Article of the Month
The Assurance of Salvation
I am indeed conscious that we are approaching the study of a subject which is highly controversial. Various and sundry are the positions which have been held by theologians in respect to this subject. Extensively differing are the many sentiments urged and enforced by the leaders of Christendom.
I should like to state that in this study we shall not attempt to prove any position solely by any human experience, neither shall we attempt to disprove any position by any human experience. We shall consider the entire matter in the light of Divine revelation. We shall be concerned with "What saith the Lord?"
Lest I be misunderstood, I shall consider it prudent to qualify what I mean by "true assurance." I understand "true assurance" to be the belief and conviction that one personally has an interest in the Divine favor, and is in a present state of acceptance with God. I realize that some have asserted that "true assurance" is definitely not to be obtained in this life, allowing that persons may only hope they are saved. I realize also that others have said that full assurance is the very essence of saving faith, and that no doubt whatever can exist therewith.
My friends, it is of supreme importance that we know we are forgiven of our sins. Our interest in the matter of our soul's salvation should transcend and supersede all other cares, interests, and concerns. In this matter our interest should be at its apex and summit. Our soul should demand reality and truth. Here we must not trifle or presume. We must not take any man's word in the matter. We must not lean upon the arm of flesh. We must not be filled with the mere natural hope of the creature. We must know: The reason we must know is because we can know. Indeed, we can know as surely we are saved as we know we presently exist.
We cannot doubt that Abel was assured of his acceptance with God. We read concerning him, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts...."(Heb. 11:4). Neither can we doubt that Enoch was also assured. We read concerning him, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Heb. 11:5). We cannot doubt that Noah received assurance of his acceptance. We read concerning him, "....for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation"(Gen. 7:1). We cannot doubt that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were persuaded and assured of the favor of God. We read concerning them, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth"(Heb. 11:13). We cannot doubt that David was sure that Jehovah of Israel was his salvation and portion. We read in Psalm 25:5, "Thou art the God of my salvation." And in Psalm 73:26, "...God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever." We cannot doubt that the old patriarch Job was assured and knew of God's favor toward him. We read in Job 19:25, "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." We cannot doubt that the spouse in Solomon's Song knew assuredly that she was married to the heavenly Bridegroom. We read in Solomon's Song 2:16, "My beloved is mine, and I am his..." We cannot doubt that the great apostle to the Gentiles knew positively that he was an heir of life everlasting. We read his testimony regarding the matter in II Timothy 1:12, .. .For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." We cannot doubt that the disciple whom Jesus loved was assured that he was a son of God. We read in I John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God...."
We surely have found that the testimony of the Holy Scriptures definitely presents conclusive evidence that some have been assured of salvation. Hence, we conclude that it is not necessarily presumption for a person now-a-days to assert, "I know I am a child of the Heavenly King. I am as sure as I am now living that my sins have been forever put away. I am certain that I am saved."
Some would be persuaded that they are the children of God if they could see a vision revealing it to them. Others would be assured if they were to hear a voice speaking to them telling them they are saved. Others would believe they are of the family of God if they could have a dream revealing this unto them. Yet others base their assurance upon their emotions, frames, enlargements in duties and such like. Many people have assurance because they have had a certain type of religious experience. Many avow they have a knowledge of salvation because they have believed the promises of God. Many allege that they are saved because they have made a decision and believed in Christ to the best of their ability. Many attest that they know that all is well with them because they believe that Christ died for them. But, none of the aforementioned is conclusive proof. Any one alone is not to be taken for "true assurance."
1. A Biblical experience of conversion. Anyone who purports to have assurance of the Divine favor who has not known this experience is only presuming upon the grace of God. Such is only fooling himself and fostering his delusion. The work of God in converting sinners is exhibited in I Thess. 1: 4-7. Carefully notice that this is the pattern of all true conversions. "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.. .And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia." Here is what these Thessalonians experienced. They experienced the Word of God coming in power accompanied by the Holy Ghost, producing in them much assurance. When the Word came in power they were in "much affliction," and no doubt over their sins, guilty and miserable. But, when converted to the Lord Jesus Christ, a sweet, calm, peaceful joy filled them. Yes, the joy of a knowledge of sins forgiven. If any person listening to me is seeking assurance of salvation, first, make sure you have had a real, sound, Biblical experience of conversion. No "true assurance" can issue without it.
2. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:16 we read, "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ. He takes the things of Christ and reveals them unto us, causing us to relish, acquiesce, rest, and revel in Him(John 16:14). His indwelling assures us of our acceptance in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6).
Dear soul, do you have both a Biblical experience of grace and the indwelling Holy Spirit which have produced "true assurance in your soul? Make no mistake in the matter:
We are living in a day of many extremes. It appears that religious people go from one extreme to another in regards to assurance of personal salvation. There are those who belittle, decry, and detest those who speak of any true assurance of a personal interest in Christ — calling it presumption. Then on the other hand there are those who claim they never have any doubts, being always possessed with supposed assurance, who belittle, loathe, and abhor those who are filled at times with uncertainties, doubts and disturbances — calling them unbelievers.
This matter of assurance is no small thing. It is certainly important whether one has "true assurance." I do not mean presumption, but spiritual assurance. May I inquire, my listener, have you never had any assurance that you are saved? Have you presently absolutely no assurance that you have an interest in Christ's death? No trace of faint assurance, neither internally or externally? Then scripturally we must conclude that you do not have that God-given faith which rests the heart, calms the soul, and assures the spirit. Candidly, I do tersely state that a measure and degree of assurance is of the very essence of saving faith. Hence, a positive degree of assurance is necessary to salvation (I Thess. 1:5; II Tim. 1:12; Heb. 10: 22). This does not exclude the possibility of doubt, as they can exist together.
John Calvin says, "We shall now have a full definition of faith if we say that it is sure knowledge of the Divine favor founded on the truth of a free promise and revealed to our minds, and sealed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit.. .No man, I say, is a believer but who, trusting to the security of his salvation, confidently triumphs over the devil and death."
John Owen, the great Puritan, says in answer to "What is faith?": "A gracious resting on the free promises of God in Jesus Christ for mercy, with a firm persuasion of heart, that God is a reconciled Father to us in the Son of His love."
Ebenezer Erskine, one of Scotland's marrow men, says, "..In this, that in this faith(which I have been describing) there is a twofold certainty of assurance, viz., of assent and application. The former necessarily supposes a assurance of understanding, or of knowledge, Col. 2:2. The apostle there speaks of the full assurance of understanding, which every believer hath in a greater or lesser measure..."
Edward Fisher, another of Scotland's marrow men, says, "... Therefore, I would have you to close with Christ in the promise, without making any question, whether you are in the faith or no: for there is an assurance, which ariseth from an exercise of faith by a direct act; and that is when a man by faith directly lays hold upon Christ, and concludes assurance from thence."
Samuel Rutherford says, "The assurance of Christ's righteousness, is a direct act of faith, apprehending imputed righteousness; the evidence of our justification — we now speak of the reflect light, not by which we are justified, but by which we know that we are justified."
The Heidelberg Catechism says in answer to, "What is true faith?": "It is not only a certain knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to me in His Word, but also a hearty trust which the Holy Ghost works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits."
The Small Catechism of Ursine says, "Faith is a strong assent by which we accept all that is revealed to us in the Word of God: and a sure confidence created by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God's elect, whereby each one feels assured that, through the merits of Christ alone, remission of sins, righteousness and eternal life are freely given by God..."
The Lambeth Articles of 1595 say, "A man truly faithful, that is, such an one who is endued with a justifying faith, is certain, with the full assurance of faith, of the remission of his sins and of his everlasting salvation by Christ."
