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Are you sure you are going to heaven when you die? If so, on what are you basing your assurance? Do you know for sure that you have everlasting life?
If you truly desire to be saved – to become a Christian – the best thing you can do is to find out what God says about salvation in the Bible, by reading it for yourself! People are saved “through the word of God” (1 Peter 1:23), and personal saving faith “comes by hearing…the word of God” (Romans 10:17). So, if you are seeking the truth, pick up your Bible now and, as we proceed, ask the Lord to show you the way of salvation from what you read.
As you think about salvation, the first thing you need to grasp is this: God rightly sees you as a sinner who deserves to be in hell for ever. Offensive though this is to human pride, it is the truth – and you will never be saved until you sincerely bow to this solemn fact. The Bible’s teaching about sin is plain and clear:
Romans 5:19 “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners”
Psalm 51:5 “In sin did my mother conceive me”
Ephesians 2:3 “We…were by nature the children of wrath”
Our first parent Adam’s one sin in the Garden of Eden led to all of his descendants being constituted sinners. That includes you. We all begin life “in sin” and are sinners in our very natures. In other words, sin isn’t just something we do, it’s something we are. We are wicked in our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” But there’s more. We have also committed and practised sins:
Romans 3:10-19 “There is none righteous, no, not one…there is none that doeth good, no, not one…with their tongues they have used deceit…whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what…the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
Our nature has revealed itself in the sinful things that we have done. This is a universal fact, true of all people without exception. “There is no difference [between any of us], for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The Bible’s picture of humanity is very bleak. It describes us as:
Lost – 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Unclean – Isaiah 64:6
Rebellious – Isaiah 53:6
Condemned already – John 3:18
Helpless – Romans 5:6
Bankrupt – Luke 7:42
Think about what these verses mean for you. Remember too that your sins will all be judged by God. Read Revelation 20:11-15 and you’ll see that on the day of judgment, sinners will be cast into the lake of fire as punishment for their sins. If you are not saved, that’s where you are heading – for ever.
What can I do about it, you ask? It’s vital to understand that you can do nothing to save yourself. Neither your religion, nor your baptism, church attendance, good works, charitable giving nor even your prayers can deal with your sin and make you right with God. You can sincerely confess your sins to God every single day and ask God to help you to be a better person, but that will never justify you before the righteous God of heaven. The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace, through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Bible says that all your best efforts are like filthy rages (Isa 64:6). Nothing you can do will ever earn or merit favour with the God against whom you have sinned.
In such a helpless and hopeless position, you stand in need of one thing; a Saviour! to save you from your sins and deliver you from the wrath you deserve. The Lord Jesus is that Saviour! He is the sinless One who paid the penalty and bore the punishment for sin when He suffered and died on the cross. Three days later God raised Him from the dead and then seated Him at His right hand in heaven, proving and declaring that the work to save sinners is completely finished!
If you are willing, without reserve, to agree with what God says about you – to own up to your guilt, to admit you deserve God’s judgment, and to acknowledge your utter helplessness – the following list of gospel verses will bring light and hope to your soul. Please read them slowly, thoughtfully and carefully:
Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”
Romans 5:6-8 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 Peter 2:24 “Who His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…by whose stripes ye were healed.”
John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
The Son of God has loved you and given Himself for you. He has satisfied the righteous claims of God against sin by shedding His precious blood and laying down His life as a once-for-all sacrifice for sin. Don’t wait – now is the day of salvation!
Have you accepted the sentence of guilt under which you lie because of your sin? Then accept the mercy and forgiveness that God offers to you in that very condition! Trust in Christ at once and be saved. Take God at His word! Christ’s work for sinners is done! Do not rely on a prayer you can pray, or on money you can pay, or on a confession you can make. Rest alone on what another – the Lord Jesus – accomplished for you 2,000 years ago on the cross. Trust in the triumphant, risen Lord Jesus for salvation today!
May God bless you with salvation as you ponder these vital matters. If we can be of further help to you, feel free to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Two online booklets are highly recommended for sincere seekers of salvation:
Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment
by George Cutting (1834-1934)
This article has been a blessing to thousands of people over many years. It deals with how a person can know for sure that they are saved and on their way to heaven. The author, George Cutting, gives wise scriptural counsel which has led many to a saving understanding of the gospel of Christ. May you find help from it too!
“In Which Class Are You Travelling?”
What a common question! Let me put it to you. You most certainly are travelling from time into eternity, and who knows how very, very near you may be this moment to the great terminus?
“Which class are you travelling?” There are only three. Let me describe them so you may put yourself to the test in the presence of “Him with whom we have to do.”
1st Class: Those who are saved and who know it.
2nd Class: Those who are unsure of salvation, but are eager to be sure.
3rd Class: Those who are unsaved and totally indifferent about it.
Again I repeat my question: “Which class are you travelling?” Oh, the madness of indifference, when eternal issues are at stake! A short time ago, a man came rushing into the train station, and, barely able to gasp for breath, he took his seat in one of the cars just about to start.
“You’ve run it close,” said a fellow-passenger.
“Yes,” he replied, breathing heavily after every two or three words, “but I’ve saved four hours, and that’s well worth running for.”
“Saved four hours!” I couldn’t help repeating to myself, “Four hours well worth that struggle! What of eternity? What of eternity?” Yet are there not thousands of shrewd, far-seeing men today who take good care of their own interests in this life, but who are blind to the eternity before them? In spite of the infinite love of God to helpless rebels, in spite of His pronounced hatred of sin, in spite of the brevity of man’s life here, in spite of the terrors of judgment after death and of the solemn probability of waking up with the unbearable remorse of being on hell’s side of a “fixed” gulf, man hurries on to the bitter end, as careless as if there were no God, no death, no judgment, no heaven, no hell. If you are like that, may God this very moment have mercy upon you and open your eyes to your most perilous position, standing as you may be on a slippery brink of an endless horror.
Believe it or not, your case is desperate. Put off the thought of eternity no longer. Remember that procrastination is not only a “thief,” but a “murderer.” There is truth in the Spanish proverb which says, “The road of ‘By-and-By’ leads to the town of ‘Never.’ ” I beg you, get off that road. “Now is the day of salvation.”
But, says one, I am not indifferent as to the welfare of my soul. My deep trouble lies wrapped up in another word — uncertainty. I am among the second-class passengers you speak of.
