Heb 6:10 “ For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Have you ever wondered about your assurance of salvation? Has your every thought about your motives behind what you do or say? Have you ever reflected on your life in whole and thought about where you’ve been and were your heading? This is something that I have been questioning myself about in the past few months. In the previous years I questioned a lot of things and wondered why I didn’t think like a lot of todays modern Christians. I found myself not always agreeing with their gray areas of scripture. I am a black and white kinda girl. I don’t believe in adding to scripture or taking away in order to appease or live the kinda life I want and my flesh desires.
My journey had taken me sometimes way off the beaten path of the word of God. I had wasted much time trying to, as the saying goes, “Jump into the river”. The Lord has giving me much grace and has been patient with me. The churches I used to attend teach a very different doctrine. They follow the God of their mind and teach a doctrine contrary to the REAL doctrine of Grace.
When I first learned of the doctrines of grace I was convicted and actually had a moments of grieving as I learned that all that I had once thought was wrong. The Spirit of God confirmed this truth within me. I began reading everything I could to continue learning Truth. For almost 2 years I was being deprogrammed. Yet many things had come together from what I had thought and what I was learning. No wonder I had issues with many of the teachings before.
But during this time I was still living in the world and still lived with all the modern conveniences. I still didn’t have to rely totally on God. I had all that I needed and more. I was comfortable.
But then….. I moved here…community.
This is where the real story begins. This it were the rubber meant the road .
While living this biblical agrarian lifestyle I found myself totally in the hands of God. The more I read the more convicted I became of my sinfulness. When you live in the world it is much more easily masked than when you live in a community where those that live around you are working out there salvation with fear and trembling. Their lives are in continuous change towards a more Christ centered mentality. Most have been out of the Egypt longer then myself and have experienced some of the spiritual changes that I am encountering. When your mind starts becoming uncolonized it has to rely on God’s truth in order to spiritually move forward. In this type of life you have to trust God for EVERYTHING! You are in His mercy. The old way of thinking has to go.. or you will give up and eventually believe the lies of the enemy and leave.
In having your brain washed(literally) by the word of God I have found that I am seeing for the first time the deep things which hold me captive which hinder me to live a peaceful and Christ worthy life. These things that were hidden in Egypt are now being exposed and I am thankful. It helps me to see the wretchedness that still exists in my heart and mind and how Gods love for me has brought them forth. He longs for us to be pure in heart and mind and wants us to be assured of our salvation. In the first few months of being here I began to doubt that I was saved. How could I still be so wicked and be saved? I was in a battle! This forced me to His word and I began searching. Only His word could help me to understand.
A.W. Pink( Studies On Saving Grace) says “ Regeneration is a work which God performs with us, and as eternal destiny hinges on the same, it behooves every serious soul to take the utmost pains and ascertain whether or not this miracle of grace has been wrought with him.”
This is where I stood pertaining to my assurance. Also this verse spoke to me,
“Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobate?” (2Co 13:5)
So this is where my work began. I despised myself and was becoming very frustrated. I thought if I was saved then why do I still have envious thoughts or feel even still rebellious at times. I felt, how could I go on. I hated the sin within me and wanted it gone! I wanted to be that Godly women and wife that God wanted me to be! I prayed earnestly for change. I truly desired for the Lord to help me. I felt that I was NOT bringing Glory to God in my thoughts or actions.
I continued to pray and cry out to God! My heart was aching and I was scared that I might not be one of His. Was I examing myself to hard or being to dramatic? I don’t think so! I think it is better to be hard on oneself than to be so self-satisfied as to just assume you are okay(dangerous). I remember telling the Lord that I couldn’t go on like this I had to change. I told my husband that I was feeling so lost and that I couldn’t take much more. I felt desperate and helpless. Yet I was determined to seek the Lord because really what else could I do? I desired nothing else but Christ. Many a night I went to bed with such apprehensions of Hell and a life without hope (Christ) on my mind. Yet I know that I deserve hell more then most. These tortures kept me seeking and searching for truth and for answers. We are called to strive to enter into the narrow gate.
“Let us labour therefore to enter that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb 4:11)
I came across this article that was written by Michael Bunker( elder and teacher of the community in which I live) which was written in 2003. I found this article to be very helpful. When reading it I found myself having much in common with Mr. Humble Heart.
