Let’s open our Bibles to the book of Job, chapter 19, verses 25-26, and we’re continuing our study of the doctrine of salvation as we spend our summer months on the doctrine of eternal security. Here’s a definition we’ve been going by. Eternal security means those who have been genuinely saved by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone shall never be in danger of God’s condemnation or a loss of salvation, but God’s grace and power keeps them forever saved and secure.
So what you’ll discover as you kind of tour the body of Christ is not a lot of people… well, a lot but maybe half the body of Christ accepts eternal security and half does not. So we’re trying to figure out, is this really true, once saved always saved, or are we on some kind of divine probation, God’s going to rip the carpet out from under us at some point. Is that even a possibility?
We, in our first class together we kind of laid out some introductory thoughts about the doctrine of eternal security, and what we’re doing now is we’re going through the eternal security arguments, I’ve got, I think about thirteen of them. When you put all of them together I think you have a very strong case of eternal security, but in the second part of the class, not today but down the road I’m going to show you the verses that at first glance seem to contradict eternal security. There’s about forty-seven passages, at least, but we’re not dealing with that today.
Here are the arguments, thirteen of them. We’ve gone through the first four; you might remember them as follows: because self-righteousness did not save us in the first place it is not a basis upon which salvation can be lost. And then we also saw that salvation is not given nor maintained by good works. So those first two points are basically trying to say we got into the relationship with God by His grace, so if we got into a relationship with God by His grace why would He turn around and say okay, you’d better maintain your salvation by good works because people that think you can lose your salvation are always saying you have to stay away from sins X, Y, and Z, whatever those are. They never define them but if you don’t stay away from them then you can lose your salvation. So basically what they’re saying is you’re saved by God’s grace but you’d better keep your salvation by works, which, those first two points are just trying to say that would be an inconsistency.
And then one of the points we looked at, number three, is if a believer can lose his eternal life then how can eternal life be what? Eternal! That doesn’t make any sense does it. So we went through these passages which indicate that if you receive the gift of life the Bible keeps saying it’s eternal. In fact, it’s the Greek word, aioniōs, which means forever. It’s actually the same word used to describe God. So if eternal life can be lost it really was never eternal to begin with. Right? John 3:16 you all know by heart probably, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but has eternal life,” that’s the Greek word aioniōs.
And then we went through this argument, number 4, the Bible’s promises guarantee eternal security. I took you through the strongest verses I know of in the Bible, John 4:14, John 5:24, John 6, John 10, Romans 8, Hebrews 13 and if we take these at face value, and can God lie? No He can’t! If we take these at face value, particularly the John 10 verses, if we take these at face value it’s very clear that once you’re in the hand of God absolutely nothing can take you out. And then last week I wasn’t here but Jim McGowan taught I think birth truths, and that’s sort of the idea, we’ll talk more about these as we get into the class but how can you undo birth truths? I mean, if you’re born can you be unborn? Do you know anybody that’s physically born into the world that can suddenly get unborn? You can’t undo a birth can you? So doesn’t the Scripture talk about our relationship to God as a new birth? So if you can’t undo birth in the physical realm how could you undo birth in the spiritual realm? So hopefully Jim covered some concepts like that last time.
And we’re not onto our fifth argument of the reality of eternal security and that fifth argument is this: if eternal security is not a reality then the assurance of salvation is impossible. Now there’s a lot of places, a lot of churches that will teach you eternal security but they’ll say you can’t really know if you have salvation or not. So they’ll basically say if you’re one of the elect you have eternal security, but you really don’t know if you’re one of the elect, because the proof of being one of the elect is are you going to persevere to the end of your life? So they’re teaching eternal security but at the same time they’re denying what we would call the assurance of salvation which is the idea that the Christian can know that they have eternal security. So we don’t just teach eternal security here, we also teach the assurance of salvation. We teach the idea that once saved always saved. And beyond that we teach the idea that you can actually know that you have this salvation. It’s not a guessing game.
