Eternal Salvation?

Hey Ya’ll,

I don’t typically choose to turn my blog into a doctrinal debate center. It’s typically more focused on worship, leadership, and family.

Over the years, I’ve often struggled with the “eternal salvation” doctrine. It usually boils up to the point where I make a case and the response from the “eternal salvation” crowd is the typical “well, in that case, we just have to believe that person was never really, truly born again to begin with“.

This morning, sippin’ my 1st cup of coffee … I run across Hebrews 3:13-14. This is one of those mysterious Scriptures that I’ve struggled with …. reading commentary, searching various translations, etc. Read it this morning during my study/prayer time on YouVersion.Com:

13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”

To better understand the context of this verse, you have to look back a few verses. We see that God was warning this current generation, the readers of Hebrews, and comparing them to the children of Israel who rebelled in the desert and had unbelief. He was so angry with their non-stop rebellion and unbelief that he finally said “they shall never enter my rest“.

It’s easy to say these Scriptures are referring to “unbelievers”, but in Verse 14, it’s clear that they “had it” at one time, and if they “hold firmly till the end”, they’ll keep it.

I suppose one of the most troubling verses I’ve ever seen is in Rev 3:5. (note, I really thought a similar verse was in the OT, but after finding this reference, I stopped searching, but I’m positive the notion is mentioned more than once in the Scriptures).

He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.”

As we know, the “book of life“, also known as the “Lamb’s Book of Life”, is the book of salvation. As Christians we believe that when you are born again, your name is “entered” into the “book of life”. (see specifically the “References in Christian Bible” section at Wikipedia)

Here we see that God promises that for those who overcome, their names will NOT be blotted out of the book of life. I struggle to see any other way to interpret this other than concluding that a name COULD be blotted out.

In conclusion, let me assure you of this … I’m in no way suggesting that we have no means of eternal security. I’m in no way suggesting that we must walk each day questioning our salvation. By no means! On the contrary, we’re promised that the Holy Spirit “seals” us for the day of redemption, and by the Holy Spirit, we bear witness of our salvation. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can convince me that my salvation is questionable. At the same time, I do walk out my salvation with “fear and trembling”, and I’m not so proud to think that I couldn’t be swept away in such deception that I fall into unbelief, eventually even denouncing Christ and coming to a place of apostasy.

We know in the Word that nothing can separate us from God’s love … but God loves those who are saved as much as those who are lost, so that’s not really the issue.

Makes me ponder, makes me study, makes me pray. What do you think?
Fred

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59 comments on Eternal Salvation?

  1. Well, brother, this is the proverbial can of worms, huh? The same dilemma is in the “predestination” issue. Many scriptures can be found to support both sides of the coin. The true matter to consider is the heart of the Father.

    God loves us, and in the words of our old pal Gilbert Posey, He is not a rapist, forcing His will on us. We have free will to decide whether or to receive Him or not.

    If we have that free will to choose, then we have that free will to walk away. Our freedom to choose is not removed when we are born again.

    I don’t believe it’s possible to “lose our salvation” like we do a set of keys. We must make a choice to FORSAKE Him.

    Personally, I believe it’s pretty hard to go to that place. I believe it IS that many were “not really saved to begin with”. But I cannot make that eternal judgement on a person’s heart.

    Ultimately, nothing can separate us from His love. Even if we walk away from Him I believe He still loves us. But even with that being said, the scripture is clear that God “hated Esau” because he sold his “birthright” for something temporary.

    There is much to consider in this, but the safest thing to know is that if we are walking with God to the best we are able to do (and I know that statement is hard for some), that we will NEVER have to be concerned for our own salvation.

    In that I take great comfort.

  2. Fred says:

    Good points, Robert. I’m with you – it’s hard to believe that someone could willfully choose to walk away and denounce God after truly “tasting” and “seeing” His love for us. But, at the same time, I don’t want to form an opinion based on what I can or cannot fathom … rather, my opinion needs to be shaped on God’s Word. That’s why Scriptures about that seem to “suggest” that “if we hang on”, “if we hold fast to the end”, and “names blotted out” make me wonder if the issue is so easy to work out!

    Fred

  3. Amy says:

    I think we have to look at the character of God. God is Just, Holy, Full of Mercy and Grace. He is Immutable, He is Love, He is also All – Powerful, All – Knowing and All – Present. Because He is God, therefore as we all know, our sins must be recompensed. Because He is Holy, He cannot look upon sin and because He is just, there is a penalty for sin.

    This is of course why God sent Christ to atone for our sin. When we accept Christ, we are covered in his blood and God therefore no longer sees our sin, but sees the blood of His Son. As for the loss of salvation, it would go against God’s character to revoke someones salvation. We live in a fallen world, where for this time, satan has full reign.

    I like to think on Job and his trials that he went through. He lost everything all because satan came to God and told him that Job would turn on God, if Job were not soo blessed. But Job intimately knew God, and therefore held onto Him through his trial.

    Salvation is not through works . . . although that idea seems to flow prominently throughout the South. There is a humility in coming before God and confessing your sins, so people think and dwell on . . . “if I am just good enough . .. ” that God will ultimately let them into Heaven.

    God knows our hearts . . . sometimes better than we do I think. Sometimes when we are going through the trials and tribulations, we take our eyes off of God because we can no longer keep our head up, and many times when we lose sight of God, we get lost ourselves. God is still there waiting on us, right where we left Him, yet in our blindness it takes us awhile to find our way back.

