Friday, February 4, 2011

How assurance fosters "decided" Christians

By J.C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool
Let us remember, that assurance (that Christ has won eternal life for us) is to be desired because it tends to make a Christian a decided Christian.

Indecision and doubt about our own state in God’s sight is a grievous evil, and the mother of many evils. It often produces a wavering and unstable walk in following the Lord. Assurance helps to cut many a knot, and to make the path of Christian duty clear and plain.

Many who hope they are God’s children, and have true grace, however weak, are continually perplexed with doubts about the way to act. “Should we do this? Should we continue a family custom? Should we make purchases from that company? What will regulate the way we dress and the entertainment we pursue? Should we dance, play cards, go to parties? But often, the true root of their problem is that they are not yet assured that they themselves are God’s children. They have not yet settled the point, which side of the gate they are on. They do not know whether they are inside the ark or not.

That a child of God ought to act in a certain decided way, they quite feel; but the grand question is, “Are they children of God themselves?” If they only felt they were so, they would go straightforward, and take a decided line. But not feeling sure about it, their conscience is forever hesitating and coming to a deadlock…

I believe we have here one chief reason why so many in this day are inconsistent, trimming, unsatisfactory, and half-hearted in their conduct about the world… In short, I have little doubt that one secret cause of “halting between two opinions” is want of assurance. When people can say decidedly, “The Lord, He is the God,” their course becomes very clear. (I Kings 18:39)