As we continue in our “Hard Questions” sermon series, let me share just a few more thoughts about “Assurance” from Dr. Greg Gilbert’s amazing book entitled, “Assured.” What follows is from Chapter 9, “Striving for Assurance.”
When it comes to questions of assurance, so many Christians get lost in a vortex of abstractions. “What’s the philosophical nature of faith?” “What does it mean to believe that you believe, or trust that you’re trusting?’ “Can there be quantities of faith?” “Are there different textures of believing?” “Is my joy strong enough?” To be sure some of those are interesting questions, and there’s a place for them. But that place is not in the rubble of a Christian heart whose faith and assurance are collapsing. When that happens, what you need is bed-rock, not clouds. Concreteness, not abstraction.
One of the most useful practices I’ve found for settling my faith and sense of assurance is to go right back to the foundation of my faith by asking myself (and answering) the very first questions. Doing so has the effect of planting my feet on the rock again and allowing me to build up from there. So, for example, when you feel your faith is failing, start like this and answer honestly:
• Do I believe there is a God? Yes, I do.
• Do I believe Jesus of Nazareth really existed? Yes, I do.
• Do I believe He is the Son of God? You know what? I do. I really do.
• Do I believe He died on the cross? Yes.
• Do I believe that when He died, He was dying in the place of sinners? Yes.
• Do I believe He really, truly, bodily rose from the dead? I do. Against all odds, I actually do.
• Do I believe I’m a sinner who needs to be saved? Yes.
• Do I believe Jesus when He said everyone who trusts in Him will not perish? Yes.
• Do I believe God when He said everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved? Yes, yes, yes.
You see? As you ask questions like those, you can actually ground your faith in the concrete truths of who Jesus is, what He did, and what He promised. You can build it from the ground up and feel it strengthening as you answer “yes, yes, yes” again and again. And what if you run into a question to which you can’t answer yes? Then keep asking questions. Why do I hesitate to answer yes to that particular question? Is it because I can’t quite believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Is it because I may harbor an idea that God may save others, but I’m too far gone? Sometimes, chasing down the answer to why you can’t answer yes will uncover a deep-rooted problem that, once identified, you can address clearly and directly.
If you struggle with assurance of salvation, don’t spend any more time swimming around in abstractions. Certainty isn’t found in abstractions. It’s found in the concrete realities of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as well in the promise of God to save those who trust in Him.
Gilbert concludes the book with the following statement:
If you’re a Christian, then God intends for you not to be racked by fear and doubt, but to be able to rest in the arms of your Savior as you trust Him to bring you safely home.
Submitted by Jim De Horn