Monday, January 15, 2007

Assurance in the Ache

We have seen that any genuine claim to assurance of salvation, however small in measure, is impossible without the work of the third Person of the Trinity, whose primary role in the economy of redemption is to “take what is [Christ’s] and declare it to [us],” revealing to us treasure that, without his testimony, “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man” (Jn. 16:14-15; I Cor. 2:9).

As the concept of marturia suggests when correctly understood, this assurance results from Spirit-wrought fiducia and Spirit-interpreted self-examination. Insistence upon the latter is no symptom of legalism, however, for the fact that the reflex act often results in crisis rather than complacency is itself evidence of our semi-eschatological conundrum wherein we, along with creation, groan for the full enjoyment of a redemption that we already partly possess (Eph. 1:7, 14). In this very Abba-confession the Scylla of the “already” meets the Caribdis of the “not yet,” for it is due to the present awareness of our sonship that we can call God “Father,” but it is because this adoption has yet to be consummated that this bold affirmation comes in the form of a fervent cry (Rom. 8:15).

There is assurance in this ache, however, for it is the expectant ache of a journeying son dispossessed “but for a moment” (II Cor. 4:17), yet at the same time a prince and heir of a kingdom that boasts “greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26). It is because “assurance is glory in the bud, the suburbs of paradise,” therefore, that the yearning pilgrim can groan in “the hope that this dirge will not last long, but will soon drown in a song not sung in vain.”