Evangelicalism - What's Assurance, And Who Needs It?

Evangelicalism - What's Assurance, And Who Needs It? -  Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.

Many people would love to have the issue of eternity and their relationship with God settled. But they are not sure if this possible. Some hope their own goodness will be sufficient to receive God's approval, while others think that religious devotion will tip the balance in their favour. And in a secular society large numbers say everything is relative; one view is as good as another and those beliefs become the code by which they live. So, just what is the Christian view of being sure?
A lot of water has passed under the bridge. Is this subject of assurance that one is right with God, clearly taught on the pages of Scripture? What has happened to the belief in recent centuries and can we learn anything from a quick view of the past?
Some modern evangelicals see a clear difference of approach between the Puritans in the seventeenth century and say, Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley in the eighteenth century. With the Puritans, assurance was seen as the ripe fruit of a life of soul-searching in which the believer sought, 'to make [his or her] calling and election sure' (2 Peter 1:10). But a noticeable shift in understanding assurance came with Jonathan Edwards at Northampton, Massachusetts, during the revival of 1734-5. Edwards preached God's word with power. He challenged people to get right with God. He preached judgement, great mercy through Christ and, compared to earlier Puritan practice, urged new believers to gain assurance, and he taught how they might identify the marks of their own assurance.
Around the same time as the Revival in New England, there was widespread revival and field preaching by Whitefield and then Wesley in England, to huge numbers of anxious people, many of whom gained assurance of salvation. However, on both sides of the Atlantic, some who wished to find this simple, direct assurance, failed to find this in the short term, but did become clearer later. This is also intensely personal - God does not deal with people in exactly the same way. Some were slower, more hesitant in grasping that for all who embrace Christ, who are brought into living relationship with him, 'There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus' (Romans 8:1).
However, back in England, such vigorous gospel preaching outside of consecrated church buildings startled a nation. Now it was common for crowds, often thousands, to hear impassioned appeals to find cleansing from guilt and sin, through being justified by faith in Christ alone. The need for spiritual new birth was proclaimed with great urgency and power. Salvation was freely offered, and large numbers of people received an assurance - they simply believed the rich gospel promise that the living Saviour receives and welcomes all who turn to him in repentance and trust. Not everyone gained assurance immediately, but by and large, the Puritan era, with assurance as a later life mark of spiritual maturity, had slipped into history.
What was the difference between the two eras, when the same gospel message, the same Saviour and the same truths had been proclaimed? The Great Awakening was a time for great harvest, a time for going out into the highways and byways to urge the wandering ones to come home. Now, new converts accepted the free offer of peace with God on the ground of Christ's finished sacrificial work, and would know, often there and then, that one was accepted - Oh, the joy was overwhelming - 'inexpressible and filled with glory'! (1 Peter 1:8). Many were amazed at being called, 'out of darkness into his marvellous light' (1 Peter 2:9), that Christ the Son of God had loved them and shed his own precious blood to rescue them for condemnation, and had brought them a deep sense that their sins were forgiven and forgotten, cast into the depths forever!
This seemed more like the days of the New Testament, when Peter proclaimed Christ, and on the Day of Pentecost, thousands believed. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit was powerfully at work during the eighteenth century, empowering the preached word, convicting people of great sin, and assuring them of the wonderful freeness of salvation, being born of God and receiving the witness of God's Spirit that each one was now a child of God.
This is still the central message of biblical Evangelicalism that God will pardon and save all who come to him through Jesus Christ, the divinely appointed Savior and Mediator. Come today and know that you too will be accepted as fully and finally as Christ's death for sins was also accepted by God on behalf of all those for whom Christ died.
Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D. - ASSURANCE OF SALVATION TODAY Hello, my big goal is to show that biblical Christianity appeals to careful thinking, and is powerfully relevant today. So, I aim to share the good news of Christ crucified, risen and ascended - a Saviour who is worthy of your full confidence. And I write to help you find faith or to strengthen your faith, so that you may be SURE. I share Evangelical and Reformed convictions and have a Ph.D. from Reformation International Theological Seminary for work on the validity of reason. Use this link to my very latest Amazon Kindle e-book: 'FOR SURE! - Assurance and Evangelicalism' http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AG0WK84 Or take a personal and challenging look at, 'I saw Him die - viewing Jesus' Death TODAY' - http://www.amazon.com/saw-Him-die-Viewing-ebook/dp/B007TX696U/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2 Read and enjoy, and please recommend to others - Thank you! Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_J._S._Austin,_Ph.D.  Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7454806