I will not say that the stuggle is over, but will continue to press on for the full assurance of salvation. Reading the word of God now is refreshing and life giving to me.I drink in its hope and love for me. This experience has shown me the great mercy of God and His grace in my life. For I am witnessing the light of Christ in my life and for this I am grateful. I am now not afraid to be brought low that He might be lifted up. To Him be all the Glory and Praise.
Am I Saved?
“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:10-12)
February 12, 2003 – There is no time more valuable than that which is spent considering our position in God. It is an interesting phenomenon that the preaching of the Doctrines of Grace inevitably leads to the personal questioning of salvation by many who claim the name of Christ. Is this a good thing? Absolutely. No man can truly examine his position in Christ until He has been shown the perfection and holiness of the One True God. Only those who understand God’s sovereignty, and His ABSOLUTE election will ever TRULY engage in the work set before those who would be heirs to the kingdom.
You will recall that true revival (the Great Awakening) started in the colonies when Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield preached the Doctrines of Grace (and therefore the reality of eternal damnation) with fervency. During Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, people screamed out in agony – assured in their own minds that the ground was going to open up under them to swallow them up. People screamed, “I perish!” and “I’m going to Hell!”
Most preachers and teachers do not want people to question their salvation, or they want them to never be fully assured of it. The preaching of hellfire and election to salvation is too troubling and too “exclusive” to some, while the preaching that assurance of salvation is possible causes many teachers to fear the loss of the power they wield over many of their victims. But there can be no more valuable exercise for those who desire to enter into God’s kingdom than to sincerely question salvation, and there can be no greater benefit to those of us who must still walk here on earth than to absolutely know that we are saved, and to have joy and peace in that knowledge.
Please keep in mind that PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS is a biblical fact. It is a Doctrine taught in all of scripture. All those who are in Christ WILL persevere, and they will be in no wise cast out. Perseverance is a gift from God to the elect. It is God’s act of mercy on His children, and it is to and for HIS Glory that He protects and guides His sheep, delivering them unto the Father without losing one of them.
What we are discussing here is NOT perseverance. We are discussing ASSURANCE. Obtaining assurance should be the most important goal of every Christian.
Is Assurance of Salvation possible? YES, it is. Is Assurance of Salvation NECESSARY for Salvation? Absolutely not. But, as Spurgeon said, it is necessary for our satisfaction and for our peace. Here is a snippet of Spurgeon on the subject:
“Many who believe on the name of Jesus are not sure that they have eternal life; they only hope so. Occasionally they have assurance, but the joy is not abiding. They are like a minister I have heard of, who said he felt assured of his salvation, ‘except when the wind was in the east.’ It is a wretched thing to be so subject to circumstances as many are. What is true when the wind is in the soft south or the reviving west is equally true when the wind is neither good for man nor beast. John would not have our assurance vary with the weatherglass, nor turn with the vane. He says, “These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” He would have us certain that we are partakers of the new life, and so know it as to reap the golden fruit of such knowledge, and be filled with joy and peace through believing. I speak affectionately to the weaker ones, who cannot yet say that they know they have believed. I speak not to your condemnation, but to your consolation. Full assurance is not essential to salvation, but it is essential to satisfaction. May you get – may you get it at once; at any rate may you never be satisfied to live without it. You may have full assurance.” – CS Spurgeon
Let us discuss the signs that you should examine to see if you are born again. You will notice as you read these that more and more of those who call themselves Christians fail to meet the criteria as we progress through our study:
1) “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.” (1John 5:1) – Note that we know we love Him, when we are caused to love those who are His. Also note that this is not an emotional “love”, but it is to care for and serve the best interests of true Christians. John says it again this way, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” (1 John 3:14)
2) “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:10-13) – Note that this verse actually is a reverse listing of cause and effect.
a) you will believe on the name of the Son of God IF you have life.
b) you may KNOW that you have eternal life, IF you believe on the name of the Son of God. (It must be the REAL Jesus, the Sovereign Jesus who died on the Cross for His sheep, not the Arminian/universalist fake Jesus of Apostate Christianity)
c) you may KNOW that the LIFE you have is IN JESUS CHRIST, and the ability to believe and love Him is IN HIM.
d) you may KNOW that these things are true, and that the witness of Truth is IN YOU if you believe the full record that God gave of His Son. (This disqualifies MOST who claim to be Christians)
3) “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:15-17) – This one is self-explanatory, and cuts off another large percentage of those who claim to be Christians. The need of our brother is supposed to outweigh our own lives. The Christian is commanded to either be actively IN MINISTRY to the brethren, or to support those that are. Note that true Christian ministries languish with almost no resources, while apostate ministries thrive and abound. That is because apostate ministries promise carnal rewards in exchange for gifts, while true ministries can make no such promise, but must promise persecution, tribulation and hardship to those who truly believe, as the scripture says.
