Evidences of Salvation
by James Smith
Many real believers are often distressed and troubled, on account of . . .
the weakness of their faith,
the strength of their fears, and
their mistakes in reference to their interest in Christ.
They look for too much in self, and for too little in Christ.
To avoid soul deception they are apt to run into gloom and despondency. They look for certain evidences in themselves, and because they do not find those they look for they conclude they have none; and giving way to the temptations of Satan, they . . .
distress their own souls,
dishonor the Lord Jesus, and
reflect badly on the grace of God.
They doubt not the ability of Christ but they question his willingness to save. If the testimony of scripture assures me he is able to save it is to encourage me to approach him and cast my soul upon him and if he assures me he will never cast out it is to disperse my fears, remove my doubts, and draw me to his mercy-seat with confidence and courage. There is no saving religion in doubting though many who are truly godly do doubt. Slavish fear never honors a God of love yet many who desire to honor him give way to groundless fears.
1. One evidence of true salvation is CONVICTION OF SIN.Conviction of sin in the conduct and of sin in the heart. We are all sinners but only a few know what sin is, and what a fearful thing it is to be a sinner. Sin is . . .
Sin . . .
is rooted in our nature,
grows with our growth,
strengthens with our strength,
flows from our hearts as naturally as water from a fountain, or light from the body of the sun.
Every action we have performed,
every word we have spoken,
every thought we have conceived
has been defiled by sin, and deserves eternal death!
The nature of sin is most dreadful, and the effects of sin are most fearful. But man untaught of God has no such views of sin, or of himself as polluted by it; but when the Holy Spirit quickens and enlightens the immortal mind, when he brings home the law as the standard of holiness and the rule of conduct then the sinner discovers his state, and fears the consequences. He is alarmed, distressed, and inquires, "Who, what can save me?" He fears his sins are too numerous and aggravated to be pardoned, being ignorant of the extent of the grace of God, and the infinite merit of the blood of Christ. He fears presumption and he dreads despair. He cannot laugh at sin or longer trifle with eternity; he can no more dare the justice or slight the mercy of God. He is concerned for his safety, being conscious of his danger. He longs for a pardon, being convinced of his guilt. He trembles at the thought of justice but hopes when he hears of mercy. Sensible of his lost condition, he presents the heartfelt prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
But we are not to judge our conviction of sin by its
depths but by its nature. If it drives us to despair, then it
is natural. But if it drives us to Jesus, then it is spiritual. If your
conviction . . .
leads you to see your need of a Savior,
prevents your resting on anything but Christ Jesus,
leads you frankly to confess your crimes before God,
and to seek for salvation solely by the grace of God
then they are spiritual convictions, and the evidence of spiritual life. None could produce them, but the Holy Spirit; and none ever experience them, but those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life!
2.In close connection with conviction of sin, is hatred to sin, loathing ourselves on account of sin. If we see sin in the light of the Lord then we must hate it. If we see ourselves as polluted and defiled by sin then we must loathe ourselves on account of it. Finding sin to be rooted in our nature, and seeing it occasionally break out notwithstanding our striving and watching against it will stop our mouths from boasting, and prevent our excusing ourselves. We shall see sin as our fault as well as our disease; as our crime as much as our misery. And feeling inclined at times to favor it, and secretly wishing we were at liberty to indulge in it will make us abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes! The former is from the corruption of nature and the latter from the principle of divine grace.
The Christian hates sin in all but mostly in
himself; and while he wishes the world to be freed from it he would
give a world if he could but get rid of it! It is sin in himself,
which grieves him:
sin in his prayers,
sin in his praises,
sin in his purposes,
sin in his duties,
sin in all he does!
And seeing no hope of complete sanctification on this
side the grave, he cries, "I loathe it, I loathe it, I would not live
always!" As sin is forbidden, he dares not indulge it. As the object
of his hatred, he naturally forsakes it. He cannot but lament that sin is in
his nature, and grieve before God when it appears in his conduct.
