Dr. John Piper on the question: “How Does God Save Us According the Scriptures?”

A Summary of the Sovereignty of God in Salvation

Salvation is not finally in the hands of man to determine. His choices are crucial, but they are not the final, decisive power in bringing him to glory, God’s sovereign grace is.

1. God elects, chooses, before the foundation of the world whom he will save and whom he will pass by and leave to unbelief and sin and rebellion. He does this unconditionally, not on the basis of foreseen faith that humans produce by a supposed power of ultimate self-determination (= “free will”).

Acts 13:48, “When the gentiles heard this they were glad and glorified the word of God. And as many as were for ordained to eternal life believed.”

Romans 11:7, “Israel failed to obtain what is sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.”

John 6:37, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.”

John 17:6, “I have manifested my name to them whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me.” (John 6:44, 65).

2. The Atonement applies to the elect in a unique, particular way, although the death of Christ is sufficient to propitiate the sins of the whole world. The death of Christ effectually accomplished the salvation for all God’s people.

Eph. 5:25, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Heb. 10:14, “By a single offering he perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

John 10:15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Rom. 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?”

3. Because of the Fall, humans are incapable of any saving good apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. We are helpless and dead in sin. We have a mindset that “cannot submit to God without divine enabling.

Rom. 8:7-8, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

Eph. 2:1,5, “You were dead through your trespasses and sins.”

4. God’s call to salvation is effectual, and, hence His grace cannot be ultimately thwarted by human resistance. God’s regenerating call can overcome all human resistance.

Acts 16:14, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul.”

John 6:65, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father.” (Matt. 16:17; Luke 10:21)

1 Cor. 1:23-24, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

5. Those whom God calls and regenerates He also keeps, so that they do not totally and finally fall away from faith and grace.

Rom. 8:30, “Those whom he predestined, he also called and those whom he called he also justified and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

Phil. 1:6, “I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 1:8).

1 Thess. 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”


Romans 11:36, “From him, through him, and to him are all things, to him be glory forever amen!”

By John Piper ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. December 10, 1997. Used by Permission. Website: desiringGod.org

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

About John Piper:

John Piper was pastor for preaching and vision for over thirty years at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 40 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

Do You Have Assurance of Your Salvation? 5 Indicators from Hebrews 6

“How To KNOW that You KNOW HIM” By Steve W. Brown

The nature of the God of the universe is not to bring you to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, then to make you wonder for the rest of your life whether or not you have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. God does not say, “Trust me,” then for the rest of your life make you wonder if you really trust him. It is his business and desire for us to have assurance of salvation. How do you know that you know him?

Check out five indicators from the writer of Hebrews 6:

(1) The direction in which your life is going.

(2) The love your life is showing.

(3) The service your life is sharing.

(4) The concern for godliness you are feeling.

(5) The longing in your desire for fellowshiping.

First, if you are looking for assurance check out your life. The writer of Hebrews casts sobering words at those who inhabit the fringes of faith, desiring to taste but never receiving God’s mercy and producing weeds instead of fruits in their lives. The believer’s life, however, holds a far more positive promise:

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised [Heb. 6:9–12].

Most people think that God looks at where you are along the road of life. We do that, but God doesn’t. God asks only two things:

First, he wants to know from where you have come; second he wants to know the direction in which you are going. In other words, I might be a lot more terrible than you, but the point is that we are moving in the same direction. You are just further down the road than I am. God’s pleasure and our assurance come from moving in that right direction. That is how the writer of Hebrews could look at his hearers and be “confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation” (vs. 9b).

If you were to wake up tomorrow morning to discover that God does not exist, what difference would it make in your life? I would be devastated. A lot that is happening in my life would be wiped out. If you do not have an answer to that question, aside from the fact that you would not attend church once a week, then you need to read 6:4–8 once again. According to this passage you may have a serious problem.

One time a pastor friend of mine was talking to a girl in New England who had recently become a Christian. She was very angry and bitter. She asked, “Why do I have to go through all this hurt? Why is there all this pain in the world? Why do I have all these problems?” My friend asked a classic question: “Would you rather not have known him?”

She understood. As she thought about her answer to that question she found assurance of her relationship with Jesus Christ.

Second, in looking for assurance you should check out your love. Look again at verse 10: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

The writer of Hebrews is not just talking about a tingle up your spine or a wonderful love song. He is talking about love in action, the kind of love you show to the saints for his sake. Love is not a noun; it is a verb. What do you do to show love for someone else? When you give a cup of cold water in the name of Christ, regardless of how you feel about that person, the giving is in love. When you reach out to a brother or sister who is in need, no matter how you feel about them, that is love, too. The writer of Hebrews is saying that you, as a Christian, have a love that you have shown, not that you have felt. This is a sign of your relationship with Christ, for that is an indication of your relationship with Christ in your Christlikeness:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends [John 15:13].

