Training for Reigning - 08 - Good-bye doubts

I WISH I KNEW FOR SURE whether I am really saved or not," are the words some of us have heard many times: for a large number of truly born again persons continue to have doubts and fears. And so let me ask any reader who may be a doubter to be patient with me when I say right away that the majority of doubts are the result of muddled thinking
Of course, a few Christians are chronic doubters. They doubt almost everything, anyway, chiefly owing to bad habits of thinking. There are others who are left fearful because some preacher has over-stressed a demand for a vivid type of experience, such as he himself may have had. But apart from concerns like these, there is one very common reason for feelings of insecurity. Indeed, this single reason has been the trouble-maker in nearly all the cases of doubting which have come to my attention. It is FAILURE TO GET A CLEAR GRASP OF TWO BASIC DETAILS OF SALVATION. The doubter is not able to answer, intelligently, two of the simplest questions which can be asked. If you don’t believe me, try asking mature Christians these two:
1. What do you mean when you say you are saved?
2. Why will God not punish you for your sins?
Again and again I have asked older Christians, as well as young ones, these questions, only to receive such thoughtless answers as the following:
"To be saved means to be born again."
"It means to have everlasting life."
"It means to put your trust in the Lord."
"It means to accept Christ as your Saviour."
(By the way, what would be your answer?).
Alas! all such replies are wrong, dead wrong. They do describe the new condition of saved ones, or the act of faith through which they entered into salvation; but they give us no clue as to what is meant when we say we are saved . . . Muddled thinking!
Answers to the second question usually are similar - sometimes the very same:
"God will not punish me for my sins because I am saved;"
or -"because I believe His Word:"
or -"because I have accepted Christ:"
or -"because I have been born again," etc.
Once more such replies are hopeless; and wherever there is such crooked thinking, doubts and fears of all kinds are bound to set up other questions, such as these:
"I wonder if I believed right?"
"I wonder if I had enough conviction?"
"If I only knew the "time when" - would I be sure then?"
"If I am truly saved, why am I not a lot different?"
In circumstances like these we commonly prescribe the booklet, "Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment"- sometimes with happy results. But all too often, I have found, very little rest of soul has been gained. The reason? - Failure to grasp, clearly, the two simple truths behind the questions asked in the second paragraph.
Now let me answer them as they need to be understood. - What does it mean to be saved? . . . It means to be made safe from being punished for my sins - exactly that.
Why will God not punish me for my sins? . . . It is because He punished His Son in my place - and for no other reason, whatever.
Another question often is: "Then why am I saved, if it isn’t because I believe in Jesus?"
Well, if believing in Jesus could have made us safe then there was no sense in His leaving Heaven to go to the cross. All we should have required was an angel’s message telling us that Christ was up in Heaven, and to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" and be saved. That would be believing in Jesus, would it not?
But you can see at once that something more was needful. He must come to Earth, go to Calvary, suffer "the Just for the unjust," if we were to be brought to God: 1 Peter 3: 18. So it isn’t believing in Jesus that makes us safe from the wrath to come. Instead, it was His bearing "our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2: 24), and His enduring of all the punishment for our sins, that makes a believing sinner safe from hell and the lake of fire. There simply can be no other reason. And if you are a doubter, you had better try to get these simple facts fixed in your mind, once and for all. Muddled thinking is a very bad enemy, indeed.
"Well then, how is it that I had to believe to get saved?"
It was because Christ bore the sins of, and punishment for, BELIEVING SINNERS, only.
Truly, He died so that every sinner might be offered salvation:
1 John 2: 2. His finished work fully satisfied the claims of God so that none need perish. But to receive a gift you must accept it. Thus only believing sinners benefit from His cross-work; and when you believed you entered into the good of it, for that was when you accepted both Himself and His finished work. Right away you were made safe - as safe as God can make you. But it certainly wasn’t because you believed in Jesus that you were made safe. IT WAS BECAUSE HE DIED FOR YOU. . . and for that reason alone. All your believing did was to place you in the class - the limited class - of those for whom His cross-work is effective: that of trusters in Christ. When you believed you joined the class, so to speak.
Isaiah 53: 5 tells us this truth so simply that it is a wonder that we should get so fuddled about believing. (Alas! undoubtedly the chief cause is the ceaseless exhortation of preachers and Sunday School teachers "Only believe, only believe, and you’ll be saved," cried aloud to the point where many sinners work as hard at trying to believe as others labour to get to Heaven by trying to live a Christian life. This practice is greatly to be deplored. How much wiser it would be to stop this erroneous exhorting, and to emphasize, instead, the God-satisfying completeness of Christ’s finished work, stressing "Only believe" when a sinner actually is ready for that word).
But I started out to speak about Isaiah 53: 5. We learn from it that, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him."
Thus far we are reading of what Christ did for us on the cross. Then comes the final clause; but notice that it does not say, "And with our believing we are healed." Instead we read, "AND WITH HIS STRIPES we are healed"- saved. Surely now it is clear that if we are saved, it is not because we believed, but because HIS STRIPES have made us free from being punished for our sins. "Payment God will not twice demand, First at my bleeding Surety’s hand, and then again at mine." And since His Word declares it, most gladly do we believe it, and thus enter into the good of it . . . are made safe forever.
As a result of the Saviour’s finished work we now can say, I know that I am saved because for me there is:
NO judgment: John 5: 24 - because He bore my sentence:
1 Peter 3: 18.
NO wrath: Romans 5: 9 - because He bore the wrath: Psalm 88: 7, 16.
NO condemnation: Romans 8: 1 - because He bore it: Isaiah 53: 10. NO accusation: Romans 8: 33 - because He took it away: Colossians 2: 14.
NO separation: Romans 8: 25-39 - because He endured it:
Matthew 27: 46.
NO curse: Galatians 3: 13 - because He bore it.
NO remembrance of my sins: Hebrews 10: 17 - because by His one sacrifice for sins they were taken away: vs. 11-14.
So let us lift our harps from the willows and sing with all our hearts:
"Settled forever! sin’s tremendous claim;
Glory to Jesus, blessed be His name;
No part.way measures doth His grace provide,
Finished the work was when the Saviour died."
For if the Lord Jesus settled it all for me at Calvary, why then it must be all settled! And nothing that I do, or fail to do, ever can change it, therefore, henceforth and forever,