In Isaiah 32:17-18 we read, "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." Here the Divine testimony states that the work of righteousness issues in peace, quietness, and assurance. Notice carefully that it does not say that righteousness shall produce these. It is positively set forth that the work of righteousness shall be the cause of these spiritual effects, produced in the soul. This includes the over-all operation and work of God in behalf of the sinner; both externally and internally, objectively and subjectively. Externally and objectively in freely giving His only darling Son whom He brought from His very bosom, sending Him to die as his Substitute, paying the ransom price for his soul. Internally and subjectively in effectually working within the soul, convicting, humiliating, and quickening it into life. Such an operation produces assurance. Also, in I Thess. 1:5 we read, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance... Paul addressed these Thessalonians informing them how to be sure and know their election of God. Some things they had to inwardly experience. They had to hear the Word 2( v. 5). They had to know the power of that Word attended by the Holy Ghost in experience (v. 5). They had to be in a state of much affliction (v. 6). They also had to have much assurance. Not just some assurance, but much assurance (v. 5), affirming that a real Divine work in the soul will produce and result in much assurance. Not necessarily full assurance, but as indicated, much assurance. They also had to know that the Holy Ghost had filled them with joy (6). Thus we have the pattern of God's work in us when He saves us. When Christ is given to a poor unworthy, ill deserving sinner, will not there break upon the soul a flood-tide of joy? Yea, even "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Pet. 1:8) Does this not cast out slavish fear gloomy despair? ". . . Perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment. . " (I John 4:18: Rom. 8:15 also).
In Heb. 11:6 we read, "But without faith it
is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe
that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Instrumentally, a person is justified by faith (Rom 5:1). This presupposes
and establishes a measure of real assurance. True faith rests, reposes
and commits all to Christ (II Tim. 1:12). It carries the us out of ourselves
into the assurance of the benefits of Christ's death and mediation for
us particularly. A lack of this inward testimony reveals that we are
yet in a natural state. Hence, such could not possibly have that assurance
which those in Christ possess. How about yourself, my immortal hearer?
What speakest thou? What does thy inward testimony inform thee?
It certainly seems that we are living in a day when there is much religious profession. Almost everything in religion has its counterfeit and imitation. There is no exception with respect to "true assurance." "True assurance" has its counterfeit, yet a real counterfeit-namely, "false assurance." In the closing days of this age Satan has all his forces mustered and in league with him to deceive the souls of the sons of men. Yea, he even transforms himself into an angel of light in order to deceive and delude and finally destroy us (II Cor. 11:14).
How vividly Agur described our present generation when he prophetically revealed nearly three thousand years ago, "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness"(Prov. 30:12).
The Apostle Paul clearly taught that passing from death unto life; being translated from the kingdom of darkness into Christ's kingdom of light, and turning to God from idols are perceptible realities. Language has not lost its significance. Such could not transpire imperceptibly. Furthermore, he explicitly informed the Thessalonians that they had experienced things that were necessary for all those to experience who would believe in Macedonia and Achaia. He said, and we read, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples (examples) to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia" (I Thess. 1:5-7). Certainly, by no stretch of the imagination could this occur imperceptibly. Such descriptive language of a true work of grace being brought about in the heart necessitates knowledge, awareness and perception.
I believe there are many people in the world who try methods of working at the prodigious task of securing and retaining assurance who are convinced deep down in their hearts that there is a basic, primitive, and fundamental experience alluded to in the Word of God which they have never had. They are aware that there are statements commonly and repeatedly made in the New Testament altogether more basic, and more advanced than they have ever had. My friends, let us not be found presuming in the matter of our soul's salvation. Let us not attempt to assure ourselves when we are doing it to our own destruction. False assurance is infinitely worse than no assurance.
Many professors in these days have not a proper foundation for "true assurance." They have followed the natural rather than the Divine method of obtaining assurance. They have completely overlooked God's inflexible order whereby He brings sinners to Himself. The chain of order is no stronger than its weakest link. The weakest link is usually the very outset of the religious course. We should ask ourselves, how did ours begin? The foundation and cornerstone of "true assurance" are laid by invisible hands and in a Divine and unerring order. The order is revealed in I Samuel 2: 6-8, "The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dung hill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory...." Relegate the natural order to the scrap heap, and cast it even to the dunghill. Here the Divine order marches forth gloriously arrayed and elegantly attired with the garments of unerring wisdom, and an unmistakable proper sequence. He "bringeth down to the grave" before He "bringeth up." He "maketh poor" before He "maketh rich." He "bringeth low" before He "lifteth up." Do our experiences attest to this truth? Did the Lord slay and kill us with the law or did we escape and avoid His killing work? Did He bring us down to the grave even nigh unto death, feeling His wrath upon our naked souls, or do we just fancy ourselves being brought up to a state of grace without this being brought down to the grave? Have we been made poor in spirit by the arrows of justice and judgment prior to thinking ourselves rich? Have we been brought low into hell before being lifted up? Have our souls been overturned and placed into the dust by a great and mighty powerful conviction of sin and unbelief? Let us be doubly cautious that we have not carelessly overlooked the necessary order. Without an experience of this most vitally necessary order there can be no real scriptural basis for "true assurance." All assurance without it is false and spurious. A proper experience is vital.
