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Biblical Assurance: Part 2

June 5, 2009


This week I want to begin with false grounds of assurance. There are 2 main problems that face the church in regards to the doctrine of assurance. Some people struggle with the peace and comfort of their assurance before God. The second problem is that people DO NOT struggle with the assurance of their salvation because they are basing their comfort on a wrong understanding of assurance. In other words, they have assurance when they should NOT be so comforted!

                Perhaps the biggest issue that causes true believers to doubt their salvation and professing ‘Christians’ to have a false assurance that they are ok with God is the ‘faith in my faith’ option. What do I mean by that? When Scripture calls us to place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, the object and focus of our faith is the person and work of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures for salvation. However, man centered issues warp that focus very subtly but very dangerously! What happens is the person begins to look at the faith THEY have expressed as grounds for their assurance. The problem with this is that it takes the focus off of where it’s supposed to be for assurance. We are to look to CHRIST as the all sufficient Savior because even my faith is not perfected. I still have doubts and times of disobedience. Complete faith would do neither.

So how does this work? If a believer keeps looking at the quality and quantity of their faith, the seeds of doubt are planted. Why? Because we all know that our faith is not what it should be. So when we base the assurance of our salvation on the measure of our faith (which amounts to faith in our faith!) and find it lacking, doubts spring up! And we can’t shake the insecurity we feel before God. Why? Because as long as our attention is on OUR faith rather than the finished work of Christ, no assurance will come. So for the true believer who struggles with doubt, ask yourself if you are more focused on your faith or Christ for salvation. If it’s the former, put it on Him and your assurance will grow. Either what He did is good enough to save us completely or we have to find some ‘works’ to complete what He didn’t finish. And we all know what the bible says about that. “Saved by grace, not by works.” (Eph. 2:8,9) Trying to ‘work up’ enough found to gain assurance amounts to a ‘works based’ assurance. The guilty conscience will never find enough faith to satisfy this ‘works based’ craving and as a result doubt will always remain. Look only to Christ as the full basis for your standing. He is your assurance!

                ‘Faith in my faith’ also has a more dangerous side. We are all hellishly self-focused. For some (false believers), their assurance that they are accepted by God is because THEY have faith. Their focus is not so much Christ and Him crucified as grounds for acceptance with God (although that may be some of it in their language…cf. Matt. 7:21-23) but they are convinced they are ok with God because they have ‘exercised THEIR faith’ at one point in time. Interestingly, many in this camp may not be faithful members (they are not continuing in the faith) or they may be regular attendees but who show no ACTIVE faith. They don’t have everyday faith displayed, but they trust in their ONE MOMENT OF FAITH THEY EXERCISED!! When they hear a message on salvation, they check out because they have already crossed their t’s and dotted their i’s as regards ‘fulfilling’ their obligations to obtain salvation. “I HAVE already believed so I AM OK.” Where’s the self-talk of “Thank God Christ has saved me!”?!  The two thoughts could be worlds apart and make an eternal difference!

So here’s the question: When you think about your standing before God, do you focus on the aspect that YOU have believed or the fact that CHRIST has saved you? Am I minimizing our belief in Christ? No, just pointing out what takes priority. Wrong focus could leave the weaker Christian with lingering doubts and the ‘professing’ Christian with false assurance when they really should reexamine themselves to see who they are really trusting in for salvation: themselves and their belief or Christ alone and His finished work?

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