So let me take you through some passages that I believe teach the assurance of salvation. And the key point is if the Bible was denying eternal security there’s no way we could ever know we’re going to heaven. But the Bible over and over again wants the child of God to understand that they’re on their way to heaven if they have trusted in Christ. So the oldest book of the Bible, Job 19:25-26, notice what it says, and Job had a lot of problems, didn’t he? So he might have thought gosh, in the midst of all of these problems I guess I’m not going to heaven. But notice what he says there in Job 19:25-26, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” So that’s the doctrine of the Second Coming in the oldest book of the Bible. And then he says,  “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God;” so Job says even if you destroy this body it’s going to be resurrected one day and I’m going to see God. Now he said that in the midst of all of affirmatives and difficulties. So this is very clearly a man that had the assurance of salvation because there doesn’t seem to be any real question mark in his mind about it.
Take a look at one book to the right, Psalm 23, and who wrote Psalm 23? David. Did David have problems? Yeah, and he committed murder, committed adultery, and what does he say in Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD” for how long? “forever.” So there’s both Job and David that seem to have settled in their hearts this assurance of salvation, I’ll be in the house of the Lord forever.
Now if you go into the New Testament, John 5:24, you have a very strong passage on the assurance of salvation. I use this passage a lot because it’s probably one of the strongest and this is God’s promise to you: “Truly, truly,” which is the word amen which means it is certain, he says it twice, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word,” and then it gives the single condition necessary to become a Christian, which is to believe in Christ, which we’ve defined earlier in the course as trusting in Him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has” that’s present tense, “eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has crossed” or “has passed” now passed is in the perfect tense which indicates a onetime action in the past with ongoing results, so it’s not like we’re passing out of death into life, we’ve already passed “out of death into life” the moment we trusted in Christ. So, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has” present tense, “eternal life, and does not come into condemnation, but has” you can translate it this way, “has already crossed out of death into life.”
So you read that and you don’t see any real ambiguity of your eternal destiny if you’ve placed your faith in Christ. Now the problem with us is we evaluate our lives by our works so frequently instead of living our lives on the promises of God. And so you can either spend your life upset because of your shortcomings, which we all have, or you can trust God’s promises. And I would suggest that when you read John 5:24 it promises not just eternal security, but it promises the believer that they can know that they are going to heaven.
Notice just one chapter to the right, John 6:47, another very strong assurance of salvation passage. John 6:47, Jesus again is speaking, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has” present tense, “eternal life.” So trusting in Christ there’s a promise from God that you are given the gift of life and notice the word “eternal” again. It’s life which can never be taken away.
Paul, in the book of Acts, take a look at Acts 16:30-31, this is how Paul shared the gospel. What does Paul say there, Acts 16:30-31, this is the Philippian jailor, remember the story in Philippi where there’s an earthquake, the jail is opened, all the prisoners escaped except for Paul and Silas, and they stay in the prison and the jailor is about ready to commit suicide. Why is he ready to commit suicide? Because you’re as good as dead if prisoners escaped on your watch. And he sees something supernatural in Paul and Silas because first of all, before the earthquake happened they had been flogged and what were they doing all night long? Remember? Praising the Lord! That’s kind of unusual isn’t it. There must be something special about these guys.
And then when they have a chance to escape they don’t take it. So what does the jailor say, it says, “and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” That’s life’s most important question, right. And what does Paul say,  “They said,” be really sorry for you sins and fill out this card… NO, they didn’t do that, “they said, ‘Believe’” that’s a single condition for salvation, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” then it goes on, it says, “you and your household,” and sort of the implication is that they would go back into their households, at least the Philippian jailor would, and would share the faith with his immediate family and they could be saved too. So it’s not really teaching household salvation, you know, if I’m saved my house gets saved automatically. You know, God doesn’t have any grandkids, right. Everybody has to have their own faith in Christ.
But it’s interesting to me the way, first of all Paul, how he shares the gospel, how uncomplicated it is; he offers a single condition necessary to be saved and then he says once you believe in Christ you will be saved. He doesn’t say maybe you’re saved, maybe you’re not, we’ll just have to wait till you get to the end of your life and make sure you’ve got enough good works to prove you’re saved. All that teaching about waiting to the end of your life to see whether you’re saved, you don’t find that at all in the Bible. Paul just makes a simple statement that you’re saved and he gives this Philippian jailor the impression that he could know he’s saved.