There are many who believe they are saved who do find pleasure and satisfaction in sin. Such are described by John Bunyan's "Mr. Facing Both Ways." Having a profession of Christianity while at the same time finding pleasure and delight in sin, either by the lust for sin, or by committing the acts — maybe both.! Anyone who professes to have assurance while he finds enjoyment in sin is only deceiving himself. His assurance is at its best not more than presumption. It is that false assurance which will keep one on the road to perdition. We read, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new"(II Cor. 5:17). Also, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him"(I John 2:15).
When one declines in religious affections and begins to omit the duties imposed upon true Christians and yet maintains he knows beyond any doubt that he is saved, he possesses false assurance. There is absolutely no doubt about it. The person who maintains assurance while his conscience testifies to him that he is habitually declining in religious affections, and living in habitual neglect of known duty or in the indulgence of actual sin, is only fooling himself.
There are many people who call themselves Christians
who seldom, if ever enjoy prayer and communion with God, and can live
in open neglect of drawing nigh to God in the secret chamber and basking
in the sunlight of His solemn and awe-inspiring presence. But such will
inform you that they know they are forgiven of their sins. Perhaps they
also neglect, shun, and despise the holy exercises to which a professed
Christian should give himself on the Lord's Day. Perhaps they do not
esteem one day above the others! Perhaps they take advantage of all
the days of the week and use them for selfish ends and personal interests.
They perhaps do not read and study the Holy Scriptures in that they
find things more important and more needful to do. Such would state
they do not have time for such things. But, I am convinced that they
find the time to do the things they esteem most highly. Yea, the things
they want to do. Such persons may possess assurance. But, it is doubtlessly
false assurance. It is that vain presumption which will lull the soul
to sleep and cause it to slumber in death until the last minute of life.
Perhaps all of the real children of God at one time or another have not only entertained, but have been exercised with doubts concerning their acceptance with Him I sincerely believe that all the family of God have at one time since their conversion questioned the reality of a good state. Someone has said, "He that never doubteth his state, may do so, but when it's too late."
I do not want to be misunderstood. As I pointed out in another message I do believe that some assurance is of the essence of saving faith. In other words, when a sinner is given faith to lay hold of Christ as his, he goes out of himself into Christ (Gal. 2:20; 3:26-27). Such we may call the recumbency of faith. Certainly, the immediate reflexive act of this saving faith inevitably and spontaneously produces assurance (I Thess. 1:5). When the sinner is spiritually and vitally connected to Christ as the branch to the living vine, immediately he receives sustentation, life, and liberty. He has now entered into a holy oneness with Christ. Unquestionably, this experience begets assurance of reconciliation with God by the death of His Son.
Now, as long as this faith is in exercise his assurance does not subside. But due to the weakness of the flesh and fickleness of the heart this faith at times may become faint and the strong consolation and assurance may begin to abate. Hence, many doubts may arise and invade the soul, harass the mind, and distress the heart. Doubts and uncertainties do not necessarily forfeit all assurance, but some assurance. Strong assurance may even yet be coexistent with doubt.
There have been many great men of God who have been invaded by doubts and troubled by this subtle enemy. Even those who were the strongest in faith have been sporadic doubters. At times they have thought to themselves,"Tis a point I long to know, oft it causes me anxious thought, do I love the Lord or no; am I His or am I not?"
