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Blessings of Full Assurance
By Brian Pepper
Some time ago
I visited a lady who has been allowing herself to slowly but surely slip away from the message.
This business of backsliding is a very serious one. As D.L. Moody the famous evangelist said, "A great many people are not true backsliders; for they have never slid forward. They have been clinging to some minister, to some church, some choir; they were never converted at all.
Yes I want to tell you that it is a very sad thing to a minister when he knows that a person is slipping away and try as hard as he can, he cannot do very much for that person if they refuse to do anything for themselves.
They need not Depart Tiring of the Word of God
They need not DepartThe people were hungry; they had spent the day listening to the Master; they had been drinking in the wonderful truths that fell from His lips. They had forgotten all about time and place. But now the day was far spent, the shadows were reaching out; the evening chill had begun to settle. Then they discovered that they were famished, so they decided to go and find something to eat. Jesus told His disciples, “they need not depart."
Tiring of the Word of God
Louis Pasteur wearied by thousands of experiments, all of which seemed to have been time and money wasted, was almost discouraged, but before the light of hope flickered out entirely, he tried one more experiment, and that experiment gave to the world a tremendous blessing.
The Devil has two Ways of Dealing with PeopleThe devil has two ways of dealing with people. He tries to keep their eyes off their own hearts so that they cannot see their own spiritual condition. And he does this by setting them to watch their neighbours. If this fails, he says, "Oh, you are so bad, the Lord will not have you any way." Yes, people begin to doubt. They think, "How can I be sure of eternal life? How can I be sure that I am saved?"I want to tell you right now, that in God's Word the promise is sure. Yes, it is certain.
St John's Message to Believers1 John 5:13 says, "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, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
You will notice that the Apostle John is writing to believers. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God." The Epistles were written just for you and for me. They are not written for everybody. They are letters to church members. In that case we should become well acquainted with them.
Now what is it that St John has written to those who believe on the name of the Son of God? Verse 13 says, "These things have I written unto you that he believe on the name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." You see St John has a special message for believers. He says, "If you believe, then you can know for certain that ye have eternal life."
Uncertain BelieversThe strange thing that I find is that so many who believe do not seem to be so certain about it. On one occasion I tried to bring some comfort to a mother who had lost her son. He was a lovable young fellow who seemed to get a great deal of fun out of life. He had one of those laughs that are contagious. As soon as you heard him laugh you had to laugh as well. But death came early to that young man for he had a bad heart condition. I tried to bring some comfort to the sorrowing mother. All I could do was to point her to the great reunion day when we will all be united with our loved ones. Although this mother was a believer and a good Christian she said rather sadly "I only wish I could believe that, how can I be sure of being there?"
Feeling has nothing to do with itToo many Christians are like the weather. If they feel that they are headed in the right direction that is all right. But St John says that it does not depend on feeling at all. There is no feeling at all. If you believe, you know it.
Believers are born of GodNow we will go a little further. John writes in 1 John 5:1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Do you believe that Jesus is the Anointed of God? Do you accept Him as the Mediator between God and man? The Saviour of men? If so, you are born of God. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ then you are born of God. In other words, you become a son of God.
Do we Love God?Going on, St John writes in chapter 5:2, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments…” Do we really love God? If we do then we will be putting God first. Remember this that it is thing that we think the most of is our God.
Putting Love to the TestThere is a simple story we tell the children. It is very simple but it is very true. A little girl came up to her mother and said, "Mother I love you. "Do you," said mother. "Yes." the little girl replied. Then would you like to sweep the floor for me? said the mother.
As I have already said, this is a very simple story; but it really puts love to the test. Unfortunately it often turns out to be empty words. There are members in the church who never demonstrate their love for Christ. If a busy bee is called they are never there. If there is work to be done on the church you will never see them doing their share. If there is a rally day they stay away on that day. Actions speak louder than words. Do we really love God or do we love ourselves better?
Do we Love God's Children?I will read that text again, 1 John 5:2, “By this we may know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” We might say we love God and think that we really mean it. The test is this. Do we love God’s children?
I would like to ask you this question “is a coloured man a child of God?” Would you welcome into your home a coloured brother or would you be too ashamed. Oh yes it is easy to put up the hand and say of course I would." That is quite easy for there are very few coloured folk around here. I mean those smelly folk who are found in the semi desert areas. Many of them never ever have a bath. I have been in charge of a mission station during the illness of the superintendent and I know what it is like. There is no question that they are God’s children. And they do respond to love. There is no question of that they are God’s children. But I assure you that it is a real test to love these people. And they do respond to love. There is no question of that. But this can apply to God's children of other nationalities as well.
