A Measure of Assurance?

November 28, 2017
Dr. J.B. Hixson
A Measure of Assurance

"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:28)

My favorite kind of cookie is chocolate chip.  There is scarcely anything better than a hot, just-out-of-the-oven, homemade chocolate chip cookie with a cold glass of milk.  When I was a teenager, I used to make them myself, using Mom's family recipe.  The first time I did, though, turned out to be quite a fiasco.  You see, the recipe card was so old and tattered from years of use that some of the instructions were hard to read.  In particular, the measurement amounts were difficult to discern.  When it came time to add the brown sugar, I thought it said "12 cups," when in reality it said, "1/2 cup."  Big difference!  A quick consultation with Mom clarified the matter, and needless to say that first batch of cookies was scrapped and the second batch came out much better.

There is a valuable lesson in this humorous experience:  If you do not know the precise measurement a recipe calls for, the result can be disastrous.  The same can be said of the believer's assurance.  A growing number of Bible teachers and theologians today are suggesting that one's assurance of eternal salvation is based upon "some measure" of good works, without specifying precisely how much good works are necessary to assure one that he indeed is saved.

For example, one popular Christian author writes, "There is no doubt that Jesus saw some measure of real, lived-out obedience to the will of God as necessary for final salvation." Notice his reference to "some measure."  If the final, determinative factor in our eternal salvation is "some measure of real, lived-out, obedience to the will of God," one understandably might want to know how much obedience? Do I need 12 cups of obedience?  Or is it only ½ a cup of obedience?  What exactly does this author mean by "some measure?"  It sounds conspicuously vague.  How can I ever know if I have produced a "measure" of good works acceptable enough to get me into heaven?

Another well-known theologian shares this view of salvation.  He suggests that for a person to get to heaven he must not only believe the Gospel, but his faith must produce good works.  He writes, "True faith is always accompanied by non-saving, but absolutely necessary works....If there are no good works, there is no true faith." It is not unreasonable to ask how good works can be both "non-saving" but "absolutely necessary" at the same time.  If good works are absolutely necessary for final salvation, as these authors suggest, then does that not make them determinative in our final salvation?

Neither author provides a quantifiable way to measure how many good works a person must perform in order to be assured that he is saved.  They insist that "good works are absolutely necessary" as "proof" that one is a Christian, but they never give the precise measurement for the proof!

Contrary to the assertions of these men (and many others), one's assurance of salvation is not based upon his good works.  It is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy that He saved us" (Titus 3:5).  My assurance of eternal salvation is based solely upon the promise of Jesus Christ, my Savior, who said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:28).  If Jesus meant what He said (and He did!), then my salvation is both sure and secure the moment I place my faith in Him, and I need look only to His promise for assurance.  If I look at my works as the basis for assurance-trying to discover some ambiguous measure-I will doubt my salvation every day.

But if I go back to the source of my salvation to clarify the matter-Jesus Christ Himself-there can be no doubt.  He said, "I give you eternal life and you will never perish."  Even if I stumble; even if I fall sometimes; whether I have ½ a cup of good works or 12 cups of good works, I can be sure that my faith alone in Christ alone-the Son of God who died and rose again for my sins-has secured for me my eternal salvation.  "For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.  Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Hallelujah!

In the final analysis, if a "measure of good works" is necessary for eternal salvation, than the best we can ever hope for is a "measure of assurance."  For me, that is not enough.  I want to have absolute, 100% assurance of my salvation.  What about you?  Have you trusted in Jesus Christ and Him alone for eternal salvation?  If so, then you can be sure you will spend eternity in heaven.


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Comments

B

September 21, 2010 9:47 PM

How does 1 John 2:3-4 relate to knowing if we are truly in the faith?

3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him


petr

August 29, 2012 3:25 PM
well I think it is quite clear from the context of 1john which is the test of fellowship (v.3) not the test of salvation. to know God simply means to know His character and that is something we obviously grow in 2pt 3:18 after we are saved. Good example is Thomas in John 14:7 - saved (13:10) but not knowing Jesus nor the Father.



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