Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Believer's Two Natures (Part 3)

How can We be sure of our salvation? 

To answer the question about assurance of salvation, let’s consider two cases of people with doubts and the replies to their questions. 

Case study #1: Removing doubt 

“I accepted the Lord as my Savior at age 13. I married at 18. My husband isn’t a Christian and neither are my parents. I’ve been away from any Christian influence and now I am cold and backslidden. Satan tries to tell me I never was saved in the first place. My question is: How can I know without a doubt that I am saved? And if I am saved, can I get back to God? I’ve tried to pray but I feel like my words just won’t go any higher than the ceiling. I want to be a Christian and live for God, but my life is a mess! I’d give anything to know I’m saved forever and that heaven is my home. Can you help me?” 

I understand your distress and am happy that the Lord has awakened you to realize your great need. I assure you that the Lord desires to meet your need and give you, through faith in Him, the assurance of eternal salvation and the peace that surpasses all understanding. 

You say, “I’ve tried to pray but I feel like my words just won’t go any higher than the ceiling.” From this expression it appears to me that there are two things causing your trouble: you are looking for feelings instead of just believing God; and perhaps you have not frankly confessed your sin and backsliding to Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). This is the sure promise of God. Have you confessed your sins and your backsliding to Him? If so, then believe He has forgiven you according to His Word. 

You are looking for feelings of forgiveness; but what do your feelings have to do with it? God’s forgiveness is what God feels about you, not what you feel. When He forgives He feels all right about it, or He wouldn’t forgive. Don’t be looking at yourself; look at what God says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive.” After you have confessed your sins to Him, believe He has forgiven your sins just as He says He would. Believe Him to be true to His promise. Don’t make Him out to be a liar by doubting what He says. 

Notice the verse says that God “is faithful and just to forgive.” Faithful and just towards whom? Towards Christ! Christ bore our sins in His own body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). When you confess your sins to God, believing that Christ bore them on the cross, God would be unfaithful and unjust towards Christ if He didn’t forgive you. It would be the same as if God said, “I am not satisfied with what Christ did when He died for your sins so I still have to hold them against you.” Can you imagine God being so unjust toward Christ, after Christ paid the debt, as to still hold you accountable for it? Perish the thought! Christ’s work is perfect and God’s Word is sure. 

You say you were saved when you were 13. What kind of salvation did Christ purchase for us with His own blood? Something temporary that would give out on us if we made a mistake? Or was His blood precious enough in God’s eyes to purchase an eternal salvation? Certainly it was! The infinite Son of God became Man, apart from sin, and shed His blood for us on the cross. 

How much value was in that blood? Just as much value and worth as that of the One who shed it, the infinite, eternal God, the Son made manifest in the flesh. Therefore the value of His blood is infinite and eternal. And this is exactly what God’s Word tells us: “With his own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” for us (Heb. 9:12). The only redemption Christ purchased for us is an eternal one. If you have something today that you can lose tomorrow, that is not redemption in Christ Jesus, because His is an eternal redemption. 

“By that will (God’s will) we have been sanctified (set apart unto God) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” It can never be repeated. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:10,14). These are the simple and clear teachings of God’s Word. It was God Himself who set us apart for Himself through the sacrifice of Christ. Christ died once for all sin and for all eternity; so every believer stands before God perfected forever through the eternal effectiveness of that one sacrifice. 

No sin can ever come into the believer’s life that has not already been paid for by that one sacrifice for all the sins of all who believe. Their standing is perfect forever before God because God has placed them before Him on the ground of that eternal redemption that Christ has purchased for them. 

God never receives anyone except on the ground of the sacrifice of Christ. Since that sacrifice was offered once for all, all believers stand forever perfect before God through that perfect sacrifice of Christ, who put away all their sins – past, present and future – once and forever when He offered Himself without spot to God. 

Some say, “If that is true, then it doesn’t make any difference what a believer does.” This is true, as far as his standing before God is concerned. No sin can come into a believer’s life that has not already been accounted for by the perfect sacrifice of Christ. But sin makes a great difference as to the believer’s happiness and fellowship with God. How can he be happy when he knows he is sinning against God who loves him so much? 

God hates sin; He can neither have fellow-ship with it, nor make a believer happy when he goes on with it. How could God walk with him in such a path? Further, as a Father who loves His child, God is obliged to discipline and correct him for his own good when he is disobedient; and such chastening is not joyous, but grievous. Afterwards however, it yields peaceable fruit to those who learn by it to hate and forsake sin. (See Heb. 12:4-11.) 

When a believer sins and fails to confess and judge himself before God, he loses the joy of fellowship with his Father and exposes himself to His chastening. He is still a child of God. He has not lost his salvation, which is eternal, but he has lost the joy of communion with his Father. He cannot get that back until he confesses his sin to his Father with a firm purpose of heart to forsake it. 

Read Psalm 32 and see what misery David was in while he refused to confess his sin. Then read the songs of deliverance and confidence in God that were his as soon as he confessed it. So it always is. The believer must honestly confess to God, believing that Christ has already settled the matter with His blood. Then, he must take sides with God against his sin, thanking Him for giving His Son to die for it on the cross, and believing in his heart that He has forgiven it for Christ’s sake, according to His Word. Then God will restore his peace. 

If you will yield yourself afresh to God so that He may take you and make you what He would have you be, He will strengthen you and give you the joy of knowing that you are His forever. Talk often with Him. Take time to read and meditate on His Word. It will be food for your soul, joy for your heart, strength for your inner man and a light for your path.

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