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You Can Know That You Are Saved!

On March 11, 1898, Peter Dyneka sailed from Russia to Nova Scotia. His family was poor and had saved money for months to purchase his ticket. Peter's mother gave him a meager amount of food for the journey—mostly bread and garlic—because they couldn't afford more. Every day, Peter looked longingly through the windows of the ship’s dining room at the extravagant meals enjoyed by wealthy patrons. He envied them as he returned to his room to nibble on his black bread and garlic.

Halfway through the voyage, some sailors noticed him and offered meals in return for taking over their chores. Peter was delighted with the arrangement and worked diligently. On the last day of the voyage, Peter discovered that three daily meals were included in the price of his ticket. He belonged in there with the others; he had been tricked into working for food that already belonged to him.

Many Christians today are in a similar predicament. We know our ticket to heaven has been paid for, but we do not understand the privileges included. The comprehensive benefits of our ticket are often ignored or forgotten.

Two Declarations Of Your Security in Christ

In Romans 8, Paul writes a hymn of assurance, a song of triumph. Paul arrives at the pinnacle of his entire letter as he delivers two declarations - overwhelming, irrefutable proofs of the eternal security of the Christian.

Declaration #1: Because God Has Delivered You, No One Can Destroy You

If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? In other words, the believer’s salvation cannot be destroyed. It can be doubted, discouraged, and at times despairing. But it cannot be destroyed. The implication is that the person who can rob us of our salvation must be greater than God Himself, since God is both the giver and sustainer of salvation. Who, then, could take our salvation away?

Can people take away your salvation?

Many in Paul's day believed that Gentiles could not be saved unless they adhered to circumcision. These hypocrites tried to place a believer's security in the works of the law rather than the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Today, some Protestant denominations require certain acts, such as baptism or communion, to ensure salvation. Like the Pharisees in the first century, they add their own requirements for dispensing grace to the Word of God.

Look at Christ's response to these heresies:

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; 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" (John 10:27-29).

The phrase "never perish" means "they will never be lost." If Christ promises to hold you8 secure, someone capable of taking your salvation away would have to be stronger than Christ. And since no one is greater than God, no one is able to take it away. Smile, Christian—your security is in good hands!

Can God take away your salvation?

For God to take away our salvation would require God to fail. If the triune God chose us, called us, redeemed us, immersed us into Christ's life, imputed to us the righteousness of Christ, and sealed us with the Spirit, then casting us out of His flock would prove inadequacy on His part to complete His promise to preserve, sanctify, and later glorify us in heaven.

Paul argues in the next verse:

"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).

For God to give away something He purchased with the blood of His Son would require failure within the Godhead and disunity. The Son would need to change the Father's eternal will. The Father would have to get the Spirit to unseal us. And the Spirit would have to force the Son to stop interceding for us. If the Father sent His Son to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), as the Triune God had agreed before the foundation of the world to redeem the Father’s chosen people, then for the Father to reject even one would bring great confusion in the Godhead. Since confusion and divine character are polar opposites, for God to go against His plan would be to deny Himself.

Can you lose your salvation by committing a terrible sin?

Those who hold this belief do not understand the inability of man to save himself. They don't understand—or accept—the redeeming work of Christ apart from good works. If a person does not gain salvation by being good, they can't lose salvation by being bad. The foundation of our security is not built upon our own merits—we had none—but the perfection and merit of Christ.

Can you renounce or choose to return your salvation?

Christianity isn’t like a Christmas sweater that doesn’t fit. You can’t try it on for size and then take it back if you don't like it. For those who believe heaven has a "return policy for salvation," they miss the truth that God was the initiator of salvation; we love Him because He first loved us. A Christian can certainly backslide, disobey, or rebel against the Lord. Most of Christ's closest disciples denied Him. The individual who claims to have been a Christian and is now happily reunited with the world, the flesh, and the devil, reveals that he was never truly saved to begin with. Someone who came to life in Christ will never reach the point they'd rather not have Christ after all.

John describes it this way:

"They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us" (1 John 2:19).

In other words, they preferred the world over the company of Christ and His church. In contrast, for those who truly believe, eternal life is just that—eternal. It isn't some temporary flare or spark but a flame that never dies. It might waver in stormy wind, but it will never be completely put out. Why? Because God ignited it; His grace is the wick that keeps it burning.

Declaration #2: Because God Has Acquitted You, No One Can Indict You

"Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies" (Romans 33:8).

The enemy might whisper in your ear, “Sure, God did everything for you and Jesus died for you, but just look at yourself! You don’t deserve Him. You don’t deserve salvation. You don’t deserve heaven.”

