Ten Experimental Waymarks of Salvation
“How can I know if I am really saved?”
The question often arises, “how can a person know if they are truly saved?” Some may answer: “If you believe the Gospel you are truly saved,” or “if you trust in Jesus as your only hope of salvation then you are truly saved.” Although these statements are *objectively* true, they may not always help with the *subjective* troubles experienced by the true, but at times fearful, child of God. Others, in answering, may look to dead works and state something to the effect of “If you accepted Jesus into your heart then you are saved;” or “If you said the sinner’s prayer then you are saved;” or “If you made a decision for Christ and were baptized then you are saved.” Such responses are utter nonsense to the child of God and only serve to further trouble their hearts and minds (for no peace or comfort can be found in these false refuges).
Spiritual Waymarks and Their Nature
God has a faithful remnant and this remnant will both truly believe and forever persevere by the sovereign grace, mercy, and preserving hand of God. Although the Christian is to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, making their own calling and election sure, they ought not look to self for peace and assurance. Instead, they should look to the Lord Jesus Christ (His person and His finished work) for all of the peace, comfort, and assurance they would ever need. Nevertheless, though the sun abides in the sky, the storm clouds can obscure it from our vision for a season (hiding its light and warmth from us); likewise, though assurance based on Christ alone should always be our only source of hope, God knows that His people are but weak and feeble and that our eyes will at times drift from the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) and will focus instead on the dreary storm clouds of sin, self, and satan (all of which can obscure our personal interest in Him, experimentally, for a season).
As a result, the Bible is filled with waymarks to show forth the clear path through which God has ordained that His people must walk. Along this path, the saint will encounter the core beliefs, feelings, and experiences shared by every regenerate child of God. These shared tokens make up the divinely ordained guideposts that God has graciously provided for us (and revealed to us in His word). Though God brings His people by a way [that] they knew not, and leads them in paths that they have not known (Isaiah 42:16), these signposts are made manifest to help the saints who are in need. They are clear markers, used by God as a means to help the Christian recognize the path that all of God’s people take (to one degree or another) as they journey in the Way. Hence, the Bible is filled with things that God has written to us who believe on the name of the Son of God; that we may know that we have eternal life, and that we may believe on the name of the Son of God (I John 5:13). You see, the saints believe, yet God writes to us so that we may know experimentally that we believe (and thus know that we already have eternal life); He writes to those of us who are already believing so that we may grow in that belief (i.e. in grace and faith), be confirmed in it, and keep on believing in it – persevering until the end — all by His grace and power.
Ten Waymarks Identified
In considering these signposts, we need to keep in mind that every one of His saints is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith in Him – Romans 12:3, Ephesians 4:7). Though the following will apply to all of the saints, to what degree or intensity depends upon the measure that God has ordained for each and everyone one of us. Similarities in experience does not equate to sameness (or exactness) in experience. For some that are born of the Spirit, the wind bloweth where it listeth like a gentle breeze (John 3:7,8). For others, the wind bloweth where it listeth like a furious tempest. Somewhere in between these two extremes can be found all of the regenerate elect of God.
Also please keep in mind that I limited the number of waymarks listed to just ten; there are many others not here listed (perhaps to be added in a separate post at a later time or in separate posts for each particular waymark left untouched herein).
I. The Christian has a sight of God’s Holiness: The quickened saint will have a sight of the holiness of God; they will see the perfection in all that He says and does. They will not understand all things, nor will their carnal flesh cease to offer objections here and there – but they will know that God is utterly holy and righteous in all that He is, says, and does. They will see Him as the only One holy in and of Himself, He alone is the source of all that is good. They acknowledge concerning themselves, and their fellow-man, that there is none good but God (for He putteth no trust in his saints; yea, neither the stars nor the heavens are clean in His sight – Job 15:15, 25:5; Mark 10:18). God is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13); therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; the foolish shall not stand in His sight because He hates all of the workers of iniquity (Psalm 1:5; 5:5).
