Every Christian struggles on occasion to experience the full assurance of salvation that God promises to his saints in scripture.
This study was taught during the month of November 2012 at the Spring Green Community Library as we gathered to strengthen our assurance together through prayer, study, and fellowship.
Strengthening our Assurance – The Objective Means
1. According to scripture, Christians may have assurance of their election, justification, and final perseverance (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, Romans 8:1, Philippians 1:3-6).
2. One of the greatest hindrances to attaining such assurance is focusing more on ourselves than on the sufficiency of Christ (e.g., Romans 7:14-24).
3. The first step toward strong assurance is simply this: Looking away from self and fixing our eyes upon the Author and Finisher of salvation (Hebrews 12:2).
4. We call this an “objective means” of assurance because it is based on God’s immutable promises rather than our personal emotions and experiences (Hebrews 6:17-20).
Strengthening our Assurance – The Subjective Means
1. While not infallible like the “objective means”, we can strengthen our assurance through the “subjective means” of self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).
2. Jesus made clear the fact that individual professions of faith can be confirmed or denied based on external and observable fruits (Matthew 7:15-23, Mark 4:3-8).
3. It is therefore appropriate to reason thus with ourselves: “If true faith yields fruit, and I see fruit in my life, then I must have true faith.” (i.e., syllogismus practicus)
4. Scripture helps us to engage in productive self-examination by identifying the fruits we should be finding (e.g., 1 John 2:29, 3:9, 3:14, 5:1-3, 5:4, 5:18, etc.).
Strengthening our Assurance – The Experiential Means
1. While the Father has ordained our salvation, and the Son has obtained it, it is the work of the Spirit to apply it on an experiential level (Ephesians 1:3-14).
2. The chief work of the Spirit in strengething our assurance is testifying to the “objective means” of assurance: Christ’s sufficiency as revealed in the Word (John 15:26, 16:13-15).
3. The Spirit also strengthens our assurance through the “subjective means” by producing in us internal and experiential fruits of salvation (Galatians 5:22-23).
4. On an even more “experiential” level, the Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we truly are the children of our heavenly “Abba” (Romans 8:15-17, Galatians 4:6).