Archive for the ‘Assurance’ Category
Recently I was listening to a Bible teacher teaching on the doctrine of imputed righteousness. He, being a Calvinist, was teaching that we are imputed with the righteousness of Christ and that when we are in Christ, God doesn’t see our faults or failures but He only sees the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed unto us by faith. Within Arminianism, not all Arminians hold to this teaching. John Wesley did hold to the teaching though he was quick to preach personal holiness and he taught personal apostasy. Others have rejected the teaching.
Now to be fair, many of the readers I have read who reject imputation reject the teaching not because they don’t believe that God counts us righteous but just that they reject that God counts us imputed with Jesus’ righteousness. One Arminian theologian stated, “Name one passage of Scripture that declares that we have transferred righteousness?” Others have asked the same question. Yes, they say, God does declare us righteous before Him because of faith (Romans 4:5) but He simply declares us righteous and not imputed with Christ’s righteousness itself. Over and over again the Scriptures do declare that God deems us righteous before Him by faith but does the Scriptures say that Christ’s righteousness has been transferred to us who believe?
Scriptures that are often used to teach imputation are mainly Romans 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21; and Philippians 3:9. Some Arminians point out that yes God does declare us righteous before Him because of the work of Christ but do these passages say that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us? They point to 1 John 3:7 which says that the one who practices righteousness is righteous. 1 John 3:7 says nothing about being righteous because of imputation.
Yet the real danger, I see, in teaching people that they have Christ’s imputed righteousness is that it can lead to an abuse of grace. I do believe that we are declared righteous before God through faith in Jesus Christ and only through faith in Jesus Christ. We are not righteous in ourselves or our good works (Isaiah 64:6; John 6:29). Only in Jesus are we righteous (John 15:1-8). So in a sense we are imputed with righteousness from Christ who is God over all (Romans 10:1-4). Yet the danger is that some teach that since we are now imputed with Christ’s righteousness, when God sees us He only sees Christ and not our sins. This can lead to sinfulness in my estimation if not taught correctly. If God doesn’t see me anymore then I can live as I want to live and since He doesn’t see my sins but Christ’s perfect righteousness then He sees me perfect already and I can live as I want to live. Of course, I know that some will say that such is not the teaching and that the teaching should motivate you to holiness but my question is simply: How? How does imputation motivate holy living? Certainly a love for Jesus drives me to holiness (John 14:15) but if we teach that even our lack of love for God is okay since we are imputed with Christ’s perfect righteousness, how can this not lead to sin? John Wesley held that we are declared righteous before God through Christ (imputation) and then He also imparts His righteousness into us so that we pursue righteousness (imparted). For Wesley, righteousness was both imputed and imparted for not just the work of justification but also sanctification that leads to glorification (Romans 8:29-30; 1 Corinthians 1:30).
I believe that we should teach that we are righteous before God because of Christ and we must remain in Him by faith. If we are remain in Jesus by faith, we are righteous. If we remain in Jesus, we have eternal life (1 John 2:24-25). If we remain in Jesus by faith, we need not fear (Romans 8:38-39). If we remain in Jesus, we are righteous before God in Him (Romans 3:22-27). Jesus is our salvation and nothing else. I believe it’s an attack on Christ to teach that we have eternal life apart from Jesus or that we have righteousness apart from Jesus. Jesus should be our very lives (Colossians 3:1-3) and we should remain in Him forever (1 Peter 1:5). If we are in Jesus by faith, we are secure completely (2 Corinthians 1:24). If we are in Jesus by faith, we are saved forever (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
I was browsing a Calvinist blog that I enjoy reading and the Calvinist brother stated that based on 1 John 2:19 it is clear that those who do not persevere are not truly saved no matter what evidences we might try to cite. I have blogged on the misuse of 1 John 2:19 before but the problem I have with the Calvinistic interpretation of 1 John 2:19 is that it offers no assurance for our salvation. The Calvinist is told that they are eternally secure and that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ (Romans 8:37-39). They are told that they are Jesus’ sheep forever (John 10:27-29). They are told that the One who has begun a good work in them will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). They are told that no sin can ever bring division between them and their Savior who saved them completely from their sins (Hebrews 7:25; 10:10). Yet if they turn back, they were never saved to begin with no matter what.
How confusing that must be. The Arminian rejoices in the above passages of Scripture but we also equally emphasize that there are many warning passages that call God’s people to persevere and to hate sin and to despise their flesh (Romans 6:12-14; 11:20-22; Galatians 6:7-9; Hebrews 6:4-20; 10:19-39; 1 John 2:15-17). The Arminian can rejoice that God is indeed faithful to keep His promises but we must also be aware of God’s holiness and His hatred for sin and not disobey Him (Hebrews 3:6-19). We remain secure in Jesus Christ by faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).
