Preaching Assurance

It is a job of preachers of the Gospel to give their congregation assurance of sins forgiven.  A number of people have a huge problem with that statement, and I wonder why.  Of course the common objection is “only God can give assurance of sins forgiven”, or there is the fear that a preacher would give someone assurance who really should not have assurance.  Certainly I understand the objections, but I am not convinced that they are biblically founded.  The question comes up, “How can you know they are forgiven, or how can you know who to assure and not to assure?”  The simple answer is that I do not know, nor do I need to.  Yet this begs the question, “Jay, if you do not know who is redeemed and who is not, how can you attempt to give blanket assurance to an entire congregation?”  This is a reasonable question, but it is not a question that is scripturally informed.  Consider when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Jesus, and three times he was met with “Feed my sheep”.  Question; who was Peter to determine who Christ’s sheep were?  Nonetheless he was give the command.  Or what about Paul’s blanket statements of blessing to the churches he wrote to?  Were there not bound to be unbelievers gathered in their midst?  If Paul can write words of assurance to a group of people he has not even met, how much more appropriate is it for preachers of the Gospel to seek assurance for their congregations!

Unfortunately a lot of preachers, many who are rising greatly in popularity are making a great name for themselves in doing the very opposite of what I propose here.  Now I have a great respect for men like Paul Washer and I certainly would agree that he possesses a great gift for preaching.  His stuff on marriage and manhood has been indispensible to me, his preaching on Song of Solomon is some of the most beautiful preaching I have ever heard.  Moreover when he preaches the Gospel, and paints a picture of the magnitude of the cross and the substitutionary work of Christ of Christ on behalf of the believer I would contend that there are few who are more gifted than him.  Nonetheless I greatly diverge from Washer and others like him when it comes to preaching assurance.  I am not sure if people would consider Washer reformed or not, he is certainly a Calvinist when it comes to his soteriology, but not sure beyond that.  He calls himself a “5 point Spurgeonist” which I think means a Baptist with a soteriology that mirrors Calvin.  You can, however, see that he diverges from reformation theology when it comes to assurance, and the role of ecclesiastical authority in giving assurance.

Now, whether you know of Washer or not, the issue at hand here is whether or not the church, specifically the preaching pastor, should attempt to give assurance to the congregation.  The reason this post is pertinent to this blog is that the conservative or ‘confessing’ Methodist is typically very Washeresque when it comes to giving assurance.  Of course the favorite passage is “examine yourself to see if you are in the faith, test yourselves, or do you not know this about yourself that Christ Jesus is in you, unless of course you fail the test.”  The very conclusion of that chapter, which is the last chapter in II Corinthians, is a passage of assurance.  When looking at this passage in context you will see that Paul is giving assurance to the weak, not calling to looking inwardly at the strength of your profession or the fruit of your life to determine whether or not you are really a believer.  The other text that seems to always come up when folks who hate to give people assurance take to the pulpit is the end of Matthew 7.  The beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (which concludes at chapter 7) establishes assurance for the disciples who were listening.  The clear wording of Matthew 7 is ‘beware of false prophets’ and that passage qualifies the later words ‘many will say unto me Lord Lord... and I will say depart from me I never knew you.’   That passage in Matthew 7 is a very powerful means of making people question their assurance and I have preached that text myself to do just that.  However the force of the text has nothing to do with your personal assurance (which you should go to the beginning of Matthew 5 to get) instead it is to put you on your guard against false prophets.  Preaching that portion of Matthew 7 and making it about biblical assurance is out of bounds.

The point is that the role of the pastor is to shepherd the sheep, grow the sheep, and lead them to take comfort and refuge in their king.  It is about proclaiming grace to them, and ASSURING them of the work which Christ has done for them.  Pastor, your job is not to get into the pulpit and make people question their salvation, it is to get into the pulpit and remind them of the salvation which is in Christ for them.  Don't beat up the sheep by misappropriating 2 Corinthians 13:5 or Matthew 7:21-23 to be passages designed to cause believers to question assurance.

I am not sure why people fear giving false assurance.  What is it?  Are we afraid that someone might actually believe that Christ died for their sins and then trust him as their redeemer?  Isn’t that kind of the point?  The problem with preaching 2 Corinthians 13:5 and Matthew 7 as a means to bring us to question our assurance is that we are always left looking inwardly to determine whether or not we are saved.  We are always looking to our work, our desires, our evidence, to see if we indeed are Christian.  The only reason we have for assurance is an external work of God in Christ for us, that we are given belief in by the work of His Spirit.


Dawn K said...

Great post, Jay!

I think the fear of giving people false assurance is largely a reaction against the mindset of "if you pray this prayer you will be forgiven" (decision theology). To some, "praying the sinner's prayer" is seen as a one-way ticket straight to heaven, apart from actual repentance and faith.

But the Gospel is not "pray the sinner's prayer and you will be saved." The Gospel is "your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ." In Romans 10:17 we read that "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." The Word does what it says. And even if someone in their rebellion against God rejects the gift, it is not as though false assurance were given.

For example: if you were to say to a mixed group of people "your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ's perfect life, death and resurrection", some of those people will say: "Wow, Christ lived a perfect life in my place and died to take away all my sins? Thank you, Lord!" And the rest might say, "My sins are forgiven?! I'm not a sinner, I don't need to be forgiven." Where is the false assurance in this?

One of the Calvinist answers as to why they will not tell mixed groups of people that their sins are forgiven is that it's dishonest because it might not really be true. The problem with that is that it is true. The sins of the whole world were forgiven at the cross (Romans 4:18-19). Their standard answer to that is, "you mean that there will be forgiven people in hell?" And I would say, "Yes, because the forgiveness doesn't benefit you without faith." If someone put ten million dollars in your bank account and you refused to believe it, you would objectively be a very rich person. But it wouldn't benefit you.

Saying "believe that Christ died for you, that your sins are forgiven for His sake", is different than saying "believe that Christ died for sinners." The idea is that the person is supposed to come to the conclusion that "I'm a sinner, so that means Christ died for me." But I'm not sure how someone can definitively come to that conclusion if they believe in limited atonement because they only believe Christ died for some sinners and not all sinners. The only way the consistent Calvinist can figure out whether Christ died for them is through subjective means, i.e. the rigorous self-examination as you mentioned. And if they're honest with themselves this never gives real assurance.

Dawn K said...

Whoops, the reference above should have been to Romans 5:18-19, not 4:18-19.

Michael Gormley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Gormley said...

Scripture teaches that one’s final salvation depends on the state of the soul at death. As Jesus himself tells us, "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:13; cf. 25:31–46).

One who dies in the state of friendship with God (the state of grace) will go to heaven.

The one who dies in a state of enmity and rebellion against God (the state of mortal sin) will go to hell.

For many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals it makes no difference—as far as salvation is concerned—how you live or end your life.

You can heed the altar call at church, announce that you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, and, so long as you really believe it, you’re set.

From that point on there is nothing you can do, no sin you can commit, no matter how heinous, that will forfeit your salvation.

You can’t undo your salvation, even if you wanted to.

Dawn K said...

Hi Michael,

The question is "where does assurance lie?"

For many fundamentalists and evangelicals, assurance lies in the fact that they sincerely prayed a prayer to accept Jesus into their heart. In some cases this leads to antinomianism as you described, in other cases it leads to despair in not knowing whether your faith is sincere enough. Or it leads to pride in one's own decision-making ability.

For others assurance lies in subjective feelings of being close to God or in looking at one's life and works. These might avoid antinomianism, but pride or despair are still dangers.

As a Lutheran, I believe that assurance lies only in what Christ has done for me. Assurance is in the Gospel itself - "your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ." Those words do what they say. Christ put His name on me in Baptism. His Word of Law and Gospel leads me to continual repentance and faith.

As a Lutheran I agree that one can fall away from the faith. "He who endures to the end will be saved" - but how do we endure to the end? Not because we are trying so hard to be good but because God keeps us in the faith through His Word and Sacraments. A faith not nourished by these things will eventually die.

Jay Miklovic said...

Michael I am not in complete disagreement with you. I too would affirm that a mere prayer at an altar call does not secure ones soul for eternity. I agree with your setiment towards fundamentalism. Our agreement ends there though.

All sin is mortal sin, all sin necessitates the blood of Christ. Even a failure to love neighbor as self or a failure to love god with ALL hear strength soul and might... The point is that we are constantly short of his glory and deserving hell.

Nonetheless we give our congregation the constant assurance that Christ paid the price FOR them because it is that truth alone that will sustain us and hold us for life everlasting. Rome acts as though it takes a good hard stand against sin, but the opposite is true. The very idea that you can die with 'lesser' sin upon yourself and still be ok is bogus. The point is all sin must be attoned for, and the good news is that it has been for those who believe.

Posting this from my iPod in a surgery waiting room so I am sorry for any spelling issues or incomplete thoughts.

Dave Pettengill said...

As a minister I have no problems telling people from the pulpit that if they surrender to Christ and repent of their sins they are forgiven. Just as I wouldn't have a problem telling people that we are a lost, broken people in need of Jesus our savior and without him we are we cannot know forgiveness or salvation. I believe that to be the truth of the gospel if we are in Christ then we are forgiven and we are a new creation in him. Now I wouldn't just say to the whole congregation, "You are all forgiven and will be with Christ in Heaven one day." I would say to a congregation, "If you have given Christ your life, turned towards him and repented of your sins, then you are forgiven."

Jay Miklovic said...

Dave in the spirit of good conversation let me ask you a question:

What is the danger of telling an entire congregation: "You are forgiven because Christ has lived, died, and rose from the dead for you."?

(Trust me I know there are wheat and tares both in the assembly, and that some indeed are not redeemed.)

Dawn, you are very good on this topic, feel free to jump in. (The only issue I have with you and Luther here is that it seems very much out of bounds for me to actually say to the congregation "*I* forgive you" (ssshhhhhwwwwoppp, do you hear that sound, that is the sound of a can of worms being opened.)

Dave Pettengill said...

I would say that has the same danger as the "ask Jesus into your heart prayer". Many times I think people can confuse these ideas where people can treat that prayer like a "get out of hell" card. Where people think, "Good thing I said that little prayer so I don't go to Hell. Now I can just go on about my life." Don't get me wrong I have led many people in the sinners prayer but I make sure people understand that yes our sins are forgiven but we are called to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
I don't see anything wrong with telling the congregation that they are forgiven because Christ lived, died, and rose again for them as long as it is put in context. That people understand they are not just saved because they decide to show up to a building on Sunday mornings from 11:00-12:00 and hear stories about Jesus' life. That there is a call to commitment, sacrifice, and surrender to Jesus. That Jesus paid the price for our sins and we have been offered this gift of Salvation but we must receive it and then we must live a life surrendered to him. I think in many churches what is expected out of us as Christians has been watered down to 1. Ask Jesus into your heart 2. Your sins are forgiven 3. Show up to church on Sunday mornings 4. Be a nice person. So I definitely see the importance of people knowing that their sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ but for them also to know what following Jesus is going to cost them their life in return not just adding a little bit of Jesus to their existing life.

CLONNIE said...

I was saved, I am saved and I am being saved. Yes, but only GOD knows who they are.

Jay Miklovic said...

Dave- you speak often with 'ifs' and 'buts'. Like yes our sins are forgiven, BUT you must go serve Him.... Or "your sins are forgiven IF you surrender your life to Him by...."

This is where you and I diverge. I preach "in light of what the law says against your sin, consider the nearly unbelievable news of what Christ has done for you. Pretty amazing huh? Let that sink in for a minute, then lets get out there serve this merciful God of ours."

The Gospel preached in its great glory needs no if or but qualifier, its more like "its been done, now come with me to serve in his mission."

I am super careful to not put (if/but) qualifiers on it. Follow what I mean?

We need to hit up deets... hows next wednesday look for you?

Jay Miklovic said...

"I was saved, I am saved and I am being saved. Yes, but only GOD knows who they are."

"I was saved" - is a 'sure' statement
"I am being saved" - is a 'sure' statement

So at the very least YOU are 'sure' of your salvation, at least according to this comment. So do you mean only God and YOU?

I agree that I do not know who the 'wheat and tares' are. I am going to pull a quote directly out of Dawn K's first comment on this thread, and it hits the nail on the head.