Well, go ahead and agree with him! He’s right—we don’t deserve heaven. Therein lies the beauty of the gospel . . . while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Chapter 1 of Job informs us that Satan has the ability to accuse the believer before God. Using legal terms, Paul paints a picture of a courtroom, where Satan is the prosecutor of believers before God, the Holy Judge. Because of our sin, we have much to be accused of. So what is the verdict? Can Satan sway God’s attitude toward us with his accusations? No. God is the one who justifies. It is God who takes sinners and calls them saints. It is God who imputes to bankrupt sinners the righteousness of Christ.

God says to the Accuser, “You can’t tell me anything I don’t already know. When I justified John and Lauren and Mark and Susan and Cindy, I knew the sins they had committed before they were saved, and I know the sins they will commit after they are saved. I know everything about them and My Son paid for everything—past sin, present sin, and future sin.

"The blood of Jesus [My] Son cleanses [them] from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

There is no higher court to overrule heaven’s court. There is no higher justice than God. He is the judge, the jury, the prosecutor, and the defense. God—the sovereign, supreme Judge—has taken the divine gavel in His nail-pierced hand and pounded it on the bench. The verdict is eternally set—innocent! Case closed.

Five Truths That Make Your Salvation Secure

Christianity is the only belief system that offers eternal security. All other religions base hope on how well a person lives on earth. Ultimately, because everyone knows they are not as good as they could be—or should be—all other religions fail to provide a genuine sense of security. Christianity, on the other hand, places a person’s security in the perfect work of Christ. It is not what we do for Him but what He has done for us. Our good works are expressions of praise and worship toward the One who redeemed us. We do not do good things to get into heaven but because we are going to heaven. We do not do them so that God will accept us but because God has accepted us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

"And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:11-13).

Pen these words into the margin of your mind: our confidence is not in ourselves—it is in God!

Dealing with Doubts About Your Salvation

So then, what about doubts and times of faithlessness? I have had people say to me, “I struggle with the religion of my past because it was works-oriented. My confidence before God depended on what kind of week I had, how many sins I committed, or how many times I prayed. How do I break free from that?”

That is a great question and one that requires a solid answer.

The answer to unbelief is faith. The answer to doubting is facts. We cannot produce faith in those who do not believe, but we can provide the facts for those who do. For those struggling with doubt, here are five facts that will strengthen your faith:

1. Jesus Christ Died

"He became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8).

Our security is forever based upon His sacrifice. We might say, “I grant that God is love, but does He really love me? How can I believe He loves me when I have lost my job; when my husband or wife has left me for someone else; when I have been diagnosed with an incurable disease? These are the times when I just do not feel that God loves me or that He even cares about me at all.”

Paul knew that mere assurances that God loves us are not effective. So, instead of dealing with our doubts on the emotional level—which is what “God loves you” does—he turns from emotional experience to sure facts. According to this verse, we can know that God is for us, not because we somehow sense that it is His nature to be loving, but because He gave us His Son to die for us.

We do not just believe that God loves us; we have the evidence of Christ's crucifixion.

2. Jesus Christ Defeated Death

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith also is vain [null and void]" (1 Corinthians 15:14).

In this single demonstration of resurrection power, Christ was proven to be the authentic, divine Messiah. Though other so-called gods make claims of having power over death, Christ is the only One who proved it. Buddha never rose from the dead. His tomb is still full of dust, as well as Muhammad’s and Joseph Smith’s. Not so with Christ. He is the single prophet/God in all of history who made claims and performed all of them perfectly.

3. Jesus Christ Ascended

"To the right hand of God" (Romans 8:34b).

This is the position of power and representative authority. This does not mean Christ is not God; it means Christ speaks as God! Christ, who is the embodiment of deity, speaks and judges with the authority of our Triune God.

4. Jesus Christ Is Seated

Jesus Christ is not only risen (1 Corinthians 15:14), having ascended to the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34), but He is also seated (Colossians 3:1), having finished the work of justification. Paul writes:

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1).

Paul then tells what this means for us:

"And [God] raised us up with Him [Christ], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6).

This significant and powerful concept is often overlooked. The Jews, however, would have immediately recognized the significance of this word “seated.” Every Jewish reader was familiar with the institution of the temple and the sacrificial system given by God in the Old Testament. There were no chairs in the temple or seats in the Holy Place because the work of the priest was never finished. Priests moved, worked, and labored continuously, offering sacrifice after sacrifice before God.

This is why the wording is critical. Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, has finally fulfilled what those tens of millions of sacrifices could not accomplish: they could not appease the righteous demand of a Holy God. Thousands of years had passed providing no rest for the priest as he atoned for the sins of Israel, slaughtering animal after animal. Christ had come to be the final sacrifice—the one that had been promised to Abraham—but how did He prove that it was over? He sat down—something that no priest had ever done before.

"Every priest stands daily ministering, offering time after time the same sacrifices which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:11).

We can be secure in Christ’s atoning work because God is satisfied.

