Henry Mahan | Added: Dec 10, 2014 | Category: Theology
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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
There are and have been believers blessed with great assurance and confidence of their interest in Christ.
In the Scriptures we read about Job who said; “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet I myself, in the flesh, will see the Lord.” Job had a strong assurance of his interest in God’s saving grace. “I know that my redeemer liveth.”
Then, the last words that king David spoke were these: “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” Again he said: “The Lord is my shepherd.” So, David had that kind of assurance. He had that confidence of a saving interest in God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
Then John, the apostle John, said: “We know, we know.” This is one of the key words of the first epistle of John; “we know; that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.”
So, you can go through the Scriptures and you will find many people who have a strong confidence and a strong assurance of their personal interest in the Lord Jesus Christ. You will meet people today and you’ve met people in the past who said, “I know that my redeemer liveth. The Lord is my shepherd. God has redeemed me; I’m His child.”
But, there are some sincere believers, some people who love Christ who may at times have a strong assurance of their interest in Christ and yet, at other times are filled with many doubts and many fears concerning their relationship with the Son of God.
One of the best examples of that is John Newton, the great preacher and hymn writer. John Newton wrote the hymn Amazing Grace. It is full of great confidence in Christ. Listen:
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost,
But now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
That’s assurance; that is confidence. But yet, Newton wrote another hymn that is not nearly so popular, not nearly so famous but an expression of his own inner feelings, just as much as his Amazing Grace. He also wrote the lines:
’Tis a point I long to know
And often it gives me anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I his or am I not?
So, here is a man who had at times great and strong confidence of his interest, his saving interest, in the Lord Jesus Christ, then at other times he struggled with this matter of assurance. He struggled with this matter of confidence.
I want to direct your thoughts to those who like Newton, have, at times, good confidence of their saving interest in Christ and yet, at other times are not quite so sure. People, perhaps you are one, who at times find their hearts full of fears and doubts about their relationship with the Lord.
I think our trouble is caused by one of four things. I think these cause our doubts and fear.
We compare ourselves to the wrong people
First, we compare ourselves with giants in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, we will study the life of a man like Abraham and we say: “Well, I can’t duplicate his feats. I can’t replicate his feats of faith so I must not be a son of God.”
Or, we look at the lives of such men as the apostle Peter or Paul or James, John, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah or Elijah, any of those great giants in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and we say;
“Well, I just can’t measure up to those fellows; I certainly can’t come up to their great feats and works of faith, so I must not be a child of God.” So, that is one of our problems, we compare ourselves with the giants in the Word of God and we just don’t measure up.
Second, I will tell you another problem! Many of you read biographies. You have read the biography of George Whitfield. You read the biography of men like Luther, John Knox, David Brainerd, not realizing that the authors of these books are not going to show all the weaknesses of their heroes.
They are not going to show you the doubts and fears of these great men; they are going to show you their strong points so that when you read these biographies you get the opinion these fellows prayed all the time or preached all the time, or were in some kind of great spiritual revival all the time.
You rarely see their weak points, their low points. You rarely see them when they are not praying or preaching or witnessing, because those who write the biographies don’t want to emphasise these low points.
And so, we feel “Well, I’m not like that. I don’t get up every morning at 4:00am and pray. I don’t preach somewhere five and six times a day and I don’t walk with God constantly in a frame of mind that’s always rejoicing, so I must not be saved.”
Well, it’s wrong to look at it that way. Unlike the biographies of men, the Word of God points out the weaknesses of God’s children. We see the weaknesses of Moses, of David, of Abraham. But, your biographies don’t do that; they make great heroes of all of these believers till you think they never had a doubt, never a fear, never a failure, never a low point and never did commit a sin.
Third, then, another problem we have is this, we look for a full harvest of fruit on a very young tree! Now, when a person comes to know the Lord Jesus Christ, he’s just a babe. He’s just a young tree; he’s just a young branch. You don’t expect to find a full harvest of fruit on a brand new tree or even one that is several years old. That person must grow. Give it a little time by God’s grace and the presence of God’s Spirit and you will see some fruit. You will see a manifestation of good fruit for the glory of God.
Perhaps there are times when we have great assurance. We are in the worship service and we are reading our Bibles, we are singing, we are witnessing, we are praying and we are fellowshipping with other believers and we just feel on the mountain top, we feel that God is good and God is near, and God is gracious, and we can say, “I know that my redeemer liveth” and then the next day we are down in the valley, in despondency and despair and doubts and fears, what has happened?
