Friday, March 8, 2013

Satey, Certainty and Enjoyment for the Christian Life (Part 3)

Certainty: The Assurance of Salvation 

Man’s imagination sees salvation this way: “These happy feelings I have given to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God that you may hope that you have eternal life.” Now open your Bible to l John 5:13 and compare man’s imaginative thoughts with God’s Word which says: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” 

In Exodus 11-12, the Lord pronounced the judgment of death on the firstborn in every house in Egypt that did not have lamb’s blood placed on the doorposts. Now, how did the firstborn sons of Israel know for sure that they were safe on that night of judgment? Let’s visit two homes and hear what they say. 

In the first house, everyone is trembling with fear. When we ask why they are so fearful, the firstborn son tells us that the angel of death is coming tonight and he is not sure what’s going to happen. 

“When the destroying angel has passed by our house, then I’ll know I’m safe, but until then I can’t be sure. Next door, they say they’re sure of their salvation, but we think that’s presumptuous. All I can do is hope for the best.” 

We ask, “Hasn’t the God of Israel provided a way of safety for His people?” The son replies, “Yes, and we did what God told us. The blood of a spotless lamb has been sprinkled on the doorposts, but we still are not sure of our safety.” 

Now let’s go next door. What a contrast! Everyone’s happy. Their doorposts are painted, and they are enjoying the roasted lamb. Why all this joy on such a solemn night? They answer, “We are waiting for Jehovah’s marching orders and then we will say farewell to Egypt.” 

“But, don’t you know that this is a night of judgment?” 

“Sure, but our firstborn son is safe. The blood has been applied according to God’s orders.” 

“But that also has been done next door,” we reply, “and they are unhappy because they are uncertain as to their safety.” 

The firstborn answers firmly, “We have more than the blood. We have God’s Word about it. God said, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you.’ God is satisfied with the blood outside and we are satisfied with His Word inside. The sprinkled blood makes us safe while God’s Word makes us sure.” 

Which of these two houses was safer? The answer is that both were equally safe because their safety depended only on what God thought about the blood outside and not on the state of their feelings inside. If you want to be sure of your blessings, don’t listen to the unstable testimony of your inward emotions. Listen instead to the infallible Word of God: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (Jn. 6:47). 

Let me use another illustration. A man asks to rent a house, but the owner doesn’t give him an answer. One day a neighbor says, “I’m sure you will get that house. Don’t you remember that the owner sent you a present last Christmas? He also waved to you the other day.” These words fill the man with hope. 

The next day another neighbor says, “I don’t think you’re going to get that house. Someone else has also asked to rent it and he is a good friend of the owner.” The man’s bright hopes burst like soap bubbles. One day he has hope, and the next day he is full of doubts. 

Then a letter comes from the owner. His face changes from suspense to joy as he reads it. He exclaims to his wife, “It’s settled now. The owner says the house is ours for as long as we want to rent it. Man’s opinions don’t matter now that we have the owner’s written word.” 

Many people are in a similar condition, troubled by the opinions of men or by the feelings of their own hearts. It is only when they finally receive the assurance of God’s Word that certainty takes the place of doubt. 

When God speaks, there must be certainty, whether in pronouncing the damnation of the unbeliever or the salvation of the believer. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). His Word settles all. “Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). 

But you may ask, “How can I be sure that I have enough of the right kind of faith?” It isn’t a question of the right kind or the amount of your faith, but of the trustworthiness of the Person in whom you have faith. Do you have confidence in the right Person – the Son of God? 

One man grabs hold of Christ with a drowning man’s grip, while another only touches the hem of His garment, but both are equally safe. They both made the same discovery. They can completely trust Christ and His Word, and confidently rest in the eternal effectiveness of His finished work. 

Make sure your confidence is not based on your good works, your religious activities, your feelings or your moral training. You may have the strongest faith in such things, and still eternally perish. The feeblest faith in Christ eternally saves; the strongest faith in self is of no use. 

“I do believe in Him,” said a sad-looking girl to me one day; “but I don't like to say I’m saved for fear I might be lying.” This girl’s father had gone to a livestock sale to buy some sheep and had not yet returned. So I said, “Now, suppose when your dad comes home, you ask him how many sheep he bought and he says ‘ten.’ Later, someone asks you how many sheep your father bought today and you reply, ‘I don’t want to say because I might be lying.’” With righteous anger, her mother who was standing nearby exclaimed, “But that would be making her father a liar!” 

In like manner, this well-meaning girl was making Christ a liar by saying, “I believe in Him but I don’t like to say I’m saved for fear I might be lying.” Christ has said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (Jn. 6:47). 

You might then ask, “How can I be sure that I really do believe? The more I look at my faith, the less I seem to have.” Maybe you are looking in the wrong direction. Your trying to believe only shows that you are on the wrong track. 

Let me use another illustration. One evening a man who is a notorious liar tells you that a friend has just been killed in an auto accident. You are not likely to believe him, because you know him too well. But then a neighbor tells you the same bad news. This time you say, “Since you tell me, I believe it.” I ask, “Why do you believe your neighbor and not the liar?” You answer, “Because of who and what my neighbor is. He has never lied to me and I know he never will.” 

In the same way, I know I can believe the Gospel because of the One who brings me the news. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son … he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 Jn. 5:9-10). 

An anxious person once told a preacher, “I can’t believe.” The preacher asked, “Who is it that you can’t believe?” This question solved the problem. He had been looking at faith as something that he had to feel within himself to be sure that he was fit for heaven. But faith always looks outside to Christ and to His finished work and quietly listens to the testimony of a faithful God about both. 

The outside-look brings inside-peace. When a man turns his face towards the sun, his shadow is behind him. You can’t look at yourself and at a glorified Christ in heaven at the same time. God’s Son wins your confidence: His finished work makes you eternally safe and God’s Word gives you the certainty of salvation. 

Even if you are saved, you may wonder why you so often lose the joy and comfort of your salvation and become as unhappy as you were before you were saved.

No comments:

Post a Comment