Saturday, May 08, 2010

How Do I Know I am Elect by A.W. Pink

"How may I know I'm elect?

First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced.

Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition.

Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope.

Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me - a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ.

Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it.

Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness.

Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the knowledge of election is cumulative."

- A .W. Pink, The Doctrines of Election and Justification [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974], pp. 140-41.

From Reformation Theology


Steve Martin said...

Lots of room to doubt one's electedness in all of that.

I know I regularly stray and doubt and do what I ought not and don't do what I should. How then can I know for sure?

I much prefer Luther's answer,"I am baptized."

Not WAS baptized...but AM baptized. We are carried in it, like a ship would carry someone across rough seas. We live in baptism. And since baptism is ALL God's us, and for us...we don't have to ever second guess ourselves on the basis of our fruitfulness, or obedience, or spiritual performance.

This is why the 'external Word' (baptism and holy communion) are so important and emphasized so much in Lutheranism.

Wayne Dawg said...

Thanks Steve -

I don't believe that one should look at that as a list per se, but rather as a culmination of what God, through the Holy Spirit and His Word, accomplishes when one becomes born-again.

I don’t rely on my outward act of baptism as the concrete ‘proof’ by which I am saved by His grace. My baptism was carried out because of obedience (through the Holy Spirit) and to be identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

You said, “
I know I regularly stray and doubt and do what I ought not and don't do what I should. How then can I know for sure?”

Not through baptism but through the Holy Spirit leading you back to repentance. When I stray (or stumble in sin to better put it) I hate it because the Holy Spirit is convicting me of that sin.

I hate it because God has created in me a new nature that despises sin and longs to be in accord with Christ.

“…we don't have to ever second guess ourselves on the basis of our fruitfulness, or obedience, or spiritual performance.”

When one is truly born-again there is never a ‘second guessing’ on our new nature. A new creature in Christ never gauges or wonders if he/she is doing ‘enough’ for the Kingdom of God through godly works; these things naturally flow out of the believer!

We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone.

I rest assured in my salvation through my confessions that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh; that God has revealed Himself in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation; that Jesus died and rose again for my sins.

Not only do I accept these things, I understand them!

1 Cor. 2:14 says, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised."

My assurance is not in my baptism, but on the finished work of the cross and what God did for me there!

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.


Steve Martin said...

Whenever we look to what WE are doing, feeling, thinking, etc. ...there is going to be doubt.

God gives us the Holy Spirit. How do you know He's given you the Holy Spirit? How can you be sure? By the way you feel? By the way you live?

No. You can never trust in that.

But God baptizes you. Why in the world would He command that be baptized? He does something in it.

Do you trust in what He has done (is still doing) in your baptism?

Or would you rather to the spotlight back on 'you'?

This is the main difference between Lutheranism and all other forms of Christianity.(Baptist/Calvinist/Catholic, etc.)

All other forms rely on some form of proof by what 'you' are doing.

No thanks. Not for me. Too dicey. The Law (God's Law)always gets watered down. And then people become despairing people , or self-righteous people, or phonies. One of the three.

Wayne Dawg said...

Thanks Steve.

We are 180 degrees different on this.

I don’t base my salvation on feelings, doing things or thinking. I have no doubts…never have.

When God saved me I got the whole package. I have never questioned or had uncertainty concerning what God had done!

I don’t rely on “what I do” or “what I did” or “what I’m going to do” for reassurance that God saved and continues to save me.

There is no spotlight on me…lol.

It’s all about God's glory; not mine. It’s ludicrous to even hint at that.

“This is the main difference between Lutheranism and all other forms of Christianity.(Baptist/Calvinist/Catholic, etc.)

“All other forms rely on some form of proof by what 'you' are doing.”

No…by what God is doing.

These “works” that you think I rely on are simply the works of God via the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself.

It is blasphemous and self righteous for anyone to believe that.

“No thanks. Not for me. Too dicey. The Law (God's Law)always gets watered down. And then people become despairing people, or self-righteous people, or phonies. One of the three.”

The Law can get watered down in Lutheranism as well as Evangelicalism. People can become despairing, self-righteous or phonies in Lutheranism as well as Evangelicalism.

One does not need to be a Lutheran or an Evangelical for those to be true!

Steve Martin said...

Anything can also happen (and does) in Lutheranism.

I'm talking about the Christian faith as Martin Luther re-discovered Paul.

Look in the New Testament (especially) and you will see Baptism all over the place in Paul's theology. Luther was just parroting Paul.

