How sure are you of your salvation?

How sure are you of your salvation?

How do we know if we are saved?

As Christians we believe that salvation is a central aspect of our faith, so understanding how we can know that we have received it is a critical question, perhaps the most important of all. Some Christian denominations, especially evangelical ones based on biblical scriptures, teach that salvation is obtained solely by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. This means that salvation is a gift gratuitous given by God, which cannot be earned or deserved by any human effort or merit, and the most valuable, cannot be taken away by anything or anyone. According to this view, salvation is a work of God, not human effort or merit.

This doctrinal view also teaches that salvation is a process that begins with God's call, continues with regeneration, justification, sanctification, and ends with glorification. Each of these steps plays a crucial role in the salvation process.

  • God's call it is the initial invitation by which the Holy Spirit draws people to Him, leading them to salvation.
  • regeneration it is the moment of being born again, in which God grants the believer a new heart and new desires.  
  • The justification it is when God declares the sinner righteous, based on the finished work of Christ on the cross.
  • sanctification it is the process of becoming more like Christ that occurs throughout the believer's life.
  • glorification it is when the believer receives his perfected body and enters eternal life in the presence of God.

One way to know if we are saved according to this doctrinal view is by examining our faith. Faith is the crux of salvation, and he emphasizes that we must put our faith in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, since it is not enough to try to earn salvation through our own efforts, but rather we must trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. It also teaches that true faith will produce evidence of regeneration and sanctification in our lives and that we will see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which includes love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control (Galatians 5 : 22-23).

The concept of salvation differs between the different Christian denominations, and each one has its point of view on how to know if we are saved. Despite the differences, all denominations agree that salvation is obtained through faith in Jesus Christ, which is widely supported biblically. The differences lie in how they understand faith and how it relates to salvation. For example, the Catholic and Orthodox churches believe that salvation is a lifelong process of growth in holiness that begins at baptism. They see faith as a relationship with God that is nurtured through participation in the sacraments and the practice of good works, and they also believe that salvation is lost through mortal sins.

On the other hand, most evangelical churches, or commonly called Protestants, emphasize that faith alone in Jesus Christ for salvation is the only thing necessary, since it is what has the most biblical support. They also stress the importance of repentance and regeneration as evidence of true faith. Some Protestant denominations also believe in the possibility that salvation can be lost, while others strongly believe in the perseverance of the saints (once saved, always saved).

Why do the Catholic and Protestant views of salvation differ so much?

The Catholic view of salvation is actually very different from the Protestant view, as it emphasizes the importance of the sacraments and good works, as well as faith in Jesus in order to be saved by God. Catholicism teaches that salvation is a process that begins with baptism and continues throughout life through participation in the sacraments and the practice of good works. Catholics believe that salvation comes through faith in Jesus, yes, but that this faith must be lived out through good works and participation in the sacraments. Catholics also believe that salvation is lost through mortal sins, which are deliberate and serious violations of God's law.

This position has been seen as contradictory or confusing in comparison to the Protestant view of salvation, which claims that salvation in strict accordance with the Bible is an unmerited gift from God through faith in Jesus alone.

Many Protestant groups have called the Catholic view of salvation heretical for centuries, and it is part of a long list of disagreements they have had for many years and part of their breakup. Since they affirm that the Catholic Church unjustifiably added charges and requirements to a gift that according to the Bible is free, requirements that God does not demand for salvation to be obtained or sustained.

From the Catholic point of view, they affirm that the sacraments are channels of grace through which God communicates his saving power to the believer, and that the sacraments are not a means to gain salvation, but rather a way of cooperating with the grace of God and grow in holiness. Similarly, good works are seen as a natural consequence of faith, not as a means to earn salvation. Despite these explanations over time, many claim that there is no biblical basis for these Catholic additions to the subject of salvation.

Is salvation lost?

The question of whether salvation is lost is one of the most debated topics among Christians. Some denominations believe that once a person has genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are eternally secure and cannot lose their salvation. This widely supported Biblical point of view is based on the idea that salvation is the exclusive work of God's grace, which cannot be won or lost by human effort. This view is often associated with Calvinism, a branch of Reformed theology that emphasizes the sovereignty of God and the absolute certainty of salvation for the elect.