The regenerate saint will not only have an intellectual grasp of these truths, but they will have a life-changing, experiential understanding of the reality of these truths (combined with certain very real and perhaps even powerful emotions that go along with it). As they beseech the Lord for his grace and mercy, they will be able to say along with the Psalmist: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest” (Psalm 51:4).
II. The Christian has a sight of their sin: In John 9:39-41 we read: “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”
The Christian, blind by nature just as the reprobate, has what the unsaved lack – a real God-given sense of the sinfulness of their sins. They do not see sin in its fulness, nor can they ever see it as such in this earthly life. I suspect that the heart would utterly fail in fear and disgust if God were to fully reveal to us just what we are by nature. Nonetheless, a quickened soul will experimentally feel, to one degree or another, just how burdensome, loathsome, and abominable their sins really are, both to them and in the sight of a holy God. They will not be content to admit that they sin sometimes, or that they have sin, or that they are sinners (in the general sense that the world gives mental assent to these things); instead, they will confess that they are indwelled by sin, that their sins are theirs, that there is a mass of it stemming from them, originating from their own person (as it pertains to this body of death). Thus, they will admit their blindness before God and men (and in so doing, they evidence the fact that though they were blind, they have been made to see and to keep on seeing due to the goodness of God and the grace and mercy that stems from it).
In light of the above, the Christian will wholeheartedly agree that God would be utterly righteous, just, and good to eternally damn them to the lowest pit of Hell for their transgressions (Psalm 11:5-6) were it not for the substitutionary work of Christ on their behalf . The Christian has been given eyes to see that they have sinned against a thrice-holy God (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8) and that they have done so innumerably (Job 15:16, Psalm 14:2-4). They see that they would be utterly deserving of His wrath for committing even one sin, even the least of them; they will readily confess to all that they deserve every last drop of the infinite fury of God for all of the foolish things that they have done. They will be meek before God (Matthew 5:5) seeing themselves as nothing, even worse than nothing, before an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-righteous God. As such, they can say with Eli (concerning their own selves) “It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth Him good” (I Samuel 3:18). Though the saved sinner will desire and seek earnestly after God and His mercies – nonetheless, that saved sinner will know that God is perfectly just and good to do with them what He will (i.e. to do that which seemeth good to Him concerning them – no matter how His hand is turned towards them).
Moreover, the quickened saint will see themselves as *experimentally* sinful (Luke 5:8), wretched (Romans 7:24), being both unclean and undone before God and a sight of themselves (Isaiah 6:5). They will mourn and lament over their sin (Matthew 5:4) and they will abhor themselves (Job 42:6) being loathsome in their own sight because of their iniquities and abominations (Ezekiel 36:31). God will cause them to be as one standing afar off (as they see His holiness and their natural vileness; they will not dare presumptuously intrude into the presence of God in prayer and in the assembling together of the saints as the wicked do). The Christian becomes as one who cannot lift up so much as their eyes unto heaven (due to their felt sense of shame, unworthiness, and burden in the light of divine perfection). They will strike at the very source of their sin (the natural heart) and seek earnestly that God would be a propitiation for them; hoping that He will reveal His mercies to them, in Christ, forever.
*However,* in due time, God will cause them to see that they are righteous, precious, blessed, and perfectly good in Him — for even as Christ is, so are we in this world. As has been stated recently, we must separate our subjective experiences and points of view from the objective reality that we have been made the righteousness of God, in Christ, in light of His great salvific work for us. Therefore, despite our subjective view, we are not (after the inner man upon regeneration) totally depraved, incapable of good works, desperately wicked, etc. — our flesh still is such, but our flesh, our indwelling sin, is not who we are primarily (per Romans 7). We are what God has made us in, through, and by Christ — and that is righteous! — despite our subjective “reality” to the contrary.
