Assurance

Prayer  SlimJim from The Domain For Truth continues with part 8 of his Assurance of Salvation series.  While reading through his outline, I was reminded of Walter Marshalls’ The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (pdf version here).  In this day and age of easy believism where anyone who “walks the aisle” is a Christian, I can’t help but be confounded how a holy God, an almighty Deity, seems to have so little changing power in the lives of many of those who call upon His name.

Marshall states very early in this work:

The Lord is not at all loved with that love that is due to Him as Lord of all, if He is not loved with all our heart, spirit and might. We are to love everything in Him, His justice, holiness, sovereign authority, all-seeing eye, and all His decrees, commands, judgements, and all His doings. We are to love Him, not only better than other things, but singly, as only good, the fountain of all goodness; and to reject all fleshly and worldly enjoyments, even our own lives, as if we hated them, when they stand in competition with our enjoyment of Him, or our duty towards Him. We must love Him as to yield ourselves wholly up to His constant service in all things, and to His disposal of us as our absolute Lord, whether it is for prosperity or adversity, life or death. And, for His sake, we are to love our neighbor – even all men, whether they are friends or foes to us; and so do to them in all things, that concern their honor, life, chastity, worldly wealth, credit and content, whatever we would that men should do to us in the like condition (Matt. 7:12). This spiritual universal obedience is the great end to the attainment of which I am directing you. And, that you may not reject my enterprise as impossible, observe that the most I promise is no more than an acceptable performance of these duties of the law such as our gracious merciful God will certainly delight in and be pleased with during our state of imperfection in this world, and such as will end in perfection of holiness and all happiness in the world to come.

  This presupposes that we “do” something, which is out of step with current evangelicalism which emphasizes justification by faith alone, which I affirm, but nothing more, which I don’t agree with.  Sanctification is something that should be very real in the Christian’s life.  As I recently heard it said, sanctification should be the outworking of an incredible joy in our justification. Basically, if we are excited and understand our justification, we will be excited to grow and walk in our sanctification, which is something we do by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, click the link below and head on over to The Domain For Truth and ask yourself some of the questions that SlimJim poses.

Assurance of Salvation Part 8: Questions to examine ourselves Part 2

I have also included links the the first 7 parts in case you might have missed any of them.

Assurance of Salvation Part 7: Questions to examine ourselves Part 1

Assurance of Salvation Part 6: Do you understand the Gospel?

Assurance of Salvation Part 5: Christians can Know that they are saved

Assurance of Salvation Part 4: Objections to Perseverance of the Saints

Assurance of Salvation Part 3: Perseverance means a Believer Endure

Assurance of Salvation Part 2: Foundation for Perseverance of the Saints.

Assurance of Salvation Part 1: Why study on the topic of Christian assurance?

Assurance

I just love my Amazon wish list.  Because I love to read, my Amazon wish list has quite a few books on it that I would like to have.  The problem is that those books, at times, cost more than my budget allows.  But the real beauty of my list is that I do quite a lot of Information Technology work on a part time basis, and instead of charging people, I give them directions to my wish list and literally leave it up to them which book to purchase, and how many books they think my time is worth.  Needless to say, my library has grown a little faster than I can keep up with, not that I’m complaining.

Yesterday I received a couple of books for a job I did a week ago and one of the books I got was No Holiness, No Heaven! by Richard Alderson. In the first chapter, Alderson makes it abundantly clear that without a desire for holiness a person is not saved.  That is not to say that we will be perfectly holy or not have times where that desire wains, but if we are truly justified, we will have a pronounced desire to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God.  As 1 John 3:9 states, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (NASB).  Again, this is not to say that we will walk in sinless perfection, but our increasing desire will be to know Christ in a manner so that we are conformed, day by day, to be more like Him.  This desire WILL produce fruit in a true Christian’s life and this fruit will be evident.

Often times I look back over my life and see this fruit.  How you might ask?  By realizing that sins that once were dominating in my life, aren’t so strong; still there, but not ruling over me.  Another way that I see it is that I don’t desire things like I once did.  At one point in my life music was everything to me.  I would listen to what is now known as “Classic Rock” for hours.  I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars I spent on music.  But now, I find myself no longer wanting to do that.  Of course, when I happen to be somewhere and hear a song from my past, many times I’ll sing along, but I don’t go out of my way to seek those situations out.

isaiah-seraphim-coalI say all of this because it gives me assurance that God is working in my heart and mind.  It is a slow progression that has not happened in a day, a week, or even a year.  But it has been something that has taken place over the last 5 years and it hasn’t been noticed just by me.  The biggest confirmation is when those who I have known for years have told me that I am not the same as I used to be.  So, you have both an internal and external witness of sanctification and that assures me of my salvation.

