“Knowing and Growing in Assurance of Faith” by Dr. Joel R. Beeke.

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knowingandgrowinginassuranceoffaith

If you are a Christian, you’ve probably had questions about the topic of assurance.  We’ve all had doubts about our faith at some point in our growth.  While nobody can give you assurance of your salvation, this book can help you, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith;” 2 Corintians 2:5a (NASB)  Dr. Beeke cites the Bible, and the writings of some very astute Puritans, and their explorations of this topic.  The book is very logically organized, and walks you through a process, by which you can examine yourself, if you are having questions about your salvation.  He unpacks where some of our problems come from, and what we should know to help us on our way.  This is one of the most accurate, and helpful books I’ve ever read on the topic.  If you are having difficulties with your assurance, I highly recommend this book.

You can pick up a copy at any of these sites; Reformation Heritage Books, Christianbook.com, and Amazon.

ISBN-13: 9781781913000

Guilt Over Sin, and Victory in Christ.

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I say, with absolute truth, and certainty, “My death is imminent, it looms about me, it is just, and well earned, for my sins are countless, except to God, who knows each one in perfect detail, for the cost of them was laid upon His precious Son.” If you know this to be true about yourself, do you also know that in Christ Jesus, we have been granted life giving repentance, and faith, a new heart, with new affections and desires, a new existence as a born again saint, a new family of adopted brothers and sisters in Christ, a true Father, Christ as our Lord and King, Priest intercessor, true Prophet, dear brother, and Savior. We have been granted life eternal with God, for His glory, and our good. Look at your sins, but do not lay your mind on them to the degree that they become greater than the Savior! If your guilt and shame have come at you like breaking waves on a dark and gloomy shore, thundering against your mind, like a death knell, let the next thought be about how you have a sacrifice that pleases the justice of the one true God, that was made by His Son on the cross! Surely, see your sins, and what they cost, but remember why He did what He did. For while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God has love for those whom He saves. They become His Children through adoption, and Christ Jesus is the door, the way in. No man comes to the Father except by Jesus Christ! What a glorious, and beautiful Savior we have! Lift your head from your contemplation, brokenness over sin, and self-abasement, and focus on the glorious, eternal, and resurrected Lord! May His love for you be known, and felt. May it be ever in your mind, balancing the right perspective of guilt over sin, and God’s great love. There is a tension between the two, and it is good for us to know them both.
 
Romans 8:26-39 (NASB Strong’s) Our Victory in Christ
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was  raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We Create Gods in Our Image, Paganism and Idolatry.

We humans are very self-centered, or anthropocentric.  When we make up a god, or religion, we make it in our image as a collective society.  It is usually a god that looks, and values what we do.  Consider the Norse mythological system, their gods valued fighting, and dying an honorable death in combat.  They valued strength.  All the false world religions look like the people they came from.  Men always imagine gods that are able to be appeased through their efforts.  We make our gods in our image.  We make gods that think, and look like us, and value the same things.  This is called idolatry.  Our ancestors did it, we do it, and chances are many of us don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Christianity is the only true faith, and worships the only true God.  He made us in His image.  He cannot be appeased by us, nor does he value the lowly, base, and sinful things we value.  We could never imagine a God like the true God.  He had to reveal Himself to us.  The record of His revelation to us, and all that is needed to know Him is in the Bible.  There we can read about Him, and come to know Him.  Through that process, I think you’l find, as I and many other Christians have, there is no way, anyone could have created such a God.

Many people claiming to be Christians have made a god in their own image.  They go to Church with true Christians, and other false converts.  They sing songs to their god, they pray to him/it, they worship him/it, but it won’t avail them.  They might say things like, “Don’t judge!” or, “My god would never send anyone to Hell.” or, “I don’t believe in the god of the Old Testament, I like the one in the New Testament better.” or, “God is love, love is god.”  Keep in mind, this god reflects what that person values, not the God of the Bible.

I encourage you to examine yourself, and see if you have created a god in your own image, or if you worship God in truth and in spirit.  Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

Please Consider Keeping Monergism Funded.

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If you are a Christian, you’ve probably heard of, or used Monergism.com.  They have been publishing public domain, free to read, Christian e-books, for years, as well as some contemporary works, and some for purchase.  I have downloaded, and benefited from their work personally, and encourage you to check them out.  They are also in need of funds to continue their work.  Please consider giving to them.  They are a valuable resource, and I’d hate to see them go.

