I recently attended my nephew’s wedding. It was set in a grand cathedral with twin towering spires. I hadn’t been in a church like that for awhile, and I found the art of the moment encouraging my soul to expand in a sense of worship–pulled toward something greater. Amidst the marriage of aesthetics and worship, the chords of an unexpected hymn rang out shortly after the ceremony began:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
“Echoes of mercy, filled with goodness, lost in his love,” the lyric declares. Mercy, goodness, and love are realities relentlessly expanding in hearts born of the Spirit and wedded to Christ. This reborn marriage is a growing foretaste of eternal and intense joy for those who have glimpsed their deep need and embraced Christ.
Joy arises in redeemed hearts when Christ, his Creator-identity revealed to a human soul, presses against human desire and its idols. Memory of createdness is awakened, and active trust begins to grow as from a seed. Hints of eternity and inklings of assurance begin to break through barriers of fallen understanding…first in one holy crack in sin’s shell, then in another swelling fissure. This newborn creation, born again in fact, begins to grasp its own restored creature-identity. Confidence is birthed from insight as scales fall from the eyes of enlightened minds.
The hymn is right. Assurance is blessed because it manifests not only in observable but revolutionary ways. Weakened are tired old devices of measuring worth. An “I’m trusting you” willingness emerges to investigate the way things really are, the way we really are. This honesty, empowered by reality-acknowledging inheritance given by Christ, enables confidence in God’s Word. God’s Word is a document about reality inspired through sinful people for sinful people. It is where assurance must come from. It is tangible, here and now.
With God’s Word a weapon, here are some aspects of assurance we can shout to our hearts:
- He who has the Son, has Life (I John 5; life with a capital L as I heard a preacher say). God desires to grant our minds understanding of the redemption story unfolding in and around us. He promises to give inward assurance to those who embrace his competence over unbelieving self-deception and self-protection. He intends us to rest contently in his salvation because its origin is not of us or subject to retraction. His words are life by virtue of his promises providing all we need for life and godliness.
- God will answer prayer by giving good things to those ask him (Matthew 7). He has given us his word that he will answer our prayers according to his will. Contained within this unshakable commitment to his children is the pledge to train our hearts to pray according his will as we are conformed to the image of Christ and made partakers of his divine nature. He promises not to honor unbelieving prayer that attempts to manipulate him or grant things that we creatures will twist and turn for idolatrous intent.
- Victory over sin will increase because Christ has fully identified with us (Hebrews 4). At moments when the lust, the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life seem certain swallow us, his pledge of deliverance by actively trusting him remains rock solid. It’s our unbelief in his commitment to rescue us that causes us to waver– or perhaps collapse.
- Christ’s provision is greater than our sin and ensures forgiveness (1 John 3). The application of his forgiveness to our lives is final and irretractable because it is rooted in the accomplishment of Christ, not man (Hebrews 10). He comprehended our ongoing imperfections before he saved us. It’s our human finitude and unbelief that hamper this confidence.
- He has promised to actively transform us by his Word (Romans 12) and Spirit (1 Corinthians 2). His pledge of guidance is a light to our path. All day long, today and tomorrow. It’s our unbelief that causes us to view the implantation of his word in our hearts as marginally relevant instead of delightful.
We have all either rejected the content of Scripture or doubted it. For Christ followers, doubt is but the absence of active trust, a questioning of whether God is who he says he is in Scripture. His Word teaches us about the way of a Creator with his creatures where there is more than meets the physical eye. To the surprise of my own sinful nature, I’ve discovered his Word is reliable. He is fully devoted to filling our lives with resounding echoes of mercy, goodness, and love, for his glory and our joy. Blessed assurance can truly be ours.