#29 The Holy Spirit’s Certain Assurance
Do you have any guarantees, perhaps for a new appliance, a car maintenance agreement, or an electronic device contract? If the guarantee is for accidental or instrumental breakage, we hope we won’t need to use it. We are required to have auto insurance, but don’t want to invoke the clauses that read, “in the event of….” On the other hand, we use our medical insurance frequently because our bodies are in a state of decay as we age. But there is a limit of coverage every year. This world and life are temporary, so anything we cling to for hope will either expire or buy us some more time and comfort. There is nothing permanent that won’t, in some way, get used up or fail to deliver. In contrast, when God promises something, he fulfills his contract, because he can’t and won’t ever do otherwise. We can’t lose our salvation because God doesn’t “undo” anything. Christ won’t redo his crucifixion or resurrection. His finished work fulfills God’s plan and promise of merciful redemption for all eternity. Our personal feelings or perspectives about Christ’s atonement for sin vary from time to time because we are fallen, unreliable people who struggle with our flesh and doubts. For more consistent, steadfast faithfulness, we turn to God’s Word to remember what he has promised. Our hearts, minds, and souls remember that God has assured us “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The Holy Spirit called us to Christ, opened and transformed our hearts and minds, applying his redemption. He continues to guarantee our hope, adoption, and glorious inheritance in Christ. We are called to cling firmly to our hope in Christ through the Holy Spirit, anchored to him, for our assurance that God will do all he has promised.
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:17-20) “Hope has its degrees, as faith also. The promise of blessedness God has made to believers, is from God’s eternal purpose, settled between the eternal Father, Son, and Spirit. These promises of God may safely be depended upon; for here we have two things which cannot change, the counsel and the oath of God, in which it is not possible for God to lie; it would be contrary to his nature as well as to his will. And as He cannot lie, the destruction of the unbeliever, and the salvation of the believer, are alike certain. Here observe, those to whom God has given full security of happiness, have a title to the promises by inheritance. The consolations of God are strong enough to support his people under their heaviest trials. Here is a refuge for all sinners who flee to the mercy of God, through the redemption of Christ, according to the covenant of grace, laying aside all other confidences. We are in this world as a ship at sea, tossed up and down, and in danger of being cast away. We need an anchor to keep us sure and steady. Gospel hope is our anchor in the storms of this world. It is sure and steadfast, or it could not keep us so. The free grace of God, the merits and mediation of Christ, and the powerful influences of his Spirit, are the grounds of this hope, and so it is a steadfast hope.” (1)
“The resurrection of Jesus is the ‘assurance’ or pledge God has given that his revelation is true and worthy of acceptance. The ‘full assurance of faith’ (Heb. 10:22) is a fullness of faith in God which leaves no room for doubt…This full assurance is not of the essence of saving faith. It is the result of faith, and posterior to it in the order of nature, and so frequently also in the order of time. True believers may be destitute of it. Trust itself is something different from the evidence that we do trust. Believers, moreover, are exhorted to go on to something beyond what they at present have…Genuine assurance naturally leads to a legitimate and abiding peace and joy, and to love and thankfulness to God; and these from the very laws of our being to greater buoyancy, strength, and cheerfulness in the practice of obedience in every department of duty. This assurance may in various ways be shaken, diminished, and intermitted, but the principle out of which it springs can never be lost.” (2) The Holy Spirit never abandons us but always works to increase our confidence in God and diminish our confidence in the world, our sin nature, and in the devil’s schemes and temptations. He provides our soul’s longing for a glorious inheritance in Christ. If we hold tightly to our hope in Christ through the Holy Spirit, anchored to him, we will never be ashamed or disappointed.
“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us…The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him…” (Romans 5:5; 8:16-17) “Some suppose that if we have received the Spirit of adoption there must be produced a steady and uniform assurance, a perpetual fire burning upon the altar of the heart. Not so. When the Son of God became incarnate, He condescended to yield unto all the sinless infirmities of human nature, so that He hungered and ate, wearied and slept…In Heaven the man Christ Jesus is glorified; and in Heaven the Spirit in the Christian will shine like a perpetual star. But on earth, He indwells our hearts like a flickering flame; never to be extinguished, but not always bright, and needing to be guarded from rude blasts, or why bid us ‘quench not the Spirit’ (1 Thess. 5:19)?…The Christian is not always in the enjoyment of a child-like confidence. And why? Because he is often guilty of ‘grieving’ the Spirit, and then, He withholds much of His comfort. Hereby we may ascertain our communion with God and when it is interrupted, when He be pleased or displeased with us—by the motions or withdrawings of the Spirit’s consolation…In all genuine Christians there is a co-mingling of real confidence and false diffidence, because as long as they remain on this earth there is in them the root of faith and the root of doubt. Hence their prayer is ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief’ (Mark 9:24). In some Christians faith prevails more than it does in others; in some unbelief is more active than in others. Therefore some have a stronger and steadier assurance than others. The presence of the indwelling Spirit is largely evidenced by our frequent recourse to the Father in prayer—often with sighs, sobs, and groans. The consciousness of the Spirit of adoption within us is largely regulated by the extent to which we yield ourselves unto His government.” (3)
Like our world today, “Ancient Ephesus had a fascination with magic and the occult. This helps explain Paul’s emphasis on the power of God over all heavenly authorities and on Christ’s triumphant ascension as head over the church and over all things in this age and the next. The Ephesians needed to be reminded of these things in order to remain resolute in their allegiance to Christ as the supreme power in the world and in their lives.” (4) Paul wrote, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) “The Holy Spirit makes the Christian secure in his new faith and relationship…Like a down payment on the purchase of a property, he is proof of God’s good faith and an earnest of the full amount to come…Sealing with the Holy Spirit answers all our needs. It assures us of God’s favor. It shows that we belong to him. It renders our salvation certain.” (5) Since the Spirit guarantees our hope, adoption, and glorious inheritance in Christ, will we not cling firmly to our blessing in Christ through him—and turn away from the world’s insufficient remedies for hope? “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Related Scripture: Psalms 110:4; 119:116; Proverbs 19:21; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 2:2-4; 2 Timothy 1:12; 4:8; Hebrews 6:11; 10:19-23; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Revelation 7:2-3.
- Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, Hebrews 6:11-20, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/hebrews-6.html
- Easton, M.G., Easton’s 1897 Dictionary of the Bible, “Assurance,” software version.
- Pink, Arthur W.. The Holy Spirit, The Spirit Assuring, Prisbrary Publishing. Kindle Edition.
- English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Introduction to Ephesians, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
- Boice, James, Boice Expositional Commentary Series, Ephesians 1:3-14, Baker Books, Software version, 1998.
July 21, 2022