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly [Rom. 5:6].

Love is action! Are you acting in obedience to him, showing love to your brothers and sisters? If you are you are on the road to assurance.

Third, make sure to check out your level—the level of a servant. We spent a lot of years in Massachusetts. At least at that time they believed that having a driver’s license is not a right; it is a privilege. So, if the head of the Department of Motor Vehicles decides you are guilty of some offense, whether you are guilty or not, the director can take your license away from you, and you don’t have any recourse.

When you and I became Christians, at that point we gave up every right. We are servants. As a Christian you have privileges, but you should not presume on those privileges. If your Christian faith is used to manipulate other people it is not the real thing. If your Christian faith is a vehicle for being a master it is not the real thing. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). When you see yourself willing to be a servant, willing not to take the credit, willing to just stand behind someone else and make them great, then you are on the road to assurance.

Fourth, if you are looking for assurance of your salvation, check out your liveliness. Hebrews 6:11 speaks of the author’s desire for “each of you to show this same diligence to the very end in order to make your hope sure.” We might call this diligence earnestness to realize full assurance. When people asked Charles Spurgeon how they could know if they were of the elect he would answer: “If you are worried about it, then you are.”

Now, if you have been struggling with assurance, plagued with the constant thought that “I may not really belong to God,” the very fact that you are earnestly concerned is a good sign that you may belong to him, when that earnestness stands alongside other evidence of the fruits of the Spirit.

You may remember the demonstration of Solomon’s wisdom in 1 Kings 3:16–28. Two women were brought to him, both claiming to be the mother of one baby. Each of the mothers had had a baby. One of the babies was dead. One mother said to Solomon, “Her baby died, and at night she switched her dead baby for my live one.” The second mother made the same accusation. So they came to Solomon, asking him to determine to whom the baby really belonged. Solomon had one of his servants take a sword and hold the baby up. Then Solomon said, “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.” While one of the mothers agreed that his idea sounded reasonable, the other said, “No! Don’t do that. Give the baby to her.” Solomon at that point exercised a principle built into the very nature of things, so that he knew who was the real mother.

The principle was this: Concern is manifested in direct proportion to how much you care.

The same principle works to help you know about your relationship with God. If you are concerned about your relationship with Christ, if you are earnest about it or diligent, that is an indication that you are in Christ. You are on the road to assurance.

Fifth, if you are looking for assurance, check out your longing. The writer of Hebrews is saying: “I desire that you come to the point at which you know that you know that you know that you know.” There are those who say you can never know. They say the only way you can get assurance is to die and find out whether your feet are cold.

If you have heard and believed that, you have believed a lie. It is God’s desire that his people come into a relationship with the Father that is so close we know and feel secure with him.

I have a friend who adopted a teenager who had been shifted from foster home to foster home. When I first visited them I noticed that this boy was jumping to do everything possible to please his new parents. He made up his bed. He wanted to dry dishes and to vacuum the rug. Whenever a teenager gets that good I get uncomfortable. Something is wrong. I didn’t understand it at first, but then I thought about what that boy had been through. He had been kicked out of so many homes, and he was going to hang onto this one by being good.

A year later I visited the home and saw the teenager again. He was the most secure young man I have ever seen. He was relaxed and normal. He had to be nudged to do the things he was supposed to do. What happened? He had achieved assurance, assurance that this mom and dad were not going to kick him out.

We are like that. Maybe right now you are working very hard at being obedient because you don’t have assurance. Maybe right now you are scared that you are not really a Christian. What should you do about that in order to have assurance? My advice is to persevere and “keep on truckin’.” One day you will be so tired of obedience, so tired of holding on with a grip that makes your knuckles turn white. Then you will let go. At that moment you will make a wonderful discovery: He was holding you all along. You will know that you know him. And that is called “assurance.”

About the Author: Steve Brown is a radio broadcaster, seminary professor and author. He previously served as a pastor for over twenty-five years and now devotes much of his time to the radio broadcast, Key Life.

With such varied experience and unique perspective on life, Steve is an original. He refuses to be a “guru,” doesn’t want to be anyone’s mother and gives, in his teaching, the freedom to think. Overall, Steve has become known for his refreshing and practical Biblical applications.

Steve serves as Professor Emeritus of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Reformed Theological Seminary. He sits on the board of the National Religious Broadcasters and Harvest USA. Traveling extensively, Steve is a much-in-demand speaker.

Steve is the author of numerous books including A Scandalous Freedom, Approaching God, When Being God Isn’t Good Enough, What Was I Thinking? and Three Free Sins. His articles appear in such magazines and journals as Leadership, Decision, Plain Truth and Today’s Christian Woman. The article above has been adapted from Chapter 11 in the excellent book edited by R.C. Sproul entitled Doubt & Assurance. Grand Rapids, Baker, 2000.