    Another thing that I love about God, is His mentality that “none should parish,” if that is God’s heartbeat, how cold He ever blot out a name in the book of life? God is all knowing . .. He knows who will make the choice for him and who won’t . . . but He’s also that hopeless romantic that stands knocking at the door of our hearts wanting to be let into the sinner’s heart . . . and the same goes for us . . . look at Rev 3: 1 – 22

    To the Church in Laodicea
    14″To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
    These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

    The church of Laodicea is a picture of the church today. and God says in verse 20: 0Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

    He is talking to the church . . . He is there knocking at the door and wants to come in and dine with us. We as Christians, keep sitting on the fence at times (lukewarm) because we are too engrossed in this world, to be out there doing what God whats us to do . .. spreading His Word and His Love.

    I know for one that I am guilty of it . . .but God is still working on me. They key is our hearts . . .not allowing them to become hard, because when we harden our hearts towards God, it can take a sledgehammer to soften it.

    I do hope this all made sense. God is pursuing us, and shaping us and molding us. We just have to surrender to Him, so that we are completely moldable.

  4. Too bad I don’t have more time this morning because I’d LOVE to jump into this, but let me just say that I don’t believe in “Once Saved, Always Saved” but DO believe in “Eternal Security” combined with “Perseverance of the Saints”. Personally I think the issue is almost too complex to address in one blog, because simply a study of the various words we use to symbolize “Salvation” mean wildly different things, and their tenses affect the significance and ‘tenure’ of their meaning a great deal as well. That’s just to say, one spot of the Bible that talks about ‘salvation’ may use a different word, with a significantly different verb tense, than another, which is hard to convey in English. Sometimes salvation merely means wholeness, sometimes safety, sometimes healing, sometimes even pointing towards eternal life, and the tenses used in the text are sometime present, sometimes contingent, and are sometimes ‘eternal’, and English doesn’t necessarily work so well at conveying those things. Anyway, the simplest way I could put my understanding of the issue (without walking you through ALL of the Bible study stuff), if someone is TRULY Christ’s, they persevere until the end IN Christ. If someone doesn’t persevere, chances are very good that they were not Christ’s, and were not saved, were not being saved, and will not be saved.

    As a jumping point, and in order to not take over your whole blog, I just reposted a two chapter excerpt, with Scripture, from Douglas Wilsons “Easy Chairs, Hard Words” on the issue of whether salvation can be lost. Just take a read over at:
    http://heatlight.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/can-salvation-be-lost-can-christ-lose-a-christian/

  5. You were reading in Hebrews, right? Keep reading on in chapter 6 and you’ll find the section that causes deep fear and trembling in me: the part that says that those who have once tasted and received – if they FALL AWAY – . . . there is no way to restore them again to a place of repentance.

    Again, God does not take anyone’s salvation from them. We walk away from it. It seems pretty cut and dry to me. But I know Whom I’ve believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day . . . as long as I don’t take it back from Him.

    Hebrews says that Jesus was created “a little lower than the angels”. This means that He didn’t have quite as much as they did, right? I can’t see it meaning anything else, but am open to being wrong.

    Anyway, if the angels fell away and received a just recompense, how much more . . . . ???

    Selah

  6. Fred says:

    Robert, thanks for the ongoing comments …
    Amy – thanks for venturing outside of MySpace world and commenting here …. I have several things to ponder after your post:

    1. I don’t know if it’s against God’s character to “revoke” anything … we’re talking about a just God … and again, I don’t think He would be the proactive one in “revoking”, I think he would be acting justly in response to our decision to be in unbelief and walk away/denounce Him. So, we’d be the ones “revoking” our own salvation, He (God) would be the One keeping the record of the choice WE made. (I’m with Robert on that one).

    2. totally agree about “works” – we’re saved by faith, not by works … although a true saving faith will have works as evidence, according to God’s Word … but can’t say enough how I agree that “works” are NOT what gives us salvation.

    3. about God’s menatlity that “none should perish” … absolutely, however, people DO and ARE going to perish. Just because God’s desire is that “none would perish” doesn’t mean that we, as human beings, don’t have the opportunity to make the wrong eternal choice and perish. It’s not that God “sends us to hell” as much as it is God, who desires that NO PERSON go to hell, gives us the free will to decide if we believe or not. (granted, I think Shannon mentioned in another blog that “free will” is a man-made term, but it’s definitely a concept that is clearly demonstrated throughout Scripture, even if they don’t use those “words”) …

    That being said, I’m not sure we can pull the “God’s character” thing into it so much … if we truly believe that it’s a choice we made.

    Of course, that gets into pre-dest, and all that fun stuff!

    Let’s keep talking!
    FRED

  7. One quick note:
    Rev 3:5 only says that under those circumstances he will never blot out their name, however – to be true to the text – it never explicitly says that otherwise He WOULD blot it out.

    Balance this against verses like:
    John 10:28-29 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (though it may be said that one leaving the fold on their own is not ‘snatch’-ing them our of Christ’s hand, the previous verse is much bolder still: they shall ‘never perish’)

    Another question to ask ourselves, when we are born, can we ‘unbirth’ ourselves? From that point on we are a human with a soul, made to exist for eternity, and even if we commit suicide we cannot undo our birth and we remain what we were born as. So, how would it be possible after being ‘born again’ to undo it? If we are truly born again, we are new creatures – can that possibly be undone any more than we could ‘unbirth’ ourselves?

    Hebrews 3:14 states “For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end”, affirming that if one is truly saved, that they will persevere.

    See also the ‘chain of salvation’ in Romans 8:28-30: foreknew, predestined, called, justified, glorified. To anyone which experienced one, then next in the chain occurred. Salvation seems absolutely secure here.

    Also, one of the primary images used of our relationship to God in Christ is that of ‘adoption’. In the culture of that day, though one could ‘put away’ a biological son for various grievances, no matter how poorly behaved an adopted child was, their relational status as son/daughter was permanent. It seems that God’s use of ‘adoption’ in the Bible was intentional, and partially used to carry this important distinction.

    Lastly, I heard the question posed: “If I can’t do good works to get saved, then how can bad actions make me lose my salvation?” A good question, especially when one considers that even ‘Faith’ is a work of man, unless one believes it is the gift of God as I believe the Bible states (see Ephesians 2:8-9, particularly in light of Jesus’ statements in John 6:65 & John 6:37).

    Good post, though – it’s an issue we all need to grapple with. I hope I gave you some more to chew on, friend!

  8. klampert says:

    we are saved by GRACE…not by works.or by faith

  9. Ken Mullis says:

    Wow Fred all these comments are really neat. 1. I don’t believe anything can snatch us out of His hand if we want to be in His hand!
    2. To Amys comment on the Church at Laodicea, the passage says that because of the lukewarmness of the Church, God says He is about to spew them out of His mouth. One key point to make here is that He can’t spew you out of Himself if your not in Him.
    3. On predestination; God has a predestined life that includes our giftings and callings and purpose for ‘whosever will’. Therefore even our predestined purposes depend on us being one who ‘will’
    Thanks for letting me jump in.
    Remember. Follow me follow Elvis!

  10. I’m convinced that any of ten or twelve different perspectives on this can all be proof-texted with some authority.

    There are those who are strongly convinced that those who believe in eternal security are not saved. There are those who maintain that one cannot be saved without believing in eternal security, on the basis of that being true “belief” in Jesus Christ.

    I personally lean toward salvation being a free gift from God based on the holiness and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ being accepted by the believer. My inclination – and I’m much like Fred here in that I question those who are adamant in either direction – is to believe that yes, it is possible to turn away from one’s salvation by genuine disbelief. Neither do I think that salvation is “conditional” upon good works after salvation. I can, however, see the “logic” to salvation being conditional upon continued faith.

    Again, like Fred, I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that one particular verse can put to rest.

    I also don’t think this is a question that has to be settled in order to come to Jesus. I’ll be honest – my personal lack of 100% conviction about the various doctrines of salvation often puts a dent in my evangelism attitude, simply because I know it’s unwise to be dogmatic about the how and why of the inner workings of salvation, and so many “how to lead someone to Christ” presentations rely on seeing the doctrine of salvation in a particular fashion. That’s not an excuse – I should be sharing Christ regardless, but it’s easy for me to get wrapped up in the baggage of these kinds of questions and the fact that I don’t know how to answer.

    In one respect, it’s my conviction that those who dogmatically teach eternal security on the basis of “pray this prayer and you’ll be saved forever” without emphasizing belief and true trust in Christ have severely damaged the name of Christianity because so many have “prayed the prayer” but never truly trusted and thus never truly known Christ. In July of last year, I struggled with this to no end, and there’s a huge uncertainty about my prior life that I don’t know if I’ll ever resolve. (http://www.karnardkreations.com/bernardshuford/nfblog/2007/12/06/7-05-07/ for more about that if you’re interested.)

    Learning to share the gospel in spite of our uncertainties about doctrines and even our confusion and doubts is hugely important. I’m terribly ashamed of my witnessing record – or the lack thereof – but I do have a tremendous burden to see people who don’t know God come to know him.

    Great discussion.

  11. One thing I think we should all realize about God’s character and heart concerning us is that “hell” was NOT created for us. It was created for the devil and his angels.

    Therefore, we must keep totally in mind that God has absolutely nothing to do with our place in eternity other than providing the only opportunity to receive entrance into His kingdom.

    I know that’s a bold statement, but think about it: God loved the world so much that He provided the ultimate sacrifice to allow all who would receive the “right” to be called sons of God.

    The choice to receive this gift is up to us. I will never “argue” with anyone about this subject we’re discussing here. It’s fruitless to do so. But I do enjoy a strife-free discussion like this!

    As far as “God’s blotter” . . . I hire someone to rake my yard and say, “If you rake my yard I will pay you 100.00”, and the person agrees. He comes for his payment and only half the yard is raked.

    What does the person get?

  12. Amy says:

    That was a great post Bernard. I think one of the most amazing things about God is that He leaves so much to our Faith. Faith to trust Him, Faith to believe in Him.

    He is like an awesome story teller who knows the last chapter of each of our individual stories, yet He never lets us spoil the mystery. God has everything hid in Christ and we will all know one day, when we stand before God’s throne the height, width and depth of that mystery.

    Until He does return, let’s continue to lift each other up in prayer. Study His Word and grow closer to Him, for as we grow closer, He continues in His Mater – Craft of shaping us in His Image!

  13. Daddy says:

    Son, you’ve really (as Robert said) opened up a can of worms here. It’s the same can I’ve been dealing with ever since the Lord saved me. Wish I had the time to elaborate on a dream I had one night shortly after I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. However, time nor space will allow that now. Suffice it to say that my dream forever settled in my heart this issue of eternal salvation. I will say, however, that I’m in agreement with your thoughts regarding this matter. One two-letter word, repeated many times in the Scripture, continues to bring renewed fear of the Lord to me. That word? “IF”.

  14. I think we can all agree that if we persevere until the end in Christ, we will be saved. That’s a great place to start, don’t you think?

