I have, by strong recommendation, been reading Joel Beeke’s book, “Knowing and Growing in Assurance of Faith.” It is a wonderful treatise on the blessing of assurance of faith, where this assurance comes from, and how we can grow in it. And it’s short, sweet, and to the point. At only 200 pages, it is written in a manageable and easily understood manner; this book was written to be read. (Available for only $14.99 here at Amazon).
After first laying out the importance of Assurance and why so many lack it, including false assurances, the book then begins to show what is the basis for genuine assurance of faith. Leaning heavily on the Reformers and Puritans, Beeke draws the foundation for Assurance of Faith straight from the Westminster Confession, specifically, 18.2:
“This certainty is not a bare conjecture 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 witnesses 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.”
The first foundation, then, for our assurance of faith, is not in any experience or feeling or mood, but is wholly grounded in the promises of God. I thought I’d share here some of the highlights from the chapter:
“First, we do not gain assurance by looking at ourselves or anything we have produced apart from God’s promises, but first of all by looking to God’s faithfulness in Christ as He is revealed in the promises of the gospel.” (77)
“Believers in Christ are assured of salvation in the very first place because their God and their salvation are true, sure, perfect, and unchangeable in Jesus Christ forever.” (79)
“God’s promises are the pathways on which Christ meets the soul.” (81)
“Finally, though subjective phenomena may sometimes feel more real than faith in God’s promises, such experiences give less glory to God than divine promises apprehended directly by faith. Burgess (one of the writers of the Westminster Confession) said, ‘Trusting in God and in Christ when we feel nothing but guilt and destruction in ourselves is the greatest honor we can give to God. Therefore, though living by signs is more comfortable to us, living by faith is a greater honor to God.'” (84)
“The smallest degree of saving faith in God’s promises will prove as effectual as full assurance of faith in God’s promises. Though a spider’s thread connected to a rock is much weaker than a strong anchor connected to that rock, the rock is equally strong. So a weak faith that casts itself on Christ and His promises shall find that the Lord Jesus Christ is just as much the rock of salvation for that trembling soul as He is for one who has full assurance of faith.” (85)
Quoting Michael Barrett, “Assurance of salvation does not result from the power of positive thinking; it flows from the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (86)
All quotes from: Beeke, Joel R. Knowing and Growing in Assurance of Faith. (Christians Focus Pub; Tain, UK, 2017).