How secure and lasting is the salvation that God has given us in Christ Jesus? What assurance do those who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ have as to their eternal destiny? The answer to these questions not only effects our emotional stability in the present, but determines our thoughts and feelings about life after death. Is this important? Nothing could be more important or vital to our life now and what awaits us in the future life.
The Apostle Paul in writing to the Philippian believers assured them by saying:
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
In the book of Romans, which vividly describes our lost and sinful condition by nature, we are graciously told that there is “no condemnation” to them that are in Christ Jesus (8:1). And thenRomans 8:39 lets us know that there is “no separation” from the love of God. In fact, we are instructed that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
The doctrine or teaching of the assurance of the believer is predicated squarely upon the faithfulness of God to His Word. It also depends upon His righteousness and the work He has accomplished through Christ. Confessedly, this goes counter to our human reasoning and feeling. However, this is true of many of God’s great pronouncements and promises.
It doesn’t seem “reasonable” that one man could die for the sins of all mankind, but this is exactly what God says that He did (I Corinthians 15:3-4). We have to believe that “nothing is impossible with God.” In short, we have to believe God’s Word and not our feelings or our human experiences.
One principle that helps in understanding this great truth is to make the distinction between salvation and rewards. Since it is a Biblical teaching that there can be gain or loss of rewards in accordance to how we live, it is natural to assume that we could lose the salvation that God gives. Salvation is not an earned reward, but a free gift of God’s grace. The Apostle Paul, himself, was constantly conscious of his manner of life for God, therefore, He didn’t want to “beat the air” or shadow-box. He kept his body under subjection lest he would be “disapproved” (I Corinthians 9:26-27). The Scofield Reference Bible has a pertinent note on this verse which in part says, “The Apostle is writing of service, not salvation. He is not expressing fear that he may fail of salvation, but of his crown (reward).” The Bible Knowledge Commentary in commenting on this says, “Here Paul was not addressing the issue of salvation, nor for that matter was even the prize specifically in mind. Rather he seemed concerned with the continuance in the race.” Again, it should be emphasized that salvation is by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, and not by works that we have done or not done. I Corinthians 3:11-15 is helpful in this regard.
Another distinction that must be made in order to properly put eternal life in perspective is to differentiate between God’s dealings with Israel as a nation, and the church, which is the Body of Christ. The reason this is important is because many Old Testament passages seem to indicate that God will turn away from His own. However, when it is seen that many of God’s promises to His chosen people, Israel, were either for temporary purposes or in regard to certain blessings which were earthly, this then becomes understandable. For instance, they were promised a certain land, yet because of their unfaithfulness, not God’s unfaithfulness, they are still having difficulty even in claiming Jerusalem. They have not entered into their rest and never will until they acknowledge the Christ (Hebrews 4:6-11). Sometimes, Psalm 51:11-12 is cited as a reason for our losing our salvation. Again careful consideration shows that David in sinning against God lost his fellowship or joy of being a child of God. Therefore, he prayed in Psalm 51:10:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
David was careful to say “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation” (51:12). It was the fellowship that he had let slip away from him and missed so much in his dreadful condition.
It is so important in our consideration of Scripture to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15). We understand that God in this dispensation is dealing with the Church, the Body of Christ in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile. By the baptism of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13) the believing person is placed securely in the church. This, of course, is after he or she has believed the gospel of God’s grace (I Corinthians 15:3-4). Because of the finished work of Christ accounted to the believer, God can announce through Paul:
“And ye are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10)
It can be humanly said, “God puts the sure in assurance.” Also, in reading Ephesians 1:12-14, it is shown that “since we believed” we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit — This is also clearly stated in Ephesians 4:30, which also admonished us to not “grieve” the Holy Spirit.
“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
And we can say, “To the praise of His glory.”