"These things have I written to you that ye may know that ye have eternal life who believe on the name of the Son of God" (1 John 3:15).
In the matter of the knowledge of salvation, there are three great classes of religious doubters.
- Those who believe one cannot and should not be certain of his destiny.
To those who adopt uncertainty as part of their creed, we have little to say. That which God would make known to "every creature," they claim is "unknowable." We remind such a doubter that human opinions, when they contradict the word of God, are worse than nothing, and the end will surely prove it. Man is an important being in his own estimation; but death has to be faced, and "in that very day his thoughts perish." Not so the truth of the gospel. "The word of the Lord endureth forever" (1 Peter 2:25).
- Those who have serious doubts about their acceptance, though appearing to have none.
Their lips seal their doubts within, hidden from all. Having once confessed that they are sure of salvation, what would their fellow believers think if they now said otherwise? Besides, they once had some plain verses of Scripture pointed out to them as the ground of their assurance; and, like the barnacle to the rock, for dear life they tenaciously hold on to them. For example, they have the "SHALL NOT come into condemnation" of John 5:24; the "ARE justified from all things" of Acts 13:39; the "HATH everlasting life" of John 3:36; and we heartily thank God with them that they have such unfailing reserves to fall back upon. But, at the same time, there is a good deal of inward struggle, which, if it were expressed, would certainly not sound like having the "full assurance of faith." Souls in this turmoil are often found struggling to convince themselves they are "saved," since in their honest judgment there is most perplexing evidence to the contrary.
- Those who believe it is possible to be sure, yet openly confess they have no such assurance.
Now, the secret of all such inward restlessness lies in the lack of apprehension by the soul that salvation is entirely on the ground of GRACE. In multitudes of cases, there is a secret clinging to the thought of merit. Not natural merit, perhaps, but merit notwithstanding-merit produced in them by the Holy Spirit. If they could only discover in themselves such longed-for merit they would rest satisfied; not finding it they are ill at ease. If my merit could shut me out of blessing, there would be a limit to the abounding grace of "the God of all grace." In fact, it would not be grace at all if my goodness could bring me into it. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). The apostle could say of himself, after speaking of his blasphemous, persecuting, overbearing, Christ-hating course, "But the grace of our Lord surpassingly over-abounded" (2 Timothy 1:14). If it was my sinfulness that made Christ’s death an absolute necessity, it was by the grace of God He tasted that death for me (Hebrews 2:9).
We would ask any secret doubter to consider, prayerfully, the two following questions:
First: Is God righteously satisfied with the giving up of the life of His own Son as a ransom?
Second: Are YOU so satisfied with the work accomplished that you cannot help desiring as your Savior the blessed One who accomplished it?
Again we ask, Is not GOD satisfied? Never mind your own feelings about it-they matter little. Is GOD satisfied? Has He not raised and glorified Jesus on that very ground? He has, blessed be God, He has! Read the assurance of this in the words which fell from the Lord’s own lips: "If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him" (John 13:32). All God’s righteous requirements having been met, and, still more, His holy name glorified in the meeting of them (John 17:4), He is now, through the merit of Christ, free to gratify His own heart. He can bless the very chief of sinners, as Paul calls himself, and bless him righteously. Grace reigns "through righteousness." Looking at Christ’s cross, and at His crowns of glory, we can say, "It is all of God’s righteousness"; looking at ourselves, we can say, "It is all of His grace." Nor is grace done with us when our souls are redeemed and our sins forgiven, for "in the ages to come" He will show "the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7).
Can you not say, in spite of all your unworthiness and all Satan’s subtlety, that God is so satisfied with Christ that He has crowned Him with glory and honour; and you so need Him, that you could not do without Him? A glorified Saviour and a heart that cannot do without Him are arguments which confound the enemy, and drive him from the field without another word. May some troubled reader so learn to overcome.
Contributed by KG