Does a Calvinist Have Assurance of Salvation?

Given the previous post where John Piper seems to be wondering whether he is saved, I thought it would be good to repost this article:

Every Calvinist I know believes that they’re part of Team Elect. But, interestingly enough, John Calvin writes in his Institutes of Religion 3.2.11 that God reveals himself not just to his elect, but also to the reprobate. Per Calvin, God instills within the reprobate a sense of God’s goodness and mercy to the point where the reprobate believes God loves him, has mercy for him and will save him However, the reprobate is only enlightened with a present and not eternal sense of grace. As such, any conviction the reprobate experiences doesn’t lead to salvation.

So, God, essentially gives those who have no chance for salvation a sense of hope? As Dave Hunt asked, “What kind of love is this?”

That said, could it be that some of those who think they’re part of Team Elect are actually on Team Reprobate? Perhaps God has given various folks who think they’re elect a sense of right and wrong, a sense of godliness and an inner spirit dwelling within. So, how can anyone have any sense of eternal security? How does confusion not reign with respect to differentiating whether one is a member of Team Elect or that one is a member of Team Reprobate?

Key phrases from Calvin’s Institutes of Religion 3.2.11:

The reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.

There is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate.

[God] only gives [the reprobate] a manifestation of his present mercy.

I’ve often wondered how it is that members of the LDS or JW faiths can have such assurance of salvation when, per every Calvinist I’ve ever had such a conversation, nothing could be further from the truth. So, what pray tell, does the Calvinist have to know they’re saved other than the same ‘sense’ or ‘feeling’ that the reprobate (maybe they’re called Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, etc.)?


Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who has recently entered the "Buick stage" of life and decided to migrate to Florida. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

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