By Jesse C. Middendorf
We believe … that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth, and also to the entire
sanctification of believers (from “Agreed Statement of Belief” Manual, Church of the Nazarene, paragraph 26.7).
“The Holy Spirit bears witness …” This is one of the foundational understandings of the nature of assurance for those of us in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. This is a scriptural truth that is not based merely on theological formulations but on the clear teaching of the Bible. In Romans 8:16 (NIV) Paul writes, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
We believe that the Spirit is faithful to the seeking heart—probing, convicting, and inviting. When one utterly surrenders his or her will unwaveringly to God, the Spirit comes, transforming and assuring the believer that the work is done! This is true of both the work of justification and of sanctification.
In Dr. Mark Quanstrom’s book, From Grace to Grace, he quotes John Wesley: “From what has been said, we may learn … what the life of God in the soul of a believer is; wherein it properly consists; and what is immediately and necessarily implied therein. It immediately and necessarily implies the continual inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit; God’s breathing into the soul, and the soul’s breathing back what it first receives from God; a continual action of God upon the soul, and a reaction of the soul upon God; an unceasing presence of God, the loving pardoning God, manifested to the heart, and perceived by faith; and an unceasing return of love, praise, and prayer, offering up all the thoughts of our hearts, and the words of our tongues, and the works of our hands, all our body, soul, and spirit, to be a holy sacrifice, acceptable unto God in Christ Jesus” (p. 96).
The writer of the Book of Hebrews speaks of drawing “near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” (Hebrews 10:22, NIV).
This is a vital truth! And the truth includes a conviction that this assurance is not a momentary thing, but it may be the continuing anticipation of the believer. It must be cultivated and nurtured. The ongoing work of the Spirit is the necessary means by which the disciple of Jesus walks in daily dependence. The Spirit not only accomplishes the work in the moment of surrender, but He also continues the work in the daily life of surrender and obedience as the believer lives in constant communion with God through the Spirit.