Category Archives: Assurance

The Lord’s Supper: As Sure As You Taste, Touch, and See

Lords Supper

75. Q. How does the Lord’s Supper signify and seal to you that you share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all His gifts?

A. In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup in remembrance of Him. With this command He gave these promises:[1]

First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely was His body offered for me and His blood poured out for me on the cross.

Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and the cup of the Lord as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely does He Himself nourish and refresh my soul to everlasting life with His crucified body and shed blood.

[1] Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19, 20; I Cor. 11:23-25.

Heidelberg Catechism (1563)

*Referenced in sermon by Kevin DeYoung, “Bread and Wine” from Act the Miracle: God’s Word and Ours in the mystery of Sanctification, the Desiring God 2012 National Conference.

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Filed under Applied Theology, Assurance, Atonement, Christian Living, Christology, Church History, Classics, Ecclesiology, Grace, Preaching, Sanctification

Jesus Paid It All

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. –  Colossians 2:13-15

  • I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”
  • Refrain:
    Jesus paid it all,
    All to Him I owe;
    Sin had left a crimson stain,
    He washed it white as snow.
  • For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  • And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  • Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  • When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  • And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.
  • Chorus: O Praise the one who paid my debt
    And raised this life up from the dead
    O Praise the one who paid my debt
    And raised this life up from the dead
    O Praise the one who paid my debt
    And raised this life up from the dead
    O Praise the one who paid my debt
    And raised this life up from the dead.

Elvina M. Hall, 1865.

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Our Assurance Rests in the Triune God

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. – Ephesians 1:3-6

Election is a glorious doctrine; yet it makes some people uneasy because it naturally causes them to wonder whether they are predestined or not. Indeed, some people experience high anxiety because they fear they are not among the elect. Their question becomes, how can I know if God has chosen me or not? It is a reasonable question. If salvation depends on election, then it would seem that being sure of my salvation requires being sure of my election.

How then can we be sure that we are among God’s elect? The answer lies in the triune being of God. Here it helps to remember that the elect are chosen in Christ. Election in Christ is the only kind of election there is. What God has chosen to do is to unite us to Christ, putting us together with him for our salvation. Therefore, to ask if we are among the elect is really to ask if we are in Christ. If we want to know whether or not God has chosen us, all we need to know is whether or not we are in Christ. We do not need to read God’s mind. We do not need to climb up to heaven and peek into the Book of Life. The triune God has made himself known to us in Christ. So all we need to know is Jesus Christ, who is the location of salvation. Every spiritual blessing God has to offer may be found in him, including election. If we are in Christ, therefore, we are among the elect, for the elect are chosen in Christ. John Calvin thus warned that “if we have been elected in him [Christ], we shall not find assurance of election in ourselves.” Rather, Christ “is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election.” The way to make our calling and election sure is to be sure that we are joined to Jesus Christ by faith.

Since election is in Christ, it is usually best understood after one becomes a Christian. In fact, the doctrine of election is sometimes referred to as a “family secret” (although it is not really a secret to anyone who knows the Bible). While we are still outside God’s family, we may not hear about predestination at all; if we do, it hardly seems to make any sense. Once we are in the family, however, it makes the most perfect sense in the world. Indeed, it is the kind of fact that helps us make sense of everything else.

The famous American Bible teacher and evangelist Donald Grey Barnhouse often used an illustration to help people make sense of election. He asked them to imagine a cross like the cross on which Jesus died, only so large that it had a door in it. Over the door were these words from Revelation: “Whosoever will may come” (22:17). These words represent the free and universal offer of the gospel. By God’s grace, the message of salvation is for everyone. Every man, woman, and child who will come to the cross is invited to believe in Jesus Christ and so enter eternal life.

On the other side of the door a happy surprise awaits the one who believes and enters. For from the inside, anyone glancing back can see these words from Ephesians written above the door: “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” (1:4). Election is best understood in hindsight, for it is only after coming to Christ that we can look and know that we have been chosen in Christ. Those who make a decision for Christ find that the triune God made a decision for them in eternity past. In the words of an anonymous hymn from the nineteenth century,

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;

It was not I that found, O Savior true;

No, I was found of thee.

Philip Ryken & Michael LeFebvre, Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-in-One, 28-29.

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