There was a young man in our congregation years ago who went off to a university renowned for sport. It was not his subject, but he found every opportunity to excel in his chosen game, and I can imagine that he put all his vigour, pace and expertise into it. But being home during a vacation he confessed to me, “I am a complete failure in the Christian life. I just do not get anywhere. I have not accomplished anything. Where do I start?”
I replied along these lines: Spiritually, it is as if you have gone on to the field of play, the whistle has blown and everything has burst into action, with players rushing about all around you. But you have remained stock still. You are just standing, while team mates shout at you — “Get on with it! Do this, do that.” People also shout at you from the touchline. But you just stand there, thinking to yourself, most strangely — “Was I picked for this team? Am I even here? Is this really happening?”
This would never happen in the real world on the field of play. It would be bizarre. But it is precisely what sometimes happens in the spiritual life. Am I really called? Am I truly converted? Am I in this family of God’s people? And while we muse, we remain motionless. The most profound advice we can give is what is shouted from the other players—“Get on with it!” Start living the Christian life. Exercise your faith; trust the Lord, read your Bible, pray to him. Put as much effort into the Christian race as you would on any physical field of play.
Discipline yourself; set aside the time for devotions; be determined; ask the Lord for help; give up any pursuit that obstructs your spiritual commitments; never skip worship and study of the Word; repent of foolishness and wrong habits or pursuits; rededicate your life with a solemn vow to the Lord. Your problem is doubts, but alongside these is spiritual inertia.
Here are the encouragements of the apostle John, the signs of spiritual life. Do you have light? Do you believe with all your heart in a perfect God, a holy, sinless, wonderful, unchangeable God? Are you unreservedly convicted of your sinfulness? Do you have a bond with the family of God? Have you seen through the world? Do you have a new burden for doing good? Then you should say:
|Jesus, all-atoning Lamb,
Thine, and only Thine, I am:
Take my body, spirit, soul;
Only Thou possess the whole.
|My gracious Lord, I own Thy right
To every service I can pay,
And call it my supreme delight
To hear Thy dictates and obey.
Get on with the Christian life, dear friend. Your assignment is to trust your Saviour and exercise faith. You must not deny him your praise and thanksgiving for all that he has done for you. You are in the family, the marks are on your heart. So live, now, as a believer. Come inside the house, the kingdom. Do not stand on the outside, but believe and act as a Christian should.
|O, let my life be given,
My years for Thee be spent,
World-fetters all be riven,
And joy with suffering blent:
Thou gav’st Thyself for me;
I give myself to Thee!
I would not give the world my heart,
O not for Thee my weak desires,
|O grant me in my golden time,
A zealous servant’s part;
For Thee the glory of my prime,
The fulness of my heart!
Our souls and bodies we resign
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
Lay hold on the promises of God wherever you see them in Scripture. Doubts are attacks of the devil. You should have
expected them. Believe only what God says in his Word. When Satan attacks, tell him you believe your Lord, and shut him out. Pledge yourself anew to Christ and take a stand for him. This is how we must deal with temptations to doubt our salvation.