The Joy of Assurance As the Essence and Expression of John Flavel’s Spirituality
MetadataShow full item record
The main goal of this dissertation is to contribute to the field of biblical spirituality by demonstrating the link between John Flavel’s understanding of the doctrine of assurance and his pursuit of joy. Joy is the hallmark of his spirituality, and it is to a great extent informed by his understanding of what it means to be assured of salvation in Christ. After unpacking Flavel’s understandings of assurance and joy, this work demonstrates their centrality in Flavel’s spirituality in the following key areas of its expression––looking to Christ, discerning the Spirit, obeying the law, keeping the heart, and carrying the cross. The introduction provides a brief overview of the life and ministry of Flavel, setting him in his historical context. Chapter 2 examines Flavel’s doctrine of assurance and his development of it upon the work of John Calvin and the Westminster Assembly. Chapter 3 considers the centrality of joy in Flavel’s spirituality, and the relationship of joy to assurance. Chapter 4 analyzes Flavel’s joy in looking to Christ. This chapter explains Flavel’s Christology and focuses on Christ as the foundation of assurance and the object of joy. Chapter 5 considers Flavel’s joy in discerning the Spirit. It addresses Flavel’s theology of the Spirit and examines how Christians can find great joy in discerning the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in their hearts and lives. Chapter 6 considers Flavel’s joy in obeying the law. Flavel’s spirituality is highlighted by the necessity of obedience in strengthening the assurance and joy of the believer. Chapter 7 examines Flavel’s joy in keeping the heart. It unpacks the significance of the heart in Flavel’s spirituality, and the means by which believers protect their hearts from sin and encourage their hearts to holiness. Chapter 8 highlights Flavel’s joy in carrying the cross. As evident in his own life, Flavel views assurance as both a comfort in suffering and a result of suffering. Chapter 9 concludes and summarizes the dissertation, and also provides areas for additional research.