Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.
When Nothing Happens
This past week my pastoral assistant, Bryan DeWire, responded on my behalf to an inquiry from a woman who asked about how to respond to an assurance-of-salvation question. Here’s some excerpts from Bryan’s response …
When people like the girl from Bethlehem's youth group ask why "nothing happens" when they ask Christ to change their hearts, perhaps one helpful response would be, "How do you know nothing is happening?" Just because we don't feel supernaturally transformed doesn't mean that we’re not. Sometimes we can too highly value our feelings and unduly expect God to give them to us.
Just because someone experiences such unusual feelings doesn't necessarily mean that they're saved, and just because someone does not experience such unusual feelings doesn't necessarily mean that they are not saved. Sometimes feelings are very accurate representatives of reality—sometimes they're not at all. We beg God to give us feelings according to what He's doing in our hearts, but we don't ultimately despair if He chooses to withhold those feelings.
The specific passage I go to when struggling with issues like assurance of salvation and confirmation of election is 2 Peter 1:3–11. Peter encourages professing believers to "be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure [!], for if you practice these qualities [which I believe points back specifically to verses 5–7] you will never fall. For in this way [again, I think this points back to verses 5–7] there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Finally, I would point you to a resource by Pastor John entitled “Helping People Have the Assurance of Salvation.” He makes 12 assertions about assurance of salvation and supports his assertions with texts from God's Word. …