The second characteristic of those who are truly elect and, therefore, of those who should have assurance of their eternal salvation are faith.
If then you are assured that you find delight in God’s counsel to reconcile sinners to Himself through the Surety, the Lord Jesus Christ; if, due to grief and sorrow over your sinful heart and deeds, for God’s wrath, love for communion with God and a spiritual walk, and a sense of your own impotence to attain to these matters, you take refuge to this Surety who offers Himself; if you look to Him, long for Him, engage in transactions with Him, accept His offer, surrender yourself to Him, rest your salvation upon Him, and rely upon Him—be it one time with more, and then again with less intensity, with more clarity or more darkness, with more or less strife, continually or intermittently—if these things are to be found in you, then you are a partaker of true faith. If you may thus be assured of your faith, you may then consequently conclude your eternal election.
How do we draw strength from faith? First be realizing that faith itself is from God. á Brakel cites Acts 13:48, “and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed”; and Titus 1:1, “the faith of God’s elect.” We should also include Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” The soul struggling with assurance needs to be reminded that on his own, man does not believe in God. There is none who seeks after God. On his own, man cannot produce faith from within himself. The capacity for faith is something that God gives.
The struggling soul might reasonably ask, “Since I am struggling with assurance doesn’t that indicate that I do not have faith?” But the root of such questioning might not be faith itself, but the amount of faith. It may seem like an overly precise classification, but someone who is worrying about whether they have “enough” faith by be falling into the trap relying on their faith to save them rather than relying on the Savior to save them.
It is insensitive to experience and the biblical data to presume that everyone is going to demonstrate the same strength of faith at all times. Jesus speaks of faith as a mustard seed. Jesus helps the man who believes even as he struggles with unbelief. What we are looking for is the presence of faith, not the abundance of it.
Again á Brakel focuses attention on the object of faith, and not faith itself. This is where the struggling soul needs to look. What is the response of your soul to the gospel? Amazement or incredulity? What is the response of your soul to Jesus Christ? Attraction or revulsion? God’s children, however imperfectly, desire a relationship with the Father based on the merits of the Son. They seek such a relationship because of the working of the Holy Spirit. The very fact that you desire to draw near to God believing that He will accept you is an indication that He has chosen you to eternal salvation. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
For true assurance of biblical salvation we must accept the biblical testimony regarding such salvation. No one has any desire at all to come to Christ, to believe in Him, unless the Father first grants such a desire and such a belief. Do you believe in Christ? This is the gift of God which will certainly bear fruit unto your eternal salvation and His eternal praise and glory.