This (along with a proper understanding of the Lord's Supper) helps keep us off the religious navel gazing project.

The list of Mr. Pink puts the spotlight back on us. Trusting in, an emphasizing the 'external Word' (and Sacraments) helps keep the focus where it ought be...on God's work for sinners who don't deserve it.

Steve Martin said...

"The knowledge of election is cumulative."

If that statement does not put the onus on you, I don't know what does.

God (a real God), acts for us. was Paul's election cumulative? or did He get knocked on his keester on the road to Damascus, when God said, "you are mine...end of discussion" ?

Bror Erickson said...

Wayne Dawg,
Steve must really like you, because he asked me to come over here and talk with you about this.
Generally I think you have moved in the right direction, but your holding on to preconceived notions of things not put forward in the Bible. Otherwise you might look at Ezekiel 36 and see that there was a lot more done in your baptism than your mere submission to the will of the Holy Spirit.
But to this "list" have you noticed how much it makes the certainty of your election based on something you are doing? there is nothing concrete in the first 3, just experiential jargon, (Almost sounds Mormonish), in 4-7 everything is laid on what you are doing.

Wayne Dawg said...

Thanks Steve and Bror -

"But to this "list" have you noticed how much it makes the certainty of your election based on something you are doing?"

You both are missing the point that I am doing nothing in all this.

I can't obviously reiterate that enough.

It's not me...never has been me...never will be me.

Thanks guys

Steve Martin said...


If it really isn't you, then NO list is required.

If it is you, then you need something to go by and check your progress.

Progress (which is what the word "cumulative" not a Christian category. Bror is right, it is more Mormonish, or even Roman Catholic-ish.

Christians relate to life and death...old and new...repentance and forgiveness. No lists are required for that.

Thank you, Wayne.

- Steve

PS- Bror and I would hate to see you fall into the trap that so Christians fall into. One of progression, and one in which you will never have assurance.

Bror Erickson said...

Wayne Dawg,
I'm just asking you to read the list for what it says. I'm responding by phone. But seriously, does it mention that Christ died for your sins? That is how lutherans know we are saved that is elect, christ died for our sins. He died for yours too.
Want to know how I know he did that? Because he died for the world's. You do live here in this world right. So why should you look to see f you are doing what the Bible tells you to make sure you are elect or saved? Or whether. You really loath all that the Bible condemns.

Wayne Dawg said...

Steve, Bror -

I'm not falling into any traps; thanks.

The 'list' simply tells us what should be happening to us once we are saved.

Do you guy's get on to anyone in Scripture for creating 'lists'?

2 Peter 1:5-9

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

There is a 'list' per se from Peter with qualifications...

He tells us to add these things while saying, "if these things are yours and abound, you will be..."

As well as "...he who lacks these things is..."

Is Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, guilty of list making?


Steve Martin said...


One could very well look at their watch and wonder...'hmmm...I wonder when the Holy Spirit is goping to show up and do all those things that Pink says I should be exhibiting'.

And if one actually thinks that they are doing ok, as far as that (or any other list) goes...then one has fallen into the trap.

We are totally sinful...and yet totally justified.

We have assurance because (as Bror says) Christ died for our sins. We have assurance because we are baptized into His name (given His name)...adopted into God'
s family. There is NO Christian progression project. Not needed.
In our baptisms we have "put on Christ" (Galatians).

All the things on the lists are great. And we will exhibit them from tome to time (as do many non-believers).

But we walk by faith, and not by sight. Our assurance comes from Christ Himself...and not a list.

Thanks, Wayne!

Off to the salt mine!

Bror Erickson said...

If you have no doubts why are you reading the above list?
(BTW, it is not a list I have a problem with, it is looking to this list to determine if you are saved, elect.)
The above list points you to two things, subjective faith, It is asking you to identify the Holy Spirit is at work by looking at results that may or may not be there. Just read it, read the first four are totally subjective, that is are asking you to gaze at your navel, feelings oriented.
The second 3 points are all about your works, and what you are doing. (Yet you are supposed to determine that when you do these things it is the Holy Spirit, even though there is no objective qualitative difference between what you are doing and what a muslim does. It is advocating a religion of you.

Bror Erickson said...

Dawg, I just posted a commentary on this list over at my blog. I hope to see you there.

Ike said...

I think Dawg is simply re-stating Matthew 7:14...."For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it".

The gate is small....Jesus only!! But it also says that the way is narrow! Those who really do pass through the small gate...the Christ...."will" walk the narrow way....and when we step off that narrow way, (and we all do), He is there to discipline us and bring us back.

BTW....the Word of God tells all of us to examine ourselves and make sure we are in the faith. Matthew chapter 7 is saying that of all the people who "emphatically" call Him Lord.....of these people....only a "few" are genuine.

Bror Erickson said...

The problem is we can't finish in the flesh what was begun by the Spirit.
We don't make ourselves elect.

Ike said...


That's true....but a genuine faith "works". He who began a good work will finish it.

It takes more power of God to raise one dead sinner to life than all the power in creation. The same God that saves "will" clean that same person up.

I want to emphasize the personal pronoun "I". Ezekiel 36:25-27....."Then "I" will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; "I" will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, "I" will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and "I" will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, (one that will respond to spiritual stimili). "I" will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Do you see any doubt in these words? If any of us are not walking that narrow path....we should question whether we entered that small gate. I'm not talking about if we sin....we all will sin.....but I'm talking about a lifestyle.

I could follow Bror 24/7 with a snapshot camera and sometime...somewhere....I would be able to take a picture and say....see...this man is living in sin. Well....that would be more than unfair. But if I followed Bror with a video camera 24/7.....that would show a true picture.

Listen....if you invited me to speak at your church and I showed up an hour late and told you that on my way to church I had a flat tire and a lug nut rolled out into the highway.....and when I picked it up a 10 ton truck ran me over....and that why I am late....what would you say? You would say I'm either crazy or I am lying....right? Well....since when has God become smaller than a 10 ton truck? We can't have an encounter with God and not be changed.....impossible!!

Bror Erickson said...

Just a question, where has God promised to sprinkle clean water on you. Where does that happen?
The rest follows to be sure. Change happens.
But many go to A.A. and have no faith in Christ. You are putting your faith in the wrong place, if you look to your works for assurance rather than to the promises that God spells out in Ezekiel 36.

Ike said...


Not sure how you even come close to thinking anything that I have said implies putting my faith in my works. Once again....the same God who saved me will clean me up.

Bror Erickson said...

Answer my question, where does Ezekiel 36 happen?
Quit avoiding it, it is annoying that you respond to me with out answering my questions.

Bror Erickson said...

You may also read the above link, and comment there to the questions I have asked you.
If you like.

Ike said...


It takes place at "regeneration".

I "annoy" you?? Hope you're not a teacher!

Bror Erickson said...

Most teachers demand answers to their questions.
So we are agreed that Ezekiel 36 is talking about regeneration.
Now lets talk about that sprinkling with water. "I will sprinkle you with clean water."
What could he be talking about there? I'm trying to think of where God has sprinkled me with clean water?

Ike said...

The bible connects this to baptism. Since baptism is the culminating act in the conversion experience that started with regeneration.

Now Bror is going to tell me to trust in God's promises made in baptism......right?

Bror Erickson said...

Good. Yes this is talking about baptism. Where you and I are going to disagree is that you think baptism is the final out comeor culmination of regeration. I think it is at best the beginning. Baptism is something Christians live,4wim, and breath in. I am baptized, not I was baptized. The Holy Spirit comes over and over again with each presentation of the gospel, forgiving my sins, and drowning the old adam yet again over and over, and bringing to life the New Man.and it all begins here in baptusm where Christ sprinkles us with clean water, and puts his Spirit within us. So yes I trust the promises Christ makes in Baptism, and think you should too. Can you honestly tell me not to?

Steve Martin said...

Baptism. Jesus commanded it. It's all over the Bible.

Why we will not see it when it is right there is beyond me.

We would much rather resort to something that we do, say, feel, or think. That's the human condition...and exactly why I believe God commanded us to baptize and be baptized and to eat His body and drink His blood.
To take it OUT of our hands and put it where it (the spiritual, justification project) His hands...ALONE.

THIS is a great discussion!

Thanks, all!

Ike said...


You are correct that I view baptism as part of the conversion process and the culmination of regeneration. But I would also agree with you that in the preaching of the Word and the receiving of the sacraments are a continued means of grace. We should trust the promises of Christ in these things and be served and strengthened by His gospel as Christ delivers Himself to us.

A corollary truth that I see in scripture is what I attempted to stress in my previous comments. There is also a place for self-examination. Scripture tells us to be diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing us. And Paul tells us to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. There can be no assurance without explicit faith in Christ alone and the promises of Scripture.

Perhaps the "key" is to keep a proper balance between these two truths.