Union with Christ

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C.H. Spurgeon

Three Sermons on Assurance from the “Prince of Preachers:


  1. The True Position of Full Assurance

  2. 9 Helps to Full Assurance.

  3. The True Position of Assurance

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”— Ephesians 1:13.

Many sincerely-seeking souls are in great trouble because they have not yet attained to an assurance of their interest in Christ Jesus: they dare not take any comfort from their faith because they suppose that it has not attained to a sufficient strength. They have believed in the Lord Jesus, and they have his promise that they shall be saved, but they are not content with this—they want to get assurance, and then they suppose they shall have a better evidence of their salvation than the bare word of the Savior. Such persons are under a great mistake; but as that mistake is a very painful one, and exercises the most injurious influence upon them, we will spend this morning in trying, as God shall help us, to clear up their difficulty, and to let them see that if they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, even though they should not have attained to the precious grace of full assurance of faith, yet nevertheless they are saved, and being justified by faith, may rightfully enjoy peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Their mistake seems to me to he this—they look for ripe fruit upon a tree in spring, and because that season yields nothing but blossoms, they conclude the tree to be barren. They go to the head of a river—they find it a little rippling brook, and because it will not float a “Great Eastern,” they conclude that it will never reach the sea, and that in fact it is not a true part of the river at all. They look upon themselves as being little children, and such they are; but because they cannot speak plainly on account of having been so newly born, they therefore conclude that they are not the children of God at all.

They see strong men in Christ Jesus performing great exploits; and because they as yet are but young and feeble, they conclude that they are not in the family of grace. They compare themselves with giants in the Church of God and then because they rightly perceive the difference between themselves and these mighty ones, they imagine that they are not saved, that they cannot be numbered among the faithful, and have no part nor lot in this matter.

They put the last things first. They make comforts essentials. They consider that which is the fruit of grace to be the root of grace, and herein they pierce themselves through with many sorrows. Perhaps they will not fall into this error again if they get a right understanding of the text before us.

The apostle Paul here explains the process by which sealing—the sealing of assurance—is obtained.

There are three steps by which the hallowed elevation is reached.

The first is hearing— they heard first the preaching of the Word; the second is believing; and then, thirdly, “after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

I. To begin then, faith cometh by Hearing.

The preaching of the gospel is God’s soul-saving ordinance. It hath pleased God by the “foolishness of preaching” to save them that believe. In every age God raiseth up men who faithfully proclaim his Word, and, as one departs, another arrives. Elijah ascends to glory, but his mantle falls upon Elisha. Paul dies not until Timothy is in the field. This true apostolic succession is continued evermore, for when we know not where to find ministers, we may rest assured that in nooks and corners the Lord is preparing men for his work.
The true preacher has a claim upon men’s attention. If God has sent him, men should receive him. If he comes as an ambassador from the King of kings, let his commission be proved, and he has a right to receive the careful and prayerful attention of all who come in his way. Nay, more, God’s true ambassador not only claims a hearing, but he wins it, for there is an attractiveness in his theme which holds men by the ears: “I, if I be lifted up,” said Christ, “will draw all men unto me;” and among the other drawings there is this peculiar fact, that men are drawn to hear where Christ is preached. He who preaches Christ hath golden chains coming from his mouth wherewith he bindeth men’s ears, if not their hearts; they are not all bound to salvation, but bound somehow they shall be: the savor shall go forth even though it should be a savor of death unto death, and not of life unto life. The preacher claims a hearing and he wins it.

What is that message which we are to hear in order to the attaining of faith, and, through faith, of full assurance?

Our text is very expressive, for it tells us, “Ye heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” It is of little use to hear that which is not the Word of truth, nay, it is worse than useless, for by error we shall soon be misled. And if the preaching be not concerning the Word of truth, even though it should be a word of truth, yet it can be of no value to the getting of faith: it must be the Word—the Word peculiarly above all others having truth and substance in it. There is no doubt that the expression here is a Hebraism for “the true Word,” “ye heard the true Word.” O brethren, how joyous it is to us to know God’s Word to be true. We have proved it in our own souls, and thus can bear our witness to you concerning it. If we speak not according to the true Word of God, reject us, for that which will bless you, must have a “Thus saith the Lord” to support it, and must be based and bottomed upon the revelation of the Most High, otherwise it cannot be of saving service, seeing it is not the Word which is infallibly true.

No doubt that the expression signifies the highest truth, truth as much the truth among other truths, as the Bible is the book above all other books. What I must hear to my salvation is not an important doctrine which may or may not be believed, but the Word without which men must perish in their sins. We may also remind you that the “Word of truth” is a phrase peculiar to the contradistinction to the law. Compare the revelation of Christ with that of Moses: Moses revealed much gospel truth, but it was in shadow, not by a plain word of teaching; and hence we now declare that the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Christ is the substance of all those shadows which Moses had to bring before the people’s minds; and hence there is an emphasis about the gospel as being not metaphorical truth, but solid truth — the essential truth. As the mountain towers high above the surrounding plain, so the great truth that “God was made flesh, and dwelt among us” —

the faithful saying that “Jesus Christ came into the world to seek and to save sinners,”

towers above all other truth, and demands our first and our best thoughts; and as the sun outshines all other lights, even so the manifestation of truth in the gospel of Christ excels all other revelations. It is the Word of truth.
But the text also adds, “the gospel” — “the gospel of your salvation.” You are to listen to the gospel—to that which is good news—to a something totally new to the world’s natural religion— a something which came fresh from God: God’s great novelty—something good—good in the deepest sense—infinitely good—good for your soul’s best interests—good in answering the craving appetite of your poor hungry spirit.

It must be good news—

it must be evangelical doctrine to which you must listen if you would get faith. Faith does not come by seeing. Men do not get faith by looking at a priest manipulating bread and wine, or sprinkling drops of baptismal water. The symbols of the Church of Rome do not beget faith. They may beget attention; they may please the fancy and delight the taste, but they do not beget the faith of God’s elect. It is the gospel—the gospel preached and heard which does this through the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not get faith through ordinances: no matter if God himself prescribed them; they are not the channel through which faith comes.

The apostle expressly declares that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

It is not through eye-gate, but through ear-gate, that salvation comes to us. God may, and doubtless does, infuse grace into us by channels other than the sense of hearing; but, at any rate, the usual way in which grace comes streaming into the soul is by hearing—and that is the hearing of the gospel; not the hearing of tradition; not the hearing of supposition; not the hearing of poetic imaginations; but the hearing of that old evangel, which was first proclaimed by Jesus on the Mount, and afterwards by his apostles, and to this day is still proclaimed with trumpet-tongue by those who know its quickening power.

You must hear the gospel—and observe, it is called the gospel of your salvation.

You will never get faith, dear friends, unless you look upon the gospel as the great means of salvation, and come earnestly enquiring and desiring that it may he made to you the gospel of your salvation; not of another man’s, but of your salvation. I cannot say to every unconverted man, “This gospel will save you,” but I can say this, that, if you receive this gospel, it certainly will, and that the moment it is accepted by the heart it is the gospel of your salvation. Reject it—it will be a savor of death unto death to you; but if the Holy Spirit shall come with it, and command your will and win your assent and consent thereunto, then it is indeed the gospel of your salvation.

Are you a sinner?

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Inasmuch as this is worthy of all acceptation, it is worthy of your acceptation, and is in a sense even now the gospel of your salvation. We know that Christ came to “seek and to save that which was lost.”

Are you lost?

Then in a sense it is the gospel of your salvation, seeing that you are lost. If you can grasp that cheering word with the hand of faith, you will say, “Yes, lost as I am, I believe Christ came to save the lost, and I trust him alone to save me;” then it is the gospel of your salvation, in a very high and special sense, seeing that now you have been saved thereby. The great end, it seems to me, of the preaching of the gospel is just this—the preacher should always be aiming so to preach it that he may find out those souls to whom this is the gospel of their salvation; so labouriug to bring it home, both by persuading by the terrors of the law and by the love of Jesus, that men shall-through the Spirit of God accompanying the Word-be led, through hearing, to lay hold upon Christ and so to be saved.

Thus I have set forth what you have to hear. May I beg you carefully to judge every preacher, not by his gifts, not by his elocutionary powers, not by his status in society, not by the respectability of his congregation, not by the prettiness of his Church, the grandeur of the ceremonial, or the peculiar beauty of his vestments, but by this—does he preach the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation? If he does, your sitting under his ministry may prove to you the means of begetting faith in you; but if he does not, you cannot expect God’s blessing, for you are not using God’s ordinance, but the ordinance of man.

The hearing of the gospel involves the hearer in responsibility.

It is a great privilege to bear the gospel. Ye may smile and think there is nothing very great in it. The damned in hell know. Oh! what would they give if they could hear the gospel now? —if they could come back and entertain but the shadow of a hope that they might yet escape from the wrath to come? The saved in heaven estimate this privilege at a high rate, for, having obtained salvation and eternal life through the preaching of this gospel, they can never cease to bless their God for calling them by his Word of truth. O that ye knew it! On your dying beds the listening to a gospel sermon will seem another thing than it seemeth now.

Now you may come out of curiosity, and go away and forget it; but when grim death and you shall stand face to face, you will find it quite another thing to have had God’s Word spoken to you, and you will hear such a word as this, “Ye stumbled at the word because ye were disobedient, and therefore woe has come upon you to the uttermost.” I must also add that if hearing be really so gracious an ordinance, it becomes Christian men
and women to pray the Lord to send forth laborers into his vineyard, to entreat him to bless all efforts used to train our young ministers for future conflict. I beg you not to forget to aid our Pastor’s College, both with your gifts and your prayers. It should bring afresh to the thoughts of all of you the duty of praying for those who are engaged in preaching the Word, for their preaching is nothing, except as the Spirit goeth with it; and though, when the Spirit goeth with it the shout of the King is heard in our camps, let him withdraw, and there is nothing but disappointment and dismay in the hosts of God. Pray for us, brethren. We trust we have a good conscience and endeavor to free ourselves of the blood of souls. We want our hearers to pray for us and hold up our hands as Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses on the mount.

Be diligent in hearing the Word.

If ye be saved, still listen to it for your soul’s health; if ye be not saved, neglect no opportunities of listening. Lie at this pool of Bethesda. Who can tell but you may yet step in when the angel doth move the waters, or Jesus himself may come and walk through those five porches, and bid you take up your bed and walk? Waste no Sabbath in going where you cannot hear the gospel; but when you do hear the gospel, hear it with all your ears; give your whole soul to it: as the thirsty earth drinketh in the descending showers, so drink in the Word of God; as new-born babes receive the unadulterated milk of the Word, so receive you that which is able to save your souls; and through hearing may faith come, and through faith may you gain the assurance which you so earnestly desire.

II. After hearing came Belief.

We know that believing does not always follow hearing immediately. There is a case told of Mr. Flavel having preached a sermon which was blessed to a man, I think eighty-five years afterwards, so that the seed may lay long buried in dust; yet, had not that man heard that sermon, speaking after the manner of men, he had not received the quickening Word. You may have heard the gospel long in vain, and it should be to you a source of very serious enquiry if you have done so—it should set you trembling lest the Word should never be the savor of life unto you, but at the same time do not renounce the hearing because hitherto you have had no blessing, for faith cometh by hearing. Continue still to listen; continue still to search the Word; and, if your soul desireth faith, God denies not faith to any in whom he has really implanted a desire after it. Faith will yet, we trust, come while you are hearing.

This belief, you observe, is called trusting.

Kindly look at the verse: “In whom ye also trusted.” The translators have borrowed that word “trusted,” very properly, from the twelfth verse. Do not, because you see it in italics, think that it is not properly there. It is not in the original, but being in the twelfth verse it is very rightly understood here. Believing then is trusting. If you want it summed up in the shortest word, it is just this—trusting Christ.
A message comes to me upon good authority—I believe it; believing it, I necessarily trust it. My receiving of the message is so far good, but the essential act, the act essential to salvation is the trusting—the trusting Christ.

The process of faith may be thus illustrated.

You know a friend of yours to be perfectly reliable—you are in debt. He tells you that if you will trust him to pay the debt, he will give you on the spot a receipt for it. Now, you look at him, you consider his ability to pay it; you consider the probability that he means what he is saying. Having once made up your mind that he is truthful, you could not then say, “I cannot believe you.” If you once know that person to be truthful, I utterly deny that you can hold any argument about your power to believe him.

So, if Jesus Christ declares that he came into the world to save sinners,” and, if he tells me, as he does tell me, that “whosever believeth in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” —if I am already enabled by God’s Spirit to believe in the perfect truthfulness of Christ, I should be lying unto my own soul if I said I had not power to believe in him. Understand, power to believe in Christ is the gift of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit has given that power to all men who know the perfect truthfulness of Christ. It must be so, if you just look at it for a
moment—it must be so. If I know the perfect truthfulness of a man, I lie if I say to him, “I cannot believe you.” Why, it follows, as a matter of course, that I must believe if I am convinced that he is worthy of credit. Just so, when I am assured of Christ that his testimony is worthy of my belief; I have no right then to plead that I cannot believe him. Mark, I am only speaking to those who have got as far as that, and there are hundreds of you who have; when you tell me you cannot believe,

I reply, “My dear friend, you can believe. In the Holy Spirit’s giving you enough enlightenment to know that Christ is faithful and true, that enlightenment is your power to believe.” And this is according to the rules of common sense as well as according to the rules of experience. Do not stand, therefore, and say, “I cannot believe what Christ says.” Do you believe him to be true? “Yes,” say you, “I dare not say otherwise.” Then you can believe what he says. But do you believe that Christ is true? I fear you do not. I believe that John discovered the secret of your unbelief when he said, “He that believeth not hath made God a liar, because he hath not believed on his Son.”

That is the bottom of it. You really do think God to be a liar!

Do you shrink from that charge? Ah! but I must bring it against you again, for if you know God to be true, I insist upon it, and your own reason tells you it is so, that you cannot help believing in a person you know to be true. I fear me, that you are making God a liar; and if you deny that charge, then I arrest you at the other point at once, and demand of you that you do now exercise faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is trusting Christ that saves the soul.

Now a few remarks about believing. Faith in Christ is the work of God’s Holy Spirit.

In proof of this we have many Scriptures. No man ever did yet believe in Christ until the Holy Spirit had quickened him and illuminated his understanding, so that he perceived the truthfulness of Christ’s character and was then led to trust him.

But in the next place, although faith is the work of the Spirit it is the act of man.

The Holy Spirit does not believe for me: there is nothing for him to believe. Repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit does not repent: he has nothing to repent of. He works in me to will and to do, but I will and I do: he does not will nor do what I ought to will and do. If I have a person here who is ignorant and I teach him, when he acquires knowledge, that knowledge is my gift to him and my work in him: at the same time he acquires that knowledge himself, and it would never have been his if he had not yielded up his faculties to be taught. Man believes; and whenever persons say to you, “Well, if it be the work of the Holy Spirit, how can it be the duty of man?” remind them that while it is the work of the Holy Spirit, it is not the act of the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit does not believe, it is the man who believes. The Spirit moves upon us, and by his mysterious agency takes away the natural unbelief of the soul and then we believe; but man is not passive iu the act of believing. A dead man does not believe, the man is quickened, and then his quickened spirit lays hold of revealed truth.

Observe this, further, that faith is due to Christ.

The faithful and true witness demands of me that I should believe what he says. Sinner, this is the unkindest cut thou canst give to Christ—to doubt him. I tell thee that all his sufferings on the tree did not insult him so much as when thou sayest, “I cannot trust thee.” What, not trust the eternal arm on which the earth doth hang! Not trust the bleeding hands which have opened the gates of heaven for the very chief of sinners! Not trust the streaming side out of which there gushes blood and water to cleanse the guilt and the power of sin! Not trust God’s own Son, the Mighty God, the Redeemer of Men! It is due to him that thou shouldst with thy whole heart lean upon him and give him all thy confidence.

