Why I Still Struggle With Doubt

We are spending a whole month talking about “The Joy of Assurance”. This is so important, I wish we had MORE time on the subject. I talk to so many Christians that say things like:

Well, I just hope there is a place for me in heaven.

I am hoping I go into heaven. I guess I’ll find out when I get there.

I just hope I’ve done enough for God to let me into heaven.

-------------Have you heard these? Have you said/thought anything like this?

God WANTS you to be confident in your salvation. 1 John 5:13 says I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (emphasis mine)

God wants you to know, to walk in full confidence. So why do Christians still struggle with this? Take a look at this to prep you for Sunday:

Five Reasons People Lack Assurance of Their Salvation

1 - Some people just do not fully understand the Gospel.

“Security” is the objective truth - the Bible makes it clear that if you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, nothing can take that from you! (John 10:28, among many other verses)

“Assurance” is subjective - the confidence that you personally have that you possess salvation.

Assurance can only come when you agree with what God says about the security of your salvation. And that is a clear truth of the Gospel - if you have received Jesus, you are saved. Forever. Sin, guilt, shame, condemnation - history.

2 - Some people just can’t accept forgiveness.

“I am too bad to be saved,” says the person who doesn’t wrap his heart around the love of God in Christ. Some people really struggle with this, because deep down, we know we don’t deserve God’s love.

But OH - to His glory, He gives His love! It’s an act of grace - undeserved, unmerited favor! But instead of listening to what God says, we give our ear to the accuser of the brethren: Satan.

3 - Some struggle with sin so much that they wonder if they have a new nature at all.

If you are in sin, you will not be in assurance. Don’t misunderstand. Sinning does not take your salvation, but it does take your confidence away. It is hard to feel triumphant when we act defeated, even God has pronounced us ultimately triumphant.

4 - Some don’t know the exact time of their salvation.

You have heard the dazzling testimonies. “Yes! At 9:04 PM on April 17, I received Jesus.” That is so cool. But some people don’t remember the exact moment like that. And that causes them to doubt.

I have a missionary friend that was born in a place where they don’t exactly keep birth records. It’s kind of funny - he isn’t sure how old he is. But because he doesn’t know his birthday, does that mean he has doubts as to whether he is even alive?

Some people have been raised in a Christian home, and feel like they have always believed. Don’t downplay it if you were discipled in the home - that’s the way God intends the home to work, anyways.

5 - Some don’t see the hand of God in their trials.

Some people doubt because they go through a hard season and feel like God wasn’t right there with them.

“Where is God when I needed Him? How can I be a Christian?”

But believe it - the strongest proof of salvation is tested faith. You know your faith is legit when you go through trials and come out the other said saying, “Yet I will praise Him!”

Romans 5 and James 1 both teach that trials test, and strengthen, your faith.

So how can you grow in assurance? Join us this Sunday, August 25, at HBC for the answer to that!

p.s. - If you come to Harvest this Sunday, I doubt you will have doubts afterwards

A PS from James MacDonald...

I read this and wanted to re-post it here, because it tied in perfectly to what the sermon was about last Sunday. In the Our Journey devotional, Pastor James has been talking about change, and wrong ways to go about it. Read on! (And if you missed the sermon from last Sunday, listen to it from our sermons links: "Anti-Bullying Campaign".)

One of the persistent faulty plans for change among Christians is the idea of change by the rules. Change by unbending, merciless, military following of orders. Picture the drill sergeant barking out orders right in the face of the recruit. Well that’s the way a lot of churches are. This is the kind of church I grew up in: change by the power of the rules. This is not a new problem for the church of Jesus Christ—it shows up already among Christians in the New Testament.

Change by rules means strict adherence to a list of some kind. Keep the list and you will change. And don’t overlook the importance of making sure others are keeping the list too. Life becomes a daily nightmare of tracking rules and desperately trying to compensate or cover-up for the rules we’ve broken. That’s Christianity? A bunch of rules? Really!?!

I’m a Christian. I don’t do these five things. You know, the Filthy Five, the Dirty Dozen. Whatever they are; it depends on how fired up your church was. But there’s a list. Rules! Rules! Rules!  The problem with that, as Romans 6-8 makes abundantly clear is that it reduces God’s work of life-change to a heart-hardening, mind-numbing, soul-stifling not-so-merry-go-round of effort and disappointment.

Read again the passage above from Romans 7 and note how the rules inflame your desire to sin. Legalism just makes you want to sin. Sin has power; rules have no power. Rules bring sin to the surface.  I don’t want us to be a church like that. God hasn’t offered us a life like that! Some of us need to get off the rule-keeping treadmill and leave it behind. Otherwise, we will never change!

Nuff said!

p.s. - not certain who Nuff is, but he gets credited with a lot

A Life and Death Decision

Jesus Christ does not turn bad people into good people, He turns dead people into alive people.

The Bible tells us we are dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1). Not just wrong in our sin, not just evil in our sin…dead. Our problem is so much deeper than being people who make mistakes. We are spiritually dead and separated from God. And leaving the earth in that state puts us in a place of being eternally separated from God.

The Bible uses other words to describe our condition.

Not only are we dead, we are weak, or helpless (Isaiah 64:6)We can’t even do anything about our condition. No doctor, no medicine, no surgery, no seminar, no religious activity can fix it. This flies in the face of everything we want to believe. We want to think that we have the ability to fix ourselves. Dead people can’t fix anything.

We are also ungodly, or lawbreakers (1 John 3:4). This is bigger than jaywalking or littering. This is violating the holy standard of a Holy God! “I am not that bad! I know people much worse than me.” God isn’t comparing you to them. He compares you to His standard, which is holy perfection.

We are also, by nature, God’s enemy (Romans 8:7). Let that one sink in! I wouldn’t want my neighbor to be my enemy, he could do some harm. I wouldn’t want a Navy Seal to be my enemy, he could do even more harm! But the Almighty God of the universe…! That is the last thing I would want, but by nature, we are enemies of God!

And this is what makes the Gospel of Jesus Christ so glorious. Through Jesus Christ and Him alone, God turned all this around.

Read Romans 5:6-11, notice I highlighted the words I just mentioned, and I also highlighted what we have become through Christ.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

We were helpless, but God provided the power in Christ, and in Him we are strong (Colossians 1:11).

We were sinners, but God provided the substitute in Christ, and in Him we are righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).

We were God’s enemy, but He provided restoration in Christ, and in Him we are friends of God (James 2:23).

We were dead, but God provided life through Christ (Romans 6:5).

What side of the cross are you on? Have you cried out to God for the restoration that He offers freely through Christ, believing in what Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead?

Do you want to remain a dead, helpless, sinning enemy of God, or become an alive, strong, righteous friend of God?

A choice must be made. It is literally a matter of life and death.