Assurance of Salvation
Why Some Lack It and God’s Means For Obtaining It
Three Foundational Passages Annotated, With the Annotations To Be Proven Below
Before reading the three annotated passages, and as you read the rest of this article, please keep in mind the following:
- God often define his own terms by using the following scheme: [this thing] is [that thing], i.e., that the first thing is defined as, or defined by, the second. It is true that there is sometimes a metaphoric aspect to such devices, making it impossible to say that all such constructs are literal definitions. However, context will usually help determine. Moreover, I trust that regarding the points being made herein, this kind of rhetorical scheme is literal in the passages I provide below.
- There is a pattern to the topics that God yokes together and this pattern can be readily recognised if we pay attention to it. Nonetheless, I made use of annotation to highlight these patterns; I leave it up to the reader to decide whether they see the patterns and, if they do, whether each pattern supports the underlying argument being made.
- Though the heavy use of bold, underline, enhanced meanings (from trustworthy lexicons), etc., may initially appear to be a distraction, they are there to help you (a) follow my reasoning precisely, so that you can (b) affirm, correct, or refute it. I strongly recommend having a Bible on hand so that you can review the passages in their originally-translated form, as a means of helping to determine whether my annotations are sound.
- This is a cumulative work, with each section building upon the others, reinforcing the others, explaining the others, and reaffirming the others. I strongly encourage you to read the whole of it objectively, and carefully, taking a holistic approach to the matter.
With that said, please consider:
1 John 3:13-24 “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 WE KNOW that we have passed from death unto life, BECAUSE we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 HEREBY PERCEIVE WE the love [of God], BECAUSE he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And HEREBY (1) KNOW WE THAT WE ARE OF THE TRUTH, AND (2) SHALL ASSURE OUR HEARTS BEFORE HIM. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we CONFIDENCE [i.e. assurance of salvation leading to boldness, and frankness] toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, BECAUSE we (1) keep his commandments, and (2) do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is His commandment (singular), (1) That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and (2) love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments (plural) dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
1 John 5:1-4 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ [according to the biblical meaning behind the term] is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 [Literally, it is] BY THIS WE KNOW that we love the children of God, WHEN we love God, AND keep his commandments [plural]. 3 For this [literally]is the love of God [i.e. the following is the very definition of loving God], THAT WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: and his commandments are not grievous.“
2 John 1:6 “And THIS [literally] IS [agapē] LOVE, THAT WE WALK AFTER HIS COMMANDMENTS [plural]. THIS [i.e. the prior sentence, literally…] IS THE [great/royal/first] COMMANDMENT [singular], That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
This article sets out to address the matter of assurance, particularly as it relates to the assurance of one’s salvation. I aim to look at what assurance of salvation is, why it is lacking in many of God’s people, and what the God-ordained means are for diligently developing/obtaining this kind of assurance. Note that some never develop a strong sense of it; others wait quite a while for it; and some may find their assurance of salvation shaken for a season or seasons at a time (often most unexpectedly).
Why is this? Why does such a wanting or lacking exist? Ultimately, it is because (at that point in time) God does not see fit to give them this assurance. The Father, during such periods, sees it best not to have the Holy Spirit work such assurance in them; the Spirit of God ceases from ‘witnessing with their spirit that they are children of God.‘ However, as it relates to means and providential realities, the loss (or waning) of such assurance is usually caused by (a) a lack of faith regarding the promises of God; (b) our eyes not being stayed on Christ; and/or (c) walking in open, notorious, or prolonged sin (or otherwise being grossly negligent of, or deficient in, keeping and obeying the word of God).
The third factor is by far the most controversial, the most hated, and the most reviled. Yet, I am absolutely convinced that the following systematic approach will clearly and easily bear it out. God never promises assurance of salvation to those who are grossly, and prolongedly, deficient in love towards God, or love towards the brethren (both of which are synonymous with God-wrought commandment-keeping, as I have proven in a previous article, and will briefly touch upon below). As controversial, divisive, or heretical as such a statement may seem (especially in many sovereign grace circles), it is an absolute truism that there is a firm unity, an undeniable yoking, of obedience to God’s word and the assurance of salvation. I aim to prove this thoroughly. My reasoning for doing so is to warn the saints against the antinomian/anomian error that abounds in our day. It is important to point out that for the law-haters, and the commandment-deniers, what they call “assurance of salvation” is likely nothing more than vain, empty, carnal presumption. I say this in agapē love, as a warning, having no interest in attacking anyone, stirring up strife, or demeaning anyone. Yet, I simply will not sit quietly as the antinomian/anomian heresy rages on.
