The Consciousness of Our Salvation
Some years ago, the world’s longest bridge was completed at San Francisco at a cost of $75 million, with timely and exciting press releases. During early construction no safety measures were provided, with the resultant loss by death of twenty-three men who fell into the waters far below. Considering the seriousness of the situation, it was deemed wise and economical to install the largest safety net in the world, even though it cost $100 thousand. It saved the lives of at least ten men who landed unharmed into the net.
Let me submit to you first: Are you conscious of your salvation? Christian living should give you that consciousness or confidence, should give assurance that neither things present nor things to come can separate or sever you from God, in the knowledge that your soul is in the all-embracing net of His promised salvation. Our confidence is enhanced by His oft.repeated comforting words.
Considering Romans 8:15, 16
and citing from these verses, we find the words of Paul: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." This means that we are the "adopted" children of God, to wit, the redemption of our body." Again, "for we are saved by hope." The word "adoption" is from the Latin and means to choose, desire, take by choice into a relationship a child not born of us and to make him our rightful heir.
What Paul is saying is that we, as Christians, or adult sons of God, have been placed in a special affinity with God. With (his spirit, fundamentally, necessarily, we have a consciousness of this glorious kinship between God and ourselves. In becoming the child of God, we are born again. We know this, there should be no UncerLainty: we are born again. into the family of God, and the Holy Spirit, by whose inscrutable power this was brought about, keeps forever witnessing this consciousness; and through no processes of His mind, but directly, we are born children of God.
This is true in die natural world, and you faLhers and mothers know your children, don’t you? You know them all by name, how many you have; you children know your parents. God knows us as children. When we become a Christian, He knows us by name; the very hairs on our head are numbered. The beautiful relationship of our living intimately with God is closer titan within our own family, a relationship of children whit parents, mother anti father. And this is why believers will find themselves praying to Our Father. I think it’s very important that we stop and reflect for just a moment. If we find ourselves always in our prayers saying, "Lord, Lord," or related titles, antI never say "Father," we should be concerned, and it could well be that we are in the wrong relationship with God.
We need to go back to the very beginning, to Romans 3, to the record, where we consider our own guilt, turn our heart over to God, and in this helplessness, and in this fact, God sets forth Christ His Son as the atonement for our sins, and we rest there in the realization of His shed blood.
Let us call boldly, "Father," and cultivate that habit. Our Lord Jesus said, "Father;" on another occasion he said, "My Father," and enjoined us that when we pray we say, "Father." Some think it very foolish to make such a distinction between terms, thai it is unnecessary. God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba, Father," Abba being an Aramaic word meaning father; and "father" itself is from the Greek word meaning father. The former was the mother tongue of Jesus; the latter, the tongue of the learned.
The repetition is for intensity, "Our Father," but all this is based upon the first verse that I read to you again from Romans: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God," and before we discuss at any length the consciousness of our salvation, we must first of necessity recognize the fact that we are the children of God, provided that we are so. And then I would mention to you this
Lack of Assurance
Do you honestly have the assurance of the consciousness of yourself as a child of God? Do you know without the shadow of a doubt that there is a safety net? Apart from known sin, I can think of nothing that robs a Christian of more joy than not knowing he is saved. And one of the outstanding things about salvation in the Christian sense of the word is that it is a conscious transaction, between two persons, mainly because we were conscious of our sins.
Paul says in II Timothy 1:12: "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that thy." In Hebrews 10:22 we find "full assurance of faith," and in Colossians 22 "full assurance of understanding." Forgiveness of sins was not merely an external transaction that the forgiven sinner might happen to hear about or not hear about.
So, you see, we speak of the lack of assurance because many have not this assurance, and I feel that many lack this assurance, i.e., the assurance of the safety net of God. The saints of the Old Testament had conscious communion with God, but they did not have that full note of joy and confidence in their relationship with God that we find in the New Testament, a conscious transaction.
In Luke 7:47-48, we read about a consciousness of sin, and for us to become a Christian means that there was a time when we had this consciousness of sin, and therefore, with a consciousness of sin, there is a consciousness of salvation. Salvation from sin is a transaction in which one is brought into a conscious communion with God, and in this transaction one finds that God comes to possess man, It is said that God is in the heart, and God says you shall be My people and I will be your God.
In this crisis, a covenant is sealed upon which the soul becomes conscious of forgiveness and mercy. But there are different Christian experiences. Lydia and the jailer, in Acts 16, each had a different experience. There are varieties of Christian experiences, just as there are different people here addressed. We all have different transactions with God but every Christian experience is a conscious acceptance with God in the forgiveness of sins, anti this is the experience that we enjoy; this is the experience that brings hope. and love, and peace to the soul.
