Today’s Jumpstart text includes the CPC Prepare to Share memory verse we use to confirm the eternal security of Christians, 1 John 5:13.
Despite what this passage says, many seem to still not know, 100% for sure, if they are truly saved or will stay saved as a Christian.
Why is this a problem?
- False Assurance– Jesus mentioned this in Matthew 7. He said there are people who believe they are Christians that are not and they will stand before God and be surprised when they cannot enter into heaven. There are so many people that believe they are a Christian or will go to heaven because they were baptized, because they grew up in church or with Christian parents because they live in the western world instead of the Middle East because they repeated a prayer, etc.
- Doubts when Receiving- There are some who genuinely received Christ but struggle with doubts about that salvation (whether it’s because of sin, a church culture that constantly questions your salvation, personality or maybe even God? And they may struggle with it the rest of their life.
- Repetitive Sin– There is a pattern of repetitive sin in a person’s life that causes them to question whether they are truly a Christian. Lack of fruit because there is so much sin, horrible witness, very inconsistent lifestyle.
- Theological– Some have grown up in a culture or maybe even studied the Scriptures and have come to the conclusion that you can lose your salvation. Denominations: (generally speaking) Assembly of God & most Pentecostal denominations believe this, Lutherans & Methodists are a mixed bag… Anglicans, Episcopal, Baptists & Presbyterians teach Eternal Security.
- Shorthanded Communication of the Gospel– Some did not hear an accurate presentation of the Gospel and a proper invitation to receive Christ. I’m not going to go too hard on this because I know sharing the Gospel can be tough and I know most preachers have the right motives… BUT… Repeating a prayer does not save a person.
A 2011 Barna study shows that nearly HALF of all adults in America have prayed such a prayer, and subsequently believe they are going to heaven, though a little less then half of them attend a church, read the Bible personally, have lifestyles that differ in any significant way from those outside the church.
How many times were kids, teens, and even adults told to go to heaven, to be saved and sealed where God will never leave you or forsake you… all you have to do is repeat this prayer. And I’m not saying people don’t get saved by repeating a prayer. That heart change does happen but there are a lot of people who have no idea what they’re doing or don’t really mean it and that will happen no matter what at times but sometimes it’s because Christians aren’t clear about repentance and faith.
In fact J.D. Graeer in his book on this “I have begun to wonder if both problems, needless doubting and false assurance, are exacerbated by the clichéd ways in which we (as evangelicals) speak about the Gospel. Evangelical shorthand for the Gospel is to “ask Jesus into your heart” or “accept Jesus as Lord and Savior” or “Give your heart to Jesus.” These phrases may not be wrong in themselves, but the Bible never tells us, specifically, to seek salvation in those ways. The Biblical summation of a saving response toward Christ is “repentance” and “belief/faith” in the Gospel.
You can ask Jesus into your heart without repenting and believing. You can also ask Jesus into your heart while repenting and believing, not saying those words in the prayer. Why? Because it’s a posture of your heart. Repentance and faith is a posture you take toward the finished work of Christ. That can and many times does happen in prayer but don’t make the mistake of equating that prayer with the posture of the heart. It’s why we see that prayer is not magic and it’s why we don’t overemphasize those phrases. Pastor Tim often says say it in your own words… Praying the sinner’s prayer has become something like a protestant ritual we have people go through to go to heaven and that’s leaving many falsely assured or with doubts.
But listen, God really does want us to KNOW!
So how do you KNOW? We see in verses 18-20 these four things:
- The Fruit we Bear
- A Pattern of Repentance for Sin:
- Seal of the Holy Spirit
- A Dependence on Jesus ALONE
Remember, Jesus + Nothing = Everything (but also) Jesus + Nothing = Assurance
Assurance is impossible unless you believe salvation is through faith alone.
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor