Assurance in Witnessing: Another Dimension in Righteousness by Faith

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Chapter 1

Assurance in Witnessing


Assurance in Witnessing

There is an application of this message of righteousness by faith which is urgently vital to the mission of the church.

Our first priority in mission is to seek and save the lost. Evangelism must be our first concern. Inspiration has told us that the message of righteousness by faith was intended to bring unprecedented power and purpose to this work. Could it be that our shortcomings in this area might be remedied by a new look at righteousness by faith in terms of our witness to the lost? I am enthusiastic in my belief that the answer to that question is, yes!

There are two ways in which a thorough understanding of righteousness by faith will dramatically effect our soul winning work.

1. It can bring to us a revival and reformation which will sweep away our anxieties and uncertainties and put “the peace that passes understanding” and the “joy of His salvation” into our faces so that we may “teach transgressors His way and sinners will be converted.” Psalms 51:11, 12. Any attempt to reach the lost without a happy, joyous Christian life is futile. “If you do not feel light-headed and joyous, do not talk of your feelings, cast no shadow upon the lives of others. A cold, sunless religion never draws souls to Christ. It drives them away from Him into the nets that Satan has spread for the feet of the straying.” These Times, October 1966. “A Cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ, for it is a loveless, Christian religion.” Selected Messages, Book I, Page 388. An anxious, uncertain Christian is never a good witness; and he never really feels like sharing his spiritual confusions. What he has, he can’t be enthusiastic about sharing! Understanding righteousness by faith in terms of the “blessed assurance” (which is the Christian’s birthright), can change this picture. So, we will study in depth the teaching of assurance.

2. With regard to the lost soul we hope to save; if we are doubtful about our own present assurance of eternal life, we must surely have little faith that our lost neighbor has much probability of making it to heaven, so why begin? (After all, if we have been struggling for years, obviously with a greater interest in spiritual things than he manifests, and a greater desire for salvation, then there can’t really be much hope for such a spiritually inferior person starting so late!) However, if we believe rather, that both we and they are saved by a gift of His righteousness, the moment we come to Him, and that this salvation is a reality all through our growing experience, then we may be motivated to lead our neighbor to Christ, knowing that His salvation is just as sure while he is growing in his preparation for baptism and church membership as it is after he has taken these steps.

The Blessed Assurance

How can we come to believe in this beautiful concept of salvation? Why not begin with the inspired promises?

We are encouraged to, “Gather up the strongest affirmative statements regarding the atonement made by Christ for the sins of the world. Show the necessity for this atonement and tell men and women that they may be saved if they will repent and return to their loyalty to God’s law. Gather all the affirmatives and proofs that make the gospel the glad tidings of salvation to all who receive and believe on Christ as a personal Saviour.” Evangelism, p. 87. Our message is to be “the well-grounded assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, page 317. In fact, in one place, the importance of assurance is stated quite bluntly: “It is insanity … to have no assurance that (we) are indeed sons and daughters of God.” Review and Herald, 9 Nov. 1886 (quoted in Our High Calling, Page 203).

So, let us return for a moment to the relationship of assurance to successful soul-winning. “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free spirit; then will I teach transgressors thy ways and sinners will be converted unto thee.” Psalms 51:11, 12. This is the Bible’s own formula for successful evangelism,—the only one so clearly and candidly stated in the Word of God. Without the “joy of salvation,” there is little effective evangelism. I believe this is the central secret to: 1) changing our own hearts, and 2) making us soul winners for the Lord. I believe the main reason the chruch is not winning souls as it might, especially from the standpoint of lay evangelism, is because our Christian experience isn’t as happy and positive as it ought to be. You know, it is pretty hard to go out and enthusiastically tell others about salvation you are not sure of, or that you doubt is bringing the joy and happiness into your heart that God meant for it to bring.

The Apostle Paul says, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith … let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” The Living Bible translates it this way, “Now we can look forward to the salvation God has promised us. There is no longer any room for doubt, and we can tell others that salvation is ours, for there is no question that He will do what He says.”

The Apostle John in talking of this,—the certainty and assurance of our salvation as we ought to have it,—is supremely persuasive: “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater.” That’s his first argument to us. He says, “Look, we believe what men say to us. Why, in court men live or die on the basis of human testimony. And then: “He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has borne to His Son.” Now you can see that John is very positive about the point he is leading up to. He is telling us that if we don’t believe this, we are saying that God’s testimony isn’t as reliable as man’s testimony,—we are even doubting the veracity of God! So, finally, he says, “This is the testimony!” Here it is,—This is God’s testimony which we are to believe, “That God gave us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life. He who has not the Son of God has not life. I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:9–13.

Now John said this on a very solid basis. He had heard Jesus say it. Jesus, with a double affirmative, said, “Truly, truly I say to you, He who hears my word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death unto life.” John 5:24. So Jesus declared that he who believes, he who accepts, has already passed from death to life. It’s not just future hope, it’s a present reality. At still another time he asserted: “Truly, truly I tell you, (I am telling you with all certainty that I can command), he who believes has eternal life.” John 6:47.

This agrees with what inspiration today says. Some of the most positive statements are made with regard to the subject of assurance. Here is one that never ceases to fascinate. “Christ became one flesh with us in order that we might become one spirit with Him.” Now this is a real thing:—becoming one spirit with Christ. We are not talking about a figure of speech or some symbolism here. Jesus became one flesh with us in reality: So, just as real as was his identification with us in the flesh, so real are we to be with Him in the union of the Spirit; and continuing, “it is by virtue of this union that we are to come forth from the grave, not merely as a manifestation of the power of Christ, (to resurrect us) but because through faith His life has become ours.” That’s the past perfect use of the verb,—past completed action. The paragraph continues: “Those who see Christ in his true character and receive Him into the heart have everlasting life. It is through the Spirit that Christ dwells in us, and the Spirit of God, received into the heart by faith is the beginning of eternal life.” Desire of Ages, page 388. These are tremendous teachings. Jesus said it. John testified to it. Inspiration today clearly teaches it. “He says, ‘Come, learn of me’, and in thus coming we begin the life eternal.” Desire of Ages, page 331.

And so God says we may know that we have eternal life. When we have this assurance, when our hearts are happy and glad in Jesus, then you see, we have an entirely different attitude toward reaching others for Jesus Christ.

Ellen White was very concerned about people who had no assurance. We read in the Testimonies for the Church, that at a campmeeting she called “Those to come forward who had not the evidence of their acceptance with God.” 4 T 304. She wanted them to find it because, without it, none will ever be a good witness for Jesus Christ.

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