The Hint of Entitled Assurance

I’ve debated back and forth for years with a close friend of mine about the assurance of eternal salvation. I’ve continued to lobby for my belief in the security of my salvation, and therefore eternal life, when a person accepts Jesus as their personal savior. My friend has a hard time accepting that because of the simplicity of it. That is, that someone can say he believes in Jesus and then live a life of leisure, luxury, and looseness.

He has a point that is a bit problematic for one of the foundational beliefs of my theology. In our culture of entitlement, there are people who identify themselves as Christians, but lead lives where God always seems, so to speak, to be invited to the wedding but not the reception.

On my friend’s theological side, however, there always seems to be the risk of seeing salvation as being like a privilege that is in danger of being taken away. My Baptist upbringing at times came at the problem by injecting some guilt into the spiritual illness, similar to a vaccine shot. There wasn’t a list of forbidden behaviors, but there were looks of consternation and grunts of disapproval that were meant to keep us on the golden way. Church attendance (Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night) was one way that our faithfulness was measured. Too often we weren’t thinking about our personal relationship with Jesus because we were focused on how long we had before we needed to be back at church. I always missed Walt Disney on Sunday nights because we were at church. We’d be home in time for Ed Sullivan, but that didn’t have the same zing for a kid who loved Old Yeller and Hayley Mills.

I’ve digressed, however, into a paragraph of “writing whine”.

This morning I was reading something that writer Philip Yancey wrote. He says, “I learn to trust God with my doubts and struggles by getting to know Jesus. If that sounds evasive, I suggest it accurately reflects the centrality of jesus in the New Testament. We start with him as the focal point and let our eyes wander with care into the margins.” (Reaching for the Invisible God, pages 139-140)

If I focus my eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith journey, all the other stuff will work itself out. My discomfort is with those who focus on the other stuff and then insert Jesus in at the end like an uncomfortable punctuation mark. That is what also causes my friend to break into a special kind of rash– people who can cause themselves Christians but not identify with Jesus.

My friend and I may never come to an agreeing point in our debate about “one saved, always saved!”, but it isn’t imperative that we travel the same path to get to the desired destination. We’re like Jesus’ disciples, following the same Teacher, but very different in who we are.

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