How the Gift of Faith Gives Assurance
All people are conceived with the sin of Adam (original sin). The nature of those conceived in sin is sin. By our inherited sin nature, we are all children of wrath (Eph 2:1–3). The reason is that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of all men, for all have sinned, Jew and Gentile (Rom 1:18–3:20; 3:23). God’s hatred of sin and sinners is expressed in the execution of His wrath (Ps 5:5; 11:5). The wrath of God, being the just punishment for condemned sinners, is a right judgment from God, the righteous Judge (Gen 18:25; Ps 7:11).
God has revealed His holiness and man’s sinfulness most clearly in the Law of God (Ex 20; Dt 5; Rom 3:20). The Law explains why the separation between God and man exists. By sinning, man has positioned himself at enmity with God (Rom 5:10). There is no reconciling rebel sinners, unless God has eternally purposed it in His predetermined plan and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23; Eph 3:11).
The greatest need for the soul of man is to be right with God (Job 25:4). At the great white throne of God’s judgment (Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11), one must have a justifiably right standing, or he will suffer just judgment and eternal punishment in fiery hell (Mt 25:41, 46; Jude 7).
Throughout history, man has concocted religion after religion to facilitate his reconciliation with God, his estranged Creator (Rom 10:3). No religion has been successful in creating peace with God (Rom 5:1) because sin and sinners remain unjust before God, in ongoing ungodliness (1 Tim 1:9). In other words, man has never been able to solve his problem with sin (Gen 6:5; Rom 6:23). Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4), and God’s Law is holy, good, and right.
God’s Word of reconciliation has gone out, as a ministry of reconciliation to the utter most part of the earth (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor 5:18–20). Good news is preached to all people (Acts 17:30) that God is saving His chosen people from their sins (Mt 1:21; 1 Pet 2:9). The believer rejoices and repents (Acts 5:31; 11:18), as faith is given to him (Phil 1:29), when he hears the Word of truth preached to him (Rom 10:17). The unbeliever remains blind, deaf, indifferent, even hostile, and dismisses the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ as foolishness (1 Cor 1:18) because he does not belong to Christ (Jn 10:26).
The believer has received grace from God; while the unbeliever has not received the grace that saves sinners (Eph 2:8–9; Titus 3:5). Believers are graced; while unbelievers remain in their natural (responsible) state (Ezek 18:4, 20; Jn 8:24; Eph 2:1). Some unbelievers (the elect) will eventually believe because grace will visit them (Jn 14:26; 15:26), when God determines the appointed time is right (Acts 13:48). The Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19), and He has predestined their salvation (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5), according to His predetermined plan (Acts 2:23).
This grace is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 10:45; Rom 5:5), who regenerates the elect of God on His schedule (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). John the Baptist was in the womb, while Abraham was in his nineties when the Spirit and the Word caused them to believe (Gen 12; Rom 4:11). When Abraham was given the gift of the Spirit, he was given the gift of faith (Rom 5:5; Phil 1:29; Heb 11:8, 17, 39; 2 Pet 1:1). When he was filled with the knowledge of the truth, he believed and loved the truth, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Rom 1:17; 4:3, 5, 9, 11, 13; 9:30; 10:6; Gal 5:5; Phil 3:9).
At the receipt of faith/Spirit, Abraham was transformed from a pagan idolater, worshiping the moon good of Arabia, to become a worshiper of Yahweh, the one true God (Dt 6:4; Zech 14:9; Jn 5:44). God made promises to Abraham (Gen 12, 15, 17), and God made Abraham believe those promises, by opening his spiritual eyes and mind to see and understand (1 Cor 2:14). Abraham was spiritually blind, but God opened his heart to believe (Acts 16:14). The same is true for everyone who is made to believe the truth, as it is in Jesus (Jn 14:6; Eph 4:21).
Being a vessel of faith means one is to be filled with the truth, as its held substance (Jn 14:6; Col 1:27). This is why faith is never a leap. In fact, it is never an act of man at all (Rom 12:3; Heb 12:2). It is not a self-generated work, nor a wise choice of man’s will (Jn 1:12–13). It is a granted gift of God (Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29). This is so that no man may boast before God (Rom 4:2; 1 Cor 1:29).
The filling of the faithful vessel with knowledge of the truth comes from an encounter with the Holy One. When God initiates this encounter with a lost (elect) sinner, it is life transforming (Ezek 36:26; 1 Cor 2:16). As with Abraham, it happens apart from the Law (Rom 3:21), but nothing happens apart from Christ (Jn 15:5).
For those whom God has willed to have mercy (not giving them over to His wrath), He sends His Holy Spirit to give them the life of God in their souls (Jn 6:63; Rom 8:9, 11; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). He is just in doing so because He has provided a substitute (Rom 5:8; 2 Cor 5:21), who has received the just wrath of God against sin, in their place (Ex 12:27; Rom 3:25; 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Thess 1:10; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).
The substitute is Jesus Christ, who died for the ungodly elect (Rom 5:6). As the just, dying in the place of the unjust (1 Pet 3:18), God has made His beloved church to be recipients of His righteousness by imputation (Rom 9:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 5:25). Christians are filled with the fruit of righteousness (Phil 1:11), being heirs of righteousness (Heb 11:7). God’s motive in doing so was love for His beloved elect (Rom 5:5, 8; Eph 1:4; 1 Jn 3:16).
Christ received the sins of His people, while on the cross (1 Pet 2:24). His redeemed people received His right standing, at His resurrection (Acts 17:31; Rom 4:24). He was raised for our justification (Rom 4:25). Believers are declared, “not guilty” in the presence of God, by God, who sees they are in Christ (1 Cor 1:30). Thus, they are covered by His precious blood (1 Pet 1:19), which has propitiated His wrath against them (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10). There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).
The reprobate unbeliever will never believe this good news because he remains deaf to the Word of reconciliation, being void of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9; Jude 1:19) and blind to the light of truth of God’s gracious salvation (2 Cor 4:4), promised to those who believe (Jn 3:16). The reprobate does not receive the grace of faith, but he is turned over to his own lustful thoughts and desires (Rom 1:18–32). The course of his life is one of self-destruction (Prv 18:12; 1 Tim 6:9), and many are they who journey on this unrighteous path (Mt 7:13).
In sum, the one who truly believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ has received the grace of God to believe the truth of His revealed Word (Rom 10:17; Eph 2:8–9). The gift of the indwelling Spirit is the singular catalyst (Acts 2:38; 10:45). He who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to God and Christ (Rom 8:9). He who does have the Son of God (Jn 3:36), knows he does because of the Spirit, who lives and works in him, to give him faith in the measure determined by God (Rom 12:3; Gal 5:22; Phil 2:13; Heb 12:2). This is eternal life (1 Jn 5:12).
Faith is the assurance of things promised and already fulfilled. It is also the assurance of things to come (Heb 11:1), promised by God and accomplished by God (Ps 37:5; 57:2; 138:8; Is 26:12; Phil 2:13). No one has to tell a Christian to believe…because she does. He has made her to believe, and she is convinced (2 Tim 1:12).
Spokane Valley, Washington
May 24, 2022