A Vital Clarification
One important point to make, before delving deeper into the matter, is that much of the following will be passive in nature, and not something that the saint actively or consciously considers. In other words, no one should take any of the following as an exhortation to constantly look at their own works as a means of obtaining assurance of salvation — that would be insane. I am not at all suggesting that every time we obey a commandment, perform a good work, act towards someone in love, etc., that we should have some mental scoreboard in place wherein we say “see, I just did this good thing; now I have all the more reason to have assurance of faith.” Such a concept would be nonsensical at best and moronic at worst. The idea is not that tracking good works leads to assurance, or that anyone should do good just to obtain assurance. Moreover, God never sets degrees in this matter. He never declares “if you have faith this percentage of the time or to this degree; or if you have [“x”] amount of love; or if your works are positive “x” amount of the time, etc.” then you are justified in having assurance of salvation.”
What God does teach, as I aim to prove, is that if such assurance is waning or wanting altogether, He has given us waymarks, i.e. guideposts, to consider. These factors will (if we are His) help to develop such assurance during these times, if it is God’s providential will that you experience it at that time. Scripture really does teach us that in addition to having God-wrought faith, having an eye focused on Christ; having love for the brethren (without concern for “degrees”); having love for His word; keeping His commands (i.e. guarding them in our hearts so as to do them); and actually obeying His word with a sense of zeal, fervency, and urgency, are all means (again, often unconsciously and unawares) that God uses to bolster our assurance (i.e. to witness with our spirit that we are children of God). So again, it is the God-wrought presence of such things, and not the degree of presence, that makes all of the difference. If we have such faith, love, and obedience, not unto perfection, and not without many falls, but if the tenor of our life is to believe His testimony, to love His word and people, and to do of His good pleasure, then we have every reason to walk in full assurance, per the very scriptural passages I will discuss in this article.
I. Assurance of The Veracity/Validity of Of Gospel Truth (Assurance of Faith) vs. Assurance of One’s Personal Interest In The Gospel Truth (Assurance of Salvation).
We must distinguish between what some call the assurance of faith (i.e. the complete belief, confidence, persuasion, and trust in Gospel truth) and the assurance of salvation (the peace, joy, and confidence pertaining to one’s own personal interest in Christ, i.e. their own assurance of salvation in light of the Gospel truth that they believe). Some speak of the assurance of hope, due to a passage that uses such language. However, depending on the scriptural context, this term can relate to either of the other two, or perhaps (at times) even both at the same time. Due to the use of assurance without any qualifiers in some passages, it isn’t always clear which type of assurance is in view; however, in multiple places, it is — the distinction and intent are quite clear.
Regarding the assurance of faith (as defined above), all of God’s quickened people have it. We all believe in the Triune nature of the Godhead; we all believe in the deity of Christ; we all believe in the virgin birth (and Incarnation) of Christ; we all believe He is fully God and fully man; we all believe that He kept the law of God perfectly; we all believe that He died nonetheless, under the full wrath of God, as the substitutionary, atoning sacrifice for the sin of His elect people; we all believe that He paid the full penalty demanded by the law for their sin (experiencing the equivalent of their eternal damnation spiritually, and dying physically, on the cross at Calvary); we all believe that though He died, He rose again on the third day, evidencing that our sins were put away forever, and that the victory He accomplished, was total; we all believe that all for whom He died are forever saved from sin and eternal damnation, being perfectly righteous and justified before God, having the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to them; we all believed that the saints are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and that all whom the Father gave to The Lord will be preserved unto the end, even unto glory; and we all believe that all of God’s people have the promise of eternal life, and everlasting union with the Godhead, through the Lord Jesus Christ, in light of His great salvific work.
Acts 17:30-31 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance [pistis; “conviction, faith, belief”] unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Colossians 2:2 “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance [plērophoria; “abundant, much, or full assurance, most certain confidence“] of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ…”
1 Thessalonians 1:5 “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance [plērophoria; same as above] as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”
Though the assurance of faith aspect (again, as defined above) is less in dispute amongst those who profess to believe the true Gospel, the next point often is hotly disputed. Despite the controversy, I and many others believe that one can have full assurance concerning the validity and veracity of the Gospel, and yet still lack assurance as to one’s personal salvation, for the reasons briefly mentioned in the introduction. Though they believe that the Gospel is true beyond any shadow of doubt, they may have anywhere from weak to very strong doubts, concerning their own state before God. They know the truth, love the truth, want desperately to be confirmed in it (as to their personal interest concerning it), but they desperately desire that Romans 8:16 be powerfully, effectually brought home to their hearts/conscience: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
An Assurance Pattern – The return of the Lord, Assurance, and Good Works?
