How do you know you truly believed?

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MichaelGao

Puritan Board Freshman
I know couple of people (including myself) that often goes through times when we doubt IF we are IN Christ and how to know if you're IN or OUt..
At core, I think its a christian assurance issue, right?

This is what I've concluded so far:
Our guaranteed perseverance to glory is founded on the fact that we are of the elect of God predestined to be adopted in Christ and redeemed.
And the way we know we are "In Christ"/chosen/born of God etc...is if we show forth fruits. And the first fruit/gift is faith (which also produces other fruits). (Am I correct so far?)

When christians go through times of trial and even severe weakness in sins, we often cannot seemingly find any fruit in our lives. And we might even question if the fruits we thought we had were genuine fruits at all.
For example...did I really repent? Did i really love God? Did I really serve out of love and for His glory? etc.

Now, when no other fruits can be found, faith is our last resort for assurance. Namely saving faith - "Christ saves sinners, whoever believes in Christ is saved. I believed thus i must be saved."

Now here is the difficulty --> But how do you know if you have truly believed? (without going to seek other fruits such as works - since that test failed)

Because the heart is deceitful, alot of people think they have believed, but probably havent. It may in the end be sort of an intellectual assent instead of true faith.

Are we stuck with the option that a person without works cannot attain assurance even though he be truly saved? Ie..if there is no evidence for the faith, then there is no assurance that its genuine.

Or is there a way to encourage stumbling christians that their faith indeed is genuine even though if the evidences aren't proving it. Does this have to do with the Witness of the Spirit or the Seal of the Spirit..I'm not sure I understand what that is.

This has been a big obstacle for me both intellectually to understand and spiritually to find peace with...and its even bigger when I have to deal with others who so little exhibits signs of regeneration. Please help.

Sorry if this seems to be a very obscure question. Seems almost contradictory now that I read it, its hard to express. But you guys are smart enough to figure out what Im saying :D
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
My pastor taught a series on assurance, and he noted four main standards of assurance:

1. Am I trusting in Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation?
2. Do I bear fruits in keeping with being a new creature in Christ?
3. Do I have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that God is my Father?
4. Am I persevering in the way?

You can listen to the series here:

Self Examination
4 Standards
Walking in the Light
Evangelical Law Keeping
The Love of the World
The Love of the World, Part 2
Doctrinal Integrity
Do I Love The Brethren?
Do We Love God?
An Issue of Speech
Sins Of The Tongue
Godly use of our speech
Dying to Self
Witness of the Holy Spirit in Our Lives
Look to Christ!

And...how can a person without any works (note I didn't say perfect works) have true faith, per James 2?
 

MichaelGao

Puritan Board Freshman
Ok. Maybe not having no works at all. But more of having none that is conclusive in itself. For example, I may do good works, but that doesn't necessarily mean they proceed from faith. I could be doing them for other subconscious motives like pride or self-righteousness...etc
Maybe I should've asked how to tell if fruits of faith are genuine fruits..
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I have found the WLC to do a bang great job on this topic.
Westminster Larger Catechism - The PuritanBoard

Q. 79. May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace?
A. True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God,342 and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance,343 their inseparable union with Christ,344 his continual intercession for them,345 and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them,346 can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace,347 but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.348

Q. 80. Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto salvation?
A. Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavour to walk in all good conscience before him,349 may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of life are made,350 and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God,351 be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation.352

Q. 81. Are all true believers at all times assured of their present being in the estate of grace, and that they shall be saved?
A. Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of faith,353 true believers may wait long before they obtain it;354 and, after the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and intermitted, through manifold distempers, sins, temptations, and desertions;355 yet they are never left without such a presence and support of the Spirit of God as keeps them from sinking into utter despair.356

Also check out the notes on this topic.

Also if you can get a copy of Joe Morecraft III book vl. 3
AuthenticChristianity
An Exposition of the Theology
and Ethics of the
Westminster Larger Catechism

He does a great job on Assurance on these questions.

Maybe you can barrow it from a Library somewhere.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Now, when no other fruits can be found, faith is our last resort for assurance. Namely saving faith - "Christ saves sinners, whoever believes in Christ is saved. I believed thus i must be saved."

