We all use the phrase “either/or.” Either you are going to do your homework, or you are not. Either you own your home, or you do not. The list could go on forever.
When I was younger, there were certain occasions when we would all use the phrase. But in today’s crazy world that is not the case. It used to be common to say something was either right or wrong. Not too long ago, we would say a person was either a boy or a girl. A 100% white person today can “identify” as black, and that can change the next day. We are told it is not appropriate to say you are either black or white. We hear news stories of people who are born into white families, were white their whole lives, but are now black. Tomorrow, they might “change” back. They might even say that even though physically they are 100% white, in their mind they are 80% black.
When it comes to sexual identity, especially, this sounds so strange to many of us. We are told that the language of either/or is outdated and offensive. There is a wide spectrum of possibilities. A person can be 5% female, or 10%, or 20%, or anything in between.
Our culture has even devised words that make no sense to describe what is going on. We hear people saying that they are “transitioning” from one sex to another. That makes no sense. Even the word we used to describe people in that situation, “transgender,” is a made-up word.
Those of us who are used to either/or language think that is simply crazy. Even those without a medical degree understand that one’s chromosomes determine what sex a person is. If I have the chromosomes of a man and have all the physical attributes of a man, I am a man. I cannot wake up tomorrow and say that I am 40% female. It doesn’t matter what I think. I am either a man or not.
I know that some will read the previous paragraph and disagree. For those folks, what I am going to say will not be persuasive. However, for those who agree that there is not a spectrum of choices when it comes to the sex of an individual, I think we can make an analogy in the theological world.
The same thing occurs when we talk about assurance of eternal salvation. Jesus promised that everyone who believes in Him for eternal life has it. In other words, assurance of having eternal life is based upon the promise Jesus made. If we believe what He says, we have assurance. If we do not have assurance, we don’t believe what He says.
In other words, assurance is an either/or proposition. Either we have it, or we do not.
But that is not what many people say. They speak of assurance on a scale. There are different levels of assurance. We hear about “growing” in our assurance. When we ask others if they know they have eternal life, or if they have assurance, many do not think it strange if they say they are 80% sure. It seems perfectly sane to most to hear somebody say, “I am pretty sure I have assurance.”
This is no different from a claim to be 80% female. A person cannot be 80% sure of his eternal salvation and claim to have assurance. By definition, a person who says that is not assured. He does not have assurance. If a person promises to give me 1000 dollars, and another person asks me if I believe the first person will give me the money, and I say I am 80% sure, I am not sure. I have doubts.
We have all experienced situations like this. Maybe because of past experiences, or maybe because we don’t know a person very well, we do not have assurance that somebody will do what he says he will do. In cases like that, I am not assured he will come through. A correct answer is, “No, I am not assured he will do it.”
Jesus promises to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. If I say I am 80% sure I have eternal life, I doubt what He says. I don’t have assurance that He will do what He promised.
There is a word that has come into fashion to describe people who deny the fact that the words either/or are appropriate to describe things like sexual identity. The term is “woke.” In many circles, it is a negative word. If somebody says it is incorrect to say a person is either a female or a male, we call that person woke. If somebody claims to be 40% female, we call that person woke. It is another way of saying the person is making no sense.
The same thing is true when it comes to assurance. If somebody claims he is 60% sure of his salvation, he is making a nonsensical statement. Theologically speaking, that person is woke.
Either a person believes what Jesus promises, or he does not. Either he has assurance, or he does not.