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The Work of the Spirit in Assurance

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The Work of the Spirit in Assurance

The work of the Spirit in assurance

But the authority of the Spirit does not end there. It is the Holy Spirit alone who finally can give us an unshakable assurance of salvation. Now this subject of the assurance of salvation is a very important one, and one, it seems to me, which is very frequently misunderstood. There are three main ways in which assurance comes to us, but often in these days, unfortunately, only the first one is stressed. The first is that which is to be obtained by believing and applying to ourselves the bare word of the Scripture as the authoritative word of God. It tells us that ‘he that believeth on him is not condemned’. There is God’s word, we believe it and rest upon it.

Yet that is only the first way assurance may come to us. Indeed, that alone can sometimes be dangerous. It can be a kind of ‘believism’. A man can say that for his own peace of mind and for his own purposes. We accept that, but alone it is not enough. We need something further, which is the second ground of assurance. The First Epistle of John provides us with certain criteria. John says that there are certain tests of spiritual life.

  1. ‘We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.’
  2. We know again that we have passed from death unto life because we no longer find the commandments of the Lord to be grievous. They are a delight to us. And there are other tests.
  3. We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. We are aware of the Spirit working in us.
  5. We examine ourselves to see if any of the Spirit’s fruit is being manifested in us. If we find these things, we can be assured that we are born again. Life must always manifest itself. The life in the tree produces the apples or pears or peaches. Life is bound to show itself, and if you find any signs or evidences of life, that is the guarantee that there is the presence of life. That is a much safer form of assurance than the first, which was entirely objective. This is subjective also.

There is yet, however, a further form of assurance. It is the highest and most certain of all. The apostle Paul expresses it in Romans viii. 15-17: ‘For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.’

This is not a form of assurance that I may deduce from the Scriptures, or from evidences which I find in myself. Here is a direct witness of the Spirit; the Spirit Himself beareth witness with my spirit. It is possible for us to have the first two grounds of assurance without having this third. Here is something that the Spirit Himself alone can give us. It is He alone who can speak with a final authority which gives me certitude with regard to my being a child of God, a certitude as great, or greater indeed, as my certainty with regard to anything else in life. Such a fact is constantly asserted by the saints throughout the centuries. They declare that the Holy Spirit made them so certain of the reality and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and His love for them, that they were more certain of that than of any other fact whatsoever.

The same truth is put in other forms elsewhere. In 2 Corinthians i. 22 we find it like this, ‘Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.’ In Ephesians i. 13, 14 it is put in this form: ‘In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.’ You will notice that the same word is used as was used concerning our Lord at His baptism — ‘sealed’. Here then is the final assurance of salvation, and only the authority of the Holy Spirit can give us this.


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