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#38783 - Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:02 AM How to be sure of salvation  
Joined: Jul 2007
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Clint Offline
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Clint  Offline
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Az, USA,
I have been talking with my old college pastor and he is non-reformed.. He has been asking me many questions about reformed theology here in the last few weeks because most of his students have started looking into what it means to be reformed and he does not understand why.. He sees it as a mis-understanding of the text and that because so many will agree with TULIP before doing their own in depth interpretations, (true interp in which one digs and picks at the text to understand original meaning) and because they have decided that Reformed theology is true before all this, the text will always speak to this and it naturally becomes true because they want it to be true....

Anyway, I have tried my best to answer him and he seems content for the moment but there is one question that he has asked that I can not seem to find a good acceptable answer to. and its this..

Those that are elect and saved, how can they be sure? Mankind has "moral direction" if you will.. You know that because even a non believer will feel pain from a cheating wife/husband or a murder of a family member.. So what keeps them from looking for something more? I see Mormans and other religious groups everyday.. Apparently they are looking for something.. Yet we know that their beliefs are false..

Is there any way to be sure of salvation? I believe that the Bible is truth and that God created all things, but these things are marks of many religious people..

This is one of the big arguments that my college pastor brings up against reformed theology and not one person he has asked has been able to give a good acceptable answer. I can not find one nor think of one.

#38784 - Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:15 AM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: Clint]  
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Clint

At the moment, I don't think I want to tackle the questions you brought up. I am sure that others will.

The reason why I am responding however is the following part of your post.

Quote
He sees it as a mis-understanding of the text and that because so many will agree with TULIP before doing their own in depth interpretations, (true interp in which one digs and picks at the text to understand original meaning) and because they have decided that Reformed theology is true before all this, the text will always speak to this and it naturally becomes true because they want it to be true....


I came to believe in TULIP not because I wanted to, but because (at least this is how I saw it at the time) after studying for quite a long time, I could not deny that it is what the Word of God teaches.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I did not really want it to be true. Most of my family and friends are or were Arminian in their theology. There were many sleepless nights back then, because my mind couldn't wrap itself around some of the connotations of the doctrines.
I now understand that some of that was caused because unknowingly to me and most Arminians, they look at the Word of God through the eyes of what seems fair and right in their own eyes, instead of through the eyes of our Lord.
When one does the former, a passage like Romans 9 doesn't seem fair, until one takes their eyes off of themselves and reads the passage through the eyes of God.
Unfortunately, if you read an Arminian commentary on Romans 9, you will notice that what I said about their interpretation depends on their own sense of fairness rather than letting God be God.

I am not sure when this occurred, but I now am comforted by looking at the Word through the eyes of God. Among other things, I have the realization that nothing can happen to me that is outside of Godís sovereign will for my life (Rom.8:28). Yes I still need reminding of that fact sometimes, but it is comforting never the less.

Tom

#38785 - Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:49 AM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: Tom]  
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Robin Offline
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Robin  Offline
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Most of the Calvinists I know were dragged kicking and screaming to the doctrines of the Reformation. They didn't want to believe that Man is totally depraved and helpless and completely dependent on Another to do for him what he cannot do for himself. They didn't want to believe they were dead in trespasses and sins, and they didn't want to believe that they don't (and shouldn't) have a say in who gets into the Kingdom and who doesn't. The Reformed faith is far too humbling for most folks to wish it were true.

Assurance for a believer takes time, because it takes time to prove that one's faith is genuine through the tough times and failures as well as the triumphs and mountain tops. Our faith is in a Person and His word, not some formula that guarantees salvation to whoever says "the sinner's prayer." It seems to me that their sense of assurance should be precarious too: Was I really sincere when I prayed that prayer with Pat Robertson on TV? Maybe I should pray it again just to make sure... For them the matter is as much subjective (because it depends on their sincerity - not only at the moment they pray, but in every moment thereafter) as it is based on the "objective" little formula they've adopted.

Scripture actually gives us a hint, though, as to who the elect are:

Quote

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise, and the weak to shame the strong; the base, the despised God has chosen; the Nobodies to nullify the Somebodies, so that no man may boast before God (1st Corinthians 1:26-29, paraphrased)."



-Robin

#38786 - Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:25 AM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: Clint]  
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Pilgrim Offline
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Pilgrim  Offline

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Quote
Clint said:
Is there any way to be sure of salvation? I believe that the Bible is truth and that God created all things, but these things are marks of many religious people..

