Do You Have Assurance of Salvation?

As I work to study people and their view of Jesus, I generally come across three types of views that people have regarding themselves and their salvation:

1.  Those who love Jesus but seriously doubt their salvation.

2.  Those who don’t doubt that they’re saved but should.

3.  Those who humbly and gratefully receive and acknowledge their salvation.

I’m feeling led today to talk a bit about these three views, and dispel some myths that people may have regarding salvation in general.  Let’s start with that first view.

I Love Jesus, But How Could He Possibly Want Me?

I see this view of salvation often, and at one point suffered from it myself.  People with this view often really do love Jesus, and they truly want to be saved, but they doubt that they could ever be worthy enough that God would accept them.

Well, guess what: you’re not worthy enough.  Wait: let me re-phrase that.  You are worthy enough – well worth it, in fact – but not because of yourself or anything that you’ve done.  You see, people with this viewpoint often doubt their salvation because of a sinful past.  They are well aware of the sometimes horrific sins they’ve committed, are suffering with guilt and self-condemnation because of them, and therefore assume that God could never, ever want anything to do with them, especially having them live forever in a perfectly beautiful eternity alongside Him.

People with this view, however, misunderstand how salvation occurs.  There is no checklist of rights and wrongs, and those with more checks on the “right” side get in, and vice versa.  I talk more about this in my book, Moving Mountains: Keys to Prayer that Works, but I’ll give you a brief summary here.

The opportunity for salvation arose not because of what you did, but because of what Jesus did.  Yes, you have a part to do, but Jesus is the one through whom salvation occurs.  Jesus’ choice to follow through with His Father’s instructions to die on the cross and be raised from the dead is what allowed salvation to occur in the first place.  You see, Jesus’ sacrifice was a game-changer.  That one event now allows God to see you through the rose-colored glasses of His perfect Son:  Jesus Christ.

One of my roadblocks to being assured of salvation was that I thought my past sins were too terrible to possibly be forgiven for.  As I sat one night, lamenting over this issue, the Lord spoke to my heart.  He said:

Are you saying that My beloved Son’s death and resurrection on the cross isn’t enough? That it isn’t good enough to wipe away your sins?

I was shocked, stunned and humbled beyond belief.  I had never looked at it that way before!  You see, my focus was on me, when it should have been on Jesus.  Salvation was possible for me, and is possible for you, because of what Jesus did, not because of what we didn’t do or did do.

So if you’re struggling with wondering if you are worthy of salvation because of how “rotten” you are, don’t.  Just know that, because of Jesus, God sees you as His perfect, beloved child.

Of Course I’m Saved!

However, there’s another side to this coin: the person who, though they “believe” in Jesus Christ, they are not walking how He calls us to walk, yet they are entirely confident that they’re “in”, often simply because they’re “good people.”

Let me tell you something about the “I’m a good person” theory: Mother Teresa herself would have gone to hell, good works and all, had she not made Jesus Christ the Lord of her life.

Yeah, I know you’re in shock and disbelief right now that I would even say such a thing, but it’s true.

This point – the one about :good people” going to hell too, is a hot button with unbelievers.  They don’t understand how a “supposedly good God” would “send” decent people to hell. Well, let me help explain that for you.

First of all, what is good?  Look at the “good” people in your life.  Maybe they haven’t murdered someone or robbed a bank, but have they stolen office supplies at work?  Eaten grapes at the grocery store as they walked through the aisles?  Have they gossiped about someone?  Have they lost their temper and gotten angry?  Have they ever thought lustfully about another person that wasn’t their spouse?  Have they ever selfishly put their needs and wants before those of their spouse?  Have they ever been mean to another person?

All of these sins, in God’s eyes, are just as bad as murder and robbery.  We often compare ourselves to people “worse” than us, but try comparing yourself to a God and to a Jesus Christ who have never, ever, not once, committed a single sin, and you’ll find that you fall FAR short of being “good”.  In fact, Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  That means me, and that means you, and those assuming that they’re “in” based on their own good deeds or lack of bad deeds are in serious danger of going to hell, because a heart that thinks it’s “good enough” on its own accord to enter into eternal life alongside a perfect God is a heart that has serious pride issues.

I’m not saying this to condemn anyone.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  It breaks our Lord’s heart that people, because of the deception of pride, end up in hell.  God wants no one in hell except Satan and the demons that chose to take Satan’s side.

1 Timothy 2:4 tells us that God “desires all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

What is that truth?  It’s the truth that, on our own accord, we are not good people.  But with Jesus, we are perfect in His sight.

“But, I do believe in Jesus.”  Well, that’s nice, but even Satan believes in Jesus, and he’s bound to hell forever.