Consider the following passage,
Isaiah 32:17-20 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance [betach; “boldness, trust, confidence, security, securely, confidence of mind”] for ever. 18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; 19 When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place. 20 Blessed [are] ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth [thither] the feet of the ox and the ass.”
Is Isaiah, by the Holy Spirit, speaking of (a) assurance of the truth of the Gospel only (“assurance of faith”); (b) assurance of one’s salvation upon regeneration and conversion; or (3) assurance of salvation, on the last day, as we are about to stand before God? Personally, though it may have some application to (2) as well, the language appears to be speaking strongly of (3), the end of time, when the elect of God shall stand before God, and then truly and fully “dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Consider these four New Testament sister passages to Isaiah 32:17-20 (note the pattern aspect that I discussed; in this case, how each yokes (a) The Lord’s return, with (b) assurance of salvation; with (3) some aspect of good works, doing righteousness, etc. — to make it easier to see, I used (a), (b), and (c) at their respective points, to make this pattern clear):
1 John 2:28-29 “And now, little children, abide in him; that, (a) when He shall appear, we may have (b) confidence [parrēsia; “assurance, boldness,frankness, confidence; bold freedom in speaking”], and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that (c) every one that doeth [poieō; “to do, to bring forth, to make, to perform“] righteousness is born of him.”
2 Peter 3:12-14 “(a) Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, (b) be diligent [spoudazō; “exert yourself, make effort, be prompt, give diligence, be diligent, endeavour, labour, study, hasten, make haste, act with earnestness, give due diligence, make haste in earnestness and diligence, be eager”] that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless… 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, (c) beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
1 John 4:17-21 “Herein is our [agapē] love made perfect [teleioō; “carried through completely; thoroughly/fully accomplished or brought to the cumulative/highest point; brought to the culmination/end; made perfect or complete], that we (b) may have boldness [parrēsia; “assurance, confidence, frankness, bold freedom in speaking”] in the (a) day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And (c) this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.“
Note: In light of 1 John 4:17-21, consider the following as it relates to the (b)-assurance and (c)-works aspect of the pattern, albeit without the (a) aspect, i.e., without the return of the Lord portion of the pattern:
1 John 2:3-6 “And (b) hereby we do know that we know him, (c) if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But (c) whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: (b) hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to (c) walk, even as he walked.“
Consider also that whereas 1 John 4:17-21 speaks of “love made perfect,” “perfect love,“ and “perfect in love,” and how this concept relates to “assurance/boldness/confidence in the day of judgment” — 1 John 2:3-6 speaks specifically of (1) how love is “made perfect,” (2) the nature of “perfect love,” and (c) the characteristic identifying those who are “perfect in love” — namely, it is those who both (a) keep His commandments (v3-5) and (b) walk, even as he walked (v6).
So we clearly see here, (A) the yoking of (extant) commandment-keeping and walking in the (extant) commandments (which is the “doeth righteousness” part of 1 John 2:29), with (B) perfect (complete, mature) love, which is then yoked with (C) having assurance, confidence, and even boldness before God. When you consider these things carefully, no… not just carefully but honestly, we see that it simply cannot be rightly said, that assurance should ever be considered apart from God-wrought love — and apart from the God-wrought (extant) commandment-keeping that makes up (or constitutes) true, agapē love. If you still doubt this, it’s okay, there are plenty of more proof-texts to come.
1 John 3:2-11 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, (a) when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this (b) hope [elpis; “pleasant or joyful anticipation; expectation of good; hope”] in him (c) purifieth [hagnizō; “sanctifies, (ceremonially or morally) cleanses”] himself, even as he is pure. 4 (c) Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 (c) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: (c) he that doeth [poieō; “to do, to bring forth, to make, to perform” — same as 1 John 2:29 above] righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: (c) whosoever doeth [poieō] not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
[Note: After the inward/inner man, which is our born again spirit eternally yoked to Christ, we cannot sin, and do not sin. We sin often in our daily walk due to this body of death, but that inward man, born of God, and created after His image, and in His likeness, simply cannot sin — period; it both delights in the law of God and serves the law of God. However, what that inward man can do, as God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, is keep the extant commandments, the spiritual law. The inward man can, through this blessed union and effectual grace, walk as Christ walked. The inner man truly does do (perform, manifest) works of righteousness, even works of love, in keeping with God’s commandments. The Christian purifies Himself experimentally, in light of the objectively perfect purity we have in/through/by Christ, by both abstaining from evil and by doing good.