4) The words of Spurgeon again, “Our apostle gives us this further evidence: ‘This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.’ Obedience is the grand test of love. If you are living after your own will, and pay no homage to God, you are none of his. If you never think of the Lord Jesus as your Master, and never recognize the claims of God, and never wish to be obedient to his will, you are not in possession of eternal life. If you desire to be obedient, and prove that desire by your actions, then you have the divine life within you. Judge yourselves. Is the tenor of your life obedience or disobedience? By the fruit you can test the root and the sap.”
5) Having said that “whosoever believeth” will be saved, it is necessary that we examine very closely the depth of what we have said. The same writer who said, “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), also said “many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” Millions “believe” in Christ who are not saved and who will never be saved. There are clearly two types of BELIEF, as it says again in John: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43), to which Jesus responds, “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me”, and explains, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” There is clearly two ways of “believing”, one that leads to eternal life (it is evidenced by action), and one that leads to eternal damnation (it is evidenced by inaction and the fear of men).
6) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” (John 5:24-25) We must clearly state that in the scripture, the word HEAR does not mean merely “to feel an impression of sound by the proper organs”, but it means to HEED and OBEY. Failure to HEAR in the Bible always means to DISOBEY: “They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them…” (Jer 11:10), and again, “Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God” (2Ki 17:14). We know that to truly hear God it requires that God allow us to hear: “According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear…” (Rom 11:8). It is the GREAT HIGH PRIEST who must do the circumcising of the ears, because there are those whose ears are uncircumcised, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). So we can know that to truly hear the voice of the Son of God, is to HEED the voice of the Son of God, and the evidence or “fruit” of hearing God is to turn towards Him in repentance, “While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation” (Heb 3:15).
7) There are many who take the words of Paul and Silas in Acts 16:31, as a general invitation, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house”, when to do so abuses both the Holy Spirit who spoke these words through His servants, and it abuses the overall teaching of Holy Scripture on the subject. We must be careful not to take a statement that was made to a particular man in a particular situation, and apply it to ourselves without examining the entire context of the issue. There are some points we should make regarding this scripture:
a) True belief is a gift from God (Phil 1:29, 2 Thess 2:13), it does not have MAN as its fountainhead. It does not proceed from man.
b) Paul and Silas were particularly talking to the Philipian Jailer. They had observed things in him that qualified him for this statement, particularly the two previous verses show the position and condition of the Jailer, “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This Jailer had certainly repented because, in despair he cast himself on the ground, trembling. Is this true of you? If it is, then it is fair for you to appropriate the words of the Apostles. If it is not true of you, you may be doing yourself irreparable harm by your presumptuousness.
c) Always remember that the words spoken to the Philipian Jailer were a prophecy, which was fulfilled when the whole household of the Jailer came to Christ (Acts 16:31-32).
Seeking salvation is the highest act of moral responsibility, but most that are born of a woman will never do it, neither can they. Seeking assurance of salvation is the highest act of moral responsibility for those who claim to desire the kingdom, but most who call themselves Christians will never seek it. Millions upon millions of our countrymen believe in their hearts that they will enter into heaven after they die. Most of them will not. Millions upon millions of so-called “Christians” take no care for their souls because they have believed a false, lying, decisionist Gospel that would have them “rest on the finished work of Christ” when God has promised THEM no such rest. A.W. Pink said,
“Regeneration is a work which God performs within us, and as eternal destiny hinges on the same, it behooves every serious soul to take the utmost pains and ascertain whether or not this miracle of grace has been wrought within him.” (AW Pink, Studies On Saving Faith)
Our rest is sure when the work is done:
“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:14)
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24)
“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2Pe 3:14)
“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12b)
“…exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Tim 4:7b)
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us…” (Act 17:27)
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1Co 11:28)
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2Co 13:5)
Now, after having done all the work assigned unto you, it is safe to heed the words of the Apostle, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph 6:13). Because the Bible is clear, RESTING is a product of labor: “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb 4:11).
For those who now grieve and despair, who would cast themselves into the dust saying, “What then must I do to be saved?” I ask you to read this glorious exchange between the late editor Mr. Pink and Mr. Humble Heart. I pray that this exchange will eternally benefit you:
Mr. Humble Heart: “Good morning, Sir. May I beg the favor of an hour of your valuable time?”