Fourth, we are looking at ourselves and comparing our own feelings. Perhaps our greatest fault is that we look for assurance and confidence somewhere other than the Word of God, somewhere other or besides the Word of Truth. Note this, the Word of God is our only infallible and certain foundation of assurance. Now, I know that feeling has a place. Somebody says: “Well, I feel saved.” Well, tomorrow you may not feel saved.
Or experience! We have a great experience; we experience the closeness of our Lord and the closeness of His spirit and the closeness of ourselves and the nearness of ourselves to Him, but tomorrow that experience may not be there. But, the Word of God is the same, like Christ, “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
God said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away but not one jot or one tittle shall pass from my Word until every bit of it is fulfilled.” His Word never changes. His Word is actually the only true, infallible, certain, undeniable foundation or rock of assurance. Experience will fail you, feelings will fail you, and even works will fail, although they all have a place. But, true assurance and true confidence is born from a knowledge of and a confidence in the Word of God. God said it therefore I believe it. God cannot lie!
So, my assurance, my confidence of my salvation is in Christ. I’m redeemed because “he loved me and gave himself for me.” I’m redeemed because He went to the cross and bore my sins in His body on the tree and died that I may live. And at this moment, He is my High Priest and Mediator, interceding on my behalf in the presence of God, pleading not my works, but His wounds, not my deeds but His.
Trusting God’s Promises
How do I know that God will forgive sin? He says so in His Word. That is my confidence. How do I know that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour? How do I know that “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby, we must be saved? How do I know that? Because somebody said it? Well, they may be lying. No, I know it because God’s Word declares it: ”he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." Now, that’s my confidence and that’s my assurance; that’s the foundation of my faith.
I know that all who believe on Jesus Christ are saved because God told me that fact in His Word. I know that “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” How do I know that? There is just one source of information, God’s holy Word.
My friend; I know that the dead shall rise and I know that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. I know that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And I know all of these things because God has declared it in His Word. That’s the foundation of faith, not the fruit; that’s the foundation, that’s the root of faith, the Word of God.
Assurance of faith
Let us put first things first. There’s the root and then there’s the fruit! The root of grace is God’s goodness to His people, and this is revealed in the Bible, His Word. He gives faith in Jesus Christ and confidence in His Word. That is the root of grace. The fruit of grace is works, healing, assurance and confident hope.
Look again at our text in Ephesians 1:13. “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.”
The Apostle Paul points out four things. He says: “You heard the word of truth.” He says: “You believed the gospel of your salvation.” He says: “You trusted the Lord Jesus.” Then he says: “You were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” Let us take these one at a time.
1. You heard!
First of all: Paul said: “You heard the word of truth”. And what is that truth? It is “The gospel of your salvation”. Preaching the Gospel of Christ is not just preaching about the Gospel it is preaching the Lord Jesus Christ who has saved His people from their sins. Paul said in Romans 1:16: “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”
Listen to this: “God hath chosen by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” not the foolishness of singing, not the foolishness of visual aids, not the foolishness of chalk artists, not the foolishness of music. “God hath chosen by the foolishness of preaching,” not the preaching of foolishness, but the foolishness of preaching. “It’s foolishness to them that perish. It’s the wisdom of God to those who believe.”
Preaching the Gospel is a soul-saving ordinance. Our Lord sent His disciples out and He said: “You go preach the gospel to every creature.” “He that believeth (that gospel) and is baptized shall be saved and he that believeth not shall be damned.” Do you hear what I am saying: “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God?”
James said: “Of his own will begat he us with the Word of truth.” Paul said, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved but how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed and how shall they believe in him of whom they haven’t heard and how shall they hear without a preacher? How shall they preach unless they be sent?”
Today preaching has been relegated to the scrapheap. Preaching has been turned into a time of entertainment. It’s been turned over to a group of comedians. It’s been turned over to the healers and to all of these other things. Let me tell you this: the true prophet of God is still preaching the Gospel. He’s still lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ who said: “If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
In every age God has had His preachers. In every age God has men who are faithful to the preaching of the Gospel. Elijah may ascend but his mantle falls on Elisha. Paul may die but Timothy preaches the Gospel. The true preacher of the Gospel of the Word of God has a claim on your attention for by the preaching of the Gospel men are saved. Without the preaching of the Gospel men are not going to be saved. They may be religious; they may enjoy religion and they may have a zeal for God but without the preaching of the Gospel and a revelation of the Holy Spirit in the heart, man will not be saved.
What is this Word of truth that you heard? Paul said: “You heard the Word of truth.” It is the Word of God! It is not human logic. I hear a lot of human logic today. “This is what tradition says or the philosopher said this.” I’m not interested in what the philosophers say or what tradition says or what human logic says; I’m interested in the Word of God.
Paul said: “Timothy; preach the word.” I’m not interested in speculation or men’s ideas; I’m interested in the Word of God. “It is the word of truth you heard, the Gospel of Christ.”
