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Question and Answer

Is it possible to feel assured one is saved?

Question:

I was raised in an Evangelical Christian home/church/school where predestination was rarely mentioned (and was rejected when mentioned). After several years away from church, I started visiting a Presbyterian church with a friend. I was struck by how loving and peaceful it was and started to feel hopeful again. Then the pastor mentioned being part of the Reformed tradition, which started me thinking (and worrying) about predestination. Now I am worried that maybe I haven't been "chosen," despite my belief and my desire to be a Christian. This has led me to despair and the hope I felt before is quite gone. Is it possible to believe and feel called by God but yet not be? Is it possible to feel assured one is saved?

Answer:

Thank you for your good question.

One sign that people are predestined is that they believe and in trust in Christ alone for their salvation. If you are looking to Christ and trust in him, you have every reason to believe that you are predestined unto eternal life. As the Bible teaches in Romans 8:16-17, "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

Paul here teaches that the Holy Spirit places it in our hearts to cry out to God as our Father through Christ. And if God is our Father then we are his children. And if we are his children then we are heirs of heaven and will be glorified.

Further, Deuteronomy 29:29 teaches, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

This means that we cannot peer into the eternal decree of God. God chooses not to reveal to us all things he knows, including who is predestined and who is not. The only indication we have as to whether people are predestined is if they say they trust in Christ and are bearing fruit in the Kingdom. Beyond that, we can never say who is predestined onto life and who is not. Likewise, for ourselves, if we trust in Christ and love God as our Father and are bearing fruit for the Kingdom, then we have every reason to be assured of being saved once and for all.

So, if you believe with a true, sincere, saving faith then there is no way you can be predestined unto eternal death! The doctrine of predestination, as confusing as it may be to understand, is actually a great source of comfort and assurance. If you are in Christ by faith, then you are predestined. And if predestined, then you will persevere unto the end. And in this way you can be assured that not only are you saved now, but that that salvation will and can never be taken away from you. But, what is more, the doctrine of predestination also assures that we did nothing to deserve our salvation. Salvation is, from even before the foundation of the world, all of God and none of us. See, if it was "of us" then there would go our assurance. After all, do you really trust yourself to be saved? Quite the contrary, if God did it all, if he determined it all already, then you can be sure that your salvation is secure and in the loving hands of your heavenly Father. Is there any better place for it to be?

I would also recommend that you procure a copy of R. C. Sproul's "Chosen By God," available here. This book will help answer more of your questions. And, please, avail yourself of the pastor you mentioned. Any pastor worth his salt will delight to take time with you answering your questions.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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