Does Your Specific Name Need to Be in the Bible in order to Have Assurance?
In the September 1993 issue of Dispensationalism in Transition, Dr. Kenneth Gentry wrote:
Assurance is subjective, rooted in the heart of the believer. If we say assurance is essential to saving faith, then we are ultimately saying no man is saved in Christ until he has come to believe that Christ has saved him forever. This would not involve faith in Christ for salvation, but faith in faith. R.L. Dabney rightfully notes that this requires a revelation beyond the Scriptures because the Bible does not specifically speak to the individual in question. Nowhere in the Bible do we learn, for instance, that Ken Gentry is among the elect (emphasis added).
That is a typical Calvinist position. In 1991 at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) I debated Dr. Ken Sarles, then a Professor at DTS. For two days we debated in front of about 200 DTS students during lunch.
In the debate I pointed out that the Lord told the eleven (plus Matthias) that they would rule over the tribes of Israel in the kingdom (Matt 19:28; Acts 1:21-26). Paul said in Phil 4:3 the Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement had their names in the Book of Life. I gave a few other examples of people inspired Scripture by name says were eternally secure and asked, “So why can’t we be sure? Why would God want some to be certain, but not all?” His answer was that we can’t be sure because our names are not recorded in Scripture. He had no good answer for why there were some who were listed in Scripture as eternally secure.
While working on a book on Calvinism I came across a quote by a Calvinist that is exactly the opposite as what Gentry and Sarles have said. In his systematic theology, Dr. John Frame wrote,
Clearly, God promises eternal life to all who receive Christ (John 1:12; 3:15-18, 36; 5:24; 6:35, 40, 47; etc.). His promises are absolutely infallible. How can we doubt them? To be sure, the promises don’t explicitly contain my name or yours. But they contain our names implicitly; that is, they apply to us…God promises salvation to everybody who believes. If you believe, then that promise is yours. God promises to save you. And that promise is infallible, certain. You dare not doubt it (Systematic Theology, pp. 1004-1005, emphases his).
That is good stuff.
I love the song, “Whosoever Surely Meaneth Me.” We used to sing that in 1980-81 at First Baptist Dallas when Dr. Criswell was Pastor and I worked under then High School Pastor Robert Jeffress. The song was based on John 3:16. It rejoices in our assurance based on the fact that whosoever means everyone, just like John Frame triumphantly proclaims.
His promise of everlasting life is infallible, certain. We dare not doubt it.