Well, both indifference and uncertainty are the children of one parent — unbelief. The first results from unbelief as to the sin and ruin of man, the other from unbelief as to God’s sovereign remedy for man. It is especially for souls desiring before God to be fully and unmistakably sure of their salvation that these pages are written. I can, in a great measure, understand your deep soul trouble, and I am assured that the more you are in earnest about this all-important matter, the greater will be your thirst, until you know for certain that you are really and eternally saved. “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
The only son of a devoted father is at sea. News comes that his ship has been wrecked on some foreign shore. Who can tell the anguish of suspense in that father’s heart until, upon the most reliable authority, he is assured that his boy is safe and sound. Or, again, you are far from home. The night is dark and wintry, and your way is totally unknown. Standing at a point where two roads diverge, you ask a passer-by the way to the town you desire to reach, and he tells you he thinks such and such a way is the right one and he hopes you will be all right if you take it. Would “thinks” and “hopes” and “maybes” satisfy you? Surely not. You must have certainty about it, or every step you take will increase your anxiety. What wonder, then, that men have sometimes been able neither to eat nor sleep when the eternal safety of the soul has been trembling in the balance!
To lose your wealth is much;
To lose your health is more;
To lose your soul is such a loss
as no man can restore.
Now, there are three things I desire, by the Holy Spirit’s help, to make clear to you, and to put them in scriptural language, they are:
1. “The way of salvation” (Acts 16:17).
2. “The knowledge of salvation” (Luke 1:77).
3. “The joy of…salvation” (Psa. 51:12).
It is quite possible for a soul to know the way of salvation without having the certain knowledge that he himself is saved, or to know that he is saved, without possessing at all times the joy that ought to accompany that knowledge.
The Way of Salvation
Please open your Bible and read carefully Exodus 13:13. There you find these words from the lips of Jehovah: “Every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.”
Now, come back with me, in thought, to a supposed scene of three thousand years ago. Two men (a priest of God and a poor Israelite) stand in earnest conversation. Let us stand by, with their permission, to listen. The gestures of each bespeak deep earnestness about some matter of importance, and it isn’t difficult to see that the subject of conversation is a little ass that stands trembling beside them.
“I have come to know,” says the poor Israelite, “if there cannot be a merciful exception made in my favor this once. This feeble little thing is the firstling of my ass, and though I know full well what the law of God says about it, I am hoping that mercy will be shown and the ass’s life spared. I am but a poor man in Israel and can ill afford to lose the little colt.”
“But,” answers the priest, firmly, “the law of the Lord is plain and unmistakable. ‘Every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck.’ Where is the lamb?”
“Ah, sir, I do not have a lamb.”
“Then go purchase one and return, or the ass’s neck must surely be broken. The lamb must die or the ass must die.”
“Alas! then all my hopes are crushed,” he cries, “for I am far too poor to buy a lamb.”
While this conversation proceeds, a third person joins them, and after hearing the poor man’s tale of sorrow, he turns to him and says kindly, “Be of good cheer; I can meet your need.” And he proceeds: “We have in our house on the hilltop yonder one little lamb brought up at our very hearthstone, who is ‘without spot or blemish.’ It has never once strayed from home, and it stands (and rightly so) in highest favour with all that are in the house. I will fetch it.” And away he hurries up the hill. Soon you see him gently leading the little lamb down the slope, and very soon both lamb and ass are standing side by side.
Then the lamb is bound to the altar, its blood is shed, and the fire consumes it. The righteous priest now turns to the poor man and says, “You can freely take home your little colt in safety — no broken neck for it now. The lamb has died in the ass’s stead and consequently the ass goes righteously free, thanks to your friend.”
Can’t you see in this God’s own picture of a sinner’s salvation? His claims as to sin demanded a “broken neck,” that is, righteous judgment upon your guilty head, the only alternative being the death of a divinely approved substitute.
Now, you could not find the provision to meet your case, but, in the person of His beloved Son, God Himself provided the Lamb. “Behold the Lamb of God,” said John to his disciples, as his eyes fell upon that blessed spotless One. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
He went to Calvary, “as a lamb to the slaughter,” and there and then He “once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). God does not lower His righteous, holy claims against sin when He justifies (clears from all charge of guilt) the ungodly sinner who believes in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). Blessed be God for such a Saviour, such a salvation!
Do You Believe on the Son of God?
Well, you reply, I have, as a poor, condemned sinner, found in Him one that I can safely trust. I do believe on Him. Then I tell you, the full value of His sacrifice and death, as God estimates it, He makes as good to you as though you had accomplished it all yourself.
Oh, what a wondrous way of salvation is this! Is it not great and grand and Godlike — worthy of God Himself? The gratification of His own heart of love, the glory of His precious Son, and the salvation of a sinner are all bound up together. What a bundle of grace and glory! Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has so ordered it that His own beloved Son should do all the work and get all the praise, and that guilty you and I, believing on Him, should not only get all the blessings, but enjoy the blissful company of the Blesser forever. “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psa. 34:3).
But perhaps your eager inquiry may be, “How is it that since I do really distrust self and self-work, I have not the full certainty of my salvation?” You say, “If my feelings warrant me saying that I am saved one day, they are pretty sure to blight every hope the next, and I am left like a storm-tossed ship, without any anchorage whatever.” There lies your mistake. Did you ever hear of a captain trying to find anchorage by fastening his anchor inside the ship? Never. Always outside.
It may be that you are clear that it is only Christ’s death that gives safety, but you think that it is what you feel that gives certainty.
The Knowledge of Salvation
Before you turn to the verse which I shall ask you very carefully to look at, which speaks of how a believer is to know that he has eternal life, let me quote it in the distorted way that man’s imagination often puts it. “These happy feelings have I given unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” Now, open your Bible, and while you compare this with God’s blessed and unchanging Word, may He give you from your very heart to say with David, “I hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love” (Psa. 119:113). The verse just misquoted is 1 John 5:13, and it reads thus in our version: “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.”
How did the firstborn sons of Israel know for certain that they were safe the night of the Passover and Egypt’s judgment? Let us take a visit to two of their houses and hear what they have to say.
We find in the first house we enter that they are all shivering with fear and suspense. We inquire, “What is the secret of all this paleness and trembling?” The firstborn son informs us that the angel of death is coming around the land and that he is not quite certain how matters will stand with him at that solemn moment.
“When the destroying angel has passed our house,” says he, “and the night of judgment is over, I shall then know that I am safe, but I can’t see how I can be quite sure of it until then. They say they are sure of salvation next door, but we think it very presumptuous. All I can do is to spend the long, dreary night hoping for the best.”
“Well,” we inquire, “but has the God of Israel not provided a way of safety for His people?”
“True,” he replies, “and we have availed ourselves of that way of escape. The blood of the spotless and unblemished first-year lamb has been duly sprinkled with the bunch of hyssop on the lintel and two side-posts, but still we are not fully assured of shelter.”
