A Little Time With The 1689: Day 241

Day 241

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 4.

“…that Love of Christ, and the brethren, that sincerity of Heart, and Conscience of duty, out of which by the operation of the Spirit, this Assurance may in due time be revived: and by the which in the meantime they are preserved from utter despair.”

Scripture Lookup

Psalm 42:5,11
Lamentations 3:26-31


When a true Christian is struggling with assurance of salvation, despite whatever she may be feeling, there are remaining evidences within her that prove she is regenerate. The Holy Spirit remains with her. She still has faith. She loves Christ and His church, knows the good she ought to do, and desires to do it. Can this be said of someone who has not been changed? These are not marks of an unregenerate person.

If you are not so much as a smoking flax, then why do you not renounce your interest in Christ, and disclaim the covenant of grace? This you dare not do. Why do you not give yourself up wholly to other pleasures? This your spirit will not allow you to do….Cast yourself into the arms of Christ, and if you perish, perish there. If you do not, you are sure to perish. If mercy is to be found anywhere, it is there.

-Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

Such weak confidence will not last forever. Through the Spirit working in her, the Christian will be brought to a strong assurance again. God will keep His people. If you are a struggling Christian, rest in Him. Believe that certain assurance of being in a state of grace will be yours once again.

Questions to Consider

  • Does God ever leave His people to perish?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 240

Day 240

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 4.

“…yet are they never destitute of the seed of God, and Life of Faith,…”

Scripture Lookup

1 John 3:9
Luke 22:32


You’re struggling with assurance. Through neglect of the ordinary means God has provided, falling into a particularly grievous sin, struck by a powerful temptation, or not enjoying the blessing of God’s countenance, you wonder if you were ever saved to begin with. It sure doesn’t feel that way right now. What do you do, then?

Those who are truly in Christ, although they may have little assurance that they are His, are never cut off from God’s promise of keeping them until the end. If you hate your sin, love Christ, and desire to please God, these are indications that you are one of His. The Holy Spirit is still within you, for He has promised never to leave you. He still witnesses with your spirit that you are His child. He still will keep you to the end. He still works in you to will and to do His good pleasure. He still works repentance in you. He still sanctifies you.

There may be times when you wonder if you are His. You thought you had faith, but now you don’t know. Unbelief may seem like an easier path. Yet for the true Christian, it will be impossible to walk away from your faith. You may feel bereft of God, unloved, unfavored, but through it all your spirit will continue to cry, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Christian struggling with assurance, be assured. The Holy Spirit and your faith give evidence you are His.

Questions to Consider

  • Do unregenerate people struggle with assurance of faith?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 239


Day 239

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 4.

“…by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light;…”

Scripture Lookup

Psalm 30:7


“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

These are words the Lord gives to comfort those that are His. He does not lie.

There are times, though, when true believers do not have the light of His countenance upon them. The Lord has sovereignly purposed for these children of His to experience walking in darkness. The blessing of God’s favor is not felt. Rather, His displeasure and discipline are constantly before her. At these times, assurance of salvation wanes.

What should a Christian do in such situations? Knowing that assurance can falter during such times helps to prepare for if those times come. If you have sin to confess, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. The promises of God have not changed, even if our feelings have. Remember that, when the darkness engulfs you and you don’t know when His face will shine on you again.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. -James 4:8

Questions to Consider

  • Have you ever experienced God withdrawing His countenance?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 238

Day 238

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 4.

“True Believers may have the assurance of their Salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special Sin, which woundeth the Conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation,…”

Scripture Lookup

Canticles (Song of Solomon) 5:2,3,6
Psalm 51:8,12,14
Psalm 116:11; 77:7,8, 31:22


Assurance of salvation is not something that, once obtained, remains vibrant throughout the course of the believer’s life. Certain circumstances can cause it to wane. Three such circumstances are: neglecting its preservation, falling into a especially conscience-pricking sin, and by an extremely passionate temptation. At such times assurance is naturally frail.

How does a believer neglect the preservation of her assurance? By neglecting to make her calling and election sure. Ignore the means of grace provided, refuse to avail yourself of what God has given to enlarge your heart in joy and thankfulness to Him, and confidence in your salvation will wane.

Certain sins cause great anguish of the conscience. While all sin is horrible, there are sins that are especially heartbreaking. They also grieve the Spirit, the same Spirit that works repentance in us. When a conscience is crushed and the Spirit grieved, assurance of salvation is low.

Temptation is not sin. However, it can come upon you so strongly and suddenly that any confidence carried is knocked out of you. This is not temptation that we face daily, but as Sam Waldron writes in his commentary on the Confession,

…the authors of the Confession apparently intend us to think here…of an overwhelming trial or solicitation to evil which for a time so shakes the believer’s emotional frame that he questions his assurance.

These are all ways a believer can diminish her assurance. Thankfully, that assurance, although brought low, will not be quenched. May we pray for strength to persevere no matter the state of our assurance.

Questions to Consider

  • What should a Christian do when her assurance is low?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 237

Day 237

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 3.

“…and therefore it is the duty of every one, to give all diligence to make their Calling and Election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this Assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness.”

Scripture Lookup

Romans 5:1,2,5, 14:17

Psalm 119:32

Romans 6:1,2

Titus 2:11,12,14


Struggling with assurance? What should you do? Is there anything you can do? While we cannot merit our salvation, we can have assurance that we are saved. Through the means that God has provided, the Spirit enables us to know what He has freely given to the believer. Prayer, Scripture, the Lord’s Supper, baptism, worshiping with the saints are such means. Participating in them may feel as if you are rowing against the tide, but as you continue, the load lessens and the joy of assurance is obtained.

When you are hungry yet wish to feel full, you do not reject food given for your nourishment. Likewise, if you are struggling with assurance, do not neglect what is beneficial for your soul. These have been given to enlarge your heart in the joy and peace of the Spirit!

Settled in your assurance? What should you do? Does infallible assurance mean a free pass to sit on the couch and do nothing? Of course not! A result of such assurance is that the believer cheerfully obeys her Lord’s commands. This doesn’t look much different than what the unsure believer is to do, and the result of a heart enlarged in the joy and peace of the Spirit is also the same. Each receive strength to obey, with love and thankfulness to God. Assurance is the wind that pushes our sails onward in Christian obedience.

Resting in Christ, with assurance confirmed with inward evidence of saving graces, does not mean retirement from Christian life. The believer presses on, availing herself of the nourishment He has spread for her. Continue to work out your salvation, then, with fear and trembling, confident that God is working in you.

Questions to Consider

  • How diligent are you at making your calling and election sure?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 236

Day 236

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 3.

“This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true Believer, may wait long and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may without extraordinary revelation in the right use of means, attain thereunto:…”

Scripture Lookup

Isaiah 50:10

Psalm 88

Psalm 77:1-12

1 John 4:13

Hebrews 6:11,12


Confidence of salvation will always mark a true believer: yes or no?

True faith brings assurance, but it does not necessarily bring it immediately. While the saving graces of God enact change in a believer, such changes may cause her to question her salvation. Especially when struggling with certain sins, frustration and despair tend to surface: “Walking in holiness isn’t coming easily – what’s wrong with me? I must not be one of Christ’s elect. He wouldn’t want someone like me.” Such thinking, though misinformed, can be thought by believers. After all, in the irreconcilable fight against the flesh, the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail (Confession 13.3).

Although assurance may not come to a believer for a time, a comforting fact is it will come eventually. We do not need to wait until we die to know if we are truly saved. The Spirit guiding us into all truth through the means of grace that God has provided – Scripture, prayer, worshiping with the saints, the Lord’s Supper and so on – enables us to obtain such a blessed assurance.

Questions to Consider

  • If you are struggling with whether you are truly saved, what should you do?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 235

Day 235

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 2.

“…and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and as a fruit thereof keeping the heart both humble and holy.”

Scripture Lookup

2 Peter 1:4,5,10,11
Romans 8:15,16
1 John 3:1-3


Our assurance of being in a state of grace is founded upon the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. He is the rock to which we cling, rather than to our own guesses. However, we have more than Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice to give us confidence that we are saved. The graces that regenerate us manifest themselves to us. The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are adopted by God.

