Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Real Assurance

In the book, Assured by God: Living in the Fullness of God's Grace edited by Burk Parsons, Richard Phillips ask the question, "Can we find a securely established assurance of salvation?" He then begins quoting John Murray in his work, "The Assurance of Faith", found in Collected Writings of John Murray. Phillips writes, "John Murray shows this is a quest limited to those convinced of Reformed theology." Did you get that? Only those who are convinced of the doctrines of Reformed theology have any business discussing the idea of assurance of salvation. Phillips continues from Murray:

Roman Catholics do not pursue assurance of salvation and are strongly discouraged from doing so, since for Rome justification is a process that can be sure only when it is completed. The Roman Catholic is no more secure than his or her most recent visit to the priest. The only assurance is in continued good performance. The situation is little better among Arminians, who deny assurance on the grounds that salvation may be lost at any time. The Arminian insistence on a general salvation rather than a particular one - that is, a salvation that is open equally to all but effectually to none - effectively rules out assurance in this life. Murray writes, "Every brand of theology that is not grounded in the particularism which is exemplified in sovereign election and effective redemption is not hospitable to this doctrine of the assurance of faith." This is why assurance of salvation is a field of theology and Christian experience plowed only by the Reformed. Murray observes, "It is no wonder that the doctrine of assurance should have found its true expression in that theology which is conditioned by the thought of the divine atonement or effective redemption, the irreversibility of effectual calling, and the immutability of the gifts of grace."

Whether one wants to admit it or not, Murray is right. Outside of the doctrines of grace, there is no room for assurance of faith. If my assurance rests in me, then I am in big trouble. If my assurance rest in the faithful, immutable sovereign God, I can truly be assured that He will complete what he started in me. In Tom Nettles book, By His Grace and For His Glory, Nettles points out how Dale Moody who taught at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1941-1982 hated the doctrines of grace including the perseverance of the saints. In fact, he was finally let go for his attacking this doctrine. You have to admit, however, that he was at least consistent. I would also hope that all those, who like Moody hate these precious doctrines, would be equally honest and admit that they have to believe that any Christian can loose their salvation based on their understanding of how one gains salvation. You really can't have it both ways. If salvation depends on man to obtain it, he certainly can loose it. But, if salvation is all of God, what great rest, peace and assurance does the believer have knowing that nothing can pluck him from the Father's hand. My times, and indeed my assurance, are in God's hand.

No comments: