Sunday, October 18, 2009
Where is True Assurance of Grace and Salvation?
Westminster Confession of Faith. Chapter XVIII
I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation (which hope of theirs shall perish): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavoring 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.
In a previous blog post we looked at the Canons of Dordt’s teaching on assurance. Now we see the Westminster divines had a similar idea. More morbid introspection. This again is needed due to the teaching of Limited Atonement by they Calvinists. One cannot hold to that doctrine consistently and point only to the death of Jesus for assurance. If Jesus did not die for everyone then the cross of Jesus is off the table. What does the scripture say? Don’t you know?
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. ESV
We see that a person who has been baptized into Jesus was baptized into his death. The fruits of the cross of Jesus are transferred to the person baptized. This is not just an historic fact but a person, such as myself, remains baptized 40+ years in the future and for the rest of life.
ERomans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. ESV
Daily we can recall the promise that we have been united with him in death and will be resurrected as Jesus was resurrected. This is how, biblically, we can be assured we are in the state of grace rather than trying to work up this assurance by spotting our own faith, love for Jesus and trying to do good deeds. These things will naturally flow from the person, being fruits of the Spirit, who is in Jesus but not something we can use to have assurance. Our measurements of these items will always either be exaggerated or may entirely escape our notice. It is a firmer foundation to trust in the strong promises of God where he has located himself for our forgiveness and ongoing assurance. We can tell our false or erring brothers and sisters that we are baptized so keep your false accusations to yourself. We can make the sign of the Holy Cross invoking the Triune name of God so to drown our flesh daily putting it once again to death on that cross. And we can tell our old adversary, who daily falsely accuses us, “We are baptized! What of it?"
Baptized into Thy name most holy,
O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
I claim a place, though weak and lowly,
Among Thy seed, Thy chosen host.
Buried with Christ and dead to sin,
Thy Spirit now shall live within."*
*Baptized Into Thy Name Most Holy"
by Johann J. Rambach, 1693-1735
Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †