I just love my Amazon wish list. Because I love to read, my Amazon wish list has quite a few books on it that I would like to have. The problem is that those books, at times, cost more than my budget allows. But the real beauty of my list is that I do quite a lot of Information Technology work on a part time basis, and instead of charging people, I give them directions to my wish list and literally leave it up to them which book to purchase, and how many books they think my time is worth. Needless to say, my library has grown a little faster than I can keep up with, not that I’m complaining.
Yesterday I received a couple of books for a job I did a week ago and one of the books I got was No Holiness, No Heaven! by Richard Alderson. In the first chapter, Alderson makes it abundantly clear that without a desire for holiness a person is not saved. That is not to say that we will be perfectly holy or not have times where that desire wains, but if we are truly justified, we will have a pronounced desire to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. As 1 John 3:9 states, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (NASB). Again, this is not to say that we will walk in sinless perfection, but our increasing desire will be to know Christ in a manner so that we are conformed, day by day, to be more like Him. This desire WILL produce fruit in a true Christian’s life and this fruit will be evident.
Often times I look back over my life and see this fruit. How you might ask? By realizing that sins that once were dominating in my life, aren’t so strong; still there, but not ruling over me. Another way that I see it is that I don’t desire things like I once did. At one point in my life music was everything to me. I would listen to what is now known as “Classic Rock” for hours. I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars I spent on music. But now, I find myself no longer wanting to do that. Of course, when I happen to be somewhere and hear a song from my past, many times I’ll sing along, but I don’t go out of my way to seek those situations out.
I say all of this because it gives me assurance that God is working in my heart and mind. It is a slow progression that has not happened in a day, a week, or even a year. But it has been something that has taken place over the last 5 years and it hasn’t been noticed just by me. The biggest confirmation is when those who I have known for years have told me that I am not the same as I used to be. So, you have both an internal and external witness of sanctification and that assures me of my salvation.
Having said that, I’ll be so bold to say that if you are not able to internally look back over the past 5-10 years and see that your life has changed dramatically and if people come up to you and tell you that you haven’t seemed to change, which is an external indication, then, if you call yourself a Christian, you most likely have very little assurance in your salvation. Alderson, in his book states:
It is totally foreign to Scripture to suggest that one can receive Christ as Saviour from hell, but not as the Lord who saves from sin. The Bible knows nothing of those who are ‘Christians’ but not ‘disciples’; of ‘believers’ who are ‘carnal’ but not yet ‘spiritual’; of those who are ‘justified’ but not yet ‘sanctified’.
On the contrary, Scripture is full of warnings about those who make extravagant claims to fellowship with God but whose moral nature remains unchanged. They many have great charismatic gifts and engage in remarkable acts of philanthropy, yet still remain spiritually dead and strangers to grace (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Those with true saving faith live as Christ lived. Those who persevere in a sinful life merely proclaim thereby that they are not Christians at all.
J. C. Ryle, in a comment upon the words of Christ, ‘Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing’ (luke 12:43), shows the importance of the distinctions we have given above. He writes:
It is not the servant who is found wishing and professing, but the servant who is found “doing,” whom Jesus calls “blessed.” The lesson is one which many, unhappily, shrink from giving, and many more shrink from receiving. We are gravely told that to talk of “working,” and “doing,” is legal, and brings Christians into bondage! Remarks of this kind should never move us. They savour of ignorance or perverseness. The lesson before us is not about justification, but about sanctification, – not about faith, but about holiness; the point is not what a man should do to be saved, – but what ought a saved man to do. The teaching of Scripture is clear and express upon this subject. A saved man ought to be “careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8). The desire of a true Christian ought to be, to be found “doing.” (pgs 7-8, emphasis mine).
If you find your desire to be doing as Christ did, if you find that you want to be more like Christ, you should find that you have an assurance IN Christ. Which leads me to Assurance of Salvation Part 7: Questions to examine ourselves Part 1 by SlimJim at The Domain For Truth. There are some good questions and points that you should ask yourself and ponder.
In case you missed any of the other 6 posts on Assurance, I have posted the links below.
Assurance of Salvation Part 6: Do you understand the Gospel?
Assurance of Salvation Part 5: Christians can Know that they are saved
Assurance of Salvation Part 4: Objections to Perseverance of the Saints
Assurance of Salvation Part 3: Perseverance means a Believer Endure
Assurance of Salvation Part 2: Foundation for Perseverance of the Saints.
Assurance of Salvation Part 1: Why study on the topic of Christian assurance?