It is certainly possible for a person to know that he is saved and is ready to meet God. In fact, God intends and desires us to have this assurance.
First, however, we should realize that trying to live a Christian life is not sufficient. As the Apostle Paul says, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:18, 19). If such a man as Paul found it impossible to live as he should, in spite of his sincere desire to do so, then this will certainly be true of the rest of us.
But what Paul could not do himself, Christ accomplished in him. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Just as Paul did, when one believes in his heart that Christ gave Himself for him—that is, He suffered and died as his substitute, bearing God’s judgment for his sins—then he can know the real joy and peace of all sins completely forgiven. Since he was thus judged by God to be dead because of sin, he is then also reckoned by Him to be raised from the dead, to a new life in Christ. He thenceforth lives in and through the believer, and His power and guidance will enable that one to live a true Christian life.
Having been thus “born again” (note John 3:3), he can then claim all the Bible’s gracious promises for assurances of salvation, some of which are as follows:
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life (1 John 5:13). For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12). Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him (1 John 2:5). The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16). We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren (1 John 3:14).
These and many other Scriptures show that a person may rightly claim that he knows that he is saved, provided that he has been born into a new life through faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and his personal Savior from sin. The reality of this faith and his new life in Christ will be shown, both to him and to others, by his love and respect for the Word of God and for his fellow Christians, and will be confirmed in his own heart by the witness of the Holy Spirit, who has come to indwell him. Therefore, if one is really a Christian in the true sense, he should have genuine assurance that he is in full possession of God’s great salvation.
- Question: “Can a person receive Christ as his Savior without accepting Him as Lord?”
Answer: The doctrine of the Lordship of Christ is an integral part of the “doctrine of Christ.” As will be pointed out later, the doctrine of Christ is really the entire system of Christ’s teachings. These can be conveniently grouped under the categories: teachings concerning His person, His work, and His relationship to us as Lord.
The Scripture says that whosoever “abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God” (2 John 9). This obviously implies far more than a mere spoken or ritualistic assent to certain historical facts. To “believe,” in the Biblical usage, means to “trust completely,” to “rely fully.” One must come to Christ under the conviction that he is unable to help himself in any way, absolutely “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). He must recognize and accept Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, who died on the cross in payment for his sins, both satisfying the justice of God and manifesting the love of God. He must believe that Christ, raised from the dead and with all power, is able and willing to save him, forgiving his sins and assuring him of eternal life.
But he cannot come to Christ in a bargaining posture, willing to accept Him as Savior provided he does not have to accept Him as Lord. If he must first be assured that he can retain certain pet beliefs or practices before he will commit himself to Christ, he will never be saved. He is “dead in sins,” and a dead man does not make conditions or bargains.
It is clear from the Scriptures that true conversion makes Christ the Lord of one’s life as well as his Savior from the penalty of sin. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (not just believe on Jesus), and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Similarly, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). Also, “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Jesus said to His disciples: “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well: for so am I” (John 13:13).
It is interesting and significant that, in the four Gospels, none of the disciples ever addressed the Lord Jesus by His given name, “Jesus.” Normally they addressed Him as “Lord,” occasionally as “Master.” In the narrative portions of the Gospels, statements about His activities do frequently use His human name “Jesus,” but His disciples always addressed Him as “Lord,” and this is what we should do as well. “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). To us, therefore, He is “the Lord Jesus Christ,” and it is most appropriate for us normally to speak of Him this way.
Of course, it is hypocritical and meaningless to call Him “Lord” unless He really is the Lord of our lives. “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Christ must be our Lord in reality as well as in name. This means that we are His servants and that we obey His commandments. Similarly, He is our Master (literally “teacher”) and we are His disciples (literally “learners”), so that we also believe His words. Thus, the doctrine of His Lordship involves our acceptance of His absolute authority, both in belief and in practice. “Ye are not your own … For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
Acceptance of Christ’s Lordship, for example, certainly entails acceptance of the Bible as the fully inspired, fully authoritative, inerrant Word of God. He said, for example, “The Scriptures cannot be broken.” With respect to the Pentateuch, He said: “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words?” (John 5:46, 47). It is obviously impossible to believe truly in Christ as Lord if we reject any of His own beliefs or teachings.
Similarly, if He is really our Lord and we are His servants (literally “bond-slaves”), we will earnestly try to understand and obey all His commands—beginning with baptism and then all the rest. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).
Thus the “doctrine of Christ” is not some emasculated, least-common-denominator, non-controversial preaching of “another Jesus, whom we have not preached” (2 Corinthians 11:4), such as is becoming very common today, even in evangelical churches and fellowships. Rather it is “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), the entire body of “the faith once-for-all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3), and one cannot safely reject or ignore any part of it. One who truly is saved, and who therefore loves the Lord Jesus Christ, even though in this life he may be unable to understand completely and obey all His words, will surely believe them and, by His grace, seek to follow them as the Lord reveals them to him through the Scriptures.
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