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#39996 Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:07 AM
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I'm hoping someone can shed some light on my problem. I say problem because I have struggled with this for some time now. I believe to the best of my knowledge that I was converted about 10 yrs. ago at age 52. I have never had the assurance of my salvation although I continue to pray that God would bless me with this as a settled issue. I have done all the things I have been taught to do for salvation but still it eludes me. When I know I have sinned, it is worse and I feel sure I could not be one of God's elect who could dishonor him so easily. This is my recent experience as I fell into a besetting sin and am very upset with myself. I know I need to confess it but it seems as if I am talking to myself.
Has anyone else ever struggled with this and could point me in the right direction.

mercy #39997 Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:29 AM
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Mercy,

A good reference point is the wonderfully pastoral chapter on this very topic in the Westminster Confession, whose authors, although writing over 350 years ago, were as aware of the struggle as you:

Quote
CHAPTER XVIII: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

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 a state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God: which hope shall never make them ashamed.

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

III. This infallible assurance doth 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: 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. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure; 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, the proper fruits of this assurance: so far is it from inclining men to looseness.

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 woundeth the conscience, and grieveth 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: yet are they never 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, and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

Perhaps providentially, the most recent broadcast of The White Horse Inn tackled some of these very issues: Repentance and Personal Transformation The broadcast may be especially helpful if you have been exposed to much contemporary evangelical teaching on assurance which is often not biblical at all.


In Christ,
Paul S
Paul_S #39998 Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:40 AM
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Thank You Paul, I will listen to the broadcast today and especially for the words of the Westminster Confession.
I know that the Lord is dealing with me in a certain area and I have probably been resisting His discipline.
But most of all, I do not want to be deceived in my faith, but want it to be true.
Jeanne

mercy #39999 Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:19 AM
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mercy,

Invariably, all true believers will struggle with this matter of assurance. Yet, all true believers will come to some measure of assurance, some more than others. Assurance can vary due to many factors especially if we are living in some sin(s) which have not been confessed and repented of.

The Highway has many wonderful articles on this subject, a few of which are:

- The Assurance of Salvation, by William R. Crews

- Faith and Assurance, by J.C. Ryle

- Assurance: How We Know We Know Christ, by John Gerstner

- True and False Assurance, by Thomas Brooks

- The Assurance of Salvation, by Sinclair Ferguson

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Pilgrim #40000 Tue Jun 24, 2008 1:43 PM
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mercy Offline OP
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Pilgrim,
I found the articles very helpful, esp. the one by Ryle. He says faith is the flower and assurance the fruit of the flower.
and one can have true faith without full assurance. I will rest in this and pray that as I grow in holiness, God would be pleased to grace me with this precious fruit.

Paul_S #40001 Sat Jun 28, 2008 7:07 PM
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I just listened to the White Horse Inn broadcast you suggested. It was providential, exactly what I needed to hear. Being a recovering Catholic, I struggle with grace. I continue to confuse justification and sanctification. i need to preach the gospel to myself every day.
The message was so helpful in clearing my thinking. Somehow I have gottten this idea that at some point I will stop sinning. Romans 7 tells me this will never happen. The truth is, cheer up I'm a lot worse than I think I am.

mercy #40002 Sun Jun 29, 2008 4:26 AM
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mercy said:
I'm hoping someone can shed some light on my problem. I say problem because I have struggled with this for some time now. I believe to the best of my knowledge that I was converted about 10 yrs. ago at age 52. I have never had the assurance of my salvation although I continue to pray that God would bless me with this as a settled issue. I have done all the things I have been taught to do for salvation but still it eludes me.
What does one have to do for salvation (or rather, justification), other than be assured that one has it?

Quote
When I know I have sinned, it is worse and I feel sure I could not be one of God's elect who could dishonor him so easily. This is my recent experience as I fell into a besetting sin and am very upset with myself. I know I need to confess it but it seems as if I am talking to myself.

You don't need to confess it. You need to realise how much your loving savior hates it, because only then will you put it behind you, and hate it, just as he does. That is what is meant by being transformed by the renewing of your mind. Sanctification is taking on the mind of Christ in all areas of one's life.