Assurance of Salvation and Peace and Joy in The Salvation of the Lord
Please consider the following passage:
Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
In Romans 5:1, we read of peace. Peace has two forms, objective peace and subjective (or experimental) peace. When one is justified in/by/through Christ, when the Lord is One’s righteousness, the individual is immediately set at peace with God — this is objective peace. We read of this objective peace also in…
Ephesians 2:14-16 “For He [i.e. Christ, the divine Person] is [He literally is, objectively speaking] our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity [echthra; “hostility, hatred, the lack of peace”], [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; 16 And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…”
When Isaiah states, by the Holy Spirit, in Isaiah 48:22 “[There is] no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked,” and again in Isaiah 57:21 “[There is] no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” — he is primarily, if not exclusively, speaking of this objective peace. Why? It is because the enmity remains between God and the wicked ones; the absence of peace remains because the wicked have no Mediator, no peace offering, no atonement and redemption, and no Delivering Saviour.
Concerning the subjective/experimental aspect of peace, a quickened saint will always be at peace with the God, objectively speaking, whilst not necessarily always feeling at peace in their own minds/conscience (hence, the potential of lacking one’s assurance of salvation). The form of eirēnē/peace spoken of in verse one of Romans 5, refers to this objective peace and not to the subjective peace associated with assurance of salvation. Sometimes there may be a dual intent in other passages, but here, the context of Romans 5:1-5, and much of Romans in general, is the objective (not experimental) reality of what Christ accomplished at Calvary as it relates to creating peace between God and (redeemed) man. If one cannot rightly divide scripture, seeing the distinction between the two types (or better, two manifestations) of peace, they will stumble. Consider also,
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
These quickened saints already had peace with God in/by/through Christ; however, The Lord wanted them to have this peace experimentally, or subjectively felt, as they experienced the tribulations to come.
When considering Isaiah 26:3, note that the only people whose minds can be truly stayed on Christ are those already quickened and converted by the Spirit of God. If they are already quickened and converted, then by default, they already have that objective peace ushered in by Christ and His finished work. However, Isaiah 26:3 declares “Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.” — Though one can read the objective aspect into this verse as well, it is primarily speaking of our experimental experience of peace. When your mind is heavily focused on Christ (His Person, work, love, character, etc.) it is quite hard to be focused on one’s doubts and fears and lack of assurance. Moreover, the experimental aspect is clear because not only is the ability to stay one’s mind a post-quickening ability (i.e. no one can rightly do so before being born again) but the ability to trust (as in “because he trusteth…“) also requires being in an already quickened state, which equates to already having objective peace with God.
Take also Isaiah 57:19 “I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to [him that is] far off, and to [him that is] near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.” Again, you can look at this both objectively and subjectively. This can be speaking of initial salvation, one’s initial spiritual calling by the Lord. However, experimentally, we can wander far off for a season or seasons; we can grow cold, distant, and experience a loss of that ‘joy of His salvation’ that David sought after. When one is far off like that, the Gospel promises still declare peace, peace for the saint — the clouds of sin and lethargy may obscure the promises but that doesn’t mean the promises went away. Likewise, when God brings one of His own back home (experimentally), in the sense of stirring up in them more zeal, fidelity, earnestness, and love for the truth, they are experimentally healed from that state of coldness, spiritual lethargy, apathy, etc., and set back into a true experience of that peace that flows from the objective peace The Lord established for us.
Romans 8:6 states “For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.” Again, this has application to both our initial salvation and to our experimental walk. The reprobate are not, and will never be, spiritually-minded… they will never have peace. It is only after regeneration that an elect child of God can be spiritually-minded and thus experience peace. Yet, if a saint is carnally-minded for prolong periods of time, just being downright cold/dry/careless/sinful/disinterested in the matters of the Lord, then they will find that such a state of mind results in a sort of “death” which can lead to a lack (or diminishing) of peace. That is why the already quickened psalmist nonetheless cried out in Psalm 119:25 “My soul cleaveth unto the dust [likened to experimental dying/death]: quicken thou me according to thy word [give me reknewed fervency, zeal, love, peace, joy in thee and thy word.”