But the question becomes, “Is there no future assurance of our salvation?” The Calvinist would say that we are eternally secure but if the person begins to live in sin, they were never saved to begin with. The current Calvinist hears this and must think to themselves, “I can never sin again or I might not be saved to begin with.” The Arminian hears that we are eternally secure if we remain in Jesus Christ by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Peter 1:10-11) and that true grace motivates us toward holiness (Titus 2:11-12) and not toward sinning. The Arminian, in my estimation, has better scriptural standing in their view of salvation. The Calvinist can’t be sure that they will be saved because it is possible that right now they are not saved. They might be a false convert based on their view of 1 John 2:19. The Arminian, on the other hand, can rejoice that we are currently saved by faith in Jesus and will be eternally so provided we continue in faith (1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23).
So to answer the question of whether we have future assurance: Yes we do in Jesus! Jesus is our shield and our protection. Jesus is our refuge (Proverbs 18:10). Jesus is the one who protects us through faith (1 Peter 1:5). As long as we remain in Jesus (Romans 5:1) by faith, we have the assurance that we are saved. We need not doubt if we are in Jesus Christ.
XXI. ON THE PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS
1. QUERIES. — Is it possible for true believers to fall away totally and finally:
2. Do some of them, in reality, totally and finally fall from the faith?
3. The opinion which denies “that true believers and regenerate persons are either capable of falling away or actually do fall away from the faith totally and finally,” was never, from the very times of the apostles down to the present day, accounted by the church as a catholic doctrine. Neither has that which affirms the contrary ever been reckoned as a ; nay, that which affirms it possible for believers to fall away from the faith, has always had more supporters in the church of Christ, than that which denies its possibility of it’s actually occurring.
XXII. ON THE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
1. QUERIES. — Is it possible for any believer, without a special revelation, to be certain or assured that he will not decline or fall away from the faith,
2. Are those who have faith, bound to believe that they will not decline from the faith?
3. The affirmative of either of these questions was never accounted in the church of Christ as a catholic doctrine; and the denial of either of them has never been adjudged by universal as a heresy.
4. The persuasion by which any believer assuredly persuades himself that it is impossible for him to decline from the faith, or that, at least, he will not decline from the faith, does not conduce so much to consolation against despair or against the doubting that is adverse to faith and hope, as it contributes to security, a thing directly opposed to that most with which we are commanded to work out our salvation, and which is exceedingly necessary in this scene of temptations.
5. He who is of opinion that it is possible for him to decline from the faith, and who, therefore, is afraid lest he should decline, is neither destitute of necessary consolation, nor is he on this account, tormented with anxiety of mind. For it suffices to inspire consolation and to exclude anxiety, when he knows that he will decline from the faith through no force of Satan, of sin, or of the world, and through no inclination or weakness of his own flesh, unless he willingly and of his own accord, yield to temptation, and neglect to work out his salvation in a conscientious manner.
>“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
- John 6:37 NASB
Charles Spurgeon once remarked that John 6:37 was one of his favorite passages in all the Bible. Here in this one verse the power of the gospel is seen. Here in this one verse do we find the assurance that whoever comes to Jesus will find a Saviour who is more than willing to take them in. We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1) and the Saviour says here in John 6:37 that the one who comes to Him will find that He is opening the door to them of eternal life.
Our exhortation then to sinners should be, “Look to Jesus for salvation” (John 3:14-15). Jesus alone saves sinners and our cry should not be to look to the Church or look to good works but look to Jesus, the very One who gave His life to redeem us from sin (Mark 10:45). How few today are preaching that Jesus saves. They claim Jesus for helping secure prosperity or a better life now but few declare the words of John 6:37 and that is that the Saviour will not cast away the humble sinner who comes to Him in need of salvation. Oh that we would exalt the Saviour and make His name great! Oh that we would stop preaching for entertainment and start preaching for the very purpose that Jesus came: for the salvation of souls.
Look at the wonderful promise further in John 6:40 where Jesus declares that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life. Jesus doesn’t say that the believer might have eternal life but that they will have eternal life. That is a declaration. Jesus declares that everyone (and I do believe that Jesus meant everyone meaning the whole world) who believes will have eternal life through Him. Eternal life comes through Jesus Christ alone (Romans 6:23). Eternal life doesn’t come through a group or a program or an institution but only in the Person of Jesus. Jesus alone gives eternal life to the one who comes to Him in faith and repentance (Acts 3:19).
