by Founding Pastor, Rick Duncan
Since last Sunday’s message – the message dealing with the gospel-sowing, leadership-multiplication, and geographic-saturation strategy of Jesus – I’ve had two questions from faithful CVC members regarding assurance of salvation.
In the message, I quoted my former pastor, Adrian Rogers, “It doesn’t matter how much money you give or how much you attend church, if you are not seeking to win others to faith in Christ, then you’re not right with God.” I also quoted Andrew Murray, “There are two kinds of Christians: soul winners and backsliders.” I made the statement that if we are going to be true followers of Jesus then we need to follow Him in His passion to win souls. He said, “I have come to seek and to save those who are lost.”
These strong statements have caused some to question their salvation. We thought it would be a good idea to use this blog to answer questions that others may also have. What follows is a question I received and my response to that question. Perhaps this will help you, too.
Dear Pastor Rick,
I know many verses concerning assurance of salvation, yet your sermon, combined with a lackluster missional effort and results, leads me to believe I am not in fact in the book of life. You probably did not intend this, but my paranoia has gotten the better of me.
Thanks for your question and your concern. These are sobering issues.
I do understand how the message could disrupt someone’s assurance. But I trust that the Holy Spirit can use this concern to help you grow toward greater trust in Jesus and greater assurance of your salvation.
It is actually a good thing for us to examine our salvation. The great Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and encouraged them to do so. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Peter also tells us to strive for assurance. “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities [found in 2 Peter 1:5-7] you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10). So, examining our salvation and seeking assurance are good things to do.
As the Scripture clearly teaches, our salvation is based solely on Christ’s work in our behalf and not on our works or on our fruitfulness for Him. (See Ephesians 2:8-9). We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Our salvation is dependent on Jesus plus nothing. Someone once said, “Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to the cross I cling.”
However, our good works (our fruitfulness) provide evidence of our faith, our trust. (See Ephesians 2:10). Faith is the root of our salvation, works are the fruit of our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith for works – including the work of seeking to see others come to faith in Christ.
Now some questions follow. How much fruit and what kind of fruit?
Well, Matthew 13 says, “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:23). So, some of us bear 100 fold, some 60, and some 30. This means that there are varying levels of fruitfulness in the lives of true believers. Some of us have a larger platform for soul winning than others. Hence, some will bear more fruit in terms of soul winning than others.
I think the fruit that believers bear is both 1) conduct that is spiritual (see Galatians 5:22-23) and 2) conversions that are radical (see Proverbs 11:30).
The desire you have to be used to win souls is evidence of genuine fruit. _______, God may have already used you in ways that you don’t know to bring someone to faith in Christ. And, _______, God will likely use you at some point to win other souls in ways that you cannot imagine. (See Ephesians 3:20.)
Plus, consider this: When we join together in the body of Christ and play our part, we all share in the fruit of someone coming to faith in Jesus. When it comes to a church’s soul-winning, it’s a team effort, not an individual one. The Lord will consider our efforts as a part of the team as part of our fruitfulness for Him.
You have likely shared your faith with someone who may not have responded. Perhaps a lack of success in your witnessing concerns you. But recall that even one of the most fruitful missionaries ever, Paul, did not always see positive results from his witnessing efforts. ”But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Paul understood that success in witnessing was found in simply sharing the knowledge of Jesus and leaving the results to God. The effort of sharing the knowledge of Jesus with others is a fragrance that is pleasing to God no matter the response of the individuals.
_______, I certainly cannot give you assurance of your salvation. That is the work of The Holy Spirit. But I think your question and your concern likely are demonstrating strong evidence of your salvation.
Again, it’s the work of Christ on the cross and not our fruitfulness that saves us.
Let me encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to pick up our 30 day prayer guide for “Who’s Your One?“ Let me encourage you, also, to pray faithfully at 10:02 every day the Luke 10:2 prayer. As you pray for people who are far from God and as you pray to become more equipped as a soul winner yourself, I believe that God will use you in profound in unexpected ways to help others come to faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
I hope this is helpful.