Abraham was a friend of God and the father of the faithful; a man who believed God and became righteous before Him. But, he became weak in faith and began to doubt and fear. Concerning this we read in Gen. 15:8, "And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" The Lord God had promised him that He would give him the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession(Gen. 13:12-17; 17:8). That He would make his seed as the dust of the earth and as the stars of the heavens, both of which are innumerable. But Abraham began to question and doubt his interest in that which God had promised him. This occasioned his asking the Lord, "..Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?"
The great patriarch Job, a man of faith, suffering and patience, became weak in faith and hope. Because of his afflictions and troubles he thought that even God had turned against him and began to oppose him. He doubted the faithfulness of Jehovah. We read his complaint in Job 30:19-21, "He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not. Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposeth thyself against me."
David, the man after God's heart said in his haste when being pursued by Saul (I Sam. 23:25-26), and in a state of confusion, distress and anxiety, "For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes..."(Psa. 31:22). This great man was in a very bad frame at this time. He had been reduced to the utmost extremity, and his faith was at a very low ebb. He felt that he was a branch cut off ready to be cast into the fire. He viewed himself as one cut off from the house of God, and communion with Him for evermore. He literally felt that his God did no longer care for him, since he was cast by providence far from Him.
The great prophet Jeremiah, musing upon the awful destruction of Jerusalem and the carrying away of Zion into captivity in Babylon distressingly said, "He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places.. .He hath hedged me about, that l cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. He hath in- closed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. .And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord" (Lam. 3:2-10,18). Here we observe the old warrior's faith had been sorely tried and greatly reduced. He doubtlessly began to doubt the veracity and faithfulness of God.
The prophet Jonah when cast into the sea and swallowed by the great fish became almost faithless and uttered, "....I am cast out of thy sight...." (Jonah 2:4). Fears and alarms began to seize upon this poor man's soul while in the darkness of the deep, enclosed by the impenetrable walls of the belly of the fish. Now, thought he, I am completely cast out of the sight of my God. He cannot help me, for my circumstances are too great and impregnable. He now had lost the exercise of faith. Hence, he must give way to doubts and uncertainties.
The holy Zacharias when informed by the angel that Elizabeth would bear him a son who would be great in the sight of the Lord hesitatingly stated, ..... whereby shall I know this?"(Luke 1:18). His faith became weak with respect to the faithfulness of God in the matter of giving him a son. He succumbed to doubt even though God had sent an angelic messenger to reveal and confirm the message.
John the Baptist who had baptized and introduced Christ at the beginning of His public ministry, who had seen the heavens open and the Spirit descending upon Him as a dove, who had heard the voice of God say, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased," who had viewed His miraculous works, sent disciples to our Lord to ask, ".. .Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" The place where these doubts came was a prison. He was put into prison by Herod and here his faith became small and weak.
Others we could point out who were exercised with doubt, but time will not permit.
I honestly believe those unto whom Christ has experimentally arisen with the healing of salvation in His wings will always have some assurance of acceptance with the Father. If assurance is of the very essence of saving faith then some assurance, even though faint and logically imperceptible, must always be in existence. The root of saving faith is always subsisting in our being, so there must be some assurance present. The bride in Solomon's Song even under the trying times of extreme desertion always spoke of the Bridegroom (Christ) as hers. Her language is "...Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" (Sol. Song 3:3). "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine..." (Sol. Song 6:3). The Apostle Paul spoke to the Corinthian saints attesting this truth, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair" (II Cor. 4:8). He does not forbid perplexities, but he does despair. That is the loss of all hope and assurance. He knew the real family of God could not lose all hope and assurance. If they should, they then would be unable to prevent despair. But never are the real children of light in despair about their future happiness. How about yourself, my soul? Are you now in dark despair? You need Christ! If you only knew Him!>
Assurance will assist us in all duties; it will arm us against all temptations; it will answer all objections; it will sustain us in all conditions. —Edward Reynolds
A common cause of the absence of assurance is, slothfulness about growth in grace. I suspect many true believers hold dangerous and unscriptural views on this point; I do not of course mean intentionally, but they do hold them. Many appear to think that, once converted, they have little more to attend to, and that a state of salvation is a kind of easy chair, in which they may just sit still, lie back, and be happy. They seem to fancy that grace is given them that they may enjoy it, and they forget that it is given, like a talent, to be used, employed, and improved. Such persons lose sight of the many direct injunctions "to Increase — to grow — to abound more and more — to add to our faith," and the like; and in this little-doing condition, this sitting-still state of mind, I never marvel that they miss assurance. —J. C. Ryle
We cannot come amiss to him that hath assurance. God is his. Hath he lost a friend? — his Father lives Hath he lost an only child?--God hath given him His only Son. Hath he scarcity of bread? — God hath given him the finest of the wheat, the bread of life. Are his comforts, gone? — he hath a Comforter. Doth he meet with storms? — he knows where to put in for harbor. God is his Portion, and heaven is his haven. —Thomas Watson. 1662.