Let us now enter next door. What a striking contrast meets our eye at once! Joy shows on every face. There they stand with girded loins and staff in hand, enjoying the roasted lamb.
What can be the meaning of all this joy on such a solemn night as this? “Ah,” say they all, “we are only waiting for Jehovah’s marching orders and then we shall bid a last farewell to the taskmaster’s cruel lash and all the drudgery of Egypt.”
“But wait. Do you forget that this is the night of Egypt’s judgment?”
“We know it well, but our firstborn son is safe. The blood has been sprinkled according to the wish of our God.”
“But so it has been next door,” we reply, “but they are all unhappy because they are all uncertain of safety.”
“Ah,” responds the firstborn firmly, “but we have more than the sprinkled blood; we have the unerring word of God about it. God has said, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you.’ God rests satisfied with the blood outside, and we rest satisfied with His word inside.”
The sprinkled blood makes us safe.
The written word makes us sure.
Could anything make us more safe than the sprinkled blood, or more sure than His written word? Nothing, nothing.
Now, let me ask you a question. “Which of those two houses think you was the safer?”
Do you say the second, where all were so happy? No, then you are wrong. Both are safe alike. Their safety depends upon what God thinks about the blood outside and not upon the state of their feelings inside.
If you would be sure of your own blessing, then listen not to the unstable testimony of inward emotions, but to the infallible witness of the Word of God. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.”
Let me give you a simple illustration from everyday life. A certain farmer in the country, not having sufficient grass for his cattle, applies for a nice piece of pasture which he hears is to be rented near his own house. For some time he gets no answer from the landlord. One day a neighbour comes in and says, “I feel quite sure you will get that field. Don’t you recollect how that last Christmas he sent you a special present and that he gave you a kind nod of recognition the other day when he drove past?” And with such like words the farmer’s mind is filled with hope.
Next day another neighbour meets him, and in the course of conversation he says, “I’m afraid you will stand no chance whatever of getting that field. Another has applied for it, and he is a favourite with the owner — occasionally he visits with him,” and so on. And the poor farmer’s bright hopes are dashed to the ground. One day he is hoping; the next day he is full of perplexing doubts.
Soon the mailman calls, and the farmer’s heart beats fast as he breaks the seal of the letter, for he sees by the handwriting that it is from the owner himself. See his face change from anxious suspense to undisguised joy as he reads and re-reads that letter.
“It’s a settled thing now,” exclaims he to his wife; “no more doubts and fears about it. The owner says the field is mine as long as I require it, on the most easy terms. No man’s opinion matters now. His word settles it.”
Now many a poor soul is in a similar condition to the troubled farmer — tossed and perplexed by the opinions of men or the thoughts and feelings of his own treacherous heart, and it is only upon receiving the Word of God as the Word of God that certainty takes the place of doubt. When God speaks, there must be certainty, whether He pronounces the damnation of the unbeliever or the salvation of the believer.
“Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven” (Psa 119:89). To the simple-hearted believer His word settles all. “Hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19).
“I need no other argument;
I want no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died -
And that He died for me.”
The believer can add, “And that God says so.”
“But how may I be sure that I have the right kind of faith?”
Well, there can be but one answer to that question, namely: Have you confidence in the right person — in the blessed Son of God?
It is not a question of the amount of your faith but the trustworthiness of the person you repose your confidence in. One man takes hold of Christ, as it were, with a drowning man’s grip; another but touches the hem of His garment. But the sinner who does the former is not a bit safer than the one who does the latter. They have both made the same discovery, that while all of self is totally untrustworthy, they may safely confide in Christ, calmly rely on His word, and confidently rest in the eternal value of His finished work. That is what is meant by believing on Him. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47).
Make sure of it, then, that your confidence is not reposed in your works of amendment, your religious observances, your pious feelings when under religious influences, your moral training from childhood, and the like. You may have the strongest faith in any or all of these and perish everlastingly. Don’t deceive yourself by any “fair show in the flesh.” The feeblest faith in Christ eternally saves, while the strongest faith in anything else comes from a deceived heart — only the enemy’s disguise over the pit of eternal perdition.
God, in the gospel, simply introduces to you the Lord Jesus Christ, and He says, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” “You may,” He says, “with all confidence trust His heart, though you cannot with impunity trust your own.” Blessed, thrice blessed Lord Jesus, who would not trust Thee and praise Thy name!
“I do really believe on Him,” said a sad-looking soul to me one day. “But yet, when asked if I am saved, I don’t like to say yes, for fear I should be telling a lie.” This young woman was a butcher’s daughter, in a small town in the midlands. It happened to be market day, and her father had not then returned from market. So I said, “Now suppose when your father comes home, you ask him how many sheep he bought today, and he answers, ‘Ten.’ After a while a man comes to the shop and says, ‘How many sheep did your father buy today?’ and you reply, ‘I don’t like to say, for fear I should be telling a lie.’ ” “But,” said the mother (who was standing by at the time), with righteous indignation, “that would be making her father a liar.”
Now, don’t you see that this well-meaning young woman was virtually making Christ a liar, saying, “I do believe on the Son of God, but I don’t like to say I am saved lest I should be telling a lie,” when Christ Himself has said, “He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47)? “But,” says another, “how may I be sure that I really do believe? I have tried often to believe and looked within to see if I had got it, but the more I look at my faith, the less I seem to have.”
You are looking in the wrong direction to find that out, and your trying to believe but plainly shows that you are on the wrong track.
Let me give you another illustration to explain what I want to convey to you. You are sitting at your quiet fireside one evening, when a man comes in and tells you that the stationmaster has been killed that night at the railway.
Now it happens that this man has long had the reputation for being a very dishonest man and the most daring liar in the neighbourhood.
“Do you believe, or even try to believe that man?”
“Of course not,” you exclaim.
“Oh I know him too well for that.”
“But tell me how you know that you don’t believe him? Is it by looking within at your faith or feelings?”
“No,” you reply. “I think of the man that brings me the message.”
Soon, a neighbour drops in and says, “The stationmaster has been run over by a freight train tonight and killed on the spot.” After he has left, I hear you cautiously say, “Well, I partly believe it now, for, to my recollection, this man only once in his life deceived me, though I have known him from boyhood.”
“But again,” I ask, “is it by looking at your faith this time that you know you partly believe it?”
“No,” you repeat. “I am thinking of the character of my informant.”
Well, this man has scarcely left your room before a third person enters and brings you the same sad news as the first. But this time you say, “Now, John, since you tell me, I believe it.”
Again, I press my question (which is, remember, only the echo of your own), “How do you know that you so confidently believe your friend John?”
“Because of who and what John is,” you reply. “He never has deceived me, and I don’t think he ever will.”
