The Canons Of Dort (10): Unconditional Grace Gives Assurance

The Remonstrants were convinced that the Protestant doctrine of salvation by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide) did not and could not produce sufficient sanctification (holiness) and obedience. Thus, without admitting to it, they turned the covenant of grace . . . Continue reading →

Does The Westminster Confession Contradict Calvin On Assurance And Faith?

For much of the 20th century it was a datum, a given, for many students of Calvin and the Reformed tradition that many of the English Reformed (especially the Westminster Assembly) abandoned Calvin and the Reformation doctrine of the faith and assurance. . . . Continue reading →

Dort: When Believers Fall Into Sin

Breaking news: Christians, believers, sin. Sometimes they fall into grievous sin. David, the man after God’s own heart, not only lusted after another man’s wife, he abused his office, committed adultery, planned and executed a murder conspiracy. Peter, as a disciple, denied . . . Continue reading →

Dort 5.1–3: Reformed Realism On Sanctification

One of the lesser known aspects of the battle with the Remonstrants (Arminians), was that they, the Remonstrants, were not satisfied with the Reformed doctrine of sanctification. That continues to be a problem today. In the 18th and 19th centuries powerful voices within what we today call “evangelicalism” were also dissatisfied with the older doctrine. They wanted more. Some of them, deeply influenced by the Remonstrants, articulated a doctrine of Christian perfection, a doctrine that believers can, if they will, attain “entire perfection” (sinless sanctification) in this life. In our day, even among some who think of themselves as Reformed (principally because they identify with the Reformed doctrines of election and the atonement) teach a version of perfectionism. Since no one in this life ever actually achieves sinless perfection, such an approach to the Christian life is bound to create a crisis of assurance. Continue reading →

There Is Only One Stage Of Justification

In recent years, however, within ostensibly confessional Protestant circles, some have been advocating versions of a two-stage doctrine of justification. One version of this proposal is that we may be said to be justified initially by grace alone, through faith alone but only finally justified on the basis of our sanctification. Some give the whole basis of our final justification to our inherent sanctification and righteousness and others only part of the basis. Continue reading →

Heidelberg 86: Why Good Works? (3)

Sanctification has another function in the Christian life: to bolster assurance. This doctrine has also been controversial in some circles. There is a view that says that sanctification can play no role whatsoever in assurance. There is also an approach that says that, in seeking assurance, the first place a believer looks is to his sanctification. Continue reading →

Audio: Covenant Curses and Covenant Blessings

Here’s a recent sermon preached in my home congregation, the Escondido United Reformed Church, on Hebrews 6:4–20: Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and . . . Continue reading →