As evangelical Calvinists and Reformed Christians continue to sort through the complexities of justification, sanctification, law, gospel, and union with Christ, they are also considering what it means to have assurance of salvation. Thankfully, we are not the first persons to wrestle with the topic. The historic Reformed confessions can help us understand what the Bible teaches about assurance.

Let’s look at two of these confessions: the Canons of Dort (1618-19) and the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646). We’ll tackle one today and one tomorrow.

Assurance in the Canons of Dort

The fifth main point of doctrine in Dort deals with the perseverance (or preservation) of the saints. Because the believer will never be entirely free from sin in this life (5.1) and “blemishes cling to even the best works of God’s people” (5.2), we who have been converted could not remain in grace left to our own resources (5.3). That’s the bad news. The good news: God is faithful to powerfully preserve his elect to the end (5.3).

This promise of preservation does not mean, however, that true believers will never fall into serious sin (5.4). On the contrary, even believers can commit “monstrous sins” that “greatly offend God.” When we sin in such egregious ways, we “sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a time” until we repent and God’s fatherly face shines upon us again (5.5). God being for us in Christ in a legal and ultimate sense does not mean he will never frown upon our disobedience. But it does mean that God will always effectively renew us to repentance and bring us to “experience again the grace of reconciled God” (5.7). Therefore, we ought to be assured that true believers “are and always will remain true and living members of the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life” (5.9).

But what are the grounds for this assurance? That’s the topic under consideration in Article 10. In asking that question, Dort is not asking about the grounds for our justification or are right standing with God. The question, instead, is about where our assurance of this right standing comes from. Dort asserts, first of all negatively, that “this assurance does not derive from some private revelation beyond or outside the Word” (5.10). That is to say, we don’t need a dream or a vision from God or some angel to confirm that we are bound for heaven.

So if not from external revelation, where then does assurance come from? Dort gives three answers:

1. Assurance comes from faith in the promises of God.
2. Assurance comes from the testimony of the Holy Spirit testifying to our spirits that we are children of God.
3. Assurance comes from “a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works” (5.10).

In other words, believers find assurance in the promises of God, the witness of the Spirit, and evidences of Christ’s grace in our lives.

A Few Other Points

As precious as assurance is for the believer, it is not itself a requirement of true faith. Believers contend with doubts in this life and do not always experience this full assurance of faith (5.11). But assurance of perseverance is the goal. God wants us to have confidence. This is one of the reasons the perseverance of the saints should never lead to sloth and immorality. When we are confident of the Lord’s undying love “it produces a much greater concern to observe carefully the way of the Lord which he prepared in advance” (5.13). In fact, we walk in God’s ways “in order that by walking them [we] may maintain the assurance of [our] perseverance” (5.13). Clearly, Dort believes that holiness is not only a ground for assurance, the desire for assurance is itself a motivation unto holiness.

Let me also say a few words about Article 14:

And, just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the proclamation of the gospel, so he preserves, continues, and completes his work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats, and promises, and also by the use of the sacraments.

Notice two things here. First, God causes us to persevere by several means. He makes promises to us, but he also threatens. He works by the hearing of the gospel and by the use of the sacraments. He has not bound himself to one method. Surely, this helps us make sense of the warnings in Hebrews and elsewhere in the New Testament. Threats and exhortations do not undermine perseverance; they help to complete it.

Second, notice the broad way in which Dort understands the gospel (in this context). In being gospel-centered Christians, we meditate on the “exhortations, threats, and promises” of the gospel. In a strict sense we might say that the gospel is only the good news of how we can be saved. But in a wider sense, the gospel encompasses the whole story of salvation, which includes not only gospel promises but also the threats and exhortations inherent in the gospel.

