Living By Faith (Vol 67) – The Pinnacle Of Faith #03: How To Face The Problem Of Evil And Suffering? (Part-2)
For the last many weeks, we’ve been talking about the assurance of salvation. That is our topic here, the assurance of salvation. Would you say that please? The assurance of salvation? I don’t have a scenario where somebody doesn’t know what the teaching is about even. We have been introducing and going into detail about various sources of assurance. Do you remember the first source? The gospel. The second source? The promises of God in Scripture. The third source we looked at you remember? Our own transformed life. So, those are the three I’ve introduced. Today, I want to introduce you to a new source. Source number four, we can number it like that for convenience. And that is the Holy Spirit in us.
Turn to 1 John chapter 3 verse 24. You want assurance? The Holy Spirit in us is an amazing source of assurance. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. How do we know that He abides in us? How do we know that we’re real believers? How do we know? By the Spirit whom He has given us. The Bible very clearly teaches that God has given His Holy Spirit to each and every true believer. There is a person living inside of you. You know that? There’s somebody living inside of you. If you’re a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is someone living inside of you. 1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16. I don’t have time to read all the verses, but I’ll just say it and go. Paul says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God?” You are the temple. Forget about going to a temple, you are the temple of God. And in the same verse, he says, “God’s Spirit dwells in you. Do you not know that?” He speaks in that manner to the Corinthian believers, not the most perfect believers but the most imperfect believers. If they are believers, no matter how imperfect they are, they’ve got the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them. If you are a believer, you’ve got the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you and you are God’s temple. Everybody say, I’m God’s temple. Hope you believe that. I’m God’s Temple. Just realizing that He’s in us sometimes that itself will give you a little bit of assurance.
I’d like to begin by clarifying something. When I say that the Holy Spirit is source number four… I’ve introduced the Holy Spirit as source number four. Would you put the slide with all the four sources there? So, when I say that, I don’t mean to say He’s a new source, and He had nothing to do with the sources before this. I don’t mean to say Holy Spirit was not involved in sources one, two and three. That will be wrong because without the Holy Spirit, actually, gospel, promises, and transformation would not work out. Without Holy Spirit, none of the other sources will give you any kind of assurance. Actually, without the Holy Spirit, nothing will happen. I don’t know whether you understand the importance of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, you would not even be here sitting. There would be no creation. Let me put it like that. There would be nothing. There would be no world without the Holy Spirit. Before God said, “Let there be light,” the Holy Spirit was hovering over the waters, Genesis 1:2 says.
God didn’t say, “Let there be light,” just like that, the Spirit was there first. And in that context, only God sends forth His word, and the word has power only when the Spirit is there. Without the Holy Spirit, Jesus could not have been born into this world. You know that? He was conceived in a Virgin’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the church would not have begun the way it did on the day of Pentecost. Without the Holy Spirit, the church would not have grown to what it is. Without the Holy Spirit, there would not even be any salvation. I’m just trying to point out the importance of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, He’s behind the scenes. The Holy Spirit is behind the scenes many times, but that doesn’t mean He’s not there. Without Him, nothing will happen. God will not do anything without the Holy Spirit. God always works by the Son, through the Spirit. The Father works by the Son, through the Spirit.
Without Holy Spirit, no salvation. I mean, do you think a person can just by themselves, just feel their sin and be convicted of their sin and say, “Jesus, I need You. Save me. Be my Lord”? No, the Bible doesn’t teach like that. It’s not just a person by themselves doing it. The only one who can convict a person about sin is the Holy Spirit. The only one who can show a person, “Listen, you are a sinner. You need a Savior,” is the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, nobody will realize their own sin, nobody will realize their need for a Savior John 16:8 says, when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin. So, without the Holy Spirit, a person would not even say, “Jesus, I need you.” Then when they come saying, “Jesus, I need you,” without the Holy Spirit, they cannot even receive Jesus as Lord. Do you know that?
The Bible actually says in 1 Corinthians 12:3, that except in the Holy Spirit, no one can say Jesus is Lord. I don’t know if you’ve seen that verse. Except in the Holy Spirit, no one can even say the simple words, “Jesus is Lord.” ‘Jesus is Lord’ is the very basic confession. If you want to become a believer, you have to open your mouth and say, “Jesus is Lord.” But 1 Corinthians 12:3 says, you cannot even say those simple words. Yeah, anybody can open their mouth and say Jesus is Lord, but it would have no meaning, it would have no power, it would not lead to salvation without the Holy Spirit. So, without the Holy Spirit, there’ll be no creation, there will be no salvation, and there will be no assurance of salvation anyway. Not through the gospel, not through the promises. We can put it up again. Not through transformed life, nothing.
Without the Holy Spirit, nobody can even understand the gospel. Do you know that? Without the Holy Spirit, the preacher cannot even preach the gospel properly. The people cannot understand the gospel. Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no promises here, by the way. Who authored the promises? 2nd Peter chapter 1 verse 21, no prophecy. He’s talking about this book. I wanted to say, without the Holy Spirit, I can’t preach the gospel. No preacher can preach the gospel. Nobody can believe the gospel. If you want a verse for that, I don’t have time to read but you can see 1 Corinthians 2:9-13. Nobody can understand any spiritual truth without the Holy Spirit revealing it. God reveals all spiritual truth through the Spirit.
Now, promises. There would be no promise in the Bible without the Holy Spirit because this book is authored by the Holy Spirit. 2nd Peter 1 verse 21. It says, no prophecy, speaking of Old Testament prophecy. No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Moses didn’t just sit down and write Genesis to Deuteronomy. Isaiah didn’t just sit down and write. It was men speaking from God, but as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. We spoke about somebody else releasing a book. Well, this is the Holy Spirit’s book. There wouldn’t be a single promise. Even the promises Jesus gave, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John they didn’t just hear Jesus and just write it themselves. They wrote it with the help of the Holy Spirit and say all they had to say.
Next one, transformed life. Transformed life, just keep it up there. The transformed life would not happen without Holy Spirit. There would be no transformation. The Holy Spirit is the one who goes into our hearts and transforms us even at the moment of salvation. He’s the one who gives us a new spirit, new heart and so on. And washes us, cleanses us, does all that work, Titus 3:14. You can see all that. Holy Spirit only does that. Holy Spirit is the one who makes us more and more holy, sanctifies us. Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no transformation, to look at the transformation and get assurance.
So, all that, to say Holy Spirit is behind the scenes in all of it but nevertheless, today, we want to bring Him up front and focus especially on the Holy Spirit. Now, I want to talk today mainly about how the Holy Spirit gives us assurance in a very special way. But before talking about how He does it in a very special way, I want to first just say how He does it in a usual way. What is the usual way the Holy Spirit gives assurance? You know what we mean by usual? You want to go from here to point A to point B, there are many routes possible, but you use one route for most of the time. And the other ones you use only on special occasions. It’s like that. You have a usual way of doing things. The Holy Spirit has a usual way of doing things. And the usual way in which He gives assurance is through the word. Everybody say, through the word. Because it’s His book.
I already told you, this is a book authored by Him. You think He won’t use it? He likes to use it. This book is called the sword of the Spirit. The word of God is called the sword of the Spirit. Is that interesting? We think of the word as a sword, as a weapon. When the enemy comes against us, we can use the word as a weapon. But it’s not just any weapon, it’s the weapon of the Spirit. It’s the Spirit’s weapon. It’s the weapon the Spirit chooses to use. He likes using the word very much.
I was talking to somebody and they were talking about their testimony and many years back some 30 some years back and before they knew anything about Bible, or Jesus, or Christianity when they were a teenager, it seems that that person used to hear voices in his head. And he said the voices became clearer. And at one point, he could clearly hear this voice. Let me read what he told me. This is the voice he said he heard. He heard, it seems, clearly, “Fear not for I am with you,” in Tamil. “Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” That’s Isaiah 41:10. In Tamil he heard it, it says. [Tamil 00:11:42]. Now, he didn’t know that it’s a Bible verse. He didn’t know it’s from Isaiah. He didn’t know nothing. And he says, through speaking like that, the Holy Spirit led him when he knew nothing, step by step, to salvation, it seems.
Why I gave that as an example is, it’s amazing. To a person who doesn’t know anything about Bible, doesn’t know anything about Jesus, the Holy Spirit still likes to use this. Can you imagine how much He likes to use this? He likes it a lot, my friend. He likes it more than anybody else likes it. Some people they separate the word and the Spirit. They’ll say, “There’s no Spirit there, there’s only word.” No. Word and Spirit can never be separated. Spirit likes the word more than anybody else. God speaks through the word. Holy Spirit speaks through the word. He gives us assurance through the word. Why am I saying this? You want assurance from the Holy Spirit? Go to the word, that’s the usual way. Pick out a promise and ask the Holy Spirit to help you, speak to you through that. It’s no use just reading the word without help from the author of the word. The author must help you otherwise it is pointless. Paul says the letter alone kills, but the Spirit gives life.
There is a way of reading the word which will not bring any profit to you. But with the Holy Spirit’s help, it will bring all the profit. It’ll bring all the power. So, why I’m saying that is, if you want assurance go to the word. The first source of assurance is gospel. Second is promises. But I can reduce both and say word. I can compress the two and say Bible – gospel and promises. It’s God’s word really. If I want to put it as one, I’ll just say word but purposely, I put it as two because in the New Testament word and truth first means gospel word. I’ve shown all this on Tuesday evenings, but anyway, what I’m saying is, go back, hear the gospel, think about the gospel, but with the help of the Holy Spirit. For some people, thinking about gospel is not doing anything because the Holy Spirit is not helping. They’re not depending on the Holy Spirit. For some people, they’re reading promises, but it’s not really moving them, giving them assurance. Why? Because they’re not depending on the Holy Spirit. It’s no use just reading couple of chapters just to say I’ve read it, you must depend on the Holy Spirit, then only He will use the word as His main tool to give us assurance and everything else.
So, the usual way in which the Holy Spirit gives assurance and speaks is through God’s word. That’s why you can never pay too much attention to this. You can never exalt this too much. That’s impossible. Holy Spirit finds interesting ways in which to use the word to give us assurance and confidence and hope. I think you would agree that sometimes according to your situation, according to your challenge, you get a matching word. Have you noticed that? You take your Bible, read in the morning and according to that challenge that day somehow one verse speaks to you. You think that’s chance? No, my friend. I told you those words have no place in the Christian vocabulary. There is no chance. Correctly, somebody will say, one preacher preaches, different people are saying, “This word you said it touched me. That word you said touched me.” How is that humanly possible? It is the Holy Spirit. Some people will say, “Well, that word you said touched me. I didn’t think much of that word. I thought it’s a very minor point.” Finally, that’s the point that touched them. Somebody else said, “Well, you said this and it helped me a lot,” and it turned out I never said it actually. But I just kept quiet. They thought I said it.
