What if my nation changes for the worse?
What if those in government become tyranical?
What if my employer goes bankrupt?
What if I lose my friends and loved ones?
What if my health fails?
What if my financial security collapses?
I could go on and on…
And these are real concerns.
In the previous article we spoke about how soundness of theology should logically lead to a healthy soul, or mental/psychological health. It is by the right relationship with the Creator and Savior of the soul that anyone, whatever circumstances, can truthfully say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”.
Some, sadly, who are truly justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, and therefore saved by God’s grace and Christ’s finished work of redemption do not enter into that soul health because they are looking in the wrong place for their assurance.
If we look at our circumstances for our assurance, maybe, when things are good, our faith will be strong. We will say “God is good”. When things are not so good, we don’t know what to think.
In the second verse of “It is Well with my Soul” by Horatio Spafford, he wrote about where he was looking for his hope. How could he say that it was well with his soul when his world fell apart?
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
Does Satan buffet? What does that mean anyway?
The apostle Paul spoke to the Corinthians about a messenger of Satan sent to buffet him:
2 Corinthians 12:7 — “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
Notice that there was a reason for this messenger of Satan, and from the context we can see that the Lord is the one that sent it. How this played out in the “angelic realm” is not clear, and it does not have to be. The Lord allowed Paul to live with a thorn in the flesh. We are not really told what it was, and we really do not have to be told. What we do know is that this buffeting by Satan was adversity that Paul had to deal with, and the answer that the Lord gave him was “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So a messenger of Satan buffeted Paul, or beat him down. Do we get beat down? You bet we do! The Lord allowed his apostle to be beaten down, and we should not be surprised if he would allow us to be beaten down as well. But it does not take an act of the evil one to beat us down. Life can beat us down without any supernatural intervention. In fact, most, dare I say, nearly all of the trials of this life are not due to “Satanic attack” or “spiritual warfare”, but because “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22).
How do we, as Christians, deal with this? The next three lines of the verse show how good doctrine matters.
“Let this blest assurance control”
What blest assurance?
This is where “the rubber meets the road” and we have to ask what it is into which we have placed our faith. If we look for assurance in our circumstances, our assurance will change. I was told once by a manager that I worked for this:
“No matter how good, or how bad things are, they will change.”
Now, his intention was for me to not get a new job, but that is beside the point. That is a true statement. Things will change and our circumstances will change. What is more, there will come a time in every life that, save for the blessed hope of the Lord Jesus’ catching us away (commonly known as “the rapture”, 1 Thessalonians 4:17), that we will eventually leave the land of the living<sup>1</sup>. This is not to be “morbid” but to state facts. The best of circumstances should not give us hope, and neither should the worst of circumstances take it, because our hope is this:
“That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul!”
In that, I can say, “It is well with my soul”.
A sound soteriology, or doctrine of salvation is the key to a sound soul, or the Greek word that is translated soul, “psyche”.
This assurance is not found in examining myself and seeing if I am acting as a Christian, as so many will teach. That assurance is based on me and what I am doing. If I look to myself for assurance, it will only be as good as my performance. Is it any wonder that so many will deny “eternal security”, or will not believe that once Christ has saved us, He will not “unsave” us?
While maybe they truly trusted in Christ and His finished work on the cross for salvation, but now they are looking at their own performance to really, ultimately save them. But that is not the gospel. Assurance does not lie in me making myself better, or in not sinning, or in becoming “more like Jesus”, or anything that we try to accomplish. Assurance lies in facts, that as the hymn writer said, that Christ shed His own blood for me. That is the greatness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Son of God died for me. Not when I was savable, but at my worst.
Romans 5:8–11 — “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
That is assurance, and that will save a “psyche” from the buffeting of Satan and trials of life; not changing the circumstances, but reminding us of the object of our faith:
Hebrews 13:8 — “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
If we look to ourselves, depression, dejection, anxiety, and lack of assurance are the natural outcomes. Let us rather “Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and have real assurance:
Colossians 3:1–4 —“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
- A quote attributed to John Newton as his last words: “I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon.”
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.