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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, March 25, 2013

False Assurance Versus True Assurance

The WCF says there are those who have a false assurance, which is what Sean Gerety wants to emphasize.  But if you read Clark's comments in What Is the Christian Life? he does say that progress in sanctification comes from the knowledge of Scripture and from the resulting changes in one's thinking and actions.  But ULTIMATELY sanctification can give no assurance without the doctrine of justification by faith alone!  Why not?  Because as Luther pointed out you can never know if you know enough or if you have obeyed sufficiently to have a "true" assurance.  Thus, without justification by faith ALONE there is no assurance possible!  That's Clark's point I believe.  I find it interesting that Sean Gerety does not get this:  Assurance and Knowledge.

Of course no one can "absolutely" know that they are saved.  But if we cannot trust Scripture and God's promise to save those who believe, there is no knowledge OR assurance.  Clark's comment in my article makes that crystal clear.  While the Bible does not have my name recorded in it, I can know I'm saved based on the promises of the Gospel, the knowledge of Scripture, and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.  The WCF even says so:

CHAPTER XVIII—Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation

  1.      Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God, and estate of salvation (Job 8:13–14, Micah 3:11, Deut. 29:19, John 8:41) (which hope of theirs shall perish): (Matt. 7:22–23) 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, (1 John 2:3, 1 John 3:14,18–19,21,24, 1 John 5:13) and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed. (Rom. 5:2,5)
  2.      This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; (Heb. 6:11, 19) but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, (Heb. 6:17–18) the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, (2 Pet. 1:4–5, 10–11, 1 John 2:3. 1 John 3:14, 2 Cor. 1:12) the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, (Rom. 8:15–16) which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption. (Eph. 1:13–14, Eph. 4:30, 2 Cor. 1:21–22)

Clark didn't like the word "infallible" used there because it implies "inerrancy" or "without error."  But the fact is not one of God's elect will fall away permanently.  And since salvation is possible even at the last few minutes of life (Luke 23:43), then assurance does not necessarily come from sanctification or obedience.  It comes from the promises of the Gospel!  Of course there may be those with temporary faith who endure for a lifetime only to commit apostasy at the last by becoming an atheist or joining a false religion.  But they are blaspheming the Spirit, not "losing" a salvation they never had.   (1 John 2:19; Matthew 12:31-32).  Also, notice that false assurance is based on claiming credit for our own obedience, works, and transformation (Matthew 7:22-23).

Those who trust in their own righteousness will be cast out of the wedding party.  (Matthew 22:1-14).  Luther got it right.  Johnny MacArthur and Pauly Washer get it wrong.  Lordship adds nothing to God's promises except a false trust in works and obedience.  But as Clark rightly asks, how do you know if you know enough or if you have sufficiently obeyed God's law to have a "true" assurance of salvation?

Answer:  without justification by faith alone you can never be assured of your salvation.  Obedience does play some part in it but ultimately ONLY justification by faith alone can assure anyone of their salvation.

By the judgment of the Pharisees, David, Samson, Solomon, Abraham and Noah were all terrible sinners who went to hell, while they themselves boast about how they have made Jesus "Lord" of their lives.  This is blatant Arminianism!  Jesus IS Lord and He does not need your permission to be Lord of yourself or of anyone else:)  God shares his glory with no man!  If you believe, it is because Jesus gave you the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).  If you walk in any degree of obedience, that too is a gift of God (Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 12:2).

God's peace!

Charlie



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