January 18, 2021

Internet Monk Radio Podcast #87

podcast_logo.gifPreaching news. Thoughts on the “false assurance” discussion at Frank Turk’s blog.

The Quote:

Think about who you are this weekend. Be in the Lord’s house with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day and let your assurance be challenged – because unless your assurance is changing you, unless it is putting your treasure in things which cannot rust and thieves cannot steal, you have a false assurance.

First Presbyterian Church, London, Ky.

Frank Turk’s blog post on Piper’s “Assurance” video. (There are other posts in the discussion as well.) Here, here, and here.

You all need to buy “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church” from New Reformation Press.


  1. This is typical inward turning ‘skubala’. Its one thing to say, “Your assurance based on other things is false” (other things = anything but Christ, high or low), other things other than Christ crucified and risen FOR YOU; and then after that killing Law is given the Gospel comes in where true assurance is ONLY had. As Luther said if God had wanted us to doubt then it was a waste of time for Christ to be incarnate and He would not have given us the Sacraments. It’s quite another thing to say, “…because unless your assurance is changing you, unless it is putting your treasure in things which cannot rust and thieves cannot steal, you have a false assurance”. Which is just Gnostic dualism. Peeled apart this is saying: “Don’t trust in things which rust and thieves can steal (as a half statement not wrong), but trust in your ‘changed life’ (which is just another category of things which rust and thieves can steal or shifting sand). The thing(s) that rust and thieves cannot steal is Christ, Him crucified and risen for you, the Holy Gospel…no thief can steal that reality, no rust can take…but the devil’s deceptions can, as always (as this quote does), say explicitly or implicitly, “hath God really said…” and similarly, “…if you are the Son of God…”. This is what happens when we “search the Scriptures and think that by them we have life” and fail to believe Christ, the Word of God Himself, “…but it are these that continually bear witness of ME.”

    Unless your assurance is based upon Christ and what He DID for you for your sin, you have no assurance, period. It matter ZERO whether you place your deluded assurance in football, sex or etc… OR in your changed life. Because at the end of the day BOTH of these are false assurance, both of these deny Christ, both of these are not faith for faith fixes its eyes upon Jesus and do not move. A theology of Glory can both put false faith in only “being externally blessed in this life”, comfort and etc and a theology of Glory can accommodate and put false faith in deprivation (e.g. death and suffering can become its own ToG) VERY easily (which the later was the main category under which Luther primarily saw this in his day). Theology of glory can be Joel Olstean or the modern “monk” flagellating himself somehow by deprivations of modern “Christian” circles. The Theology of Cross fixes on the Cross in good or bad times as Paul himself said he had learned to live under. No assurance can begotten from any amount of “change”, because ultimately the measure of “how much is enough” can NEVER be reached. It’s funny how some people preach everything but Christ crucified. I suppose the scandal is too much to take even for some “pastors”. Fortunately nothing requires any of us to “listen to them” or stay under their “authority”. Christ sheep will hear HIS voice and another’s they will not listen to, and Christ tends His sheep like the Good Shepherd and He gives them pasture to eat.

    As Calvin said we need to be accutely careful of our language when its in and around the subject of justification. Something far TOO many pastors today are grossly disobedient to.



  2. Michael, I purchased that book “The Almost Christian Discovered ” by Matthew Mead at a Super Duper Reformed PCA conference.I read about halfway through and had to throw it out.It was the most dispicable book I’ve ever read. Talk about a doorway to hopelessness despair and unbelief. Some pastors and teachers it seems derive some twisted pleasure from torturing people with this kind of rubbish. No one could have any assurance of any kind if they were to buy into this mindset. Really, I had to stop reading it or else I would have lost my mind and gave up on Christianity.

  3. My struggles with assurance go hand in hand with today’s brief BHT foray into Wesleyan holiness. My grandmothers were both solid Nazarenes, and the Manual seemed to supercede the Bible at times. I can’t count the times I heard comments such as “He would be a good Christian if he didn’t (smoke, cut his grass on Sunday, own a tv, belong to the Baptist church, etc.).” Salvation was a state of flux; you were never sure whether you were in or out.

    You gotta make this an issue Sunday after Sunday so that they feel scared that they’re not saved. Piper woulda made a great Nazarene. There used to be a lot of pastors who operated just this way. The net result in my family is that, with maybe one exception, each of my aunts and uncles rejected the faith. On my darkest days I wonder about myself sometimes.

    Great podcast, as usual.

  4. Great podcast. I needed that Michael.

  5. If it’s good enough for MP, its….

    Good enough to scare my Rottweiler? Seriously, the podcast started up and my dog jumped up and started staring at the computer intently.

  6. It goes right into a false premise about faith itself. Some people would say something like this concerning bad to false teaching, “eat the meat and spit out the bones”. That’s asinine. Because every teaching is based upon a central premise, and the premise is either false or true. The false premise (the bones) may hit a truth lick here and there (the meat) – but in totality it is false. Hence Jesus’ warning of being aware of the yeast (small imperceptible) of the Pharisees and NOT ‘eat the meat and spit out the bones’.

    Piper’s quasi-mystical semi-charismatic inward turning teaching hit the cutting room floor a long time ago in my house. Nothing against him personally AT ALL! He’s a finer man than I’ll ever be! But fine men didn’t hang on the Cross for me. Piper’s teaching, and I use to “get into him a lot”, roots itself on a false premise of what actually faith is. If one understands this, one understands why he confounds Law and Gospel all the time and at the end of the day attempts to “push” people into action by the way of “law”, which is easily detected by the fear of punishment/hope of reward scheme it communicates. Keep in mind I’m just speaking as to the teaching, not the man, I never doubt a man’s sincerity. Piper once described faith as likening it to a straw in a cup full of water, the water being “more grace” in which one has to suck in order to create the vacuum to get more grace. First, this is the Roman view of grace, a substance as opposed to a divine disposition toward the undeserving. Second, this manifestly makes faith a work coming from man that cannot be sugar coated by saying the Spirit does the work, because at the end of the day man has to engage the “vacuum”.

    So, contrast Piper’s idea of faith that must “suck” on the straw in order to draw up/in more grace with say Luther who said, “I confess that I cannot by my own strength or will believe in my faithful Lord Jesus Christ, BUT AM CALLED BY THE GOSPEL through the Holy Spirit. That’s two different antagonistic ideas of faith, two different religions at the end of the day from which other thoughts, teachings and ideas flow. Now, one can disagree with Luther but what one CANNOT do is say these two men teach the same thing on an essential issue.

    This plays out in ALL other teachings. This point is not to be missed. Luther CONSTANTLY and CONTINUALLY puts the promise ahead of and in front of faith so that faith “comes into being”, is fed, is strengthened. Piper engages the will of man by the law, Luther kills with the Law then gives the Gospel. Now strictly spelled out most like Piper would affirm grace alone, faith alone in many and beautiful ways, John Wesley himself had some of the most beautiful grace/gospel laden hymns but was a man full of contradictions. But one must discern what a teaching derives from and so forth. See it matters very little whether man seeks for himself in football, sex and drugs or in very pretty religious duties, evangelism or missions – because all of those are sin – because of the sinner not the actions or things themselves. Football, sex nor drugs as creatures are not inherently sinful in and of themselves, neither are evangelism or missions, but the sinner, fallen man, who uses them for his self love, self seeking, self righteous end sins doubly in them. At the end of the day the man who ignores his child because of a drug addiction and a man who does the same due to an evangelism church yard duty addiction commits the same sin – namely seeking for himself, seeking life “in this thing” rather than in Christ alone + nothing whatsoever.

    A faith that must be “mustered up”, the straw/drink faith, is at the end of the day complete false faith, the devil’s faith. Faith does not come from “trying” to engender it up in anyway or hang it on any works. Faith comes by hearing and by hearing the Word of Christ – in Word and sacrament. Many in the church do as AW Pink once aptly observed “travel on the CLEAN SIDE of the broad road that leads to hell” – the road not the dirty or clean side being the key.



  7. I bought Rod Rosenbladt’s message last week and it was a fantastic encouragement to me in a time of need. I cannot recommend it too highly.

  8. Patrick Kyle says


    Great podcast and subsequent post. I’ll link them this week. I wish more Pastors and teachers would dwell on the issue of “simultaneously sinner and saint. It would clear up a lot of confusion in the church.


  9. I agree with your take on justification and assurance Michael so this isn’t anything against that. I’m just not sure if Piper’s view of assurance can be accurately portrayed by that one quote since it is very multi-faceted (being drawn from Jonathan Edwards views)
    I still don’t think Piper’s view is full-proof, don’t automatically say I’m “quenching” the discussion. Just thought I’d add my two cents since everyone is on a Piper-bash kick lately.

  10. Did someone say you were quenching the discussion? What did I miss?

  11. IMonk, we used to call the tear-down tactic of that “famous evangelist” in the mid-Seventies “The Ressegue Regression” (after its most vocal user in Cal Poly Pomona’s Christian Ghetto of the same period).

    Basically, Ressegue Regression was a high-pressure “overturning assurance of every kind” using an Infinite Regression:

    1) Witness asks “Are you SAVED?”
    2) Mark answers “Yes.”
    3) Witness leaps in with the hook.
    “How do you KNOW you’re Saved?”
    4) Mark answers with Reason A.
    5) Witness hits him with “How do you KNOW you’re REALLY Reason A?”
    6) Mark answers with Reason B.
    7) Witness hits him with “How do you KNOW you’re REALLY Reason B?”
    8) Continue Steps 5-8 without letup until the mark is finally worn down.
    9) Witness leads mark in the “The Sinner’s Prayer” (aka “Say the Magic Words”) and gets another “Saved Soul” notch on his Bible for brownie points with God. (See “Wretched Urgency”.)

    I know this because I “got Saved” over half a dozen times this way. Notch on that many Bibles. By that time you start wondering if it’s all BS from Day One.

  12. Oooooo. Just got to the point (after the Ressegue Regression at 15 minutes in) where the high-pressure pitch gets to “If you’re not willing for God to Take Your Children And Kill Them, then You’re Not REALLY A Christian” at 15:30. (These days, I’d fire back “How many of your kids have you buried, Preacher? My writing partner buried his first, and a Mormon gamer friend buried his first three!”)

    I first came across that in a radio preacher’s sermon (again) in the Seventies. The theme was “LORD, Take Away Whatever Stands Between Thee and Me”, a statement which became the refrain/chorus after every stanza of his sermon.

    Each stanza had to do with something good happening to the sermon’s subject (some sort of big-name Missionary), only to have it be taken away by God because it “became an idol” for The Christian — “LORD, Take Away Whatever Stands Between Thee and Me”.

    The last stanza had to do with finding Miss Right, getting married, and having a strong and happy marriage (my dream since I hit puberty and discovered girls around 1971). And then God kills the wife (with some sort of disease or accident) — “LORD, Take Away Whatever Stands Between Thee and Me”.

    I wonder if “residual poisoning” from that sermon might be one reason why (at age 52) I have never married and (with one exception at age 26 that didn’t work out) never got much beyond a first date. (If you don’t let yourself have anything in the first place, nobody can take it away from you.)

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