Now here is the difficulty --> But how do you know if you have truly believed? (without going to seek other fruits such as works - since that test failed)

Because the heart is deceitful, alot of people think they have believed, but probably havent. It may in the end be sort of an intellectual assent instead of true faith.

First of all, I don't think faith should be the test of last resort. And secondly, checking for faith is less helpful in times of doubt than exercising faith - believing in Christ. Instead of worrying about whether you did repent or believe on May 20th, 1999, believe now; renounce your own righteousness now; look to Christ now. Those who come to him, he never casts out. Faith grows stronger through exercise, so the first step and the main thing is always to trust Christ, to depend wholly on Him. Sometimes we look to our faith for assurance; but Christ is our life, we find everything in Him, including assurance.

Walter Marshall has advice for this situation:

You must therefore endeavour to continue and go on in the same right manner as I have taught you to begin this great work of believing in Christ, that your faith may be of the same nature from the beginning to the end, though it increase in degrees, for our faith is imperfect and joined with much unbelief in this world and we have need to pray still, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief' (Mark 9:24), and therefore we have need to strive for more faith, that we may receive Christ in greater perfection. If you find that your faith has produced good works, you should thereby increase your confidence in Christ, for salvation by His mere grace. But take heed of changing the nature of your faith, from trusting on the grace and merits of Christ, to trusting on your own works, according to the popish doctrine 'that our first justification is by grace and faith only, but our second justification is only by works'.
Beware also of trusting on faith itself, as a work of righteousness, instead of trusting on Christ by faith. If you do not find that your believing in such a right manner as I have described does produce such fruits of holiness as you desire, you ought not to diminish, but rather to increase your confidence in Christ, knowing that the weakness of your faith hinders its fruitfulness. And the greater your confidence is concerning the love of God to you in Christ, the greater will be your love to God and to His service. If you fall into any gross sin, after the work is begun in you, as David and Peter did, think not that you must cast away your confidence and expect nothing but wrath from God and Christ, and that you must refuse to be comforted by the grace of Christ, at least for some time; for thus you would be the more weak, and prone to fall into other sins; but rather strive to believe more confidently that you have 'an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous', and that 'He is the propitiation for our sins' (1 John 2:1,2). And let not the guilt of sin stay at all upon your conscience, but wash it away with all speed in the fountain of Christ's blood, which is opened for us, that it may be ready for our use on all such incident occasions; that so you may be humbled for your sins in a gospel way, and may hate your own sinfulness, and be sorry for it with godly sorrow, out of love to God. Peter might have been ruined for ever by denying Christ, as Judas was by betraying Him, if Peter's faith had not been upheld by the prayer of Christ (Luke 22: 31,32).
If a cloud be cast over all your qualifications, so that you can see no grace at all in yourselves, yet still trust on Him that justifies the ungodly, and came to seek and to save them that are lost. If God seems to deal with you as an enemy, bringing on you some horrible affliction, as He did upon Job, beware of condemning your faith and its fruits, as if they were not acceptable to God, but rather say, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him; but I will maintain mine own ways before Him' (Job 13:15). Strive to keep and to increase faith by faith, that is, by acting faith frequently, by trusting on God to keep and to increase it, 'being confident, that He which has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ' (Phil. 1:6).
(The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Direction XI, emphasis added)

