Do you possess the assurance of your salvation?
This was the question that we began to answer and address in our program last week. Perhaps some of you who joined us then will remember that.
This is a very important question. We saw that it is only with the assurance of salvation that a Christian can be strong to perform the duties to which the Lord calls us, and strong to withstand all the doubts and attacks of the evil one. Without assurance the picture of the Christian is that his hands hang by his sides and his knees become weak and feeble. Every Christian duty becomes too much, and every assault of the evil one scores a decisive blow producing doubt and despair in his mind. We must have assurance.
And we may have assurance. Assurance is not something far out of reach, or perhaps for just a few of God’s children. But assurance is part of Christian faith. Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ we also hope, we are fully persuaded of those things.
The verse that we were using for our meditation, you will remember, was Hebrews 6:11: “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.”
You remember that that verse taught us that assurance, although it belongs to faith and to every Christian, nevertheless can have different levels. So the apostle is expressing his sincere desire that through diligence we might have a full assurance of hope.
This verse, then, is looking at our spiritual life and at our hope in God from the point of view of our God-given responsibility. God, by His power, places the Christian hope in our hearts. God, by His faithfulness, preserves the Christian hope in our hearts. But God does so by showing you Himself and stripping you of yourself, and showing you the emptiness of all around you, and then declaring to you that He is the Lord your God. God now reveals in this verse that He is pleased to work that assurance in us so that it be full and vibrant in the way of diligence. Read that verse again! God has appointed a way whereby He will work in us a full assurance. And that way is: show diligence, be active, be diligent.
We read in II Peter 1:5, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue….” Or again, in verse 10: “Make your calling and election sure”-by diligence, hope is increased. Assurance is a blessing which God does not work automatically, mysteriously. But it is a blessing that God works almost imperceptibly as you are sincerely diligent in the duties and obligations of your Christian faith. If you become laxadasical, if you become inconsistent, if you become careless, if you become apathetic, if you become a “ho-hum” Christian-then do not ask yourself the perplexing question: “Why is there no inner peace or vibrant hope or joy?” Do not ask that question. The answer stares you in the face. Are you in for a religion which is supposed to be served up to you on a silver platter? And do you think that God simply is going to let you sleep in sin and enjoy yourself in apathy and in the coldness of lackluster love and then give to you the assurance of His presence? Do you think God will work that way? It will not happen.
The apostle says, “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence,” every one of you, the whole flock of God. No one is excluded. The youngest, the young adult, the oldest, the little child and everyone in between, the most advanced in Christian knowledge or the most weak. The Word of God says that there will be no exception. We must be diligent in our Christian faith. And we must show all diligence. The word there is: give evidence, prove. It is the same word that is used in Romans 9:17. God says there, “Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” God says, “Pharaoh, I’ve raised you up in order that I might prove something, in order that I might show something, that I might prove it indisputably. And this is what I’m going to prove: My power (that it may be declared throughout all the earth).” That is what God did when He brought Pharaoh down through the ten plagues. And He declared throughout all the nations that He is the living God. You must show, you must be diligent, you must give evidence, you must prove your faith by being diligent in your faith unto full assurance.
The apostle says, going back to verse 10 of that chapter: “You showed that type of diligence when you ministered to the fellow saints. You showed Christian hospitality. Now continue to demonstrate in the same way your sincere attempts.”
Such are the oppositions, says the Word of God, and such are the difficulties that you will meet that unless you use all diligence and watchfulness, you will faint and fail in your duties. And you will become that “ho-hum” believer.
Dear radio listeners, the work of a full assurance in us will not be carried on by the grace of God without that grace of God producing in us an intense diligence and sincere endeavor. We must persevere in faith or the work of faith and hope will not advance to the glory of God and to our own assurance. The Word of God knows nothing of that lazy kind of profession of Christianity which satisfies great masses of Christians today. They say, “Oh, yes, I’m a Christian. But don’t expect to see me at the worship services on Sunday, certainly not twice! After my busy week? The best you can expect is Sunday morning. And, oh, by the way, can you make the service time conformable to me, because I don’t want to get up too early Sunday morning. How about 11:00, and then not too long?” Or, people can say: “Well, yes, I’m a Christian. But I just don’t find time during the week to read my Bible. You know how busy things are. I just don’t have time to read or to sit down with the kids or to see to it that my kids are reading their Bibles. Life is so busy, you know. There are so many things we have to do.” These same can be diligent in their own trade and work. These same can find the time to read computer manuals, technical manuals, or magazines which will keep them abreast of the trends in their field. These same will go the extra mile for their customers. They will spend long hours in study to get their degree in advanced technology. These same will be diligent in pleasure. They will find the time when the nice weather comes for the weekly game, for the favorite TV show, for the pursuits of lust. There seems to be time for these things. In fact, this is “my time,” we say.
Is that the kind of Christian you are? No time for the things of God. But you can show diligence and pursuit for the things of yourself. Are you diligent in the matters of God and of your soul? Are you watchful over the trends of your spiritual life? Are you studious of God’s truth? Are you careful in the duties of faith and religion? Are you diligent in the labors of love? Or are you a stranger to such things?
There are the duties of divine worship, twice on the Lord’s day. That you come to the house of God on Sunday and that you come not to be entertained, but that you come thirsting to hear the Word of God, the only sure Word, preached and proclaimed to you as the Scriptures require. That you come with an eager spirit, not with a drugged mind, exhausted, unable to think, sleeping through the service; but with a clear mind and with a heart which wants to drink in the living Word of God. Is that the way you come to church? That is the way that delights and pleases God. In that way you shall find Him there.
