Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept for you in heaven, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

Thursday, November 22, 2007

an illustration of assurance

On this morning of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share an illustration I read the other night. It's found in the last chapter of J.C. Ryle's book Holiness, which I have been reading for some time. The book is quite excellent and I commend it to you for your sanctification. I particularly liked this illustration as very clear on one of the many blessings a believer can expect to gain from having an assurance of his salvation. May we all be stirred to fight for assurance and to thank God for our salvation this day, even if we are vexed with doubts at the present. The excerpt goes as follows:

Assurance is to be desired because it tends to make a Christian an active working Christian. None, generally speaking, do so much for Christ on earth as those who enjoy the fullest confidence of a free entrance into heaven and trust not in their own works, but in the finished work of Christ. That sounds wonderful, I dare say, but it is true.

A believer who lacks an assured hope will spend much of his time in inward searchings of heart about his own state. Like a nervous, hypochondriacal person, he will be full of his own ailments, his own doubtings and questionings, his own conflicts and corruptions. In short, you will often find he is so taken up with his internal warfare that he has little leisure for other things and little time to work for God.

But a believer who has, like Paul, an assured hope is free from these harassing distractions. He does not vex his soul with doubts about his own pardon and acceptance. He looks at the everlasting covenant sealed with blood, at the finished work and never–broken word of his Lord and Savior, and therefore counts his salvation a settled thing. And thus he is able to give an undivided attention to the work of the Lord and so in the long run to do more.

Take, for an illustration of this, two English emigrants, and suppose them set down side by side in New Zealand or Australia. Give each of them a piece of land to clear and cultivate. Let the portions allotted to them be the same, both in quantity and quality. Secure that land to them by every needful legal instrument; let it be conveyed as freehold to them and theirs forever; let the conveyance be publicly registered and the property made sure to them by every deed and security that man’s ingenuity can devise.

Suppose then that one of them shall set to work to clear his land and bring it into cultivation and labor at it day after day without intermission or cessation.

Suppose in the meanwhile that the other shall be continually leaving his work and going repeatedly to the public registry to ask whether the land really is his own, whether there is not some mistake, whether after all there is not some flaw in the legal instruments which conveyed it to him.

The one shall never doubt his title but just work diligently on. The other shall hardly ever feel sure of his title and spend half his time in going to Sydney or Melbourne or Auckland with needless inquiries about it.

Which now of these two men will have made most progress in a year’s time? Who will have done the most for his land, got the greatest breadth of soil under tillage, have the best crops to show, be altogether the most prosperous?

Anyone of common sense can answer that question. I need not supply an answer. There can be only one reply. Undivided attention will always attain the greatest success.

It is much the same in the matter of our title to "mansions in the skies." None will do so much for the Lord who bought him as the believer who sees his title clear and is not distracted by unbelieving doubts, questionings and hesitations. The joy of the Lord will be that man’s strength. "Restore unto me," says David, "the joy of Your salvation, then will I teach transgressors Your ways" (Ps. 51:12).

Never were there such working Christians as the apostles. They seemed to live to labor. Christ’s work was truly their meat and drink. They counted not their lives dear to themselves. They spent and were spent. They laid down ease, health, worldly comfort, at the foot of the cross. And one grand cause of this, I believe, was their assured hope. They were men who could say, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness" (1 John 5:19).

I hope this illustration will encourage many of you and may make you desire to read this book for yourself. If you would like to read it you can go here. The first eight chapters were his original book. May the Lord be given much thanksgiving today!

2 comments:

Paula said...

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Kristy!!!

Anonymous said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS, Kristy!!!
Paula