    I have to admit, I hold to my personal position for a number of complex reasons: 1.) I think it best holds together the truth and accuracy of all of the various passages on both sides of the debate better than any other position – I think when we find a way to interpret each passage faithfully in context (both literary & historical) in a way that is true to the original text, and maintains the truthfulness of the full text of Scripture, we’ve done a good thing. 2.) I also lean towards the ‘eternal security’ position because within – I’ll admit it – a man-made systematic theology the whole overall system of understanding Scripture holds together better withing the ‘reformed’ system than any other, which even most non-reformed theologians, and even some atheists admit.
    So, basically, I’m a bit of a control freak and like my theology a bit more ‘tidy’ than most… which is why I may be drawn to fault on the side of “eternal security”.

    But don’t forget – that’s worlds away from “Once Saved, Always Saved” – walking an aisle no more shows that you are a Christian than walking on a track makes you an Olympic runner – it’s running the RACE well that brings us assurance of salvation, as 2 Peter 1:10 challenges us to “be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure”.

    As I read once in an essay written by a Catholic brother, and I agree with him wholeheartedly here: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”

  15. Really, the Hebrews passage is written as a warning. But, are we talking there about eternal damnation being the warning, or are we talking about loss of reward? There historically is indeed a stream that would say reward. If we escape sin by grace, we keep it by works?

    Christians need to be warned, is the point. You must, however, take Romans and balance what you say here. We are not completely saved until we get a new body. Justification to Sanctification to Glorification. They are all connected, but not all happening at once. Our justification is sealed with a deposit that guarantees our inheritance. Sanctification is the process of the Holy Spirit helping us endure. Glorification is the shedding of our sin nature once and for all! Our promise is not that if we get is right and right enough times that we are saved, the promise is that God is with us through the whole process and the warning is that when we detach from Him we can be derailed.

    But, does being derailed mean we lose eternity and have to be born again AGAIN? I do not see that anywhere–that you are born again, again, again. So, the warning is real, but not about be born again again, but about our eternal reward–escaping as through flames. Sounds scary, and should be. But, it is not hell fire and brimstone it is loss of reward.

  16. If the Hebrews 3 text were the only text in the Bible dealing with eternal security I might be inclined not to believe eternal security. However I can shoot at least 20 quick texts which I believe unequivocally teach it.

    For Example: A true believer will endure to the end because he/she has already received the verdict of the final judgment when God declares in John 3:16 that we are “born again.” John 4:14 says we will “never thirst” and John 5:24 says we have already crossed over “from death to life.” Colossians says our life is already “hid with Christ in God.”

    Perhaps Hebrews 3 is referring to the congregation of Israel as a whole. Not everybody in the assembly was truly saved. Hebrews 6:6 is not speaking of falling away from justification but from fellowship by sin. Discipline will surely follow because willful sin is punished in the judges and courts and not by bringing more and more sacrifices.

    And the blotting out of names in Revelation 3:5 must be explained in the context of verse 4. Those who have overcome by the blood of the lamb “have not defiled their garments and shall walk with me in white” is referring to the IMPUTED righteousness of Christ and not to the IMPARTED righteousness of sanctification. We simply must not turn 3:5 into some holiness text of sinless achievement in order to be saved.

    http://www.tithing-russkelly.com/theology/id14.html

  17. But, does being derailed mean we lose eternity and have to be born again AGAIN?

    For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

    Hbr 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

    Hbr 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.

    From what I can see here, IF it ever came to this place, one would not be “born again, again”. It would be impossible for this to happen.

    Again, I know both sides of this debate can be “backed up” by individual scriptures. I’ve tried to take all of them in their contexts and honestly WANT to believe the “once saved” view. I just (personally) can’t. I think it’s so much more dangerous to think that way.

    Works have nothing to do with this, guys and gals. Works are what we (as christians) will be judged by, but not what gets us or keeps us “saved”.

    I guess the thing I’ve always been amazed by is that in all my years of walking with the Lord and teaching His word, I’ve never (to my remembrance) had this discussion with someone who believed that “once saved” way to change the way they think.

    I will never mind anyone believing different than I do as long as they are living a life of change and commitment to God. Only when I meet someone who believes that they can live any way they want and not have to worry about their eternal security will I “hunker down” and try to “persuade” them to change their way of thinking.

    This has been fun. I used the word “debate” earlier, but I am so encouraged with everyone who has commented today. It’s so rare (to my deep sorrow) that “christians” get together and talk about a subject like this and no one gets offended, offends and gets their (*^&#^$(&# on their shoulder about it. Thanks to all of you. You’re a blessing.

  18. Ahh.. I always love this discussion… I really believe I could argue it from either side with adequate scripture and equal conviction.
    So its like the guy who told me about riding in the back of the pickup. He said, There are some who say you have to be careful you could fall out of the bed of the pickup at any time. There are others that say that no matter what happens you could never fall out of the back of the pickup. My thought… whatever you do… just stay close to the cab.
    If my focus remains on Christ… nothing or no one can pluck me from His hand… and if I don’t…. Well, I don’t even want to consider that one.

  19. I personally have “sympathy” for the fact that I’ve run into goodness knows how many different ways to explain salvation. If I buckle down on a “certain” way to define it, I’m going to alienate (“de-Christianize” or even “un-save”) a lot of people that certainly have Christian fruit in their life but may not believe the exact same soteriology that I do.