Conclusion

Dort’s theology of perseverance and assurance is just as relevant today as it was four hundred years ago. Consider some implications for us:

  • Believers should not look only to their holy living for assurance, but this should be one place they look. When we see evidences of God’s grace in us, we should have confidence that God is at work. And he who begins the good work will be faithful to complete it.
  • While we must affirm the continuing imperfection of our obedience, we should not so disregard it that we can no longer find real evidences of assuring grace at work.
  • God’s relentless love and the legal standing of our justification do not nullify the real consequence of our sin. We can grieve the Spirit and offend God. His face may turn away from us for a time, until we are led by his grace to repent once again.
  • Exhortations, threats, and promises are all part of the proclamation of the gospel and instrumental in God’s plan to grow us in grace. We should not neglect any of the three in the overall diet of our counseling, preaching, and teaching.
  • The sacraments are essential in the cause of gospel confidence. They remind our eyes, our hands, our noses, and our mouths of the good news we hear with our ears.

Praise God for old confessions. And praise God for mercies which are new every morning–unto the very end.

Tomorrow: The Westminster Confession of Faith on assurance.

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Comments:


37 thoughts on “Assurance in the Reformed Confessions (1)”

  1. BlaCorc says:

    What is an example of a threat that is INHERENT in the gospel?

  2. Jay Beerley says:

    BlaCorc,
    Would statements in 1 John apply to that? Such as 1 John 3:9- “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”
    So, a statement that says, “Hey look, if you want to know if you’ve been gifted faith by God to believe than these things better be true of you” would be considered a threat, right?

  3. Joel Taylor says:

    This is a really good post Kevin, both informative and helpful. Thank you.

  4. Mike says:

    This is powerful stuff Kevin. Great work for the church here in breaking this down. I believe there’s a real imbalance in the church today regarding the means of perseverance. (I include myself here)

    Only quibble might be the use of gospel regarding the warnings – a better term might be “whole counsel of God”. I say this to protect the narrow meaning meaning of the Good News – especially as it relates to our justification.

  5. Jay Beerley says:

    @Mike

    Perhaps there is a misnomer to think that a warning can’t be good news. I personally think the vast amounts of warnings in books like 1 John are very good news, that God does not leave a child of his in the sinful state he rescues him from. It’s also very good news because the warning keeps a person from very bad news: believing you are in Christ when in fact you are not.

    Just my two cents

  6. Mike says:

    Jay,
    Those are good thoughts. However, the warnings are never good news apart from the grounds of the greatest news – you are forgiven in Christ. This is why I’m quick to protect and logically give priority to the narrow meaning of the gospel. Apart from justification, the warnings and exhortations will condemn even the most “sanctified” sinner.
    Blessings in Christ

  7. Ann Metcalf says:

    “While we must affirm the continuing imperfection of our obedience, we should not so disregard it that we can no longer find real evidences of assuring grace at work”

    Yes!!! I think sometimes when we look at our depravity we focus so much on our wickedness we forget to rejoice in the GRACE.

  8. Jack Miller says:

    An article that ties into this topic – on Calvin’s understanding of Law and Gospel by Dr. Horton:
    http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/calvin-on-law-and-gospel

    I don’t know how helpful it is to take 5:14 as a definitive take on how to understand the content of the gospel. I think in this article those at Dordt used the word gospel, the second time, in an inexact way, inasmuch as Kevin’s summary equates it with the whole story of salvation (Exhortations, threats, and promises) which properly understood would be the entire Word of God. I think taking it that way keeps this article consistent with the other Reformed confessions and catechisms, as well as the West. Standards. Otherwise one begins to conflate law and gospel, which all the reformers were careful to avoid.

  9. Eugene says:

    HI Mike,

    When you refer to the narrow meaning of the Gospel you mention justification, but what about sanctification and glorification. The gospel is all of these, hence the warnings or threats are some of the means that God produces sanctification in his children- by the power of the Spirit, virtue of our Union with Christ.

  10. Andrew says:

    John…not only is Tullian’s take a bit different it is different…significantly. When Kevin treats the Westminster Confessions view you will see that it is not just Dort but Westminster that Tullian departs from. Problem is he has sworn that he believes the WCF and will uphold its teaching :(

  11. Jack Miller says:

    Andrew, is it really your intent to charge Pastor Tullian with not upholding the WCF? That is a serious accusation. Again, I would emphasize that P.T. and others would argue strenuously that his teaching does uphold the confession. I see no good purpose served in this line of argument.

