William Gurnall on Faith

Puritan heretic William Gurnall writes:

“Justifying faith is not assurance. If it were, St. John might have spared his pains, who wrote to them that ‘believed on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life,’ I John 5:13. They might then have said ‘We do this already. What else is our faith, but a believing that we are such as through Christ are pardoned, and shall through him be saved?’ But this cannot be so.” (William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour; italics original; underlining mine)
Gurnall’s reasoning does not follow (i.e., it is a non sequitur).  For John, Paul, and Peter did not “[spare their] pains” when they wrote stuff like this:

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” (1 John 2:20-21)

“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know [them,] and be established in the present truth.” (2 Peter 1:12)

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed [is] not grievous, but for you [it is] safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” (Philippians 3:1-2)
Has Gurnall ever heard of edifying reminders or encouraging confirmations in a faith that is already established on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ?  So whenever an apostle wrote an epistle to professing believers, the response would always (?) be some sort of sigh that says, “We already do this.  We already know this.  Enough of the tedium!”? Gurnall foolishly fights against the teaching of Hebrews 11:1 that Faith Is Assurance. But this is par for the pernicious Puritan course.

Here is the Biblical text that Gurnall vainly attempted to pancake into a proof-text for establishing his own righteousness (cf. Romans 10:1-4):

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)
Earlier in John’s letter we read this:

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love [of God,] because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:14-18)
In 1 John 3:14-18 true believers see confirming evidential fruit of loving their brothers in Christ. Those who love their brothers in Jesus Christ have passed from death unto life:

1. God requires of His people that they love and fellowship with each other. Love of the brothers in Jesus Christ is an inevitable fruit of salvation. [Psa 101:6; 133:1; Joh 13:34-35; 17:20-21; Gal 6:10; Phi 1:27; 2:2-4; 3:16; 1Jo 1:7; 2:9-11; 3:11,14-16,23; 4:7,11,20-21; 5:1]

2. One of the main proofs that believers love their brothers in Jesus Christ is that they do not speak peace to their brothers’ enemies. They obey God’s command to separate themselves from the world and false Christians. [Exo 34:15-16; Deu 13:1-3; Psa 1:1; 26:4-5; 101:3-8; Pro 4:14-15; 9:6; Joh 15:19; Rom 16:17-18; 1Co 5:11; 10:21; 2Co 6:14-18; Eph 5:7-12; 1Ti 6:3-5; 2Ti 3:5; 1Jo 2:15-16; 2Jo 10-11; Rev 18:4] http://www.outsidethecamp.org/ccfv.htm
These proofs or confirming fruits of loving, providing for dire needs of, and not speaking peace to their brothers’ enemies are NOT grounds of assurance of justification, obviously. These proofs are inevitable fruits of regenerating grace.


“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy [Spirit]; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)

From 1 John 5:13 and Titus 3:5-7, we see that those who believe in the Son of God know they have been justified by His grace and made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  They know that the regenerating (resurrecting) work of the Holy Spirit has been poured out on them abundantly through the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.  True believers know the power of His efficacious cross-work and the power of His resurrection.


4. Faith is not a condition of or prerequisite to salvation; instead, faith believes that Jesus Christ alone met all the conditions for salvation. Faith is the instrument through which a believer receives the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and is justified. No man is justified before God by works. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone is diametrically opposed to salvation by works. Scripture rejects the lie that man is able to keep the law of God or even a mere summary of the law as a means of gaining God’s favor, let alone that he is able to obey the law beyond what God requires. [Isa 45:24-25; 51:5; Luk 17:10; Joh 1:12-13; 5:24; 6:29; Act 13:39; Rom 3:20-28; 4:1-5,14-25; 5:1; 9:16,30-33; 11:6; Gal 2:16; 3:6-12; 5:2-6; Eph 2:8-9; Phi 3:9; Heb 11:4,7]

5. When God regenerates and converts a sinner, indwelling sin is not totally removed from a believer. A believer continues to sin against God all the days of his life, and he continues to be ashamed of and to repent of his sin. But a believer’s sin in no way forfeits his interest in Jesus Christ nor annuls God’s covenant with him. Scripture rejects the lie that man may be freed from indwelling sin in this life; anyone who says he has no sin is an unbeliever. [1Ki 8:46; Psa 32:5; 37:24; 38:18; 41:4; 69:5; 130:3; Rom 7:14-25; Jam 5:16; 1Jo 1:8-10]

6. God gives every believer assurance of salvation. The believer’s assurance does not lie in his obedience to the law, his continued repentance, or anything else but in the sure and certain promise of God through the work of Jesus Christ alone received by faith. [2Sa 23:5; Psa 5:11; 9:10; 32:10; 34:22; 62:1-2,5-7; 64:10; 125:1; 130:7-8; 147:11; Isa 26:3; 32:17; Jer 17:7-8; Nah 1:7; Rom 5:1; 8:15-16,33-39; 9:33; 2Co 1:18-22; Eph 3:12; Phi 1:6; Col 2:2; 1Th 1:5; 2Ti 1:12; Heb 6:11,16-19; 10:22; 11:1; Rev 5:9] http://www.outsidethecamp.org/ccfv.htm

Related and recommended to be read in addition to this post:

Marc D. Carpenter’s sermon on Romans 9:30-32a

Gospel Atonement

Gospel Resurrection