ASSURANCES

MARKS OF THE TRUE CHRISTIAN

“The man from whom the old life has gone out, and into whom the new life has come, is still the same individual.  The same being that was once ‘under law’ is not ‘under grace.’  His features and limbs are still the same; his intellect, imagination, capacities, and responsibilities are still the same” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p9).

“…one who is ‘risen with Christ’ ought to be like the Risen One.  He will be expected to be meek and lowly, gentle and loving, simple and frank, kind and obliging, liberal and generous, not easily provoked or affronted, transparent and honest, not selfish, narrow, covetous, conceited, worldly, unwilling to be taught” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p77).

“Let love be genuine.  Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God…’if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:9-21 ESV).

ASSURANACES

A SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE

“The New Testament says that when we receive the gift of eternal life a new man comes into us, so that we are now two men, and the two are different and contrary—the spirit and the flesh—and there is a struggle and a conflict.  Now those who are aware of that, who though they sin and fail are aware of the fact that there are these two men in them, that there is a struggle between the two—these people have given proof positive that they have received the gift of eternal life” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p651).

However, don’t be too fast to assume you have eternal life if you have conflicts within.  The natural man has conflicts with himself. These struggles are not “spiritual struggles.”

“There is no spiritual struggle in the life of unbelievers.  There may be a moral struggle, there may be a struggle to live up to a certain code that they have set up, they may struggle to do certain things and if they do not achieve them they are ashamed of themselves…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p651).

This caution is particularly applied to us who have grown up in the church.  For we see a moral standard in the ones we worship with and can assume it is accomplished by purely human effort.  And so with only our natural man we strive to live morally—and struggle within ourselves if we don’t.  A “spiritual struggle” is defined in the next paragraph.

“If you feel that you are empty, if you feel you are nothing, if you feel you are poor and wretched and blind, if you hate your inclination to sin and have any suspicion of a feeling of self-loathing and hatred…you have eternal life” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p653).

Let us check our spirits; let us compare a “moral struggle” with a “spiritual struggle” by rereading the above paragraphs.  If you feel you are living life in a “moral struggle” then pay close attention to the next paragraph.

“Tell God that you are not certain, that you do not know, and that you desire that knowledge above all else.  And ask Him, by His Holy Spirit, to enable you to see your true helplessness, and ask Him to give you the gift.  I assure you that if you do, He will not reject you, because He has said, ‘Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6:37).  If you have not possessed this, ask Him, believing His own promise, and I assure you that He will answer your prayer.  He will give you the gift, and you will know you have eternal life” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p644).

ASSURANCES

JOY COMES WITH SALVATION

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore”(Ps 16:11 ESV).

“The exercises of religion…do yield the highest pleasure and delight to souls possessed with divine love…they have placed themselves in the presence of God…they delight to adore his perfections and recount his favours…and tell him a thousand times that they love him, to lay their troubles or wants before him, and disburden their hearts in his bosom” Henry Scougal (ref#321, p79-80).

 “…the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8:10 ESV).

“…to feel a liberty of pouring out our hearts before the Lord, to behold some glances of his goodness passing before us…by beholding his glory, to be conformed more and more to his image, and to renew our strength by drawing water out of the wells of salvation—herein is blessedness” John Newton (ref#322, p150).

“For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy” (Ps 92:4 ESV).

“…we may rejoice in his all-sufficiency as our own…in consequences of this, a peaceful, humble submission to his will, under all events which, upon their first impression, are contrary to our own views and desires” John Newton (ref#322, p151).

 “Do you not know this from of old, since man was placed on earth, that the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment” (Job 20:4-5 ESV).

“…your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts” (Jer 15:16 ESV).

“Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” (1 Peter 1:8 ESV).

ASSURANCES

OVERCOMING THE WORLD

“…people who are truly Christians are those who overcome the world.  They rise above it; they conquer it.  They are in the world, but no longer of it….They may fall into sin, but they do not dally in it…They have been delivered out of this evil world, having been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p643).

“ “…Christians…view the world in an entirely new manner.  They see that it is governed by sin.  They have come to regard it as a place in which evil forces are at work…They know that it is something they have to fight, something to withstand, and they realize that unless they do so they will be defeated by it” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p642).

