Assurance of Election

 

The following is from our friend David at Five Pint Lutheran http://fivepintlutheran.blogspot.com/2009/10/assurance-of-election.html

Thank you, David!

Enjoy!

I have been asking a question to those who believe in Limited Atonement. “How, if Jesus did not die for every person, do you know you are died for?” The answers are numerous but all involve some type of inward peering. A fellow Lutheran reminded me of an article contained in the Canons of Dordt which shows this inward peering to be quite consistent.

Article 12: The Assurance of Election
Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God’s Word– such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

The problem with all this turning into oneself for assurance is that oneself is where the problem sits. Either one will notice the absence of the above mentioned fruits of election and be cast into despair worse than before. On the other hand a person may notice these things or set about to work them up and be filled with pride and arrogance toward others who have not worked up these items. What a dreadful place to look since we are such dismal failures that we need saving by another. Why should we look to ourselves for any assurance?

Mark 7:20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” ESV

We see in the above statements of Jesus inward peering is the last thing we should be doing. Deceit and pride come out of the heart of a sinner. This is why we must always be looking outside ourselves for salvation and assurance of the same.

This is where Jesus points us for assurance:

John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread [3] the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus [4] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. ESV

We see here a tangible way in which Jesus comes to us for the forgiveness of sin. Receiving the true body and blood of our Lord gives us the assurance we are forgiven and have eternal life and will be raised on the last day. In these promises we have Jesus located to bring the fruits of his life, death, burial and resurrection. Coming totally from outside us. No maudlin or prideful peering inwards to do spiritual measuring which are never accurate due to our sinfulness.

Lord may your body and your blood be for my soul the highest good!

Amen. †

________________________________________________________

 

Well, how about it?

I’d especially like to hear from you if you have another take on the ‘assurance’ of our salvation .

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

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26 Responses

  1. “Either one will notice the absence of the above mentioned fruits of election and be cast into despair worse than before. On the other hand a person may notice these things or set about to work them up and be filled with pride and arrogance toward others who have not worked up these items. “

    These aren’t the only options available. If you don’t see the fruits, then you fall in repentance before God and ask that He work them in you. If you do see the fruits, then you praise God for granting them to you. There is no “pride or arrogance” involved, as what does an elect person have that he didn’t receive? (1 Corinthians 4:7).

    Believing in limited atonement doesn’t require the navel gazing mentioned above.

  2. Those who are saved have been given a new heart which bears out the fruits of the Spirit. There will be evidence of this new heart, God doesn’t hide His presence in the lives of believers.

  3. Darius is right on –

    5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. – John 15:5-8

    Abiding in Christ produces fruit from the believer. This is how we know we are His.

    Fruit bearing always glorifies the Father because God is working in the believer.

  4. Thank you for posting this over here St Stephen.

  5. Could Atonement be limited only by the sin of the individual?
    Some do chose sin over Christ. Our God allows people to stray.

  6. willohroots, God doesn’t allow his elect to stray, at least, not for good.

  7. Furthermore, if our sin limits atonement, then no one is atoned for. Those who come to Christ are no better and no different than those who do… we’re just called and forgiven.

  8. So which comes first: the fruit that lets me know that I am atoned for, or the faith in the atonement that lets me produce good fruit?

    If the latter than I have to know my sin is atoned for by some measure other than my fruit. How can I be sure then?

  9. Our salvation is assured through the Blood. We need but to repent, and follow Christ with all our hearts.

  10. If you are an Arminian, how do you know that you haven’t fallen away and become “un-saved”?

    Seems like the exact same issue to me.

  11. You can ask the Lutheran the same thing. Except we are assured by nothing from ourselves, only by God’s word, promise and action.

  12. Since all people are capable of “good works” (nor just believers), then how can one be sure that his fruit is really evidence that he or she belongs to Christ?

    Since we also continue to sin, how can we be sure that we are really saved?

    I would argue that we all choose sin over Christ… and quite often at that.

    So, is it that we feel saved? Or that we believe we are saved because we believe the correct doctrine?

    I know I asked a lot of questions, but I do think they are connected.

  13. “The problem with all this turning into oneself for assurance is that oneself is where the problem sits”.

