Wednesday, February 2, 2011
By J.C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool
Let us remember, for another thing, that assurance (of eternal life with Jesus) is to be desired, because it tends to make a Christian an active working Christian.
None, generally speaking, do so much for Christ on earth as those who enjoy the fullest confidence of a free entrance into heaven, and trust not in their own works, but in the finished work of Christ. That sounds wonderful, I dare say, but it is true.
A believer who lacks an assured hope will spend much of his time in inward searchings of heart about his own state. Like a nervous hypochondriac, he will be full of his own ailments, his own doubtings and questionings, his own conflicts and corruptions. In short, you will often find he is so taken up with his internal warfare that he has little leisure for other things, and little time to work for God.
But a believer, who has, like Paul, an assured hope, is free from these harassing distractions. He does not vex his soul with doubts about his own pardon and acceptance. He looks at the everlasting covenant sealed with blood, at the finished work, and never-broken word of his Lord and Saviour, and therefore counts his salvation a settled thing. And thus he is able to give an undivided attention to the work of the Lord, and so in the long run to do more.
….None will do so much for the Lord as the believer who sees his title to the assurance won for him by Christ and is not distracted by unbelieving doubts, questionings and hesitations. The joy of the Lord will be that man’s strength. “Restore unto me,” says David, “the joy of Thy salvation; then will I teach transgressors Thy ways.” (Psalm 51:12)
Never were there such working Christians as the Apostles. They seemed to live to labor. Christ’s work was truly their meat and drink. They counted not their lives dear to themselves. They spent and were spent. They laid down ease, health, worldly comfort, at the foot of the cross. And on grand cause of this, I believe, was their assured hope. They were men who could say, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1 John 5:19.)