How shall I know that I am accepted of God? That I am saved or sanctified? The Bible declares God’s love and pity for sinners, including me, and reveals His offer of mercy to me in Jesus Christ, on condition that I fully repent of my sins and, yielding myself to Him, believe on Jesus Christ and taking up my cross, follow Him. But how shall I know that I have met these conditions in a way to satisfy Him, and that I am myself saved?
The Bible cannot tell me this. It tells me what to do, but it does not tell me when I have done it, any more than the signboard at the country crossroads, pointing out the road leading to the city, tells me when I have reached the city.
My religious teachers and friends cannot tell me, for they cannot read my heart, nor the mind of God toward me. How can they know when I have in my heart repented and believed, and when His righteous anger is turned away?
My own heart, owing to its darkness and deceitfulness and liability to error, is not a safe witness previous to the assurance God Himself gives.
How, then, shall I know that I am justified or wholly sanctified? There is but one way, and that is by the witness of the Holy Spirit. God must notify me, and make me to know it; and this He does. Says Paul: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16 NKJV). Unless He Himself assures me, I shall never know that He accepts me, but must continue in uncertainty all my days.
John Wesley says: “By the testimony of the Spirit, I mean an inward impression of the soul, whereby the Spirit of God immediately and directly witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God; that Jesus has loved me and given Himself for me; that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God.”
When the Holy Spirit witnesses to me that I am saved and adopted into God’s family as His child, then other evidences begin to abound also. My own spirit witnesses that I am a new creature. My conscience bears witness that I am honest and true in all my purposes and that this sincerity of heart is His blessed work in my soul and is a fruit of salvation. The Bible becomes a witness to my salvation.
The witness of the Spirit is not likely to be mistaken for something else, just as the sun is not likely to be mistaken for a lesser light.
Samuel Logan Brengle, When the Holy Ghost Is Come