Kevin DeYoung with wise counsel regarding assurance of salvation.
Whenever counseling Christians looking for assurance of salvation, I take them to 1 John. This brief epistle is full of help for determining whether we are in the faith or not. In particular, there are three signs in 1 John given to us so we can answer the question “Do I have confidence or condemnation?”
The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God (5:11-13). John doesn’t want people to be doubting. God wants you to have assurance, to know that you have eternal life. And this is the first sign, that you believe in Jesus. You believe he is the Christ or the Messiah (2:22). You believe he is the Son of God (5:10). And you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (4:2). So if you get your theology wrong about Jesus you will not have eternal life. But one of the signs that should give you confidence before God is that you believe in his only Son Jesus Christ our Lord (4:14-16; 5:1, 5).
The Bible pictures all human beings as defendants in a courtroom: a courtroom in which God is the judge and our sins constitute the evidence against us. The judge weighs the evidence and finds every single one of us guilty of sin and announces that we, therefore, must be condemned. The marvellous news of justification is that God has himself provided for us the means of escaping that condemnation: by responding to his gracious initiative in faith, we become joined with Christ, who died for us and was raised for us. We become joined to Christ, who takes on himself the penalty for our sin and covers us with the ‘righteousness’ that we need to reverse the verdict of condemnation and receive the verdict of ‘justified’, ‘right’ with God. And because we have been joined to Christ, the holy one, and have in that union received the gift of God’s powerful holy Spirit, we, who have been justified, also find our lives transformed so that we love God and neighbour.
Here is some of the day’s vocabulary:
Atonement – The work of Christ necessary to pay the price for sin. The center of Christ’s atoning work is that that he paid the penalty for his people on the Cross.
Justification – God’s legal declaration that sinners are righteous. It does not mean that we are made righteous. Rather, it is a declaration.
Mercy Seat – The covering of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark contained the 10 Commandments and was the central symbol of God’s presence with Old Testament Israel. The included picture is from the Holman Bible Dictionary.
Propitiation – The turning away of wrath by an offering.
Salvation History – The true story of how God is unfolding his plan to redeem His people and His creation. We often summarize the big picture or meta-narrative of the Bible with the words: Creation, Fall, Creation, Consummation.
 See R.C. Sproul, Romans: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009), 97-104.
 C. Brand, Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., Butler, T. C., & Latta, B. , "The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary," (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).
 Leon Morris, "Atonement," in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 888.
 Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 40-55.
 Douglas Moo, Encountering the Book of Romans, Encountering Biblical Studies (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 83.
A good deal depends upon our conception of the place and nature of the wrath of God. If this is regarded as a very real factor so that the sinner is exposed to its severity, then the removal of the wrath will be an important part of our understanding of salvation; whereas if we diminish the part played by the divine wrath we shall not find it necessary to think seriously of propitiation.”
Can you imagine, realizing on judgment day, that you were mistaken about your salvation and now all that waits is eternal torment without a second chance (Matthew 7:21-23)? I’ve talked more than once to our people about what scares me most as a pastor.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (on Romans, vol 2, page 98) makes a similar point:
“. . . There is nothing, surely, which is more dangerous to the soul than what we may call a glib believism.
And you see how this affects all our ideas of evangelism. If we are so anxious to get people ‘through’, as we say, instead of leaving the Holy Spirit to do His own work, we tend to say, ‘But look here, it is simple – - here, you see, the Scripture says if you believe you are saved. Do you believe? Yes. Very well, you are saved, it is all right’. But it may be all wrong! It may be terribly all wrong! And it can be an exceedingly dangerous thing to say that to a soul, and to give people the impression that because they have said they believe and accept, all is well. There is a sense in which we have got to say that to them, but we must not stop at that. We must go on – - we must say, ‘All your good living and all your works can never save you. You have got to see that, and you have got to admit that to yourself and to God. You have got to see that you can only be saved by the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will act upon you. He will bring into birth a new man within you; He will implant a new principle of life in you, and that will begin to manifest itself’. In other words, we must never stop at just believing – - we must always emphasize regeneration – - the re-birth – the new man. Otherwise it seems to me we are leaving souls in a very dangerous position.
2 Corinthians 13:5
If you have questions about your salvation, then you really need to talk to your pastor or another mature Christ SOON. If you don’t have a pastor, then find a Bible believing, Christ-centered church.
Piper speaks to the question of whether or not a believer can be lost in in a Q&A at Angola prison.
This is a maximum security prison where a work of the Spirit is taking place.
HT: Denny Burk
The images streaming in from Haiti look like scenes from Dante’s Inferno. The scale of the calamity is unprecedented. In many ways, Haiti has almost ceased to exist.
The earthquake that will forever change that nation came as subterranean plates shifted about six miles under the surface of the earth, along a fault line that had threatened trouble for centuries. But no one saw a quake of this magnitude coming. The 7.0 quake came like a nightmare, with the city of Port-au-Prince crumbling, entire villages collapsing, bodies flying in the air and crushed under mountains of debris. Orphanages, churches, markets, homes, and government buildings all collapsed. Civil government has virtually ceased to function. Without power, communication has been cut off and rescue efforts are seriously hampered. Bodies are piling up, hope is running out, and help, though on the way, will not arrive in time for many victims.
Even as boots are finally hitting the ground and relief efforts are reaching the island, estimates of the death toll range as high as 500,000. Given the mountainous terrain and densely populated villages that had been hanging along the fault line, entire villages may have disappeared. The Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished nation has experienced a catastrophe that appears almost apocalyptic.
In truth, it is hard not to describe the earthquake as a disaster of biblical proportions. It certainly looks as if the wrath of God has fallen upon the Caribbean nation. Add to this the fact that Haiti is well known for its history of religious syncretism — mixing elements of various faiths, including occult practices. The nation is known for voodoo, sorcery, and a Catholic tradition that has been greatly influenced by the occult.
Haiti’s history is a catalog of political disasters, one after the other. In one account of the nation’s fight for independence from the French in the late 18th century, representatives of the nation are said to have made a pact with the Devil to throw off the French. According to this account, the Haitians considered the French as Catholics and wanted to side with whomever would oppose the French. Thus, some would use that tradition to explain all that has marked the tragedy of Haitian history — including now the earthquake of January 12, 2010.
Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment.
Read more here.
Trevin Wax is building a collection of Gospel definitions. See here. This will be a valuable resource for our Romans Project at church given the centrality of the Gospel in Romans.
I gave a summary of the Gospel here.
For our church family, recall that when Paul wrote Romans he sought to address a wide range of issues through the Gospel. Paul knew that the Gospel is the fundamental solution for all of life.
When Paul wrote Romans, he was addressing a wide range of issues.
Romans is a missions support letter. Paul’s intent was to stop in Rome and to then continue on to Spain with the help of the church in Roman (Romans 15:24).
The church in Rome was facing a conflict between the majority Gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians. Throughout Romans, Paul seeks to show the proper resolution of this conflict.
As is always the case, he wrote to sinful people. He warned against those who are divisive (Romans 16:17 ff).
In Romans 16:20 he reminded his readers that Satan is real, but that we can trust God to crush him.