Since I began blogging (almost fifteen years ago!), I’ve received emails and messages from readers. One common message I receive is from readers expressing concerns over the security of their faith. They may be going through a season of doubt and wonder if their faith is genuine. Or they might be crying out to God in prayer and don’t sense his presence in the same way they used to. Or they may be struggling with temptations to sin and wonder if it means that they aren’t truly saved. Whatever the reason, assurance of faith is something all believers wrestle with, asking themselves, “how do I know if I am truly saved?”
In recent months, we’ve read in the blogosphere and on social media of well-known Christians who have walked away from their faith. Whenever this happens, it can prompt believers to ask themselves—can this happen to me? Is my faith secure? These are good and important questions and the Bible provides an answer to them.
There are a number of passages that teach about the assurance we have as believers. One of them is found in the book of John:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30
Writers are often told by editors to limit their use of adverbs. In the case of this passage, the phrase “never perish” in the Greek is written in the strongest denial. We might consider it an overload of adverbs as in “they will most definitely never ever perish.” And why could Jesus say such a thing so emphatically? Because God the Father is greater than all. Whatever he wills always comes to pass. He gave his chosen ones to Christ and because Christ is one with the Father, no one can snatch them out of his hands.
As John Calvin wrote concerning this passage: “It is an inestimable fruit of faith, that Christ bids us be convinced of our security when we are brought by faith into his fold. But we must also observe on what foundation this certainty rests. It is because he will be a faithful guardian of our salvation, for he testifies that our salvation is in his hand. And if this were not enough, he says that they will be safely guarded by the power of his Father. This is a remarkable passage, by which we are taught that the salvation of all the elect is not less certain than the power of God is invincible.”
What good news for those who face doubts and questions about their faith! What good news for those who stumble into sin and wonder if it means that they are lost from God forever! What good news for those who feel weak in their faith! As the Westminster Confession tells us: “They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”
Theologians refer to the assurance and confidence we have as believers as perseverance of the saints. Such perseverance refers to the persevering grace of God at work in the elect. What this means is, if God has called someone to faith—if God has brought a person from death to life through the power of the Spirit—they will surely have eternal life. It is God’s divine grace which saves us; it is his divine grace which perseveres us to the end. As Paul wrote, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).
Because we live in a fallen world, and because we continue to battle sin in our lives, there are times in our Christian lives when we may wander from God. We may have doubts about our faith. We may give in to temptation to sin, as David did. We may even, like Peter, deny Christ. The Westminster Confession speaks to this as well: “Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and for a time continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit; come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others,hand bring temporal judgments upon themselves.”
Because we are God’s children, he will discipline us (see Hebrews 12). We will experience consequences for our sins. As a result of such sin, we can expect to feel the distance between us and God as David did in Psalm 51. But for those who are truly God’s children, he will restore us and bring us back to himself. For nothing and no one can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
Dear believer, if you are in Christ, you have the assurance of faith. You have the blessed assurance that you will remain in Christ to the end. No one can snatch you from the Father’s hand. You rest there safe and secure. Rejoice in this today!
 I am thankful to Prof. Anderson at RTS for this insight.