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What Luther Says

How Do You Know You Are Saved?

I saw this on Facebook yesterday and thought the person who wrote it nailed it.

I don't think he'd mind if I shared it here...

The answer to "How do you know you are saved?" will differ between evangelicals and Lutherans. 
Evangelicals will usually answer, "Because I trust in Jesus." Ask them if they know their faith is genuine, and usually there will be talk about evidences of "true faith," or pointing to some feeling. They cannot point to something outside themselves. It becomes a faith in faith. 
The Lutheran will answer: Because Jesus died for me, washed me clean in the Waters of Holy Baptism, forgives me in Holy Absolution, and gives me His Body and Blood for forgiveness in the Eucharist. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. 
This is a faith in God's Word. Not just God's Word in a general category, but in the specific category of "me" and "you." Jesus died for *me*. Jesus baptized *me*. Jesus absolves *me*. And Jesus gives *me* His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of *my* sins. 
This is most certainly true. 
-- Josh Brisby

So simple, but so profound.

I also like how the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) website and F.A.Q. section addresses this topic for us.

On What Should We Base Our Assurance Of Salvation? 
Q: On what should we base our assurance of salvation? I know the Word and the promises of the Gospel are our rock, but how do we distinguish between real faith and mere intellectual assent? I ask this because many evangelicals make me nervous when they say that if one has doubts about one's salvation, one is probably not saved, because the Holy Spirit is supposed to provide inner assurance. (I guess this ties in to the whole Pietist problem.) But in the face of emotional ups and downs, moral failings, intellectual doubts, and confusion over doctrine, how can one know if one truly has faith in Christ? 
A: Lutherans believe that faith is created and strengthened not by looking inside of one's self (to one's own faith and/or doubts) but by looking outside of one's self (to God's Word and promises in Christ). Therefore, assurance of salvation is to be sought by looking to God's Word and promises in Christ (which create and strengthen the faith through which one is saved), not by looking inward at the strength or weakness of one's own faith (which creates either pride and false assurance or doubt and lack of assurance). Anxiety regarding doubts, strength of faith and certainty of salvation are signs of faith (however weak it may be), not signs of unbelief, since the unbeliever has no concern or anxiety about doubts, faith or salvation. If you would like to study this issue further, I would recommend Martin Chemnitz's book on Justification available from Concordia Publishing House (800-325-3040, stock no. 15- 2186).

I also remember a piece I found on another blog called "9 Reasons That Set Lutherans Apart From Other Protestants" that had this helpful and related section...

5. Christ Focused Justification: Justification is the idea that we are saved by faith alone. It might shock people to hear that this is a point of difference, after all justification was a major point for Luther and just about every protestant tradition believes they take many of their cues on this subject from him. So, yes, on the surface, Lutherans and Protestants would affirm justification by faith through grace, however it does not take long to see that the two groups diverge very quickly. Protestant thoughts on justification would look something like this: "Scripture says believe and you will be saved. I believe. Therefore I’m saved." Lutheranism rather looks at justification in this way: "Jesus says, 'I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.' Jesus is not a liar. Therefore I’m baptized and have newness of life and all the promises Scripture ties to baptism." We can see that these two differ drastically. To Lutherans protestant faith is reflective and too easily can devolve into a reflective faith, that is a faith in one's faith in Christ. Lutherans fear that protestants ultimately do not look to Christ but rather look to their own work of faith. This for the Lutheran will only lead to despair because what happens when the Protestant doubts their salvation or that they have proper faith. Often the Protestant reaction to someone asking whether they are truly saved, is to ask that person whether they exhibit the proper fruit of salvation. Are they living the life of a Christian. As a Lutheran this makes me want to cry because rather then lead frightened and confused people to Christ for assurance of salvation the protestant ultimately leads a person to their own works for assurance. The Lutheran when asked how do you know you are saved replies "I know I’m saved because I’m baptized. It is in the waters of baptism that He has saved me and washed away my sins, given me the Holy Spirit, and has made me beloved child of His, for the sake a Christ and His death for me on the cross."

Of course, I would encourage you to contact your Pastor for more in-depth discussion.

You know you are saved because of all the objective things that are outside of yourself and apart from your own subjective feelings and thoughts.

Christ's death and resurrection for you assures you that He did (and continues to do) all the work to secure your salvation.

God's Word assures you that He says what He means and means what He says to inform your faith and to secure your salvation.

The Lord's Sacraments assure you that He continues to do everything He promised (and promises) to do for you to secure and strengthen your salvation.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, you know you are saved because of Jesus Christ, because of His Word, because of His Sacraments (your Baptism!), and because His promises for you, which you can trust always!

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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