Now you go over into Paul in the book of Romans and it’s filled with this whole concept of the assurance of salvation. Let me give you a few verses out of the Pauline letters. Notice, if you will, Romans 5:2, “through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” Now the key word to underline there, if you’re an underliner in your Bible, is the word “hope.” Now when we use the word “hope” it’s very different than how biblical writers use the word “hope.” Like we say I hope I get that job, that promotion, I hope my house sells, I hope the economy picks up, I hope this works out in my life, I hope that works out in my life and we kind of use this word as kind of an uncertainty, maybe it’s going to happen, maybe it’s not going to happen.
We use the word “hope” as sort of cautiously optimistic but that is not how the Greek New Testament uses the word “hope.” The word “hope” in the Greek New Testament is elpis, which is not how we use the word “hope” in English. The Greek uses the word “hope” this way: it’s not an anxious wishing or uncertainty but rather it’s confident assurance of something yet future. So this is not an “I hope so” mentality but rather it’s an “I know so” mentality. So many times when we look at the word “hope” in the Bible we substitute our own English word into it but that’s not how the Greek uses the word. So when Paul talks about the hope of glory he’s not saying maybe I’m going to get it and maybe I’m not; he’s talking about something that is a confident assurance of something yet future. So what the Bible gives us is, if we understand it correctly, is this confident assurance.
Let me give you some more passages that reveal this word “hope” and as I go through these just notice how the word “hope” keeps showing up over and over and over again. Romans 8, notice verses 23-24, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” All speaking of future glory with God. And then notice verse 24, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? So it’s true that it all hasn’t been revealed to us at the present time but we can have, because it keeps using this word “hope,” confident assurance that we’re going to get it.
Notice the book of Colossians for just a minute, Colossians 1:27, just go to Romans, then 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and you’ll run into Galatians and just remember Go Eat Popcorn, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians Colossians. Or if you don’t like that acronym, God’s Electric Power Company; Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. That way when the pastor says turn to this or that you’re the first person to find it and everybody thinks you’re the most spiritual person in the room.
Notice Colossians 1:27, it says, “to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Now “glory” is the final phase of our salvation and notice how it’s always prefaced, not always but most of the time, with this word “hope” which is a confident assurance. If you’re living your life not really sure if you’re going to heaven or not then you’re living beneath your privileges.
Notice Titus 2:13, I don’t know if I have any tricky pneumonic to find Titus but you just keep going to the right, you’ll hit the T’s, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, then you run into Titus and then you’ll go to Titus 2:13 which is a passage we use to define the rapture quite a bit. It says, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” So what are you looking for today? The world system to clean up its problems? That’s not what I’m looking for, I’m looking for the return of Jesus. And notice how it defines the return of Christ as the blessed hope, Jesus is coming back whether I acknowledge it or not, He’s coming to rescue us out of the world. We can rest in that with confident assurance.
Backing up, take a look at 2 Corinthians 5:8, just a couple of books after Romans and tell me, as you read this was Paul confident in his salvation? What does he say? You probably know this verse by heart, it says, 2 Corinthians 5:8, “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” So Paul says if I die I die, but if I die I’ll go directly into the presence of the Lord. It really doesn’t sound like a guy here that had a lot of nagging doubts about whether he was saved.
Another passage on that note, notice Philippians 1:20-23, Paul says, “according to my earnest expectation and hope,” there’s our magic word, “that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” And here’s verse 21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is” what? “gain.”  “If I am to go on living in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me. For I do not know which to choose!  But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is much better.” So Paul says you know, if I really had my choice in the matter I’d just rather die and go to be with the Lord, which is far better. But “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” If God wants me to continue on in the body so be it, I’ll continue to be a faithful apostle, I’ll continue to write books of the Bible, I’ll continue to minister to the church. So he says it’s a win-win; if I die I go to a better place, if I don’t die God can keep using me in “fruitful labor.”
So you read passages like this, you don’t get this idea that the man on his death bed had any real uncertainty as his eternal destiny. What I’m trying to get at is he not only believed in eternal security, that’s one thing, but he believed in the assurance of salvation, that it was a current possession of his. Philippians 3:30-21, “For our citizenship is” where? “in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;  who will” now he starts talking about his resurrection, and look at how certain he is of his resurrection, “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has given to subject all things to Himself.”