God does not use human methods of changing behavior, by telling people what to do. He does not make anyone do what they do not want to do. He makes them want whatever is the loving thing to do.

xyz #40003 Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:05 AM
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1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Yes, we do need to confess(agree with God) that we have sinned.

mercy #40004 Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:25 AM
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mercy said:
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Yes, we do need to confess(agree with God) that we have sinned.
But you don't. You know that you've sinned, but you don't know that you are forgiven. That is the problem- unbelief.

'Repent and rejoice.' That's the motto.

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xyz said:

Quote
mercy wrote:
When I know I have sinned, it is worse and I feel sure I could not be one of God's elect who could dishonor him so easily. This is my recent experience as I fell into a besetting sin and am very upset with myself. I know I need to confess it but it seems as if I am talking to myself.

You don't need to confess it. You need to realise how much your loving savior hates it, because only then will you put it behind you, and hate it, just as he does. That is what is meant by being transformed by the renewing of your mind.
xyz,

Once again, your views are outside the camp of orthodox, historic biblical Christianity. The Scriptures emphatically teach that a believer MUST confess their sins in order to be cleansed:


Job 13:23 (ASV) "How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin."

Psalms 32:5-6 (ASV) "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, And mine iniquity did I not hide: I said, I will confess my transgressions unto Jehovah; And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah For this let every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: Surely when the great waters overflow they shall not reach unto him."

Psalms 51:1-3 (ASV) "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions; And my sin is ever before me."

Proverbs 28:13 (ASV) "He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy."

Jeremiah 31:18-19 (ASV) "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself [thus], Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a calf unaccustomed [to the yoke]: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art Jehovah my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth."

1 John 1:5-10 (ASV) "And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."


Quote
xyz also wrote:
Sanctification is taking on the mind of Christ in all areas of one's life.
This also is far from the teaching of biblical Christianity. Both OT and NT speak of holiness in various terms, e.g., to be set apart, transformation into being holy, moral purity, etc. In the NT the nouns are most descriptive. Louis Berkhof wrote the following which I find most helpful and solidly biblical:

Quote
The New Testament word for sanctification is hagiasmos. It occurs ten times, namely, in Rom 6:19,22; 1Cor 1:30; 1 Thess 4:3,4,7; 2Thess 2:13; 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14; 1 Pet 1:2. While it denotes ethical purification, it includes the idea of separation, namely, "the separation of the spirit from all that is impure and polluting, and a renunciation of the sins toward which the desires of the flesh and of the mind lead us." While hagiasmos denotes the work of sanctification, there are two other words that describe the result of the process, namely, hagiotes and hagiosune. The former is found in 1 Cor 1:30 and Heb 12:10; and the latter in Rom 1:4; 2Cor 7:1 and 1 Thess 3:13. These passages show that the quality of holiness or freedom from pollution and impurity is essential to God, was exhibited by Jesus Christ, and is imparted to the Christian. (Systematic Theology, pp. 528-529)
The entirety of chapter 6 of the letter to the Romans deals succinctly with this matter of sanctification and teaches that 1) it is absolutely essential, 2) it will naturally follow one who has been genuinely converted and justified, 3) it is something which takes effort on the part of a believer. The Lord Christ said of His followers, "be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48). And Peter wrote more than clearly on this matter here,


1 Peter 1:13-16 (ASV) "Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in [the time of] your ignorance: but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy."


And if that wasn't enough, Paul wrote:


Romans 8:29-30 (ASV) "For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

Ephesians 1:3-4 (ASV) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love:"


So, again, the Scriptures teach that believers are actually transformed; made holy, i.e., brought into conformity with the law through a process of sanctification whereby the "old man" is put off with the thoughts, words and deeds of the flesh and the "new man" is put on which is fashioned after God in knowledge, righteousness and true holiness. (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10) The true Christian actually becomes a partaker of the divine nature. (2 Pet 1:4)

Quote
xyz lastly wrote:
God does not use human methods of changing behavior, by telling people what to do. He does not make anyone do what they do not want to do. He makes them want whatever is the loving thing to do.
At least you are consistent in removing yourself from biblical teaching and orthodox Christianity. It is God's intention to use "human methods" of changing behavior within the Church. This is done through the right preaching of the Word, mutual edification and accountability within the body of Christ, the reading of good books, etc. Further, not only has God ordained secondary (human) means to accomplish sanctification in His own, but He has set forth an absolute and unwavering standard by which all men are to adhere to; His moral law. I shall not bother to quote from the endless places where this is taught but I will supply just a few passages which clearly teach this:


John 14:15 (ASV) "If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments."