It’s like the preacher, I heard the story only this morning. A preacher walked into the pulpit, it seems, and he was a black preacher, an African American preacher, I think. Skin was dark colored. He was a little nervous, it seems, and he was talking to an all-white-skinned congregation, and so, he wanted to tell them in the beginning, “I’m black and you’re white,” or something like that. So, he got up but, in his nervousness, he reversed it. And he said, “I’m white and you’re black.” That could have been taken in a very wrong way. But it seems, the preacher said, the people later on, he found out, they understood it in a different way. They thought it seems he’s saying, “I’ve been purified, I’m white and you are black.” I mean that’s a big stretch. The Holy Spirit is very gracious to the preachers. Thank God.
What I’m trying to say is, if anything the preacher says benefits you, it’s the Holy Spirit behind it. If anything the preacher says does not benefit you, if anything I say does not benefit you, it’s my fault. It’s like that. Amazing. Holy Spirit brings certain verses. The other day I was talking to somebody, he said I was about to give up and out of the blue one verse came to my mind. How does it come out of the blue? It didn’t come out of the blue, it came from the Holy Spirit. So, give attention to the word. That’s the usual way the Holy Spirit speaks. But today, I’ve come to speak to you about something else, the unusual or the special way, better. Shall we put it as the special way through which the Holy Spirit gives the believer assurance?
Turn to Romans 8 verse 15 and 16. This is our main text for today. The special way in which the Holy Spirit gives assurance to the believer. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Two verses, two special ways in which the Holy Spirit gives assurance to the believer. Let’s start with verse 15. How does he give assurance? He gives assurance by causing us to cry out, “Abba, Father.” Now, let me explain that. Let me explain verse 15. Let’s do a quick study there. Look at how the Holy Spirit is called there. What is the title given to the Holy Spirit? The Spirit of adoption. Now, we all know what adoption is. There’re two ways to become a member of a certain family. You can be born into that family or you can be adopted into the family. Now, Paul is using this title for the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, because there is a clear teaching by Paul that we have been adopted into God’s family. The way we enter God’s family is described in two ways in the Bible. If you look at the apostle John, he will describe it more as we are born again and that’s how we’ve entered God’s family. But if you look at Paul, he interestingly prefers to use this terminology that we have been adopted into God’s family, and therefore we are sons and so on. Now, why does he use that? Remember who he’s writing to. He’s writing to the Roman church, the church in Rome.
In the Roman world, adoption was viewed as something very good. It was not in any way viewed as a lesser thing. Adopted children were not viewed in a lesser way compared to biological children. Today, in our country, sometimes people view like that, “Oh, this is a biological child, this is adopted child.” in the Roman world of Paul’s day, they did not consider adopted children to be in any way lesser to biological children. In fact, very important people adopted, kings adopted, the Emperor Octavian was an adopted son of the previous emperor. Sometimes the emperor won’t like his own sons, or whatever, doesn’t feel like they’re up to it. So, he adopts somebody, legally causes them to enter the family, gives them all the rights, and then they become the heir to the throne. Like that, Romans viewed adoption as something very good and very honorable. And they viewed the adopted child every way as an equal. So, in that setting Paul is writing, you should understand it like that. And he’s saying, “We have been adopted.” That’s why he uses the Spirit of adoption here. He says, “The Holy Spirit is the one who has brought us into the family of God. He’s the Spirit of adoption.”
Now, adoption is a beautiful picture. There’s something you miss if you miss this truth in the Bible. If you only think in terms of, I’m born again, there is something you miss by not thinking that I’m adopted into God’s family. I’ll tell you what you miss. In adoption, what happens is, the person is born into a different family first and they are in a different circumstance, different surrounding, but then they come out of that. They enter another surrounding, another family. Our case is like that. We were born different originally. We were in the kingdom of the devil. We were under the control of the devil. You may say, we were in the family of the devil. Pardon the language. But that’s how the Bible kind of views it. We were in that kind of surrounding. We were in a terrible situation, under the power of sin and Satan, and God graciously, through salvation, took us out of that kingdom and family and brought us into His family. Adoption shows the transfer from that old setting to the new setting, the old family to the new family, the old kingdom to the new kingdom. So, you should not miss that.
Spirit of adoption. Everybody say, Spirit of adoption. The Holy Spirit is the one who carries out this adoption. Everything God does, He will do only do by the Son through the Spirit. So, Spirit of adoption, what does this Holy Spirit do it seems according to verse 15? He causes us to cry out “Abba, Father”. Now, let me explain Abba Father. The term Abba is a term they say that Jewish small children would use to call their father in a very intimate way, like Papa, or daddy or dad, something like that. In Tamil, like apa. We wouldn’t call out father, generally, children, we wouldn’t say, “Father, we come to you,” no, we wouldn’t say that. We’ll say dad or in Tamil we’ll say apa. So, very naturally we will call them like that. What Paul is saying is, notice he uses two terms for father. One is the more formal father, the other is Abba, Father. What he’s trying to say is, Holy Spirit gives us this childlike confidence to approach God as our Father. Not just call Him as, “Heavenly Father, we come to You.” Yeah, we can say that fine, but he gives us a childlike confidence to approach God as our Father. And by doing that, he assures us that we are God’s children.
