God's Word Our Assurance
by Ellen G. White
The word of God is the foundation of our faith, and therefore it is by the word of God that we may obtain evidence of our standing before God. We are not to make our feelings a test by which to discern whether we are in or out of favor with God, whether they be what we consider encouraging or not. As soon as one begins to contemplate his feelings, he is on dangerous ground. If he feels joyous, he is confident he is in a favorable condition, but when a change comes, as it will, for circumstances will be so arranged that feelings of depression will make the heart sad, then he will be naturally led to doubt that God has accepted him. It is not wisdom to look at the emotions, and try to test your spirituality by your feelings. Do not study yourself; look away from self to Jesus. While you acknowledge yourself as a sinner, yet you may appropriate Christ as your sin-pardoning Redeemer. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Satan will not be slow in presenting to the repentant soul suggestions and difficulties to weaken faith and destroy courage. He has manifold temptations that he can send trooping into the mind, one in succession of another; but the Christian must not study his emotions, and give way to his feelings, or he will soon entertain the evil guest, doubt, and become entangled in the perplexities of despair. Expel the suggestions of the enemy by contemplating the matchless depths of your Saviour's love.
Do not exalt your feelings, and be swayed by them, whether they be good, bad, sad, or joyful. The apostle says, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." It is the word of God that is to be your assurance. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." The soul's supply of nutrition is in Jesus Christ. A legal religion will always be a troublesome guest, and it is a deception to imagine that there is such a thing as natural religion that is acceptable to God. The religion of Christ teaches its possessor self-distrust, but at the same time enables him to grasp the hand of Christ firmly, and still more firmly, as temptations press upon the soul.
There is a warfare in which every soul must engage who would have the crown of life. Inch by inch the overcomer must fight the good fight of faith, using the weapons of God's word. He must meet the foe with, "It is written." He must keep the armory well supplied with, "It is written." In this way he must meet the advances of the enemy, and educate and train the soul for the still more severe attacks of the foe. Truth, the word of God, faith and righteousness, and the hope of salvation, must be the armor of the successful warrior, and his eyes must be anointed to be keen and sensitive to detect the devices of the enemy. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." If God had not made provision by which you might be thoroughly equipped for your warfare with the powers of darkness, then these commands and promises would be but mockery to you, and would tantalize your soul; but our God is true. We may depend upon him under all circumstances. The word of God cannot fail, and in it we are to find our assurance.
By the word of God we are to overcome every temptation of the enemy. Satan may present every attraction, bring to our notice every deceiving, alluring bribe, in seeking to eclipse the brightness of Jesus from our view, and to obliterate from our minds his plainest requirements, but we are to meet his deceptions with the word of God. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."
When the enemy begins to draw away the mind from Jesus, to shut away His mercy, His love, His all-sufficiency, do not devote precious time to the consideration of your feelings, but flee to the word. In the Scriptures Christ is presented as the One by whom God made the worlds. He is the light of the world, and, as the seeker for light studies the word, he finds heavenly illumination. Christ, the all-absorbing theme, is revealed to his soul, and he sees the requirements of God to be of a Christlike character. He studies the conditions on which redemption may be his, sees the divinity of his Saviour, the value of His atonement, the efficacy of the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost; and Christ becomes all and in all to his soul. He sees in the Scriptures that which the casual reader does not see, a significance and value beyond computation. He comes with a teachable spirit to the word, and is instructed by both the Old and New Testaments.
Christ opens the mind to comprehend the meaning of the sacred word, and the Holy Spirit conveys its true significance to the soul, which before had not been seen or appreciated. The searcher for truth feels as did the disciples when Christ overtook them on their journey to Emmaus. They told Him their pitiful story, and He reproved them for their unbelief and slowness of heart. "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." When their eyes were opened, and they realized that it was Christ Himself who had been talking with them, they said one to another, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?"
What do we hope to accomplish by longing to have the whole world converted to Jesus, by believing in His pardoning love, when we do not ourselves believe in His love or find rest in His grace? How can we possibly lead others to a full assurance, to simple, childlike faith in our heavenly Father, when we are measuring and judging our love to Him by our feelings? We cannot be lifted up in thought, or know what it is to be the sons and daughters of God, unless we trust implicitly to the word of God, for Satan will ever be on the ground to dispute our claims. We must educate the soul to trust in God's word with unwavering confidence. Let gratitude and thankfulness flow out of the heart, and cease to hurt the heart of Christ by doubting His love, which has been assured to us by most astounding evidences; for He so loved us as to give His own life for us, that we should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Originally published in The Signs of the Times, December 3, 1894.