Friday, 4 March 2011

Assurance and the Promises of God

‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and cost’ (Isaiah 55:1).
‘The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).
‘All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away’ (John 6:37).
‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13).

Look at those first two promises. What is the attitude of the person who benefits from their grace? It is the person who has realised that they are spiritually bankrupt! It is the person who realises that they have no money with which to purchase God’s acceptance! It is the person who is spiritually thirsty, longing for a right relationship with God!

The person who understands the gospel realises that God is inapproachably holy; they realise that our sin is inexcusable and unimaginably awful; and they grasp the fact that Christ has dealt with their guilt on the cross. Have we given up on ourselves? Have we stopped trying to justify ourselves before God? Have we cried out “God, have mercy on me a sinner”? When we turn to him in true repentance we can be assured that he will not turn us away!

John Newton, the slave-trader who became the vibrant Christian and writer of such hymns as ‘Amazing Grace’, once counselled a despondent Christian who was struggling to feel a sense of assurance. He said to the person:
‘What you complain of in yourself, comprises the best marks of grace I can offer. A sense of unworthiness and weakness, joined with a hope in the Saviour, constitutes the character of a Christian in the world.’
But remember that we have an enemy whose primary strategy seems to lie in his accusations. What happens when he plants in our minds such thoughts as, how could a person who is a Christian struggle with sin as much as you do?’ What is our defence? It must not be to ignore or minimize the seriousness of our sin. Rather we should look to the cross and see Christ deal with our sins, in all their severity and ugliness, and then realise that because of his sin bearing work ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1).

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