Friday, March 30, 2007

Are you sure, Private Pyle?!

Last installment, me thinks, with regard to the assurance of salvation. We're being exhaustive here because it's an important issue. Far from being irrelevant, assurance is a help to living for Christ.

But, it's also important because we don't want anyone thinking they have what they don't have, peace with God. Thus, we ask, are you sure?!

Some good insight from the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. (1689)

Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation
(scripture proofs):

1. Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.

Temporary believers, stony ground hearers deceive themselves, but is it possible others have enabled that deception by affirming that which has not taken place merely because of some external feat performed (e.g., walking an aisle, raising a hand, praying a prayer, signing a card, etc.)?

We see here as well that while assurance is not automatic, it is possible to have.

2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.

I'm not exactly sure how the assurance is infallible, since my perception of it can certainly be so, but I appreciate the foundation of that assurance, Christ's atonement.

3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; -so far is it from inclining men to looseness.

In other words, assurance does not lead to licentiousness. There is and should be no, "I'm forgiven so I can sin all I want up in this piece." Instead, it is a duty to pursue assurance because assurance aids in holiness in the Christian life.

Plus, assurance is not automatic, but there may be a delay from justification which yields sanctification and the assurance of that salvation.

4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.

This seems to me to pointedly address the question of not whether or not God is faithful, but whether or not I am one to whom He has promised faithfulness.

God is faithful to His bride, but are you part of His bride (i.e., church) or are you instead one presuming the affections of a husband who is not your own?

How do you know? Are you sure?!
Beware, I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If thy heart be renewed, if thou shalt hate the things that thou didst once love, and love the things that thou didst once hate; if thou hast really repented; if there be a thorough change of mind in thee; if thou be born again, then hast thou reason to rejoice: but if there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then thy saying "I am saved" is but thine own assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee.
-Charles Spurgeon



At 29 March, 2007 22:00, Blogger george said...

I think it's ok to doubt yourself in regards to your own salvation. That is healthy. Where you can't doubt is the promises that God has made to those who believe.

It's not that you're doubting God to fulfill His promises; you're doubting yourself as to whether you have done what is required to inherit those promises.


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