How Should the Church Address Singleness?
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How Should the Church Address Singleness?

How Being Known Aids Assurance

Posted January 26, 2022
Christian LivingCommunity

Have you ever struggled to feel certain of your salvation? You’ve believed the gospel of salvation in Christ, that he died for the forgiveness of your sins and rose again for your justification (Rom 4:25). Perhaps there was a time of great joy when you first believed. But, for some reason or another, doubt creeps back in now and then. You wonder, am I really saved? We often hear Bible teachers hold up the high standard of holy, Christian living, and when we take a look in the mirror at our own sinfulness compared to God’s holy standard, we’re overwhelmed with guilt and shame. We might wonder whether the Holy Spirit is truly at work in us if we have these struggles. Virtually all Christians wrestle with these doubts at some point in their lives. What should we do when we feel this way?

To begin, we can search the Scriptures for what’s true, asking God to guide us into that truth. Our assurance comes from the objective truth of what God has accomplished for us in Christ. But this truth will sink in more deeply in the context of our local church community. The command in Hebrews 10:25 that we not neglect meeting together is for the purpose of “encouraging one another.” Encouragement is one of the central acts we in the church are to do for one another, especially when we gather each week. Surely, that encouragement includes telling the truth of the gospel of God’s grace to each other for when we doubt ourselves. The simple question, “How was your week?” in the times before or after the Sunday worship service can be the gateway into deeper Christian fellowship and mutual encouragement.

Walk in the Light

However, it can be difficult for others to encourage you if they don’t know your troubles. When someone asks, “How was your week?” you have to be honest for people to be able to encourage you. The apostle John tells us to “walk in the light” and in doing so we’ll have “fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7). If you confess your struggle with assurance and struggle against sin to fellow believers in the church, odds are that you will find you’re not alone. This is just as John went on to say that anyone claiming to be without sin is simply not telling the truth (1 John 1:8). But there’s great news for those who “walk in the light” of honesty before God and the Christian community: “he is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Finding out you aren’t alone can bolster your assurance. It’s true, on the one hand, that each of us is a wretched sinner, undeserving of salvation. But it’s also true that God’s grace is magnified in saving a wretch like me. Our undeserving-ness drowns in God’s abundant grace. The point in finding out you aren’t alone in your struggle is not to minimize sin or say it isn’t that bad. The point is to say that you belong here, in the fellowship of God’s people—a people loved by God though far from perfect, walking in the light of honesty before him and each other. And knowing you belong in the church community helps assure you that you belong to God himself.

Hear and Taste God’s Word

Though fellowship with one another can be a source of deep encouragement, bolstering our assurance, ultimately, only what God says is true of us matters. We know what he says because we have his word, the Bible. As we gather each Sunday to encourage one another, that word from God through a pastor is the most encouraging word of all. He tells us that there is now no condemnation for us (Rom. 8:1), that God has cast our sins into the depths of the sea, as far as east is from west (Micah 7:19, Ps. 103:12). And Jesus himself tells us that no one can snatch his people out of his hand (John 10:28).

When a pastor announces these truths from Scripture, you might still doubt they’re truly for you. Everyone else, maybe, but you? Yes, indeed, for you. The Lord’s Supper is meant to bring this home for you. In the Supper, everyone gets a piece of bread and some wine as if to say there is some for you. There is a place at the table for you. You are part of this family and so you share in this family meal. You belong here to receive the gifts of God. When the Christian community knows you and includes you anyway, you can take heart that God himself is keeping you.

This is why it becomes so important for you to be known not only in the church community but also by your pastor and church leadership. Pastors can use the Supper as a form of church discipline. When the church leaders know a person is persistent in unrepentance, they withhold the Supper from that person, in effect saying this person’s salvation is in question. By his unrepentance they cannot in good conscience say these assurances of salvation are for him. However, importantly, the flip side of this is also true. When the pastor knows you, your sin, and your struggles, and yet gives you the Supper anyway, you can take assurance that God’s promise of salvation is really for you. As surely as you can taste and feel the bread and wine, so surely is God’s saving grace for you.

Dear Christian, seek out your church community to walk in the light together, where you can give and receive encouragement. Worship where you can regularly hear of God’s forgiveness brought to you personally and experience it in the Supper. In this way, being known in the church can strengthen your assurance of salvation.

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Jordan Dahl

Jordan Dahl is an electronics engineer and holds an M.A. in Biblical Studies and Theological Studies from Westminster Seminary California. Originally from North Dakota, he now lives in the San Diego area with his wife, Kendra, and their three children.