Well, then, just in the same way I know that I believe the gospel, namely, because of the One who brings me the news. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. … He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar: because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son” (1 John 5:9-10). “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3).
An anxious soul once said to a servant of Christ, “Oh sir, I can’t believe!” to which the preacher wisely and quietly replied, “Indeed, who is it that you can’t believe?” This broke the spell. He had been looking at faith as an indescribable something that he must feel within himself in order to be sure that he was all right for heaven, whereas faith always looks outside to a living Person and His finished work and quietly listens to the testimony of a faithful God about both.
It is the outside look that brings the inside peace. When a man turns his face towards the sun, his own shadow is behind him. You cannot look at self and a glorified Christ in heaven at the same moment.
Thus we have seen that the blessed Person of God’s Son wins my confidence; His finished work makes me eternally safe; God’s Word about those who believe on Him makes me unalterably sure. I find in Christ and His work the way of salvation, and in the Word of God the knowledge of salvation.
But if saved, you may say, “How is it that I have such a fluctuating experience — so often losing all my joy and comfort and getting as wretched and downcast as I was before my conversion?” Well, this brings us to our third point:
The Joy of Salvation
You will find in Scripture that while you are saved by Christ’s work and assured by God’s Word, you are maintained in comfort and joy by the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer.
Now you must bear in mind that every saved one has still within him “the flesh,” that is, the evil nature he was born with as a natural man and which, perhaps, shows itself while still a helpless infant, on his mother’s lap. The Holy Spirit in the believer resists the flesh and is grieved by every activity of it in motive, word or deed. When he is walking “worthy of the Lord,” the Holy Spirit will be producing in his soul His blessed fruits — such as “love, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22). When he is walking in a carnal, worldly way, the Spirit is grieved, and these fruits are lacking in a greater or lesser measure.
Let me put it thus for you who do believe on God’s Son:
Christ’s work and your salvation stand or fall together.
Your walk and your enjoyment stand or fall together.
If Christ’s work could break down (and, blessed be God, it never, never will), your salvation would break down with it. When your walk breaks down (and be watchful, for it may), your enjoyment will break down with it.
Thus it is said of the early disciples (Acts 9:31) that they walked “in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” And again in Acts 13:52: “The disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” My spiritual joy will be in proportion to the spiritual character of my walk after I am saved.
Now, do you see your mistake? You have been mixing up enjoyment with your safety — two widely different things. When, through self-indulgence, loss of temper or worldliness, you grieved the Holy Spirit and lost your joy, you thought your safety was undermined. I repeat it:
Your safety hangs upon Christ’s work FOR you.
Your assurance, upon God’s word TO you.
Your enjoyment, upon not grieving the Holy Spirit IN you.
When, as a child of God, you do anything to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, your communion with the Father and the Son is, for the time, practically suspended, and it is only when you judge yourself and confess your sins that the joy of communion is restored.
Your child has been guilty of some misdemeanour. His face shows that something is wrong with him. Half an hour before he was enjoying a walk with you around the garden, admiring what you admired and enjoying what you enjoyed. In other words, he was in communion with you; his feelings and sympathies were in common with yours.
But now all this is changed, and as a naughty, disobedient child, he stands in the corner, the very picture of misery. Upon penitent confession of his wrongdoing, you have assured him of forgiveness, but his pride and self-will keep him sobbing there. Where is the joy of half an hour ago? All gone. Why? Because communion between you and him has been interrupted. What has become of the relationship that existed between you and your son half an hour ago? Has that gone too? Is that severed or interrupted? Surely not. His relationship depends upon his birth; his communion, upon his behaviour.
Soon he comes out of the corner with broken will and broken heart, confessing the whole thing from first to last, so that you see he hates the disobedience and naughtiness as much as you do, and you take him in your arms and cover him with kisses. His joy is restored because communion is restored.
When David sinned so grievously in the matter of Uriah’s wife, he did not say, “Restore unto me Thy salvation,” but, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation” (Psa 51:12).
But to carry our illustration a little farther: Supposing while your child is in the corner, there should be a cry of “House on fire!” throughout your house, what would become of him then? Left in the corner to be consumed with the burning, falling house? Impossible. Very probably he would be the very first person you would carry out. Yes, you know right well that the love of relationship is one thing, and the joy of communion quite another.
Now, when the believer sins, communion is interrupted and joy is lost until, with a broken heart, he comes to the Father in self-judgment, confessing his sins. Then he knows he is forgiven, for His Word plainly declares that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Dear child of God, always bear in mind these two things, that there is nothing so strong as the link of relationship and nothing so delicate as the link of communion. All the combined power and counsel of earth and hell cannot sever the former, while an impure motive or an idle word will break the latter. If you are troubled with a cloudy half hour, get low before God, consider your ways, and when the cause that has robbed you of your joy has been detected, bring it at once to the light, confess your sin to God your Father, and judge yourself most unsparingly for the careless state of soul that allowed the thief to enter unchallenged.
But never, never, never confound your safety with your joy.
Don’t imagine, however, that the judgment of God falls the slightest bit more leniently on the believer’s sin than on the unbeliever’s. He does have two ways of dealing judicially with sin, and He could no more pass by the believer’s sin without judging it than He could pass by the sins of a rejecter of His precious Son. But there is this great difference between the two, namely that the believer’s sins were all known to God and all laid upon His own provided Lamb when He hung upon the cross at Calvary and that there and then, once and forever, the great “criminal question” of his guilt was raised and settled — judgment falling upon the blessed Substitute in the believer’s stead, “who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
The Christ-rejecter must bear his own sins in his own person in the lake of fire forever. Now, when a saved one fails, the “criminal question” of sin cannot be raised against him, the Judge Himself having settled that once for all on the cross, but the communion question is raised within him by the Holy Spirit as often as he grieves the Spirit.
Allow me, in conclusion, to give you another illustration: It is a beautiful moonlit night. The moon is full and shining in more than ordinary silvery brightness. A man is gazing intently down a deep, still well, where he sees the moon reflected, and thus remarks to a friendly bystander: “How beautifully fair and round she is tonight; how quietly and majestically she rides along!” He had just finished speaking when suddenly his friend drops a small pebble into the well and he now exclaims, “Why the moon is all broken to shivers, and the fragments are shaking together in the greatest disorder.”
“What gross absurdity!” is the astonished rejoinder of his companion. “Look up, man! The moon hasn’t changed in the slightest; it is the condition of the well that reflects her that has changed.”
Now, believer, apply this simple figure.
