Cautions About Signs of Grace

Do not look for spiritual qualifications before trusting Christ for your justification.

First, be careful how you define the marks of grace. On the one hand, do not require such signs of yourself as no Christian has in this life. A true Christian keeps God’s commandments (1 John 3:24), but no Christian ever comes to the point where he may say he has no sin (1 John 1:8). Although he does not hunger and thirst for God as much as he should, he does sincerely hunger and thirst for God. On the other hand, do not make signs of saving grace out of qualities that unbelievers can have.

 

Let me close this series on assurance (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) with some cautions about using the “signs of grace” to gain assurance.

First, be careful how you define the marks of grace. On the one hand, do not require such signs of yourself as no Christian has in this life. A true Christian keeps God’s commandments (1 John 3:24), but no Christian ever comes to the point where he may say he has no sin (1 John 1:8). Although he does not hunger and thirst for God as much as he should, he does sincerely hunger and thirst for God.

On the other hand, do not make signs of saving grace out of qualities that unbelievers can have. Taking the sacraments, having right doctrinal beliefs, and exercising great ability in Christian service may all appear in a person who is not born again.

Second, only test your graces by the true standard, the Word of God. Scripture alone is the light to guide our feet (Ps. 119:105), God’s wisdom to make us wise for salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).

Third, never use the signs in a way that hinders you from receiving and applying Christ for your souls. Rest on Christ alone for reconciliation with God and atonement of your sins. Your graces are but signs of Christ; they are not Christ Himself.

Fourth, do not make signs of salvation into grounds and causes of salvation. We wrong our souls when we take pride in the evidences of God’s grace in our lives and place sinful confidence in the signs. Find comfort in signs but rest in Christ.

Fifth, test yourself with signs only while simultaneously casting out your self-love and self-flattery.

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