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Home > 2014 > September Web Exclusives > Why I Gave Back My Assurance of Salvation

I was raised to believe that there is no more important issue than the answer to this question:

"On a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 meaning '100% confident' and 0 meaning '0% confident', how sure are you that if you died today, that you would go to heaven?"

This is exactly the way that I was taught to ask the question, word for word. It was the most important question for me to ask my friends, strangers, and most important, to ask myself.

In my early twenties, living as a missionary in the Balkans and the Middle East, my leaders exhorted me to look for any and every opportunity to pose this eternal and life-altering question.

My training went something like this:

"There are three Scripture passages that you have to remember. With them you will be able to give anyone the eternal gift of 'assurance of salvation.' First, Romans 8:38-39:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, neither height nor depth nor any other created thing, will be able to separate you from the love of God, through Christ Jesus our Lord.

After reading this, ask: "Is there anything that can separate you from God's love?"

Once they answer 'no,' open to John 5:12-13:

He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Now ask, 'Have you received Jesus as your savior? When they say 'yes' then point to the verse and say, 'see, you have the Son' therefore you have 'life' and this assures that your life with God is now 'eternal life.'

Finally, this is the zinger that will seal the deal. Open your Bible to Hebrews 13:5 and read:

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

That is Jesus talking. Will Jesus ever leave you? Okay now it is time for the most important question, 'On a scale of 0 to 100, if you died today, how sure are you that you would go to heaven?'

If they say 100%, then your job is done. You have given that person the greatest gift in the world: assurance of salvation. If they say 10%, 90%, or even 99.9%, it is your job to go back to the beginning, Romans 8:38-39 and go through it again; if necessary again and again and again until they say that magical '100% sure.'"

It was the most important question for me to ask others.

It was the most important question that I needed to ask myself.

I think this is a very human tendency: to see the formula of faith through me-colored glasses.

Since I was duly convinced that my "assurance" was the most important issue, there was this unexpected, subtle thing that happened inside me in response to heaven and my eternal assurance. It became of ultimate importance to protect the formula that leads to my 100% assurance.

This salvation formula (whatever the factors may be) when added up, had to equal "me." Do you recognize how this works?

Next, because of my well-programmed fear of hell, I would then subtly twist those factors (when necessary) to ensure they added up to me. I don't think I was aware that I was doing it most the time.

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Tony Kriz is a writer and church leader from Portland, Oregon, and Author in Residence at Warner Pacific College.

Related Topics:EvangelismGospelKingdom of GodMissionSalvation
Posted: September 1, 2014

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Displaying 1–5 of 7 comments

Rick Dalbey

October 28, 2014  1:40pm

I certainly would not place my hopes in the justice of God. I don't want justice, that invites condemnation. I deserve hell. Don't you? I am placing my hopes in God's grace. Jesus took my punishment upon Himself in an act of love and grace, satisfying the justice of God in the process. Thank God his mercies are new every morning.

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Charles Tschetter

September 09, 2014  1:38pm

Tony, Thanks for your thinking and writing about such an important subject as assurance of our eternal destiny. And I applaud you for throwing out the formulas because formulas are not needed for assurance ... simply believing in the promise of God gives one absolute assurance. Forgot the formulas, embrace the promise ... believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. God's promise is the only way to be certain.

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Tony Kriz

September 08, 2014  7:13pm

Tim, I like your addition to the deeper idea I was trying to illumine through this article. Thank you for taking the time to share it. I DO agree with you. The problem is that I have been taught to so prefer one side of the false dichotomy over the other (mercy over justice, grace over judgment, love over wrath) that I think I need to steep longer in the quickly dismissed side of those pairings before I can truly conflate them fairly. I hope that makes sense. Blessings, -tony

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Tim S

September 07, 2014  4:56pm

Hi Tony; you raise some important points in this article, as usual; and I love the heart of it. I think you're right in calling us all out on being too sure of ourselves and being too formulaic. But I also think we in the church, particularly in conservative evangelicalism have a tendency to make the mistake of separating out God's mercy and justice and play one against the other (Just like we have a tendency to do with mercy and judgment, love and wrath). I'd like to humbly submit that they are one. I think we all have a tendency to forget that God is not divided against himself. If God IS love, then everything flows from that and is included in that. I think we have (traditionally) horribly misunderstood the nature and purpose of God's judgment and justice, and turned them into something negative.

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Tony Kriz

September 04, 2014  6:28pm

James Boston, thank you for your important addition/critique of my article. I am really glad that you wrote it because... I was haunted by the same question during the writing. Several times I battled with myself as to whether I should, at least, include "mercy" within the dialogue. I ultimately chose not to. Growing up in Christendom (particularly conservative evangelicalism), I was taught that a focus on "justice" was the "liberal agenda" (social justice gospel). Therefore, I learned to quickly skip over placing hope in God's justice into redirecting that hope to "mercy." James, I agree with you, it is also about mercy... but maybe we need to marinate further in our hope in justice. I am learning to believe that God is purposed to "do justly" just as much as to "love mercy" (Micah 6:8). -tony

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