Saturday, November 5, 2011

Westminister Confession: Assurance

I sometimes feel that I haven't done enough or that I haven't stopped sinning enough to be saved. I know that I am no longer condemned (Rom 8:1) but I also don't want to live carelessly (Rom 6:1-2). Assurance is a feeling of confidence that you are indeed saved; We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Heb 6:19-20). It's also personal feeling because the Holy Spirit testifies to God from inside you, giving you inward evidence of God's saving activity (Eph 1:13-14).

In a chapter about Assurance the Westminster Confession has two very encouraging paragraphs:
True believers may have the assurance of their salvation shaken, lessened and interrupted in different ways, such as by -
  • neglecting to preserve it
  • falling into some special sin that wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit
  • some sudden and violent temptation
  • God withdrawing the light of his face, and allowing even those that fear him to live in darkness and to have no light.
Yet they are never completely deprived of -
  • that life of God, and life of faith
  • that love of Christ and the christian family
  • that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty
out of which, by the working of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be reived. By this, in the meantime, they are kept from complete despair.
The WC also gives a warning about nominalism (James 1:23-34 & 2:18-19), for which there is no assurance. (A classic example of nominalism is in the closing montage at the end of the first Godfather movie.) But then the WC says:
Yet those people who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him sincerely, aiming to live in all good conscience in his sight, may be certainly assured in this life, that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in hoping for the glory of God, (this hope will never disappoint them).