“How to have True Assurance” part 2
In each issue of Readers’ Digest magazine, there is a feature article identified as “Drama in Real Life.” The stories are exciting adventures of near-death mishaps and heroic rescues. What a relief to follow the narrative to the point where those in danger are delivered.
It reminds me of an illustration used by one of my teachers. He clarified the nature of assured salvation this way. “Imagine that you were drowning in the ocean and a rescue boat arrived just in time. If the sailor threw you a “How to Swim” book, would you be saved? No! Even so, we need more than an INSTRUCTOR, we need a savior! If the sailor dove into the water and swam around you, demonstrating the way to swim, would that save you? No! Even so, we need more than EXAMPLE, we need a savior! And what if the sailor pulled you into the boat, dried you off, took you within a few miles of the shore and threw you back in?! Would that save you? No! You would only be saved if you were pulled into the rescue boat and brought ALL THE WAY to shore. Even so, real salvation is a secure salvation.
The Lord Jesus is our instructor and our perfect example, but most importantly, He is the Savior and Keeper of all who come to Him in sincere repentance and faith. The writer of Hebrews summarizes our OBJECTIVE assurance: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
In part two of this study on assurance we continue with the SUBJECTIVE aspect of our assurance in Christ. This relates to our AWARENESS that we really are saved and kept by God. Although many people in Christendom are not really saved (Matt. 7:21-23), many are truly saved yet have doubts about their salvation. Perhaps you are one of them!
The apostle Paul encourages us with the promise that the Holy Spirit gives an internal “amen” to the child of God: “…You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:15,16). When we are focused on worship, the Lord can give us an inner assurance of our relationship with Him.
The presence of God’s Spirit in the believer’s life is a powerful testimony of security. As the book of Ephesians puts it, “In Him [Christ] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were SEALED with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the GUARANTEE of our inheritance [HEAVEN] until the redemption of the purchased possession [the believer’s resurrection body], to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12-14; Cf. Rom. 8:23).
In Bible times a seal was a mark of ownership, a symbol of security, and a proof of authenticity. The Spirit of God is all this to God’s people! So, we are urged to “not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). The Day of Redemption is the final installment of our conformity to the image of Christ. We will be like Him physically at the future Resurrection Day! (Phil. 3:20,21; Cf. Rom. 8:29).
As we abide in Christ, the evidence of our new life in Him (fruit) becomes evident to ourselves and to others. We are known [recognized] as the people of God by our good fruit (Matt. 7:20). The inner spiritual witness and the outer character witness contribute to the SUBJECTIVE awareness of our assured salvation.
The story is told of a newcomer to Alaska who started to cross a frozen river. As he walked along, he thought he heard a cracking sound and became frightened that the ice might break under him. He carefully lowered himself to distribute his weight more fully across the ice in hopes that it wouldn’t give way. After twenty minutes of cautious crawling, he heard the sound of a Jeep starting up on the other side of the frozen river. A few minutes later the Jeep sped past him to the other shore! With renewed confidence, the timid traveler got up and walked the rest of the river’s span with great relief. Note this: although the traveler had an OBJECTIVE basis of assurance (thick ice), he did not have SUBJECTIVE assurance until the Jeep drove across the frozen river, demonstrating the ice’s strength.
How about you? Do you need to refocus your faith on the objective evidence of God’s salvation promises? Or perhaps you need to strengthen the subjective enjoyment of this assurance by becoming sensitive to the spiritual witness of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
November 21, 2003 (edited and reissued from September 4, 2000) The original “part 2” of this article has been split; the rest of How to Have True Assurance is to be published in the next issue of Grace Notes.
Grace Notes (c) 2000 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non commercial use. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Capital letters in Scripture quotations are for added emphasis.
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