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Monday, October 15, 2007

Full Assurance

Can we ever really know that we are saved? Here's what just one book of the Bible says:

Colossians
(this study looks at particular verses and their message, but the book reads like a love letter. Read it through from the beginning before going on- it is not very long!)

"Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel." 1:4-5

The word hope here is not what we think of when we read hope. It is not wishful thinking, but rather a confident knowledge of something, or in other words, they were saying they were anxiously awaiting what was coming. They were sure of it because of the promise they had received through the gospel. Do an original languages study of this word. A lot of confusion about the scriptures can be cleared up by looking at the original wording!

"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." 1:12-14

We have redemption, which means complete deliverance. There can be no partial deliverance, just as you couldn't partially deliver a baby (and that is a good way to think of it since we know we cannot see heaven unless we are born again). Once a baby is delivered, it cannot be undone- you cannot un-deliver it. So those who have truly been born again are delivered completely from the effects of our sins through the blood of Yeshua. To say that we must still be purified before entering heaven is to make that blood less powerful or to say that our deliverance was only partial. That is contrary to the scriptures.

"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven..." 1:19-23

God made a way to have all reconciled to him. It is our choice whether to accept it or not. If we do truly accept it, we are presented before God as 'holy, unblameable, and unreproveable'. We could not have any unforgiven sins on us and still be called clean. So even if we falter after our deliverance, the blood of Christ covers us.

Now, there is a statement in verse 23 telling us we can remove ourselves from that position. Just as my children are still my children even if they do wrong, we are God’s chosen elect even if we sin. We can forfeit our position in the family by walking away or denying the Father, just as the prodigal son did. It is by our choice, not something that God does to us. One of my children could decide as an adult to ‘disown’ himself. He could leave the family and break with us. And just as the father of the prodigal sons did, God will watch for our return to put us back in our right place. Had the prodigal son never returned, he would have forfeited his place in the family. The laws concerning inheritance were very different during the time of the Bible, and it can be hard to understand in light of the examples we have today. A son who abandoned his family would have no claim to the family’s estate. This is how we are with the Lord. If we chose to deny the faith and walk away, and are not reconciled to God before our death, it is of our own choosing. We have not ‘lost’ our salvation, but surrendered it. But God has said all who come to him through the son have an equal share in the inheritance of heaven.

“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 1:25-27

The fulfillment of the Word of God, the ‘mystery’ that has been waiting to be unfurled from the beginning, is Yeshua the Messiah IN us! If we have the perfect lamb within us, we cannot be punished for sin after death, as his sacrifice was the ‘once for all’, the completion. To say Christ is in us but we cannot know for sure that we are saved makes absolutely no sense.

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” 2:2-4

Here Paul tells us that we have FULL ASSURANCE through Jesus! That is how our hearts are comforted in the midst of the trials we have been promised we will experience, because they are temporaery and our promised inheritance is eternal. All truth is contained in His person, and Paul is sending a warning that we hold onto that assurance so that we will be not led astray by those who would trick us into a different message of salvation. Anyone who says we cannot be sure of our salvation is leading us astray.

“And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” 2:10

Sadly, there will be those who believe this verse doesn’t mean complete in the sense that it truly means. We have been completely redeemed by that blood, and he is more powerful than any teaching or tradition of man.

“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” 2:18-19

We are being admonished not to return to following the rules of men to gain salvation because we have our salvation in full through the lamb. It would be foolish to leave the only real means of being delivered to try and keep ourselves to the pointless rules made up by others who have not the heart-knowledge of the Messiah. Yeshua is the only door, and pretending we can appear more holy before the Father when covered in our own actions than when we appear before him under the blood of His son is blasphemy! He has freed us, not shackled us!

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” 3:1-3

Oh, Halleluiah! We are dead. Our lives are now hid in Christ Jesus. Can Christ be put to death once again? Heaven forbid! He has overcome death. And if we have died to our selves and our lives are now hid in Him, we cannot be separated from Him. What a glorious thought!

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” 3:5-10

Here is clear teaching that our salvation does not depend on our ability to stop sinning. We are already saved, we are made part of Christ. Yet we still have the propensity to sin. And Paul is saying we need to get rid of those things in us. Why? Verse 10 tells us that we are being renewed. As we learn more and more about the Father, we become more like Him. Our perfecting comes through communing with Him and reflecting His glory as we concentrate on Him. And God hates sin. Verse 6 says that because of these things, God is coming to punish those who disobey him. Does that include those who are born again? No. Our sins are wiped away, as we saw in chapter one. But as we begin to become more and more like the father, those things will disgust us the way they do Him. If we were able to stop sinning on our own, the crucifixion would have been for naught. Crucifying our sinful flesh is part of growing in Yeshua, not a requirement for salvation, else we would be saving ourselves.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” 3:16-17

So how do we begin to look more like the Father and reflect that perfection in all that we do? By letting the word of Christ dwell richly in our hearts. We need to read and re-read the words the Messiah has given us in order to know who the Father is. Then we can demonstrate that truth for others to see.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” 3:23-25

We ought to do our best at everything because the Father would, and we are becoming like Him. When we do, people see that there is something different about us. It is a manifestation (as Paul calls in in Chapter 4) of the secret which has been revealed to us- the Messiah! We also have the full assurance of our inheritance because we are one with Christ. That ought to make us joyful in any circumstance.

So what about the last verse? Will we be punished for our wrongs? We couldn’t be, because the punishment for sin is death. Christ covered all of our sins, past present, future, when we surrendered to Him. The verse is speaking of those who do wrong to us, and that we ought not seek revenge. If we worry about such things, we are losing sight of the promise we have and we are not reflecting the joy that ought to accompany absolute knowledge of salvation.

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” 4:5

We need to be wise about what men will try to say to us that is different from the gospel we received from God’ Word (including a salvation by works, not being fully assured of our salvation, or salvation through any means other than the blood of Christ). The only way we can be prepared to answer these lies is by dwelling fully in the Word of God, knowing and living it daily. But make no mistake- we ARE to correct those who are wrong, and if love them, we will, because the freedom of the cross versus the burden of deeds and doubt is a gift of love.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Amy, how long was it from when you got your foster care license and you got your first call? We are finally waiting!