CAN WE KNOW WE ARE SAVED BEYOND ANY DOUBT?
by Dr. Henderson Ward 4/16/2012 / Christian Living
I am not a lawyer but like most people I am fascinated with the courts and in particular its legal proceedings especially as they pertain to criminal jurisprudence. Most of us are riveted to the proceedings when a high profile celebrity is involved, the likes of O.J. Simpson, Martha Stewart or the case involving Paris Hilton.
In most criminal cases, the world over, where capital punishment is involved the burden of proof rests on the prosecution to convince a jury or panel of judges "beyond reasonable doubt" not on the "balance of probability" or on the "preponderance of evidence" but "beyond reasonable doubt".
In matters dealing with the human soul we are undoubtedly dealing with life and death issues, in truth, matters of "spiritual capital punishment", and the burden of proof to which we are accountable is of the highest order, "beyond any doubt". Get it wrong and the soul will languish in everlasting punishment in hell, so it is of utmost importance that we are in no doubt about this matter.
When dealing with man's destiny, regardless of the opinion of the world, God leaves us in no doubt as to the two alternatives; you are saved or you are lost and I want us to reflect on the topic "Can we know we are saved beyond any doubt?" In this reflection a verse of scripture will guide our thoughts, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7: 25)
The unknown author of Hebrews, a book written, it is believed, just before AD 70 to Jewish Christians, wrote to exhort and encourage the Jewish Christians to persist in the faith. At the time these Christians were facing great difficulties and he urged them not to return to Judaism but to commit to Jesus Christ who had ushered in a superior Christian dispensation of Grace when compared with that of the dispensation of the Law.
For people accustomed to relying on their good works and observation of ceremonies and ritual sacrifices and law for their salvation it was indeed a rude awakening to have to set aside all those things and rely solely on the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. They wanted affirmation that they were not risking their eternal prospects by abandoning the tried and trusted for the new and uncertain and that it was safe to fully commit to Jesus Christ.
Many current believers are questioning the certainty of their salvation with some believing that we cannot know we are saved until we get to heaven and find out. I believe a few major denominations are also of this view; let's wait and see is their mantra. It is within this context that we reflect on this subject and seek to throw some light on whether here and now we can know that we are saved beyond any doubt.
Let us commence by taking note of some important truths.
The sinner is saved by God's plan
Governments the world over (and corporations and even families) very often have plans and sometimes they go to great length to publicise those plans and exaggerate them so that people may think them clever and applaud them. Clever people in business, especially the financial industry, concoct plans that are highly fanciful, make a quick buck and before you know it vamoose with your hard earned money or in the case of "Ponzi" schemers wait until they are apprehended by the authorities. Others have plans that promise much but in actuality deliver very little and this is common in the secular world. The same, alas, is true in the religious community.
From time immemorial religious people have developed plans for man's salvation based mainly on philosophy and human ingenuity and history has shown that they all come a cropper and those still contemporary will certainly suffer a similar fate. People are justified in being skeptical of any plan put to them offering eternal security because the consequences are so enormous. The danger is that most of these untrustworthy plans have elements of truth embedded in an edifice of falsehood and covered with a superficial layer of godliness and spirituality. This clever mix deceives many and are leading many souls to perdition for mankind is incapable of planning man's salvation and Gamaliel was absolutely correct when he said, "Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it." (Acts 5: 38 - 39)
We state here that there needs to be a plan of salvation if we are to be saved and the Bible presents a divine plan devoid of any human content or devices and does not rely on any human agency for facilitation. This is a plan conceived in heaven before the world was made and for which God himself is fully responsible and stands as surety. This for our consideration is God's plan and we need to examine some things about it.
God's plan is priceless
Fallen man has lost his sense of worth and sullied his capacity for appreciation but not so with Almighty God for he values the human soul most highly. It is God that puts the value of a human soul as more than the whole material world and the Bible so affirms, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8: 36-37). The clear inference is that the soul has a value above these things and that is not all. Now consider the value of man's soul when to rescue it from perdition involved the sacrifice of God's only begotten son Jesus Christ. The Bible states it wonderfully, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20: 28)
God's plan to save man was not some quick-fix, ill thought out, ad-hoc spur of the moment exercise to react to a situation but was profound and compelling with nothing exempted included the death of his Son so that his precious blood, spilt on the cross of Calvary, availed to all mankind.
