Just before beginning my blog, I started a Bible study on this topic and found a fantastic article online, "Assurance" by Arthur W. Pink. I would encourage anyone struggling with or seeking a better understanding in this area to read this article. I believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross, and have given my life to Him. Growing up as an Independent Baptist I was taught proof texts for assurance of salvation, and thought that if I just believed enough I would "feel" assured of the salvation that had already been purchased for me by Christ's blood. But it wasn't always so simple. And it seemed like it was simple to so many others. I thought I might go crazy. I wondered about things like the passage where the people said, "Lord, Lord" and He said, "I never knew you." I alternated between absolute certainty and outright terror. I needed better doctrine. While at first this article may make assurance seem less attainable, the author urges us to make our "calling and election sure;" and, for me, his historical and Scripture-saturated treatment of the topic resulted in the very opposite effect. Here are a few samplings from the article:
"Let the really concerned soul read slowly and thoughtfully through this first Epistle of John, and let him duly observe that not once in its five chapters are we told, “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we are resting on the finished work of Christ.” The total absence of such a statement ought, surely, to convince us that something must be radically wrong with so much of the popular teaching of the day on this subject. But not only is there no such declaration made in this Epistle, the very first passage which contains the familiar “we know” is quite the reverse of what is now being so widely advocated as the ground of Christian assurance. “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). Is not that plain enough? A godly life is the first proof that I am a child of God."
“For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in (or “by”) God” (John 3:20, 21). Here is one of the vital differences between the unregenerate and the regenerate, the unbelieving and the believing. Unbelief is far more than an error of judgment, or speculative mistake into which an honest mind may fall; it proceeds from heart-enmity against God. The natural man, while left to himself, hates the searching light of God (v. 19), fearful lest it should disquiet the conscience, expose the fallacy of his presumptuous confidence, and shatter his false peace. But it is the very reverse with him who has been given “an honest and good heart.” He who acts sincerely and conscientiously, desiring to know and do the whole will of God without reserve, welcomes the light."