We love you and your family Pastor Wil, and we miss you in NC very much. I pray God will continue to use you to build His kingdom and to reach many people groups so they can hear the message of God's remdeeming love.
Perhaps defining terms would help. TheFreeDictionary has "assent" as "agreement, concurrence." Thus, one could say "I agree" or "concur" that some proposition is true. It may not sound very emphatic, but in essence, I think it's a synonym for "I believe," unless of course the speaker is lying. Now if colloquially, "assent" means "I hear what you said," we should never confuse it for belief, & it would not deserve further discussion. In any case, I know of no Biblical equivalent to this word; offhand, it seems that almost everywhere in the NT, we see "believe" & its tenses, whether from Jesus, Apostles, or hypothetical devils.
James 2:19 is not speaking of the quality of belief, but the object, which is monotheism. Certainly I agree that belief in this, no matter how fervent, is not salvific, which is why Unitarians, JWs, and Muslims are in trouble. But it does not distinguish between *species* of belief (if there are any). The verse is therefore unhelpful in answering this question.
And I do not see how exhortations in 1 Cor. 15 to "hold fast", "stand," etc tell me anything about different qualities of belief, either. Paul tells us there to persevere, not to believe more fervently. [Out of space...]
Hey Neil, I appreciate your input. It seems clear that you are influenced by the Hodges/Ryrie/Dallas school of thought on this issue. (I'm sure you can guess my influences as well.) If not directly influenced, you do follow their thinking. Do know that I have read their books, and I remain unconvinced and opposed to their exegetical explanations. Of course, the point in referring to James 2:19 is to establish that there are ways to believe that are not saving. As far as exegetical evidence that saving belief means more than assent, one simply has to look at the calls of Christ in the Gospel; "Come," "Drink," "Follow," etc. to see that saving faith encompasses more than mental agreement. Furthermore, as you know, the context of 1 Cor 15:3-4 argues against a simple assent position. In verses 1-2 Paul says his readers "received" the gospel (vv 3-4), "stand" in the gospel, and are being saved by the gospel IF THEY "HOLD FAST." So there is the exegetical evidence in the very passage you quoted. Paul includes things like "receive," "stand," and "hold fast" as included in what it means to be saved by belief in the gospel. Clearly those words mean more than to merely assent to some facts. They mean something like "stake your life on these facts - always!" Blessings Neil.
Jas. 2:19 uses the word "believe" twice, not "assent" (assuming there's a Gk. equivalent), so how does this verse clarify matters? Is there any exegetical evidence that "assent" differs from (or is inferior to) "belief?" Whence the "far more than?"
1 Cor 15:3-4 is a summation of the content of the Gospel not what one is to do with that content. In other words, it is what we proclaim, not how we are to respond to that proclamation. To say "assent" sounds like "agree." While we must "assent" to the message, we MUST do far more than that. We must believe (which has to mean more than mere assent, Ja 2:19) and repent because of the content of the Gospel.
I just wanted to thank you for this post Wil. I have struggled with this and it something that I have been challenged with when I consider how I am going to end my messages everytime I get to preach or teach. I posted a link to this on my blog and I am encouraging everyone I know to read your post. Thanks again.
Great Sermon! Thank you and bless you Pastor Wil. I love and appreciate your sermons. I will read my Bible through this year. I need to develop that love for God's word, that you have and to memorise parts of it.
Great Sermon! This is a sermon that I need and I believe many churge goers need to hear so that we can check ourselves and take necessary steps to save ourselves from deciving ourselves that we are save. A sermon that will convict you if you are searching to know the truth about true faith.
Great Sermon! WONDERFUL SERMON PASTOR WILL. I CERTAINLY HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE WEDDING FEAST PARABLE AND I PRAY MANY WILL HEAR THIS MESSAGE AND BE CALLED AND DRAWN BY GOD THE FATHER TO JESUS CHRIST HIS SON. GOD BLESS YOU.
Great Sermon! A TERRIFIC SERMON PIERCING DEEP INTO THE HEART AND HELPING US TO EXAMINE OUR FAITH SO THAT IT CAN BE PROVED WORTHY FOR THE MASTER. THERE ARE TOO MANY FALSE CONVERSIONS TODAY BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DUPED INTO BELIEVING THAT ALL IS NEEDED IS A RECITAL OF THE SINNERS PRAYER AND ALL WILL BE WELL. THANK YOU WIL AND GOD BLESS YOU.
THANK YOU! Bless you, Pastor Wil. You have opened up these passages for me, in such an amazing way. I feel so uplifted that our Father is still raising up uncompromising preachers, who forcefully and faithfully preach God's word. I am so blessed that Jesus listened to my cry.