Assurance

Prayer  SlimJim from The Domain For Truth continues with part 8 of his Assurance of Salvation series.  While reading through his outline, I was reminded of Walter Marshalls’ The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (pdf version here).  In this day and age of easy believism where anyone who “walks the aisle” is a Christian, I can’t help but be confounded how a holy God, an almighty Deity, seems to have so little changing power in the lives of many of those who call upon His name.

Marshall states very early in this work:

The Lord is not at all loved with that love that is due to Him as Lord of all, if He is not loved with all our heart, spirit and might. We are to love everything in Him, His justice, holiness, sovereign authority, all-seeing eye, and all His decrees, commands, judgements, and all His doings. We are to love Him, not only better than other things, but singly, as only good, the fountain of all goodness; and to reject all fleshly and worldly enjoyments, even our own lives, as if we hated them, when they stand in competition with our enjoyment of Him, or our duty towards Him. We must love Him as to yield ourselves wholly up to His constant service in all things, and to His disposal of us as our absolute Lord, whether it is for prosperity or adversity, life or death. And, for His sake, we are to love our neighbor – even all men, whether they are friends or foes to us; and so do to them in all things, that concern their honor, life, chastity, worldly wealth, credit and content, whatever we would that men should do to us in the like condition (Matt. 7:12). This spiritual universal obedience is the great end to the attainment of which I am directing you. And, that you may not reject my enterprise as impossible, observe that the most I promise is no more than an acceptable performance of these duties of the law such as our gracious merciful God will certainly delight in and be pleased with during our state of imperfection in this world, and such as will end in perfection of holiness and all happiness in the world to come.

  This presupposes that we “do” something, which is out of step with current evangelicalism which emphasizes justification by faith alone, which I affirm, but nothing more, which I don’t agree with.  Sanctification is something that should be very real in the Christian’s life.  As I recently heard it said, sanctification should be the outworking of an incredible joy in our justification. Basically, if we are excited and understand our justification, we will be excited to grow and walk in our sanctification, which is something we do by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, click the link below and head on over to The Domain For Truth and ask yourself some of the questions that SlimJim poses.

Assurance of Salvation Part 8: Questions to examine ourselves Part 2

I have also included links the the first 7 parts in case you might have missed any of them.

Assurance of Salvation Part 7: Questions to examine ourselves Part 1

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?

Assurance

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.

isaiah-seraphim-coalI 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?

Spurgeon Thursday

SALVATION BY WORKS, A CRIMINAL DOCTRINE

NO. 1534

DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, APRIL 18, 1880,

BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21.

Youthful Charles Spurgeon THE idea of salvation by the merit of our own works is exceedingly insinuating. It matters not how often it is refuted, it asserts itself again and again and when it gains the least foothold it soon makes great advances. Hence Paul, who was determined to show it no quarter, opposed everything which bore its likeness. He was determined not to permit the thin end of the wedge to be introduced into the Church, for well he knew that willing hands would soon be driving it home! Therefore when Peter sided with the Judaizing party and seemed to favor those who demanded that the Gentiles should be circumcised, our brave Apostle withstood him to his face. He always fought for salvation by Grace through faith and contended strenuously against all thought of righteousness by obedience to the precepts of the ceremonial or the moral Law.

No one could be more explicit than he upon the doctrine that we are not justified or saved by works in any degree, but solely by the Grace of God. His trumpet gave forth no uncertain sound, but gave forth the clear note—“By Grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Grace meant Grace with Paul and he could not endure any tampering with the matter, or any frittering away of its meaning. So fascinating is the doctrine of legal righteousness that the only way to deal with it is Paul’s way—stamp it out! Cry war to the knife against it! Never yield to it! And remember the Apostle’s firmness and how stoutly he held his ground—“To whom,” he says, “we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour.”

The error of salvation by works is exceedingly plausible. You will constantly hear it stated as a self-evident truth and vindicated on account of its supposed practical usefulness, while the Gospel doctrine of Salvation by Faith is railed at and accused of evil consequences. It is affirmed that if we preach salvation by good works we shall encourage virtue—and so it might seem in theory—but history proves, by many instances, that as a matter of fact where such doctrine has been preached virtue has become singularly uncommon and that in proportion as the merit of works has been cried up, morality has gone down!

