Invitation to Confidence
Recently in church I was conversing with a friend who expressed the belief that he would likely be among the lost on judgment day. I did not want to dispute his feelings at the time, but took note to look into this more intently. I realize how many of us struggle with the issue of confidence when it comes to our relationship with God and our salvation. We know that one is not 'saved' permanently simply by repeating some religious phrases or making claims of accepting Jesus as their Savior no matter how sincere we may be. But too often we have gone to the other extreme and supposed that it is wrong to have confidence that we have eternal life right now and do not have to live in fear of being lost.
I know this all too well for I spent a good share of my life living in constant trepidation that God was ever looking for excuses to keep me out of heaven. For years I had something of a competitive thing going on with God where I was trying to eliminate everything from my life that might prevent me from going to heaven while God was up there ever discovering something I had overlooked, some little secret sin in my past by which He could condemn me and cause me to miss out on eternity.
I know, this is a horrible picture of God, but it is what I grew up with even while being told all the while in Sabbath School that Jesus loves me. But I am not alone in the confusion that troubles many hearts as we hear conflicting messages about just how confident we should be allowed to feel. I am now starting to see that the fear of having assurance comes from the demonic doctrine of fear – a belief that fear is a necessary element that must be in the Christian's experience in order to motivate him to correct his ways and avoid evil. It is believed that if people are not kept at least somewhat afraid of God that His love alone will not be sufficient to produce the righteousness that we are sure must be in place in our lives to get us into heaven.
There are variations of this line of reasoning, but the common denominator in all false religion that has infected much of our thinking is this idea of the necessity of fear. But this flies directly in the face of the clear teachings of Jesus and especially His closest friend, John. John explicitly states that perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) So why are we so ready to cling to the notion that we must mingle in a certain percentage of fear into our Christian life to keep us on the straight and narrow? The implications of this belief when fully exposed cast a very dark shadow over God's reputation when we really think about it.
In meditating on this issue this morning I went to the Bible on my computer and looked up all the verses that had the word confidence in them. Of course it only listed the ones in the Bible version that I currently and I am sure there are many more that could be added. But what I did find was a tremendous encouragement to my own heart because I still myself struggle with the residual feelings and subtle fears that still infect in my heart from a lifetime of confusion on this issue. I need much more confidence in Jesus' love for me to empower me to speak and share the truth about His love with far more boldness (and much more kindness) than I do right now.
As I finished up compiling the verses I felt were most helpful and relevant to unpacking this word confidence, I realized that some others might benefit from this research who too are longing for a deeper sense of assurance in their own pursuit of God. So if you happen to be one of those who desires deeply to strengthen your confidence in a secure salvation but are suspicious of the arguments that many use along these lines that make Jesus and the Father appear in tension to each other, then I invite you to take some time and peruse through these verses for yourself before opening the second document that I am sending along with this that has the verses written out in various translations.
Below is a list of references that I strongly suggest you take time to look up yourself and write down your own observations, thoughts and what you feel God is speaking to your heart in each text. I say this because it is far more effective for your own soul if you first give God's Spirit a chance to speak to you directly before you look at what He has spoken to someone else. This will be much more effective if you invite God to open your mind, your heart and your soul so He can share His heart with you through His Word in these passages. My advice is to insist on a time of quietness with firm boundaries to keep out distractions. If you make it a high priority to listen to God's voice in this way, He will be able to minister to your heart much more effectively than if you just rush through this like some religious exercise.
With this list of texts I am going to offer some questions of things to look for in these passages. However, the Spirit may have other questions and thoughts for you that you should not ignore. Give God a chance to inspire more confidence in your own heart, for sadly this is a terribly deficit that has inhibited the children of God for too long. I know – I was raised to believe that having confidence in my salvation was a heresy and that I was supposed to live in fear to keep me in line. So I have spent many years trying to expel that lie from my own heart and to allow God's Spirit to draw me into the peace that this confidence can bring to my soul.
Also, this will work much better if you get out a notepad or computer and journal through this experience while listening carefully for whatever God may impress on your mind while you go through these verses. Don't shortchange yourself of the rich blessings that God is eager to share with you now. And when you have finished I would be enormously blessed and encouraged myself if you might choose to share what happened with me. May God become your confidence and bless you beyond your wildest expectations.
