Posted by: forbygrace | July 19, 2008

A highway of God’s design

Have you ever struggled or spoke with someone who struggled with assurance of their salvation?

The hymn writer wrote:

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.”

You may sing that hymn at your church. And it raises a question in my mind: what is the biblical basis for assurance of salvation?

In evangelism two questions are often asked to discern one’s spiritual condition: “do you know you will go to heaven when you die?” and “why should God let you into His heaven?” While these two questions are a good place to start in engaging a person with the gospel, just knowing the answer to those questions (an intellectual matter) is not proof of having been born of the Spirit (a super-natural matter).

In the bible the way of salvation is referred to as a small gate and a narrow road. The road and gate are distinct from one another. The gate is Christ (John 10:9) and we rightly see that as His exclusive claim as mediator between God and man. But what about the narrow road? Isaiah says of the narrow road: “And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8).

The narrow road gets far less attention because it makes obligations on us by convicting our consciences. While some may cry legalism, it is lawlessness (antinomianism) to think that one who is redeemed can live like the world and be assured of their salvation. It was well stated by CH Spurgeon: “Grace that does not make us hate sin is false grace” and “God has not come to save men in their sins but from their sins”. You can sense the road narrowing as you have a turning away from legalism on one side and an abhorring of lawlessness on the other. Walking in the way of holiness (the narrow path) is a difficult thing as you can be 1-inch or 1-mile off and you are in error, but God is faithful and He will keep your foot from wandering beyond recovery.

The journey all believers make along this highway is both the proof of our sanctification and the means of it. It’s the proof as we see our old sins loose their power over us; it’s the means in that God often uses that small step of obedience to prepare our hearts for greater acts of obedience. While everyone matures in the faith at different rates, we all mature who are born of his Spirit.

While I think it’s acceptable for a person to be assured by looking back at the time they were baptized, or prayed a “sinners prayer”, or made the good confession, how much less would some struggle with assurance if we encouraged one another to look at the lifelong fruit of the Spirit conforming us to Christ as the proof of the change wrought within us? Salvation is not a one-time act where one decides to jump out of the line going to hell and jump into the line going to heaven—it’s a supernatural act of the Spirit that begins in regeneration, continues in sanctification and ends in glorification. Look at what Paul tells the church in Corinth:

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” 1 Corinthian 6:9-11

The point Paul makes is, they were changed! A real inward change that flowed outward so that the sins they once enjoyed and were ruled by became something they no longer embraced. He doesn’t tell them that they prayed a certain prayer, or that they were baptized, or understood the gospel message or even or that they now had great confidence—but rather he points to the change and it’s a change that even the unbeliever would likely see. Yes, prayer, baptism and confidence are biblically grounded, but without a real, inward hearty change that leads one in holiness, it is nothing more than window dressing.

Take some time and read the biblical accounts of men and women we are certain walked with God and into glory and then ask yourself if you see any similarity with them and you. Perhaps not in degree, but do you have that longing—is it what you would choose even if you could do otherwise without fear of punishment? Be encouraged in the fact that some of these men in scripture were murders, adulterers, blasphemers and swindlers, yet God chose them and saved them…and changed them! God frees some from the chains of past sins and habits quickly while He allows others to struggle and contend longer before they finally experience freedom, yet in all this He is faithful to give you victory in Christ Jesus.

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Responses

  1. An excellent article my brother. Having been able to be a part of your weekly growth in some small measure gives me great joy as I watch the fruit of your studies ripen for our pleasure. Keep up the work!


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