Thursday – How God Gives Assurance
By Jon Bloom, desiringGod
Am I truly a Christian? Few questions cause more fearful trembling in believers. God loves to give his children the gift of “the full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). It is a precious thing, a source of deep peace and consolation, and he wants us to have it. But like most things in the Christian life, assurance is something that is cultivated and grows deeper and stronger over time. It is a gift that God gives to us gradually through frequent testing.
God’s way of growing the sweet gift of assurance in us is by putting us through numerous and varied hardships. The process is designed to be hard. Trials are the way that faith is proven, refined, and strengthened. This is why James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2–3).
It’s why Paul writes, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). The discipline of enduring trials and sufferings ends up proving that we are God’s children. And though “for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant . . . later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
One of the peaceful, consoling fruits of the “righteousness of God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9) is assurance. And it’s a fruit that is realized “later” and in increasing amounts. Why has God designed the process of giving us a growing assurance of faith through enduring trials? John Newton answers this way:
We cannot be safely trusted with assurance till we have that knowledge of the evil and deceitfulness of our hearts, which can be acquired only by painful, repeated experience.
Like Peter who confidently promised Jesus that he would never deny him only hours before he did, we do not realize as younger believers how powerful our sin nature is and how weak our faith is. We don’t know how proud and self-reliant we are. It is the fiery trials that apply heat to our faith and cause the dross of unbelief in the form of doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy, bitterness, selfish ambition, fear of man, and more to rise to the surface. And when we see the dross, we can fear that our faith may not be real.
And that’s what God wants. For when we see the horrible sin in us and feel our helplessness to get rid of it on our own, it pushes us in desperation to trust Christ’s work on the cross alone. When we see our numerous weaknesses and feel our helplessness to be strong on our own, it pushes us to search out and trust Christ’s promises to us alone. Greater assurance comes through stronger faith. And faith only grows stronger through the vigorous exercise of testing.
Read the entire article at www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-god-gives-assurance.
Bible Reading Plan - Day 4