Assurance

PrayerMy brother in Christ, and new friend, Slimjim, over at The Domain For Truth has finished up his series on assurance.  It is a 10 part series and well worth looking at since most who call themselves “Christian” know so very little about this topic.  What is amazing to me is the fact that assurance is so obvious.  Just open your Bible to John 3:16 and it literally begs to be noticed.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Please understand that I am not going to make an entire theological statement on this verse.  I am convinced that many people take it way out of context, but I do want to look at one part of it.  Take a look at the last 3 words and follow along.  “Have” is something you possess.  It is something you received in the past.  “Eternal Life” is, well, eternal.  If’n you can’t figure out what the meaning of “eternal” is, please consult a dictionary.  So, when you put that together, you “HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.”  But, one other thing I want to bring out is the fact that you have eternal life whether you are a Christian or not.  We are born into “eternity,” I like to say.  One form of that eternal life is in Christ, which leads to heaven, the other form of eternal life is outside of Christ and that leads to hell.  Either way, it is eternal, never ending, always ongoing.

My hope and prayer is that you will read through the links I have posted below and first, come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit in the regeneration of your heart.  Or, if you are already a Christian, that your faith will be strengthened and the assurance that is given to us will be more evident to you.

Here are the links to the 10 part series:

Assurance of Salvation Part 1: Why study on the topic of Christian assurance?

Assurance of Salvation Part 2: Foundation for Perseverance of the Saints

Assurance of Salvation Part 3: Perseverance means a Believer Endure

Assurance of Salvation Part 4: Objections to Perseverance of the Saints

Assurance of Salvation Part 5: Christians can Know that they are saved

Assurance of Salvation Part 6: Do you understand the Gospel?

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

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

Assurance of Salvation Part 9: Four kinds of people and the result of our testing in the faith

Assurance of Salvation Appendix: Test your faith Survey Questions List

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?

Assurance

PrayerI started attending church in 1982 on a regular basis.  Before that, I would only attend when my parents made me go, and what is funny about that is we only attended at Easter, I can’t remember once going at Christmas time, so I guess you could say we were just annual Christians (can you guess which geographical area I’m from). But in all the years I went to church regularly, I can’t tell you how many times I walked down to the altar and re-dedicated my life.  I had no assurance of my salvation!  When I could “feel” God, I knew I was saved, but when the heavens were closed and my prayers seemed to be unheard, salvation was so far away.

Then, about 4 1/2 years ago, during a casual conversation with an associate minister of the church my family and I attended, the topic turned to God’s sovereignty.  I had heard the word, I had even heard preachers teach on what it meant for God to be sovereign, but it’s fullness never really registered in my mind.  This time, however, something changed.  I actually started thinking about what it meant for God to be sovereign.  This lead me to start thinking about His absolute sovereignty.  After just a week or two of dwelling on the ramifications of what it meant for God to be absolutely sovereign, the Word of God opened up to me in an unexpected way.  I started seeing God’s sovereignty in scripture like I had never seen before.  I read Jonah 2:9b where the Word says, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

Like a floodgate being opened, the truth of the doctrines of God’s marvelous grace came flooding into my life.  For the very first time, I had complete assurance in the salvation of my Lord and God.  What had only weeks before been a heart of stone, was now a regenerated heart of flesh that had a new found desire to serve God.

It has not been without struggles because what happened to me caused me to leave the church my family and I attended, the friends we had, to find a church where the doctrines of grace where taught.  It caused a rift with some members of my family which is still there today.  I praise God that my wife saw the change and was inquisitive enough to ask questions of me and I was able to take her to the Word of God and show her the scripture that had so transformed my life.  Her life too was changed and it is amazing to see the transforming power of God in her life too.

I say all of this because I know it is possible to have assurance of one’s salvation.  I know it is possible because I have experienced it and watched it in my wife and with my own mother, both of whom I was also able to talk to and open the Word to.  Now, lest you think that I think it was me that lead them to Christ, rest assured that I am a firm believer that salvation truly does belong to the Lord, I was just the instrument that God used to speak His Word’s into their lives. So, I want to share a website that has embarked on a series entitled:  Assurance of Salvation.  To this point, there are only two entries in the series, but they are definitely worth looking at.

Part 1 – Assurance of Salvation: Why study on the topic of Christian assurance?

Part 2 – Assurance of Salvation: Foundation for Perseverance of the Saints.

Head on over to The Domain For Truth website and check these articles out.

And a huge UhRah! to SlimJim.