The only true cure for gender dysphoria.

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If you have unbiblical preconceived notions about how you should be treated, or how your life should be going, you are not only in sin, but you will never be content, and you’ll always be angry.

If you are confused about your gender, you need the truth, not lies. If you pretend to be a man, when you are actually a woman, you will always know that you are not a man. It will be with you all the while. You will always know you are a woman pretending to be a man. You will never fit in with actual men. You don’t need people to help you lie to yourself. You need the truth. Your emotions are not tempered with knowledge that is true. This will only lead to more suffering. Accept the truth. The truth is that you have sinful feelings and thoughts. You, along with the rest of us, are perverted. We all need God to grant us repentance, and faith. Pray for God to lead you to actual truth, and free you from your sins.  Trust the finished work of Jesus Christ, on the cross for your righteousness.  He took our punishment, and satisfied the just wrath of God with His sacrifice.  We need to repent of our sins, and trust solely in Him.

We need Church.

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One of the many reasons we,as hypocritical sinners, should attend Church, is so we can obey Christ, in being sanctified through learning to humbly love other hypocritical sinners. Remember, if you find the perfect Church, run because you will ruin it by joining. There is no such thing as a, “perfect Church” All local bodies are made up of wretched worms, who have gathered to worship the only true and living, good and merciful, God who saves.  If your excuse is that the Church is full of hypocrites, then it is invalid.  You yourself are also guilty of hypocritically judging.  Please take a look, and a listen to these resources available at Wretched.org

 

 

Now it seems it is time to persevere.

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Keep in mind, what I am going to be writing about is not a prophecy, nor did I get a, “word from God.”  This is just my own personal observations, and thoughts.  I have been thinking lately, that we have had an unusual time of learning, and growing for the last decade or so.  There have been good teachers, and plentiful resources.  Even though there has been persecution around the world, and oppression in other parts of the world, we have been pretty safe here in the USA.  We have had a lack of tribulation.  We have had plenty of time to mature in Christ.  We have been sitting in relative comfort.

I think this time is coming to a close.  I think many Pastors, and teachers are headed for a fall.  The world system, and the enemy are going to be putting Christians, their faith, and knowledge of Christ to the test.  Our sins will seem to come at us with a vengeance, and destructive force that we are not accustomed to.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Will we buckle under the temptation?  Will we resort to being greedy, selfish, unkind, mean, arrogant, prideful, lustful, adulterous, covetous, abusive, addicted, or fill in the black with whatever sin has been eating at your assurance over the past years, some besetting sin, that you’ve as of yet not had victory over?(1 Peter 1:7, Heb 10:32-36)

We’ve already seen some Pastors/Preaching Elders fall into heterodoxy, or outright apostasy.  We have seen marriages end, and abuses happen.  I think these are just the beginning of what is to come.  We’ve had time to prepare, grow, and learn to fight sin.  I think the time has come, and God is going to put us through trials, and tribulations.  I’m not talking eschatologically here.  It seems the season is here for our good, the Churches good, and sanctification.  Those who are left standing after the fire, will be the ones who have persevered.  We need workmen who have shown them selves approved. (2 Tim 2:15, 1 Cor 9:24-27, James 1:2-4)

Don’t fret or worry.  Rest assured in the God who saves, and sanctifies.  He will also glorify.  When you fall to sin, repent immediately.  Accept Church discipline.  It is for your good, and the Churches good.  Don’t resist out of pride.  Don’t go to another Church, or movement.  Don’t utilize a loophole like that to escape what will bring you back to spiritual health in Christ.  It is the means He has ordained. (Rom 5:3-4)

Let’s do our due diligence, and submit to our Savior fully, and with all the zeal due Him.  Study His word, apply it, discipline your mind and body, make war against sin!  Rest in His righteousness, and utilize the weapons, and protections He has given us. (Eph 6:10-18, Heb 12:1-3)

Let’s be civil.

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Let’s be civil, and act as mature people in Christ while dealing with the lost. Remember, the people who have modern leftists ideals are not your enemy. It is the power behind them, pulling their strings. That is why our Lord, and His apostles, when they were killed, could ask God to forgive their murderers, due to their ignorance. We are dealing with a group of people who are unable to recognize truth, reason, love, and who are enslaved to sin, their master. They are children of their father, satan. According to Romans 1, their minds are debased, and unable to reason. Pray for the miracle of regeneration to happen to them, that they would be born again, and that they would repent of their sins, and trust solely in Jesus’ work on the cross for their justification.

