“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness (Dutch Staten Bible: “getuigenis” = testimony) in himself”.
(1 John 5:10a)
Through faith man understands that the righteousness of God is offered to him personally. He sees that God gives him this righteousness and now he accepts it out of God’s hand. He has the testimony in his heart that he has done this, and this testimony is the testimony of the Holy Spirit. When man has accepted the righteousness of God out of God’s hand, then he also knows that he has done this.
Many a time I have heard it said: “Man can well be in possession of this without knowing it.” But this is only true to a certain extent, because man can never extend his hand for God’s righteousness, when he has not the testimony that this righteousness is offered to him.
Knowledge and confidence without assurance is not true faith. For this reason our forefathers – who had acquired the knowledge of these things by experience – have said that the assurance which is in faith, cannot for one moment be separated from faith. And so, if there were someone who would say that he has no surety that his faith is the true faith which is from God, then this cannot be looked upon as the true work of the Holy Spirit ensuing from His office to grant the mercy of true faith. “But”, someone might ask, “what about spiritual disquietedness and afflictions?” Man, who has faith, is surely exposed to afflictions; but the disquietedness and afflictions have not their seat in faith. The believer has to struggle his whole life on earth with afflictions, but again, in faith as such there is assurance. The Holy Scripture calls it “the full assurance of hope” (Heb. 6:11).
In the time of the Reformation the Church of Christ refused to hold communion with those who denied these things. If there was a minister who put forward a preaching deviating from the sound doctrine of truth, he was suspended or removed from his office by virtue of rules of church discipline. Our forefathers called such ministers ‘hired barkers of the antichrist”. I am in heartfelt agreement with them, and I hope that you as well have become like-minded with our forefathers!
(From: Meditations, 22 February. Sermon on Matthew 6:33, 10 October 1939 in Delft and sermon on Romans 6:5, 27 August 1946 in Utrecht.)