A Brief Article Summary from Books At a Glance
by Steve West
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John’s writings have always been important in formulating understanding of assurance. Christians with assurance believe that their sins are forgiven, God accepts them, and they are bound for an eternity with him. Despite how important this is, the doctrine of assurance has not been examined in detail by many evangelicals in the last number of decades. Calvin’s view has often been compared to a three-legged stool: the first and most important is the objective work of Christ; the second is subjective and deals with the change in a person’s life; the third is the witness of the Spirit. Calvin tied assurance tightly to the gospel of God’s grace and the promise of justification. Assurance—as does faith—looks to Christ. Rather than try to determine if one is elect, one is to look at Christ and trust him. This trust ushers in works and fruit. The Spirit testifies to our adoption, sealing to us the truth of the Word.
First John makes more references to assurance than any other book in the NT. Many scholars see John laying down three tests for saving faith: 1. The test of confession of Christ; 2. The test of obedience to the Lord’s commands, and; 3. The test of love for other believers. The opponents in 1 John are probably gnostics or proto-gnostics, and this is not irrelevant for how he frames his tests. He does not merely frame the tests to strike at people he disagrees with: the tests are rooted in important issues of Christology and the teachings of Jesus. They are a unit—you cannot pass two and fail the third. Others have suggested that John lays down additional tests, but they are interrelated. Perseverance is a mark of faith, but it is not the basis for assurance (the basis for assurance is Christ and his work on the cross). . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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JOHANNINE PERSPECTIVES ON THE DOCTRINE OF ASSURANCE, by D. A. Carson