On the other hand, where Justification by Faith has been preached, conversions have followed and purity of life has been produced even in the worst of men. Those who lead godly and gracious lives are ready to confess that the cause of their zeal for holiness lies in their faith in Christ Jesus. Where will you meet with a devout and upright man who glories in his own works? Self-righteousness is natural to our fallen humanity and, therefore, it is the essence of all false religions. Be they what they may, they all agree in seeking salvation by our own deeds. He who worships his idols will torture his body, will fast, will perform long pilgrimages and do or endure anything in order to merit salvation! The Roman Catholic church holds up continually before the eyes of its votaries the prize to be earned by self-denial, by penance, by prayers, by sacraments or by some other performances of man. Go where you may, the natural religion of fallen man is salvation by his own merits.

An old Divine has well said every man is born a heretic upon this point and he naturally gravitates towards this heresy in one form or another. Self-salvation, either by his personal worthiness, by his repentance or by his resolves is a hope ingrained in human nature and very hard to remove. This foolishness is bound up in the heart of every child Continue reading

Gospel-Driven Sanctification

Mike2The following is a sermon I listened to this morning on my way to work.  If you have ever wondered about sanctification, this sermon should give you much insight into God’s part in our sanctification and our part in it.  This sermon was preached by Mike Riccardi of Grace-Life Pulpit on the 19th of May, 2013.

Introduction

We love the doctrine of justification. Following in the footsteps of Martin Luther and the Reformation, we hail the doctrine of justification as that great doctrine upon which the church stands or falls. It is precious to us. We hold it dear to our hearts, because it captures the very essence of the Gospel of God’s grace to us sinners who know that we can do nothing to earn our acceptance with a holy God. We know that our only hope is to be reckoned righteous on the ground of the perfect, alien righteousness of Christ credited to our account by faith alone, apart from works. We love this doctrine because our goodness and our efforts and our achievements are debased, and Christ is exalted as all in all. 

And we also love the doctrine of glorification. We look forward with great joy, eagerness, and anticipation to that day when our struggle with sin will have reached its completion, when we will find the rest and the reward upon which we have steadfastly fixed our hope for all these years. It brings great encouragement and sweetness to our souls to contemplate the day when we will finally see our dear Lord Jesus face to face, when we will finally discover what it means to have unhindered fellowship and communion with the Savior whom we love more than anything or anyone—that day when we will enter in to the fullness of joy and the eternal pleasures that accompany being in His presence (cf. Ps 16:11). 

But sometimes the doctrine of sanctification doesn’t fill us with the same sense of wonder and appreciation. That may be because we are quickly reminded of how slowly we are progressing in the process of sanctification. To think of the doctrine of sanctification simply reminds us of what we ought to be but what we’re not. 

It also might be because there is a great deal of confusion about the doctrine of sanctification. Christians have long debated what the role of the believer is in progressive sanctification—whether we are to be actively engaged in and pursuing holiness, or whether we are to be passive, waiting faithfully for God to work holiness in us. You have folks, on the one hand, who say things like, “You just do everything you can and leave the rest to God,” as if you’re pretty alright on your own, you just need God to give you a little boost. These are the people with the bumper stickers that say, “God is my co-pilot.” If God is your co-pilot, you are in the wrong seat, my friend. Or sometimes you’ll hear, “Pray like a Calvinist, but work like an Arminian. Pray as if it all depended on God, but work as if it all depended on you.” I think I get what that means, but it’s never a good idea to pretend that something that’s false is true just to achieve a certain result. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of a better recipe for disaster in your pursuit of holiness than to adopt errant theology as the basis for your philosophy of the Christian life. 

But on the other hand, you have the quietists who say things like, “Your problem is that you’re trying to live the Christian life. What you really need to do is let Christ live through you. You just need to let go and let God. Stop striving, and just relax.” And so confusion abounds, and in dozens of other ways. 

But if there’s one doctrine that we can’t afford to be confused about, it’s the doctrine of sanctification. And that’s because it’s where we all live. All of us who are Christians live in between the time of our past justification and our future glorification, in the present pursuit of the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 

Listen to the entire sermon by clicking the link below.

Scripture & Scotch?

