Assurance: Some Biblical Test Questions

Romans 14:22
       Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God.

WILLIAM COWPER (1731-1800): ’Tis a point I long to know;
                                                                       Oft it causes anxious thought;
                                                                          Do I love the Lord or no?
                                                                            Am I His, or am I not?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): “Am I really a child of God?” Now, I will say what some of you may think a strong thing; but I do not believe that he is a child of God who never raised that question.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): There are some serious souls, that think because they have some unbelief, that therefore they have no faith at all…and there are others that think they have no faith at all, because they feel corruption struggling more, and growing more troublesome to them.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): Some think they have no faith at all because they have no full assurance, whereas the fairest fire that can be will have some smoke. The best actions will smell of the smoke. The mortar wherein garlic has been stamped will always smell of it; so all our actions will savour something of the old man.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Well then, let not the upright be unjust to themselves in censuring their own hearts; they are bad enough, but let us not make them worse than they are, but thankfully own and acknowledge the least degrees of grace and integrity in them. And possibly our uprightness might be sooner discovered to us, if, in a due composure of spirit, we would sit down and attend the true answers of our own hearts to such questions as these:
      Question 1. Do I make the approbation of God, or the applause of men, the very end and main design of my religious performances, according to 1 Thessalonians 2:4, Colossians 3:23? Will the acceptation of my duties with men satisfy me, whether God accept my duties and person or not?

JOSEPH ALLEINE (1634-1668): When the main thing that ordinarily moves a man to religious duties is some carnal end—as to satisfy his conscience, to get the reputation of being religious, to be seen of men, to show his own gifts and talents, to avoid the reproach of being a profane and irreligious person, or the like—this reveals an unsound heart.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Self-ends are the operative ingredients in all a hypocrite does.

JOHN FLAVEL: Question 2. Can I truly and heartily rejoice to see God’s work carried on in the world, and his glory promoted by other hands, though I have no share in the credit and honour of it, as Paul did? Philippians 1:18.

OBADIAH SEDGWICK (1600-1658): Self-love, pride, and vainglory fill the sails of the hypocrite.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): All who are desirous of vain-glory are called hypocrites.

JOHN FLAVEL: Question 3. Is there no duty in religion so full of difficulty and self-denial, but I desire to comply with it? And is all the holy and good will of God acceptable to my soul, though I cannot rise up with like readiness to the performance of all duties according to that pattern, Psalm 119:6?

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Christ subjected Himself to the moral law, and did apply the precepts to Himself, no less than to us; and so is a pattern of obedience to us, that we ought to direct and order all our actions according to the law and word of God.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It ought to be the great care of every one of us to follow the Lord fully. We must in a course of obedience to God’s will, and service to his Honour, follow Him universally, without dividing; uprightly, without dissembling; cheerfully, without disputing; and constantly, without declining; and this is following Him fully.

JOHN FLAVEL: Question 4. Do I make no conscience of committing secret sins, or neglecting secret duties? Or am I conscientious both in the one and the other, according to the rules and patterns of integrity, Matthew 6:5,6; Psalm 19:12?

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): It is the trick of the hypocrite to strain himself to the utmost in duty when he hath spectators, and to be careless alone.

THOMAS BROOKS: No hypocrite is totally divorced from the love and liking of every known sin. There is still some secret lust, which as a sweet morsel he rolls under his tongue, and will not spit it out.

WILLIAM GURNALL: A sincere Christian abhors all sin: “Order thou my steps in thy word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me,” Psalm 119:133.

JOHN FLAVEL: Question 5. Is it the reproach and shame that attends sin at present, and the danger and misery that will follow it hereafter, that restrains me from the commission of it? Or is it the fear of God in my soul, and the hatred I bear to it as it is sin, according to Psalm 19:12 and Psalm 119:113?

GEORGE HARPUR (died 1899): Many a one hates iniquity, not for its own sake, but for the sake of its consequences.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): A man, perhaps, will not get drunk for fear of making his head ache; a man may be honest because it would spoil his reputation to steal.

C. H. SPURGEON: The ungodly, if they do right after a fashion, do it from fear of punishment or hope of reward; but the true-born children of God find the love of Christ their sole motive. They are obedient not because they are afraid of being lost—they know they never shall be; not because they hope to get to heaven by their good works—they have heaven already by the works of another, guaranteed to them by the promise of God; but they serve God out of pure gratitude for what they have received, rejoicing as they work in the service of one they love so well.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Goodness motivated by fear of punishment or selfish desire for reward, are idle damnable sins.

JOHN FLAVEL: Question 6. Am I sincerely resolved to follow Christ and holiness at all seasons, however the aspects of the times be upon religion? Of do I carry myself so warily and covertly as to shun all hazards for religion; having a secret reserve in my heart to launch out no farther than I may return with safety; contrary to the practice and resolution of upright souls, Psalm 116:3; Psalm 44:18,19; Revelation 22:11?

WILLIAM GURNALL: The hypocrite shifts his sails, and puts forth such colours as his policy and worldly interest adviseth. If the coast be clear, and no danger at hand, he will appear religious as any; but no sooner he makes discovery of any hazard it may put him to, but he tacks about, and shapes another course, making no bones of juggling with God and man. He counts that his right road which leads to his temporal safety.

C. H. SPURGEON: Let each of us ask this question—Am I more decisive for right? At the same time, am I more meek in standing up for it?

JOHN FLAVEL: A few such questions solemnly propounded to our own hearts, in a calm and serious hour, would sound them, and discover much of their sincerity towards the Lord.


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