The old system, given at a time of man's spiritual infancy and based on a litany of external observances resting on the blood of bulls and lambs and turtledoves are gone forever.
The Prophet Isaiah looking forward to the time of Christ's supreme sacrifice to redeem man described salvation's purchase as "without money, without price" and here is how he puts it, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (Isaiah 55:1)
God's plan is perfect
We should have known that when Almighty God comes up with a master plan, especially bearing in mind that so many evil opponents would prod at it and tear at it and try in every way to wreck it, that it would be a plan past excellent. Most human plans (and we can be bold and say that all human plans of some longevity) need adjustment and revisions and fine tuning from time to time, but not so with this plan that is complete in every detail. The apostles believed it to be so, the early saints died knowing it to be so and the Bible gloriously states it to be so, "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God." (Hebrews 10: 12)
God's plan is perfect and no one has the authority to tinker with His perfect plan, absolutely no one; no pope or priest or pastor or layman, no angel or demon. It needs no change. Ever!
Accept it by faith with confidence for at the end of the day what matters above all else can be summed up in two words. It works!
God's plan is powerful
Every plan of salvation conceived by man has failed to negotiate the turbulence of life and has floundered on the raging, stormy, bellowing seas of practical living. But this plan is so powerful that it is the only one guaranteed that will get us salvation and secure us a place in heaven because it is founded on Jesus, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14: 6). When the enemy has bound you with fetters, God's plan will break you free. When obstacles are put in your way and you seemed to be hemmed in God's plan will make those obstacles nothing but stepping stones. When your adversary thinks that the mighty blows of misfortune you have suffered will knock you down and destroy you then they will see the awesome power of God's plan as it bolsters your resolve and keeps you going. This is asserted by the prophet Isaiah, "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40: 37-39)
Many have put forward plans for man's salvation, how he should live and relate and prosper spiritually and they were impressive on paper but when put to the test they have proven to be useless. Even today many sects are offering a rag-tag bundle of spiritual palliatives Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons, Church of Scientology, the Unity School of Christianity to name but a few and you need to be fully aware of the danger of accepting anything not based on God's plan for the Bible warns us, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)
We urge you one and all not to gamble with your soul's destiny for there is too much at stake, choose wisely; choose God's plan.
The sinner is saved by God's power
When we are dealing with supernatural entities we are apt to be a mite careful and sometimes fearful because we know that we are dealing with powerful beings. The Bible tells us that the devil and his demons are powerful beings and we are given an example that many people find remarkable. As told by the prophet in Daniel chapter ten Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks and got no answer until three days after he had finished his fast. Then an angel appeared to Daniel and told him why and these are his words. " Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia." (Daniel 10: 12-13). Incredible as it may seem the devil prevented God's message getting through to Daniel at the earliest time.
All through the Bible supernatural entities have displayed their power but in every case God has shown his supremacy. We know that Satan is powerful but God is all powerful and in every case God will prevail as the Bible affirms, "Declaring the end from the beginning My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isaiah 46:10) Jeremiah declares, "Ah Lord God! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee." (Jeremiah 32:17) God has the capacity to do whatever he wants and as regards man's salvation God's power is more than enough and this text tells us, "Wherefore He is able" (Hebrews 10: 25a) and on this power every penitent soul can depend.
His power is persuasive
Salvation does not come by force. Many religions get their membership and keep them by brutal force and coercion but not so with salvation offered through Jesus Christ. This salvation comes when the Holy Spirit, working in accordance with the gospel, persuades your heart of its reasonableness and benefits to respond to its urgings. Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6: 44.)
Many have come to salvation that were devout Atheist or determined agnostics because of the power of God to persuade. One such man was the famous C S Lewis who abandoned his errant ways and declared that "God was God" and committed his life to Christ. There are millions throughout the world who can testify to this experience, as John Wesley puts it, ""I felt my heart strangely warmed" and give credit to the influence of Almighty God.
