Paul's Passing Thoughts

Obtaining Assurance of Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 6, 2020

ppt-jpeg4“You can state it that way, and the Bible does in a few places, but that is really just another way of stating what Christ really did. It’s not the whole story. What Christ really did, and understanding it, is key to having assurance of salvation. And by the way, as we shall see, church is no friend of that understanding.”

The Bible states that all fear comes from the fear of God’s judgement. So, people don’t fear death per se, they fear the judgement that comes afterward. This is the general, core principle, and we see it clearly in realty. ALL psychological problems, whether deemed medical or the product of bad thinking and doing, have an element of fear or paranoia. A person may be diagnosed as Bipolar, but anxiety will also be present…always.

Enter condemnation—condemnation is the consequence of God’s judgement. Those under God’s enviable judgement are also under condemnation. This word is very central to the discussion of a Christian’s assurance. If you are a Christian, and you lack assurance, it is because of condemnation. Where condemnation does not exist, 100% assurance of salvation is present. lack of assurance necessarily means condemnation has crept in.

Now comes the thesis of this post: condemnation is not yet completely vanquished by God; our fight for assurance is a fight against condemnation. While the Bible tells us that in reality, objectively, there is NOW…NO condemnation for those in Christ, condemnation can still harass us because death has not yet been vanquished by God. Death is still alive. The Bible states that it will be the last enemy defeated by God.

These are the basics, and lend understanding to God’s beautiful awe-inspiring plan of salvation. God’s plan of salvation is a logically consistent complex tapestry that employs all aspects of reality including individual identity, family, religion, and government. Any question of Bible doctrine is determined by how it fits with God’s true plan of salvation.

For example, is the Trinity a correct Bible doctrine? Yes, because it fits with how God transformed mankind from living creatures to being His very family members. Angels are living creatures created by God, and it can certainly be said that He loves them, but they aren’t family. No Trinity, no family. No family, no salvation. And by the way, this is family in the literal sense. Can I make a logical argument for the Trinity? Yes, it is efficacious for becoming part of God’s family and becoming part of God’s family is synonymous with being saved.

God is a Father and the words He speaks are life. His words are His seed, the seed of life. God came to man with Promises, and those who believe those promises and embrace them as their identity are fallen upon by the Holy Sprit and God’s word (His seed) is infused into them. This results in a love for God’s truth. This results in holding God true and every man a liar. This is true of the father of our faith, Abraham, and is true for us just the same. We are saved by believing God’s promises, and nothing else.

God made a promise to Abraham AND “the seed,” Christ. To Abraham, God promised that He would make Abraham a great nation that included Jews and Gentiles as one metaphysical body. He promised Abraham that the nation would dwell in a city built by God where pure righteousness will dwell. We and our father of faith look for that city. It is the hope of things not presently seen because we believe God’s promises. Yet, that hope forms how we live presently.

To the seed, Christ, also, “the Word” because He is, “the seed,” He promised the following: He would die for the sins of mankind, and would not be left to corruption in the grave. God, through the Spirit, would resurrect Him from the grave, and establish the new birth. Those who believe the promise are fallen upon by the Spirit and die with Christ, and are resurrected with Him, and thereby become heirs of the promises and the commonwealth of Israel.

“Heir” is another key word here. “a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person’s death.” You see, it is not technically correct to say that Christ died for our sins. You can state it that way, and the Bible does in a few places, but that is just another way of stating what Christ really did. It’s not the whole story. What Christ really did, and understanding it, is key to having assurance of salvation. And by the way, as we shall see, church is no friend of that understanding.

The Old Testament is a will. A will is not executed until there is a death. The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant promises. That’s what makes the New Covenant “better” while the Old Covenant is “passing away.” Christ died to END that covenant and fulfill its promises. let’s look at the Old Covenant will.

The Old Covenant will was administered by Angels on Mount Sinai. It was deliberately instituted about 400 years after God’s promises to Abraham and Christ because salvation is by the promises and not the law. The law was instituted by God to increase condemnation. The apostle Paul said it was instituted to “increase sin,” but that’s another way of saying the same thing; an increase of sin leads to increased condemnation which leads to increased fear of death because death has to do with God’s judgement. A review of all the events at Mount Sinai puts an explanation mark on that point.

However, the law, or the will, also offered life. The law also offered instruction on how to love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as well. This was the gospel of Moses under the will: “I put before you on this day death and life, choose life.” Meanwhile, as a believer in the promises and therefore infused with the seed of God, ALL of your sins were imputed to the will. In this way, it was said that you were “captive” to the will because all of your sins against the law were held captive by the law. “All sin is transgression against the law.” The will was said to be a “protector” against sin’s condemnation until Christ came.

Accordingly, all the believers under the will were held captive in a place called “sheol” until Christ died. When Christ fulfilled that promise, “he ascended on high, he led captive a host of captives, and gave gifts to men.” Those gifts were poured out on the ekklesia (“called out assembly”), and made Jews and Gentiles one body with Christ as the head. This was part of the promises made to Abraham and Christ.

Here is the important part: Christ’s death fulfilled the will, but also by fulfilling it, ended it. And since all sin was imputed to the will, sin is no longer merely covered by the law by way of imputation, sin is ended. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” Why would the Bible say that? Death is a sting because of sin’s condemnation, and the law condemns. If you are an heir to a will, and the testator dies, that will is fulfilled, you receive the goodies, and the former will no longer applies to you.

However, remember, the will is “passing away” and for believers has been replaced with “better promises.” That is, those that have been received. In this way, the will, is a “ministry of death.” That’s because the Sprit still uses it to “convict the world of sin and the judgment to come.” Sin→condemnation→fear→hopelessness→death→judgement all go together. The bible calls this sequence, “under law.”

ALL sin is still imputed to the “ministry of death” as an objective criteria for the question of sin and condemnation: if the ministry of the will has been ended for you, that is, to increase condemnation to compel you to flee to Christ,  there is no condemnation because for you, the will has been fulfilled by Christ. This doesn’t make the Old Testament will any different than any other will except the volume of heirs. If you discover that you are an heir long after the death of the testator, you are still entitled to the inheritance.

Are all people born into the world under the old will? Well, are all born “under law”? Are all born “under sin”? Well, then all are heirs of the Old Testament will. Sadly, some understand that they are in God’s will and do not care to contact their attorney in order to collect the inheritance. “How will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation.” Literally, God sees all of this as a rejection of what He has offered as “something to be despised and trampled underfoot.” Interestingly enough, in the Bible, the promises are said to be to those who are “near” (Jews) and those “far away” (Gentiles). To the “invited guests” (Jews) and whoever you find to fill the wedding banquet hall (Gentiles).

Those who want to collect on God’s inheritance by believing the promises are said to be “under grace.” This is better understood as, “under love.” This is because under law and under love are two totally different state of beings. “Grace,” is defined as God’s love in action. In every place you see the word, “grace” in the Bible, you can replace it with the word, “love” and it will make perfect sense in the context of the sentence. Salvation was the ultimate grace and act of love, and believers partake in grace as well. To always interpret the word “grace” as a salvation event is a serious interpretive misstep.

When you are under grace, what you know about the law should be the foundation of your assurance. Death means you will see God, but it also means you will see your literal Father who has no law for which to judge you. And if He has no law, there is no condemnation. The old you that was under sin, the law, condemnation, and judgement, died with Christ; you now stand before your literal Father—no father worth his salt condemns his children; in fact, the Bible says NO loving father does.

Instead, we are told that we will be judged based on how we built upon the foundation of our faith. Some sort of rewards will be given accordingly, and our efforts that fall short (“wood, hay, and stubble”) will be consumed with fire. Note that wood and hay are not worthless materials by any stretch of the imagination; I think eternal value is the issue. You may make a beautiful piece of furniture out of wood for someone who otherwise could not afford it. The wood will pass away, but not the act of love that made the furniture; that’s eternal.

That brings us to the subject of love. The practice of a Christian has not changed: as under the old will, we obey love and life; our faith works through love. It’s an altogether different state of being: faith→word→love→courage→joy→life→eternal reward. As 1st John states, “perfect love casts out fear because fear has to do with judgment.” As children of God, we can experience the loving chastisement doled out by real fathers who don’t condemn their children and provoke them to wrath, but we are never subject to a condemning judgment by the law. Hence, “where there is no law there is no sin.”