With the above being said, I strongly believe that spiritual joy and peace on the one hand, and assurance of salvation on the other, are flip-sides of the same coin. One cannot truly have assurance of salvation without that felt-sense of joy and peace with God that flows forth in salvation (to one degree or another, and usually, at some point or another). Likewise, one cannot truly have any spiritual peace, or joy, in their heart/mind/soul, if they are going about lacking assurance of their salvation. So let’s consider the passages concerning that felt since of peace and joy with God, seeing that they are directly related to the assurance of salvation issue, and let’s see what patterns form, if any.
Psalm 85:8 “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly” [i.e. let them not return to practicing sin, transgression of the law, evil works, etc.]
Psalm 119:165-168 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. 166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments. 167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly. 168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways [are] before thee.
Isaiah 48:17-18 “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I [am] the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way [that] thou shouldest go. 18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea..”
Romans 15:13-14 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. 14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
Proverbs 3:1-2 “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.“
John 15:10-12 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
It should be abundantly clear from the above passages that God, Himself, yokes a strong sense of joy in Him, and peace with Him, with keeping and obeying His extant commandments.
How Assurance Is Attained… or… “Peace and Assurance Associated With (1) God-wrought Faith; (2) A Mind Stayed/Fixed on Christ; *and* (3) God-Wrought, (Extant) Commandment-Keeping” (The Latter Being Synonymous With Good Works/Deeds, Doing Righteousness, Purifying Oneself, Mortifying The Deeds of the Flesh, etc.)
With this in mind, please carefully consider the following passages:
2 Peter 1:3-10 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence [spoudē;“haste, earnestness, diligence, haste in earnestness and diligence, eagerness”], add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence [spoudazō;“exert yourself, make effort, be prompt, give diligence, be diligent, endeavour, labour, study, hasten, make haste, act with earnestness, give due diligence, make haste in earnestness and diligence, be eager”] to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”
[Note: Verses 5-8 states “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Verse 10 states “give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”
What are the “these things” in v10? They are the same things we read in verses 5-8. One makes their calling and election sure not by syllogisms, not by notionalism, and not by references to “mental assent alone.” The entire context of the passage evidences that we clearly make our calling and election sure by ‘giving all diligence to adding to our faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity’ seeing that if we do these things, if these things be in us, and abound, they make it so that we do indeed abound, being neither barren nor unfruitful — and I would infer ‘being neither doubtful nor fearful’ as well. In other words, if we are abounding in such things, assurance will be strong, and doubts and fears will be weak, if present at all. This is the God-ordained method of boosting assurance… not trusting in our mental assent alone, as if the passages above, and those to come didn’t exist].
Hebrews 6:9-12 “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. 10 For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work [ergon; “deeds, doings, toilings, labour, work”] and labour [kopos; “beatings (as of the breast in grief), sorrows, intense labour united with trouble and sorrows, toils”] of(agapē) love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered [diakoneō; “served, attended unto others, been a servant towards, waited upon, ministered to, supplied the needs of”] to the saints, and do minister [diakoneō] 11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence [spoudē; “haste, earnestness, diligence, haste in earnest and diligence, eagerness”] to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
[Note: The context is clear, we are to show the same diligence to (or unto) the full assurance of hope. How, or in what, are we to show forth the same diligence? Is it not in the work of love, the labour of love, and the ministering spoken of (right before) in verse 10? Again and again, assurance of hope, making our calling and election sure, and the peace associated with assurance are all tied into (a) labour/works of love (i.e. good works); (b) ministering; (c) keeping and obeying the commandments; (d) walking as Christ has walked; (e) doing righteousness; (f) mortifying the flesh; etc. Consider,
2 Peter 3:10-14, 17 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 [Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. … 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”]
Romans 8:12-16 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…“
[Note: We are to mortify the deeds of the flesh, through the Holy Spirit, but what does this mean? What does it mean to mortify? What does God mean by “the deeds of the body?” Mortify (thanatoō) means “put to death, to make to die, to kill, to destroy, to render extinct” and deeds (praxis) means “works, (what we) practice, mode of acting.” We are called to put to death our evil works, sinful deeds, and unprofitable ways. A sister passage would be Colossians 3:8-10 “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (praxis); 10 And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
Another important thing to note is that it is within the *specific* context of (a) mortifying the deeds of the body (obeying God’s commands; engaging in works/labours of love; putting to death our evil practices, etc.), and (b) being led by the Spirit, that we read “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” The clear implication in the immediate context, and in what we read above so far, is that the Spirit witnesses with our Spirit in light of (a) walking in the Spirit and (b) in light of mortifying our sinful practices by the Spirit. Once again, so far we have seen no indication of the Spirit’s witness, which is the true means of obtaining assurance, being yoked to mere mental assent, alone, and outside of our God-wrought love, which is commandment-keeping.]
Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: [elpis; “pleasant or joyful anticipation; expectation of good; hope”] 5 And hope [elpis] maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
We see hope used both objectively and subjectively much like how we saw peace used as such in Ephesians 2:14-16. Christ and His finished work is our objective hope but that doesn’t discount the reality of having and needing subjective/experimental hope as well. The hope in verse 2 is an objective hope, requiring no process, and thus having no process associated with it. The hope referenced in the very next verses has a very clear process to it (one must grow in it, even growing into it). But regarding the objective aspect, with Christ as our objective hope, consider…
Joel 3:16 “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but THE LORD [will be] the Hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.”
Jeremiah 17:13 “O LORD, the Hope of Israel, all that forsake Thee shall be ashamed, [and] they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.”
Clearly Jehovah being our hope (seeing that all of God’s people make up spiritual Israel) is speaking primarily of Him as our objective hope, though our subjective hope (i.e. our felt experience of that hope as to our own personal interest in Him, and His indwelling of us) may very well tie-in secondarily. The same goes with a verse like Colossians 1:27 “To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That hope can be a reference to the objective reality of Christ being in us, the subjective reality of us “being assured” that he is in us personally, or a combination of the two. I cannot be dogmatic by picking only the first or second option.
So, in summary, patient experience through (internal and external) tribulation leads to hope, and hope is integrally tied into assurance of salvation, as we have seen, and will continue to see. That “hope [that] maketh not ashamed,” is grounded in truth, in God-declared reality, and evidences itself to be more than the mere, empty, lifeless presumption that many confuse with having the real thing.
The Hereby Passages as a Means of Obtaining and Cultivating Assurance
Consider closely the pattern of the passages in this section; the context and method and how they clearly state that the Spirit of God, through the Apostle John, is giving us waymarks, signs, pointers, by which we can know that we are in Christ. These hereby evidences (even assurances), along with the other ones mentioned in this article, are specifically designed to hasten the quickened child of God down the road to full assurance of salvation.
1 John 2:3-5 “And hereby WE DO KNOW that we know him, IF we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: “hereby know we [i.e. by keeping His word, and His commandments as He enables, we do know] that we are in Him.“
1 John 3:13-20 “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 WE KNOW that we have passed from death unto life, BECAUSE we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not,[then] [THEN] HAVE WE CONFIDENCE [parrēsia; “assurance, frankness, bold freedom in speaking, confidence“] toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, BECAUSE we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment [singular], That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and (agapaō) love one another, as He gave us commandment [singular]. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments [plural] dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
[Note: Can it be any clearer? The Holy Spirit declares, through John, that hereby we shall assure our hearts before God, and know that we know the truth, even by loving the brethren i.e., by keeping and obeying God’s commandments regarding how we are to interact with the brethren. Assurance of salvation is intimately connected not with notionalism, and not with mental assent alone, but in walking in Christ, abiding in the Spirit, and doing what God tells us to do (to the degree that He enables — and yet striving to do, asking to do, and praying to do so more and more, that we may abound in grace and in good works). This passage alone, let alone when combined with all of the others, utterly refutes the arguments of the antinomians and anomians
Remember that the great commandment, the royal law, encapsulates all of the other commandments. You cannot have true faith, nor can you truly (agapaō) love anyone or anything, apart from obeying the extant commandments of God concerning them. See https://spiritualwrestlings.com/2018/06/14/the-true-nature-of-agape-love-how-love-obedience-are-one-and-the-same/ for more details on this very important aspect.
Also note that “…And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” ties directly in with Romans 8:16 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…” and yet see how He does so in light of love / commandment-keeping / obedience / and labours of love.].
1 John 4:1-6 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.“
[Note: This passage appears to affirm the argument that knowing, believing, and thus, confessing the Gospel truth is enough to justify full assurance of salvation. One may be so strong in the gift of faith (see Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) that they have full assurance of salvation without the need of looking towards these other factors. However, for those not so fortunate, we must look to all of what God has decreed and declared to be legitimate evidences of our salvation, and thus our just grounds for assurance. No one should ever belabour the point of assurance through God-wrought faith to the discounting or setting at nought assurance through the other means that God has given us. We have to ask, do we trust God, and His word (holistically considered and expounded) or do we trust the hobby-horsing, traditions, and commandments of men?
