Old Doxoblogy

Friday, April 07, 2006

Is Lack Of Assurance Of Salvation A Sin?

Assurance of salvation is a precious gift that is provided to those who believe the Gospel. But what if we do not have assurance of salvation? Are we living in sin if we do not have assurance? Is assurance even something that Christians should seek?
We will attempt to answer these questions, first, by giving a biblical definition of Assurance, then by reasoning from the Biblical testimony whether or not lack of assurance is a sin, and if it should be sought after.

The Gospel is the good news of Jesus' death, burial, resurrection and ascension on the behalf of sinful man for the glory of the Father. (I Corinthians 15:1-8) The conditions that are prescribed for identification with what Christ has done on our behalf are faith and repentance, or, conversion. (Mark 1:15) Implicit in conversion is the assurance of our salvation. If I really believe that Christ died on my behalf, as my substitute, then I should be assured that His work is enough. Assurance in this sense is being assured of what Christ has done.
Secondly, assurance of salvation comes from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again before he could see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
Part of assurance of salvation then, is the work of the Spirit that allows us to see God's kingdom. Not with physical eyes but with those of faith. Then the Spirit's continuing work in us produces a yearning in us to cry out to our heavenly Father. (Romans 8:14-17)
Finally, this continuing work of the Spirit in sanctification causes spiritual growth by which we see evidences that we are children of God. (Romans 8:14) Those who are truly saved see evidences of their salvation. The Apostle John in I John gives many tests by which we may know that we 'know God'. If we keep His commandments, love our brother, confess the Son, practice righteousness, look for His return, walk in deed and truth, believe in Jesus Christ, heed the Apostles teaching, abide in love, walk in the light, and love God, to name just a few, then we know that we have been born of God.
All of these evidences can be boiled down to two questions; Am I believing?, and, Am I repenting?

Is assurance of salvation a requirement for salvation? No. John Bunyan wrestled with his salvation for a long period of time. He thought that he had committed the unpardonable sin. But he sought after God and finally was assured of his salvation. Read Grace Abounding by Bunyan if you ever have the opportunity. Assurance of salvation is not a condition for salvation. Assurance is implied in conversion, as I said before, but a Christian may not see the implication.

Is lack of assurance a sin? I think in most cases lack of assurance is a lack of information. They have not been taught that a person actually can have assurance. They think that if they believe in Christ and hope for the best everything will work out. But this is not a Biblical hope. Hope in modern usage means 'a wish for something that may or may not happen'. Biblical hope means 'looking forward to a certain outcome'. Our great hope is the certain return of Christ and the redemption of our bodies. This is a certain outcome for those who believe in Christ and repent of their sins. So if a person believes and repents, and later has doubts, does this mean that they are sinning? No. It means that they are missing out on a tremendous blessing that we have in this life.

It is apparent then that assurance is something that should be sought after. Lack of assurance should be repented of. That might not make sense, since I just said that lack of assurance is not sin. Repentance is a turn from one thing to another thing. Repentance in this case would be turning from lack of knowledge and assurance in order to seek knowledge and assurance in God. Search the Scripture. Pray to God. Examine yourself.
You will find one of two things. Either you are not saved and have nothing to be assured of, or, you will find assurance of salvation. If you find the first, repent and believe the Gospel. If you find the second, rejoice in God's blessing of assurance.


bluecollar said...

great post!!!

Joe said...

It is good to be reminded that repentance applies to other things than the salvation experience alone.


Jonathan Moorhead said...

According to FG, you are not saved if you lack assurance!

Annette said...

thank you.
you have been helpful.

Jim said...

Jeremy, good post!

Jonathan, you crack me up bro. You like getting in your jabs just as much as the next guy don't ya. :)

Jeremy Weaver said...

It blows my mind how they say that if you apostasize after making a profession that you're still saved, but if you have a little doubt you're not!?

Rose~ said...

Hi Jeremy.
Can I ask you when you say "repent and believe" do you mean repent in the sense of the word like what I used to think "a changing of mind" or do you mean "turning from all sin"? I am just curious as to your particular take on the word.

I agree with you on this (is this opposite of "free-grace"?)
I think in most cases lack of assurance is a lack of information.

I don't necessarily believe that a new convert who isn't assured of salvation has missed the saving message of Christ, they just need more informtaion like you said.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Repentance in my normal usage means turning from one or more things in order to turn to the opposite.
In Biblical usage repentance is truning from anything that takes the place of Christ in order to turn to Christ.

Rose~ said...

Do you mind if I ask one more clarifying question?

If someone (like say, me) said that "repent and believe the gospel" means that you turn from all other hope of salvation and turn to Christ for His promise of the same, would that fill your definition of "repent and believe the gospel"?

J. Wendell said...

Hi Jeremy,
I enjoyed reading this post very much. I concur with Joe and would add that repentance from sin (at least for me) is daily.

You said, "If you find [that you are not saved], repent and believe the Gospel."

To echo Rosie's question, does that not mean that one should turn from all other hope of salvation and turn to Christ for His promise of the salvation? Does this line up with your soteriology?

Thanks for your reply,
brother John

Jeremy Weaver said...

I saw Rose's question earlier and started to respond, then life got in the way, and I forgot.
Repentance, according to Jesus, is a condition for salvation. I think we both agree there. The question that you and Rose are asking then is "repentance from what?"
I would say that we should repent of everything that causes us not to look to Christ for our only hope of salvation. This includes things that we might be inclined to trust (good works, church membership, etc.) AND things that would otherwise keep us from turning to Christ.
In each of those two categories there are sins and there are some 'not sins'.
I do not believe that this means that we are to give up good things as a matter of turning to Christ, but that we must stop holding them in an incorrect, or, sinful way.

As far as sin goes, it must be turned away from as a way of life. That does not mean that once I have repented of my sin I will never sin again. It does mean that I have righteousness as my daily practice.
But again, that is not to say that a day goes by without sin. That is why repentance is a way of life for the Christian. Just as we continue believing, we also continue repenting.

Is that clear as mud or what?

Garry Weaver said...

I once heard a preacher say,"One way you can know that you have repented is that you are always repenting." I agree. The initial brokenness brought on by Holy Spirit conviction becomes a way of life in the one who has experienced it.

J. Wendell said...

Well put Jeremy,
Thank you for that very clear explanation.

Rose~ said...

I think if more definition of terms went on, maybe there would be less friction.

Then again, I have been wrong before. :~)

Thanks, Jeremy, for the answer.
It sounds like we are not all that far apart about that issue.