Articles

BLESSED ASSURANCE

For the faithful child of God, the scriptures provide us the assurance of being in a saved state. The Apostle Paul had this assurance! He said, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8). He expressed this same conviction concerning his assurance of eternal life at Philippians 1:21-24. The Son of God provided this assurance unto His disciples. He said unto them, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).

In reading through the book of First John, the beloved apostle uses the term “know” in its various forms several times. The Apostle John is giving Christians reason to have assurance of being in a saved state. Question: does he use such terminology as, “just accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior” or “all you have to do to have the assurance is to acknowledge Jesus as being the Son of God”? The answer is: NO! Then how did the Apostle John declare how a person can have the blessed assurance in knowing that, as a child of God, we are in covenant relationship with the Lord? Here is what he declared by inspiration, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (I John 2:3-5). An analysis of that passage plainly points out that only those who keep the Lord’s commandments know Him. The Greek word ginosko translated as know three times in the above passage carries the meaning “to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of.” In the above context it carries a deeper meaning than simply acknowledging the truth of the Lord’s existence. It was Jesus Himself who said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23). The essentiality of obeying the commandments of the Lord in order to have the assurance of being in a saved state is so stated in the following passages. At Hebrews 5:8-9, the inspired writer in referring unto Christ wrote: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” In the closing of the pages of the Bible, the Apostle John said, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14). Thus, the assurance of eternal life is given only to those who faithfully obey the Lord’s commandments.

When I was baptized almost 48 years ago, there was consolation in knowing that every sin in which I had committed had been washed away by the blood of Christ. At that moment and for some time after that, I had the conviction, based upon the Word of God that if my life was taken Heaven would be my home. It was not some “better-felt-than-told” feeling, but rather based upon my scriptural baptism (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; etc.). However, there is not a day that goes forth, but that I pray for forgiveness. The Apostle John warns us about thinking that we are above sinning (I John 1:8-10). Nevertheless, we can have the assurance at a given period of time in our life that we are in a saved state. Again, this is not based upon a “better-felt-than-told” feeling, but in relation to our living in harmony with the inspired Word. It is in this way and only in this way, that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit (Rom. 8:16). The Holy Spirit does not act upon our spirit in a supernatural way to cause us to have that assurance. Nor does He communicate with us except by way of the inspired Word of God, the Bible. It is only when we abide by the inspired Word given by the Holy Spirit do we have reason to have the consolation of knowing that we are in a saved state at any given moment or time. For example: when we learn from the New Testament that baptism is for the remission of our sins, and we then are baptized for that purpose then the Holy Spirit and our own spirit are in agreement. In other words, our action is in harmony with the inspired Word written by the apostles and other inspired men of the first century. Also, as a child of God, we know that when we sin by either commission or omission that we are in a lost state and therefore do not have that assurance. If we repent, acknowledge our sin, and then pray for forgiveness then we can regain that assurance (Acts 8:18-24; James 5:16; I John 1:9).

If a brother or sister in Christ has sinned then he or she needs to in penitence acknowledge their sin and ask the Heavenly Father to forgive them. Also, if a child of God is troubled or concerned about matters of stress, personal problems, anxiety, or sickness, then that person needs to turn to God in prayer about such matters. The Apostle Paul wrote to brethren at Philippi as follows: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). If a Christian does not have this “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” then that brother or sister in Christ should immediately take the scriptural action that will enable them to have that peace and assurance within their soul. The Apostle Paul urges brethren to “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). If, as a Christian, we do not have the disposition to radiate joy in our life, then there has to be something lacking in our life. When a joyous life in living a Christian life is absent in the life of a child of God, that brother or sister in Christ should determine within their own heart as to what is robbing them of such joy. This examination should be based upon “a thus saith the Lord.” We may need to talk with a fellow Christian about it, take what ever action that is necessary to correct the mater, if possible, and pray to God in order to obtain “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”

When it is time for us to walk this earth no more, we should be able to say, as the psalmist said, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23).
--Dub Mowery

 

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