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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of Assurance, the Fruit of Justification.

Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are assurance of Godís love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.

Q. 1. Is assurance possible to be attained in this life?
A. Yes; for some have had it; Canticles 6:3. I am my belovedís, and my beloved is mine. And all Christians are commanded to strive for it; 2 Peter 1:10. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence, to make your calling and election sure.

Q. 2. How many sorts of assurance are there?
A. There is an objective assurance; 2 Timothy 2:19. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And a subjective or personal assurance; Galatians 2:20. Who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Q. 3. Is personal assurance perfect in this life?
A. No; It admits of doubts and fears, which interrupts it, and it is not always at one height; 1 Corinthians 13:10. When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in p art shall be done away.

Q. 4. On what testimony is personal assurance built?
A. Upon the testimony of Godís Spirit witnessing with ours; Romans 8:16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that are the children of God.

Q. 5. Doth the Spirit make use of signs in us to assure us?
A. Yes; ordinarily he doth; 1 John 3:14. We know that we are passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. And verse 24. Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

Q. 6. How is true assurance discerned from presumption?
A. True assurance humbles the soul; Galatians 2:20. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And makes the soul afraid of sin; 2 Corinthians 7:1. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Q. 7. What is the usual season of assurance?
A. The time of greatest sufferings for Christ; 1 Peter 4:14. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.

Q. 8. Is personal assurance absolutely necessary to salvation?
A. No; a man may be saved, and in Christ, without it; Isaiah 1:10. Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and bath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.

Q. 9. What is the fruit of assurance?
A. Joy unspeakable amidst outward troubles; Romans 5:11. And not only so, but we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Q. 10. What sins usually eclipse our assurance?
A. Negligence in duty starves it; 2 Peter 1:10. Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: For if you do these things ye shall never fall. And sinning against light, stabs it; Psalm 51:8. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Q. 11. What is the first inference from this doctrine?
A. That no unregenerate person can have any assurance; for it is the fruit of justification, adoption, and sanctification.

Q. 12. What is the second inference?
A. That all the joys of heaven are not to come; but some communicated in this life; 1 Peter 1:8. Whom having not seen ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.

Q. 13. What is the third inference?
A. That assured believers need to be circumspect persons, that they grieve not the Spirit; Ephesians 4:30. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

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