The question I am sharing today is one many people have. What does a person do who is trusting in Christ’s death and resurrection, yet lacks assurance? Lauri writes:
I was raised in a Christian home by two beautiful Christian parents. I was “saved” at the young age of 6, but I began doubting my salvation in my teen years. I do not believe I had a full understanding of the Gospel at such a young age. I am now almost 64 years old, and I have been seeking answers for decades. I have trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ many times, but my life habits have not changed. I am beginning to think it is too late for me now. I have been in constant pain since 1999 due to an injury…If I believe in faith alone through grace alone, who can I turn to? I am unable to attend church as I am bedridden. Any help you could give me would be so much appreciated. I was given a diagnosis by an oncologist yesterday of having CLL, a form of leukemia. I feel like my time is limited. Please pray for me. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. I hope to hear back from you soon.
I am so sorry for your pain and suffering. Adding lack of assurance on top of that is terrible. I hope I can help with this reply.
The thing that jumps out at me are your words, “I have trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ many times, but my life habits have not changed.”
Lauri, your life habits have zero to do with whether you are born again or not. Paul said that our salvation is “not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:9). The words “not of works” mean just that. Your “life habits” are works, are they not?
The Lord Jesus said the same thing. He said that the only “work” anyone can do to have everlasting life is to believe in Him, the One whom the Father sent (John 6:28-29). He offered the water of life to the woman at the well freely (John 4:1-26). In the last chapter in the Bible, the Lord again offers the water of life freely to anyone who wished it (Rev 22:17).
Over a hundred times in the NT we are told that the only condition of everlasting life and justification is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That message is the theme of John’s Gospel.
When you say, “but my life habits have not changed,” you reveal a huge level of confusion.
What if you were doubting your U. S. citizenship because your life habits have not changed? That would not make sense, would it? Your citizenship on earth is not dependent on your life habits. In the same way, your heavenly citizenship is not dependent on your lifestyle. If you think it is, you are not thinking clearly. You need to reboot your thinking.
The first half of the sentence that bothers me is also a problem. You say, “I have trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ many times.” I do not know what that means. I know what it means to believe that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and that He rose bodily from the dead. But what does it mean to trust His death and resurrection?
I have written elsewhere (see here) and so has Shawn Lazar (see here) about the fact that trust is not another name for faith. Shawn Lazar and I also did a short 5-minute video on this distinction (see here). Nowhere in the Bible do we find that the one who trusts in Christ has everlasting life. Nor is there a verse that says that whoever trusts in His death and resurrection has everlasting life.
There are millions of people in Christianity who believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead and yet who believe in salvation by works. They think that faith in Christ is insufficient to save. They believe that one must persevere in good works until death to stay saved.
Assurance of everlasting life is not to be found in your works. If you look to your works for assurance, you will not find it. The reason is simple. You and I and everyone alive is a sinner. Our works are like filthy rags before God who is holy (Isa 64:6). We all “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 6:23). This is where the cross of Christ comes in. He “took away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2) when He died on the cross for us. No longer is sin a barrier to our having everlasting life. The only condition for gaining everlasting life is believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for it.
Sadly, however, it is possible to believe that He died on the cross for your sins and that He rose again, yet not believe in Him for the life He promises. He said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). If you believe in Him, Lauri, then what do you have? Everlasting life, right? Well, you do, if you have ever believed in Him for the life He promises. But if you think you must add in your works, then you do not believe the promise.
I do not know from your email whether you believed in Him for the promise of everlasting life (or the equivalent: permanent justification, guaranteed home in heaven, membership in God’s forever family, etc.) when you were a child, or whether you have believed in Him for that life at any other point in your life. But what I can say with certainty is that you long for assurance that you will spend eternity with Him in His kingdom. And that is a very good desire to have because God is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6).
So here is my assignment for you. First, ask God to give you certainty of your eternal destiny. He wants you to be sure (John 11:25-27) and He promises that if we ask anything according to His will, then He hears us and gives us the requests (Matt 7:7-11; 1 John 5:14-15). However, He asks that we persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). So, until you gain certainty, ask God every day to give you assurance.
Second, read one chapter of John’s Gospel each day. You will be looking for an indication of what someone must do to have everlasting life. In three weeks, you will have read the entire Gospel once. If you still do not have assurance, repeat. As you read, ask God to show you the truth.
Third, I suggest you watch some of our short videos. They are three to five minutes in length. Go to YouTube Grace Evangelical Society. Click on videos. Then sort by “most popular.” Many of our 35 most viewed videos deal with assurance. Click here to see a 4-minute video on assurance.
The bottom line is this: The Lord Jesus Christ promises that whoever believes in Him will never perish but has everlasting life (John 3:16-18; 5:24; 6:35, 47; 11:25-27). He is faithful. He cannot lie. He fulfills every promise He makes. Therefore, the only condition of everlasting life and of assurance of everlasting life is believing in Him for that life. Take your eyes off your life habits and put them on Christ alone. Whoever believes in Him has everlasting life. So, the only question is, do you believe in Him?