I think I get all my ideas on things to post from the Puritanboard. We were talking about forgiveness of sins this past week in Sunday School and this conversation brought to mind some reflections on the Gospel and our assurance of salvation. A brother asked:
If one has trouble or find that one can not seem to forgive someone for a wrong can one really be assured of one’s own salvation? This question is just something that I have been wrestling with.
Have you ever questioned whether you are saved or not? After reading Jonathan Edwards “religious affections” One thought that came to mind is that, I wonder if I am really what I think that I am. If I am not a believer this is truly somekind of self-deception. I need some stuff on assurance. All I know is that Jesus came into my life back in 1993 and I have never been the same since.
This is a very simplistic statement that needs a lot of reflection behind it but the bottom line is that if we never struggled and were never weak then what need would there be of faith in Christ’s work?
Living with the accusation that Satan whispers in our ear every time we sin “You’re not really a Christian are you?” is hard enough. What makes things harder is the error that surrounds us in so many “Christian” circles where people are taught that you’ve not really repented of something unless you stop doing it.
I’m so thankful that God found me and rescued me to the Gospel for it exposed me to Christ’s sufficiency and caused me to stop leaning on my own strength. I had been a Roman Catholic in my childhood and then an Evangelical for years but never found peace. I tried to battle, I tried to wage war against the flesh and the world but I failed repeatedly in my strength and was beaten back. Who was going to deliver me from this body of death?!
But I know now that, ultimately, I’m fighting against a foe that has lost its mastery of me. I know that Christ’s strength will renew me. I hear the Gospel remind me that Christ did not die for me because I was worthy. I see the Sacraments speaking God’s promise of salvation and means of spiritual nourishment. I look back on my own baptism when I cannot believe that God would save me and remember that seemingly insane promise (according to the world) that God would save me simply by trusting in and believing in His Son.
And so I sin and I sin mightily and I want to retreat from God and re-double my efforts and promise Him, on my own strength, that I’m going to try harder. Maybe then, I reason in my denial of the Gospel, will God accept me.
But then He finds me with His Gospel yet again and says to me: “Do you believe?” and I cry out “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief!” And in the simple trust of a son who loves and is grateful to His Father, I discover again the desire to please Him and the fountain of strength toward that end.
And so I find myself continuing in the fight, striving against sin, with fear and trembling, trusting that God is at work in me to will and do His good pleasure.