Dawn Said: For example: if you were to say to a mixed group of people "your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ's perfect life, death and resurrection", some of those people will say: "Wow, Christ lived a perfect life in my place and died to take away all my sins? Thank you, Lord!" And the rest might say, "My sins are forgiven?! I'm not a sinner, I don't need to be forgiven." Where is the false assurance in this?

Again I ask, where is the harm in preaching assurance?

Dave Pettengill said...

I do think we might diverge on some thoughts on this topic. I do not think we receive salvation by following the law but we have been given a free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ I believe Ephesians 2:8-9 makes that really clear. However, we are called to repentance as part of the forgiveness of our sins. Now obviously none of us can earn our way to Heaven we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) but part of salvation is surrender and repentance. I don't believe we are saved by our good deeds but we are called much like those in Jesus day to surrender to him and repent of our sins. Many people in Jesus' day turned away because either they just wanted to live by the law and try to make themselves look holier than others but didn't believe they needed forgiveness (Pharisees and religious leaders) or they wanted forgiveness but didn't want to turn from sin and turn towards Jesus (Rich young man in the book of Matthew). I believe we have the free will to choose Christ or not choose Christ. To receive forgiveness or not receive forgiveness even though the gift of forgiveness has been offered to all. I believe that God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness are greater than we can even fathom and that while I am continuing to seek after Christ I continue to fail at times and need forgiveness.
Even in the case of the disciples they were far from perfect and made mistakes like the rest of us but Jesus seems to always give the invitation to "Come and follow me". When Peter is preaching in the book of Acts and he is preaching to the onlookers he tells them about where his power comes from (Jesus). He tells the people that God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that Christ would suffer. Then he tells the people (Acts 3:19) to "repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord". So what I would say is that repentance and turning to God is key in our salvation. We didn't do anything to earn that salvation that it was given and as we receive it part of that is repentance and surrender. There are many who trust in Jesus as their savior (God please forgive me of my sins) but don't trust in him as their Lord (God I lay down my life in allegiance to you.) I believe for the forgiveness of sins of sins we need to put our trust in Jesus as our savior and Lord. Understand that I acknowledge that we are a sinful people and we will always be in need of God's grace and I believe God's forgiveness is there for everybody. I believe the church does a good job helping people understand that the gift of salvation is free because of Jesus' death on the cross for our sins but I think it does a poor job at times helping people understand how becoming a follower of Christ changes everything. That it isn't just I say a prayer, receive forgiveness for my sins, and then go on my merry way but it requires all of us.

Dawn K said...

This is where it seems to me like many evangelicals speak out of both sides of their mouth when it comes to salvation. They will say, "Salvation is a free gift of God and there's nothing you can do to earn it." And then they will turn around and say, "In order to be forgiven, here's what you must do." In this case, it's that you must repent/surrender/choose Christ in order to be forgiven.

Yes, we are called to repent and believe the Gospel. But repentance itself is a gift from God (Acts 11:18), as is faith (Romans 10:17). Repentance and faith are not conditions I must meet in order to be forgiven. They are responses to hearing the Law convicting me of my sins and of hearing the wonderful, sweet Gospel that says Christ lived a perfect life in my place, died for all of my sins and rose from the grave. I am not forgiven because I repent and believe, but I am forgiven because of what Christ has done for me.

I don't think anyone here is advocating the idea that one can just "pray the sinner's prayer to accept Jesus and then live however they want." Again, "praying the sinner's prayer and you will be saved" is not the Gospel. I think the problem is not that people don't realize they "have to" surrender their lives to Christ's Lordship but that they do not realize the magnitude of their sinful condition that necessitated Christ's death on the cross.

Dave, if your salvation hinges on your repentance and faith then how do you know that your repentance and faith is genuine? How do you know that you've truly surrendered your life to Christ? Honestly, if my salvation depends on anything inside of me, I'm in deep trouble. My repentance and faith and surrender are feeble at best. I dare not trust in my repentance or my faith or my surrender because they always fall short. I can only trust in Christ and his life and death in my place.

Dave Pettengill said...

I feel we might be debating over symantec's but I am not sure as it is hard to fully convey thoughts over the internet. In short this is what I am trying to say...
1. Salvation is through Christ alone
2. In the new testament people are called to repentance and through Christ will receive the forgiveness of sins
3. I wasn't saying anyone here was saying "Just pray the sinners prayer and thats all you need" but unfortunately that is what many believe.

