Saturday, November 5, 2016

Evangelical Assurance: The True Believer Can Have It!

One of the most horrible teachings, to my mind, of the cults is that a person cannot know for sure that he has eternal life. The Roman Catholic Church says that it is presumptuous to be assured of heaven. The Church of Christ says that a person can be a believer today, and then be an unbeliever tomorrow. For them, one can be confident if one dies right now, but there can be no assurance for tomorrow. Most Arminians aren't that extreme. They claim that one can have assurance right now, but the future holds no certainty.

Those views turn the Christian walk into a terror! The person has come to understand the eternal consequences of sin, but is not set free of that fear of death.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (XVIII:1) says something wonderful on this topic: "Although hypocrites, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions: of being in the favor of God and estate of salvation; which hope of theirs shall perish: yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God: which hope shall never make them ashamed."

On what basis did the divines assert this wonderful truth? It is all over Scripture, the word of God! Here are just a few examples.

In Job 19:25-27, we read, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another." That patriarch, even after all of the horrible things that have happened to him, looks with confidence to the day when he will stand before his redeemer in the resurrection.

In a better-known passage, Psalm 23:4-6, King David wrote, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Like Job, David was in a dark period in his life, but his confidence is in the knowledge that he would "dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Not "I might"; not "I hope so." But "I shall."

In Isaiah 26:1, that Prophet proclaims, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." And in Isaiah 32:17, he adds, "The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever." Notice the use of "peace" in both verses. The believer has no reason to fear for his eternal security, but rather can have have peace.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul adds his testimony in Romans 8:38-39: "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Isn't that wonderful? Isn't it liberating? There is nothing in creation, even our own weakness, that can cause us to lose God's love.

The same Apostle also said, in II Timothy 4:6-8, "The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day." He is contemplating the approach of the end of his life. Is he shivering in fear? Is there trepidation in his words to his apprentice? No! Rather, he expresses absolute confidence in his eternal reward.

The next time some priest or preacher claims that the believer cannot be certain of heaven until he gets there, remember these verses. And this is not an exhaustive list. That man is a false teacher. He wants you to depend on him for your confidence, rather than on Jesus. Flee that place!That is the surest mark of a cult.

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