    I always approach this kind of discussion with the knowledge that I’ve been wrong before, and the understanding that I don’t have to be right about this in order to be in fellowship with God. To demand that I believe in eternal security in order to be saved is, to me, really stretching the gospel. My personal faith is in Christ, and His ability is eternal. The life He has given is eternal.

    It makes “sense” in that fashion that the life I have been given would not be eternal if He were “able” to take it away or if I were able to “forsake” it. So, yes, I see that side. However, without the GRACE of God giving me faith, I would have none. If one were to have no faith, I can agree with the logic that one would not be saved. Thus, it seems POSSIBLE to walk away from the faith and no longer be saved. Regeneration and the new man would seem to me to be a nature that would NOT walk away from the faith, so it is – to my feeble mind – possible that what the apostle is saying is that someone who has been saved and regenerated CANNOT walk away from the faith. This would be a Calvinistic mentality, which opens up the “those who walk away were never saved anyway” thought path.

    I personally don’t have a problem with that particular approach if it isn’t used in a hyper-judgmental fashion. It becomes easy for some to backtrack the slightest sin into being a “you’re not even saved” fruit contest. I think that can be inappropriate, because the heart is often pointed in the right direction even though the flesh hasn’t quite caught up, but the concept of regeneration can be made into an extreme salvation requirement if we aren’t careful.

    So can you “lose” it? Like somebody said, I don’t think it’s quite appropriate to use that word. I think it’s POSSIBLE to forsake it, or else it’s possible to live as a Christian for many years and then “find out” that you weren’t saved at all. This concept seems incredibly frightening to me, and I’m not comfortable teaching it. I think perseverance is a part of Christianity; I don’t think it’s a thirty second blurb of a prayer and then a lifetime of sin. (The “handing out tracts” mentality is usually a contributor to this deception). However, I don’t think that backsliding into a sinful lifestyle for a period of time (even years) necessarily disqualifies one from salvation. I definitely don’t recommend it; I think it results in severe chastisement and suffering, but some would say that person was never saved at all. Some would say that he isn’t saved during the period of backsliding, and that he would spend eternity in hell if he died during that time. I’m not personally convinced of either of those beliefs. It does, however, cause me to ponder and wonder where truth really lies.

    Questions of eternal value. Not trivial, not vain by any means.

    This is a very sensitive subject, and like Robert, I’m so delighted that we’ve been able to discuss it in a fashion that makes me want to get in a room somewhere with all of you and just pray like crazy, if you know what I mean. I think this kind of discussion is the “fruit” of people who are sincerely pursuing God rather than pursuing an agenda or a “tracts handed out” count. I’m happy to see that.

    I’ve never met Fred McKinnon, but dude, if I ever do, I believe we’ll get along really well. 🙂

  20. Chris Moncus says:

    What? You mean I can’t just be a good little boy and get to heaven? Just kidding.

    I see verses like the one in Ephesians and 2 Corinthians where the author calls the Holy Spirit a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come to believers.

    Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV) “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

    2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV) “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

    2 Corinthians 5:5 (NIV) “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

    I believe God’s guarantees are good. I believe He will hold up His end of the deal. But I do agree that lost faith is probably non-faith. There are probably many situations where someone is saved but simply tends to ignore it.

    Where is this line drawn? Where does God say “That’s it. To Hell with you buddy!” Where does one quit “holding fast”. Can we ever tell it or does God have some cosmic algorithm He uses to damn us? I see God as a God who is just. If He promises to forgive us of all unrighteousness and sin is that only for pst sins or all sins we will make. How long does His blood cover us? Must we ask forgiveness of each and every sin? If we die without asking forgiveness for speeding to work are we damned?

    I’m not sure the first verse necessarily refers to salvation and I’m not sure in the second verse “overcomes” refers to getting saved or staying saved. They aren’t explicit though the verses I quoted above are explicit. They clearly state that God guarantees the salvation He gives.

    Is there any way to ignore that?

  21. Though it is in my link, I’m sure not everyone will check that, so I’ll bring another consideration to the fore-front.

    The Bible clearly states “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Psalm 3:8), & “from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” (Psalm 62:1-2).

    Where does the Psalmists confidence come from, that God is the foundations & source of His salvation. That though it is “my salvation” it “belongs (ultimately) to the Lord”. If that is the case, is it ours to lose?

    Consider further, I Corinthians 6:20 says “For you were bought at a price…”, and repeatedly in the New Testament we are called His possession – in fact, there is even a detailed look at the abundance of slaver-master imagery in the New Testament that wouldn’t normally be obvious to someone living in our day called “Slave of Christ” by Murray J. Harris – 224 pages of pointing out those metaphors and imagery, and it’s a compact book. If the Bible is so thorough in making it clear that we are Christ’s possession, the REAL question, as Douglas Wilson puts it, is NOT “can I lose my salvation”, BUT “can Christ lose me?”

    Something to consider…

  22. Where is this line drawn? Where does God say “That’s it. To Hell with you buddy!” Where does one quit “holding fast”. Can we ever tell it or does God have some cosmic algorithm He uses to damn us?

    Chris, I don’t believe God EVER “damns” us. But I do believe there’s a line. Where? I have no idea. That is the ultimate reason I believe it’s dangerous to “teach” a once-saved always saved theology.

    Knowing there is a line where I WILL to cross and CHOOSE to align myself with the other side causes much fear and trembling in me.

    Having said that, I re-iterate again that I don’t “follow Christ” because I’m afraid of going to hell. I follow Him because I love Him. And I love Him because He first loved me.

