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The Blessing of Full Assurance

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/07/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                The Blessing of Full Assurance                         May 13th, 1888                               by                         C. H. SPURGEON                                

      "These things have I written unto you that believe       on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know       that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe       on the name of the Son of God."-1 John 5:13.

    John wrote to believers-"These things have I written     unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God."     It is worthy of note that all the epistles are so     written. They are not letters to everybody, they are     letters to those who are called to be saints. It ought     to strike some of you with awe when you open the Bible     and think how large a part of it is not directed at     you. You may read it, and God's Holy Spirit may     graciously bless it to you, but it is not directed to     you. You are reading another man's letter: thank God     that you are permitted to read it, but long to be     numbered with those to whom it is directed. Thank God     much more if any part of it should be used of the Holy     Ghost for your salvation. The fact that the Holy Spirit     speaks to the churches and to believers in Christ     should make you bow the knee and cry to God to put you     among the children, that this Book may become your Book     from beginning to end, that you may read its precious     promises as made to you. This solemn thought may not     have struck some of you: let it impress you now.

    We do not wonder that certain men do not receive the     epistles, for they were not written to them. Why should     they cavil at words which are addressed to men of     another sort from themselves? Yet we do not marvel, for     we knew it would be so. Here is a will, and you begin     to read it; but you do not find it interesting: it is     full of words and terms which you do not take the     trouble to understand, because they have no relation to     yourself; but should you, in reading that will, come     upon a clause in which an estate is left to you, I     warrant you that the nature of the whole document will     seem changed to you. You will be anxious now to     understand the terms, and to make sure of the clauses,     and you will even wish to remember every word of the     clause which refers to yourself. O dear friends, may     you read the Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ as a     testament of love to yourselves, and then you will     prize it beyond all the writings of the sages.

    This leads me to make the second remark, that as these     things are written to believers, believers ought     especially to make themselves acquainted with them, and     to search into their meaning and intent. John says,     "These things have I written to you that believe on the     name of the Son of God." Do not, I beseech you, neglect     to read what the Holy Ghost has taken care to write to     you. It is not merely John that writes. John is     inspired of the Lord, and these things are written to     you by the Spirit of God. Give earnest heed to every     single word of what God has sent as his own epistle to     your hearts. Value the Scriptures. Luther said that "he     would not be in paradise, if he might , without the     Word of the Lord; but with the Word he could live in     hell itself." He said at another time that "he would     not take all the world for one leaf of the Bible." The     Scriptures are everything to the Christian-his meat and     his drink. The saint can say, "O how I love thy law!"     If we cannot say so, something is wrong with us. If we     have lost our relish for Holy Scripture, we are out of     condition, and need to pray for spiritual health.

    This much is the porch of my sermon, let us now enter     more fully into our subject, noticing, first, that John     wrote with a special purpose; and then going on to     assert, secondly, that this purpose we ought to follow     up.

    I. First, JOHN WROTE WITH A SPECIAL PURPOSE. Men do not     write well unless they have some end in writing. To sit     down with paper and ink before you, and so much space     to fill up, will ensure very poor writing. John knew     what he was at. His intent and aim were clear to his     own mind, and he tells us what they were.

    According to the text the beloved apostle had one clear     purpose which branched out into three.

    To begin with, John wrote that we might enjoy the full     assurance of our salvation. "These things have I     written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of     God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life."

    Many who believe on the name of Jesus are not sure that     they have eternal life; they only hope so. Occasionally     they have assurance, but the joy is not abiding. They     are like a minister I have heard of, who said he felt     assured of his salvation, "except when the wind was in     the east." It is a wretched thing to be so subject to     circumstances as many are. What is true when the wind     is in the soft south or the reviving west is equally     true when the wind is neither good for man nor beast.     John would not have our assurance vary with the weather-     glass, nor turn with the vane. He says, "These things     have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have     eternal life." He would have us certain that we are     partakers of the new life, and so know it as to reap     the golden fruit of such knowledge, and be filled with     joy and peace through believing.

    I speak affectionately to the weaker ones, who cannot     yet say that they know they have believed. I speak not     to your condemnation, but to your consolation. Full     assurance is not essential to salvation, but it is     essential to satisfaction. May you get-may you get it     at once; at any rate may you never be satisfied to live     without it. You may have full assurance. You may have     it without personal revelations: it is wrought in us by     the Word of God. These things are written that you may     have it; and we may be sure that the means used by the     Spirit are equal to the effect which he desires. Under     the guidance of the Spirit of God, John so wrote as to     attain his end in writing. What, then, has he written     with the design of making us know that we have eternal     life? Go through the whole Epistle, and you will see     that it all presses in that direction; but we shall not     at this present have time to do more than glance     through this chapter.

