Three Levels of Assurance When the Storms Come

13 Jan

Listened to my first set of Francis Schaeffer lectures in the past few days. I can see why he was considered one of the most respected and well-known apologists of the Christian faith in the 20th century. He speaks with a level-headed intelligence and conviction with a tender, pastoral heart. You can hear the tenderness come through his speaking where he seems to empathize with those (Christians and non-Christians) who are in the midst of their struggles.

In one of the lectures that I listened to on the subject of Assurance of faith, he discussed something that was very helpful to me (and I hope will be helpful to others, as well). But essentially, he said that all Christians will have moments when storms will hit. That is, either because of moral or psychological “upheaval,” there will be times when genuine children of God will doubt whether they are genuine children of God. When those storms come, he offers a helpful paradigm that helps us make sense of those storms and, by God’s grace, begin to come out of them.

Three Levels of Assurance

1. Promises of God: This level is where we are assured that we are His children by trusting in His promises found in His Word. For instance, when the Holy Spirit reveals to us our need for a Savior because of our sin and lack of righteousness, we trust the promises that, in Christ, we have found that Savior (John 3:36) and that he will never let us go (John 10:29).

2. Fruit: This level is where we are assured that we are His by the fruit that is produced in our lives. Those who are born of God will necessarily produce fruit in their lives. Albeit, it’s a slow process, but nonetheless, there will be fruit. And so, by the observance of these fruits in our lives, we can be assured.

3. Inward Testimony of the Spirit: This level is where we are assured that we are His by the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit. This is where the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are His children. This is the quiet, settled inward conviction and assurance that we are His children (Romans 8:16).

Now, according to Schaeffer (and others), every Christian can and should attain the third level of assurance. However, as mentioned above, the storms come (brought about either by our moral failures or psychological upheaval) and we begin to doubt. In those times, it is often that we don’t hear the inward testimony of the Spirit (level 3) and we don’t see the fruit in our lives that evidence the fact that we are His (level 2).

In those moments, all we have left is to trust in the promises of God (level 1). We trust in the fact that our loving Father has chosen us from before the foundation of the world (John 3:16; Ephesians 1) and we trust that Christ has not only paid our penalty, but is also right now interceding for us on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1).

And by God’s grace, as we continue to persevere and fight to believe the promises of God, He will, in His good time, begin to bring us into higher levels of assurance.

Click here to listen to the lecture yourself (these notes definitely do not do that lecture justice). Scroll down to the lecture titled, “Biblical Doctrine Series: Westminster Confession, part 52 – Assurance.”

And click here for thousands of more lectures by Francis Schaeffer and other apologists from L’Abri.

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