Chapter 17: Assurance

I WANT YOU TO NOTICE the security which Paul confidently expected for all believers. He says - "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:8)

This is the kind of assurance which is to be desired above all things. You see it supposes that the persons are right, and it proposes to give them assurance in the right. Would it not be an awful thing to give a man assurance whose ways are lost in sin and error?
Divine assurance can only be enjoyed by those to whom the grace - the unmerited kindness - of God has been already manifested. It is the work of the Holy Ghost. He gives faith and He strengthens and establishes it: He kindles love in us and he preserves it and increases its flame. What He makes us to know by His first teaching, He causes us to know with greater clearness and certainty by still further instruction.
Holy acts are strengthened till they become habits, and holy feelings are strengthened till they become abiding conditions. Experience and practice strengthen our beliefs and our resolutions. Both our joys and our sorrows, our successes and our failures, are sanctified to the selfsame end: even as the tree is helped to root itself both by the soft showers and the rough winds.
The mind is instructed, and in its growing knowledge it gathers reasons for persevering in the good way: the heart is comforted, and so it is made to cling more closely to the consoling truth. The grip grows tighter, and the tread grows firmer, and the man himself becomes more solid and substantial.
This is not a merely natural growth, but is as distinct a work of the Spirit as is conversion. The Lord will surely give it to those who are relying upon Him for eternal life. By His inward working He will deliver us from being "unstable as water," and cause us to be rooted and grounded. It is a part of the method by which He saves us - this building us up into Christ Jesus and causing us to abide in Him. Dear reader, you may daily look for this; and you shall not be disappointed. He whom you trust will make you to be as a tree planted by the rivers of waters, so preserved that even your leaf shall not wither.
A genuine Christian is real strength to the church! He is a comfort to the sorrowful, and a help to the weak. Would you not like to be such? Genuine believers are pillars in the house of our God. These are not carried away by every wind of doctrine, nor overthrown by sudden temptation. They are a great stay to others, and act as anchors in the time of church trouble. Shall you who are beginning the holy life not hope that you will become like them? You need not fear; the good Lord will work in you as well as in them. One of these days you who are now a "babe" in Jesus shall be a "father" or a "mother" in the church. Hope for this great thing; but hope for it as a gift that you do not deserve, as a gift of grace, and not as the wages of work, or as the product of your own energy.
Returning our attention to our text, notice that the inspired apostle Paul encourages these people to be confident until the end. He expected the grace of God to preserve them personally to the end of their lives, or till the Lord Jesus should come. Indeed, he expected that the whole church of God in every place and in all time would be kept to the end of time, till the Lord Jesus as the Bridegroom should come to celebrate the wedding-feast with his perfected Bride.
All who are in Christ will have confidence in Him till that illustrious day. Has He not said, "Because I live ye shall live also"? He also said, "I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
The work of grace in the soul is not a superficial reformation; the life implanted as the new birth comes from a living and incorruptible seed, which lives and abides for ever; and the promises of God made to believers are not merely passing promises, but they will only find fulfillment if the believer holds true till Jesus comes in endless glory.
We are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation. "The righteous shall hold on his way." Not as the result of our own merit or strength, but as a gift of free and undeserved favor those who believe are "preserved in Christ Jesus." Of the sheep of His fold Jesus will lose none; no member of His Body shall die; no gem of His treasure shall be missing in the day when He makes up His jewels.
Dear reader, the salvation which is received by faith is not a thing of months and years; for our Lord Jesus has "obtained eternal salvation for us," and that which is eternal cannot come to an end.
Paul also declares his expectation that the Corinthian saints would be kept blameless until the end. This blamelessness is a precious part of our keeping. To be kept holy is better than merely to be kept safe. It is a dreadful thing when you see religious people blundering out of one dishonor into another. You see, they have not believed in the power of our Lord to make them blameless. The lives of some professing Christians are a series of stumbles; they are never quite down, and yet they are seldom on their feet. This is not a fit thing for a believer; for he is invited to walk with God, and by faith he can attain to steady perseverance in holiness; and he ought to do so. The Lord is able, not only to save us from hell, but to keep us from falling. We need not yield to temptation. Is it not written, "Sin shall not have dominion over you?" The Lord is able to keep the feet of His saints; and He will do it if we will trust Him to do so. We need not defile our garments, we may by His grace keep them unspotted from the world; we are bound to do this, "for without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
God grant that in that last great day we may stand free from guilt, that none in the whole universe may dare to challenge our claim to be the redeemed of the Lord. We have sins and infirmities to mourn over, but these are not the kind of faults which would prove us to be out of Christ; we shall be clear of hypocrisy, deceit, hatred, and delight in sin; for these things would be fatal charges. Despite our failings, the Holy Spirit can work in us a spotless character before men; so that, like Daniel, we shall not give any opportunity to accusing tongues.
Multitudes of godly men and women have exhibited lives so transparent, so consistent throughout, that none could find ground for accusing. The Lord will be able to say of many a believer, as he did of Job, when Satan stood before Him, ""Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil?" This is what my reader must look for at the Lord's hands. This is the triumph of the believer - to continue to follow the Lamb wherever He goes, maintaining our integrity as though we were ever standing before the living God. May we never turn aside into crooked ways, and give cause to the adversary to accuse us. Of the true believer it is written, "he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him." May it be so written concerning us!
Friend, if you are just beginning in the divine life, the Lord can give you an irreproachable character. Even though in your past life you may have gone far into sin, the Lord can altogether deliver you from the power of former habits, and make you an example of virtue. Not only can He make you moral, but He can make you hate every false way and follow after all that is godly and right. Do not doubt it. The chief of sinners need not lag behind the purest of the saints. Believe this, and according to your faith shall it be unto you.
Oh, what a joy it will be to be found blameless in the day of judgment! We do sing falsely when we join in that charming hymn:
Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay;
While through Thy blood absolved I am,
From sin's tremendous curse and shame?
What bliss it will be to enjoy that dauntless courage, when heaven and earth shall flee away from the face of the Judge of all! This bliss shall be the portion of everyone who depends solely on the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and in that sacred might wages continual war with all sin.
I look forward to seeing you in heaven one day dear friend. Heaven was emptied that you might be filled. All the powers of heaven are waiting to cooperate with you.


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