So does Edward Fisher:
Neophytus: But, sir, I pray you, let me ask you one question more touching this point; and that is, suppose that hereafter I should see no outward evidences, and question whether I had ever any true inward evidences, and so whether ever I did truly believe or no, what must I do then?
Evangelista: Indeed it is possible you may come to such a condition; and therefore you do well to provide beforehand for it. Now then, if ever it shall please the Lord to give you over to such a condition, first, let me warn you to take heed of forcing and constraining yourself to yield obedience to God's commandments, to the end you may so get an evidence of faith again, or a ground to lay your believing, that you have believed, upon; and so forcibly to hasten your assurance before the time: for although this be not to turn quite back to the covenant of works (for that you shall never do) yet it is to turn aside towards that covenant as Abraham did, who, after that he had long waited for the promised seed, though he was before justified by believing the free promise, yet, for the more speedy satisfying of his faith, he turned aside to go in to Hagar, who was, as you have heard, a type of the covenant of works. So that you see, this is not the right way; but the right way for you, in this case, to get your assurance again, is, when all other things fail, to look to Christ; that is, go to the word and promise, and leave off and cease awhile to reason about the truth of your faith; and set your heart on work to believe, as if you had never yet done it; saying in your heart, Well, Satan, suppose my faith has not been true hitherto, yet now will I begin to endeavour after a true faith; and therefore, O Lord, here I cast myself upon thy mercy afresh, for in thee the fatherless find mercy (Hosea 14:3). Thus, I say, hold to the word; go not away, but keep you here, and you shall bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:15).
(The Marrow of Modern Divinity)
Let me add Thomas Boston's note to the above quote:
This forcing one's self to yield obedience, which the author warns Christians against, when they have lost sight of their evidences, and would fain recover them, is by pressing to yield obedience, without believing, till once by their obedience they have recovered the evidence of their having faith. To advise a Christian to beware of taking this course, in this case, is not to favour laxness, but to guard him against beginning his work at the wrong end, and so labouring in vain; for obeying, indeed, must still spring from believing, since "without faith it is impossible to please God," (Heb. 11:6). And "whatsoever is not of faith, is sin," (Rom. 14:23). The following advice sets the matter in full light.

Thomas Goodwin also addresses the topic:
I have by long experience observed many holy and precious souls, who have clearly and wholly given up themselves to Christ, to be saved by him in his own way, and who at their first conversion (as also at times of desertion) have made an entire and immediate close with Christ alone for their justification, who yet in the ordinary course and way of their spirits have been too much carried away with the rudiments of Christ in their own hearts, and not after Christ himself: the stream of their more constant thoughts and deepest intentions running in the channel of reflecting upon and searching into the gracious dispositions of their own hearts so as to bring down, or to raise up (as the apostle's words are, Rom. x. 8), and so get a sight of Christ by them. Whereas Christ himself is 'nigh them' (as the apostle there speaks), if they would but nakedly look upon himself through thoughts of pure and single faith.
And although the use of our own graces, by way of sign and evidence of Christ in us, be allowed us by God, and is no way derogatory from Christ, if subordinated to faith; and so as that the heart be not too inordinate and immoderate in poring too long or too much on them, to fetch their comfort from them, unto a neglect of Christ: yet as pleasures that are lawful are unlawfully used when our thoughts and intentions are too long, or too frequent, or too vehement in them, so as to dead the heart, either to the present delighting in God, or pursuing after him, with the joint strength of our souls, as our only chiefest good: so an immoderate recourse unto signs (though barely considered as such), is as unwarrantable, when thereby we are diverted and taken off from a more constant actual exercise of daily thoughts of faith towards Christ immediately, as he is set forth to be our righteousness, either by the way of assurance (which is a kind of enjoyment of him), or recumbency and renewed adherence in pursuit after him.
And yet the minds of many are so wholly taken up with their own hearts, that (as the Psalmist says of God) Christ 'is scarce in all their thoughts.' But let these consider what a dishonour this must needs be unto Christ, that his train and favourites (our graces) should have a fuller court and more frequent attendance from our hearts than himself, who is the 'King of Glory.' And likewise what a shame also it is for believers themselves, who are his spouse, to look upon their husband no otherwise but by reflection and at second hand, through the intervention and assistance of their own graces, as mediators between him and them.
Now to rectify this error, the way is not wholly to reject all use of such evidences, but to order them, both for the season, as also the issue of them. For the season, so as that the use of them go not before, but still should follow after an address of faith first renewed, and acts thereof put forth upon Christ himself. Thus whensoever we would go down into our own hearts, and take a view of our graces, let us be sure first to look wholly out of ourselves unto Christ, as our justification and to close with him immediately; and this as if we had no present or by-past grace to evidence our being in him. And if then, whilst faith is thus immediately clasping about Christ, as sitting upon his throne of grace, we find either present or fore-past graces coming in as handmaids, to attend and witness to the truth of this adherence unto Christ (as after such single and absolute acts of faith it oftentimes falls out);—the Holy Ghost (without whose light they shine not) 'bearing witness with our spirits,' that is, our graces, as well as to our spirits;—and then again, for the issue of them, if in the closure of all, we again let fall our viewing and comforting ourselves in them, or this their testimony, and begin afresh (upon his encouragement) to act faith upon Christ immediately with redoubled strength; if thus (I say) we make such evidences to be subservient only unto faith (whilst it makes Christ its Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all), this will be no prejudice at all to Christ's glory or the workings of faith itself; for by this course the life of faith still actually maintained and kept upon wing in its full use and exercise towards Christ alone for justification. Whereas many Christians do habitually make that but only as a supposed or taken for granted principle, which they seldom use, but have laid up for a time of need; but actually live more in the view and comfort of their own graces, and the gracious workings thereof in the duties towards Christ.
The reason of this defect, among many others, I have attributed partly to a 'barrenness' (as Peter's phrase is) 'in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ,' and of such things revealed about him, as might be matter for faith to work and feed upon: as also to a want of skill (whilst men want assurance) to bend and bow, and subjugate to the use of a faith for mere adherence, all those things that they know and hear of Christ as made justification unto us. It being in experience a matter of the greatest difficulty (and yet certainly most feasible and attainable), for such a faith as can yet only rely and cast itself upon Christ for justification, yet rightly to take in, and so to make use of all that which is or may be said of Christ, his being made righteousness to us, in his death, resurrection, &c., as to quicken and strengthen itself in such acts of mere adherence, until assurance itself comes, for whose use and entertainment all truths lie more fair and directly to be received by it. They all serve as a fore-right wind to assurance of faith, to fill all the sails thereof, and carry on with a more full and constant gale (as the word used by the apostle for assurance [plērophoria] imports), whereas to the faith of a poor recumbent, they serve but as a half side-wind, unto which yet, through skill, the sails of such a faith may be so turned and applied towards it, as to carry a soul on with much ease and quietness unto Christ the desired haven; it notwithstanding waiting all that while for a more fair and full gale of assurance in the end.
("To the Reader" in Christ Set Forth & The Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth — because of what Goodwin speaks about in this preface, he wrote the two essays mentioned to give people Scriptural material to work upon in exercising faith towards Christ.)