These were Baxter's words on his death-bed: "I bless God that I have a well-grounded assurance of my eternal happiness, and great peace and comfort within." Towards the close he was asked how he did. The answer was, "Almost well." —1691
Assurance will make a man fervent, constant, and abundant in the work of the Lord. When the assured Christian hath done one work, he is calling out for another. —What is next, Lord, says the assured soul, what is next? An assured Christian will put his hand to any work, he will put his neck in any yoke for Christ — he never thinks he hath done enough, he always thinks he had done too little; and when he that done all he can, he sits down, saying, I am an unprofitable servant. —Thomas Brooks
A lazy Christian shall always want (lack) four things: comfort, content, confidence, and assurance. God hath made a separation between joy and idleness, between assurance and laziness; and, therefore, it is impossible for thee to bring these together that God hath put so far asunder. — Thomas Brooks
That which breeds so much perplexity is, that we would invert God's order. "If I knew," my some, "that the promise belonged to me, and Christ was a Savior to me, I could believe": that is to say, I would first see and the believe. But the true method is just the contrary. "I had fainted," says David, "unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord." He believed it first, and saw it afterwards. —Leighton
Whenever God pardons sin, He subdues it, Micah 7:19. Then is the condemning power of sin taken away, when the commanding power of it is taken away. If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince hath pardoned him? If a jailer come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he may know he is pardoned; so, how shall we know God hath pardoned us? If the fetters of sin be broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God, this is a blessed sign we are pardoned. —Thomas Watson
Another sure mark of sensible faith and comfort is this; that they that have tasted of it, can never be satisfied, but still hunger and labour for more. —Ezekiel Culverwell
Some are afraid they have no faith at all, because they have not the highest degree of faith, which is full assurance, or because they want the comfort which others attain to, even joy unspeakable and full of glory. But for the rolling of this stone out of the way, we must remember there are several degrees of faith. It is possible thou mayest have faith, though not the highest degree of faith, and so joy in the Spirit. This is rather a point of faith than faith itself. It is indeed rather a living by sense than a living by faith, when we are cheered up with continual cordials. A stronger faith is required to live upon God without comfort, than when God shines in on our spirit with abundance of joy. — Matthew Lawrence, 1657
There is no reason why weak believers should conclude
against themselves. Weak faith unites as really with Christ as strong
faith — as the least bud in the vine is drawing sap and life from the
root, no less than the strongest branch. Weak believers therefore, have
abundant cause to be thankful; and while they reach after growth in
grace, ought not to overlook what they have already received."
If we are so full of unbelief that we do not believe
the Bible — that it does teach full assurance and spiritual knowledge;
if we lack so much in diligence and respect for the Word of God that
we will not search to see that God does indeed give or reward assurance,
then it is very unlikely that we will be blessed with full assurance.
Indeed, with such unbelief we cannot. God is "a rewarder of them
that diligently seek Him." (Heb. 11:6)
I'm not ashamed to own my Lord,
Or to defend His cause,
Maintain the honor of His Word,
The glory of His cross.
Jesus, My God! I know His name,
His name is all my trust;
Nor will He put my soul to shame,
Nor let my hope be lost.
Firm as His throne His promise stands,
This article was taken from the booklet, "The Assurance of Salvation" by William R. Crews and published by Free Grace Publications, P.O. Box 629, Luray, Virginia 22835.
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