Editor: “Come in, and welcome. What can I do for you?”
Humble Heart: “I am sore troubled in spirit: I long so much to be able to call God ‘my father,’ but I fear I might be guilty of lying were I to do so. There are many times when I have a little hope that He has begun a good work within me, but alas, for the most part, I find such a mass of corruption working within, that I feel sure that I have never been made a new creature in Christ. My heart is so cold and hard toward God, that it seems impossible the Holy Spirit could have shed abroad God’s love in me; unbelief and doubtings so often master me, that it would be presumptuous to think I possess the faith of God’s elect. Yet I want to love Him, trust Him, serve Him, but it seems I cannot.”
Editor: “I am very glad you called. It is rare indeed to meet with an honest soul these days.”
Humble Heart: “Excuse me, Sir, but I do not want you to form a wrong impression of me: an honest heart is the very blessing I crave, but I am painfully conscious, from much clear evidence, that I possess it not. My heart is deceitful above all things, and I am full of hypocrisy. I have often begged God to make me holy, and right after, my actions proved that I did not mean what I said. I have often thanked God for His mercies, and then have soon fretted and murmured when His providence crossed my will. I had quite a battle before I came here to see you tonight, as to whether I was really seeking help, or as to whether my secret desire was to win your esteem: and I am not sure now which was my real motive.”
Humble Heart: “To come to the point, Sir, if I am not intruding. I have read and re-read your articles on “Assurance” which appeared in last year’s magazines. Some things in those articles seemed to give me a little comfort, but other things almost drove me to despair. Sometimes your description of a born-again soul agreed with my own experience, but at other times I seemed as far from measuring up to it as the poles are asunder. So I do not know where I am. I have sought to heed 2 Corinthians 13:5 and ‘examine’ myself, and when I did so, I could see nothing but a mass of contradictions; or, it would be more accurate to say, for each one thing I found which seemed to show that I was regenerate, I found ten things to prove that I could not be so. And now, Sir, I’m mourning night and day, for I feel of all men the most miserable.”
Editor: “Hypocrites are not exercised about their motives, nor troubled over the deceitfulness of their hearts! At any rate, I am thankful to see you are so deeply concerned about your soul’s eternal interests.”
Humble Heart: “Alas, Sir, I am not half as much concerned about them as I ought to be. That is another thing which occasions me much anguish. When the Lord Jesus tells us that the human soul is worth more than the whole world put together (Mark 8:36), I feel that I must be thoroughly blinded by Satan and completely under the dominion of sin, seeing that I am so careless. It is true that at times I am alarmed about my state and fearful that I shall soon be in Hell; at times too, I seem to seek God more earnestly and read His Word more diligently; but alas, my goodness is ‘as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away’ (Hos. 6:4). The cares of this life so soon crowd out thoughts of the life to come. O, Sir, I want reality, not pretense; I want to make sure, yet cannot.”
Editor: “That is not so simple a task as many would have us believe.”
Humble Heart: “It certainly is not. I have consulted several Bible teachers, only to find them ‘physicians of no value’ (Job 13:4). I have also conferred with some who boasted that they never have a doubt, and they quoted to me Acts 16:31, and on telling them I did believe, they cried ‘Peace, peace,’ but there was no peace in my heart.”
Editor: “Ah, dear friend, it is not without reason that God has bidden us ‘give diligence to make your calling and election sure’ (2 Peter 1:10). And even after we have given diligence, we still need the Holy Spirit to ‘bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God’ (Rom. 8:16). Moreover, spiritual assurance may easily be lost, or at least be clouded, as is evident from the case of him who wrote the 23rd Psalm, for at a later date he had to cry unto God, ‘Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.’
Editor: “Before proceeding further, had we not better ask the help of the Lord? His Holy Word says, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths’ (Prov. 3:6). And now, dear Brother, for such I am assured you really are, what is it that most causes you to doubt that you have passed from death unto life?”
Humble Heart: “My inward experiences, the wickedness of my heart, the many defeats I encounter daily.”
Editor: “Perhaps you are looking for perfection in the flesh.”
Humble Heart: “No, hardly that, for I know the ‘flesh’ or old nature is still left in the Christian. But I have met with some who claim to be living ‘the victorious life,’ who say they never have a doubt, never a rising of anger, discontent, or any wicked feelings or desires; that Christ so controls them that unclouded peace and joy are theirs all the time.”