Your heart is the well. When there is no allowance of evil, the blessed Spirit of God takes of the glories and preciousness of Christ and reveals them to you for your comfort and joy, but the moment a wrong motive is cherished in the heart or an idle word escapes the lips unjudged, the Holy Spirit begins to disturb the well, your happy experiences are smashed to pieces, and you are all restless and disturbed within, until, in brokenness of spirit before God, you confess your sin (the disturbing thing) and thus get restored once more to the calm, sweet joy of communion.
But when your heart is thus all unrest, need I ask, Has Christ’s work changed? No, no! Then your salvation has not altered.
Has God’s Word changed? Surely not. Then the certainty of your salvation has received no shock.
Then what has changed? Why, the action of the Holy Spirit in you has changed, and instead of taking the glories of Christ and filling your heart with the sense of His worthiness, He is grieved at having to turn aside from this delightful office to fill you with the sense of your sin and unworthiness.
He takes from you your present comfort and joy until you judge and resist the evil thing that He judges and resists. When this is done, communion with God has again been restored.
The Lord make us to be increasingly jealous over ourselves, lest we “grieve…the Holy Spirit of God, whereby [we] are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
However weak your faith may be, rest assured of this, that the blessed One who has won your confidence will never change. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
The work He has accomplished will never change. “Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it” (Eccl. 3:14).
The word He has spoken will never change. Thus the object of my trust, the foundation of my safety, and the ground of my certainty are alike eternally unalterable.
Once more let me ask, in which class are you travelling? Turn your heart to God and answer that question to Him. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).
God’s Way of Salvation
by Alexander Marshall (1846-1928)
This article has been a blessing to thousands of people over many years. In booklet form it has been published in more than 20 languages with over four million copies in print. It highlights around 30 questions, excuses and enquiries about the vital topic of God’s salvation and the way to heaven. In answering all of these common issues, Alexander Marshall gives wise scriptural counsel which has led many to a saving understanding of the gospel of Christ. May you find help from it too!
1. “I’ve never done anyone any harm”
Such an excuse has often been given. Is this your excuse? Do you really mean that you have never done any harm? Have you never cherished an impure, unkind or wicked thought? Have you never spoken a hasty word, told a lie or attempted to mislead anyone? Have you loved God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind? Have you loved your neighbour as yourself? “Oh no,” you reply. “No one has done so.”
Never mind others just now. You admit that you have sinned. If one were found guilty of breaking the laws of this country, who would believe that he had done no harm? There is no use concealing the fact that you have not been what you ought to have been; you have not done what you should have done—in other words, you are a sinner, and the Word of God declares, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek 18:4). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Take your place as lost and ruined in God’s sight, and give up all attempts to excuse or cover up your sins. They cannot be hid from God.
2. “I’ll turn over a new leaf”
It is all very well to say that you will “turn over a new leaf”. But let me ask, What about the past black leaves of guilt? Turning over a new leaf does not remove the blotted ones.
It may be at one time you were addicted to drinking or swearing or other bad habits, but of late you have “turned over a new leaf” and are become what the world calls a “reformed” person. This is right and proper, but don’t forget that future good conduct can never blot out past disobedience.
A merchant finds that he is in difficulties. He takes his cash book and begins a “new leaf”, forgetting that there is a “carried over” and a “brought forward” column. New figures on the “new leaf” won’t pay the old debts. Every page of our life’s account is headed with a “brought forward”. “Turning over a new leaf” won’t do for you. The Saviour’s declaration is, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:3-7).
3. “God is merciful”
To one Satan says, “God is too merciful to punish sinners”, and if this is not believed he says, “If God does punish the sinner in hell, the punishment won’t be eternal.”
It is a blessed truth that “God is merciful”, but He is also holy and just, and He never can be merciful at the expense of His justice. All His attributes are equally balanced and cannot conflict with each other. He who is long-suffering and slow to anger “will by no means clear the guilty”.
God’s pardoning mercy flows only through one channel, and that is the atonement of Christ. All who refuse to accept life through His death must forever “dwell with the devouring fire”. “The wicked shall be turned into hell” (Psa 9:17). “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
4. “If I do the best I can, surely I will be saved”
Have you always done your best? Have you not again and again done what you ought not to have done and omitted doing what you should have done? “I don’t pretend to be perfect.” Assuredly not, but remember that this admission removes every possible hope of your being saved by your doings. One sin is sufficient to condemn you, and you know that you have committed thousands. What is the use of thinking, “If a man does the best he can”, when God has declared that none have ever done so? “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isa 53:6). “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psa 14:3). The “best” that you can do is to admit that you are ruined, helpless and undone. If from this day until the day of your death you did not commit a single sin, you would not be saved on that ground, for sinners are not saved by what they do, but by what Christ has done for them. “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom 4:5). Stop working for salvation and receive God’s gift.
5. “What about all my good works?”
When sinners are shown that salvation is all of grace and “not of works”, it is not an uncommon thing to hear such say, “You don’t believe in good works?” This is a great mistake. What the Word of God shows us is that an unconverted man cannot do a good work. A “good work” must spring from the good motive of love to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The moment a person is saved, that very moment everything he does ought to be done to the glory of God. No sooner do we read of the jailor’s conversion than we see him proving his faith by his works. “He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes.” (Read the account in Acts 16.)
The Bible teaches, “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]”, and so long as you are unsaved, you are utterly unable to do a single “good work”. Believe in God’s wondrous love to you, and you won’t be able to keep from working for Him in return for what He has done for you.
6. “It is difficult to be a Christian”
Do you mean that it is difficult to become a Christian? If so, you are completely mistaken. “But I have again and again tried to become one and have failed.” Stop trying to be saved by your efforts. Christ has finished the mighty work, and justice is satisfied. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
“I meant that it was difficult to live the life of a Christian.” Agreed. Let me, however, ask: Is it easier to serve Satan or Christ? Which is the better master? Who gives the best wages?
In serving Satan, you have to turn your back on your best Friend, despise or neglect His great salvation, resist His Holy Spirit, trample under your feet the Son of God’s love, and rush headlong to eternal ruin. Why perish forever, seeing you can be saved, now?
7. “I cannot give up the pleasures of this world”
You are not asked to “give up” anything until you are saved. Salvation includes deliverance from the power of sin, as well as from its penalty, and you can’t have one without the other. It must be all or none.
God does not, however, say to the sinner, “Give up the pleasures and amusements of the world and I will give you pardon and peace.” His way is, “Receive Christ now into your heart, and you will be saved from the power as well as the doom of sin.”
A lady, in conversation with a Christian, said, “God won’t save me now.” “Why?” “I have made up my mind to go to a ball on Tuesday evening, and He won’t save me until I am willing to give up going to it.” She was shown that “now” was God’s time and that He was beseeching her to accept a free and present pardon — as she was and where she was. The word was blessed to her soul, and she was not at the ball as she had got something better.
