by Paul Benson
As believers we need to have a strong assurance of our salvation. That we are nestled safely in the grace of our God; sins forgiven, past forgotten, our future certain. But we also need to be aware that there very much is such a thing as a false assurance, a deluding influence which causes many to mistakenly believe they are secure when they are not. And it is vital we know how to discern the difference.
There are multitudes who have never been truly saved, but believe that they are; and there are some who were once full of grace but have fallen from that state, and do not realize it.
Contrary to the teachings of many (who promote a doctrine of Eternal Security) the Bible is full of stern warning of this false assurance; and what it will bring upon those who do not escape its grasp. But thankfully the Bible is also full of assistance in recognizing this condition; and how to trade in a counterfeit assurance for the genuine article. We can know our true status with God (and how to correct it if need be)!
One of the strongest evidences that the pre-tribulation rapture theory is a falsehood is that if that theory were true certain passages of Scripture would NOT have been worded the way they are. The reality of a pre-trib rapture would render many verses into a false statement. And since we know the Bible does not make false statements, this one aspect alone absolutely disproves that doctrine.
I like to take the same ‘short-cut’ in regard to the doctrine of Eternal Security. We do not need to fuss and fight and debate the issue. We just need to ask ourselves, “Are there passages of Scripture that would be rendered untrue if a person could never lose the grace that brings salvation?” And the answer is “Yes, there are many!” Let’s take a look at a few, and then we’ll look into how to firm up our own assurance of salvation with a confidence we are not falling victim to a deluding influence.
Falling From Grace
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. Galatians 5:4
Paul’s letter to the Galatians was a doctrine heavy letter. In it he clearly put forth the understanding that those who had reverted back to seeking righteousness by a keeping of the law had ‘fallen from grace’. I don’t think you could consider someone ‘secure’ of whom it is said: ‘Christ is become of no effect unto you’.
What is salvation other than the effect Christ has upon us. We are, through faith, filled with his presence; and the very power of the resurrection itself. But these folks had set that faith aside, and returned to a confidence in their own self-righteous adherence to the Law of Moses. They had actually returned to a condition where they were once again in need of the ‘new birth’! Hence Paul’s words: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you… Galatians 4:19
If a believer could never lose his salvation this entire letter and its primary focus would make little sense. His stern warnings would be but vain jangling. Another passage this brings to mind is Acts 20:28-32. Why would Paul have ‘warned them night and day with tears’ if they were ‘secure’ in their salvation, and could not be lured away from it by deceivers and their false teachings? Through out the writings of Paul we see this warning of sin and false teaching, and the end result of such to be a danger of damnation. Should we think he was not dead serious when he wrote the words: ‘they who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God’? (Gal. 5:19-21)
Jude’s Rebuke Of Those Who Had Apostatized
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. … 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Jude 1:4+12-13
For such a small book Jude contains an unbelievable number of truths for us to grasp. I have read it countless times over the last three decades, and get fresh insight from it to this day. In verse 4 he speaks of those who had turned the grace given them into a license to sin; and in verse 12 and 13 he gives a clarion rebuke of their ungodly behavior, and declares their end to be damnation. The fact these were those who had apostatized is evident in his wording. Notice the descriptors he used:
- Trees whose fruit withereth: These were believers that had previously been producing fruit but now that fruit had withered.
- Without fruit: They were now no longer producing fruit.
- Twice dead: These are people who had been once dead in sin, born again into life in Christ, and having departed from Christ now being once again dead in sin. They were apostates. Twice dead!
- Plucked up by the roots: A formerly live tree bearing fruit has now become a dead tree plucked up by the roots whose destiny is the blackness of darkness forever. The concept ought to scare the Hell out of us. Literally!
Jude doesn’t seem like he is making a case here for the concept of ‘eternal security’ does he? That concept would make his rebuke of these apostates a false discourse. But it certainly is not.
Christ’s Warning Of The Danger Of Falling Away
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:5-6
Here Jesus uses that same concept of a withering branch to warn of falling away to perdition. For a branch to wither it first had to have been green and supple with the life-flow of the vine. But when the branch no longer is attached to that flow it dies and dries up. Fruitless and dead it is deemed worthless; its destiny is now to be burned in the fire. This is not an ambiguous statement; the intent of his words is clear. The branch is only full of life (saved and secure) as long as it stays attached to the vine!
(SIDE NOTE: We should find great comfort in Jesus’ words that no man can pluck you out of his hand (John 10:28); but let’s not read into those words something he did not say. He didn’t say you could never be lured out of his hand or make the foolish decision to depart.)
As we clearly see there definitely are passages of Scripture which speak to the reality and danger of a ‘falling away from the faith. Sadly, but true, there are many who begin the race, but turn aside to habitual sin, or heresy, and never recover from it. They do not finish the race and win the prize. Their eternal destiny will not be the Kingdom of God, even though many of them full well expect it to be. You and I need to make certain we are not found among their ranks on the Day of Judgment.
And we CAN know this for sure!
Escaping The Delusion Of A False Assurance
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: Romans 8:14-16
There is a definite working of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of a believer that produces an inner AMEN!, and lets us know we are in communion with, and also in good standing with, our Heavenly Father. But there is a counterfeit assurance that can easily fool us if we are not on guard against it. And it can be VERY convincing!
Most professing Christians have a confidence in their salvation because their church doctrine tells them they are saved. It is a mental assent to the teachings of man. They were told because they had been baptized, or joined the Church, or said a certain prayer, or because they take communion (or have done whatever else man’s religious notions require) that they are ‘saved’. Therefore lots of people make the mistake of confusing the ‘witness’ of man’s doctrine with the ‘witness’ of the Spirit. And this gives opportunity for delusion, and the danger of a false assurance.
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2Thessalonians 2:10-12
What’s that? A delusion sent from God?
This is a truth so harsh many cannot bear to even contemplate the possibility. That not only is there a deceivableness about sin that will delude you into thinking it will not destroy you (and thereby influences you to continue in that sin), but also that this delusion is actually sent from God himself to keep those without an obedient love for the truth from entering his eternal Kingdom! It is a sifting process to keep the Chaff from entering in with the Wheat.
…the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction … 2Thessalonians 1:7-9
Many are preaching a false view on grace that presents the notion we are just a bunch of filthy sinners wallowing in the pig-pen of carnality, but because of faith God sees us as righteous even though we are not. This twisted rendition of the Gospel has countless millions deceived into thinking they can continue in sin but avoid the consequence of that disobedience (death). But the passage quoted above clearly declares they who do not come into obedience to the Gospel will suffer the vengeance of God at Christ’s return. The true Gospel presents God’s grace as the power to overcome the flesh, and live in victory over sin. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14
For more on the true message of grace as the power to overcome sin please see this article: Finding Victory Over Sin!
Want To Be Secure? Stay In The House!
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 1John 2:28
I wonder if John had Jesus’ words ‘I am the vine’ in mind when he wrote this. What a comfort and encouragement to know if we abide steadfast in Christ we can have a confidence we will not be ashamed when we appear before him! I have posted at the end of this article an experience I had where God showed me this in a remarkable fashion. We are absolutely secure if we abide in him!
And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. Exodus 12:22-23
This reality of the security of ‘abiding in Christ’ was spoken of long before he taught it to his followers. It is typified in these words concerning the institution of the Passover as the Children of God were preparing to leave Egypt. In order for the protection of the Blood to apply to them they had to stay in the house. Otherwise they would receive the wrath of God also. Paul also presented this notion of us being the house-hold of God through abiding steadfast in faith: But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Hebrews 3:6
Concerning appraising the spiritual state of others Jesus said: ‘ye shall know them by their fruits.’ This same principle will give us an accurate appraisal of our own spiritual condition; and acts as a safeguard against possible delusion as to our status. Jesus plainly taught that the house on the rock was the one who heard the Word of God and obeyed it (Matthew 7:24-27). There is no security in faith apart from obedience. There is a word for that: hypocrisy.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? … 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Romans 6:16+18
In this 6th chapter of Romans Paul laid out a pretty clear standard. We are the servants of the one we obey. Contrary to the teaching of many, a true walk with Jesus is evidenced not only by a profession of faith, but by a life which shows forth a testimony of purity. Faith without works is a dead faith. A dead faith will NOT produce eternal life. Those who teach you can be saved without repentance and a submission to the will of God are preaching a false Gospel!
Yes, we need to be careful of a self-righteous spirit that places a confidence in works of religious duty, and sets aside the gift of Christ’s righteousness. And yes, we do grow in grace and in the knowledge of God’s will. BUT, if there is not a remarkable difference between our behavior and that of the world, or between who we are now compared to who we used to be, we are either backslid, or were never truly saved to begin with.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Romans 6:22
We need to continually judge ourselves by the fruit we exhibit. It is a true measure of our spiritual condition. If our religious experience does not (by the power and grace of God) bring us to a place of purity, when all is said and done it will have been in vain. Confronting ourselves with that standard can be a little rough, but the Bible truly sets that standard for us. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14
Finding A True Assurance
A true faith in Christ and his work on that Cross, coupled with a submission to the will of the Father, will bring to you the salvation of your soul. The Blood of Jesus will wash away the stain of your sins. The presence of the Holy Spirit in a heart unhindered by a defiled conscience will produce in you a wonderful inner witness; a genuine assurance that you are a child of God. You will ‘know that you know’, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are safe in the care of Jesus Christ the Son of God!
I hope you have come to know that true assurance!
Here is a short dream / vision God gave me years ago where he showed me the true ‘security’ of the Believer: https://pbenson.me/2016/04/07/a-righteous-dream-about-jesus/
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