  23. Amy says:

    As I was on my way home yesterday, the Spirit reminded me of something that I wanted to share. The Book of Hebrews is written to the Hebrews, the Jews. The context of the book is about the Superiority of Christ. Hebrew’s 3:9 further describes the context of Hebrews 3:7. Also, when it talks about Christ being created lower than the angels, it is his human body as he was upon this earth. While he was on the Earth he was crowned with all power and glory unto the Father.

    Hebrews 2

    1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

    2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

    3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

    4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

    5For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

    6But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?

    7Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

    8Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

    9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

    10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

    As to Douglas Wilson comment, is NOT “can I lose my salvation”, BUT “can Christ lose me?”

    Romans 8:35-39says that 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

    36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

    37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

    38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

    39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    There is nothing after salvation that can separate us from the love of God.
    Hebrews 3 is also talking to the Jews left during the tribulation and telling them to hold fast till the end of the 7 year tribulation.
    Just something else to consider . . .

  24. Amy says:

    I get a daily bible verse emailed to me and thought this would be cool to share on the current topic . . . 1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

  25. Chris Moncus says:

    In reference to the “line” where we could possibly lose our salvation…

    Is that biblical?

    Or are we imposing our life experiences on our God? He is not a man.

    Is this view of salvation or the loss there of a sign of disbelief?

    Who came up with this idea and what biblical basis do they have? Do we believe this only because a pastor or parent told us. Does the Bible, regardless of tradition, speak for or against eternal security?

    Think about it.

  26. Fred says:

    Hey Ya’ll,
    Resurrecting this discussion this AM … I’ve been busy, out of town, celebrating Spring Break, and as a result, unable to continue the dialog.

    It’s been awesome dialog. I can tell ya – I know that a “controversial subject” stirs up traffic and blog hits, but I sincerely wanted and desired to hear the various interpretations and understandings here. I think as soon as we decide “I’ve got the revelation” and we aren’t open to hearing others in the Body of Christ that we are in big trouble.

    Now … one thing … and Bernard did a great job clarifying some of this (yeah, Bernard, I’d LOVE to meet you, too!) … I don’t like words and phrases like:
    Lose your salvation
    God damns us
    God send us to Hell, etc.

    I don’t believe salvation can be lost. The word “lost” means you’ve accidentally misplaced something you once had.

    I think that it becomes an issue of intentional, willfull, turning away from, and washing clean – purporsely, willingly choosing to renounce your salvation.

    IN this case, yes – we were “sealed” (as the wonderful Scriptures by Chris) … we were “guarranteed” … but a seal can be broken. A guarantee can be voided or nullified by the end-user.

    I know we’ve barely touched on Hebrews 6, but that’s the main reason I’m resurrecting this discussion. I just read it this AM. (and if you know that my Daily Reader covers about 1 chapter in the NT each day, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only progressed from Chapter 3 to Chapter 6 in this amount of time!) ….

    Listen to Hebrews 6 in “The Message” (The NIV and King James are almost identical, so I’m not quoting them)

    4 Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit, 5 once they’ve personally experienced the sheer goodness of God’s Word and the powers breaking in on us— 6 if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can’t start over as if nothing happened. That’s impossible. Why, they’ve re-crucified Jesus! They’ve repudiated him in public!

    Earlier, someone said this Scripture had nothing to do with salvation. Maybe there is Scriptural explanation for that.

    I’d like to continue a healthy, peaceful discussion, specifically now with the verse I just quoted from Hebrews 6:4-6. (check it out on YouVersion at http://www.youversion.com/msg/Heb.6.4)

    I’d encourage you to use Scripture as much as possible. Perhaps there are words in these Scriptures that mean something different in the original text, and without understanding the original Greek, we can’t fully grasp without digging deeper. Since I’ve not really “dug deep” and I’m only reading these in the literal context, (and at the same time, praying that the Author, the Holy Spirit, would grant me wisdom) … I’d love your input.

    VERY IMPORTANT:
    I need everyone to know … I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I’m not trying to convince anyone. I’m not even trying to prove my OWN POINT, because I’m not 100% sure I understand it all …. so I just look forward to hearing what my other brothers and sisters in Christ think … not for debate purposes, but to learn and get a bigger grasp on God’s Word, and how it may be interpreted (whether I agree or don’t agree).

    For the Kingdom,
    Fred

  27. Fred says:

    Bernard,
    Thanks – those first links, though, are more about “salvation” and “works” … which is a different debate altogether – so I’d rather not veer off in that direction. I’d rather keep this on hand re: salvation, and whether or not it’s possilble for someone who has truly been saved to then renounce their salvation, walking away from it and abandoning the free gift they’d once received.

    (notice, I didn’t say God took it away, they “lost it”, or that God changed His mind …. it’s all based on one’s willful choice to negate it)

  28. Fred – Your call, I understand. I personally think they are very relevant, sorry. Perspective 🙂 I don’t see a way to discuss the permanence of salvation without discussing the nature of it and the possible reasons for revocation. But I don’t want to derail your intent.

  29. One thing we should most definitely do is NOT turn to translations like the Message (which I do own and enjoy reading) to do detailed studies of Scripture on tough issues. These are the sorts of passages that need to be looked at – if not in the original greek – then the most literal translations, such as New American Standard, English Standard Version, or the Revised Standard Version. The further we move into reading these controversial texts in paraphrased translations, the more we are reading someone else’s commentary on those passages, and not the original texts themselves, which makes it harder for us to be objective about what they may or may not be saying. Note: the NIV isn’t much better than the Message or the New Living ‘translations’ when it comes to these sorts of issues, and the KJV arguably starts with poor (late) manuscripts, so I don’t bother with it either.