  12. Chris Taylor says:

    There is a wide semantic domain for the word ‘Gospel’ in the NT as is demonstrated by these verses:

    ESV Romans 10:16 “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?'”

    ESV 2 Thessalonians 1:8 “… in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

    ESV 1 Peter 4:17 “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

  13. This is much more in keeping with what I John 5:13 really means in context ( http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/can-we-know-that-we-have-eternal-life/ )

  14. Jack Miller says:

    Chris, are you inferring that in the second two verses “obey” is speaking of our good works (which are imperfect)? Is it possible the meaning is that those who have obey the gospel of God are those who believe in the gospel? How does one obey good news? By receiving it gladly. For the only means of avoiding judgment for our sins is a faith that is reckoned righteous, i.e. trusting completing in Christ alone by God’s gratuitous grace.

  15. Nick H. says:

    I am a former Calvinist who is currently being catechized in the Lutheran church. Among other things, I found assurance a very subjective thing within Calvinism. This article was really helpful in the process — http://eastern.academia.edu/PhillipCary/Talks/7972/Sola_Fide_Luther_and_Calvin. In it, Cary explains the objective vs subjective nature of assurance within Lutheranism and Calvinism, respectively. I’d be interested to see comments anyone might have about this paper. And thank you, Mr. DeYoung, for your blog. It’s always a pleasure to read.

  16. Andrew says:

    Hi Jack,

    Yes it is my intent. P.T. says, “Assurance never comes from looking at ourselves.” He goes on to virtually equate (and collapse) assurance with justification. And since justification is based entirely on what is done outside ourselves, inward evidence of grace and good works cannot play a role in assurance for P.T. This IS contrary to the WCF. The WCF has a biblically balanced statement and in no way compromises Justification by the imputed alien righteousness of Christ. As with a number of other issues I think his session and Presbytery ought to take them up.

    WCF says…

    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]

    1. Objective promise of Salvation (based on the work of Christ alone)
    2. Inward evidence of graces (including obedeience, see section one on who may attain assurance…truly believe…endeavor to walk in obedience)
    3. Inward testimony of the Holy Spirit.

    Cheers…too bad we can’t chat about this over a good cigar ;)

  17. Ken Stewart says:

    Already looking forward to the second installment. This is very wholesome teaching!

  18. Jake says:

    @Andrew
    I am amazed that you are taking issue with Tullian over a statement that so evidently encourages people to make Jesus bigger and themselves smaller.
    “Assurance never comes from looking at ourselves.”
    If you are gazing at yourself for assurance, your assurance is much different than the assurance Tullian is talking about.
    I encourage you to stop talking like you understand how weak the human conscience is – how badly people are craving the pardoning word of the gospel – because implicitly negating Tullian’s statement above will hurt people. Don’t preach that. Ever.

  19. John Thomson says:

    Jake/Jack

    Andrew has read Tullian rightly if words mean anything. The ball lies entirely in Tullian’s court to protest otherwise. I like Tullian’s emphasis on objective assurance. However it is simply not the whole biblical picture. Tullian fails to inteact with the stubborn emphasis of 1 John. John preaches the very thing jake says we must not preach ever. Who knows best?

  20. Chris Taylor says:

    No, No, Jack Miller,

    You’ve totally misunderstood me. I was only inferring that in the first verse the word ‘obey’ is speaking of our good works. I’m not sure how you could possibly think I was talking about the second two verses.

    Perplexedly,

    CT

  21. Andrew says:

    Thanks John. Jake, when P.T. and the Scriptures are at odss, I’ll go with the Scriptures every time. I don’t believe that what the Holy Spirit has inspired is injurous. In post 2 Kevin affirms that Westminster affirms that the Bible teaches three sources of assurance. Each are biblical and must pastorally be applied to different people at different times. Some with a sensitive conscience will need the objective emphasized…others will need warnings and the call to make their calling and election sure. That’s what the bible does. Acting as though part of the truth is the whole truth is destructive and is the source of many heresies. Thak the Lord for Kevin’s willingness to affirm the whole counsel of God.

