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Assurance by J.C. Ryle

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Assurance
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Reviewer: 
Joseph J. Adrian

In the chapter, "An Assured Hope Is A True And Scriptural Thing," J.C. Ryle notes that "The Roman Catholic Church" rejects and condemns the notion that any believer can have a confident, settled assurance that Christ has saved them and their soul shall never perish. He then gives this great insight as to why the Roman Church rejects this teaching-—"It offends and annoys them to hear of it. They do not like others to feel comfortable and sure, because they never feel so themselves." The Roman Church is not alone in their dismissal of this doctrine. The 19th century Anglican Bishop asserts that there are genuine believers who reject this teaching as well. They think that it is close to presumption to have confidence that they are "In Christ.". . . "They seem to think it a proper humility never to be confident, and to live in a certain degree of doubt." Ryle believed, as do I, that this type of thinking is harmful. A settled assurance gives God's Children confidence to press on, to serve God with vigor, to oppose sin (God helping them) and to have a bold testimony for The Lord Jesus Christ. That is not to say, that there are not some who have a strong assurance of their good standing before God and believe God thinks well of them, when in reality He does not. The godly Pastor was convinced that all Biblical Truth was abused by some. There is strong Biblical support for a Biblically-grounded assurance of faith. Job-—"I know that my Redeemer lives;" Isaiah——"Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee;" Timothy—-"I know whom I have believed."

Can someone be saved and never come to a settled conviction that their faith is genuine? Those who are sound in Doctrine and Practice have come to different conclusions on this point. I agree with Bishop Ryle that a true convert may have doubts and fears throughout their earthly pilgrimage and yet arrive in Heaven at last, their eternal home. "Faith in The Lord Jesus Christ a man must have . . . if he is to be saved . . . but if he only has faith to do this, however weak and feeble that faith may be, . . he shall not miss Heaven."

Why should believers desire to attain a settled assurance of their salvation? He who lacks assurance—-"spends much of his time in inward searchings of heart about his own state." Doubts and fears can distract and hinder one's usefulness. Those who have strong assurance of their standing before God can "give an undiluted attention to the work of the Lord."

What can cause a lack of assurance? A hindrance for some may be an inconsistent walk—-"inconsistency of life is utterly destructive of peace of conscience." A tender conscience is a great help and blessing in this life. An unwillingness to deal with our besetting sins (and a willingness to cut off our right hand or pluck out our right eye) if one is unwilling to deal ruthlessly with remaining sin, then it likely will and should affect their degree of assurance.

J.C. Ryle's writings remain exceedingly useful to God's people in our day. He was a tender-hearted minister of the Gospel, one who had a great love for the souls of men. His books are of great value to those who love "The Truth Of God" and "The God of Truth."