Editor: “Bear with me if I speak plainly, but such people are either hypnotized by the Devil, or they are fearful liars. God’s Word says, ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us’ (1 John 1:8). And again, ‘There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not’ (Eccl. 7:20). And again, ‘In many things, we offend all’ (James 3:2). The beloved Apostle Paul when well advanced in the Christian life, declared, ‘I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members’ (Rom. 7:21-23).
Humble Heart: “That relieves my mind somewhat, yet it scarcely reaches the root of my difficulty. What troubles me so much is this: when God regenerates a man, he becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus: the change wrought in him is so great that it is termed a ‘passing from death unto life.’ It is obvious that if God the Holy Spirit dwells in a person, that there must be a radical difference produced, both inwardly and outwardly, from what he was before. Now it is this which I fail to find in myself. Instead of being any better than I was a year ago, I feel I am worse. Instead of humility filling my heart, so often pride rules it; instead of lying passive like clay in the Potter’s hand to be molded by Him, I am like a wild colt; instead of rejoicing in the Lord always, I am frequently filled with bitterness and repinings.”
Editor: “Such experiences as you describe are very sad and humbling, and need to be mourned over and confessed to God. They must never be excused nor glossed over. Nevertheless, they are not incompatible with the Christian state. Rather they are so many proofs that he who is experimentally [by experience] acquainted with the ‘plague of his own heart’ (1 Kings 8:38) is one in experience with the most eminent of God’s saints. Abraham acknowledged he was ‘dust and ashes’ (Gen. 18:27). Job said, ‘I abhor myself’ (42:6). David prayed ‘Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed’ (Psa. 6:2). Isaiah exclaimed, ‘Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips’ (6:5). In the anguish of his heart, Jeremiah asked, ‘Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?’ (20:18). Daniel once owned, ‘There remained no strength in me, for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption’ (10:8). Paul cried, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ (Rom. 7:24).
“One of the principal things which distinguishes a regenerate person from an unregenerate one may be likened unto two rooms which have been swept but not dusted. In one, the blinds are raised and the sunlight streams in, exposing the dust still lying on the furniture. In the other, the blinds are lowered, and one walking through the room would be unable to discern its real condition. Thus it is in the case of one who has been renewed by the Spirit: his eyes have been opened to see the awful filth which lurks in every corner of his heart. But in the case of the unregenerate, though they have occasional twinges of conscience when they act wrongly, they are very largely ignorant of the awful fact that they are a complete mass of corruption unto the pure eyes of the thrice holy God. It is true that an unregenerate person may be instructed in the truth of the total depravity of fallen man, and he may ‘believe’ the same, yet his belief does not humble his heart, fill him with anguish, make him loathe himself, and feel that Hell is the only place which is fit for him to dwell in. But it is far otherwise with one who sees light in God’s light (Psa. 36:9); he will not so much as lift up his eyes to Heaven, but smites upon his leprous breast, crying, ‘God be merciful to me the sinner’.”
Humble Heart: “Would you kindly turn to the positive side, and give me a brief description of what characterizes a genuine Christian?”
Editor: “Among other gifts, every real Christian has such a knowledge of God in Christ, as works by love, that he is stirred up to earnestly inquire after the will of God, and studies His Word to learn that will, having a sincere desire and making an honest endeavor to live in the faith and practice of it.”
Humble Heart: “I cannot boast of my knowledge of God in Christ, yet by Divine grace this I may say: that I desire no other Heaven on earth than to know and to do God’s will, and be assured that I have His approval.”
Editor: “That is indeed a good sign that your soul has been actually renewed, and doubtless He who has begun a work of grace in your heart, will make the great change manifest in your life and actions. No matter what he thinks or says, no unregenerate man really desires to live a life which is pleasing to God.”
Humble Heart: “God forbid that I should flatter myself, yet I hope I have often found delight when reading God’s Word or hearing it preached, and I do sincerely meditate upon it, and long that I may ‘grow in grace.’ Yet, at times, I am tempted with vain and vile thoughts, and I strive to banish them, my heart rising up against them; yet sometimes I yield to them. I loathe lying and cursing, and cannot endure the company of those who hate practical godliness; yet my withdrawal from them seems nothing but pharisaic hypocrisy, for I am such a miserable failure myself. I pray to God for deliverance from temptation and for grace to resist the Devil, but I fear that I do not have His ear, for more often than not I am defeated by sin and Satan.”