    Indeed!
    Faith turns us to look at Christ alone, not ourselves.
    There is only one sure place, only one confidence that equates to peace with God and certainty of the gift of life – His work, His unmerited gifts, His redemption.
    When our ‘belief’ or other diversions begin to distract us from this one fixed point, then we quickly sink and, like Peter, need Him to rescue us from drowning. He alone is able to save us, to the uttermost!

  14. The other problem is that it fails to recognize that inward turning IS sin itself to which Augustine rightly points out that sin can now take on a very fine gloss, which was the problem with the Pharisees.

    Sin, inward turning, is like a snake coiling inward and tighter. The gross sinner is turned inward indeed but nothing is more sinful than to turn him now into a “clean sinner” trying to be holy and sanctified, throwing of course a tip to God, Jesus and the Spirit like the Pharisee did for “giving him the power” to do it.

    To be looking inward regarding “holiness and sanctification” requires an INCREDIBLE amount of inward turning and self aggrandizing, all under the facade of “humble”. At least a thief who is self turned knows he stole from you, a pietist actually thinks he did you a favor sanctifying himself and working his holiness, and worse he attributes it to the power of God!

    It goes back to the fact that the religion of Luther is altogether a different religion from Calvin’s best displayed this way:

    Luther: “Where there IS forgiveness there is life and salvation.”

    Calvin: “Where there is life and salvation there is forgiveness of sin”.

    Larry

  15. Ephesians 1:13 (New International Version)

    13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

    Job: 13:1
    Proverbs 20:12
    Isaiah 6:10
    Matthew 13:15-16
    Acts 28:27
    Romans 11:8

    If you HEARD and BELIEVED…it is because God allowed it! When you are included in the Body of Christ you are of the elect, you have been chosen.

  16. Steve, I think you will really love this Gospel packed sermon by Rev. Bill Cwirla on Ephesians 1:3-14

    In Nomine Iesu

    Our text from Ephesians is a run on sentence long enough to curl the hair of your English teacher and earn you a D- in your 6th grade composition class. But this wasn’t originally written in English but in Greek. And it wasn’t written by some sixth grader, but by the apostle Paul to the churches of Asia minor including Ephesus. The translators have spared us and broken it up into bite sized pieces. One huge run on sentence beginning with our blessing in Christ in the heavenly realms and ending in the water of our Baptism as a down payment of the inheritance to come. While run on sentences make for difficult reading, they do drive home the point: You can’t stop anywhere in the middle because God’s grace in Christ that begins in the mind and will of God doesn’t stop until it reaches you.

    Seven times, at least, Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” or “in Him” to locate where the action is. Not in you nor in me. We’re dead in trespasses and sin. Paul will get to that in chapter 2. But here, it’s all in Christ, and that’s where our faith-attention needs to be focused. In Christ, not in ourselves. Take away the “in Christs” and “in Hims” and the whole sentence crashes in on itself and makes no sense. Let’s go through them, and you’ll see what I mean. Seven blessing of our being in Christ.

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” That’s where your blessings are. Not in your selves, but in Christ. Not in the earthly places, but in the heavenly places. The earthly places are temporal, where things rust, rot, and decay, including you. The heavenly places are eternal. Your blessings are there for you, in Christ. You can have blessings apart from Christ, as unbelievers do. They get the rain and sunshine just as you do. But they can’t keep them forever. “You can’t take it with you,” as they say when they put you in a box. No you can’t. But your spiritual treasures are eternal, kept safely in heavenly places, in Christ. The way to enjoy them now is to be in Christ, baptized into Him, trusting in Him. More on that in a moment.

    In Christ you were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him. In Him, not in your selves. You are not simply chosen, but chosen in Christ. There is a difference. Here’s the difference. You were chosen in love. It’s the only kind of choosing God does. He chooses in love, and in that love He destined you for adoptions through His Son to be adopted sons and daughters of God. You are loved in the Beloved Son. Not in your selves. There’s nothing lovable in there. In Christ Jesus, the beloved Son. Only Jesus is beloved in Himself as the Beloved Son. You are beloved in Him. And being loved in Him, you have a destiny established before you even came into existence. You are predestined in Christ to be adopted as one of God’s children.