Note also that 1 John 4:1-6 doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Though this passage may appear to justify the mental assent alone argument (and maybe it does to a degree) the reality is that 1 John 4:1-6 sits within the context of all of the other “hereby’s” in 1 John. So interpreting something via the immediate context is often good but only to the degree that it harmonizes with the greater, systematic, scripture-wide context concerning the subject at hand]
1 John 4:7-16 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son [to be] the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
1 John 5:1-4 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments [plural]. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith.”
[Did you catch that? Did you catch how clear verse 2 and three were? “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.” This passage, alone, proves that the only way we can show forth true love for the brethren, is by loving God, and keeping His commandments, seeing that keeping His commands (without them being grievous to us) evidences loving God as well. It is within this context of spiritual love and spiritual commandment-keeping that we know we are born of God.]
1John 5:9-13 “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
2 John 1:6 “And this is (agapē) love [i.e. this is the very definition of true love], that we walk after his commandments [plural]. This [i.e. what we just heard, which is, that we walk after His commandments, which is the definition of love] is the [great/royal] commandment [singular], That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
[Note: The Commandment, singular (which is the Great Commandment, the Commandment from the beginning, the Royal Law), incorporates/encapsulates/summarises/brings together under one heading all of the extant commandments (plural) of God. Therefore, love really, truly, and literally is the keeping of those commandments — because in keeping those commandments (plural), we keep/fulfill the great commandment (singular). This is developed more fully here: https://spiritualwrestlings.com/2018/06/14/the-true-nature-of-agape-love-how-love-obedience-are-one-and-the-same/]
How Important Is Assurance of Faith and Assurance of Salvation?
Assurance of faith, i.e. the confidence in the truth and accuracy of the Gospel and the Christ and Godhead it reveals, is an absolutely vital part of salvation — it is of the essence of God-wrought faith. Without such faith, we cannot please God. If we do not believe in Christ (in who He is, what He did, and what He accomplished); if we do not believe the Gospel (but are clinging to damnable heresies/errors) then we have no true faith, we have no confidence in, or trust in, what God declares to be true about His Person, work, judgment, and righteousness. To be in such a state is to be in a lost state.
However, assurance of salvation, though not vital to one’s actual salvation or state before God, is vital to peace, joy, and happiness in the Lord in this life, i.e. during this sojourn. Assurance of salvation, being not of the essence of faith, should never be used to judge someone saved or lost. However, it should never be deemed optional either, as in something that can be ignored, downplayed, or cast aside. We are absolutely commanded to give full diligence in developing assurance of salvation as He bestows it upon us, through the Holy Spirit, in keeping with God-wrought faith and God-wrought love/commandment-keeping/labours of love. Seeking and obtaining this assurance should be something that we eagerly engage in; the problem is that some circles actually promote doubts and fears as proof of assurance (making an idol of it if you will, carrying it about as a badge of honour) and thus never exhort to such earnest and urgent seeking after. Then there are those who erroneously make assurance of salvation of the very essence of faith, thereby placing needless obstacles before those struggling with such things. They declare that if you do not have assurance, you do not have faith, and that your lack of assurance stems from not trusting in mental assent alone, i.e. not looking to faith in the Gospel alone, as your evidence. They would set at nought the hereby’s and other proof-texts in the Bible concerning the matter, and would utterly reject (despite all of the passages proving it) that our works play a major role in our assurance of salvation. Again, for some it doesn’t. That can boil down to two things, (1) a powerful faith or (2) gross presumption (the latter is usually accompanied by antinomian/anomian doctrines, and doctrinal arguments, especially those that seek to distance Christians from commandment-keeping, doing righteousness, and engaging in labours of love).
Either way, neither of these two camps act biblically; neither of them do both of the following, and this is (a) recognise the very real presence of a lack of assurance (doubts and fears) in the hearts of many true believers whilst also (b) giving them the proper remedy against it. And what is that proper remedy? It is exhorting them to (1) seek that gift called faith from God all the more, by asking for it, praying for it, and being immersed deeply in His word; (2) keeping an eye closely stayed on Christ (His Person, character, virtues, incarnation, great work of redemption, exaltation, and His return) as the Spirit enables; and (3) diligently working the works of faith, labouring in love, ministering, keeping (guarding in our hearts) God’s commandments, and striving to do obey all that he calls and instructs us to do in this era (albeit in His strength, by His Spirit).
Also, take note of the order of things; we are very clearly instructed in…
Philippians 2:12-13 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out [katergazomai, “to perform, accomplish, achieve, finish, achieve, bring about“] your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh [energeō, different word than “work out” in the verse before, with this one meaning “operates, acts in an operative capacity, is the energizing force or power; is active and/or effectual, is at work, puts forth power“] in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.”