III. The Christian is without strength in themselves: The Christian, in seeing the wretchedness of their sins (and even of their own natural selves), and in seeing the justice and holiness of God, will feel a weight that they can neither remove nor bear. Some feel it with more intensity than others, but all of God’s people will feel this massive burden of self and the sin to some degree. Our indwelling sin becomes our worst enemy and we feel without strength, in and of ourselves, to do anything about it. We not only have a burden, but we feel ourselves to be the source of that burden; this recognition serves only to make us more heavily laden, as we struggle, labouring under the load of our own loathsomeness. We see that nothing we think, nothing we say, nothing we do, or abstain from doing will lighten the burden – let alone remove it. We see that if we are to be free of this abysmal load our freedom must be procured by someone outside of ourselves. We know emphatically that we have nothing inherent within ourselves to hope in or trust in. We see our will as fallen and corrupt, our desires as completely tainted with lust, depravity, and folly, and our resolve against these things as being utterly weak and helpless before the onslaught. As a result, we are made to be poor in spirit, Lazuruses before Dives, without riches of our own to redeem ourselves (and often scorned by those foolish enough to think that they have the wherewithal to obtain a righteousness of their own – Matthew 5:3, Isaiah 64:6, Luke 16:19-31).
Yet, in due time, Christ will reveal to us His strength. We will see that we are now ‘clean through the word which [Christ has] spoken unto [us].” We will see that we abide in Him and Him in us. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can we, except we abide in Him. He is the vine, we are the branches, we who abide in Him, and Him in us, bring forth much fruit: for without Him we can do nothing’ (see John 15:3-5). Likewise, per 2 Corinthians 12:10, when we are weak in our own strength, in our own natural selves, we are strong in Him who makes us strong by His grace. Though we will never cease to maintain that we have no strength in and of our own natural selves, we will all the more testify to the amazing strength and perseverance that is in Christ Jesus.
IV. The Christian has a felt sense of need: The regenerate have something else that the unsaved lack and that is a felt sense of need for the Lord Jesus Christ. The saints cease to be as those who say “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” for they know that by nature they are but wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelations 3:17) and the weight of this realisation is upon them. The quickened soul, in seeing their natural filth, feeling their awful burden, and acutely experiencing their inability to do anything about it, turns (or, more accurately, is turned) to the Great Physician (for the Father of the Great Physician draws them to their blessed Hope and Cure). They know that Christ alone has the remedy for their sin-sick souls because they know that He alone is their Remedy. They see eternal wellness and life in His (a) Person – being fully and perfectly both God and man; (b) work – that is, in His finished work of substitution, atonement, propitiation, and redemption on the cross, and (c) righteousness – in particular, that righteousness that He established for His people as a result of His keeping the law perfectly, dying in their stead, and rising again for their justification.
V. The Christian hungers and thirsts after the Lord their Righteousness. God declares: “Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6.) However, God also declares concerning the cursed (i.e. the reprobate) that they are those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, in want of all things, under a yoke of iron (the law and its demands) and ready to be destroyed (Deuteronomy 28:48). Despite their accursed condition, the reprobate have little or no understanding (or felt sense) of their hungerings, thirstings, nakedness, bondage, etc. Whatever sense they may have is but temporal and will only lead them to destruction.
These things are not so for those who are alive in Christ; though they are already blessed with all of the spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (having been chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world as per Ephesians 1:3,4), they are nonetheless as the children of wrath by nature and feel as such experimentally. As a result of their quickening, they see their natural baseness and past transgressions in a whole new light. This light reveals their inward filth (after the flesh, after the “body of death”) and that felt sense of need results; they begin to hunger and thirst after spiritual food and drink.
It is God who generates within them that hungering and thirsting after righteousness: righteousness, firstly, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who is their righteousness (both legally and actually, and in whom they are being made the righteousness of God), and righteousness, secondly and experimentally, in that they desire to be free from sin, it’s presence, power, effects, and burden. The saint wants to walk uprightly before God and adorn the doctrine that they profess before men. The quickened soul hopes for an interest in Christ and seeks strength in this life to do that which is pleasing in His sight.
