Assurance: An Indispensible Work of the Spirit – Not of Christians
Assurance is not our own work, our own achievement by our own hard efforts. Neither is assurance bestowed in recognition of the superior spirituality by which a few children distinguish themselves from the rest of the congregation.
It is an important aspect of the gospel that God not only wills to save all His chosen people, but also wills that all of them be assured of their salvation. Contrary to the Puritan Thomas Brooks, it is one and the same mercy for God to love the soul and to assure the beloved soul of His love. To say it differently, the same mercy that loves His children moves God to cause them to know His love for them, and to know it with certainty.
Willing our assurance, God gives us assurance. He gives this precious grace as a free gift. Assurance is not our own work, our own achievement by our own hard efforts. Neither is assurance bestowed in recognition of the superior spirituality by which a few children distinguish themselves from the rest of the congregation.
God gives us assurance of salvation with the gift of salvation itself. Assurance of salvation is simply an aspect of salvation, and not the least aspect. Assurance is the “experience” of salvation, just as certainty that I am physically alive is the experience of physical life, or certainty that I am the son of my parents is the experience of my sonship, or confidence that I am the husband of this women is the experience of marriage.
Assurance of salvation, therefore, is the expected, normal spiritual condition and state of mind and heart of every regenerated, believing child of God. Assurance is not unusual, extraordinary, or remarkable in the congregation of believers and their children.
To be sure, assurance is wonderful and dear. That I should be assured of eternal life? That I
should be able to cry, “Abba, Father,” as Romans 8:15 expresses our assurance? That I should be as certain that I belong to Christ as I am certain that I belong to my wife? This certainty is cause for daily amazement and gratitude.
But this grace is not restricted to a few specially favored Christians, mostly old. In the church of God, where the sound doctrine of the gospel is purely preached and discipline is administered, there is not a small group of elite members, set apart from the rest of the congregation and exalted on the spiritual pedestal of sitting at the Lord’s Table, by virtue of their distinguishing themselves by obtaining assurance through their hard labors. It is normal that a believer have assurance. Every believer can have, may have, and ought to have assurance. When his spiritual condition is healthy, every believer does have assurance. It is possible that a believer lacks assurance for awhile, but this is the exception. Lack of assurance by a believer is an abnormality, a spiritual disease—a culpable disease—for which there is a remedy.
God gives assurance as the peculiar work of the Spirit of Christ. The Father elected; the Son redeemed; the Spirit assures. To assure us sinners, the other Comforter is necessary (John 14:16).
– David J. Englesma, The Gift of Assurance