By Tom Wacaster
When our fiery trial descends upon us - and it will if we are living godly lives in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12) - it would behoove us to have the kind of faith that will see us through that trial. John has told us in advance of the trials that we will face in life, and that “this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). Look at the catalogue of the faithful men and women listed in Hebrews chapter 11. They endured some of most severe challenges to their faith that men can, and often will, have to confront; and each and every one of those recorded in that “hall of fame of the faithful” came through with shining colors. What is it that saw them through? How is it that they were able to overcome the temptations that came their way, while so many throughout history have simply thrown in the towel and followed the multitude to do evil? I submit to you that it was a faith that gave them unshakable assurance in the face of adversity. Someone once said, “Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but live for it.” What the world needs is more men and women who will be willing to live their faith, and be willing to die for it as well. I submit to you that unless men have the same kind of unshakable assurance in God and His promises to us as did those men and women of faith recorded in the pages of God’s word, when the time for battle comes they will fail the test every single time. The absence of faith and assurance can be seen in the fact that too many Christians live their life in fear and anxiety of what the future holds. Their demeanor and countenance suggest that they have no joy. Were someone to inquire as to their relationship with God their answer would be filled with doubt and foreboding.
When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he expressed great confidence in his eternal salvation: “I know him whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). Again, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day” (2 Tim 4:7). John said, “I have written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). And yet, in spite of so many passages that speak positively of our “blessed assurance,” there are a great number of our brethren who doubt their salvation! That doubt is reflected in a gloomy disposition of despair and despondency characteristic of a world in darkness. One sister in Oklahoma used to say, “Too many of my brethren act as if they were baptized in vinegar.” One of the most beautiful passages in all the Bible is 1 John 1:7 - “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” There are two important truths that emerge from this passage.
First, while walking “in the light” we are still going to sin. Did you catch the words of John: “If we walk in the light...the blood of Jesus cleanseth.” Even if we are walking in the light we are still going to sin from time to time. All too often we demand of ourselves that which we are not capable of giving, namely sinless perfection. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1:8). Will we stumble from time to time? Indeed we will. But even when we occasionally sin out of inattention or a moment of weakness due to the fleshly limitations in all of us, we can be assured that our relationship with God is not severed.
Second, we have the cleansing blood of our Lord at our constant disposal. Like an ever flowing fountain, limitless in its resources, and powerful in its efficacy, our Lord’s blood will wash away every single sin and remove the guilt associated with it. No wonder John could, in this same letter, write of our assurance of salvation (5:13). It was once said, “A joyless saint will never win a joyful sinner to Christ.” If your lack of assurance has robbed you of the joy of Christian living, how can you ever expect to convert someone who, though living in error, has greater confidence of his salvation than do you? No wonder Paul told us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4). And as if to drive the point home, he immediately repeats, “again, I will say, REJOICE!” Beloved, we CAN know that we are saved, and with that assurance comes the great joy of Christian living!
Brethren, let us get on with living, and while doing so, let us rest in the assurance that God is on our side, His promises are sure, and that even though we sin from time to time, we can rest upon the realization that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:2). He is the “propitiation for our sins, the Protector of our souls, and the Provider of our salvation. Some years ago I came across the following wonderful illustration/quote:
Cyprian, a third-century martyr, writes to Donatus, saying: “This is a cheerful world as I see it from my garden under the shadows of my vines. But if I were to ascend some high mountain and look over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see: brigands on the highways, pirates on the sea, armies fighting, cities burning; in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds; selfishness and cruelty and misery and despair under all roofs. It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians—and I am one of them.”
That, my friends, was peace and confidence borne of assurance that comes as a result of an undying and unflinching faith in the God Who has promised, “I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).