Friday, October 14, 2016

Testimony and Encourager

I grew up in a Christian home from the day I was born. We attended various churches for the first several years of my life, and then home-churched for several more. I remember listening to sermons as a family, reading the Bible, and singing together. Around the age of eight, my family started attending Grace Baptist Church. In Sunday school class, we were given the suggestion to read through the Gospels, and being an avid reader, I took on the task. The gospels were not unfamiliar to me, but this time, when I reached the end of John, I remember praying and asking God to save me. I don’t remember many specifics from my childhood, but I do remember understanding that I needed a Savior and that
Christ was the only one who could cleanse from sin.

During the next several years, we had special speakers and evangelists in our church, and most of the time when they asked if people needed to be saved or if they wanted to talk to someone about it, I would raise my hand. I remember sitting with one pastor’s wife in the Sunday school room and praying the “sinner’s prayer” because I wanted to make sure that I was saved. I am unsure as to which prayer was completely genuine, but I know it was around this time that I was aware of my sin and acknowledged Christ as the only remedy for that sin.

My testimony doesn’t have a specific lightbulb moment or a drastic turning point from a past way of life, rather it was a growing knowledge of who God is and what He has done for me. And I am still in that process today. Many people’s salvation stories are a one-time event, but even once the moment of salvation is gone, God is still in the work of saving His people…because we are sinful and always in need of sanctification.

I think most people struggle with assurance of salvation from time to time. Assurance isn’t something you hear preached on too often—perhaps for good reason—but I think most Christians would agree that at some point they question their salvation. Maybe they’re going through a difficult time or maybe they are just working through a spiritually dry season. Either way it can be an incredibly lonely place, and I just wanted to leave you with some encouragement in that area.

Satan likes to use our own doubts, the world’s criticism, and the sin of others around us to cause us to question God’s work in our lives. Often it’s a small seed of doubt, but once it’s planted, it takes root quickly. At full growth, it can lead to despair, depression, and worse--if we allow it a hold on our mind. We question if we’re allowing God to sanctify us. We wonder if that prayer was sincere when we first prayed it. We doubt that we’re bearing fruit.

And it gets hard to fight, because it seems like we’re fighting something all the time. There is little time to rest on the battlefield of life. Soldiers get weary. Some fall. Some die. Some leave. In the constant fight, we forget to protect our own mind and soul from the doubt that creeps in. And we forget that saved sinners have a new name: saints.

Ephesians 2:19
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

Saints are those who are set-apart and holy through faith in Jesus Christ. Though we live in sin and battle it daily, it holds no dominion over us. It does not define us. We don’t live to serve it any longer. The doubts, worries, and questions that plague us, don’t have to take control over our minds.

Scripture teaches that once saved, always saved—otherwise known as the doctrine of eternal security. Once saved, there is nothing you, Satan, or the world can do to destroy your salvation. Salvation rests on God, and because He is unchanging and all-powerful, He cannot refuse those who have come to Him. We could not keep our salvation if we tried, but Christ’s work and God’s covenant cannot be reversed, and He holds us eternally regardless of our doubts.

So in the weariness of life, remember that the battle you fight is not for your salvation—that’s already been secured. Amid the doubts and questions, remember that the war for holiness was conquered at the cross—the outcome of your salvation is secure. The God-Man who saved you, is still saving and sanctifying you—He will complete His good work.

Sometimes we dwell so much on the sin and weakness in us that we forget we are saints. We’re not just saints when we reach heaven, we’re saints now. We’re created in the image of God, and His deity dwells in us. He has triumphed over our past, present, and future sin, and it holds dominion over us no more. Salvation is God’s work. Let us walk as saints because the victory is already certain. The battle is conquered. The war for salvation’s security was won at the foot of the cross. Instead, when you question your faith, give thanks for His faithfulness. He will hold you fast.

Philippians 3:9, 12
And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness form God that depends on faith…Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

I leave you with the words of the second verse of “Before The Throne of God Above”, a hymn written by Charitie Lees Bancroft, the daughter of an Irish minister.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

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