Christian Friend, vol. 8, 1881, p. 221.
My Dear -, You say that you want the assurance that God has spoken to you individually, and that without this you cannot have peace. You admit that you are a guilty, undone sinner, and that there is no Saviour but Christ, and that He is abundantly able to save you; but, in addition to this, you feel that you must have the conviction that God invites you personally before you are justified in expecting His saving power put forth on your behalf. This, I gather from your friend's letter, is a fair statement of your case.
Permit me then to point out the serious mistake — but not an uncommon one — into which you have fallen, and one which, if persisted in, cannot fail, through the subtlety of Satan, to rob you of all enjoyment of the knowledge of salvation. The fact is, God does not testify to sinners in this way. The testimony He renders is to CHRIST, His own beloved Son, and His testimony is to the completeness and the efficacy of His finished work on the cross. He tells you indeed that you have sinned and come short of His glory, and that it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment (Rom. 3:23; Heb. 9:27); and thereon He proclaims that a work has been accomplished, on the foundation of which He is able righteously to save every one that comes to Him in the name of Christ. The question therefore you have to ask yourself is, Do you believe God's testimony to Christ? But it is possible that you may ask for the character of this testimony. The grand testimony God has rendered to Christ is His resurrection from the dead; and hence the prominence which this fact obtains in the apostolic preaching. Take an example or two. "Him," said Peter to the Jews, "hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." (Acts 5:31.) "If Christ is not raised," said Paul, "your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." (1 Cor. 15:17.) Again, "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:25.) God thus set His seal upon the work of Christ in raising Him out of death; and in glorifying Him at His own right hand, He declares in His word, not only that all His claims upon the sinner have been met by the perfect efficacy of the sacrifice on the cross, but also that He has been so glorified in that death, that He can, in perfect consistency with all that He is — in harmony with all His attributes — and indeed with glory to Himself, save every poor sinner who receives His testimony to the death and resurrection of Christ.
But you may perhaps reply, How do I know that this testimony is addressed to me? Again, I must remind you, this is to miss the point. The testimony is concerning Christ; but the message of the gospel is to you, and to all who will hear. Nothing can be more evident. "Preach the gospel," said our Lord to His disciples, "to every creature." (Mark 16:15.) "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.) "There is no difference … for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Rom. 10:11-13.) With such Scriptures it is impossible for the utmost ingenuity of unbelief to contend that any single soul on the face of the earth has not sufficient warrant for faith. If you, however, still say that you are not sure of being included, I would once more very affectionately remind you that your attention is directed to yourself instead of to Christ. It is Christ that fills the eye of God, and it is with Christ that His testimony is concerned, and as soon as you look away from yourself to Christ, and receive His message concerning Christ, all your difficulties will disappear.
Having said this, I may now point out another thing. You have been wanting the conviction that God has spoken to you. This you cannot have until you receive His testimony. Receive it, and you will know immediately that He has both spoken to you and made you the object of His love. "He that hath received His testimony hath set to His seal that God is true." (John 3: 33.) "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son." To know therefore you must believe, and believing you will be able joyfully to say, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." (Gal. 2: 20.)
Believe me, dear -,
Yours affectionately in Christ, E. D.