A Comment that Resonated with Me
A gentleman named Stan Nelson left this in the comments of the previous post and I want to highlight it for further discussion if anyone wants to discuss. So in a way, Stan Nelson has become the author of a new Guest Post. :~) It is well worth the read!!!
I haven't posted on your blog for quite a while. But, if I may, I'd like to share something that I've written on the subject of intellectual assent and trust in saving faith. I hold that trust as well as intellectual assent is required for saving faith.
It seems to me that if saving faith is defined only as intellectual assent to the truth of the Gospel message without the element of trust in Christ as ones own Savior for eternal salvation, then unsaved people who have such intellectual assent would become saved whether they want to be or not.
This relates to the additionally important matter of deliberateness in getting saved. Can a person intentionally receive (or reject) the gift of eternal salvation? I think so ( Rev. 22:17; John 12:48). It might even be argued that intentionally is the only way to receive it.
If the Bible presents the Gospel message as an invitation to believe in Christ for the purpose of getting saved, then both desire and volition on the part of the recipient would seem to be necessary. And if people are held accountable for their response to the offer it would also be reasonable to conclude that we have been given the ability to make a choice in the matter. For, unintentionally believing in Christ for the purpose of receiving the gift and getting saved doesn't make sense.
Requiring trust or reliance as part of saving faith is naturally compatible with the idea of salvation being an actual offer. Whereas, intellectual assent to the truth of the Gospel message doesn't, by itself, involve either wanting or acceptance of salvation.
I'm of the opinion that, although they may occur at the same time, intellectual assent and trust aren't identical. Believing that Christ saves versus believing in Him for salvation are separate things. Those who have trusted in Christ for eternal salvation, obviously, have also assented to the truth of the Gospel message. But people who have intellectually assented to the truth of the message have not necessarily trusted in Christ for eternal salvation.
Requiring trust or reliance as a part of saving faith is not ammunition for Lordship Salvation because trust is not a work. It's simply accepting the invitation to be saved by deliberately relying on Christ alone as ones Savior.
Agreement with the truth of the mechanics of how salvation is supplied and obtained isn't the same as actually accepting that salvation through faith in Christ as ones own Savior. The system of solitary intellectual assent also rings of cold academics. Requiring trust or reliance in not only the Gospel message but also in Him to Whom the message points is not only logical, it's also personal and satisfying. Deliberate trust in Christ for eternal salvation has the wonderful effect of cementing assurance of ones salvation, even in the face of trials or troubling and unanswered questions about Christianity.
If there is a circumstance under which intellectual assent, by itself, could be shown to be insufficient to save, then it would seem that requiring trust as a part of saving faith would be demonstrated as being necessary.
An article appeared some years ago in a GES newsletter (http://faithalone.org/news/y1989/89july2.html) describing a woman who believed herself to be unsaved because she believed she was not one of the elect. If such a person believed herself to be unsavable because of belief that Christ died and paid the penalty only for the sins of the elect but not for her, and if she also believed the Gospel message of Christ being the Savior, wouldn't this then be a case of someone having intellectual assent to the truth of how people are saved (that is, the Gospel message), and yet remain unsaved?
People with such a belief system couldn't accept the gift of salvation through faith in Christ as their own Savior because they don't believe He is their Savior; and yet, they do believe He is the Savior of believers in Him. In other words, they believe the Gospel message about how people (some people, in their thinking) obtain salvation but, thinking salvation is unavailable to themselves, they don't trust in Christ as their own Savior and, therefore, remain unsaved.
I suppose it could be argued that, since she didn't believe it applied to her that, therefore, she didn't really believe the Gospel at all. But, does the intellectual assent only position require beilef in the truth of the universal availability of salvation? It doesn't seem so. And, if not, wouldn't this be an example of having intellectual assent without receiving salvation? And wouldn't it therefore prove that intellectual assent to the truth of the Gospel message is not, by itself, saving faith? Again, acknowledgement of the truth of how people are saved is not equivalent to the acceptance of the salvation that's offered.
Another important point should be made. If people are saved only through intellectual assent to the truth of the Gospel message that Christ, because of Who He is and what He's done, saves sinners who believe in Him, then saving faith would carry the impossible idea that people are saved solely by believing that those who believe in Him are saved. Using the word "believe" (or its equivalent) twice within the sentence is what makes this riddle impossible.
Trying to define what it means to believe in Christ by saying that it means to "believe that" those who "believe in" doesn't define what "believe in" actually means. For if "believe in" is said to mean "to believe that those who believe in" it's then being used to attempt to define itself. It's doubletalk to say that believing in Christ is the same thing as "believing that those who believe in Him …" They aren't the same. Arguing that saving faith is sole intellectual assent to the truth of the Gospel message does this very thing.
This problem with the intellectual assent only viewpoint is compounded because, even though it claims that belief in the truth of the Gospel proposition is the same as direct belief in Christ Himself, as shown above, it's really not. Therefore, that viewpoint wrongfully allows for the belief in the truth of a statement as a substitute or alternate object of saving faith. It would be like saying that group number one gets saved by believing in Christ; but group number two gets saved by believing the mechanics of how group number one got saved.
Believing the truth of a statement that promises a benefit for believing in an object described in the statement is not the same as believing in the described object. People aren't saved by merely believing that the Gospel message is true. They are saved the way the message says to be saved; by believing in Christ (Acts 16:29-31).