Sola Fide in light of Imperfect Faith and Assurance

Discussion in 'Spiritual Warfare' started by Me Died Blue, Jan 18, 2008.

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  1. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I'm looking for some other people's thoughts and reflections, as well as Scriptures, sermons, articles and references to the aspect of assurance that specifically concerns the imperfect and constantly struggling nature of our faith. I have a friend with whom I'm continually discussing this, and another aspect of the issue that has come up is how our own true, full trust in God can so often seem just as shaky and imperfect as our sanctified works.

    Petrus Dathenus briefly touches on this in Pearl, page 65, and 78-83. Also helpful would be any recommended commentaries on Mark 9:24 and Luke 17:5, and possibly on WCF 14 and 18, and relevant parts of the HC.

    Thanks in advance...
  2. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    Just a quick comment, for lack of time at the moment.

    What is shaky is not the God in whom we trust in for our assurance, but rather the degree of faith that we have in that God. As our faith grows, our assurance grows; yet, the foundation of what our assurance was and is in, always has the same infinite strength.

    The ground of our assurance is never any stronger than it was when we first believed. And that ground of our assurance is the promise of God. But, our faith often waivers, due to the weakness of our flesh and of indwelling sin. Since faith is a fruit of sanctification, it naturally ebbs and flows as does everything else in sanctification. We never get beyond the prayer, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."

  3. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Joel Beeke has an excellent book on the Doctrine of Assurance.
  4. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Here are some select suggestions (there are many more that could be mentioned), starting with The Book of Psalms. You can find many commentaries on the WCF and HC in the links manager.

    Thomas Doolittle, If We Must Aim At Assurance, What Should They Do, That Are Not Able to Discern Their Own Spiritual Condition? in Puritan Sermons, Vol. 1
    Thomas Cole, How We May Steer An Even Course Between Presumption and Despair in Puritan Sermons, Vol. 2
    Christopher Fowler, How A Christian May Get Such A Faith That Is Not Only Saving, But Comfortable And Joyful At Present in Puritan Sermons, Vol. 2
    Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Reformed Spirituality
    Joel R. Beeke, The Quest for Full Assurance: The Legacy of Calvin and His Successors
    Joel R. Beeke, Assurance of Faith: Calvin, English Puritanism, and the Dutch Second Reformation
    John Flavel on Mark 9:24 in Sacramental Meditations upon Divers Select Places of Scripture in his Works, Vol. 6, pp. 378-460 (esp. 426-34)
    Robert Asty, A Treatise of Rejoicing in the Lord Jesus in All Cases and Conditions
    Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth in his Works, Vol. 2
    Richard Fairclough, The Nature, Possibility, and Duty, of a True Believer's Attaining to a Certain Knowledge of His Effectual Vocation, Eternal Election, and Final Perseverance to Glory in Puritan Sermons, Vol. 6
    Andrew Gray, Three Sermons Concerning the Faith of Assurance in his Works, pp. 183-211
    Thomas Hooker, The Poor Doubting Christian Drawn to Christ
    Matthew Mead, The Almost Christian Discovered
  5. Theogenes

    Theogenes Puritan Board Junior

    I came across this quote just the other day. It's from a 19th century Scottish minister (so you know it's got to be right ;) ). His name is Thomas Bell and the quote is from his treatise "The Nature of Saving Faith".
    Here it is: The truth is, full assurance of salvation belongs not so much to the ESSENCE as to the EXERCISE of faith". I thought that was great. The more we exercise faith in the truth, the gospel, the more assurance we should have. He's got a great treatise on the covenants as well.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2008
  6. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks for the references thus far. I've also found some excellent material in certain chapters of Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry, as well as Beeke's Puritan Reformed Spirituality.

    The assurance wasn't the original issue; it sprang from a discussion of Sola Fide versus a justification that incorporates a works righteousness of our own to some degree. It was even mutually understood and agreed that our own works are constantly tainted by sin and we could never actually be perfect so as to purely earn God's just acceptance; but that in turn brought up the issue of how Sola Fide as a means could possibly be a sufficient solution since even our resting and trusting itself (in the spiritual sense; think Peter sinking in the water) as well as our minds' own intellectual justification for God's existence (in the apologetic and epistemological sense; think Thomas after the Resurrection) are continually wavering and paved by weakness.
  7. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Do you have CPJ 3? (The Confessional Presbyterian ยป Welcome)

    There's a great article: 118. John Brown of Wamphray, Richard Baxter and the Justification Controversy. By Bruce R. Backensto

    It deals with the imperfection of our works and how they can never be considered, along with a resting faith, as the basis of our justification. I think the author does a great job of showing how Brown repudiates Baxter's view of justication on the basis of a full faith that includes repentance and shows that justification is a gracious receiving of Christ's righteousness.
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