Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. …And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
- Romans 5:1-2, 5
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
- Romans 14:17
so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
- Colossians 1:10-11
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
- Proverbs 4:18
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
- Ephesians 3:16-18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen
- 2 Peter 3:18
I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.
- Jeremiah 32:40
hey went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
- 1 John 2:19, 27
There is a reference in the Shorter Catechism in all the editions that I can find of Revelation 14:21. Since Revelation 14 ends with verse 20, I am at a loss as to what this biblical proof might be. If someone knows what the “divines” meant, please let me know. Note: The catechism is not God-breathed, it just explains what God inspired the writers to write in question-answer form. Thus, a typo does not constitute an error in the Bible, just in the Shorter Catechism’s biblical proofs.
who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
- 1 Peter 1:5
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.
- 1 John 5:13
“Q. 35. What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
“A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification (Rom. 5:1-2, 5), are assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17), increase of grace, perseverance in it to the end. (Prov. 4:18, 1 John 5:13, 1 Pet. 1:5).”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Catechism (Scripture proofs in bold above)
“Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
“A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification are: assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.”
- The Shorter Catechism (Westminster Assembly)
The Larger Catechism diverges at this point, focusing on such aspects as “repentance unto life”, the differences between justification and sanctification (which get blurred in the writings of Oswald Chambers in my opinion), and why sanctification is imperfect until we pass to the next life. The wording in the Spurgeon and Shorter Catechisms differs a little, not substantially, and the Shorter Catechism uses a lot more biblical references, including a confusing, non-existent one that I noted above.
As many pastors preach, there are earthly benefits, at least benefits available now, that are given to each Christian. They may not, and probably will not, put money in your pocket or food on the table, but they are tangible when you totally surrender and trust that God will take care of you.
The assurance of God’s love is available. As my wife suffered with Shingles, which affected her ability to sit in a hard chair for four hours while having kidney dialysis, she asked if God loved her or hated her. We had a long discussion about suffering and how the act of suffering is not that joyful, but our reaction to that suffering should be. At that moment, I doubt if she listened. The pain was excruciating.
We have a peace of conscience, or at least we should. In talking to a faithful Catholic friend of mine, he said, “You know you are a good little Catholic boy if you feel guilt and shame, even when you can’t think of anything to confess before the priest.” No, no, a thousand times, NO! We have an assurance that once we confess our sins, God has forgotten that sin. I am not bashing the Catholics, just this long-standing “tradition.” We should repent and not commit that sin again, but otherwise, we should not mope around in a cloud of guilt. God forgave us, and we should forgive ourselves.
I heard a sermonette on “The Joy of the Holy Spirit” and I am not sure if the pastor who gave it understood his own answer. Yes, we are to be joyful. Yes, we are to rely on, and be guided by, the Holy Spirit, but I think this is referring to being joyful and comforted that the Holy Spirit is within us and guiding us – not two separate concepts.
But that same sermonette did a great job of explaining “increase in grace.” We are afforded God’s Grace when we are saved, but we are commanded not to stay as babes, on mother’s milk. We are expected to grow in the faith so that God can use us in this world. The term may be misdirected within the definitions, but as we grow closer to Jesus and more like Jesus, our faith grows stronger. Thus, they have coined the phrase “increase in grace” to explain that.
And then perseverance from this point forward until the end. Our sanctification is imperfect until we are with Jesus in heaven. Thus, we have to persevere that without even considering we must persevere through a fallen world with secular enticements at every turn. Keeping our eyes on Jesus sometimes gets harder and harder. It only gets easier when we have actually succeeded, when we have persevered.
And now let us sing.
The following song, In the Garden is sung by Anne Murray.
“I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing
I stayed in the garden with Him
Though the night all around me is falling
But He bids me go, through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling”
- C. Austin Miles, In the Garden
We need You. Please guide us. And I say that knowing that You do. Glory and all Glories to You, Precious Lord. We can and we do realize Your presence with us here on this mortal coil. You make Yourself known to us every day, and we can become ever more assured of Your love as we experience the increase in grace.
In thy Name we pray.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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