Assurance of Salvation


Free Grace
Reformed
BCBSR
Arminian
To Be Saved
I Must
Believe the gospel promise
Do Nothing (The elect
are never not saved)
Believe the gospel promise Do works
Eternal Security?
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
To be assured
that I am saved
I put my faith in
My Conversion experience
My Ongoing Performance
(to be assured
 I am Elect)
My Ongoing Performance
My Ongoing Performance
Attitude towards
Works/Behavior
Optional
Are being Sanctified
as the Elect
Are being Sanctified
as Saved People
Salvation contingent
upon one's Sanctification
Regeneration
Powerless
Occurs Pre-Faith
and is Powerful
Occurs Post-Faith
(John 1:12,13; Gal 3:26)
and is Powerful (1John 3:9;
1John 1:19, 1John 5:4)
Powerless

Notes:
Arminians, Catholics, and other such Neo-Circumcision Theologies may vehemently deny salvation being contingent upon works, but when they attack those who believe in salvation by faith apart from works they end up vehemently defending the idea that salvation is contingent upon one's works and one's ongoing performance. Such people reject the grace of God and as such are unbelieving false brethren.
Paul says, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." But Arminian Theology basically says, "There is condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life has not set me free from the law of sin and death."
Freegracers are of the opinion that there is not necessarily any correlation between a person's lifestyle behavior and their salvation status

Reformed Theology believes the "Perseverance of the Saints". This is not the idea that one must persevere to be saved, but rather the saved persevere. I have a similar viewpoint, though view "election" as when one is saved while those of a Reformed theology view "election" as occurring prior to birth. For those of a Reformed view, the elect are never not saved, nor can the non-elect ever be saved, and as such the preaching of the gospel is powerless in Reformed Theology.

Assurance based on Conversion Experience or Ongoing Performance?

While I hold in common with the Arminians the idea that one's assurance of salvation is to be based upon one's ongoing performance, it is with a much different perspective. It is much different to say, "I know that I have been saved and as such my status Eternally Secure because the effects of Regeneration (being born of God) are evident in my lifestyle"), than to say, "I know that I am saved right now at this moment because I momentarily behave as a child of God, but can at any moment lose my salvation if I momentarily misbehave." (Arminian ViewpointAlso note the difference in viewpoint if one determines one has not been saved. "I know that I have not been saved because the effects of Regeneration are not evident in my lifestyle, which indicate that I have not trusted in Christ to saved me" (BCBSR Viewpoint - Salvation by Faith apart from works) versus, "I know that I presently am not saved because I sinned and I must change my behavior to get re-saved." (Arminian Viewpoint - Salvation by faith in works)

The difference I have with the Freegracers is that they look back to their conversion experience for assurance and never question its authenticity, while I reap assurance from ongoing behavior.

Some Scriptural Support for my Viewpoint on Assurance

1John 3:9,10No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (Note the Power of Regeneration and Assurance being based on ongoing performance)

1John 2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (Supports the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints)

Other Indications of Salvation from 1John:
2:3 If we keep His commands, then we know that we know Him. 
2:10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
2:17 He who does the will of God abides forever. 
2:23 He who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 
2:29 Everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. 
3:3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure. 
3:6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. 
3:7 He who practices righteousness is righteousness just as He is righteous.
3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, 
3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. 
3:18,19 Let us love in deed and in truth, by this we know that we are of the truth. 
4:6 He who knows God hears us. 
4:7 Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 
4:12 If we love one another, then God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 
4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He is us, because He has given us of His Spirit 
4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, then God abides in him, and He abides in God. 
5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, 
5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God,when we love God and keep his commandments. 
5:4 Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. 
5:18 Whoever is born of God do not sin.

Degree of Assurance

Unlike the doctrine of Eternal Security which is absolute, the Assurance of Salvation is relative to the degree to which one behaves as a child of God should. That is, while one can say Once Saved Always Saved, whether the "Once Saved" has occurred is in question - the certainty of which is relative to the evidence in one's life  that one has been saved. Evidences include both the exercise of one's faith and the impact regeneration (being born of God) has had on one's lifestyle, attitudes, character qualities.

Example:

1Thess:
3  We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4  For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
5  because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia— your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,
9  for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10  and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead— Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath

While I say logically that Assurance is relative, this is not to say that one cannot be confident that they (or in this case the Thessalonians) are saved. Indeed verse 4 "we know" appears to express complete certainty. In the Greek "know" here is in the perfect tense (often English translations don't bring out such nuances). The Online Bible Greek Lexicon says of the perfect tense that is "describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated."

Consequently the kind of evidences mentioned above should invoke confidence, indeed certainty, of one's salvation status or in this case that of others.

Likewise there are behaviors which can invoke confidence, indeed certainty, that one is not saved.

Example:

1Cor 6:9,10 "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

And again "know" is in the perfect tense in the Greek.

An event in Acts 15 also mentioned in Gal 2, when Paul went to the church at Jerusalem to deal with an issue of men coming from that church and preaching a false gospel to the Galatians, he found men in leadership who promoted the heresy and said of them "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves."

Likewise throughout 1John we are taught how to identify false brethren.

But again the degree which one behaves as a child of God is the degree to which one can have assurance of the salvation status of oneself or others, and likewise to the degree which one does not behave has a child of God one can have assurance that such are not saved.

Jesus said, "If you were Abraham’s children, then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.  You are doing the things your own father does." "We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:39-44


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Nov 03,2016