By Ted Kele
Every person with a sense of spiritual values is interested in the answer to this question. One of the ways in which Satan operates to the discouragement, and ultimate destruction of some of the offspring of God is to raise doubts and fears about their souls’ safety. It is not unusual that this question should be asked.
To this question, God’s Word answers, “Yes.” The Father has not left His children to wonder in fear as to the condition of their souls before Him. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:16,17.)
From the testimony of two witnesses, it may be ascertained whether or not one is a child, and thus an heir, of God. The two who give testimony are God’s Spirit, and the spirit of an individual. Notice that God’s Spirit “beareth witness with our spirit.” Rather than the Spirit bearing witness to our spirit (in which case there would be only one witness), God’s Spirit testifies with our spirit. And from the testimony given by these two witnesses, we know either that we are, or are not, the children of God.
Quite often a person will depend upon his feelings to assure him that he is redeemed. And when his feelings change, then he begins to doubt his salvation, and falls prey to temptation. However, this is not the Bible basis of the evidence of pardon. Firstly, because forgiveness of sins takes place in the mind of God, not in our bodily feelings. “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 10:15-17.
Since sins are remembered, or removed from, in the mind of God, one needs to know upon what conditions God has promised to forget sins. And if he has met these conditions then he will have the promise of God that God’s mind is clear from holding him henceforth guilty. “He is faithful that promised.” (Heb. 10:3.) Thus, one might be led by his feelings to conclude that he was God’s child, when in reality, God still remembered his sins and iniquities. Salvation takes place, not in our breasts, but in God’s mind. Second, feelings are based upon testimony–which may, or may not be correct. If we are sincerely misled by false testimony, our feelings will react nonetheless, according to the erroneous testimony. It was in this wise that Jacob was led to grieve exceedingly. Believing his son, Joseph, to be dead because of the misinformation gained from his other sons, Jacob “rent his clothes, and mourned for his son.” (Gen. 37:34.) He was sincere in the way he felt, but was sincerely misled! His feeling that Joseph had been devoured by an animal did not alter the actual circumstances. So it is today. An individual assured by some religious teacher that he has been saved, and believing this erroneous testimony, will feel good as a result of what he believes. But he has believed a falsehood. God yet remembers his sins. And unless he learns differently, he may go through life deceived. Yet, this same person may later come to doubt whether he was saved or not. And with the change in his beliefs, His feelings undergo a corresponding change–since he feels as he believes.
One may ask another, “How do you know that you are saved?” “By the way that I feel,” he replies. “How do you feel?” He answers, “I feel good.” “But,” the querist persists, “Why do you feel good?” Again the reply, “Because I know that I am saved!” This common approach to the vital question of the evidence of pardon is in reality but arguing in a circle. It proves nothing. It certainly cannot demonstrate in the light of God’s Word wheher one has been saved or not. “There is a way which seemeth right onto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12; cf. 16:25.)
Can one know then that he is God’s child? Yes, two witnesses–God’s Spirit and man’s spirit–testify together to he assurance that one is a child of God. It is not a case of one witness, God’s Spirit, testifying alone to man. If then the evidence of pardon depends upon the agreement of the witness of both the spirit of man, and the Spirit of God, in what manner or way does God’s Spirit testify? In dreams? Visions? Still small voices?
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly.” (1 Tim. 4:1.) That which is to be understood from the Spirit’s testimony comes from what God’s Spirit has plainly said. But again, how does the Spirit speak? As His return to heaven approached, Jesus taught His apostles that the Spirit would be sent to them as a Comforter, Teacher, Revelator and Witness. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” (John 16:26.) “Nevertheless I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove (“convict,” A.S.V.) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16: 7,8,13.) These statements by Jesus indicate that the Spirit would testify after His departure.
This witness of the Spirit was first delivered on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2.) On that day, sinners were convicted of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, by the Spirit’s testimony. (v. 37.) And how was this testimony delivered? Through the words preached by the inspired apostles! “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (v. 4.) “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words, . . . Ye men of Israel, hear these words, . . . Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you . . . Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (vv. 14, 22, 29, 37.) Herein we hear the testimony of the Holy Spirit, in the words of the inspired apostles. This accurately fulfilled Jesus’ promise to them, “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matt. 10:20.) (Heb. 10:15-17; cf. Jer. 31:31ff.), and in Such was characteristic also of the inspired writers of the Old Testament. The writer of Hebrews quotes from the pen of Jeremiah (Heb. 10:15-17; cf. Jer. 31 31ff.), and in doing so, comments, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before…” How did the Spirit witness? Through the writing of Jeremiah! “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:21.) Therefore through the writings of the inspired men of the New Testament, the Holy Spirit bears witness which has to do with our assurance of our salvation. But man’s spirit must also offer testimony with God’s Spirit. How does the spirit of man do this?
The spirit of man bears witness as to what the individual has, or has not, done. This is a matter of consciousness known only to the person’s own spirit. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Cor. 2:11.)
As a result, when God’s Spirit testifies in the inspired writings as to what man must do in order to receive God’s grace, and the spirit of the individual testifies that he has met these conditions of grace, the joint testimony of the two witnesses assures the person of his salvation. This assurance brings hope and joy. Do you have this assurance?
Truth Magazine VI: 8, pp. 18-20