By Dwight L. Moody
Assurance of Salvation
Have All God's People Assurance?
Someone will ask, "Have all God's people Assurance?" No; I think a good many of God's dear people have no Assurance; but it is the privilege of every child of God to have beyond doubt a knowledge of his own salvation. No man is fit for God's service who is filled with doubts. If a man is not sure of his own salvation, how can he help anyone else into the kingdom of God? If I seem in danger of drowning and do not know whether I shall ever reach the shore, I cannot assist another. I must first get on the solid rock myself; and then I can lend my brother a helping hand. If being myself blind I were to tell another blind man how to get sight, he might reply, "First get healed yourself; and then you can tell me."
There are two classes who ought not to have Assurance. First: those who are in the Church, but who are not converted, having never been born of the Spirit. Second: those not willing to do God's will; who are not ready to take the place that God has mapped out for them, but want to fill some other place.
None will have time or heart to work for God, who are not assured as to their own salvation. They have as much as they can attend to; and being themselves burdened with doubts, they cannot help others to carry their burdens. There is no rest, joy, or peace- no liberty, nor power- where doubts and uncertainty exist.
Now it seems as if there are three wiles of Satan against which we ought to be on our guard. In the first place he moves all his kingdom to keep us away from Christ; then he devotes himself to get us into "Doubting Castle:" but if we have, in spite of him, a clear ringing witness for the Son of God, he will do all he can to blacken our characters and belie our testimony.
Doubt Is Very Dishonoring to God
Some seem to think that it is presumption not to have doubts: but doubt is very dishonoring to God. If anyone were to say that they had known a person for thirty years and yet doubted him, it would not be very creditable: and when we have known God for ten, twenty, or thirty years does it not reflect on His veracity to doubt Him?
Could Paul and the early Christians and martyrs have gone through what they did if they had been filled with doubts, and had not known whether they were going to heaven or to perdition after they had been burned at the stake? They must have had ASSURANCE.
C. H. Spurgeon says:
What John Tells Us
Now let us come to the Word. John tells us in his Gospel what Christ did for us on earth. In his Epistle he tells us what He is doing for us in heaven as our Advocate. In his Gospel there are only two chapters in which the word "believe" does not occur. With these two exceptions, every chapter in John is "Believe! Believe!! BELIEVE!!!" He tells us in 20:31,
That is the purpose for which he wrote the Gospel-
Turn to 1 John 5:13. There he tells us why he wrote this Epistle.
Notice to whom he writes it:
There are only five short chapters in this first Epistle, and the word "know" occurs over forty times. It is "Know! KNOW!! KNOW!!!" The Key to it is KNOW! and all through the Epistle there rings out the refrain- "that we might know that we have eternal life."
I went twelve hundred miles down the Mississippi in the spring some years ago; and every evening, just as the sun went down, you might have seen men, and sometimes women, riding up to the banks of the river on either side on mules or horses, and sometimes coming on foot, for the purpose of lighting up the Government lights; and all down that mighty river there were landmarks which guided the pilots in their dangerous navigation. Now God has given us lights or landmarks to tell us whether we are His children or not. What we need to do is to examine the tokens He has given us.
Five Things Worth Knowing
In the third chapter of John's first Epistle there are five things worth knowing.
Will the Christian Sin?
But some will say, "Well, I believe all that; but then I have sinned since I became a Christian." Is there a man or a woman on the face of the earth who has not sinned since becoming a Christian? Not one. There never has been, and never will be, a soul on this earth who has not sinned, or who will not sin, at some time of their Christian experience. But God has made provision for believers' sins. We are not to make provision for them; but God has. Bear that in mind.
Turn to 1 John 2:1:
He is here writing to the righteous. "If any man sin, we"- John put himself in- "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." What an Advocate! He attends to our interests at the very best place- the throne of God. He said, "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away" (John 16:7). He went away to become our High Priest, and also our Advocate. He has had some hard cases to plead; but He has never lost one: and if you entrust your immortal interests to Him, He will
The Past Sins of Christians Are All Forgiven
The past sins of Christians are all forgiven as soon as they are confessed; and they are never to be mentioned. That is a question which is not to be opened up again. If our sins have been put away, that is the end of them. They are not to be remembered; and God will not mention them anymore. This is very plain. Suppose I have a son who, while I am away from home, does wrong. When I go home he throws his arms around my neck and says, "Papa, I did what you told me not to do. I am sorry. Do forgive me" I say: "Yes, my son," and kiss him. He wipes away his tears, and goes off rejoicing.
