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    Øyvind Eilevstjønn

    Thanks for your answer Oscar,

    You are quite right that I need to revise this: “Our assurance is not based in our level of sufficient information”. I think I meant to say “Our ability to obtain information”. Hypothetically, one could have gold-fish memory and still be able to have full assurance in Christ, because of his faithfulness and not our ability to obtain knowledge.

    Reading your post, I was prompted to look at this issue more philosophically. Following the three types of knowledge proposed by Craig and Moreland (footnote 1), we have knowledge by acquaintance, know-how and propositional knowledge. I would say that the presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer prompts somehow knowledge of God (i.e his faithfulness) across all these categories of knowledge. I find it hard to fully pinpoint the Holy Spirit in any of these. I’ll try to illustrate:

    Sometimes, I would sense something which I believe to be the Holy Spirit, and it is directly present to my field of consciousness. Other times, I would simply know based on a set of principles or skill, most probably taught by the Holy Spirit in the past, which is not directly present to my consciousness at the time. Lastly, I can know something on the basis of holding to a proposition I believe to have justification.

    With regards to my question of full assurance of Salvation, I find it touches upon, in one way or another, all of these categories. I might sense the assurance as though it is directly present in my consciousness, or I might simply act as if I know I am saved (i.e. For all these years I have prayed and thanked God for being saved as if I knew it). It is the last one that I think has stuck to my mind; that since I need justification for my belief in order to know something, that implies a certain degree of uncertainty (not doubt), and if something has a degree of certainty, then I cannot know it with full assurance (at least in the sense of epistemological assurance). I believe this reasoning is the ground in which I’ve stood on through all these years.

    The outcome of this discussion will also color ones hermeneutic, in the sense that one could impose (or rightly discover) this tripartite distinction in the text. By example one could ask: What type of knowledge does Peter in 1 Pet. 1:17-19 speak of? Obviously, the recipients of Peters letter would have had in the past an sensible experience (by acquaintance) which has more or less become gradually less present in their consciousness (know-how), thereby prompting his writing to be a reminder of that truth. But I am hesitant to propose that Peter even knew about this tripartite distinction of knowledge, moreover that it was explicitly present in his thinking. Most likely, Peter wrote and taught of knowledge with more vagueness. I think however, that Peter would have been more aware of knowledge by acquaintance and “know-how” than any theory of justification (not justification in the sense of salvation, but in the sense of epistemology). This discussion is also relevant for the other verses in the Bible. Any takes on this?

    I think that we have to distinguish between doubt and uncertainty. I would argue that doubt is taking a contradictory position on the truth of a given proposition. Uncertainty however, can be seen as: “a low the degree of certainty of any knowledge that is not absolute”. An example could be: I could doubt that the world is round. This is a rival hypothesis that serves as a contradictory proposition to the proposition that “the World is round”. Uncertainty, would be more of a measurement in which the pendulum of knowledge is swinging; a measurement based upon the presence of evidence, not emotion or ability.

    So, doubt is not at all equal do uncertainty. With regards to my statement: “in order to trust something, it has to be to some degree uncertainty”, I reasoned that (at least with regards to propositional knowledge) that uncertainty is essential to trust. But I agree in that we ought not to adopt post-modern theories of truth, hanging in a contradiction between trust and doubt. Though I would be cautious to put uncertainty and doubt as identical categories.

    If we see the discussion through this lens, we have that: our ability to obtain knowledge is not essential to the assurance of our salvation due to the reality of uncertainty in the nature of knowledge. Our ability to obtain knowledge in tainted by sin, so if God would make it essential to our full assurance in Christ, then it would stand on a broken foundation. Rather, God has not founded it on our ability, but in his being manifested through Christ’s faithfulness. I think it would be dangerous to interpret Matthew 7 (at least with regards to v. 21-23), as though Jesus states that we can obtain any assurance at all. Moreover, I think the statement “I never knew you” points to a reality that dwells in Christ rather than men. But I need to study this passage in greater depth in order to give a better reflection.

    Footnote 1: Moreland&Craig, 2017 (p.72-73)

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  • Ø
    Øyvind Eilevstjønn


    I had this amazing experience yesterday but I want to see if it conforms to the Bible.

    For many years I have struggled to see how I can know that I am saved. I’ve held on to the idea that my faith needs an element of trust. From that reasoning, I reasoned that in order to trust something, it has to be to some degree uncertainty.

    But as a began to explain this to a friend in the car, I thought of an illustration. I asked him: Can you really know that I will come pick you up, even if you trust me? He answered: I guess I can’t know for sure. Then I asked him: So what would be necessary for you in order to know? As I asked this, it dawned on me: We have full assurance of salvation based on the character of Christ. Because we know he is faithful, we also know that we are saved. Our assurance is not based in our level of sufficient information, but rather in the trustworthiness of the Christ. This allows for a faith that is rooted in full assurance.

    Is this idea biblical?

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