Recently a reader sent me a link to a video in which Dr. Schreiner, a leading New Testament scholar, defends the doctrine that everlasting life cannot be lost.
When I watched the video, I was struck by incongruities which are also evident in his writings (click here to see my review of The Race Set Before Us by Schreiner and Caneday.
Basically Schreiner says that the warnings in Scripture are the means which God uses to keep believers persevering in faith and good works. He says that the warnings are like cattle prods. The warnings keep us in the family of God.
While trying to find that video again, I ran across another short video (3 minutes) by Schreiner entitled, “Can I have 100% Assurance of Salvation?” It is found at equip.sbts.edu. It is this “assurance” video that is the subject of my blog today.
Dr. Schreiner makes four points in the video about what he calls assurance.
First, we cannot have 100% assurance of our eternal destiny. “Life isn’t like that,” he says.
Second, 1 John 5:13 does show, however, that God wants us to know that we have everlasting life. So while we can’t be 100% certain, we can know we have everlasting life. (I found this contradictory and confusing.)
Third, we gain assurance mainly by looking to the promises that the Lord Jesus makes. He said that we should look to Jesus ten times more often than we look at ourselves. However, “works play some role,” he went on to say. He said he thinks of the way we gain assurance like a tricycle with one big wheel in the front and two small wheels in the back. The big wheel is God’s promise of everlasting life. The smaller wheels are our works and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.
Fourth, and this was a logical extension of point 3, our assurance goes up and down. Some days our assurance may be strong. While not 100%, on those days we think it is very likely we will make it. On other days our assurance is down.
I was surprised that Southern Seminary would endorse a message which specifically says that we cannot be sure that we have everlasting life and that our assurance is based in part on our works and in part on our feelings. That isn’t the position of the Southern Baptist Convention as far as I can tell.
How is it possible to know that you have everlasting life and yet not be certain that you have everlasting life? That doesn’t make sense.
I think that Dr. Schreiner has misunderstood what John meant by “that you may know that you have eternal life” in 1 John 5:13. John was speaking of certainty. John was not talking about “hope-so” assurance.
We in the Free Grace Movement are blessed to have received sound Bible teaching. The one and only means of our assurance is the promise of life in Scripture to the believer. We do not base our assurance on our works at all. Our feelings play no role in our assurance. God said it. That settles it.
I thank God for Warren Wilke who led me to believe the promise of life in 1972. I thank God for Zane Hodges who help me understand many texts which seem to contradict the promise of life. I thank God for all of you who support this ministry with your prayers, time, and finances. Most of all, I think the Lord Jesus Christ for removing the sin barrier by His death on the cross (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2) and for giving me and all who believe in Him the free gift of everlasting life. I know I have everlasting life. That is, I am 100% certain that I’ll spend eternity with the Lord. That is good news, isn’t it?