If you’re anything like me, you’ve at one time or another questioned or doubted whether you are saved. At one point in your life, you accepted Jesus, but maybe today you doubt whether you are still saved or ever REALLY were saved in the first place. I hope to expel these doubts and help you experience life abundant (John 10:10)!
Calvinism and Arminianism
The Calvinist tells us that you cannot lose your salvation, but implies that unless you yourself persevere, have good works, and remain faithful, you weren’t saved in the first place. I was recently listening to a podcast where a Calvinist, DTS professor was quoted from class saying:
“Well, I’m not really sure if my faith is real. We will see in the end!”¹
The Arminian, on the other hand, tells us that salvation can be lost if you sin (badly), turn away, and/or backslide. C.S. Lewis, the great Christian fiction and non-fiction author, was heavily influence by Arminian theology, as seen here:
“Screwtape’s role, say Lewis’s biographers, was “to secure the damnation of a young man who has just become a Christian.” In The Last Battle Susan is “of her own free will ‘no longer a friend of Narnia’ [that is, a believer]…””²
Both, in reality, are fearful theologies. As a Calvinist, I am afraid in regard to my initial salvation experience. “Was it real? I just sinned! It must not’ve been real!” As an Arminian, I am afraid each time that I sin, and am in a constant state of being “re-saved,” depending on what branch of Arminianism you subscribe to (for some, “once lost always lost”).
How to Be Saved
“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” Romans 10:9
We shouldn’t make it hard for someone to be saved. My salvation was what some would call “dynamic,” and whenever I used to preach the gospel to people, I always expected/demanded that the same happened to them. I wanted them to have this “feeling,” I wanted them to cry, I wanted them to have this thought that they’ve been so lost for so many years and they are free! I wanted a dramatic, “dynamic” salvation.
The Bible doesn’t make it so hard. These salvation experiences are not bad, nor are we to suppress them, but they’re definitely not necessary. I know many people who accepted the Lord into their heart when they were young, and they hardly remember it! That’s okay. The Bible tells us that all it takes is confessing Jesus as LORD and believing in His resurrection. That’s it. We shouldn’t make it any harder or more complicated.
Can You Really Know if You’re Saved?
The Bible does not leave us scared or guessing! Praise the Lord!
“I have written these things to you that you may know that you have eternal life, to you who believe into the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13
John wrote his epistle “that you may know!” So you can “know” whether you have eternal life. It is possible to KNOW whether you are saved, and it actually doesn’t require that much! Our salvation is dependent upon the Spirit’s indwelling, not on our feeling, thoughts, or actions. And to know whether this Spirit is within us is simple.
From an objective standpoint, as long as we confessed at one point Jesus as Lord and believed that he rose from the dead, we can be affirmed that the Spirit indwelt us, and we are saved. From a subjective standpoint, we can find assurance of this salvation and the Spirit’s dwelling in a few ways. My favorite way is this:
“The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16
If I ask you to tell me that you are NOT a child of God, and you feel uncomfortable doing so, or have this feeling from within that such a statement is a lie, that is evidence of the Spirit’s witnessing from within of otherwise. If we have any fruits of the Spirit, have produced spiritual children, have been enlivened by the Word ever, or have had any other experience that requires the Spirit, these should subjectively affirm the objective’s claim: that if you believed into Jesus, according to the Word (an absolutely nothing else), you were saved.
An interesting thing to note here is that John Calvin and Jacob Arminius believed this, but their views have been distorted and taken to unnecessary ends throughout time. Calvin says this blatantly, and refers to any other thought as a “suggestion of the devil:”
“Lastly, there was another most pestilential error, which not only occupied the minds of men, but was regarded as one of the principal articles of faith, of which it was impious to doubt: that is, that believers ought to be perpetually in suspense and uncertainty as to their interest in the divine favor. By this suggestion of the devil, the power of faith was completely extinguished, the benefits of Christ’s purchase destroyed, and the salvation of men overthrown. For, as Paul declares, that faith only is Christian faith which inspires our hearts with confidence, and emboldens us to appear in the presence of God (Rom. 5:2). On no other view could his doctrine in another passage be maintained: that is, that ‘we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8:15)”³
Can You Lose It?
You cannot lose your salvation. You can’t.
“And I give to them eternal life, and they shall by no means perish forever, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29
“For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT OF GOD is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“For the gracious GIFTS and the calling OF GOD are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Our salvation cannot be lost. It is a matter of birth (John 3:3-6), and you can’t be unborn or placed back in “God’s womb” (John 3:4; 1:13). This is a fact.
So I encourage everyone who has confessed and believed into Jesus: walk in your salvation! Be assured! Accept the blessings and the promises that have been bestowed on you! Do not live in fear, but live in the love of Him who has saved you.
¹ Theology Unplugged, Invitation to Calvinism (Part 11) ² Townsend, James, C.S. Lewis's Theology ³ Calvin, John, The Necessity of Reforming the Church, p. 27