… who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Eph. 1:14
The Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 18 on Assurance of Salvation states:
Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God and estate of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish: yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.
This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God: which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.
The Scripture makes it abundantly clear that he who believes in the Son has eternal life (Jn 3:16, 36, 5:24, 6:47, 1 Jn 5:10-11). The gospel of John and epistle of 1 John were written by John for this explicit purpose – that ye may know that ye have eternal life (Jn 20:31, 1 Jn 5:13). Salvation, while something that is to be consummated in the future, is something we possess today, based upon faith alone in Christ alone. The gift of salvation, as all of God’s gifts, are given to us, without repentance (Ro 11:29). God assures the Christian disciple of His preserving grace, many times in the Scripture and in many ways (see Is 43:1-3, 54:10, Jn 6:35-40, 10:27-30, 17:11,12,15, Rom 5:8-10, 8:1, 29-30, 35-39, 1 Cor 1:7-9, 2 Cor 4:14,17, Eph 4:30, Col 3:3-4, 1 Th 5:23-24, Heb 9:12,15, 10:14, 1 Pet 1:3-5, 1 Jn 2:19,25, 5:4, 11-13, 20, Jd 1, 24-25). The doctrine of the final Perseverance of the Saints is demonstrated throughout Scripture yet, John Reisinger has written:
The doctrine of Assurance of Salvation has been the subject of both confusion and controversy down through the years. Actually, it goes all the way back to the New Testament times. The question, “Can I really be sure I am going to heaven?” has been given a variety of answers. Some have not only said yes, but have gone a step farther and taught that you must be sure or else you do not really have faith in Christ. At the other extreme, men have not only answered with an emphatic “No!” but have earnestly contended that any form of assurance of salvation was a dangerous delusion of the devil. In between these two positions have been the many forms of ‘maybe’ which were attended by many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ that tended to nullify each other. I personally think this is one of the most misunderstood doctrines of our generation.
Ephesians 1:13-14, we see a three-fold role of the Holy Spirit in assuring the Christian of God’s gift of salvation. First, He is the “promise,” that is, God promises to give Him to everyone who repents and believes. Second, He is God’s ‘seal,’ that is, His mark of ownership and of authenticity. And then thirdly, the Spirit is the earnest or pledge, which God gives to His children, guaranteeing their safe passage into eternity. The Greek word, arrabon, has come to mean, “an engagement ring,” in modern Greek; however, in ancient times it was a trader’s word signifying the first installment or deposit – the portion of the purchase price paid in advance which guarantees full payment. While an engagement ring promises marriage, but is not itself part of the marriage, the arrabon, or deposit, is more than a guarantee – it is part of the actual payment itself. So by giving us His Holy Spirit, God is not merely promising a final inheritance, but is actually giving us a foretaste of it! What a joy it is to know that because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, eternal life is something which we possess a share in today.