IV-A. Next consider this portion of the author’s response:
I am more interested in knowing why you picked these sins in particular rather than in the far more serious sin of self righteousness. What do you make of a man who believes himself righteous because he doesn’t do these things? Or how about we ask that question a little differently. What do you make of a man who IS SURE he is righteous because he doesn’t do those things? This is the self righteousness your question reveals?
Notice where the object of assurance rests in the subject of your question. The hypothetical man in your example has no right to rest in the cross of Christ for his assurance. No, he rests in his own behavior for his assurance. Am I performing well enough to be certain I have been saved
IV-B. MY RESPONSE: COUNTERING THE LAWLESS VIEW OF ASSURANCE: The author appears to believe in an assurance of salvation completely apart from our walk. However, the Bible does not teach such a basis for assurance. The Bible takes a much more holistic approach.
Surely assurance should be heavily derived from Christ, His finished work on the cross, and all of the Scriptural promises that stem from His finished work (and from the resulting righteousness God imputes to His people). Yet, what that author fails to understand, is that the Bible itself defines what the basis of our assurance should be. Moreover, he fails to understand the cumulative reality and result of (1) God foreordaining the good works that we should walk in; (2) God working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure; (3) God witnessing to our spirit that we are His children; (4) God giving us the fruit of the Spirit called peace (with peace and assurance being very much intertwined); and (5) God taking away said peace, as a form of chastening/chastisement, when the true Christian walks not after the Spirit, but after the flesh for a season, or seasons.
I see nowhere in the Bible where solid, unwaivering assurance of salvation can be found in the midst of walking in prolonged, continuous, habitual, unrepentant rebellion against God. If one can have a heart, mind, and walk full of open transgression, surely such cannot have true (God-wrought) assurance…. For such is not assurance at all… It is but demonic presumption and deception, and sadly, far too many an Anomian/Antinomian/Neo-Sandemanian fail to realise this.
However, it’s not enough for me to just assert these things. I must be able to prove it clearly from Scripture! The question is, can I prove it? Can I prove that our God-ordained, God-wrought character and conduct plays a vital role in our experimental (spiritual) peace, even our (Spirit-wrought) assurance of salvation? Can I prove that God has sovereignly chosen to work via this means of establishing our hearts, concerning the reality of our blessed state before Him? Absolutely! Consider the following:
Romans 8:12-16 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but IF YE through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For AS MANY AS are led by the Spirit of God, THEY ARE the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.“
[NOTE: Context is key. The Holy Spirit bearing witness is in direct contextual conjunction/relation with (a) mortifying the deed of the body via the Spirit and (b) being led by the Spirit… There is no Holy Spirit bearing witness when one is not (a) being led by the Spirit and (b) mortifying the deeds of the flesh/body by the Spirit. There is, however, natural/carnal presumption in the absence of said things, and many “live” by this].
2 Peter 1:4-11 “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
[NOTE: Notice how the ‘making one’s calling and election sure’ (which contextually ties-into assurance), is directly related to ‘doing these things?‘ What things? ADDING TO YOUR FAITH such things as moral uprightness (virtue); (scriptural, Christocentric) knowledge; temperance; patience; godliness; brotherly kindness; and (agape) love, with agape love being the seeking of the highest good of that person by treating them precisely how God commands us to treat them, all in their respective roles, offices, etc.
Notice that nowhere does it teach ‘make your calling and election sure by focusing only on the imputed righteousness of Christ and the promises association with such imputation.’ No, making one’s calling and election sure isn’t based upon notion. It isn’t simply a matter of what we suppose, assent to, or mouth. We make our calling and election sure by (1) reflecting upon Christ and His work; (2) looking to His promises in light of Who He is and what He has done; but also by (3) making an honest review of our walk and warfare, to see if our profession consistently aligns with our life, and whether our life consistently aligns with what God declares in Scripture concerning Christian character and conduct].
Galatians 5:19-26 “Now the works of the flesh are MANIFEST, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
[NOTE: Again, spiritual peace (and thus experimental assurance) is associated with (1) abstaining from the delineated (and more) works of the flesh, (2) crucifying the flesh (mortifying the deeds of the flesh), and (3) living in the Spirit, which is continuously walking after the Spirit.