So what do you have to do to be saved?  Most all of us know what John 3:16 says:

For God so loved the world that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

However, the Bible needs to be taken in its entirety.  So for more clarification on salvation, let’s go to 1 Corinthians 15:1-2.  Here, Paul tells us:

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

Believing in vain means that you “believe” the word, but don’t hold fast to the instructions in it.

One who wants assurance of salvation must make Jesus the Lord of their life.  In other words, that person “seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” instead of seeking first their own wants and desires.

When I look at the so-called body of Christ, I don’t see a whole lot of people seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  I see them acting a lot like the “world” and yet coasting on what they assume is their salvation because they go to church every week.

Again, I’m not saying this to condemn anyone, but simply to give the body of Christ a huge wake-up call.  Going to church every Sunday and taking a part in a few – or even a lot – of ministries will NOT – I repeat: will NOT get you into heaven.

God does not condemn us to hell: we choose hell by rejecting Jesus Christ and His Father, God Almighty.  You can’t plan a trip to Florida, but refuse to look at the map and head to New York, and then be pissed at the mapmaker when you end up in New York instead of Florida, where you really wanted to go.

Does that kind of a plan make sense? No, it doesn’t, but this is what the majority of people do.

Instead of letting God lead them and letting Him love them and guide them onto the best path for their lives, they reject God and choose their own way, which, by default, is Satan’s way.  Then they’re angry at God because they’re on a path to hell.  If you want to get to heaven, then take the road to heaven.  It’s that simple. But God won’t force anyone to take that road: this is the concept of free will.

You can’t choose God one day a week and then choose Satan’s path the other six and assume that you’re “in”.  That’s kind of like meeting with the person you’re having an affair with one day a week but thinking you’re a good spouse because you spend most of your time with your true husband/wife.

Instead of assuming that you’re a good person because you’re not as bad as the criminals featured on 48 Hours and Dateline, try setting a higher standard for yourself.  Try comparing yourself to Jesus and His life as outlined in the 4 gospels instead.

Then try and convince yourself you’re “good enough”.  And when you learn that you aren’t, choose to change your life and learn how to live in a way that will truly bring you joy by making the Word of God your life’s work.

You Can Have True Assurance of Salvation if……

So, how can you be truly assured of your salvation?  You can be truly assured of your salvation once you come to the stark and true realization that, without Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, you have nothing.  And by choosing, after that realization, to truly make Jesus the Lord of your life.  To have a real and true relationship with Him: one in which what He says guides your daily decisions instead of what you want guiding your daily decisions.

One you have, in your heart, truly made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, your boss, your “main Man”, and once you are truly seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness above everything else that you do, knowing that salvation begins with Him and not with you, then you will have in your heart the assurance that you are indeed saved.

Moving Mountains: The Power of Prayer

This post was originally published in November of 2012.  I am re-publishing it – and this series – again, at the Lord’s leading.  The people and leaders of our country need prayer – effective prayer – more than ever.

For those of you who read yesterday’s blog post, you kind of know where my heart’s at today.  Man, I’ve never felt so convicted.  I never realized that among my fierce dedication to the Lord and to my family and friends sits some serious pride and selfishness.  As a brief “catch-ya’ll-up”, I was praying about my sadness over Tuesday’s election results, and the Lord spoke very clearly to me: Continue reading

Are You Of This World or Of His Flock?

There’s been a burden on my heart lately for the body of Christ.  Why?  Because I’m seeing a growing number of Christians who profess their faith in Jesus, but their actions show differently.  “Seek first the kingdom of God” has been replaced with the cares and busyness of this world.  Idolatry has come in the form of “stuff” and “activities” and social functions.  These things in and of themselves are not bad, but it’s imperative that we as Christians ask ourselves whether or not our things, activities and social functions are having a more prominent place in our lives that our relationship with Jesus Christ and the lifestyle He calls us as Christians to live.

Many Christians do not understand that they will not enter Heaven simply because they “believe” and because attend church every Sunday.  After all, Satan himself believes in Jesus Christ.  Matthew 7:21-23 states:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ “

When Jesus talks about lawlessness here, he isn’t talking about prophesying, casting out demons or doing wonders.  Jesus makes it clear in Mark 16 that He expects believers to do those things:

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will be no means harm them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)

Jesus is talking above about hypocrisy: those who claim to be followers of Christ but whose hearts, lives and actions show otherwise.

What does your life show Jesus?  Does it show Him that He has your full heart and your full attention, or does it show Him that you are still very much a part of this world?   Does the life you’re living imitate the virgins who were not ready for Jesus?