    “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
    and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

    That is a word for word translation of the best available Greek texts of Hebrews 6:4-6. Forget what you read in the Message for a minute, and read that passage. Does that apply to ‘salvation’ (again – no one seems to address this, but can we be ‘saved’ if we aren’t saved? If we never got ‘saved’, can it be ‘lost’ – and if salvation is God’s & not ours, we’re asking the wrong question altogether, but STILL)? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that the context of this passage is about spiritual growth (see verses 1-3), and ALL of it is set on the cornerstone of God’s permissive will (“And this we will do, IF GOD PERMITS.”) – it’s put into the hands of a sovereign God, who IS our salvation – who OWNS our salvation – and who owns US… again, it’s not at issue of whether we can lose our salvation, but whether Christ can lost us.

  30. “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
    and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

    For instance, I have read some Greek scholars who have stated that in it’s rawest original state, this passage can actually be interpreted as a case against someone ‘losing their salvation’, since it basically states that – if someone were able to be ‘saved’, then lose it – If that were possible, and if they then returned to the fold, it would mean that Christ would have to be crucified all over again (since if Christ HAD died for that individual’s sin – REALLY – atoning for that individual’s particular sins in full, and those sins had really be paid for, THEN that person willfully turned and rejected that payment, and then later RETURNED, the person’s would then have to be paid for all over again, which is a silly thought, since Christ ALREADY paid for that individual’s sins, if Christ died for Him on the Cross. That’s just to say, it looks as thought the way we word it into English may not necessarily do the original text justice. It is possible, I suppose.

  31. Fred says:

    Bernard,
    No apology necessary – good stuff, and yes, applicable in a broader sense (IMHO) … and perhaps a good add-on blog later.

    Shannon,
    again, anytime I see the words “lose it”, I’ll say “I don’t think you “lose it” … as this implies it wasn’t the person’s intention. I don’t believe that for a minute … nobody would ever “lose” their salvation. I think the ONLY alternative, from my interpretation, is that someone would REJECT it. REJECTING something (ie. throwing it away, discarding it intentionally) and LOSING something are entirely different things altogether.

    As for the interpretation … I really can’t see much difference between the various translations. There really isn’t a clear definition of what the Scripture means by “the heavenly gift”, but since ALL TRANSLATIONS refer to us BECOMING PARTAKERS of the HOLY SPIRIT, I cannot help but think this has to do w/ salvation. But, I could be wrong!

    FM

  32. I wonder how many different definitions there are for “fallen away”? What DOES that mean, anyway?

  33. Fred, I’ve never known ANYONE who ‘rejected’ salvation. Not a one. I’ve only known folks who chose to reject Christ. I’m sure ANYONE would take ‘salvation’ if it could be come by apart from one becoming Christ’s. But, if we really are Christ’s – having become the Father’s adopted son (which he cannot ever reject, remember?) – being filled with and having become a temple of His Holy Spirit – purchased by his perfect blood sacrifice which was of infinite value… can the Devil actually purchase us back from Christ at ANY cost, when the price tag set on us was God’s own life?

    Strangely enough, Hebrews is also where I’ve been reading lately! Cool that God would have us in the same book! Sorry for the tangent…just thought that was interesting.

    But back on task – since we’re all discussing this, another passage that is central to this discussion is 2 Timothy 2:11b-14a;
    “If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.”

    We die with Christ when we become His (symbolized by Baptism), so if we have died with Christ, the promise is sure – we WILL (not ‘we will IF we obey and don’t reject him’, but we WILL – there doesn’t seem to be a ‘reject’ option there) live with him. The promise in the first line seems clear – die with Christ, live with Christ. 2nd promise is similar to it: if we endure, we will also reign. This seems to be an echo of the first line, which is common in Hebrew poetry. If so, it would imply that to have died with Christ would also include ‘enduring’ in Christ until the end – that the two go hand in hand. If one doesn’t ‘endure’ he wasn’t ‘in Christ’. The 3rd part is more troubling – if we deny Him, he will also deny us. This at FIRST sounds like a reference to one going from “saved” to “unsaved”, but the 4th part – the line immediately following undermines that interpretation: “if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for He cannot deny himself”, a reference – I believe – to the indwelling Holy Spirit within a believer: God the Father gives God the Holy Spirit as a deposit within us at the moment of salvation, so He can never turn on us because to do so would mean that God would be denying God. So, what does it mean here to deny Him – to reject salvation at the start, or to turn away. I lean towards the former, because of promise 1, 2, & 4. I don’t see how the passage can make any sense otherwise.

    Lastly, probably the most important thing in this discussion…
    Hebrews 12:1-2
    “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

    It’s not about us – it, arguably, isn’t even about ‘our salvation’ for God IS the Gospel, He IS the reward, and it’s all about Him. If we keep running to Him, we most definitely have nothing to be worried about! That’s awesome news.

  34. So Fred, I’m commandeering your blog entirely. 😉

    Since I’m very interested in this subject, AND have been personally studying through Hebrews, myself, I’ve been doing a little ‘commentary’ research on these verses. A few interesting possibilities brought to light by a renown Bible scholar, the late F.F. Bruce:

    “enlightened” may refer to their baptism, as “enlightenment” was apparently often used to refer to baptism in the first few centuries of Christianity.

    “the heavenly gift” which was “tasted” could actually be a reference to the Lord’s Supper/Communion.

    Also, according to his research, to have been “partakers in the Holy Spirit” may only merely refer to someone who have had some communal/congregational benefit of the movement of God’s Spirit, and adding the next line, seen miraculous works of God.

