Friday, November 30, 2018

The Vision (11.30.18): The Practical Syllogism

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 15:8-15.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples (John 15:8).

Here is a simple Biblical test of assurance: Am I bearing spiritual fruit so that the Father is glorified in me? If I am bearing this fruit and the Father is glorified in me, then I give evidence that I am truly his disciple.

Some of the Reformation and Puritan Fathers used verses like this in discussions related to assurance of salvation: How do I know that I’m a Christian?

They developed what is known as the syllogismus practicus or “practical syllogism,” based on the logical deduction that a conclusion could be drawn from an action (see Joel R. Beeke, The Quest for Full Assurance [Banner of Truth, 1999]). So, the practical syllogism would go something like this:

Major premise: Only those who do x are saved.
Minor premise: I do x.
Conclusion: Therefore, I am saved.

Alongside this practical syllogism, some also developed what was called the “mystical syllogism”:

Major premise: Those who are saved have an inward confirmation of their salvation by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Minor premise: I have this inward work confirmation of the Holy Spirit.
Conclusion: Therefore, I am saved.

We see here in this verse and in some of the other teachings in these upper room discourses the Biblical basis for the practical syllogism. But we need to be careful, because we know that such tests can be wrongly used to convey false assurance (cf. Matt 7:21-23). One can say, I must be a Christian, because I pray, I attend services, I read the Bible, I serve others, etc. And it can all be a load of false assurance and works righteousness.

The thing that cannot be overlooked is the stress on abiding in Christ. How do we know we are truly in Christ? We abide or remain in him, because without him we can do nothing (John 15:5). The Lord Jesus taught in Matthew 24:13: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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