SGBC Modesto

Christian Confidence

April 30, 2024 by

William Heinrich

Hospital visitation of a dying saint often results in my being blessed more than being the blessing. One characteristic is always present when this happens; it is “Christian Confidence.” Paul’s personal example of “Christian Confidence” is a convincing argument that God would desire all Christians to possess this virtue. If we would have visited Paul in his last hours, we could have heard him say, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” Christian confidence at death is only possible if it has been matured in life. Many times Paul expounds statements of confidence throughout his life, such as, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded” or “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” or “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Paul, however, was not alone in his life of confidence. Job said, “I know my Redeemers lives.” David said, “I will fear no evil.” Isaiah said, “Thow will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon Thee.” Peter said, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” John said, “We know that we have passed from death unto life.”

Unfortunately, history has not been kind to this repeated doctrine. The Council of Trent states, “A believer’s assurance of pardon of his sins is a vain and ungodly confidence.” Cardinal Bellarmine called it “a prime error of heretics.” Down through the ages the unsaved have been offended or annoyed by a Christian expressing confidence as it makes them feel uncomfortable. Even many professing Christians oppose Christian confidence as a teaching that promotes loose living and lacks proper humility.

The importance of this doctrine is immense. Assurance brings comfort and peace – peace about the debt of sins and comfort about the work of Christ being a finished work. Assurance also brings a fruitful life. I am told that when a safety net was placed under the Golden Gat Bridge while it was being built, the work efficiency increased by 25 percent. God most assuredly wants us to be men of faith and confidence.

Much confusion exists today as a result of the improper understanding of three words relating to our subject of Christian confidence. These three often misunderstood words are assurance, security, and perseverance. First, I would like to compare assurance with security. Assurance is personal, but security is general. You see, a true believer is secure whether he has the assurance of it or not. You can have security without assurance, and you can have assurance without knowing you have security. Security is based on God’s work for me, and assurance is based on my work for God. There are true believers in the redemptive work of Christ who live godly lives and possess the assurance of their salvation yet deny the doctrine of security. One, therefore, must see assurance as granted only after examination of our Christian conduct of obedience to God (1 John 2:3); love of the brethren (1 John 3:14); habitual righteousness (1 John 3:4-10), etc. Security comes to all believers, and we realize it by being illuminated to particular passages of Scripture that speak of God’s promise to keep us. The confusion of these two doctrines has caused many to attempt to give assurance to a carnal individual by using security verses rather than verses on repentance and holy living. The results are a short-lived confidence. Paul said he was ready “to be offered” not because of God’s security but because he had “kept the faith.”

Lastly, I would like to compare security and perseverance. Perseverance includes security and infinitely more. Perseverance teaches the work of Christ “in” the believer and security teaches the work of Christ “for” the believer. Security teaches “the sheep receive eternal life and will never perish and can’t be taken from the Father’s hand” and perseverance teaches “the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd and they follow Him at salvation and habitually thereafter.” Security is based upon legal grounds, and perseverance is seen in living faith. Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed.” Eternal security taught without perseverance often leads to careless living. Ungodly Christian lives are excused by calling it “backslidden” or “carnal” and emphasizing that Christ is their Savior but not their Lord. Yet Jesus never did this, but rather said, “By their fruits you shall know them,” and James states that “true faith produces works.” Eternal security taught without perseverance is but a half-truth and does damage to the doctrine of grace in the improperly informed individual. It is true that genuine believers can’t be lost, but it is also true that genuine believers will live a holy, fruit-bearing life, some 30-fold and some 100, but all will persevere. The grace that enabled one to truly receive Christ continues to enable him to live for Christ. Impetuous Peter bore little fruit, but God’s grace caused him to persevere to bear much fruit while the imposter, Judas, who seemed to bear fruit, was soon exposed, and his true work was that he did not persevere at all.

The Confident Christian who lives in light of “assurance,” “security,” and “perseverance” is a blessing to everyone, both in life and at death. More importantly, however, I believe he is a blessing to the living God.