Published on June 17, 2024 by Eugene Ho

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 96 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance  

by Chad Chauvin


The doctrine of assurance can be tricky. Every person should diligently search Scripture to know where they stand before God. A solid grasp of the doctrine of justification by faith alone is integral to understanding the biblical doctrine of assurance. On the one hand, the Bible warns about the potential for someone to be self-deceived by thinking that their good works make them right with God. A deceptive assurance provides a false hope that their sins have been forgiven by God. On the other hand, there are genuine Christians who, for a variety of reasons, are tempted to think that God has not saved them or that God does not love them as much as He used to. For these precious and vulnerable saints, the Bible can provide a healing balm to their souls. 

This devotional, by William Smith, is aimed towards the latter category. Every Christian has the right according to Scripture to know that God has saved them and that He loves them. Assurance: Resting In God’s Salvation is a collection of thirty-one daily devotions, each addressing one of the variety of questions that someone struggling with assurance may ask. I think the devotional format is an excellent way to provide answers to these concerns for a few reasons. First, a genuine Christian is more likely to be in the habit of reading devotionals, which are intended to give devotees of Christ a spiritual pick me up each day. Second, people who struggle with depression or anxiety, which can persuade a follower of Christ to doubt God’s love for them, may only be able to read small sections at a time. The devotional format is a very practical way for readers to digest deep truths in bite-sized form and can lead to worship in their personal quiet time.

In the introduction, Smith challenges readers to differentiate between the logic of doubt and the feeling of doubt. When we look at the circumstances of our lives for assurance, especially our failures, we can be tempted to allow our feelings to supersede what we know to be true from Scripture. Smith’s specific focus is to attack doubts that call into question God’s goodness. He calls readers to trust God’s Word, even when it doesn’t feel as if He loves them.

The first fourteen days encourage readers to stop avoiding their doubts, but to acknowledge them. For example, on day two Smith uses King David’s confession of sin in Psalm 51 as an example of someone presented with a choice—either try to make things right with God on the strength of his works, or trust in God’s faithful ability to make things right despite his sin. On day seven, Smith encourages believers to acknowledge that it doesn’t seem fair that God seemingly lets others injure them, but that God does not allow a believer to get away with the same sin. It may feel like God imposes a double standard on Christians. Instead of questioning God’s justice, Smith argues that the fact God does not let believers off the hook is evidence that God desires better things for them. On day thirteen, Smith makes a good point about the tendency of many people to think of repentance as a work, as if God’s mercy depends on what we do. He explains that some people doubt they are right with God because they are never sure if they have repented enough. Instead, he encourages readers to acknowledge that they cannot possibly do enough, and that salvation does not depend on their own works, including the act of repentance. Although repentance is required for salvation, Christians are solely justified by the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross. No human act is credited to sinners for justification, including repentance. 

Days fifteen through twenty-five focus on God’s faithfulness to sinners and how the basis of our assurance comes from what He has done for us, not what we see in ourselves. Each devotional is centered around a Bible passage that emphasizes God’s work in salvation. He is the One who effectually calls. He has made the sacrifice that counts. He creates new hearts. The Bible places the burden and emphasis of the salvation miracle on God’s acts, not ours. One cause of doubt is that we begin to look to ourselves, rather than God, as the source of new life in Christ. These devotions remind readers that salvation is of the Lord and we should never look to our law keeping as the basis of our salvation. Smith writes on day eighteen, “Since it was his choice to add you to his family, you can trust him to parent you in such a way that you will be with him forever.” This section is the best medication for believers who lack assurance because it reminds them that God’s work is sufficient to save and keep them to the end. Our role is to trust that what God has said in His Word is true.

The final section, days twenty-six through thirty-one, emphasizes things readers should believe to help them put their doubts to rest. This is a fitting ending to the devotional since hope and assurance is Smith’s goal for readers. On day thirty, he encourages readers to see if they are growing spiritually and see if a measure of the fruit of the Spirit is being manifested in their lives. Smith notes that even if they are not growing as they would like, assurance is warranted if they see any meaningful measure of growth. He warns against comparing our growth to that of others because God who causes our growth does so according to His timeframe.

I found that justification by faith alone is correctly applied throughout the devotional, which is a must for the biblical doctrine of assurance to be correctly applied. Smith does an excellent job of presenting salvation as a work of God and of reminding readers that their role in salvation is to trust and receive the provisions that God has already made for them through Jesus Christ on the cross. For example, on day twenty Smith admonishes those who emphasize their love for God, which is a human work, over God’s love for them, an act of grace. This consistent application of justification by faith alone encourages readers to look outside of themselves for an infallible assurance of salvation, rather than to look at their own works, which is deceptive and misleading. 

The one critique that I have is that I could not find one instance where Smith asks readers to carefully examine whether God has truly saved them. Some people struggle with assurance as part of God’s awakening process. There needs to be room for this process to play out. If people in this category read Assurance, they need to be encouraged to ask if they are truly resting in Christ for salvation. On day seventeen, Smith raises questions that both believers and unbelievers might ask. “I don’t know if God likes me. I don’t know if I am one of his children. I really want to be his child, but I’m not sure that I’m one of the elect. I don’t know if I’m really saved?” This could have been an opportunity to call for self-examination. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the doctrine of assurance can be tricky. The same medication that is helpful for one person can be harmful for another. For this reason, I suggest being cautious about who this book is given to as a gift or for counseling. I do not recommend giving it to someone whose life bears very little semblance of a genuine Christian and has displayed very little evidence of genuine repentance and saving faith. However, I believe this can book would be a valuable gift for a fellow church member, or another brother or sister in Christ who may be truly struggling with assurance.


Chad Chauvin (PhD, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Senior Pastor at Salem Baptist Church in Walker, Louisiana.

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P&R Publishing, 2019 | 96 pages

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