My Strong and Perfect Plea!

Why discuss assurance of grace and salvation? Isn’t this just a promotion of an unhealthy and unnecessary introspection on life? Won’t I just become gloomy at the end of the reading? Well, I do not think so!

I think that if there is an area in Christian life and experience that cause a lot of anguish, it is the area of assurance of grace and salvation. However, we need to understand that the most agonizing problem about the assurance of grace and salvation is not the problem of whether the objective facts of Christianity are true. That is, facts like God exists, the Bible is God’s word, Christ is both God and man, Christ was born of a virgin birth, Christ died for sinners, Christ rose from the dead, Christ saves forever all who believe in Him, etc.

These Bible truths are the bedrock of our Christian faith. But I think the real agonizing problem of assurance is whether I personally am saved by those objective facts. This comes down to whether I have saving faith or not. What makes this painfully agonizing is that there are people who think they have true saving faith but simply don’t. For example, think for a moment about the words of Jesus Christ: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV).

So the agonizing question for some is: ‘Do I really have saving faith? Is my faith the real thing? Am I self-deceived?’ Some well-intentioned pastors may try to lessen the problem by making faith a mere decision to affirm certain truths, like the truth: Jesus Christ is both God and man, and He died for my sins, and He rose again from the dead the third day. Others will try to assist assurance by asserting that any kind of life-change is totally unnecessary for one to demonstrate the reality of saving faith. Therefore, they find a way to make James 2:17, for example, mean something other than what is seems to mean: “So also faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (ESV).

However, these “pastoral counselling” strategies to help assurance only backfire. They deny some Scripture; and even the minimal faith they preserve can be agonized over and doubted by the tormented soul. They do not solve the problem, and they lose truth. Moreover, perhaps worst of all, they sometimes give assurance to people who should not ever have it.

In this issue, we will be discussing questions that arise around the important subject of assurance of grace and salvation. How are we to understand this topic? What does the Bible teach concerning assurance of grace and salvation? Is there anything like a false assurance of salvation? How can you biblically ascertain that your faith is the real thing, without falling into self-deception? We trust this issue will not only try to provide biblical answers to some of your questions, but also give you a spiritual feast that will enrich and revitalise your walk with the Lord, and join in the glorious worship of our great salvation.

Before the throne of God above,

I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love

Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,

My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,

My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,

My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,

The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.

My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,

With Christ my Savior and my God!

Pastor Kabwe Kabwe deals with the biblical teaching of assurance of salvation in the article ‘Assurance of Salvation: What is it?’ Pastor Francis Kaunda guides us pastorally by the hands through the treacherous waters of doubt to arrive safely on the shores of assurance in ‘Handling Doubts of Assurance’. Pastor Ndonji Kayombo expertly unmasks the hideous counterfeits that hide in the shadows in ‘The Counterfeits of Assurance’; and Pastor Choolwe Mwetwa gives us the usual centrespread treat. Hey, let me not delay you any further, go for it.