“When I stand before God will He be satisfied with me? Have I really done all I could do? Will it be enough?” These questions are frequently asked from the lips of the dying. Unfortunately, it is not just unbelievers or people from work based religions who struggle with the uncertainty of their eternity. In my experience, every believer wrestles with the assurance of their salvation at some point in their life. It is also a battle that cuts across every age and maturity of believer. For some, this uncertainty is a constant and ever-present struggle which plagues their life and stunts their growth. For yet others, it pops up sporadically causing temporary spiritual paralysis.
While experienced Christians fret over the sins they committed and the mistakes they made, young Christians struggle with their lack of maturity and experience. They look at their less-than-perfect Christian lives with all the failures and struggles. New Christians often don’t have a lifetime of God’s faithfulness to reassure them. Instead, the future is unknown. They look at all the places and ways in which their life needs to change and they see a towering mountain of uncertainty They fear that somehow God will eventually get tired of their lack of progress and, out of disgust or impatience, revoke their salvation. They constantly ask, “How will I ever change? How can God really love a messed up person like me?”
In reality, all of us (if we are honest) have entertained such thoughts and fears. Even as Bible-believing Christians, while we may intellectually agree that God promises to preserve his people, often we just don’t often really believe it or we secretly fear that we aren’t really part of God’s people. Even while we continuously ask Jesus to forgive our sins, we nevertheless live with fear and uncertainty if He actually really will.
The reason for this is that the more we try to produce assurance, the more subjective it becomes. We quickly realize we can never be sure we will actually obtain it because there is always more we can do or be. Real, rest giving assurance constantly eludes us because the more we struggle to earn it, the further away it seems. Even if we pray more, read the Bible more, do more in the way of missions, or strive more for purity and obedience; we will not find the assurance of our salvation we so desperately seek.
This is because assurance cannot be earned or produced by us; it is something given to us. Assurance of our salvation is a gift that comes with not after the gospel. It is a precious gift of faith from God by the grace found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Luke writes in Acts 17:31, “because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Christians find assurance in the person and work of Christ. It is found in our union with him, because just as he was raised and ascended into heaven, so shall those that are in Him.
An assurance of salvation is an inseparable part of the gospel, that we receive at the same time as we faith. The fact is, whoever believes, has eternal life already. If we are united to Christ, then we have all the promises and pleasures of Christ. Our union is not conditioned or progressive based on our deeds. It is unconditional and secure based on Christ’s work.
We don’t need to look for assurance in our deeds or personal holiness if it were it would turn our Christian lives into a roller coaster of sharp ups and downs, twists, and turns. An assurance of salvation that depends upon us is purely subjective. For the believer, assurance is an objective reality, as unchangeable as the God who offered it to us. For the Christian, we need only to look to Christ, his work for us, and our union in Him. He is the rock of our salvation. He is the objective proof, and it is Himself along with his work which is our assurance. 2 Samuel 22:47, “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation.”