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The Puritan View of Assurance

The goal of the chapter "The Witness of the Spirit in Puritan Thought" is to examine what the Puritans taught with regard to the Spirit's work in assurance of salvation.  As with much of Puritan thought, their views on this were not shallow or simple.  What they defined as "assurance" was more than just the knowledge that someone had been born again:

It is evident that 'assurance' to the Puritans was something quite other than the 'assurance' commonly given to the convert of five minutes' standing in the enquiry room ('You believe that John 1:12 is true and you have "received him?"  Then you are a son of God').  The Puritans would not have called mere formal assent to such an inference assurance at all.  Professions of faith, they said, must be tested before they may be trusted, even by those who make them; and assurance, to the Puritan, was in any case more than a bare human inference; it was a God-given conviction of one's standing in grace, stamped on the mind and heart by the Sprit in just the same way as the truth of the gospel facts was stamped on the mind when faith was born, and carrying with it the same immediate certainty. 

A lady I know believed that her brother was born again.  For over forty years, there was absolutely no fruit in his life.  She insisted that the lack of fruit was not a problem because God has a "keeping power" over someone who professes faith but, as she says, "never lived it." 

Of course, no one knows what was on his heart at the momenet he died, but from what I knew, the only thing that indicated a conversion was his own testimony about something that happened over forty years before.

I'm pretty sure that the Puritans would not have considered this a good situation.


The Importance of Worship

From John Frame's Worship in Spirit and Truth:

Redemption is the means; worship is the goal.  In one sense, worship is the whole point of everything.  It is the purpose of history, the goal of the whole Christian story.  Worship is not one segment of the Christian life among others.  Worship is the entire Christian life, seen as a priestly offering to God.  And when we meet together as a church, our time of worship is not merely a preliminary to something else; rather, it is the whole point of our existence as the body of Christ.

I must say, I really like the way Dr. Frame puts things.  This is the second book of his I have read, and I enjoy so much how clear and concise he is.


Soundtrack for a Saturday

If I was going to be home today -- I will be gone most of the day -- this is what I would listen to.   And she's Canadian, too!

I've seen her live a couple of times, and she's pretty amazing.



Warfield Wednesday

From "The Inspiration of the Bible," in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Volume I.

Warfield discusses two "lowering" conceptions of the inspiration of Scripture, the rationalistic approach and the mysitcal approach.  With regard to the mystical approach he says this:

Its characteristic conception is that the Christian man has something within himself, -- call it enlightened reasons, spiritual insight, the Chistian consciousness, the witness of the Spirit, or call it what you will, -- to the test of which every "external revelation" is to be subjected, and according to the decision of which are the contents of the Bible to be valued... As a consequence, we find men everywhere who desire to acknowledge as from God only such Scripture as "finds them," - who cast the clear objective enunciation of God's will to the mercy of the currents of thought and feeling which sweep up and down in their own souls, - who "persist" sometimes, to use a sharp but sadly true phrase of Robert Alfred Vaughan's "in their conceited rejection of the light without until they have turned into darkness their light within."  We grieve over the inroads which the essentially naturalistic mode of thought has made in the Christian thinking of the day.  But great and deplorable as they have been, they have not been so extensive as to supplant the church-doctrine of the absolute authority of the objective revelation of God in his Word, in either the creds of the church or the hearts of the people.

Warfield's description of the attitude of men toward Scripture according to this view sounds quite similar to what we may find today.  He does end on a positive note, but my cynical side wonders if this is true any longer.  It seems that the assault on Scripture worsens, even in what is considered orthodox circles.


The Christian and Taking Oaths

In his Studies on the Sermon on the Mount, Lloyd-Jones discusses Matthew 5:33-37:

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

He continues to emphasize that what Jesus was doing was not changing the Law, but was rather correcting the Pharisees' abuse of the Law.

With regard to the use and abuse of speech, Lloyd-Jones says this:

One of the great scandals of life today is the apalling increase in divorce and infidelity.  To what is it due?  It is that men have forgotten the teaching of Christ with regard to vows and oaths, and common veracity and truth and honesty in speech.  How like these Pharisees and scribes we are.  Men on political platfoms have waxed eloquent on the sanctity of international contracts.  But, at the very time they were speaking, they were not loyal and true to their own marriage vows.  When Hitler lied, we all held up our hands aghast; but we seem to think it is somehow different when we tell what we call a 'white lie' in order to get out of a difficulty.  It is terrible, we think, to lit on the international level, but not, apparently, when it comes to a matter between husband and wife, or parents and children.  Is that not the position?

I wonder what Lloyd-Jones would have thought about Bill Clinton.