5. Jesus Christ Is Interceding

If the first four points weren’t enough to reassure you, there's one more: Jesus Christ also intercedes for us (Romans 8:34).

One old preacher once asked this question: “If you knew Jesus was in the next room praying for you, would it make a difference?”

Well, would it? Wouldn’t that truth give you hope and courage? Wouldn’t you feel even greater sorrow over sin but also feel incredible joy, knowing that the Father cannot refuse the prayer requests of His Son?

"We have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ" (1 John 2:1).

We know from Romans 8:26 that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. Now we find out that Christ does as well. This is like two branches of a law office—one office being on earth and the other in heaven. On earth the Spirit pleads our case; in heaven the Son defends it. For you to lose salvation would mean that the Spirit and the Son have failed in their prayers on your behalf; the possibility of this laughable—and ludicrous.

Since it is obvious that Christ has the believer securely kept—He died, rose, ascended, sat down, and intercedes for the believer—it is also clear that the Father is satisfied.

So, what happens if Jesus Christ decides He does not want to intercede for us anymore? Suppose He stopped loving us?

Paul anticipates this question and answers it:

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Romans 8:35).

There are certainly times when the believer may stop loving the Lord as he should, but there will never be a time—a moment—that would cause the Lord to stop loving the believer. Paul is not an armchair theologian, nor is he a best-selling author trying to make Christians feel better about themselves. Rather, he has personally experienced all of these items on the Romans 8:35 list except one: the sword . . . he will, eventually, experience that as well.

You are Victorious and Divinely Secured

Donald Grey Barnhouse told the story of a Korean-American who enlisted during the Korean War as a chaplain. Being a committed believer, he was assigned to try to bring order to the prison compounds, comprised of North Korean soldiers who had been captured by allied forces.

Where do I begin? this chaplain pondered nervously until the Lord prompted him with an idea. As he entered the first holding pen containing several hundred soldiers and spoke to them in their own language, they immediately crowded around to hear what he had to say. He first taught them the melody to the chorus, “Jesus Loves Me,” and then taught them the meaning of the words. He traveled from unit to unit, employing this simple method with the prisoners. As a result, the next few months were filled with conversions of many Korean soldiers who, after the war, left the communist party and followed Christ. It is amazing to think of what God can do through a single man and a simple song.

"Jesus loves me!" This is the message of the entire gospel and the closing song of Romans 8. It is a melody that never grows old.

The Believer’s Security

"For Your [God’s] sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered" (Romans 8:36).

Paul seems to turn the corner in this verse. It is not nearly as encouraging as the previous one. But what does he mean, “For God’s sake we are being put to death?” He is quoting from Psalm 44:22 which prophecies of the martyrdom of believers in the tribulation period. This is the time when the new believers—those saved after the rapture of the church, who follow Christ rather than the Antichrist—will be slaughtered for their faith. Revelation tells us that these Christians will receive a great reward in heaven for their sacrifice.

In Paul’s day, the Roman believers would encounter horrific persecution as well. They were crucified, beheaded, burned, drowned, covered with pitch, and impaled on stakes set on fire.

But Paul, surely this means that Christ no longer loves the church, one might assume—this must mean that the believer is experiencing the loss of the love of Christ! Because there are many who would jump to this conclusion, Paul must refocus our perspective on eternity.

"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

Wait a minute! Paul just called us lambs before the slaughter, and now he is calling us conquerors. How can that be? When I think of fierce, conquering animals, I think of lions and eagles and elephants—not sheep. Sheep don’t stand a chance! This is Paul’s point. It is not the strength of the sheep which makes it victorious, but the strength of the Shepherd.

David said in Psalm 23, “Hey everyone, look at who my Shepherd is—it is the Lord! And, because the Lord is my Shepherd, I am in need of nothing.” Everything David lists in the Psalm—from green grass to still water, from protection from enemies to eternal safety in death, from correction to comfort—is a direct result of the divine power, strength, character, comfort, love, and dedication of the Shepherd, not the sheep.

The first part of the word is the Greek word "huper" (hyper). When we hear the prefix hyper, we tend to think of a child jumping off walls and running around like a little maniac. For us, this has a negative connotation. In the Latin language, however, this prefix is translated super, giving a different perspective. It means, “above; greater; spectacular.”

The second half of this word is the Greek verb "nikao," which means “victory.” We pronounce it “nike.” This word has become the most universally known name and symbol in the sports world; it’s worn on tennis shoes, rackets, jackets, golf clubs, caps, and a thousand other things. Nevertheless, it wasn’t sufficient for Paul. He needed something more than “nike” to tell of the glorious transfer that took place upon the believer’s conversion because it was too weak a term. Therefore, he placed the prefix hyper in front of it and created a whole new word altogether.

