The resurrection of Jesus (Ac 17:31) is the "assurance" (Gr. pistis, generally rendered "faith") or pledge God has given that his revelation is true and worthy of acceptance. The "full assurance [Gr. plerophoria, 'full bearing'] of faith" (Heb 10:22) is a fulness of faith in God which leaves no room for doubt. The "full assurance of understanding" (Col 2:2) is an entire unwavering conviction of the truth of the declarations of Scripture, a joyful steadfastness on the part of any one of conviction that he has grasped the very truth. The "full assurance of hope" (Heb 6:11) is a sure and well-grounded expectation of eternal glory (2Ti 4:7-8). This assurance of hope is the assurance of a man's own particular salvation.
This infallible assurance, which believers may attain unto as to their own personal salvation, is founded on the truth of the promises (Heb 6:18), on the inward evidence of Christian graces, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption (Ro 8:16). That such a certainty may be attained appears from the testimony of Scripture (Ro 8:16; 1Jo 2:3; 3:14), from the command to seek after it (Heb 6:11; 2Pe 1:10), and from the fact that it has been attained (2Ti 1:12; 4:7-8; 1Jo 2:3; 4:16).
This full assurance is not of the essence of saving faith. It is the result of faith, and posterior to it in the order of nature, and so frequently also in the order of time. True believers may be destitute of it. Trust itself is something different from the evidence that we do trust. Believers, moreover, are exhorted to go on to something beyond what they at present have when they are exhorted to seek the grace of full assurance (Heb 10:22; 2Pe 1:5-10). The attainment of this grace is a duty, and is to be diligently sought.
Genuine assurance naturally leads to a legitimate and abiding peace and joy, and to love and thankfulness to God; and these from the very laws of our being to greater buoyancy, strength, and cheerfulness in the practice of obedience in every department of duty.
This assurance may in various ways be shaken, diminished, and intermitted, but the principle out of which it springs can never be lost. (See Faith.)
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 (Ac 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 2Ti 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 (Isa 32:17 AV), and quite characteristically assurance is there represented as the effect of righteousness. In NT assurance (plerophoria) is an accompaniment and result of the gospel (1Th 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 (Col 2:2), and a full assurance of faith (Heb 10:22; cf. 2Ti 1:12), and a full assurance of hope (Heb 6:11). [Cf. Heb 11:1 RV, where the last two forms of assurance run into each other
This word has in the O.T. a different application from that which it has in the N.T. In the former it is 'confidence or trust,' and agrees with the hopes of God's earthly people in connection with the security in which Israel will dwell when restored to their land, when all their enemies shall have been put down by divine power: the effect of righteousness will be "quietness and assurance for ever," Isa 32:17: whereas in their disobedience they should fear day and night and have no assurance of their life. De 28:66.
In the N.T. the Greek word ?????????? implies 'full assurance' and refers to eternal salvation. The gospel reaches a soul in power, and in the Holy Ghost and in 'much full assurance.' 1Th 1:5. We also meet with:
1, the full assurance of faith, Heb 10:22; the reception of God's testimony respecting the work of Christ and the glory He now enjoys:
2, the full assurance of hope, Heb 6:11, issuing in continued diligence of the saints in their work and labour of love: and
3, the full assurance of understanding, Col 2:2, for full knowledge in the mystery of God.
ASSURANCE. The sense in which this term is used theologically is that of a firm persuasion of our being in a state of salvation. The doctrine itself has been matter of dispute among divines, and when considered as implying not only that we are now accepted of God through Christ, but that we shall be finally saved, or when it is so taken as to deny a state of salvation to those who are not so assured as to be free from all doubt; it is in many views questionable. Assurance of final salvation must stand or fall with the doctrine of personal unconditional election, and is chiefly held by divines of the Calvinistic school; and that nothing is an evidence of a state of present salvation but so entire a persuasion as amounts to assurance in the strongest sense, might be denied upon the ground that degrees of grace, of real saving grace, are undoubtedly mentioned in Scripture. Assurance, however, is spoken of in the New Testament, and stands prominent as one of the leading doctrines of religious experience. We have "full assurance of understanding;" that is, a perfect knowledge and entire persuasion of the truth of the doctrine of Christ. The "assurance of faith," in Heb 9:22, is an entire trust in the sacrifice and priestly office of Christ. The "assurance of hope," mentioned in Heb 6:11, relates to the heavenly inheritance, and must necessarily imply a full persuasion that we are "the children of God," and therefore "heirs of his glory;" and from this passage it must certainly be concluded that such an assurance is what every Christian ought to aim at, and that it is attainable. This, however, does not exclude occasional doubt and weakness of faith, from the earlier stages of his experience.
A comforting and abiding persuasion of present acceptance by God, through Christ, we may therefore affirm, must in various degrees follow true faith. In support of this view, the following remarks may be offered: