Categories: Theology

by J.L. Morgan



What is Assurance? And can we acquire it?

Assurance is defined as confidence or certainty in someone or something.
I can make the statement that I am married. My outward signs could include my wedding ring, maybe even photos showcasing the wedding event, and even the fact that she lives with me and my family in my house. But these do not “prove” that we are married. For some the production of a wedding certificate may prove that it is true. But how would I convince someone who I just met, that has no knowledge of my past, and instead wants me to prove my marriage.
Where does my confidence, or my certainty come into play?
If you follow me for a little while down a small rabbit hole, I may be able to explain assurance better by playing “what if”.
Let’s start first with my wedding ring. To me this ring has very special value. I see it daily, even down to the minute sometimes and it reminds me that it exists for a purpose. One of my habits that I have developed over the years is to spin it around my finger, as if it were some kind of fidget spinner or something. I am always just a glance or thumb spin away from my reminder of what the ring stands for. But it in and of itself does not give me assurance. Any one can purchase a piece of jewelry and place it on their finger, and claim to be married. If this sounds odd, know that there are people out there who will wear a ring on their finger to keep suitors at bay, and I could just as easily remove it from my hand and give the impression that I am single, but we both know I wouldn’t be single if I just took it off. So it is not what gives me assurance.
This brings one to the photographic evidence that the event took place in the past. I may have even been present at the event, and have fond memories of it. The photos might go a long way to “showing” other people that this has indeed happened. But again, will my ring and photos prove to the questioning stranger that I am indeed married to my wife?
Produce the marriage certificate, that will prove it right? Insomuch as the state government is concerned, yes, according to this piece of paper I have a right to claim my wife (and children) as my dependents. Also, they have a right to claim my belongings if I should die before they do.
Hopefully now you will be starting to see that in all actuality, none of these items give me, or anyone else for that matter, the confidence that I am in fact married. They just show outwardly that there is a marriage contract that exists between two people, we have vowed to each other to love, honor, cherish, and so on.
The true assurance then comes from none of these “things”. While they go a long way to help bolster, or prove my statement, they do not supply my assurance.
I will leave you to ponder where my assurance comes from for a moment as I switch now to discussing Assurance in Salvation.
When it comes to looking at a garden variety Christian, there are some signs, or indications that the one claiming to be a Christian is in fact a Christian.
Some might wear a cross around their neck, some might even get a tattoo to remind them of the momentous day they turned their life over to the Lord. Many will attend church on Sunday, they may carry their Bible around with them wherever they go.
Some might even try to talk to their friends and neighbors about what they believe, you may see them pray over their food before they eat it.
Fewer still, may have a certificate to show when they were baptized.
Some may refuse to act, or use certain words, resting rather on some notion that God wouldn’t want them to use those words, or partake in the event or action that others in the world do.
But all these are outward signs.
All these are but “symptoms” or manifestations of what one claims, but these actions in and of themselves do not give assurance.
True Christians know that they do not have to struggle to do the right things.
Let me return to my marriage.
I can go through all the motions, say the vows, wear the ring, and even choose to live in the same house as my “spouse”, but this does not make me her husband.
I can go out into the world, and struggle and strive to make more money than we can spend in a month, but this too doesn’t make me a “husband”. It just means that I am fulfilling the “role” of a husband.
My wife and I can tell each other 100 times everyday that we “love” each other. These too can be reduced to just “words”.
No, in order for me to show my wife that I am indeed her husband, or at least to show her that I take the position of husband seriously, I must show her love. And in order for her to give me the assurance that she does in fact love me, she must show me that she loves me.
I do not need a 500 page book to convince me, and give me assurance that I am a man. There are certain areas in life where you can deduce the meaning of things within your own mind. I do not need assurance that the sun will shine, or the moon, or that tomorrow the grass will still be green.
However, when it comes to the intentions of others, I must have a rapport with them. At the very least I need to know them, and see their daily actions towards me to see that they in fact mean what they say.
Without the “friendship” in the marriage, there can be no marriage.
Without love, there can be no relationship. It is love that propels me to wear my ring, it is love that motivates me to live in the same house with her. It is love that pushes me to do everything I can to show her just how much I love her.
Likewise, it is her love for me that builds me up. It is her reciprocating love that further fuels my love for her. This is why when you boil down marital problems, chances are one or both of the parties are not feeling “assurance” from the other.
If we had gotten married on a small measure of love, but that love never grew from one day to the next, then we would never grow. In fact we would find that living on that amount of love rapidly gets depleted due to the stresses and cares of the world.
No, in order for our marriage to work we must work on deepening our love for each other, we must strive daily to push even when we don’t want to do the dishes “again”, or take out the trash, or mow the yard, or wash the laundry, or any other number of items on the “honey do” list..
Jesus said, no man has a greater love than this, to lay down one’s own life for a friend.
True love means, we do what’s right, even when we don’t want to. True love means that sometimes you will have to say things that may not sound “nice” at the time. True love means you ultimately value the wants and desires of the other person over your own wants and desires.
True love means you are willing to lay down your life in the hopes that the other’s life would be saved.
There is only one place where humans can find true love. It is in the love of a savior who laid down His life to pay your penalty.
The concept of the cross is simple. Long before you and I were ever born, God announced that all humans were filthy with sin and therefore not worthy to be in the presence of the Almighty.
