So, what has brought me to a point of saying I now have assurance of salvation? It’s no secret that sufficient arguments by well-intentioned Calvinist friends caused me to wonder if God does indeed predetermine from the beginning of time who’ll be saved and conversely who will be damned. If that is true, I wondered, how does one have any assurance of salvation? Calvinists would tell me that if one prays to accept Christ as their savior, then it’s only because God had chosen them and given them the ability to become a Christian. My own experience was that I had come to a logical conclusion that Jesus is who he claims to be which then caused me to wonder if it was possible for someone to pray for Christ’s forgiveness and not receive it because God had not pre-ordained that person for salvation.
A good friend and ardent Calvinist wrote:
We must feel love for God, we must feel passion for God, and we must feel excitement when we consider our relationship with God. To not feel these things is a tremendous offense to the living God who deserves all such affections. What a tragedy it is that Christians have lost this all-important truth in Christianity. Without this truth, how are we to know whether or not we are Christians? Because we said a prayer? Because we signed a card? We often say that intellectual belief is not enough. We will even say that living a moral life is not enough. But what’s left after intelligence and behavior? Feelings! You will know that you are a Christian when you have genuine feelings of love for God (1 Cor. 16:22). If you do not have genuine feelings of love for God, then you cannot know whether or not you are truly a Christian. (emphasis mine)
So, I’m supposed to depend on feelings to categorically state my assurance of salvation? Really? As best I understand them, feelings are nothing more than a response to some external stimuli or thought. And, our feelings can’t distinguish real from imaginary stimuli. Consider, for instance, who hasn’t been scared out of their wits in a movie theater? Was there a real threat? No, it was an imaginary threat! But if I use the logic above as to feelings being the predetermining aspect forthe validity of one’s faith, then doesn’t it stand to reason that Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any other group claiming a knowledge of Christ for that matter should be able to justify themselves before God? On the other hand, shouldn’t one’s faith be based upon the belief of who Jesus says he is and not on some feeling?
A recent sermon I heard referenced Rom 10:10, which in the NIV says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” A couple of things immediately jumped out at me:
First, there is nothing in the statement that it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved to imply that God elects someone before they’re able to blurt out, “God save me, sinner that I am” (or something to that effect).
Second, being the “logician” that I am, I freely admit to being “retentive” regarding definitions. I didn’t actually know what “your heart” meant. I have always thought that scriptural or human references to the “heart” related to miscellaneous thoughts and feelings – primarily from an emotional perspective. However, Prov 4:23 in the NIV says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The NIV Topical Bible says the following about the heart:
- The heart is the seat of the intellect, the emotions and the will.
- God knows the inner core, the heart, of every person, and examines it to see its true devotion.
- Without God’s grace, the human heart is wicked and produces all sorts of evil actions. But the believer’s heart, softened, recreated and purified by God, produces good fruit and a life of obedience to God’s will.”
Couple that with Prov 16:22a which says, “Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it” and I conclude that God knows the inner core of my being – my heart – which is another way of saying God knows all there is to know about my intellect, emotion and will. God has examined those aspects of my being to see if I have true devotion. And I can’t help but conclude that my sense of logic, knowledge and understanding of truth is a source of abundant and continual supply for me. Truly, there’s no better truth than John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son and whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
In conclusion, I was confused by Calvinistic thought; because I haven’t experienced the “feelings” Calvinists seem to think are required to have assurance of salvation. I stumbled because of misunderstood definitions and misplaced applications of scripture as it relates to Calvinistic thought. I sense I’ve now “turned a corner” in this newfound assurance of my Christian faith. In reality, I never lost the salvation I’ve known for years. I lacked grounded definitions and a sufficient foundation of knowledge to explain my faith. If I’ve learned anything through this it’s that there comes a time when one has to accept or reject what the Bible says about Jesus. To that end, I believe what the Bible says about Jesus and I believe what the Bible says in Rom 10:10. If one confesses with their mouth and believes in their heart, they’re saved. I have confessed. I believe (in my heart!) that I am justified. I am saved! Thank-you, Lord.