Make a list of specific benefits or advantages that come from having confidence.
Take notes on the dangers of misplaced confidence.
There are more verses about this than what are listed here and you might want to do your own research on this word and similar ones. Remember, because of differences in versions the word confidence may not necessarily show up in each verse you look up, but the concept is there. It may be translated as boldness or assurance at times. I derived this list from the NASB95 version of the Bible.
Isaiah 32:17 What is at least one of the things here that produces confidence
Micah 7:3-7 This can easily be misunderstood if the context is not taken into account. When is it dangerous to be confident? What emotions might strongly tempt us to become confident and trust someone that we will later regret? What does the Bible teach about trust and who to trust?
Acts 4:13 Where did this confidence originate? Is is possible for us today to have this same experience? If so, explain how in very practical terms.
Acts 4:29-31 In the context of this story, why was there such an intense desire for more confidence? And how did God provide it?
2 Corinthians 1:12 What part of our mind needs confidence? What aspects of our life affect this?
2 Corinthians 3:1-6 What is the difference between relying on external versus internals for confidence?
1Timothy 3:13 Does confidence come from church position? What is this verse really saying to you?
Hebrews 3:5-6 What do we urgently need to remember about confidence?
Hebrews 10:19-25 This is one of the most important questions in this list. What is your understanding of the real meaning and implications of the idea of the blood of Jesus? Exactly why do you believe it can create confidence in your heart? Does your belief create any tension in your mind between Jesus and God the Father? If so, is your confidence at least partly for the purpose of protecting you from God's anger toward you because of sin?
Hebrews 10:35 How do you perceive the way God's reward system works?
1 John 2:28 What does confidence help to eliminate? Take time to meditate on John 15 as well here.
1 John 3:18-22 What can sabotage our ability to feel confidence? What can God do about that?
1 John 4:15-19 What is the one central, inescapable requirement for experiencing confidence?
1 John 5:11-15 Is it right to rest assured and confident in God's salvation? Unpack this more thoroughly.
Examine your own heart with honesty. Ask God for conviction through His Spirit and meditate on these following questions sincerely.
Does having confidence mean you will never have doubts?
How much is confidence related to your feelings?
How much can you trust your feelings?
Is confidence a feeling or a cognitive belief?
Can you have true confidence if you never feel confident?
Can your feelings be helpful in analyzing the depth of your belief? Can they help you gauge the level of your belief?
Is confidence only to be strictly an intellectual assent to the truth as we know it cognitively? What might be the results of agreeing with this assertion?
Do we need to experience God's love at a much deeper level than what many are willing to admit or allow that would involve our emotions at least on some occasions?
Can our conscience lie to us about our relationship with God?
When our conscience torments us and confuses us, what can we do to correct and address that problem?
What does God want for us in regards to this idea of confidence? How do you know that?
What have you learned personally from this?
Do you feel any more confidence than you did previously?
What do you intend to do differently, if anything, from what you learned during this time?
After you finish answering these questions you can look over the verses displayed below and meditate on what they can mean to your own heart.
In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. (Proverbs 14:26)
Reverence for the LORD gives confidence and security to a man and his family. (GNB)
In the feare of the Lorde is an assured strength, and his children shall haue hope. (Geneva)
Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble. (Proverbs 25:19)
And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:17)
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. (NIV)
Do not trust in a neighbor; do not have confidence in a friend. From her who lies in your bosom guard your lips. (Micah 7:5)
Do not confide in your friends, and don't put hope in your leaders! Watch out for she who sleeps in your bed; be wary and show nothing to her! (2001)
Do not trust in a neighbor. Do not put confidence in a friend. With the woman lying in your embrace, be careful of the words of your mouth! (NHEBYSE)
Their hands are skilled to do evil; the official and the judge ask for a bribe, and the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. The day of their sentinels, of their punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand. Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household. But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:3-7 NRSV)
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence. (Acts 4:29)
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:29-31 NIV)
For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12)
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace. (NIV)
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:1-6)
For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1Timothy 3:13)
Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house--whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. (Hebrews 3:5-6)
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. (Hebrews 10:35)
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. (1 John 2:28)
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. (1 John 3:18-22)
My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. (1 John 3:18 ERV)
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:15-19 NIV)
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-- whatever we ask-- we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:11-15 NIV)