His statement, or decree, was not something He pronounced with enjoyment. God created humans to bring Him joy. He created us so that we could be in a relationship with Him. But being a
Righteous, Just, and Holy being He must declare what is truth about us. We are not worthy of Him, and we never can be in our own might.
The existence of sin in the world should be enough of an assurance to know that we are a fallen race, and we live in a fallen world. This proves God’s first decree. Sin is not something that is wrong on the outside. It’s not as if we are some pigs who fell in love with the mud and now need a shower. No, sin is a parasite, it eats away at you from the inside out. Sin attaches itself to your character, there is no amount of showering that can remove it. You need an antidote.
Jesus is the antidote, His blood covers us and allows us access to the Father. God unleashed His Holy wrath on His son, in order to be able to look at us and love us.
When you understand the basic premise of humanity is this, we are cut off from the Creator of the Universe. His Holiness is so far above our level that we cannot even begin to see His magnitude, let alone imagine it.
When you understand that Jesus was telling us that we have been cut off. When you understand that He was telling the Isrealite people that they were about to be cut off. When you understand
His message was that He was the only way to have our fallen sinful nature covered so we can be loved by God the Father.
When you understand that God’s covenants throughout history have all resembled marriage contracts, you can maybe begin to see why God is saddened when Israel left Him by committed adultery through idolatry.
Throughout the Bible God cries out to His people to please leave the ways of the secular world and come back to Him. He is a Jealous God, and He has every right to be.
God wants us to turn from our ways and seek after Him. To seek after His image, and then be the bearers of that image.
So we come back to assurance. How does one have it? To be clear, I know that there exists a certain number of “Christians” who believe and will tell you that there is no “assurance”, there is only hope. Hope that one day, we will all get there and maybe Jesus will let us in. Some even rely on hope enough to tell you that if you said the magic prayer you’re in.
When you understand the message of some in the church, “God wants to have a relationship with you!” which He does, their problem is, they can’t tell you exactly “how” to have this relationship, they just want you to have “hope” that He is upholding His end of the bargain.
If I told my wife I would like to be in a relationship with her, and then I moved to the other side of the world and never contacted her, or acknowledged her for the rest of her life; tell me, did we ever have a relationship?
The only way for Her and I to have a relationship is to both be committed to the relationship. Yes there will be times where we do not get along much, there will be times when she is distant and won’t confide in me. There will be times when I may not be feeling too “loving” towards her. But as long as we both stay committed to the relationship, we will press through the hiccups, road blocks, and hurdles.
It is through this relationship that we both come to assurance of our relationship. I edify her, and she corrects me. Because we are both imperfect and fallen beings we will struggle and strive through this existence on this earth.
When it comes to Jesus, there is a change here. Jesus is a perfect being, there is no wrong in Him whatsoever.
This is why a relationship with Him is not tit-for-tat. It’s not that you give a little, and He gives a little.
Jesus is always the perfect friend, He is always the perfect Big Brother. Jesus is always the perfect gentleman.
Jesus promised His believers that they would receive the Holy Spirit. The very Spirit that inhabited Him while He was on earth.
It is the Holy Spirit that gives you the assurance. But it is submission to Christ that grants the Holy Spirit. One must believe, confess, and finish the conversion by being baptized.
The Holy Spirit helps you to understand that the things you tried to do in your past life. When you tried to do good, when you slaved to do what the preacher says you must do. All the times you gave up the things you wanted to do because the Bible tells you not to do them.
All the times you tried to do what was right, when you wanted to do something else. All the times when you struggled to not do something that you just can’t help.
All those times you tried to live up to the Law in your own efforts. All those times you put in your best effort only to fail. All those times you tried in your own heart, soul, mind, and strength, but you always feel like you come up short.
The Holy Spirit comes along and lifts you up, all the while telling you that you put forth a good effort, but it wasn’t enough. The Holy Spirit confirms with your own spirit that you cannot ever live up to the perfect example. But He is here to help, and a necessary requirement to live the Holy life. You must have the Holy Spirit first, or else all your efforts will be in vain.
When a person is Born Again, they now have a renewed spirit to get out there and glorify Jesus. They understand that their primary role is to in fact become as close to Jesus as one can be. When a Born Again believer messes up with a sin, the Holy Spirit helps to bring it to the forefront so that you and He can work on eliminating that sin from your life. And the Christian looks with joy because he knows with the help of the Holy spirit it will be taken care of because this is the walk to make you closer to Christ.
The Born Again believer finds that after time he no longer is attracted to the things of this world.
The Born Again believer knows that he is far from perfect, but Praises God because he is better today than he was yesterday.
The Born Again believer cannot wait to pick up his Bible and talk with his closest friend. Read it, study it, read it again, and after you’re done, go read it some more. The Born Again believer cannot wait to read his Bible, because it is like he is reading it for the first time, every time, and he knows that God is talking to Him with every word that is read.
If you do not have these wants and desires, if you feel like you are the same person you always ever were. Then cry out to the Most Holy God, tell Him you want to desperately know Him more. Be willing to give up everything if it means you can spend one minute at Jesus feet. One minute at Jesus feet would bring a lot of the world to rest.
God wants us to desire Him. Once you have a good thing you cannot wait to have it again. We are creatures of habit, we like the things we like. Make God the highest desire in your life, Accept that
Jesus is exactly who He said He is. Acknowledge the sacrifice that had to be made to give you the chance at salvation and eternity. Cry out to Jesus to fill you with His Holy Spirit so that you can live the life He wants for you.
A true Born Again believer, is eager to find others just like him. When you have the joy of the Spirit you cannot help but hope to find the others that possess it too.


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