This faith is essential to salvation. Assurance is not essential,

but no man can be saved unless he trusteth in the Lord Jesus Christ. You may get to heaven with a thousand doubts and fears; you may get to heaven without some of those graces of the Spirit which are the ornaments of the believer’s neck, but you cannot get there without the lifegiving grace of faith. You must have that, and so long as you continue to say, “I will not trust Christ; I want dreams, visions, experiences, revelations; I want terrors of conviction; I want this, I want the other;” so long you shut yourself out of peace. Till you set your seal to God’s Word, God will never set his seal to your faith.

Remark, again, this faith is not required in any particular degree.

In order to salvation, it is not declared in Scripture that you are to believe to a certain strength, but if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed—if that be a mountain-moving faith, surely it shall be a soul-saving faith. Faith is not to be estimated by its quantity but by its quality. If thou hast no more faith than a smoking flax hath of fire, yet he will not quench thee: if thou hast no more power of faith than a bruised reed hath of strength, yet he will not break thee: if thou be not a man, but an infant in grace—nay, if you be scarcely a healthy infant, if there be but faith in thee, though thou be cast out as unswaddled and unwashed, yet he passeth by and looketh upon thee. Canst thou but trust him? that is the thing.

If thou dost but trust him as a drowning man clutches a rope; if thou lookest to Jesus, as it were, out of the corner of thine eye, though there are so many tears in thine eye that thou canst not see him so completely as thou dost desire—though thou canst not see him at all to thy comfort, yet thou seest him to salvation. If you have received him, desire great faith, but remember that little faith will carry thee to heaven through Jesus Christ.

Observe, further, that this faith is very variable, but it is not perishable.

Faith may go to an ebb, as the tide does, but it will come to a flood again. When faith is at its flood, the man is not therefore the more saved; and when faith is at its ebb, the man is not therefore the less saved; for, after all, salvation does not lie in faith, but in Christ; and faith is but the connecting link between the soul and Christ. Faith may take Christ up in its arms, like Simeon, and it is true faith; but, on the other hand, faith may only venture to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, and that faith makes men whole. Some of us can look the Savior in the face, and even kiss him with the kisses of our mouth, and others may only venture to come behind him in the throng, all timid and afraid—but faith, if it be faith, let it change as it may, still saves. Faith—if it be faith—let it sink as it may, never can drown: it may live in the flames, but it shall never be burned. He who once gets this incorruptible seed, shall find it live and abide in him for ever.

This faith is wrought in us by the Spirit of God

, according to the laws of mind. When God works upon matter, he works according to the laws of matter. I do not find, apart from miracles, that God violates gravitation—that he breaks any of the great laws with which he has stamped matter; and when the Spirit of God comes to work on man, he does not break the laws with which he regulates mind. Now, it seems to be one of the laws of mind, that a man should believe a thing not by trying to believe it, but by force of evidence. If you now sit down, for instance, and try to believe in the explosion of the powder magazines yesterday, if you have any doubt about it, you may try, as long as you like, to believe it—you cannot do it by trying. You must go through another process.

You cannot pump faith up from your own mind.

How do I get to believe in the explosion of the powder mills? There are certain newspapers—I have confidence in those newspapers, and as I read the account, I believe it. Or I meet with certain persons who either heard the explosion, or saw some of the effects produced thereby, and now I believe without any effort at all—I cannot help believing. Belief comes necessarily from my having confidence in those who tell me so. Now, the Spirit of God when about to produce faith, frequently leads men to think about Christ. Christ is set forth before them crucified. They perceive that “Here is a great wonder—God clothed in human flesh to suffer for human sin!” The mind thinks, “There is something here which meets my conscious needs. I can see how God can be just, for he punishes his Son—and how he can be gracious, for he forgives sin.

I find it stated that if I trust myself in this Son of God, who suffered as man, and now pleads his infinite merits before the throne—if I trust in him I shall be saved.” I cannot trust in him by simply saying I will try to do it, but I look at the Bible—is that true? I look at the thing itself—does it look like truth? I ask friends who have tried and proved it, and they tell me that they have tasted that he is gracious. Upon this evidence, and specially upon perceiving the power of this truth in my own soul, I believe the Word of God. The Spirit of God, working thus, leads me from the evidence given, to believe the testimony borne, and I believe it.

Dear friends, if you want to get faith, it must come through the Spirit of God; but it usually comes in this way: —

Sit down, if the Word be not blessed to you in hearing it, and ruminate upon it at home; think much of Christ and his great work. Now what you have been doing is this—you have been thinking of your sins only: but what would you think of a judge who sat upon a bench, and who would listen to all the complaints against a criminal, but as soon as the advocate arose to plead his cause, would say, “No, I do not intend to think of that”? You have been doing that. Your poor soul stands on trial, and you have been listening to the accusations of Satan and your own sins, but the moment Christ gets up to show you his great atonement, the moment the promise is quoted, you say, “It is presumption for me to hope.” My dear friends, it is never presumption to listen to truth. If it be true that in due time Christ died for the ungodly; if it be true that he who cometh to him he will in no wise cast out; if it be true that he has said, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool;” if it be true that he has said, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins,” why not listen to that as well as the other? Surely you must look at the fair side as well as the foul; and while your ear is hearing of the work of Christ and the promise of God, you will be able to cry—

“I do believe, I must believe, That Jesus died for me.”

I could not have thought it, Oh! it melts me; I have been trying to get a soft heart and could not get it, but I have it now all through this. Here have I been hurrying to and fro, looking after faith and assurance instead of looking to the cross for it, but now I see it all, and I am saved, for I trust in Jesus Christ alone.
I have said as much as may be needful this morning upon faith. I have tried to be brief upon each point, and packed as many things as I could into the time.

Now we are to have a few words about assurance.

III. The text says, “ Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.’, I cannot take the fourteenth verse, except to hint at it: we will try and preach on that this evening.
Sealing, which is another name for assurance, for the witness of the Holy Spirit with our spirit—that we are born of God, is evidently distinct from faith—will you please to observe that— for the text says, “After that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Believing, then is not this sealing; and assurance, although it be akin to believing, is not believing.

There is a distinction between the two things. I want you to notice the distinction. In faith the mind is active. The text uses verbs which imply action: “ye trusted,” “ye believed;” but when it comes to sealing it uses quite another verb: “ye were sealed.”

I am active in believing—I am passive when the Holy Spirit seals me.

The witness of the Spirit is a something which I receive, but faith is a something which I exercise as well as receive. In faith my mind does something, in being sealed my faith receives something. If I may say so, faith writes out the document, there she labors, but the Holy Spirit stamps the seal himself, and there is no hand wanted there except his own. He stamps his own impression to make the document valid.

Notice the difference between the activeness and the passiveness. Then, again, man is commanded to believe in Scripture, in many places, but he never was commanded to be sealed. Faith is a duty as well as a privilege, but assurance a privilege only. I never find any man exhorted to get the sealing of the Spirit. I believe that every Christian should pray for it and seek it, but I know of no command. It is a boon, a priceless boon, and, unlike faith, it does not constitute a subject or command. Again, we read in Scripture that men are saved by faith, and live by faith, but neither salvation nor living are ever imputed to sealing or to assurance.

We are not saved by assurance: we do not even live by assurance. The vital principle is couched in faith. That is the shell which holds the kernel of the inner spiritual life. I may be saved though I never had assurance; but even if I fancied I had assurance, I could not be saved if I had not faith. To faith we say salvation is promised, but to assurance such a promise is not given.
It is clear from the context that assurance follows faith: “after that ye believed.” The apostle does not say how soon. I believe that many souls get full assurance with faith. I have known converts who have been as certified of their interest in Christ as though they had been seventy years experimentally walking with him. But, mark you, this is not the case always, perhaps not

Brookes gives the case of a Mr. Frogmorton, who was one of the most valuable ministers of his day, but was thirty-seven years without any assurance of his interest with Christ; he did trust Christ, but his ministry was always a gloomy one, for he could not read his title clear to mansions in the skies. He went to the house of a dear friend, Mr. Dodd, to die, and just before he died, the light of heaven streamed in—he not only expressed his full assurance of faith, but triumphed so gloriously, that he was the wonder of all round about him.

He also tells us of one Mr. Glover, who had been for years without assurance of his interest in Christ; but when he came to the fire to be burnt, just as he saw the stake, he cried, “He is come! he is come!” and instead of being heavy of heart as he had been in prison, be went to the stake with a light step. Three martyrs were once chained to the stake, two of them rejoicing; but one was observed to slip from under the chains for a moment and prostrate himself upon the fagots and wrestle with God, and then coming back to the stake, he said, “The Lord has manifested himself to me at the last, and now I shall burn bravely.” So, indeed, he did, bearing his witness for his Lord and Master.

So it seems there are some of God’s saints who do not get assured till even the last moment, and I will not say that there are not some of them who even, like some children, are put to bed in the dark. Christ went up to heaven in a cloud, Gideon saw the angel ascending in the smoke of the incense, and many a good man ascends with clouds of darkness round about him, but still he is gone to heaven. I hope these cases are very few; still we bring them forward to show you that assurance is not to be looked for before faith. You might as well look for the pinnacle before the foundation; for the cream before the milk; for the apples before you plant the tree; for the harvest before you sow the seed.

Assurance follows faith.

Observe in the next place—and it is worthy of your notice—that assurance is to be found where faith was found. Do observe those two words, “in whom”—“in whom ye also trusted”—“in whom ye were sealed.” So that as I get my faith out of Christ, so I must get my assurance out of Christ. The virtual means of my faith is Christ himself, and the virtual means of my assurance must be the same. As I think of what he did for me, I believe in him; as I continue to meditate upon that self-same thing, I have assurance of interest in him. You must feed upon the flesh and blood of Christ if you would grow into strong men in Christ Jesus. A touch of Christ will heal you from all disease, but you must hold him fast if you would enjoy spiritual health perpetually.

To believe in Christ will save you from hell; to be assured of your interest in Christ will give you a heaven upon earth. Do not be content with faith: be thankful for it, rejoice in it, but do ask to have more; and when you want to have more, go to Christ for it, for the same fountain which first quenched your thirst, must be that which shall quench it till you are taken up to drink of the river of life which flows through the midst of paradise, which is no other than the presence of Christ as a refreshment to his people.

This assurance, like faith, is the work of the Spirit of God.

“Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” He does this in various ways. Sometimes we get the seal of the Spirit through experience. We know that God is true because we have proved him. Sometimes this comes through the hearing of the Word—as we listen our faith is confirmed. But there is doubtless besides this, a special and supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, whereby men are assured that they are born of God. You will observe in one place the apostle says, “The Spirit also beareth witness with our spirit, that we are born of God;” so that there are two witnesses—first, our spirit bears witness, that is, by evidences: I look at my faith, and see myself depending upon Christ, and then I know, because I love the brethren, and for other reasons, that I am born of God.

Then there comes over and above the witness of evidence, faith and feeling—the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit. Have you not felt it? I cannot describe this to you, but you who have felt it know it. Did you not the other day feel a heavenly calm as you meditated upon your state and condition in Christ? You wondered where it came from. It was not the result of protracted devotion, but it stole over you, you knew not how it was, you were bathed in it as in sunlight, and you rejoiced exceedingly. You rejoiced in Christ—that was your basis of confidence, but that confidence came through the Spirit bearing witness with your spirit. And this has occurred sometimes in the midst of sharp conflicts just when dark despair seemed ready to overwhelm you. You may have enjoyed this comfort under peculiar trials, and losses of friends, and you may expect to have it when you come to die.

Then, if ever in your life you should be able to say, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me (in a special sense) thou art with me.” The Holy Spirit, then, must give it to us, and we must wait upon him to set his seal.

And so to conclude,

this is desirable to the highest degree, for it is the earnest of the inheritance. It is a part of heaven on earth to get an assurance wrought by the Spirit. It is not a pledge merely, for a pledge is given back when you get the thing itself, but it is an earnest; it is one cluster from the vines of Eshcol—one shekel of the eternal wage-money of the free-grace reward—what if I say it is a stray note from the harps of angels!—it is a drop of the spray from the fountains of life; it is one ingot of gold from the pavement of heaven; it is one ray of heavenly light from the eternal Sun of Righteousness. O Christian, if you have ever known assurance, you will pant till you have it again. You can never, after seeing the sunlight, put up with the candle- light of your doubts and fears in the dungeon of despondency. But if assurance be gone, do still hang on Jesus.
“When your eye of faith is dim, Still hold on Jesus, sink or swim; Still at his footstool bow the knee, And Israel’s God thy peace shall be.”
If thou canst not feel his love in thy heart, still trust him. Oh! it was grand of Job—“Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”

Truly, the vitality of faith is such, that if he should spurn me from his presence-if he never gave me another look of love this side heaven—if he gave me up to the lowest depths, and bade all his waves and billows go over me, yet is he such a faithful God, and so true, that I dare not even then give him the lie. Blind unbelief would do so, but victorious faith says, “Never! He cannot lie. Let God be true and every man a liar.” When faith is in her very worst, she is glorious, and sparkles like a jewel in the dark mine, and God will come and take her up out of all the depths, and set her in his own crown as a precious jewel. “Thy faith hath saved thee,” says Jesus. No, Lord, it is not faith that has done it, it is thyself. He takes the crown royal of salvation’s glory, lifts it right off from his own head, and puts it on the head of the poor feeble woman’s faith. “Thy faith hath saved thee—go in peace.” And so will God do with your tempest- tossed and exercised faith—put the crown upon it, and that faith of yours shall sing in heaven. Do not tell me that we shall have no faith in heaven—nonsense! “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” We shall find faith to be our sweet companion there. Shall I not believe God when I get to heaven? Shall I give up trusting my God when I get there? No, I shall trust him for my resurrection body; I shall trust him for the millennial splendor; I shall trust him for the gathering of the elect; trust him for an eternity of bliss; trust him for my safe standing where he has brought me; and so, happy faith, imperishable faith, shall live and reign when sense and sight are gone past recall. The Lord give you to hear the Word, to believe in it, and afterwards to be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Full Assurance

“Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” — Psalm 35:3.
THE Psalmist, when he wrote these words, was surrounded by many and furious enemies. He pleads with God to take hold on shield and buckler, and to come forth for his defense. Yet he feels that there is only one thing which God hath need to do in order to remove his fears, and make him strong in the day of conflict, “ ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,’ and I will defy
them all. In the name of God I will set up my banner; and though weak in myself, yet shall I be able to overcome them readily, and tread them as straw is trodden from the dunghill, when the joy of the Lord shall be my strength, because thou hast said unto me, ‘I am thy salvation.’ ”

Brethren, there is nothing that can make you strong to labor for God, bold to fight against your enemies, and mighty to resist your temptations, like a full assurance that God is your God, and your sure salvation. Your doubts and fears weaken you. While they nourish your despair, and diminish your joy, they do at the same time cut the sinews of your valor, and blunt the edge of your sword. A fully-assured Christian is a very giant in our Israel; for happiness and beauty he standeth like Saul, head and shoulders taller than the rest; while for strength and courage he can match with David, and is like the angel of the Lord.

It is upon the subject of full assurance that I shall address you this morning, without further preface I shall first bid you hear objectors, who oppose themselves to full assurance; secondly, I shall beg you to hear the test; and then I shall request you to hear the preacher.

I. First of all, let us HEAR OBJECTORS.

There are some who say, it is better that a man should stand in jeopardy of his soul every hour — better for him to be exercised with doubts and fears, than that he should grow confident, and have the joy of knowing assuredly that he is a saved man, is in the favor of God, and shall never be condemned.