There is no support for the false notion that one walking prolongedly, unrepentantly after the flesh should nonetheless have full assurance, or any assurance for that matter. Those that continuously, prolongedly MANIFEST unrighteousness should have no peace, no joy, no assurance. Why? Because God declares that such will not inherit the Kingdom of God. However, for those led by the Spirit, walking in/by/after the Spirit, they will have peace, and joy, and assurance, because the same God working in them to both will and do of His good pleasure, will work that peace, joy, and assurance in their renewed conscience.].
John 15:9-14 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that MY JOY might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
[NOTE: Experiencing the joy of salvation is directly yoked to keeping God’s commandments. The passage clearly states, concerning the born again believer, If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that MY JOY MIGHT REMAIN IN YOU…
When a true Christian walks contrary to God’s revealed will prolongedly, he or she loses said joy. This is why we read in Psalm 51:9-12 “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 CAST ME NOT AWAY FROM THY PRESENCE: AND TAKE NOT THY HOLY SPIRIT FROM ME. 12 RESTORE UNTO ME THE JOY OF THY SALVATION; and uphold me [with Thy] Free Spirit.].
THE GREAT HEREBY’S:
The following passages are specially given to (subjectively, experimentally) assure the true child of God of their standing before God, in light of their (a) objective, perfect righteousness and sanctification in Him, -and- (b) their Spirit-enabled walk and warfare through union with Him. These passages go directly to the right means of obtaining assurance of salvation.
1 John 2:3-6 “And HEREBY WE DO KNOW THAT WE KNOW HIM, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: HEREBY KNOW WE THAT WE ARE IN HIM. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.“
1 John 3:18-24 “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments [PLURAL], and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment [SINGULAR], That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment [SINGULAR]. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments [PLURAL] dwelleth in him, and he in him. And HEREBY WE KNOW THAT HE ABIDETH IN US, BY THE SPIRIT WHICH HE HATH GIVEN US.“
[NOTE: It is true that the Great Commandment can be summed-up by two words: Faith in God in Christ & (agape) Love towards God and His people. Many believe this is the extent of our commandment-keeping. What they fail to comprehend is that agape-love is inherently made up of commandment-keeping. This is why we read in:
Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, IT IS BRIEFLY COMPREHENDED [Summed up, stated summarily, condensed into a summary, gathered under one heading] IN THIS SAYING, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.”
Simply put, there is no (agape) love without walking in the manner in which God commands us to walk. There is no spiritual love apart from spiritual law because every commandment that makes up the extant/spiritual law falls under the heading/summary term: (agape) love].
1 John 4:1-6, 12-16 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 HEREBY KNOW YE THE SPIRIT OF GOD: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. HEREBY KNOW WE THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, and the spirit of error…. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 HEREBY KNOW WE THAT WE DWELL IN HIM, AND HE IN US, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son [to be] the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.‘
So again, Anomians/Antinomians/Neo-Sandemanians/etc., can insist on a “hereby know we…” / ‘hereby we have assurance,’ false paradigm of ‘mental assent‘ + ‘imputed righteousness‘ alone, nothing else considered…” However, God’s word complete refutes such error as the passages above clearly evidence. The separation of true (biblical) assurance, from God-enabling, God-strengthening obedience to His extant law/commandments, is truly the doctrine of devils.
V-A. The author goes on to say:
Were I to ever meet a man who really does believe the gospel and yet still practices such behavior (even though it’s a real bet no such person has ever existed), I would tell the man to stop doing those things, for even though they have no bearing on his legal status before God; nevertheless, the God who has delivered him from the punishment of death for this behavior still detests this kind of behavior, is grieved by this kind of behavior, and will not deliver him from the consequences of this behavior on this side of eternity, nor will spare him from the discipline he will endure in this life from continuing in this kind of behavior.
V-B. MY RESPONSE: IS OBEDIENCE OPTIONAL? THE ANSWER IS NO! The author (1) implicitly, if not explicitly, sees obedience to God as optional for the Christian (not optional in terms of what God wants but optional experimentally-speaking as to what evidences the true nature of a believer) and (2) seriously believes that one who continuously, habitually, walks in such sin as the aforementioned (e.g., foul language, verbal abuse of parents, drugs and/or alcohol abuse, pornography enslavement, and sexual perversion, if he/she never repents), is still nonetheless righteous — as to their legal standing before God, despite God, through Paul, specifically stating:
Ephesians 5:3-6 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that NO WHOREMONGER, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, HATH ANY INHERITANCE in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 **LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU WITH VAIN WORDS**: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”
[NOTE: God through the Apostle is telling us… don’t let anyone deceive us… Not the author at issue, not any other Neo-Sandemanian, Antinomian, Anomian, what have you. Let no one deceive you with unbiblical talk about the nature of true Spirit-wrought assurance; or unbiblical talk about their false notions of Christian Liberty; or their confused pontifications about how the (extant/spiritual) law requires perfect obedience from Christians, despite true Christians already having a perfect righteousness in Christ; or their erroneous arguments about the complete inability of Christians to actually (though admittedly not perfectly) obey God, do good works, keep the commandments, etc.. We are commanded not to let them deceive us on these vital matters… seeing how utterly destructive their sophistry and eisegesis is to the church of God collectively, and to the individuals (and their families) therein].
John said the same in:
1 John 3:4-10 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, **LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU:** he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.“
To maintain that one can have a right legal standing before God due to the righteousness of Christ (supposedly) imputed to them, and yet live as if the newness of life that true Christian’s have in light of said righteousness has no power to overcome the world, and the lusts therein, is to maintain a lie. Clearly, no one walks perfectly or anywhere close to it. However, the Christian should be characterized by ever striving to walk even as Jesus walked. Anything short of that is a false profession; and I’m talking from my own personal experience, not mere head knowledge, nor mere academic supposings. There is a power in salvation that renews and transforms, no matter what those who have a form of godliness, without the power thereof, have to say on the matter. The believer will have many falls, many shortcomings, but God raises Him up. No one is quickened, and left in the filthy mire of their former life, for the whole of their Christian profession. Life must manifest life. Spiritual life, must manifest a life lived in the Spirit. God help us.
Consider again this vital passage, seeing that God clearly promises all of this in:
Ezekiel 36:25-27 “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and A NEW SPIRIT will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put MY SPIRIT within you, and CAUSE YOU TO WALK in my statutes, and YE SHALL KEEP my judgments, AND DO [them].”
You complain that:
“I see nowhere in the Bible where solid, unwaivering assurance of salvation can be found in the midst of walking in prolonged, continuous, habitual, unrepentant rebellion against God. ”
That’s correct, but it’s for the opposite reason than your teaching on assurance, which “put the cart before the horse”. Assurance is not derived from obedience, but obedience is derived from assurance. Therefore, a lack of obedience indicates (to that extent) a lack of assurance. This is why 2 Peter 1:9 says “but he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath FORGOTTEN that he was purged from his old sins…”
(I can partly sympathize with a concern about so-called “antinomianism”, since I’ve been labelled “Lordship” by some in the past for insisting that Christians can do good works. However, the correct answer is not that true assurance partly depends on obedience, but that true assurance grounded in the gospel verdict alone results in a desire to obey. In short, one should not confuse “complacency” with “assurance” – in the nature of things, the fear of God is a necessary ingredient for a true consciousness of God’s forgiveness.
My chief concern here is to defend the “faith alone” view of assurance. That is, no matter the situation a believer finds himself in, the believer can recover the consciousness of God’s forgiveness of sins simply by hearing the gospel verdict again. To reject this as “antinomian” is to condition a clean conscience on the perception of something good wrought in ourselves, which totally defeats the practical purpose of “justification by faith”.)
But if assurance is not derived from obedience but from “faith alone”, why does Peter exhort the believer to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) by adding “these things” to faith?
The answer is simple. While one enters God’s kingdom by “faith alone”, the life in God’s kingdom does not consist of “faith alone”. Thus, while one receives and is assured of God’s forgiveness of sins by “faith alone”, one does not participate in or experience the new life apart from our activities. For this reason, after one “has peace with God”, they still need to be attentive in pursuing spiritual growth in order to “glory on the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).
A lack of obedience is indeed a serious matter, and may very well be empirically correlated with genuine unbelief, yet the gospel solution is never to condition assurance on obedience, but to hear the gospel which is an unconditional verdict of “not guilty” to those who simply believe it.
Regarding: “You complain that: “I see nowhere in the Bible where solid, unwaivering assurance of salvation can be found in the midst of walking in prolonged, continuous, habitual, unrepentant rebellion against God. ””
My response. It isn’t a complaint, it’s a statement of fact.