8. “Christians are miserable and morbid”
Numbers think that a Christian is one who goes through life hanging his head, heaving sighs, drawing a long face, and looking very sanctimonious. This is one of the biggest and, we fear, one of the most widely believed lies Satan ever coined. Real, lasting happiness is the portion of every believer. “Gloomy!” What is there in the gospel to make one gloomy? Does it make a man “gloomy” to know that all his sins are forgiven? Will it “make one gloomy” to be assured that he will spend eternity with the Lord Jesus in glory? Will the condemned criminal who has been pardoned feel sad?
Well might the psalmist say, “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Psa 144:15). “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” The only one who has a right to be happy is the Christian — he and he alone being delivered from the bondage of sin, death and judgment.
9. “The church is full of hypocrites”
And is that your excuse for not accepting the invitation to the gospel feast? If so, it is a very poor one. You know some who say they are Christians, but their conduct proves that they are hypocrites. Though members of churches, they do things which you and others, who make no such profession, would not stoop to, and you are inclined to say of all who claim to be Christians, “Nice lot! They are a pack of hypocrites.”
But surely this would be very unfair reasoning. Hypocrites are persons who profess to be what they know they are not. Those you refer to profess to be but are not Christians. Are we to conclude because of this that all who profess are hypocrites? This would be as foolish as to say that all clerks are thieves, because two were convicted of stealing.
The fact that some people pretend to be Christians proves that the reality must be good, as men don’t counterfeit something worthless. Suppose, however, that real Christians are inconsistent, will that justify you in not being one? Peter surely could not have been justified in deserting the Lord because Judas was a hypocrite.
10. “It does not matter what I believe as long as I am sincere”
This is what many say, but let us see if it is true. A man, feeling sick, went to the cupboard, took, by mistake, a bottle of poison, drank some of the contents, and died in great agony a few hours afterward. Did his sincerity of belief save his life?
The engineer of a passenger train sincerely believed that the line was clear, but he was mistaken. He ran past the signal at full speed and the result was a dreadful collision, lives were lost and many were seriously injured.
A man’s salvation or damnation depends on his belief. If he believes the lie of Satan, he will eternally perish; if he believes the truth of God, he will be eternally saved.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov 14:12). Sincerity of belief in that way ends in everlasting destruction.
11. “So many different opinions”
“I really don’t know what to do. There are so many opinions that I am quite perplexed to know what to believe.” If this is your thought, let me strongly impress upon you the importance of being guided entirely by the sure Word of God. There is only one way of salvation, and it is very clearly stated in the Bible.
A lady, who had not long to live, was anxious about her soul. A Christian visited her, and she earnestly asked, “What are your views of salvation?” “I have no views” was the reply. The lady was amazed. “You seem astonished,” said the visitor, “but supposing I had, what good would they do you, seeing they would be but the views of a fellow mortal? I can, however, give you something better. I can give you God’s views.” The result of the conversation was that the lady soon afterwards found peace by learning that the question, “What must I do to be saved?” was answered: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).
Do you know that you are lost? The Philippian jailor knew that he was lost, or he would not have asked what he had to do to be saved (Acts 16:30-31). Have you ever really seen yourself to be a lost sinner?
The great question is, Are you saved or lost? Face it fairly. If you were called to meet God at this moment, are you prepared? “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Heb 1:13). “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne” (Psa 97:2). If unsaved, unconverted, unforgiven, listen to the Word of the living God: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek 18:4). “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psa 9:17).
If you know that you are lost, there is One both able and willing to save you. His mission to this world was to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Take the lost sinner’s place, and claim the lost sinner’s Saviour.
God is holy and just and, though merciful and gracious, “will by no means clear the guilty” (Ex 34:7). He says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). How then can anyone be saved, for “all have sinned” and all deserve to die the second death?
The Scripture has declared, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9.22). Sin must be atoned for! Jesus “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:6). The ransom price has been paid and accepted. Justice is satisfied, not with what you have done, but with what Christ has done for you. On the ground of His finished work, God invites and beseeches you to accept a free, full and present salvation.
It is a wonder that any remain unsaved when God has shown so clearly and fully, in His Word, how salvation is to be obtained. If you wish to be saved, hear what God says to you in the following verses:
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “All that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). “He that believeth on Him is not condemned” (John 3:18). The firstborn in the blood-sprinkled house in Egypt was preserved from the destroying Angel because the Lord had said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex 12:13). Salvation can only be had by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
12. “The salvation you preach about is far too easy a way to get to heaven”
Many are stumbled at the simplicity of the gospel. When it is presented to them in all its fullness and freeness, they declare that believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is “far too easy” a way, and they refuse to accept it.
Thank God, it is an “easy” way of being saved. Though an “easy” way, it is not “too easy”, since it is obtained through believing in One by whom the difficult work has all been done — the Lord Jesus.
It was not “easy” for Him to be mocked and insulted by men. It was not “easy” for Him to be scourged, spat upon and crucified. It was not “easy” in the moment of His humiliation and agony to be forsaken of God. It was not “easy” for Him to be “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities” (Isa 53:5).
Though an easy way, it is God’s only way of saving sinners, and if you are not saved in that way, you will never be saved at all. “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom 4:5).
13. “I have always believed on Jesus and yet I cannot say that I am saved”
Depend on it, if this is what you say or think, you are completely mistaken. No one has “always believed on Jesus”. You may have believed a great deal about the Lord Jesus, but you have never really believed on Him. You have never received His glorious gospel, or you would be saved. What about the Lord Jesus do you believe? “I believe that He died on Calvary for sinners.” Believing that won’t do you any good. Do you believe that He bled and suffered and died on account of your sins? If you did, you would know from the Word that you had eternal life and would not come into judgment on account of your sins. No one can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ without being saved, for He has declared, “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). “All that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:38-39).
14. “I am afraid that I am not believing in the right way, in the proper manner”
If you are not already saved, you don’t believe on Christ in any way. Scripture does not recognize a “right” and a “wrong” way of believing. Men may speak about a “living faith”, a “dead faith”, a “saving faith” and an “intellectual faith”, but Scripture speaks of believing what God says. Faith in man and faith in God are the same exercises of mind; the difference is not in the faith, but in the person on whom the faith rests. Those who are lost perish through believing the devil’s lie, and those who are saved are delivered through believing God’s truth.
Paul did not say to the jailor, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with the right kind of believing, and thou shalt be saved.” If he had, the jailor would not have understood him. He simply said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Do the same “and thou shalt be saved.”
15. “But don’t we have to ‘work out our own salvation’?”