Paul wants the reader to hear it loud and clear as he shouts the truth through the megaphone of his epistle. The security of the believer is super-victorious! Our security in Christ is above and beyond whatever the enemy may attempt to do. In and through Jesus Christ, we stand on victory’s side already.

Can Anything Separate You from the Love of Christ?

Here’s the clincher. Paul now lists ten things that seem divisive enough to separate us from the love of Christ. Can they?

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:38-39).

Death Can't Separate You from Christ

Isn’t death the grand separator? Isn’t it the most feared of all? Francis Bacon once wrote, “Men fear death as children fear the dark.” Even Woody Allen, the comedian film director, once said: “I’m not afraid of death . . . I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

The Apostle Paul did not fear death. He was convinced that death was not the eternal separator from God, but rather the door into His presence.

Life Can't Separate You from Christ

Although death may be frightening, life is frustrating. This is the flip side of the coin. Because Christ knew this well, He left His followers with a wonderful command and promise:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

This was the life verse of David Livingstone, the missionary/explorer in Africa. His biographer recorded that during crisis points in his life, he would quote this verse over and over again. He once penned these words in his diary in relation to Matthew 28:20: “These are the words of God, who is a Gentleman of the highest and most sacred honor . . . so that’s the end of it.”

This is Paul’s point: Christ loves you even when you’re down to your last straw. He is the one carrying you through this life.

Angels Can't Separate You from Christ

At first glance, this idea may seem strange. Who would think of angels separating us from God’s love? Well, the people in Paul’s culture were superstitious and held beliefs about angels that had no scriptural foundation, deriving them from their own imaginations. Rabbis taught extensively that everything contained an angel. There were angels of the winds, angels of the clouds, angels of the snow and hail, angels of the thunder and lightning, angels of the cold and heat. They led the people to believe there was not even a blade of grass that didn’t have an angel associated with it.

Furthermore, the common belief was that even the good angels were opposed to God’s creation of mankind, and incredibly opposed to the idea of having to serve men. This is the superstition Paul must be addressing. Even if angels were angry [which they are not], they would still have no power over our souls.

Principalities Can't Separate You from Christ

This word refers to the demonic world of fallen angels. Paul anticipates the question: “Since the devil is our adversary, can’t he separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul gives a victorious answer:

"He [God] made you alive together with Him [Christ], having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt . . . having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers [principalities]" (Colossians 2:13-15).

The cross work of Christ disabled any eternal threat of the demonic world . . . period. Satan has no power over us.

Things Present and Things to Come Can't Separate You from Christ

This one needs no further explanation. There is nothing in the present or future that will erase your secure position as God’s beloved child—no sin, no failure, no depression, no doubt, no fear.

Powers Can't Separate You from Christ

“Powers” or "dunamis" in the Greek is the same word used in Acts 8:10 concerning Simon the Magician. The word refers to supernatural power. Not only does the demonic world not have power to separate the believer from Christ, but their human worshipers also do not. They cannot cast spells on the believer or pronounce curses that have any effect on him. Their black magic and sorcery are powerless. Furthermore, there is no need to fear Friday the thirteenth [or anything else with the number “thirteen”], meeting a black cat on the sidewalk, breaking a mirror, or walking under a ladder. Superstitions and things of like nature have no power over the child of God.

Height and Depth Can't Separate You from Christ

This phrase had special significance to Paul’s audience. He is not referring to points on a line but rather something else—something that brought doubt, uncertainty, confusion, and even terror to the heart of the unbeliever as well as many uninformed believers.

Height referred to the time when a star was at its zenith, and its influence was considered to be at its greatest point. Depth referred to the time when the star was at its lowest, waiting to rise and cast its influence on those born under it. In casting a horoscope, the zenith and depth of a person’s star are thought to cast power or influence over the things they will encounter and determine the way they should live.

Paul’s point is clear: “The stars cannot hurt you. They have no power over your future or present! They do not govern your lives nor determine your destiny. The sovereign ruler of the universe who created them does!” This perspective will have tremendous implications for people living in Paul's day—and ours.

No Created Thing Can't Separate You from Christ

Paul ends the paragraph with this phrase, “any other created thing.” It is as if he is saying, “Look, in case there’s something I overlooked in the prior sixteen things I mentioned in this paragraph, this last one simply covers everything else!”

It is settled. Nothing can separate you from the love of God! Absolutely nothing.

Saints Are Secured by God’s Promise

To remind us of a powerful truth, Paul ends his discussion with the simple phrase, “In Christ Jesus our Lord.” The love of God is not just a principle; it is a Person. It is not some ethereal feeling from God; it is real fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. Bank on it. Depend on it. Be persuaded by this promise from God. You are eternally secure because Jesus died on a cross for you and rose again on the third day, erasing the penalty of your sin and the claim of eternal judgment on your account.

Jesus Christ paid it all . . . all to Him we owe!

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