True Salvation Assurance, 2

Dan Corner

Evidence Of Saving Grace

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts (Acts 11:19-23, NIV).
Please note: when a person gets saved there is observable evidence of saving grace. This would logically follow a true regeneration, since such a person, at the point of his salvation, passes from death to life, from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the power of God (Jn. 5:24; Acts 26:18)! Is it possible for this type of most-extreme change from the very core of an individual to occur, yet be unnoticed? Hardly! So, as in the book of 1 John, the aforementioned passages state that truly saved people can be detected. Many other times in Scripture this same truth is shown, in contrast to what the OSAS teachers want us to believe!

Please consider the following passages for more proofs regarding this truth:

(1) Epenetus was Paul's first convert to Christ in the province of Asia (Rom. 16:5). The only way Paul could know this is if there was observable evidence of his salvation. Obviously, Paul knew who got saved and who did not get saved from his preaching of the gospel. The same can be said of the household of Stephanas, the first converts in Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15).

(2) Paul knew Apelles was tested and approved in Christ (Rom. 16:10). Again, Paul knew the man was in Christ.

(3) Paul told the saints at Rome to "Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord" (Rom. 16:11, NIV). Clearly, Paul believed the people in Narcissus' household, who were in the Lord, could be detected from the others in the same household, who were not in the Lord. This is an ability that all saints should have.

(4) Paul wrote a Christian widow can remarry, but that man must belong to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:39). This implies that Christian widows have the ability to know who belongs to the Lord and who doesn't.

Gal. 5:24 is one of the Scriptural gauges for such:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires (NIV).
(5) The true saints in Caesar's household sent their greetings (Phil. 4:22). Paul knew the ones sending greetings were saints.

(6) In 1 Timothy 3, Paul sets down the spiritual guidelines for overseers and deacons so Timothy will know who to appoint. In verse 6, Paul wrote:

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil (NIV).
Clearly, Timothy could tell who recent converts were, thereby implying that he would know when a person truly gets saved.

(7) Paul wrote a general command, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:14, NIV). Christians can obviously be distinguished from the unbelievers.

(8) Paul wrote that we are to do good to all people, "especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (Gal. 6:10, NIV). This would be impossible if we couldn't distinguish the true believer from those who are not.

(9) Paul wrote to Christian slaves that have believing masters. He said they should serve them ever better because they are brothers (1 Tim. 6:2). This ability to distinguish one's spiritual family must obviously exist even for a Christian slave.

(10) In fact, even the darkened world can tell true disciples of the Lord! Jesus taught:

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (Jn. 13:35, KJV).
All of these Scriptures are a clear refutation to those who would say of a person who turns from the faith that he was never really saved to begin with. As just proven, the Bible teaches there is observable evidence of salvation. So, we can know if a person has been saved to begin with, even though this is denied by Calvinism:

God's decree of election is secret; which persons are elect and which are reprobate will not be revealed before the Judgment.

Those Who Belong To The Lord

There are specific identifying traits in the life of any person who has been regenerated by the Spirit of God and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Besides John's checkpoints already cited, we also have the following:

  • Persecuted for godly living:

  • Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also (Jn. 15:20, KJV).
    Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12, KJV).
  • Bothered by wickedness:

  • And if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) (2 Pet. 2:7,8, NIV).
  • Ashamed of their past life of sin:

  • What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death (Rom. 6:21, NIV).
  • Good works and obedience in general:

  • But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it" (Lk. 8:21, NKJV).
    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? (Jam. 2:14, NIV).
  • Adherence to the Christian gospel:

  • But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8,9, NKJV).
    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. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Cor. 15:1-4, NKJV).
  • Separation from the world:

  • They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you (1 Pet. 4:4, NIV).
    Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:17,18, NKJV).
  • Freedom from sin's bondage:

  • "... the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (Jn. 8:32-36, NIV).
    Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:16-18, NKJV).

