“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
I learned that little saying a long time ago. There are times when you win the argument, but nothing changes. The person with whom you are talking gives in and agrees, but remains unwilling to do what you want. There is something more to being convinced than just being presented with a superior argument.
This seems to be especially true in regard to assurance in the Christian life. No matter what I tell people, they will only receive assurance when they are ready to receive it. I have talked with so many people about their hope in Jesus and the promise of life and peace in Hm. I can tell them all the facts, give them all the Scripture verses, and present an argument they can’t refuse, but they often go away with the same fears and the same doubts.
Almost every time I have been able to sort this out with the person, there has been one simple cause. I believe it is the cause of most of the lack of assurance we see in the church—and lack of assurance accounts for the weakness of believers. Without assurance, we become afraid, timid, and open to compromise. But those who are absolutely assured of the truth of their faith can walk into the lion’s den without fear. Well, okay, there may be fear, but they will do it because they know what they know.
So what’s the one simple cause I have found? The unwillingness to believe that Jesus has done it all. So much of the message of the church has been about what is required of us that it is very difficult for us to accept that Jesus has met all the requirements, done all the work, and offered the finished gift to us freely. The work of Jesus is sufficient and finished. He has done it all.
But people have been taught that He does His part and we must do our part. The only problem is that we can’t do “our part.” We continue to fail. We were born failures. We have never been able to do “our part.” That’s why we needed a Savior. We didn’t need a boost or a helping hand or a word of encouragement. We needed Someone who could and would do it all.
If you look in that amazing gift box Jesus gave in the process of your salvation, you will find a little package marked “Assurance.” In it you will find the part of your salvation that is your responsibility. This is what you will need to do to be forgiven and saved. When you open it, you will discover the secret of assurance.
The little box is empty. That’s your part. Jesus did it all. He paid the full price. As long as you believe there is something in that little box, you will not have the assurance you long for. Only when you open it, when you want to see and understand the truth, will you realize that your assurance comes from what He has done. It can never come from what you do.
I believe that assurance is possible. I believe it comes when we finally understand that there is no hope in us. We cannot provide one tenth or one hundredth or one thousandth of what it took to save us. Salvation, forgiveness, eternal life—this is the work of Jesus alone. When I look at me, I lack assurance. When I look at Him, I have peace.
Let yourself be convinced of Jesus. You don’t have to trust me or the church or even yourself. Assurance won’t come from any of those places. Throw yourself on Him alone. Offer Him nothing. Promise Him nothing. No bargains. Just the love of Jesus. That’s all you have and that’s enough.