Assurance and Our Power to Stand
It may surprise some, including pastors, just how often we encounter Christians who struggle with a lack of assurance regarding their salvation and standing before the Lord. We work hard with those counselees to lead them back to the foundation of their faith, calling them to trust not in their deeds, or even their most recent relgious "experience," but in the completed and incomparable work of Christ on the cross on their behalf.
One conclusion we make after counseling with many who struggle in this area is that there is a lack of awareness concerning the immovable nature of salvation in Christ, as opposed to the uncertainty of a life lived according to our own attempts at righteousness.
Seventeenth century Puritan theologian, Stephen Charnock, writing in Volume 5 of his great body of work, speaks at length concerning the differences between our life in Adam, and subsequent life in Christ, as the Second Adam.
If you struggle in this area, there's some good news for you!
If after reading these brief comments (Charnock wrote much more than you'll read below) you find that you still have lingering questions and doubts, feel free to contact us. We'd love to walk with you from the place of fear and worry, to the place of confidence in Christ alone.
"God keeps us safer in a state of imperfection, than Adam was in all his innocence ... We have no natural power, but we have a supernatural help. Our supernatural assistance confers upon us a better state than his natural power did, or could do upon him. We are kept by the power of God to salvation, and he was to be kept by his own; he was to stand by the strength of nature, we by the strength of grace ... He was under the government of his own free will; it is our happiness to be under the conduct of the Son of God by his Spirit.
He had a power to stand, precepts to stand, promises to encourage him to stand, but not one promise to secure him from falling; we have both a supernatural help, and an immutable promise that the fear of God should be put into our hearts to this end, to preserve us from falling. By Christ we have not only words of grace to encourage us, but the power of grace to establish us; not only precepts to persevere, but promises that we shall, otherwise the promise could be no surer than that annexed to the covenant of work.
Adam was under a mutable covenant, and we under an everlasting one. Adam had no reserve of nature to supply nature upon any defect; we have out of Christ’s fullness, grace for grace ... He stood in dependence on his original righteousness ... Our state is secured in higher hands.
Adam’s life was hid in himself; ours with Christ in God. Our life is as secure in Christ’s, as Christ’s is secure in God. Christ’s hand, and his Father’s bosom, is not to be rifled by any power on earth. Heaven is no place to be pillaged by the serpent. Which state, then, is best? Our nature is restored by the second Adam, fundamentally better; not at present so bright as his, but more permanent.
The mutability of the first Adam procured our misery; the strength of the second preserves our security. So that a gracious man is better established in his little grace, by the power of God, than Adam in his flourishing integrity by the strength of his own will."
Charnock, S. (1628-1680). The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Vol. 5, p. 264). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson; G. Herbert.