The question of personal assurance is an important one. I have a hard time understanding why so many are concerned about whether they have done all the right things and if they are genuinely saved. I am distraught to see so many living in this fear. Please let me start by saying there is nothing you can do to earn salvation or assurance. You and I are saved and secure in Jesus by our faith alone. Stop trying to win your peace, for it is a gift from God. 

Those of you wrestling with these thoughts, stop stressing, breathe, and be still. Keep “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus is our all in all when it comes to our salvation; our full confidence and assurance are found in Jesus and Him alone.

I would also like to point out that our peace with God is one that “passes understanding” and guards our hearts in Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7) Is God’s peace guarding your heart?

The reality is that whosoever believes and puts their faith and fidelity in Jesus cannot only be saved but is also saved. How do we know? God’s word declares it time and time again. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16–17) This takes the guesswork out of the assurance dilemma. God has done everything for you. 

However, many today, as well as in Jesus’ day, are looking for answers. They said to Jesus, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:28b–29) If you are looking for assurance, answer this question: do you believe in Jesus? 

Last week, we ended by asking the question: do you believe in Jesus? Because this should answer most questions regarding assurance. However, as I said, many today and in Jesus’ day are looking for answers to help with their conscience. For most of us, when we struggle with assurance it is about how we feel about ourselves, not God. We have no doubt that God is able and willing to save us, we just wonder if we have done enough for Him to have us. Reality check: you can add nothing to your salvation. Jesus has done it all for you. Paul reminds the disciples in Rome, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

We often feel like we need to do something. That can be great motivation toward action concerning our sanctification, however it is highly misdirected when we feel that way toward our salvation because we cannot earn our salvation. In John 6:28b–29, we read, “They said to Him [Jesus], ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” If you seek assurance, more work and worry will not help you. You and I need to answer this question: Have you believed (put your full faith and fidelity) in Jesus and His finished work on the Cross of Calvary? That is where we find assurance: our faith in Jesus. 

In the first chapter of John, we read, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) Please remember that it is in the past tense when John writes as many as received Him. This means something has been done. This is one of those verses we often misquote because we tell people they can receive Jesus for salvation if they want to.

But the reality is that all who have received Jesus have been given the right to become the children of God by faith. (See Mark 16:16; John 3:16-17) It is important to note that the gospel benefits only the faithful choice of the individual believer: a whosoever. Consider this verse from John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” If you have received Jesus, He will not throw you away even if you stumble. He will keep you. More on that next time.  

Last time, we ended with John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” Therefore, after we have received Jesus, He will not throw us away even if we should stumble and fall. He will keep us because He is faithful even when we are not. Our assurance is being kept by God’s love for us, it is not something we can earn. It comes as a package deal with our faith in Jesus. The early disciples would say this: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13) That means that when we mess up, and we will, God remains true to His word and righteous character and keeps us by His power and finished work on the Cross for us. Why? He cannot deny Himself.

God is not a liar! He has promised us eternal life through faith in His son, Jesus Christ. (see John 3:16-18) “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) Our God, who we depend on, is faithful and true. (See Revelation 19:11) The writer of Hebrews says, “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:17–18, also see Titus 1:2) 

God cannot lie, so when John writes, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12). What does it mean we have the “right” to become the children of God? I am so glad you asked. Please remember that it is in the past tense when John writes. This means something has been done.

The confusion comes with the word used here translated as “right.” We live in a world where many demand their rights and therefore can miss the importance of this one. In one way of understanding this, we have been freely given the entitlement [right] to become a child of God by receiving Jesus by faith. Here, we can add a few conversations about our adoption and citizenship in the kingdom. But for now, let’s look at the word “right.” The Greek word here is exousia, which means delegated power or authority and the liberty and right to use that power to become a child of God.1 Now that’s cool. There will be more on this next time.

You and I can be assured of our relationship with God because He has done everything for us. The key for us is receiving Jesus, but what does it mean to “receive” Him? Let’s consider what the Apostle John writes once again, this time, starting one verse earlier, John 1:11 “He [Jesus] came to His own, [the Jewish People] and His own did not receive Him.” So, they did not do the necessary thing. John goes on to say, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…” (John 1:12) In short, John equates the idea of receiving Jesus with faith as His finished work on the cross. 

When I think about this for a moment, there is something more than the idea of Jesus, it’s an active and relational faith in Jesus Christ, we must lay hold of Jesus for ourselves. No no else can do it for us. (See John 1:12b) I am thankful for the guys at Got Questions for this great example: “When we ‘receive’ a package, we pick it up and take it to ourselves.” This is more than just believing. This is an active faith that is moving toward God. “When a running back ‘receives’ the football, he pulls it to himself and clings to it. When we ‘receive’ Jesus, we take Him to ourselves and cling to the truth about Him.” So have we received Jesus? Are we clinging to Him and all His promises? 

The Apostle Paul says that receiving Jesus is a life pursuit. In other words, keep clinging on to Jesus. Fight for your faith because the enemy is coming to take it from you. Paul says, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12–14)

Instead of claiming to be perfect now, Paul continues to pursue becoming more like Christ. A Christ-like life is not a moment to achieve but a goal to pursue. This is ongoing for us. Paul knows he will never be perfect in this world, instead, he made it his ambition to become increasingly like Christ in this life. This will birth our assurance. Why? Because we are not seeking assurance in ourselves but in Jesus alone, whom we must cling to.  We can have confidence in Him and our salvation as we seek to hold on to Jesus in all our pain and circumstances.

As we continue our conversation about assurance, remember that God wants us to be saved. Therefore, if we have received the Son [Jesus], we have the right [authority] to become a child of God by faith. (See John 1:12) Every man or woman, those who bear the image of God, those born into this world have the freedom to choose and the right to decide to be saved if they freely receive Jesus. God has done the saving; we are simply asked to do the believing.

The most well-known verse in Western culture, John 3:16, says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever [anyone who chooses to] believes in Him [Jesus the son of God] should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus goes on to explain, “For God [The Father] did not send His Son [Jesus] into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17) God wants the world saved. This includes you.

In John 6:37, Jesus says, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” Therefore, whosoever comes to Jesus can have the assurance that Jesus will not reject them. We can absolutely reject Jesus, but He will not reject anyone who comes to Him by faith. Our fretting over our personal assurance or salvation has less to do with a conversation about whether God can keep us eternally secure and more about our personal insecurity, our ability to trust God fully, and be faithful to Him. 

Sometimes, we make such a mess out of our lives that we can’t see how God could ever love us. We must get our eyes off our mess, stop wallowing in our dumpster fires of self-pity, and look to Jesus. The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2) You and I did not earn our salvation, therefore, it is not dependent on us in any way, shape, or form. 

1Finis Jennings Dake, The Dake Annotated Reference Bible (Dake Publishing, 1997), Jn 1:12.