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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine, Article Thirteen

Synod%20of%20Dort.jpgArticle 13: The Fruit of This Assurance

In their awareness and assurance of this election God's children daily find greater cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless depth of his mercies, to cleanse themselves, and to give fervent love in return to him who first so greatly loved them. This is far from saying that this teaching concerning election, and reflection upon it, make God's children lax in observing his commandments or carnally self-assured. By God's just judgment this does usually happen to those who casually take for granted the grace of election or engage in idle and brazen talk about it but are unwilling to walk in the ways of the chosen.


Contrary to the theology of fear and guilt taught by so many of our contemporaries, the assurance of our salvation is actually the only proper basis for good works. 
Critics of the Reformed faith often charge that if you tell Christians that they can assuredly know that they will go to heaven when they die, then there is no longer any incentive for doing good works. 

The response to this misguided argument is a simple rhetorical question.  “Does a dog bark to become a dog, or does a dog bark because it is a dog?”    According to Hebrews 11:6, only the Christian who has been given faith as a gift by God, can actually do good works in the first place!  Non-Christians can't perform any work that is acceptable to God, because whatever work they perform, is completely tainted and stained by the guilt of sin (Romans 3:12).  

Let us not forget that good works spontaneously spring forth in the lives of those who have been called by God to faith in Jesus, and who have been justified and united to Christ (cf. Galatians 5:16-26).  If the tree has been changed from a bad tree to a good one through regeneration, so too, good fruit will naturally and inevitably follow—though, as Luther wisely counseled, we should not look to this fruit in our own lives for the primary assurance of our own salvation because we are often times the worst judge of our own character!  If we are privileged to see good fruit in our own lives, it should only serve to remind us of God’s graciousness to us, since his grace is the only reason why the fruit is there in the first place.  But others in the body of Christ may see true fruit in us and be moved to give thanks to God.  

Although I am sure they are there, I have yet to meet someone who is a Christian, and who asks, “how many sins can I commit and still be a Christian?”  Biblically understood, the assurance of our salvation is not based upon human presumption and vanity, but upon confidence in Jesus Christ, who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and who prays for us, to that our faith will not fail (Luke 22:32; I John 2:1-2).  Far from making us lax in our efforts, then, if we are in Christ, what else can we do, but live a life of gratitude, striving to be obedient to the commands of God as revealed in his word (1 John 5:2)?

The Canons also warn us, that those who reject this teaching, and who base assurance on human efforts are, ironically, the ones most apt to fall into sin.  “By God's just judgment this does usually happen to those who casually take for granted the grace of election or engage in idle and brazen talk about it but are unwilling to walk in the ways of the chosen.”  How many illustrations of this are there?  Too many, I am afraid.

Therefore, the assurance of our salvation is based upon the promises of our Savior (John 6:37, 10:28), and once we are in him, the Scriptures declare, good works will inevitably follow (John 15:16).  We must be very careful here not to reverse this order, and make the good works that we do to be the basis for our assurance.  For this is the religion of fear and doubt, the religion that terrifies the soul.  This is the American religion, grounded in a false sense of human goodness, and which places far too much confidence in the flesh.

Reader Comments (2)

KR, I wish there was some easier way of getting these truths into the heads and hearts of my dear pietistic Baptist congregants, other than constant repetition! I make no apologies for being "one note Charlie". Great Stuff.
February 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPB

I completely agree with PB on this. This is beautifully and succinctly put. It gives me hope just reading it. Praise the Lord for a guaranteed inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

Stupid Scholar
March 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBJ Buracker

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