Assurance of Salvation

Discussion Guide for Romans 5:1-5

Read Romans 5:1-5

Two essential doctrines of the Christian faith are on full display in Romans 5:1-5. The Perseverance of the Saints and the Assurance of Salvation.

We could write entire books on these doctrines. But, these three paragraphs from the Westminster Confession of 1647 summarize them for us.

“They, whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally, nor finally, fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” (Westminster Confession XVII.1)

“Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and, for a time, continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.” (Westminster Confession XVII.3)

“Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes, and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God, and estate of salvation; which hope of theirs shall perish: yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.” (Westminster Confession XVIII.1)

The last paragraph quotes directly from Romans 5:3. It tells us how we can know we are saved.

This doctrine should not be understood as a license to ignore Christ. Instead, perseverance itself is the assurance that we truly belong to Christ. In this way, it is possible to have confidence that you belong to Christ and will go to heaven.

Hellfire Insurance

The American evangelical church is often criticized for preaching “cheap grace.” Pastors peddle an experience-based version of salvation as fire insurance from hell. People “get saved” and then proceed to live any way they want believing their place in heaven is secure.

If you’ve grown up in church, you probably heard this doctrine described as “once saved, always saved.” While that phrase is technically true, the salvation taught in Romans 5:1-5 is much greater than a ticket out of hell.

This passage speaks of a life with evidence of growing Christian character. It is defined by the hope that we will one day receive the glory of God.

In your small group, wrestle with the following statements:

  • Nobody that God saves will perish in hell.
  • Because salvation is given and sustained by God with no help from us, if a person could lose his salvation, then God has failed.
  • Christians fail, but one of the marks of salvation is that God disciplines Christians when they sin and He leads them to repentance.
  • A true Christian’s failure and subsequent repentance should only serve to increase his hope in salvation.
  • A false Christian’s hope will eventually fade away, but a true Christian’s hope will grow as she lives in the reality of grace. (Doctrine of Assurance)

This lecture from the late Dr. John Gerstner provides more depth on the assurance of salvation in the Westminster Confession.

John Gerstner on Assurance of Salvation

It’s an old video, so just look past the big collar and “thees” and “thous.” Understanding these doctrines might be greatest thing you ever do for your own faith.

Discussion Questions

  • Does Romans 5:1-5 contradict what you have been taught about “once saved, always saved?”
  • What is the relationship between tribulations, perseverance, character, and hope?
  • Why is hope essential for the Christian life?
  • What role does the Holy Spirit play in giving us hope?
  • What is the basis for hope according to Romans 5:1-5?

Related Message: Hope

Prayer Time

Pray as a group for the person that each of you are consistently trying to share your faith with. Take time in your group to pray for an unreached people group. I am personally praying for the Gurung People of NE India.

Jonathan Pugh

Associate Pastor: Life Groups & Church Partnership
Jonathan Pugh

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