Why are Reformed/Calvinists scared to death to give people false assurance?

August 16, 2013
By dreiher2

I was just thinking the other day, about how some Reformed/Calvinists, such as John Piper, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, Steve Estes, Francis Chan, and Tim Conway, criticize the practice of giving people a horrible thing called “false assurance.” In other words, they seem amazed that we may tell a person who “professes” Christ is saved, when in fact they may not really be born again if they don’t bear fruit in their lives until they die.  They imply that if we tell people they are born again, by believing Christ’s promise of everlasting life to them, then we are doing some sort of disservice to them.  I would argue, how could it be a bad thing, to tell people that “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God?”  (1 John 5:1). Is John lying?

First, in the typical Reformed/Calvinistic model (that these men hold to), nobody REALLY is “saved” or born again at the moment of faith. A person exercises faith as one of the results of being born again. In other words, justification occurs at the point of regeneration, not at the point of faith. They claim to believe in the “5 sola’s” one of which is “sola fide” or “faith alone” but they will argue that simple faith, and a simple profession of such is not enough. One of their mantra’s is, “We are saved by faith alone, but faith that saves is not alone.” They deny in the second clause what they affirm in the first. It is contradictory, which in the framework of the postmodern mindset, is perfectly acceptable. In this system, IF (and I mean if) Jesus died for a person, which means they are elect. and if they are regenerated, then a person is justified (or demonstrates they are one of the elect) by inevitable persevering faith and works until death.  My point is that in their model, regeneration PRECEEDS faith. So in this model, how can it be, when we tell people that according to John 3:16, anyone who believes in Jesus for everlasting life, has 100% assurance is somehow sending people to the lake of fire by not demanding enough from them?  In their model, everything is determined ahead of time, so it really does not matter whether we give them false assurance or not, or whether they exercise “easy” believism or “hard” believism.

In this Biblically flawed Reformed/Calvinistic model, a person is saved or damned for all eternity because a person has been saved or damned FROM all eternity. God is the one who “sovereignly” flips the switch and people  really have nothing at all to do with the flipping of the switch, or persevering in faith and good works which follow. It is God who initiates everything, and who carries through with everything.  In their deterministic world view, how can anything we say in evangelism, have anything at all to do with folks who have been saved or damned from all eternity going to the lake of fire? In other words, how does a person who Christ did not die for go to hell because a grace person told them they can be 100% sure they have everlasting life just by believing in Jesus for it? In their system, the people we are giving so-called “False assurance” to  are not going to hell for anything they believe or don’t believe. They go to hell because Jesus did not die for everyone, He died only for a select group of people they call “The elect.”

Second, I was also thinking about how a person we may be witnessing to might lie to us. It is possible. In other words, a person may tell us that they believe they have everlasting life that cannot be lost, because they believe in Jesus as the giver and guarantor of it, but REALLY be lying to us. Maybe they want us to go away. In other words, they might not REALLY believe a person is saved by simple intellectual persuasion, or they might believe that everlasting life CAN be lost by failure to perform good works. In such cases, we are not really declaring a person to be saved like a Pope or something. We do need to word our message correctly so it does not appear like WE are the ones deciding who gets everlasting life.  We should tell people that ACCORDING TO JESUS,  “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,” and explain that according to John 11:25-27 that this means to believe in Jesus for everlasting resurrection life that cannot be lost. We then need to tell them that if they believe in Jesus for everlasting life that can never be lost, then they have it. If they are lying to us, and claiming that they KNOW they have everlasting life, but they really don’t, then how is that a bad thing? How are we doing anything wrong? After all if they don’t really believe in Jesus, plus they know they are lying, at least they heard what the Bible says about know what they need to be persuaded of  to get everlasting life.

Even if a person has “false profession” that is, they are lying to us, at least they have heard what it really takes to get everlasting life, and hopefully we showed them from clear passages of Scripture (such as John 3:16) that agree with what we are saying. A person named Richard Seymour, former teacher at Florida Bible College, and president of Frontier School of the Bible, recommends holding a Bible upside down and having the person read John 6:47 to us and then asking, “Do you have it?” Most people say, “I hope so.” He then responds, does it say, “Whoever believes in me can HOPE they have everlasting life?” He then asks them to read it again, and asks again, “Do you have it?.” He repeats what they say (I hope so, I guess so, if I live a good life, etc.) and inserts it into the verse. Dr. Seymour is not claiming it is the only way to witness to people, but it stresses how to clearly communicate the saving message to people, and how to determine if they believe it or not. Of course a person may not always believe at that point in time. However, he states that sometimes the light comes on in their mind when he does this. If not, they may need time. Remember, people do not DECIDE to believe. Belief is a persuasion that happens to us when we examine evidence are are open to it. We can choose to check out things, read the Bible, read Jesus’ claims in Scripture, etc, but the actual persuasion (i.e. believing in Jesus for everlasting life) is really passive. How is it a bad thing to offer 100% assurance of everlasting life based upon direct Scriptural statements?

Let’s say the person we are witnessing to tells us “I KNOW I have everlasting life, I believe in Jesus’ promise.”  If we tell them, “According to your profession of faith in Jesus for everlasting life, that can not be lost, you have it.”  How is that giving them false assurance? That is giving them true assurance IF they really did what the text says. They may be trying to get rid of us, or they may not be ready yet. If they are not sure they have everlasting life, with 100% certainty (and never have at some point in their entire life), they have not REALLY believed the message. However, if they are sincere, and are sure, then how can there be anything wrong with giving a person 100% assurance?

Perhaps a person has gone through their whole life, and heard confusing and conflicting “Gospel” presentations, from people on the Radio, on TV, in books and on the internet, and they are good post-moderns, and agree with conflicting and contradictory presentations, and ours is just one of them. They may not really be saved, if they have never believed in the testimony of Jesus in the Gospel of John, for eternal life that cannot be lost. But at least, if we tell them they can be 100% sure, at least they heard the message and they can think about what we said as they read verses from the Gospel of John with us, or on their own later. They may actually believe what people like Piper, MacArthur and others are saying, and think they have to do something in addition to believing in Jesus, that is, in addition to intellectual persuasion of Christ’s saving message. In that case, they can never know if they have done enough to have assurance and tragically are NOT saved because they did not believe in Christ’s promise in the Scriptures. That is, unless they exercised simple faith in Christ for everlasting life earlier in their lives, and were 100% sure of it, and then later got confused by false Reformed teachings.

- Don

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