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Letter To...

Wednesday, September 10, 1997 9:14 AM

Linda:

When you accepted Jesus into your life, it did not signal the end of your troubles in this world. He did not die on the cross to save your body from the ills of this world (though He often does protect all of us as we walk through it); instead, He died so that our souls might be saved from the damnation of eternal torment. All we have to do is believe that He died for us, each of us personally, and that when we accept the FREE GIFT of Salvation we ARE saved!

God gave us many Blessed assurances, detailed in His Holy Word. I'd like to examine five of the most important assurances here. ASSURANCE OF SALVATION, ASSURANCE OF ANSWERED PRAYER, ASSURANCE OF VICTORY, ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS and ASSURANCE OF GUIDANCE. I will include the Bible reference, but I won't write out the verse here because I'm hoping and praying that you'll want to see the words for yourself in your Bible.

First: The Assurance of Salvation (1 John 5:11, 12). This is the guarentee He gives us, a detail of eternal life, the free gift of Salvation that we are rightful heirs to once we accept His Son, Jesus. There is nothing we can do to earn this free gift. No work will buy it or in any way secure it for us. (Saved by Faith, not works. See Ephesians 2:8, 9) The only thing that will secure this gift for us is belief in the unseen (See Hebrews 11:1); that is, our Faith that His Word is True.

Although, our Faith which secures Salvation is, by itself and without the manifestation of works, dead. That is, once we are saved it is a great joy to serve Him WILLINGLY, evident in our works. (Faith without works is dead. See James 2:14,20) Our works do not save us, but merely reflect the truth of our Salvation. If we believe in His Truth, in His Word, then serving Him is not a job or a burden, but a joy and an uplifting thing. Further, merely being saved does not guarentee that things will be perfect in our lives.

But, it does mean that He will be with us every step of the way. (Be strong in The Lord, who will PERFECT our Faith. See Hebrews 12:1-3) Salvation happens in an instant, but growth in The Lord, in our Faith is lifelong. And, through that growth, if we let Him, He will strengthen and guide us every step of the way. (When we look around and don't see Him next to us, it is not because He isn't there but because we are looking with our eyes and not with our hearts.)

Second: The Assurance of Answered Prayer (John 16:23, 24). Too often, when people pray they pray thinking only of themselves. That is, they pray prayers such as "I don't have enough money for the trip to Disney...I need more money" or "I'm not popular...please make me more popular" or "I really want that job at the new company...it pays so much more". Some of those prayers are not wrong in and of themselves, but they are wrong when they are for the benefit of the person praying who then turns away from God until the next Santa Clause need.

God is NOT Santa Clause. He does not give us what we want, but what we need. Sometimes what we want is also what we need. Sometimes what we need can wait. Sometimes we feel these things can't wait, and we get impatient with The Lord for not answering us when we feel He should have replied quickly. Those who are young in the Faith need to take a step back and examine their motives before proceeding. They need to be right with The Lord, and pray in the right way.

Often they want it all, and they want it right now. But, The Lord gives as He sees fit, which often times is not when we see fit. The next time you feel He hasn't answered your prayer, ask yourself: Am I being impatient? Am I asking for the right reasons? Am I asking IN JESUS NAME? Am I just not accepting the answer He did give, hoping He'll change His mind and give me what I really want?

Third: The Assurance of Victory (1 Corinthians 10:13). Often, Christians come into temptations. This is one of the ways the deceiver, satan, will attack us trying to bring us back into the darkness. If we rely on ourselves, we will ALWAYS fall back into that darkness.

This doesn't mean we will no longer be saved, but that we will endure more hardships and trials and tribulations, and be more pressed down by them. If someone who is dying from Cancer says "Oh no!! I'm dying!! Nothing can save me now!!" that person has given power to that negative attitude, and is relying on his or her own fear rather than the Faith that saved them in the first place.

Anyone in such a condition who believes they will die and that they have no hope is truly lost because they are giving the desease greater power (in their minds) than The Lord. Anyone who thinks God can't cure them from something like that limits God. The temptations we face are not all obvious. The temptation to lust after someone is an obvious one.

The temptations to drink or smoke weed or steal or cheat or lie or hurt others are all obvious ones. But, other temptations that aren't so obvious include believing illnesses to be stronger than God, believing marrital problems to be greater than God's Love, believing that anger at a wrong done to oneself should have its way, believing that depression is something He can't deal with...

Our emotions will often trick us, but He never will. Rest peacefully in this Blessed assurance, for He will ALWAYS be there with us. He will NEVER leave us. (See Hebrews 13:5 and Joshua 1:5 and 2 Corinthians 4:8,9) The Apostle paul prayed about a thorn. The first two times he prayed, there was no responce. The third time he prayed, God replied, "My Grace is sufficient." (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10) If we focus on the thorn, we fail to see Him!

Forth: The Assurance of Forgiveness (1 John 1:9). All have sinned and have fallen short of the Glory of God. This is true of each and every one of us. But, God is more than willing to forgive us of our sins. That is why He sent us His Son, Jesus Christ: to pay the cost, the penalty of our sins, past, present and future. But, He does expect us to vocalize this.

This vocalizing is refered to as "Repentance" in The Bible. To repent of our sins is to acknowledge them, denying not the least of them, and placing them at the feet of God. He cleanses us as white as snow, blotting out our sins completely. (See 1 John 1:7 and Psalm 103:10-13) [Some people say "why should we fear Him? Is He a bad God?" to which I reply with His Word: "The fear of The Lord is the beginning of Wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His Commandments; His Praise endures forever." (Psalm 111:10)]

Sin hurts Him. He does not want to see us sin, not because we are going against His Word, but because He knows great will be the number who turn away from Him and who do not accept His free gift of Salvation. And He does not want those who are saved to sin either because He can not give us the manifest Glory in our daily existence if we are still living in sin. ALL people are sinners. Those who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are also sinners, just as much as those who are still lost.

