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Tuesday
Dec152009

Theological Term of the Week

assurance of salvation
The believer’s conviction that, by God’s grace, he belongs to Christ, has received full pardon for all sins, and will inherit eternal life.1

  • From scripture:
    ….since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:21-22 ESV)
    Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!  (2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV)
    For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…. (Romans 8:15-17 ESV)
  • From The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647, Chapter 18:

    Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation

    I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation (which hope of theirs shall perish): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.

    II. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.

    III. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it: yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness.

    IV. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

  • From Systematic Theology by Robert L. Dabney, chapter 27:
  • From Living for God’s Glory by Joel Beeke:

    Assurance reveals itself in close fellowship with God, childlike obedience, and an intense longing to glorify Christ in all things. Assured believers view heaven as their home and long for Christ’s returen and their translation to glory. (2 Tim. 4:6-8)

    …Assurance helps the believer persevere, first, by encouraging him to rest on God’s grace in Christ and His promises in the gospel; and second by presenting these as a powerful motive for Christian living. As the Puritan Thomas Goodwin says, assurance “makes a man work for God ten times more than before….[It] causes the heart to be more thankful, and more fruitfully and cheerfully obedient; it perfects love, opens and gives vent to a new stream of godly sorrow, adds new motives, enlarges and encourages the heart in prayer, winds up all graces to a new and higher key and strain, causing a spring tide of all.”

Learn more:

  1. Loraine Boettner: Personal Assurance That One Is Among the Elect
  2. John MacArthur: A Believer’s Assurance: A Practical Guide to Victory over Doubt
  3. Augustus Toplady: Thoughts on the Assurance of Faith
  4. Kevin DeYoung: Assurance in the Reformed Confessions, Part 1 and Part 2
  5. Tom Schreiner: Perseverance and Assurance: A Survey and a Proposal (pdf)
  6. D. A. Carson: Reflections on Assurance (pdf)
  7. S. Lewis Johnson: The Doctrine of Assurance (Read, listen or download)
  8. Joel Beeke: Perseverance and Assurance (mp3)

Related terms:

1From Living for God’s Glory by Joel Beeke

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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