No Love for a German born familyI knew a German born Australian who was treated in a very poor way by his church. He told me this story one day. His father came from Germany and settled here in Australia. He was a stone mason by trade and a very good one too. The war of 1914 broke out and of course the propagandists started up their hate machine. Now this German gentleman attended one of the largest Protestant churches, and soon he found out that his presence in the church was no longer appreciated. The minister began to preach sermons of hate, instead of love and the gentleness of Jesus the Saviour of men. He never told us to hate our fellow men but to love them. After one impassioned address the German family were compelled to leave the church and they have never been back. But salvation is still worrying the family.
Do we Love the Brethren?Do we love His children? Unless we do that then St John warns us that there is no love for God in our hearts. Now listen to this! Chapter 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”
This is the challenge. It is so easy to be critical of the brethren; to criticize this one and that one. But here we are told to love the brethren. The apostle John says, “Fellow believers, church members, if you want to be sure of eternal life love the brethren.”
One person said “I cannot love that person because he is a hypocrite.” There is one thing you can be assured of and that is there will not be any hypocrites in heaven. You will find hypocrites everywhere! One of the Apostles was himself the very prince of hypocrites but he did not get to heaven. You will find plenty of hypocrites in the church. There have been there for nineteen hundred years. But what is that to you and to me! God did not say, “love the hypocrites." God said, love the brethren." (1 John 4:20)
Obedience the TestAnd we are told that if we love the brethren we are passed from death to life. The Apostle John goes on to say in 1 John 5:3, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” Obedience is the great test. This obedience must be cheerful and willing.
Are the Commandments Burdensome?There are some who fret and grizzle because of the restraints. They feel that the commandments are burdensome. There are too many who have the idea that being a Christian has too many restrictions.
Blessings of the CommandmentsHow untrue this is. Take for instance this commandment "Thou shaft not steal." No Christian is going to be handicapped by this one. You are not denied anything. Or, “Honour thy father and thy mother.” Will that restrict you? Why of course not! The Commandments bring a real blessing. They actually protect you and the ones you love. They are a safeguard to society as well.
Trying to get away with Breaking the LawThe law bothers some people because it is like the traffic policeman. A young man was driving his car over a long bridge. He had noticed a sign over the entrance to the bridge which said that it was unlawful to overtake and pass cars on the bridge. Just ahead of him were several slow moving trucks. But he was in a hurry so he pulled out and passed several vehicles. At the far end of the bridge a traffic policeman was on duty. He stopped the young man. "Couldn't you read that sign on the far end of the bridge,” he asked, "Yes officer," the young man replied. "Then why did you do it?" "I did not expect to find you here," he answered.
A good many people have broken the Law of God and they feel that they have got away with it. But there is Someone at the end of the way who has a record of our deeds.
Steps to SalvationSt John has given us some wonderful advice in these Epistles. He tells us that the very first thing we must do is to believe on Christ. That is essential to salvation. If we believe on the name of the Son of God, we may know that we have eternal life."
First Step - BeliefYou start at the bottom of the ladder. Then you begin to climb step by step until you are finally glorified. It is a step by step experience. But the foundation step is vitally important. For we start off with the assurance of salvation. If we believe, we may know that we have eternal life. Isn’t that wonderful! This gives us something positive to work on.
Second Step - Love the BrethrenThen we move up the ladder another step; this time with the assurance of being accepted into the family of God. We become His sons. Once we are sons and daughters then we must love the brethren. Too often people have told me “if so and so is going to be in heaven I don’t want to be there.” If we cannot love the brethren right here and now then there is not going to be some magical change that will enable us to do it in heaven.
Third Step - Love the Impelling ForceNow are you ready to advance a step further? I would like to bring the text to your attention just once more. 1 John 5:2, "By this we may know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments." You could call this ladder the love ladder; for it is love that is the impelling force. 1 John 4:8 says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is love.” Now isn’t that wonderful! It is marvelous news; there is no question of that.
No room for Doubt or FearAnd yet there are some folk who never seem to grasp onto this wonderful fact. There is no room for doubt. There is no room to fear. The trouble is some people are too fearful. They are afraid to grasp out in faith.
I read an interesting story out of one of the lesson guides concerning something that happened many years ago in America. A man traveling on foot reached the banks of the Missouri River in the darkness of a winter night. Desiring to cross, he examined the ice near the edge and found it safe. But how would it be further out where the water flowed swiftly and the ice was thinner. Or maybe there would not be any ice. Crawling on his hands and knees for hours he crept forward slowly, half frozen in a sweat of fear. Just before daylight, he heard the crack of a whip, the whistling of a time, and the rumble of wheels. It was a negro driving a wagon load of coal across the frozen river. The traveler rose to his feet and said to himself, “This is one time I had more fear than I needed." He laughed at himself a thousand times afterward.
Change Fear and Doubt to Faith and HopeWe need to let fear be changed into faith. The doubt will give place to hope. Thank God that He has given us the assurance of eternal life. These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life and ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. Friends I am so glad that the Gospel is so simple and Salvation is ours for the asking.