Assurance is a primarily Protestant doctrine which states that the inner witness of the Holy Spirit allows the justified disciple to know that they are saved. Augustine was an early theologian to write about it. Assurance is a very important doctrine in Lutheranism, Calvinism and Methodism.
Wesley & Methodism
John Wesley believed that all Christians have a faith which implies an assurance of God's forgiving love, and that one would feel that assurance, or the "witness of the Spirit". This understanding is grounded in Paul's affirmation, "...ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The same Spirit beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God..." (Romans 8:15-16, Wesley's translation). This experience was mirrored for Wesley in his Aldersgate experience where he "knew" he was loved by God and that his sins were forgiven.
- "I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that He had taken my sin, even mine." - from Wesley's Journal
Early in his ministry Wesley had to defend his understanding of assurance. In 1738 Rev. Arthur Bedford had published a sermon in which he misquoted Wesley's teachings. Bedford had understood Wesley as saying that a Christian could be assured of persevering in a state of salvation, the Calvinist view.
In a letter dated September 28, 1738 Wesley wrote, "The assurance of which I alone speak I should not choose to call an assurance of salvation, but rather (with the Scriptures), the assurance of faith. . . . [This] is not the essence of faith, but a distinct gift of the Holy Ghost, whereby God shines upon his own work, and shows us that we are justified through faith in Christ...The 'full assurance of faith' (Heb 10.22) is 'neither more nor less than hope; or a conviction, wrought in us by the Holy Ghost, that we have a measure of the true faith in Christ..'"
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- Blessed Assurance: A Defense of the Doctrine of Eternal Security by Steven Waterhouse (ISBN 097024181X)
- Calvin and Scottish Theology: The Doctrine of Assurance by M. Charles Bell (ISBN 0905312473)
- The Absurdity of Eternal Security Doctrine by Fidelis Nwaka (ISBN 1413404529)
- Bad Fruit: The Result of Once Saved Always Saved by Timothy Williams (ISBN 1579215564)
- The Believer's Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted by Daniel Corner (ISBN 0963907689)
- The Myth of Eternal Security by Daniel Corner (ISBN 0963907662)
- Once Saved, Always?: The False Doctrine Of Eternal Security by Benny Prince (ISBN 1418498556)
- Questions of Clarification for Wesley's Doctrine of Assurance by Michael E. Lodahl
- The Relationship of Assurance to Justification and Regeneration in the Thought of John Wesley by Scott Kisker
- Sermon #10: "The Witness of the Spirit, Part 1" by John Wesley
- Sermon #11: "The Witness of the Spirit, Part 2" by John Wesley
- Sermon #12: "The Witness of Our Own Spirit" by John Wesley
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