Regarding: That’s correct, but it’s for the opposite reason than your teaching on assurance, which “put the cart before the horse”. Assurance is not derived from obedience, but obedience is derived from assurance. Therefore, a lack of obedience indicates (to that extent) a lack of assurance. This is why 2 Peter 1:9 says “but he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath FORGOTTEN that he was purged from his old sins…””
My response: We have to (1) operate in light of the arguments I put forth (as opposed to straw men); and (2) operate within the confines of scripture. You make an assertion but offer no real proof-text beyond a reference to 2 Peter 1:9. Please consider the following:
Firstly, right before the text you quoted above, I gave a breakdown of where assurance derives. I will include it again here for the sake of clarity: “Surely assurance should be heavily derived from Christ, His finished work on the cross, and all of the Scriptural promises that stem from His finished work (and from the resulting righteousness God imputes to His people). Yet, what that author fails to understand, is that the Bible itself defines what the basis of our assurance should be. Moreover, he fails to understand the cumulative reality and result of (1) God foreordaining the good works that we should walk in; (2) God working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure; (3) God witnessing to our spirit that we are His children; (4) God giving us the fruit of the Spirit called peace (with peace and assurance being very much intertwined); and (5) God taking away said peace, as a form of chastening/chastisement, when the true Christian walks not after the Spirit, but after the flesh for a season, or seasons.”
The point being made is that there is a holistic, biblical approach to assurance that isn’t just based solely upon obedience, that isn’t based solely upon the benefits of having assurance, and that isn’t based solely upon the finished work of Christ on the cross, and the promises associated with it (as vital as such is, seeing that it is the foundation of all). We must understand the proper ground/basis, based upon ALL OF THE THINGS that the Bible declares pertains to peace, joy, assurance, our hope, etc. (all of which tie together and are nigh, if not fully, synonymous). You must look at all of the relevant scripture, both what I included, and what I left out due to oversight or time constraints.
I provided numerous passages that clearly establish the clear role that obedience plays in assurance, all via the Holy Ghost. As I put it, a lack of obedience will likely lead to a lack of assurance. However, that does not negate the reality that, as you put it, a lack of (adequate) assurance will likely lead to a lack of obedience. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are more like a conduit that runs both ways, not just one.
It is simple error to state that the only reason, or main reason, a believer walks in gross immorality for a season/seasons, is because they lack assurance (If I am misstating your argument, feel free to say so, since that is not my intent).
Regarding the root cause of prolonged/grievous disobedience, it could very well be that they presumed upon their assurance and let their guard down (they ceased to adequately watch, adequately pray, adequately flee, adequately use the other biblical means God provided).
As I will address below, disobedience can stem from many things, not just lack of assurance. You have yet to prove biblically, or logically, that “Therefore, a lack of obedience indicates (to that extent) a lack of assurance.” It may indeed indicate a lack of assurance… However, it may indicate other things as well.
Secondly, 2 Peter 1:9, must be understood within the context of 2 Peter 1:1-8, where Peter (by the Holy Spirit) makes it clear that he is talking specifically to “them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ…” per verse one.
The point is that only God’s quickened elect have, according to God’s divine power, “all things that pertain unto life and GODLINESS.” Only the quickened elect have ‘exceeding great and precious promises: that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ Only the quickened elect are capable of “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; etc.” And thus, only the true Christian, when he/she (and he/she alone) lacketh these things, “is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” All of these things play a key role in our assurance. All of them must be rightly considered.
The problem lies in a fact that I have stated multiple times, and that is, that the wheat can act like tares for a season or seasons, and the tares can act like wheat. The tares haven’t ‘forgotten that they were purged,’ because they never were purged (their old sins remain). So in some cases of disobedience, your point is relatively valid (i.e., when dealing with the disobedience, particularly the gross disobedience, of believers — in some cases). However, when dealing with those false brethren who profess the true Gospel, but who prolongedly, unrepentantly (as to the course of their “Christian” walk) walk in gross sin, it’s due to a lack of a new nature, rather than them forgetting that which accompanies the new birth, and the washing/purifying/purging associated with it. Similarly, it isn’t a lack of assurance that causes those [who, for a season, love/promote/defend the Gospel truth (along with the core tenets of free and sovereign grace), and then utterly turn away] to turn away… it was a lack of true regeneration, true subsequent conversion. They were never born from above and given a God-wrought love for the truth. And yet, during the season(s) they remain amongst the true brethren, appearing to be a true believers themselves, they deceive many. However, at some point their walk, or their doctrine, or both, will reveal that they were not of us, and thus went out from us.
