Assurance of Salvation
Assurance of Salvation by William Easton, New Zealand, 1894
"SALVATION" is indeed a great thing. Well may the Apostle say, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" Heb. ii.3. It is a far fuller, grander and more comprehensive thing than most are aware of. It stretches down to the deepest depths of human need, and misery, and sin, and reaches up to the very throne of God. It displays divine love coming to us where we are found by nature, and meeting us in that state. It sets forth divine righteousness, taking the cleansed and pardoned sinner, and setting him in the presence of God, fit for His eye and heart, because seen by Him in the eternal value and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, enhanced and weighted, so to speak, by the infinite excellencies and perfection of the Person "who gave Himself" in devotedness and love to die for us. God, in all that He is in His nature and attributes, has been so perfectly met by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, that He has taken the Savior and set Him at His own right hand in glory, the blessed answer to His awful suffering on the Cross. Not only so; He can and does take every one who believes in the Lord Jesus, and gives him a place of acceptance, and favor, and blessing, commensurate with the sacrifice, as "dead with Christ" (Col. iii.1), "life hid with Christ" (Col. iii.3), and presently to "appear with Christ in glory" (Col. iii.4), and till that day the Holy Spirit "sealing" them, and the "earnest of their inheritance" (Eph. i.13,14), till the rising of "the Bright and Morning Star" (Rev. xxii.16). Not to speak of much more than that as to church position and privilege, surely we may well say again, "Salvation is indeed a great thing." Would that hearts understood it better.
Assurance of salvation is the portion of every believer.
There is no such thing in the New Testament as a believer not sure of salvation. All can say like Peter to the Lord, "We believe, and are sure" (John vi.69), not, we believe, and are not sure. We believe and doubt, and fear, and are uncertain. Such language is the result of a deficient gospel that is preached to-day, or the lack of the knowledge of self as utterly ruined and lost, so as to wholly abandon self, like a sinking ship, for Christ, and seeing salvation as all in Him, "Christ all and in all." God's gospel is a gospel of certainty. Christ's death is a certainty. Its blessed, perfect, and permanent results are a certainty. His present service for us in the heavens is a certainty. The Holy Ghost's presence, and work, and effects in the believer and in the Church are a certainty, and the coming again of "this same Jesus" as "the Bright and Morning Star," the hope and expectation of "His own who are in the world," is also a blessed and glorious certainty. Where then is room for doubt, fear, or uncertainty?
Of course there are many reasons why some who profess to believe on Christ have not assurance. But as I have said before, I believe the chief reason is, self is not really known. They have not learned that "in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. viii.8). There is self-occupation with it, whether in its good form or bad form, hence a looking within for an inward change and feeling, or waiting for some outward reformation of conduct to give the desired assurance.
This then, I consider to be the starting point, the sense of need, and as it is set forth in Scripture. Now to really understand that need, it is necessary to accept the statements of Scripture as to its reality and extent. Man by nature cannot know it. He has no measure wherewith to gauge it. He is morally blind. He boasts of his light, his knowledge, his advancement in this advanced century, yet he has not light enough to see, nor knowledge enough to know that he is still away from God in moral distance and darkness, and that Satan is using the very abilities that God has lent him, to puff him up with pride, and make him think that man can by searching find out God, whereas Scripture says that he can not (Job xi.7-9). What good will it do a man on his dying bed, to know he has invented the greatest thing of the age? or that he has been the prominent political figure on the stage of time that the world ever witnessed? What does God care about human inventions, or political prominence, or anything connected with this world, of which Satan is the god and prince, when it is a question of man's state of soul and fitness to stand before him? God gave His Son to die for sinners. What place then have these things in view of that great fact? No, no! These things have their place and value, but it is the cross of Christ that shows the end of the moral history of the human race, and the righteous way to the very heart of God. The Lord Jesus said, "I am the way." Any other way than by His Cross and death, and resurrection, no matter what, or by whom, leads to hell, to eternal separation from God.
The story is told of a captain of a ship pacing the deck in anxiety on a very dark, wild night, when a flash of lightning lighted up the sea for an instant, and revealed to him a huge vessel bearing down straight upon them. He had barely time to shout his orders to the man at the wheel, when the huge vessel swept close past them, almost touching them. Now this is what is needed. A "searchlight;" a heavenly flash. The light of eternity to shine in upon men to awake them, and the Holy Ghost's illumination to shine on the pages of Scripture to teach them what they are as in God's sight, and according to His estimate.
Ah, when God flashes in light upon a man's soul, how startling the view!
How awful the state! How deep the need! How dark the prospect! How fearful, unalterable and unending the doom! He ceases to speak of himself as one of a company, and deal in vague generalities. He is detected, sees his own state, danger, and doom, and says, "God be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke xviii.13). This, I again repeat, is what men need to see. They are "sinners," "alienated and enemies in their minds by wicked works" (Col. i.21). "Ungodly," and "without strength" (Rom. v.6). So hardened and so insensible either to the thunderings of law, or the message of grace, that if left to themselves they would just float on like logs till the falls were reached, and they rushed over into the abyss. Once the true state is discovered, however, all is changed. The flesh is seen as utterly bad. The man is seen to be "lost," and if ever saved, it must be by another.
"Fear ye not; stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exod. xiv.13) was the simple, yet trying word to Israel at the borders of the Red Sea, with Pharaoh's hosts behind them. It was a difficult thing to "stand still" and calm their fears, in the presence of their foes. Yet it was needful. It was the path of blessing. They had to see Jehovah do the work, and they reap the blessed results. Immediately it was an accomplished fact, we read, "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song" (Exod. xv.1). And this is the first record in the Bible of singing. It was founded on salvation. "That day God saved Israel" (Exod. xiv.30). "Then they sang." They certainly could not have sung if they had not been assured of salvation from their enemies. But it was a work done for them by Jehovah. A path made through death (the sea), and they brought through the sea, and "brought to Himself" (Exod. xix.4), and they sang, and sang of what Jehovah had done.
Surely the word is as applicable to-day to any anxious soul. "Fear ye not; stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." Take your stand by the Cross of Christ, and behold the stretched-out rod-behold the raging waters-hear the cry of distress. "Deep answereth to deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts. All thy waves and billows have gone over me." "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Psalm xxii.1). He has passed through, blessed be His Name, and made a path through death. For a sinner to meet death would be certain and everlasting destruction. But the Savior has met it, borne it, extracted its sting, rolled back its proud waves, and opened up a path of life for every believer. God has been glorified, sin atoned for, and the path of life opened up for man to be "brought to God" (1 Peter iii.18).
How is it possible for any man to stand still and see what Christ has done for him on the Cross, and not have assurance, and be able to sing the song of redemption? Will the Savior die again? Never! Then was not His death sufficient when He expired on the Cross? Surely it was. God was satisfied. Sin was atoned for; Satan was defeated; Salvation was secured. A seated Savior on the throne of God is the everlasting witness of God's satisfaction, and the believer's "justification" (Rom. iv.25). Could a man want more to give assurance? "God is not a man that He should lie, not the son of man that He should repent; hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" (Numb. xxiii.19). Mark that word, "Hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" Listen to His word, "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" (1 John v.13). "God hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. i.8-9).
Is not this a "blessed assurance?" "A finished work," making you safe. "A faithful word," making you sure. Christ on high because "it is finished." The Spirit here, because Christ is there. The word making it all known, the Spirit making it all good, till traveling days are done, and we hear the shout, and find ourselves "ever with the Lord."
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