We will hear these objectors for a moment, and answer them speedily.
One of them advances, and he says, “First, I object to your preaching this morning, the doctrine of full assurance, because I believe it to be impossible: I cannot conceive that any man can know in this life, whether he shall be saved in the life to come. Perhaps I may grant you that, in the dying hour, some men may get a little confidence; but, with the perception of a few of the eminently holy, and the profoundly spiritual, it cannot be possible that Christians should attain to a full confidence, and an infallible assurance of being saved.” To this, sir, I reply thus. You say it is impossible: I say it is not only possible, but has been certainly enjoyed by the people of God. Doth the Spirit of God teach men to pray impossibilities? Yet David prays for it here: “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” The thing is possible, then, or else David would not have asked for it, it can be granted by God, it can be received by the Christian, else this prayer had never been put in inspired record.

Besides, do you think that the Holy Ghost would exhort us to do an impossibility? And yet, does he not speak by the mouth of Paul and say, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure?” Does he not bid us be assured that we are called by grace, and that we are chosen of God? I say, that which may be a matter of prayer, and which is a subject of precept, cannot be an impossible thing. Besides, it has been enjoyed by tens of thousands of even ordinary every-day Christians. We could read you their biographies, and find expressions like this:

“I have no more doubt of my interest in Christ than I have of my existence.” “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him.”

And there be many in this house to-day, who if this were the time for them to give their personal testimony, could say, “I know that I have been born again; I am sure that my sins are all forgiven. I am neither afraid to die, nor do I fear to live; for, living, Christ is with me, and dying, I shall be with Christ; being justified, I have peace with God through Jesus Christ my Lord.”

Brethren, it is not impossible; it is attainable by the man who hath faith, if he know how to use the proper means.
But shall I tell you who the gentlemen are who generally raise objections to the glorious privilege of assurance?

There are, first of all, the adherents of the Pope of Rome. Of course, the Papist does not like full assurance. And why? The Pope and his priest would have a lean larder if full assurance were well preached. Only conceive my brethren, if the Roman Catholic could get the full assurance of salvation, surely the Cardinals would hardly find money enough to buy their red hats. For where were purgatory then? Purgatory is an impossibility, if full assurance be possible. If a man knows himself to be saved, then he is not to be troubled with a silly fear about waiting in the intermediate state, to be purified with fire, before he can enter into heaven. Purgatory is only acceptable to those poor trembling souls who know of no sure salvation here,and are glad of this deceptive hope of a salvation to be wrought in the world to come. Purgatory being thus builded upon a lying imposition — on the fears of ignorant consciences, becomes what brave old Hugh Latimer used to call it, “Purgatory Pick-purse,” to the poor sinner, and Purgatory Fill-purse to the vagabond priest. Once let full assurance be given to all Christian men — first make the Romanist a Christian, and then let him be fully assured of his interest in Christ, and away goes purgatory, and there will never be a soul found to tremble at it any more.

The other persons who object to this doctrine, are generally people who have no religion, and who want, therefore, to make themselves a little easy by the notion that nobody has any more than they have. Your easy church-goers and chapel-goers; your ladies and gentlemen who think that religion consists in buying a Prayer Book, who imagine that to have a book of Psalms and Hymns, constitutes godliness; your fine folks to whom religion is as much a matter of fashion as some new color, or some new form of dress; — these people, having no vitality in their godliness, never having a religion which could either make them cry or sing, never having godliness enough either to make them miserable, or make them blessed — these think there is nothing more in godliness than they get themselves.

They say, “I never knew my sins were forgiven,” and judging all others by themselves, they think that no one else can know it.

And I am sorry to say, grieved at heart to say it, not seldom I have known professed ministers of the gospel, who have even rebuked those who have reached to the high attainment of assurance. I was waited upon, not very long since, by a lady of considerable standing, who had long been seeking rest, and nothing would satisfy her, unless she knew her sins were forgiven. She had called upon a clergyman, of some standing too, and he had assured her that the thing was utterly impossible; and she was ready to go mad with the idea that she must all her life go mourning on somewhere between hope and fear, in the balances between despair and hope. When I told her that it was not only the privilege of the Christian, but his duty, to know himself to be saved, and that no man ought to rest till he was infallibly assured by the Holy Ghost that he was in a gracious state and delivered from fear of hell, the joy that flushed her face was something worth beholding, and she went on her way to seek, and I trust to find the grace which is in Christ Jesus.

I would have each of you put aside those carnal quibbles which are raised by Romanists and Romanizers, against the idea that we can know that we are saved, for not only can we know it, but we ought never to be satisfied till we do know it. And this, mark you, is not my statement; it is the manifest testimony of the Book of God, and was plainly held by all the fathers of the Church, Augustine, Chrysostom, and the like; it is the testimony of all the Reformers — of all the giant divines of the Puritanic times, it is the testimony of all truly evangelical Christians, that every Christian has a right to have a full assurance of his salvation, and should never be content until he attains thereunto.

But another objector rises and faintly says,

“But I am afraid, sir; I am afraid of your preaching full assurance, because so many persons have boasted of it, and they have been vile pretenders, and have perished after all.” Friend, it is to be admitted that there have been many who have mistaken presumption for assurance. They have thought that the arrogant impertinence of a proud unhumbled spirit was the same thing as the simple child-like confidence of a renewed, regenerated heart.

But mark, assurance is not possible to you, till you are born again; you have no business to dream of it, till you have a new heart and a right spirit. It would indeed be a fearful piece of blasphemy for you to think that God is your Father when your Father he is not, or to dream that your sins are forgiven when your hands are scarlet with them, and your soul is black with your crimes.

But because some make the counterfeit, am I to throw away the genuine?

Because, forsooth, there be some tin shillings, will you all cast away the silver? Because some pass upon you the base forged bank-note, will you therefore burn those which really come from the bank? I trow not. And, my dear brethren, if thousands presumed, that would not be an argument why one true Christian should not be fully assured of his interest in Christ.

“Yes, but,” says another, “I am afraid, if men get fully assured, they will grow careless.”

This is the old objection that was brought against faith in Luther’s time. “If men believe that they will be justified by faith,” said the Romanist, “they will never do any good works;” whereas the fact is, men never do any good works till they are justified by faith. Those who cry down good works as the ground of hope, are the very men who work with all their might in the service of Christ, and as assurance is but faith come to perfection, the assured man will always be the most industrious man. Why, when I know that I am saved,
“Then for the love I bear his name, What was my gain I count my loss; I pour contempt on all my shame, And nail my glory to his cross.”

A well-grounded assurance is the most active worker in the field, the most valiant warrior in the battle, and the most patient sufferer in the furnace.

There are none so active as the assured. Let a tree be planted in this soil, and watered with this river, and its boughs will bend with fruit. Confidence of success stimulates exertion, joy in faith removes sorrows, and realizing assurance overcomes all difficulties. Like the sword of Goliath we may say of assurance, “There is none like it; give it me.” Who cares for deaths, or devils, when he can read his title clear? What matters the tempest without when there is calm within? Assurance puts the heart in heaven, and moves the feet to heaven. Its children are all fair, like the holy children in Babylon, and no race can compare for a moment with these “hinds let loose,” these “lion-like men,” these children of the sun. There never were men so self-sacrificing, so daring, so zealous, so enthusiastic in the cause of Christ, as the men who know that their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and therefore out of gratitude serve their God.

Why, I put it to the sinner here, who never thought of this matter before. “Poor man! if your sins could be all forgiven this morning, and you could know it — if God should say to your soul, “I am thy salvation,” and if you could go out of this house knowing that you were a child of God, do you think it would make you unholy? Do you think it would make you negligent? No, I think I see the tear in your eye, as you reply, “I would do anything for him; I would live for him; I would die for him, to show how I love him who loved me.” Ah! poor soul, if thou believest in Christ now, that will be true. If thou wilt cast thyself on Jesus now, thou shalt be forgiven; there shall be no sin left in God’s book against thee; thou shalt be absolved, acquitted, delivered, cleansed and washed; and then thou shalt prove in thy experience that assurance does not make men sin, but that assurance of pardon is the very best means of making men holy, and keeping them in the fear of God.

I have one class of objectors to answer, and I have done. There is a certain breed of Calvinists, whom I do not envy, who are always jeering and sneering as much as ever they can at the full assurance of faith. I have seen their long faces. I have heard their whining periods, and read their dismal sentences in which they say something to this effect — “Groan in the Lord always, and again I say, groan! He that nuourneth and weepeth, he that doubteth and feareth, he that distrusteth and dishonoureth his God, shall be saved.” That seems to be the sum and substance of their very ungospel-like gospel.

But why is it that they do this? I speak now honestly and fearlessly. It is because there is a pride within them — a conceit which is fed on rottenness, and sucks marrow and fatness out of putrid carcasses. And what, say you, is the object of their pride? Why, the pride of being able to boast of a deep experience — the pride of being a blacker, grosser and more detestable backslider than other people. “Whose glory is in their shame,” may well apply to them. A more dangerous, because a more deceitful pride than this is not to be found. It has all the elements of self-righteousness in it.

I would sooner a man boast in his good works than boast in his good feelings, because you can deal with the man who boasts in his good works, you have plain texts of Scripture, and you convict him of being a legalist; but this other man boasts that he is no legalist, he can speak very sharply against legality, he knows the truth, and yet the truth is not in him, in its spirit, because still he is looking to his feelings, and not looking to the finished work of Christ. Of all the Diabolians that ever stole into the city of Mansoul, Mr. Live-by-feeling was one of the worst of villains, though he had the fairest face.

Brethren, you had better live by works than live by feelings, both are damning forms of trust, but the one is more deceptive and more delusive than the other by far. You are justified by faith, not by feelings, you are saved by what Christ felt for you, not by what you feel, and the root and basis of salvation is the cross, and “other foundation shall no man lay than that which is laid,” even though he place his experience there, he builds “wood, hay, and stubble,” and not the corner stone, which is Christ Jesus the Lord.

I have thus tried to meet my objectors: I shall now turn to the second part of the discourse briefly.

II. Let us HEAR THE TEXT. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.”

The first thing the text seems to say is, David had his doubts, then; for why would he pray, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Cheer up, Christian brother! If David doubted, thou must not say, “I am no Christian, because I have doubts.” The best of believers sometimes are troubled with fears and anxieties. Abraham had the greatest faith, but he had some unbelief. I envy the brother who can say that his faith never wavered. He can say more than David did, for David had cause to cry, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.”

But, next, the text says that David was not content while he had doubts and fears but he repaired at once to the mercy-seat to pray for assurance, for he valued it as much fine gold. “O Lord!” David seems to say, “I have lost my confidence; my foot slippeth; my feet are almost gone; my doubts and fears prevail, but I cannot bear it. I am wretched, I am unhappy. ‘Say—say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’ ”

And then the text tells you yet a third thing—that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He goes at once to God in prayer. He knows that knee-work is that by which faith is increased, and there, in his closet, he crieth out to the Most High, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” O my brethren, we must be much alone with God, if we would have a clear sense of his love! Let your cries cease, and your eyes will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress.

Now pull the text into pieces, and let us look at the words. And notice, that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. “Say unto my soul.” Great God! if the priest should say it, it is nothing, if my minister should say it, if the deacons, the Church officers, and all the members of the Church should say it, it is nothing. Lord, do thou say it! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian. The Spirit of God must himself after a supernatural sort, speak to our conscience and to our heart, or else peaceful and quiet our spirit can never be. Gracious God! let me not take my hopes at hap-hazard; let not my confidence be ill-founded and built upon the sand. Speak thyself, with thy word of truth and wisdom, and say to me, even to me, “I am thy salvation!”

Note, next, David cannot be content unless his assurance has a vivid personality about it. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.”

If thou shouldst say this to all the saints, it were nothing, unless thou shouldst say it to me. Lord, I have sinned I deserve it not; I am sinful; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say it to my soul, even to my soul, “I am thy salvation.” Let me have a pointed, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am thine, and that thou art mine.

See, next, David must have it come deep into his inner being. “Say unto my soul. Speak it not merely to my ears; say it to my soul. Great God! let me not fancy that I heard it in the air; let me not dream that I listened to it in my sleep, but speak it right into the ears of my spirit, and let the inner man hear the echoes of thy peace-speaking voice, — ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’ ”

Brethren, it is no skimming the surface which will do for us; we must have quiet in the deeps. That blessing “of the depth which lieth under” we need and must have. It will not content us to have a fair skin, scarce concealing with its deceitful gauze the foul and deadly leprosy. Our soul must be sound and healthy to the very core. Lord, say to my soul, in my bowels’ inner depths, “I am thy salvation.” Put it beyond doubt; put it beyond all chance, dispute, or hazard, “I am thy salvation.”

Note again, David wants present assurance. He does not say, “Say unto my soul, I will be thy salvation,” but, “I am.” And yet that “am,” as you will see if you look at the text, is not in the
original, it is in italics; it has been supplied by our translators. That word “am” is man’s word, not God’s; therefore I will say but little of it. It may be, “I will be thy salvation,” or “I have been thy salvation,” or “I am:” and very rightly there is no word there at all. You can learn as much from God’s silence as you can from his speech, and I think this silence means just this. There is no word put there at all, because full assurance enables the Christian to say of God, “He was my salvation before the worlds began, he is my salvation now, he will be when the world shall pass away.” So that you may put up the prayer in any tense you prefer. “Say unto my soul, I — thy salvation,” The two terms shall be alike. “God — thy salvation” — “I,” the great personal self- existent Deity, “thy salvation.” The two shall stand and fall together; they shall both of them be sure, both eternal in the ancient ages, both everlasting in the ages to come. “Say unto my soul, I, thy salvation.”

I think we have thus heard what the text has to say to us. You will remark, when you look it all the way through, that the only question which we need put is this: How can God say to us, “I am thy salvation?” You do not expect to hear it as you walk along the streets, you do not imagine that you will see it written on the skies? No, God speaketh to his people thus: by his Word, by his ministers, and by his Holy Spirit silently and mysteriously imprinting upon the heart the fact, that that heart is washed in the Redeemer’s blood. Dr. Caesar Malan, of Geneva, has put in a very plain light the way in which God in his Word says to us, “I am thy salvation.” You are to suppose the minister is talking to a friend; this friend is anxious and doubting, and wants to know how the Bible can say to any man, that that man is saved.

The conversation runs thus: —

“Pastor. “He who believes in Jesus Christ, has eternal life,” John 3:36: do you know this declaration of the word of God? Very well, but you appear to think it obscure or equivocal. John. Never, I am sure it is true. Yet all those who say — I believe in Jesus Christ, are not the elected of God, bought of the Lord, or saved by grace. All these are not chosen, for there are many hypocrites who dare say that they believe in the Son of God. Pastor. You observe, that the word does not say, that those who say they believe, or pretend to believe, in Jesus Christ, or who imagine falsely that they believe, have eternal life; but this infallible word says, that those who believe in effect and really, have this life; so, then, the multitude in Christian nations who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, is not proof that they believe in effect; but if this multitude believe in effect on the Savior, certainly they will have eternal life. John. Thus, then, sir, whoever is able to assure himself that he believes on the Savior, then he will be certain that he has actually the life eternal, and that he is also elected. — (The minister took a little bit of paper and wrote upon it these words.) ‘Whoever receives from my hand this paper, and this declaration, I hold him for my friend: (he put his name to these words, and presenting it to John, he said to him.) Receive this from my hand, and believe my testimony, for I am a creditable person: — (John took the paper and read what the minister had written.) Pastor. How am I to regard you, John, after this testimony that I have given you? John. I have the minister for a friend. Pastor. Is it from you to me that this friendship flows, or is it from me to you? John. It is from you to me. Pastor. Do you hesitate to say that I am your friend, and that you have become mine? John. If I said I did not believe you, I should make you a liar. Pastor. Do you, then, look with affection towards me, or is it I with affection towards you? for you are assured that I am your friend, and that I regard you as mine. John. You, dear sir, love me, and care for me. Pastor. And how are you assured that this good-will is addressed to you! John. Because you have been pleased to say it, and I do not doubt your veracity. Pastor. I am sure that I have not written your name, as my friend; why then do you know that I have mentioned you in particular? John. You have written with your own hand, that whoever receiveth this paper, you shall have him for a friend; and because I have received this paper, and because I know that you are of good authority, I have no doubt at all upon the subject. Pastor. That is, then, because you have been certain on the one hand of having received this paper from my hand, and on the other hand, that I am of good authority, that you are certain of possessing, at the present, my affection. John. I do not think that I am able to speak with doubt upon this point, without insulting your veracity.”

