Thursday, August 22, 2019

Can we be certain of salvation?

God has promised us eternal life in His kingdom, But how can we be certain of our salvation? He said, “I am with him, I will rescue him, and glorify him: I will show him my salvation” (Psalm 90:15-16). Jesus Christ came to rescue, to save us and reunite us with Him in Paradise. We have heard the Gospel message and believe. We know that God loves us because He gave His life for us. We have committed ourselves to follow His teachings, to live by His commandments. We struggle with all kinds of issues, face many trials and tribulations, always standing firm in our belief in Him. But how can we be certain? 

The reality is that our hope of our salvation is never ending. We hear His call that says to us, “follow the pathway I have shown you and you will be here with Me.” We hope that we will be able to finish this path and be with Him forever, overcoming death like Him.

The question always remains, no matter how deep our faith, how pure our heart is, how well we have followed His commandments, how many times we have repented, how frequently we have participated in the holy mysteries He gave for us, can we finish the course. When the time of our physical death comes, will we know Him and be accepted by Him? The Lord tells us not to fear. He is always on our side, waiting to help no matter what difficulties we may face.

Saint Theophan tells us there one thing that can keep us from finishing the course, our self-confidence. 
He says,
Self-confidence in the hope of salvation is ruinous; but he who is sure that God, Who wants all to be saved, will save the one who seeks salvation, who does not lie down, but with effort acts according to God’s direction, and will save through means known only to Him, both pointing out the paths and supplying the strength—in that person, such confidence is holy, and serves as a sign not only of walking straight on the path, but also of great success in running according to the spirit, since it appears in consequence of consistent labors, through purification of the heart, and a tangible experience of God’s protection and defense.
We must have humility. Our path must include a surrender of our will to His. Our trust must become total. Then as we struggle we will overcome the passions that cloud our heart and experience His grace as it guides and give us strength. Our hope is validated in this way. It increases as we give up our self-confidence in our own efforts. God through His grace makes Himself known to us. Our struggle is no longer a struggle, but becomes a life filled with joy as we gain ever greater hope. With humility, complete trust is God, we must persevere and never give up. 

We must have a burning zeal for salvation. This is the gift we receive from God to help us fulfill His commandments and finish. This longing for salvation and out never relenting effort to follow Him in fulfilling the commandments is the force behind a God-pleasing life.

Sain Issac the Syrian affirms that the necessary motivating force is zeal:
It is called zeal because from time to time it moves, arouses, makes burning hot, and gives strength to a person to disregard the flesh in afflictions...
Look into yourself and see if you have this zeal, advises Saint Theophan. If you find in you this force, which is beyond self-will, then he says, you are alive; if not, “then you are dead or have fallen asleep.”

The Prophet David says, 
I have longed for Thy salvation, O Lord, and Thy law is my meditation .
My soul shall praise Thee, and Thy judgments will help me. 
.(Psalm 118:174, 175)

Reference: Psalm 118: A Commentary by Saint Theophan the Recluse, pp 339-341.

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