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How Can I Be Sure I'm a Christian?: What the Bible Says About Assurance of Salvation (LifeChange) Paperback – January 1, 1994
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Nearly everyone hopes to end up in Heaven one day. In fact, a whopping 99% of Americans believe they will eventually reside there. Yet the Bible claims that only a few will find the "road that leads to eternal life". So how can anyone be sure of spending eternity with Jesus Christ? Donald Whitney explores the issue of assurance and outlines how Christians can experience a satisfying certainty of eternal life. If occasional doubts prevent you from fully expriening the security and peach that Christ offers, you'll enjoy the clear assurances offered here. By countering a broad range of dubts with a clear, scriptural basis for confience, Whitney provides encouragement for believers and gentle warnings to those who base their confidence in themselves rather than in God. How Can I Be Sure I'm A Christian? is candid, informative, inspiring, and highly recommended reading for all Christians regardless of their background or current circumstances. -- Midwest Book Review
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Whitney notes that doubt and unbelief are not the same.Doubt can be caused by a lack of knowledge(perhaps due to being a relatively new believer).Unbelief is a more settled conviction that something is not true(it can also be either a suppression of,or an outright rejection of 'Biblical Truth'. "Doubt is by definition unsure of its position."
Mr.Whitney gives us several(of many possible reasons)that may contribute to doubt about one's standing before God-1.Spiritual immaturity-Either a deficient knowledge of God's Word or ignorance as to 'The Ways Of God' in general,can erode the assurance of some.2.Comapring yourself to other Christian's-Especially if a new believer is comparing themselves to a mature believer.-"...new Christian's shouldn't expect to see as much visible evidence of the new life within them...".3.Childhood conversions-There can often be doubts when they are adults because there is not a dramatic transformation(as if often the case when individuals are converted as adults).
What is the basis for being assured that one is saved?It is trusting in the person and work of Christ,for me,to secure my standing before God.It is wholly relying on God,not anything I am or can do,to be reconciled to God.-"It means believing that you have no hope of being accepted by God on your own...but because of what Jesus has done on your behalf." Ephesians 2:8-9 'By grace are you saved through faith,and that not of yourselves,it is the gift of God,not of works,lest any man should boast.' If your faith is genuine it will be accompanied by 'Good Works'.It is possible to lack assurance if your faith is only 'Mental Assent' to the facts of the Gospel.If that be the case(that is a good thing)because saving faith will have 'Good Works' and 'Heart Obedience' as the evidence that 'Real Faith' is present.
The author makes reference throughout the book to 'The Pilgrim's Progress',John Bunyan's classic allegory of 'The Christian Life'.Bunyan himself had great struggles with assurance early on in his life as a Christian.The protagonist of the story has doubts and struggles along the way to 'The Celestial City''(Heaven).-"...Just as Christian in Pilgrim's Progress,had doubts at the moment of death,about his sins being forgiven,so it is normal for a real Christian to have occasional doubts about salvation.Persistent doubts are a source of major concern."
If you lack assurance,books such as 'How can I be sure I'm a Christian' and 'The Pilgrim's Progress' may help you to find some of the reason why.As far as books on 'Assurance Of Salvation' Whitney's 'How can I be sure..' is the best modern book on this doctrine that I'm aware of.
Donald Whitney's book is sure to pull the mask off those who are trusting in religion, religious knowledge, religious experience, a decision, the affirmation of others, or whatever for their assurance of heaven - and shows that they are building on sandy ground (Matt. 7:24-27; 13:18-23; 1 John 2:3-5). And, at the same time it will encourage those who do understand that salvation comes through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone (John 19:30); who have experienced the transforming grace of new birth (Titus 2:5; 2 Cor. 5:17) but are still having trouble finding rest and comfort in the promises of forgiveness and eternal security in Christ (Rom. 5:1; John 6:40).
The strength of Whitney's book is his commitment to Scripture (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:15-16), so that assurance is built on solid truth and not empty, vain, and subjective whims or fancies. Assurance of one's salvation is crucial to being freed to live a life of worship (John 4:23-24) for the glory of God. And biblical assurance is necessary to guard against a false hope that will end in eternally tragic regret and judgment.
If you are struggling with assurance of salvation, are not experiencing the comfort of knowing that indeed your sins have been forgiven and that God has granted you true saving faith (Eph. 2:1-10), then read this book. Look up the passages, be honest before God, and prayerfully seek Him to produce in your heart the assurance that you do belong to Him and that He truly has worked grace in your heart - and then wait on Him.
I too wrestled with the assurance of my salvation. I knew that my life had dramatically changed, I knew that my understanding and attitude toward sin, righteousness, God, Christ, and the Word had changed; but still I had trouble resting. This book was a great help along the way and a tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit to help me come to a solid, God-centered assurance in Christ. I hope it does the same for you.