The substance of which is just this, that when you can take the Word, and find that you are the character there spoken of, it is as good as if out of heaven an angel should fly down to you, sitting in your pew now, and should say in your ear, in the presence of this congregation, “God is thy salvation.”

Now, brethren, I know this day I have no other trust but in the cross of Christ; therefore I am saved; and you can say the same, each one of you, if you are resting in Christ alone, There is not an “if” or a “but” about it; you are saved. Oh! do enjoy that thought, and go home and live upon it; it shall be marrow and fatness to your spirit.

But, then, God often speaks by his minister, as well as by his Word. But that is very much in the same way. While the minister is preaching concerning those who are saved, you listen, and you say, “Ah, he speaks to me!” He describes your character, and though you are standing far away in the gallery, you say, “Ah, that is my character!” He speaks of the weary and heavy laden sinner and he bids him come, and you say, “Ah, I am weary and heavy laden, and I will come, “and when you have come, Christ has given you rest. You need have no doubt about it; if you can fairly take hold on the promise which is offered to certain characters and states, why, then you can go your way saying, “God hath said to me by his servant, ‘I am thy salvation.’ ”

Besides this, God has a way of speaking, without the Word and without the ministers, to our hearts. His Spirit can drop like the rain, and distil like the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb. We know not how it is, but sometimes there is a deep sweet calm. Our conscience says, “I have been washed in the blood of Christ,” and the Spirit of God saith, “Ay, ‘tis true, ‘tis true.” In such times we are so happy — so happy that we want to tell our joys — so blessed, that if we could but borrow angels’ wings and fly away, we would scarce know the change when we passed through the pearly gates, for we have had heaven below, and there has been but little difference between that and heaven above. Oh, I wish my whole congregation without exception, consisted of men and women who had heard the Spirit say, “I am thy salvation.” What happy hymns! What happy prayers! You might go home to some poor single room, you might go to a scantily furnished house, and to a table that has barely bread upon it, but happy men! happy men! Better would be your dinner of herbs, than a stalled ox without confidence in Christ; better your rich poverty, than the poverty of the rich who have no faith in Jesus; better all the griefs you have to endure, when sanctified by assurance, than all the joys the worldling has, when unblessed by faith, and unhallowed by love to God. I can say now, —“Grant me the visits of thy face,And I desire no more.”
I shall now pass to my third and last point — a little while only, but earnestly, I trust.

III. Will you patiently HEAR THE PREACHER, in what he has to say?

I know that in this large assembly, I am addressing very many who never knew that they weresaved. I must put you all into one class, though, indeed, you are not in the same state; for there are some who never knew that they were saved, who are saved. They do believe in Jesus; but their faith is so little, that they never know that they are forgiven. I have to put you in the class, because you do belong to it for the time being. But there are many of you who never knew that you were saved, because you never cared to know. It has been a matter of concern with you to find out your pedigree; but you never asked,

“Is God my Father?”

You have made quite sure of the title deeds of your estate; but you never took the trouble to ask whether heaven was yours or not. And possibly, some of you have imbibed a notion that it is a very easy thing to be saved — that there is no need to trouble your heads about it much — that so long as you do your duty, attend your church or frequent your chapel, it is well and good, and there is no use making this fuss about being born again, and having a new heart, and a right spirit.

I may never have your ear again, but mark this at the day of judgment, I will be quit of your blood if you perish in your delusion. This is the delusion of England. We have not half so much to dread Popery as we have that nominal Christianity, fostered by a national Church — that nominal Christianity which has no root nor soul within it. Oh! there are millions of Englishmen who think they are Christians, because they were sprinkled in infancy with holy drops, and because they have come to the Lord’s Table, whereas, little do they know that every time they have come there, they did eat and drink damnation to themselves, because they did not discern the Lord’s body. This is the curse and plague of England, that we have so much profession and so little possession — such multitudes of you who are content to sit under a sleepy ministry where ministers will not tell you the truth for fear of hurting your feelings, where they will preach the truth generally, as if a man should waive a sword, but do not come home personally, as if a man should drive it through your very heart.

What we want is more home dealing, more plain speaking, more thrusting of the hand inside your soul, to make you tremble, and ask yourselves the question whether you be right before God or no.

I speak then, to the whole of you who never knew that you were saved; and first I say to you how foolish you are! O sirs! you are to die soon, and you are to go to heaven or to hell, — to splendours and glories, or to glooms and horrors, and yet you do not know which is to be your portion. O fools! miserable fools! If some of you should say, “I do not know whether I have a cancer or no,” I should say, seek the physician, and enquire if there be a fear; but to say, “I do not know whether I am in the bonds of iniquity and the gall of bitterness or no,” is awful indeed. Why, you make your estates as tight as law can tie them; all the skill of legal language is employed to make the deed secure, and yet you are content to have heaven as a thing of if, and but, and perhaps. Oh! fools indeed! How can ye be so mad? Sure to die, and yet not sure whether you are saved! Sure to appear before the bar of God, and yet not know whether you shall be acquitted or condemned? Oh! if there be wisdom left within you, if your brain be not turned to perfect madness I conjure you by the living God to make sure work of it, and never be content till you know that you are saved.

But again: I must not only call you foolish, but miserable. Miserable, I say. Do you look at me and say, “We are comfortable, we are easy, we are content? “Ay, sirs, so madmen talk. If I saw a man lying down upon the brink of the crater of a volcano, and I knew that very soon the lava would come streaming up, and then rolling down, I could not call him happy, though he were toying with Nature’s fairest flowers, or sucking her most delicious sweets. And you — you are in such a state as this! Upon a puff of wind, a bubble, hangs your eternal state.

If life depended on a hair, it were indeed precarious; but here is your soul depending on your life, which depends on something frailer than a dream. O sirs! you may drop dead in this house. Such things are not extraordinary. Men have come into the house of God bodies, and they have gone out corpses. And while I think that any one of you may die, and you are uncertain whether you shall be lost or saved I could sooner call you kings than call you happy, and the rightest title I can give to you is, O miserable men! miserable men! uncertain as to your future state.

Once more, and let this last thought ring in your ears.

Ah! you may go away, perhaps to your gay parties, to your rounds of merriment, to your midnight balls, to your varnished harlotries, mayhap, but let this ring in your ears, “Oh! the danger — the danger of not knowing whether you shall be saved or lost!” You will die! I suppose you will not dispute with me about that. You do not claim to be immortal; you expect to die. You die; and what, sirs; — what, madam; — what if your fears should be true? Your companions are gay no longer; they are the damned spirits of hell; your occupations are frivolous no more; they are solemn and serious now — as solemn as death, and as serious as eternity. Where now the music which once regaled your dainty ears? Your only symphonies are sighs, dirges, and howlings. Where now the soft couch on which you took your rest and pleasure? You have made your bed in hell; and what a change for some of you — from the scarlet of Dives to the flames of hell — from the feasts so sumptuous to the fiends so terrible!

Where are ye now, ye church-goers, ye chapel-goers? You have no profession of religion here, no hymn-books here; no minister of mercy; no voice of holy song; no ring of Sabbath bells; no tearful eye; no tender heart; no lip which trembles while it speaks to you, and only speaks of terror because it loves you, and would save you if it could. O my hearers, if you are not sure of being saved, what if you are sure of being damned! And you are either — mark this — not to your own apprehension perhaps, but in fact; you are sure of one or the other.

Which is it? Which must it be?

I know, when I preach these terrible things, men will not listen to me. But God is my witness, I would not speak about them if I dare be silent about them. But if you perish, sirs, it shall not be for want of pleading with, or praying for, or weeping over. Sinner! I beseech thee turn! By him that died, and lives, and hath sent me to plead with thee, I beseech thee, seek, if thou hast never sought, and if thou hast sought, seek again, and if thou hast found, find yet more fully, till thou canst say, “He is mine, and I am his.” Put your downy pillow under your head to-night, ye sluggards: but sleep not, for ye may never wake in this world. Sit to your luxurious meal to- morrow: let the dainties be sweet, leave them untasted, for you may one day be denied a drop of water. O sirs! be not happy till you have made your happiness sure. Oh! have no peace, till your peace is everlasting, substantial peace. Talk not of being blessed, till God has blessed you. Think not that you be blessed, while “God is angry with the wicked every day,” and hath said, “Cursed is he that is under the law.”

But do you wish to be saved?

Does the Spirit of God whisper to you “Escape! escape!” There is forgiveness still; there is forgiveness now; there is forgiveness for thee. Trust Christ sinner, and you shall be saved — saved this moment. Believe in him now with all your guilt and sin about you. May the Holy Ghost now lead you to trust my Lord and Master; and you may go home assured that he hath for ever put away your sin, and you are accepted and blessed in him. May God bless you, each one of you, now and ever. Amen

“Surrounded by a host of foes, Storm’d by a host of foes within,’
Nor swift to flee, nor strong t’ oppose, Single against hell, earth, and sin; Single, yet undismay’d, I am;
I dare believe in Jesu’s name.
What though a thousand hosts engage. A thousand worlds my soul to shake
I have a shield shall quell their rage, And drive the alien armies back; Portray’d it bears a bleeding Lamb;
I dare believe in Jesu’s name.”

Helps to Full Assurance

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that we may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” — 1 John 5:13.
How very simple this all is! John had an eagle’s wing with which to soar aloft, and an eagle’s eye with which to penetrate into great mysteries; and yet of all the writers of the Old or New Testament he is one of the simplest. He never endeavors to show you the greatness of his mind or the grandeur of his rhetoric; on the contrary, he speaks as a child to those who are children in the school of love. I would that all of us who try to teach others would remember this, and sink ourselves in our lesson.

It is equally notable how practical John is. When he writes he always has a worthy intent in every line; “These are written,” saith he, and he explains the design with which he penned the record. These epistles are not written to dazzle you, nor to lead you into speculation, nor to gratify your curiosity; but these are written “that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” The practical object may seem to the high-soaring votaries of modern thought to be commonplace; but John had a deep veneration for matters which moderns despise.

The commonplaces of theology are the greenest of the pastures wherein the sheep of God feed and lie down. It is infinitely more to our benefit to know that we have eternal life than to be able to predict the future of empires or to forecast the destiny of kings. It is of more practical importance for us to know that we have eternal life than to be able to explain all mysteries, or to speak with tongues. John acts according to his loving heart when he writes to lead his brethren into the assured knowledge of their personal possession of eternal life.

When he tells us his design, it is that he may help to accomplish his purpose; for by informing men of understanding what he is writing for, he stirs them up to see his purpose and to fall in with it. “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.” Dear friends, if this be the design of the inspired apostle, let us not be slow to co-operate with him; but let us pray this morning for the full assurance of faith, that we may know of a surety that eternal life is pulsing in our hearts.

May you who have not believed in Jesus feel a fervent desire within your spirits to take that preliminary step, and become believers in the Son of God.

Come, then, to the text, and with us consider, first, to whom it was written, — ”These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;” secondly, to what end it is written, — “That ye may know that ye have eternal life.” This will lead us, thirdly, to consider how that which was written in this epistle conduces to this blessed confidence: and then, lastly, I shall have to call your attention to an added matter which is never forgotten by John, even when he writes with the design of promoting the highest form of Christian attainment, — “That ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” They did already believe on the sacred name; yet it remained a part of his design to confirm them in that faith, and conduct them to higher degrees of it.May the Holy Spirit make our meditation profitable.

I. First, then, briefly, TO WHOM WAS THIS WRITTEN?

It is important to observe the direction of a letter, for I may be reading a communication meant for somebody else, and if it should contain good tidings, I may be deceiving myself by appropriating the news.
This epistle, and this particular text in it, were written for all those who believe on the name of the Son of God.

In part of the epistle he says, “I write unto you, little children”; then he says, “I write unto you, young men”; further on he says, “I have written unto you, fathers”; but now he writes to babes, to young men, and to fathers under the one comprehensive description of those who have believed on the name of the Son of God.

Our discourse is, therefore, for all of you who are believers in Christ. Little child, you who have just begun the spiritual life, we would have you attain to the confidence that you have eternal life. Young man, sternly battling with sin, we would have you strengthened for your conflict by knowing that you have eternal life. And you fathers, let us hope you have not come so far without this knowledge; but whether you have or not, these things are written that you in your mature years may rise to the full conviction that the life of God is strong within you. No person, young or old, is excluded from this text, unless he is an unbeliever.
To unbelievers this text is not written: it is for all who trust in Jesus; but it is for none beside. If you enquire why it is not addressed to unbelievers, I answer, simply because it would be preposterous to wish men to be assured of that which is not true. John never wished that a man who had not believed in Jesus Christ should even think that he had eternal life, for it would be a fatal error. “He that believeth not shall not see life,” how, then, could he have an assurance of possessing it? Faith is a necessary preliminary to assurance; you must have the blade of faith before you can have the ripe corn of assurance.

Dear friends, do not dream of being sure that you are saved apart from making sure that you have trusted yourselves with the crucified Savior. The atonement presented by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gives assurance of salvation to all who trust in it, but to none besides. It would be taking things out of their due order, it would be doing you

real and perhaps fatal mischief if we should lead you to presume that you have eternal life before you have unreservedly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” I speak, therefore, to all of you who have come to Christ, however imperfect and undeveloped your spiritual life may as yet be; but I invite none beside to the banquet of joyous confidence. As with a drawn sword of fire, John’s words guard the way like the cherub at the gate of Paradise: his words, “these things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God,” keep back every man who has not believed in Jesus from dreaming that he has eternal life. What hast thou to do with the rest, and the peace, and the blessedness of full assurance, unless thou hast received the appointed Savior into thy heart’s trust?
We may gather from this address being made to all the people of God and to none beside, that
there are some believers in the world, and true believers too, who do not know that they have eternal life. A very large number of true believers do not know this cheering fact. For instance, certain Christians believe that even if they are now saved they may yet be lost: that even if they have the life of God in them, that life may die out. Beloved, I pray for you that you may know that you have eternal life, and not a temporary life. The life which the Holy Spirit imparts to the believer is not a thing of days, and weeks, and months, and years: its dwelling-place is in the region of eternity. It is practically a divine life which God puts into us, whereby we are made “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” We were begotten again unto a lively or living hope in the day of our regeneration. The new birth from above by the Spirit of God is a birth to an endless life. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” Our Lord at the well of Samaria gives us another figure: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Many imagine that this spring can fail. How much comfort God’s dear children lose by not apprehending the absolute immortality of the new life. I will not venture to say; but this much I will declare — that to me it is the very crown and glory of the gospel, that if I receive Jesus into my soul, and the Holy Spirit imparts to me the new life, I have received an everlasting blessing. Has not Jesus said “I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
Again, a large number of Christ’s people who may be perfectly sound in the doctrinal view of the nature of this life do not know that they possess it at this present moment if they are believers. I find even the commentators, when they try to write upon this text, and most of the preachers who have left us printed sermons upon it, read the text as if it said, “that ye may know that ye shall have eternal life.” They speak about the full assurance that we shall one day enter into glory. I beg their pardon, the text does not say anything of the kind: it is, “that ye may know that ye have eternal life,” even here, at this present hour. The spiritual life which is in the believer at this moment is the same life which shall be in him in heaven. The grace-life is the glory-life in the bud: the same life, only less developed. We shall not in the article of death receive another life than that which we have while we are sojourning here below. Death sets a seal on that which is, but it produces nothing. There is to be a very palpable change wrought upon the body; but as to the spirit, the life of God which is in it now is the life which will dwell in it throughout eternity. Our believing life is eternal life. We want children of God who believe in Jesus to feel that the holy flame which kindles their lamp to-day is the same fire which will shine forth before the throne of God for ever: they have begun already to exercise those holy emotions of delight and joy which will be their heaven: they already possess in measure those perceptions and faculties which will be theirs in glory. Let us recollect this, and know that, as believers, we have eternal life.
Yet again, there are some Christians who believe all this, and are perfectly right in theory, but yet they each one cry, “I want to know that I have eternal life. I want a fuller assurance of

salvation than I have already obtained.” That is also our desire for you; for if you know you have believed in Jesus you certainly are quickened with eternal life, and ought to know it.
But it is only to you that have believed that the text speaks. If you have not believed in the glorious name of the Well-beloved, then come at once and put your trust in him. This is the gospel to every unbeliever: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” For “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” An unbeliever may have an assurance that he will be lost, but he cannot have an assurance that he is saved, or ever will be. First, believe on the name of the Son of God, who is manifested to take away sin. Trust in his glorious Person, in his finished work, in his accepted sacrifice, in his prevailing intercession, and in his glorious advent which is yet to be. Look unto him, and be ye saved. Rest alone upon the one foundation which God has laid in Zion, and then to you will the word of this consolation be sent, but not till then.

II. So, secondly, I have now to mention TO WHAT END JOHN HAS WRITTEN.

When he says, “that ye may know that ye have eternal life,” I think his first meaning is that you may know that everybody who believes in Jesus Christ has eternal life. This is not a fact about you and a few others only, but it is a general truth — every man that believes on the name of the Son of God has eternal life. We may not doubt this, it is not a matter of inference and deduction, but a matter of revelation from God. You are not to form an opinion upon it, but to believe it, for the Lord hath said it. Listen to these words. 1 John 5:1: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Thus saith the Spirit of God, and so it must be. We do not need any further evidence: if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.

The Spirit of God bears witness to this, and as the Spirit is truth, his witness is certainly true: accept you his witness and ask for no other. It is written (1 John 5:12), “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” This is the unvarying testimony of the whole of Scripture, and specially of the writings of the apostle John. How many times over he insists upon it that the believer has eternal life! I beseech you, never question the statement. Settle it in your mind; for if you have any doubt about it you have undermined the gospel, and rejected the witness of the Lord, and denied the Holy Ghost. You will not behave thus wickedly; therefore glorify God by believing his testimony.

I think that John in this passage meant, and we will consider him as meaning, something more — namely, he would have us know that we personally have eternal life by having us know that we do personally believe in Jesus. It is one thing to know that every believer has eternal life; but it is quite another thing to know that I am a believer so as to have eternal life myself. I have read of one who fell into the water, and as he was sinking he saw a rainbow in the sky above him. “Ah,” thought he, “God has made a covenant not to destroy the earth with a flood, and yet it is no comfort to me, for I fear I shall be drowned.” The largest provisions of grace avail us nothing unless we have a personal interest in them. It is true that every believer has eternal life, but what if I am not a believer?

It is a very singular thing that people should not know whether they believe in Jesus or not: for it is an ascertainable piece of knowledge. I know whether I think. I know whether I resolve, I know whether I doubt; I ought, therefore, to know whether I believe. But you see human nature received a terrible twist at the Fall, and it has fallen into a very foggy region, so that the eyes of the understanding are all squint, and the air around is very dank.

Perhaps you ask me to speak for myself, and I assure you that I do so; but at the same time I do not hesitate to say the same of you. You, my clever friend, who are so wonderfully clear-headed, I should not wonder but what you are the foggiest and blindest of the whole company. The worst darkness is that which so blinds a man that he thinks he can see better than other people. We are all by nature in such a mixed up state that we need not wonder at any strange statement or feeling.

When you hear brethren assert that a person who is not assured that he believes must necessarily be an unbeliever, you may say to yourself, “That friend does not know everything.” There is no estimating the possible inconsistency and contradiction of the human mind. I have been in a state of mind in which I have
questioned the possibility of there being a grain of grace in me, and yet I have clung to Jesus with a death grip. At such times my mind has worked morbidly, and its way has been turned upside down. Bunyan speaks of being “much tumbled up and down in his thoughts;” and that nearly hits my mental condition.

It is very possible for a man to be a very strong believer and yet to question whether he has a spark of faith. I have heard ministers ridicule this state of inward questioning; and, indeed, it is ridiculous to all but those who are in it. If you once become a sufferer under this wretched complaint, the absurdity of your disease will not lessen its painfulness. Our mental distresses need not be logical; they can be full of anguish, and yet be most unreasonable. You probably know some people who are excessively nervous: they are afraid the skies will fall or the earth will crack: this is very stupid, but the agony caused thereby is very real.

There is little of the Christian spirit in the man who can increase mental torment by turning it into jest. This is not to pour oil into the wound, but to rub salt into it. No doubt, the doubts which many have of their personal safety are very unreasonable; but a servant of God is not therefore to scorn the subject of them, for the Lord Jesus Christ had compassion on the ignorant. He did not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, nor must we.

I am personally taught to be tender of poor doubters, for I have often been one myself. I would sometimes give all that I have to be able to feel myself to be even the least in the Lord’s family. Just now I enjoy a full assurance, but I am not always on the mount; and therefore I have bowels for others because I am myself compassed with infirmity. We may not judge harshly, as if things were as we would theoretically arrange them, but we must deal with things as they are, and it cannot be questioned that some of the best believers are at times sorely put to it to know whether they are believers at all.

The prayer of John is that such people, yea, and all believers, may know of a surety beyond all doubt that they have eternal life.So far is human nature out of joint that it is necessary for me to say what it seems superfluous to say — that full assurance of our possessing eternal life is possible.

The Church of Rome teaches that no man can be assured that he has eternal life, except some few to whom supernatural revelations may he given. That sort of doctrine lingers in the air of Protestantism; many people think the same, though they do not say so. Impossible to know that you are quickened! It ought to be impossible to have any doubt about it. Rationally, a living man should know that he is alive. No man should give sleep to his eyes or slumber to his eyelids while he has a doubt about his eternal state.

It is possible, and if it is possible it is very desirable;

for when a man knows that he has eternal life, what a comfort it is to him! What gratitude it produces in his spirit! How it helps him to live above the world! With what holy ardor does he pursue the service of God, knowing that he has an eternal reward! He has not to waste time in calculating evidences, and perpetually examining himself; for he has examined himself, and he has cast himself upon Christ, and he knows that he has eternal life. With what rapidity does he make progress, for he leaves the first principles and goes on towards perfection!

No longer questioning, he shows holy daring, and goes from strength to strength in rapturous fellowship and ecstatic enjoyment: he advances from glory to glory, his faith making substantial to him, even while he is here below, the joys which are laid up for the redeemed. I say again, if full assurance be possible, it is eminently desirable.

And I go a little further: it is our duty to obtain full assurance. We should not have been commanded to give diligence to make our calling and election sure if it were not right for us to be sure. I am sure it is right for a child of God to know that God is his Father, and never to have a question in his heart as to his sonship. I know it is right for a soul that is married unto Christ to know the sweet love of the bridegroom, and never to tolerate a cloud of suspicion to come between the soul and the full enjoyment of Christ’s love. Wherefore, I would urge you onward to know that you have eternal life. My brethren, John, being dead, yet speaketh out of this Book: he calls upon you to know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, and that we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. He bids us as believers firmly repose our souls upon the promise of our faithful God.I sorrowfully remind certain of you that, as you have not believed, you have neither part nor lot in this matter, and the beloved disciple speaks not to you.

III. Thirdly, I come to where I would lay the stress of the discourse this morning, — WHAT HAS JOHN SAID IN THIS EPISTLE WHICH CONDUCES TO OUR FULL ASSURANCE?

How does he help us to know that we are believers, and consequently to know that we have eternal life? I cannot attempt a full résumé of this most blessed epistle, but I shall select a few items from very many. An exposition of this epistle, written to show how it enables men to know that they have eternal life, would be a very valuable thing; and I feel confident that without the slightest forcing of a single sentence it could be shown that the whole letter bears upon assurance.

The wish of the apostle that all believers might know that they have eternal life is the silken thread upon which his pearls are strung. Now believers ought to know that they have eternal life, and they ought never to doubt it, for God’s own word assures them that it is so. Remember that word of the Lord Jesus in John 6:47 — ”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Will you doubt the Lord’s “Verily, verily”? Christ’s word unsupported by any external evidence is quite enough to satisfy every gracious mind. “Let God be true, but every man a liar,” — yea, let every circumstance be a liar.

Everything that we have looked upon as evidence should be regarded as a lie if it denies the declaration of the Lord. Out of this simple faith in God comes assurance naturally, by the operation of the Spirit of God upon the heart. Take pure and unadulterated milk, and let it stand, and you will soon get cream. Faith is the milk, and full assurance is the cream upon it; and when faith has stood long enough, you may see the rich cream of holy confidence upon the top of it. The witness of God is true, and therefore to be believed, yea, to be believed with full assurance. According to all right principles, assurance should increase by the lapse of time during which faith occupies itself upon the same promise.

I have trusted my soul on Christ, therefore I have eternal life. How do I know?

I know, because the Spirit of God has so declared it in the Word of God. Thus has he spoken — “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” I believe in the Son, and, therefore, I have eternal life. Do friends assure me that they see the life in me? I am very much obliged to them, but I do not need their evidence. “He that believeth hath the witness in himself.” When the Holy Spirit has made a statement, it is something like impertinence either to ask or to offer any further evidence upon the point. Therefore, that matter is not my subject.

I take it, we must not offer you any other argument to prove the eternal life of believers beyond this, — God has said it.

The matter which may be argued about is this — “Do I believe in Jesus? Am I a believer in such a sense that I have eternal life?” Let us look at the epistle for help in this enquiry.
You will find, first, that John mentions as an evidence truthful dealing with God, in faith and confession of sin. Naturally men walk in darkness or falsehood towards God; but when we have believed in Jesus we come to walk in the light of truth. Read in the first chapter of the epistle from verse 6 to 9. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The believer does not attempt to deal with God as if he had no sin; for that were to make Christ useless, seeing there would be no need of his blood to cleanse. He does not say that he now lives without sin; for that were to make his cleansing a thing of the past, whereas the Spirit teacheth that it is a present matter, concerning our present walk with God.

To claim to live without sin is to walk in the dark; for the claim is a false one. The man who walks in the light comes before God as a sinner, whom the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin. So, then, you may take this as an evidence that you are a saved man, if you deal truthfully with God: if you confess your guilt before God, if your only hope of being cleansed from it lies in the blood of Jesus Christ, then you have come to act towards God on the line of truth, and he accepts you. You that are not a believer in Christ may try to forget that you have any sin, or by forms and ceremonies to offer some kind of palliation of your sin: but when you are brought into the honest light you will make a clean breast of it, and cease to act a borrowed part.

Your cry will be, “Search me, O God, and try me,” and your appeal will be to the boundless mercy of God in Christ Jesus. Be sure that you are a child of God when sin is confessed, and faith is looking to Jesus for the removal of it. “Father, I have sinned,” is the cry of a true-born child. “God be merciful to me, a sinner,” is the prayer of the man who goes down to his house justified. We can repeat with rapture the words of Paul to the Romans, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

Next, John gives us obedience as a test of the child of God.

Look to the second chapter, and begin to read at the third verse: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” Come, then, beloved brethren, do you obey the will of the Lord from your heart? Is holiness the aim and object of your life? Do you strive to do as Jesus bids you? Do you set your clock by the heavenly sun? Do you try to order your ways and your steps according to the law of the Lord? Do you delight yourself also in the law of God after the inner man? Do you press forward after perfect holiness?Then his servant you are whom you obey. Rest assured beyond all question that you are one of Christ’s sheep, for he says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” If grace has made you obedient it has given you eternal life.

Follow me as I call attention, next, to the evidence of love in the heart.

In the second chapter read at the ninth verse: “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” Then go on to the fourteenth verse of the third chapter. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” This will greatly help you to decide your case. Do you hate anybody? Are you seeking revenge? Are you unforgiving? Then you are not dwelling in the light: you are of Cain and not of Christ. Do you feel that you love your enemies, and that, in fact, you are no man’s enemy, because love is the principle of your life? “Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” We must feel a general benevolence towards all men, and a still more intense love and complacency towards all who are in Christ. This love must be practical, and lead us to help and succor our brethren. Have you this love? Do you feel a delight in the company of the brethren because they belong to Christ, however poor or illiterate they may be? You would not feel love reigning in your spirit if true faith had not come to dwell there. A loving spirit evidenced by a loving life is a true sign that you belong to God, whose name is love. Be of good courage and enter into full assurance, O ye whose bosoms glow with the sacred flame of fervent love to God and men.

Next to that comes separation from the world.

Read in the second chapter at the fifteenth verse: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” This is backed up by the first verse of the third chapter: “Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” Have you met with opposition from the ungodly? Have you discovered that Ishmael still mocks Isaac? Do you find when you go out to work that your shopmates who used to drink with you are inclined to avoid you? Are you pointed at as a hypocrite because you are a Christian? Then there is a difference between you and others, and the world can see it. The serpent’s seed will hiss at the seed of the woman: God has put an enmity between the two. Do not therefore be surprised at it. Did not our Lord say, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world,
therefore the world hateth you”? Thus slander, abuse, and other forms of persecution may turn to your comfort by showing that you are of that sect which is everywhere spoken against.

Next to that, in the second chapter, we have the evidence of continuance in the faith.

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” The longer a Christian man is enabled to persevere in holiness, the more confident may he become that his religion is the work of the Spirit of God in his soul. “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Perseverance in holiness is a sure mark of election. It is the righteous who hold on their way; but mere pretenders are as wandering stars and fading flowers. That which comes and goes is not of God: the Holy Spirit abides permanently in true believers.

The next evidence you will find in the third chapter, the third verse, namely, purification.

“Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” Do you every day endeavor to keep clear of sin; and, when you have sinned, do you at night go with bitter repentance to God, and beg to be delivered from it? Are you fighting against your besetting sins? Do you contend against the customs of the world? Have you come to be a warrior against evil? Let that be an evidence that there is in you a new spirit which was not there by nature, and let that prove to you that you are quickened into newness of life. Conflict and victory are evidences of grace. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

Again, in the twenty-first verse of the third chapter, we meet with another blessed evidence, and that is a clear conscience, –

“If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” They say of us that we seek ourselves, or that we are hypocrites; but if we can lay our hand upon our heart and say, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou nowest that I love thee,” we have the best ground for full assurance. A conscience purged from dead works to serve the living God is one of the seals of the Holy Ghost upon that epistle which he has written in our hearts. This divine witness is a privilege which none possess but the regenerate. Prove yourself clear in the court of conscience that ye may know that ye have eternal life.

Furthermore, we find an evidence in answers to prayer:

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” Does God hear your prayers? then you are pleasing in his sight. Are you in the habit of speaking with him, and does he reply to you? then you are agreed with God. Does he grant you the desire of your heart? Is it not because you delight in him? He heareth not those who wilfully live in sin; but if any man doeth his will him he heareth. You may look upon every answered prayer as another token of the love of God toward you in Christ Jesus your Lord.

Adherence to the truth is another help to full assurance.