“If a Christian have Christ’s heart…He will give him…His power to help him to overcome the strong enemies that meet him in the way…” Andrew Gray (ref#333 p223).

“We are bound to rejoice in God, and that always, even in tribulation; which no understanding can conceive to be possible, unless the soul be assured of life eternal” Edward Leigh (ref#333, p174).

“Our faith is not true unless it enables us to appear calmly in the presence of God” John Calvin (ref#333, p89).

“The only thing we have really to be afraid of, is fearing anything more than God” Gregory of Nazianzum (ref#333, p24).

“It is a fearful thing to come to a deathbed with a religion so feeble as to leave the poor soul in dreadful doubt as to its state” John Angell (ref#333, p335).

ASSURANCES

A CHANGED LIFE IS OUR ASSURANCE

“When I am born again the Spirit of God takes me right out of myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Dec 21st).

“That grace which is but a persuasive offer and in our power to receive or refuse is not the grace which brings us to heaven.  But God’s people feel a powerful work of the Spirit, not only revealing to us our misery and deliverance through Christ, but emptying us of ourselves, as being redeemed from ourselves, and infusing new life into us, and afterwards strengthening us and quickening us…never leaving us till the conquest is perfect” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p117).

“This new being…is no outer thing, made up of showy moralities and benevolences…It is something deeper, and truer…It’s affinities are with the things above; its sympathies are divine; it sides with God in everything…The new man…produces righteousness and holiness through the power of the Holy Ghost…It is…a new standing or state, a new moral character, a new life, a new joy, a new work, a new hope…” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p10-11).

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-16 ESV).

“…true Biblical holiness…that which must be based firmly on a personal experience of the saving work of Christ on the cross, and maintained through the work of the Holy Spirit living in the individual believer…is not simply a matter of outward observance but is rather the whole Christian life, and finds practical expression in every area of day-to-day living” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, back cover).

NOTE: This changed life may not immediately produce all that is mentioned above.  This new life is a “progressive sanctification…a process of change…a way of ongoing transformation, not yet perfect, still failing, but always growing in faith and obedience” Paul David Tripp (ref#5, p340).

“Salvation is unfolded throughout our entire sojourn here.  We continue to repent and to believe, and even the process of our salvation continues as we are changed more and more into the image of our Lord” Charles Spurgeon (ref#330, p88-89).

ASSURANCES

SPIRIT CHECK

“O soul, of all the false signs of grace, none more dangerous than those that most resemble true ones, and never doth the devil more surely destroy than when transformed into an angel of light” John Flavel (ref#333, p211).

The matter of life after earthly death is not only the most important subject to embrace but we must be aware that the temporary ruler of the earth will do everything in his power to keep us from fellowship with the eternal Ruler of all.  We need to continually check our spirit to see if we are walking with the eternal Spirit.

Do your deeds prove you know GOD?

“They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works…” (Titus 1:16 ESV).

 

Do you have the evidence of serving GOD by obeying His will?

“No man…can have any evidence that he is a servant of Christ any further than he obeys the will of Christ” (Edward Payson, ref#333, p328).

 

Are you committing habitual sins?

“Habitual unholiness is a stronger proof that a man’s hopes, whatever they be, do not rest on the faith of the truth…” (Dr. John Brown, ref#333, p329).

 

Do you daily embrace the fact that you are a sinner and repent?

“They only do account it an easy thing to believe in Christ, who never were acquainted with themselves” (Thomas Shepherd, ref#333, p253).

 

Do you have an “experience” or a “feeling” you are saved?

“There are those who seem to be in trouble about…whether they have eternal life or not, because they will persist in thinking of it in terms of experience, or in terms of feeling…” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, ref#332, p648).

 

Am I interested in CHRIST? Do I think of Him often?

“Doubts of a personal interest in Christ are evidences either of little faith or of no faith” (Robert Haldane, ref#333, p313).

 

“It is better for a man to be silent, and be a Christian, than to say he is, and not to be” (Ignatius, ref#333, p4).

ASSURANCES

CHANGED DISPOSITION

“…believing on Jesus Christ is no work, but a resting on Jesus Christ” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p24).

