Comfort for the Doubting
James Smith, 1859
Many of the Lord's little ones doubt their saving interest in Christ, their acceptance with God, and their title to everlasting life. In consequence of this, they are not happy; they are afraid to profess Christ, nor can they be as active for Christ as they should. I want to write a few lines that may be of use to such, if the Lord will. The occasion of my doing So is, I have just received a letter from a godly minister, who, speaking of one of his congregation, says, "Poor thing, her cry, very often when I am talking to her, is, If I were but sure. I am not quite sure."
She has a hope, and so have many—but that is not satisfactory. She wants to be sure, quite sure. Well, we cannot blame her for this; for certainty, on a matter of so much importance as the salvation of the soul, is most desirable. But ought not such people to be sure? Let us examine the case a little, endeavor to impart a little comfort, and give a word of advice.
"I am not quite sure." This indicates a deep sense of the value and importance of salvation—betrays a jealousy of self, manifests a fear of deception, and is the very breathing of sincerity. Such language never characterized the mind of the presumptuous, or the hypocrite, or any one dead in sin. Such characters never feel this concern, are never exercised with such fears, never heartily exclaim, "I am not quite sure."
This exclamation proves the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. He has convinced of sin, of danger, and of a judgment to come. He has shown the soul the value of salvation, the importance of a saving interest in Christ, and the necessity of a thorough change of heart. The soul that utters this cry is taught of God, and knows something of the plague of the heart, of the power of Satan, and of the deceitfulness of sin. It will not build on a sandy foundation, be satisfied with uncertain evidences, or stop short of union with Christ. It must make sure work, it must have Scriptural evidences, it must be satisfied with heart-felt experimental proof. Wherever this is the case, there is the work of the Spirit of God, for nature cannot produce this, and Satan would not if he could.
"I am not quite sure." Perhaps you want more to assure you than the Scriptures warrant; you may be unnecessarily doubtful. Have you faith in Christ? Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God—and as the result do you receive his word, rest on Lis finished work, and rely alone on his great atoning sacrifice? If So, you ought to be quite sure; for the holy Scripture says, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." And, again, "You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." If every believer is born of God, if every one that has faith in Christ is a child of God, then if you believe in Jesus, if you have faith in Christ, however feeble your faith may be, you ought to be sure that you are God's child.
Do you call Jesus Lord, and, bowing to his authority, take his word for your rule, looking upon everything that is contrary thereunto to be sin? Then holy Scripture says, No man can say that Jesus is the Lord—but by the Holy Spirit; and if you have thus the Holy Spirit, you ought to be quite sure.
Are you sorry for your sins? Do you confess them before God, and seek grace, so that you may turn from them, and live godly, righteously, and soberly in the present world? If so, God has given you repentance unto life; and having repentance unto life, you can never perish, and therefore, you ought to be quite sure.
Do you love the Lord's people, and love them most who are most holy, and most like Christ? Then you ought to be quite sure, for the Apostle John says: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.
Not to enlarge, "If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved." Do you not acknowledge Christ Jesus to be the Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God? Do you not believe that God raised him from the dead, as a proof of the perfection of his work, and as a testimony to his divinity? . Then you ought to be quite sure, for the Word of God says you shall be saved.
"I am not quite sure." Perhaps you are judging yourself by a wrong standard, and measuring yourself by a wrong rule. You are looking for that in yourself—that you will only find in Christ; or you are looking for something in yourself—to put in the place of Christ. You are to be saved as a sinner, only as a sinner, as nothing but a sinner. You will never find anything in yourself on which to rest, or with which to be satisfied. The more you look into yourself—the more depravity you will discover, the viler you will seem to become, and the more the desperate wickedness of the heart will be revealed to you!
You must turn away from self entirely—and rest on Christ alone. You must look for pardon on the ground of his blood alone, and expect to be justified for the sake of his obedience alone, and to be sanctified by his Spirit alone. You must seek everything in Christ, and take him to be your wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. The eye must be fixed on Jesus, and be kept fixed on Jesus; and if that is the case, you may feel sure, quite sure, that you are truly in Christ.
"I am not quite sure." Rest not in this state, for you may be quite sure, you ought to be quite sure. Read the Word of God more. Run from everything within you, and without you—to Christ alone. Keep the eye steadily fixed on Jesus as the sinner's substitute; as the great sacrifice for sin; as dying the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; as coming into the world on purpose to save sinners; and as able to save to the uttermost, all who come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for us.
Oppose to all the temptations, injections, and bufferings of Satan—the glorious fact, that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin; resist him in the faith of this when he comes to tempt you to doubt, fear, and despond, and he will flee from you.
Finally, seek earnestly, importunately, and with all simplicity of soul, the sealing and witness of the Holy Spirit. By the application of the atoning blood, and the promises of Holy Scripture, and by his gracious work in your soul—he will assure your conscience, and bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God. With the eye fixed on Jesus, with the hope built on Jesus, with the Holy Spirit in the heart, and resisting Satan steadfastly, believing in the power, virtue, and everlasting efficacy of the blood of the Lamb—you will no longer have to say, except in seasons of darkness and violent temptation, "I am not quite sure." but will rejoice in God and confidently say, "I am quite sure, I am the Lord's, and the lord is mine!"