Read the whole fourth chapter: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” In the sixth verse he says, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.” I read in a certain learned divine the other day a declaration that the evangelical doctrine which we preach is not Christianity, but Paulinism. By that utterance this divine condemned himself. John saith, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” He who hears not the apostles hears not their Master. He who dares say that Paul has not given us the gospel is not of Christ: for Jesus saith, “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” The testimony of the Holy Ghost by apostolic lips is as sure as the testimony by the Son of God himself; and it is flat rebellion against the Holy Ghost to graduate his utterances, whether they be through prophets, apostles, or the Christ himself. He who makes this to be true and that to be false, or this true and that truer still, has disparaged the Spirit of God, who speaketh as he pleases, but is always infallible. He that questions what the Spirit saith hath not the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him. If you have taken Scripture to be your guide, and hold fast by the truth of God, you are one of Christ’s sheep, of whom he saith, “A stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers.” Against the detestable spirit of this age, and against everything else that would corrupt the gospel of Christ, it is the mark of the true seed to stand opposed. If you bear witness to the truth, the truth bears witness to you. Blessed are those who are not removed from the hope of their calling.

One of the best evidences of true faith, and one of the best helps to full assurance, is a holy familiarity with God.

Read in the fourth chapter the sixteenth verse: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” Oh, beloved brother, if you have come to speak with God as a man speaketh with a man, if you dwell in him, if every day you say more to God than you do to men, and if you find more joy in fellowship with God than you do in all the world beside, then you are one of his. God never made a man to know him and love him, and then cast him away.

Eternal life is surely in you if you have entered into the secret place of the tabernacles of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. When you have no longer that slavish fear which makes you stand back, but that childlike confidence which draws you nearer and yet nearer unto God, then are you his child. The spirit of adoption is one point of sure witness from the Spirit of God. He who can call God his exceeding joy is among the living in Zion.

IV. I would now finish, only I dare not leave out the last point — THE APPENDIX TO JOHN’S DESIGN.

The apostle puts it, “That ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” I think he means this — you are never to get into such a state that you say, “I have eternal life, and therefore I need not trust simply in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Years ago I was born again, and so I can now live without the daily exercise of faith.” “No,” says the apostle, “I am writing this to believers, and I tell them that while they may have full assurance, it cannot be a substitute for habitual faith in the Lord Jesus.”

Personally, I wish to say, — it is some thirty-four years since I first believed in the Christ Jesus, and then I came to him as having nothing in myself, and I took him to be my all. At this moment I possess a comfortable and clear assurance that I have eternal life; but my ground of confidence today is exactly what it was when first I came to Christ. I have no confidence in my confidence, I place no reliance upon my own assurance.

My assurance lies in the fact that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and that “Whosoever believeth in him hath everlasting life”:
I do believe in him, and therefore I know I have eternal life.

Brethren, do not stir beyond that. Keep to your first faith. However far you go in other directions, stand fast in your undivided faith in Jesus. If you think it wise to examine these signs and evidences which I have given you, do so; but if you think to get food out of them you will find a bare cupboard. If you think you can live without Christ, on what you have known in the past, you are greatly mistaken. It is like trying to live on stale manna. None of you would have done that in the wilderness; you would soon have turned up your noses at it. When it was more than a day old it “bred worms and stank.” Everything you look to apart from Christ will rot in due time, so that you will loathe it. Beloved, every vessel, whether it be a great flagon or a little cup, must hang upon the one nail which is fastened in a sure place. If you get from Jesus, you wander into a land of darkness and of the shadow of death.
Whether I be a child of God or not is a question I will not discuss today. I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and they that trust in him are saved. Therefore I trust him! Therefore I am saved! The Word of God declares it. Blessed be his name for ever and ever. Amen.

Portion of scripture read before sermon — 1 John 5. Hymns from “our own hymn book” — 191, 549, 193.

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Gods Perfect Work in Eternal Security

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God’s Perfect Work: A Study of the Doctrine of the Eternal Security of the Believer

by Matt Costella
©FOUNDATION Magazine, May-June 1998

The question of whether or not a true believer can lose his salvation after he has become justified by the shed blood of Christ has existed within the church almost from its inception. The idea that one can lose his salvation is not a new doctrine that has recently surfaced. In fact, during the persecution of the early church in the second and third centuries, many individuals who were faced with the prospect of persecution and even death renounced their faith in order to avoid persecution and live. Later, when Christianity became tolerated in the Roman Empire, those same individuals who renounced their faith in Christ desired to become accepted back into the church. Perry Lassiter notes that “out of this setting arose the theological discussion of whether those who had denied Christ had lost their salvation.”1 Whereas some believed that those who had renounced their faith were still justified in the sight of God, others concluded that while the renouncers were once truly saved, they now were no longer saved because they had repudiated their faith. This, in part, led to a further question: “What about anyone who sinned? If you sinned after conversion, could you lose your salvation?”2

Notice that the title of this article contains one key word that must be understood by the reader—the word believer. A true believer is an individual who has genuinely come to trust Christ as his Saviour by believing in His substitutionary death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. This study does not address or refer to one who possesses only a professed belief in Jesus Christ but has not produced spiritual fruit as an evidence of his faith. This study addresses and refers only to a true believer in the Lord. One must realize that this matter of eternal security is of utmost importance because it concerns the believer’s view of the all sufficient work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit within the believer. The purpose of this study is not to scripturally refute those who do not accept the eternal security of the believer nor to address the biblical passages that appear to support the view that a believer can lose his salvation. The purpose of this study is to state the importance of the doctrine of eternal security, to present the four views on the topic, and to scripturally support the view that the writer believes to be correct.

Various authors and works will be cited within this study, but that does not mean the writer or the Fundamental Evangelistic Association approves of those individuals or all of their writings. Certain individuals are mentioned or their works are cited only to provide the reader with further information that may be helpful in his personal study. While the views of some men may be biblical concerning the doctrine of eternal security, their ministries and fellowships may involve compromise or a disregard for biblical separation.

It is necessary to address the topic of the eternal security of the believer for several reasons. First, it has become obvious that a great number of professed believers, even fundamental, Bible-believing Christians, have espoused the view that a believer can lose his salvation. These individuals often accept this view simply because they were subjected to such an idea at one time in their lives and never took the time to carefully search the Scriptures themselves. Others who have actually searched the Scriptures have come to their conclusions after failing to see the clear teaching of God and relying instead upon the more obscure passages of Scripture that seem to confirm their belief. Harry A. Ironside addressed this issue well when he said, “If you have a clear, definite, positive Scripture, do not allow some passage that is perplexing, that is difficult of interpretation, that seems somewhat ambiguous, to keep you from believing the positive statement ‘He that believeth hath everlasting life.'”3

Second, it is necessary to address the topic of eternal security because it has serious implications and ramifications in the believer’s walk with Christ and witness to others. Anyone who believes he can lose his salvation and gain it again at a later time has removed himself from a belief in grace through faith alone and has concluded that his own works have become an integral part of his salvation or lack thereof.

In his book Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure? Charles Stanley, a well known pastor and author who used to subscribe to the idea that one could lose his salvation, expounds upon six doctrines or Christian characteristics at stake when the doctrine of eternal security is rejected. First, he says assurance of salvation is at stake because the individual who believes he is not eternally secure can never be completely sure that he is saved throughout his entire life. Second, forgiveness is at stake because the one who rejects eternal security believes, whether he realizes it or not, that Jesus Christ only died for the sins he committed prior to his salvation. Therefore, Christ did not die for all his sins. Third, the doctrine of salvation by faith alone is at stake because the one who rejects eternal security believes that his own actions can cause him to lose his salvation and then receive salvation again at a later time. Thus, salvation is accomplished by faith plus works since his salvation, he believes, is maintained by works. Fourth, the rejection of eternal security undermines the love of Christ. Christ’s love is only conditional upon the works of the individual. Fifth, the work of evangelism is at stake when one rejects the eternal security of the believer because the one sharing the Gospel cannot be assured that he is always saved himself. Finally, a clear focus on God is at stake, for the person who believes he can lose his salvation must focus more upon himself and his own actions in order to secure his salvation rather than focusing his attention upon God as the “author and finisher” of his faith.4

Other Christian leaders of various doctrinal and denominational persuasions recognize the extreme importance of the doctrine of eternal security, or “perseverance of the saints” as some label it. The issue is not only important because of the particular doctrines or Christian characteristics that are at stake as listed above, but it is also extremely important because the credibility of Jesus Christ and the Bible Itself seem to be at stake. All the interpretations regarding the security of the believer cannot be correct, and Bible-believing Christians affirm that God’s Word does not contradict Itself. Therefore, all interpretations except one must necessarily be incorrect due to a faulty exegesis of Scripture, and the other must be correct because it is what the Scripture teaches. The question the believer must ask when attempting to study the doctrine of the security of the believer, then, is, “What does God’s Word clearly teach, and how can one properly harmonize the more obscure passages that seem to contradict the more clear passages?” A false conclusion regarding the eternal security of the believer indirectly questions the credibility of Jesus Christ who so often explicitly stated in the Gospel of John that He came to earth to do the will of the Father so that man might have eternal, everlasting life based upon His [Jesus Christ’s] sacrificial work upon the cross.

Various Opinions Regarding the Security of the Believer

Four primary views exist regarding the security of the believer. They are highlighted in the February 1992 issue of the Faith Pulpit by Dr. Myron Houghton and listed below. Each view of this vitally important doctrine will be individually developed more completely in the pages following. According to Houghton, the four views are as follows:

Truly saved persons forfeit salvation by sinning and may regain salvation by repentance.
Truly saved persons can forfeit salvation only by renouncing their faith in Christ; once this happens, it is impossible for them to be saved again.
God chooses and predestines certain people to be saved apart from any foreseen faith or works. Christ died to save and keep saved only these people. A professing believer will continue to persevere if he or she is really one of God’s elect.
True believers in Christ are eternally secure because of God’s protecting plan. They can be absolutely certain of their own present and future salvation through the promises of God found in the Gospel.5

View #1 – Sin Can Cause Loss of Salvation

Two individuals who adhere to this view are Alexander Campbell and Virgil Warren. Campbell clearly spells out his position in The Christian System: In Reference to the Union of Christians, and a Restoration of primitive Christianity, As Plead in the Current Reformation. Warren expresses his views in his book Salvation.

Alexander Campbell, along with his father Thomas Campbell, is the founder of the Campbellite movement that stressed, among other doctrines, the importance of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. His teachings are followed today by religious groups and denominations such as the Church of Christ, the Disciples of Christ and the Christian Church.6 Campbell believed an individual could lose his salvation through the lack of certain works, and this teaching continues to be a belief of most, if not all, of the aforementioned Christian groups.

Campbell mentions on page 48 of his book that the Spirit of God is promised only to those who believe and obey God. He continues by saying, “It [the Holy Spirit] actually and powerfully assists in the mighty struggle for eternal life.”7 Thus, Campbell makes a distinction between possessing the Holy Spirit and being assured of eternal life. Notice the following portion of a paragraph that highlights Campbell’s belief in the difficulty of the struggle for eternal life:

And while the commands “believe,” “repent,” and “be baptized” are never accompanied with any intimation of peculiar difficulty; the commands to the use of the means of spiritual health and life; to form the Christian character; to attain the resurrection of the just; to lay hold on eternal life; to make our calling and election sure, etc., are accompanied with such exhortations, admonitions, cautions, as to make it a difficult and critical affair, requiring all the aids of the Spirit of our God, to all the means of grace and untiring assiduity and perseverance on our part; for it seems “the called” who enter the stadium are many, while “the chosen” and approved 11 are few”; and many, says Jesus, “shall seek to enter into the heavenly city, and shall not be able.” 8

This quote was recorded in full in order to demonstrate, without question, the numerous inferences to the necessity of the assistance of the Holy Spirit in order to keep an individual saved so that he might see eternal life. Campbell says that while believing, repenting and being baptized are not difficult, to live the Christian life, to “lay hold on eternal life” and to “make our calling and election sure” are difficult indeed. Notice that Campbell again delineates between being saved and actually gaining eternal life.

Two other portions in Campbell’s book reveal his teaching that salvation can be lost by not producing good works. First, he mentions that the believer is not one who “is pious by fits and starts, who is religious or devout one day of the week, or for one hour of the day.”9 According to Campbell, the “whole bent of the soul” of the believer is to “make his calling and election sure.”10This is the “business of [the believer’s] life.” In Campbell’s view, apparently the Christian can end up being on of the many “called” but not one of the “chosen” few if he does not live up to particular standard.

The final reference by Campbell under consideration is prefaced by the statement that the believer can know that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed him of sin. Campbell continues, “You have an Advocate with the Father; and, where conscious of any impurity, coming to God by him, confessing your sins, and supplicating pardon through his blood, you have the promise of remission.”11 Many use the term remission to describe simply the forgiveness of sins subsequent to salvation. However, it seems as though Campbell is using the term to describe the forgiveness of sins unto salvation, for he constantly uses the word remissionwhen referring to baptism by water as a means of salvation. The seemingly ambiguous reference to “remission” in Campbell’s statement combined with his aforementioned concrete references to the loss of eternal life by the believer provide any individual with enough documentation regarding Campbell’s position.

Virgil Warren states, in no ambiguous terms whatsoever, that salvation must be maintained by the works of the believer. He says, “The important truths here are that beyond our conversion God gives continued assistance to our further improvement, and that we have continued responsibility for our continued security in Christ.”12 Warren believes that the Bible does not “countenance a separation between salvation status and salvation behavior.” In other words, if one is not behaving like a Christian then it is not possible for him to be a Christian. The whole point that Christianity seeks to address, according to Warren, is “separation from God because of sinful behavior.”13 He says that perseverance and security undermine this major point. “Continued salvation is fundamentally interpersonal,” Warren says.14

View #2-Renunciation of Faith Can Cause Loss of Salvation

The second view regarding eternal security has been popularized by I. Howard Marshall. Marshall made it abundantly clear in his book Kept By the Power of God that the believer can lose his salvation, not by sinning, but by renouncing his faith in God. It is interesting to note that this renunciation need not be a blatant, conscious rejection of faith in God on the part of the believer, but it may actually be the by-product of a sin which, according to Marshall, assumes a rejection of faith. For example, Marshall lists four areas of temptation into which the believer may fall that can cause him to lose his salvation because each temptation assumes a renunciation of faith. The first temptation is the increased pressure from the world and the general opposition faced by the Christian from those in the world. Marshall says, “Believers, therefore, are frequently tempted to give up their faith because of the difficulties of maintaining [their faith] amid fierce opposition.”15 The second temptation is to accept false doctrine, and “the temptation is to blunt the edge of faith in Jesus Christ and ultimately to destroy it altogether” says Marshall.16 The third temptation involves various sins and immorality. Marshall mentions that in many cases, “Sin is an act and attitude which is incompatible with the obedience of faith, and hence constitutes a denial of faith.”17 Finally, Marshall adds that a general “weariness in the faith” is the final temptation that can cause one to, whether he realizes it or not, renounce his faith and, therefore, lose his salvation.

Marshall clearly states that sin itself will not cause one to lose his salvation. He says the New Testament does not expect the believer to be completely free from sin: “While sin is obviously inconsistent with faith, it does not immediately and automatically extinguish it.”18 This is what makes Marshall unique to Campbell and Warren. He believes only the renunciation of faith can cause one to lose salvation, although, as was mentioned, certain sins lead to a denial of faith.

So what is perseverance according to Marshall? “Perseverance is not some particular quality of faith but the fact that faith continues.”19 Only when the believer is confident in his faith toward God can he be certain that he is saved and on his way to eternity with Christ. So, salvation is completely up to the believer and his continual faith. Concerning Romans 8:38 and 39, Marshall says that while “no outside power” can separate the believer from the love of Christ, a possibility exists that the believer can separate himself from the love of Christ. However, Marshall says this possibility “is meant to drive us to renewed faith in God, because the danger is a real one.”20 He believes that perseverance is completely possible for the believer and that God even gives strength to the believer so that he may persevere, but the reality is the same according to Marshall-a believer can lose his salvation if he fails to persevere in faith.

