Category Archives: Assurance of Salvation

The Two Powers

by Peter Ditzel

A picture of Moses with the Ten Commandments on the left and the Cross on the right.
The Bible speaks of two powers that have different purposes and are mutually exclusive. Yet, many insist on teaching that we are under both.

The two powers I have in mind are at opposite ends of the compass (Psalm 103:12). One is the power of sin and of death and of Satan, and the other the power of God for salvation. These two powers are mutually exclusive, each working against the other. As believers, we have experienced the power of God for salvation, and we remain safe under that power. And yet, Christian teachers abound (some of them even claiming New Covenant Theology) who insist that believers are under both powers and that the power of sin and of death and of Satan is the power we are to use to guide our lives and accomplish our sanctification. I want to show you where the Bible speaks of these powers and how we cannot be under both.

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Q. If God makes sure we persevere, how can we be shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19) and become castaways (1 Corinthians 9:27)?

The wreck of the SS American Star (originally named the SS America) on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.
The wreck of the SS American Star (originally named the SS America) on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. Can we make shipwreck of our salvation?

A. In 1 Timothy 1:18-19, Paul wrote to Timothy, “This instruction I commit to you, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to you, that by them you may wage the good warfare; holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust away made a shipwreck concerning the faith.” How can some have thrust away their faith and good conscience to become shipwrecks at the same time that God is making sure that they persevere? Is the perseverance of the saints an unbiblical doctrine that gives us false hope?

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Q. What is the unpardonable sin, or the sin that Jesus said “shall not be forgiven?” I am afraid that I have committed it.

A. I think that just about everyone working in Christian ministry has been contacted by Christians concerned that they have committed the unpardonable sin. Let’s see what this sin is and determine whether it is possible for Christians to commit the unpardonable sin.

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Q. How can I know that I am saved?

A. This is a common question. Some other ways that it can be asked are, “How can I know that God has chosen me as one of His children?” and, “How can I be assured of God’s love for me?” It is, in fact, a question of what theologians call assurance.

I know people who have come up with all sorts of elaborate ways to answer this question. They tell people to look at themselves and see how they have changed since the time they think they became a Christian. They tell them to look at their love for others, their Christian works, their growth in Scriptural knowledge, their better morality, how much they love the law, and so on. Others will also advise people to wait for a vision, a voice, or a feeling to know they are saved.

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