Thursday, 9/13/18 – Discipleship: Assurance

We began this blog last Monday talking about confidence. Interestingly, the first need of a new believer is very similar: Assurance.

The first temptation of humankind was the hissing serpent’s subtle whisper “Did God really say…” then he misquotes the prohibition saying “…you must not eat from any tree…?” (Gen. 3:1). “You will not certainly die!” he lies, in fact, “you will be like God.” (v.4). But they already were like God, created in His Image! By breaking His commandment they would become far less like God.

When new life sparks its ‘new creation’ in a soul, the devil seeks to snatch the good seed away with this same old tool of doubt (see Matt. 13; Mark 4). Then he throws it back in the face of the nervous neophyte and shouts, “Aha! You are doubting! This shows you are not truly saved at all!”

But Jesus said the devil “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Doubt shows no such thing at all! Doubt means you are currently only partly confident–but you are at least partly confident! Where before there was no confidence at all or perhaps complete ignorance, now there is a light… flickering perhaps, but true light nonetheless.

Paul Tournier has said, “When there is no longer any opportunity for doubt, there is no longer any opportunity for faith either.” (Paul Tournier, as quoted in Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God. p. 244.) If you are sitting in a chair you require no faith at all to believe it will support you. But if I build you a chair and tell you it will hold you, that will require at least some faith as you commit your whole body to sit in it.

The battle between faith and doubt is simply a reality of Christian experience. “We walk by faith, not by sight,” Paul reminds us (2 Cor. 5:7).

The apostle Thomas is called “doubting Thomas” because he refused to believe Christ had risen until he saw and felt the scars on Jesus’s body — which Christ later gave him opportunity to do (John 20:24-29).

In fact, all of the disciples doubted. When Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him each of the disciples in turn asked “Lord, Am I the one?” (Matt. 26:21,22), evidently uncertain of their own commitment.

The father who brought his demon possessed boy to Jesus cried out with tears, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-25).

John, now aged and exiled, penned from the isle of Patmos, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13). He wrote to believers… so they may know — i.e, have assurance that they were saved.

Each of these reflect the ongoing tension between faith and doubt. To combat this we all must learn to feed faith and starve doubt. As Paul reminded young Timothy: “fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim. 1:6) so must we.

The First Steps workbook (p.21) lists actions we can take:

1. Walk-in relationship with Jesus through prayer Bible study evangelism and fellowship.
2. Be committed to your discipleship relationship or small group.
3. Confess your difficulties, doubts, discouragements, and sins to trusted supportive believers.
4. Understand that doubt and discouragement are all part of this journey we share together as we travel toward completeness in Christ.

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (Luke 17:5)

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ?
Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

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