Blessed Assurance (Part 1)
Today we begin a series of lessons entitled "Blessed Assurance." These lessons are modified from an excellent sermon presented many years ago by David Pharr, a faithful gospel preacher. We will be examining some wonderful promises in the book of I John in order to better understand the assurances the faithful have in Christ. If you are a true child of God, then these promises will help you feel confident about your salvation. If you are a faithful Christian, then these lessons should make you feel good! Why? Because understanding how the grace of God solves our problem with sin gives us great comfort and encouragement. The beginning of I John is a text that is rich in blessed assurances.

However, just to make sure you don't misunderstand me, let's start by giving brief attention to I John 1:6. This verse is a plain warning against hypocrisy - "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." Listen carefully: Assurances for the faithful do not apply to hypocrites! If you are claiming to be in fellowship with the Lord but in actuality are living in sin (i.e., walking in darkness), there is no blessed assurance for you!

I believe that this warning in I John 1:6 is important and should be emphasized, but I'm afraid that sometimes all we think about are the warnings and we fail to ponder the wonderful assurances of being a faithful Christian! For example, if my personal observations are correct, too many of us lack confidence concerning our salvation. Sometimes we don't even use the word "hope" in the right way. The Bible shows us that we should live in hope. Titus 1:2 teaches - "In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began." Romans 8:24 declares - "For we were saved in this hope..."

Humans often use the word "hope" in a trivial way. In our everyday speech we use it as a mere wish or desire. For example, we might say: "I hope it doesn't snow next week" or "I hope we have pecan pie for dessert." When we use the word "hope" in that way we are merely stating a wish or a guess. But that is not the way in which the Bible uses the term.

If someone asked you: "Are you saved? Are you going to heaven?", how would you answer? Perhaps you would say: "I hope so." I hope so--that sounds like a maybe to me. Someone might even say: "I don't know whether I'm saved or not, but I hope I will be. According to the way the Bible uses the word "hope," such a person is contradicting himself when he says he hopes he is saved yet he doesn't really know.

The Biblical use of the word "hope" means a confident expectation. In other words, to have Biblical "hope" for salvation is to have a confident expectation that heaven will be your home after the Day of Judgment. Christians should be able to hold their heads up and say with confidence: "Yes, I am saved," and "Yes, I am going to heaven." Too many of us feel insecure, frustrated, and unsure. If we feel that way because we are living in sin and living as hypocrites, then let's repent and come back to the Lord! But, if we are walking faithfully and still feel unsure or maybe even worried about our salvation, then we need to learn about the blessed assurances that the Lord has given us.

I'm not saying that we don't need to be warned about the danger of falling--we do need these warnings, especially in this sin-filled world in which we live. I'm not saying that we don't need to be reminded of our ongoing duties as Christians--we do need to be reminded, because there is much work to be done for the Master. What I am saying is this: maybe we've emphasized these things so much that we have lost sight of the blessed assurances the Lord has given us! If so, that is a shame, but it is something we can correct.

We will continue these thoughts in our next lesson.