Let me add one more quote, from H.C.G. Moule:

We are here warned off from the temptation to erect Faith into a Saviour, to rest our reliance upon our Faith, if I may put it so. That is a real temptation to many. Hearing, and fully thinking, that to be justified we must have Faith, they, we, are soon occupied with an anxious analysis of our Faith. Do I trust enough? Is my reliance satisfactory in kind and quantity? But if saving Faith is, in its essence, simply a reliant attitude, then the question of its effect and virtue is at once shifted to the question of the adequacy of its Object. The man then is drawn to ask, not, Do I rely enough? but, Is Jesus Christ great enough, and gracious enough, for me to rely upon? The introspective microscope is laid down. The soul’s open eyes turn upward to the face of our Lord Jesus Christ; and Faith forgets itself in its own proper action. In other words, the man relies instinctively upon an Object seen to be so magnificently, so supremely, able to sustain him. His feet are on the Rock, and he knows it, not by feeling for his feet, but by feeling the Rock.
("Justification by Faith" in The Fundamentals)
 
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Pilgrim Standard

Puritan Board Sophomore
believe now; renounce your own righteousness now; look to Christ now.

Beautiful reminder Ruben!

Throw yourself upon the righteousness of Christ! Take relief in the fact that His faith did not, does not, nore will it ever falter!

We must be aware that sometimes the object of our faith becomes our faith, when the Object of our faith should be the Person and Work of Christ! He will not fail us.

If my salvation rested on the "amount of faith" that I had, as in saying that I must possess a "perfect amount" of faith, then I am doomed. Thinking upon this drives me to Christ for His work and faith are perfect.
 

MichaelGao

Puritan Board Freshman
1. Do you hate your sins now?
2. Do you love the Lord now?
3. Are you trusting in Christ and His work on sinners' behalf alone now?

The question is probably phrased in the wrong tense. I'm not seeking a decision conversion experience to solve the problem. I know that if we doubt our previous state, we can always simply come to Christ now. But really the problem is how to even tell if you're doing it right now...believing right now.
Because just praying or having some desire for it...is that enough to show you've really hated sin, loved the Lord and trusted Him for salvation. I think not.