So he very clearly says I’m a citizen of heaven, no ambiguity there; and then he describes the resurrection of his body in very certain terms. And if I read that right he actually uses the word glory, I thought I saw the word hope in there, might want to double check that, related to His resurrection.
Well, what if you’re in a carnal state, then what? Philippians 4:3, “Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women” now it’s not just women who get in a carnal state by the way, but here it’s talking about two women, “I ask that you also help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are” written where? “in the book of life.” Now if you go back to verse 2, he says, “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.”
So what happened here? We have two women that once were allies of Paul, they once stood with Paul in the cause of the gospel and they went back into the sin nature which we have, as Christians, an ability to do, don’t we? I don’t have to go back to the sin nature but it’s always there for me to go back to. Today I sin not because I have to, I sin because I want to. I don’t have to sin anymore because of my position in Christ. But many times I want to sin and so I retreat back to the sin nature and this is what happened to these two women; they went from advocates with Paul to being adversaries of each other because of probably some petty reason that’s not given, but these two women were tearing the church apart, Syntyche and Euodia, I call them Sin-touché and Odious. So this is like a real life pastoral situation and what’s interesting to me about this is when Paul exhorts these women to start behaving properly he never calls into question their salvation. In fact he specifically says in verse 3, at the end of it, that their “names are in the book of life.” He doesn’t say oh-oh, maybe those two aren’t one of the elect, look at how they’re acting.
So these are all very strong passages on the assurance of salvation. Notice Colossians 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” So he describes future glory as if it’s obviously going to happen for the believer; no ambiguity whatsoever.
And then one more on Paul’s letters, notice 2 Timothy, hopefully by now you guys know something about 2 Timothy, we’ve been studying it for about thirty plus weeks. I’m learning a lot about 2 Timothy too by the way. 2 Timothy 1:10, He says, “For this reason I suffer these things but I am not ashamed,” look at this, “for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced” see how strong that language is, “that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Well, what had Paul entrusted to God? His soul. His eternity. And so he says I’m going through a lot of problems in my life; in fact, we know that when he wrote this he was in jail, in prison, a difficult time. But he expresses complete confidence in the assurance of his salvation because it didn’t rest on Paul’s ability to guard his own soul. See that? I mean, if it rests on our shoulders then I guess there’s room to be nervous, because I can mess things up, right? So can you. But he trusted completely in the ability of God to guard his soul. So does God ever botch jobs up? No He doesn’t. So Paul had the assurance of his salvation because he put the onus on God’s promises, not his own shoulders.
Then we go to the, what we call the general letters, there’s about eight of them, and let me just give you a few verses out of the general letters. Notice 1 Peter, you want to get to the right of Paul’s letters and you’ll come to Hebrews and James and then 1 Peter 1:3-5, look at what Peter writes. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living” what? “hope” confident assurance, “through the resurrection” that’s future but in this case it’s resurrection “of Jesus Christ”  to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Now notice that we are entitled to an inheritance; an inheritance legally is something that’s yours, you just haven’t entered into enjoyment of it yet. And you know you’re going to get that inheritance because God says right here in His Word that it can’t be defiled or corrupted. And then it goes on and it says we are currently being “protected by the power of God” we don’t protect ourselves, we’re in God’s power so that we will arrive in heaven on schedule to receive that inheritance. And you look at that and that’s a very strong assurance of salvation passage.
Two books backwards, go back to Hebrews 2:14-15, now this is talking about death, and probably the greatest fear that human beings have always is death, what happens when I die because we really can’t see, without the eyes of faith in God’s word, what happens on the other side of the grave. So death has always been a terrifying prospect to humanity. And notice what the writer of Hebrews says: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,” now watch this, verse 15, “and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
So it’s acknowledging that death is a dominant fear of human beings and it’s saying that Jesus has come into the world to free us from the fear of death. And it even says if we’re living with the fear of death we’re in a state of bondage. So if you as a Christian, if we as Christians, are afraid of death we’re living beneath our privileges. Jesus specifically came into the world to liberate us from the slavery or the bondage of the fear of death. So that’s a tremendous promise.
A few more, notice 1 John, further to the right there, almost near the book of Revelation, 1 John 3:1-2, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be . We know” see the certainty there, “we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” So it’s just a very clear promise that John makes to his readers that we’re going to enter glory; there’s no ambiguity about it at all. And when you enter glory you’re going to be just like Christ in terms of your character.
And then one more, this is probably… probably in the whole Bible, other than John 5:47, 1 John 5:13 is very clear on this subject of the assurance of salvation. Notice what he says: “These I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Now notice this word “written,” when something goes into writing it’s objectively true. And then notice that this is a promise to all believers because he says “I have written to you,” plural. So this is not a promise just for the elite, if there is such a thing as the elite in the body of Christ. This is not just a promise for elders and deacons, Sunday School teachers, it’s “to you,” meaning all of God’s people.
And then you’ll notice this word “know,” know is not maybe it’s going to happen, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s going to rain today maybe it’s not; it’s an absolute assurance. And then “believe…” believe is the single condition necessary to get saved, as we have said over and over again. And once you believe what’s written to you and to all of us is something you can know and what is it that you can know is that you presently have eternal life. So you don’t live your life based on how you feel, based on what people say about you, based on your own standards, you live your life based on what God says. God cannot lie, He has made you an iron clad promise that if you’ve trusted in His Son you presently possess the gift of life and because it’s eternal it can never be forfeited. So we’re not talking about a maybe so, we’re talking about a know so idea.
So eternal security is a wonderful thing but even more wonderful than eternal security is the assurance of salvation where it’s actually part of your possession as a child of God, that you know that you have it. A lot of people I talk to believe in eternal security, they just don’t know whether they have it or not. And that’s not what we’re teaching here, we’re teaching both eternal security and the assurance of salvation.
Now I found some quotes that are both good and bad; let me give you some good quotes first to back this up. This is from Hannah Whitall Smith, written in 1893 and she writes: “In the first chapter of Numbers we are told that only those Israelites who could ‘declare their pedigree’ might be numbered among the men of war; and in the second chapter of Ezra no one who could not ‘find his register’ and ‘reckon his genealogy,’ was allowed to exercise the office of priest. Any doubts and uncertainties on these points made them ‘as polluted,’ and consequently unfit to serve.” She gives several verses there from both Numbers and Ezra. [(see Num. 1:2, 17, 18; 2:2; Ezra 2:62, 63).] Then she says this: “I believe the same thing is also true of Christians now. We can neither be numbered among the Lord’s soldiers, nor enter into priestly relations with Him, until we also can ‘declare our pedigree’ as children of God, and ‘reckon our genealogy’ as being born of Him.” [Every-Day Religion: The Common Sense Teaching of the Bible (1893), p. 5]
And what she is saying is people that knew where they came from genealogically, who could confidently declare that were qualified to serve God in a special way. And she’s basically drawing the parallel because we’re all priests, Revelation 1:6 says that we are all a kingdom of priests, and for us to really allow God to use us the way He wants to we need to be able to boldly declare who we are as His children. [Revelation 1:6, “and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father– to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”]
So the more you buy into this doctrine of the assurance of salvation, the more your mind is not divided on the subject, the more you can focus on what God has you to do and you’re not double-minded as the book of James says, then the more God can use you in a strategic way. As long as you’re bobbing back and forth, am I saved, am I not, she loves me, she loves me not sort of mindset, the more you, in a certain sense, disqualify yourself, not from heaven but from being used by God strategically. That’s her point and I think it’s a great point that she makes.
You say well, these are really strange doctrines you’re teaching, I’ve never heard anything like this before… what I want to communicate to you is that what I am saying used to be normal teaching. This used to be mainstream and it’s not hard to figure that out when you look at Dallas Seminary’s doctrinal statement, Article XI. Dallas Seminary was started in the 1920’s, and those that started the school started it very clearly with the belief in the assurance of salvation.
