Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
“The Full Assurance of Hope”
All who are born of God, all who trust Christ alone as Savior and Lord, all who look to Christ’s blood alone as the atonement for their sins, all who look to Christ’s obedience alone for their righteousness before God shall continue to trust him unto the end, and shall be with him in glory.
Every believer, every sinner who looks to Christ alone for salvation and eternal life, can and should sing with Toplady…
“My name from the palms of His hands,
Eternity will not erase:
Impressed on His heart it remains
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the Earnest is given:
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven!”
How can this be? How can any of us be sure of grace? How can anyone be assured of his salvation? Our adversary, the devil, seeks to devour us. Our temptations are many and great. Our trials are many and heavy. Our hearts are sinful and our flesh weak. Yet, in these verses the Spirit of God speaks to us of the ”full assurance of faith.” What is the basis of this assurance?
Here the Spirit of God urges us to diligence by “the full assurance of hope” (v. 11). To many that seems very strange, but not to a believer. Nothing so inspires diligence in the life of a believer as the assurance of his hope in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 19-20). As John Trapp put it, “A man may as truly say the sea burns, or fire cools, as that certainty of salvation breeds looseness.”
What can be more blessed and more inspiring to our souls than a well-grounded full assurance? That man or woman who is assured of an interest in the love and grace of God, — the covenant of grace, its blessings and promises, — in the election of grace, — a saving interest in Christ as our Substitute and Redeemer, — the Holy Spirit’s work of grace in us, — of our fitness by grace for the possession of eternal glory and happiness in heaven, and — of possessing this blessed assurance “unto the end,” confidently walks in faith, and is inspired to honor God in all things by the assurance of his goodness, grace, and faithfulness.
“Be Not Slothful”
Let us not be slothful concerning our souls and the things of God (v. 12), but diligent, following the examples of those who have gone before us into glory, who through faith and patience have inherited the promises of God in Christ.
Grace, salvation, and eternal life in and by Christ are things bestowed upon sinners by the promise of God. This is stated here to show us that salvation is not by our works, or human merit, but is entirely the work and gift of God’s free grace in Christ. It is a gift that shall assuredly be obtained by God’s elect. It shall be obtained by that faith and patience which God gives to his people by the power and grace of his Spirit.
This gift of grace is expressed in the plural number, “promises,” because it is the great, all-inclusive promise of God. It is described as an inheritance, because the whole thing is ours in Christ, as the sons of God, as “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” If I trust Christ as my Savior, I am assured of this blessed hope. Faith in him gives me “the full assurance of hope.”
Sometime ago I read about a very select group of monks, who lived in the dark ages, who were known as “navel watchers.” Day after day they would go through a very “pious” exercise. All alone in their little rooms they would sit and stare into their navels.
We all laugh and say, “Such an exercise is beyond ridiculous.” And it is, like many of those things performed by those who follow the pope’s doctrine. But I know many believers who imitate their madness. Whenever they are looking for assurance, they look within themselves for evidences. Seldom do these people find any comfort by their practice. And if they do, it is a false, self-righteous assurance.
I find no assurance in what I am, or in what I have experienced. All my assurance is in the crucified Christ. All the evidence of salvation that I have is that Christ died for sinners. And that is all I want or need. I do not very often feel much like a saint. If assurance depended on how holy I feel, I would lose all hope of ever having it. But, if assurance depends on God accepting sinners through the merits of Christ, then I can have assurance. I know that I am a sinner. I come to God trusting the righteousness and shed blood of Christ. The more sinful I feel, the more reason I have to cling to Christ alone. This gives me assurance. — As a sinful man, I trust Christ.
Assurance, like every other aspect of salvation, is a matter of faith, not of works. It does not come by keeping your eyes on yourself, like those silly navel watchers. It comes by keeping your eyes on Christ.