If sin is the object of your hatred, if self is loathed because it is sinful
then it is evident you are born of God; for except a man be born from
above he cannot loathe self, hate sin, and forsake it. In order to do
this, he must have a new nature, and that nature must be holy and divine.
3. An appetite for divine thingsis a scriptural evidence of grace. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." If we can find satisfaction, pleasure, and delight only in the things of the world then we are dead in sin; dead while we live. But if instead thereof, we are thirsting for God, to . . .
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
after righteousness for they shall be filled." This promise is plain,
positive, and certain; and every hungry soul may derive comfort therefrom.
When Jesus is the chief object of our desire, and the blessings he
communicates are the principle things in our estimation then there is
divine life in the soul. For dead men have no desire or appetite for natural
things; so people spiritually dead have no appetite for spiritual things. If
nothing but Christ can satisfy us then we "have been born again, not of
perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word
of God!" 1 Peter 1:23
4. An entire willingness to be saved in God's way; that is, by free grace through the blood of Jesus is an evidence of divine life in the soul. No man in a state of nature is willing to be saved as a poor debtor by a Surety; as a miserable sinner by a gracious Savior. Man would rather perish in sin, than be saved in this way! Hence our Redeemer testified, "You will not come unto me that you might have life." "The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Self, works, and merit must be
entirely renounced! We must heartily surrender ourselves into the hands of
Jesus to be . . .
washed in his blood,
clothed in his righteousness,
and sanctified by his Spirit
or we reject God's method of salvation.
But if we are willing to do this, there can be no doubt
but God has been working in us, to will and to do of his good pleasure. The
promise in our experience is then fulfilled, "Your people shall be willing
in the day of your power." Fallen human nature will not approve of God's
plan, which makes man nothing and Christ all in all. Nor will the
carnal mind accept salvation on any such terms. Consequently if we are
willing, heartily willing to be saved from wrath through him, and prove that
willingness by our conduct we doubtless have the Holy Spirit in us.
5.If in addition to this, we are made honest and SINCERE; and being sensible of the ignorance of our minds and deceitfulness of our hearts we come to the light of God's word, and to his glorious throne, praying, "Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!" The sincere Christian dreads deception, and desires to make his "calling and election sure;" he shuns presumption, and would avoid the possibility of mistake. He therefore, bares his conscience to the word of God, and would not play the hypocrite upon any consideration.
Honesty and sincerity of heart in reference to our eternal concerns, is a most important blessing; none possess it but those who are "called, and chosen, and faithful;" and if we are made honest in this sense, it is the grace of God which brings salvation that has made us so, and it is clear we are called with a holy calling.
I feel that I am a sinner, and subscribe to all that God says in his holy word, respecting man as a sinner. I hear of Jesus as both able and willing to save, and I go to him in the exercises of my soul and cry, "Lord, save me!" I gather his answer from his word, and am enabled to lay hold on it by the Holy Spirit.
It requires no depth of wisdom, or mighty effort of mind
to believe in Jesus. We simply . . .
credit his word,
confide in his faithfulness,
trust his atonement, and
look for the mercy of God unto eternal life.
Believing in him we confess him as the Savior God has appointed, the Savior on whom we rely; and if we "confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in the heart that God has raised him from the dead we shall be saved."
Reader, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, for "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." John 3:36
Are you afraid? Do doubts arise in your mind? The
difficulty in your mind arises from misapprehension. You needed a Savior,
the gospel informs you of Jesus, who is just suited to your need, and
assures you that he will receive and save you. And what is faith?
Just receiving this statement and acting upon it. It is . . .
going to Jesus as directed,
receiving Christ as he is presented,
looking to him as invited, and
trusting in him as you are exhorted to do.
Every looking Israelite was healed, and every looking
sinner shall be saved the very looking to Jesus is faith, and
proves your saving interest in the promise, "whoever believes shall receive
remission of sins."
