December 14, 2017

Blessed Assurance (3)

By Mike Willis

Thus far, I have tried to show that one can have a certain knowledge that he is saved and will live eternally with God. In so doing, I have directed people to the promises of God as the evidence of salvation. Now, I would like to discuss the matters revealed in God's word which give us reason to have confidence that we can and will be saved. The reason that 1 have confidence that I will be saved include the following:

The Nature of God

God is described in the Bible as "longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression" (Num. 14:18). The psalmist praised God as follows: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (Psa. 103:1-12).

The testimony of the Scriptures is clear: God wants men to be saved. He wants to forgive us of our sins. He desires that no one go to Hell. Peter wrote, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). Ezekiel revealed, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (33:11). Hence, I have confidence in my salvation because of the nature of the God I serve. Though this is no license for sin, the knowledge that God is wanting me to be saved certainly encourages me to live in hope of salvation.

The Provisions of God

Another reason that I have confidence that I am going to be saved eternally is what God has done to effect my salvation. When I look at the work that God has done to save me, I marvel at the extent to which He will go to save me. I must not forget that God's plan for saving man was conceived before the world began (Eph. 3:11). The accomplishment of this plan has involved God's work throughout the ages. From the selection of Abraham until the death of Jesus on the cross, God was working to accomplish His scheme for saving man. The prophets were raised up by God to predict the coming of the Christ. Finally, the Christ came.

I cannot do otherwise than stand amazed that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" (Jn. 3:16). "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). As I learn of the suffering which Jesus endured to effect the salvation of man, I am impressed with how much God desires my salvation. I can never conceive of God looking down from heaven with some sort of glee when He catches me in sin so long as I remember the death of Christ as the living monument of God's desire that I be saved! Consequently, I have confidence that I shall be saved because of God's great love toward me as manifested in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the salvation from my sins.

As another provision which God has made to bring about my salvation, I rejoice that I have the Bible as an infallible guide to direct me to heaven. The word of God contains all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:34); it furnishes me completely unto every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It is the incorruptible seed which endures forever designed to bring about the new birth (1 Pet. 1:2325; 1 Cor. 4:15). God inspired men to write this infallible book as a guide for me to use in reaching heaven. As I meditate on the pages written by God, I am reminded of how much God wants me to be saved and am encouraged thereby.

God has also planned the church as something to help me to make it to heaven. Our congregational assemblies are designed to edify me (1 Cor. 14:26). My brothers and sisters in Christ have a responsibility before God to restore me to the fellowship of my God in the event that I might become "caught up" in a transgression (Gal. 6:1). They are to provoke me unto love and good works (Heb. 10:24). Indeed, one of the purposes of the church is for Christians to encourage each other to worship and serve our great God. The mutual concern which we have for each other as provided by God in His great wisdom is another provision which God has made that I might be saved. I rejoice in my salvation as I think of this as another of God's provisions to help me be saved.

No doubt, there are other provisions which impress you which I have neglected to mention in this section which manifest God's love for us and His desire that we be saved. Yet, I am more confident that I shall be saved when I remember these things which God has done to lead me to salvation and keep me in the light.

The Commandments of God

Another matter which impresses me about God's desire for me to be saved is the nature of the commandments which God has given for conditions for me to meet in order to be saved. God has not given us any commandment which is impossible for man to obey. Consider, for example, what man's sad plight would be in the event that God had required that a person donate one million dollars to the church in order to be saved. Not many of us would have the hope of salvation had he made such a requirement essential to salvation. The requirements which God has given as conditions for salvation are such that any man who so desires to be saved can meet them. God has not given any impossible commandments.

Consider what man must do to be saved. God has, first of all, provided the atonement whereby sinners can be saved. Hence, God does not demand sinless perfection of one who cannot live perfectly. Secondly, God requires that man believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, repent of his sins, confess faith in Christ, and be buried with Christ in baptism in order to have his sins washed away. Which of these conditions for salvation is impossible for a man to do? Has God demanded of man that which he cannot do in order for him to be saved?

Consider man's condition for maintaining the salvation which God gives to him. Has God, in any verse in the Bible, ever required that man live a sinlessly perfect life after baptism in order to be saved? If so, I would like to read where that is given as a requirement for salvation. In that event, none of us have any hope for salvation. What God has required is for the Christian to repent of his sins and confess them to God when he turns from God's holy commandment to walk in the ways of the world (1 Jn. 1:9). Jesus Christ remains as the Advocate before the Father pleading the case of the Christian.

There is no single commandment which God has given which is impossible for man to obey. Is it impossible for a man not to commit murder? Is it impossible for a man not to commit adultery? Is it impossible for a man not to take the Lord's name in vain? Is it impossible for a man not to lie? Surely we can see that God has not demanded the impossible of His creatures. Furthermore, He has made provisions for man through the shed blood of Jesus Christ for man to be forgiven when he does sin. Hence, I have confidence that I can be saved based on the nature of the commandments which God has given to man.

