Posted tagged ‘assurance’

If I am a little more sanctified than you, then I am a little more sure that I believe ???

July 2, 2015

when I am obeying him (however imperfectly) more than you are, my progress in sanctification is the fruit of free justification and my progress in sanctification does contribute to my assurance, but if your lack of progress in sanctification contributes to your lack of assurance, remember not to make your progress the first thing but only something second or third in your assurance, because even if you have a little less dirt (and more gas) in your tank than I do, you do have some dirt, and none of us have all gas (some dirt is mixed into all our progress) , and assurance is not all or nothing, which is why my progress in sanctification is not the first main thing but only one of the reasons that gives me assurance

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We Don’t Bring Faith to the Gospel, the Gospel Brings Faith to us

February 2, 2015

The point of faith alone is “not by works”. Faith is not something you bring to the gospel. Faith is something that the gospel brings to the elect. I am not saying we have to hear a preacher or a sermon. But it is necessary for us to HEAR the gospel.

This HEARING is not works but faith. Galatians 3: 5-8, “ Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. I know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, forseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham….”

Since this text does not talk about election, and since it does talk about faith four times, what then is the gospel preached to Abraham that we should proclaim?

First, notice that faith is a hearing produced by God by means of the gospel. The power is not in us but in the gospel message. I Corinthians 1: 18, “for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”

The full gospel needs to be proclaimed to all sinners (and not just those who have the money to get into Reformed conferences). The gospel is only good news for the elect, but we don’t know who the elect are until they have believed the gospel. The promise of the gospel is not for the children of the flesh but for the children of the promise, but we don’t know who the children of the promise are until they have been called.

As Romans 9: 7 reminds us, not all are offspring of Abraham because they are his offspring. As Acts reminds us time after time, the promise is for “as many as“ are called. (2:39, 4:4 ).

We must not leave Christ out of election. It is not enough to talk about calling and election, if election is simply to make sure that some sinners have faith alone. If the object of the faith alone is a false gospel which says that Christ loves everybody and desires to save everybody but that faith is some kind of condition of this salvation, then the faith alone is not in the true Christ. At that point, faith alone has as its object faith alone

We don’t bring faith to the true gospel, because the true gospel brings faith (hearing) to the elect. The message (for the elect alone) is to be proclaimed to elect and non-elect alike, but it (the message) is the power of God to the elect alone.

Is Assurance Necessary for Us to have Good works, or are Good works necessary for Us to have Assurance, or do we have a Situation Gospel in which the Answer Depends on What’s Good for the Listener?

January 10, 2014

I agree that we live in a day of “hyper-grace” in which clergy tell folks that God accepts them just as they are, even if they do not know and believe the gospel. I agree that Christianity is not a theory which we believe but do nothing about.

But that being said, in reacting to antinomianism, we need to remember that most professing Christians are legalists (soft to hard) and that not only NT Wright but also Arminians and Baxterians condition salvation on what God does in the sinner. So we need to make sure we don’t confuse law and gospel.

Is Assurance Necessary for Us to have Good works, or are Good works necessary for Us to have Assurance, or do we have a Situationist Gospel in which the Answer Depends on What’s Good for the Listener?

With its emphasis on “knowledge” and “calling”, 2 Peter One reverses legalism by commanding us to examine our works by making our calling and election sure. Those who know Christ are commanded to become effective They are not commanded to become fruitful in order to find out if they know Christ (or are known by Christ).

But many assume an assurance of calling based on our works. To do that,they attempt to isolate one verse and ignore the context of II Peter 1, which begins in the very first verse with the idea that faith is given because of Christ’s righteousness. They makes their works of faith the assurance. In effect, their assurance of Christ’s atonement is only as good as their confidence in their own works. Their “faith” turns out to be assurance in works, not assurance in Christ’s atonement.

By what gospel were we called? Was it the gospel of “characteristic obedience” or was it the gospel of “Christ paid it all for the elect”? Legalists are trying to follow Christ as Lord without first submitting to salvation only by God’s perfect and sufficient alone righteousness.

We do not work to get assurance. We must have assurance before our works are acceptable to God. But many “Calvinists”, along with the Arminians, think of faith as the “condition” that saves them. Yes, they disagree (somewhat) about the source of faith, but they both are way more concerned about the condition faith leaves you in(the results in your life) than they are in the object of faith.