    He begins thus: "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the     Christ is born of God." Do you believe that Jesus is     the anointed of God? Is he so to you? Is he anointed as     your prophet, priest, and king? Have you realized his     anointing so as to put your trust in him? Do you     receive Jesus as appointed of God to be the Mediator,     the Propitiation for sin, the Saviour of men? If so,     you are born of God. "How may I know this?" Brethern,     our evidence is the witness of God himself as here     recorded. We need no other witness. Suppose an angel     were to tell you that you are born of God, would that     be a more sure testimony than the infallible Scripture?     If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, you are born     of God. John has thus positively declared the truth,     that you may know that you have eternal life. Can     anything be more clear than this?

    The loving spirit of John leads him to say, "Every one     that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is     begotten of him." Do you love God? Do you love his Only-     begotten Son? You can answer those two questions     surely. I knew a dear Christian woman who would     sometimes say, "I know that I love Jesus; but my fear     is that he does not love me." Her doubt used to make me     smile, for it never could have occurred to me. If I     love him, I know it is because he first loved me. Love     to God in us is always the work of God's love towards     us. Jesus loved us, and gave himself for us, and     therefore we love him in return. Love to Jesus is an     effect which proves the existence of its cause. Do you     love Jesus? Do you feel a delight in him? Is his name     as music to your ear, and honey to your mouth? Do you     love to hear him extolled? Ah, dear friends! I know     that to many of you a sermon full of his dear name is     as a royal banquent; and if there is no Christ in a     discourse, it is empty, and vain, and void to you. Is     it not so? If you do indeed love him that begat and him     that is begotten of him, then this is one of the things     that is written "that ye may know that ye have eternal     life."

    John goes on to give another evidence: "By this we know     that we love the children of God, when we love God, and     keep his commandments." Do you love God? and do you     love his children? Listen to another word from the same     apostle: "We know that we have passed from death unto     life, because we love the brethren." That may appear to     be a very small evidence; but I can assure you it has     often been a great comfort to my soul. I know I love     the brethern: I can say unto my Lord,

                "Is there a lamb among thy flock                     I would disdain to feed?"

    I would gladly cheer and comfort the least of his     people. Well, then, if I love the brethern, I love the     Elder Brother. If I love the babes, I love the Father;     and I know that I have passed from death unto life.     Brethren, take this evidence home in all its force. It     is conclusive: John has said, "We know that we have     passed from death unto life, because we love the     brethren"; and he would not have spoken so positively     if it had not been even so. Brethren, never be content     with sentimental comforts; set your feet firmly upon     the rock of fact and truth. True Christian assurance is     not a matter of guesswork, but of mathematical     precision. It is capable of logical proof, and is no     rhapsody or poetical fiction. We are told by the Holy     Ghost that, if we love the brethren, we have passed     from death to life. You can tell whether you love the     brethren, as such, for their Master's sake, and for the     truth's sake that is in them; and if you can truly say     that you thus love them, then you may know that you     have eternal life.

    Our apostle gives us this further evidence: "This is     the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his     commandments are not grievous." Obedience is the grand     test of love. If you are living after your own will,     and pay no homage to God, you are none of his. If you     never think of the Lord Jesus as your Master, and never     recognize the claims of God, and never wish to be     obedient to his will, you are not in possession of     eternal life. If you desire to be obedient, and prove     that desire by your actions, then you have the divine     life within you. Judge yourselves. Is the tenor of your     life obedience or disobedience? By the fruit you can     test the root and the sap.

    But note, that this obedience must be cheerful and     willing. No doubt some for a while obey the commands of     God unwillingly. They do not like them, though they bow     to them. They fret and grizzle because of the     restraints of piety; and this proves that they are     hypocrites. What you wish to do you practically are     doing in the sight of God. If there could be such a     thing as holiness forced upon a man, it would be     unholiness. O my hearer, it may be that you cannot fall     into a certain line of sin; but if you could, you     would: your desires show what you really are. I have     heard of Christian people, so called, going to sinful     amusements, just, as they say, to enjoy a little     pleasure. Ah well, we see where you are! Where your     pleasure is, your heart is. If you enjoy the pleasures     of the world, you are of the world, and with the world     you will be condemned. If God's commands are grievous     to you, then you are a rebel at heart. Loyal subjects     delight in the royal law. "His commandments are not     grievous." I said to one who came to join the church     the other day, "I suppose you are not perfect"? and the     reply was, "No, sir, I wish I might be." I said, "And     suppose you were"? "Oh, then," she said, "that would be     heaven to me." So it would be to me. We delight in the     law of God after the inward man. Oh, that we could     perfectly obey in thought, and word, and deed! This is     our view of heaven. Thus we sing of it:

                  "There shall we see his face,                       And never, never sin;               There from the rivers of his grace                   Drink endless pleasures in."

