Below is a a question that I received some time back. I thought I would share my answer.
Can a believer have full assurance in this life? What is the “Old School” position? If not what measure can he have? While looking at your site the autobiography of Elder Bartley caught my eye. He seemed to have a great deal of assurance of his interest in Christ. However, if I am not mistaken this assurance is rare among Old School Baptist or at least the few I have known personally.
Thank you for your prayerful consideration in this matter.
...I have read Elder Bartley’s autobiography but it has been a while, so I don’t feel right commenting on it now.
I don’t believe that a child of grace can have complete assurance of their place in the family strictly because of the flesh that they live in on a daily basis. I have complete 100% assurance of what Christ did for His elect (family) on the cross. I know without a doubt that those that were in Him from all eternity will be with Him for all eternity. But where I waver is whether or not I am part of them for which He paid the ultimate price. And I think that scripture bears this out. The word “assurance” is only used 7 times in the KJV. It is used twice in the OT and both words are different in the Hebrew. It is used 5 times in the NT and 4 of the words are the same in the Greek.
Deuteronomy 28:66 “And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:”
Isaiah 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”
Acts 17:31 “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
Colossians 2:2 “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;”
1 Thessalonians 1:5
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
Hebrews 6:11 “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:”
Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
The word for “assurance” in the book of Acts is the one that is different in the NT. It has more of a meaning of to persuade or convince. The other four verses in the NT all have the same Greek word which means “full assurance” and is a noun and not a verb. In Colossians it says; “full assurance of understanding”. In 1 Thessalonians it says that the “gospel came ... in much assurance”. Hebrews says that the children will have a “full assurance of hope” and a “full assurance of faith”. Notice what is missing from all of these verses. Nowhere does it say that the children will ever have a “full assurance” of their salvation. To my understanding these verses bear witness with what I said above that the assurance that one has is in the finished work of Christ and what He has done. The gospel is the good news that Christ came and died for His elect and the assurance is that He accomplished it.
These questions came to my mind also. If there is such a thing as assurance of salvation, what is it based on? Is it based on something that I have done or something that Christ has done? If it is based on something I have done then it is very weak because it is polluted with the flesh. If it is based on something that Christ has done then it is much stronger because it is not polluted with the flesh. But, how can we know with a surety that we are the recipients of what He has done? That is until we are either with Him in glory or separated from Him for all eternity when we leave this earth.
I don’t know if this has answered your question or not. And please know that I speak for no one else but myself and the little bit of understanding that the Lord has granted me (if any).
June 27, 2007