Though the true gospel explains that the justification of the ungodly does not happen until righteousness is imputed and faith is created by hearing the gospel, the true gospel also declares that it is the righteousness ALONE (apart from the works of faith created) which satisfies the requirement of God’s law. (Romans 8:4)

The moralist does not test her works by the gospel doctrine of righteousness. As Hebrews 9:14 and Romans 7:4-6 teach us, that a person not yet submitted to the righteousness revealed in the gospel is still an evil worker, bringing forth fruit unto death.

Scot Hafemann: “ Sandwiched between what God has done for us and what God promises to do for us in the future, we find the commands of God for the present as the necessary link between the two.” This false gospel makes everything conditional, not on Christ, but on us—-if the Holy Spirit enables you do enough right, then God promises not to break you off…

Lutherans Have an Eternal Life that They Can Lose

November 21, 2013

A Lutheran: Some people really do have eternal life before they lose it. I guess I have never doubted this, and it has always been something I have had some concern about— making shipwreck of my faith, not just being “faithless” but disowning him.

mark: So when you say “eternal” life, you are thinking in some qualitative way, not of a life that necessarily continues forever? It seems to me that there is a distinction to be made between now having “eternal life” and that time on the last day when God will raise up the justified elect and give them immortality. But isn’t “eternal life” now the verdict declared already of “immortality in the age to come”? Isn’t it the verdict that a person will not come into the judgment?

John 5:2 4 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

And so the Reformed question: how can a person who has passed from death to life, then pass back to life? What is the practical difference between accusing the Reformed of not knowing if they have life (or if they now believe) and a Lutheran saying: I know I believe now, but that does not mean I will keep believing. I know I have eternal life now, but it might not be eternal forever, it might not be life forever.

1. I don’t see how Lutherans have escaped the Reformed problem–how can you really know that you even really believe now? You go to church? Well, Reformed people do that also. 2. It’s the old Cromwell question. Supposedly he relied on a syllogism on his death bed–if I believed once, then I cannot lose my justification, and I know that I believed once, therefore….

But there are problems with that
1. He’s believing in his belief. He’s looking at himself believing, not at Christ.

2. So Lutherans think the solution is to get our eyes off of themselves, off of the question if they are believing, and think to do this by telling everybody that they all are justified, before believing.

3. But it does not work for more than a moment, because Lutherans (at least those who are not universalists) also say that they can’t be sure that they themselves (previously justified) will keep believing and will keep the “eternal life” they once had.

4. So they have come around to the same place as the Reformed–—are you believing now? And you can’t prove it with your living, since that attempt is not believing.

5. So what was the difference? It was the gospel, the object being believed. The Reformed say, you are not justified apart from believing, not justified before believing. (And I agree with this, even as I insist that God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness is before new birth and faith.) But the Lutherans tell us— believe that you are justified, instead of believing to be justified.

I am not making this complicated. The differences are more complicated than I have shown. For one thing, the word “justification” is being used in more than one way. For a second thing, Lutherans seem to agree that we need to keep believing in order to stay justified.

But, even in this case, in the tomorrow and the day after that, the object of faith is not the same gospel. “Believing that you are justified” is not the gospel. The gospel is not the Velveteen Rabbit, in which what we believe makes something real. Reality does not disappear because you don’t believe in it. If we are justified before faith in the gospel , then ignorance of the gospel and absence of faith in the gsopel does not make justification disappear.

So if we want to avoid Barthianism or universalism, if we agree that those who do not believe the gospel are not justified, then we had better stop telling people that they are justified before they believe the gospel. And we certainly should stop telling people that they have passed from death to life, if we need to also tell them they can now pass from life to death.

But if we run away from Lutheran “objectivity”, do we end up in a Jonathan Edwards place where he says that God’s justification is conditioned on “future grace” (future acts of faith created by God in us)? I hope not. I certainly know that many Reformed persons are now in this place––they hate “eternal security” more than any Lutheran does. They put perseverance first every time over God’s preservation because they despise the idea of “once justified, always justified.”.

I don’t know enough about Lutherans to know the differences (except between no wrath ones like Forde, vs conservatives). But I do know that not all Reformed are alike. Not all Reformed rely on a practical syllogism which is looking at the I who is believing, and saying, well that’s God also, since it’s God the Spirit working in the I. No, not all Reformed are like that.

