Beware of what you say. You may contradict yourself. Or, you might contradict your mentor. Here is a great question from a reader/listener:
At the beginning of the July 4th episode of Grace in Focus Radio on Discussions on Christianity for the Emotionally Damaged, Bob stated that assurance is another name for faith or belief.
Zane Hodges seemed to be quite clear that assurance and faith or belief are not synonymous, that assurance is the necessary result of believing objective truth. He mentions the distinction at the beginning (4:30) of his 1997 GES Conference message “Assurance is of the Essence of Saving Faith” and discusses it again during the Q&A session after his message (55:50). [You can view that message here.]
Could you address the distinction, if there is one, between Bob’s and Zane’s positions on the relationship between assurance and faith/belief?
Thanks, and keep up the great work of teaching God’s Word clearly.
Zane said that assurance and saving faith are not synonymous (4:30ff.). Later he said that saving faith is believing objective content, and he cited John 11:25-27 (55:50ff.).
I said that assurance is another name for faith.
When Zane was talking about assurance, he was talking about assurance of everlasting life. When I was talking about assurance, I was talking about assurance of whatever I believe to be true.
I think what Zane meant is that a person could exercise saving faith and yet later no longer have assurance of his salvation. In that case the person would be saved, yet no longer assured. I agree. But in my understanding, the reason the person would no longer have assurance of his salvation is because he was no longer assured that the promise of everlasting life to the believer is true.
I’d say that if I believe the promise of life, then I’m assured the promise of life is true. I think Zane agreed with that.
If I believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, I am assured He was born in Bethlehem.
If I believe that there are three Persons in the Godhead, then I’m assured of that fact.
Whatever I believe, I’m assured it is true.
If I’m not assured that 2 + 2 = 4, then I do not believe that. If I am assured of that fact, then I believe it.
After writing this, I showed it to Shawn. He made this comment:
But being assured of the place of Jesus’ birth or of the Trinity is not being assured of my salvation. I can believe those things without being assured of my salvation.
Exactly. Well said. I think that may have been the point that Zane was making. If so, there is no contradiction between what he said in 1997 and what I said 22 years later (July 4, 2019).
I wish Zane were here to ask him to explain. After listening to the two sections in his 1997 conference message, I am not sure that I quite understand precisely what he was driving at. That is, I’m not yet assured that I understand the distinction he was making.