Having said that, I’ll be so bold to say that if you are not able to internally look back over the past 5-10 years and see that your life has changed dramatically and if people come up to you and tell you that you haven’t seemed to change, which is an external indication, then, if you call yourself a Christian, you most likely have very little assurance in your salvation.  Alderson, in his book states:

It is totally foreign to Scripture to suggest that one can receive Christ as Saviour from hell, but not as the Lord who saves from sin.  The Bible knows nothing of those who are ‘Christians’ but not ‘disciples’; of ‘believers’ who are ‘carnal’ but not yet ‘spiritual’; of those who are ‘justified’ but not yet ‘sanctified’.

On the contrary, Scripture is full of warnings about those who make extravagant claims to fellowship with God but whose moral nature remains unchanged.  They many have great charismatic gifts and engage in remarkable acts of philanthropy, yet still remain spiritually dead and strangers to grace (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  Those with true saving faith live as Christ lived.  Those who persevere in a sinful life merely proclaim thereby that they are not Christians at all.

J. C. Ryle, in a comment upon the words of Christ, ‘Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing’ (luke 12:43), shows the importance of the distinctions we have given above.  He writes:

It is not the servant who is found wishing and professing, but the servant who is found “doing,” whom Jesus calls “blessed.”  The lesson is one which many, unhappily, shrink from giving, and many more shrink from receiving.  We are gravely told that to talk of “working,” and “doing,” is legal, and brings Christians into bondage!  Remarks of this kind should never move us.  They savour of ignorance or perverseness.  The lesson before us is not about justification, but about sanctification, – not about faith, but about holiness; the point is not what a man should do to be saved, – but what ought a saved man to do.  The teaching of Scripture is clear and express upon this subject.  A saved man ought to be “careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8).  The desire of a true Christian ought to be, to be found “doing.” (pgs 7-8, emphasis mine).

If you find your desire to be doing as Christ did, if you find that you want to be more like Christ, you should find that you have an assurance IN Christ.  Which leads me to Assurance of Salvation Part 7: Questions to examine ourselves Part 1 by SlimJim at The Domain For Truth.  There are some good questions and points that you should ask yourself and ponder.

In case you missed any of the other 6 posts on Assurance, I have posted the links below.

Assurance of Salvation Part 6: Do you understand the Gospel?

Assurance of Salvation Part 5: Christians can Know that they are saved

Assurance of Salvation Part 4: Objections to Perseverance of the Saints

Assurance of Salvation Part 3: Perseverance means a Believer Endure

Assurance of Salvation Part 2: Foundation for Perseverance of the Saints.

Assurance of Salvation Part 1: Why study on the topic of Christian assurance?

Noteable Quotes

– From the Fall onward, human beings have sought to make gods of themselves, make idols of the good things in life, and domesticate the true and living God so that we can (ostensibly) enlist him in our schemes of enrichment and aggrandizement. – Jonathan Baer from The Soil of the Prosperity Gospel

– He humbled Himself, to exalt us; He made Himself a servant, to set us free; He became poor, to enrich us; He was sold, to buy us back; a Captive, to deliver us; Condemned, to procure our pardon; He was made a curse, that we might be blessed; the Oblation for sins, for our justification; His face was marred, to re-beautify ours; He Died, that we may have life. In such sort, that by Him, hardness is softened; wrath appeased; darkness made light; iniquity turned into righteousness; weakness is made strength; despair is consoled; sin is resisted; shame is despised; fear is emboldened; debt is paid; labor is lightened; Sorrow is turned into joy; Misfortune into blessing; Difficulties are made easy; Disorder made order; Division into union; Ignominy is ennobled; Rebellion subjected; Threat is threatened; Ambush is ambushed; Assault assailed; Striving is overpowered; War is warred against; Vengeance is avenged on; Torment tormented; Damnation damned; Destruction destroyed; Hell burned up; Death is killed; Mortality changed to immortality; In short, pity has swallowed up all misery; and Goodness all wretchedness; For all those things, which used to be the arms with which the Devil combated us, and the sting of death, are, to draw us forward, turned into instruments from which we can derive profit. – John Calvin from Christ the End of the Law (London: William Cegg and Co. pp. 29-3, 1850) pp. 29-30