  22. Jack Miller says:

    Chris, I’m sorry for any misunderstanding. Yet I’m a bit perplexed. The Romans 10:16 verse seems clearly to equating “obeyed” with “believed.” For the word obey the Greek has the sense of hearken to, listen to intently, to heed or conform to. Isn’t this obedience to obey the command to believe the good report, and that by a faith which is itself the gracious gift of God?

  23. Jack Miller says:

    Andrew, suffice to say I’m not in agreement with your take on the WCF 18 article. Does that make me guilty of undermining the WCF? Or just your take? But, as you said, that would be better discussed while sitting down and smoking a cigar together.

    I will ask to what degree you find certainty of assurance when looking to your obedience, inasmuch as all our good works are imperfect and stain with sin?

    Calvin writes in 3.17.10 (Institutes) …because our iniquities are covered with his innocence; so our works are, and are deemed righteous, because every thing otherwise defective in them being buried by the purity of Christ is not imputed. Thus we may justly say, that not only ourselves, but our works also, are justified by faith alone. Now, if that righteousness of works, whatever it be, depends on faith and free justification, and is produced by it, it ought to be included under it and, so to speak, made subordinate to it, as the effect to its cause; so far is it from being entitled to be set up to impair or destroy the doctrine of justification. Thus Paul, to prove that our blessedness depends not on our works, but on the mercy of God, makes special use of the words of David, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered;” “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.”

    cheers back at you…

  24. Jay Beerley says:

    Jack, to what degree do you find assurance when looking to the Spirit’s work in you as all of His works are perfect and sinless? I believe the Bible calls that fruit. So if the Spirit of God is not accomplishing anything in you, how could you make the bold claim that He is there?

  25. Laurette says:

    Jack,

    I’m not sure how many different takes there can be on “an infallible assurance of faith founded upon …, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, …”.

    How can inward evidences not be … inward? This clearly contradicts Tullian.

    Also, in that quote of Calvin, he’s basically saying that any “inward evidences” are useless for bringing about justification. Amen! He is not, however, saying anything about the role of inward evidences in our assurance, which is definitely very different from justification.

    “I will ask to what degree you find certainty of assurance when looking to your obedience, inasmuch as all our good works are imperfect and stain with sin?”

    The immediate question is whether the WCF recognises inward evidences as part of the foundation for assurance AT ALL, not to what degree it might assure us of salvation on its OWN, so I don’t see how this question moves us forward in any way.

  26. Jack Miller says:

    Laurette, Andrew referred to “obedience” as one of the things we look to for assurance. He refers to 18.1. The chapter doesn’t specify obedience as an inward grace, thus my question. So if I’m to look to my obedience as a source of assurance, the question is which particular act of obedience? – since none are accepted as righteous apart from the pardon of Christ. Which leads one back to their justification as Calvin wrote.

  27. Andrew says:

    Laurette…right!

    Jack…wrong. :(

    Yes article 18 affirms obedience in paragraph 1 and in the proof texts for “inward grace” (as I will show you). In addition the confession makes clear in a number of places that the majority of inward graces lead to obedience including…

    saving faith – “By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therin; and acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands…”

    repentance unto life – “…so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and ENDEAVORING to walk with Him in all the ways of his COMMANDMENTS.”

    Sanctification – “…the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the seveal lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and stregthened IN ALL SAVING GRACES, TO THE PRACTICE OF TRUE HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD.”

    Good works – “These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments are the fruit and evidences of a true and lively faith”…”By them believers…STRENGTHEN THEIR ASSURANCE.”

    Now on to article 18…

    1. Article 18 begins by asserting that those who may attain true assurance are “such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good concience before Him.” That means making every effort to obey his revealed will.

    2. The confession gives proof texts for inward graces which show that they understand inward graces to be inseperably connected with obedience. The proof texts are…

    2 Peter 1:4-5, 10-11 Through God’s promises believers are enabled to escape corruption and grow in faith and godliness. Those who do gain assurance that they will not fall away and that they will receive a rich welcome into the Kingdom.