His power is purifying
Every believer knows, and if you are unconverted you also can know, that when God's plan is received his mighty power working by his grace applies the blood of Christ and purifies the heart and removes every vestige of unrighteousness enabling us to live as God requires here and now. The Bible makes this clear, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." (Titus 2:11-12) This purifying effect is endorsed by John, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1: 7)
We need to be purged from our sins and be right with God if we are ever going to make it, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." (Matthew 5: 8) Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? If the answer is no then let us assure you that through the power of Almighty God you can be washed spotless.
His power is purposeful
This plan of salvation is supported by the power of God with the aim of bringing you newness of life in Jesus Christ, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5: 17) This change, this total transformation from the old Adamic nature to become Christ-like matures in time, and perfection is an ongoing process, but the change begins immediately as Paul demonstrated on his way to Damascus as recorded in Acts chapter 9. Paul became a Christian and from that time all of his priorities were God-centered and aimed at building up, and not tearing down, the household of faith.
The change is not hidden or secretive but is strikingly noticeable, as Zacchaeus exhibited at his conversion and the Bible records it like this, "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, this day is salvation come to this house." (Luke 19: 8) The change is not just noticeable but it also has staying power for it has proven to last and you can look around at the many Christians who have been serving God for decades and are still enjoying their walk with the Lord. If anyone claims to be a Christian and is not living a changed life, has not jettisoned that old life of slavery to sin then he is fooling himself. This is the power and purpose of God in bringing conversion to souls that they may walk in the newness of life in Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
The sinner is saved by God's promise
Many stories have emerged from the battles of the Second World War and the majority of them were pure fiction, some were exaggerated but some were very true and from which we can learn lessons. One such true story came from battles fought in the Pacific theater where Douglas MacArthur was army General. While he was located in the Philippines he was forced to flee from the Japanese and flew to Australia for safety. While in Australia it is reported that MacArthur then gave a speech in which he promised to return to the Philippines, ""I came out of Bataan and I shall return" he declared. This statement made big news in the media but the general kept his word and as General of the Pacific Operations he did return to the Philippines in October 1944.
Promises are made, sometimes with the very best intentions, but alas they are not always kept. With Almighty God every promise made is or will be kept; from the first promise made to the fallen Adam that "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head" as recorded in Genesis chapter 3 to the ultimate promise that believers will "reign with Christ for ever and ever" as stated in Revelation chapter 22. Hebrews 7: 25 is a powerful statement of promise, a declaration that God will save all those who put their trust in him and for such an undertaking God gives his word. God does not give his word lightly for we are told that, "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) It is this settled word on which all believers depend.
His word contains his promise
God has given his word and his word declares and affirms his promises to all those who put their trust in him. The Bible says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3: 9). His glorious and assured promise is to save all those who accepts him and puts their trust in him, and here I quote again Hebrews 7: 25, "Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
He saves from sins domination. "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Ephesians 2: 1)
He saves from Gods wrath. "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5: 9)
He saves from hell and gives you heaven. "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14: 2-3)
Believe it forever, for it is true, God delivers on his promises!
His work confirms his promise
Jesus worked without ceasing during his earthly ministry, doing everything required by the just demands of the Law, to affirm his promise of salvation to those who would accept him. In his work of salvation he accomplished three crucial, almighty things for us.
He purchased our redemption. Redemption means full and complete release because of a payment of ransom price, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20: 28).
He facilitated our reconciliation.
Reconciliation, oh what a beautiful word, means that through the death of Jesus Christ, man's relationship with God is changed from a state of enmity to one of harmonious fellowship, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." (Romans 5: 10)
He made easy our propitiation.
Propitiation means that God's wrath is turned away by the offering of Jesus Christ, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." (Romans 3: 25)
His will concludes his promise
God's ability to save all those who accept him is in no doubt because God, in his determination to do so, has firmly and conclusively declared it as his will. "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life" (John 6: 39 40)
If you are truly saved in accordance with God's word, i.e. by putting your faith in Jesus Christ by the grace of God and is baptized then rejoice for you are saved beyond any doubt.
So here we have it, as plain as can be that God has a powerful plan of salvation that can save us beyond any doubt here and now and we give thanks to the Almighty for such a blessed assurance.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013