The Struggles of the Believer (Part Eight)

1 John 5:13

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (CSB).

The third support is the witness of the Spirit. The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him. And the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he has given us (1 John 3:24 CSB). This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit (1 John 4:13 CSB). It is clear that the Spirit is the way of knowledge, and that his presence with the believer is convincing testimony that we are sons and daughters of God.

But there is more. We mean the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit to the inner person of the heart. He tells us that we are sons of God. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:14-16 NIV). Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6 NIV) The Spirit himself testifies to the inner person of the believer.

“This is something subjective, something which essentially belongs to the realm of feeling and subjectivity, and the emotions. It is something within us at a deeper level than the level of the intellect… In other words this does not result from certain actions on our part; it is the Spirit that produces it in us. It is not something of which you persuade yourself” (Lloyd-Jones, The Sons of God, p. 235). The Spirit produces a sense or consciousness of assurance, and not merely a belief in a fact.

Think of this illustration to make this clear. “You do not persuade yourself that you are in love; at least, if you do, or have to do, you are not in love!” (Lloyd-Jones) It is something that you just know and feel in your heart.

The person who has the witness of the Spirit is certainly orthodox and God-fearing. The adopted son of God with assurance loses none of his or her reverence for God. In fact, the reverence will increase! But there is an experience of love and delight in the heart that the assured saint alone can sense.

For example, you may listen to a message and say, “That was a nice sermon, good content and illustrations, etc.” You know what we all (preachers included) think and say! But it is far different when the Holy Spirit “catches you” with the truth and lifts you up with the wings of a mighty eagle. Then you know in the inner person of your heart that your soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken (Psalm 62:1-2 NIV). Do you know this? Are you enjoying this facet of blessed assurance?

The existence of his precious fruit in us (Galatians 5:22-23; John 7:37-39). Everyone who follows Christ as Lord and Savior has received the Holy Spirit. If you don’t have the Spirit, you do not belong to Christ (cf. Romans 8:9-13).

At this point, it is common to focus on outward actions of godliness. They are important. But is there are heart for God? In your inner attitudes, do you desire the ways of godliness. Do you long for the fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) that the Spirit produces. One of chief signs of a confident saint with full assurance is joy! This is something that cannot be manufactured by the saint. You may sing about it, but only the Holy Spirit can give it (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Only he can make, as in the words of an old hymn,  “floods of joy o’er my soul, like the sea billows roll”. If you grieve or quench the Spirit, do not be surprised when you feel bitter while others rejoice. This is the joy of being able to say “I have heard and continue to hear his vows of covenant love to me. He tells me that I am part of his family; indeed, that I am one of his adult sons and heirs!” This is one reason for you to understand the new covenant teaching of adoption.

Each of these supports or bases or foundations of assurance is important to a full assurance of faith. It is a serious mistake to think that you can have errors or failings in regard to one or two of the pillars and still make proper spiritual progress. Today is the time to start repairing the foundational supports of your assurance.

But perhaps you have come to read this blog without repentance and faith. God has brought you here to hear his word. Now, respond wisely and turn from your life of rebellion against him and rely on the Lord Jesus Christ alone as your way to be accepted by God and to enjoy eternal life with him forever. God is able to save you today. Call on him while he is near!

Grace and peace, David

The Helmet of Salvation (Part Two)

IMG_4272Ephesians 6:17

The present tense of salvation is that we are now saved. We are being rescued from sin, condemnation, and death. We ought to enjoy the present blessings of salvation. I will mention two of these. The first is adoption. We all have the position of adult sons and daughters in God’s family (2 Corinthians 6:18). When God saved us, he did much more than to guarantee us an eternal home in heaven. God also provides us with an honorable place in his family, placing us as adult members. We can learn this from a careful reading of Galatians 3:26-4:7. There we see that though old covenant believers had the position of minors in God’s family, we new covenant believers are adults. So then, we ought to have a filial attitude at all times. “My Father loves and cares for me. I ought to live in such a way as to glorify my Father in heaven.” This kind of approach is absolutely essential in spiritual warfare.

Since we are adult sons and daughters, we have been given the promised Holy Spirit, who now lives within us—to help us, to assure us, and to lead us (Romans 8:14-17). This means that we must look at our struggle within the context of being Spirit-led sons and daughters of God. We are not slaves to sin or minor children under the law. We are adults in God’s family! Live like an adult sons and daughters, which means living a life of love to God, striving to conform to be like God in holiness.

A second current blessing is security. We are kept by the Lord Christ and we continue to follow him. One of the great energizing factors for any soldier is the expectation of success. An army that anticipates conquering will take the field more readily than one that expects defeat. The Lord Jesus has saved us with an eternal salvation (John 6:37-40, 47; 10:27-30; Romans 8:29-30, 35-39; Ephesians 1:13-14; Colossians 3:3-4; Hebrews 9:12, 15; 10:14; 1 Peter 1:3-5). It is certainly true that only those who continue in the faith will be saved (Matthew 24:13; Colossians 1:23; etc.). Although such verses teach the necessity of the saint’s perseverance, they do not imply that a saint may not continue. All those who truly repent and believe will continue, because God keeps them (Philippians 1:6; 1 John 5:4; Jude 1:1, 24-25). Therefore, with salvation as a helmet, we hope or confidently expect total victory. This fills us with energy to do battle—to press on after holiness (1 Jn 3:1-4).

The future tense of salvation is that we who trust in Jesus Christ will be saved. Consider two future blessings of salvation. The first is glorification. We have the prospect of sharing eternal glory with the Lord. From God’s point of view, this is so certain that he speaks of it in the past tense (Romans 8:29-30), though in the present state of things, we still wait for that time (Romans 8:18-19). Our glorification rests firmly on our union with Christ. Since he was raised from the dead, we too will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 42-49). In answer to Christ’s prayer, we will see his glory (John 17:24). As Colossians 3:4 says, when he appears, we will appear with him in glory. At times the battle is very rough. The enemy seems to have beaten you down into the mire and the mud. But do not give up (Micah 7:8).

We will enter into our inheritance. Sharing glory with the Lord is surely enough, isn’t it? Not to God! You see, we are not only sons of God, but also heirs (Galatians 4:7; Romans 8:17). Since we are in Christ and heirs with him, we have an inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). What is it? Yes, yes, I know that it includes the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13), but our God is a greater giver than that! He gives us all things (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). God Almighty gives us Himself (Psalm 73:25-26)! This should fill us with hope (confident expectation). But do you have this hope? You may have it today by turning from your empty way of life that leads to judgment and by trusting in Jesus Christ for eternal life (John 6:35-40).

Grace and peace, David