And the statement says this: “We believe it is the privilege, not only of some, but of all,” so every child of God has this privilege. “We believe it is the privilege, not only of some but of all by the Spirit through faith who are born again in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, to be assured of their salvation” see, it’s not… this statement is not just making a point about eternal security, it’s making a point of the assurance of salvation, can be “assured of their salvation” when? Well, you’ve got to wait to the end of your life to see if you’ve done enough good works to prove you’re one of the elect. NO, it doesn’t say that, does it.? “…to be assured of their salvation” when, from the very day they take Him to be their Savior…” Now how in the world could you be confident in the assurance of your salvation, because it goes on and it says, “that this assurance is not founded upon any fancied discovery of their own worthiness or fitness.”
If the only thing I had to work on was my own performance I would not think I’m saved a lot of the time. I had a good day yesterday, I guess I’m saved that day, the prior day I didn’t have such a good day, I guess I’m not saved. And you see, that’s the problem, people are looking introspectively at themselves all the time, and they’re not looking at the promises of God. So this assurance of salvation is not based on any worthiness or fitness of their own, “but wholly upon the testimony of God in His” what? “ Word,” remember John says “these things are written,” this is objectively true, and God cannot lie. That’s how the statement can come out and boldly declare what we would call the assurance of salvation.
But a lot of people, they’re living this way: I’ve got faith, I need to see works to prove I’m saved. And if that’s your mindset how do you ever know if you’ve done enough good works? I mean, what’s the limit? How many old ladies do I have to help across the street? Three, five, seven, twenty? How many sermons do I have to preach? And that’s what bothers me, is people that focus on themselves, these works they’re supposed to do to prove they’re saved are never objectively quantified so you spend your whole life wondering if you’ve done enough to prove that you’re saved.
And the Puritans, and this can be documented historically, the people that founded America, who wanted to make America a city on a shining hill, who founded the Ivy League Schools, you know, God used those people in a strategic way but you start getting into their writings and a lot of them did not know if they were Christians or not. A lot of them were pleading for God on their death beds for mercy. Now you read through the Bible, is that what Paul is doing as he’s getting ready to die… pleading for God’s mercy on his death bed? NO, he says I am confident in whom I have believed. And the Reformed movement, I read the Dallas Seminary doctrinal statement, the Reformed movement, it’s almost their Bible, is the Westminster Confession of faith, I believe this was done in 1647, and when you get into Reformed circles, heavy Calvinistic circles you do not tamper with the Westminster Confession;.that is the equivalent of tampering with the Bible.
And what I want you to see is chapter 17, Article III, compare what they say about the assurance of salvation. Now some of this is in Old English, it says: “This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith,” so they are denying the assurance of salvation; they are not denying eternal security, what they are denying is the idea that you can know you have eternal security. And it goes on, it says, “but that a true believer will wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be a partaker of it.” And what it’s saying is you really can’t know if you’re going to heaven or not because if you’re one the elect you have to bear fruit and you really can’t know that until most of your life has transpired. That’s why a lot of the Puritans on their death beds were given this very nebulous standard and they were pleading for God’s mercy. And it’s sad when you think about it because they were hoodwinked into living beneath what God had promised them.
Here’s Theodore Beza, he is one of the key guys in the Protestant Reformation, and I criticize these Protestant Reformers very carefully because a lot of them were killed for what they did in terms of breaking away from Roman Catholicism. And what you have to understand about Luther and Calvin and these luminaries in the Reformed movement is they were Catholics, they came out of Roman Catholicism. And to assert that they just made a clean break is just naïve. They came out of it and they reformed the church in certain areas but they kept a lot of Roman Catholicism in place. That’s why a lot of churches today are… they call themselves Protestant and Reformed and they are, but they’re Quasi Catholic in some of their beliefs. Many of them are still (bless their hearts) Amillennialists where they don’t believe there’s going to be a future earthly kingdom. Now why wouldn’t they believe that? Well, they rejected what Rome taught in certain areas but they kept intact Roman Catholic eschatology. And so a lot of these guys broke away and they kept intact parts of the Roman Catholic works based system.