Those Who Are Considered Worthies Before Me

Another thing which gives me confidence that I am going to be saved is a study of those before me who have been considered faithful to the Lord. These men were just like me-imperfect men who sought to please their Lord. Sometimes we have a tendency to place some of the men of faith mentioned in the Bible on a pedestal so high that they are in a special category between angels and men. This prohibits us being able to identify with them and makes their example less meaningful to us so far as us striving to imitate it. Let us consider the biblical record given about some of these men.

1. Elijah. This prophet of old was so pleasing to God that rather than allowing him to die as the rest of us do, God sent down a chariot of fire and took Elijah in a whirlwind directly into heaven (2 Kgs. 2:11). Yet, James reminds us that Elijah "was a man subject to like passions as we are" (5:17). Sometimes take the time to study Elijah's reaction to Jezebel's threat on his life as recorded in 1 Kgs. 19. He became so despondent that he went a day's journey into the wilderness, sat under a juniper tree, and said to God, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life" (19:4). Yes, Elijah of old faced the same problems which I face, had the same up's and down's as I have, and sought to please God through them all. God accepted him.

2. David. The second king of Israel is described as a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). Yet, David was not a perfect man by any means. He was the same man who lusted after Bathsheba, committed adultery with her, and then plotted and executed the death of Uriah to cover up his sordid deed. God accepted David despite the horrible deeds which he did. (Lest I be misunderstood, let me remind you that God did not accept David while he was involved in these sins. Rather, He forgave David when he repented.) Yes, David was a man just like me. He had human failings just like I have. If such a man could be described as a man after God's own heart, there is hope for me.

3. Peter. The apostle Peter, you will recall, had similar moral faults to each of us. He was the one who denied his Lord three times in one night. In his denial of Jesus, he even denied Him with an oath and cursed (Mt. 26:69-75). Later, Paul had to rebuke Peter to his face because of hypocrisy at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-14). Peter was a man just like me. Yet, who has a question in his mind as to whether or not this man was saved?

4. Paul. This great apostle has inspired many of us to live godly lives. Yet, on the occasion when the men of Lystra sought to offer worship to Paul and Barnabas, the apostle said, "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you . . ." (Acts 14:15). Indeed, Paul testified that he buffeted his body and brought it into subjection in order to keep himself from being a cast away (1 Cor. 9:27). Any man among us can identify with his inner struggle against sin as depicted in Rom. 7. Yet, who doubts whether or not this great man was saved?

As I consider these men, I am made more confident of my own salvation. I do not mean to imply in this that I am as good as Elijah, David, Peter or Paul. I simply am reminded that these men were saved by God's grace despite the fact that they had moral faults. God, in His wonderful grace, forgave these men when by faith they repented of their sins and sought His forgiveness. If I live in the same manner as they did, I too shall be saved by grace through faith.

God's Care For Me

Another reason that I have confidence that I shall be saved is God's provisions for me to stay saved. Though God will not protect me from sin or close His eyes to my sins, He has promised the following: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13). Notice the divine promises given to the Christian in this verse: (1) God will not allow any temptation to come upon me but such as is common to man. This verse reminds me that someone else has faced the very same temptation which I have faced and endured it successfully. I should not, therefore, think for a moment that my situation is somehow unique and, for that reason, that God will overlook my sin in it. No, my temptation is just like that which other men before me have faced. (2) God will not allow me to be tempted above my ability to bear. God knows just exactly what my tolerance for temptation is at any given moment in time. My ability to endure temptation is greater at this point in my life than it was when I was first baptized. Yet, God knows my ability to endure temptation at any given moment and will not allow me to be tempted above my ability to endure. Hence, there will never be a situation confront me in which I can legitimately say, "I just can not stand it any longer." God is faithful to His promise and will not allow that situation to occur. He personally watches. over me to prevent any such temptation to come to me. (3) God will provide a way of escape for every temptation which comes to me. There will always be a way out of any temptation which comes to be. Satan is never able to back me up in such a corner that the only way that I can turn is to sin. God has promised me that this will never happen and my personal experience confirms this. Though I have sinned against God since becoming a Christian, I have not done so because of any deficiency in God's grace. God has always made a way of escape for me, although I have not always chosen to use it.

Conclusion

These precious promises to me, however, assure me that I can be saved, if I want to be. I can live acceptably before God. I can live the life of the righteous and die and go to heaven. I can manifest that assurance that I am saved through God's grace. There is no reason for me to lack confidence in my salvation, unless I have rebelliously chosen to turn my back on God. Short of that, I have every reason to rest assured that I shall be saved by grace through faith.

Truth Magazine XXII: 46, pp. 739-741
November 23, 1978

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