    Notice something. This “predestination” is in love and in Christ. There is no predestination in wrath. If anyone goes to hell, it is entirely against the will and purpose of God. And you can tell that to your Calvinist friends to put that in their pipe and smoke it. Predestination is a one-way deal – in love, in Christ, to become God’s child. This is God’s plan from eternity in Christ. From before the foundation of the world, you were elect in the Elect Son, chosen in the Chosen One, loved in the Beloved Son. That means you had nothing to do with it, which is why it is by faith alone apart from works. It’s all already a done deal in Jesus. Or as Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” What can you possibly add to that?

    In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the blood He shed on the cross to save the world, the blood He puts in your mouths as wine for the forgiveness of your sins. This is His rich and lavish grace, undeserved kindness. You think you deserve any of this? Think again. You’re dead and trespasses and sin. His blood buys you back, covers yours sin, cleans up the mess you’ve made of your already messed up life. This is not simply a kind attitude in the heart of God. Grace is covered with blood, sacrificial, redemptive blood.

    And it’s not just about forgiveness. The plan is even bigger, the implications are cosmic. God’s purpose is to unite all things, in heaven and earth, all things, in Christ. Literally, God wants to bring everything in heaven and on earth, the whole creation under one Head, that is, the lordship of Jesus Christ. Adam as head failed, and plunged the whole cosmic order into sin, death, decay, and chaos. We add our part as children of Adam. Each of us is a little chaos factory, wreaking our own divisive disorder where we go. It’s manifested with our families, our friends, our neighbors, and coworkers; in our dealings with strangers, with the world. The master plan is to recreate and bring all things under Christ whether in heaven or on earth. As Jesus said, “I am making all things new.”

    We sometimes forget the cosmic effects of our sin. We think sin is some little private thing between us and God. We think sin is isolated and doesn’t have any far-reaching effects. And if you think that, you are dead wrong. One act of disobedience on the part of Adam, one little, solitary, isolated act against the Word of God brought devastation to what was a “very good” creation. Every sin adds to the disaster. It doesn’t matter how small – the petty theft, the white lie, that juicy bit of gossip. Oh, the big ones have big consequences but the little ones add up to one rebellious humanity and cosmos load of death.

    But Jesus absorbed it all. Like a magnet, He drew all to Himself in His death. “It is finished.” For you, for me, for the world. Finished. Done to death. The plan is executed. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man and as Man takes the law’s sting in our place. In Christ you are forgiven, you are justified, you are sanctified and glorified. It’s all done, even as we sit you. You are glorified in Christ at the right hand of God. Your life, that is, your true life as you truly are in the eyes of God is now hidden with Christ in God. You can’t see it, touch it, taste it, or smell it. You must believe it, trust it, take Christ at His Word that He holds your life even now.

    There’s more. We’re not done yet. In Christ we have obtained an inheritance. That’s a great Gospel, gift word – inheritance. How do you get an inheritance? You don’t earn it like wages. Someone has to die and he leaves it to you because you were in his good graces. That’s how you get an inheritance. But what would happen if no one told you that you were an heir? Imagine someone dying and leaving you ten million dollars but no one bothered to inform you. You would still be an heir, and there would be ten million bucks with your name on it, but if you don’t know it, you won’t claim it, and you’ll go on living as though you had nothing.

    Listen to how Luther puts it in the Large Catechism. He’s right in line with this. He says, “The work is finished and completed, Christ has acquired and won the treasure for us by his sufferings, death, and resurrection, etc. But if the work remained hidden and no one knew of it, it would have been all in vain, all lost. In order that this treasure might not be buried but put to use and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to be published and proclaimed, in which he has given the Holy Spirit to offer and apply to us this treasure of salvation.” (Large Catechism III,38).

    How are you going to enjoy an inheritance unless you know about it and claim it as your own? How are you going to enjoy salvation, life, forgiveness, peace with God unless you know about it? Now you see the purpose of the church: to broadcast salvation, to herald the good news of Jesus, to tell people they have an inheritance in heaven waiting for them in Christ Jesus who died and rose for them.

    Paul, speaking on behalf of that first band of believers that God worked all things according to His good and gracious will that those who believed first would be to the praise of His glory. In Christ, they had an inheritance and were destined to serve the purpose of broadcasting the good news of Jesus to the world.

