In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve previously learnt Christians can have assurance that they are saved by the testimony of the Holy Spirit. But are all true Christians at all times assured of their salvation?
No. Christians may at times feel that they have no assurance that they are going to heaven, and yet be saved. This is because assurance of salvation is not required for salvation. It is faith that is required if you are to be saved: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8).
And so in the Bible we see people who trusted in God but had no assurance that they are safe in God’s hand. The prayers of the authors of the Psalms often demonstrate that they lack assurance that God is going to save them, even though they trust in him.
For example, Psalm 88 has to be one of the most despairing cries in all of the Scriptures. We read:
‘1 O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you.
2 May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.
3 For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength.
5 I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.
6 You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with your waves. Selah
8 You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape;
9 my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah
11 Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
13 But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
15 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend’
This person is clearly someone who believes in God, or he wouldn’t cry out to God. But he feels rejected by God and under God’s wrath. His closest friend is darkness! But assurance is not a requirement for salvation, faith is. So if this man trusts in God, he is saved, even if he doesn’t ‘feel’ that he is.
So do you know that you are saved? If not, do you still cling onto Christ by faith?