Assurance & The Objectivity Of The Covenant

Bret said It is the same kind of promise that was extended to Israel… both to the Israel of Israel and the Israel that was not of Israel. When considering the promise in light of knowing the whole story it is conditional to the reprobate and unconditional to the elect.

David responds,

Agreed, but then how does this establish personal assurance of salvation? The thing FV tries to do is to point to the sacraments and the covenant to establish assurance because they are supposed to be “objective”, but then it has a doctrine of the covenant that is conditional and includes reprobates, curses and the possibility of apostacy. But FV, not being a paragon of logical consistency, fails to see that it undercuts itself in making this very move.

David, I’m not FV so what I am about to say is my answer. I don’t know how the FV would answer it.

As a pastor I deal with two types of people when it comes to the issue of assurance. On the one hand I deal with believers, who realizing God’s great holiness and their own behavior in light of that holiness struggle haplessly for assurance regardless of how superior their Christian character is. They have trouble bringing themselves to believe that God can really forgive them. To these ‘naval gazer’ types
I first admonish them for looking so intently inwardly rather then outwardly but I also say, “Christ is for you and He has given the Sacraments to confirm that He really has forgiven you. Take and feast on Christ and know that you are accepted for the sake of the work for you of He who is conveyed to you in the Sacrament.” In short I emphasize the objectivity of the covenant. Luther made a move somewhat similar to this. When the devil would come to him and remind him of his great sins, Luther, being overwhelmed, would finally say, “It’s true, It’s true, but I’ve been baptized.” The covenant is objective.

On the other hand ministers have to deal with those in the congregation who need to hear a different emphasis because they are dispositionally relating to the covenant in a different manner. These are thus whose lives are characterized by a neglect of pursuit of holiness in favor or a pursuit of behavior that is inconsistent with a professing Christian. To these I need to remind them that the very same covenant that must be taken as rock solid assurance by the naval gazers is a covenant that offers no assurance to ‘the people of God’ who are acting like “dogs returning to their own vomit, and sows, having been bathed, to their rolling in mire.” Indeed that very same covenant that is a rock of assurance to the navel gazers who will look away from themselves to Jesus is a rock that will crush the libertines.

To the former I must tell them to rightly presume on grace. To the latter I must warn them of the danger of wrongly presuming on grace.

Now that can be made to look contradictory, as you have done above, but given how I’ve explained it, and given the fact that different people in the Church with different problems need to be spoken to differently I fail to see the contradiction.