Have you noticed a small child calling the father? Apa, daddy, dad? That child has no doubt whether that person is his father or not. Have you noticed that? They’re not sitting there, “I want assurance.” You know what I mean? Just the fact that they’re calling is proof that they are the child and he is the father. It’s like that. The Holy Spirit by simply making us to call out “Abba Father” gives us the proof that we are the child and He is the Father. When we approach God like a child approaches its father, with confidence, that itself gives assurance that we are God’s child. The very fact that we are approaching God so boldly, so naturally, the God of heaven and earth, the creator of the ends of the earth, if you can approach Him like that, that very fact means you must be real children of God. Abba, Father.
Let’s look at that word ‘cry’ also. The Holy Spirit causes us to cry out. Look at how Paul puts it. You receive the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out. Cry is a strong term. In the Greek, the original term means loud cry not just saying, but crying, loud cry. And it also means a spontaneous crying, natural, not thinking much about it. And it also means, a cry expressing a deep emotion, a fervent cry, an earnest to cry. It’s not just saying, “Abba, Father, we come.” No, it’s not like that. It’s something loud, spontaneous and expressing deep emotion. It’s like how a child cries out when it feels like it’s in trouble. Have you seen little children when they’re afraid of something, when they feel like something’s about to hurt them? They’ll just spontaneously cry out, “Apa. Dad.” Without much thought, spontaneously, loudly, expressing deep emotion.
Do you find yourself approaching God like that? Is the question. Do you find yourself approaching God like that? Spontaneously, naturally, with boldness, the boldness of a little child. Is God just God to you? Creator? El Shaddai? Or is He also Abba Father? If you find yourself approaching God like that, that’s the Holy Spirit within you, my friend who’s causing you to do that. He’s the one giving you the confidence to approach God with childlike confidence. Only the Holy Spirit can give you that kind of boldness. You can’t have it yourself. That’s why Romans 8:15 says, it doesn’t just say we cry, it says, by whom we cry. Look at that verse, it says, by whom we cry. Only by the Holy Spirit we can cry.
In fact, in Galatians 4:6, just go there quickly. It’s an important verse because it looks exactly the same, almost like this. Paul puts it even more strongly in a sense where it’s clear that you can’t do this without the Holy Spirit. Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Almost looks the same as Romans 8:15. But couple of differences. Look at who’s crying. In Galatians 4:6, who’s doing the crying? Look in your Bibles. Is it the believer doing the crying? Not in Galatians. Look carefully. In Galatians, it says, “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying.” That is, He sent the Spirit into our hearts, the Spirit cries. That’s the way Paul puts it. It’s almost like the Spirit is inside our heart and from within our heart, the Spirit cries. He wants to emphasize, without the Spirit, this is not possible. Same thing in Romans, he put it slightly different and he said, “By the Spirit we cry.”
It’s really, we only crying, but with the help and only with the help of the Holy Spirit. Notice also in Galatians, he calls the Holy Spirit with a different name. He says, “The Spirit of His Son.” Who is that? Spirit of Jesus. Holy Spirit is given that title many times. Spirit of Jesus, Spirit of Jesus Christ and so on. Why does He say Spirit of Jesus, Spirit of His Son? Let me tell you why. He wants to say, the Holy Spirit makes us feel like we are real sons in some way similar to how Jesus is a real son. That’s the point. Jesus is the only begotten Son. We are adopted sons. Jesus was there from the beginning. He came later but Holy Spirit wants us to have the same kind of feeling, something similar to how Jesus has. Just as Jesus is able to approach His heavenly Father boldly, Holy Spirit wants us to give that kind of similar, I won’t say exact but similar, boldness and feeling.
Did you know Jesus cried out these exact words “Abba Father”? Do you know that? In the Garden of Gethsemane. I’m not going to read it but I’ll just say, Mark 14:35 to 36. If you see Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane, He’s stressed out, He’s thinking about the cross, He’s going to be arrested, put on the cross. With all that stress He goes, and Mark 10:35 says, He fell on the ground and 36 says He said, “Abba Father.” Paul knows that. He’s saying, “Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, is in our hearts helping us to cry out the same way Jesus cried out, Abba, Father.” So, let me ask you again, do you find yourself crying out to God like that? Or approaching God like that? That is one way. By helping us to cry out Abba Father, approaching God like a little child, Holy Spirit gives us the assurance that God is our Father, we are His children.
Next way, go back to Romans 8:16. I said, two verses, two special ways. Romans 8:15 we just saw, now let’s look at 8:16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. The Spirit Himself. This is something a little more than verse 15. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit. Everybody say, Spirit Himself. That word ‘Himself’ is very important there. It indicates, this is something more than what came before. In verse 15, what was he saying? He was saying, Holy spirit causes us to cry out Abba, Father. In 16, he’s saying, Spirit Himself. Now, that means, not causing us to do something but Himself. He is doing something on His own. It’s like this, our spirit is crying out Abba Father, because the Holy Spirit is helping us. But then on top of that, the Holy Spirit Himself adds His witness with our spirit. Look how carefully Paul says it. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit.