    And now it gets to you, my friends. This run on sentence which runs on like a river having its source in the heavenlies now comes to you. “In Christ, you also, when you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and believed in Him were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.”

    You heard it for yourselves. Christ died for you. His death is your death; His life is your life. The inheritance is yours. You heard it, and by the grace of God, you believed it. You are baptized, “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” the promise that is to you and to your children, as St. Peter said on Pentecost. That baptismal Spirit is God’s down payment on your inheritance. The first installment. The first check with much more to come.

    You can’t have it all just yet. It would be nice, I know, but you can’t handle it. It’s like a sixteen year old inheriting a million dollars. He doesn’t get it all it once because he’s not ready for a million bucks. He thinks he is, but everyone else knows he isn’t. It’s put in a trust fund and he gets a little bit but the rest is held in trust until he comes of age. Our flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It is hopelessly soiled with sin; it is subject to decay. It can only die. But the inheritance that Jesus won for us is still ours. “The kingdom ours remaineth.” And we will “come of age” one day, in the resurrection, when the trumpet will sound, the dead will rise, and what you have heard and believed you will see for yourselves and acquire possession of what you now have by faith, all to the praise of His glory.

    It is all in Christ and in no one else. Christ alone, as the youth group heard all last week at the youth conference Christ alone. In Him we are blessed eternally in the heavenly realms. In Him we are loved and destined to become the children of God. In Him we have redemption through His blood. In Him all things are united and come together as a new creation under His headship. In Him we have an inheritance that will never fade away. In Him we are marked as God’s dear children, baptized into His death – crucified with Jesus, buried with Jesus, raised with Jesus, glorified with Jesus.

    All to the praise of His glory.

    In the name of Jesus,
    Amen

  17. David C.

    Thanks so much bro. I read a the Council of Dort a long time ago but I missed that one. Goodness, their article of faith encourages enthusiasm, mysticism. No wonder its children go through the exercise.

    LPC

  18. LP,

    You’ve hit upon a critical thing to see where you said, “…their article of faith encourages enthusiasm, mysticism…”. Enthusiasm in all its forms is that “god within-ness”. That’s why Luther saw the sacramentarians and the Pope as the same devil operating against the faith. For the Pope too interprets scripture from his heart. Protestants, other than Lutherans (at least in theory), repulse at that and instantly reply, “we do not, we stick to the Word”. But they don’t, I didn’t either. It’s not that you entirely deny the Word or go outside of it but are turned from it due reason, affections or experiences. Different heterodox groups will primarily emphasis one of these three to varying degrees. E.g. reason (Calvinist types, Reformed or Baptistic), affections (charismatics of all flavors, including Roman versions) and experience (crosses a lot of denomination/confessional lines, probably the most pervasive of the three). Using these is how the Word is subtly put in the passenger seat and ultimately denied, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper most acutely reveal this more than anything.

    It works like this. Via the doctrine one is ultimately turned to some other place than the Word for faith/trust/assurance. But never where the Cross is actually put. It’s kind of like Moses and the bronze serpent in which he said look at it and be healed/saved, not somewhere else, not inward that’s like looking into the darkness and saying, “boy it sure is dark in here”. And we don’t look at faith itself, that’s like looking at your looking! All of it is fundamentally idolatry against the first commandment and making a creature even such as repentance, faith, fruit itself an idol or god honed for worship – that is to say trusted into or assured thereby. It’s no different than some half naked heathen out in the middle of nowhere who hones out of stone his god. The rock itself is a good creature of God, God said so blessing everything in the beginning as “very God”, all that He created. But fallen man takes the things of “heaven above, earth below, or the sea beneath” (1st Commandment, 2nd by some accounts) or as Paul says in Romans 1 “thinking themselves wise they worshipped, birds, mammals, reptiles…etc” – all creatures of the Creator and make them their god. It’s no different with faith or repentance or fruit or good works. These too are all creatures of God, created by Him and thus a CREATURE of the CREATOR. To look to these for assurance is not one wit different than the half naked pagan in the middle of some deep dark S. American jungle worshipping at an idol he carved out of wood or stone himself as his god. That’s why Luther said to baptize based on faith is nothing but shear idolatry and he who baptizes based upon his faith is an idolater!

