The question of the assurance of salvation is something that’s come up here before in comments, but I thought it would be good to address it more fully. As with anything, it seems it’s a controversial issue as well, so hopefully it can be framed through what Scripture has to say and not what men have to say. The term “saved” or salvation denotes the work of God done through the person of Jesus Christ which redeems a person from eternal death through their sin and into eternal life. To read more about this specific topic, see this. Regardless, things should rest on the objective word of God and gospel, and not on feelings and emotions.
If you are saved and added to His Church, no external forces can rip you away from Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:35-39; Ephesians 1:15-23; Ephesians 5:28)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
In coming to a walk with Christ in faith, we realize that we can’t do these things of ourselves and need Christ to get through life. These things listed are far beyond our mortal ability to deal with – yet we can have them taken care of if we abide in the body of Christ. As Paul also writes:
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:18-23)
If Christ has this power over all these things and we are in his body, who could come against Christ and take a single follower from his hand? No one!
However, if one does not walk with Christ in faith, their salvation is not assured. (Hebrews 10:26-39)
The issue of faith is an incredibly important one. While no one or nothing can rip us from Christ, we are fully able to choose to walk away. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Also, Salvation or justification is contingent on faith in Christ, which is clearly portrayed as believing the words of God. Faith or belief is further depicted through the example of Abraham with the requirement that action on that faith is required before it is true faith.
This will take some meditation and thought to get your mind around, but regardless faith can be a challenge. This is where the Enemy attacks. He gets us to doubt for a number of reasons, which are covered in the additional reading. We should well test ourselves whether we are walking in the faith of Christ, especially since it is incumbent to be justified before God and live righteously before Him.
This makes false beliefs dangerous – the lines are not drawn on those who “believe” or “not believe”. The Enemy is perfectly content to have you believe in and trust in something that’s totally wrong and not in Christ. The Personal Jesus is a good example of this error of faith – there is much written in the New Testament on the topic of walking the proper path in Christ for this very reason. The Scripture is there to test ourselves through the Spirit on whether the path is right or not. For wide is the path and gate that leads to destruction, but narrow is the path to life.
Look to the example of David for a good illustration of faith. While he sinned, his heart was with the Lord in faith, therefore he was justified and did not die of his sin. David did not depart from the Lord in faith. He did not commit what is warned of towards the Hebrews:
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:38-39)
David did not draw back into perdition from following God, or turn from God and put his trust in something or someone else, but remained steadfastly with the Lord. He had consequences come into his life, but he was still highly honored by the Lord in the end.
There are some mistaken beliefs that unjustifiably cause people to worry about this issue, but there are others that should cause people to fear and tremble. Be sure to look at the additional reading, and look at 1 John if you are interested in the topic. And remember if you are building your house on the rock, you have no reason to fear. But if you are building it on sand, watch out!
Some Additional Reading
John MacArthur: A Believer’s Assurance – discusses some of the reasons, good and bad, for people to doubt their salvation and gives some counsel regarding them.
John MacArthur: How can I be sure of my salvation? – a summary of 1 John’s points on salvation, as this was the point of the book.