5/13/2010

Assurance For the Calvinist

How does a Calvinist know he is on the way to heaven? This post is about how one Calvinist sees things.


We can know that we are on the way to heaven if we have faith in Christ (John 6:47). This faith has two parts.

The first part of this faith is a confident assurance that what Jesus says about how to live life is true (John 3:12). This assurance brings us knowledge that we have not, even for one moment, lived free from sin. We have done things that Christ tells us not to do or failed to do things that Christ tells us to do. This knowledge of the right path leads to repentance, turning from our sins to God and His way of living.

This faith is also an assurance that Christ paid the penalty for our sins. Not just for sins in general, but for our sins in particular.

Christ is God who became a man. He laid aside His rights and abilities and came to earth. He lived a perfect life. This life is an example to us, but it also gives Him credit for a life lived in perfect obedience to God’s law. He then died on the cross for us. In some way know only to the God of all, Christ took the credit for our sins and suffered God’s infinite, terrible wrath for those sins. He became sin for us that we might become righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:21-31)

Faith is the way we take credit for what Christ did for us. The credit for our sins is taken away from us because of His sacrifice, and we are given credit for Christ’s perfect life. The work is outside of us (“extra nos” in Latin). It’s not about what we do; it’s about what is done for us by Christ. When we have faith, the perfect God loves us perfectly because we are credited with perfection. When God looks at us, we are perfect because of what Christ did.

But how can we personally tell if he really believes? How can a person tell if his own faith is genuine? The most useful is Galatians 5:6. It says that what counts is “faith working through love.” Christians do love Christ. Not perfectly; sometimes not even well. R. C. Sproul puts it this way, “I am not asking whether we love this Christ perfectly; I am asking whether we love this God and this Christ at all” (Chosen by God, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1986, p. 166).

We sin, sometimes often. We even sin the same sin over and over. This sin clouds our thinking and convinces us we do not have real faith. But God does not desert us. He always comes to our aid. He helps us to look to Christ and what Christ did for us.

Maybe an old Baptist theologian can help:

The believer in Jesus, who has been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, will never utterly fall away from Christ and be lost. He is not free from temptation; he may, through neglect and failure to employ the means of grace, grieve the Holy Spirit and bring reproach on the himself and the people of

God. He will, however, turn away from his sins and return to his Christian duty; he will not be content in the wayward life. It is the mark of the child of God that he cannot be happy in a life of sin. (E. Y. Mullins, Baptist Beliefs, Chicago: The Judson Press, 1912, p. 53)

The God who saves Christians preserves their faith. He works in Christians to will and to do His will. He does not leave us in life’s battles without a champion.

True Christians will never abandon the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. True Christians can rest confident in their salvation.

8 comments:

Steve Martin said...

"True Christians can rest confident in their salvation."

Where exactly do they get this confidence? Does it eminate from their faith?

How about those that are confident, but are not really His?

"Lord, Lord, we have done this and that in your name."

J. K. Jones said...

“Where exactly do they get this confidence? Does it eminate from their faith?”

The Spirit of God testifies in their hearts (2 Cor. 4:6, Gal. 4:6), and assurance emanates from Him.

“How about those that are confident, but are not really His?”

There must be some form of self-examination to see if the faith one holds is real (2 Cor. 13:5-10; 1 John 2:4-17, 5:1-5). But we should not wallow in it (1 John 1:5-2:3, 3:19-24).

I think, when it comes down to it, that anyone who has tried to repent and is genuinely concerned is among the regenerate. Only those with a new heart are concerned with the things of God. The unregenerate cannot even see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), much less worry about entering it.

The unrepentant know who they are; there is no doubt or conflict in their minds. They just will not repent. They do not believe what Christ said about how to live their lives. If they did, their behavior would change.

JK

Steve Martin said...

Thanks, J.K.

I just wonder about all of us in the church who just refuse to repent of many of our ways.

We often use our spare time selfishly. We refuse to visit the prisoners or the sick in nursing homes. We don't go our seeking the lost and sharing the gospel as we should. We don't feed the hungry as we should.

I just wonder why it is that we live opposite of the way our Lord would have us live...and yet still believe that we are of the elect.

"They do not believe what Christ said about how to live their lives. If they did, their behavior would change."

Quite chilling words for all those who seem to be stuck in their selfish ways and not giving of themselves the way that they could if they were really serious about Jesus.

Thanks, J.K..

J. K. Jones said...

Paul struggled with sin (Romans 7). Repentance is never perfect in this life.

There is a real change in the behavior of a person who comes to Christ in faith and repentance, but that in no way makes them perfect.

Please don’t take my statements out of context. Read the paragraph before. The key is engagement in the struggle.

JK

Steve Martin said...

That's a good distinction.

It's the struggle rather than results, then.

How can we know if we are struggling hard enough? The next time I'm watching ballgame instead of working at the soup kitchen, I'll have to poder that one.

Thanks, my friend!

Anonymous said...

It's not if you are struggling hard enough; it's if you are struggling at all.

Unregenrate people do not struggle at all. They are quite content with themselves.

JK

Anonymous said...

This is the same, "logic" that people use when they fly airplanes into buildings.

J. K. Jones said...

Anonymous,

Why would you say that?

JK

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