By Ismael E. Amaya
The doctrine of Christian assurance belongs to our evangelical faith. It is God's intention that we know beyond all doubt that we are saved and sanctified wholly. Therefore the Bible says that when a person has truly repented of his sins, and has been adopted into the family of God, the "Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom. 8:16). And just as clearly as the Spirit bears witness to our acceptance in sonship to God, just so He bears witness to our sanctification. When asked, "How do you know that you are sanctified, saved from your inbred corruption?" Wesley replied, "I can know it no otherwise than I know that I am justified." That means that the doctrine of the witness of the Spirit belongs to entire sanctification as well as to initial salvation.
Just as clearly as the "Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God," in like manner He bears witness to the subsequent work of sanctification. "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us" (Heb. 10:14-15). John Wesley taught that "none, therefore, ought to believe that the work is done till there is added the testimony of the Spirit witnessing his entire sanctification as clearly as his justification." "And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (I John 5:6).
Dr. H. Orton Wiley defines the witness of the Spirit as "that inward evidence of acceptance with God which the Holy Spirit reveals directly to the consciousness of the believer." Wesley confessed, "The manner how the divine testimony is manifested to the heart, I do not take upon me to explain. Such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me! I cannot attain unto it"
C. W. Ruth says that "the witness of the Spirit is the divine assurance, the voice of God in the soul, that gives the conviction of knowledge to our inner consciousness, that the blessing sought is now mine." He explains this whole process in these interesting words: "The instant faith really lays hold on the promise, God sends a telegram from the skies by the Holy Ghost that the bank of heaven has honored the draft and 'counted' out to us the sum that faith has appropriated. The man or woman who has this certificate, bearing the witness and signature of the Holy Ghost, has no occasion to 'hope' he has the blessing, nor will it matter much to him what any person may think or say about it, even though he be the preacher, presiding elder or bishop, seeing he has heard from heaven. He does not require visions nor the witness of men and angels, having heard from higher authority."
We find the best proof of the experience of entire sanctification in the personal possession of it. Then it is not something that we have heard about, or read about in books, but something that we are enjoying in our own lives now. People may seek to make us doubt that we have it and suggest that we only think we do. But that would be like trying to tell a boy who is eating a delicious apple that it isn't really an apple he is eating. He just thinks it is. But the boy knows better because he is tasting it. As someone has stated it, "We who have tasted the high and holy experience of a sanctified heart know its wonderful reality."
Yes, entire sanctification is a knowable experience. The Bible tells us of it; our faith appropriates it; God performs it; and the Holy Spirit confirms it. Glory be to God!