Nevertheless, the Christian is still harassed by condemnation. The Devil, sin, and religion, all wage war against the Christian with condemnation. To the degree that these attacks are successful, the Christian will lack assurance. For certain, if a Christian misunderstands the relationship of the law to the new birth and does not understand the covenants, their assurance will be a hot mess and their sanctification woefully anemic. A Christian who is sure of their salvation will lead a powerful life. This is not to be confused with religionists who base their assurance on a false hope.

Assurance is based on the right gospel, the right knowledge, and practicing love that displaces fear. The law is fulfilled by love.

Church orthodoxy is predicated on the “Christian” remaining under the law and its subsequent condemnation. Church orthodoxy has a single perspective on the law. That means the following: when a Christian does a good work, or an act of love, if you will, they have no way of knowing what their motives are. “Am I doing this to justify myself before God, or am I doing it strictly out of love?” If there is only one relationship to the law, condemnation is always running in the background and it is impossible to discern motives. This is why the church doctrine of double imputation states that Christ obeys the law for us and thereby excludes the possibility of practicing love through the law.

In contrast, a Christian can always know their motives if they understand that being under law is a different relationship to the law than being under grace. While under grace, it is impossible to justify yourself with the law. This is because the true Christian knows they are justified by believing in the promises of God and the law can justify no one, nor can it give life. That’s why Christ did NOT live a perfect life so that a perfect law-keeping  life could be imputed to the Christian life. The law is not the basis of righteousness to begin with nor can it give life. The law can only condemn, and we are no longer under its jurisdiction.

All that’s left is the possibly of loving while there is NOW…NO condemnation. The true Christian understands that the new birth is a demarcation between two different persons that are under two different jurisdictions and two different relationships to the law. One is dead and no longer subject to the written code; one was enslaved to sin, and the new person is enslaved to righteousness. Those who are enslaved to righteousness are free from the condemnation of the law.

Hence, the Christian is free to aggressively love God and others through knowledge of the law with no fear of condemnation or concern that they have ill motives. In fact, the apostle Paul told us to outdo each other with love! In other words, try to be better than other Christians in regard to loving God and others.

Church orthodoxy opens the door wide for condemnation. Under law and under grace are not two different relationships to the law according to orthodoxy, but under grace is a covering for remaining under law. If under law is not completely vanquished, there is no real biblical new birth. If law and justification are not mutually exclusive, all remain enslaved to sin and its condemnation under the law. Clearly, church orthodoxy says so-called Christians are under both; this is not true, you are 100% one or the other. Under grace is not a covering for remaining under law. And if you function according to that ritualistic system, condemnation will have a strong foothold.

Unfortunately, since church orthodoxy keeps all people under law, which is central to its double imputation soteriology, many look to church commitment for assurance. Being committed to church and patted on the head by pastors and elders give many a false sense of security. Apart from church ritual, actually referred to as “church ordinance” and “the sacraments,” their assurance would be shattered. Others are condemned by the weekly preaching and seek relief from church sacraments. The condemnation leads them back to Christ, supposedly, which leads them to live a “lifestyle of repentance” by returning to the cross (“ordinary means of grace”) for more Jesus. For those supposedly not under condemnation, weekly preaching is very condemning. The complete absence of condemnation makes church orthodoxy impossible while the doctrine of double imputation depends on it. One must remain under the law’s condemnation for perpetual pardon through Christ found only in the church.

A proper view of justification will also answer all other types of theological questions. Is there more than one resurrection and judgment? Yes, because we know at least one resurrection involves plenary condemnation, so that resurrection cannot include Christians. There are many more examples.

The Christian’s level of assurance is directly related to condemnation. When a Christian is experiencing lack of assurance, condemnation is present and active in some way. Condemnation always fills a void where love is lacking, will definitely seize the opportunity to pounce when a Christian’s behavior is unbecoming, and will have success always in error concerning the gospel and its relationship to the law.

paul

 

 

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