This is one of the big arguments that my college pastor brings up against reformed theology and not one person he has asked has been able to give a good acceptable answer. I can not find one nor think of one.

Clint,

Perhaps the following articles found on The Highway will help:

- Faith and Assurance, by J.C. Ryle
- The Assurance of Salvation, by William R. Crews
- True and False Assurance, by Thomas Brooks
- The Assurance of Salvation, by Sinclair Ferguson
- Assurance: How We Know We Know Christ, by John H. Gerstner
- Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter XVIII, "Of Assurance of Salvation"
- Fifth Head of Doctrine: Of the Perseverance of the Saints Canons of Dordt

In His grace,


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

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#38787 - Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:40 AM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: Pilgrim]  
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via_dolorosa Offline
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Boise, ID
Pilgrim,

I can understand that TULIP Calvinism is the position of this board, but why the attempt to make "once saved always saved" the position of the Reformation. It certainly isn't an Armenian tradition, and John Calvin certainly wasn't all pervasive as a Reformer. Luther, recognized as perhaps the original reformer, exerted great influence even to today, (his sola scriptura teaching is just as strong today as ever) but he certainly didn't hold to the theory of Perseverence.

So my question would be why the attempt to create the illusion of absolute historical and universal consensus among Protestants on whether a Christian can forfeit his salvation? I await your reply, sir.


Liberalism -- Ideas so good, they have to be mandated.
#38788 - Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:51 PM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: via_dolorosa]  
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CovenantInBlood Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian
CovenantInBlood  Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian


Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
Virginia
Quote
via_dolorosa said:
Pilgrim,

I can understand that TULIP Calvinism is the position of this board, but why the attempt to make "once saved always saved" the position of the Reformation. It certainly isn't an Armenian tradition, and John Calvin certainly wasn't all pervasive as a Reformer. Luther, recognized as perhaps the original reformer, exerted great influence even to today, (his sola scriptura teaching is just as strong today as ever) but he certainly didn't hold to the theory of Perseverence.

So my question would be why the attempt to create the illusion of absolute historical and universal consensus among Protestants on whether a Christian can forfeit his salvation? I await your reply, sir.


I'm confused. Is this what Pilgrim said or implied?


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
#38789 - Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:57 PM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: CovenantInBlood]  
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 100
via_dolorosa Offline
Member
via_dolorosa  Offline
Member

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Posts: 100
Boise, ID
Covenantinblood,

I have done a little snooping around and have a good feel for the theology on this forum based on stated tenants. Perhaps it's what Robin said:

Quote
Most of the Calvinists I know were dragged kicking and screaming to the doctrines of the Reformation.


...that confirmed for me what is axiomatic, that the Reformation and Calvinism are virtually synonymous So I asked Pilgrim who seems to be a moderator here. Please correct me if I am wrong about this underlying assumption.


Liberalism -- Ideas so good, they have to be mandated.
#38790 - Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:13 PM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: via_dolorosa]  
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CovenantInBlood Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian
CovenantInBlood  Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian


Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
Virginia
Quote
via_dolorosa said:
Covenantinblood,

I have done a little snooping around and have a good feel for the theology on this forum based on stated tenants. Perhaps it's what Robin said:

Quote
Most of the Calvinists I know were dragged kicking and screaming to the doctrines of the Reformation.


...that confirmed for me what is axiomatic, that the Reformation and Calvinism are virtually synonymous So I asked Pilgrim who seems to be a moderator here. Please correct me if I am wrong about this underlying assumption.


Pilgrim is the owner of the site and administrator of the Board (along with Theo). I and Robin are both moderators on the Board (along with Wes). I can't speak for Robin, but I think it's simply a matter of history that Protestants as a whole have not been monolithic in accepting the doctrine of Perseverance. (And this does not appear to have been what Pilgrim was saying, either.) However, no surprise we Reformed consider it to be one of the important doctrines that was recovered in the Reformation.


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
#38791 - Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:59 PM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: CovenantInBlood]  
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via_dolorosa Offline
Member
via_dolorosa  Offline
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Boise, ID
Covenant,

Thank you for clearing up the hierarchy. I assure you I want to respect the rules and the governing authorities in this forum.

I have a question though. You said:

Quote
we Reformed consider it (Perseverence) to be one of the important doctrines that was recovered in the Reformation.