Some evangelical denominations also believe that salvation is lost. According to this view, a person's salvation is not guaranteed, but rather depends on their continued faith in and obedience to God. If a person rejects God or walks away from their faith, they can lose their salvation. This view is often called "conditional security" or "conditional perseverance." Advocates of conditional security point to Biblical passages that warn against straying from faith and emphasize the need for perseverance and endurance (Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-31, 1 Corinthians 9:27). They also argue that eternal security can lead to complacency and a lack of responsibility for one's actions.

Similar to the Catholic position, they believe that apart from God's sovereign decision to give salvation as an undeserved gift, works that reflect faith and obedience are necessary to keep this gift current. Which, as you can imagine, has been another doctrinal conflict for centuries with other denominations that claim that the Bible does not state such a requirement. They argue that if salvation cannot be earned by works, since it is a gift from God, it does not make sense that it can be sustained by works, since a gift, by definition, is not conditional, if it were, it would not be a gift, it would be a prize or a remuneration for a job and clearly the bible states that it is free.

On the other hand, eternal security advocates point to biblical passages that emphasize the believer's security and the eternal nature of salvation (John 10:27-29, Romans 8:38-39). They argue that if salvation is lost, it would undermine the certainty and sufficiency of God's grace.

The perseverance of the saints (once saved, always saved)

The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, also known as the doctrine of eternal security, affirms that those who have genuinely received salvation through faith in Christ will not lose their salvation, but despite the ups and downs they will have throughout their Christian life they will persevere in their faith to the end. According to this doctrine, salvation is a gift from God, which cannot be gained or lost through human effort and that this gift is available to all who have accepted the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

Proponents of the doctrine of the perseverance of saints argue that salvation is based entirely on God's initiative and not on human decision, effort, or merit. This means that salvation is a gift that cannot be won or lost by anyone, but depends entirely on God. As such, those who have genuinely received Jesus Christ as their savior will inevitably persevere in their faith to the end.

The doctrine of the perseverance of saints has been criticized by some, who argue that it leads to a lack of responsibility and may encourage complacency. These critics point to Biblical passages that warn against drifting away from the faith, such as Hebrews 6:4-6, which describes those who have “tasted the heavenly gift” and then drifted away, making it impossible to restore them to repentance. However, proponents of the doctrine argue that these passages are not referring to genuine believers, but to those who have only made a superficial profession of faith.

Key points and supporting Bible verses for each doctrine.

Doctrine of the perseverance of the saints:

Key points:

  • Believers who have genuinely received salvation through faith in Christ will not lose their salvation.
  • Salvation is a gift from God, which cannot be gained or lost through human effort.
  • Believers are held firmly in the hand of God, and no one can take them away.

Bible verses:

  • John 6:37-39: “Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and he who comes to me I will never drive away. For I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I will not lose any of all those he has given me.but I will raise them up on the last day."
  • John 10:27-29: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.
  • Romans 8:38-39: "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor the present, nor the future, nor any power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  • Philippians 1:6: "Trusting in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it out until the day of Christ Jesus."
  • 1 Peter 1:3-5: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and in an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are protected by the power of God until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:8-9: “He too will keep you firm to the end., so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you to communion with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
  • Jude 1:24-25: “To the one who is able to keep you, to stumble and to present you before his glorious presence, without guilt and with great joy, to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, before all centuries, now and forever! Amen".

Doctrine that salvation is lost:

Key points:

  • Believers can choose to turn away from God and reject their salvation
  • Continued disobedience and unrepentant sin can lead to loss of salvation
  • Assurance of salvation is not guaranteed, but depends on continued faith and obedience.

Bible verses:

  • Hebrews 6:4-6: “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have participated in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and that they have fallen, be brought back to repentance. To their loss, they are crucifying the Son of God anew and subjecting him to public disgrace."
  • Hebrews 10:26-27: “If we deliberately continue to sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no sacrifice for sins, but only a terrible expectation of judgment and fire furious that will consume the enemies of God.”
  • 2 Peter 2:20-22: “If they have escaped the corruption of the world, knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and are again entangled in it, and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than to have known it, and then turned their backs on the sacred mandate that was handed down to them. Of them, the proverbs are true: A dog returns to its vomit and, A sow that washes returns to roll in the mud.
  • Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me: Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me that day: Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name we cast out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles? Then I will tell them clearly: I never met you. Get away from me, evildoers!"
  • 1 Corinthians 9:27: “No, I strike a blow at my body and make it my slave, so that after having preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified from the prize”.
  • Revelation 3:5: “He who is victorious, like them, will be clothed in white. I will never erase that person's name from the book of life, but I will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels."
  • 1 John 2:19 “They came from us, but they were not from us; because if they had been from us, they would undoubtedly have continued with us: but they went out, so that it would be manifested to them that it was not all of us.”

