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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation - Commentary

Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

In many ways this chapter is dependent upon the previous chapter about the Perseverance of the Saints and we concluded in the previous chapter that the doctrine is indeed biblical. If eternal security is biblical for those who are regenerate and have true faith, may we conclude that God is willing that they have assurance of salvation and have confidence that they will be with God forever? The answer of this chapter is “yes.” The most texts for the doctrine of perseverance at the same time are texts about the assurance that we are called to have in Scripture, therefore, I will reference the exegesis of the relevant texts, if necessary, in the previous chapter.


§1 Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves

  1. Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour 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. 2
    1. Job 8:13, 14; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 18:10-14; John 8:41; Eph. 5:6-7; Gal. 6:3, 7-9[1]
    2. Rom. 5:2, 5; 8:16; 1 John 2:3; 3:14, 18-19, 24; 5:13; 2 Peter 1:10

Temporary Believers

The Confession starts first with a word of warning, namely, a warning about false believers. These false believers are said to be “temporary believers” and are “unregenerate men.” They do have assurance, but a vain and false assurance. The temporary believers are the seeds that fell on the rock in the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:13). They fell away from their profession because they had no true faith in them which is by nature lasting (1John 2:19). Their faith was merely feel good and not borne out sincere love for God and hatred for sin (repentance). Nowhere does Holy Scripture call such a faith true faith, because it is not. True faith perseveres and justifies forever. We may compare these temporary believers to the people who used to go to church, heard the preaching of the Gospel in a manner which sounded good to them, they were called to come forward and repeat a prayer after the preacher. They did not know much about the faith, they had not been presented a clear and biblical Gospel and after repeating a prayer they were told that they were saved. Such people are told to “accept” Jesus into their hearts and pray (or better, repeat after the preacher) the Sinner's Prayer to be saved. They have no root, they have not been confronted with their sin, righteousness, and judgment. For all that we know they may have heard a false and vile prosperity message and told that God will make them happy, healthy and successful. These people profess to be believers for a while. They may even have assurance in them that they will go to heaven, but their assurance consists in, as the Confession says, "false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation”. They look back to a card they signed, to a date and time, to the fact they repeated the Sinner's Prayer and etc., which true conversion and assurance does not consist in. They have been deceived and they deceive themselves with this false ...