Over at 9 Marks, Mike McKinley warned pastors of six ways they can lead people to have false assurance of their salvation. We're not about creating doubt where there should be none, but when taken rightly, these warnings will serve to do the opposite. There is truth here that corrects, encourages, and ultimately assures true believers. All disciples of Christ could benefit from this article as they seek to faithfully make disciples.
As a pastor, I interact with a lot of people who struggle to have confidence in the authenticity of their conversion. To their mind, their sin clings closely and their failings are always at hand. Most of the time, I find that these are faithful brothers and sisters who need comfort and reassurance.
But there’s another group of people in many of our churches that are much more worrisome: those with a firm but unfounded belief that they are genuinely converted. Perhaps you know they type. They know the right words. They stay free from scandalous public sin. And they are moral people. But they have no true fruit, no evidence that God’s converting Spirit is at work within them. And oftentimes there is an untreated area of secret sin.
These people are hard to reach—it’s like they’ve been inoculated to the gospel. They think they already have what they most need, and so they aren’t looking for anything more! And if there is an area of hidden sin, they’ve long made peace with it.
Sadly, our churches are at least partly to blame for their presence in our midst. Allow me to suggest six ways that we pastors may inadvertently help to foster false assurance in people like this.