I love questions. I come from a background in journalism, so in a sense, I have made much of the question business. There is an art to asking good questions. In fact I would say that the one who asks good questions in life, will do well in life.
Now a good question can easily become a bad question when it is asked with bad intentions. A good question is always asked in hope of finding truth. A bad question is typically asked in the hope of instilling doubt. Much like Satan in the garden when he asked Eve, "Did God actually say...?" In this instance Satan had no desire to actually use the question for the pursuit of truth, rather he used it for the propagation of doubt. The beauty of a good question, whether it is from your favorite journalist, your co-worker, or your child, is that the one who is asking it desires to find truth at the bottom.
We live in a post-modern era of questioning. The flavor of the day tells us that as we begin to ask questions, we find that there really is no absolute truth. The reality of this philosophy does little to prove our capabilities for intellectual advance, but really just exposes us as people who ask dumb questions. Questions must never be mistaken as answers. As Christians we know full well that truth does exist, in fact Truth came and died on a cross (John 14:6). So if we fail to find truth, it is not because it fails to exist.
As Christ followers, we seek to be a people rooted in truth, and therefore in confidence. The book of Hebrews hammers this theme over and over again: "if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in hope" (Heb 3:6), "if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end" (Heb 3:14), "Let us then with confidence draw near" (Heb 4:16), "Therefore brothers, since we have confidence" (Heb 10:19), "Therefore do not throw away your confidence" (Heb 10:35). Even in taking this one book, we see that the Bible places a premium on confidence. So my question to you is; Where does your confidence lie?
If you had to give a reason today as to why you are a Christian, what would you say? More importantly how do you even know that you are a Christian? I mean you still sin don't you? You still wrestle with the weight of life. You are not perfect. If you struggle with these questions you cannot approach the throne in confidence.
Martin Luther struggled with confidence. In his time as a monk he dreaded God. He was terrified that even through all his monastic duties and rituals he would find himself outside the gates of Heaven. Jonathan Edwards wrote affectionately to his daughter who had moved away saying, "Never give yourself rest, unless you have good evidence that you are converted and become a new creature."
So how do we know? What is the evidence that produces such confidence? As I mentioned before a good question cannot stop with a question, but must find an answer. In order to find the answer we are looking for when it comes to our confidence before God we must take our eyes off of our relationship with Christ, and turn them to Christ's relationship with God.
God exists in perfect love. Perfect trinitarian love. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit hold the record for longest relationship. Since the dawn of eternity they have existed as one in total harmony. Gerald Sittser puts it this way, "God is not love simply because he loves his creation, but because he is love within himself."
I have been blessed with a wonderful and beautiful wife. And I would like to think that Sarah has confidence in my presence. Confidence that I love her and care for her. Confidence that I will look after her and provide for her. She is in essence an extension of me, the Bible refers to married couples as "one flesh." She is confident and comfortable with and around me because she has become a part of me. But there is one person who has even more confidence before me than my wife: myself. I am fully comfortable with myself. Now I may wish I was more athletic, and I may not be comfortable with that pregnancy weight I put on, but I am fully comfortable and at peace with myself. I cannot offend myself. I will not argue with myself, and infact I am quite pleased with myself. Myself is my best friend. Same likes, same dislikes, same person.
Because of the doctrine of the Trinity, when God looks at Jesus he sees himself. The book of John opens with the apostle showing that Jesus (the Word) was with God, and was God, and that "Word" took on flesh (the incarnation of Christ). When Jesus was baptized, and the Spirit descended upon him, God uttered from heaven, "This is my son in whom I am well pleased." God was not pleased with Jesus in the way I will be pleased with my son. God was pleased with Jesus because in seeing his son he saw himself. That is confidence.
When we claim to be a Christian we are claiming to have a faith in Christ as a savior. If this "faith" is indeed sincere, something amazing happens. 1 John 4:15 says, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." Now as far as this is amazing this is also terrifying. This is what drove Martin Luther to near insanity, this reality of a perfect God dwelling in an imperfect sinner. God is holy and righteous, he is a "consuming fire" and he will not tolerate anything which is not also pure. That means that if a sinner were to become occupied by a holy God, the sinner would be consumed and destroyed by God's righteousness.
So how does one play with fire and not get burned? Again we must look at the scriptures. In Romans 6, Paul is describing the transformation that happens with conversion by faith. In Romans 6:6 the picture begins to come together, "We know that our old self was crucified with him (Jesus) in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." This answers one part of the problem: we are not consumed by God, because the death of Christ has purified us from our former sins. But, as is always true for the Christian, it gets better.
In Galatians 2:20 Paul continues to flesh out this ideal, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Christ lives in you. There is no greater scandal. There is no greater beauty. If we believe in our hearts, and confess with our mouths that Christ is Lord (Rom 10:9), the blood of Christ purifies you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and the result is that Christ lives in you!
This is our confidence. If the believer's union with Christ is true (and it is), then there is nothing more secure than the Christian. Nothing can separate the Christian from the love of God because nothing can separate Christ from the love of God. If in Christ you have placed your faith, you are confident before God. Speaking of this Christ/God relationship, J.I. Packer says, "Christian assurance is the knowledge of the content and stability of that relationship [Christ/God] as it applies to oneself." 1 John 3:19-20 says, "By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart..." In Jesus dying on a cross, God secured his people and became greater than the sinning heart through the sacrifice of the sinless lamb.
If we, as Christians have doubt before God, we have a lack of confidence in our Christ. Now there are additional signs which testify to this confidence. Jesus himself says that a good tree bears good fruit (Matt 7:17). A follower of Jesus should look like Jesus in worship and life. John says that "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" (1 John 3:24). We see here it is not the keeping of commands that save us, but rather the keeping of the commands are a sign of our salvation. They are the cart behind the horse. If the fruit of Christ are not present in your life, the question of "Am I saved" should be asked, and the right way to ask that question is: What do I believe about Christ.
Hebrews says that we must "hold our original confidence firm to the end" (Heb 3:14). This also goes to prove that true faith is a persevering faith. Confidence is a commitment to a faith. If you don't have faith to believe that your chair will hold you, you fail to have faith. That is an incomplete confidence and a lack of faith. True faith will have confidence till the end. If we fail to have faith, we never had faith to begin with. Faith in Christ is a lasting faith, a confident faith and a God glorifying faith. So long as we have confidence in the blood of Christ saving our rebellious hearts, that faith is our confidence and our joy as we live in the present in hope of a future. If you are a Christian you are secure because Christ is secure.