Luther warns time and time again against finding our assurance or ground on anything within ourselves, be it works or faith itself…all such is not only uncertain but idolatry and apostacy. Key to this in identifying “works salvation” is not just the rank RC idea of justification or salvation by works, BUT finding one’s assurance and ground (i.e. election, rebirth, conversion, etc…) in works or even faith. Yet, the Reformed even to this very day say, to quote one directly today about finding one’s assurance of divine election (from an interview on I & E), How does someone know they are elect, “IF you believe these things, THEN you are elect”. But that denies the reality of Scripture. As Luther told Erasumus (paraphrased), ‘it matters little, in the conscience where the battle occurs, how many scriptures you marshall in support of your position, I need only find one Word of God to fail it.” Thus all law and all reason can be over thrown by the same and we have nothing but uncertainty. Reducing such a “christianity” to false christianity and at length fallen religion with a façade named christianity.
Then we find an honest but, ironically tragic moment in a open article by a modern Reformed teacher, one whom I dearly love and owe a lot of thanks to in my earlier years as a Christian, Dr. R.C. Sproul. This I quote not to “pick on” but point out the fatal issue with Calvin and Reformed theology, it ultimately to the best brings nothing but doubt in honest moments when the head is down on the pillow at night. From an article on, “Assurance of Salvation”, writes (Tabletalk, Nov 1989),
“A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness… and suddenly the question hit me: ‘R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not in heaven after all, but in hell?’ Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified.
“I tried to grab hold of myself. I thought, ‘Well, its a good sign that I’m worried about this. Only true Christians really care about salvation.’ But then I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance. [How come you don’t just look to Christ and His promise in faith?] My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s really true. Maybe I’m not saved after all.’
“I went to my room and began to read the Bible. On my knees I said, ‘Well, here I am. I can’t point to my obedience…”
Point of order: This is odd because it is said that secondary proofs such as obedience and the detection of faith (IF you believe this, THEN you are elect) are foundational towers of Reformed assurance!!!
He finishes, “…There’s nothing I can offer… I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell… I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation.
Point of order: Then how can one know one has faith, Luther’s POINT! One can’t be sure of one’s own heart and motivation, but I thought “IF you believe these things, THEN you are elect…” to quote Reformed theologians verbatim. Is that not the warp and wolf of Reformed theology and election, faith is “I believe” rather than “God cannot lie”. I thought it was this in Reformed religion, “where there is life and salvation, there is forgiveness of sin”, not “where there is forgiveness of sin, there is life and salvation” (Luther). See how the sacraments cannot help you here in the religion of Calvin and baptist, but then here’s a honest Reformed theologian in a moment of honesty saying, “…There’s nothing I can offer… I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell… I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation.”
Yet Calvin in one of his more “Lutheran moments” states a very Lutheran sounding concept, “In short, no man is truly a believer, unless he be firmly persuaded, that God is a propitious and benevolent Father to him… unless he depend on the promises of the Divine benevolence to him, and feel an undoubted expectation of salvation” (Institutes III.II.16)
A lot of “pro me” in that statement! But according to Calvin and Calvinism at length I can’t rely on the general Gospel for only the elect are truly saved. At this point a lot of modern Calvinist theologian apologize for Calvin saying some nonesense about him “being highly nuianced”, he’s not highly nuiacnced he is allowing the devil to dictate his theology. Confusion is the signature of the devil, not God, and “highly nuianced” is just false cover.
Again, at length I can’t rely on the general Gospel for only the elect are truly saved. E.g. John 3:16 is of no help to me/one (benevolent TO HIM, pro me) since the “world” is the “elect” in such interpretations. And we all know that the sacraments don’t actually effect or work regeneration (Reformed/baptist) and there is no real body and blood GIVEN that was shed for YOU FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN. And again, according to Calvinism there must first be life and salvation before forgiveness of sin is had, not vice versa (IF you believe, THEN you are elect). After all faith is “I believe” via this religion and not “God cannot lie”. If “…There’s nothing I can offer… I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell… I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation…” and the general Gospel is ONLY effective for the elect and only sufficient but in the end nothing to the reprobate, and the sacraments do nothing at worse or await faith (at best) which is really the same thing…then there is nothing!
There really are only two religions in the world, the cross is our theology, and all the others even that which parades itself around as Christian from the most buffoning to the most serious exegetical.
By the way, I absolutely love R.C. Sproul !
I wish he had more of a Lutheran understanding of the Sacraments, then he’d have more of the peace that the Lord wants him to have.