Such a question is often asked by anxious, as well as careless, sinners. Sometimes it is put in this form: “Does it not say in the Bible that we are to work out our salvation? How, then, can you reconcile that with the statement that we have to believe in order to be saved?”
You have only to look at the epistle and see to whom it is addressed. Philippians 1:1: “To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” They were already saved. They did not hope to be; they knew they were saved. “My beloved,” says Paul, “work out your own salvation” (Phil 2:12-13). They were already in possession of it. “Your own” implies possession. They were to “work out” what God had wrought in. This passage certainly has no reference to the unsaved. The unsaved are “dead in trespasses and sins” and therefore cannot work out their salvation.
16. “Don’t I have to pray to be saved?”
Scripture nowhere states that salvation is to be had by prayer; it speaks of sinners being saved in only one way — faith in the finished work of the Lord. Did the Lord Jesus tell Nicodemus to “pray and be saved”? No. “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish” (John 3:14-15). Did Paul, in answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” reply, “Pray earnestly for forgiveness, and you will get it”? No; he said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). You do not need to pray to God for salvation; He is, at this moment, beseeching you to take it (2 Cor. 5:20). How can you dare to ask God for salvation so long as you are guilty of the awful sin of making Him a liar (1 John 5:10-11)? Instead of continuing to pray for salvation, right now stretch out the empty hand of faith and take it as a gift from the pierced hand of the Lord Jesus. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17).
17. “Surely, if I do my part, God will do His”
A Christian used to say it took him forty-two years to learn three things:
(1) That he could do nothing to save himself;
(2) That God did not require him to do anything;
(3) That the Lord Jesus Christ did it all.
If you learn these three lessons, you will never talk about your doings. “Your part” is to admit that you are a helpless, hell-deserving sinner, unable to do anything to save yourself. “Your part” is to cease thinking of being saved by anything you can do or feel. “Your part” is to believe that Jesus did everything that was necessary — that He finished the work of atonement and paid the ransom price with His precious blood. Whenever you stop trying to be saved by your doings and believe on the Lord Jesus, who did it all and paid it all, you become a child of God, an heir of glory, and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”
18. “I feel that I have sinned to much to be saved”
There can be no doubt that you are a great sinner and far worse than you imagine. God knows all about you. Since you were a helpless baby in your mother’s arms, He has watched over you and loved you with more than a parent’s love. In spite of your sin and folly, He stands with outstretched arms ready to welcome you. The prodigal son was received by his father in rags and wretchedness, misery and poverty, and God is willing to save you now. Take the lost sinner’s place and claim the lost sinner’s Saviour. “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Though a “great sinner”, you are not beyond the reach of His pardoning mercy, and now you may receive the full and free forgiveness of all your sins by believing on Him who died for you (John 6:47).
19. “How can anyone say that are absolutely certain they are saved?”
Paul’s reply to the most important of all questions was very explicit. He did not say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will have a good chance of being saved,” but, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Numbers declare it is “great presumption” in anyone to “go to the length” of saying he knows that he is saved. They affirm that “no one can be certain” and that all we can do is to have a “humble hope”. How different this is from the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His apostles! Paul says, “We are always confident” (2 Cor 5:6).
The Apostle John says, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). “We know that we have passed from death unto life” (1 John 3:14). Every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus is bound to believe that he is saved. It would indeed be “great presumption” in anyone to doubt the Word of the living God.
20. “Can a person be saved at once?”
The same hour of the night that the jailor asked, “What must I do to be saved?” witnessed his conversion and baptism, and it is added that he “rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house.” In one hour, the whole household believed, was saved and was baptized. It is of no use people saying that “no one can be saved at once”, for Scripture clearly shows that those mentioned in the New Testament, whenever they believed, were saved. How long does it take one “to believe” what his father says? A moment. Another figure is employed — ”looking”. “Look unto Me, and be ye saved” (Isa 45:22). How long did it take a bitten Israelite to be cured? One moment he was dying; the next, by looking at the brazen serpent, he was healed (Num 21:9; John 3:14-15).
The very moment you “believe” in or “look” to Jesus as the One who bled and suffered for you, you are saved.
21. “I don’t feel I am able to fully love God”
A lady became anxious about her soul. She prayed and laboured earnestly to “love God”, in order to obtain the forgiveness of her sins. Instead, however, of doing so, her heart seemed to get harder.
Meetings were being held in the district, and one evening the preacher said, “Some imagine that God requires them to love Him in order to be saved. They begin to examine their hearts, and they cannot find there one particle of love to Him. “If,” he said, “We were not to be saved till we loved Him, we would never be saved at all, but the blessed truth is, He loved us.” “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The moment she saw that God had so loved her as to give Jesus as a propitiation for her sins, peace and joy filled her heart, and she could not help loving Him who had done so much for her. “He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
It is true you ought to love Him, but so long as you are unsaved, you will not do so. Meditate on His love to you, and you will be able to say, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
22. “I don’t feel anxious enough”
Many, when seeing their danger, get occupied with their feelings toward God, instead of with His feelings toward them. They never seem to consider this question: “Does my salvation depend on how I feel towards God, or on how He feels toward me?” Again and again, we hear the remark, “I don’t feel anxious enough”, or “I don’t feel sorry enough”. Such have read or heard of some who were in great darkness of soul, and they imagined that they must go through a similar experience.
Don’t think of your anxiety or lack of anxiety, but ask yourself, “Is God willing to save me now?” Again and again, in His Word, He declares that His desire is that you should not perish, but be eternally saved (see Ezek 33:11; 1 Tim 2:4-6). Stop occupying your mind with your feelings. Think of His wondrous love to you, as shown in the gift of His only-begotten and well-beloved Son. On the ground of what He did and suffered, you can be saved even now. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
23. “If I became a Christian, I don’t think I could hold on to my faith”
“I have often tried to be a Christian, but have failed. Sometimes I thought I was one, but soon the happy feelings were gone, and I was just as bad as ever; so there is no use in me professing.” You need not be troubled about “holding on”. What you are now required to do is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the moment you do so, you obtain eternal life (John 3:36) and the assurance that you will never perish (John 10:28). Then, as to how you will “get on” after you are saved, the same Christ who “saves from wrath to begin with, saves from sin to go on with and will keep you safe to glory to end with.” “Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21); He is “able to keep you from falling” (Jude 24), and He has promised never to leave nor forsake those who put their trust in Him. The moment you believe on Jesus, you are His, and He has pledged His word to guide, guard and keep you and to give you strength and grace to live and work for Him. “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not” (Isa 41:13).
24. “Would it not be very presumptuous to say ‘I know I am saved’?”
But if God declares that you may be sure and tells you how you may be sure, would you call it “presumption” to believe Him? “Assuredly not.” Then listen to Him: “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” (1 John 5:13).
