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).

ASSURANCES

SETTLED ASSURANCE

“The teaching of some…seems…to hinder assurance.  Assurance, say some, is impossible.  Not impossible, say others, but very hard to attainment…I do not see how my being thoroughly persuaded that a holy God loves me…and has forgiven me all my sins, has a tendency to evil…whereas uncertainty in this matter…bewilders me,…sets me striving to work my way into the favour of God…which can do nothing but keep me dreading and doubting all the days of my life, leaving me, perhaps, at the close, in hopeless darkness” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p36).

“…a clear, well-grounded, habitual persuasion of our acceptance in the Beloved is attainable…They are blessed, therefore, who have such views of the power, grace, and suitableness of Jesus, and the certainty and security of redemption in him, together with such a consciousness that they have anchored their hopes, and ventured their all, upon his person, work, and promise, as furnishes them with a ready answer to all the cavils of unbelief and Satan…”  John Newton (ref#322, p148).

“The characteristic of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that Christ is formed in me.  Immediately Christ is formed in me, His nature begins to work through me” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Dec 25th).

“The Gospel is designed to give us not only a peradventure or a probability, but a certainty both of our acceptance and our perseverance…” John Newton (ref#322, p153).

Who may lay just claim to Christ’s mercy?  “Only those that will take his yoke and count it a greater happiness to be under his government than to enjoy any liberty of the flesh…” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p80).

“…because he is sure the Lord does all things well.  Therefore his submission is not forced, but is an act of trust” John Newton (ref#322, p155).

“’I knew I was converted when religion stopped being a duty and became a delight,’” Henry Scougal (ref#321, p8).  “When we are so far satisfied with the government of Christ’s Spirit that we are willing to resign up ourselves to him in all things, then his kingdom is come to us, and our wills are brought to his will.  It is the bent of our wills that makes us good or ill” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p99).

ASSURANCES

CHRIST’S ACCUSATIONS

We will not understand or rest in the assurance of GOD’s salvation if first we do not examine our motives and actions.  Actually, we must examine the motives for our actions.

For all of us who have labeled ourselves “Christians,” naturally set about fitting ourselves into that role. We default to making an effort to be “good Christians.”

We are concerned about that because of the natural pride in us.  Thus we make every effort to prove to others and ourselves that we are preforming the activities of a Christian.

Unfortunately little is discussed from our pulpits about “…unspiritual preoccupation with outward forms and ceremonies, while neglecting utterly the great moral verities of true religion” James Coffman (Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, “Commentary on Luke 11:42”).

As I read the gospels I am stopped by CHRIST’s forcible language that condemn His listeners.  Why does He provoke?  The answer comes quickly to mind.

We easily slide into our natural mode described above.  Therefore, we must hear language that condemns.  We must have an accusing finger pointed at us telling us we are not on the Christian path we thought we were on.   To move toward Christianity and the peace of knowing we have the assurance from GOD that we are His we must, before anything else, recognize our sin. And that is the sin of being actors—acting like we are Christians but are not.

CHRIST’s convicting words: “…you…outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt 23:28 ESV).  “A man may appear clean without, who is unclean within; but outward purity will not avail in the sight of God, where inward holiness is wanting” Adam Clarke (The Adam Clarke Commentary, “Commentary on Matthew 23:25”).

We must check ourselves: do we make the decision of what good works we do—do we decide on them because we believe we have the ability to accomplish them successfully?  This is sin; we are operating with our born-with natural abilities.

“…the things done…may be good and godly…but if they are not undertaken in a spirit of complete reliance upon the Holy Spirit, then the flesh is the source of all…Whatever does not issue from waiting upon God, from depending upon the Holy Spirit, is unquestionably of the flesh.  Whatever one decides according to his pleasure in lieu of seeking the will of God emanates from the flesh….” Watchman Nee (ref#33, p114).

If these words convict you, repent and ask GOD to change your heart.  Only a renewed heart can override the flesh, for flesh “never has the sense of utter dependency” Watchman Nee (ref#33, p114).

ASSURANCES

YEAR-ENDING POST

Have you read all these “Assurance” posts and verified in your heart a “yes” answer though your actions sometimes don’t live up to your heart?  “Failings, with conflict, in sanctification should not weaken the peace of our justification and assurance of salvation” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p96).

Be encouraged for once GOD has chosen you you will not fall back into an unredeemed condition.  “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29 ESV).

“…we learn to stand by falls, and get strength by weakness discovered…We take deeper root by shaking….And…torches flame brighter by moving…When we are foiled, let us believe we shall overcome; when we have fallen, let us believe we shall rise again” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p95).

“So let us never give up, but, in our thoughts, knit the beginning, progress and end together, and then we shall see ourselves in heaven out of the reach of all enemies….Christ, who, as he is the author, so will he be the finisher, of our faith (Heb 12:2)” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p96).

 

NOTE:  I will probably continue “Assurance” posts into the start of next year because it hit home so much with me.  Us moral people—pew-sitters from infancy, need to beware!  Because we are respectable, moral, and basically good (humanity at its best), we can get along without peace and pardon that comes from the regeneration of GOD.

Blatant sinners and immoral ones who feel they are wretches know for certain when regeneration occurs, for GOD’s peace and pardon flood over them.  They musthave GOD!  Long-time pew-sitters are all too content with being respectable and workers of human-generated good. (ideas from “God’s Way of Holiness, by Horatius Bonar, ref#326, p33).

May GOD grant the regenerated, growth into His holiness in 2020.

ASSURANCES

JOY

“We may know, and should know, that we are in a relationship to God and that we possess His life…We must not rest until we have full and certain assurance, confidence, and jubilation.…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 17th).

“Jubilation”—this is what gives us Christians away—we are distinct because of our joy.  It stands above all the other questions to which we have answered “yes” over these past two years on this blog site.

On May 23, 2018 I posted this question: “Do I experience a fullness of joy in GOD’s presence” (Ps 16:11)? Tim McGee, a good blogging friend commented: “Today’s question about joy in GOD’s presence is all-encompassing of the others, I think.  If not experiencing that joy, have I truly put myself in the presence of God?”

FATHER, this joy is my most precious commodity.  It is my goal, and I need Your help to attain it.  Oh, may I strive to experience it in all circumstances—ALL!  I know in my head that this joy is an inner joy—one that is eternal and has no ending to it for it is completely of You.  It does not depend on earthly circumstances; instead, it looks to You in hope.  Please, LORD, motivate my heart to find joy in everything that comes my way.

Isaiah the prophet revealed JESUS’ hope in You: “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied…” (Isa 53:11 ESV).

“…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” (Heb 12:2 ESV).

I remind all my blogging friends in closing out these two years of “Assurances” blogs:

“…neither…things present nor things to come…will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39 ESV). Does that not bring us constant, inexpressible joy?

ASSURANCES

A CHRISTIAN IN IGNORANCE

I know after two years of blogging on the subject of “Assurances,” that there are some readers that still only “think” GOD has redeemed them.  It is so easy to do godly things.  As law-abiding humans we are inclined to pursue morality and distance ourselves from the immoral.  The looming problem is that we have the ability within ourselves to be outstanding model citizens, keeping ourselves from indulging in obvious sins and being proud and content with it.

I can’t stop thinking about the Sermon on the Mount.  If one reads those few chapters in one sitting and tests their performance in keeping the commands they would conclude the impossibility to accomplish such tasks—especially when they get to the end of Matthew, chapter five.

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48 ESV).

 All my “Assurance” posts read in one sitting indeed would convince a person that they need someone better than themselves to help them.  But, read one verse a day like I post, and it’s easy to “like” that one post and pass over posts less likable.

This subject has come down hard on me today as I read, “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”  “Ignorance” is a guy that believes he’s a Christian (p130-133).   He has all the signs of a Christian—loves good works, loves the whole Christian environment, etc.  He sees himself more righteous than most people so his heart and conscience are at peace.

The whole crux of the matter is that Christians need CHRIST.  Until GOD draws us to tour our personal sin we never see our need, so the best question to ask is “How do I regard my sin?”  Does my sin bother me?

If we think we’re not a constant sinner, we only “think” we’re a Christian.  We have to know how despicable we are before we’re willing to lean on CHRIST for salvation and grow into His likeness.

ASSURANCES

INTOLERABLE SIN

 “…anyone who lives in willful sin…has none of the marks of God’s elect” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p257). “He that minds first the things of the flesh, has no saving faith” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p188).

“The believer who abides in Him [CHRIST] hath a divine assurance for the fulfillment of every promise the covenant ever gave” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p196, brackets mine).

“There is a spiritual treasure-house in the Word…There you will see…the everlasting election of the saints in Christ,—the special love wherewith God loved them before the foundation of the world,—their mystical union with their risen Head in heaven, and His consequent sympathy with them,—their interest in the perpetual intercession of Jesus, their High Priest,—their liberty of daily communion with the Father and the Son,—their full assurance of hope,—their perseverance to the end” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p249).

“The redemption which he enjoys is eternal.  The sense and comfort of it he may lose by his own carelessness.  But the thingitself, after once believing, is his for evermore….Thy faith shall never be allowed entirely to fail” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p279).

“A day must come, if you are ever to be God’s child, when you will cease to trifle with your soul’s interests.  An hour must come when at last you will bend your knee in real earnestness, and pour out your heart before God in real prayer.  A time must come when the burden of your sins will at last feel intolerable, and when you will feel you must have rest in Christ or perish” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p286).

FATHER, I’m sure everyone reading this post has felt “intolerable sin” or soon will feel “intolerable sin.”  To be humbled, then loved by the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe is our greatest joy. Thank You, FATHER.