Friday, October 20, 2006

Can a Person Know If They Have Believed in Christ Apart From Perseverance in Good Works?

The following is an excerpt from The Gospel Under Siege by Zane Hodges, 2nd Edition, Rendencion Viva, 1992, p. 13.

This view of things [which suggests that a person cannot know whether he has truly believed in Christ at the time of conversion] involves a psychological absurdity. At the level of everyday experience, if a man is asked whether he believes a certain fact or trusts a certain person, he can always give a definite answer. Even an answer like, "I'm not sure I trust that man," reflects a definite psychological state. What it reflects is an attitude of distrust toward the individual in question.
On the other hand, when someone says, "I trust that person," he is expressing a state of mind of which he himself is thoroughly aware.
To claim that a man may trust Christ without knowing whether or not he has trusted Christ, is to articulate an absurd idea. Of course a man can know whether he believes in the offer of salvation or not!

The Bible everywhere takes this fact for granted. When the Philippian jailor enquired of Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30), their answer clearly offered him certainty. The words, "'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household'" (16:31), invite a specific, indentifiable response of heart. Having made it, the jailor could know he was saved. That he did know this is clear from verse 34: "And he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household."

The seriousness of this issue must not be passed over. An insistence on the necessity or inevitability of perseverance in good works undermines assurance and postpones it, logically, until death. But this denial of assurance clashes directly with the clear intent of the Gospel proclamation. It flies in the face of the offer of eternal life made by the Son of God Himself.