Lutherans can’t solve their assurance problems by saying that Jesus even died for those who perish And Reformed people can’t solve their assurance problems by saying that water is a “seal” about justification being conditioned on faith. Those who have that kind of water are in no better place than others without the water but are hearing the gospel.

The question still comes down to–—what is the gospel? Do we look at a verse in Acts and say, all you need to say is “Jesus is Lord” and nothing else should or needs to be said, even if you think that a person is saved by doing what the Lord tells you to do? But the gospel does not make faith a condition of election, because the gospel tells us that faith is a result of election.

And that gospel does not tell you or anyone that they are elect. That gospel tells us that “all for whom Jesus died will be justified.” If you don’t like definite particular effectual atonement, you don’t like the gospel. And if you don’t like the gospel, then you might want to say it’s a gnostic idea that almost nobody knows or believes.

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

No Balance, Christ’s Work or Your Works

November 29, 2012

2 Peter 1: Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

With its emphasis on “knowledge” and “calling”, 2 Peter One reverses legalism by commanding us to examine our works by making our calling and election sure. Those who know Christ are commanded to become effective They are not commanded to become fruitful in order to find out if they know Christ (or are known by Christ).

But  many  assume a “practical syllogism” in which assurance of calling is based on our works. To do that,they attempt to isolate one verse and ignore the context, which begins in the very first verse with the idea that faith is given because of Christ’s righteousness. They makes their works of faith the assurance. In effect, their assurance of Christ’s atonement is only as good as their confidence in their own works.  Their “faith” turns out to be assurance in works, not assurance in Christ’s atonement. Because it can’t be both. There is no “balance” in this “sola”.

By what gospel were we called? Was it the gospel of “characteristic obedience” or was it the gospel of “Christ paid it all for the elect”? Legalists are trying to follow Christ as Lord without first submitting to salvation only by God’s perfect and sufficient alone righteousness.

We do not work to get assurance. We must have assurance before our works are acceptable to God. But many puritan “experimental” Calvinists, along with the Arminians, think of faith as the “condition” that saves them.. Yes, they disagree about the cause and source of faith, but they both are way more concerned about the condition faith leaves you in than they are in the object of faith.

Though the true gospel knows that the justification of the ungodly does not happen until righteousness is imputed and faith is created by hearing the gospel, the true gospel also knows that it is the righteousness ALONE (apart from the works of faith created) which satisfies the requirement of God’s law. (Romans 8:4)

The experimentalist wants to say that her imperfect works are the evidence of Christ’s work in them. But way too often this moralist does not test her works by the gospel doctrine of righteousness. As Hebrews 9:14 and Romans 7:4-6 teach us, that a person not yet submitted to the righteousness revealed in the gospel is still an evil worker, bringing forth fruit unto death. Those who work for assurance not justified, and any assurance they have is a deceit.

Indeed, unless we are universalists or fatalists (some Primitive Baptists are both), we cannot avoid the search for evidence. But we need to see that the evidence is submission to the gospel, which involves knowledge about election, imputation and Christ’s satisfaction. It is a waste of time to talk about “obedience to law as evidence” unless a person knows what the gospel is. A person who finds evidence in works shows that they don’t know what the gospel is.

Moralists stress the nature and quality of faith, but not the righteousness COMPLETED by Christ which should be the only object of faith. It is Christ (not us) who satisfies God’s law.

There are many false gospels and only one true gospel. The only way not to be self-righteous is to know that the law demands perfect righteousness and that the gospel proclaims how Christ satisfied that demand for the elect. One certain result of the righteousness earned by Christ is that the elect will believe this gospel and not any false gospel.

Legalists thank their false god for enabling them to keep meeting the conditions so they won’t be “broken off the covenant”. The workers who came before the the judgment in Matthew 7 were sure that they had satisfied the conditions. They do not deny that election is the reason that they meet the conditions to stay in and to be sure. But instead of pleading Christ alone who got done a perfect righteousness, they also plead something else.

These moralistic theonomists have flattered themselves about their obedience being acceptable. But those for whom Christ died will came to repent of that false gospel.

Scot Hafemann (p60): “ Sandwiched between what God has done for us and what God promises to do for us in the future, we find the commands of God for the present as the necessary link between the two.” This false gospel makes everything conditional, not on Christ, but on us—- if you do enough right, then God promises not to break you off…

So Your Wanting to be Changed Gives You Assurance?

