The Basis of Our Assurance

By Michael McKinley:

The old saying is that good preaching should “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”.  The gospel message should so both things — challenge proud sinners to repent and assure the repentant sinner of God’s grace.  It’s my hope that Am I Really a Christian? will both challenge nominal Christians and help encourage those who are genuinely God’s children.

In some previous posts, I’ve argued for taking seriously Paul’s command to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith.  But it’s also important to think about how we can have confidence that we are genuine believers.

In fact, the Bible encourages us to pursue assurance. The apostle John even wrote his first letter “to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13). But how can weak, sinful, wavering people like us be confident that we genuinely belong to Christ?

Well, for starters, the only foundation for an assurance of salvation is Jesus. Specifically, we should look to three things about Jesus: what he was like, what he has done, and what he has promised.

  1. Christ’s character: Jesus is marvelously patient, forbearing, and kind to sinners.  And all spoke well of him,and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. (Luke 4:22)
  2. Christ’s work: We can have assurance before God because Jesus died, rose again, and is seated in heaven. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
  3. Christ’s promises: Jesus tells us that he will never cast out anyone who comes to him. We never need to fear that our sin or unloveliness will make him draw back from us.All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37)

Jesus is the foundation of our assurance.  Because of who he is, what he has done, and what he has promised, we can have confidence in our salvation.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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