To try and answer her concerns, the preacher quoted 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love." He then asked her,
" Do you know what that means? "
She paused for a moment, and then replied,
"I suppose it means that when I love God perfectly, I shall get rid of my doubts and fears "
“Yes, certainly you will,” he replied “but that will not be until you arrive in glory. This verse is about Jesus, not about what you are supposed to do. It is about what He has done!”
The dear lady’s face took on a look of entire astonishment. The evangelist then continued,
“Just look at the verse through gospel eyes. Think of God's love instead of your own. Our verse says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” It is His love, Christ’s love, that is perfect, not yours. Your love will never be perfect until you are face to face with the Master in glory.”
He then continued, “But think of the perfect love expressed when Christ came to die for us and consider that that His love is still flowing from glory. Believe this and enjoy life. Believe and apply the gospel and your fear of the future Judgment will be banished."
It was quite a new thought for her, and she learned to look at this verse from a finished work, gospel viewpoint.
To enjoy being saved we need to learn the forgetfulness of self. We need to know we are not the center of the gospel. In fact, the gospel is not about us, it’s about the Lord Jesus Christ, His perfections and accomplishments. We of course are the beneficiaries of the gospel, but the gospel is not about our doing and dying. It’s about His. We will never enjoy assurance if we continually look inward. We might as well look for warmth in the Arctic Circle as investigate our hearts to find the perfect love of God.
But think of God's great love to you in the gospel; believe it; take Him at His word about the finished work and you will have peace with Him (Romans 5:1). and you will enjoy the Holy Ghost shed abroad in your heart (Romans 5:5). For the believer, Judgment is not a future event; it is past (see Isaiah 53:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
We have no acceptable righteousness of our own, but we have been given the very righteousness of Christ. He has been judged instead of us. If you believe this, you will enjoy being saved and will spend much less time in Doubting Castle.
The more we grow in our appreciation and love for the gospel the less we know anything of the continual fear of the Judgment Day. The more Christ’s perfect love for us is grasped, the more fear is thrust and hurled away.
And that’s the Gospel Truth!