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What is assurance of salvation? As we study the book, “Life in the Body of Christ” together during ABF, we learn that we are responsible for our own salvation. In other words, our pastor, our parents, our friends, or our spouse will not be held accountable on the day of judgment for our salvation … we will be. So then, let us examine ourselves and see if we have saving faith.
We can have assurance of salvation if Christ is the object of our faith. The object of our faith is what we direct our faith towards. The content of our faith is based on the words God has given us. God has revealed He is a merciful and compassionate God, full of grace and truth. God’s magnificent, enduring, abounding love is made manifest toward us through Jesus Christ. It is of primary importance that the object of our faith is the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. The “treasure in the field” and the “pearl of great price” must be Jesus Christ. We must recognize the total dependency for our salvation, sanctification, and coming glorification, rests entirely upon the person and work of Jesus Christ and not upon anything we have done. It is Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone.
God’s justification of those who trust him, according to the Gospel, is a decisive transition, here and now, from a state of condemnation and wrath because of their sins to one of acceptance and favor by virtue of Jesus’ flawless obedience culminating in his voluntary sin-bearing death. God “justifies the wicked” (ungodly: Rom. 4:5) by imputing (reckoning, crediting, counting, accounting) righteousness to them and ceasing to count their sins against them (Rom. 4:1-8). Sinners receive through faith in Christ alone “the gift of righteousness” (Rom. 1:17, 5:17; Phil. 3:9) and thus become “the righteousness of God” in him who was “made sin” for them.
We have assurance of our salvation by the testimony of what God has already done. God gives assurance through past demonstration. We know by the Bible’s testimony whatever God says He will do comes to pass. Because of the testimony of past grace, we can rely on future grace. God gives assurance of resurrection by raising Christ from the dead (Acts 17:31). God demonstrates His love by giving His son to die for us (Romans 5:8). He who has promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). We can know God will be faithful to us in the future because of God’s faithful demonstrations to us in the past. As stated in Numbers 23:19, “Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
We can have assurance of our salvation because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God places in us His guarantee of our future inheritance by way of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). We are sealed with the Holy Spirit upon our belief in Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14; II Corinthians 1:21). The Holy Spirit strengthens us and enables us to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” It is the work of the Holy Spirit which brings about character traits that we were incapable of exhibiting before we became a new creature in Christ. God completes an ongoing sanctifying work in His children. The Bible makes it clear that when we, old or young become a Christian, there will be a change of direction in our life. We are not perfect; but we are different. We will not be all we should be, we will not be what we would like to be, but we will not be what we used to be!
We can have assurance of our salvation because we trust the Bible to be true. The Word of God is where we gain the most assurance. God’s Word will reveal to us the nature of being born again. It reveals tests (e.g., 1 John) that we may know if our faith is real. In the Word of God, we also see the character of our Heavenly Father and His compassion, mercy, lovingkindness, grace, and love. We see the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises and to never lie. In the Word of God, we hear of the salvation found only through faith in Christ, we can know because of the surety of God to His Word that our salvation is real and we can have assurance that it will come to pass.
We cannot look into our own heart. The heart is deceitfully wicked. Because of this, we may not gain assurance from other people regarding our salvation. What the believers in Christ may do is look at three areas in their life to determine if they may have assurance that their faith is real. They are as follows:
1) Confession of faith – The Bible says we must make a confession in Christ (Roman 10:9) and it must be from the heart, not just lip service. Confessing your faith in Christ alone, the person and work of Christ, is a saving confession.
2) Present-day faith – The book of John uses present tense verbs of belief. For example, John 3:16 translated literally says, “… that whoever is believing.” Likewise, John 3:36, “whoever is believing in the Son.” Having “present day” faith gives us assurance. We cannot put our faith in a profession of faith we made a few years ago. Our faith must be real and active today.
3) Obedience of faith – We willingly obey the commandments of God (1 John). We may not do so perfectly, but there is desire for righteousness in our lives and a repentant spirit when we don’t obey. Having the desire and willingness to follow Christ gives us assurance.
If you read this and have assurance of your faith, be encouraged. If you are reading this and you are not sure that you are saved or you want to know what to do in order to be saved, please contact me and I will be pleased to open the Scriptures with you and discuss what it means to put faith in Jesus Christ.
The priests in the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, operated under the Levitical commands of the Mosaic Covenant. Their daily sacrifices and offerings were required so God’s people were able to commune with Him and be led by His grace and mercy (click here to read a post about OT sacrifices). The sweet aromas of the burnt, meal, and peace offerings and the not so sweet aroma of the sin and trespass offerings wafted out of the altar of the courtyard. The priests performed their daily rituals with reverence and obedience.
The Mosaic Covenant, along with the Levitical Priesthood, is now obsolete. It finished when the great High-Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, made final intercession on our behalf. Scripture tells us that He sat down, having completed His Priestly ministry. It finished after He entered the Holy of Holies of heaven’s tabernacle and sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat. Because of His sacrifice on the cross, there remains no more sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:1-18). His sacrificial act rendered the Old Covenant obsolete and established the basis of the New Covenant.
Christianity is the New Covenant God has made with mankind. The New Covenant also comes with a new priesthood. Every Christian is a priest in the new Covenant. As priests, we have different privileges and responsibilities than the priests of the Mosaic Covenant.
Here are the functions of the priesthood Christians should concern themselves with. Welcome to the priesthood!
Not sacrifice for sins
We need to explicitly understand there is a major difference between the priests of the Old Covenant and the priests of the New Covenant. The primary function of the Old Covenant priest was to make an offering for sin for themselves and on behalf of other people. Because Christ has already made a complete and finished offering in the New Covenant, any offering we give or any sacrifice we put forth, is not done with the pretense of cleansing ourselves from sin. We are to make offerings and sacrifices; however, we are not to do so as a way to present ourselves sinless before God. Never undervalue the complete saving work of the cross by adding more sacrifice for sin.
Love God and others
Love fulfills the Law. As priests, we are to love God and others. To love God with all our heart, understanding, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves, is an offering far exceeding any burnt offering and sacrifice (Mark 12:33). When we love God and others it is better than the choicest offerings and sacrifices performed by the Levitical priests. God desires we show compassion towards one another more than He desires sacrifices (Matthew 9:13; 12:7). When we are walking in love, it is an offering and sacrifice with a fragrant aroma to God (Ephesians 5:2), pleasing to Him. Doing good toward others is a pleasing sacrifice on the altar (Hebrews 13:16). As priests, let us be fully governed by love.
Minister the Gospel
We are a royal and holy priesthood, set apart by God to proclaim God’s excellency (1 Peter 2:4-10). For mankind, the excellency of God is displayed in the dispensation of His grace. Just as the Levitical priests were set apart for the proclamation of God’s holiness through sacrificial offerings for sin, we, as a priest in the New Covenant, minister the gospel (Romans 15:16). We offer up the sacrifice of our lips, giving thanks to God (Hebrews 13:15). Our priestly proclamation is the declaration of the atoning sacrifice for sins made by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
The Levitical priests worshipped God by making offerings. We also are to serve and thereby make continual offerings. Our worship is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, not conformed to the world, but transformed (Romans 12:1-2). Our living sacrifice is the pouring out of our lives for others. (Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6). Serving others manifests in a myriad of ways (shoveling, cleaning, discipleship, baby-sitting, nursing, laundering, witnessing, moving, cooking, etc.). We demonstrate a heart of gratitude when we offer up to God acceptable service, performed with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).
One of the functions of the priests in the Old Covenant was to keep the altar of incense burning in the Holy Place. The altar continually burnt with incense and the aroma was pleasing to God. The Apostle John writes that he saw the prayers of the saints as an offering being made before God (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4). When we pray, God is honored and enjoys the sweet aroma before His throne. Just as the altar of incense in the Tabernacle burnt continuously, our prayers are to be unceasing.
In the Old Covenant, people gave to the Levites so they may minister. In the New Covenant, all believers are to be giving of their finances for this is an acceptable sacrifice to God (Philippians 4:18). Apostolic mission work, benevolence, and church ministry require financial support. We please God when we participate in the giving of our finances for the purpose of honoring Christ and His body.
Let us be sure to ask God to grant us wisdom and grace for the ministry set before us.
The greatest command is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Therefore, the greatest sin is to not love God with all our heard, soul, mind and strength. What does that mean to love God in this way?
I have found the commentary by Adam Clarke on loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength to be very sobering and enlightening and an excellent guide for me to use to evaluate my affections. Adam Clarke ministered in England from 1782 until his death in 1832, a fruitful 50 years of ministry.
The commentary expounds upon Matthew 22:37 where Clarke begins by saying, “This is a subject of the greatest importance, and should be well understood, as our Lord shows that the whole of true religion is comprised in thus loving God and our neighbor.”
Below I have paraphrased Clarke’s commentary to fit modern English and our culture. I trust you will find it to be a blessing as I have over the years.
He loves God with all his heart
He loves God with all his soul, or rather, with all his life,
He loves God with all his strength
He loves God with all his mind (intellect)
This is the person who loves God with all their heart, life, strength, and intellect; they are crucified to the world, and the world to them: they live, yet not they, but Christ lives in them.
Source: Adam Clarke commentary on the New Testament