7. Loveis an evidence of salvation.
Love to JESUSis an evidence of interest in the covenant of mercy love flows from faith. If I believe what the Scriptures say of Jesus, as to the glory of his person, the tenderness of his heart, and the fullness of his grace then I shall go to him to prove the truth of these important statements, and proving the truth of these precious declarations how can I do otherwise than love him. If I question his loveliness or his love to me then I cannot love him; and this is the cause why many of the Lord's little ones droop, and doubt, and fear. They question the truth of his word, and consequently the love of Jesus to them; this contracts and hardens the heart, and if they would give a world to feel love to Jesus. They cannot feel it, until brought cordially to admit the truth of what the scriptures testify in reference to the love and loveliness of Jesus and then their frozen hearts will melt, and they will love him, because he first loved them.
But we must not always judge of love by warmth of feeling. There has been much warmth, where there has been but little sincere love. We must judge by the habitual state of our heart toward him.
Do you desire above all things to love him, and to be conformed to his will? Are you willing to part with all things for him, and unreservedly trust yourself with him? This is love; when I can trust my eternal interests in his hands, and endeavor constantly to keep his commandments.
Love to HIS PEOPLEbecause they are his, and are like him is an infallible evidence of the new birth. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." If I love the picture it is because I know and love the original. I could not love saint as a saint if I did not know and love Jesus as the Savior of his people. If saints were more like Christ, then we would love them more. But as it is, though they are surrounded with infirmities, we love them; and are consequently entitled to be numbered with them, and to participate in all their joys and sorrows.
If we love Jesus supremely, and saints
affectionately then it is clear that we are created anew in Christ Jesus
unto good works.
8. Humilityproves we are the blessed of the Lord. If we are humbled under a sense of our sin, ignorance, and desert we shall . . .
Nothing but the power of the Spirit of God can
effectually . . .
humble the proud heart of man,
shut his mouth before God,
cause him with self-abhorrence to cry, "Guilty, guilty!"
and bring him to receive the kingdom of God as a little child.
Man will be something but grace makes him nothing. It is the greatest mortification to proud nature, to be indebted to another for salvation, or to go to Heaven as a poor pauper, entirely dependant on the work of Jesus.
To renounce our own judgment,
to submit to be taught of God,
to believe the Word because God speaks it, and
to cleave to Jesus with full purpose of heart
is genuine humility. The man has nothing to say against the demands or sentence of the holy law; and nothing to object to the provision or requirements of the glorious gospel. But he casts himself entirely on the . . .
rich grace, and
promised compassion of Jehovah.
To this man, will Jehovah look with pleasure and approbation, and with him will he take up his abode. He walks humbly with his God. "Though the Lord is high yet has he respect unto the lowly." "Blessed are the poor in in spirit for theirs is the kingdom or Heaven."
9.He who is truly humbled under a sense of sin pants, prays, and seeks for HOLINESS. He is as much concerned to be sanctified, as saved. He sees . . .
He mourns over the sins of others but more over
his own sin. Sin and Hell are always associated in his mind. He views
. . .
sin as the root and Hell as the tree;
sin as the fountain and Hell as the stream naturally flowing from it.
Every man creates his own Hell but no man can create
his own Heaven. The true Christian must long to be holy the precepts
require it, and the principle of life within him pants for it with
inextinguishable ardor. If he could but be holy, he would be happy,
therefore he cries, "I shall be satisfied when I awake up in your likeness!"
He avoids sin and desires to be arrayed in all the graces of the Spirit,
in all the beauties of holiness. He would be the personification of faith,
love, humility and godly zeal. This desire for holiness is a certain
evidence of godliness; for "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
10. Godly FEARis a covenant blessing, and a proof that we are of God. If we fear God with a filial fear, we fear to offend him and desire above all things to please him. It is not what will men say but shall I hereby please God? We are taught in his word how to walk and to please him, and godly fear always prompts us to aim at this end. We shall fear to dishonor him in the world, the church, and our families. God is jealous of his glory and so is a godly man. He desires to glorify him in the body, soul, and spirit, which are God's. He does not run at random but prays, "What will You have me to do?" He does not make excuse for infirmities but sighs out, "O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes always!" His motto is, "No peace with sin no truce with Satan no friendship with the world!" because these would lead him to dishonor God. He would rather suffer pain, than . . .
