A Review of “Assurance” by William P. Smith

The 31-Day Devotionals for Life series from P&R Publishers has been a tremendous resource. As a counselor, and as a Christian, I have found them overall helpful and focused. Not that every volume is equally effective in what it addresses, but as a series they’ve been excellent. In Assurance: Resting in God’s Salvation, William Smith provides a pointed and encouraging resource for navigating spiritual insecurity.

The book is broken down into three sections. Days 1-14 focus on “acknowledging your insecurities.” Smith rattles through the common insecurities that plague us when we doubt God’s love or our salvation. The chapters are titled according to our frequent statements:

How Can God Forgive Me For What I’ve Done?

But I Keep Sinning!

If God Really Loved Me, He Wouldn’t Let Bad Things Happen to Me

I Don’t Feel God’s Presence Like I Once Did

He walks readers through these anxious questions grounding their hope in God’s Words about Himself and their salvation. He reminds us often throughout the book that our concern over these issues and our longing for God are a type of confirmation that we should be encouraged by.

Days 15-25 turn attention to “Finding Certainty in God’s Faithful Acts.” If the previous section looked at what we say to ourselves, this section considers what God and Jesus in particular say to us. He encourages readers that God never looks on our doubts and pulls away, but rather moves towards us. He reminds us that our salvation didn’t start with us and doesn’t depend on us and therefore our perseverance doesn’t ultimately depend on us. “You don’t pursue God more than He pursues you,” Smith reminds us (65).

Finally, days 26-31 focus on “Putting Final Doubts to Rest.” If the title of this section is perhaps too ambitious, the chapters are very practical. Smith points to a number of practical ways to frame our thoughts and evaluate our growth. Readers are encouraged but also equipped in this section to keep putting one foot in front of the other on their spiritual journey.

What I love about this book is the pointed emphasis on God. The battle with spiritual insecurity stems often from an over-emphasis on self. We are trying hard to decipher our salvation based on “sufficient evidence,” but our minds never find any amount of evidence “sufficient.” So, the quest continues on endlessly. But by turning attention to God, by emphasizing His character, promises, and commitments we can find stable footing for our hope. Smith keeps that focus sharp throughout the book.

The book is also deeply encouraging. He has carefully chosen passages of Scripture that emphasize His point and He has chosen some that many of us will not readily call to mind. There will be a freshness to many who pick up this book. In our struggles with insecurity we sometimes hear the same handful of Scriptures referenced over and over and they can lose their impact. But Smith applies a wide array of relevant passages to hep us embrace hope and I have found that both personally encouraging and inspiriting to my counselees.

I highly recommend Assurance as a great devotional and counseling tool. There are, obviously, some forms of spiritual insecurity that are more acute than others (religious scrupulosity will need some extra care and attention, for example), but this is a good tool to spark meaningful conversation and thoughtful engagement.

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