This is all from a conversation on Facebook; anything not in blockquotes is from me. I thought it was good enough to share.
Is it possible to feel sure of our salvation even though we are not truly saved?
If you trust Christ and Him crucified for your justification, if you believe that the blood of Christ plus NOTHING saves you, you don’t have to “feel” sure of it. You actually have it. Assurance means, you are certain of it. When you give up all self-justification projects and concede the responsibility for your salvation to Christ, you can be utterly certain that He will be faithful.
Can you imagine a man and a woman who were just married, and just after he kisses her, he says, “Now, I can’t be certain you are REALLY my wife until you prove to be faithful and obedient to me to the end of our days. On my deathbed or yours, I will finally be able to say that you are really my wife.” I’m pretty sure that everyone here would expect that if you are married, the expectation is that he should count her as his wife through thick and thin, through her best moments and her worst moments. No one would ever even think such a statement from a new husband would be possible. Yet we write such fickle faithless infidelity onto God, while teaching that He requires heroic and selfless faithfulness from us. On the contrary, we may stumble and fail, but He is faithful faithful faithful. HE saves us. He persists in loving us when no one else on earth would love us. He forgives 70 times 7 a day at the cost of His very blood.
This is the message of Romans, this is the message of the cross, this is the gospel, and all of the imperatives in the entire Bible must be understood in the light of it. Thank God, our filthy rags obedience is not what saves us! We can be completely certain of our justification, and this certainty is a game-changer for the way we live and think and pray.
As True as that is, it misses a point. We will be known by our fruit. And as an orchard farmer would, those trees that bear foul fruit will be cut down and burned to ash when the harvest comes. Many will call out “Lord! Lord!” And Christ will turn from them and say “I never knew you.” Grace may be Free, but it isn’t Cheap. Grace holds the price of that which made Grace possible, the Very Life of the one who would lay claim to it.
The Disciples of Christ were given the Command “Come”, and they left behind family, responsibility, jobs, money, tradition, and any assurance of comfort. How much Less is expected of us, followers 2000 years later but no less culpable?
If it is true as you say, and it is, how can it be that it misses the point? Can it be that there is a greater point to Christianity than Christ crucified for our sins? Let’s look carefully at that scripture:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
(Matthew 7:21-23, NASB).
What is it that they said? To paraphrase, “Did we not DO THIS, and did we not DO THAT? Didn’t I DO STUFF? I did major league awesome righteous things! I thought I was the one in control around here. I didn’t just tithe, I performed MANY MIRACLES! Can’t I manipulate God’s favor by my actions, and make myself bigger than God? Am I not God’s GOD? Does my virtue not manipulate His acceptance?”
And what does it mean to do His will? It means to believe in Christ:
27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal.”
28 They said therefore to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
(John 6:27-29, NASB).
Mere belief, sloppy-agape easy-believey fire-insurance do-nothing only-believe-in-Him faith, is the essential foundation for receiving the GIFT of any good work. Otherwise we make it all about us manipulating God’s acceptance. This is true death to self, to cease from all works for favor. This is death to self that is not pressed upon us as a heavy and terrible responsibility, but death to self as a rest and a release and a gift.
Notice also that it says, “I never knew you.” It doesn’t say, “You never obeyed me.” Obedience springs from the love which God has for us, from one-way new convenant love. He is not looking for impressive deeds as much as He is looking for those who have believed the love which He has for Him. The greatest commandment is to love God, and 1 John 4:10 says
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
(1 John 4:10, NASB).
This is the good news, we are genuinely liberated and completely freed from having to earn any acceptance! Christ has saved us, and Christ alone! There is no middle ground! You cannot remove the scandal of grace and still have grace. Jesus constantly pressed the scandal of grace, it is the precise thing the pharisees hated about Him.