And when he sees others careless, loose, and licentious;
indulging their lusts and giving way to temptations, he says, "I do not do
so, because of the fear of the Lord." He startles at sin with, "How shall I
do this great wickedness, and sin against God!"
11. Attachment to the WORD OF GODis a proof that we are of God. Real believers always prize the bible they love to read it, to think over its contents, and to enjoy its communications. It is as necessary for their souls as food is for their bodies; they often esteem it more than their necessary food. They would sooner part with all their dainties, than with their bibles. They read it as truth, they believe it as containing the mind of God; and when tempted to think differently, they are grieved and distressed. If the word of God is neglected, they condemn themselves, mourn over their folly before God, and crave his forgiveness. They stay themselves upon the word of God when assaulted by Satan. They look to it for direction when bewildered in their path. It is to them as Goliath's sword was to David, for they all say, "There is none like it."
They love the Word because it . . .
sets forth Jesus,
reveals the mind of God,
marks out the path of duty,
affords rich consolations,
and contains a mine of wealth.
They live . . .
believing its doctrines,
trusting its promises,
walking by its precepts, and
deriving encouragement and caution from its histories.
"O how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day. Except your law bad been my delight, my soul had almost dwelt in silence."
12. DISSATISFACTION with everything worldlyon account of the imperfections discovered, is another evidence of real spirituality. Nothing under Heaven can satisfy the Christian. Having gone the round, he turns away with disgust and exclaims, "Whom have I in Heaven but you, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside you!" He can find full satisfaction only . . .
Everything besides appears empty, polluted, and vain. He may be occasionally attracted, and for a season led away from his resting place; but feeling dissatisfied, uneasy, and grieved, he says, "Return unto your rest, O my soul. There's nothing here deserves my joys there's nothing like my God!"
If nothing can satisfy us but God, he will never put us off with less than himself. The wisdom, justice, the grace discovered in such a state of soul, is from himself; and he will never forsake the work of his own hands. We may learn from, and profit by, his works but we can only rest in, and be satisfied with
himself. "The Lord is our inheritance. He is our portion
13. A spirit of PRAYERis from the Lord, and is a proof of our saving interest in his love. "Behold he prays!" If desire for prayer is produced, and the throne of grace is frequented we are the blessed of the Lord. Prayer is the Christian's breath he prays as naturally and as habitually as he breathes. And we would as soon think of a man living without respiration as of a Christian living without prayer.
But do not mistake, prayer is not a form of words but a sense of need, and a petition for supply. The believer often prays without speaking while many speak in a form without praying. He goes to Jehovah as naturally as a child to his Father, and as frequently as he feels his wants. He lives in constant fellowship with Heaven. Sometimes he can only sigh or groan and at other times he can plead with liberty and power. Sometimes he can only look towards the throne of grace and at others he can wrestle with God and prevail.
His heart inspires his petitions,
the Word of God regulates his desires,
to Jesus he looks as his Intercessor before the throne, and
he continues in prayer notwithstanding discouragements.
He often feels . . .
his heart hard,
his thoughts perplexed,
his mind bewildered, and
his spirit lukewarm.
He is tempted to believe that it is no use for such a one, in such a frame to attempt to pray; but he must confess his faults, tell out his fears, and entreat for mercy in a Savior's name. And though often persuaded that he does not pray, that his attempts cannot be accepted, and that he has neither the gift nor the spirit of prayer yet he still attempts to find access, and to breathe his sorrows there.
Mere formalists are generally satisfied with their prayers, and too often rest in them. But the real Christian sees his to be so impure, imperfect, and worthless that he dares not trust in anything but Jesus, his righteousness, and blood.
