Christian Life and Growth - Assurance of Salvation

Dr. Steve Viars December 31, 1999

Assurance of Salvation

Welcome, friend, into the family of Jesus Christ!  Your decision to confess Christ as your personal Savior and Lord has brought you into a wonderful new life and relationship to God.  One of the first steps in the Christian life is for you to gain Biblical understanding of how you can be assured that God has graciously saved you for eternity.

• There are some who say that it is impossible to ever know without a doubt that you are saved and are going to heaven.  Considering I John 5:13, how would you answer such an individual?

• Considering Rom.8:31-39, 2 Tim 1:11,12, I Pet. 1:3-6, why do you think it is important for us to be assured of our salvation?

So, how do we know we are saved?  The Bible presents various "assurances" which can be categorized in three ways:  I. Theological Assurance,  II.  Historical Assurance,  III.  Experiential Assurance.

I.  Theological Assurance 

You cannot be saved unless you know the theological (Biblical) way of salvation.  Doubts about salvation sometimes arise when this "way" is blurred or unclear.  Let's review and become assured of the precise Biblical way of salvation.

A. How does Ephesians 2:8-9 state that an individual is and is not saved?              ________________________________________
The term "grace" implies that God is giving something to us that we do not deserve (heaven, righteousness, eternal life, etc.).  In Titus 3:5, the term "mercy" is used which means God withholding something from us which we do deserve (Hell, condemnation, eternal punishment).  Because we are all born sinners (Rom. 3:23), we deserve death (Rom. 6:23).  However, God in His "graciousness" provided a way of salvation.

B. All people have a certain amount of "faith" in something/somebody/some being.  However, salvation depends upon faith in a specific object. What is the object of the faith that saves?  See Acts 16:31.   __________________________
C. Can faith in anything else save an individual (cf. Acts 4:10-12)?  __________________

D. "Faith" is not just knowing facts; however, faith does involve knowing and believing that the facts about the person and work of Christ are TRUE.   What "facts" are mentioned in
1 Thess. 4:14 ____________________________________?
1 John 5:1   ___________________________________?
1 John 4:2  ___________________________________?
   Romans 10:9 ___________________________________?
   I Cor 15:1-5 ___________________________________?

E. Faith is not only believing that these "facts" are true.  Note that evil demons know the facts about Jesus (read Acts 19:15).   Biblical faith involves the additional aspect of personal trust/dependence upon these truths for your salvation from sin.  How does John 1:12 state this?  "But as many as _______________________ Him. . . ."

This word has the meaning "take hold of" or "grasp".  Thus, one must "grasp" or "take hold" of  Him (Christ) as one's own personal Savior.

What phrases in the apostle Paul's testimony in Gal. 2:20 and 2 Tim. 1:12 indicate that he did this? ____________________________________________________________________________

F. SUMMARY.  Thus Biblical faith that results in salvation must include the following elements:
Knowledge--  of the facts about Christ and His redemptive work.
Belief--  that these facts are true.
Trust --  in these truths for your personal salvation.
G. Up to this point, these Biblical truths seem clear enough right?  However, confusion often arises over the question, "How does repentance fit with faith?"  (Read Acts 2:38, 17:30)  Good question!

H. Many think that the word translated as "repent" in some of our Bible versions has the primary notion of remorse and sorrow over one's sin.  There is a Greek word that has the meaning of “sorrow” (see the “remorse” of Judas in Matt. 27:3).  Based upon Acts 1:16-20 and John 17:12 did Judas' "remorse" which he expressed in Matt. 27:3 result in salvation? _________________

I. The word translated as "repent" in Acts 2:38 and 17:30 which you read in "G" above does not, however, have the primary meaning of remorse and sorrow.  It has the primary meaning of "changing one's mind in regard to sin and God".  This may or may not be accompanied by excessive emotion.  Based upon Acts 26:20 what will a genuine changing of one's mind result in?  _________________________________

J. Now, based upon the previous definition of Biblical faith, when one, in faith, trusts Christ and His redemptive work for his personal salvation, does this constitute a "change of mind in regard to sin and God"? ________.  How? _______________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Thus, when I exercise faith am I also repenting? ________

K. You can see that "faith" includes repentance.  In fact they are used together at times.  Read Acts 20:21, Heb. 6:1.

L. Circle the Correct Diagram         


II.  Historical Assurance

A. Read 1 Tim 1:12-16.  Had the apostle Paul always been Christian? ________________

B. Read Col. 1:3-8 (esp. vv. 6-7).  What past historical event is Paul describing that happened in the lives of the Colossian people?  _______________________________________________

C. Becoming "saved" implies that there was a time when I was not saved just like the apostle Paul and like the Colossian people.  Somewhere in your recent or distant past you have "Historical Assurance" if there was a point in time when you understood the Gospel and consciously exercised Biblical faith in it.