When time comes to an end, God declares that His people will be before His throne, serving him day and night in His temple with the Lord Jesus Christ dwelling amongst them. At that time, we shall neither hunger nor thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on us, nor any heat, for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed us, and shall lead us unto living fountains of waters (Revelations 7:15-17). But must we wait until future glory in heaven to be fed and to receive this drink?
Not at all! It is true that in this life, we experience spiritual hunger, thirst, nakedness, buffetings from world sin, self, and satan, and doubts (I Corinthians 4:11, II Corinthians 11:27). However, even on this side of the grave our hungerings and thirstings (experimentally felt) do not accurately reflect the present reality of our blessed situation. On earth, indwelling sin and the sins of the world taint our experience of these truths; in Heaven, there will only be uninterrupted bliss with our God and Saviour. Nonetheless, the Lord Jesus is right now, Jehovah, the Bread of life: and all that cometh to Him shall never hunger; and all that believeth on Him shall never thirst (John 6:35). Even if our subjective experiences, for seasons here and there, may seem to dictate otherwise — the fact remains that here, God already gives us that spiritual Bread from heaven for our hunger, and brings forth living water for us out of Christ, our Rock, for our thirst (Nehemiah 9:15). We must never confuse our subjective experience with the objective reality that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Though we wander in the wilderness in a solitary way and find no (earthly) city to dwell in, and though we sometimes feel so hungry and thirsty that our souls faint in us, the LORD causes us to cry unto Him in our trouble, and He delivers us out of our distresses. He satisfies our longing souls, fills our hunger with goodness (Psalm 107:4-9), feeds us in the Way (our pastures being in all high places), and leads us and guides us by the springs of water (Isaiah 49:7-10). Therefore, with joy shall His people draw water out of the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3); they shall eat and be satisfied, giving praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord.
VI. The Christian seeks (having first been sought) and finds: Not being content with merely feeling a need, and hungering and thirsting after that need, God’s people actively seek the fulfillment of their need – they seek the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s people are seekers. We do not seek Him as a result of our own natural will, inclination, or desire. We have no natural (felt) need for Him, no natural love for Him, nor natural interest in Him; by nature, we ask not for Him, nor do we seek Him. Thrice God has declared that there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after Him (Romans 3:11, Psalm 14:2-4, Psalm 53:2-4). Having a sight of their sin, and their natural weakness and proclivity to do ill, many of God’s people doubt that they have ever sough the Lord in Truth. Sin (in self), Satan, and the world may conspire and cause all sorts of doubts and fears to arise.
The Godly seeker may ask as a result: “Am I really seeking God or just deceiving myself; am I really diligently seeking Him or am I under a strong delusion, a working of error, and simply believing a lie – not really seeking him sincerely but just pacifying myself.” The seeker is burdened by the fear that they are seeking God under their own carnal strength and effort. At times, they find their motives, earnestness and sincerity to be suspect; and think, “if I was truly seeking, would I be as thus: cold, tempted, tossed about, confused, down-trodden, distressed, etc.” Such living seekers often fail to realise that though their feelings and experiences may suggest otherwise at times, they have already found Him, and they have already found Him in the abundance of all of His riches and mercies. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened (Matthew 7:8). They found Him because Christ sought them and found them first, for “the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).”
The Lord Jesus Christ left the ninety and nine in the wilderness who are not experientially lost (although they are indeed actually lost), to seek us, find us, lay us on His shoulders, carry us safely home, and to ever rejoice over us (Luke 15:4 -6). In the day of His power, He reveals Himself to us and makes us willing to seek Him, find Him, trust Him, and love Him (Psalm 110:3). When Christ, through His Spirit, abides in us, we become willing seekers by His effectual working and might; He works in us causing us to both will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). It is to such that He declares “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Therefore, the Christian can be defined as one who, having received grace, mercy, and power, believes that God is who He says He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). As a result, they seek Him, keep on seeking Him, and they experimentally find Him; when they do, they will be able to proclaim with the Shulamite ”I found Him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let Him go, until I had brought Him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.”
