Mike Gerhardt, Series on Beginning well. Assurance, Ephesians 2:8-9. As I have said, salvation can be a protracted experience. When Gordon Smith wrote of seven elements of a complete conversion, he wrote of the seven as a whole, single experience. Belief and repentance are at the core of the other five. They are not stages, nor phases; they are all the work of God. Today we look at assurance (not to be confused with insurance).
I was driving to the New Jersey Shore with a friend in 1978, when a trooper pulled me over. He asked for license, registration and something new at that time, an insurance card. I gave him my credentials. He came back with a ticket: Your insurance card lapsed yesterday, you should have been sent a new card. Produce that in court and the ticket will be voided. Not having paid my insurance due to other expenses like going to the shore, I immediately paid it and received my new card. So, all I had to do was to appear in court, produce my card and go home. Everything went well until the judge notice that the date on the card was after the date on the ticket. Did you have other insurance? Would you still be on your parent's insurance? Why all the questions? Well, since January 1978, first offense driving without insurance in New Jersey is a revocation of your license for six months (it’s now one year in NJ & NY); pay the fine and leave your license with the clerk. That was a fun six months. Insurance is different than Assurance: you pay for one, someone paid for the other. You purchased it for your own use, someone purchased it for all to use. One is monetary & momentary; One is free & eternal. Hope you never use it; Know you'll never lose it. Both can give you peace of mind. Both can help you get through tragic times. One comes from an agent of sales, the other comes from an agent of grace. If belief is intellectual and repentance is penitential, then assurance is the emotive part. I was going to say the affective part but I’m I sure some of you would be asking infected with what? It is the feeling of being saved. I used Bill Bright's four spiritual laws to share about Jesus for many years. It's simple: God loves you, man is sinful, Jesus died for you, you must receive salvation. On the back of the track was this picture of a train. Fact is the engine. Faith is the fuel. Feeling is the caboose. The fact of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection is verifiable history. Our faith is the fuel of transformation and salvation. Feelings come last. Many say you can't trust your feelings, but feelings are still important. The emotional dimension brings the integration of head and heart. 1John 1:9 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. Do we believe enough to be saved? Or are we like the cowardly lion trying to avoid the wicked witch by fearfully chanting: I do believe in Jesus, I do believe in Jesus? Is fear the right motivation for saving faith? Or is it Trust? Trust, I believe, is more about how I feel about you, than what I know about you. How do you feel about trusting me with your finances? How do you feel about trusting your car to your teenage; trusting your child with the neighbor’s daughter? Are emotions dangerous? Yes. They can be deceiving. Is trust an emotion? I think it has the emotive part. Jonathan Edwards wrote: Religious Affections. These Affections are more than emotions, though not less. Are emotions essential to being human? Yes. To be human is to feel. The current debate about Artificial Intelligence is whether or not we can program human feelings into a robot or computer. Feelings nothing more than feelings could probably sum up most romantic songs. Vanessa Carlton had a popular song called A thousand miles. She sings: you know I'd walk a thousand miles if I could just see you, tonight. Poetic - yes, overused - very much so, ever accomplished – I don’t think so. I remember hitchhiking to see someone - when I lost my license, but not walking 1000 miles. Jesus defined love as a friend who would lay down his life. And Jesus did just that. When we come to terms with that truth and are transformed in that relationship with Jesus, we become assured of His love and feel His firm grip around us. John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John Calvin stressed that true faith is not merely a matter of intellect: faith cannot possibly be disjoined from pious affection. He called inner assurance: security of the heart. Leo Tolstoy noted that his search for God could not be attributed to his rationality: This search after a God was not an act of my reason, but a feeling, and I say this advisedly, because it was opposed to my way of thinking; it came from the heart. Trusting Jesus takes mind, heart and soul. It is not just a mental asset, though God says let us reason together in Isaiah. When we wholly rely on Jesus to save us, we become assured of His presence. Romans 8:16, 38-39 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Peter 1:3-7 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Joy, in this case, is a profound longing fulfilled. Joy appears over 235 times. The Greek and Hebrew words translate also into rejoice (124) and be glad (100) to a total of over 450 times. Do you think God wants you to be of good cheer? Is there room for sourpuss believers? John 16:24 your joy will be complete. John 17:13 that you may have the full measure of my joy. Acts 8:8 there was great joy in that city. Acts 13:47-52 though Paul and Barnabas were leaving: the disciples were filled with joy. Acts 16:34 the jailer was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God, he and his whole family. Romans 12:12 be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him. Is Joy optional for the believer? The trouble with life is that it's so daily. Emotions are thought of as incidental, dangerous, and even untrustworthy. When a preacher starts to pound his pulpit, with a scowl on his face, yelling at the congregation You will have joy in the Lord this sends mixed messages, don't you think? Yet blessed assurance brings joy. He who kneels before God can stand before anyone. We need not ever fear for our lives, God always has our back. We trust Him with our souls, we can also trust Him with our lives.
Assurance can be thought of as an emotional foundation deeply rooted in the ground of God's truth. Like the last house standing in Mexico Florida. We need a firm foundation. To know that we know that we know.
Conclusion: Know that Jesus loves you. Be assured of salvation in Him alone.