The SBJT Forum: What Are the Biblical and Practical Implications of the Doctrine of Assurance? -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 02:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: The SBJT Forum: What Are the Biblical and Practical Implications of the Doctrine of Assurance?
Author: Anonymous

The SBJT Forum:
What Are the Biblical and Practical Implications
of the Doctrine of Assurance?

Editor’s Note: Readers should be aware of the Forum’s format. Carl F. H. Henry, D. A. Carson, Scott Hafemann, Charles Tackett, and C. Ben Mitchell have been asked specific questions to which they have provided written responses. These writers are not responding to one another. The journal’s goal for the Forum is to provide significant thinkers’ views on topics of interest without requiring lengthy articles from these heavily-committed individuals. Their answers are presented in an order that hopefully makes the Forum read as much like a unified presentation as possible.

SBJT: What are the key theological issues in developing an understanding of the doctrine of assurance?

Carl F. H. Henry1 : The believer’s eternal security has been doctrinally debated throughout many generations. The controversy has often been depicted in terms of “the perseverance of the saints.” Yet the term perseverance occurs but once in Scripture, and there it is connected with prayer (Eph 6:18).

In any event, it would seem more appropriately connected with the perseverance of our Lord. For if we focus on ourselves we soon know better than to affirm the moral and/or spiritual perseverance of sinners—and such indeed we are.

To be sure, those of us who are “called to be saints” are on the way to sinless perfection. We shall be conformed to the image of Christ, an image that the Pauline epistles characterize in terms of truth and righteousness.

That need not mean, however, that we are day by day progressing in holiness at an always discernible pace. The believer who grows in grace soon becomes aware that our thoughts and deeds are part of the fabric of a daily existence that may improperly be assumed to belong to normative spiritual experience, when in fact they actually compromise an ideal spiritual life.

The conscience of the unregenerate self easily accommodates what offends the Creator and Lord of Life. Even the believer’s conscience is not infallible, but requires correction by the Scriptures. So it is that what at one stage of spiritual growth seemed to be compatible with Christian commitment is seen in fact to be quite objectionable.

Indeed, the reverse can also be the case: what seems objectionable may in fact not be so at all. For instance, the New Testament mirrors the conflict that emerged over the propriety of eating meat that had been offered to idols.

The Christian is to live with a good conscience enlivened by the Holy Spirit and attuned to the t...

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