Which doctrine is correct?

While both doctrines have biblical support, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints objectively has stronger biblical support and clarity. The Bible clearly emphasizes the security and certainty of salvation for believers who have genuinely received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. However, the doctrine that salvation is lost is also supported by several biblical passages that warn of the possibility that people who have not genuinely received Jesus Christ as their savior move away from the faith and continue in sin indefinitely.

It is important to analyze and study the context of all the above verses, as these suggest that salvation cannot be lost by believers. genuine. In other words, those who were once close to the Christian faith and permanently strayed into deliberate sin, without contrition or repentance, are understood to have never been part of God's family, since they never reflected genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

How can this be possible?

Not everyone who calls himself a Christian is. Attending a church, knowing the Bible from beginning to end, preaching, doing good works and even being baptized, do not necessarily mean having a personal relationship with God or faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. These attributes, while it is true, every Christian should have, is not what makes a genuine Christian.

A person without being baptized, without congregating in a church, with limited knowledge of the scriptures, but with an unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, is more of a Christian and his salvation is more guaranteed than one who boasts his Christianity by mouth for everything he does superficially.

This may be hard to accept, especially for those who have spent a lifetime of service in their congregations, but the biblical support exists. Like the case of the thief crucified next to Jesus, who despite having been a thug, recognizing by faith that the one who was next to him was the Christ, was granted salvation minutes before he died (Luke 23:39). This act of faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ won him over and guaranteed his salvation over a lifetime of sin.

The Bible shows us that there is a marked difference between the genuine believer and the false or superficial one. The genuine believer is the one who has a solid faith in Jesus Christ and thanks to this his guaranteed salvation according to the Bible. Now this is not to say that the genuine believer cannot temporarily fall into sin or spiritual weakness.

Even the same disciples of Jesus Christ who walked with him for 3 years repeatedly fell into temptation and sin, as happened with Peter, when he denied Christ 3 times and was later restored to faith. His fall was temporary and not permanent, so his salvation was never in jeopardy.

Following the example of the disciples, one can examine the clear example of Judas Iscariot, who, like Peter, was also part of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. Despite having walked with Jesus for 3 years, the Bible tells us that his intentions were always material and superficial (John 12:4-6), to the point that when he sinned by handing over his teacher, there was no basis of genuine faith that would make him return from his sin, since he never had it and when he was caught up in his misfortune he decided to take his own life, so it could not be restored.

How does this apply to us believers?

Many wonder if every time we sin in word, deed or thought, if this means that we are no longer genuine believers and if we have lost our salvation.

No way!

As human beings we will have setbacks and weaknesses at different times of our lives, where our faith and spirituality will not be at their best. Unfortunately, sinning is part of our human nature here on earth, but despite this, the Bible affirms that there is abundant grace and forgiveness from God for the repentant sinner who wants to be restored and return to the right path.

1 John 1:8-10 It says that: “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Believers are sinful human beings by nature in the process of sanctification who will fall and rise again and again until the day of our encounter with God. As it says: Philippians 1:6: "confident in this, that he who began a good work in you (God) will carry it out until the day of Christ Jesus."

The conflict of the human being with salvation does not lie in sin, since we all sin. It lies in faith in Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, the believer who has put his faith in Jesus Christ, God has given him his salvation, without the believer having done anything (good or bad). Therefore, despite their falls and weaknesses, the believer in Jesus Christ will always be protected by the grace of God. Fulfilling the scripture that God does not lose any of his chosen ones (John 10:27-29). On the contrary, that sinner who lacks a genuine faith in Jesus Christ does not have this coverage of grace that guarantees his salvation.

So salvation has always been about faith in Jesus Christ and not about the works (good or bad) of the human being. The Bible tells us that there is nothing in creation capable of snatching us out of God's hands, for there is no power greater than his (Romans: 8:38-39). Based on the above, we can ensure that the salvation of the believer in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, despite his ups and downs on this earth, is assured.

Written by:
Picture of José García

Jose Garcia

José García is a young Christian writer, a scholar of the Holy Scriptures and an active leader of his local church since he was a child, where he spends much of his time sharing his message.

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