The key difference, though, is that we who have accepted Jesus are saved. Those who are lost have no power from which to draw to keep them from sinning, or to forgive them if they do sin. But we who are saved DO have a power to draw from (Jesus Christ), and we DO have a source to whom we may turn for the forgiveness of our sins. He knows that even though we are saved, we are still in this human body of flesh and that, because of the sin nature of man manifest in the physical (the things which are seen), we will still fall victim to sin.

He wants us not to sin, but He is willing to listen to us when we repent of our sin. When I slip and allow myself to lustfully look upon a woman (and He says that to think it is to do it), then I am made to feel unclean about it. That feeling of being unclean is His Holy Spirit working in me to bring me to a right relationship with The Lord. That is part of the PERFECTING of our Faith He has promised to do.

The more we turn to Him in times of trouble, or in times of temptation, the easier it will be for His Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to cause us to grow in our walk with Him and to turn from sinful ways. It is part of the growth process. Know always, though, that if we do sin He is faithful to forgive us of our sins...and He will never leave nor forsake us. That is His guarentee to us who follow Him.

(Understand, though, that the closer we get to Him the more satan will try to trick us and tempt us---but you see, The Lord will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure.)

When we fail to rely on Him and slip into a temptation, He does not condemn us but lovingly embraces us and always forgives us. He asks us for one thing: to repent of our sins, to ask for His forgiveness. He will forgive us always, but what does it cost us to ask for it? (See Psalm 38:18 and James 5:16)

Fifth: The Assurance of Guidance (Proverbs 3:5, 6). [I would suggest including also Proverbs 3:7, 8 in the reading for this point.] I have covered many of the points of this assurance. If you trust in The Lord with all your heart, then you will not be so quick to trust in yourself. For it is when we trust in ourselves that we push God out of our lives.

It isn't that He is no longer with us -- He said He would NEVER leave nor forsake us -- but that we are no longer with Him. (It is like carrying around a wad of bills on your person. As long as you believe the wad is there, and believe in its ability to get you what you need, it will be useful. But once you no longer believe it is there or that it can not get you what you need, it will no longer be useful. But, either way, it never left you.)

How much greater is the knowledge that The Lord will never leave you? (And He is so much more and greater than all the monies in the world.) The Bible is your greatest guide book. It is your owner's manual to this thing called life. It is everything you need to learn about The Lord and what He can do, who He is, and who He expects you to be and how He expects you to live in serving Him.

But, most people fail to realize one very important fact about The Bible: It IS God Himself!! ("In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God." John 1:1) Isn't that wonderful? God is God, The Father, The Creator. He is also The Word which is The Bible. WOW!! Further, He loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16,17) BUT, by His own Word, He sent Himself!! Now, is that love or what? (See John 10:30)

And He sent a Helper when Jesus ascended into Heaven. (See Psalm 30:10 and Psalm 54:4 and John 14:16, 17 & 26) AND, His love is manifest in the very fact that we are saved, not only because He sent His Son to die in our place, but because He sent us to Jesus (John 6:44) so that we may go to Him (John 14:6)!!!!!!!

That's Love far greater than any form of love this world will ever produce on its own!! He didn't just save us through Jesus, but came to us as Jesus so that we might be saved...He sent us to Jesus so that we might accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior...and thus secured a way for us to finally reach Heaven!! Praise God!!

As for trials and tribulations, He has a plan for that too!! You are to "consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)

One does not become a well trained soldier by sitting in the barracks and lounging around, so too does one not become prepared for the things to come, those things which satan WILL throw at us, if we can not handle the minor things he already hits us with. If we cry in pain from simple smacks of the enemy, how will we fair when the heat is really turned up (and it will be)?

If we do not now learn to FULLY and COMPLETELY rely on The Lord for ALL THINGS at ALL TIMES, how will we deal with things when times get really tough? He allowed the Apostle Paul to suffer the thorn not because He wanted him to suffer, but because He wanted him to learn that God's Grace IS sufficient for ANY trial and tribulation.

Not even the fires of the serpants tongue can singe the smallest hair of one who is Christ-filled, Christ-centered, and Christ-focused!! You will have an eternity of no pains, no sufferings, no trials and no tribulations once you enter the gates of Heaven (which is, by the way, through the narrow gate), but if you want this world to be perfect and without such things, then your reward also will be in this world and your eternity will not be in Heaven because you look to this world for relief when you should be looking to Him through whom all things are possible!!

I do not mean that you should not pray for and expect great things in this world, but that you need to be humble and prideLESS and ask for all things in Jesus name. (We do not give to get, but get to give. If you enter prayer with expectations for self and with pride, then you enter prayer as though it were merely a wish, and you "offer" prayer only because of what you can get out of it.)

As one who is not perfect, but whose Faith is daily being perfected (and very much tested), I ask you, finally, to read about the Armor of God in Ephesians, chapter 6, verses 10 through 18. The Bible, that one book few people like to read but many profess to know well, IS your starting point, your endurance, and your finality in this world. God certainly knew what He was doing when He gave us The Bible. (Do you think it was just a string of coincidences and mistakes that allowed The Bible, a book hated and loathed for nearly two thousand years, to continue for as long as it has?)

Jesus Loves You far more than I or anyone else in this world ever could. Perhaps I would die for you and a few others, but He died for millions and millions...for EVERYONE, PERSONALLY!!

Love, Your brother in this world,
and your servant in Jesus Christ,
Andrew





The above letter was originally written
for my sister, but The Lord impressed on me that it
should be for more than one person. And so I present it.

To The Lord be the Glory and the Honor, forever and ever. AMEN!!



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