Let me read you two sentences—one is from John 20:31: "These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." The other is from 1 John 5:13: "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." These sentences clearly imply two things, first, that it is possible to have the assurance of our salvation; second, that it is possible for one to be saved and not have the assurance—and this is the point on which I am concerned, IF SALVATION AND ASSURANCE WERE INSEPARABLE, THEN JOHN’S WRITINGS TO BRING AS. SURANCE TO CHRISTIANS WAS LOST LABOR.
If you don’t have the assurance of your salvation, I have suggested many things that will call the reason why to your attention, namely:
- Something was lacking in the beginning of the Christian life of the individual;
- Maybe it has been caused by sin and disobedience to God in the individual’s life;
- Maybe there was a lack of understanding of some of the fundamental and elemental things in the Christian life;
- Maybe it didn’t result in the kind of experience looked for—which happens over and over again; or in other instances
- There are intellectual perplexities, the problems of satisfying God; further,
- Some may not have known the exact date or hour and, because of this, say to themselves, "I’m not saying, but I do have the assurance;"
- Others say, "My faith is not strong enough;"
- Another point is, "What if I sin?" and my answer is—you will, even though you are are a Christian.
These are some of die attributes that produce within the soul of a Christian a lack of assurance; and it is possible to be saved and yet have a lack of assurance, but then you have the assurance and can work worry-free, without falling into the icy waters of the world that was suggested to you.
What is Necessary to Assurance?
Simply this, a clear understanding and a firm grasp of the elemental things in salvation—that Jesus has made full provision. We are saved through faith; it must be a definite surrender to Jesus as Lord; there must be no conscious or willful disobedience to God. Faith will bring its own assurapce, for faith is necessary for God to not deny Himself.
In John’s first letter, which sometimes has been called the Epistle of Christian Assurance, fourteen times there appears the phrase "We know." — We know. When, in II Timothy 1:12, Paul said, "I know," he drew attention to the intimate relationship between himself and God.
It’s like a mother cat walking over not a beautiful and safe bridge, but across an old, crooked and dilapidated log, her means to get ovez the rushing waters below, which seem to her as swift as those under the San Francisco Bridge, yet she sets off bravely, well knowing that she must transport her kittens one by one from one side to the other; she has to cross over the precarious avenue afforded her, She doesn’t say, "Come on, children, get on my back; we’re going across." She doesn’t do this—in fact, she doesn’t even talk, because she would surely lose one of her children. She reaches down and sinks her teeth into the furry skin at the nape of the neck of the little one, clamps tightly and walks across.
And no matter how much it might hurt and in spite of any squalling and flailing of paws, the mother cat walks resolutely and carefully across the log with her precious bundle, holding it tightly so she can exert all her energy to grip the log. But each kitten is safely put across. I know it’s a crude illustration, but I lack a better one. Then let us say that God sees you safely across; He has you in His hand and will not let you go. You may resist and you may rebel at times, but God is holding on, and this is our net of safety.
And then, as a fourth and final, I would suggest to you
The Qualities That Mark a Regenerated Man
One who knows he is saved must have certain qualifications: a possession of the spirit of God and obedience to the Christ; a life of righteousness and a victory over sin; a love of his neighbor as of himself, and a power to discern the truth. Therefore, in summing up, we can say this: The ground of faith iii our soul (and that means saving faith) is the external word of a promise; but the ground of assurance, on the other hand, is the inward witness of the Spirit that we fulfill the conditions of the promise.
Perhaps you have sung, "If you are saved and you know it, say Amen; if you’re saved and you know it, then your life wfll surely show it." Saving faith carries its own assurance; and if it does not, it is because the faith is not clear and definite. So, if you need assurance, you will not get it by developing a new kind of faith, or faith in a different object. Assurance will come when faith is clarified; assurance will come when faith is strengthened and you are aware of what it is all about.
Jesus is the object of our faith; He gives us first salvation, and then He gives us that assurance. So I introduce Him to you — it is the Christ of the cross; it is the one that :can save you, and then, depending upon your faith, He will know without a shadow of a doubt of the consciousness of your salvation.
It is a long time since a lot of us have described the little folks in distant Africa, but the Gospel reaches them, and Mis$ Bell of the Inland African Mission tells of one to whom she had been preaching often. On one occasion she asked this Pigmy, "Are you a Christian; have you received God’s word?" And this little fellow replied, "Yes, I have, yes, we have. Each night we meet for prayer and sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘What Can Wash Away My Sins’ and then sing, ‘0 How Sweet It Is to Trust in Jesus’" and he named several others. Then he added, "And then we call on God to protect us in the night."
Miss Bell then inquired if lie were sure that upon his death he would go to Heaven. The Pigmy stood at attention, saluted and said, "When I die I shall go to God’s village, salute and say, ‘Greetings, God, I am come to my house in Your village,’ and when He asks me what permission I have to enter, I will tell Him that His Son Jesus the Christ died for me and washed my heart clean in His blood.’ Then He will tell me, ‘Enter, your house is waiting for you.’’,
Here was one perfectly sure about his salvation—and so am I! What about you?
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