John 15:10 (ASV) "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."

1 John 5:2-3 (ASV) "Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

Romans 6:10-18 (ASV) "For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: neither present your members unto sin [as] instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves [as] servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered; and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness."


My friend, I am thoroughly convinced that your greatest need at this point transcends the need for sound biblical teaching. What you need most is that such teaching will be used of God to penetrate your heart and that you will come to the living Christ of the Bible in repentance and believing with a true faith in Him unto salvation. May God grant you grace in this matter.

In His grace,


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Pilgrim #40006 Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:10 AM
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Pilgrim said:
The Scriptures emphatically teach that a believer MUST confess their sins in order to be cleansed
Of course, but we have here a person who has confessed. The problem is not confession, but assurance.

Quote
Quote
xyz also wrote:
Sanctification is taking on the mind of Christ in all areas of one's life.
This also is far from the teaching of biblical Christianity. Both OT and NT speak of holiness in various terms, e.g., to be set apart, transformation into being holy, moral purity, etc. In the NT the nouns are most descriptive. Louis Berkhof wrote the following which I find most helpful and solidly biblical:

Quote
The New Testament word for sanctification is hagiasmos. It occurs ten times, namely, in Rom 6:19,22; 1Cor 1:30; 1 Thess 4:3,4,7; 2Thess 2:13; 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14; 1 Pet 1:2. While it denotes ethical purification, it includes the idea of separation, namely, "the separation of the spirit from all that is impure and polluting, and a renunciation of the sins toward which the desires of the flesh and of the mind lead us." While hagiasmos denotes the work of sanctification, there are two other words that describe the result of the process, namely, hagiotes and hagiosune. The former is found in 1 Cor 1:30 and Heb 12:10; and the latter in Rom 1:4; 2Cor 7:1 and 1 Thess 3:13. These passages show that the quality of holiness or freedom from pollution and impurity is essential to God, was exhibited by Jesus Christ, and is imparted to the Christian. (Systematic Theology, pp. 528-529)
The entirety of chapter 6 of the letter to the Romans deals succinctly with this matter of sanctification and teaches that 1) it is absolutely essential, 2) it will naturally follow one who has been genuinely converted and justified, 3) it is something which takes effort on the part of a believer. The Lord Christ said of His followers, "be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48). And Peter wrote more than clearly on this matter here,

<blockquote>
1 Peter 1:13-16 (ASV) "Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in [the time of] your ignorance: but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy."<br>
</blockquote>
And if that wasn't enough, Paul wrote:

<blockquote>
Romans 8:29-30 (ASV) "For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

Ephesians 1:3-4 (ASV) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love:"<br>
</blockquote>
So, again, the Scriptures teach that believers are actually transformed; made holy, i.e., brought into conformity with the law through a process of sanctification whereby the "old man" is put off with the thoughts, words and deeds of the flesh and the "new man" is put on which is fashioned after God in knowledge, righteousness and true holiness. (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10) The true Christian actually becomes a partaker of the divine nature. (2 Pet 1:4)
That's entirely in agreement with what I wrote, as are the quotes about love. It is because of love that the saints 'take sides with God against themselves'. If one refrains from sin only because one has been told to do so, one is under law just as surely as the Israelites under Moses were under law. But the law 'written on hearts' changes one's mind so that one no longer wants to sin; that is real transformation, because the mind of Christ hated sin.

'But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the sceptre of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."' Heb 1:8-9 NIV

So to be renewed with the mind of Christ means to hate one's sins, and to love righteousness. So the cross provides motivation that law can never provide.

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Repentance and confession of sin are ongoing actions (due to the fact we sin daily- Romans 7)...just like "believe" is an ongoing action...


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin

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