Kind of an interesting dynamic as I was working my way through my reading plan this morning. I’m finding that every year I read Isaiah I think it’s becoming clearer and I’m understanding more. Especially as I get into the latter part of the prophet . . . the promises of God’s unfinished work with the tribes of Jacob founded on nothing other than who He is and what He has purposed. His majesty evermore majestic . . . His redemption evermore wondrous . . . His promises evermore sure.
Then I’m in Luke, and Jesus is on the cross. And beside Him, a contrite criminal humbling asking, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus answers with surety, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). And I find that I’m not questioning Jesus response . . . whether in terms of the thief deserving such a glorious end or in Jesus’ ability to deliver on it. Instead, my mind goes to that moment after death when a hardened fugitive is transported into a garden of unimaginable pleasure somehow at the side of His glorified Savior.
And then the awareness and wonder of the dynamic hits me as I’m reading in Hebrews.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
(Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV)
How can I read the writings of an ancient prophet so confident of its future fulfillment? How can I read a deathbed story of a perpetual loser and really think that he ends up in heaven? How do these words on paper — these stories “just written by men” — ring out as such solid truth that I would bet my life on it?
Full assurance of faith!
That’s the operative dynamic at play as I read these words on the paper and know, beyond a shadow of doubt, they are God-breathed and are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2Tim. 3:16) . . . faith. Not some airy-fairy, I-wish-I-may-I-wish-I-might grasping at feel good sentiments, but rock solid, make it the foundation of your life faith that leads us, by the Spirit of God, into His holy presence.
A faith not of my own intelligence, not of my own imagination, not of my own doing, but a faith that is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8) — one of the many gifts that accompanies salvation. I didn’t set out to be “a believer.” But the faith that was gifted me to realize my need for a Savior is the faith which, by grace, has grown to become a full assurance of faith. A faith that is active as I read the Scriptures. A faith that is integrated within my decision making. A faith that allows me to live life here and now in the greater context of the there and then.
The full assurance of faith. The most certain confidence that comes through believing. A dynamic I can so often take for granted. But one which, the Spirit prompting me to pause and reflect on, is in itself a reason for amazement and a source of awe and wonder.
Entering the holy places by the blood of Jesus . . . passing through the curtain with confidence . . . not doubting the reality of a great High Priest who intercedes on my behalf . . . drawing near with hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, bodies washed with pure water. Believing the ancient prophets. Rejoicing with a thief in paradise. All in full assurance of faith.
All because of grace. All for His unending glory.