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"Abraham staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform" Romans 4:20,21.
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth. Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him" 1 John 3:18,19.
"And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He bath given us" 1 John 3:24.
Every child of God needs the assurance of faith--the full certainty of faith--that the Lord has received him and made him His child. The Holy Scriptures always speak to Christians as those who know that they are redeemed and as those who know they are now children of God and have received eternal life.1 How can a child love or serve his father while he is uncertain whether his father will really acknowledge him as a child? We have already spoken on this point in a previous chapter--but often, by ignorance or distrust, a Christian again comes into darkness. For this reason, we will now deal with it once again with a set purpose.
Scripture names three things by which we have our certainty. First, there is faith in the Word. After that, there are works. And then, in and with both of these, there is the Holy Spirit.
First, faith in the Word. Abraham is to us the great example of faith and of the assurance of faith. And what then says the Scripture about the certainty that he had? He was fully assured that what God had promised He was also able to perform. His expectation was only from God, and what God had promised. He relied upon God to do what He had said. The promise of God was for him his only, but sufficient, assurance of faith.2
There are many young Christians who think that faith in the Word is not sufficient to give full assurance. They would gladly have something more. They imagine that assurance--a sure inward feeling or conviction--is what is given above or outside of faith. This is wrong. As I have need of nothing more than the word of a trustworthy man to give me complete certainty, so must the Word of God be my assurance. People err because they seek something in themselves and in their feeling. No, the whole of salvation comes from God. The soul must not be occupied with itself or its work, but with God. He who forgets himself to hear what God says, and to rely on His promise as something worthy of credit, has the fullest assurance of faith.3 He does not doubt the promises but is strong in faith. He gives God the glory and is fully assured that what was promised, God is also able to perform.
Then the Scripture also names works--by unfeigned love we will assure our hearts.4 Carefully observe this--assurance by faith in the promise, without works, comes first. The godless man who receives grace knows this only from the Word. But then, later on, assurance is to follow from works. "By works was faith made perfect" (James 2:22).5 The tree is planted in faith, without fruits. But when the time of fruit arrives, and no fruit appears, then I may doubt. At the outset, the more clearly I hold the assurance of faith on the Word alone--without works--the more certainly works will follow.
And both assurance by faith and by works come by the Spirit. A child of God has the heavenly certification that he is the Lord's.6 This comes, not by the Word alone, and not by works as something that he does himself, but by the Word as the instrument of the Spirit and by works as the fruit of the Spirit.
Let us believe in Jesus as our life and abide in Him, and assurance of faith will never be lacking in us.
Father, teach me to find my assurance of faith in a life with You, in a cordial reliance upon Your promises, and in cordial obedience to Your commands. Let Your Holy Spirit also witness with my spirit that I am a child of God. Amen.