You know what scholars say is, Paul has in mind the Old Testament understanding that you cannot establish anything unless there are a minimum of two witnesses. Have you seen that in the Old Testament? Nothing will be established unless you have two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “Only on the evidence of two or three witnesses shall a charge be established.” Paul knows that verse. He quotes it elsewhere. They say, he has that in mind. He’s saying, “How does Holy Spirit give us assurance? How do we get assurance? Two witnesses.” Verse 15, talks about one witness, verse 16, talks about one witness. Verse 15, says, our spirit is crying out, and therefore our spirit gives us assurance in one sense. It’s our spirit crying out, giving us assurance, we are children. Verse 16 is the second witness. Holy Spirit Himself bears witness so that there’s a double confirmation. I hope I explained that correctly.
Our spirit cries out Abba, Father, that itself is a confirmation that God is our Father and we are children. On top of that, Spirit Himself bear witness. So, you have two witnesses. Double confirmation. Let me illustrate this. Imagine you have two people in love. So, when the first person tells the second person, when they express their love, or let me put it like this. When the first person says, “I love you,” to the other person, while they say, “I love you” itself, it’s a good feeling for them because they have a good feeling about it only, they say, “I love you.” That’s a pretty good feeling. But when the other person hears that and they respond back and say, “I love you.” Now, that takes it a little higher. Do you feel great when you say “I love you” or when you hear someone say to you, “I love you”? When you say “I love you”, you feel pretty good, but when the other person responds and tells you, “I love you” and you hear that, that makes you feel even better. It’s like you saying, “I love you” is verse 15. Verse 15, is where you are crying out Abba, Father, you are expressing your love to the Father. It’s like you saying, “I love you,” to the Father. But verse 16 is like God saying, “I love you back,” and you hear it. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit. When both happen, nothing like it. We cry out Abba Father, expressing our love to God. But even better is when God expresses His love to us, the Spirit Himself adding His witness, bearing witness with our spirit.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about the experience. Have you experienced this where sometimes God Himself expresses His love for us? Have you had moments where you can feel God’s love? I’m not talking about; do you know God loves you? I know you know God loves you. I’m talking about, have you had experiences where you can feel, yes, feeling, feel God’s love. Maybe while singing a song, some people they just cry. Ask them, they’ll say, “I just felt the love of God.” Some people while they’re hearing a sermon or something on the cross or something, they’re just not hearing. It’s more than just hearing. It’s more than just knowing; they actually feel the love of Jesus for them. Who is giving that feeling, my friend? It’s the Holy Spirit. This verse 16 is about that. It’s about God expressing His love to us. Actually, the Holy Spirit is doing it.
Now, let me talk about the experience of this. We looked at these two verses, two special ways in which the Holy Spirit gives us assurance. One is, by giving us the boldness to express our love spontaneously. But even better than that is God, giving us certain experiences where He expresses His love. We feel it in the depths of our heart. Let’s talk about how this is experienced. How do believers experience this? How do believers experience this? Because this is meant to be experienced. Let me put it like this. If you look in general, at all believers, you’ll find that different believers experience what these verses are talking about, 15 and 16, in different ways, in varying degrees or levels. What we mean by that is, all believers don’t experience it in the same way. When it comes to experiencing these truths, what verse 15 and 16 talk about, when it comes to experiencing the Holy Spirit giving you assurance through these ways, different believers experience it in different ways. But I want to look at the varying degrees and levels.
Different believers experienced this in different levels. In other words, they have different levels of assurance from the Holy Spirit. What we mean by that is, some believers experience it in a lower level. Some believers experience it in a higher level. Just like there are believers with lower faith and there are believers with higher faith, there are believers with lower levels of assurance from the Holy Spirit in this way, and people with higher levels of assurance. Let me describe that a little bit. Lower level, what does that look like? Maybe we can describe it like this, you feel a certain peace. There may be doubts, you’ve been struggling with doubts, but somehow God has graciously in the midst of that doubt, given you a little bit of peace and you feel like it’s okay, it’s okay. There’s a peace. That peace in your heart is from the Holy Spirit, be thankful for that.
But let me explain a little higher level of assurance. Here, it’s not just peace but it’s a joy you may say. Joy is like one step above, ordinarily speaking. Sometimes you feel God’s love in a better way where you are getting a higher than usual joy. And because of that feeling, you feel like God loves you and cares for you. And at that moment, you don’t have any doubt. You feel God’s love somewhat strongly. You can try to put yourself wherever you feel is right. What kind of experience do you have? I don’t know. Have you felt moments of joy that you’re God’s child, God is your Father, where the doubts just flee? Have you had moments of feeling God’s love for you in a special way like that?
But let me go on to talk about the highest level. Now, this is where you have the clearest, the strongest feelings or impressions of assurance from the Holy Spirit. Now, in this kind of experience, not only are the doubts completely gone, not only do you feel sure that you are saved or God’s child, actually, that is not even an issue. When the feeling is so strong, when the experience is at its highest level, assurance of salvation stops being an issue for that moment at least because you’re experiencing something much, much more. You’re actually feeling the love of God too much and too clearly. Do you know what I’m talking about? We’re talking about feelings, my friend. I don’t know how you feel about feelings. Like it or you don’t. I know Christianity is not built on feelings. That’s why we didn’t begin here. We began with gospel, promises, transformed life for so many weeks. But Christianity always makes you feel good. Yes.
We don’t build our faith on feelings, yes. But if there is no feeling of peace or joy ever, that’s not true Christianity. Only faith in Christ gives you the highest peace and the highest joy. That’s a real believer who’s experiencing some level of peace and joy. If a person has no peace and joy, well, is the Holy Spirit really inside? There is peace and joy and satisfaction in the Christian life. God wants to give that to every believer. Yes, we’re not going to always be bubbly and joyful and all that, but even when we are having a bad day and depressed or whatever, we shouldn’t just put up with it. We have to go to the word, take the promises, and encourage ourselves and receive the peace of God again. We shouldn’t put up with these feelings of depression and things like that.
So, I want to talk more about these highest levels of assurance. Now, let me say some things about it before I speak about it. What I’m going to speak about from now, not every believer has it. It will be wrong to think every believer has it. Every believer has the Holy Spirit inside but not every believer is experiencing the highest levels of assurance from the Holy Spirit in this way. But just because you don’t have it or you’re not experiencing it or you have not experienced it, don’t think you’re not a believer. For that, you have the other signs. So many things we have seen already in this series. What I’m going to speak about now is the highest level of assurance. Because I can’t conclude the series without talking about this. Have you seen some people when a great car comes around, like they’ll say, “What’s the top speed on this?” Have you seen that? Nice sports car, they’ll say, “What’s the top speed?” “200, 220, 230.” We’ll never go 200 in our roads, but we just want to know, what’s the top speed? How fast can it go? Well, I want to talk about how fast this car can go, assurance of salvation. What is the top speed? Or what is the top highest level of assurance that a believer can have? You understand? I just want to let you know that it’s there so that if you want it, you can pursue it.
The Bible teaches that God wants to give you greater assurance than you can imagine or dream of. What we’re going to see is the high levels now. Let me talk about it now. This is where the Holy Spirit in an extraordinary manner gives us assurance in our heart. It’s where you feel the love of God so clearly and so greatly, you feel like the love of God is being poured into your heart. Let me describe the real experiences people of God have had about this. Today, I’m going to describe some real experiences now. You know the preacher George Whitfield? Great preacher, George Whitfield. He writes in his journal about his experience. Listen to this November 22nd 1740, he writes in his journal. “God’s presence so filled my soul, that I could scarce stand under it.” “God’s presence so filled my soul that I could not even stand,” he’s saying. On another occasion in his journal he writes, he was so tired, it seems, from ministry, and he was exhausted and he went to lie down on a bed, take some rest, but he couldn’t sleep, it seems. Instead what was happening is, “The Holy Spirit was,” he says, “pouring the love of God into his heart, so much so that he could not sleep.” Physically, he wanted to sleep. But what is happening spiritually is, Holy Spirit is pouring the love of God into his heart. This is not just a man’s experience. This is what the Bible actually teaches.
Look at Romans 5:5. If you remember, last week, we dealt with Romans all the way from chapter 1 to chapter 8. Remember? That was like blazing through it. There are two climactic points in Romans. One is in the beginning of chapter 5, the other is in chapter 8. Those are the climactic points. That’s where Paul takes his teaching to a height. In chapter five, if you remember, he begins by saying, “Since we’ve got justification, we are righteous, we’ve also got access now into God’s presence and grace. And now that we have access, we also have hope of heaven.” Remember? And right after talking about that, is where he talks about this Romans 5:5. At a climactic point he says, verse 5, Now hope, the hope of heaven, does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. He’s saying, “How can you be sure that this hope will not disappoint you, that surely you will make it all the way to the end? Because the love of God has already been poured out into our hearts now by the Holy Spirit.” Again, he brings the Holy Spirit in the next climactic point in chapter 8 before saying, “If God be for us, who can be against us,” and all that.
Interesting that he brings the Holy Spirit’s giving assurance at these climactic points in Romans. But I want you to notice the words there. The love of God, it doesn’t say, has been given, it says, been poured out. Everybody say, poured out. That is what George Whitfield was describing, pouring into his heart. Let me read comments by another preacher on this. William Guthrie, he says, “It is a glorious manifestation of God unto the soul, shedding abroad God’s love in the heart.” Shedding abroad means pouring out. “It is a thing better felt than spoken of. It is no audible voice.” It’s not an audible voice, Holy Spirit usually speaks through word, but now it’s not an audible voice. “It is a ray of glory filling the soul with God.” Can you hear those words? A ray of glory filling the soul with God. “So, swallowing up that he forgets all things except the present manifestation. Oh, how glorious is the manifestation of the Spirit.” Have you experienced anything like that? I want to read many experiences because you should not think, “What is this one person experienced?” No, no. Many, many people experienced. Many, many down the ages, even today.
At times of revival, you have small children also experiencing things like this. Mrs. Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Edwards the famous preacher, well, he had an amazing experience. But I have selected Mrs. Jonathan Edwards, his wife purposely because I want to have at least one example of a woman here. Listen to her words. She talks about what happened to her in 1742. She says, “I cannot find language to express how certain the everlasting love of God appeared. The everlasting mountains and hills were but shadows to it. My safety and happiness and eternal enjoyment of God’s immutable love seemed as durable and unchangeable as God Himself.” She’s saying, “Just like God is unchangeable, same yesterday, today and forever, at that moment of that experience, I felt like my safety, my happiness and eternal enjoyment is unchangeable.” Can you imagine that?
She says next, “I was melted and overcome by the sweetness of this assurance. I fell into a great flow of tears and could not bear, could not be without weeping aloud. The presence of God was so near, so real, that I seemed scarcely conscious of anything else.” Then she says, “All night this continued,” it seems. “All night that continued in a constant clear and lively sense of the heavenly sweetness of Christ, excellent and transcendent love of His nearness to me and of my nearest to Him.” Can you see that nearness? Abba Father, the closeness. They’re all describing that. They’re all describing the love. “I felt Him so near to me with an inexpressibly sweet calmness of soul. I was entirely resting in Him,” she says. “My soul remained in a heavenly Elysium. I think that what I felt each minute during the continuance of that time was worth more than all the outward comfort and pleasure which I had enjoyed in my whole life put together.” She’s saying, “In one minute what I experienced at that time was better than all the comfort and the pleasure and the enjoyment I experienced in my whole life put together.” Can you imagine this, my friend? Just imagine it. It doesn’t hurt you to imagine.
All the pleasure that the world has to offer, the Psalmist says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand days elsewhere.” Psalmist also knew what this was about. Thomas Goodwin, he talks about this and he describes it like this, “There is light that comes and overpowers a man’s soul and assures him that God is his, and he is God’s, and that God loves him from everlasting. It is a light beyond the light of ordinary faith. It is the next thing to heaven. You can’t have no more till you come there.” All these people were already believers, already Christians when this happened to them. Mrs. Jonathan Edwards is already the wife of Jonathan Edwards long time doing ministry and after that only it happened. Whitfield same way. These people they were already believers, and after sometime this happened to them. Holy Spirit was already dwelling inside of them. But after all that these special moments happened to them. They experienced something extraordinary.
Maybe I can describe it with an illustration like this. Imagine a father and child walking side by side down the road. And all along the way the father is talking to the child, child is talking to the father. Sometimes they hold hands, sometimes they don’t hold hands. But then suddenly the father stops and picks up the child and gives him a tight hug and puts him back and they continue walking. The most special moment for that child is when? When he got that hug. That is when he felt the love of God more closely, more real, more greatly than any time else. Father loved him before that also, he also loved him back. Father spoke to him; he also spoke to him. But the moment of that hug, you can’t compare it with anything else. And just because he hugged him tight so much, if you noticed, after he put the child down, the child would have walked a little more briskly.
You know what I’m talking about. That’s what this is about. You see, the moment you become believer, the Holy Spirit comes inside you and He leads you. He’s always with you. Jesus is with you, in you. You are in Him, all that. Remember? You’re walking with Him. He’s guiding you. He speaks to you. You speak to Him. All that is happening on one level. But then what these people are talking about, Whitfield, Mrs. Jonathan Edwards and these people, what they’re talking about is that hug. God is always with us, never leaves us nor forsake us. But there are moments where He shows His love in an extraordinary way. And this is meant to be experienced by every believer 2not just a select few, not just for the preachers. Like I said, you go read the revival stories, you will see ordinary people, men, women, children are experiencing this.
What is it? You may wonder. What is this? What is this you’re talking about? Well, it is a greater measure of the Holy Spirit, you may call it properly as being filled with the Spirit. It’s one thing for the Holy Spirit to be inside, it’s another thing to be filled with the Spirit. In fact, the first time this happens, the Bible uses slightly different terminology. The first time this happens, ‘being filled’, it’s called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I purposely refrained from using that term until now. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the first time a person is filled with the Spirit. It’s one thing to say, “The Spirit is inside me.” It’s another thing to be baptized in the Spirit. How many liters of water can you drink? Maybe two, three, if I push it maybe four, five. No matter how much you drink, that is never going to compare with if I take you outside and immerse you in that baptism tank.
Holy Spirit inside us, baptized in the Holy Spirit. Those are two different things. One more glorious than the other. One is for every believer. Every true believer has the Holy Spirit inside but not every believer is already baptized in the Holy Spirit. But God desires that every believer be baptized, be filled with the Holy Spirit to the overflow. This is meant for every believer; this is what happens. Speaking about baptism in the Holy Spirit, let me describe, Charles Finney’s experience. Have you heard of Charles Finney? The man when he got down from the train station, it seems, people would just fall to their knees in the station and repent of their sin and say, “Save us, Jesus.” That was the kind of anointing there. When he went to a town and had a meeting, all the bars would close down, it seems. All the places of sin would close down. They would all be at the meeting. There would be such repentance and people turning to salvation, people getting saved.
But before all that happened, listen to what happened to Charles Finney himself. He says, “I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost.” He talks about this. Look at this, “The Holy Spirit descended on me in a manner that seemed to go through me body and soul. I could feel the impression like a wave of electricity going through and through me.” He describes electricity. That’s why they say, the baptism of the Holy Spirit gives power. He’s feeling that electric power. But then look what he what else he says. “Indeed, it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love.” How about that term? People think they’ve got the handle on love in the world. All their love songs and all this. Have you heard anything like this? Waves and waves of liquid love. My friend, the world hasn’t seen anything about love. That is nothing compared to what Finney is talking.
He’s saying, “When I experienced this, I was experiencing waves and waves of liquid love. I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. No words.” I want you to notice that feeling of love. It’s not just power. People just focus on the power. It’s not just power. It’s unmistakable, strong feeling that God loves you. “No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love, and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushing of my heart. The waves came over me and over me, one after the other until I recollect, I cried out.” He cried out like this, it seems, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” He’s saying, “If it continues, I will die.” He says, “I said, Lord, I cannot bear it anymore. Yet I had no fear of death.”
People talk about ecstatic experiences and feelings. How in the world these drugs and these things will give you a high and all that? The devil really can’t give you a high. He never created anything. He’s only a counterfeiter. He only mimics the high that only God can give, in a cheap way, in a sinful way. The high God can give, the joy and the love and the sense of confidence and the boldness that God can give, unmatched. D. L. Moody describes it in the same way. D. L. Moody was praying for a long time. This doesn’t happen automatically by the way. Let me say this, most of time, it doesn’t happen automatically. You’ve got to want it. God gives this to those who desire it. If a person says, “I’m happy with the way I am, Holy Spirit inside me, I’m fine. Things are going fine. Don’t disturb my peace.” Well, God is not going to force anybody.
But D. L. Moody wasn’t happy. He was praying earnestly for more of the Holy Spirit, it seems. Praying, praying, praying and seeking God and really desiring the Holy Spirit. And he was already a big preacher. And he was in Chicago. He was going to travel to England by ship those days. So, he went to New York to board a ship. And while he was walking in the crowded streets of New York, it seems, he felt something immediately and he knew something was happening. He went to his friend’s house and he said, “Give me a room. I want one room. Don’t disturb me. I want to be alone.” He went into that room and he says, look at this, “The power of God fell upon him. He had to hurry off to a house of a friend. Asked that he might have a room. In that room. He stayed alone for hours. And the Holy Ghost came upon him, filling his soul with such joy, that at last he had to ask God to withhold his hand lest he die on the spot from very joy.” This is Holy Spirit coming in too much quantity measure.
God wants to give this to every believer. God wants to give us more assurance than we can dream about. When this kind of experience happens, in fact assurance is not an issue, it becomes a non-issue. At that moment, you feel so much of God’s love pouring over you and God’s power filling you that you’re thinking is not, “Am I safe?” You’re thinking is, “How do I go and exalt the name of Jesus? How do I go and be a blessing to the world I’m living in?” That’s what happened to Peter. A man scared, denying Jesus three times, cursing Him and denied Him. After the Holy Spirit falls on Him in Acts chapter 2 and verse 4, after he’s filled with the Holy Spirit, he stands up in front of the same people whom he was scared of, the people who crucified Jesus. And he tells them to their face without fear, “You crucified Him.” Where did the boldness come from?
This experience not only pours love of God into your heart, it fills you with power, with all kinds of ability to fulfill in a greater measure God’s purpose for your life. But like I said, it’s only for those who want it and really want it. And if you say you’ve already had it, let me encourage you, my friend, you can keep being filled. Peter was filled for the first time Acts 2 verse 4, but then he’s filled again and again. If you keep reading, the disciples are filled again and again. Acts 4:8. I don’t have time to read, but you can read if you want. Acts 4:31, Acts 13:52. Same disciples are filled again and again. Paul commands the Ephesian believers in Ephesians chapter 5. He says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Probably believers are mostly already filled. He’s speaking to them, “Be filled.” Meaning is, if you look the tense there in the Greek, it’s a continuous tense. Be continually filled, be filled again and again with the Spirit.
George Whitfield in his journal, he writes many experiences. This happened one day, three weeks later, this happens. Like that he writes. Again, and again and again and again. This is the highest level of assurance there can be. It’s an immediate and direct assurance. The other ways of assurance, the Holy Spirit uses something through which to give assurance. He uses the gospel, He uses the promises, He uses our transformation. He uses the word. But in this, it’s the Holy Spirit Himself bearing witness. If you remember that example of the car, the accelerator is what? Gospel and promises. You remember? Gospel and promises. You remember the car illustration? If you want to increase the speed, you press the accelerator. If you want to increase your assurance you pay attention to gospel and promises. What is the speedometer? Well, it’s the transformation, your own transformed life. It confirms whether you are going fast. When you look at your own life, it’s a confirmation that you are saved.
But imagine in that car if there was something else, if there was a nitro boost. Do you know what a nitro boost is? Like a turbo boost, nitro boost, nitro charge. If you hit the nitro charge the car flies. This is a different level of speed. When it’s flying in that speed on nitro boost, you don’t have to look at the speedometer to see whether you are going fast. You know you are going fast. And you don’t need to even think whether you are pressing the accelerator because it’s flying. That’s the Holy Spirit’s witness. Literally in terms of assurance, He makes you fly. He gives you so much assurance. But let me also say this, you can’t always run the car on nitro boost. Then why is the accelerator there? The usual way is through the word the Holy Spirit gives the assurance. But there are special moments where the Holy Spirit just wants to take you to another level. He wants to take you to another level. God wants to give you this. The more you desire it, the more it’ll happen.
But let me also say this, the nitro boost switch is not in our hands. It’s not like you can decide, “Okay, now I want to go on nitro boost.” No, it’s not like that. You can’t control the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is not a power, He’s not an anointing. He gives power. He gives anointing but He’s much more than that. He’s God. He’s the third person of the Trinity, and He blows where He wishes. He comes when He wants. But the person has to desire it. If you desire it, if you seek Him, if you pray, God will, through His Son, pour out His Spirit on you. And you don’t know when it will happen exactly, but when it happens, you’ll fly.
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