View #3-A Professing Believer Will Persevere Only if He Is One of the Elect

At first glance, this third view is somewhat difficult to delineate from the fourth view, but Houghton adequately explains this view by saying, “An elect person cannot forfeit salvation and become lost. But certain knowledge of one’s own salvation is not possible, because the person’s works, that is, perseverance, rather than the promise of God, are the means by which one is assured of salvation.”21 So one must make a distinction between “theory” and “practicality,” so to speak. While theoretically those who are actually saved cannot lose their salvation (just as view #4 states), practically, works are what give the assurance of salvation or the lack thereof.

The noted Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof is a proponent of this view. In his Manual of Christian Doctrine, Berkhof makes a distinction between the external calling of God, which comes to “all those who hear the word,” and the internal calling which “comes only to the elect.”22 He mentions that the internal calling only to the elect is “a calling without repentance, one that is not subject to change and is never withdrawn.”23 The elect, those who receive the internal calling, will certainly be saved.

According to Berkhof, the responsibility of the believer is to actively persevere (or do good works). He says that while it is God who perseveres, perseverance is “certainly regarded as a work in which [the believers] cooperate.”24 This statement refers back to the difference between those who were externally called, but were possibly not one of the elect, and those who were internally called and are a part of the elect. Berkhof concludes that all who profess to believe must cooperate in perseverance since they may be one of the elect.

Charles Hodge is another proponent of this third view. He rigorously contends that Christ died only for the elect, not for all mankind; therefore, only those who are genuinely, actively elected by God will persevere. Hodge says, “From this [Romans 1:1-11] Paul argues [the elect’s] absolute security for time and eternity … Nothing could ever separate them from [God’s] love. This whole argument is utterly irreconcilable with the hypothesis that Christ died equally for all men.”25 Because Hodge believes Christ died only for the elect, he contends that those who are elect have to persevere in order to be sure that they are part of the elect. Notice the following passage:

If Christ was given for the redemption of his people, then their redemption is rendered certain, and then the operations of the Spirit must, in their case, be certainly efficacious; and if such be the design of the work of Christ, and the nature of the Spirit’s influence, then those who are the objects of the one, and the subjects of the other, must persevere in holiness unto the end.”26

Again, Hodge is referring here only to those who are actually the elect of God, those individuals who will persevere unto the end. However, Hodge provides no explanation as to how an individual can know for certain whether or not he is one of God’s elect. One can therefore conclude according to this third view that all who come to Christ must do their part by persevering so that they can know they are one of the elect, that is, to “make their election sure.

View #4-The Believer Is Forever Secure Due to God’s Protecting Plan

Lewis Sperry Chafer is a main proponent of this fourth view. Chafer believes that salvation is “a work of God for man, not a work of man for God”; therefore, an individual is eternally secure because of God’s work for the believer .27 He mentions that not only is the believer’s salvation secure in the work of Christ, but it is also secure because no force outside of God can separate the believer from the love of the Savior.

Chafer highly emphasizes the fact that salvation and security rest fully in God’s work, not man’s. According to Chafer, salvation would be constantly in flux and uncertain in the lives of individuals if it depended upon something man could do for himself. But because salvation is completely an act of God, man cannot possibly undo it. Concerning salvation, Chafer says, “The extensive character of the salvation of a believer in Christ is such that it is an irreversible work of God which cannot be changed by human decision or failure.”28 Any human being who comes to Jesus Christ, regardless of whether or not he is called by an “internal” or “external” calling, and believes on Him shall be saved and secure because of the work of God.

Charles Ryrie is another individual who espouses this fourth view. In his book So Great Salvation, Ryrie defines eternal security as “that work of God which guarantees that the gift of salvation, once received, is possessed forever and cannot be lost.”29 Ryrie lists nine specific reasons, supported by abundant Scripture references, why the Christian should believe in eternal security. He mentions that while a person cannot always be certain whether another individual is truly born again, anyone who has trusted in Christ alone as his personal Saviour can be sure that he himself is secure forever and cannot lose his salvation.30 This security, again, is based upon Christ’s finished, perfect work upon the cross, not upon the merit of any individual. In So Great Salvation, Ryrie also scripturally refutes the idea that one can lose salvation through renouncing his faith and rejecting Christ even though he has genuinely been born again at one point in his life.

Scriptural Support for the Eternal Security of the Believer

While every individual who supports one of the aforementioned views regarding the security of the believer claims to possess scriptural support for his view, the writer believes that because the four views conflict, it is only logical that one view is correct in light of Scripture and that the other views have erred from the clear teaching of Scripture. As was mentioned earlier, many who adhere to the view that an individual can lose his position in Christ, regardless of the reason, base their beliefs on a few obscure passages that seem to support their view rather than upon the many clear passages that contradict their view. Louis Sperry Chafer accurately noted, “Under superficial examination some Scriptures seem to contradict the concept of eternal security. On the other hand the many Scriptures that affirm the believer’s eternal security are so clear that their testimony outweighs any objections that may be raised.”31 Also previously mentioned, Ironside alluded to this same idea and warned the believer not to base his theology on the fewer obscure passages but on the many clear passages that support eternal security. The writer agrees with Chafer and Ironside and stands firmly convicted that God the Father has provided a perfect, complete salvation through His Son and that the security of the believer rests in the finished work of Christ on the cross, on the continual work of the Holy Spirit and on the intercession for the believer by Jesus Christ.

The purpose of this next section of the study is not to scripturally refute the Bible passages that supposedly contradict the eternal security of the believer. This section of the study is intended only to show some scriptural passages that support the eternal security view, as this is the view the writer firmly believes to be scriptural and wishes to clearly express, just as it is clearly expressed in God’s Word.

There are several possible ways to organize ideas and argue for the doctrine of eternal security, but the most effective way will be simply to identify the passages of Scripture that are most definitive on the subject and expound upon them. Since Scripture itself is the believer’s sole authority of faith and practice and since Scripture clearly teaches that once a believer is truly saved he is eternally saved and secure, then it will be helpful to see those Scripture passages prior to any comment on the content of the passages. Eight main or primary passages of Scripture will be recorded and analyzed, using various other verses to support the primary passages. These verses being studied are by no means exhaustive. A multitude of other verses in God’s Word declare the wonderful truth of the eternal security possessed by every believer. For the sake of time and space, however, the eight passages below will suffice to support the vital doctrine of the eternal security of the believer.

Before noticing these passages, however, it is only logical and highly beneficial to consider that God desperately wants his children to know that they are safe and secure in Him. 1 John 5:13 says, “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….” What are the things that are written? They are found in the first 12 verses of the chapter, namely, that those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ have eternal life and, in turn, will show fruit by keeping the commandments of God. John wrote this portion of Scripture to “you that believe on the name of the Son of God.” The apostle John was speaking to believers. He was writing and explaining to them that those who are saved produce fruit and know that they are saved. The salvation produces the fruit. The fruit is a result of the salvation, not a part of the salvation. God does not desire for any of His children to be confused as to whether or not they belong to Him one day and are bound for the lake of fire the next day. No, God wants the believer to know where he stands for all eternity. Hebrews 10:22 invites the believer to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” because he has a High Priest who has purchased him with His own blood (Heb. 10:19-22). God wants the believer to have assurance because of Christ’s work on the cross, not because of any work of man.

Romans 6:23–For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The key word one needs to recognize in this verse is the word gift. This gift that God has provided is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Salvation only comes through Christ’s work on the cross, not through any work or merit of man, which is precisely what makes this a free gift of God. R. T. Kendall says, “Salvation is a free gift. If I must know whether or not I am saved by the state of my own faithfulness, it is no gift at all.”32 Those who believe they can lose their salvation once they have been saved are placing their trust in their works plus their faith. But the gift, the free gift given by God, leaves no room for works but only for belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That free gift can be obtained only through Jesus Christ. No individual can gain, or keep, eternal life through any other way.

The last sentence in Revelation 22:17 further supports the truth that God’s gift of eternal life is, in fact, free. That sentence states, “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The Lord extends this invitation of salvation to all and expressly states that whoever hears the Gospel message may respond to it by partaking of the water of life freely. No works are involved, nor is any mention made of possibly having to pay for the gift at a later time.

Ephesians 2:1-9 also clearly states that salvation is a free gift that is not determined upon whether or not an individual fulfills certain works, but upon whether or not he has faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that while they once were dead in trespasses and sins (v. 1), that in times past they walked according to the course of the world (v. 2), that in times past they lived according to the lust of the flesh (v. 3) and again, that they were dead in sins (v. 5), they are now raised up together and made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (v. 6). A difference clearly exists between their walk prior to salvation and their walk subsequent to salvation. Following their salvation, the Ephesian believers produced fruit in their lives and turned from their wicked ways. Furthermore, God raised up these Ephesian Christians and made them to sit in heavenly places “in Christ Jesus.” W. E. Brown says, “Those who have salvation are saved by this grace-this unspeakable gift of God in the person of His dear Son, and this through faith which is also God’s gift.”33 Salvation, Paul says, is God’s free gift given to the one who has believing faith in Him, not to the individual who does or does not perform certain works. If the latter were the case, then men would have cause to boast in their own works. But God’s free gift is “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (v. 9).

Finally, notice that this free gift of eternal life involves both the Father and the Son. The Father is the One who gives the gift, and the Son is the One who makes the gift possible. This wonderful Scripture passage reveals the work of both the Father and the Son in making our salvation available and secure.

Romans 8:38,39–For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This portion of Scripture is located within the context of various other passages that support the eternal security of the believer, but the other passages will be examined at a later time. It is presently necessary to focus attention upon the truths found in these two verses alone.

Ironside reminded his readers that these two verses are the answer to the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” as found in verse 35. In describing the answer given in verses 38 and 39, he declared, “How full, how clear, not a shadow, not a doubt, not a question left when the apostle says that neither death nor life shall separate!”34 Nothing imaginable can separate a believer from the love of Christ, for these verses cover the whole realm of possibilities. In all, Paul lists 17 things in verses 35, 38 and 39 that cannot separate the believer from the love of His Lord. Those 17 things are all-encompassing. According to these verses, love is even “stronger than death and more powerful than the hosts of darkness.”35

This portion of Scripture underscores the work of God the Son concerning the security of the believer. The Christian absolutely cannot be separated from his Heavenly Father. If an individual has placed his faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, then he is forever secure because NOTHING can separate the believer from the love of Jesus Christ. That is ultimate security! Henry Morris writes that “this is perhaps the most marvelous passage in the Scripture that assures us of the permanence of our salvation.”36

Hebrews 7:25–Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

This wonderful passage not only tells the believer that he is secure once he is saved (saved “to the uttermost”), but also it tells him how he is actually kept secure-by the intercession of Jesus Christ. The believer is eternally secure because of the intercession made on his behalf by Jesus Christ, who “continueth ever, [and] hath an unchangeable priesthood” (v. 24). Kendall says it is the “continual intercession of Christ [that] guarantees salvation to every believer.”37 Because Jesus Christ arose from the dead, showing that His perfect sacrifice was acceptable in the sight of the Father, He can intercede on the believer’s behalf when he sins.

The fact that Christ’s intercession is continual because “He ever liveth to make intercession” for the believer shows that although the believer will sin and displease the Father, Jesus Christ pleads his case before God. 1 John 2:1-2 clearly teaches that the believer will in fact sin after he has believed, but because Jesus Christ is the “Advocate with the Father” and the “propitiation for our sins,” the believer can rest assured that his salvation is secure in Christ and that he is forgiven in the sight of the Father. These two verses in 1 John not only show that Christ is the believer’s Advocate but also that He was the Bearer of the sinner’s deserved punishment so that the believer will not have to pay sin’s damnable price himself. The result of Christ’s intercession is that God will hear the advocacy of the Son and forgive the wayward saint because the Son was the perfect, acceptable sacrifice for all mankind and paid sin’s price on the cross “once for all.”

Ryrie mentions that while Satan accuses the believer (Rev. 12:10) and the believer often accuses himself, no one except God Himself can actually bring a charge against the believer according to Romans 8:33. He notes that God is the only One who could accuse the believer, but He does not bring any charges against the believer because He has already declared him to be “not guilty” even though he deserves to have a charge leveled against him.38

Romans 8:34 is a similar portion (also situated in the context of other verses which speak of the eternal security of the believer) that describes the work of Jesus Christ. It provides even more information than Hebrews 7:25, for it says that Jesus Christ is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for His children. The Christian can know he is eternally secure in Christ because Christ’s perfect work on the cross makes Him the perfect intercessor on the believer’s behalf. At this very moment Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father in His glorious presence! Notice what Morris has to say about this issue: “At least twenty-one times in Scripture He is said to be at God’s right hand, and at least four times He is said to be interceding there for us.”39

Hebrews 7:25 is a beautiful verse that reveals the work of the Son concerning the security of every believer. We are forever saved because of the work of Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, Who is accepted in the sight of the Father.

Ephesians 4:30-And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

This verse specifically tells the believer that he is not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, for it is by this Holy Spirit that the believer is sealed unto the day of redemption. Notice that 2 Corinthians 5:5 tells the believers at Corinth that God is the One who has given the seal of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal of the believer’s salvation, and God is the One Who gives the seal. As was shown earlier, God has already declared the believer to be “not guilty” because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross; therefore, the seal is permanent and sure and cannot be removed.

Morris notes, “The sealing ministry of the Spirit [serves] as an assurance (a down payment or earnest money) of our ultimate complete redemption when Christ comes again.”40 The believer is sealed, or kept secure, until Christ returns and the believer is glorified, forever to be with his Lord in glory. The believer clearly can do nothing to break the seal of the Holy Spirit. Paul reveals in Ephesians 4:30 that while it is possible for a Christian to grieve the Holy Spirit of God through his actions, his sinful deeds are powerless to break the Spirit’s seal. The seal is secure until the redemption of the body.

The context of this verse shows that God requires the believer to “put off ‘or put away” sins such as anger, tying, stealing and corrupt communication. Paul mentions that these sins grieve the Holy Spirit of God indwelling the believer, but Paul never says that the Holy Spirit will leave the believer who commits such sins. On the contrary, Paul exhorts the Ephesian believers to “put off ‘the old things and “put on” the new things because the Holy Spirit indwells and has sealed the true believer until the day of redemption, regardless of whether or not he is walking in righteousness as he should be. According to Strong’s Concise Dictionary of Words in the Greek New Testament, the word sealed in this verse means “to stamp for security or preservation.” Because God is the One doing the preserving and securing through the Holy Spirit based upon the work of the Son, the seal cannot be broken.

This verse reveals the work of the Father and the Holy Spirit in relation to the eternal security of the believer. God is the One who has sealed the believer, and the Holy Spirit is the seal by which the believer is guaranteed to be glorified one day. The believer is eternally secure due to the work of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

John 10:27-29–My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

These three verses are perhaps the most often used verses to support the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. Four times in these three verses Jesus gives the idea that His sheep will never be lost:

  • I give unto them eternal life (v. 28)
  • They shall never perish (v. 28)
  • Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (v. 28)
  • No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand (v. 29)

These references to the security of the sheep cannot be ignored. When Jesus Christ says that no man can pluck them out of His hand and that no man is able to pluck them out of His Father’s hand and that He and His Father are one (v. 30), He is making the strongest possible statement that could ever be made concerning the security of the sheep.

Who are the sheep? The context of this passage clearly reveals that those who genuinely believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are the sheep. Verse 26 informs the reader that the Pharisees were not the sheep because they “[believed] not.” The sheep to which Jesus refers in this text are those who truly believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. They became sheep by believing, not by performing any particular work of their own accord.