    1 John 2:3 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” There it is brother…the word OBEY. 1 John 3:14 speaks to knowing we have come to know him because we love our brother. And how do we know we love our brother? 1 John 5:2, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.”

    2 Corinthians 1:12, “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincereity that ARE FROM GOD.”

    Jack…the 1st, 3rd and 4th of these proof texts demonstrates an inward grace/ inward graces observed and manifest through outward obedience. The 2nd, 1 John 2 is as explicit as you get…we know if we obey his commandments. The confession does not hesitate to affirm such clear biblical statements that obedience plays a role in assurance. Obedience is a fruit and sign of the inward graces of true faith and true repentance as well as the inward grace of sanctification.

    As for justification of our works…I find that language confusing. It sounds Catholic as though my works come to God through Christ and contribute to my justification.

    The confession is much clearer. It affirms that believers can do good works, that they STRENGTHEN ASSURANCE, and that they are NOT acceptable in themselves either to merit pardon of sin or eternal life, that they ARE only acceptable as they come to God through Christ. But they are acceptable not as a contribution to justification but simply as a pleasing offering to him…though he does reward them by grace.

    Maybe you are confusing… gaining assurance from the manifestation of inward graces in obedience with resting in them as a cause of pardon. The confession affirms the one and rejects the other.

    “Although repentance be not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.”

    Justification and Assurance are closely related but they are not the same thing. Neither is justification the only source of Assurance.

  28. Jake says:

    So, @Andrew I obviously don’t think PT and Scripture are at odds.
    @John I appreciate your response, but I do disagree that 1 John has a “stubborn emphasis” to have people look at their behavior for “assurance.” 1 John resounds with an emphasis on the promise of God. I find it hard to believe anybody can walk away after reading that in light of a knowledge of God’s sovereignty and think assurance is found anywhere besides the promise of God.
    I don’t think your accusation that I am conforming to the post-modern fallacy (“words don’t matter”) is at all appropriate. In your desire to have believers look at themselves for “assurance”, you are certainly softening the meaning of that word. That would assume you are 100 percent sure that your good works are totally good. What if you realize even your best works have a terrible motivation? What if, like Paul, you “do the things you don’t want to do”? When Peter walked on water, it was the second he began to look to himself for assurance that he began to sink. If assurance means anything, then it cannot be found anywhere other than the objective promise of God.

  29. Jack Miller says:

    Andrew, thanks for you response, though it might be that you are reading more (or maybe less) into what I have written, possibly due to jumping to conclusions(?). Most of what you argue I have no disagreement with.

    By describing two types of people, WCF 18.1 simply states who may and may not “be certainly assured.” Hypocrites may not. True believers may. The attributes given are descriptors or characteristics of a true believer.

    Here’s the distinction I’m making. Yes, we look to our good works done in Christ to strengthen our assurance of faith. But we don’t look to that obedience for our assurance – e.g. regular confession of sins (obedience) strengthens my assurance of a right conscience before God. But I don’t look to my confession of sin for an assurance of a cleansed conscience. I’m assured of that as I look to Jesus’ death on the cross for me through faith, which assurance of faith is indeed founded on the reality of God’s divine promises, inward graces and Holy Spirit within.

    The phrase about “justification of works” that you think sounds Roman Catholic is part of the larger quote of Calvin’s in italics. Last time I checked I don’t think he was leaning toward Rome.

    I’ll leave you with two quotes from brother Calvin and a question:

    But if we have been chosen in him, we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves; and not even in God the Father, if we conceive him as severed from his Son. Christ, then, is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election. (Institutes, 3.13.5)

    Calvin noted that “there are very many who so conceive God’s mercy that they receive almost no consolation from it. But there is a far different feeling of full assurance that in the Scriptures is always attributed to faith. It is this which puts beyond doubt God’s goodness clearly manifested for us. But that cannot happen without our truly feeling its sweetness and experiencing it in ourselves” (Institutes, 3.2.15)

    Is Calvin at odds with the WCF? I don’t think so.

    blessings…

  30. Andrew says:

    Jack…

    I’m glad were coming closer together. Disagreements can be substantial or semantic…or substantially semantic…which is why I thought hashing it out over a cigar might be nice!

