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
- 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; 1 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
- 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
- Rom. 5:2, 5; 8:16; 1 John 2:3; 3:14, 18-19, 24; 5:13; 2 Peter 1:10
Chapter 14 on faith also talks about temporary believers (chapter 14:3), but this time the Confession speaks about them in connection with assurance. As their faith was false and carnal, so their assurance is likewise false. They vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions (John 8:41; Gal. 6:3, 7-9 ). This is the greatest self-deception and most terrifying thing, namely, to think that you are in right-standing with God, but in truth, you are not. This is a perishable hope.
But there is true hope and a true assurance. This is for them that truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity. They are described as those endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him (Rom. 7:24-25). They desire and try to walk uprightly before God. They are not they that deceive themselves with false hopes, but seek to obey and please God from the heart. These may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace (1John 5:13). How beautiful is the phrase certainly assured! We may have certainty and assurance of our being in the state of grace and at peace with God. Those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity...may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2). This is nothing like the false hopes which the unregenerate entertain, but it is a hope which shall never make them ashamed (Rom. 5:5).
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)...