A Review of Christopher D. Bass’s“ That You May Know: Assurance of Salvation in 1 John” -- By: Editor

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 24:47 (Autumn 2011)
Article: A Review of Christopher D. Bass’s“ That You May Know: Assurance of Salvation in 1 John”
Author: Editor

A Review of
Christopher D. Bass’s“
That You May Know: Assurance of Salvation in 1 John”1


I. Introduction

This book is a revision of the author’s doctoral dissertation written at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky under the tutelage of Tom Schreiner, Bruce Ware, and William Cook (p. xiii). Southern has become a 5-point Calvinist school under President Al Mohler. That is evident in this book with its repeated emphasis on the Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.

II. The Author’s Thesis:
Assurance by Belief and Behavior

Bass’ thesis is this: First John teaches that assurance is grounded in the cross work of Christ and is supported by the lifestyle of believers. This may sound like he is saying that the only condition of assurance of everlasting life is believing that Jesus died on the cross for one’s sins, but Bass is clearly not saying that. In the first place the author refers to believing in the finished work of Christ on the cross as shorthand. He never specifically says precisely what one must believe.

In the second place, Bass indicates that perseverance in good works is essential in order to spend eternity with God. Bass repeatedly uses the word vital when discussing the works of the believer. He says, “The lifestyle of the believer serves as a vital corroborating support for…assurance” (p. 2). He also says that “assurance of eternal life is fundamentally grounded in the work of Christ and supported in a vital yet subsidiary way by the lifestyle of the believer (p. 30, italics his). And again,

“The new birth brings forth a changed life that can be tested, and such testing serves as a vital support of one’s assurance” (p. 97).

He is even clearer under the heading, “Lifestyle of the Believer as a Vital Support to Assurance.” Bass writes,

John unambiguously teaches that while assurance is grounded in Christ, it is vitally supported by the way one lives his life. Therefore, a person’s lifestyle serves as vital corroborating evidence as to whether he has truly placed his faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross for his sins.2

The word vital means essential, indispensable, or necessary.3 By repeatedly using the word vital when speaking of the connection between assurance and the lifestyle of the believer, Bass is communi...

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