Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

  1. Temporary believers and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal [belonging to their fallen nature] presumptions that they are in the favour of God and state of salvation, but their hope shall perish.1 However, those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus and love him in sincerity, endeavouring [labouring] to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace.2 They may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, a hope which shall never make them ashamed.3

1 Jb 8.13-14; Mt 7.22-23 2 1Jn 2.3; 1Jn 3.14, 18-19, 21, 24; 1Jn 5.13 3 Rom 5.2, 5

  1. This certainty is not mere conjecture [ungrounded opinion] or probable [likely] persuasion, based on a fallible [failing or mistaken] hope.4 It is instead an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the gospel.5 It is also founded on the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit about which promises have been made,6 and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God.7 One fruit of this assurance is a heart kept both humble and holy.8

4 Heb 6.11, 19 5 Heb 6.17-18 6 2Pt 1.4-5, 10-11 7 Rom 8.15-16 8 1Jn 3.1-3

  1. This infallible assurance does not belong to the essence of faith [in such a way that assurance comes inevitably and automatically]; a true believer may wait a long time and contend with many difficulties before he is a partaker of it [experiences it].9 Nevertheless, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given to him by God, he may attain to it without extraordinary revelation and by the right [appropriate and legitimate] use of [ordinary] means.10 Therefore it is the duty of every one, as diligently as possible, to make his calling and election sure, so that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, which are the proper [natural] fruits of this assurance.11 In no way does it encourage men to careless [unrestrained] living.12

9 Is 50.10; Ps 88; Ps 77.1-12 10 1Jn 4.13; Heb 6.11-12 11 Rom 5.1-2, 5; Rom 14.17; Ps 119.32 12 Rom 6.1-2; Ti 2.11-12, 14

  1. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation shaken [disturbed], diminished [reduced], and interrupted [temporarily suspended] in various ways. These include negligence in preserving it;13 falling into some particular sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit;14 by some sudden or violent temptation;15 by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance [face]16 and allowing even those who fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light. However, they are never left without the seed of God17 and the life of faith18 – that love of Christ and the brothers, that sincerity of heart and conscience about duty. By these things, through the work of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived.19 By these things also, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.20

13 Sg 5.2-3, 6 14 Ps 51.8, 12, 14 15 Ps 116.11; Ps 77.7-8; Ps 31.22 16 Ps 30.7 17 1Jn 3.9 18 Lk 22.32 19 Ps 42.5, 11 20 Lam 3.26-31