It is God’s will that all who have been made into new creatures through union with the Lord Jesus in His death, resurrection and exaltation should know for certain that they have eternal life and, therefore, will never perish. This assurance that they have permanently passed from death unto life in Christ, that the Lord will surely keep them to the end, that because they are in Christ they will be in heaven, is the right of the true believer, and he ought to enter into his full inheritance.
This knowledge of the assurance that the Lord will keep the true believer until the end is important for the following reasons:
1. It leads to rest in the Lord.
Without the assurance of salvation, there is no rest in the Lord. A believer who has no assurance of salvation continues to strive in the energy of the flesh to please God so as to be saved some day. His service for the Lord is not out of the joy of salvation, but out of the fear that he may be cast away. Their commitment is out of the fear that they may be cast away. Such cannot truly love the Lord; for perfect love casts out fear. With assurance of salvation, God’s new creation sets out to please the Lord out of gratitude for such complete but unmerited salvation. Such service is pure and flows freely. If a woman is married to a man whom she fears may divorce her some day, she can never be totally at peace in that home. Jesus calls His children to rest and to peace. He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
2. It leads to total commitment to the Lord.
When a believer knows that he belongs to the Lord Jesus now and will belong to Him throughout all time and all eternity, he will give his all to the Lord Jesus, out of gratitude. He will serve Him more fully and without any reservation whatsoever. Again, think of a woman who knows for certain that her marriage will stand the tests of time and trials. Such a woman will give her all to her husband and serve him more devotedly. On the other hand, the woman who is afraid that some day, through some fault on her part, she could be sent away from the marriage, will never give her all to the man and will never put her all into the relationship. She will keep something back, so that if the marriage ever breaks, she will not be completely broken but can start all over again.
Jesus has promised to keep His own to the end. Not to know this or, worse, to doubt Him, is to sin deeply.
THE NEED FOR TRUE CONVERSION
Before we consider in detail the full assurance of salvation that is found in the Lord Jesus, we want to make it clear that what we are going to say here does not apply to everybody. There are false conversions! There are many who make some confession of faith and even seem to show some apparent evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, but who are not truly born again. To assure such of eternal security in the Lord Jesus, would be a drastic lie, because they are not at all in the Lord Jesus.
Of the four soils on which the sower’s seeds fell, three were useless for God. The seed on the road never germinated at all. That was never truly good soil. It was useless soil. That on the stony ground germinated and for some time seemed to be going on but, it, too, died off to show that it was never really true. That which fell amongst thorns was choked. It never produced. It, too, was not genuine. That which was on good soil bore fruit. That alone represents genuine conversion.
We state very categorically that this message on assurance applies only to those who are the good soil. These hear the Word, accept it and bear fruit (Mark 4:20). Human beings might have mistaken the stony soil and thorny soil for good soil, but God makes no mistakes. “The Lord knows those who are his” (II Timothy 2:19).
So full assurance is for those who are genuine; those who are known by the Lord as His. Such people make a total response to the Lord with their wills, minds (understanding) and affections (emotions). Many people are committed in their wills and emotions, but they do not understand, and so they cannot go far. Others are committed in their understanding and emotions, but their wills are not committed, and so they do not go far. Others still are committed in their understanding and wills, but their emotions are not committed, so they fail.
Let us look at three classic examples from the Word of God:
1. The rich young ruler (Mark 10:17‑22).
- His emotions were committed. He fell at the feet of Jesus and worshipped Him.
- His understanding (will) was committed. He knew what the law said and knew that something more had to be done. That is why he came to the Lord.
- His will was not committed. Jesus knew this and He made a demand of him that was aimed at having his will committed. He said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). Was his will involved in his decision to have eternal life? Was he willing? He was not willing. He understood well. He had the right feelings, but “At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:22). Many modern evangelists would have welcomed him into the “Kingdom.” They would have assured him of salvation, although he was not saved. Many pastors would have later on called him a backslider. However, he had never been saved. He had never slid forward into the Kingdom. May I ask you a question: “Is your will involved in your commitment?” If not, you are not a child of God. If you are not prepared to obey Jesus in all the details of your life now, you do not belong to Him. Again, may I ask you, “Is your will committed?”
