Security and assurance are very much inter-related that it is actually difficult to look at one without the other. Allow me to define the two.
According to The Handbook to Bible Study, security or eternal security is:
The biblical teaching that God will not fail to bring into his presence for unending enjoyment of spiritual blessings those who have placed their faith in Christ;
a person’s inner knowledge, given by the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Scriptures, that he is a child of God; involves understanding the “terms of salvation,” namely that, if a person has taken a step of exercising genuine faith in Christ, he is accepted by God and becomes the recipient of all the blessings of salvation.
These two doctrines are related because if eternal security is a correct doctrine, which it is (Jn. 10:28-30), because of the testimony of Jesus Christ and God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises (Rom. 8:29-39), then one can be sure of the salvation he or she has in Jesus Christ. He is the author of our faith (Heb. 12:2), and only He can be the source of our security. Therefore, the assurance a believer can have does not rely on his own works, for the perseverance of the faith is impossible to be a basis of assurance. It is based on four truths:
- When we were saved, we were placed in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The Bible doesn’t teach that a believer can be removed from that body, lest be stripped off of salvation.
- We were sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13, 4:30). God’s seal can never be broken.
- We are kept by God when we believed (Jn. 13:1)
- Ultimately, nothing can really separate us from His love (Rom. 8:29-39).
To explain this to someone is somewhat a daunting task for me because every detail needs to be precise and accurate as not to confuse or even distort these two important doctrines. Both assurance and security should be a concrete belief of every believer. But the truth is, most Christians doubt their assurance of salvation in that they sometimes fail to conclude that “I am saved once and forever, therefore I am going to be with Him someday.” Let me try explain it through an illustration.
If you have not known, I am a musician. I have an undergrad degree in music and pursuing a graduate degree in music the same time as I am doing graduate studies here in GSOT. I am a composer and conductor so I will use my experience to best explain security and assurance.
I’ve done a lot of concerts here in the Philippines and around Southeast Asia. Once in a while I will conduct a piece for orchestra and voice, where the voice is usually a soprano soloist. My security will come from my knowledge that the soloist has had years of experience as a student and concert artist. So every cue I give, I am secured that she will sing in correct rhythm and melody with great expressions. Say we just met for a particular concert. Her experience and education is my greatest security, but I might not be assured that she will sing correctly because we have not rehearsed yet. In other words, my part of believing in her is not concrete even though she has all the experience she could ever need for the piece.
This is sometimes my problem. Before this discussion, and before reading the chapters on assurance and security, those two doctrines where not clear to me. I’ve heard a lot of teachings about it but never heard security taught side by side with assurance. Praise God because He is sovereign. We can never really do anything for any merit. We can also ultimately be sure of His love because nothing can separate us from His love.
Karleen, Paul S. The Handbook to Bible Study : With a Guide to the Scofield Study System. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. A Survey of Bible Doctrine. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995.