For the disciple of Jesus, John 6:37 is full of grace and power. I believe every disciple needs to take time to memorize John 3:37 so that when faced with temptation, when faced with trials, when faced with attacks of doubt, when attacked by the enemy of our souls, we can rest in the assurance given to us by Jesus that He will receive us if we come to Him in faith. By the way, in passing, John 6:37 is in the active sense of the Greek. In other words, the one coming continues to come (1 Corinthians 15:2; Colossians 1:23). We are secure in our salvation if we continue in Jesus by grace through faith (1 Peter 1:5). We have the promise of John 6:37 and John 6:40 and John 10:27-29 that if we remain in Jesus, nothing and no one can take us out of His hands. What a powerful and wonderful Saviour is our Lord!
So child of God rest in Jesus this day. Make sure you are found in Him (2 Corinthians 13:5). Don’t place your assurance in other thing or person other than Jesus Himself. He is our salvation!
>With regard to the certainty [or assurance] of salvation, my opinion is, that it is possible for him who believes in Jesus Christ to be certain and persuaded, and, if his heart condemn him not, he is now in reality assured, that he is a son of God, and stands in the grace of Jesus Christ. Such a certainty is wrought in the mind, as well by the action of the Holy Spirit inwardly actuating the believer and by the fruits of faith, as from his own conscience, and the testimony of God’s Spirit witnessing together with his conscience. I also believe, that it is possible for such a person, with an assured confidence in the grace of God and his mercy in Christ, to depart out of this life, and to appear before the throne of grace, without any anxious fear or terrific dread: and yet this person should constantly pray, “O lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant!”
But, since “God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things,” and since a man judges not his own self — yea, though a man know nothing by himself, yet is he not thereby justified, but he who judgeth him is the Lord, (1 John 3:19; 1 Corinthians 4:3) I dare not [on this account] place this assurance [or certainty] on an equality with that by which we know there is a God, and that Christ is the saviour of the world. Yet it will be proper to make the extent of the boundaries of this assurance, a subject of inquiry in our convention.
>I find it interesting that those who e-mail me about eternal security or perseverance of the saints often will speak of God’s great love for us, that His promises are sure, that He will not take back what He has given to us in saving us, that God desires to receive us unto Himself, etc. but they speak little about the awfulness of sin. They speak little of God’s absolute holiness that demands nothing less than perfection to enter into His presence. I am aware that in Jesus Christ we are sanctified and being sanctified (Hebrews 10:10, 14) but I am also aware that God calls us to holiness (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). God’s call to holiness is not “if you feel like doing this” but is a command from God Almighty just as He gave to Abram in Genesis 17:1. Even 1 John 2:1-2 balances the call of the child of God to holiness as well as seeing that we have an Advocate with the Father.
However, it seems that many want the assurance of their salvation while holding on to their sins. They want to know that they will go to heaven and yet still look at pornography. They want to know that they are children of God all the while living like the world and like Satan. They want to claim to be disciples of Jesus all the while wasting time watching television or other fleshly amusements instead of reading and studying the Word of God. They say they love God but their actions don’t reveal that (Titus 1:16). Jesus said in John 14:21 that whoever keeps His commandments show that we love Him (John 14:15; cf. 1 John 2:3-6).
Holiness, on the other hand, produces that sweet assurance that we are Jesus’ disciples. When we strive to be like Jesus in all that we say or do (Colossians 3:17), we have that promise from our Lord Himself in Matthew 5:8 that we will see God face to face. When we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to help us overcome our sins (Galatians 5:16-17), He does so (1 Corinthians 10:13). Our God is not weak. Our God is strong and He is able to deliver us completely from sin. Am I arguing for perfection? Well yes in the sense that our goal is to be like Jesus who was perfect in every way (1 Peter 2:21-24). We are to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2) and we should be able to say with Paul the Apostle to others to follow our example as we follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:9). Do you want people to imitate you as you compromise the gospel or do you want them to pray, evangelize, and pursue God’s presence as you do?
I had a Calvinist professor in college once say to his class that I was in, “Students, there are no promises of assurance of salvation given to those living in sin.” I agree. You can search high and low but you’ll never find assurance of your salvation apart from holiness. The call of God for you is holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7). Forsake the world (1 John 2:15-17). Forsake compromising (James 4:4). Forsake living in sin. Cry out to Jesus to deliver you and He will and along with His deliverance will come the sweet assurance that He is with you (Psalm 91:14-16).