    In Conformity With OSAS

    Why are these Scriptural truths about observable evidence of saving faith seldom mentioned or, even worse, oftentimes flatly denied by the proponents of OSAS? Before we answer, let's consider what else they say:

    You may not know from the outside who is a sheep and who is not, ...
    You cannot ultimately know whether another is saved. But you can know that you are saved. Never doubt it!
    God alone may be able to detect the fruits of regeneration in some of His children.
    Why do OSAS teachers say these things? Perhaps Gromacki gets to the real issue best of all:

    How often we have heard people say, "If John Doe really were a Christian, how could he commit adultery?" But Christians are capable of committing adultery or any other sin. However, if a professing Christian commits the same sin over and over again, there is good reason to question his salvation experience.
    Gromacki wrote Christians are capable of committing adultery or any sin. Certainly, King David, who was saved before his sexual immorality and murderous behavior can be cited for proof! (But the real issue is did David stay saved during this period? See the chapter, We Demolish Arguments.)

    Gromacki then goes on to say we have good reason to question one who professes to be a Christian, but is habitually committing the same sin.

    We must now wonder when is over and over again sinning reached, so we can then question one's salvation experience? Does it have to continue on for one month, five months, or five years before we should doubt one's salvation experience?

    Remember, David was in unrepentant sin for at least nine months, since the illegitimately conceived baby was born before he repented. Should we, therefore, question David's salvation since he deceived others over and over again during that time period? Should we conclude that David was never really saved to begin with because he turned wicked for a time?

    Finally, Gromacki openly states there are adultery-committing Christians. If such was true, then there are two types of adulterers -- saved and unsaved! But the Bible only refers to one type of sexually immoral person and states unequivocally they will all go to the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8)!

    On the other hand, as already quoted, Kennedy was somehow sure the man who died an unrepentant adulterer was truly God's own, even though he didn't persevere in godliness and in a holy life! Furthermore, he was sure about the man's salvation, even though the decree of election is secret and we are not supposed to know who is a sheep and who is not!

    Also, Rice, Kendall, Hodges and many others would say we can't identify a truly regenerated person from one who isn't, because they think one who is truly saved can be just as wicked in his behavior as any lost person and still remain saved!

    Similarly, Robert Thieme, who openly uses profanity from the pulpit while he teaches, wrote:

    Carnal believers are indistinguishable from unbelievers because both are controlled by the sin nature.

    Wheat And Tares

    All of this about behavior also goes hand-in-hand with the OSAS "wheat and tare" teaching, which says we can't tell the tares from the wheat:

    In the parable of the wheat and the tares (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43), Jesus pointed out the difficulty of distinguishing between saved people (wheat) and unsaved (tares) at times. If men tried to do it, they would fail, because they only observe the exterior. God knows the difference between a wheat and a tare, and in the end of the age, the true nature of people will be revealed. Nowhere is it taught that a wheat stalk can become a tare or that a tare can become wheat.
    In contrast to OSAS teaching, the Lord Jesus taught the servants could distinguish the tares from the wheat, even at an early stage in their growth:

    So the servants of the owner came and said to him, "Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?" (Mt. 13:27, NKJV).
    This recognition prompted the servants to ask about uprooting the tares (or weeds). The owner never contested their ability to distinguish the tares from the wheat, but answered in the negative (v. 29)!

    Also, remember, recent converts can clearly be identified from false professors (1 Tim. 3:6).

    A Tree Is Known By Its Fruit

    Dear reader, didn't Jesus say "Every tree is known by his own fruit" (Lk. 6:44), his sheep listen to his voice and follow him (Jn. 10:27), and his spiritual family are those who hear God's word and put it into practice (Lk. 8:21)?

    Furthermore, the Apostle John who taught the true salvation message and its accompanying salvation assurance, declared that we can know if another has salvation or not. Yet the OSAS teachers proclaim the opposite, as previously proven. Who will you believe?

    Why do the OSAS proponents cleave to one type of assurance (that they don't recognize as present-tense only), and then reject John's salvation identity teaching for other people? Again, the answer to both of these questions should be apparent. It's because of OSAS and its byproduct of remaining saved, even if one starts to live wickedly! Therefore, for the most part, OSAS is the root problem regarding all this confusion about salvation assurance.

    Again, the salvation assurance that is generally taught today is the logical conclusion of OSAS and its forever salvation based solely on a past moment of faith or an election that is secret.

    Moreover, people who believe in OSAS are seemingly oblivious to the difference between being on the road to life (with salvation and the possibility of turning back) and actually entering the kingdom. From all of this, we are forced to conclude that OSAS and its salvation assurance are not based on Scripture, though misapplied Scripture is cited for support.

    If the foundation of one's salvation assurance is built on erroneous doctrine, then obviously there must be confusion and doctrinal conflicts which would revolve around such. This has already been shown.

    OSAS brazenly states that a truly saved person will always remain saved, even if he is presently acting in the most hateful and disobedient way. This is especially true of those who hold to the extreme position such as taught by Charles Stanley. Hence, for John to write that we can know another's spiritual family based on their love and general obedience, or lack of these, seems to be untrue. In fact, it seems like an impossibility or legalism to the OSAS advocates! But the problem can't be with these clear, Scriptural facts. Scripture is our criterion for doctrine and the gauge whereby we test all teachings (2 Tim. 3:16,17). The problem then must be with OSAS and what it has produced -- either a salvation assurance that doesn't exist at all because one must persevere to the very end of his life in holiness to prove his salvation was true to begin with or one that would allow the most wicked and unrepentant people to claim salvation based on a past moment of faith that might not even continue in the future!

    Unfortunately, many read the Bible with a preconceived belief in OSAS which blinds them from simple, basic truths related to true grace like 1 Jn. 3:10. Again, that verse reads:

    This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother (NIV).
    One should always approach the Bible with a teachable heart and an earnest desire to please God, which means he might have to change his doctrine and/or behavior!

    Sin Can Result In Spiritual Death

    OSAS people fail to understand that certain sin can bring forth spiritual death to a Christian (Mk. 9:43-48; Lk. 15:24,32; Rom. 8:13; Jam. 1:14,15; 5:20; etc.). In fact, this Scriptural truth is antithetical and destructive to their teaching, for if one experiences spiritual death he is dead and lost, the same way he was before initial salvation (Lk. 15:24,32 cf. Lk. 15:4,6; Eph. 2:1)! If OSAS proponents would accept this Scriptural fact, they would in effect be denouncing their position. Instead, they openly teach persistent drunkenness and mental adultery doesn't adversely affect one's salvation, but only his salvation assurance:

    There is a fourth reason why some people lack assurance and that is persistent sin in their life. That is, I have known Christian people who are alcoholics and I've also known Christian people who are addicted to other things. I know several Christian men who are addicted to pornography and it's impossible for them to have assurance of salvation because of this persistent sin in their life. Yet I myself believe they are genuine believers and if so, they are Christians. But not until they deal with this thing adequately will they even be on the way to having assurance of salvation.
    So, when John states his revealing facts about us knowing if we or others are truly saved or not, he is stating parallel truth as found elsewhere in Scripture, even though it must be denied and reduced to a mere lack of salvation assurance by some, as Cole has just done. The result of this denial is the unscriptural belief in the existence of Christian alcoholics and Christians addicted to pornography!

    Uncertainty Of Salvation

    According to the following OSAS teacher, uncertainty of salvation is from Satan:

    Uncertainty of salvation comes from Satan and is contrary to Scripture. The Bible stresses the fact of eternal life or everlasting life for the child of God. Examples of Christ's promises include "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37), and "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:28).

    The Word of God becomes the most basic and important basis for our assurance of salvation. Man's word fails; God's Word never fails. God wants His children to know they are saved. This is why He gave His Word: "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13).

    Is it always true that uncertainty of salvation comes from Satan? That depends. If that uncertainty is not based on Scripture, then it is from the devil. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit could be dealing with someone who was previously saved, but has since died spiritually because of sin (cf. Rom. 8:13) and therefore needs to repent for salvation's sake. Uncertainty of salvation, in such a case, would not be from the deceiver, but from the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. On the other hand, the devil would want such a person to believe he has salvation when he doesn't!

