Christianity 201

January 28, 2013

Three Assurance-Giving Metaphors

This is from a new book, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How To Know For Sure You Are Saved by J. D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; a book about assurance of salvation.  (Published by B&H Books.) Normally here at C201, all scripture references are in green — because the scriptures have life! — but because all the quotations today are the words of Jesus, I thought we’d revert to the familiar “red-letter” format.

Jesus knew how important it was for His disciples to be assured of His love. In the final conversation He had with them before He died, He used three metaphors that showed them how committed he was to them. They were about to go through hell on earth, and He wanted to give them something to hang onto that would sustain them in that hour of great tribulation.

His Beloved Children

In John 14:18, Jesus said,

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart - J. D. GreearA faithful father does not leave his kids wondering whether or not he loves them. When I go away on a trip, I don’t say to my kids, “Daddy will be back soon…or maybe he won’t. Maybe I’m not really your daddy at all. Maybe my real family lives somewhere else. You’ll just have to wait and see if I come back. Sit around and think about that while I’m gone and let that compel you to become better children.”

That would not produce love and loyalty in my children. It might produce a little fear-based obedience, but it’s only a matter of time until fear-based obedience turns into farther-loathing rebellion. If I don’t want my own children fearing they might be orphans, would God?

Do we really think we are better fathers to our children than God would be to His? Hardly. The love God has for us is the highest in the universe.  Jesus said,

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you.” (John 15:9)

Jesus loves us like God the Father loved Him; and He wants us to have the same assurance with Him that He had with God…

His Betrothed

In that same conversation Jesus told His disciples,

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14: 1-3)

Some have noted that Jesus’ language in these verses is laden with Jewish wedding imagery. In Jesus’ day, a young suitor would travel to his beloved’s home; throw a party, and request her hand in marriage. Assuming she said yes, he would return to his father’s home where he would begin construction on a room attached to the family living space. When their “place” was completed, he would return for her. Before he left, he would promise that he was coming back.

He did not want her to worry. Worry might lead to doubt, and doubt would cause here to be open to the advances of other suitors. He wanted her assurance to be so strong that she would not be moved by the flirtations of another…

…Jesus gives us, His beloved, that same confidence. He spoke to us in wedding language so that we would have the confidence of the wedding bride. Only in that confidence are we able to resist the enticements of sin.

His Friends

Finally, in John 15:15 Jesus calls His disciples His “friends.”

“No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends.”

Do you want your best friends questioning your loyalty to them? One of the greatest aspects of friendship is the feeling of safety that comes with it. You can be yourself around them and say what’s on your  mind without worrying about them betraying your confidence or abandoning you. You can give them access to the most vulnerable parts of your life without  any fear that they will violate them. Until you get to that point, it’s not really a friendship, or at least a very enjoyable one. True friendship only grows in security and trust.

I’ve had a few “friends” who broke my trust. I was never sure if they were guarding my reputation or trashing it. We didn’t remain friends very long. The friends I have developed the deepest bonds with are those I know I could trust with my very life.

Jesus wants us no less sure of His friendship to us. he said,

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

His commitment to friendship is no less than ours; it is infinitely more! Perhaps you’ve had a friend betray you or discover about you that led to their rejection of you. Jesus never will. From the beginning, He saw it all and chose us anyway. (John 15:16) When we revealed our worst side to Jesus, He bore our shame and consequences in our place. Friendship doesn’t get any more secure than that.

Those three images show us for certain that God wants us to be sure. He couldn’t have chosen three more intimate and precious relationships! We are His children, His bride, and His friends.

~Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, pp 18-21

Read a review of the book here