Can you live without prayer? Can your discouragements
make you give over attempting? Are you satisfied with your prayers? Or do
you see that they, even the best of them, need to be washed in the precious
blood of Jesus? If so, you have light, life, and spirituality; and surely
you are one of those whom Jesus loves. Private prayer, from a sense of need,
continued under all discouragements, is an evidence that we are the children
14. The CONFLICT between the flesh and the Spirit, is an evidence of grace. If we have a daily exposition of the seventh chapter of the Romans within us then we are as Paul was. This most Christians have in a greater or less degree: they would do good but evil is present with them. They would serve the law of God but are led captive by the law of sin. They hate what they often do and love what they cannot attain to. They would be holy but they sin; yet they never excuse sin in themselves, or endeavor to quote scripture to cloak it.
The flesh and the spirit carry on a constant warfare, so that the believer often feels wretched and longs for deliverance. He cannot do the things that he would. Sin will fight when it cannot reign. The warfare will only cease with death.
We daily discover how the flesh misleads us, and we find
it spoils all we attempt for God's glory. It creeps into our motives, or
turns us aside from our rule, or puffs us up at the end. Thus we feel . . .
the daily need the open fountain,
the renewings of the Holy Spirit, and
a fresh pardon from the hands of Jesus.
The flesh would make us truly miserable but the riches, plenitude, and permanence of grace prevents it. The love of Jesus is the same he witnesses the conflict, sympathizes with the sufferer, and cheers him with the assurance, "My grace is sufficient for you!"
The spirit desires only to be devoted to, ruled by, and
employed for the Lord; and longs for the happy deliverance promised in God's
word. Therefore, the flesh and spirit will strive against each other until
the day of death!
15. Separation from the WORLD, from a discovery of its vanity and enmity to God is an evidence of grace. The world will love its own but saints are not of the world, even as Jesus was not of the world. They see that it is opposed to God in its spirit, maxims, and works; and that all the cry is "No God for me!" They cannot join with the ungodly world they become strangers and pilgrims, and desire to leave it. They . . .
They witness for God in it, and to it. They sigh and cry because of its abominations, and long for the period when the earth shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, and there shall be no more curse!
A worldly spirit indulged and enjoyed, is the evidence of a worldly man. But deadness to the world, sympathy with Jesus who was persecuted and crucified in the world, and living above the world in fellowship and communion with God is the evidence of a spiritual man. The world knows not, loves not the Christian; and the Christian loves not the world, knowing that if any man is in friendship with the world, that he is an enemy of God "if any man loves the world the love of the Father is not in him." The whole world lies in the wicked one, how important then to be delivered from the present evil world; and to have our affections set on things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
"Those who are in the flesh, mind and enjoy the things of
the flesh; but those who are in the Spirit, mind the things of the spirit."
16. The Lord's people are CHASTENED FOR SIN, and cannot go on in transgression without correction. An enlightened conscience armed with God's word will smite them, the ministry of the word will pierce and penetrate their hearts, and they prove it to be an evil and bitter thing to wander from the Lord their God. Providence joins with Scripture in reproving them for their folly, and the Lord follows them with the rod until they fall at his feet, acknowledge their transgression, and crave his forgiveness.
Mere professors may be allowed to go on and escape the rod when they sin but "those whom the Lord loves he chastens; and scourges EVERY one whom he receives." And the Christian will justify his God in using discipline, though it may be sharp and will bow and listen to the rod, though it speaks against him.
To lay low at the Lord's feet while he smites,
to cleave to him when he frowns,
to plead with him when he speaks against us
proves that our principles are divine, that we have the Spirit of God, and are heirs of glory!
O for much of that meek humility which . . .
closes the mouth from speaking against any of God's ways,
opens the ear to listen to all his communications,
lays the heart at his feet, and
covers the face with holy shame before him, on account of conscious unworthiness!
The lofty mountain of a proud heart will be dry, withered, and barren; but the low valley of an humble soul will be watered with the dew of Heaven from above, and bear fruit to Jehovah's praise.
"By humility and the fear of the Lord, are riches, and honor, and life."
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God."
"Despise not the chastening of the Almighty."