The price of our salvation has already been paid through Jesus Christ but we must accept this gift. My good deeds compared to God's are like filthy rags but he has called me to be holy because he is holy. The new testament is filled with scripture that says, "Repent and believe". It is not that repentance is what saves us that is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ but part of believing is repenting and turning towards God. Let me make it clear we are not saved because of our repentance because that is through Christ alone but part of our believing in Christ for the forgiveness of sins will lead to repentance of sin.

Dawn K said...

Dave - it's not a matter of semantics. It's a matter of life and death.

You said earlier, "I would say to a congregation, 'If you have given Christ your life, turned towards him and repented of your sins, then you are forgiven.'" When you say that you are pointing me not to Christ but to myself. So then I have to determine whether or not I've really given Christ my life or really repented. And I could never determine, based on my feelings and works, whether or not my surrender/repentance was real or sincere because my feelings and works always fall short of God's standard.

I think a big issue here is that people do not become Christians because they choose to believe in Christ or to surrender their lives to Him. They become Christians because God grants them repentance and faith through the hearing of His Word of Law and Gospel. And this repentance and faith is something that continually happens (indeed, daily) in the life of a believer - again through His Word (and also through the Sacraments). It's not a one-time choice but something that God works in you all of your life. We all need to hear the Gospel ("Your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ and you will be in heaven with Him") because it is what creates faith in our hearts. Making it conditional ("you are forgiven IF") creates doubt, not faith.

MICHAEL said...


Dave Pettengill said...

I have tried to make it clear that we are not saved by our deeds but my words seem to be causing confusion instead of clarity and for that I apologize. Here we go, the Bible is filled with scripture that tells us repent, turn towards God, for the forgiveness of sin. I believe this repentance happens when we turn towards God for the forgiveness of sins. Like John 3:16 tells us "that whoever believes in him shall not perish but receive eternal life". I think when we realize what God has done by sending his son Jesus Christ to die for our sins and we believe in him (put our faith in him) we are turning towards God and repenting as we believe in him. We are turning from our old life (repenting) and believing in God for the forgiveness of sins. I don't tell people "Go get your life fixed, try to repent of your sins on your own, and when you get rid of all that come back to God for forgiveness." When we see this free gift that has been given and we believe we are turning towards God and repenting. I didn't mean to make the repenting seem like a separate thing. We are not saved because we repent and believe...we believe and repent because we have been saved. So all in all I wouldn't have problem telling a congregation (as I have done many times) that Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 4) that we are all sinners fallen short of God's glory (Roman 3:23) and that we have been given salvation by God's grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we can't do anything to earn this because it is a gift. That if we believe in Jesus we will receive eternal life (John 3:16). I think the only thing I wouldn't do(which I am not saying any of you would do this) is stand before a congregation say that they all have eternal life and will be with Jesus in heaven for eternity. Because ultimately we still need to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and I am sure in all our churches there are those that don't believe in him but come to church. I hope this cleared up any confusion. We are not saved because we repent and believe but we believe and repent because we are saved through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.

MICHAEL said...



Jesus said:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you."
(John 15:1-7)

Wow! In those seven verses, the word ABIDE is mentioned seven times. The context of those verses provides us with a lot of light as to what is required of us by GOD for our eternal salvation.

Jesus said:
"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14)

So we must not only ABIDE in Him but we must also strive to enter by the narrow gate. If we do not ABIDE in Him, then it is obvious that we are not on the path to the narrow gate of salvation, but on the path to the wide gate and to eternal destruction.

So Jesus said that if we do not ABIDE in Him (the Vine) then we will be taken away from the Vine by the Father, and will be cast off only to wither, to be gathered, and then to be thrown into the fire and burned.

Now that I have your attention, shouldn't we now find the meaning of the word ABIDE?

The theological meaning of ABIDE is to dwell within. Jesus would come and dwell in us and we likewise in Him. So as long as we do what Jesus requests of us then we are on the path to the narrow gate to salvation.

So to assure that we are on right path, Jesus has commanded that we must ABIDE in Him.