D. So at that "point in time" you understood every aspect and every fine nuance of the gracious salvation Jesus Christ offered right?  Respond to this statement by considering 2 Peter 3:18. _______________________________________________________

III.  Experiential Assurance

You probably have not had a lot of experiences as a new Christian at this point.  As you go about your Christian life now, the Scriptures teach that the individual who has truly been saved will be different than the unsaved world around him. 

A. What are some characteristics of one who has truly been saved or has come to "know God"? 

Consider 1 John 2:3-5; 2:15-17;  3:6-12; 3:14;  4:7-8,

B. Again, why did John write these things in the Scriptures? (I John 5:13)

C. Those who have been saved are often referred to, illustratively, as "sheep", with Christ as the "Great Shepherd."  What is characteristic of Christ's sheep in John 10:27-28?

Thus, Scripture tells us that genuine faith will result in a changed life, not sinless perfection, but a progressive, growth in righteousness based upon obedience to the Word of God.  This is what is referred to as "experiential assurance".  An individual who continues habitually in sin and never repents, never tries to change, never overcomes, or never grows has no "assurance", according to God's Word, that he has ever come to "know God."


IV.  God's Promises for the Genuinely Saved Individual

A. Note the great promises found in John. 5:24.

B. Note anything/anybody which might cause you to "lose" your salvation and be separated from Christ in John 10:27-28 and Rom. 8:28-39. ___________________________________________________________________________

C. Drawing a blank on "B" above?  GOOD!  This should tell you something.  What should it tell you? ___________________________________________________________________________

D. Can the Christian's sin make him lose his salvation?  What does Heb. 7:25 and 1 John 2:1  contribute to this question? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________

E. The Biblical fact is that nothing, not even the Christian's sin (which should be progressively decreasing as Christlikeness increases) can cause the genuine believer to lose salvation!  Eternal life means eternal life.   Read I John 5:11-12.  God says, "This is the record (witness) (testimony), that God has given to us ___________ _____________, and this life is in __________  _____________.
Note:  "This is the RECORD (KJV)."  Not your feelings!  Not a human's statement!  GOD'S WORD is the record!  It cannot pass away!  It is forever settled in heaven!

F. What promise does the Scriptures make in Phil 1:6? ___________________________________________________________________________

G. What has God given to the believer which guarantees that God will "make good" on promises such as these?  Read Eph. 1:13-14. ___________________________________________________________________________

Through a person, or your own thoughts, Satan may ask you, "Surely you don't believe you are going to heaven simply because you turned to Christ and trusted Him as your personal Savior do you?" or "You don't FEEL saved, do you?" God wants you to avoid the tragic mistake of basing your life on your feelings.  He wants you to begin basing your life on that which can never fail--the eternal WORD of GOD containing all the assurances and promises which we have talked about!  Remember that Faith is not based upon the five senses, but faith is ALWAYS knowing, believing to be true, and trusting in God's promises (cf. Heb. 11:1,6; Rom. 4:20-21).

Rest confidently upon these truths you have learned in your study today and overflow with gratitude and love for your Savior Jesus Christ who provided such a great salvation!



V.  Discussion  

Consider the following situations and be prepared to discuss them in class.

A. How would you respond to the following quotes from an individual doubting their salvation?

• "I don't remember mourning a lot when I was saved"

• "I don't think I prayed with the right words"

• "I don't think I remember repenting"

• "I don't feel like I'm saved"

• "I understand salvation much more clearly now; I'm not sure I understood it back then"

A. What would you say to the person who professes, "I have always been a Christian"?

B. What evaluation can you make about a person who does not outwardly demonstrate spiritual growth (fruit)?

C. What would you say to the person who professes, "I kind of evolved into a Christian, it was a process"?

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video