I have recently finished reading Joel Beeke’s fantastic little book titled “Knowing and Growing in Assurance of Faith.” The book has been a tremendous blessing to me, and I cannot recommend it enough. If you’ve ever wondered if you are genuinely a Christian, or if the doubts and struggles you’re facing seem overwhelming, this book offers treasures from the Scriptures and the Puritans on resting in and trusting God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
Just before the conclusion of the book, Beeke addresses some questions that he often hears, and I thought I would share the first question and his response as encouragement to you.
Question: I cannot deny that I am a believer, but what should I do when I don’t feel close to God and don’t feel very assured that I am saved?
Be persuaded that God wants you to find assurance by resting in Christ by faith; He does not want you to be forever searching for assurance like a hamster on a hamster wheel. Here are eleven suggestions that may assist you:
- Pray to God that He will grant you the light of His Spirit and show you that you belong to God and are saved.
- Read some of the promises of Scripture – particularly those, but not only those, that have been precious to you in the past – and rest your soul upon them… Pray for faith to believe that all the promises in Scripture belong to you, including those promises that have not been made powerfully sweet in your past.
- Flee to the basics of the gospel that Jesus Christ came to save sinners just like you, and all the precious truths that accompany the gospel. Meditate on these grand truths, such as the stability of God’s enteral election, God’s constant care over you, your union with Christ through His atonement, and Christ’s continual and effectual intercession over you. And then rest in Christ by faith.
- In dependency on the Spirit, examine yourself by some basic inward evidences of grace, such as: Have I learned to mourn over sin? Do I know what it means to truly hunger and thirst after Christ’s righteousness? If you cannot deny that these and other similar marks of grace are your portion, then conclude that you must be a child of God since neither the devil nor yourself can teach you to experience these things in truth; it must be the Holy Spirit working them in you.
- As the Spirit to bear witness with your conscience through the Word that you are indeed a true believer.
- Use the means of grace diligently, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer.
- Resolve to turn from your ungodly belief, to flee all lusts of the eyes and of the flesh and all worldliness and known sin, and to run the race set before you by laying aside sin and looking to Jesus.
- Remember that your identity is found in Christ, by reckoning yourself dead to sin and alive to Him.
- Consider the solemnity of what the Puritans called ‘the four last things’: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. Live more for eternity than for time.
- Be comforted by God’s faithful track record to you for years and decades.
- Pray again that the Lord will bless all the above efforts to regain the stability of your personal assurance of salvation.