When we’re talking about assurance, we’re talking about our confidence that we are loved by God, accepted by God, and welcomed by God into his presence.
There are two sides to this discussion. One is the side of our own subjective experience of assurance. This deals with the question of whether or not we feel saved, feel loved by God, or feel accepted. It’s possible to not have any of those feelings, even when saved. There are many reasons we might fail to find comfort in God’s promises. They could be doctrinal reasons, circumstantial reasons, or psychological reasons. Fallen human beings are complex, and there are many factors that contribute to our sense of belonging before God.
But that’s just one side of the discussion. The other side is the objective realities that enable assurance. These are objective reasons why a person can have assurance of salvation, and they are the foundation of the person’s subjective experience of it. For subjective assurance to be enjoyed, the truths about salvation need to be understood. Here’s another reason why sound doctrine is so vital.
Here are three foundations for assurance from Ephesians 1.
The Eternal Plan of the Father
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ,
The reason we are blessed with salvation from God is because God chose us before the foundation of the world to be his holy blameless people. Your salvation is not founded on the fact that you chose God, but on the reality that God chose you.
Yes, you made a choice to trust in Jesus, but before you ever made a choice God had chosen you.
This is humbling! It forces us to admit we did not contribute anything to our salvation. We had no hand in it. It wasn’t a 50-50 cooperative effort. It wasn’t even 99% God and 1% us. He determined to do it all before we even existed, so that he would receive praise, honor, and glory.
What does this have to do with assurance? Everything. Your assurance is only as strong as who you believe caused your salvation. If you think your salvation was caused by your will-power, then your assurance is only as strong as the power of your will. On the other hand, if you think your salvation was caused by God’s infinite power, according to his eternal plan, then your salvation is as secure as God. It’s immoveable, unshakable, unchangeable.
The Perfect Redemption of the Son
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
What we see in this glorious sentence is that God the Father purposed to redeem his people through his Son. God chose his people, and gave them to his Son to redeem. We have redemption in Christ through his blood.
God the Father in eternity past had chosen a people for salvation, he gave them to Christ and said, “Go redeem them, and lose none.” And Jesus came to redeem them. He promised to accomplish the Father’s plan and will not fail.
John 17:1b “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” Verse 6: “I have manifested my name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”
Could it be more clear? God chose a people in eternity past, he gave those people to his son to redeem, and he came to earth to rescue those people.
Not only have we been chosen by the Father to be his beloved, adopted children, but we are redeemed by the Son, fully cleansed by the blood of Christ.
Christian, you are clean. You are washed. You have total and complete access to God. You belong in God’s presence. Your struggles with sin are no match for Christ’s perfect redemption. Your welcome into God’s presence is not based on your performance, but on Christ’s.
God chose to adopt you, and sent Christ to redeem you. But that’s not all.
The Permanent Seal of the Spirit
“13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
Now I’ve been mentioning the Father and the Son working together to accomplish salvation, but that’s not the whole story. God is Triune, three persons in one God, and the whole Trinity is involved in redemption. Here, we are taught that the moment a person believes the gospel, that is, this good news about Christ’s work of salvation, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
What’s that mean? Get this image in your mind: hot wax melted, dripped on an important letter, and then imprinted by the king’s signet ring. The seal represents three things. 1) It shows it’s genuine and true. 2) It shows whose property it is, like a cattle-brand 3) It renders it secure.
God stamps his seal on every believer the moment they believe in Christ. He gives them the Holy Spirit to dwell within them. This marks them as genuine, it shows that this person is God’s very own precious possession, and that it is therefore perfectly secure.
God does this. This is his act. It is according to his eternal purpose. It is his unchanging promise. Those whom he chooses, he gives to Christ, those given to Christ are redeemed, those redeemed are sealed forever by the Holy Spirit.
Look back at verse 14: “who [the Holy Spirit] is our guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
What’s a guarantee? It’s something meant to make sure feel certain. It could be translated as a down payment. It’s a promise. God says, “I’ve given you the Spirit, and you can count that as a promise that you will soon receive the full inheritance of salvation.”
Salvation is Secure
The triune God has orchestrated an unstoppable plan to redeem a people for himself. Salvation belongs to the Lord, and he gives it to his children, and nothing can take it from them. Christians, this is great reason to rejoice! We are secure!