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight a cry was heard: Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!  Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out ‘.  But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.  Afterward the other virgins came also, saying ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’.  but he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to know, I do not know you.’  Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”  (Matthew 25:1-13)

Also in Luke, chapter 12:

And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find doing what he asks when he comes.  Truly I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.  But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming’ and begins to beat the servants, and to eat, drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:42-46)

Only you and God know whether or not Jesus truly and honestly has first place in your life, or whether the things of this world have first place in your life.

My prayer for you today and my plea to you today is that you would check your heart and your life, and be truly honest with yourselves whether you are seeking FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, or whether or not you’re trusting in your belief that you’re “in” by the skin of your nose.

May God bless you and keep you always.

The Truth About the “Word of God”

The Word of the Lord.  The Bible.   What does it mean to you?  Do you read the Bible on a regualr basis?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  What does the Word of God mean to you?  Is it an attractive decoration for your coffee table that never gets opened?  Is it a handy-dandy guide to help you here and there when the going gets too tough for you to handle on your own?  Is it simply a blur of stories from long ago that you just don’t feel you can identify with?  Continue reading

The Word or the World: Which is Your Authority?

Do you go by what you see, smell, taste, feel and hear in this world when you work to perceive God’s will, or do you go by the Word of God?  Isaiah 40:8 says The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

One of the big problems that mainstream Christians have with the so-called “Faith Movement” is that they talk about God’s will to heal, bless, deliver, prosper or whatever, yet often times – dare I say most times – those things don’t come to pass in the lives of Christians.  So they automatically assume that the faith movement is a bunch of hooey.

I don’t pretend to believe in or agree with everything that the Faith Movement teaches, but they do have one thing very, very right: The Word of God needs to take precedence in our lives over what we see and here in the world. Continue reading

The Bible: Buffet, or Entire Meal?

If you are in the habit of conversing with Christians, and even non-Christians, you might notice a trend:

People tend to take snippets out of the Bible and base their life decisions on those snippets.

This is an issue, and it can be a huge issue.  The Bible is meant to be read, understood and followed in its entirety.  If you believe that certain parts of what God says are “for real” and other parts of His Word are simply “advice”, you are heading down a dangerous path.

The Bible, as a whole, is God’s instruction manual to His people, similarly to how you have an instruction manual for your car.

If, with your car, you follow the advice about changing your oil regularly but don’t follow the advice about replacing your brakes as needed, you are obviously headed for trouble.  The Bible works much in the same way.

It is meant to be read, understood, and followed as a whole.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you do every task listed in the Bible, as some suggestions are based on the habits of the time period, and some are based for all time.

For instance, in the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 23, verse 12-13, the Israelites are commanded to leave the camp when they have to “poo”, dig a hole, and cover it up.  This is a task instructed for the specific time and place, and is not necessary for most people in the modern world due to the blessing of the modern sewer system.

However, when God says in Proverbs 22:7 that the borrow is servant to the lender, and in Romans 13:8 that we are to “owe no man, except in love”, He is giving us instruction for all time.

My point here is that often times we take and follow the rules and instructions in the Bible that are comfortable for us, and dismiss the rest as garble.  This leads to so much destruction in life, as we see from the many people in the world who suffer from serious financial problems and life problems that have arisen from the accumulation of debt, for instance.

But, the Bible is Too Hard to Understand

Someone once told me that we each have the right to interpret the Bible as best as we see fit.  This is a lie.  The Bible is NOT subject to our interpretation – we are subject to the instructions set forth in the Bible.  It is our responsibility to work continuously to find out what God means by a specific instruction or law, and not be content to ASS-U-ME that we know what He’s talking about by hanging onto one specific verse instead of the Bible as a whole.

We learn to do this by committing to reading the ENTIRE Bible, over and over again, until we “get it”.  This is no easy task.  I’ve been reading the Bible daily for over 6 years now, and I still have lots to learn, but the puzzle pieces are starting to fit into place for me now.  When I read a section of the Bible, I’m more easily able to put it together with the rest of what the Word says because I better understand the Word in its entirety. 

If you are truly looking to get the most out of your relationship with Jesus, and are wanting to walk in His best for your life, then bless yourself by becoming a student of the Word – the entire Word - of God.

 

Who’s Serving Who?

In order to get the most out of our personal relationship with Christ, it’s important that we understand how that relationship was meant to be formatted.  In other words, we need to know how to ” seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness “. Many people view God as sort of a independent consultant.  He’s there when you need Him, to call on when trouble comes, or when you want that big raise/new house/relationship to work out, or whatever. In most people’s lives, they’re running the show, deciding what they’ll do and not do, where they’ll go and not go every day, and using God as a consultant to complete the tasks they want to complete.  Continue reading