This morning, while reading a chapter in Wayne and Joshua Mack’s newest book, God’s Solutions to Life’s Problems (P&R, 2014), I was blessed by a wonderful excerpt from one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons, “The Priest Dispensed With,” preached sometime in the late 1800s. This excerpt includes five assurances that answered, for Spurgeon, the question: “How do I know I am a believer?” He uses them to encourage and challenge those who also profess to know and love Christ.
- Because of the remarkable change which I underwent when I believed – “for when a man believes in Jesus Christ there is such a change wrought in him that he must be aware of it. As in the case of the blind man when his eyes were opened he said, ‘One thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see…’”
- Because our affections are so altered – “The believer can say that the things he once loved he now hates, and the things he hated he now loves; that which gave him pleasure now causes him pain, and things which were irksome and unpleasant have now become delightful to him.”
- Because very far from perfect, we love holiness and strive after purity – “You that have believed in Jesus, do you not now pant after holiness? Do you not endeavor to do that which is right, and when you are conscious that you have failed does not conscience prick you?”
- Because now we have communion with God – “we are in the habit of speaking with God in prayer, and hearing the Lord speak with us when we read His word. Some of us have spoken with our Lord Jesus so often that we have grown to be near and dear friends, and whatsoever we ask in prayer he grants us.”
- Because we have, over and above all, a secret something, indescribable to others, but well-known to ourselves – From the witness of the Holy Spirit (as mentioned in Romans 8:16), “there comes a stealing over the soul sometimes a peace, a joy, a perfect rest, a heavenly deliciousness, a supreme content, in which though no voice is heard, yet are we conscious that there is rushing through our souls, like a strain of heaven’s own music.”
It is not uncommon for believers to experience times of doubt and trials of faith. God’s Word contains many promises and assurances to us that the Spirit of God is at work in our hearts conforming us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). May our hearts and minds receive these gracious assurances as gifts from the heavenly Father!
However, at the same time, Scripture warns us of the power and possibility of self-deception. If our hearts are not strengthened with these assurances then we must test ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). Here’s another, related, post that may be of additional help: 10 Tests of Genuine Faith.