    Thus, in such confession they guide the minds eye and soul inward for signs of God’s work within oneself to INTERPRET “I’m elect, saved, reborn, born again, regenerate, converted, etc…” and thus AWAY from God’s Word in naked Word and especially sacrament. To look there is to turn from the Word itself and attempt to see the Word operating elsewhere. It would be no different than when Moses said look at the bronze serpent and be saved/healed, and then some Reformed or Baptistic like Israelite stands up and says, “Yea but you better look inward for the signs of God’s work in you, look to your fruits”. It’s that obvious, the Word of God via Moses said, “Look HERE”, and false doctrine says “No, look over here”. God says, “Do not eat…”, the devil says, “Eat”. God says, “build an ark”, the devil says, “ha, ha, ha it won’t rain”. God says, “Take, eat/drink this is My body/blood”, the devil says, “no its not”…away from the Word plain and simple. Enthusiasm!

    Yours,

    Larry

  19. As a five point Calvinist, I know Christ died for me because I trust that what he did on the cross paid the penalty for my sins. Besides, Christ said, “Whosoever believeth on me hath everlasting live.”

    This post and the comments attached make the issue to complicated.

  20. JK,

    Actually this post does not make it too complicated. This is the issue dating all the way back to Marburg and why Luther, rightly, would not extend the right hand of fellowship to Bucer nor Zwingli in the Lord’s supper.

    See it depends on what you mean behind your words:

    “I know Christ died for me because I trust that what he did on the cross paid the penalty for my sins. ”

    We do not KNOW Christ died for “us” BECAUSE we/I trust in Him. The heart is desperately wicked above all things, no one can know it. That is to base, albeit subtly, faith in faith. Which is of course both making faith a work and making faith an idol.

    Now if you are saying, which I think you are and mean to say, “I KNOW…BECAUSE Christ DID die for me on the Cross (whether I believe it or not)”, then that is true faith speaking about its object Christ and Him crucified.

    Faith doesn’t speak “I know BECAUSE I believe” but “I know because Christ was crucified and for me”. Without the critical “for me” all one has is a historical faith, believing the facts as so but despairing that they are not “for me”.

    Yet to believe as I have outlined above, which I believe is what you truly do, you have to be a happy inconsistent Calvinist. First on layer one, you have to realize as Luther said that Christ indeed died for all without exception (Calvin actually pops in and out of this thought inconsistently himself. Later Calvinist like Owen don’t and are rank heretics know one should follow or put themselves under their authority.) A consistent Calvinist though must “Limit” (as in tuLip) that atonement. So the question begins, am I elect so that I am IN that L. Then comes the question, is it FOR ME, else one has only historical faith. If the sacraments are just signs of God’s will only awaiting your faith, then you are again stuck making faith a work and idol. That’s different than them actually giving you forgiveness of sin, not just an “offer” of it. This is very accute in the false doctrine of Believers Baptism in the Baptist, and equally acute in the bread and wine meal of the Reformed. The later show it in that Calvin explicitly says the one’s receiving bread and wine (only) receive nothing, rather than the true body and blood of Christ in the mystery. To remember the Lord’s Body and Blood, to the chagrin of both Zwingli and Calvin, is not some recollection of historical facts like a birthday or something. Rather it IS to receive in fact and actuality that very Body and very Blood that was crucified and shed on the Cross FOR forgiveness of YOUR/MY sin.

    This issue is not just some tangental issue, which is what sacramentarians always wish to make it ever since Marburg so they can “get a foot in”. It is nothing less than the very battle for the very Gospel.

    It is as Luther says the sacrament IS the Gospel (as Christ’s true and very body and blood), and to “give in” to Calvin’s or Zwingli’s heresy on this issue would be to surrender the very and true Gospel and that is NEVER safe. It’s not a matter of being right in a legalistic sense (got all my doctrinal Ps and Qs lined up), but a guarding and confessional citadel and rampart against the enemy who would rob us of this great comfort and treasure which is nothing less than the very true Gospel and hence Kingdom of heaven.

    I hope that’s helpful. I understand your confussion, I wrestled with everything you are stating presently. So I empathetically understand.