    We would scarce ask to be rid of sorrow, if we might be     rid of sin. We would bear any burden cheerfully if we     could live without spot we shall also be without grief.     His commandments are not grievous, but they are ways of     pleasantness and peace to us. Do you feel that you love     the ways of God, that you desire holiness, and follow     after it joyfully? Then, dear friends, you have eternal     life, and these are the sure evidences of it.     Obedience, holiness, delight in God never came into a     human heart except from a heavenly hand. Wherever they     are found they prove that the Lord has implanted     eternal life, for they are much too precious to be     buried away in a dead soul.

    John then proceeds to mention three witnesses. Now,     dear hearers, do you know anything about these three     witnesses? "There are three that bear witness in earth,     the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these     three agree in one." Do you know "the Spirit" ? Has the     Spirit of God quickened you, changed you, illuminated     you, sanctified you? Does the Spirit of God dwell in     you? Do you feel his sacred impulses? Is he the essence     of the new life within you? Do you know him as clothing     you with his light and power? If so, you are alive unto     God. Next, do you know "the water," the purifying power     of the death of Christ? Does the crucified Lord crucify     your sins? Is the water applied to you to remove the     power of sin? Do you now long to perfect holiness in     the fear of God? This proves that you have eternal     life. Do you also know "the blood"? This is a wretched     age, in which men think little of the precious blood.     My heart has well-nigh been broken, and my very flesh     has been enfeebled, as I have thought upon the horrible     things which have been spoken of late about the     precious blood by men called Christian ministers. "O my     soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their     assembly, mine honour, be not thou united." Beloved     friends, do you know the power of the blood to take     away sin, the power of the blood to speak peace to the     conscience, the power of the blood to give access to     the throne of grace? Do you know the quickening,     restoring, cheering power of the precious blood of     Christ which is set forth in the Lord's Supper by the     fruit of the vine? Then in the mouth of these three     witnesses shall the fact of your having eternal life be     fully established. If the Spirit of God be in you, he     is the earnest of your eternal inheritance. If the     water has washed you, then you are the Lord's. Jesus     said to Peter, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part     in me." But ye are washed, and therefore the Lord's. If     the precious blood has cleansed you from the guilt of     sin, you know that it has also purchased you from     death, and it is to you the guarantee of eternal life.     I pray that you may from this moment enjoy the combined     light of these three lamps of God-"the spirit, and the     water, and the blood," and so have full assurance of     faith.

    One thing more I would notice. Read the ninth verse:     the apostle puts our faith and assurance on the ground     that we receive "the witness of God." If I believe that     I am saved because of this, that, and the other, I may     be mistaken: the only sure ground is "the witness of     God." The inmost heart of Christian faith is that we     take God as his word; and we must accept that word, not     because of the probabilities of its statements, nor     because of the confirmatory evidence of science and     philosophy, but simply and alone because the Lord has     spoken it. Many professing Christians fall sadly short     of this point. They dare to judge the Word instead of     bowing before it. They do not sit at the Master's feet,     but become doctors themselves. I thank God that I     believe everything that God has spoken, whether I am     able to see its reason or not. To me the fact that the     mouth of God hath spoken it stands in the place of all     argument, either for or against. If Jehovah says so, so     it is. Do you accept the witness of God? If not, you     have made him a liar, and the truth is not in you; but     if you have received "the witnesses of God," then this     is his witness, that "He hath given to us eternal life,     and this life is in his Son." I say again, if your     faith stands in the wisdom of men, and is based upon     the cleverness of a preacher, it will fail you; but if     it stands on the sure Word of the Lord it will stand     for ever, and this may be to you a special token that     you have eternal life. I have said enough upon this     subject; oh that God may bless it to you! May we be     enabled, from what John has written, to gather beyond     doubt that we have the life of God within our souls.

    Furthermore, John wrote that we might know our     spiritual life to be eternal. Please notice this, for     there are some of God's children who have not yet     learned this cheering lesson. The life of God in the     soul is not transient, but abiding; not temporary but     eternal. Some think that the life of God in the     believer's soul may die out; but how, then, could it be     eternal? If it die it is not eternal life. If it be     eternal life it cannot die. I know that modern     deceivers deny that eternal means eternal, but you and     I have not learned their way of pumping the meanings     out of the words which the Holy Spirit uses. We believe     that "eternal" means endless, and that if I have     eternal life, I shall live eternally, Brethren, the     Lord would have us know that we have eternal life.

