A Little Time With The 1689: Day 233

Day 233

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 1.

Although temporary Believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes, and carnal presumptions, of being in the favor of God, and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good Conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of Grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God which hope shall never make them ashamed.

Scripture Lookup

Job 8:13,14

Matthew 7:22,23

1 John 2:3, 3:14,18,19,21,24, 5:13

Romans 5:2,5

Reflection

They are among you. Going through the motions, confident in their assumption, and claiming Christ are people who are not regenerate at all. If they can deceive themselves, what about us? How can we have assurance that we are graciously saved?

It is possible to be certain of your salvation. The marks of a true believer laid out in this paragraph of the Confession are: belief, love, and striving. Do you believe Jesus to be fully God and fully man, the mediator between God and man? Does this knowledge cause affection towards Him, and a desire to please Him? Is this desire acted upon to produce good works? When all the components are there, we need not be agitated as to the state of our soul.

Confidently rest assured that you are in Christ, but do not take it for granted. Examine yourselves periodically: am I sincere? Do I believe in Jesus? Am I endeavoring to follow His commands? Affirmations to these questions enable us to rejoice at the glory of God, who saves sinners such as ourselves! Such hope will not disappoint.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you assuming your salvation, or are you certain of your salvation?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 232

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Day 232

Of Perseverance of the Saints.

Chapter 17, Paragraph 3.

“… hurt, and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves: yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.

Scripture Lookup

2 Samuel 12:14
Luke 22:32,61,62

Reflection

Sin has consequences. It is not simply a “me and Jesus” thing. Not only does it grieve God and harm yourself, sin has the ability to wound others physically and spiritually. Temporal judgments may result due to your sin, for the Lord disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6).

God has been very severe with his people when they have sinned; it has cost them dear….Repentance is a costly thing. It is disgrace, sorrow and pain to a man, even though it is a grace and duty.

-Ralph Venning, The Sinfulness of Sin

When those who profess Christ fall, it is so easy to dismiss them as never truly believing. Scripture tells us, though, that those whom God has accepted in the beloved can fall badly, and fall for a time, and yet will renew their repentance and persevere to the end. When we hear of fallen Christians, we may automatically assume they were never truly regenerate. “If they were real Christians”, we think, “They would’ve known better”. Our standards are higher for our brothers and sisters in Christ than for unregenerate people – and well they should be – but we must be ready to admit that although Christians should not do “x” sin, it is possible to be a Christian and do said sin. There are those who profess Christ right now who are in gross sin. Are they truly saved? We do not know. Only when they repent is there hope that they are regenerated and will persevere.

Watch the news and view a litany of sin. All of that is possible for a believer to fall into. Currently white supremacists are receiving attention by the media. Some of these who think such vile thoughts claim to be Christians. Surely no true Christian commits such a sin as hate? Yet one would think that true believers would never commit premeditated murder. Or deny Jesus. David, a “man after God’s own heart,” deliberately put Uriah on the front line of battle. Peter vehemently denied knowing Jesus. Their repentance was accompanied by much weeping. What makes those of us who believe any different? May we soberly pray that we may be kept from sin!

Brethren, there is no guarantee that any one of us will not fall into such sins apart from perpetual watchfulness. -Samuel E. Waldron

We should weep for those believers who fall into sin, and tremble that we could fall into that same sin. Flee sin, and be quick to repent. Thankfully, our greatest comfort is that we belong to Jesus. Through Him only shall we persevere to the end.

Questions to Consider

  • Have you ever considered the link between perseverance and repentance?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 231

Day 231

Of Perseverance of the Saints.

Chapter 17, Paragraph 3.

“…come to have their graces and comforts impaired have their hearts hardened, and their Consciences wounded,…

Scripture Lookup

Psalm 51:10,12
Psalm 32:3,4

Reflection

Believers, even though they are preserved unto glory by God, will fall into sin during this life. Some of us will fall into grievous sins and will wallow in them for a time. Those who are regenerated, for whom the Lord Jesus lived and died, in whom the Spirit works sanctification, do incur God’s displeasure and grieve Him by their trespasses. Sin is a terrible affront to God. Yet sin affects the backsliding Christian as well.

The Christian who succumbs to the temptations offered by the world, the flesh, and the devil, who neglects the means offered for encouraging and strengthening her perseverance, inflicts self-harm upon herself. The injury may not be physical, but it is definitely spiritual. The graces and comforts enjoyed previously are dimmed. She is not feeling close to God, is not fruitful in good works, and is not repentant while in this sin. Any pricks of guilt felt are brushed off, as her heart hardens and her conscience is weakened.

When we see brothers and sisters in Christ persist in sin, sorrow and concern should be stirred in us. Much as we would yell “Watch out!” when we see an object about to hit someone, so too we should not be afraid to warn our fellow believers of the harm they are doing to themselves. Confrontation is not pleasant, but our love for our fellow believers should overpower our discomfort. While hearts may have hardened and consciences are weakened, the backslidden are not beyond hope of repentance.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you view backsliding as harmful?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 230

Day 230

Of Perseverance of the Saints.

Chapter 17, Paragraph 3.

And though they may through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein; whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his holy Spirit,…”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 26:70,72,74

Isaiah 64:5,9

Ephesians 4:30

Reflection

 

Perseverance of the saints doesn’t make you perfect. Perfection does not happen until we are in glory. The elect sin. We tend to understand this – after all, nobody’s perfect, right? Sometimes the elect sin badly. This one is harder to understand. Our fellow believers are supposed to be joyful, loving brothers and sisters in Christ. Many times they are. Yet sometimes our fellow believers fall into grievous sin, and we are shocked and saddened. How could this happen, we wonder, forgetting the remaining corruption that lurks within all the elect.

Forgetting the strength of our remaining sinful flesh is a main reason why believers fall into sin, or “backslide”.  Sometimes we think we can do this Christian walk just fine on our own.  We lessen our reliance on Jesus, assenting with our minds that “He’s got this”, while our hearts are drawn towards the world. We fail to heed His commands, including the means He has given for strengthening us. Neglecting His word, neglecting prayer and the assembling of the saints leave us vulnerable to the siren call of the world, flesh, and devil.

Seeing brothers and sisters in Christ fall into grievous sin should cause us to respond fearfully and humbly. If it can happen to them, it can happen to us. Cling to Christ. Take full advantage of His provisions for growth in godliness.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

-1 Corinthians 10:12

Questions to Consider

  • Are you neglecting the means given for perseverance?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 229

Day 229

Of Perseverance of the Saints.

Chapter 17, Paragraph 2.

“…and the nature of the Covenant of Grace from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.

Scripture Lookup

Jeremiah 32:40

Reflection

 

Election by the Father, intercession by the Son, and the abiding of the Spirit all give great hope that those who are in Christ will persevere to the end. All of these actions by God are the unfolding of the Covenant of Grace. What is the Covenant of Grace? It was defined for us in chapter 7:

…it pleased the Lord to make a Covenant of Grace wherein he freely offereth unto Sinners, Life and Salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them Faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal Life, his holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

How do we know that we will persevere to the end? Because the Covenant of Grace insures it. God has deigned to save a people, and has entered into covenant with those people. In this covenant none shall be lost, for the Lord Himself guarantees that He will save them. It is impossible to be a part of the Covenant of Grace and break away from it – for that to happen would prove God impotent and a liar, characteristics utterly foreign to His being. Instead, the power and word of God carry the believer to eternal salvation. Not a one will he will lose (John 6:39).

This is why all exhortations to believers to do good works, to flee from sin, to press onward, must be grounded in the reality that perseverance is assured by God through His covenant. No matter how hard we strive, our own actions can only be a result of God working in us to will and do that which is good. There is no room for pride on our part. Looking to Him who is able to keep us from stumbling, we find strength to do good, for He is able to make us stand in the presence of His glory. All the glory belongs to Him!

Questions to Consider

  • How does knowing about the Covenant of Grace aid you in your Christian walk?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 228

Day 228

Of Perseverance of the Saints.

Chapter 17, Paragraph 2.

“…the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit and the seed of God within them,…”

Scripture Lookup

Hebrews 6:17,18
1 John 3:9

Reflection

 

God does not lie. He does not intentionally craft words so that He can be misconstrued. He does not flatter anyone. He does not promise something and fail to deliver it. When God promises to save His people, He swears by Himself that it will happen. The unchanging, infinite, eternal, almighty God gives His oath that His unchanging, infallible promise will be executed. It will be done, and it shall be done by the One who has the will and power to do it. Thus God alone is the one who ensures the perseverance of the elect.

The oath of God is enough for the believer to rest confidently that we shall receive eternal life. Yet it is not God’s word alone that gives us this hope. Not only has He said we will receive an inheritance of eternal life, but He actively works to accomplish this salvation. The Father elects us, the Son redeems us and intercedes for us, and the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Through the work of the Spirit we are sanctified and produce good works, conforming us more and more to the image of Christ.

We can have perfect confidence that those who are in Christ will persevere to the end. God’s word is as unchanging as He is; He will never go back on it. The Holy Spirit abides with those born of God, and will never leave them nor forsake them. With such persons of the Trinity working toward the same end, the elect’s eternal salvation is assured.

Questions to Consider

  • How does knowing that all three persons of the trinity ensure your perseverance affect your life right now?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 227

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Day 227

Of Perseverance of the Saints.

Chapter 17, Paragraph 2.

This perseverance of the Saints depends not upon their own free will; but upon the immutability of the decree of Election flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and Union with him,…

Scripture Lookup

Romans 8:30, 9:11,16

Romans 5:9,10

John 14:19

Reflection

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. -Romans 9:16 (NASB)

Imagine if your perseverance depended upon you! Waking every morning, constantly reminding yourself, “Do better. Try harder.” Crawling into bed every night, reflecting on the day, we would either succumb to despair over our performance or preen with pride at our supposed success. How does God get glory in such a situation? He does not, for if perseverance is dependent upon me, then I become the focus of my Christian race, not Jesus. Rather than being the perfecter of my faith, He becomes my support. When our theology fails to give God His rightful place as sovereign, faith becomes the crutch unbelievers accuse it of being.

Thankfully, our perseverance is not dependent upon the strength of our will, but upon the steadfastness and power of God. God’s decree of election does not change. You are not in one day and out the next. Those who are His have been chosen since the foundation of the world. Not only has God decreed thus, it is through Him that we persevere. Jesus’s life and death on our behalf is abundantly beyond what is needed for our salvation, and His intercession ensures our preservation. Found in Him, we need not fear being cast out.

Running the race of this Christian life, therefore, cannot be done looking at ourselves. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, we are encouraged to press onward, knowing that our victory is secure. Not because of our will, but because of His.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you looking to Christ for your preservation, or to yourself?