Thursday, December 01, 2005

Can I Know In This Life If I Am Elect?

A recent letter to the editor of the New Horizons [ the denominational magazine of the OPC] relayed the following concern regarding election and the assurance of salvation:


I have struggled with the article of Dr. George Knight on "Election and the Covenant of Grace" in the March issue. My major concern is very personal. If the covenant is made with the elect, where does that leave me? I do not know for sure whether or not I am one of the elect. The identity of the elect is one of those hidden things that belong to the Lord. I have been working for seventy-five years to make my calling and election sure, but I haven't arrived yet.

This question was answered by those far wiser than I in the following words:

Those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may be certainly assured in this life that they are in the state of grace. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, and the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God. (1 John 2:3; 3:14, 18–19, 21, 24; 5:13; Rom. 5:2, 5; Heb. 6:11, 17-19; 2 Pet. 1:4–11; 2 Cor. 1:12; Rom. 8:15–16)

Granted, true believers may wait long and conflict with many difficulties before being partakers of this infallible assurance. Yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given us of God, we may, in the right use of ordinary means, attain this assurance without extraordinary revelation. And therefore it is everyone’s duty to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that our hearts may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, which are the proper fruits of this assurance. (1 Cor. 2:12; 1 John 4:13; Heb. 6:11–12; Eph. 3:17–18)

It is also granted that true believers may have the assurance of their salvation shaken or diminished. This could happen by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, by some sudden or vehement temptation, or by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and permitting us to walk in darkness and to have no light. Yet those who fear God are never utterly destitute of that seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, and that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which this assurance may be revived in due time by the operation of the Spirit; and by which, in the meantime, we are supported from utter despair.

This is a close paraphrase of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chap 18. The writer of the letter was a Pastor who supposedly subscribes to this document.

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