The anonymous female author of Evidence for Heaven (see another article titled: Evidence for Heaven) began her treatise with a catechism-like question: “How can I come to be truly, and infallibly assured of my salvation?” Her simple answer was by knowing you are united with Christ: “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The follow up question, again mirroring a catechism, was how could you be certain? Her answer was to diligently examine yourself to see whether or not you have the Spirit of Christ. “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9).
To be assured of your union with Christ, the author said you must diligently search and examine yourself for the operation of the Holy Spirit in your soul. He would be evident in the special sanctifying graces working in the hearts of the Elect. Among those special graces is faith—justifying faith. “Faith is the grace, and the only grace, whereby we are justified before God, by it we eat of the Tree of Life, (Jesus Christ) and live for ever.”
Satan knows this and would flatter the person to Hell by persuading them that their faith is good and true when actually it is what Christ described in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-8; 18-23). Conversely, when Satan seeks to overthrow all hope of Heaven, he seeks to convince the person that their faith is a counterfeit, pretended one. Therefore, it concerns all persons to thoroughly try their faith to see if it is a feigned or unfeigned faith, a temporary or justifying faith.
And when searching your soul for this grace of faith, value the truth of it more than the strength of it. Christ absolutely requires the truth of belief, but not the strength of belief. “He will not suffer that soul that hath but the least grain of true faith to miscarry.” But, what is this faith and how is it different from a temporary faith?
Justifying faith is a special work of the Spirit of God upon the Soul, causing a man to lay hold on the special promises of Mercy, and Salvation by Christ, and all other promises, which are, in him, yea, and in him, Amen, and rest upon him that hath promised, for the accomplishment of his word.
This Faith may be distinguished from other kinds of faith by the following properties. It is bred, fed, and nourished by the word preached. It is grounded on the written Word. It gives firm, absolute and unlimited assent to the whole Word of God. This Faith is seated in the heart. It is not merely head-assenting, it is heart-consenting. It is unfeigned, where a hypocrite’s faith is feigned. “This Faith is a Christ-receiving faith.” It embraces Christ as Savior and Lord—in all his offices as Prophet, Priest and King.
This Faith is a working Faith. As James says, Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). It purifies and cleanses, not only the outer person, but the heart as well. It spurs you on to obedience—active, passive, sincere, universal and constant. It makes you wait patiently on God, for Him to accomplish all the good he promised in his Word—by whatever means he has ordained.
It makes the person open-hearted and open-handed towards others—ready to do good to all in misery, but especially to the Godly. They do this not for their own glory, but for the honor of Christ and the Gospel. It makes a person industrious, laboring to keep a good conscience in all things; to walk inoffensively towards God and towards others in all things. This Faith is always accompanied by true repentance. “He that truly believes, unfeignedly repents.” It is always accompanied with new obedience.
This Faith is a world overcoming Faith. It is a flesh overcoming and a Devil-overcoming Faith. Although a true believer, “may be put to the worse” many times, and foiled by one or another of these enemies, in the end they overcome them all: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). It is permanent and persevering. It holds on to death, and it is never totally lost. “A true believer, as he lives in the faith, so he dyes in the faith.”
These words plainly evidence, that justifying faith is persevering faith, it holds out unto the death and ends in fruition, it can never be totally nor finally lost; and this indeed is it’s distinguishing property, and it is the property of every renewing grace; every renewing grace holds out unto the end; that grace which weares the Crown of Glory is persevereing (Revelations 2:10).
Sadly, it is not always so in appearance, but it is in truth. A true believer may at times seem both to himself and to others to have lost his faith and his other graces. However, as Job said: “The root of the matter is found in him”; it is found in his inward parts (Job 19:28; 38:36). A true believer may, for a time, lose his or her comfort of their grace and the power of acting on their grace. Yet they never totally lose the habit of renewing grace. “These gifts of God are without repentance.”
Wouldest thou then know, whether thy faith be sound and saving, and such as consequently demonstrates the holy Spirits saving habitation in thy soule; try and examine thy saith, by these properties and Scripture-Characters of a true justifying faith, and if it hold correspondency with them, know for thy comfort, that it is such as really demonstrates the holy Spirits saving habitation, and special operation in thy soul, thy Union with Christ, and eternal salvation by him, whatsoever Satan or thine own conscience abused by Satan, may at any time hereafter say to the contrary, and give the Lord the praise.
This anonymous author then goes on to speak of even more graces that demonstrate the assurance of your salvation. There is love, repentance, obedience, poverty of spirit, death to sin, being a new creature in Christ, being chastised by the Father, suffering as a Christian, and more.
As she concluded her treatise, she said she had traveled through the Holy Scriptures and searched to see what she might find therein that might entitle her to “the inheritance of the Saints of Light.” She noticed a variety of places in Scripture that were helpful for this purpose. Some of these she studied industriously, according to her poor ability and as God helped her. She committed what she found to writing for her present and future benefit and as a legacy to her children. Having done so, she committed this work and its reader “to the blessing of God, through Christ.”
If you or someone you know struggles with the assurance of their salvation, I’d encourage you to spend some time reading through and studying what she has shared in Evidence for Heaven.