But yes, I do acknowledge that our whole confidence should be on Christ not on "our faith in him". So even when we question how pure our motives are, we still can say to Christ: Lord, I am so devoid of any good, I cant guarantee if I have truly hated my sin and loved your salvation, I cant even guarantee if I have really believed in you. My heart is hidden from me. But I pray that you will deliver me in my secret harboring of sin and to give that true faith and love for you. I believe help my unbelief.

So in the end, will we be assured on the fact that I cried out to God to give faith? And then realize that that crying out is in essence a sign of the seed of faith?
 

moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
But how do you know if you have truly believed? (without going to seek other fruits such as works - since that test failed)

Because the heart is deceitful, alot of people think they have believed, but probably havent. It may in the end be sort of an intellectual assent instead of true faith.

Are we stuck with the option that a person without works cannot attain assurance even though he be truly saved? Ie..if there is no evidence for the faith, then there is no assurance that its genuine.

Or is there a way to encourage stumbling christians that their faith indeed is genuine even though if the evidences aren't proving it. Does this have to do with the Witness of the Spirit or the Seal of the Spirit..I'm not sure I understand what that is.

This has been a big obstacle for me both intellectually to understand and spiritually to find peace with...and its even bigger when I have to deal with others who so little exhibits signs of regeneration. Please help.

Yes, there is hope. This scraping of one's faith to examine it for assurance is looking in the wrong direction. The eyes should instead be directed to look to Christ, to look outside of themselves, and be assured of him. Look to Christ and see what a perfect savior he is. See how perfect his righteousness is that he offers for you to wear. See how thoroughly he pleased the Father with his suffering upon the cross for your sin. Hear the Father's words that "in Him he was well pleased". Hear Christ's words that "it is finished". Your salvation is fully accomplished in Christ. Focus on how thorough and complete your salvation is in Him, and let that quiet your conscience. If you are resolved to trust in Christ's promise and wear only his righteousness before the Father, then you have faith. Assent won't let you apply it to yourself, but will leave it as a distant set of facts. Faith allows you to believe it is for you, for "whosoever will". Faith compells you to reach out for his garment, as the woman did. How do you know it is for you? Because he invites you, and promises that, whosoever comes, he will in no wise cast out.

As the song says...he is able, he is willing, doubt no more.

Also, remember that assurance is of two kinds: objective and subjective. Objective assurance comes from Christ's promise to save those who come to him, who abandon their works for righteousness and instead desire a righteousness which is imputed. Subjective assurance comes from the fruit that the Holy Spirit will bear within us. The first is the foundational assurance, and the rest is what is laid upon it, as further blessing. Never, however, abandon the former for the latter. Out of assurance, our growth will occur. Sanctification will flow from a platform of assurance that God loves us in Christ, and will cause us to do what is pleasing to him out of love for him. ("He who comes to him must believe that he is, and that he rewards those who diligently seek him". And, ..."for the man who doubts is a double-minded man, unstable in all of his ways; let not that man expect he will receive anything from the Lord"). God may sometimes, however, allow us to go through seasons of very little sanctification, but it is only to develop our faith and redirect our assurance to the level of our foundation, namely that of his promise.

Blessings!
 
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InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.” -C.S. Lewis
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
But really the problem is how to even tell if you're doing it right now...believing right now.

How do you know you're seeing or hearing right now? As faith grows stronger through exercise, it becomes more obvious that it is being exercised. Among other reasons, that's why the advice to look to Christ is always applicable for doubters - whether they doubt him or doubt themselves, He Himself is the answer.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
Self doubt, picking yourself to pieces is focusing on self, rather that on Christ, in whom is our whole and only Hope! Keep your eyes on Him and you will not be self accusing but humble in gratitude for what He has done in your life!

‎"Sin unlinks the dependence between God the sovereign and man the subject. Sin endeavours to subject God to the wills of men. God is deposed, and man enthroned; God made a slave, and man a sovereign above Him!" Stephen Charnock
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
One of my favourite quotes from Charles Spurgeon:

"You might not always get what you want, but you always get what you expect."

