Saturday, April 20, 2019

Blessed Assurance

Gary Giddings, Pastor Church of the Full Gospel, Sand Lake, Michigan

The well-known classic hymn “Blessed Assurance” includes these words: “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.”

We like the good feelings that come from trusting and following the Lord. We like it when God’s love overwhelms us and His peace fills our soul, but those feelings aren’t always there. We don’t always feel that “perfect delight” or that we are “happy and blest.” But we are learning to trust God no matter what our feelings are. As we follow Jesus our Savior, we learn that feelings come and go but the Word of God is sure, steady and never changes. As the Psalmist wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

I Thess. 1:5 “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” The Word of God gives us the assurance we need to follow Jesus and to do His will. According to the Strong’s concordance, the word assurance comes from the Greek word plerophoria (#4136) which occurs in the New Testament only four times. In this occurrence, it describes the way in which the Apostle Paul and Silas ministered the Gospel to the Thessalonians: with “entire confidence” (Strong) or with “certain confidence” (Thayer).

They went to the synagogue in Thessalonica “and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” (Acts 17:2-3). The Apostle Paul wasn’t pushy but he reasoned with them out of the Scripture that Jesus is the Messiah. He relied on the power of the Spirit as he ministered to the Thessalonians. It was with assurance that Paul and Silas joyfully shared the message of Jesus with them. What was the result? Not all, but “some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few” (Acts 17:4).

1 Thessalonians 1:6-7, “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” Those that believed on Jesus as Savior gained this assurance even though they faced persecution from others. The work of the Word and the Holy Spirit in their lives gave them joy and they became good examples of the faith.

(ASSURANCE #2) Colossians 2:1-3, “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Paul didn’t plant a church meeting in Colosse or in Laodicea, but he ministered to them by letter to help them in their faith. What was Paul’s concern here? He wanted them to know the riches of the full assurance of understanding as they acknowledged God.

The message of the Gospel means that our hearts are engaged and motivated with the love of God and so we can appreciate more of who He is and what He is doing. It is by knowing and understanding more about Jesus that we become eternally rich. True wisdom and knowledge begin with and are continued by relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Theology was called “Queen of the Sciences” in early universities because the Bible was honored as the true Word of God. Science basically means knowledge and so the knowledge of God and His relations with us became the standard by which scholarship was measured. What do universities use for their standard today? Sadly, the Word of God has been replaced with the word of man (and man makes a poor god!). Instead of acknowledging God, they rejected Him. By professing themselves to be wise (apart from God), they became fools (Romans 1:22).

The Apostle Paul wrote, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called. Which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (I Tim. 6:20-21). When professors of modern science directly oppose the Word of God, it shows how foolish they are (even with their many “academic honors”).

(ASSURANCE #3) Hebrews 6:10-12, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Assurance is “confidence” and hope is “confident expectation.” We can have “confidence in our confident expectation” by God’s Word. We know that we know that Jesus is our Savior and that our sins are forgiven (and the Spirit bears witness with us, Rom. 8:16). There are times when we don’t feel so inspired. But living for the Lord is a “work and labor of love.” We don’t work to be saved, but we do good works for the Lord because we are saved. What keeps us going? HOPE.

Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;”

(ASSURANCE #4) Hebrews 10:19-22, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” It is ONLY through Jesus that we can come to God the Father. Jesus Himself is that “new and living way” by which we pray to the Father IN JESUS’ NAME. Because of Jesus we can confidently draw near to God. Every day is another day to learn how to TRUST God more than we did the day before.

Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

II Timothy 2:11-13, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Because God gives us the assurance of understanding, hope and faith, we can be the people that He wants us to be. He also gives us assurance as we minister the Gospel to others in a loving and honest way. God gives us brothers and sisters in Christ so that we can encourage one another as we fellowship around the Word of God. We agree with what God says about Himself and about His relationship with us, and this is our victory!