Which again gives me the impression that the prevailing opinion here is the Reformation was entirely subscribed to Perseverence (since you link the Reformation with Perseverence too) when history doesn't bear that out. Why is this such an important doctrine? Is it because it opposes what the RCC teaches? I only ask this because E.G. White condemned Sunday worship because the RCC taught it, so there is a precident for this sort of reasoning (setting aside that I'm sure everyone here agrees that EGW was, to put it kindly, mentally unstable).

As I read the history of the Reformation, Luther made every effort not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Calvin also maintained certain points of orthodoxy, such as affirming the perpetual virginity of Mary using Biblical exegesis. (If you want to discuss this further, we can open another thread) The Armenians constituted a substantial part of the Reformation. Although this board's doctrines seem to be from the school of the Huguenots, the Huguenots were not the entire Reformation movement.

This is a point I wish to clarify.

Last edited by via_dolorosa; Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:03 PM.

Liberalism -- Ideas so good, they have to be mandated.
#38792 - Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:19 AM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: via_dolorosa]  
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 418
Paul_S Offline
Old Hand
Paul_S  Offline
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The Bronx, NY
Via_Dolorosa,

Although not part of the governing hierarchy of this forum, I am an old bear who prowls around and starts to growl when he thinks he smells fish. May I remind you, as you have been requested at least twice in the past week, that the proper approach to opening a discussion on a question of your own choosing is to begin a new thread on that subject.

More specifically, I have very strong doubts that your clear intent to display your research into the history of the Reformation (by the way, you have referred twice to the position of the Armenians--you might want to do a little more work on that!) is going to prove profitable to Clint in his request for an answer to his question. Can you provide a brief answer to his question?


In Christ,
Paul S
#38793 - Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:15 AM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: Clint]  
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Paul_S Offline
Old Hand
Paul_S  Offline
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The Bronx, NY
Dear Clint,

Pilgrim's list of articles is a must-read for you, whether the pastor has ears for it or not. I cannot add anything to that material other than a general observation.

Your pastor is clearly doing what nearly all modern pastors do--having the believer look only inwardly to the state of his own heart or to his progress in moral behavior for assurance of salvation. The apostles, however, exhibited such bold assurance as they did, precisely because they constantly looked first, outwardly to the work of the sovereign God, displayed in the atonement of the Lord Christ to be their assurance.

To be sure, such a faith produces positively-changed behavior, but so, as your pastor states, can a thousand worldly, fleshly and even devilish influences. However, only the believer in Christ will see himself, with the eyes of faith, simultaneously falling short of the Law of God--the more sanctified he is, the more fully he will know how wretched a sinner he is--and, being driven back to the Gospel of God, fully robed in the righteousness of Christ--he will know that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to him by faith. Those outside of Christ must always measure their security by their own perceived--and deceived--view of their own inherent righteousness--of which they have none at all. But Paul states the grounds of his, and our own, confidence:

Quote
And because of him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:30-31, ESV)


This is the confidence which anchors the assurance of salvation.

#38794 - Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:09 AM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: via_dolorosa]  
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
CovenantInBlood Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian
CovenantInBlood  Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian


Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
Virginia
Quote
via_dolorosa said:
Covenant,

Thank you for clearing up the hierarchy. I assure you I want to respect the rules and the governing authorities in this forum.

I have a question though. You said:

Quote
we Reformed consider it (Perseverence) to be one of the important doctrines that was recovered in the Reformation.


Which again gives me the impression that the prevailing opinion here is the Reformation was entirely subscribed to Perseverence (since you link the Reformation with Perseverence too) when history doesn't bear that out. Why is this such an important doctrine? Is it because it opposes what the RCC teaches? I only ask this because E.G. White condemned Sunday worship because the RCC taught it, so there is a precident for this sort of reasoning (setting aside that I'm sure everyone here agrees that EGW was, to put it kindly, mentally unstable).

As I read the history of the Reformation, Luther made every effort not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Calvin also maintained certain points of orthodoxy, such as affirming the perpetual virginity of Mary using Biblical exegesis. (If you want to discuss this further, we can open another thread) The Armenians constituted a substantial part of the Reformation. Although this board's doctrines seem to be from the school of the Huguenots, the Huguenots were not the entire Reformation movement.

This is a point I wish to clarify.


I will make a brief response to this.