We must be diligent in the duties of our personal spiritual hygiene, duties avoiding spiritual pollutants. We must read our Bibles, we must be ready to go through the difficulties that come to us in our Christian life. We must not constantly be seeking to avoid them. Are you diligent? Do you go about the things of your faith with a warmth and zeal of spirit? There is no other way to heaven but the way of diligent pursuits.
This is why we need the exhortation on diligence so long as we live on this earth. This is why, in the preaching of the gospel, we need to be exhorted to be diligent. Many do not want exhortations from the pulpit. They prefer church in which the pastor simply gets up to share what God’s Word, perhaps, might mean and, perhaps, does not mean. But they do not want the Word of God which is going to cut and confront and to pierce into the soul and to rattle us out of our comfortable nests.
Beloved, if the Word of God does not wake me up so that I watch for my soul, then what good is that Word to me? Some people believe that it is not so necessary to be so careful. But the apostle says, “Every one of you must be exhorted unto diligence.”
So often this is why assurance can be absent from our souls. Yes, there can be moments of deep spiritual struggle and wrestling for assurance. The psalmist had that in Psalm 42 when, apparently, apart from his own control he was kept from the house of God and he complained that his heart was cast down within him. And he could barely hope. But there is never a moment when our own pride and our own sin do not seek to cause a stumbling block in our Christian walk. Are you and I being slothful, lazy, indifferent? Then we cannot enjoy the assurance of salvation. Have you fallen into carelessness? Does the Bible remain on the shelf unopened, while other things are always found in your busy schedule? Are we inconsistent in our walk of life? Do we attempt to put one foot in the world and one in Jesus Christ? Are we enamored by the ways of the world? Then do not wonder why the vibrancy of hope is a stranger to our heart and we say, “I just don’t feel anything.” Of course we do not feel anything! Because our hearts are crowded with the feelings of this present world and spent and exhausted upon the things which cannot satisfy. Give full diligence unto the end, says the apostle.
Those words go with diligence. “Show the same diligence unto the end.” We must hope to the end for the salvation that will be brought to us. That is true. But here the idea is, be diligent unto the end. There is no season, no time of life, when we may be discharged from the duty of diligence. The Christian is to be forever and always vigilant. When faith is as eyes, and we see the end of glory which is set before us, and we see the enemies which are lined up in our way and the difficulties and hills over which we must go-then we must be diligent to the end. We will not nod off and say, “A little sleep, a little slumber….” But faith and hope will keep our eyes open, our legs strong, our hands skillful, alert and ready to traverse the way to glory, no matter the cost. There will never be a time or state in your life when diligence is not necessary. You want to rest now? You want to rest now, as we are on the pilgrim’s pathway in the enemies’ land with many dangers around us? You want to draw back and rest now? You want to place your spiritual soul in a coma and think that you are going to wake up in heaven? There are no rest periods now as far as diligence for your soul is concerned, as far as the state of your faith is concerned. Wake up! You must be diligent.
We must continually press toward the growth of all Christian graces in our souls. The evidence of the grace of Christ being in us is its growth. Hope gives evidence that it is in us by growing up. Life gives the evidence of itself by growth. Where there is life, there will be growth. We want this hope to grow in us. We do not want to go through life with just a little flicker of the light of hope now and then, occasionally. But we want that hope to be as a floodlight upon our pathway. We want that hope to be like concrete under our feet, so that we do not sink into the mire of doubt. Then, in that way, when hope is as a floodlight and hope is as concrete to our feet, we bring glory to God and we adorn the gospel of Christ.
Still more. The assurance of hope will make us active in the Christian life. It is discouragement that makes us sit and mope. But it is hope in God that gets us going. It makes us decisive. Discouragement makes us flounder between the two. We cannot make up our mind. We sit there perplexed. We cannot see because of the gloom. Hope gives our eyes to see the way to heaven! To see the way of obedience, the pathway. The hope that is set before us makes us decisive-that we go in the way of God’s precepts. Hope makes us holy. We want to be preserved pure and holy for the promises of God. Hope makes us courageous. It outweighs all the troubles and persecutions and obstacles that are in our path. When we hope unto the end, when we are diligent unto the end, when that hope is before our eyes we will not cower in fear. We will pursue our hope.
Do you possess this assurance, the full assurance of hope of eternal life? Is it, perhaps, a vain hope that is in you, a hope which you say is Christian hope but, nevertheless, allows you to live in sin? Somehow you still believe that heaven is on reserve for you when you cannot enjoy sin anymore. When you get too old for sin, then heaven is on reserve for you-is that the way you look at it? You never struggle with sin? You never weep? You never see its horror? You do not say, No? But yet, you think, all is well. All is well, really, isn’t it? Sure it is, you say. Yet you go on using your Christianity as an excuse, no, as an encouragement for sinning? Your hope is presumption. It is false security; it is created by Satan himself. Dash it! Dash it right now, or you will sink into hell with that false hope.
Or is your hope this: the daughter of faith by which you believe the gracious promises of the faithful God as being real and true. They have captured your heart and your imagination, your longing and your zeal. You stretch out for them. You reach ever further for them. You find your peace and comfort in them. You are amazed at the gospel of the grace of God to you. You delight yourself in it. You long for the moment when you shall stand before your Savior whom you have known. Then you shall see. And your hope will give you strength in trouble and sorrow. It will lift up your soul in the greatest discouragements. It will deliver your feet from the snares of the evil one. And it will give you strength that you might pick yourself up on the pathway and walk on and on, even unto the end.
That is the true Christian hope. Be diligent. Show your diligence. Hope to the end for the salvation which is already ours.
Let us pray.