    Others have exalted salvation assurance even to where they distort Scripture to show its importance:

    And if the elect of God were deprived of this solid comfort, that they shall finally obtain the victory, and of this infallible pledge or earnest of eternal glory, they would be of all men the most miserable.
    The phrase would be of all men the most miserable is a quote from 1 Cor. 15:19, KJV. Please note the proper context:

    If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
    Paul used that phrase, but it had nothing to do with salvation assurance, much less salvation assurance based on OSAS, as the context clearly shows!

    Assurance And Growth?

    When does a new convert start to grow? Is growth accomplished only after assurance of eternal salvation is completely behind us, as the OSAS teachers usually say?

    It is only when the matter of assurance of eternal salvation is, as it were, completely behind you that you are truly ready to move on in the Christian life.
    Peter addressed the subject of growth but never connected it to an awareness of salvation assurance:

    As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Pet. 2:2, NKJV).
    Growth in Christianity occurs as a person craves God's word and changes accordingly. It, especially, has nothing to do with salvation assurance linked to OSAS.

    In The Final Analysis

    Many people have been misled about saving faith, the believer's security and its companion concept of salvation assurance. For some of them their salvation (and the assurance that goes with it) never existed, for they never had a trusting-submitting faith in Jesus to get initial salvation (Lk. 8:21 cf. Acts 20:21). Mt. 7:21-23 shows this kind of thing does exist.

    Yet, some others who did actually receive salvation, and afterwards turned their back on the sacred command (2 Pet. 2:21), think they are still saved based on OSAS and correspondingly may think they have assurance. This is so, even though the same people may be living indistinguishably from the world or would be, as some of the OSAS teachers would term, a carnal Christian. Thus, the same people can't recognize their need of repentance for salvation's sake! They think only their rewards, position in the kingdom, usefulness here, fellowship with God, assurance of salvation, etc. are in jeopardy. There is an infinite difference between this kind of teaching and ending up in the lake of fire, as Scripture declares (Rev. 21:8).

    Therefore, perhaps millions of people are in the greatest danger that exists in the entire universe -- being thrown into the lake of fire; yet they don't know it because of OSAS and its companion concept of salvation assurance.

    Also, it's a false accusation and misrepresentation to say that people who believe in a conditional security can't have assurance of salvation! But logically even if salvation assurance didn't exist for anyone, that still would not disprove a conditional security. Only Scripture could do that (2 Tim. 3:16,17), which it doesn't.

    Remember, the only true salvation assurance is based on a present-tense believing (trusting) in Christ, not a past moment of faith (1 Jn. 5:12,13)! Please make a note of this. So then how should one answer the following three questions?

    (1) Does a present-tense salvation exist for the true followers of Christ?

    (2) Can true followers of Christ personally know now that they possess salvation; and if they would die in their present spiritual condition, they would certainly go to heaven?

    (3) Can we likewise know or distinguish a child of the devil from a child of God?

    The answer to all of these important questions related to salvation is an emphatic yes! There is such a thing as a "know-so salvation," but only for those presently believing on Jesus.

    Finally, let's look at 1 Jn. 5:13 again:

    These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (NKJV).
    John said you may know that you have eternal life -- not "you may know you will go to heaven when you die," as OSAS proponents read into this passage. We must endure to the end to be saved (Mt. 10:22) and continue to sow to please the Spirit to reap eternal life (Gal. 6:8,9)! Since both of these passages were directed to Christians, then the truth in 1 Jn. 5:12,13, which must be compatible with them, could only pertain to those who are presently believing, which is the very teaching of the immediate context.

    To believe in a salvation assurance that doesn't consider Mt. 10:22; Gal. 6:8,9; Rom. 2:7; 1 Cor. 6:9,10; Rev. 21:8; etc. is not only unscriptural, but it also exposes a person to the spiritual danger mentioned in the following Scripture:

    Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12, NKJV).


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