    Yours,

    Larry

  21. “Whosoever believeth on me hath everlasting live.”

    How can you be sure you really believe?

    If one really believed, wouldn’t they want to follow and obey Christ in all things at all times?

    Can anyone really be sure?

  22. JK

    It started 500 years ago when Calvin tried to use the same words the Lutherans used and made many redefinitions of what the Lutherans meant. Earlier on in his career he had contact directly with Melanchton and he even signed a version of the Augsburg Confession. Calvin was a lapsed Lutheran.

    Calvin wrote about his view of the Supper to Melanchton but the latter never gave it to Luther because he knew Luther would foam in the mouth once he saw Calvin’s view of the Supper. Later on in Melanchton’s career both he and Calvin were known to redefine what the words originally meant by the first generation Luther and Lutherans. Lastly, Melanchton was rejected by the Lutherans because he and Calvin were of the same sentiment, they want to find a way of working with Rome.

    I am only pointing this out because Calvinists have the habit of using Lutheran parlance but making caveats on what they take the words we use to mean. Hence, they “fool” Lutherans and non-Lutherans.

    At the Regensberg Colloquy if I remember the name right, Luther did not go to meet the representatives of Rome but Calvin and Melanchton did.

    In my catechism class when I was catechizing my friends – I would ask the question – Why would God let you into his heaven? I can detect where their faith lies by the way they answer this question. They would answer in the following:

    1.) Because I believe Jesus died on the Cross for me.

    vs.

    2.) Because Jesus died on the Cross for me.

    The two answers are not the same. The first one says he should go to heaven because he believes, making the focus on his believing. The latter does and do believe! But his confession is a fact that he is standing on, and had nothing to do with himself. I would say to them – take out the “I” in your confession, state the fact, not what you believe.

    You cannot state the fact if you are not sure of what it is, i.e. if Jesus only died for the elect, then how sure are you that you are one of them? That answer can only be answered (mistakenly) by peering into some inside event in the person which the Bible says – men are liars. We lie to ourselves specially when it comes to our well being.

    LPC

  23. Larry,

    Thank you for the humble spirit evident in your comment.

    ““I KNOW…BECAUSE Christ DID die for me on the Cross (whether I believe it or not)”, then that is true faith speaking about its object Christ and Him crucified.”

    Yes, that’s what I mean. I cannot believe that Christ died for my and that I can receive the free gift of eternal life he earned unless I believe that Christ did die for me. I cannot accept the free offer of the gospel unless I believe that offer is a genuine offer. Why would I choose to trust someone who is untrustworthy?

    In placing that faith and accepting that offer, I prove beyond doubt that God has fore-ordained from the foundation of the world that I would have that faith. My heart was changed by God to allow me to desire to come to him in repentance and faith.

    “Faith doesn’t speak “I know BECAUSE I believe” but “I know because Christ was crucified and for me”. Without the critical “for me” all one has is a historical faith, believing the facts as so but despairing that they are not “for me”.”

    I agree. It’s not ‘God said it; I believe it; that settles it.’ It’s “God said it; that settles it.’

    ”…you have to realize as Luther said that Christ indeed died for all without exception…”

    No. All I have to believe is that Christ’s death could have paid the penalty for all of the sins committed from Adam’s fall. Because Christ’s death is sufficient in that way, if I place my faith in Christ, then I can know he did in fact die for me.

    “A consistent Calvinist though must “Limit” (as in tuLip) that atonement.”

    Everyone who believes that there will be some people in hell must limit the atonement in some fashion. If the atonement is limited in the sense that Calvinists mean it, we are basically just saying that those who do not place their faith in Christ do not go to heaven.

    That’s what it reduces to. Christ’s death could have paid the price, but it didn’t because not everyone accepts that payment. Those who do accept that payment by faith did so because God changed their hearts, not because of some righteousness inherent in them.

    Besides, God will not punish sins twice, once on the cross and once in hell. That would not be just, and “shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”

    “… am I elect so that I am IN that L…”

    Yes. If I trust that what Christ actually did on the cross paid for my sins. It could have in that it was sufficient, and God’s Word says the cross will if I trust / depend on it.

    “…the sacrament IS the Gospel …”

    Honest question here: why do some people who are baptized abondon the Christian faith? (Witness the recent “un-baptism” ceremonies in England.)