The saving graces that God has granted to believers do not lie hidden. Faith enables the soul to be “cast upon the truth thus believed”, as the Confession put is in chapter 14. Sanctification battles the remaining corruption within. Repentance produces sorrow for one’s sin, a hatred of it, and a plea for forgiveness. Through this desire to please God, through the struggle against sin, and through supplication for strength to continue the fight, the believer sees that a change has been wrought in her.

Along with the internal evidence that bolsters assurance, the Holy Spirit witnesses with ours that we are adopted by God. He makes known to believers that we are His children. All the privileges of being in Christ belong to us. We have access to His throne. We are protected, pitied and chastened as children. Comfort is brought to us by the Comforter that we are not cast off.

Such confidence in being saved should never be cause for pride. As the Spirit and the word work in us, we learn even more how lavish God’s love is for us, and how little we deserve it. Arrogance is not in keeping with assurance. May we never boast in our standing, but on the glories and riches of our God.

Questions to Consider

  • Is assurance something that you struggle with?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 234

Day 234

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 2.

“This certainty is not a bare conjectural, and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the Blood and Righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel;…”

Scripture Lookup

Hebrews 6:11,19
Hebrews 6:17,18


My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…

How can a person be certainly sure she’s saved?

Lofty musings of theologians and philosophers do not grant full confidence of salvation. Educated guesses do not produce full confidence. You can’t base your assurance on the odds, for there is always a chance they are not in your favor. Such hope is capable of error.

The assurance a believer has is not speculative or theoretical. Our confidence rests on the utter reality that Jesus lived, lived perfectly, and died in the place of His people. This assurance is incapable of error. God Himself has lived and died for you, you to whom He has granted faith and repentance. You are His, and He is yours.

…all other ground is sinking sand. -Edward Mote

Questions to Consider

  • On what do you base your assurance? Are you basing your confidence in guesses, or do you have the infallible assurance of faith?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 233

Day 233

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

Chapter 18, Paragraph 1.

“Although temporary Believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes, and carnal presumptions, of being in the favor of God, and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good Conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of Grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God which hope shall never make them ashamed.”

Scripture Lookup

Job 8:13,14

Matthew 7:22,23

1 John 2:3, 3:14,18,19,21,24, 5:13

Romans 5:2,5


They are among you. Going through the motions, confident in their assumption, and claiming Christ are people who are not regenerate at all. If they can deceive themselves, what about us? How can we have assurance that we are graciously saved?

It is possible to be certain of your salvation. The marks of a true believer laid out in this paragraph of the Confession are: belief, love, and striving. Do you believe Jesus to be fully God and fully man, the mediator between God and man? Does this knowledge cause affection towards Him, and a desire to please Him? Is this desire acted upon to produce good works? When all the components are there, we need not be agitated as to the state of our soul.

Confidently rest assured that you are in Christ, but do not take it for granted. Examine yourselves periodically: am I sincere? Do I believe in Jesus? Am I endeavoring to follow His commands? Affirmations to these questions enable us to rejoice at the glory of God, who saves sinners such as ourselves! Such hope will not disappoint.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you assuming your salvation, or are you certain of your salvation?

“Yes, child, if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved.”

Since I’m not watching the World Cup and just watching my Texas Rangers continue to struggle with injuries (it is still baseball season. I don’t know what I will be watching in October.), I wanted to say I just read Mark Jones’ latest blog post over at Reformation21. He asked “If you are a Christian parent with young children, do you consider your children to be Christians?” My initial answer is no. But then my second answer would be, “Can they and have they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for justification?” Let me say at the outset I am a Reformed Baptist.

I do not hold to an age of accountability, yet I find it hard to believe that my 7 month old child could grasp and comprehend her sinfulness and my plea for her to believe and trust in the Lord Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, or to be as believing Thomas when he said upon seeing Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” That would be the simplest belief one would need to state in order to be saved.  I know my daughter cannot say this and believe with any assurance at this point in her life, yet even now I call on her to repent. This is mostly so that I will be in the habit of leading her to Christ, and also to cultivate this in her from a very early age. Pastor Jones also states that when thinking about this issue the Presbyterians were “judging this to the terms of the covenant.” Again, as a Reformed Baptist, I whole heartedly agree. So I must ask the question: “Which covenant?” Jeremiah 31:31-34 says:

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (NASB).

