failure. We pick ourselves up and try again. But Jesus warned us about not even trying:

“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:29).

In the parable told by Jesus in Matthew 25, the other servants did what they could with the money that was given to them to varying degrees of success and were rewarded, but the one who didn’t make an attempt was severely reprimanded. This means that  God has given each of us a specific talent or skill, and we are to use that gift to honor and glorify Him.

God might not give us specific instructions about how to use our gifts to honor and serve Him, but He does expect us to use them to the best of our ability. God cannot bless our efforts if we don’t put forth the effort.

In Matthew 15, Jesus fed four thousand people with seven small loaves of bread and a few fish. But the initial offering came from the disciples. God can multiply our talents in miraculous ways if we would simply use the gifts He gives us.

God reveals His general will to us in the Holy Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit will help us to make the right decisions concerning what has been revealed to us. But while God has given us a revelation of His will in the Bible, He expects us to make our own decisions about how to use the gifts that He has given us to proclaim the gospel of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

~Stephen Beagles