“Those that are under Christ’s government have the spirit of revelation, whereby they see and feel a divine power sweetly and strongly enabling them to preserve faith when they feel the contrary, and hope in a state which is hopeless, and love to God under signs of his displeasure, and heavenly-mindedness in the midst of worldly affairs and allurements which draw a contrary way.  They feel a power preserving patience, nay joy, in the midst of causes of mourning, inward peace in the midst of assaults.  Whence is it that, when assaulted with temptation and compassed with troubles, we have stood firm, but from a secret strength upholding us?…we know where to obtain this power, and to whom to return the praise of it” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p116).

“Love, basically, is love of God: ‘a delightful and affectionate sense of the divine perfections, which makes the soul resign and sacrifice itself wholly unto him, desiring above all things to please him, and delighting in nothing so much as in fellowship and communion with him, and being ready to do or suffer anything for his sake, or at his pleasure…” Henry Scougal (ref#321, p10).

“The man who knows that he is risen with Christ, and has set his affection on things above, will be a just, trusty, ingenuous, unselfish, truthful man.  “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8 ESV). …these he will think upon and do” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p80).

“…when he is neither communing with his Lord, nor acting for him, he accounts his time lost, and is ashamed and grieved.  The truth of his love is manifested by submission” John Newton (ref#322, p155).

ASSURANCES

ATTITUDE TOWARD SIN

Our attitude toward sin gives us away as to our assurance of salvation.  Do we feel no more guilt when we sin?  Does GOD’s wrath no more come to mind?  Does the subject of sin produce peace?

“…peace, conscious peace…must be the consequence of our having ascertained, upon sure evidence, the forgiving love of God” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p30).  “…we shall be conscious of innumerable shortcomings, and shameful defilement; but these things will not break our peace, if our hearts are upright” John Newton (ref#322, p149).

“To be conscious of them, [defects and defilements] and humbled for them, is one of the surest marks of grace; and to be more deeply sensible of them than formerly, is the best evidence of growth in grace” John Newton (ref#322, p176, brackets mine).

“…the natural man…would…be pleased to know he should be saved at last, provided that while here he might live in his sins.  But the believer will not, cannot think himself blessed, unless he has likewise a conscience void of offence” John Newton (ref#322, p149).

“Under law and its curse, a man works for self and Satan; under grace he works for God. It is forgiveness that sets a man working for God.  He does not work in order to be forgiven, but because he has been forgiven, and the consciousness of his sin being pardoned makes him long more for its entire removal than ever he did before” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p43).

“It is a believer’s privilege to walk with God in the exercise of faith, and, by the power of his Spirit, to mortify the whole body of sin; to gain a growing victory over the world and self, and to make daily advances in conformity to the mind that was in Christ” John Newton (ref#322, p84).

ASSURANCES

SPIRIT CHECK

A good way to assure you are truly redeemed is to check yourself with the “Parable of the Sower.”

“…Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it” (Mark 4:3-4 ESV).

“…there are some hearers of the Gospel…who hear sermons, but pay no attention to them….they are taken up with thinking of other things….It produces no more effect on them than water on a stone.  And at the end they go away, knowing no more than when they came in.  There are myriads of professing Christians in this state of soul…in this state they…are lost for ever in hell” J.C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. 1, Mark, p63-64).

“Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil” (Mark 4:5 ESV).

“These are they on whom preaching produces temporary impressions, but no deep, lasting, and abiding effect….They are not careless and inattentive hearers… therefore tempted to think well of their own condition.  They…therefore flatter themselves they must have grace in their hearts….And yet they are thoroughly deceived.…There is no real work of conversion in their inward man….they are actually on the high road to destruction” J.C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. 1, Mark, p64-65).

“Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain” (Mark 4:7 ESV).

“These are they who attend to the preaching of Christ’s truth, and to a certain extent obey it. Their understanding assents to it. Their judgment approves of it. Their conscience is affected by it. Their affections are in favor of it….But…they stop short….They never come up to the full standard of New Testament Christianity….Without a decided change they will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Christ will have all our hearts” J.C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. 1, Mark, p64-65).

“And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up…and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:8 ESV).

“These…really receive Christ’s truth into…their hearts, believe it implicitly, and obey it thoroughly.  In these the fruits of that truth will be seen…Sin will be truly hated, mourned over, resisted, and renounced.  Christ will be truly loved, trusted in, followed…and obeyed….There will always be visible repentance, visible faith in Christ, and visible holiness of life” J.C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. 1, Mark, p66-67).