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For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
(1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Scores of people pray the Apostles' Creed and affirm, "I believe in God the Father, maker of Heaven and Earth..." But when the lights are out and they lie awake, thinking about their lives, they are not at all certain that if they died, they would go to heaven. Oh, they know the language, all right. They have memorized the creeds. They go through the motions, but they wonder way down inside. Frankly, what they lack is assurance.

In one of our Guidelines publications entitled, "How May I Know I am Born Again?" Dr. Guy Duffield talks about this very issue. He believes that there are five major reasons for uncertainty. 1) Some folks are trying to earn their salvation, and they can never be sure if they have done enough to cover the debt of their sins. 2) Others think they are O.K. when, in reality, they have never been born again. 3) Some have failed to deal with sin in their lives so they are off balance, unsure, uncertain. 4) Some don't really believe what God says in His Word; they are the ones who haven't settled the issue of authority, so they don't really take the words of Scripture seriously, and 5) Some folks think that you have to wait until Judgment Day to know if you've stacked up enough points to make the grade.

Let's go back and analyze these five, which may help you, once and for all, settle the issue that confronts you. "Salvation," says Dr. Duffield, "is not a reward for good deeds. God has said, "Even our best actions are filthy through and through" (Isaiah 64:6, GNB). If this is a picture of our "righteousness," what must the Lord think of our sins? "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" says Paul, writing to the Romans (Romans 3:23). No! You are not saved through obeying or trying to obey God's commandments, and it is equally impossible to obtain assurance of salvation by your own good conduct. Salvation is by grace alone-God's free, unearned and undeserved favor. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9).

Others have no assurance that they are born again because they have never dealt with the issue of sin. They want to overcome their guilt. They want to improve their self-esteem. Certainly, they want to think positive thoughts that will make them succeed over their detractors. And, God knows, they want to be happy, so they attach religion to their lives.

But it no more changes them than putting on a clown costume will take away a bad cold. It has been my experience that if someone is living with something which they clearly know to be wrong—say, an immoral relationship, a drug problem, anything which they know is not right before God—this person is never sure of just how he stands with God. Still others do not really accept the authority of the Bible, which says, "That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9). They know others believe that, and they would like to believe it, but they find it hard to accept. If you are like that, you have to understand that God won't lie to you, and if He said it, He meant it.

There is one thought I want to impress upon you. God wants you to know that you have eternal life, now, and if you don't have this assurance, you are missing something very, very important.

Resource reading: John 13

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Author Biography

Harold J. Sala
Web site: Guidelines International Ministries
Speaker, author and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963 and has served at its helm since its inception. Pioneering the five-minute commentary in Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” is broadcast in 49 of the 50 states and is heard the world over in a variety of languages. Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 55 books published in 19 languages. He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

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