I’m privileged to have my good friend and brother-in-law, Tom Fowler, share his redemptive story with you today. Needing assurance of our salvation in Jesus Christ is something we all have dealt with. I pray the following will bless and assure you of your own security in Christ. – Dale
Assurance of Salvation
By Tom Fowler
This topic is an integral part of my spiritual journey. From 1963, when I came to know Christ as my personal savior, as well as my 5 years on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, I have observed that only those who have the assurance of their salvation, really enjoy the Christian life and know that they will go to heaven when they die. Without assurance, I was a religious person, but I did not have any Biblical understanding of victory in the Christian life.
Having assurance does not make us bullet proof or sin proof. It does not mean that you will not have doubts. I believe, however, that it is the foundational starting place to spiritual growth and understanding.
I grew up in a home with my mom, dad, and 3 sisters. We went to a Presbyterian church as a family most Sundays (unless we went skiing). I was involved in the church youth group and went to summer church camps. At church camp, usually at the closing campfire, everyone would commit to living for Jesus and confirm our commitment by throwing a stick into the fire as we left. For me, that commitment lasted a few days at best after getting home. In high school, a girlfriend wanted me go with her to her church and one particular service the pastor had a powerful message and wanted us to pray with him to ask Jesus into our lives. I was sitting on the edge of the pew, with my hands holding the front edge. After praying the prayer, the pastor asked us to raise our hand if we prayed the prayer. As I went to raise my hand, I found that I was holding onto the pew as hard as I was trying to raise my hand. That tug of war spooked me and all I wanted to do was get out of there!
Fast forward to my senior year in high school, two weeks before the city wrestling tournament. During practice I blew out my knee, taking away the opportunity to defend my last years’ first place finish. I was devastated and depressed the rest of my senior year. I proceeded to break my ankle at the beach on a date with the same girlfriend and graduated from high school on crutches.
Then at Oregon State, I pledged a fraternity my freshman year. Our pledge trainer talked us into going to a Sunday morning pancake breakfast in Albany to hear about the “program” of Campus Crusade for Christ. The speaker was a former U of O student body president and he was really sharp and entertaining. One of the quotes he had in his message I still remember to this day because it described my condition. It goes like this: “In the heart of every man, there is a God shaped vacuum that can not be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, as made known through Jesus Christ”.
I was certainly experiencing that emptiness, especially since the thing that gave me the most meaning and purpose in life (athletics) had been taken away from me by an accident in wrestling practice. At the close of his message, the speaker had a “pray with me to invite Jesus into your heart” prayer and naturally I prayed that prayer. I checked my feed back card that I had prayed and that was that. No change again, and actually, I felt worse the next few days until one of the CCC staff members (Ron) contacted me for a follow up appointment. We met in the fraternity powder room for privacy and he proceeded to share the “Four Spiritual Laws”. I recognized some of the verses from my Sunday school background (John 3:16) and I knew that I was what Bible called a “sinner” but I did not know that I needed to personally invite Jesus into my heart to have God’s forgiveness. Ron asked me if I would like to follow him in pray to ask Jesus into my heart. I said, yes. He prayed out loud and I repeated that prayer out loud. Then Ron asked me: “Tom, where is Jesus Christ right now in relationship to you?” I looked up in amazement and said: “He is in my life”. I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.
So why was this time different than the previous times that I prayed a prayer for Jesus to come into my life? For one thing, I was expressing faith in what God was saying in the Bible. Also, the Spirit of God was working on me to help me understand my need for God’s forgiveness found only through Jesus Christ. There was a sense that something in me had changed. I had a desire to read my Bible, and prayer started to become meaningful.
In the “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet there is a warning not to depend upon feelings. It goes on to say: “The promise of God’s Word, not our feelings, is our authority. The Christian lives by faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word. A train diagram in the booklet illustrates this truth. It illustrates the relationship between fact (God and His Word), faith (our trust in God and His word) and feeling (the result of our faith and obedience – John 14:21)”.
This 3 part train has a steam engine, coal car and a caboose. The steam engine represents the facts of God’s word, the coal car represents faith and the caboose represents feelings. The illustration goes on to say: “The train will run with or with out the caboose. However, it would be futile to attempt to pull the train by the caboose. In the same way, we as Christians do not depend on feelings or emotions, but place our faith (trust) in the trust-worthiness of God and the promises of His Word”.
This train illustration also explains what I did and makes it clear that the main difference between the last time I asked Jesus into my life and the previous times was actually putting what little faith I had into the promise of what Jesus said in Revelation 3:20. He said: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into Him and dine with him and He with Me”.
So having assurance starts with knowing that Jesus came into your life when you asked Him. There are no “pre-conditions” to asking Jesus into your life other than believing that He is the Son of God and that He was raised from the dead. Romans 10: 9 & 10 says: “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
Another helpful verse is First John 5: 11-13. “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have His Son does not have life. I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may KNOW you HAVE eternal life.” According to God’s Word, we can know we have eternal life! We do not have to wish or hope or wonder if we have eternal life, forgiveness of sins, or that we will go to heaven.
Our salvation does not depend on what we do or do not do other than asking Him to come into our lives. Another way to put this is to ask, “what part do we play in salvation?” Since we cannot earn salvation or deserve it, we could not obtain it other than receiving it as a gift. Ephesians 2:8, 9 says as much: “God saved us by His special favor (grace) when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (New Living Translation)
So, in conclusion, assurance is based on believing (trust in, rely upon, adhere to) that fact that Jesus did what He said He would do when you asked Him into your life. It is also a work of the Holy Spirit because He actually gives us the “saving faith” to believe in the Biblical Jesus.
What can you do if you do not have this “assurance”? Jesus said that if you seek and keep on seeking, that you would find (See Matthew 7:7,8). Romans 10:17 teaches that; “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” So by regularly reading your Bible, hearing God’s word from the pulpit or on the radio or internet is good way to “seek”. Do not get side tracked by trying to get answers to all your questions as a self imposed pre-condition to asking Jesus to be your Savior and Lord. Do not make gaining assurance more difficult than God intended. Apply the KISS principal: Keep It Simple Saint!