Hey friend. This may seem like a bizarre question, but it is one I feel compelled to ask you. Which of the following three statements most depicts the way you see the scripture?
- “I can know with complete certainty that I am saved and have eternal life.”
- “I am not sure that I have eternal life and am saved, although I used to and I think I should be sure.”
- “I will not know that I am saved and have eternal life until the Day of Judgment.”
Now, can we chat about your choice?
I don't know about you, but one of the greatest needs amoung Christians today is a sense of assurance and confidence. How we long for security in our walk with God, a feeling of peace and well-being, knowledge that we are pleasing to God. We need to feel good about, well, about being Christian! Too often, however, our feelings are just the opposite. We experience a pervasive sense of uneasiness, a vague feeling of insecurity. Instead of finding in God a peace that passes all understanding, we come away failing to understand peace at all.
Feeling that our lack of assurance can only be remedied by diving more deeply into religion, we immerse ourselves in reading and prayer and religious activity. But our reading seems futile – how can God speak through his word to such a one as I? Such as you? Our prayers start sounding hollow – surely God would not listen to someone so sinful. And religious activity takes on the form of a sham, don't it? O_o
Surely this is a paradox; a contradiction on a grand scale. A GRAND SCALE! Religion was never intended to be a burden – it was meant to relieve burdens. Christ did not come to make us feel guilty – he came to free us from guilt. And surely our Father does not intend for us to feel insecure about our relationship with him – He crucified his son as proof of his abiding love!
The Christians in Ephesus were facing just this problem. To make things worse, there were people they knew and loved (people who once had been a part of them) telling them they did not understand what it took to live the Godly life. These people claimed to have found a better way and to live more acceptably before the Father. Our poor brothers and sisters compared themselves to these self-proclaimed “spiritual giants," it was all too easy for them to feel inferior and to question their own commitment. Yikes, I've definitely done THAT! ("I wish I had the strength of so-and-so," or "My prayers don't sounds as passionate as my friends," etc etc). You get it.
In response to the Ephesians (an subsequently to ME and YOU), John writes his letter to assure his flock that they can have real confidence in their walk as Christians. He wants them to give up self-doubt and anxiety, and to live assured and bold lives in the Lord. These people have nothing to apologize for, nothing to feel ashamed of. They are the children of God, the ones who know the truth, the people who love each other and who obey God’s commands. John refuses to let anyone make these brothers and sisters feel like second class Christians.
So what can YOU do about your spiritual confidence right now? Understanding that God's timing may be a long work in progress, John believes it is important to live the Christian life confidently, with assurance, knowing WHAT your relationship with God is. YOU also are a child of God and know the truth. You are NOT, nor will you EVER be a second class Christian. You are HIS CHILD. The absolute confidence and knowledge of this is the only way you can live with joy and peace. That's why John kept saying it! And saying it. And saying it! Go with God, my friend. I mean, GO. Right now. He's right beside you.
And hey, spend some time with John in his shorter books at the end of the New Testament. In the next posts, we’ll chat about how important John understands such things to be. But here is something for you to consider immediately: Do you agree with John that assurance and confidence are absolutely necessary for living the Christian life? Why? Why not?
I'd love for you to bless us with your thoughts below ...