    The old adam,

    “How can you be sure you really believe?”

    Because I am self-aware.

    “If one really believed, wouldn’t they want to follow and obey Christ in all things at all times?”

    No. Faith does not have to be perfect in order to be true faith. It’s not the power of the faith; it is the power of the One I place my faith in.

    I am not perfect in this life, but I am different than I used to be. Luther would agree with me one that one.
    Sin is an indication of unbelief in God’s promises, but Paul’s experience is normative. “The evil that I do not want to do, that I do. The good that I want to do, that I don’t do.”

    Spurgeon said that even our repentance needs to be repented of. Even our faith is unbelief in that sense. Our faith is inperfect.

    JK

  24. JK,

    Besides, God will not punish sins twice, once on the cross and once in hell. That would not be just, and “shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”

    Lutherans distinguish the Atonement from Justification – they are not the same and they are not co-equal. If you collapse the two as one event then you will wind up with Limited Atonement, a blunder. Eventually Limited Atonement denies Justification By Grace Through Faith and denies what the Lutherans teach on the means of grace.

    Also I for one distinguish between the Imputation of my sin to Christ versus the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness to/for me.

    The first imputation happened 2000 years ago, the second imputation happens in a person’s space time history.

    Jesus did die and suffered for the sins of the whole world but people who reject what Jesus did, will suffer the consequences of their sin – even Jesus did say that – Jesus said – If you do not believe that I am HE, you shall die in your sins.

    As to why people are being un-baptized. Well if they are thought that they are not getting anything when they are baptized then that would be a motivation. In fact, I saw many people who professed faith in Christ’s redemption but do not like to be baptized – sure enough I was teaching them that it was just an outward symbol of an inward reality, so indeed why be baptized if it does not save?

    Lutherans teach that one can walk away from one’s baptism, or reject the gift, if is not that no gift has been given, but the person has become apostate or a hypocrite.

    Anyway, I will let Larry answer your question now.

    God bless,

    LPC

  25. JK,

    I know that I often do not believe.

    I know that I am basically an unbeliever at heart, and that God makes me a believer over and over again. That is why I return to my baptism (it carries me all throughout life), and also why I return to the Lord’s table to eat His body and drink His blood.

    I don’t put my faith in my faith, but rather in God and what he has done, is doing, and will yet do, for me.

  26. JK,

    A lot of your questions are answered by the simple fact that reason cannot ascend to what faith hears nakedly and believes. Paul actually already answers your question when he speaks of the Jews that fell away in Romans who had circumcision and the Word of God. He says it is not as if the Word of God failed, let all men be liars though God is true. That men reject baptism is merely reflecting the very fact that they do hate and despise the Gospel. Men reject election, God does not reprobate and that is the difference.

    Simply because men reject the faith after baptism does not make baptism ONE WIT ineffective for it still actually, truly and really GIVES, not just offers like Calvin’s heresy, forgiveness of sin – “I am baptized is the confession of the faith”!

    See it shows in Calvin most acutely in the LS in which those who eat and drink unto their wrath, Calvin says really don’t eat and drink anything but bread and wine…and so do those under Calvin’s theology only eat and drink mere bread and wine one can have at an Italian restaurant. Here we see the gnosticism so apparent in Calvin in which he has pulled the Word apart from the Holy Spirit…the sacraments don’t actually DO anything, they don’t actually ALWAYS HAVE the Holy Spirit, the real and true body and blood of Christ is not in the bread and wine, just bread and wine…nothing more. And worse of all sometimes the Gospel Word works and sometimes it doesn’t (the Spirit is not there). It really is gross gnosticism. Calvin failed to see that the rejection/resistance of the Holy Spirit spoken of clearly and plenteously in Scripture (e.g. Acts 7) is His EVERY time being in the Word and baptism, and the rejection of Christ in the real sacrament of His real and true body and blood IS to reject the real deal and not just some sign pointing elsewhere.

    For Calvin a “sign” was a philosophical sign, the sign of an absent thing.

    For Luther a sign was a theological sign, the sign of a thing really and truly present.

    Hopefully that is a bit more enlightening.

    Yours,

    L

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