How do you know that you’re truly saved? That’s a vexing question for many churchgoers.
And as John MacArthur rightly points out, the modern epidemic of decision-based evangelism has only served to escalate the confusion.
We have this new and bizarre idea that if you go through some motions at a service, pray a prayer, decide for Christ, or do whatever you're asked to do and affirm some belief in Jesus, you can have permanent salvation. It may or may not manifest itself in any kind of righteous works or any kind of holy affections, not only in the moment but lifelong.
The Bible says if you're justified, you're also going to manifest that you've become involved in a process the Bible calls “being sanctified.” Those who are justified are sanctified. So when you come to Christ genuinely, you're given a new nature, . . . you have ongoing manifestation of that new life.
Those “holy affections” John refers to are the visible outward signs of God’s hidden, inner, saving work. They represent the fruit of true conversion that authenticate a profession of faith in Christ.
Ignorance on this issue has caused both confusion and deception. In our pews each Sunday there are people who are soundly saved but lack assurance. Conversely, there are people who are actually unsaved but live with false assurance of being right with God.
Pastors and laymen alike have a great duty to educate and examine the lives of those among their flocks. It’s hard to imagine anything crueler than to comfort a false convert with false assurance of their salvation. Likewise, we don’t want to see our genuine brothers and sisters in Christ go through life with ongoing doubts about their standing with God.
The apostle John wrote his first epistle with the express purpose of clearing up all confusion and doubt: “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” (1 John 5:13, emphasis added).
Scripture is emphatic that we can have assurance concerning our salvation. And 1 John provides clear biblical tests that either authenticate or invalidate our profession of faith in Christ. John MacArthur’s sermon “Holy Affections” examines one of those key passages: 1 John 3:19–24. It serves as a necessary corrective to the malady of decision-based evangelism.
You don’t need to be in the dark concerning your standing before God. “Holy Affections” explores the authenticating marks of sanctification that bring assurance of salvation. It offers indispensable comfort for those who lack assurance and provides convicting truth to those who are resting on false assurance.
The biblical reality is that there are professing Christians who are going to receive the worst possible surprise on the Day of Judgment. Jesus will say to them: “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). We cannot allow the unsavory nature of that subject to keep us silent on that reality. To that end, “Holy Affections” ministers powerfully to the confusion and deception that afflict so many modern churchgoers.