Is a Full Assurance of Faith Attainable? Or is it only a Presumption?

I John 5:19
       And we know we are of God.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): My text assures us, that this assurance was possessed in the first ages of the church. There were some who could say, without hesitation, “We know that we are of God,” and though they are an apostle’s words, he uses them not exclusively as an apostle, but generally as a believer.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY (1713-1758): Some would persuade us that it is impossible for us to receive knowledge of salvation by the remission of sin. Such a denial is very opposite to the usual tenor of God’s proceeding with His people in all ages.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Oh! my dear hearers, never believe that falsehood—that a man cannot know himself to be a child of God.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Among the “decrees” of the Council of Trent (1563), which is the avowed standard of Popery, we find the following: “If any one shall affirm with positive and absolute certainty, that he shall surely have the gift of perseverance to the end let him be accursed!”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There are Protestants, and some of them very good Protestants, who tend to hold the same teaching. They do so for the reason that they regard assurance as presumption…I have known devout Christians who regard the claim to assurance of salvation as the hall-mark of superficiality and ignorance of doctrine―I am not exaggerating―there have been sections of the Church that have been so much afraid of false joy that they have gone to the other extreme and, as I say—ridiculous though it is and sounds—they have a kind of contentment only when they have felt utterly miserable and complete failures.

C. H. SPURGEON: There is a certain breed of Calvinists, whom I do not envy, who are always jeering and sneering as much as ever they can at the full assurance of faith. I have seen their long faces; I have heard their whining periods, and read their dismal sentences, in which they say something to this effect—“Groan in the Lord alway, and again I say, groan! He that mourneth and weepeth, he that doubteth and feareth, he that distrusteth and dishonoureth his God, shall be saved.” That seems to be the sum and substance of their very ungospel-like gospel…
      A lady called upon me in some distress of mind, and this was her difficulty: She had, she trusted, been converted to God, enjoyed great peace of mind, and for a little season was very full of joy; because she believed that she had been forgiven, and was accepted in the beloved. Naturally enough, she went to the clergyman. [But] when she began to tell him concerning her joy, he checked her, by saying, “My good woman, this is all presumption.” “Nay, sir,” said she “I trust not; my hope is fixed on nothing else than Jesus; I repose alone in Him.” “That is right enough,” said he, “but you have no authority to say you know you are saved; you have no authority to believe that you are already pardoned.” And he told her that he did not believe it possible for any Christian to be assured of this except for a very few eminent saints―they might hope, that was all; they might trust but they could never be sure.

JOHN NEWTON: If assurance is supposed unattainable, it will consequently not be sought after.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Well, I must know that it’s possible for me to be assured of my salvation…Assurance of salvation has always been the mark of a live church, not some vague belief, or some hopefulness that ultimately we may become Christians.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY: The best believers, and the strongest, may indeed have their occasional fainting fits of doubt as to their own particular interest in Christ; nor should I have any great opinion of that man’s faith who was to tell me that he never had any doubts at all. But still there are golden seasons when the soul is on the mount of communion with God; when the Spirit of His Son shines into our hearts, giving us boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There are some Christians who never have assurance of salvation. This is quite wrong, they should have it.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Such is Satan’s envy and enmity against a Christian’s joy and comfort, that he cannot but act to the utmost to keep poor souls in doubt and darkness. Satan knows that assurance is a pearl of such price that will make the soul happy for ever; he knows that assurance makes a Christian’s wilderness to be a paradise; he knows that assurance begets in Christians the most noble and generous spirits; he knows that assurance will make men strong to do exploits, to shake his tottering kingdom about his ears; and therefore he is as very studious and industrious to keep souls off from assurance, as he was to cast Adam out of paradise.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: If the devil can succeed in making us think along these lines, he has obviously already achieved his end and object, and he will easily keep us in a fearful, unhappy state—sometimes up, sometimes down, probably more down than up, and almost afraid to be happy.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Mark how the devil does not care so much to ride his own horses―but he labours to employ the saints in his work, if he can, to get one which belongs to God to do his business.

RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752): Beware of thinking that assurance is not attainable; that it is attainable, see Isaiah 45:24; 63:16; II Corinthians 5:1; Romans 8:39. Some think it is their duty to live doubting, and imagine they would sin, if they should seek assurance; but it is a duty commanded as well as other duties: Wherefore, brethren, give all diligence to make your calling and election sure, II Peter 1:10.

C. H. SPURGEON: For those of us who have put on the Lord Jesus, we know of a surety that there is such a thing as infallible assurance; we know that although there is such a thing as presumption, there is a distinction which every Christian can easily mark between the one and the other. Presumption says, “I am a child of God, and I may live as like. I know I am saved, I need not therefore seek to have present communion with Christ.” But Assurance says, “I know whom I have believed; I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day,” 2 Timothy 1:12. And then she meekly bows her head, and says, “Hold thou me up and I shall be safe, keep me and I shall be kept; draw me and I will run after thee.”

WILLIAM PERKINS (1558-1602): Hence we learn that the doctrine of the Church of Rome, and of all others which hold that man cannot be assured of their salvation by faith, is wicked and damnable: for hereby they cut off a part of Christ’s prophesied office, whereof the dignity doth consist in assuring a man particularly of the truth of God’s promises unto himself.

 

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