"_many are headed into eternal judgment under the delusion of going to heaven." (Pg 6)
"Don't try to find assurance from a prayer you prayed in the past; find assurance by resting in the present on what Jesus did in the past." (Pg 47)
These two quotes clarify why this book was written and why we all need to read it. Sadly, all over the world there are unsaved people who falsely believe they are saved, sitting beside faithful Christians who spend every day wondering if they truly are. This book is written for them and for us who need the tools to help them. Within are answers to critical questions each believer must settle in their heart before they can live in confident faith.
Greear also brings new life to words like belief, faith, repentance, and grace which have become so commonplace in churches that they have been nearly stripped of their true meaning and significance.
This topic hits home for me because I know what it's like to struggle with doubt and have seen it in the churches that I serve. Assurance of salvation might be the most frustrating battle that gospel preachers face. Each week we look out at the people who we pastor and wonder, "Are these people confident in their salvation?" "How can I combat needless doubting and convince believers that they are secure in Jesus?" "How can I teach against false assurance?" "How many of these people know they are saved, beyond any doubt?"
J.D. Greear knows this heartache all too well and writes from a place of pain, passion and elation as he takes us on the journey that helped him discover the true gospel of peace. His style is a wonderful combination of grace and sensitivity for those who struggle with doubt, while pulling no punches with any who would use fear and doubt to control people. There is no "easy-believism" to be found in this book. It is full of hard truths told by a man with a soft heart.
He gives simple, applicable, and convincing scriptural insight coupled with well thought out explanations and applications - without being wordy or using unnecessary jargon. He has a great teacher with a remarkable strength for answering unasked questions (like "What if I have no â€˜moment of salvation'"?). He treads carefully through difficult and controversial topics (like free-will), discussing them biblically and illustratively, but isn't afraid to admit his limitations and allow the mysterious parts of salvation to remain a mystery. Though unafraid to address controversies, he doesn't get swept up in endless debate or plant his head firmly in the cement, but keeps the main thing the main thing by rising above the fray to teach us about what is most important - our salvation.
My favourite parts of this book are Greear's evangelistic outbursts. It's as though he's writing along, helping us understand an important topic, and can't help but start preaching the gospel. This book comes from a very authentic place.
There are a lot of quotables in this book that belong on a poster or the wallpaper on my computer. I found myself saying "Amen!" aloud quite often. His explanation of progressive sanctification was so wonderful and powerfully simple that it gave me a deeper love for my Saviour - a great gift.
This book isn't just for new believers who need assurance, but for any Christian who struggles with doubt, hopelessness, feelings of condemnation, or habitual sin. As I read it I found that it was uncovering some chinks in my spiritual armour like unrepentance and sins that I had grown comfortable with which were keeping me from God. I am indebted to this author who helped me move from a scholastic reading of his book to penitent and thankful prayer before my loving Lord. It is my prayer that everyone would read this book and be assured of their place before Jesus and at peace with God.
I've read a few books, articles, and papers on the assurance of salvation, belief and other topics that where too wordy or didn't speak enough about those topics. This book I believe hits a nice middle ground on each topic it covers. It doesn't beat you over the head with information and it cuts to the point. As someone, like anyone, who does struggle with certain sins, this was a great reminder of some of the simple, yet at times, difficult truths to grasp that are found in the Bible.
Now is the book perfect? No. But it was easy to understand while staying Biblical and sound? Yes.
I gave it a 5/5 because this is the book that I would (and will) give to people that I lead and teach, that I believe wouldn't bog down the average reader with wordy explanations and tells them in short, what they need to know and why it's important. That's what Greear did and I pray that the people that read this book would find an answer to their question and be led to approach God about any concern that they have and seek answers form him.
I have some dominant sins in my life that made me question my salvation (still do from time to time). This book puts things in a very clear light. This type of book has been needed for some time. And now I am armed to deal with the life-dominating sins I'd mentioned earlier. I'd about given up and thought I was fooling myself, but this book does a great job of reassuring you (if you're saved) and convicting you if you aren't saved or have serious sin issues. WELL DONE.
This book is an attempt to help Christains gain an assurance of their salvation. basically, the way someone knows they are saved is if they have "evidences" of Christ-bearing fruit. He comes from the Calvinistic "once saved, always saved" (p.5) perspective" (which, in itself, is problematic).
From my perspective, Greears answer is unsatisfying. That is not to say one cannot have an assurance of salvation, however, it depends on what kind of assurance is being discussed, that is: assurance of future salvation? or, assurance of present salvation. It seems Greear means the former. As such, his reasoning is circular. Two very brief examples of what I mean:
1. Greear states, "The mark, however, of someone who is saved is that they maintain their confession of faith until the end of their lives." If that is the case, how is one presently assured that they in fact will "maintain their confession of faith" until they die? He does not seem to ask and/or answer that question.
2. Greear states that the "Bible tells us [what] are the evidences that we really have believed" (p.12), and then dileneates those purported evidences in chaper 7. Unfortunately, he gives no advice on answering the question of how do we know our, for example, love for God is genuine; nor does he provide an answer to the questions of how to know one is not self-deceived or his faith is not temporary.
The primary issue I have with the book is Greear's faulty exegetical method (not that he really offers any in the book) regarding the warining passages (ch.6) and Rom 7 (pgs.60-67).
Regarding the warning passages, he seems to assume that the writers of the epistles took into consideration that they were writing to a mixed multitude. The opening of Paul's letters indicate otherwise, e.g. Rom 1:7.
Regarding Rom 7, he interprets it as describing the apostle Pauls' life as a believer who "fell often" into sin.
(a) He seems to suggests a misinterpretation respecting the design of Rom 7, where he states that "sometimes" we do not "delight in God". First, Rom 7 does not show that, if it does depict Paul's life, he "sometimes" sins but that he sins all the time (vs.14-15). One who is at every turn falling into sin, cannot genuinely be delighting in God. He may have a desire for God but such a desires are deceptive feelings (something he seems not to take into account anywhere in the book; he seems to assume a desire for God is always genuine).
(b) Greear's assertion that the apostle "often fell" or the suggestion by implication that he did so a hundred times (p.63) flatly contradicts Paul's own divinely-inspired testimony of his own life. One who "often fell" into sin should never claim to be and could be an example of the Christ-life for others to emulate (e.g. 1 Cor 11:1). He fails to deal with those scriptures that declares the apostle Paul as things like being righteous, blameless, or having a clear conscience before God and men.
(c) I can agree when Greear states that the Christian life can be a "struggle" with sin. However, it is one thing to struggle and be defeated on a consistent basis so that you consistently fall into sin, which is what what Rom 7 depicts. It is another thing to struggle and consistently overcome sin, which the Bible clearly infers is the case with the apostle Paul and what Rom 8 depicts is to be the Christian life.
Although very few, there are some commendable things Greear said (e.g. p.60, God "didn't give us a list of things to deny; He said we must deny ourselves"). Neverthless, overall, he does not adequately grapple with the issue of assurance, misuses the Biblical data to support his view, provides only circular answers, and gives no rationale for obtaining and having assurance of salvation. It is not a book, contrary to the advice presented in the foreword, I would pass along to someone struggling in the area of doubt and assurance of their salvation.
I think that the rationally thoughtful mind, will find that Greear's book just confuses the issue even more.