Assurance of faith

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Romans 8:9-25; Psalm 18:16-36

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

How does the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God?

A common understanding is that Romans 8:16 speaks of how the Holy Spirit “whisper” to our inner souls that we are “God’s child” and therefore produces the assurance of faith. However, I am not entirely sure if this verse can be interpreted in this manner; especially if the Greek is to be translated as “bears witness with our spirit” and not “bears witness to our spirit”. Moreover, we might run into problems if such an interpretation is adopted; especially in cases where Christians claim not to be able to “experience” such an assurance of salvation.

So if the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit; what does it mean? Personally, I thought Romans 8:16 can only be properly understood in context with Paul’s exhortation in verses 10-14 that as Christ dwells in us, so we are to live in the Holy Spirit. This means that we can only know the assurance of faith by actively choosing to live in the Holy Spirit, be led by the Spirit and dwelling in the hope for much better things to come. The evidence of being God’s child is that we are not merely trying to “feel” for God’s presence in our lives; but actively choosing to do God’s will through the Spirit’s guidance. Only by doing so, can the Holy Spirit witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

Such a reflection brings to mind that the journey of faith is much about choosing to what is right with God or allowing ourselves to “fall back in fear” (v15). The power to choose is given to us through faith in Jesus Christ who atoned for our sins so that we can call God Abba Father. The struggle to choose between what is right with God or that which sin against Him is an assurance that we are God’s children. The victory of choosing what is right over what is evil is the assurance that the adopted sons of God are no longer bound by the power of sin. Hence, as His children, we want to do what is pleasing to God and not that which breaks His heart. This is what “having a relationship with God” really looks like.

Thank you Abba Father for your grace in helping us to know what is good and right. Help us Abba Father to live daily in the Spirit and choose what is good and right. Amen.