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Theology > Salvation > Work of Salvation > Preservation and Perseverance > Assurance


Assurance is not based on feeling.  It does not arise out of confidence in the decision made by the sinner to believe in Christ and repent of sins, but depends on the promises of God concerning man’s salvation, beginning with the Protoevangelium (see: Protoevangelium). Assurance resides in the confidence of the believer in the faithfulness of God. To the degree that the believer can look to and rest in Christ, to that degree assurance will appear and mature in the believer’s thinking.

Assurance is the inner conviction of the believer in the certainty of salvation. To have assurance is to feel secure.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:22-23).

It is obvious that the assurance is anchored in “He who promised” and the fact that He is “faithful.” This combination appears in other Scriptures:

. . . and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform (Rom. 4:21);

God is not unjust to forget . . . and we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:11-12).

These facts, or truths, of Scripture must be understood and accepted; Paul speaks of the “riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ” (Col. 2:2-3). From one perspective our inner sense of security is related to our “understanding”; and this understanding is related to “the knowledge of the mystery of God".

Assurance is also related to the witness of the Spirit. God’s promises are confirmed by the Spirit’s work in the mind of the believer. Miraculously confirmation of a believer’s standing before God is communicated by the Spirit to the believer; unseen and unknown the Spirit moves in the life bring confidence and a guarantee of the believer’s position before God. Numerous Scriptures teach this:

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 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 (Rom. 8:15-17);

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6);

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance (I Thess. 1:5);

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 (I Jo. 3:24);

By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit (I Jo. 4:13).

Additionally, a dimension of assurance is the sense of personal confirmation, an experiential authentication, that becomes integral to the believer’s experience as the believer observes the change that is taking place in the life. Consider the following Scriptures:

I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day (II Tim. 1:12);

Now by this we know that we know Him (I Jo. 2:3);

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren (I Jo. 3:14);

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself (I Jo. 5:10; see: Jo. 9:25);

These things I have written to you . . . that you may know that you have eternal life (I Jo. 5:13).

Ultimately our assurance is in God, because we do not keep ourselves, we are kept:

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:37-39).

But not all who claim to follow Scripture accept the idea of personal assurance. The following quote exemplifies such:

If anyone says that a man who is born again and justified is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate: let him be anathema (Council of Trent, On Justification, Canon 15).

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