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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Blessed Assurance

The hymn, written in 1873 by Fanny J. Crosby, is possibly one of the best-loved of Christian songs.  Certainly, its use at countless Billy Graham Crusades, as large choirs raised their voices under the direction of Cliff Barrows, has ensured its general popularity.  However, it is just a song!

What makes the words of that song special is their being made true in the life of an individual.  Many years ago, a young girl named Maggie worked, 'downstairs', in a large house in the city of Edinburgh.  Sadly, she contracted an incurable illness and realised that she would not have long to live.  Her employers were kind, and kept her on 'light duties', but she knew that, with her sins unforgiven (it was an age when people were aware of their sinfulness!), she was not bound for heaven.

One day, the household staff were informed that some important guests were to be addressed by a certain John Thompson - a former fisherman who now made it his business to witness to the saving power of the Lord Jesus.  Maggie was very happy to hear this news for, she reasoned, she would probably learn the way of salvation from this plain-spoken street preacher.  However, when all had arrived, the servants were dismissed, and the door was shut.

Lingering in the hallway, and allowing her colleagues to go on, Maggie returned to the door and pressed her ear against the keyhole.  The down-to-earth evangelist was sharing the Good News that sinners may, on repentance, freely receive eternal life through faith in Jesus.  The aristocratic audience, however, was little moved, and he saw no positive reaction to his message.

Some months later, John Thompson was asked to visit a young woman who was on her deathbed.  It was Maggie.  She repeated some of his own words : "If anyone puts their own name in the place of the 'whosoever' of John 3:16, they will be saved."  She continued, "The audience in that room, that day, wasn't interested, but I was. I asked the Lord to make me His child, and I felt the burden of sin roll from my heart.  Now I can die with the blessed assurance that heaven lies ahead, because God's 'whosoever' took me in.  His peace and joy now flood my soul.  I thought that you would want to know that I was saved at the keyhole!"

Do you have that same blessed assurance that was Maggie's experience - and the experience of countless millions down through the ages.  Follow her example.  Put your name into John 3:16.  It won't mean that life is suddenly rosy - ask those in the countries in which to confess the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Lord is to invite harassment, persecution, and even death.   But you may be assured of His presence with you, in every situation and circumstance - even if you "walk through the valley of death".  You can face it, as Maggie did, with peace and with joy. 

What God offers by promise, we must take by faith.

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