So Theodore Beza says “Therefore, I am elect, is first perceived from sanctification begun in me, that is, by my hating of sin and my loving of righteousness.” [(1519‒1605) A Little Book of Christian Questions and Responses, pp. 96-97] How did Theodore Beza handle assurance of salvation? He’s not flying his plane here based on the compass of the objective truth of God’s word. He’s looking at himself and he’s saying to himself, you know, I’m hating sin and I’m loving righteousness, so I must be one of the elect, so I’m okay. Well, what happens if one week you fall in love with sin, when you go back into sin? Then the assurance of salvation disappears. And this is not what the Scripture teaches, as I’ve tried to argue.
I like to use this quote by John Piper because it’s so outrageous, it’s astounding to me that the body of Christ can even tolerate this it’s so works oriented. I’m not saying John Piper doesn’t have some good things to say but the man is steeped in Reform theology and he’s steeped in Calvinism, a brand of it that says that faith is a gift and if you’re truly one of the elect you must bear fruit. If that’s your belief then the assurance of salvation disappears. So he writes: “No Christian can be sure that he is a true believer.” I mean, does that at all harmonize with the verses we went through earlier? “No Christian can be sure that he is a true believer. Hence, there is an ongoing need to be dedicated to the Lord and to deny ourselves so that we might make it.” [John Piper and Pastoral Staff, TULIP: What We Believe about the Five Points of Calvinism: Position Paper of the Pastoral Staff (Desiring God Ministries, 1997), 25, cited in Dave Hunt, What Love is This?, 379.]
And I look at a statement like that and I say that’s works salvation right there. Why is that not denounced by Christianity? But that statement passes as normal in many circles.
John Mac Arthur, as I’ve said a number of times I like a lot of the things John MacArthur teaches; I’ve read several of his books but on this doctrine of assurance of salvation if you get under the ministry of John MacArthur and you start listening to it regularly, you start reading his stuff and there are people around that I call MacArthurites, it’s almost like you’re challenging the Apostle Paul if you challenge John MacArthur on anything. You get around those people and what you’ll discover is a lot of them don’t have assurance of salvation because this comes through John MacArthur’s ministry constantly. He writes in his book, Saved Without A Doubt, [p. 177] which to me is the most mislabeled book ever: “If a person fails to love and obey the Lord through the trials of life, then there is no evidence that he possesses saving faith.” Wow, so if I go through trials of life and I have any doubts I’m not a Christian… does not the book of James tell us that we, as brethren, can be like wind tossed to and fro, a wave tossed to and fro by wind?
Of course a Christian can doubt things. Did not Peter doubt things? Did he not deny the Lord three times? Did he not walk out on the water to the Lord and saw the wind and the waves and began to sink? I mean, are we going to say that Peter’s salvation was suddenly erased at that point? He writes, “If a person fails to love and obey the Lord through the trials of life, then there is no evidence that he possesses saving faith. How many people do you know who came to church for a while, had a little trouble in their lives, and left?” I’ve left church four times in my life just because church is a place where you can get hurt by people. Am I going to say I wasn’t saved because I was recovering from my wounds. “Although they may have made a profession of faith in Christ, they cannot be identified as those who love Him because their lives are not characterized by enduring obedience.”
Well, what is “enduring obedience?” And how much obedience is necessary? It’s never objectively quantified. So you wonder, do I have enough? And that’s the state people are in. He goes on in his book, The Gospel According to Jesus and he says “Genuine assurance comes from seeing the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in one’s life.” So he’s looking not at the promises of God but is God using him. And that’s where his assurance comes from.
John Murray says, “The crucial test of true faith is endurance to the end, abiding in Christ, and continuance in the Word…He cannot abandon himself to sin; he cannot come under the domination of sin; he cannot be guilty of certain kinds of unfaithfulness…Let us appreciate the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and recognize that we may entertain the faith of our security in Christ only as we persevere in faith and holiness to the end.” [Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pp. 152, 154-55] Another example of the denial not of eternal security but of the assurance of salvation.