My wife came and told me that she saw an event on Facebook that was endorsed by a pastors wife that she is friends with.  Scripture and ScotchI guess the premise of this event is to go to a local nightclub in Springfield, MO, play secular music, drink, and share scripture with those who attend.  Judging from the facebook page it would appear that  at least one person who hasn’t been at church in a year, will be there along with many others.  So, my initial impression is that this is a way for those who attend church to have an excuse to go act like the world, which is exactly what Paul said not to do in Romans 12:2 and the Apostle John talked about in 1 John 2:15-17.  I am constantly amazed at the rationalization those who call on the name of Christ come up with to reach the lost instead of just preaching the Gospel message and calling on people to repent and believe.  What is even more troublesome is that I know that the church (cough, sputter, etc) where a lot of those who are leading this is affiliated with a denomination that used to believe in holiness and separation from the ways of the world.  Isn’t it interesting how times have changed?

 

 

Spurgeon Thursday

OUT OF NOTHING COMES NOTHING

NO. 2734
A SERMON
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, JULY 7, 1901.

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON,
ON THURSDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 21, 1880.

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” Job 14: 4.

JOB considered himself to be unclean in the sight of God. Yet, if we speak the plain truth about him, we must say that he was as clean as any man who lived in that age, or, indeed, in any other! We have the witness of the Holy Spirit, in this very Book, that Job, “was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” We have also the practical confirmation by the devil of the same fact, for, when the Lord said to him, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” he could not deny it, but could only insinuate that there was an evil motive at the back of the Patriarch’s uprightness—“Does Job fear God for nothing?”  Sometimes the unwilling acknowledgment  of an enemy is a stronger proof than the hearty declaration of a friend—and it was so in Job’s case.

He was one of the best, truest, sincerest, cleanest men to be found throughout  the whole world, yet he called himself unclean and he probably did so because, just in proportion as a spurgeon 2man becomes really pure, he discovers his own impurity. The impure man has a very low standard  of what true holiness is, and possibly he thinks that he comes nearly up to it or, if not, he tries to lower the standard down to his own level. But the man who is really pure in heart has a very high ideal of what the Truth  of God is, and uprightness  is, and holiness is and, because his ideal is so high, he feels that he has not yet attained to it and he thinks more of the distance between his present condition and his idea of perfection than he does of all that he has as yet attained.  Such a man says, with the Apostle Paul, “Forgetting  those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

It is always a bad sign when a man begins to think exceedingly well of himself. I had rather, a great deal, hear a man complain and cry out before God, under a deep sense of humiliation, than hear him utter a single word that reveals a spirit of complacency with his own condition.  What we are in Christ is a thing to be perfectly satisfied with and rejoiced over, for, in Christ, Believers are justified and accepted. But as for what we are in our own personal character, the very best of us must still feel that  there is much over which we have to mourn. However nearly we may have approached to the example of Christ, that very nearness will make us the more regret the points in which we have fallen short of a complete imitation  of Him and we shall still cry out, “O wretched man that I am”—blessed to have come so far on the way of holiness, but wretched that I have not gone still further—“who  shall deliver me from the present thralldom of the body of this death? Who shall perfectly emancipate me from its control, that I may live wholly unto God and be holy even as God is holy?”

Then, as Job considered himself an unclean thing, we need not wonder that he should have despaired of ever, Continue reading

Don’t Undersell Your Commute

Here is a blog post by Jonathan Parnell who works with the Desiring God organization.  I read it with much interest because 3 years ago I started dedicating the 2 hours I spend on the road getting to and from work to time in prayer, study, and meditation upon God.  Technology makes it so easy to download a podcast from one of many good expositors of the Word and listen during your commute.  You can download many different versions of the Word of God, ESV is my favorite, and listen to almost all of the New Testament Epistles at one time which is the way they were read to the church’s they were intended for.  I have not had visions of rapture during every trip, but quite often it is a glorious time of learning something new about my Lord. 

If you have a commute, and hopefully it isn’t as long as mine, I highly recommend that you spend your time in this endeavor rather than wasting it listening to talk radio, classic rock, or country music.  All of those will pass away but the Word of God will last forever.  You will grow in the grace and knowledge of God and find that it was time well spent.