– The wisdom of the age has it backwards. Declaring that a person is a sinner does not make one a hater, but a lover of that person … and of mankind. Do Christians point out sin to shame, bully or incite violence against someone? Absurd and a profound misapprehension of our intent. In calling someone a sinner do Christians think they are superior, more moral? May it never be! Most people’s sin pales in comparison to mine. Fact is, it would only be hate or discrimination if we refused the gospel to someone because we thought their sin makes them somehow unworthy of it. The gospel declares that anyone who, by the grace of God, comes to Christ will be forgiven, no matter how abominable their sin. And such are granted a new heart which loves God and his law. – John Hendryx from The Wisdom of the Age

– We are justified by faith alone, but not by the faith which is alone.  Unless it be a heart-purifying, and a work-producing faith, it is spurious – it is not wrought in the heart by the Spirit of God.

We are justified by faith, and our faith is justified or evidenced by our works.  This ancient doctrine is thus maintained by Bishop Horsley, in his first charge:  “That man is justified by faith without works of the law, was the uniform doctrine of our first Reformers.  It is a far more ancient doctrine – it was the doctrine of the whole college of Apostles:  is is more ancient still – it was the doctrine of the prophets;  it is older than the prophets – it was the religion of the patriarchs.  And no one who has the least acquaintance with the writings of the first Reformers will impute to them, more than to the patriarchs, the prophets, or apostles, the absurd opinion, that any man leading an impenitent wicked life, will finally, upon the mere pretense of faith (and faith connected with an impenitent life, must always be a mere pretense, obtain admission to heaven!” – From The Gospel Magazine & Theological Review, Ser 5. Vol 3, no. 1 – July 1874

Friday Roundup

Knowing vs. Feeling in Worship – Alistair Begg talks about how we should approach God in worship.

The Distinction Between Justification and Sanctification – J. C. Ryle speaks to the similarities and differences between these two doctrines.

The Results Depend on God – Remember the parable about the sower?  Did he use his left hand, right hand, throw high, low, or a curve ball?

How Good is God – He’s very good!

We Cannot Manipulate God, But We Can Trust Him – It frustrates me to no end when I hear people talk about miracles in the Bible and then say something like, “So if you want your miracle, just . . .”

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

God Did Not Save Us On A Whim – Blog Repost

Many Christians do not really grasp why God has forgiven us of our sins. It’s not as if God the Father woke up one morning and was having a great day, just feeling terrific about being the Sovereign of the universe, then decided on a whim to have mercy on his elect and look past their iniquities. God did not save us because the loving part of him finally out balanced the justice part of him. We must not picture God up in heaven muttering: “You know your sin? And all your rebellion and failures and disobedience? You remember all that? Well fuhgettaboutit. It don’t bother me. I love youse guys and I ain’t gonna mention your sin no more.”

Read the rest here.

Why Are People So Offended by Calvinism? – Reblog

how-I-see-Calvinists“I have my own opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel if we do not preach justification by faith without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing unchangeable eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Autobiography: 1, The Early Years, p. 168)

What is Calvinism?

Calvinism is the soteriology named after John Calvin, who was not the inventor of it, but rather one who clearly wrote about it. Calvin’s soteriology wasn’t unique to Calvin, Augustine seems to have subscribed to it, as did most others. That is because it is the understanding of salvation that the Bible teaches.

We Calvinists believe that God is sovereign in salvation, just as He is in all other areas.

Read the rest of part 1 here.

Why are people so offended by Calvinism Part 2.

 

Kermit Gosnell and the Gospel

“The Kermit Gosnell story is one of severed spines and seared consciences. A gospel of justification without justice cannot picture a holy God. A gospel of justice without justification ultimately leaves us all without hope before the tribunal of God. The gospel of Jesus Christ speaks of both justice and justification, and brings them together in a Man drowning in his own blood at the Place of the Skull.”

Read the rest of this post by Russell Moore for a pretty unique perspective, well, it ought to be the Christian perspective on Dr. Gosnell.