By Harry Ironside
An excerpt from his book, Full Assurance: Finding Settled Peace With God
Many years ago, I was holding a series of evangelistic meetings in a little country schoolhouse some miles out of Santa Cruz, California. One day, I was out driving with a kindly old gentleman who was attending the services nightly but who was far from being sure of his personal salvation. As we drove along a beautiful, winding road, literally embowered with great trees, I put the definite question to him, “Have you peace with God?”
He drew rein at once, stopped the horse, and exclaimed, “Now that’s what I brought you here for. I won’t go another foot until I know I am saved, or else know it is hopeless to seek to be sure of it.”
“How do you expect to find out?” I inquired.
“Well, that is what puzzles me. I want a definite witness, something I cannot be mistaken about.”
“Just what would you consider definite, some inward emotional stirring?”
“I can hardly say, only most folks tell us they felt some powerful change when they got religion. I have been seeking that for years, but it has always eluded me.”
“Getting religion is one thing; trusting Christ may be quite another. But now suppose you were seeking salvation, and suddenly, there came to you a very happy feeling, would you be sure then that you were saved?” I asked.
“Well, I think I would.”
“Then, suppose you went through life resting on that experience and at last came down to the hour of death. Imagine Satan telling you that you were lost and would soon be beyond hope of mercy, what would you say to him? Would you tell him that you knew all was well because you had such a happy emotional experience years before? What if he should declare that it was he who gave you that happy feeling in order to deceive you; could you prove it was not?”
“No,” he answered thoughtfully, “I couldn’t, I see that a happy feeling is not enough.”
“What would be enough?”
“If I could get some definite word in a vision, or a message from an angel, then I could be sure.”
“But suppose you had a vision of a glorious angel, and he told you your sins were forgiven, would that really be enough to rest on?”
“I think it would. One ought to be certain if an angel said it was all right.”
“But if you were dying and Satan was there to disturb you, and told you that you were lost after all, what could you say?”
“Why, I’d tell him an angel told me I was saved.”
“But if he said, ‘I was that angel. I transformed myself into an angel of light to deceive you. And now you are where I wanted you—you will be lost forever.’ What then could you say?”
He pondered a moment or two, and then replied, “I see, you are right; the word of an angel won’t do.”
“But now,” I said, “God has given something better than happy feelings, something more dependable than the voice of an angel. He has given His Son to die for your sins, and He has testified in His own unalterable Word that if you trust in Him all your sins are gone. Listen to this: ‘To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.’ These are the words of God spoken through His apostle Peter, as recorded in Acts 10:43.
“Then here is 1 John 5:13, which says, ‘These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.’ Are these words addressed to you? Do you believe on the name of the Son of God?”
“I do, sir, I do indeed! I know He is the Son of God, and I know He died for me.”
“Then see what He tells you, ‘Ye may know that ye have eternal life.’ Is not this enough to rest upon? It is a letter from Heaven directed expressly to you. How can you refuse to accept what God has told you? Can you not believe Him? Is He not more to be depended on than an angel or than aroused emotions? Can you not take Him at His Word and rest upon it for the forgiveness of your sins?
“Now suppose that as you are dying, Satan comes to you and insists that you are lost, but you reply, ‘No, Satan, you cannot terrify me now. I rest on the Word of the living God, and He tells me I have eternal life and also the remission of all my sins.’ Can you not do this now? Will you not bow your head and tell God you will be saved on His terms by coming to Him as a repentant sinner and trusting His Word concerning His blessed Son?”
The old man dropped his eyes, and I saw that he was deeply stirred. His lips were moving in prayer. Suddenly, he looked up and touching the horse lightly with his whip, exclaimed, “Giddap! It’s all clear now. This is what I’ve wanted for years.”
That night at the meeting he came to the front and told the audience that what he had sought in vain for half a lifetime he had found when he believed the message of God’s Word about what Jesus had done to save sinners. For several years after that, he was a regular correspondent of mine until the Lord took him home—a joyous saint whose doubts and fears had all been banished when he rested on the sure Word of God. His was the full assurance of faith.
(photo from istockphoto.com; used with permission)