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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Assurance

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ASSURANCE . The word is used both in an objective and a subjective sense, according as it denotes the ground of confidence or the actual experience. When St. Paul declares at Athens ( Acts 17:31 ) that God has appointed Christ to judge the world, and ‘has given assurance’ of this unto all men by raising Him from the dead, it is an objective assurance that he means, for he knew very well that all men were not personally assured of the fact of the Resurrection. In 2 Timothy 3:14 , again, Timothy’s assurance of the things he has learned is identified with the outward authority of the person from whom he has received them. For the most part, however, ‘assurance’ in Scripture denotes not an objective authority or fact, but a reality of inward experience. The word occurs once in OT ( Isaiah 32:17 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ), and quite characteristically assurance is there represented as the effect of righteousness . In NT assurance ( plerophoria ) is an accompaniment and result of the gospel ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5 ). And the assurance produced by the gospel is not intellectual merely, or emotional merely, or practical merely, it fills and satisfies the whole inner man. There is a full assurance of understanding ( Colossians 2:2 ), and a full assurance of faith ( Hebrews 10:22 ; cf. 2 Timothy 1:12 ), and a full assurance of hope ( Hebrews 6:11 ). [Cf. Hebrews 11:1 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , where the last two forms of assurance run into each other faith itself becoming the assurance ( hypostasis ) or underlying ground of hope]. But there is also an assurance of love ( 1 John 3:19 ); love being, however, not a mere feeling but a practical social faculty, a love of deed and truth that ministers in all good things to its brethren ( 1 John 3:14-18 ). Thus on a higher plane the plane of that Christian love which is the fulfilling of the Law we come back to the prophetic ideal of an inward peace and assurance which are the effects of righteousness.

In any doctrine of assurance a distinction must again be recognized between an objective and a subjective assurance. The grounds of Christian assurance as presented in the gospel are absolute, and if faith were merely intellectual assent, every believing man would be fully assured of his salvation. But, as a positive experience, assurance must be distinguished from saving faith (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27 ). Yet the Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God ( Romans 8:16 ); and those in whom the consciousness of that witness is dim and faint should seek with more diligence to grow in faith and hope and love and understanding also, that thereby they may make their calling and election sure ( 2 Peter 1:10 ).

J. C. Lambert.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Assurance'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/a/assurance.html. 1909.

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