I have given the verses that tell us that our salvation is assured, that once we have truly accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior we are sealed in our salvation. The next question is, can we feel that security? Can we experience assurance?
MacArthur uses the epistle of 1 John to develop a series of object tests to apply to your life to know that you are genuinely saved. As John said in his first epistle, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13).
Here are the eleven “tests” extracted from 1 John in question form:
1. Are you enjoying fellowship with God and Christ?
2. Are you sensitive to sin in your life?
3. Are you obedient to God’s Word?
4. Do you reject the world?
5. Do you love Christ and eagerly wait for his return?
6. Do you see the decreasing pattern of sin in your life?
7. Do you love other Christians?
8. Do you experience answers to your prayers?
9. Do you experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
10. Can you discern between spiritual truth and error?
11. Have you been rejected, alienated for your faith in Christ?
MacArthur goes on to quote Jonathan Edwards who nicely summed up these ideas in his A Treatise of Religious Affections by saying “the truly saved pursue holiness”. But the key is, we don’t pursue holiness to be saved, pursuing holiness is the inevitable outcome of entering into a saving relationship with Christ. As Edwards said “Your assurance then is based on the fact that you see in your life the pursuit of holy things”.
Our message at church today touched on the idea of false faith. There are many people who had an experience as a child where they heard the gospel message, maybe went forward for an altar call, and had professed with their lips that they wanted to accept Christ as their Savior. However, there was no change in their life after these “professions”. Later in their life when they truly understood their need for a Savior and made a true profession, they knew that they were in possession of a saving faith because of how their lives began to change through the work of the Holy Spirit.
So the big question isn’t whether salvation can be secure, because it mostly certainly can be. The question is, do you have a saving faith? As Paul said, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? --unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor 13:5).
(For details on the 11 tests, please see MacArthur’s transcripts linked in Part 1)