Instead of it being “presumption” to believe what God says, to doubt Him is to be guilty of the greatest sin a man can commit. “But I cannot say that I am saved.” Then you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? “Oh, yes, I do!” You must surely be mistaken, for the Scripture states that “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36), and if you are not saved, it is because you do not believe on Him.
25. “I believe on Jesus, but I cannot say I am saved.”
Then you are making God a liar, for again and again He tells us that everyone who believes on Jesus has eternal life (John 6:47). But “He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because He believeth not the record God gave of His Son” (1 John 5:10-11). Believe and be saved.
26. “I don’t feel any change”
Of course not. How could you, so long as your mind is occupied with your feelings toward God, instead of His feelings toward you? If you continue to look into your wretched heart, you will become more and more miserable. By dwelling on its coldness or hardness, your lack of love or lack of sorrow, faith or feelings, you will be unhappy.
Peace is not to be discovered within; it is only to be found by looking unto Jesus, by thinking of what He has done and suffered for us, and not by anything that we have done or suffered for Him.
So long as you do not believe on Jesus, you cannot have that love to Him that you ought. You must first believe in His love and death for you, and the moment you know that the mighty work has been finished and that justice has been satisfied, peace will fill your heart, and you will love Him who loved you and gave Himself for you (Isa 45:21; Rom 5:1).
27. “But how do I actually come to Christ?”
A Scottish shepherd, in great anxiety of soul, asked a preacher to tell him what was meant by “coming to Christ.” “I have been hearing,” said he, “a most earnest discourse; we have been urged and entreated to ‘come to Christ’, and I felt as if I had been sitting on nettles all the time, for he never told us how to come to Him.”
“Can you fly to Him?” “No, I cannot do that.” “Can you walk on your feet to Christ?” “No.” The preacher then told him that Christ, though in heaven, was beside him on earth, eagerly anxious to save him. He was shown that with his mind and heart, and not with his body, he was to go to Jesus — in other words, he was to believe on Him who died that he might live. “Is that it? Is it so simple? I see it now,” he said, and, believing on the Lord Jesus as His Saviour, he went home rejoicing.
28. “I cannot realize it”
What do you mean? “I see that Christ has taken my punishment and that God is perfectly satisfied with what He has done, but, somehow or other, I cannot realize that I have everlasting life.”
Your mistake is that you are taken up with the realizing of your mind instead of with the realities of God’s salvation. Suppose for a crime you were sentenced to prison with the option of paying a large penalty. A friend pays the amount in full and brings you a receipt. Would you then be afraid of going to jail? “No.” Why not? Because of your realizing or grasping? “No.” Why would you not be afraid? Because the ransom had been paid. Would you not require to “realize” or “grasp” or “lay hold” of the money in your mind? “Certainly not.”
God in His Word tells you that Christ has given Himself a ransom for you (1 Tim 2:6), and on the ground of what He has done for you, you many be saved. Do not think of your “realisings” but believe in the reality of His death for you, and you will then know that you are saved, and all your sins forgiven.
29. “I cannot feel saved”
Paul did not say to the jailor, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt feel saved,” but, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” No one can feel that his sins are forgiven. Ask that man whose debt was paid by his brother, “Do you feel that your debt is paid?” “No” is the reply. “I don’t feel that it is paid; I know from this receipt that it is paid, and I feel happy because I know it is paid.” So with you. You must first believe in God’s love to you as revealed at the cross of Calvary, and then you will feel happy, because you will know that you are saved.
““God says I am saved, and it must be true.” So said a young convert on the night he found peace. Can you truthfully adopt his language? “I wish I could.” Then there is nothing to hinder you from doing so now. Jesus has died on Calvary. He has suffered for sins, “the Just for the unjust”, and the Lord has declared that those who believe on Him have eternal life (John 5:24; John 6:47). If, therefore, you really believe on Him who bore the wrath and curse for you, you now have God’s Word for it that you are saved. “I don’t feel I am saved.” Neither do I, but, thank God, I know it, simply because He says so in His Word, and I am confident He always speaks the truth. Salvation is not through our feelings, but through faith in what Jesus did for us (Rom 1:16). Jesus felt the weight of sin when He exclaimed, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:46). Now, as you read these lines, believe on Him who bore sin’s penalty, and with the young man you will be able to say, “God says I am saved, and it must be true.”
30. “Time enough yet”
Allow me to ask you in closing: Are you saved? “I intend to be, but there is no great hurry.” What! “No great hurry”, and the messenger of death at your door!
When asked why you despised His pardon and neglected His great salvation, what answer will you give? Don’t allow Satan to lull you to sleep in the cradle of a false security. Time is short and eternity is at hand. Will you, can you, dare you one moment longer remain unsaved? “Now” is God’s time. Tomorrow may be too late.
The dark thundercloud of God’s wrath is hanging over your head, and if you remain in your present position the voice from heaven may sound forth “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” Delay not another moment. Don’t be perplexed about the future. He who saved poor sinners has promised to “keep” them; and the moment you receive Christ by faith, He will grant you power to overcome sin, self, and Satan, and will give you strength to live for Him who died for you.
All are sinners by nature and practice. “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way…there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom 3:10-12).
Reformation is not regeneration.
Turning over new leaves won’t destroy the old ones. Future good conduct does not blot out past disobedience. Jesus said, “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
God is willing to save you now.
“Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). “Come now, and let us reason together saith the Lord” (Isa 1:18).
Salvation is a free gift.
It cannot, therefore, be earned or bought by good works, prayers or religious observances. “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life” (Rom 6:23). “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:9).
Justification is by faith alone.
This is clearly taught in Scripture. “Being justified by faith” (Rom 5:1). “If by grace, then it is no more of works” (Rom 11:6). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
“He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him” (John 3:36). “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa 1:18).
As part of the series on worldviews (2010) Mervyn Hall produced a helpful chart on the rise and history of postmodernism. Click here to view.
Long out of print, the Outlined Bible by Robert Lee is a tremendously helpful resource. One page per book, all 66 books of the Bible are introduced, outlined and analysed. This was suggested as reading material during a 2008 Bible Class. One Bible Class attendee kindly scanned the entire book and made it available to us as a PDF file. You can access that file by clicking here
This book preserves the unique and fascinating record of a group of Christians who were converted in the 1859 revival in Scotland. Through reading their Bibles they correctly concluded that clerisy and denominationalism were unscriptural and were led of the Lord to meet together to break bread and depend on Him for gifting and leadership. How the Lord led them and taught them, often through times of difficulty and danger, makes for thrilling, heart-warming reading. You can read this booklet here