17. Looking, waiting, and longing for the SECOND COMING of Jesus, is a scriptural evidence of saintship. Jesus has promised to come again and receive us to himself, he has commanded us to be ready for his glorious appearing, and he has assured us that "to those who look for him, he will come the second time without sin, unto salvation."
Love must desire the presence of the beloved object, and
must desire his glorification; and he is coming "to be glorified in his
saints, and admired in all those who believe." He is now in the Heavens,
waiting until his enemies to be made his footstool. The Heavens must retain
him, "until the times of the restitution of all things which God has spoken
by the mouth of his holy prophets." Faith believes the statements;
hope expects their accomplishment; and
love looks and longs for the time; crying "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"
He will certainly come, to the joy of all such but all
his enemies shall be ashamed. There are some things connected with the
coming of Jesus, which may make our flesh tremble but . . .
to see him as he is;
to be like him; to be with him;
to swell his train and his triumphs;
to witness his glories; and
to participate in his blessedness
is certainly an object of desire to every believer. We wait for him at the Son of God from Heaven, who has preserved us from the wrath to come!
18. But after all is said, there is no evidence like HABITUAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. To walk with God as our Father, communicating to him all that we fear, feel, and desire; and receiving from him vigor, comfort, and daily preservation is an evidence which can never be questioned. We walk by faith, that is,
And though darkness and gloom may occasionally surround and even distress us yet we know that we are of God. It is as natural to us to feed on his word, desire his presence, and seek his love; as it is to the natural child to believe the word, enjoy the presence, and be happy in the love of a kind and tender parent. Our God is love, and believing this, we rely on him, walk with him, and look for his mercy unto eternal life.
Beloved reader, endeavor to realize the truth and importance of scripture; to live and act as in the immediate presence of God; and to refresh the mind daily by a view of the perfect work of Jesus, on the ground of which God justifies the ungodly, and walks with poor sinners in peace and love. Stand out from the world be separate; live by faith, believing God's gracious testimony; lay humbly before the Lord, under a sense of unworthiness; and endeavor to realize daily, your union to Christ, and relation to God as a Father through him. So shall peace be with you, and love with faith from our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our only hope.
But a caution may be necessary; these pages may be read by a self-assured professor, one who has light in the head but no grace in the heart; who substitutes notions for divine operations; and a sound creed for a converted soul.
My fellow sinner, unless your heart is broken for sin, and broken from sin; unless your religion leads you to Jesus as a poor, wretched, hell-deserving sinner; and unless you are united to him, and his life is manifest in you your religion is but like the dream of a night vision! It may he pleasing but it will prove a fearful delusion. Nothing but heart work in religion will stand! Mere head knowledge will vanish away, every false covering will one day be stripped off, and unless you are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, and internally sanctified by the Holy Spirit a dreadful sentence will be passed on you, never to be repealed. O fearful case, to be dreaming of happiness and to find misery misery as deep and lasting as the desert of sin, and the existence of God!
Is it a poor thoughtless sinner that is reading these pages? I have a message from God unto you. "Except you are born again, and converted to God you cannot see the kingdom of Heaven." If you have not the Spirit of Christ then you are none of his. If you love not the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth then you will be accursed when the Lord comes! Unless you are found in Christ your death will be melancholy, and your eternal destiny indescribably dreadful!
There is mercy to be obtained NOW this is emphatically "the day of salvation!" But the day will soon close and a tremendous night of darkness, anger, and woe will set in upon you. A neglected bible, a slighted gospel, a rejected Savior will all witness against you! And through eternity, you will condemn your present course and curse your folly.
Satan is seeking your destruction, your own hearts are deceiving you, and perhaps the conduct of some professors may cause you to stumble; but remember, "Every man must give an account of HIMSELF to God; and receive according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil."
Look well to the foundation on which you build your hope; dig deep and lay that foundation on a rock even on Christ Jesus. And then you may be happy in time for you are safe for eternity. "Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed." He will appear to their joy, and their enemies shall be confounded. Hear then the warning voice, act upon the directions given you in the gospel, make sure work for eternity, and all shall be well.