November 27, 2012

So ever day, you got to, got to, got to keep changed enough to convince yourself that you are not a fraud?

How are you doing with that?

Those who will be condemned were born condemned already, but their wicked attempts to establish their own righteousness with “good deeds” will also be condemned. Those who have been justified have not been been justified by their right attitudes about works and faith. But those who have been justified have also been born again and as result they all now know that they are not working to get God’s blessings and assurance. They have assurance.

Galatians 3: 3. Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4. Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5. He therefore that gives you the Spirit, and works miracles among you, does he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

You can say “blood, blood, blood”, but still not know Christ. Most of those who did many bloody animal sacrifices did not receive Christ as crucified. The Arminians and Lutherans who say that Christ died for those who will perish do not believe in the true Christ and His precious blood.

To know Christ, you must know that God requires a righteousness that sinners cannot produce and that God in Christ established for the elect a righteousness that demands justification for the elect. The law demands death, even the death of One who was never a sinner, but who was imputed with the sins of the elect.

Those who killed Christ thought they could do God some additional service. John 16:1-3. If you think you can add to or complete your righteousness by your changed life, then you are as guilty as those who killed Christ.

To judge by the gospel is to examine if we confess and agree with God’s testimony. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the justified elect that God requires a righteousness that we cannot produce even with the help of grace John 16:8-13. It is the Holy Spirit who takes away our confidence so that we have NO confidence that we ever did or ever will do anything (even with God’s help) to make ourselves better than anybody else. Phil 3:3. The reason the justified elect are different from others before God is that Christ died for them and not for others.

It is the Spirit who causes us to confess the true Christ and the true gospel. I Cor 1:23-24  A  false spirit that says Christ died for everybody and now it depends on what we with help from that spirit. I Cor 2:11-13: “No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”

The righteousness of Christ is a free gift. If we say that the accepting of the free gift is something different from the free gift, and that this accepting is “MINE” and what I did (with God’s grace) to be saved, then we may call that “salvation by faith” but what we call “faith” is really still self-righteousness.

“I am a good chooser. And the reason for that is I am a good “wanter”.  I “want” what’s right ( “of course sometimes I sin but I don’t “want” to and don’t really choose to and God is gracious and will overlook it…”) because I have a heart my god has now made better than that of others…”

NO! We were not justified by being in the right place at the right time and reading the right book or tract. If we are justified, it was a SUPERNATURAL WORK OF GOD. So no excuses like ” don’t blame me for not knowing the gospel when I got saved”.

What the Spirit produces is repentance to see that our “mistakes about the gospel” were motivated by our wicked hearts that wanted to condition salvation on ourselves instead of TOTALLY on the righteousness established by Christ for the elect.

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (3:3)

The typical Calvinist thinks that people can begin as Christian in error and then (maybe as an option) MOVE TO THE TRUTH. But in Galatians we have a different case.  People who begin with the truth (Paul’s’ preaching of the gospel, Romans 1:16-17-faith is no part of the righteousness, circumcision is no part of the righteousness), but who are now in danger of being bewitched by error.

I make two exhortations here:

1. Let us examine our calling. Is it really true that you can be justified by believing a lie? Is it really true that God the Spirit teaches the sheep that Jesus died for everybody but that they are themselves the condition of salvation? Is it really the Holy Spirit that teaches people that Jesus waits for their decision?

2. For those of us who are convinced that we do believe the true gospel, why would we ever listen to  the preaching of those who do not know the gospel? Why do we think we will grow by listening to a false gospel? Why do we think that we can learn something from a false gospel about how to raise our children and love our wives?

Is it because we have confidence in ourselves that WE would never be bewitched?  Do we worry about the world’s influence on our children, but have no concern for the influence of Arminian evangelicalism (salvation by faith, not by righteousness) on ourselves?

“Have ye suffered so many things in vain?” (3:4)

Why do we cry peace to the Arminians and to others who lie about God and sin? Because we want them to be partial to us! If we want their respect, we will have to respect them. But Christ had no respect for them or their opinions, but total respect for the honor of God. If we had that same kind of respect for God, we would not be at peace with Arminian lies, and we would be hated the way Christ was.