VII. The Christian loves the Lord and His people: Christians, in seeking after their only true Hope, find Him and see the infinite beauty in Him. They are the ones loving the Lord, loved of the Lord, and who have found Him whom they seek (Proverbs 8:17). Though experientially they know that they do not love the Lord as they ought (sometimes doubting whether they truly love Him at all in sincerity, fearing the deceitfulness of their own indwelling sin), they nonetheless truly love Him with a God-given love; moreover, they desire earnestly to love Him all the more by god’s grace.
I John 4:19 declares that We love Him, because He first loved us – this is the thought and emotion of every true child of God; verse 10 goes further in stating “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 4:10).” We love the Lord because of who He is, what He has done for us, what He has done in us, and because His love for us abounds infinitely and eternally (what a blessed thought to contemplate). We cannot even begin to breach the surface of the infinite depths of understanding, as t pertains to how deserving the Lord is of our love, admiration, respect, reverence, and honour; all glory and praise is due Him.
In our experience, , as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Christ, and as we experience more of that communion with Him (and reliance upon Him), we will see our awareness of our love for Him grow increasingly stronger (though, again, never reaching the level of what it ought to be or what we desire it to be — not even close). We may have periods of coldness, dryness, and of much desiring to restore that joy of salvation that leads to a heart-felt panting and longing after Him; nonetheless, the Christian can ever declare in His inner man “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17). The saint will put no trust in this love (in the sense of it meriting favour with God), will see flaws in this love, will at times doubt the veracity of this love (especially upon a grievous / prolonged stumble or fall), and will see it as but a small and feeble love quite often – but it is a real love and a powerful love nonetheless because God has wrought it in us. We truly love Him because He first loved us.
Though God gives us this love and works it out in us – it is our own. Just as He gives us breath, but it is our own breath, and He gives us a beating heart, which is our own beating heart, He gives us love for Him and we willingly and thankfully manifest that love through the godly thoughts, emotions, words, and deeds that He has before ordained that we should walk in and manifest (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore we can proclaim with the Psalmist, I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice [and] my supplications; because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon [Him] as long as I live (Psalm 116:1).
One of the primary manifestations of our love for God is our love for the brethren. I Thessalonians 4:9 declares: “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” I John 3:14-16 states: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.” Consider also the beauty of I John 2:9 “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. I John 2:10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. I John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. I John 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Just as we cherish communion with the Lord, we cherish communion with His people. We want to be with them, to talk to them; we want to edify one another, comfort one another, and encourage one another. We want to share our common experiences as we exhort, admonishment, and rebuke one another in Godly love. We want to talk of Jesus – but not talk only, but show forth our love with action, faithfulness, and dedication. We seek to assemble together through whatever means the Lord provides; for some it is a “house church” of just a very few; for others a larger-sized congregation in a separate church building; for others, it may be a telephone call, a conference call, and/or a video-conference. No matter the means, God’s people want to be in communication with one another.
But how woefully short we fall in these things (myself being a chief offender in that I do not communicate as often as I know I should). Nonetheless, a true and God-given desire is there and I pray that it will increasingly be made manifest in resulting action.
Likewise, how easily do we let petty squabbles separate us; yet even in this, there must be love. We may fall-out as Paul and Barnabus for a season; fleshly folly, pride, and sin in general may cause hardships with the liking at times – but it ought never to cause hardships with the loving. We may not like every aspect of the qualities, characteristics, and conversation of God’s people – just as it often is with some of our own physical friends and families. Yet we have a stronger bond than the physical; we are bonded together with that divine “glue” that stems from eternal vital union with the Triune God, being one body in Christ (Romans 12:4,5; I Corinthians 10:17, John 17:20-23). Such blessed realities should cause us to ever seek a strengthening of the bonds of fellowship and communion and to overlook the shortcomings of our brethren (that are no doubt, more often than not, motes compared to our own beams). Would to God that we had the strength to put fleshly obstacles aside and embrace all of the brethren, equally, in love and in heart-felt fellowship. There are times when we must separate — especially in the face of prolonged, unrepentant doctrinal or behavioural error AS SPECIFICALLY put forth by God, in the Bible. Nonetheless, God’s grace is sufficient; His will be done (knowing it is always for our benefit and, more importantly, for His glory).
