How sure is your salvation and God’s pleasure in you? Well, how sure and pleasing is Christ, sitting at the Father’s right hand?
I recently attended my favorite conference for the third time. The organization named “1517” exists to “declare and defend the Good News that we are forgiven and free on account of Christ alone.” 1517 puts on great conferences open to anyone (not just pastors). They also have a plethora of books and online resources, including several wonderful podcasts. This year’s conference theme was “Assurance in Christ.” Here are a few of my takeaways.
Daniel Price observed that “in a world without absolution, confession is not safe.” Baptized into Christ, God cannot reject you without rejecting His Son! Jesus is not in jeopardy at the Father’s right hand.
Caleb Keith pointed out that sanctification (being made holy) is not our good work or cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Holiness is the great work of the Holy Spirit in us. Just as Roman Catholics usurp the work of Christ via the Pope and invocation of saints, Protestants usurp the work of the Holy Spirit when claiming we help in the process of becoming holy. Our assurance in Christ is strengthened by looking away from our good works to the finished work of Christ alone.
Chad Bird shared a parable about “The Three Little Christians and the Big Bad Wolf of Doubt.” Each Little Christian built a house with different materials. The straw house of Self-help Oprah-ism. The wood house of Religion. The brick house of prayer, love, and purity. Each house fell when the big bad wolf came by. Why? “They each thought the best course of action was…a course of action.” In reality, God the Father has already built us a house.
Steve Paulson proclaimed our one great hope and assurance is this: “Christ, the only Sinner.” On the cross, Jesus became the only sinner in the world. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When the Law of God looks over the world to punish sin, it finds sin on Christ and nowhere else. When Christ rose from the dead, the Law fell silent. Baptized into Christ, we can rest assured the Law is completely silent toward the new creation in Christ.
Gretchen Ronnevik talked about trying as a child to be as super spiritual as her big sister. This meant falling asleep with her arms folded in prayer, but kicking herself in the morning when she discovered herself in a different position. Her grandpa graciously told her to “sleep in whatever position best reminds you that God is holding you.” Even as adults, our assurance in Christ can be threatened by performance-ism. But “the Fruit of the Spirit don’t come in measurable units. That would be like trying to measure the goodness of the Spirit.
Peace, Pastor Tom