If you’re a regular viewer of Little Lessons, you may be thinking that you’ve already seen this particular episode. That’s because I did record a Little Lesson with a similar title not long ago. But I’m a little dissatisfied with the answer that I gave to that question at the time, so I wanted to revisit this subject.
And the reason is because I do know something about Amish culture and belief, and so forth. I interface quite regularly with Amish people. There are over 300,000 Amish people in North America. They trace their roots back to the radical reformation back in the 16th century, originally really known as Mennonites, but there was a split from them and that was the birth of the Amish. Of course, the Amish have split lots of times since then. And so they’re all over the spectrum of liberal and conservative now. Even within the old order genre of Amish people.
Okay, so what precipitated my wanting to talk about this another time is because three of my closest Amish friends, whom wasn’t sure where they stood without plenty of spiritual conversations, but not too long ago I asked them the very important question, do you have assurance of eternal life? And all of them emphatically said no. And when I asked them to explain why not, they went on to tell me that because you can’t know because you don’t know if you’ve been good enough until you die and face your judgment.
So that jolted me a bit because then I thought, oh my goodness, that doesn’t sound a lot like they’re really believing in Jesus who promised if you believe in him, that he gives you eternal life. And we know that our salvation is not based on our works. Our salvation, the new birth and dwelling of the Holy Spirit produces good works, but the basis of our salvation is not what we do, it’s what Jesus did. And the person who’s hoping they’re good enough is really a bit of an idolater because they’re setting themselves up as their own potential savior. Not guaranteed, but potential savior.
So I actually did more research to find out what the original Anabaptist believed. I think I pretty much knew that already, but then I studied the Amish schism much more thoroughly. And the kind of the confessional statement of the Anabaptist, the Mennonites and the Amish today is a document called the Dordrecht Confession. I think it was adopted in something like 1627 or something like that, or 1527, in France by Mennonites. And then it was ultimately embraced by the Amish formally. And all Old Order Amish hold to it today. And it’s a lovely confession of faith. I think it has 18 or 22 articles or something.
And I read through them. And I found myself in agreement with the majority of it. Maybe almost entirely agreeing with every statement that they made, with just very few exceptions because it was all based on Bible verses. And there was no doubt that the original Anabaptists, the Mennonites and then the Amish, they all certainly believed that assurance of salvation was part and parcel of what comes in the package of salvation.
If you’re born again, and the Holy Spirit comes to indwell you, and your name is written in heaven, and you’re a new creation, and you become a priest before God, and all these other things that are spoken in the Dordrecht Confession about what happens to people that believe in Jesus. And if you’re walking in the newness of life and so forth, well we just stand to reason that there could be some assurance that should you die of a heart attack that you would go to heaven. Right? And of course, we know The Bible gives us many reasons to believe that we can have, right here, present time, assurance of our salvation.
So when my three Amish friends confessed that they did not have that assurance, I began to really wonder if they have kind of a veneer of biblical lifestyle with many, of course, manmade rules thrown on top of it, but have missed the really core focus of Jesus Christ, his sacrifice on the cross making it possible for us to have eternal life. And as I looked into it even further, I found out that in fact, yes, for the most part, as a doctrine, Amish people believe that you cannot have assurance of your salvation. And if you do, it’s an indication of pride. Of course, that’s an indication again that they believe that it’s based upon your works and your performance. And Jesus’ death on the cross is insufficient. You’ve got to add some works.
Now, again, there’s a fine line between that and what is biblical truth in that, as I’ve already stated, if we believe in Jesus, you’re born again, you start loving the brethren, your life changes because you repented, and you begin having fruit in your life as you endeavor to follow Christ. But it’s by his ability, and his power, his transformation by the Holy Spirit. That’s different than trying to be good enough that you hope you get enough points that God will say, “You got enough points.” And so you just slid in barely and you just missed hell because you did one good work enough to put you over the line. No, that’s a legalist.
And for that reason, I’d have to say now in retrospect that any Amish person that holds to that, that would be, I think, a pretty good indication that you really don’t know the Lord. You’re really not born again, you just have religion. And I wrote actually a paper on that to give to some of my Amish friends to show them what’s in their own confession. It’s in the front of all their hymnals, it’s in the front of the famous Anabaptist book titled, The Martyrs Mirror, which every Anabaptist family would have a copy of that, the Dordrecht Confession, and showing them that this is what your forefathers believed. This is Anabaptist. This is Mennonite. This is Amish doctrine. And these people had saving faith.
And you know something else I found about the Amish that if you are born again and you start sharing the gospel, they’ll ex-communicate you and shun you. What does that say? If you don’t love the people who are born again, if you ex-communicate them and shun them because they’re born again, and they’re trying to follow Jesus, and they’re trying to share the gospel, and you ex-communicate them because you say they’re full of pride, what does that say? It would say you’re not born again because we know we’ve passed from death to life because we love the brethren.
So please join me in praying for 300,000 Amish people in the United States of America who, although they have a form of godliness, they are, in fact, denying the power of transformation, the power of the blood of Christ, the power of his sacrifice to save us from our sins and the wrath of God. And we can say with the Apostle John, we know we’ve passed from death to life because we love the brethren. Amen. And John said in his first epistle, “These things I wrote to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you might know you have eternal life.” Okay? Okay, thanks for joining me on this Little Lesson. I hope to see you next time.