Christ Jesus is our only hope.

Who among us can examine our own thoughts, honestly appraise them, and not conclude that they are hopelessly sinful? If Christ does not save, then all of us are lost.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

God created everything for His glory, and puts His love on display for all to see, in the horror, and beauty of the cross. Christ’s agonizing death, and crushing punishment, as sin on our behalf, His burial, and resurrection, conquering sin, death, and the grave, is such a foreign demonstration of love to sinful humans, that we cannot fathom its depths. We understand just an inkling, a bare notion stirs in our minds, we can and should be awestruck. Through all of this, He provides a glorious future for us in eternity, with Him, as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and heirs.

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Ephesians 1:5, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”

Romans 8:12-17, ” So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

Incomparable Categories.

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We tend to compare human volition with that of God’s.  I believe this is what causes so much confusion when it comes to understanding sovereign election, and man’s culpability.  We hear comments like, “If God decides who gets saved, and who doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter what I do.  We are just a bunch of mindless robots.”  Now we know that we are not mindless robots, and our choices have consequences.  We also know from scripture that God says we are culpable for our sins.  We also should know, that we as finite, cursed, creatures, can’t know perfectly the attributes of God.  We can only know them as much as we are made able to know them.  That isn’t to say that our knowledge is insufficient for our spiritual needs, it is simply something we must acknowledge before moving on.

I’m not going to go into great detail in this article, as I do think the subject needs deeper, and more thorough treatment.  I plan on writing a larger paper, or book on the topic later.  I’m only going to use a few attributes in this example.  Also, please keep in mind that even though there are attributes that were communicated to us in our creation by God, making us in His image, those attributes cannot be directly compared to them as found in God, as He is incomparable, having no analogous being.

God’s will is informed by His sovereignty, omniscience, and beneficence, to only name a few of His attributes.  How do you think those qualities affect His determining compared to the enslaved, ignorant, malevolently informed wills of human beings?  You see, the will of man cannot be rightly compared to that of God’s.  In eternity past, when God created everything out of nothing, and determined all things, He did so with perfect rights, as owner/Creator.  He did so with perfect knowledge of everything in all times and places, and even of all things not constrained by space-time.  Finally, He did so with perfect goodness, love, and justice, these all being informed by all of His other perfections/attributes.

When man makes a decision it is informed by his enslaved nature.  He is a slave to sin unless he has been born again.  Then he is a slave to Christ Jesus.  Those two facts make an eternity of differences.  His will is also informed by his ignorance.  Man can only consider what he reasons that he knows, when making a decision.  If we consider this honestly, we would admit that compared to God’s omniscience our knowledge is incomparable.  They belong in different categories.  Our wills cannot operate independently apart from our sinful flesh, even when we are born again, due to our residence in the unredeemed flesh.

Since these two wills operate in different conditions, one being eternal/timeless, and the other being confined to finite, unfolding time, and space, the experience of these wills is very different.  I can experience the situation that requires a response, the reasoning through the known options, make a decision, and experience the consequences of my decision as they unfold in my temporal, material, experience of life as a creature.  This doesn’t in any way negate the reality of God’s volition in eternity past.  I, as a result of God’s will in eternity past experience my life as He has determined it.

I know this seems impossible to people.  We are stuck many times trying to compare things that are not in the same categories.  By looking briefly at how different the two wills are, we should be able to accept that there is an aspect of ignorance in our reasoning due to our nature as creatures, that can’t justify fully how we can have a personal volition, and that God can determine all things, without there being a conflict.  Our experiences as creatures are real.  We are culpable for our sins.  We do make choices in the construct in which we reside.  Outside of that small, finite, dark, construct exists the full, luminescent, glorious truth of God.  He is sovereign, omniscient, and good.  We can trust those attributes as we experience the temporal, and eternal consummation of His will.

Romans 9:6-33 (NASB Strong’s) But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “ through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: “AT this time I will come, and Sarah shall have A son.”  And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate MY power in you, and that MY name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?  What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea,
“I will call those who were not MY people, ‘MY people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
“And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not MY people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved;  for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” And just as Isaiah foretold,
“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us A posterity,
WE would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written,
“Behold, I lay in Zion A stone of stumbling and A rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”