When did we give up on faith, exactly?
Since when is Faith, alone, not good enough and we had to send Assurance along to walk it to the corner market?
The anxiety gnawing at our innards; the spoiled children demanding to know what is in the package beneath the tree. That peculiar drift from faith in Christ toward an insistence of an assurance of salvation astounds.
I’m still waiting for Calvin’s peer review to publish.
Faith does not satisfy like assurance. Faith is covenantal not contractual.
Assurance is binding; demanding. Our ways, human ways, like things strapped down.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. Isaiah 55:8-9
Leave it to a lawyer like Calvin to draft the closing argument for (his) justification before Christ in the divine courtroom. How clever to use sacred scripture to compile an adjudication; using God’s words against God to pronounce his own sentence, claiming innocence on the merit of the Judge’s righteousness and demanding the inheritance of heaven!
So odd that among the Greekophiliac biblical scholars and their insatiable taste for tenses, that not one of them remember Paul saying we are “being saved”. Or, that not one has bothered to mention that assurance and faith are apples and oranges.
A witnessing believer declares, “Your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! Your sins are forgiven and salvation is sure!” when those magic words are whispered: Jesus, come into my heart and save me.
Somehow, this statement declaring a final judgment is not blasphemy.
Just saving Jesus some time at the end of all things
Yet, should a Catholic priest say to a repentant person:
May God, who has enlightened every heart, help you to know your sins and trust in his mercy…God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
This, we are to believe, is an act of violence against Divine privilege and authority.
Even though Jesus taught us to forgive one another. James teaches us to confess our sins one to another. Jesus delegates to his disciples the function of binding and releasing sin as a function of shaping church (community) culture.
But the sacred scripture is quite clear about one thing.
Christ alone was declared worthy to judge. You cannot declare me “saved.” No one can. Not you. Not Calvin. Certainly not myself. How could any of us make such a claim? Would you care to know what the Bible actually says about our salvation?
Jesus decides. And only Jesus knows.
See, I am being saved. I am charged to remain faithful. I have the works Jesus began to carry on.
Well there’s an uncomfortable concept. A judgment.
A judgement conducted by the only worthy judge.
No assurance there.
–All that “Lord, Lord we did miracles and such in your name” business.
But there is hope (Paul’s language again). Faith is more formidable.
Assurance is, well, assuring. But the gospels, and the apostolic teachings, read collaboratively don’t say we are assured of anything.
Faith is a work of trust; it is relational. It is evidenced, not by a tract discovered in a bathroom stall, signed, and stuffed in a wallet, but by a life living out the works and words of Christ.
Assurance-speak must be the language of the insecure, the anxious and uncertain. Assurance defies mystery. It is the prodigal’s demand for an inheritance now. Those who fear judgment have not experienced a mature relationship; a perfect love.
Faithfulness is an enduring; a process; a growth.
Faith is the substance that substantiates hope.
Faith is the evidence of what is yet unseen.
Faith is found in sincere, personal relationships.
They do not say of a good, loyal husband, “He was assuring to his wife.”
Hearing those words, that he was assuring to his wife, implies he is yet trying to convince his wife of something she is not quite sure is believable.
Sola Fide. It is enough.
I won’t depend on magic words to seal my salvation any longer. I will no longer demand Jesus come into my heart and life. Instead, I will answer the call of Christ and follow Him. I will come into His heart and His life.
And working out that salvation, not by my works, but through His works which He began and continues through us, I will know Him better; hear Him better; trust Him more.
Then, on that day, I will trust fall backward into the arms of Christ, or else into just judgment. Who knows?