But there is something more. God’s Holy Spirit must inwardly deal with our minds as we consider these things, and our affections as we respond to the wonder of being sure that we have been saved by the grace of God, so that there can be occasional eruptions of joy inexpressible that are created by the Spirit of God, assuring us even on our worst days that we are real Christians behaving as we do. This is God’s prerogative; it is his gift, speaking to our inmost being challenging our conduct, or he is telling us that he loves us and he wants us to feel loved.
It cannot be otherwise. We Christians make this claim that Father, Son and Holy Spirit have come to us personally and individually and that the living God indwells us, that we have illimitable access to him. Do you think you can have this absolute reality within the dispositional complex of our inmost beings – our hearts and souls – and not know of the indwelling God? Do you think it good or even possible to have him for years in our lives and yet possess no conviction that he is there? A Christian is married to Christ. Would such a Christian not know the stirrings of affection of the Lord Christ who is husband of the one the Savior loved and died for, to whose life the believer is joined for ever, whose body is his home, his temple?
How does the Lord of glory make himself known to us? Certainly he does so by making us understand and believe and love the truths of Christian teaching. By him we know what is true and what is erroneous. Certainly also God increases our assurance by making us hunger and thirst for righteousness, and sorrow over our daily sins.
But there are also occasions when a certainty springs up in our hearts. We are reading the Bible and some words of promise are made peculiarly comforting and personal to us. Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings. When we are hearing the preaching of the word we might be blessed with a renewal of joy at hearing of the Lord Jesus in the glory of his person and work as he is being offered to us in the gospel, and once again we receive him by faith. Sometimes as we drive the car we may be overwhelmed with the love of God and need to stop. We can watch a sunset over the ocean, or look at the majesty of the Grand Canyon, or see our daughters talking seriously together listening intently and showing such affection to one another and the Spirit takes our love for them and they for us and overwhelms us with what his grace has given us. He gave us his Son and with his Son he freely has given to us – to me – every wonderful thing that has enriched my life.
I do not personally think of such moving experiences as being higher forms of assurance than those that come from reading the Bible and knowing that these truths are what I believe, or gaining from Scripture the confidence that this holy way of life is all my desire. They are just other wonderful privileges of the Christian life, a growing delightful relationship with a heavenly Father, and the best Friend, and the love of the Spirit for us.
The Bible’s teaching on assurance is an invitation. It is saying, “Come now and trust what you read. If you are trapped in a background of easy believism or trapped in the opposite fear of assurance being a certain sign of being presumptuous and so crushing the young shoots of hope and assurance as they appear.” Take the Bible and read it! Take and read now. Pray that you will be given deliverance from your doubts and have confidence to believe – just as the Biblical writers believed the honest and kindly promises that our one loving God has made to sinners whose hopes are all set in the lovely uniting one.
‘Come to me for rest,’ he says. ‘I am meek and lowly of heart. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
– Geoff Thomas