Full assurance of salvation, Holy Spirit Baptism, Heb 6 and 1 John

Full assurance of salvation, Holy Spirit Baptism, Heb 6 and 1 John June 3, 2005

This is the kind of blogging I like best- me bouncing off David Wayne. Right now he’s posting about the security of our salvation and how that relates to Heb 6. Interesting that like me he went through a quiet spell recently and has now decided to serialise some sermon material (see my “what kind of church changes the world” series)

I linked the other day to an introduction to the introduction, one of the many similarities between David and I is that we both like to creep up on you slowly……

He has now posted his introduction to Heb 6 and leaps straight in with the following:

“When the original writer put this passage in the letter of Hebrews he wanted his readers to be sweating, not wiping the sweat away from their brows and saying whew, glad that doesn’t apply to me.

One of the things we don’t talk about as much as we should is the fact that there are many false professions of faith, there are many counterfeit Christians.

It is true that, if you are truly saved, you cannot lose your salvation, but it is equally true that there are many who think they are saved and who aren’t. This writer, whoever he was, was genuinely concerned about the spiritual condition of those to whom he was writing. He feared that this may have been a church full of counterfeit Christians who professed faith but did not possess faith……..

This is a warning passage of Scripture. Warning passages are there for the purpose of calling you to stop and re-examine yourself, not just to skip over lightly assuming it doesn’t apply to you. “

This is all good stuff, but I worry that although there are indeed those who like David seems to be addressing need to wake up and realise that they are not christians there are also those who need to quit worrying already. My understanding (correct me if I am wrong) is that some great puritans went to their death bed concerned that they may not have made a genuine profession of faith. Whatever our understanding of these warning passages, they must not undermine true assurance of salvation.

David does quote in his second part many of the eternal security passages and concludes “The fact that you have believed in Jesus is not a cause of your salvation, it is an evidence of your salvation. You believe because God has chosen you, God doesn’t choose to save you because you have believed.” But, the question remains, how can I KNOW that I am one of the chosen ones? David states “Yes, we can have assurance of salvation, but this assurance is not based upon looking to some past experience.” I would argue that our assurance is largely based on the current experience of being IN Christ that the Spirit grants us, and that those who do not know the infilling of the Spirit consciously will always struggle with this question.

A muslim blogger has picked up on the apparent undermining of any sense of finality about salvation in Davids first posts. As a result Davids third post focusses on assurance but sadly is entirely devoid of any notion of experience, focusing instead on some outward signs of the inward reality. As important as these are, it is the inward reality that is more crucial. I like David’s summary of 1 John as a book to distinguish true Christians from false, but he seems to have missed some of the clearly experiential concepts which litter the book, let me list them:

“so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” 1 John 1:3-4
“…If we say we have fellowship with him….” 1 John 1:6
“..we have come to know him…” 1 John 2:3
“…whoever says he abides in him…” 1 John 2:6
“I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning” 1 John 2:14
“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge” 1 John 2:20
“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” 1 John 2:27-28
“And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us” 1 John 3:24
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” 1 John 4:2-3
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” 1 John 4:13
“And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth” 1 John 5:6
“…so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ” 1 John 5:20

Notice, that on many occasions the relational language is immediately qualified with a statement which kind of says “You better show me outward evidence that what you say is happening inwardly really is” so I am not saying that David was wrong in his assessment of assurance, merely incomplete.

Before Christmas I was planning on posting a series on this very subject, but kind of got distracted with all the fuss about the simple gospel posts. I argued that the certainty of our salvation could be found in our relationship with christ and what he has done for us. I argued that the five points of calvinism all point us to Jesus, and because of my charismatic slant I focussed also on the experiential side which is in my view often missing from good calvinists, and appears to be a biblical mark of the genuiness of our salvation.

I believe that the experience of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirt can settle the question of whether we are saved or not once and for all, as we receive the deposit that guarantees our inheritance and the love of God is poured out in our hearts.

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your 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.” (Eph 1:13-4)

“hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Romans 5:5


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