But the next day he says: "Papa, I wish you would forgive me for the wrong I did yesterday." I should say: "Why, my son, that thing is settled; and I don't want it mentioned again." "But I wish you would forgive me: it would help me to hear you say, 'I forgive you.'" Would that be honoring me? Would it not grieve me to have my boy doubt me? But to gratify him I say again, "I forgive you, my son."
And if, the next day, he were again to bring up that old sin, and ask forgiveness, would not that grieve me to the heart? And so, my dear reader, if God has forgiven us, never let us mention the past. Let us forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those which are before, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let the sins of the past go; for
And let me say that this principle is recognized in courts of justice. A case came up in the courts of a country- I won't say where- in which a man had trouble with his wife; but he forgave her, and then afterwards brought her into court. And, when it was known that he had forgiven her, the judge said that the thing was settled. The judge recognized the soundness of the principle, that if a sin were once forgiven there was an end of it. And do you think the Judge of all the earth will forgive you and me, and open the question again? Our sins are gone for time and eternity, if God forgives; and what we have to do is to confess and forsake our sins.
How to Tell If You Are A Child of God
Again in 2 Corinthians 13:5:
Now examine yourselves. Try your religion. Put it to the test. Can you forgive an enemy? That is a good way to know if you are a child of God. Can you forgive an injury, or take an affront, as Christ did? Can you be censured for doing well, and not murmur? Can you be misjudged and misrepresented, and yet keep a Christ-like spirit?
Another good test is to read Galatians 5, and notice the fruits of the Spirit; and see if you have them.
If I have the fruits of the Spirit I must have the Spirit. I could not have the fruits without the Spirit any more than there could be an orange without the tree. And Christ says:
Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good. The only way to get the fruit is to have the Spirit. That is the way to examine ourselves whether we are the children of God.
Then there is another very striking passage. In Romans 8:9, Paul says:
That ought to settle the question, even though one may have gone through all the external forms that are considered necessary by some to constitute a member of a church. Acceptance as a member of a church is not proof that you are born again- that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Growing in Grace
But although you may be born again, it will require time to become a full-grown Christian. Justification is instantaneous; but sanctification is a life-work. We are to grow in wisdom. Peter says:
and in the first chapter of his Second Epistle,
So that we are to add grace to grace. A tree may be perfect in its first year of growth; but it does not attain its maturity. So with the Christian: he may be a true child of God, but not a matured Christian. The eighth of Romans is very important, and we should be very familiar with it. In the fourteenth verse the apostle says:
Just as the soldier is led by his captain, the pupil by his teacher, or the traveler by his guide; so the Holy Spirit will be the guide of every true child of God.
Paul's Teaching On Assurance
Then let me call your attention to another fact. All Paul's teaching in nearly every Epistle rings out the doctrine of assurance, He says in 2 Corinthians 5:1:
He had a title to the mansions above, and he says- I know it. He was not living in uncertainty, He said:
and if he had been uncertain he would not have said that. Then in Colossians 3:4, he says:
I am told that Dr. Watts' tombstone bears this same passage of Scripture. There is no doubt there.
Then turn to Colossians 1:12:
It does not say that He is going to make us meet; that He is going to deliver; that He is going to translate.
Then again in verse fourteen:
We are either forgiven or we are not; we should not give ourselves any rest until we get into the kingdom of God; nor until we can each look up and say,
Look at Romans 8:32:
If He gave us His Son, will He not give us the certainty that He is ours. I have heard this illustration. There was a man who owed $10,000, and would have been made a bankrupt, but a friend came forward and paid the sum. It was found afterwards that he owed a few dollars more; but he did not for a moment entertain a doubt that, as his friend had paid the larger amount, he would also pay the smaller. And we have high warrant for saying that if God has given us His Son He will "with Him also freely give us all things"; and if we want to realize our salvation beyond controversy He will not, leave us in darkness.
Again in the thirty-third verse:
Assurance May Be A Certainty
That has the right ring in it. There is Assurance for you. "I KNOW." Do you think that the God who has justified me will condemn me? That is quite an absurdity. God is going to save us so that neither men, angels, nor devils, can bring any charge against us or Him. He will have the work complete.
Job lived in a darker day than we do; but we read in Job 19:25:
The same confidence breathes through Paul's last words to Timothy:
It is not a matter of doubt, but of knowledge. "I know." "I am persuaded." The word "Hope," is not used in the Scripture to express doubt. It is used in regard to the second coming of Christ, or to the resurrection of the body. We do not say that we "hope" we are Christians. I do not say that I "hope" I am an American, or that I "hope" I am a married man. These are settled things. I may say that I "hope" to go back to my home; or I "hope" to attend such a meeting. I do not say that I "hope" to come to this country, for I am here. And so, if we are born of God we know it; and He will not leave us in darkness if we search the Scriptures.
Christ taught this doctrine to His seventy disciples when they returned elated with their success, saying,
The Lord seemed to check them, and said that He would give them something to rejoice in.
Our Salvation Is Sure
It is the privilege of everyone of us to know, beyond a doubt, that our salvation is sure. Then we can work for others. But if we are doubtful of our own salvation, we are not fit for the service of God.
Another passage is John 5:24:
Some people say that you never can tell till you are before the great white throne of Judgment whether you are saved or not. Why, my dear friend, if your life is hid with Christ in God, you are not coming into judgment for your sins. We may come into judgment for reward. This is clearly taught where the lord reckoned with the servant to whom five talents had been given, and who brought other five talents saying,
We shall be judged for our stewardship. That is one thing; but salvation- eternal life- is another.
Will God demand payment twice of the debt which Christ has paid for us? If Christ bore my sins in His own body on the tree, am I to answer for them as well?
Isaiah tells us that,
In Romans 4:25 we read: He
Let us believe, and get the benefit of His finished work.
Then again in John 10:9:
Then in the twenty-seventh verse,
Think of that! The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are pledged to keep us. You see that it is not only the Father, not only the Son, but the three persons of the Triune God.
Looking for a Life
Now a great many people want some token outside of God's word. That habit always brings doubt. If I made a promise to meet a man at a certain hour and place tomorrow, and he were to ask me for my watch as a token of my sincerity, it would be a slur on my truthfulness. We must not question what God has said: He has made statement after statement, and multiplied figure upon figure. Christ says:
Let me remind you where our doubts come from. A good many of God's dear people never get beyond knowing themselves servants. He calls us "friends."
If you go into a house you will soon see the difference between the servant and the son. The son walks at perfect liberty all over the house: he is at home. But the servant takes a subordinate place. What we want is to get beyond servants. We ought to realize our standing with God as sons and daughters. He will not "un-child" His children. God has not only adopted us; but we are His by birth: we have been born into His kingdom. My little boy was as much mine when he was a day old as now that he is fourteen. He was my son; although it did not appear what he would be when he attained manhood. He is mine; although he may have to undergo probation under tutors and governors.
Another origin of doubts is looking at ourselves. If you want to be wretched and miserable, filled with doubts from morning till night, look at yourself.
Many of God's dear children are robbed of joy because they keep looking at themselves.
Three Ways to Look
Someone has said: "There are three ways to look. If you want to be wretched, look within; if you wish to be distracted, look around; but if you would have peace, look up."
He had God's eternal word, which was sure footing, and better than either marble, granite, or iron; but the moment he took his eyes off Christ, down he went. Those who look around cannot see how unstable and dishonoring is their walk. We want to look straight at the "Author and Finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
When I was a boy I could only make a straight track in the snow, by keeping my eyes fixed upon a tree or some object before me. The moment I took my eye off the mark set in front of me, I walked crooked. It is only when we look fixedly on Christ that we find perfect peace. After He rose from the dead He showed His disciples His hands and His feet.
That was the ground of their peace. If you want to scatter your doubts, look at the blood; and if you want to increase your doubts, look at yourself. You will get doubts enough for years by being occupied with yourself for a few days.
Then again: look at what He is, and at what He has done; not at what you are, and what you have done. That is the way to get peace and rest.
What Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation Accomplished
Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring the emancipation of three millions of slaves. On a certain day their chains were to fall off, and they were to be free. That proclamation was put up on the trees and fences wherever the Northern Army marched. A good many slaves could not read: but others read the proclamation, and most of them believed it; and on a certain day a glad shout went up, "We are free!" Some did not believe it, and stayed with their old masters; but it did not alter the fact that they were free. Christ, the Captain of our salvation, has proclaimed freedom to all who have faith in Him. Let us take Him at His word. Their feelings would not have made the slaves free. The power must come from the outside. Looking at ourselves will not make us free, but it is looking to Christ with the eye of faith.
Bishop Ryle has strikingly said:
Another writer says: "I have seen shrubs and trees grow out of the rocks, and overhang fearful precipices, roaring cataracts, and deep running waters; but they maintained their position, and threw out their foliage and branches as much as if they had been in the midst of a dense forest." It was their hold of the rock that made them secure; and the influences of nature that sustained their life. So believers are oftentimes exposed to the most horrible dangers in their journey to heaven; but, so long as they are "rooted and grounded" (Ephesians 3:17) in the Rock of Ages, they are perfectly secure. Their hold of Him is their guarantee; and the blessings of His grace give them life and sustain them in life. And as the tree must die, or the rock fall, before a dissolution can be effected between them, so either the believer must lose his spiritual life, or the rock must crumble, ere their union can be dissolved.