Life Assurance

One version of the story goes that when I was about 4 years old on a summer afternoon in Mississippi, I got an idea. All my mom and sister heard was my crying in the backyard. They ran to scene of my accident to find me sitting beside our slide with tears streaming down my face. Remember, I was sitting beside the slide, not at the end. When they asked what had happened, I responded, “I tried to fly but my superpowers didn’t work!” Somewhere along the way I had an idea that I could fly. I thought, “where was the tallest place to test my theory? Aha! I could jump off the slide in our backyard.”

Every superhero has some story about discovering their superpowers. Me, I discovered mine certainly was not flying!

Superman as a young kid could lift a car.

Peter Parker realizes something is very different the day after being bitten by a radioactive spider.

Luke Skywalker realizes it too when he trusts the force to blow up the Death Star. (Ok, Luke wasn’t a superhero but I’ve got to throw that one in.)

At some point, every hero becomes convinced in their abilities. They gain a confidence in themselves enough so they feel equipped and ready to take on the most powerful of foes. Heroes have little or no use for life insurance but life assurance? Life assurance is priceless.

But what of us? Super powers aside, as the “good citizens” of the world, what would it mean to you to have life assurance? What would it mean for you to live with the freedom from doubt? Do you own what you know? Do you ever wonder about the authenticity of your faith?

Almost hidden in the Bible and honestly ignored by many, are verses which tell of a promise of God, a promise of life assurance to followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. John Wesley, who led the Methodist revival, saw assurance as a great truth which, “..has been recovered, which had been lost for many years…” (“The Witness of the Spirit,” II, i.4, 1:285).

Just as Thomas Paine wrote during the American Revolution, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” many souls today remain in trials and struggles. Yet this is not what God intended. Yes, there was a time when the message of assurance was lost, but the hope of an assurance of adoption, an assurance of salvation, life assurance is a gift to all who believe.

John Wesley would say the verses should be read plain and simply for what they say: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16 NASB)”

Let me start by clarifying what it is not: Not a feeling; though our experience should confirm the Bible message. It is not about having a guaranteed connection to heaven. And it has nothing to do with receiving special messages from God.

But what is it? In part, it is mystery but as it is found in our Scripture and is spoken of in the lives of others and as we have taught it through centuries, there is testimony to say it is a promise to the children of God. The testimony may come in many ways but is the fact that a believer knows he or she has been adopted as a child of God.

But then, that’s a lot of talk, theory and theology. A hero has to test their powers to have assurance. For the “good citizens” like us, we have to follow.

This assurance comes at the moment we say yes to Jesus Christ yet it is also a result of our faith being lived out as a follower. As John writes in his first letter, Those who obey Christ's commandments live in God, and God lives in them. We know that he lives in us because he has given us the Spirit. 1 John 3:24 That means you and I are being led to involve ourselves in the doing of the commanding : communion, baptism, praying, serving, worshipping, reading, fasting, and loving. The keeping of Jesus’ commandments isn’t about BINDING us but FREEING us to LIVING.

The doing doesn’t earn your faith or salvation or assurance.,

It makes it reliable,
It makes it tangible,
It makes it tasteable,
It makes it trustable and
It makes it believable.

The power of assurance was made tangible and trustable when,
“Jesus…saw a very poor widow dropping in two little copper coins. For the others offered their gifts from what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, gave all she had to live on." (Luke 21:1-4 GNB)

The power of assurance was made reliable and tasteable when,
Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them, "Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here; he has been raised. (Luke 24:5-6 GNB)

The power of assurance was made tangible and trustable when,
[the disciples] were all filled with the Holy Spirit and… Peter said to [the crowd], "Each one of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God's gift, the Holy Spirit. Many of them believed his message and were baptized, and about three thousand people were added to the group that day. (Acts 2:4,38,41 GNB)

The power of assurance was made reliable and tasteable when facing cancer and depression, there was an evidence joy, peace, hope growing in my life.
For me today, the assurance of my salvation and my adoption as God’s child led me to climb another ladder and step-off, as a pastor and church planter.

Assurance is a gift but at some point, every follower has to become convinced of God’s love for them and their adoptability – and with the gift comes the power (and with power comes responsibility) and promise of assurance. Then there comes the time when you climb the ladder and live out the assurance. The gift has been given – its time to step out with life assurance. You’re in good hands.


John said...

Excellent post and a clever analogy!

Will Deuel said...

It is entirely possible that I'm going to "steal" some of this insight for a sermon illustration, but only if you'll grant me such permission.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Go for it Will. I'm happy to help!

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