Summary: Many are deceived by believing in head knowledge versus heart knowledge
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, June 7, 2015
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
The Doctrine of Assurance: “Deceptive Currents” [Part Two]
In the “Our Daily Bread” devotional for this month there’s an article entitled, “Deceptive Currents”. It uses an illustration from a book written by a science writer where he describes a time when he took a leisurely swim in otherwise calm waters. Impressed by both the distance he covered, and his relative ease in doing so, he decided to swim out further from the bay into open water. But when he tried to return to shore, he couldn’t make any progress. In his own words he had been deceived by the undercurrent. The author concluded by saying, “The ease of swimming had not been due to his strength, but rather to the movement of the unseen currents.”
And the same holds true in our relationship with God. In this instance “going with the flow” can lead us to believe that we’re stronger than we really are. When life is easy, our minds can play tricks on us. We become proud and self-confident. But when difficulties arise, we suddenly realize just what little strength we have; and how utterly helpless we have become.” The writer of the article ends by saying, “When life is going well we need to be aware of self-deception. Pride can take us where we do not want to go. Only humility will keep us where we ought to be – grateful to God and mindful that we are solely dependent on His strength.”
In his book, The Doctrine of Assurance, A. W. Tozer writes: “Many are deceived into believing that mere acceptance of Jesus Christ is enough to insure one’s salvation. But the Scriptures remind us repeatedly that we should make certain of God’s effectual calling.”
We must never assume, presume, or take for granted God’s redeeming grace! Instead, we must make certain that our salvation is sure. In order to know with certainty that we are saved, God has extended to us the means by which we have this verification. And by that I mean the indwelling of the Holy Spirit assures us of our “seal of approval”! The nineteenth century Reformed Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, wrote: “The Holy Spirit is the
means of making our future heritage sure even now… for by Him we are ‘sealed’. ”
But this certainty of salvation requires something from us as well. The late Brennan Manning, a former Franciscan priest, explained it this way: “We must knife through our pretense, cowardice, and evasions, to see the truth about ourselves…Put simply, sin must be acknowledged and confessed before there can be forgiveness and real transformation.”
In this passage, the apostle John says there are ‘three witnesses’ which serve as a “surety of our sonship”. But why the need for three witnesses? In Old Testament times the law required “the testimony of two or three witnesses in order to substantiate a claim, or to arrive at the truth in resolving a dispute.
So, to affirm that we are indeed a child of God, John explains there are three witnesses that confirms this certainty. And the first witness involves: THE TESTIMONY OF THE SPIRIT (repeat).
John is not speaking about our spirit, as if we could testify on our own behalf! Instead, he directs our attention to the Holy Spirit who testifies and verifies that we are truly “heirs of hope”. The Holy Spirit is the One who bestows salvation. He is the One who dispenses spiritual gifts. And He is the One who takes up residence within us. The Holy Spirit invokes and provokes us to repent of our sins; both known and unknown. He brings to mind “unresolved matters” through means of the “ministry of reconciliation”. And the apostle Paul assures us of this where he writes: “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, by giving us the ‘ministry of reconciliation’” [2 Corinthians 5:18].
Just as importantly, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Herein, Paul tells us [that]: “…in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Paul goes on to say, “and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” [Romans 8:26, 27].
In this modern age of Internet technology, there are numerous “search engines” to help us find information. In similar fashion, the Holy Spirit serves as the believer’s “search engine” insofar as He searches our heart and mind and directs us towards a better understanding of who God is. And, in due