After making it clear that the sheep are only those who believe in Christ, the Lord mentions four times that those sheep have eternal life and cannot lose that eternal life no matter what should befall them. Millard Erickson writes, “Verse 28 is especially emphatic … John uses the double negative ουμη with the aorist subjunctive, which is a very emphatic way of declaring that something will not happen in the future.” He further states, “All in all, this passage is as definite a rejection of the idea that a true believer can fall away as any could be given.”41

Some individuals have argued that while the text reads, “No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand,” this portion does not prove the individual himself cannot pluck himself out of the Father’s hand through his own sins. However, Jesus Christ says “no man” two times in the aforementioned verses and prefaces those statements with the idea that His sheep shall never perish. One must therefore conclude that Christ also includes the believer himself as part of the “no man” who possesses the ability to pluck a believer out of the Father’s hand. When Christ says no man can cause a believer to lose his salvation, He includes every man-even the individual who committed the sin.

Another aspect of these verses that proves the sheep are eternally secure is found in the phrase “no man is able….” J. Dwight Pentecost says, “The power of God to save and to keep the one who comes to Him through Christ is a sufficient basis for our security.”42 Pentecost mentions that able is the key word in verse 29. While no man has the ability to snatch the sheep from God’s hand due to a lack of power, God is perfectly able to keep the sheep secure because of His omnipotence. “The only reason that God would not be able to keep is that there is someone stronger than He who could snatch the believer from His hand,” Pentecost says. “Since God is sovereign and supreme and omnipotent, there is no power that can rise against Him so that He would be unable to keep those who had come to Him through Jesus Christ.”43

This portion in the Gospel of John reveals the work of the Father and the Son in relation to the security of the believer. The true believer is forever secure because the all-powerful Father knows every one of His sheep and has promised to keep them secure because they have believed in the Son.

Philippians 1:6–Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul is certainly confident in this verse, and the “very thing” about which Paul is so confident is that God is the One who has begun the good work in the believer and has promised to perform it, or carry it through, until the day of Jesus Christ. This verse provides no room whatsoever for the possibility that one can lose his salvation, for if that were so, then the believer would not be confident of his salvation, nor would God actually finish what He had begun in the believer’s life. Paul likewise wants the believer to be confident. The apostle states that God will finish His work that He started in the life of the Christian. He does not say or even hint that God might not finish His work if the believer stumbles and falls in his Christian walk and witness. No, this verse says God will finish His work in the believer until the day of Jesus Christ.

Ironside believes that this verse refers particularly to the work of the Holy Spirit. He says, “It was He [the Holy Spirit] who convicted you of sin, it was He who led you to put your trust in Christ, it was He who through the Word gave you the witness that you were saved, it is He who has been conforming you to Christ since you first trusted the Lord Jesus.”44 Chafer and Morris, on the other hand, simply refer to the work as that of God, not mentioning the Holy Spirit in particular. Morris cites Ephesians 2:8 as proof that the “good thing” is the “gift of God.”45 Additionally, Chafer cites 1 Peter 1:3-5 as a parallel portion to Philippians 1:6, showing that God is the One who is “blessed” and who has “begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible.”46 Philippians 1:6 supports the view of eternal security of the believer, regardless of whether one believes it is referring to the Holy Spirit or to the Father in general. This passage teaches that it is God who has begun the work and who has used the Holy Spirit to convict and seal the believer (notice 2 Timothy 2:19).

1 Peter 1:3-5, the text to which Chafer referred, contains several important words that further support the eternal security of the believer. Verse five says, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” This is referring to the believer who has been “begotten … unto a lively hope” (v. 3). This believer is kept by the power of God. Because God is all powerful, the believer cannot possibly be “un-kept” or become lost from the grasp of God’s hand. The believer has a “lively hope” described in verse four, and it is obvious that if the believer has the ability to lose his salvation, he has no “hope” or confidence in the first place.

Philippians 1:6 and the parallel portion of 1 Peter 1:3-5 reveal the work of God the Father regarding the eternal security of the believer. The Father has promised to finish the work that He began in the believer, and this glorious fact proves that nothing the believer can do will thwart the plan and purpose of God. God cannot break His promise or disregard what He says in His Word.

Romans 8:28-30–And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Some authors refer to this portion of Scripture as God’s “golden chain” of redemption. Notice first of all in verse 28 that those who believe possess two positive characteristics: they love God, and they are the called according to His purpose. The following two verses (vv. 29, 30) describe God’s plan in the lives of those individuals who believe, that is, those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.47 Notice this “chain of redemption”: God foreknew, God predestinated, God called, God justified and God glorified.

Before noticing some individual concepts in these verses and breaking them apart, one must understand the overall implication of these three verses as a whole. They tell the reader that “he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Nowhere in these verses does God say that He possibly will not fulfill one of the five “links” in the chain, nor does He mention that the chain can be broken due to sin that the believer may commit. In fact, God emphatically states that He “glorified” the believer. This verb is written in the past tense and implies that although the believer has not officially been glorified yet, his future glorification is as good as accomplished in God’s sight.

Next, notice the fact that God glorifies the ones whom He justifies. If God justified a believer, and the believer lost His salvation because of a sin he committed, then God could not glorify him. This scenario is completely contrary to what God’s Word teaches. The Bible says that God glorifies those whom He justifies-no exceptions! Furthermore, glorification is an event that will not occur until Christ’s return. Thus, the justified believer cannot possibly lose his salvation because his glorification, an event yet future, is guaranteed. Ryrie says, “The same group that was chosen before the foundation of the world is the same group that receives adoption through faith and is the same group that God pronounces ‘not guilty’ and is the same group of sons who will come to glory.”48 He further states, “It is so certain that not one will slip away from the group that those whom He predestinated He has glorified.”

Notice also that this chain of redemption contains no reference to a believer’s daily sanctification before the Lord. Kendall mentions that the believer obtains his calling, justification and glorification by God’s grace alone. However, he states that sanctification, the continual cleansing from sin, comes by the believer’s cooperation once he has trusted in Christ: “Sanctification does not come by irresistible grace. It is what we do in voluntary response to God’s grace .”49 Continual sanctification, as revealed in 1 John 1:9, involves the daily confession of and repentance from sin. Nevertheless, the fact that the believer’s redemption is not contingent upon his progressive sanctification does not give the believer license to sin, for Kendall adds, “If we do not willingly respond to [God’s] beckoning call to be like Jesus, He has away of hemming us in, boxing us in, so that we become very willing indeed.” Ryrie seems to agree with Kendall and gives a reason (in the form of a question) why sanctification is most likely not included in this chain of redemption: “Could it be that Paul did not want to base our guarantee of ultimate glorification on our personal sanctification?”50He further explains that individual Christians exhibit varying degrees of holiness while on earth and will be rewarded accordingly; nevertheless, every believer will be glorified, regardless of his works.

This wonderful portion of Scripture reveals the work of God in relation to the believer’s eternal security. This passage discusses the redemption of the believer, especially noting that those who God justifies, He also glorifies. No one who has been justified can go against God’s plan and not be glorified. Once an individual is saved, God will fulfill His plan and purpose in the believer’s life. Loss of salvation is never even a viable option!

1 John 2:1-3—My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins. and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

The true child of God is certainly prone to wander from the commandments of the Word and from a right relationship with his Lord. However, he will not lose his salvation as a result of his waywardness. No, the perfect work of the Son has secured his salvation, for He is the believer’s “advocate with the Father.” God has made provision not only for the salvation of men, but also for their security in Him.

Those who reject the doctrine of eternal security on the basis that such a teaching allows for rampant, unchecked sin, fail to notice the magnificent yet sobering words found in these three verses. A true believer can indeed sin, but he will not continue in that sin because “hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” If an individual is truly born again, then he will obey God’s commands even though he may spiritually slip and fall for a period of time. This portion states in no uncertain terms that: 1) these verses are addressed to believers, 2) believers will sin at times, 3) when they do sin, believers have Jesus Christ as an Advocate before the Father, and 4) a true believer will not continue in sin but will keep the Father’s commandments. Hebrews 12:5-8 also informs the child of God that he will be chastised when he sins, for “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Because God loves His own, He chastens them so they will not continue in sin.

This wonderful passage of Scripture reveals the work of the Son concerning the eternal security of the believer. Because Jesus Christ is accepted by the Father, Jesus Christ can intercede on behalf of the believer. The Christian, therefore, can be assured that his salvation is safe and secure in Christ even when he fails Him.


God makes it clear in His Word that the wayward saint, the genuine believer who sins, will be chastised and will lose reward (2 Corinthians 5:10). He also says that many who profess to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ do not sincerely believe in the first place, but are deceiving themselves and others (Matthew 7:21-23). A genuine believer will show fruit in his life and will demonstrate a veritable attitude of repentance and sorrow when he wanders from fellowship with God.

God’s Word also makes it abundantly clear that the Christian possesses eternal life that is based on the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, not on the work of the individual believer. Those who think a person can lose his salvation usually base their belief on the human idea that one will live recklessly and unrighteously unless his salvation is at risk. While this idea might seem logical from a human perspective, it is taught nowhere in Scripture. In fact, one could conclude that if a believer’s salvation could indeed be lost, even after he had genuinely believed, then God’s Word would give a wealth of specific information regarding what it takes to forfeit salvation and what it would take gain it again. For example, since God wants the believer to be assured of his salvation (I John 5:13), then it is only reasonable that the Bible contain specific information regarding how a person loses his salvation. It should reveal the quantity and types of sins one must commit in order for salvation to be forfeited and how the believer can know for sure whether or not he has lost his salvation. However, God’s Word does not contain this information and, to the contrary, assures the believer that he is secure in Christ.

The doctrine of eternal security is vitally important. If anyone believes he can lose his salvation, then he is not trusting completely in the perfect, finished work of Christ. He is placing his faith in Christ plus his own works or plus a religious institution to preserve his salvation. But God’s Word says salvation is only by faith in Jesus Christ alone! If an individual believes his eternal life can be terminated by something he does or does not do, then he has concluded that his own actions or lack thereof are an integral part of his salvation. No, the genuine believer has a perfect salvation that is completely secure due to the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Proclaim this glorious truth to the world!

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Am I a true believer?

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Am I A True Believer?


In this brief study we want to consider the important, soul-searching question: Am I a true believer? To help you answer this question, consider the following questions. Think about each one in an honest, personal way. Take time to look up the Bible verses that are given along with each question. Ask yourself: Who am I really trusting for my eternal salvation?


Do I see myself as a guilty, lost sinner who stands condemned before a holy and righteous God (Romans 3:10-19,23)?

Do I recognize that my own heart is deceitful and wicked and incurably sick (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23)?

Do I see myself as deserving of death and hell (Romans 6:23)?

Do I realize that if God were to give me what I deserve and repay me for the way I have lived, then I would be totally destroyed (Psalm 130:3; compare Psalm 103:10)?

Do I recognize that there is absolutely nothing I can do to save myself (Titus 3:5)?

Do I understand that trying my best to perform good works will never gain me or earn me an entrance into heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9)? Do I realize that my church or my religious system cannot save my soul (Jeremiah 17:5)?

Am I convinced that my own righteousness and my own goodness falls far short of the righteousness that God requires and demands (Romans 3:10-12; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)?

Do I, in and of myself, have any personal credentials that are acceptable before God (Isaiah 64:6)?

Do I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s only Solution to my sin problem (Acts 4:12)?

Do I recognize Him as the only way to God (John 14:6), the only Door to salvation (John 10:9), the only Saviour for sinners (Matthew 1:21) and the only One who can give me eternal life (John 10:28; 17:3)?

Do I understand that Jesus Christ is the eternal God (John 1:1-3) who came into this world and became a man to save me (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 1:15; John 3:17)?

Am I convinced that He loved me even when I was a great sinner (Romans 5:8; John 3:16) and that He died and rose again to save my soul (Romans 4:25)?

Am I persuaded that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that He died in my place as my perfect Substitute, dying in my stead and paying completely the full penalty for my sins (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21)?

Am I trusting in Him and in Him alone to save me (Acts 16:31)?

Have I come to Him in simple, child-like faith (John 6:35,37; Matthew 11:28)?

Have I, by faith, personally received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour (John 1:12)?

Am I resting my entire self on who He is (John 8:24), on what He has done (1 Cor. 15:3-4) and on what He has said (John 6:47)?

Do I believe that He is able to completely save all those who come unto God through Him, including me (Hebrews 7:25)?

Do I believe the statement of Christ found in John 5:24?

Is John 3:16 true of me?

Have I ever shared with others that Jesus Christ is my Saviour (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32)?

Am I able to say from my heart: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand—all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand!” [Edward Mote]

Another helpful question that I can ask myself is this:

If I were to die today and stand before God and He should ask me, “Why should I allow you to enter My holy heaven?” what would my answer be?

If my answer in any way points to MYSELF (my own credentials, my own works, my own religious deeds, etc.) then I am not standing on solid ground. Here are some examples of people putting their trust in SELF:

  • “God should let me into His holy heaven because in my life I have done more good than bad.”
  • “God should let me into His holy heaven because I try to keep the ten commandments.”
  • “God should let me into His holy heaven because I’m a member of a certain church” etc. All such answers point to ME, but salvation is not of ME; salvation is of the LORD!

There is only one reason why I can enter God’s holy heaven. The appropriate response is this: “I will enter God’s holy heaven for one reason and one reason only. It is only because of Jesus Christ my Saviour. Apart from His work on the cross I could never be saved. Apart from His life which He has given to me as a free gift, I could never enter His holy heaven. He is my only hope. He is the only righteousness I have and He is all the righteousness I need. Thank You Lord for saving my soul and making me whole.” Notice how this answer points away from SELF and clearly points to the Saviour and to Him alone!

*     *     *     *     *     As you consider your relationship to the living God, consider the following:

The Greater Loss!

There was once a young minister who visited an aged Christian woman whose state of health made it evident that she was soon to pass from this earthly scene. The minister, who had some doubts about the total reliability of the Scriptures, said to her, “Just suppose that after all your praying and despite your faith your soul should be lost! What then?”

To this tactless remark the old lady replied, “Dear man, should such be the case, God’s would be the greater loss. I could only lose my soul. God would lose His honor. If God would be untrue to His Word He would cease to be God. The Lord Jesus promised that ‘him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’ I rest my soul in His Word, which never fails.”

E. S. English

She Was Incredulous

An old Welsh lady when she lay dying was visited by her Pastor. He said to her, “Sister, are you sinking?

” She answered him not a word, but looked at him with an incredulous eye. He repeated the question, “Sister, are you sinking?” She looked at him again as if she couldn’t believe he would ask such a question. At last, rising a little in her bed, she said, “Sinking! Sinking! Did you ever know a sinner to sink through a rock? If I had been standing on the sand, I might sink; but, thank God, I am on the Rock of Ages and there is no sinking there.”

C. H. Spurgeon

Secure on the Rock!

“A wise man…built his house upon a rock…and it fell not” (Matt. 7:24-25)

There’s an old saying of Samuel Rutherford: “Believe in God’s love and power more than you believe in your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock that ebbs and flows, but your sea of feelings.” If we build our faith upon the certain Word and finished work of Christ, rather than upon our fickle feelings, we shall have the blessed assurance and sense of security we need. Then let the rains of sorrow, the floods of adversity, and the winds of doubt and difficulty come; they shall not be able to destroy the house of our salvation. Our spiritual life is eternally secure, founded upon the Rock of Christ’s promises (John 10:28-29) and the firm foundation of His immutable Word (Eph. 1:3-11).

“I believe hundreds of Christians have not got the assurance of salvation just because they are not willing to take God at His Word” —D. L. Moody.



The Bible is my “Strong Box” filled with my valuable documents:


First Document: My Great Gift (John 3:16).


Second Document: My Present Possession (John 5:24).


Third Document: My Life Insurance (John 11:25-26).


Fourth Document: My Accident Policy (Romans 8:28).


Fifth Document: My Fire Insurance (2 Peter 3:10-13).


Sixth Document: My Identification Papers (1 John 3:1-2).


Riches of inestimable worth!




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