In his book "Set Free" Dr. Jack Cottrell addresses a very important issue, assurance of salvation. He brings up the point that "one of the most important aspects of the Christian life, one that God has promised and that every Christian should possess, seems to be missing in the lives of many." In fact, some of the greatest fears of religious people are death and the final judgement. I find it very significant that some of the most fearful are the devoted religious people. He goes on to explain that one of the problems is that many us tend to think that salvation comes from being "good enough". In fact one poll by George Barna found that 63% of the U.S. population thinks that if a person is good enough he can earn his way to heaven. The problem with this way of thinking is that we can never really know for sure how "good" is good enough. Exactly how good does one have to be in order to be saved?
Dr. Cottrell asks, "What is the root of our lack of assurance? Why is it that some people have it and others do not?" He goes on to explain that the root of our problem has to do with the way we have decided to relate to God. There are, in fact, two distinct ways of relating to God. "Two ways of conceptualizing and pursuing the pathway to salvation." We can relate to God either through the law system or the grace system. As Romans 6:14 says, "you are not under law but under grace". Many have incorrectly assumed the Paul is referring just to the Mosaic law in this verse, when in fact he is referring to any kind of "law system" we might be using. Different law systems could include a societal code, our conscience, the Mosaic law, the New Testament law or any other system that had to do with the norms and rules that we believe we should adhere to. The fact is that none of us can completely adhere to whatever system we are under. Of course, we are all under some law system. However, when we are speaking of assurance of salvation, our adherence to our law system cannot produce assurance.
"Set Free" goes on to contrast the two systems: one system is egocentric (focused on us) and the other theocentric (focused on God), one focused on law and the other on grace, one on wages another on gift, one on God's holiness and another on God's love, one on what do I need to do and the other on what has God done. The fact is that real assurance only comes through focusing on God's grace given to us through Jesus Christ. While most believe this intellectually, in practice many do not focus on this for their salvation and forfeit assurance of salvation.
Dr. Cottrell suggests taking a "test" in order to illustrate whether your relationship to God is ultimately egocentric or theocentric. The question is: "If you were to die (or Christ were to return) at this very moment, would you be saved or lost?" STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT For our purposes what matters most was not if you answered yes or no, but what first came to your mind as you began to formulate your answer. Were your first thoughts about yourself, e.g., "Do I really deserve salvation? Have I sinned since I last asked for forgiveness? Am I good enough for heaven?" This is the egocentric mindset. Or were your first thoughts about the grace of God and the cross of Christ? Did you say something like "Yes, thanks be to God and His wonderful promises through Jesus Christ!"
"Only when we come to a theocentric approach to God and salvation will we be blessed with a confident assurance of our salvation status. Many Christians are in serious need a "Copernican revolution" in this regard."