Thirdly, we must strive to prove our points via scripture. As mentioned above, even for the believr, falling prolongedly into gross sin isn’t necessary based upon “lack of assurance.” Nothing suggests David with Bathsheba was due to a lack of assurance, though a lack of assurance followed his sin. We see no clear picture that Solomon’s sins were due to a lack of assurance of some degree or another. In fact, we see nothing suggesting that the fornicator in 1 Corinthians 5… “lacked assurance.” If anything, he was puffed-up in his assurance/presumption, which allowed him to continue prolongedly in his grievous error. I suspect once he was cast from the assembly of the saints, and “given over to Satan,’ that at some point, he would have lacked assurance. Again, lack of assurance can lead to disobedience as you stated (through weak faith and weak use of means) but so can presumption, or a solid true assurance combined with slothfulness and carelessness over time, etc.
Regarding: “the correct answer is not that true assurance partly depends on obedience, but that true assurance grounded in the gospel verdict alone results in a desire to obey.”
My response: It isn’t enough to assert this; you must prove it scripturally. First, some who lack “true assurance” still have a powerful desire to obey, as well as a God-ordained and enabled ability to do so. Some weak saints, lacking full assurance (or even strong assurance), nonetheless are blessed with the gift of a greater adherence to an upright walk. Second, if you are going to say that “the correct answer is not that true assurance partly depends on obedience…,” you really should address the numerous passages of Scripture that affirm the close connection between (a) our God-ordained walk, and (b) the Holy Spirit working assurance/peace/joy in us. Your response is almost completely lacking in this regard.
Regarding “My chief concern here is to defend the “faith alone” view of assurance. That is, no matter the situation a believer finds himself in, the believer can recover the consciousness of God’s forgiveness of sins simply by hearing the gospel verdict again.”
My response: This is a bit of an apple and oranges argument. Of course God, at any moment, can work assurance in a believer again via His holy word. However, it’s not ‘magic,’ it’s not in a vacuum, it’s not through carnal, man-mustered reasoning (as if the mere physical hearing of scriptural words can ‘snap him out of it’). No! “the believer can recover the consciousness of God’s forgiveness of sins simply by hearing the gospel verdict again” ONLY IF THE HOLY SPIRIT makes those words effectual to his heart/conscience. The Holy Spirit works in us both to will and to do of the Father’s good pleasure. When he leaves us to our natural selves for a season, or seasons, assurance and obedience can both wane for God’s people. When the Spirit of God desires to quicken/revive via scripture, He will do so, working obedience and assurance (whether together or separately), at His good time, and His good pleasure. The notion that “the believer can recover the consciousness of God’s forgiveness of sins simply by hearing the gospel verdict again,” as if this can be done without the initiating/operation of the Holy Spirit, is erroneous. The Spirit of God works/gives the gift of obedience, the Spirit of God works/gives the gift of full assurance, and these things are in God’s hands (effectually speaking), not our own, all as attested to by the many passages I provided, and the many I did not include.
Regarding “A lack of obedience is indeed a serious matter, and may very well be empirically correlated with genuine unbelief, yet the gospel solution is never to condition assurance on obedience, but to hear the gospel which is an unconditional verdict of “not guilty” to those who simply believe it.”
My response: Says you, unfortunately, with very little scripture to back it up. My article on the subject was in four parts due to the abundance of scripture touching the matter. You barely addressed the passages I provided, and you offered none of your own (to back up your stance), so your words come across more as opinions/assertions than as an attempt to exegete, or even just basically consider, the many key passages. Our positions must be solidly upon “thus sayeth the Lord,” and not “thus sayeth my viewpoints.” Therefore, whereas you maintain that the “gospel solution is never to condition assurance on obedience,” in light of all of the passages I provided, I must continue to maintain the holistic approach that I requoted at the beginning (Assurance ground upon Christ, His finished work and all it accomplished, the numerous scriptural promises stemming from His work, but ALSO a walk fitting a gospel profession, as wrought by the Holy Spirit in us, and as attested to BY HIM, per the passages provided.).