In broad doctrinal terms, ‘assurance’ is the confidence that a right relationship exists between the believer and the Lord. That is not to say that assurance is the same thing as eternal security.
Eternal security is a fact as a consequence of God’s faithfulness whether that fact is realized by the believer or not. Assurance is what one believes to be true respecting himself at any given time.
One’s assurance may well rest on one's own personal righteousness. Where one sees oneself’s standing with God is a source of either great comfort or great apprehension. The Prophet Isaiah writes:
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” (Isaiah 32:7)
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” (Colossians 2:2)
“And we desire that every one of you do shew th
e same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:” (Hebrews 6:11)
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Assurance, resting on true faith, a true hope, a true understanding and imputed righteousness, is that quality that permits a believer to say without hesitation or fear of contradiction, “I know that I am saved.”
But salvation does not come from assurance and assurance doesn’t necessarily come with salvation. I know lots of folks of whom I am more certain they are saved than they are.
They know in Whom they have put their faith. . .
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: 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.” (2nd Timothy 1:12)
But they just can’t fully believe that He is able.
As we see from the Scriptures and from our own experience, assurance is based on two things: the Word of God and that experience. The inward witness of the Holy Spirit is a definite Christian experience.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)
That still, small voice that you hear is the Holy Spirit. Then there is that physical thrill that sometimes goes through you when you are praying or singing hymns or giving Him praise. I often think of it as a spiritual ‘hug’ to lift me up and keep me going.
But it’s actually His Spirit bearing witness to my spirit that everything is ok between us.
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son.”
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son.” (1st John 5:9-10)
Our assurance is based on the reality of God. It is one thing to know of God and quite another to know God. Knowledge of God is something everybody has, whether or not they care to acknowledge it. But knowing God is something that takes place within the human heart.
The person whose assurance is weak can take comfort from the knowledge that if they weren’t saved, they wouldn’t be worried about it.
The reality of prayer is another place where one can be reassured. The Scriptures say to “pray without ceasing” – if I am awake and thinking, I’m probably praying. Not because I am some spiritual giant, but because I can’t help myself.
I don’t have to start to pray – I’m in constant mental contact, whether I intend to be or not. “Wow, Lord! Did You see that?” Or something good happens, and my first thought is, “Thank You, Lord.”
You can take assurance from your hunger for the Word of God. Even when you are feeling like the low-down worthless sinner that you know that you are, you can find assurance in His Word – but the real assurance is to be found in the fact you’re looking there.
You can take assurance from that new sense of kinship. To be born of God is to be part of the family and household of God. Anytime I need a little assurance, I need go no further than our OL fellowship forums.
The Apostle John presents this as a test of the reality of our relationship and the certainty of our blessed assurance:
“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1st John 3:10,14)
Our assurance is promised in the Word of God. “Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out,” Jesus promised.
If you don’t have that sense of assurance, then the most obvious cure is to hit your knees and make sure you’ve got your business straight with God. But your salvation isn’t based on your faithfulness. It is based on God’s faithfulness.
He is faithful to keep His Word. He will not cast out any that come to Him. Feelings and experience have their place – but the crowning evidence of one’s salvation is not how one feels about it.
The crowning evidence is the truthfulness of God. The Word of God is our title deed to eternal life.
“He that hath the Son hath life.” (John 5:12)
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1st Peter 1:5)