What is required in order to have Jesus ABIDE in us and we in Him?

Can we do it:

1. By accepting Him as our our own personal Lord and Savior ?
No. Where does the Bible say that?

2. By the grace of GOD only? Sola Gracias?
No. Where does the Bible say that?

3. By faith in GOD alone? Sola Fides?
No. Where does the Bible say that?

It is simple common sense that since He commanded that we must do something, then doesn't it stand to reason that He would also tell us how to do it?

Jesus was very clear in what we must do in order to have Him ABIDE in us and we in Him.

Jesus left this command for us in John 6:53-57:

53 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (the taken away branch);

54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.


57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."

Jay Miklovic said...

Dave, your last comment illustrates the point. If people are given repentance and faith as a gift because of what Christ has done for them, then for what reason should I withhold assurance? If everything hinges on His work, and His work is complete for us and our congregations, why not give assurance?

Certainly we must remember to preach condemnation under the law along with assurance from the Gospel, together law and Gospel effectively does it's work.

This is an important topic, and it is one where I diverge from many calvinists (piper, MacArthur, washer, possibly spurgeon) and almost all wesleyans. Giving assurance has unfortunately become almost anathema, even though the scriptures go to great length to proclaim assurance.

Dave Pettengill said...

I can see what your saying Jay :) Actually what I tell people is whoever has the most Bibles or the biggest nativity scene in their yard that means Jesus loves them the most...and you can't get into Heaven unless you read the KJV because we all know Jesus talked in King James talk ;) LOL!!! I am totally kidding! I know I am coming from a more Wesleyan-Armenian university background so I know that can vary a lot from what others believe. At least we can all be thankful during this advent season for Jesus' birth! Merry Christmas to you all!! Oh and Jay back to the critical issue at hand I would definitely be up for some Deets next week!

Jay Miklovic said...

Michael- You last comment just posted because it was determined by blogger (not me) to be spam.

It is appropriate that you would bring the Lord's supper into the conversation about assurance. However it appears that you have copied and pasted this entire comment on many different blogs addressing a variety of different topics.

Please join the conversation by dealing with the various points that commentors are making, not by blanked copy and paste.

MICHAEL said...

Dear Jay,
It is through His grace, His calling, our living faith in Jesus Christ, our Baptism, our gift of the new heart and the new human spirit, the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Sacrament of Confession that make us righteous in the eyes of God, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that gives us the living bread as our assurance of salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit that sanctifies us so we may grow in the fruit of the Holy Spirit to become shining lights in the world. How abundant are the gifts of our loving Father!

Jay Miklovic said...

Michael. You are the first person to bring sacrament into the conversation. (I am glad you did, and it is most certainly an appropriate addition.)

But, explain to me the gift of a "new human spirit". Is that a reference to rebirth at baptism? I am just wondering, not critiquing at this point.

MICHAEL said...

But, explain to me the gift of a "new human spirit".

Dear Jay,
To answer that question, you must understand what happens during the Sacrament of Baptism. To understand what happens, you must be aware that thousands of years ago, according to the Old Testament, God the Father made four promises.

These are, (1) the promise of a new Covenant, [See Ezekiel. 31:31, 3]; (2) a new spirit, [See Ezekiel 11:19-20, 18:31, 36:26]; (3) of a new heart, [See Ezekiel. 11:19-20, 18:31, 36:26] and (4) the indwelling Holy Spirit. [See Ezekiel 36:27; 1 Corinthians 3:16]

As you will have noted from reading the above passages, Ezekiel 36:26-7 makes reference to two different spirits. One is a reference to the indwelling Holy Spirit, the other being a reference to the human spirit.

"Everyone has a human spirit which gives life to the physical body. For a body without a spirit is dead." [James. 2:26]

The human spirit coexists with the physical body. Another word for the "human spirit" is "ghost." When the body dies, the "human spirit" or the "ghost" departs from the physical body.

You may also wish to verify the following Bible references. In John 6:63, Jesus said, "It is the (human) spirit that gives life: the flesh is useless."

In Luke 23:46, when Jesus died on the cross, He commended His (Holy) Spirit into the hands of the Father.

In verse 7:59 of the Acts of the Apostles, when St. Stephen was being stoned, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my (human) spirit."