2. The scribe
“And a Scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head’ ” … (Matthew 8:19‑20).
- His will was committed. He wanted to follow Jesus everywhere.
- His affections were committed.
- His understanding was not committed. Therefore, Jesus said to him, “I have no home. If you follow Me, you, too, will have no home. I have no visible means of support. If you follow Me, you, too, will have no visible means of support.” He had to understand what it would cost. Did he understand it?
3. The disciple
“Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead’ ”(Matthew 8:21‑22).
- His will was committed.
- His understanding was committed, clear.
- His affections were not committed. They were entangled. Part of him yearned for Jesus and part yearned for his parents. Jesus was saying to him, “Your emotions are confused. Sort them out. Is it Me you want or your parents? If you want Me, let the dead bury their own dead.”
So, as you see, Jesus demanded total commitment from all those who would follow Him. He accepted no half-measures. He coaxed nobody. He begged no one to come. He invited all who would come to Him to count the cost! Because the Lord knows human beings, He is not moved by crowds. He is not moved by mere tears. He looks deeper. The Bible says, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; BUT JESUS DID NOT COMMIT HIMSELF TO THEM BECAUSE HE KNEW ALL MEN AND NEEDED NO ONE TO BEAR WITNESS OF MAN; FOR HE HIMSELF KNEW WHAT WAS IN MAN” (John 2:23‑25).
The Lord considers as saved those who respond to Him with their wills, understanding and affections. All the others are not saved, whatever they may profess. If anyone is still deliberately practising sin, that is, knowing that something is sin and yet going ahead to carry it out, may he be warned. These are very strong indications that he is not a child of God. The Bible says, “Every one who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. NO ONE who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous. He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:4‑10).
If you have parted with all known sins and are, by God’s grace, living in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, and with your whole heart you are determined to love Him to the end, I assure you on the basis of God’s Word that you are eternally secure in the arms of the Lord Jesus. Below are solid reasons from the Word of God on which to base your assurance.
THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD
You did not become a believer by some accident. God knew from the foundations of the world that you would be born and would receive Christ. He accepted from the very foundations of the world to come and dwell in you. He cannot change His mind in time about decisions that were taken in eternity! He foreknew you with your peculiar weaknesses and failures, yet He ordained that in Christ you would come into a saving knowledge of Him. That foreknowledge and fore‑ordination, He has now accomplished in practice by bringing you to a knowledge of His Son. Nothing can destroy God’s fore‑ordained purpose. The Word of God says, “For those whom he foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first‑born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29‑30). Notice that it is the work of God from start to finish. He foreknew; He predestined; He called; He justified; He glorified. He did not foreknow you as a wonderful person. He foreknew you as a sinner, as a rebel. He did not predestine you because you were wonderful; rather, He did it because you were helpless. He did not call you because you were very special. His love did it. You stand now in Christ justified, not because of your wonderful spirituality, but because of His unchanging love. He who has done all the rest by His own free choice will surely complete that which He began. He will glorify you when Jesus comes. You should worship Him for so mighty a salvation wrought on your behalf by Him.
The Bible says, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4‑5). The apostle Paul talked of his election in the following terms: “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood” (Galatians 1:15‑16). The Lord said of Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
God knew you before you existed as a physical reality and His purpose for you was formed and established then. That purpose was that, by His grace, you might come to a knowledge of His Son, and through Him be saved eternally. That purpose of God will stand; for God’s purposes cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). The devil and all in the world cannot thwart God’s purpose of not only justifying you, but also glorifying you. You see, if God wanted to save you and actually give you faith to believe in Christ but could not save you to the finish, He would be a weak God. However, He is not weak. He is able. His Word says “Consequently he is able FOR ALL TIME TO SAVE THOSE who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).