Trusting Christ Alone
by Joseph Franks
Today, we will be tempted to doubt our salvation. We will take our eyes off of Jesus Christ alone, and find ourselves with diminishing assurance that all is well with our soul.
For example, we will look at our actions with the intent of proving we are growing in holiness. However, the more we look at ourselves in comparison with God’s Law, our awareness of sin will only grow and not lessen. We will read God’s Word, examine our conduct, compare the two, and be reminded again of our falling short. It will not take us long to recognize we are not loving God supremely and thoroughly. We also will see that we do not love acceptably our brothers.
Then we will hear someone say, “Well, goodness is a matter of the heart.” At first, such sentiment will appear to apply some healing balm to our troubled soul. However, after careful examination of our affections and thoughts, we will only be further mortified by our hidden depravity. And after careful examination of the Scriptures, we will find this to be a lie — God expects purity within and without.
At that point, we might fall on our knees and begin our season of repentance and confession. However, soon we will be like Martin Luther. Soon we will be aware of how many sins we have confessed, how many sins we must be overlooking, and how selective, shallow, and temporary is our hatred for sin. Like Reformers before us, we will have to “repent of our repentance.”
Then we will go to the other Means of Grace with hopes that our religious exercises will fix what ails us. Personally and corporately we will worship. But how much private devotion and corporate worship is sufficient? And who reads and worships as he ought? We will again find it toilsome to read, want to apply, and then actually apply the good wisdom we receive. And during the process, as we will sin further in worship as we judge others, prefer ourselves, and focus not upon the Lord as we should. In addition, any “spiritual high” we will receive from being in the house of God, that will soon disappear after the first or second waves of trials sent our way.
Therefore fellow troubled sinner, when seeking to find assurance of our reconciled condition and beloved relationship with God, what ought we to do? Mr. Spurgeon can assist us:
Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits.
Therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith.
We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by ‘looking unto Jesus.’
Keep thine eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to Him; when thou liest down at night look to Him.
Friends, if we are seeking assurance based upon faith in our faithfulness, we will never find the end for which we seek. However, if Christ is our righteousness and substitutionary penalty bearer, we only have to focus on him. We are to work to worship. We are to work to be fruitful. We are to work and do that which is in accordance with our Heavenly Father’s wishes. However, we are not to work to obtain salvation or the assurance of salvation. Salvation comes to him who trusts not in the labors of his own hands and only trusts in that performed to him by his Savior. Our faith is not in our “prayers, doings, or feelings.” Our faith is in Jesus Christ and him alone. Therefore, right now …
- Read God’s good Law
- Compare his standard with your internal and external track-record
- Rightly conclude you have sinned
- Read God’s good Gospel
- Believe God does not lie; his Gospel is truth
- Trust, have faith, call out, draw near, and rest in his undeserved care
- Answer the lies of the world, flesh, devil with the truth of God’s Word
We are saved by Christ alone. We are saved by his faithfulness and not ours. Now, let us pray for more faith. Let us pray for more faithfulness. Let us grow in faith and faithfulness, for these are fruits of the Holy Spirit. But never let us confuse our faithfulness with the faithfulness of our Savior. We fail; he never does. Because he is faithful to all who call upon him, we can have assurance.