Editor: “When you thus fall in your duty, or fall into sin, what do you think of yourself and your ways? How are you affected therewith?”
Humble Heart: “When I am in this deplorable condition, my soul is grieved, my joy of heart and peace of conscience gone. But when I am a little recovered out of this sinful lethargy, my heart is melted with sorrow over my folly, and I address myself to God with great fear and shame, begging Him to forgive me, pleading 1 John 1:9, and humbly imploring Him to ‘renew a right spirit within me’.”
Editor: “And why is it that you are so troubled when sin conquers you?”
Humble Heart: “Because I truly wish to please the Lord, and it is my greatest grief when I realize that I have dishonored and displeased Him. His mercy has kept me, thus far, from breaking out into open and public sins, yet there is very much within which I know He hates.”
Editor: “Well, my dear brother and companion in the path of tribulation, God has ordained that the Lamb shall be eaten with ‘bitter herbs’ (Exo. 12:8). So it was with the Apostle: ‘As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ (2 Cor. 6:10) summed up his dual experience: ‘sorrowful over his sinful failures, both of omission and commission; yet ‘rejoicing’ over the provisions which Divine grace has made for us while we are in this dreary desert – the Mercy Seat ever open to us, whither we may draw near, unburden our heavy hearts, and pour out our tale of woe; the Fountain which has been ‘opened for sin and for uncleanness’ (Zech. 13:1), whither we may repair for cleansing. I am indeed thankful to learn that your conscience confirms what your tongue has uttered. You have expressed enough to clearly evidence that the Holy Spirit has begun a good work in your soul. But I trust you also have faith in the Lord Jesus, the Mediator, by whom alone any sinner can draw near unto God.”
Humble Heart: “By Divine grace, I do desire to acknowledge and embrace the Lord Jesus upon the terms on which He is proclaimed in the Gospel: to believe all His doctrine as my Teacher, to trust in and depend upon the atoning sacrifice which He offered as the great High Priest, and to submit to His rule and government as King. But, alas, in connection with the last, ‘to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not’ (Rom. 7:18).
Editor: “No real Christian ever attains his ideal in this life; he never reaches that perfect standard which God has set before us in His Word, and which was so blessedly exemplified in the life of Christ. Even the Apostle Paul, near the close of his life, had to say, ‘Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:12). But may I ask if you are sensible of how you arrived at the good desires you mentioned? Do you suppose that such a disposition is natural to you, or that it has resulted from your own improvement of your faculties?”
Humble Heart: “No, Sir, I dare not ascribe to nature that which is the effect and fruit of Divine grace. If I have any measure of sanctification (which is what I long to be assured of), then it can only be by the gift and operation of God. I am too well acquainted with my wretched self: I know too well that by nature I am alive to vanity and sin but dead to God and all real goodness; that folly possesses my soul, darkness shrouds my understanding; that I am utterly unable to will or to do what is pleasing in God’s sight, and that my natural heart is set contrary to the way of salvation proposed in the Gospel, rising up against its flesh-condemning precepts and commandments. I see, I know, I feel that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing.”
Editor: “Then do you realize what must be the outcome if God were to leave you unto yourself?”
Humble Heart: “Yes, indeed. Without the assistance of His Holy Spirit, I should certainly make shipwreck of the faith. My daily prayer is ‘Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe’ (Psa. 119:117). My earnest desire is that I may watch and pray against every temptation. There is nothing I dread more than apostatizing, relaxing in my duty, returning to wallow in the mire.”
Editor: “These are all plain evidences of the saving grace of God at work within you, which I beseech Him to continue, so that you may be preserved with a tender conscience, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, and obtain a full assurance of His love for you.”
Humble Heart: “I thank you kindly, Sir, for your patience and help. What you have said makes me feel lighter in heart, but I wish to go home and prayerfully ponder the same, for I dare not take any man’s word for it. I want God Himself ‘to say unto my soul, I am thy salvation’ (Psa. 35:3). Will you not pray that it may please Him so to do?”
Editor: “You shall certainly have a place in my feeble petitions. The Lord be very gracious unto you.”
(Excerpted and edited from A.W. Pink, Studies in the Scriptures, October, 1932)
I pray God for your endeavors, and that you may find true assurance so that you may be engaged boldly in the fight that is before us.
I am your servant in Christ Jesus,
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In Christ Debylin.