Christ suffered because he was a “light” who exposed “good deeds” as being “evil deeds”. John 3:18-20. People hated Christ because Christ told them that God required a righteousness they could not produce: He had no respect for what they produced. They would have respected Him as Messiah if only He had been partial to their good deeds. But He was not.

Used to be a drug addict? So what: if you don’t believe the gospel, you will die in your sins. But I believe the Bible and in a literal second coming. So what? if you don’t believe the gospel, you will die in your sins.

John 7:7 “they hate me because I testify of the world that its works are evil.” Its good works are evil. John 7:24 “Do not judge by outward appearances, but judge with righteous judgment.” Judge yourself and others by knowing that God requires a perfect righteousness and that only those who submit to the gospel have that perfect righteousness.

Why are the Galatians tempted by the legalists? Because if they go along with their lies, they will be respected, and THEY WILL NOT SUFFER PERSECUTION FROM THEM. To say that cross is the only difference is to suffer; to add on to the cross will cause the suffering to go away. To say that those who add on are under the curse (as Paul says) is to make lots of enemies,

Any time people can preach grace as that which changes you to enable you to produce some of the righteousness that God requires,  then they continue hating the gospel of imputation in which the CROSS IS THE ONLY DIFFERENCE. Instead of glorying in the cross (gal 6:14), they are ashamed to say that Christ died only for the elect. Instead, they talk in code language (died for those who would believe) so they can stay at peace with Arminians who buy books.

Assurance By Purgatory in This Life?

September 20, 2012

Certain puritan experimentalists (and quakers) move the “purgatory” into this life, before the first death. Max Weber called it a work-ethic to confirm to ourselves that we are elect.

The Persistence of Purgatory (Richard K Fenn) traces Western attitudes toward time back to the myth of Purgatory. As popular understandings of Purgatory became increasingly secularized, the lifespan of the individual became correspondingly purgatorial. No time could be wasted. Fenn demonstrates the impact of Purgatory on the preaching of Richard Baxter and William Channing, but he also argues that John Locke’s views can only be understood when placed within the context of a belief in Purgatory.

Roman Catholics like Sungenis will always talk about a “difference” between a paradigm with quid pro quo conditions and  the  “in the family now” paradigm with “mysterious conditions”. But I would shift the paradigm comparison to that between those who teach that Christians are imparted with the divine nature and thus enabled to meet “conditions in the covenant” and those who refuse any notion of “conditionality” except that which depends on Christ’s finished work.

Even though the revivalist family is not so strict as to demand perfection, it does keep asking its members to ask themselves— am I the fourth dirt in the parable, or one of the other three?

I am neither an Arminian nor a federal visionist, and I don’t believe that the justified elect lose their election, and therefore I don’t think that Christians have to do stuff to stay in (internally in?) the new covenant. Those “in the family” tend to let you by faith alone, or even without that if you are an infant, but then after a while, they will let you out the back door if your faith is still alone. In addition to faith, they ask—what have you done lately?

It’s like my wife saying to me—the wooing doesn’t stop now. Sure, I married you already but now I want to see the big house with the bird nests in the big back yard. I am not denying that a husband should do stuff for his wife. But I ask the revivalist– how much does a husband have to do in order to keep the wife! Is it always just a little bit more than what I have done already?

When I walked down that aisle 33 years ago, was I thinking— now that I am married, I don’t need to love her? It’s not strictly “quid pro quo” necessary? I need to love her, but it’s “mysteriously conditional?

Our works are not necessary to obtain God’s blessings. Romans 4:4—“To the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due”.

What I do for my wife is not like mortgage payments on a note which can never be burned. I am not like Jacob who had to work seven more years after he got in the family (and that after seven years already)

Married is married. What we do doesn’t keep us married.There is no cause-effect relationship between our works and some second final justification, because the elect are saved by Christ’s work. Christians share in what Christ has, not because of what they do but because they are still married to Christ.

The federal visionists warn us that the new covenant now expects more of us because we COULD now do more if you wanted to. Despite talk of the divine assistance available, the subtext is threatening and ominous– it’s not strict and perfect we want, but we shall wait and see what you do, and we will never say it specifically about you, but we will say in a general way–not enough recently, maybe out of the family now….

Sure it’s great that water baptism has united me to Christ but how am I to know that I will keep covenant from now on in (so let me die first before I do something which will put me out of the covenant, let me die sooner rather than later). This is what I mean by purgatory now, before the first death.