VIII. The Christian is not offended in Christ or His doctrine. The regenerate saints of God love to speak favourably of God; they want to be identified with Him, and tell others of Him as God opens the door to speak. They do not want to be identified with the false religion and false professors that come in the name of a christ of their own creation; they want to be associated with Him who is True. They are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for they know that it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes (Romans 1:16). They know that it is the Gospel that declares Christ and His accomplishments; the entire Bible speaks of Him for the volume of the book is written of Him (Psalm 40:7; Hebrews 10:7). Scripture alone is the inerrant authority concerning the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 22:18, 19) and we know that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelations 19:10). Thus, the Christian is not offended in Christ (Matthew 11:6) or His word; instead, they are those who willingly confess the Lord before men (Matthew 10:32-33).
However, in their experience, the Christian will often wish that they could be bolder in declaring Him and in taking advantage of the opportunities to witness that arise. In failing to speak up, they will often feel sorrow over their foolish shyness and introvertedness in these matters; however, they are not as those who are ashamed of Christ and His word, not wanting to declare Him openly lest they be embarrassed by His being or doctrine. They are not as those who love the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43) or who seek to receive honour from other men instead of God (John 5:44). They do not allow the fear of abandonment, mocking, reviling, persecution, and the like to quench their profession (at least not for long) because God maintains both them and the love that they have for Him.
Moreover, in loving the Lord, the regenerate saint also loves His doctrine. Doctrine is another word for teaching and instruction, and all who do not love the vital teaching and instruction of God are yet unsaved. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God (II John 1:9).
If one claims to love God, and yet they hate such doctrines as (a) the deity of Christ and the Triunity of the Godhead; (b) the righteousness established by Christ and imputed to the elect; (c) the election and predestination of the elect by God’s own sovereign will and purpose (without any contribution from the sinner); (d) the total depravity of mankind and their utter inability to turn from their sinfulness (in their own strength); and (e) the perseverance of the saints by the preserving hand of God –they evidence themselves to be His enemies (in reality as it pertains to the reprobate and only experientially (and that, but for a season) for the yet unregenerate elect).
The regenerate saint delights in the doctrine and law of God after the inward man (Romans 7:22, Psalm 1:2). When quickened according to His word (Psalm 119:25) they esteem the words of His mouth more than their necessary (physical) food (Job 23:12). To them, the statutes of the LORD are a rejoicing to the heart (Psalm 19:8). Though they often wish they could be in the word more, absorb it more, appreciate it more – and see Christ in it more; nonetheless, it is a delight to them. They know that it testifies of the Lord Jesus and want to find Him on every page (John 5:39, 46; Revelation 19:10). The Christian also knows that the word of God is the principle means by which the Lord brings about repentance and ongoing conversion in His people (for Psalm 119:9-11 declares: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed [thereto] according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”).
IX. The Christian desires not only to hear the word, but to keep it and do it. Revelation 1:3 declares “Blessed [is] he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand.” John 14:23 declares that if a man loves the Lord Jesus, he will keep His words. The Christian evidences His love for God, and His word, not by hearing the word only – but by being doers of it as well to the extent that God has ordained for them and wrought in them (James 1:23-25).
In seeing their indwelling sin by means of the light of the Holy Spirit, the saint will catch a glimpse of just how far they fall short in obeying and keeping God’s word. In Christ, they have kept God’s word perfectly, and have done all that the law requires. However, in their walk, things are not so. The saint earnestly desires to do God’s will (though seasons of coldness and foolishness will arise), and wants to walk in a way that will neither displease Him nor cause others to blaspheme His holy Name. Nonetheless, to the quickened soul made sensitive of his sins, they will appear to themselves to be more like forgetful hearers than joyful doers. They will feel their inadequacy and sense their inability; yet, others will see the change and growth in them. More importantly, God maintains them and causes them to grow. This growth will seem slow and unsubstantial oft times, but let us not despise the day of small things. Instead, let us remember that we have an incorruptible seed that causes us to grow, by union with our great Husbandman, to become fruitful trees of Righteousness and branches of the divine Vine (by this I mean experientially for we are already such by the virtue and efficacy of Christ and His work).