The New Covenant in the blood of Christ says that God will be their God and they shall be my people. They will not teach…each man…to know the Lord, for they will all know Me…” This tells us that there will not be a mixed people. We shall not have to teach those in the covenant to know the Lord. They will know the Lord and be part of His covenant people. This is the foundation of the New Covenant. The Covenant promises will be found in those who have God’s law written on their heart because their sin is forgiven and not remembered for it was nailed to the cross of Christ. Knowing this, we can now answer Pastor Jones questions. He asks 5:

When my children sin and ask forgiveness from God, can I assure them that their sins are forgiven?”

Yes, the same way you would with an adult. Our justification is in Christ alone. Those who had the faith of Abraham are the ones who are the children of Abraham. Chapter 14, paragraph 2 from the Second London Confession quoting the Westminster states of the grace of saving faith the following, “By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself…acteth differently, upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come: But the principal acts of Saving Faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life by virtue of the covenant of grace(italics are my emphasis and bold is added in the Baptist Confession).” If your child can believe in Jesus Christ for justification, sanctification and eternal life then you can tell them their sins are forgiven. When can they believe this? The earlier the better, and all Christians have the solemn obligation and command to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

When I ask my children to obey me in the Lord should I get rid of the indicative-imperative model for Christian ethics? On what grounds do I ask my three-year old son to forgive his twin brother? Because it is the nice thing to do? Or because we should forgive in the same way Christ has forgiven us?”

No. We instruct our children to “forgive us our debts as we forgive others.” Our forgiving others is to be based on the forgiveness found in the Lord Jesus Christ. All of this is a tool to evangelize our children. The way our children treat their siblings is an opportunity to show how we are rebel children in Adam and that reconciliation with God means reconciliation in our elder brother Jesus. Only when we have true forgiveness can we forgive others. We must tell our children to come to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ and only then can we forgive in the same way God has forgiven us.

Can my children sing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’ and enjoy all of the benefits spoken of in that song? (‘To him belong…He will wash away my sin’)”

No. Unless they trust in Christ alone for the receiving of those benefits. Chapter 11 in the Second London Confession and the Westminster: “Those whom God effectually called, He also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole Law, and passive obedience in His death, for their whole and sole righteousness, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God (bold section added by Savoy and Second London Confessions).” We should teach them the song, but they can only sing it with a true, saving faith when they’re resting on Christ alone.

When my children pray during family worship to their heavenly Father, what are the grounds for them praying such a prayer? Do they have any right to call God their ‘heavenly Father’? Do non-Christians cry ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8:15)?”

Here is how one has the grounds to call out to the heavenly Father: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13; NASB). We must evangelize our children and yet instruct them to pray as Jesus instructs people to pray. One need only be born again to have the right to call God Heavenly Father. All people have an interest and command in calling out to God as He has revealed Himself. The only way one has the right if He has been born again.

Should I desire that my children have a “boring” testimony? (Though a testimony to God’s covenant promises can never be boring, of course). Is it not enough for them to simply say each day that they trust in Christ alone for their salvation?”

The only desire a parent should have regarding the testimony of our children is that they know God and are known by Him. This comes from an effectual call to God’s elect in Christ in the Covenant of Grace who receive and rest upon Christ alone whereby they become children of the Heavenly Father and can only then have   assurance by loving Him and keeping His commandments.

Thank you Pastor Jones for asking these questions. Even as a Baptist I ask these questions. On the judgment of charity, I call upon my child (Lord willing my wife and I may be able to say children) to call upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Peter did to those who heard him preach and they will be saved and can sing and know for sure “Jesus loves me.” We both have become convinced of this position because we believe “for the Bible tells me so. We are weak and He is strong.” I’m thankful for your work. I don’t consider myself wiser than you. I am simply answering as a convinced Reformed Baptist how I deal with these questions. We still are brothers in Christ and long for the day when all is set right and we know finally who belongs to the Lord. Until that day, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus Come!

(In case all have forgotten, it is baseball season. I’ll be watching my Texas Rangers until the end of September. October looks like it may be out of sight.)