Some people have only a kind of environmental faith. They have “oozed” into Christianity, having been brought up to know about Jesus and the Bible but they’ve never personally entered into a relationship with him. Just as you can study about marriage without being married, so you can study all about Christianity without being a Christian. Christianity, like marriage, is a relationship. The first step to reality may be to put this book down right now and say ‘Jesus Christ, I ask you to come into my life. Move in as a living person. Take over the center of my life’.
Others have been truly born again, but seem unassuaged of their relationship to God. A primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is to create this kind of assurance. As Paul wrote, “You did not receive a spirit which makes you a slave again to fear but…the Spirit who makes you sons…The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom 8:15,16).
Ruth Graham, Billy’s wife, was brought up in China as the daughter of a medical missionary. From childhood she knew the Gospel but failed to grasp that it was personally for her. One day while reading Isaiah, the Holy Spirit led her to personalize the words she was reading. She read Isaiah 53 like this: “He was wounded for Ruth’s transgressions, he was bruised for Ruth’s iniquities…and with his stripes Ruth is healed.” The same Holy Spirit who brought Ruth Graham personal assurance can also convince you that you are no longer a stranger to God, nor even his slave, but one chosen to be his son or daughter.
From Good News is For Sharing (revised edition 2017)