The Reality of Blessed Assurance

C. David Ragland, Jr.
Tribosblog.org      
September 5, 2015

blessed-assurance

The Reality of Blessed Assurance

 

Introduction

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”  – John 6:47

The Holy Bible is God’s word to mankind.  It gives us clear, inspired promises regarding salvation.  If a person believes on Christ, he has eternal life (John 6:47).  The study of God’s word is a lifelong educational pursuit, but understanding the Gospel message is not at all difficult.  The simplicity and beauty of Christ’s words in John 6:47 are indeed remarkable.  The Bible clearly teaches that we have inherited salvation (Galatians 4:7;Titus 3:6-7; I Peter 3:7).  Christ has actually purchased us with His blood; true believers belong to Him (I Corinthians 6:20; Titus 2:13-14; I Peter 1:18-19; Acts 20:28; Corinthians 12:27).  Yet staking a faith claim on God’s promises is not always easy in spite of scriptural clarity.

We don’t simply want Blessed Assurance, we need it to be at peace within our hearts.  Would God have provided for our salvation only to have us live with painful, nagging doubts?  This is an absurd notion.  Yet many believers struggle with doubt.  Is there any Christian who does not struggle with doubt at times?  We will make the case that God wants us to be assured in the following (2) sections of this written work: I.) Objective evidence that salvation can be ours II.) Self-examination

I.)    Objective evidence that salvation can be ours

Defining objective evidence

One dictionary defines the word “objective” as, “not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased:” [1] So, we can rightly define objective evidence as evidence that can be examined devoid of personal bias.  Fortunately, the Bible gives us objective evidence salvation.  We now turn to scripture for this evidence with our focus being upon what Father God has done through Christ Jesus to reconcile us to Himself.

The person and work of Jesus

Any competent investigation answers critical questions.  Our first step is to find and consider the right questions.  Who was Jesus and why did He come to earth?  In answering this question, let’s consider the following line of reasoning.  If we accept what Jesus said of Himself, we believe that He is God the Son and one with Father God (John 10:30; John 8:58).  Was this an actual claim to Godhood?  The Jews who opposed Him certainly took it that way (John 10:33) and He never corrected them.  Neither did He correct Thomas when he referred to Him saying, “ . . . My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)

Next, it is just as critical to know why God the Son left Glory and came to earth.  Jesus performed miracles as infallible proof of who He was (John 20:30; Acts 1:3), He served as a teacher, and many other things.  Yet Christ’s primary purpose in descending to our realm was to save us (Matt 20:28; Luke 19:10;1 Tim 1:15; 1 John 4:10).  So, if we believe in the deity of Christ, we believe that His power is unlimited.  And if we believe this much, we know that His efforts were not in vain.  That is, we can rest assured that Father God did not set out from eternity past to embark upon a doomed mission.  Being assured of God’s competency and intentions is our first step in being assured of our own personal salvation.  In other words, believing that we can be saved stems from believing that God is able to save us.

We have God’s promise

As we continue to examine scripture, let’s consider a powerful verse regarding God’s promises.  2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” God has made many promises and He is faithful to keep them; He cannot lie (Heb 6:18; Re 3:14). From beginning to end, all of God’s promises regarding salvation are secured and fulfilled in Christ.  We glorify God with our faith in Christ.  We honor God with our belief that all of His promises are kept through Christ Jesus.

God conceived the plan of salvation from eternity past

From eternity past, God knew mankind would fall and already loved us enough to conceive a plan of redemption.  What more reassuring act of God can we survey?  In Gen 3:15 we have the first mention of a promised Redeemer; this is the first of many prophesies regarding the One who will one day lead His own from the grave.  In this verse we read, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  The quintessential seed of the woman is Christ Jesus (Luke 3:23-38).  This prophetic truth is why Genesis 3:15 is known as “protevangelium”.  That is, it’s considered the first gospel proclamation; it is the Gospel message expressed in an abbreviated form (cf. Gal. 3:8).

A covenant was made

God’s ratified covenant of redemption was originated with Abraham (Genesis 15:6-21).  The coming Redeemer was to be born of a virgin into the human race.  God chose the bloodline of Abraham (the Jews) for this most blessed birth.  The Jews are God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6).  God’s covenant with Abraham is spoken of many times during the Bible’s account of the rise of Israel as a nation (Gen 15:18; Gen 17; Ex 2:24; 6:4, 5; 19:5).  In fact, the Old Testament contains a rich history of how God set Israel apart and preserved them for His own purpose.

The evidence of intent

God spared no measure to ensure that we have sound evidence to undergird our faith.  In Genesis 22, we see the undeniable evidence of God’s intentions.  God’s begins by commanding Abraham to make his beloved son Isaac a burnt offering to Him (Gen 22:1,2).  We see no account that Abraham was in anyway hesitant to obey God as he set out early the following day to do as commanded (Gen 22:3-10).  Now that Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience were proven, God stayed his hand and provided a substitute (Gen 12:11-13).  The symbolism of Gen 22:13 is unmistakable.  Just as God provided Abraham a ram caught in a thicket, He later sacrificially substituted His only begotten Son for our sakes.  Just as Abraham trusted God (Gen 22:8), we too must trust Him (John 1:12; 6:29).

God makes good on His promise

As Messiah, Christ stood in our stead to absorb the wrath that would have otherwise been directed at mankind (Rom 3:25; Rom 5:6-8; Rom 8:3,32; Isa 53:5,6,10-12; Dan 9:24,26; Zec 13:7; Mat 20:28; 1Co 15:3,4; 2Co 5:21; Gal 1:4; Gal 3:13; Eph 5:2; Tit 2:14; Heb 9:28; 1Pe 1:18,19; 1Pe 2:24; 1Pe 3:18; 1Jo 2:2; 1Jo 4:9,10; Rev 1:5; Rev 5:9; Rev 7:14).  Isaiah 53:4-5 says, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions.  He was crushed for our iniquities.  The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him and by His scourging we are healed.”

God’s perfect love for us, provided the only possible perfect sacrifice, for the sins of mankind (2 Cor 5:15; Gal 2:20; 3:13; Eph5:2; 1 Tim 2:5 6; Titus 2:14).  Jesus, born of a virgin (Matt 1:18-25), died in our stead, and was resurrected on the third day proving who He was and why He came to us (Matt 20:17-19; Mark 8:31; Acts 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3; Rev 1:5).

Christ and Him crucified is mankind’s only hope (John 14:6; John 1:29; Romans 3:25-26; Rom 4:25; Rom 8:31; Cor 5:7; ).  An abiding faith in Him causes us to receive Him as both Lord and Savior (1 John 5:7; 1 Peter 1:5).  Jesus commands us saying “ . . . repent ye, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15)

In those dark times of anguish and doubt, we must ask ourselves a pointed question.  Why would the Creator of Heaven and Earth conceive a plan to redeem us from eternity past, enter into a covenant with an entire nation of people, and bring forth the perfect sacrifice for our redemption, only to let us slip through His fingers?   In Romans 3:38, 39 we read, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,   Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  We must never lose faith in God’s power to save us.

II.)    Self-examination

While objective evidence is valid and powerful, nothing brings the believer a fuller assurance than personal experience, revelation, and realization.  It is a good thing to believe that God has provided for our salvation and that salvation can be ours.  Yet believing that salvation is possible is not the same as knowing we are truly saved.  Devilish doubts can infest our hearts as our faith is attacked from all directions.  Personal moral failures, domestic discord, and personal losses of every type can impact our faith.

Our personal Christian experience is very much between us and God.  No one can take that away from us.  Personal revelation is a precious gift and a personal relationship with our Savior changes our lives profoundly.  God calls us to pursue Him and know Him intimately.  The greatest commandment is for us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:29,30).  And how can we love someone with our all if we don’t even know them?  In the remaining text of this section, we’ll consider critical questions regarding our relationship with Christ since the time of our conversion.  As we’ll point out, God has provided a way by which we can and should examine ourselves and be assured of our salvation.

Examining the evidence of our New Birth

Our best assurance of salvation can be gained by determining whether or not there is evidence of our being reborn in Christ.  Unless we are reborn, we can rest assured that we are not saved.  In John 3:3 the Lord says, “ . . .Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  So, let’s begin at the beginning.  At the time of our conversion to Christianity, were we responding to the Holy Spirit or were we merely going along with those who influenced us?

“Before regeneration, there must be the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction (the Father’s essential drawing is carried out through the agency of the Holy Spirit).” -Douglas K. Kutilek

Each of us must examine our own hearts and answer questions in this regard.  What moved us to make our profession of faith in Christ?  Were we moved by the Holy Spirit, familial urging, peer pressure, or something else?  Were we moved within our hearts and guiding by a tangible feeling that our lives were in dire need of transformation?  Was our heart miraculously opened to hear and respond when someone preached the Gospel to us (Acts 16:14, 15)?

This is an examination of subjective, personal evidence.  Only God and the individual know the true answers.  In Mark 7:6 Jesus said, “ . . .Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”  Do we merely pay lip service to God when we sit upon the “Amen Pew” in Church?  In Christendom a hypocrite is a counterfeit Christian who has made a false profession of faith.  Only we can know if we have made a meaningless public statement or if we’ve truly surrendered our hearts and minds to Christ.

A reborn Child of God abhors sin

The sinful life is a life of bondage to the world, Satan, and the flesh. Ephesians 2:3 says, “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”  Conversely, true Children of God seek to walk in the light and share in God’s hatred of sin.  God’s love for us is great in that we are known as His own children.  Are we indifferent to the opinions of this lost world?  Do we heed the call of God to walk in the light continually?  If so, the world does not know or understand us because it does not know God (1 John 3:1).  Satan, for as long as he is permitted, will tempt us continually.  Children of the new birth, however, are submitted to God and deny Satan and the world their allegiance (Jam 4:47).