[Note: It is clear that we work out our own salvation (not in the sense of justification, establishing a righteousness for ourselves before God, regenerating ourselves, granting ourselves faith, repentance, love, etc. — No, what God is saying is ‘walk as I command you to walk, do as I tell you to do, deny yourself, and put forth that great effort knowing that the success you have in that endeavour is one-hundred percent because of Me operating in you, and through you.’
We simply cannot promote v13 at the expense of v12 — to do so is folly — and yet, to do so is common in many grace circles. We are to buffet our bodies daily, we are to mortify the deeds of the flesh, we are to take up our cross, we are to deny ourselves, we are to follow Christ, and we are to keep His commandments so as to do them. To the extent we do not do these things; or to the extent that we want to kick against these truths; or want to call them “creature effort,” or “working for salvation” (when God simply calls it being obedient to Him and His word), we do so to our own harm, and even peril. In light of everything so far, no one should expect assurance via “mental assent alone” if they are not being diligent in adding virtue to faith, if they are not diligent in making their calling and election sure in conjunction with good works and labours of love, and if they are not working out their own salvation with fear and trembling.]
Regarding the combined importance of assurance of faith and assurance of hope/salvation, consider,
Hebrews 3:1, 6-8 “1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; … 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence [parrēsia;“assurance, confidence, frankness, bold freedom in speaking”] and the rejoicing of the hope [elpis; “pleasant or joyful anticipation; expectation of good; hope”] firm unto the end. 7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness”
[Note: Again, interpret the above in light of Hebrews 6:9-12 “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. 10 For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work [ergon; “deeds, doings, toilings, labour, work”] and labour [kopos; “beatings (as of the breast in grief), sorrows, intense labour united with trouble and sorrows, toils”] of (agapē) love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered [diakoneō; “served, attended unto others, been a servant towards, waited upon, ministered to, supplied the needs of”] to the saints, and do minister [diakoneō] 11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”]
Hebrews 10:19-24 “Having therefore, brethren, boldness [parrēsia; same as in related passages] to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And [having] an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance [plērophoria; “abundant, much, or full assurance, most certain confidence“] of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works…“
[Note: Again, we see boldness/confidence/assurance linked not only to what the Lord has done for us through His precious blood, i.e. linked not only to the vital Gospel truths and a belief in them, but through faith and love and good works.]
Hebrew 3:12-15 “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence [hypostasis;“the substance, supporting substructure, foundation, realness, essence, concreteness, solid trust, resolution, firmness, assurance”] stedfast [bebaios; “stable, firm, fast/steadfast, sure”] unto the end; 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”
Colossians 1:19-23 “For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope [elpis; “pleasant or joyful anticipation; expectation of good; hope”] of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister…”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and [that] spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful [anxious, fearful, doubtful, full of dread] in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”
[Note: Ultimately, spiritually, the Lord Himself is our hope. We are to hold fast to Him and the Gospel that reveals Him. However, we should do so with a steady, unshakeable confidence, even assurance, and the God-revealed means of having such assurance is to take a holistic approach. Again, read the word seeing that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Keep your eye stayed/focused on Him through His word and through meditation upon it. And yet, strive to read the word so as to keep His word, His commandments, in your heart, guarding these precious truths. Likewise, seek to obey, pray for grace to obey, that we be not empty hearers only, but doers of the word. These are the God-ordained means for assurance of faith — we should never set any of them at nought]
When it comes to the matter of having the full assurance of one’s personal interest in Christ, of having full assurance of personal salvation in the Lord, there are many assertions, and many opinions, but often very little detailed references (holistically speaking) to the word of God. We cannot settle the matter through echo chambers; we cannot settle the matter through psittacism (the empty parroting of words); nor can we do so through ‘witty’ memes, soundbites, and other forms of incomplete and/or knee-jerk responses. Such things are usually more reflective of carnal indoctrination than edifying, spiritual instruction. Thus, Scripture alone (and not human philosophy, word-craftiness, and repetition of thought) must be the final arbiter of what assurance is, what the grounds for it should be, and what the means are for obtaining it, if it is lacking. Put your trust in God, and His word, and not in men — especially not in men who would set the extant, spiritual commandments of God at nought. The true Christian is not lawless, not without law, not antinomian/anomian. The true Christian has been saved, even delivered, to love the law of God, to delight in it, and to serve it after the inner man, in newness of (spiritual) life, and not in carnal manner, after the letter.
To God be the glory, forever and ever, amen.