Summary: Sept. 2006 Pastor’s Letter - Part Two - The Basis for Reaching Out and Gathering In in a three-fold discipleship pattern in I John.
Assurance, Confidence and Joy
Bill Myers, Pastor
In explaining the process of spiritual development, many Christians struggle to describe concisely and accurately “what comes next” in the ever-deepening walk with Jesus we usually call “discipleship.” Among the many passages that speak of the progressive elements of maturity, the first epistle of John (I John) addresses three categories that can serve as a helpful outline.
In sharing the good news about Jesus, many of us quote I John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” Any true spiritual development begins with the Assurance of what Christ has done for us in the provision of Salvation.
As we develop a pattern of scripture study and prayer, we find that the Holy Spirit begins to change our attitudes, behaviors and conversations. I John 3:21-22 speaks of the Confidence of what Christ is doing in us in the process of Sanctification (bringing us into greater harmony with His love and holiness). “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”
John actually begins his epistle by expressing the ultimate goal of identifying and fulfilling God’s calling on our lives (as described in Ephesians 2:10). In I John 1:4, he writes, “And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” John points out the fellowship we can share with all those who have experienced the Joy of what Christ can do through us in the pursuit of Service to Him by serving others.
These three stages may seem to overlap, but one may not fully experience the Joy of Service when in their personal discipleship they lack the Confidence of Sanctification. Likewise, there is no true experience of God’s love and holiness (the Confidence of Sanctification) without the full Assurance of Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
As you consider these three elements—Assurance, Confidence and Joy—where are you today? The life of faith includes trusting what Jesus has done for, in and through us. If you find yourself needing a more certain faith, an Assurance of Salvation; or if you desire a greater confidence in the changes God is making in your life, the Confidence of Sanctification; or if you have an unfulfilled passion to experience the Joy of Service, seeing Him work through you in the lives of others, I would consider it a privilege to support and encourage you with some specific passages and processes that I have found helpful in the continual pursuit of a deeper walk with Christ.