He said: “Brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached to you, that you received, which you believed, wherein you stand, by which you are saved: How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: And that he rose again and ascended to the right hand of God according to the scriptures.”
Our Gospel is Christ incarnate. The angel said to Joseph: “Mary will bring forth a son. Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Our Gospel is Christ crucified: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so, must the Son of man be lifted up that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Our Gospel is Christ risen: Paul said: “if he be not raised you are yet in your sins.” If He be not raised, I am a false witness of God. If He be not raised, those who are asleep in Christ will perish. If He be not risen: “we are yet in our sins and we are of all men most miserable.”
But, Christ has risen and then Christ ascended and Christ is interceding. He says: “Who can condemn me? Christ died, yea rather, is risen again who is ascended and seated at the right hand of God who ever liveth to make intercession for us.”
My friend, you heard! You can only give a reason for the hope that’s in you, if it’s a sure and certain reason, because it is what the word of God says. You heard the Word of truth.
2. You believed!
Secondly, the second word is believe! Paul said: “You heard the word, the gospel of your salvation.” He said: “Then you believed it.” Now, hearing is no good except it be received by faith. Hebrews 4:2 says this: “unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them but the gospel preached unto them did not profit them.” They heard the Gospel too, just as you heard it, but “it didn’t profit them.” Why? “Not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”
So, hearing is no good if you don’t have faith. Hearing won’t accomplish a thing if you don’t believe. Hearing will profit nothing if it’s not mixed with faith. Paul said in Hebrews 11:6: “without faith it’s impossible to please God.”
Faith embraces all of the Word of God. Faith says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and all scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness.”
Faith says, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” I take all the Word of God by faith. Faith is not sight. We walk not by sight; we walk by faith.
We walk by a heart confident in God’s Word, not part of it, not the part of which we approve or the part we understand, but we believe all the Word of God, “knowing that we see in part, we know in part, we prophesy in part: But when that which is perfect is come, we shall know as we have been known.” Faith is not judged by its quantity but by its quality. That’s the reason the Centurion said: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
So, there you have two words, “you heard the Word of truth” and “you believed Jesus Christ, the gospel of your salvation”. Some of you have never heard it. Some of you have been going to church all of your lives, you have been programmed to death, you’ve never, really never, heard any teaching. You really don’t know anything about the word of God but some of you have heard the Gospel and you believe Him.
3. You trusted!
Now, watch the third word “and you trust him.”
Well, you say, trust is just another word for faith. You are right, it is. Trust is just another word for belief. You are right, it is. But trust implies more than belief and more than faith; it implies a commitment. Trust is a commitment, a surrender. Paul said: “I know whom I have believed and I’m persuaded he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him.” Paul said; “I heard and I believed and I believed he was able, but then I committed it to him.”
Abraham believed God but he still had to go out of his father’s house. Noah believed God but he still had to build an ark. Do you see what I am saying? Moses believed God but he still had to put the blood on the door.
So, you heard the Word, you believed the Word and then by God’s grace, you trusted, you committed it to Christ. It is faith that justifies the soul before God. It’s obedience that justifies your faith before men. “Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works.” So, we heard the Gospel and we believed the Gospel and we intelligently, willingly, and consciously, committed, trusted, and surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. We receive Him!
4. You were sealed!
Now, the fourth word: “And you were sealed, with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
In hearing and believing, our minds and hearts are active. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” In trusting the Lord Jesus Christ my mind is active. He said: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus to be Lord and believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead thou shalt be saved.”
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” I’m active in all those things. I heard, I believed, and I trusted by God’s grace. But notice, in this sealing it does not say that you sealed yourself, Paul says: “you were sealed, you heard, you believed, and you trusted.” But watch the difference in the expression: you were sealed by whom? “The Holy Spirit of promise.”
In this sealing I am passive; it’s the work of God’s Spirit. In faith I do something; I believe. In faith, I will commit myself to Christ; I trust Him. In sealing, I receive something. God sealed me, God Almighty sealed me.
“Salvation is of the Lord.” It was God who gave us life. It was God who convicted us by His Spirit. It was God who baptized us into the body of Christ. It was God who sealed us by His Spirit.
It was God who taught us by His Spirit and produced the fruit of the Spirit and it is God who keeps us by His power through faith.
He said this: “I will make a covenant with them, an everlasting covenant. I will not turn away from them to do them good. I will put my fear in their hearts and they won’t turn away from me.” That’s what our Lord said; “I won’t turn away from thee and they won’t turn away from me.”
We persevere in faith and we are preserved by the power of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise! This is our confidence and all our assurance.
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