First, where you get the idea that we believe the entirety of the Reformation was subscribed to Perseverance from what I've said is beyond me. No, it is well-known that not all Protestants subscribed to Perseverance. Nonetheless, it is a matter of historical fact that the doctrine was recovered in the Reformation, regardless of whether all Protestants subscribed to it. So, while not a "Reformation doctrine" in the sense of being monolithically accepted in every wing of the Reformation, it is nevertheless a "Reformation doctrine" in that it was recovered and subscribed to by many Reformers and by the Reformed Churches.

Second, the Arminians did not historically come into play until the latter part of the Reformation. Their teachings were anathematized at the Synod of Dordt. More substantial and influential during the 16th century were the Anabaptists, whose teachings did bear many similarities to the later Arminians. Also, "Huguenots" is simply a designation for members of the French Reformed Church. The Reformed movement was quite a bit more international, with significant Reformed churches in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, England, and Scotland.

Please start a new thread if you wish to discuss these matters further. Thank you.

Last edited by CovenantInBlood; Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:19 AM.

Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
#38795 - Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:39 AM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: via_dolorosa]  
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Pilgrim Offline
Head Honcho
Pilgrim  Offline

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Quote
via_dolorosa said:
So my question would be why the attempt to create the illusion of absolute historical and universal consensus among Protestants on whether a Christian can forfeit his salvation? I await your reply, sir.

As Covenant_in_Blood has already affirmed more than once, the doctrine of Perseverance/Preservation of the Saints was not monolithic, i.e., universally and unanimously affirmed during the time of the Reformation. For example, a bit later, the Anabaptists mainly led by Menno Simons et al see here: Anabaptist ). However, the vast majority of the Protestant churches did and later affirmed this doctrine which can be seen in the various Confessions; Westminster Confession, Belgic Confession, Savoy Declaration, London Baptist Confession, Thirty-nine Articles, et al.

That being said, the doctrine itself is not embraced due to its historical roots but rather as it was then, because it is taught in Scripture. Here are some links for further reading:

- Perseverance of the Saints, by Lorraine Boettner
- Perseverance of the Saints, by Gordon Girod
- An Antidote to Arminianism" - Chapter IV - Of Final Perseverance, by Christopher Ness
- Of the Perseverance of the Saints, Canons of Dordt - Fifth Head of Doctrine

In His grace,


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
#38796 - Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:44 PM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Posts: 71
Clint Offline
Journeyman
Clint  Offline
Journeyman

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Posts: 71
Az, USA,
I thank you for the links but I am in a bit of a quandary.. I have very little if any time these days because of school and work.. in fact I sit here on the forum trying to post and read posts because that is really the only time I get to.. And thats if I get done with all my classwork type stuff so I have only been able to skim through some of the articles.. My question for them is this.. Are those articles explaining how a regenerate heart can be sure of salvation or an "elect"? My original question, and I think I may have misstated it as only asking about salvation, but the 2nd part of that if you will was, How can you be sure you are an elect?. I ask because I know alot of people who have "accepted" Christ as Lord and Savior admitting to their sin and admitting that Christ is the ONLY ROAD to eternal life. and that with out Him they are doomed to eternal life in Hell. However, if I understand what I have been told (else where, never directly here on the boards) that the elect can't or wont ever know if they are truly an elect.. There are distinct behaviors that would "identify" them so to speak, but they seem so vague.. I was curious about that as well.

#38797 - Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:05 PM Re: How to be sure of salvation [Re: Clint]  
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Posts: 13,296
Pilgrim Offline
Head Honcho
Pilgrim  Offline

Head Honcho

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NH, USA
Clint,

The linked articles do address both of your questions, but I do understand that you are presently pressed for time and may not be able to read through them all with full attention. Thus, perhaps at a later time you could do that. In the meantime, perhaps the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 18, "Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation" will suffice:

Quote
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[1] (which hope of theirs shall perish):[2] yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace,[3] and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.[4]

II. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope;[5] but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation,[6] the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made,[7] the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God,[8] which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.[9]

III. This infallible assurance does not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it:[10] yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto.[11] And therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure,[12] that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience,[13] the proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness.[14]

IV. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of His countenance, and suffering even such as fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light:[15] yet are they never so utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived;[16] and by the which, in the mean time, they are supported from utter despair.[17]

In His grace,


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
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