Never Really Saved in the First Place?

By Jeff Paton

Assurance, or assurance of salvation is a matter that Christian theologians, preachers, and laymen seem to talk about and discuss as if they know something about it. Most people believe they are right and have a grasp on the “truth” of the matter. Unfortunately much of this confidence in their concept is usually nothing more that dogmatic wishful thinking. When the issue is examined from the Scriptures and common sense, we can see that many have used very little discernment in defining and accepting a concept that is used as a foundational tenant of their theology. Their definition sounds good and meets the end of their theological purpose, and to many, any self-examination of their concept is out of the question. They have the “truth” and that is all that matters to them.   

For those that are open and desire to look into such an issue, I will hopefully be able to guide you through such an examination.

 The New American Webster handy College Dictionary defines assurance: 1, an earnest statement intended to give confidence. 2, freedom from doubt. 3, boldness; impudence. 4, a promise or pledge; surety. 5, insurance.    

 When one defines a doctrine called “assurance” from a biblical perspective, some theologize the whole matter into something much more complicated that the meaning of the word or the Scriptures allow.  Christians from every background can hold to the meaning as laid out by Webster. We can rejoice with the apostle Peter saying, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3.  This faith in Christ and the reality of the new–birth gives us a hope. This “hope” gives us confidence, freedom from doubt, and boldness so we can endure in times of trouble. This idea of assurance is one that most, if not all Christians can agree upon.

The difficulty comes in when some people equate the doctrine of eternal security with the doctrine of assurance. They say, eternal security = assurance, and assurance is = eternal security. To them, the two terms are synonymous. They have replaced the biblical assurance with one that is designed to meet their theological needs. Biblical assurance is not some imaginary eternal security, but is based upon our faith in the One who saves us, and has changed us, and has given us the sure hope of heaven, through Jesus Christ.  Assurance is not faith in a doctrine, but in the fact of a current and intimate relationship. Only “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  Romans 8:14. Those that are led by the Spirit are given assurance. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Romans 8:16.  Our assurance is not in some doctrine, but in the fact that God is confirming our vital relationship to Him through the witness of the Spirit. 

 To replace the definition of assurance with eternal security is to deviate from the biblical standard of assurance. The ploy of bringing assurance in under the guise of eternal security is a Trojan Horse. All Christians believe in assurance, but not all believe in eternal security. To constantly propagate that they are the same is the same tactic that others try to use. An example of this is the term, “the doctrines of grace.” The Calvinist likes to use this term as their way of defining grace. To them, the definition of grace as “unmerited favor” does not go far enough. To them, the “doctrines of grace” is nothing less than the 5 Points of Calvinism. Anything less than that, or in deviation to any of their “points,” is considered as not being “grace.” Grace is not predestination, imputation, or the perseverance of the saints. This method of redefining terminology is all too common and should not be so.   

 Kenneth Perkins, one who has corresponded with me through e-mail, commented with much wisdom that, “ the idea of Eternal Security is that I should be able to know now that if I were to die I would be saved. This, however, is not the case; Jesus says that many will call Him "Lord" but not make it into the Kingdom. Second, if OSAS is true and those people who abandon the Church were never saved in the first place, how can we be confident that we are saved? Is it not possible that we are not truly saved since those other people were not truly saved even though they believed themselves to be? The OSAS position itself begs the question it is supposed to be able to answer: "How can we know that we're saved?" If we can't know until we've died and not renounced Jesus, how can I be sure now that I am saved? I think I am, but so did the apostates who left (who many who hold to OSAS believe were never saved). If the answer is that some people have left that were Bible-believing Christians, then how is Eternal Security true?” 

Now, if eternal security is the same thing as assurance, then assurance becomes an impossibility, and the Bible becomes untrue, for we are told that we can have assurance. The only way to extricate ourselves from the outcome of equating these two doctrines is to abandon the false connection, and better yet, eternal security. 

The Bible knows of an assurance for Christians, but not an eternal security. I am sure that you are then asking, “if you can lose your salvation, then how can you possibly have assurance?”  This is a fair question, and the Scriptures have an answer. We are told that, “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 form all sin.” 1 John 1:7.  If we are walking in the light, we are promised fellowship, and through that fellowship, we have the witness of the Spirit.  It never ceases to amaze me that so many people seem to think that walking in the light is such a difficult thing to do. Constantly relying and trusting Jesus for our guidance and as our hope, and walking in that light, is the normal Christian life.  We can have that assurance, just as Paul found when he was delivered from his internal struggle with sin, “ who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord...”  Through this deliverance he went on to say that, “there is therefore now no condemnation for them which are “in” Christ Jesus.”  And just 15 verses later he speaks of that witness of the Spirit. Romans 7:24-25, 8:1, 8:16. We have a hope, not just because He has promised it, but because He lives within us and has given us His Spirit to witness and confirm it. This is the true Biblical assurance.