And if you come out of a Roman Catholic background this is largely what you think because what you’re told in Roman Catholicism is you have to believe in Jesus, He does about 90% but you’ve got to do 10%. And what’s your 10%? You’ve got to pay, pray and obey. So how do you know if you’ve payed enough, prayed enough, or obeyed enough? This comes out of the New York Times and it summarizing Roman Catholic teaching. It says, “Church teaching is that I don’t know, at any given moment, what my eternal future will be…I can hope, pray, do my very best – but I still don’t know. Pope John II doesn’t absolutely know that he will go to heaven, nor does mother Theresa of Calcutta, unless either has had a special divine revelation.” [Cardinal John O’Connor of NY quoted in Samuel Howe Verhovek, Cardinal Defends a Jailed Bishop Who Warned Cuomo on Abortion, New York Times, February 1, 1990.]
Is that not a denial of the assurance of salvation. And then my buddy, Arthur Pink, I love Arthur Pink, he wrote some great stuff. And he says this, “Readers, if there is a reserve in your obedience, you are on your way to hell.” [A. W. Pink, Practical Christianity, p. 16.] Boy, that really gives me a lot of assurance of salvation. Arthur, you didn’t say that, did you? And he did.
Now real quickly what do you do with subjective experiences. What do you do with a baby who has a birth certificate, that’s how we know the baby is alive, but aren’t there subjective experiences that go along with birth? Crying, growing, hunger, and those kind of things. So as a Christian you know that you’re a child of God based on the authority of God’s Word but aren’t there subjective experiences we have? Hunger for His Word, hunger for fellowship with God’s people, a love of righteousness, a hatred for sin. What Lewis Sperry Chafer calls those is secondary experiences.
So he says, “There is a normal Christian experience. There are new and blessed emotions and desires.” Now I remember when I got saved I had a desire to read the Bible; I never had that before. So that was sort of an evidence that I was truly a Christian. So there are these secondary experiences that we have. He says, “There is normal Christian experience. There are new and blessed emotions and desires. Old things do pass away; and behold all things do become new; but all such experiences are but secondary evidences, as to the fact of salvation, in that they grow out of that positive repose of faith which is the primary evidence.” [Lewis Sperry Chafer, Salvation: A Clear Doctrinal Analysis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), 60. Italics added]
See that? As to the fact of salvation is that they grow out of that positive reproes of faith which is the primary evidence. What is your primary evidence that you’re saved? The promises of God that we went through earlier. What about other things that we have? A desire to pray, a desire to be with God’s people. Chafer very carefully categorizes those as secondary evidences. And the reason they’re secondary is if you move into carnality those things can disappear, just like in the physical world you can have birth defects, can’t you? You can have a physical birth but there are complications that can happen in the life of a newborn child that hamper the growing process.
So in the same way we, as Christians (and this is why Paul condemns carnality) can move back into carnality and if you move back into carnality what happens to those secondary evidences? They can be squelched, can’t they? So Paul writes, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;  for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”(NKJV) So that’s why Chafer is very clear to distinguish between primary evidences and secondary evidences. Primary evidence comes from the objective truth of God’s Word that your salvation is sure. Certainly there are secondary evidences but you need to count those as subsumed under the larger category of God’s promises because those subjective experiences can be hampered through carnality.
So the bottom line: Joseph Dillow has a good statement here, this is where we’re finished, he says: ““Nowhere in the Bible is a Christian asked to examine either his faith or his life to find out if he is a Christian. He is told only to look outside of himself to Christ alone for his assurance that he is a Christian. The Christian is, however, often told to examine his walk of faith and life to see if he is walking in fellowship and in conformity to God’s commands.” [Joseph Dillow, Final Destiny: The Future Reign of the Servant Kings (Monument, CO: Panyim, 2012), 454.]
So I realize that this was sort of a hard-hitting study and many of you may be struggling with this idea of assurance of salvation. I guess I would just leave you with this parting remark that the key thing in the assurance of salvation is to live your life not looking at yourself but looking at what God has promised you to do. And secondary evidences which can come and go should not be your primary testimony that salvation is something that you can be assured of. As long as you keep placing the onus on God’s promises and what God has purposed to do then the assurance of salvation is yours. But once our eyes get off of God and His promises and onto ourselves then it’s very easy for us to start to myth the assurance of salvation and live beneath our privileges. So I’m sorry I went a little long there, I wanted to get those quotes in because I thought they were important. So at this time we will stop and we could open it up for some questions for a couple of minutes, if there are any.