1 John 3:3, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

Children of God acknowledge the purity of our Lord and know that He does not wink at sinful behavior.  Only the hypocrites foolishly seek to excuse themselves from a life of holiness.  The hypocrites have a false hope that stems from a false profession.  Do we seek to purify ourselves before God or make excuses for satisfying fleshly appetites?  There is no sin in our Lord Jesus and we are expected to emulate Him because, He was revealed to take sinfulness way, not condone it (1 John 3:5).

A saving knowledge of Christ is evidenced by a solemn renouncement of sin.  No matter what anyone tells us, we know a righteous person by their righteous deeds (1 John 3:7).  Furthermore, a portion of our own assurance comes from knowing that we walk in Christ’s own footsteps.  Shameless and unrepentant sinners are of Satan because, he himself sinned.  Jesus was revealed to destroy Satan’s works and those who remain in Christ separate themselves from sin.  Sinful behavior, or the lack thereof, is an identifier of who is or is not a child of God (1 John 3:8-10).

Paul urged the Ephesians to, “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Eph 4:1) Children of the new birth have a calling on their lives.  We are expected to be holy and without blame (Eph 1:3-4).  For we are all God’s children by adoption (Eph 1:5).

Our faith claims are substantiated when we love God’s children and obey Him

“It is altogether doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help with no intention to obey Him.” A. W. Tozer

It is essential that we believe Jesus is the Messiah.  We believe unto salvation and the love of our brethren demonstrates that our hearts are given over to God (1 John 5:1; cf. Rom 10:8-10).  A very powerful evidence of being reborn is loving God’s children and obeying his commands gladly (I John 5:2).

Our love of God and His other children are inextricably linked to our obedience to God.  A soul truly submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit, is a soul which delights itself in faithfully pleasing God through obedience.  How can we say that we love Him when we are loath to keep His commands?  And how can we say that we love God if we hate our brethren?  1 John 4:20 says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”

“Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? The Bible challenges us on several occasions that this is the way we will know we are in Christ (1 John 3:14, 4:20, 5:1). When you get saved, you receive the divine nature of God and the nature of God is love (1 John 4:7). You’re not saved because you love the brethren, you love the brethren because you’re saved. Love is the nature of the Christian because love is the nature of God. If we love the Lord Jesus, it follows as night follows day that we are going to love what Jesus loves.” – Pastor Adrian Rogers

The certainty of God’s testimony (1 John 5:6-13)

Whose testimony means the most to us?  Do we readily believe the Word while scrutinizing the testimony of men?   The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all bear witness that Christ has come to us by both water and blood (1 John 5:6-8).  Christians, who were formerly defiled, are now made clean by the shed blood of Christ.  Reconciliation and justification are ours because of the blood; we are declared righteous by God the Father because of Christ’s blood.  1 John 5:9 says, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.”

People daily stake their reputations, wealth, and even their very lives on the testimony of mere mortals.  Yet the world doubts and even scoffs at the testimony of Almighty God regarding the truth of Christian doctrine.  True Christians confess their need for a Savior and bear witness that it is Christ alone who deserves this title.  The true Christian is not only convinced, but is even humbled and comforted by the power of God’s truths.

While true believers can be conflicted and tempted at times, we have a strength and peace that confounds the lost world.  We are able to overcome the world by our faith in Christ.   The true gospel believer refuses to give the world controlling influence and dominion over their soul.

1 John 5:13 says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”  This verse is a powerful expression of God’s love.  The writer was inspired to dedicate this chapter to a presentation of evidences whereby believers could examine themselves and know they have eternal life.  The covenant of the gospel provides eternal life for believers who receive scriptural revelation.

True believers have faith that God responds to our prayers

Christ invites us to pray for ourselves and others in confidence.  When we give heed to God’s will in our prayers, we can rest assured of the best answer.  John 14:13,14 says, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.   If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”  It has been said that prayer is simply talking to God.  While talking to God is involved, prayer is so much more than that.  It is hearing from God and believing Him that is important.

Summary

In the life of a true Christian, there is tangible evidence of being born again.  Those who truly know Christ actually care about God’s will for their lives and obey His voice (1 John 2:3). When we believe in Christ and follow His commands, we have blessed assurance.  When we love God with our all, we have blessed assurance.  When we love our brethren as Christ first loved us, we have blessed assurance.  When the witness of God means more to us than the witness of a lost and dying world, we have blessed assurance.  Genuine, saving faith produces fruit in the lives of a true believer.  These actions, in of themselves, do not save us. Our salvation depends solely on the saving work of Jesus Christ.  Yet good works and demonstrating faith in God are what a saved person does.  All glory goes to God Almighty for this scriptural means of self examination.  All glory goes to God Almighty that we can have Blessed Assurance and hope of the Resurrection!

References

[1]    objective. Dictionary.com. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/objective (accessed: August 28, 2015)

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