    Learn, then, the doctrine of the eternality of life     given in the new birth. It must be eternal life,     because it is "the life of God." We are born again of     the Spirit of God by a living and incorruptible seed,     which liveth and abideth for ever. We are said to be     "made partakers of the divine nature." Surely, this     means, among other things, that we receive an undying     life; for immortality is of the essence of the Life of     God. His name is "I am that I am." He hath life in     himself, and the Son hath life in himself, and of this     life we are the receivers. This was his purpose     concerning his Son, that he might give eternal life to     as many as the Father had given him. If it be the life     of God which is in a believer-and certainly it is, for     he hath begotten us again-then that life must be     eternal. As children of God, we partake of his life,     and as heirs of God, we inherit his eternity. "This is     life eternal, that they might know thee the only true     God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

    Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ calls the life of his     people eternal life. How often do I quote this text! It     seems to lie on the tip of my tongue: "I give unto my     sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish,     neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." And     again, "He that believeth in him hath everlasting     life." It is not temporary life, not life which at a     certain period must grow old and die, but everlasting     life. "It shall be in him a well of water springing up     into everlasting life." This is the life of Christ     within the soul. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid     with Christ in God." "I live; yet not I, but Christ     liveth in me." "When Christ, who is our life, shall     appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."     If our life is Christ's life, we shall not die until     Christ dies. If our life is hidden in him, it will     never be discovered and destroyed until Christ himself     is destroyed. Let us rest in this.

    Mark again how our Lord has put it: "Because I live, ye     shall live also." As long, then, as Jesus lives, his     people must live, for the argument will always be the     same, "Because I live, ye shall live also." We are so     one with Christ that while the head lives the members     cannot die. We are so one Christ that the challenge is     given, "Who shall separate us from the love of God,     which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?" A list is added of     things which may be supposed to separate, but we are     told that they cannot do so, for "in all these things     we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."     Is it not clear, then, that we are quickened with a     life so heavenly and divine that we can never die? John     tells us in this very chapter, "We know that whosoever     is born of God sinneth not." He does not go back to his     old sin, he does not again come under the dominion of     sin; but, "he that is begotten of God keepeth himself,     and that wicked one toucheth him not."

    Beloved, I entreat you to keep a hard and firm grip of     this blessed doctrine of the perseverance of the     saints. How earnestly do I long "that ye may know that     ye have eternal life"! Away with your doctrine of being     alive in Christ to-day and dead tomorrow. Poor,     miserable doctrine that! Hold fast to eternal salvation     through the eternal covenant carried out by eternal     love unto eternal life; for the Spirit of God has     written these things unto you that believe on the name     of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have     eternal life.

    Once more, according to the Authorized text, though not     according to the Revised Version, John desired the     increase and confirmation of their faith. He says,     "That ye might believe on the name of the Son of God."     John wrote to those who believed, that they might     believe in a more emphatic sense. As our Saviour has     come not only that we may have life, but that we may     have it more abundantly, so does John write, that     having faith we may have more of it. Come beloved,     listen for a moment to this! You have the milk of     faith, but God wills that you should have this cream of     assurance! He would increase your faith. May you     believe more extensively. Perhaps you do not believe     all the truth, because you have not yet perceived it.     There were members of the Corinthian church who had not     believed in the resurrection of the dead, and there     were Galatians who were very cloudy upon justification     by faith. Many a Christian man is narrow in the range     of his faith from ignorance of the Lord's mind. Like     certain tribes of Israel, they have conquered a scanty     territory as yet, though all the land is theirs from     Dan to Beersheba. John would have us push out our     fences, and increase the enclosure of our faith. Let us     believe all that God has revealed, for every truth is     precious and practically useful. Perhaps your doctrinal     belief has been poor and thin. Oh that the Lord would     turn the water into wine! Many of you live upon milk,     and yet your years qualify you to feed on meat. Why     keep the babes' diet? You that believe are exhorted to     "go in and out, and find pasture"; range throughout the     whole revelation of God.

    It will be well for you if your faith also increases     intensively. Oh that you may more fully believe what     you do believe! We need deeper insight and firmer     conviction. We do not half believe, as yet, any of us.     Many of you only skim the pools of truth. Blessed is     the wing which brushes the surface of the river of     life; but infinitely more blessed is it to plunge into     the depths of it. This is John's desire for you, that     you would believe with all you heart, and soul, and     strength.

    He would have you believe more constantly, so that you     may say, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed:     I will sing and give praise." It is not always so with     us. We are at times chicken-hearted. We play the man     today, and the mouse tomorrow. Lord have mercy upon us:     we are an inconsistent people, fickle as the wind. The     Lord would have us abide always in him with strong and     mighty confidence, being rooted and built up in him.

    He would have us trust courageously. Some can believe     in a small way about small things. Oh for a boundless     trust in the infinite God! We need more of a     venturesome faith: the faith to do and dare. Often we     see the way of power, but have not the faith which     would be equal to it. See Peter walking on the sea! I     do not advise any of you to try it, neither did our     Lord advise Peter to do so: we do well enough if we     walk uprightly on land. But when Peter had once taken a     few steps on the sea, he ought to have known that his     Lord could help him all the rest of the way; but alas!    

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