That is, if you expect to go to hell, you will most assuredly go there. It doesn't matter how much you want to heaven, unless you have strong, undoubtful assurance of your salvation.
 

jrdnoland

Puritan Board Freshman
I believe all true believers struggle with these thoughts at times. I hope this summary will prove helpful.

Summary religious affections

I have read the book and think this summary is a fair representation of what Edwards wrote. My main take away from the work was, do you love God, do you think of pleasing Him, do you struggle with choices and make choices that will please God?

As Edwards might say "Do you relish in the sweetness of God."
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
My primary thought has already been stated: that we are to look objectively to Christ rather than ourselves.

For myself, or if I were talking with another, I'd consider first if I'm involved with any scandalous sin (or perhaps ask someone of greater maturity if they've observed something I've overlooked). After that, I'd throw myself upon the means of grace: the word, prayer, the Lord's Table ... this isn't to suggest that you can somehow work your way into assurance (or any other part of sanctification) but there is very real strength, hope, and encouragement by being faithful in these areas.

I can also recommend JC Ryle's book Assurance.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
One of my favourite quotes from Charles Spurgeon:

"You might not always get what you want, but you always get what you expect."

That is, if you expect to go to hell, you will most assuredly go there. It doesn't matter how much you want to heaven, unless you have strong, undoubtful assurance of your salvation.

I'm very glad this is not true. Consider what the Confession has to say on the matter:

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, endeavouring 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 does 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 every one 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 wounds the conscience and grieves 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 so 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 mean time, they are supported from utter despair.

It is Christ who assures our final salvation, not our subjective certainty.
 

captivewill

Puritan Board Freshman
Please appeal to I John which was written that we may "know." You are a true believer if you obey Christ, if you love the people for whom He died, and if the Holy Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you belong to Him.
We dare not be content to believe in believing.
But no one believes in Jesus the Christ as LORD of life, come in the flesh and ruling us while we live in flesh, apart from the regenerating resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
We are saved by the quality of our Savior and not the quality of our faith. No faith that clings to Christ is too weak to hold on to Him.

I don't want to minimize the concern of the question but, as has been pointed out, there's a little bit of the assumption that what saves us is God looking upon the quality or strength of our faith and counting us righteous in His sight on the ground of our faith. In fact, when we see faith as merely an empty hand laying hold of Christ then we will see where salvation truly comes from and that is Christ.

The hand that reaches out to Him in faith may be weak but He Who grabs hold of that little hand is powerful. He Who died on the Cross died once for all. He Who died for an enemy to make him a friend and a brother will not now cast him off.

Furthermore, God has not left us without a tangible sign and seal of His good intentions toward us. In our baptism, God proclaims to us that as surely as the waters of baptism wash away the filth of our flesh, so surely have you been washed of your sins if you believe upon Christ.

The question, friend, is not whether you believed because our memories fail and the adversary would convince us that our faith was feeble or false.

The question is: Do you believe now?

Do you despair of all hope in your self and see in the Savior the only hope?

If so, then tell yourself: I am a baptized man. I have been baptized into Christ's death and into His resurrection. I have died to sin once for all in Him and have been raised to life into a life indestructible.

You cannot answer your question by trying to peer into the hidden things of God but only in what He has revealed in His Word and in your Baptism.
 

Der Pilger

Puritan Board Freshman
Scripture makes it pretty clear that our assurance is based on the presence of fruit in our lives as well as a pattern of spiritual growth and increasing maturity:

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. (Hebrews 6:7-9)

But what are these fruits? That also is made clear:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11)

Unless I'm misinterpreting this passage, the text does two things, in general: 1) It commands us to make our calling and election sure (i.e., to seek assurance), and 2) it tells us how to go about obtaining that certainty.

This is why assurance is not necessarily something that occurs overnight. It is the result of a pattern of increased holiness, Christlikeness and maturity. I cannot imagine that God would give anyone assurance of salvation who is stagnating in their Christian life, failing to grow or, even worse, taking steps backward. There is only one proper direction for the true Christian: forward into more and more Christlikeness. If that progression is not happening, we have good reason to doubt our salvation.
 
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