Faith & Assurance

January 24, 2011

By Phillip M. Way

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, faith, this deep abiding trust in Christ, gives substance to a reality for which we hope. We believe that the Word of God is true and that God meant what He said, and we take Him at His Word, having His Word give actual substance to our hopes. Faith makes our hope a tangible reality.

The Scriptures are clear then that faith affects behavior, or another way to put it, faith works. It comes out in the way we think, speak, and live. Faith opens the door to understanding and to wisdom. Faith has as its object the Person of Jesus Christ. Faith is the instrument in our justification, and faith is necessary for successful Christian living on a daily basis.

Where does faith come from?

Faith is a gift from God given through the hearing of the Word applied by the power of the Holy Spirit as He produces spiritual fruit in our lives. (Rom 10:17)

Beyond that now, having faith in Jesus Christ brings assurance of our salvation. Because we take Christ at His Word, because true active saving faith works its way out in the way we live, because faith opens our understanding and is a condition of our justification and the forgiveness of our sins, because of all this faith ultimately ushers in assurance.

But what about doubts?

Have you ever doubted that you were saved? Have you ever wondered why you sin so much? Have you ever thought about why it seems God is close at times and far off at others? Have you wavered in your trust? The answer for all of this is assurance. Let’s define assurance and then see how it is that faith gives us assurance.

Assurance Defined

Assurance carries with it the idea that we can reach a point in our Christian walk where we have confidence in the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls. We can be sure that we have been given eternal life in Jesus Christ.

To be sure this assurance is not a product of our own hearts, nor is it a confidence in the works of our flesh or our own righteousness. It is a confidence that comes from faith in Christ, trusting Him to save us. It is believing that Christ has done what He has said He would do. It is an extension of faith. It is saying, “I believe that Jesus has saved me and will keep me.”

Do we believe what God has said? Do we know and hear His voice and follow Him? Do we have a deep seated peace, a calm in the midst of life’s storms, that God is in control and watching over us and accomplishing His purposes for our good and His glory? This is assurance.

The Holy Spirit gives us this hope and this confidence. Part of what He does in our lives is sustaining our faith and giving us confidence in the work and Word of God. Let us read a few verses together that show the role the Spirit fulfills in giving us assurance.

These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:26-27

Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1 John 3:24

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Hebrews 11:13

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:16-17

So we see that the Holy Spirit of God gives us assurance as we continue to trust God and His Word. As we walk by faith we have confidence in what God has done for us and will do through us as we are yielded to Him. Now let us examine the fruit of assurance – what does assurance give us in our daily lives?

Assurance Applied

Because we trust Christ and are assured of our salvation we have confidence in the saving power of God and we are able to be full of rejoicing. The word rejoice means to be full of joy, full to overflowing. Do we rejoice? Assurance leads directly to rejoicing. We know what God has done, we trust He will bring us safely through to glorification, we await His return, and we rejoice always.

This is a command, to rejoice and give thanks, and it is possible for us to obey this command because of the work of the Spirit. We trust God, we are assured of His promises, and we have cause for overflowing joy.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

Further, beyond rejoicing in the finished work of Christ and our hope in His salvation, we also see that assurance aids us in gaining victory over temptation. Because we trust the power of God and the ability of the Spirit to keep us we have strength to stand against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Next time we are tempted, remember that Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins. If He made such a sacrifice for us to free us from sin, how difficult is it to stand firm on His truth, reject the temptation for what it is – a counterfeit that will lead only to death – and to overcome?

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4

We also find that as we are assured, as we have confidence in our sovereign Lord, we have courage and boldness in fighting the good fight and being a witness of the saving power of God. Do you think of yourself as bold and courageous? And yet the Spirit gives us boldness and courage as we trust God’s Word and see to obey it.

Courage is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Boldness is “fearlessness before danger.” Do we not see these very things produced in the lives of the disciples after the Day of Pentecost. As they received the Holy Spirit they were mighty in boldness and courage, often being persecuted, beaten, and threatened for their faith and preaching, and yet they never stopped. They never toned it down. They kept on preaching and obeying God. Why? Because they trusted that God was able to protect and provide for them and walk with them through the trials and suffering. The had faith that produced assurance.

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:14

The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:21

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech. 2 Cor 3:12

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. Eph 3:8-13

One more fruit of assurance is that of faithfulness. When we have faith, when we trust God and take Him at His Word, that produces in us a confidence in Him as our Savior and that confidence in the saving and sanctifying power of God helps us to be even more faithful. The Spirit produces this fruit in us as we have studied, and as we have faith we get more faith. In fact, Paul tells us in Romans 1:17 that “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” That phrase “from faith to faith” means that faith leads to faith. It is an ever growing fruit, compounding and multiplying. Faith leads to faith which leads to more faith. As we trust God and find Him more trustworthy we have that much more faith. We are faithful because God is faithful and we have more and more reasons to love Him and trust Him the longer we serve Him.

For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not. Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. Romans 3:3-4

Do you have assurance? Are you sure you know Christ? Do you have confidence in the power of God, in His Word, and in His ability to forgive your sins? If you waver, if you doubt, if you struggle with assurance, then go to the Word. As your faith grows so will your assurance. Remember, assurance is not about your ability to live the Christian life, it is about God’s ability to keep His Word. Can God lie? Can He fail? No. That is the source of our assurance. Take your eyes off of yourself and look to Christ. Trust Him and rest assured, He is able to save you and keep you. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. “He who promised is faithful and will do it.”

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