How can Christians know for sure that they are saved? Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church said their guarantee lies only in God.
When it comes to assurance of salvation, Warren explained on his website that Christians need only look at the story of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and the conversation He had with one of the criminals hanging next to Him on the cross. In Luke 23:42, the criminal pleaded, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Warren said the criminal did not ask Jesus to stop his suffering, nor did he ask for any miracles to be freed from the excruciating pain they must be feeling at the time. The man did not ask Jesus to save him from death as well, and only wanted Jesus to remember him.
"Why? Because he knew that his deepest need was salvation from sin — not just salvation to get into Heaven. He believed in Jesus," said Warren.
Just like the criminal, Christians can eliminate their doubts about salvation by placing their full trust in God, Warren said. Once they do, they can feel assured that they are going to heaven.
"Your assurance of salvation is not by your works, because you can't earn your salvation. Your assurance of salvation is not by your feelings, because feelings come and go," he said. "What is your assurance of salvation? The promise of God's Word. If God says it, that settles it, because God cannot lie. You can trust the promise of God's Word. You can rest in it."
Warren also said that once people accept Jesus Christ into their lives, their salvation is guaranteed. He clarified though that people need to work on their relationship with Jesus once they receive their salvation.
"Salvation is not a religion. It's not rules or regulations or rituals. Salvation is a relationship," he stressed. "That relationship doesn't begin when you get to Heaven. It begins here on Earth. Jesus Christ wants to be your best friend, and He wants to talk to you all the time. God made you for a relationship with Him!"