“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” – 1 John 5:11-13
The Apostle John is of great help and comfort as he brings clarity to two matters in the Christian life that are a sincere struggle for many believers- those being assurance and perseverance. What are the doctrines of “assurance of faith” and the “perseverance of the saints”? How do we grow in the knowledge and practice of them, bearing the fruit of such?
As John teaches, assurance of faith is having a grace wrought conviction of your belonging to Jesus, that you have been pardoned and forgiven of your sins, and will inherit eternal life. Assurance is not only believing in Christ for salvation, but knowing you believe. As we experience this assurance, we joy in the Lord (as David did in Psalm 34, which you can read more about here). We also experience a sense of belonging as sons and daughters in God’s family, along with freedom from the guilt of our sin. Praise the Lord!
But how do we obtain such assurance? 1) We rest and trust in God’s faithfulness (Psalm 119:90, 1 Thess. 5:23-24), 2) We cling to His promises (Psalm 63:8), 3) We have the internal testimony of the Spirit in our hearts (Galatians 4:6), and 4) We see the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in us (1 John 3:10-14).
As we consider perseverance, we recognize the preserving work of God in His people. By divine preservation, all believers persevere in true faith and in the works that come from our lively faith. Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 17.1, Of the Perseverance of the Saints, states it this way: “They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”
Further, our assurance and perseverance are wonderfully connected. See and be encouraged by how assurance helps the believer persevere. Assurance encourages us to rest on divine grace in Christ and His promises in the Gospel. It also shows us these to be a convincing motive for obedience in Christian living. Also, perseverance opens the path for assurance. It confirms for us that we are not only in a state of grace, but will continue in that state of grace. God grows and builds our assurance as we press on in doing the good works that we have been created in Christ Jesus to do.
May God grant us all grace to grow in both knowledge and joy of His Spirit’s work in us in these ways this week. Believe, trust, and rest in Christ and His promises. Serve Him with your whole heart!
Grace and Peace to you,