    At the very least I think we disagree as to the confessions way of speaking of assurance. From your what you have said it seems as the only proper source of assurance is the perfect work of Christ and it’s application to us by faith alone. It seems you agree that inward grace manifest in obedience might “strengthen” our assurance but that it is not a source of assurance.

    I am far more comfortable with that than what I thought you were saying, but is not on par with the way the confession is speaking.

    The confession says that assurance of being in the state of grace is grounded on, “…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…” It is not speaking as narrowly as you are. It speaks of assurance in a broader sense as a source of confirmation that we are in the state of grace…NOT as that which alone secures our pardon and the gift of eternal life.

    So the Confession can proof text from John who teaches that obedience is one fruit and sign of true faith and regeneration. “we know we have come to know him if we obey his commandments.” It’s a source of knowledge and confidence…a source of comfort that our faith is true and real and we are covered in the blood of his son. (1 John 1:7)

    It can be a source of knowledge that we are justified only in so far as these graces are always present in the one justified. Yet the confession makes VERY clear that such graces always accompany but do not contribute to justification.

    “Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”

    The confession holds that these graces are always present in the one justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and SO their presence assures a believer resting in Christ alone that they are indeed justified and their absence yells to one professing to trust Christ for their salvation that they are a liar and the truth is not in them…just as John says.

    Again…I would point you to 15:3 where the confession affirms that repentance is of such a necessity that no one ought to EXPECT/BE ASSURED of pardon without it. They ought not be assured that they are in a state of grace with out it. But it is NOT to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof.

    I understood quite well that “justification of our works” was part of the Calvin quote. I’ve studied the confession far more than Calvin because I have sworn to uphold it in my ministry. But J.I Packer in his class on the Puritans said that whereas Calvin thought assurance was of the essence of faith, Westminster leans a little bit in a different direction. It does not so belong to the essence of faith that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be a partaker of it.

    As far as the quote…I knew “justification of works” was part of the Calvin quote and I wasn’t accusing you or Calvin of leaning towards Rome. I just prefer the terminology of the confession and find it clearer. The Confession written in the 1640’s was a mature expression of the Reformed faith with wonderfully nuanced terminology.

    As for the other quote…I don’t have time to look it up and read it in context, but on the surface it appears that Calvin is saying that we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves…if we conceive of ourselves as severed from the Son…just as we cannot find assurance in the Father if we conceive of him apart from the Son. The reason for that is we would both agree on…none of our works can be rested in for any satisfaction of sin or a merit of eternal life. If we do not have the Son we do not have life…if we do have the Son we have life. However, our works are one source of evidence that we have the Son.

    Peace and Grace…you can have the last word if you like.

  31. Jack Miller says:

    Andrew,

    Quote from my previous comment: I’m assured of that as I look to Jesus’ death on the cross for me through faith, which assurance of faith is indeed founded on the reality of God’s divine promises, inward graces and Holy Spirit within., which I was paraphrasing from the quote you copied from 18.2: “…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…” I agree with that. I think you’re looking for nits here.

    Also you are taking issue with me by putting words in my mouth. I did not claim that assurance alone secures our pardon and the gift of eternal life. There really isn’t anything else in your comment that I disagree with.

    As I wrote, I was drawing a distinction between obedience as a source to strengthen or reinforce our assurance as opposed to being an actual source or origin for our assurance. Maybe our disagreement is over defining my obedience either as an inward grace or that which flows from the inward graces. My obedience is not grace. My obedience is a sure and grateful response to and resulting from inward grace and the Spirit’s working. And yet though imperfect, as I seek to obey, it is a source that helps confirm and strengthen my assurance.

    If we ever do get together to discuss, the question on the table will be what are the inward graces? I’ll bring the cigars. You supply the beverages ;)

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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