I believe that God causes us to grow slowly and not so clearly to us, to keep us from abounding in pride, and to cause us to rely on Him solely for our strength and righteousness. He makes us to cry out “Teach me to do thy will; for thou [art] my God: thy spirit [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness (Psalm 143:10); show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths (Psalm 25:4). The saint will desire to be led, to be taught, to be guided, and directed. He does not want to be left to his own understanding but to learn of Christ (who is His wisdom) and to be taught by the Spirit of God. He will see more and more of his utter ignorance, folly, and ineptitude, and will thus turn away from self, and towards God in His search for knowledge and understanding. In this way he will learn and grow; he will both hear and do. Thus, we ought to glory in tribulations also (tribulations without and tribulations within our own hearts and minds): knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:3-5). May it be that we can be all the more patient, waiting on Him, and hoping in Him, and trusting that He will cause us to grow all the more in Him.
X. The Christian, in desiring to hear and do, will nonetheless stumble and fall – but never utterly. God’s children want to be obedient and to glorify His holy name via their character and conduct. They want to adorn the Gospel of God (Titus 2:10) and to forsake those things that would cause anyone to speak ill of God as a result of seeing or hearing their sin. Nonetheless, what imperfections there will be — and there will be imperfections. What stumblings there will be, what falls, what wretched failures will the believer encounter and experience. How loathsome will the regenerate sinner be to himself in light of the sinful thoughts, words, and deeds they commit. They will sometimes feel down-trodden, empty, lifeless, cold, thoroughly foolish, and a burden to themselves. They will hate the things they think, say, and do — and hate the very fact that they are sinning against a most gracious, loving, kind, and generous Saviour. They are sinning against their Elder Brother, Husband, Friend, Physician, Chief Prophet, High Priest, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and their very God! How wretched will they be in the sight of themselves when God grants light, understanding, and repentance unto them.
Yet, what blessed hope there is. They are not like the work-mongers and their Christ is not the false christ of dead works. They have a faithful Lord who will never forsake them; His love endureth forever because it is from forever. His love cannot allow His beloved people to fall away and apostatize. His own glory and honour demands that He must move to recover them, to bring them back, to show forth His forgiveness, and to cherish them always — even if His displeasure and chastisements are manifest for but a season here and there. You see, God declares “For a just [man] falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief” (Proverbs 24:16); God shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. (Job 5:19). Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Psalm 34:19); no matter the temporal stumblings and falls no evil befall us, neither shall any plague come nigh unto our Dwelling (Psalm 91:10) because Jehovah has moved us to make Him our Refuge and our Habitation.
Let all fears and despondency due to “desertion,” separation, the loss of a felt sense of communion, and a loss of that joy of His salvation – fall to the wayside in the presence of his glorious smile upon our souls. Though our souls cleave unto the dust (Psalm 119:25) and though we would have fainted unless we had believed to see some sight (no matter how faint or miniscule) of the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living, we must ever remember to look not to self, sin, and to our ever present failures, but to look to Christ and to wait on the LORD instead. In Him, we have every reason to be of good courage – for He is faithful and He shall (not He might, not He may, but He shall) quicken His own according to His word; He shall strengthen the hearts of all who come to Him as little children (needy, hungry, helpless, often fretful, afraid of chastisement, and fearful of losing that communion they so cherish). The Lord is Faithful, He is immutable, He cannot lie, and He is omnipotently victorious. How much does He deserve our trust, love, praise, and worship? There is no limit to it — infinite is His worth and value (everything else must and does pale in comparison).
To Him be all the glory, forever and ever.