June 7, 2016

The Woman Who Needed to Simply Believe

by Jordan Standridge

Do you struggle with lack of assurance of salvation?

child faithPerhaps you’ve wrestled with this issue for some time, and have never come to a place where you were satisfied. So many times we complicate the matter and forget that Jesus said, Matthew 18:3 “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Of course let me say at the outset that I deny the idea that you can simply say a prayer and be saved. Lordship salvation is the only type of salvation and there are no other kinds. If we say that we are Christians but have no love for Him, no love for His people, and no love for his Word, the Bible would call us liars and say that the truth is not in us. In this case, lack of assurance would be warranted. Repentance is a necessary component of the Gospel, because when we truly believe we will repent. But there is a sense in which we overcomplicate the Gospel pretty regularly. And those who are saved are the ones who constantly doubt, and those who should be worried, sleep like babies at night.

The Bible is pretty straight-forward when it comes to salvation. We must simply believe the Gospel. We must trust the Christ we find in Scripture and follow Him. Understanding the simplicity of the Gospel is key, not only in our own life, but also in our evangelism. The doctrine of conversion is not something you can reason somebody to, it is a heart transformation where God opens the eyes of a soul, and causes him to see the beauty of Christ (2 Cor 4:6). He then stops following the course of this world (Eph 2:3) and takes up his cross and follows Jesus (Matt 16:24).

Some people have a hard-time grasping the simplicity of the Gospel. They think that it can’t simply be that easy. Simply believe? But what about works? What about all the sin I have done? As I was thinking about this, I ran across a story out of the book, Speeches By C. H. Spurgeon: At Home And Abroad. In this book we have a quote by Spurgeon detailing an encounter he had with a woman who had asked him to pray for her since she wouldn’t believe the Gospel.

I was telling the friends here on Sunday night how I served one lady, who may probably be present now. She had come twice to speak to me about her soul, and I said to her, on the second occasion, “I have told you plainly the way of salvation, namely, that you are to trust your soul in his hands, and commit yourself to him, resting in the blood of his atonement. Have you done that?” She said, “No”, and asked whether I would pray for her. I said, “No, — distinctly not”. She looked at me with spurgeon_preachingastonishment, and said, “Will you not pray for me?” “No,” I said, “I have nothing for which to pray for you. I have set the way of salvation so plainly before you that if you will not have it you will be lost, and if you will have it you will be saved now. I have nothing further to say to you, but in God’s name to set before you life or death.” Still she said, “Do pray for me!” “No,” I said, “would you have me ask God to save you without your believing? Oh, you deserve to be damned if you will not believe — doubly so. Would you have me ask God to shape his gospel so as to let you in as an exception? I do not see why he should. His plan of salvation is so simple that you must come to it; and if you won’t come to it, I am not going to ask God anything, for I do not see anything that is wanted from him. I ask you this — ‘Will you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?’” I put it very plainly, and I was rather surprised, I must confess, when the sister said, very deliberately, “If it be so, then, that salvation will come to me by believing, I do believe what the Scripture says concerning Christ; and, moreover, I feel that I can trust myself with him, because he is God, and he has offered a sufficient sacrifice; and I do trust myself with him,” said she, “just now; and I feel such a strange peace stealing over me at this very moment. I have trusted, him. I am certain that I am saved!” And in a moment she said to me: “Good evening, sir; there are other people waiting to see you,” and away she went, like a commonsense woman as she was.

And just like that, this woman walked away converted. There was no need to pray for her, she had no need for a priest, or a man to mediate for her. She just needed to trust the Gospel like a child.

Spurgeon consistently prayed for people’s salvation, but he felt that at least in this case, this particular woman wasn’t grasping the simplicity of the Gospel. She was complicating the matter, and couldn’t believe that it came down to simple belief.

Salvation is a completely supernatural action. One that God does to us. No one believed that more than Spurgeon and yet he consistently called people to simply believe the truth of Scripture, knowing that unbelief and suppression of truth was completely man’s responsibility.

We too must not only simply believe and trust in Jesus ourselves, but we must call others to believe God, and put their trust in Him.

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
  • Dan Sudfeld

    Thank you for this. Very helpful. And thank for sharing that nugget from Spurgeon. That’s a keeper.

  • 4Commencefiring4

    If we line up the numerous statements in the Bible regarding those who are saved, we can become quite perplexed at just what must be true of us to say with 100% certainty that we are saved. Sometimes, it sounds like nearly no one will be saved (narrow is the gate); other times it sounds like one must be nearly livid at God–or dismiss His very existence–not to be.

    One one hand, it is the one who endures to the end who will be saved, yet he who is not against us is for us. Unless you hate your father and mother, you cannot be His disciple; yet the thief on the cross simply said, “Remember me” and he was saved. The one who turns from his righteousness and commits sin shall surely die, the one who does the opposite shall live, yet by works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, but those who do all manner of good works in His name He will declare He never knew, and still we are judged by the things which are written in the books according to our deeds. He who commits sin is a slave of it, and yet that which is born of God cannot sin. Where are we? Where am I?

    Yes, there is reason to be confused, but not lost. In light of some of them, I feel at times I’ve deceived myself. Other verses, however, are reassuring that salvation is once for all, irrevocable, and mine for the asking–freely given. Yesterday I was defeated; today, there was victory. Yet it was always the same me.

    Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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  • elainebitt

    Thank you for writing this Jordan!