    Sadly, I’m not very well versed in ‘Greek’, but F.F. Bruce was a smart fellow. He claims this should be understood as an ‘unregenerate’ (unsaved), yet church-going, baptized, and actively participating “unbeliever”.

  35. Don’t know if I agree with F.F. Bruce or not 🙂

    My basic current belief seems to agree with him. BUT, let’s look at that perspective outside of this particular debate for a moment…

    IF someone who has “been in church” and participated but has never truly believed “falls away” (which I don’t quite see as possible), the “impossible to renew to repentance” leaves ME with the concern that it would be impossible for them to be saved. That doesn’t fit with my perspective. Sure, this can be, in a certain sense, an affirmation of Calvinism and predestination, but the overbearing thought here would be that “someone” CANNOT be saved.

    Does this mean that someone could be in church for years in absolute unbelief, turn away, and NEVER be drawn by God to Himself? If so, this seems to be a nail in the coffin of the Free Grace and Unlimited Atonement doctrine. “God calleth all men to repentance” would SEEM to not apply to this person.

    My thoughts. No dogma. Don’t hold any of this against me in five years when I apply for a position at SSCC…

    🙂

  36. Fred says:

    Shannon,
    Interesting stuff … it frightens me, because if one has to dig that deep to figure out what the Bible is saying, it only makes me wonder how much more stuff that seems “fairly obvious” to me is off-the-mark … and I’m not really suggesting that it is.

    Bernard –
    1. five years? You think we’re growing THAT SLOW?
    2. I don’t think it’s a matter of them never believing. The more this conversation moves forward, the clearer I’m able to express what I think I’ve believed, and how I would best interpret it … and it all boils down to the one word, “apostasy”.

    Just “off the surface” w/o digging deep .. I’d think that verse is talking about someone who DID experience a genuine salvation, but turned away .. and I don’t mean in the “backslidden” state … like we’ve ALL DONE .. I mean, turned, rejected, and renounced .. .RENOUNCED.

    If someone were born again, then, for whatever reason (I cannot imagine this happening, although I believe it COULD happen), AFTER “tasting and seeing” and AFTER being “born again” … and THEN, they RENOUNCED their salvation, decided it wasn’t real, they did NOT believe in God after all .. or whatever reason you want to list … that they CHOOSE to REJECT GOD, and RENOUNCE their faith … this person (they call it apostasy, right?) would NOT be able to come back to saving faith.

    As a result, if this is the case … it wasn’t God’s choice, it was theirs. (though you could say it would be God’s choice to not allow them to come back, but I think that for someone to get that far gone, they’d never have a heart to turn back, regardless). As a result, because of their apostasy, they could never be “born again, again” … which answers that old question people say, “what, are you born again, again, again”? No, of course not. You are born again ONCE.

    dudes, I tell ya, though … I’m not writing this as an authority, and someone could post answers here that would blow my interpretation out of the water. I’m open to that. This “doctrine” is nothing I’d fight over, nothing I’d hang my hat on, nothing I’d call a “deal breaker”. All I’m doing is saying “this is where I’m at today, and this is what THESE SCRIPTURES make me think”.

    $.02

    Fred

  37. Not a matter of how fast you’re growing – it’s a matter of how slow I am at catching up… 🙂

    I tend to stick with small churches where they really think I’m talented. That way the truth never comes out.

  38. Fred, honestly I agree with you. The simple reading in most English translations DOES sound like a reference to a genuinely saved person who is then lost. However, what do we then do with the numerous verses that seem to say that turning from genuine faith in that way is impossible? How do we deal with those if the ‘simple reading’ here is true? Do each of those need to be interpreted in other ways? Either way, we’re caught in a crunch there, and SOMEWHERE the simple reading can’t be the true one, or else the Bible just contradicts itself, which I don’t believe. Tough stuff, though… maybe that’s why most scholars who deal with the original Greek or Hebrew say that you should never read a controversial passage without referencing 4 to 6 very different translations, and even then to also read a few varying commentaries. As simple as the basic Gospel message is, there are things in the Bible we may never understand (and I include myself in that ‘we’).

  39. Here’s some “literal” stuff for you all:

    Heb 6:4-6

    4 For it is impossible [NT:102 adunatos (ad-oo’-nat-os); from NT:1 (as a negative particle) and NT:1415; unable, i.e. weak (literally or figuratively); passively, impossible:]

    for those who were once enlightened [NT:5461 photizo (fo-tid’-zo); from NT:5457; to shed rays, i.e. to shine or (transitively) to brighten up (literally or figuratively):]

    , and have tasted [NT:1089 geuomai (ghyoo’-om-ahee); a primary verb; to taste; by implication, to eat; figuratively, to experience (good or ill):]

    the heavenly gift, and have become [NT:1096 ginomai (ghin’-om-ahee); a prolongation and middle voice form of a primary verb; to cause to be (“gen”- erate), i.e. (reflexively) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literal, figurative, intensive, etc.):]

    partakers [NT:3353 metochos (met’-okh-os); from NT:3348; participant, i.e. (as noun) a sharer; by implication an associate:]

    of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word [NT:4487 rhema (hray’-mah); from NT:4483; an utterance (individually, collectively or specifically); by implication, a matter or topic (especially of narration, command or dispute); with a negative naught whatever:]

    of God and the powers [NT:1411 dunamis (doo’-nam-is); from NT:1410; force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself):]

    of the age to come, 6 if they fall away,[NT:3895 parapipto (par-ap-ip’-to); from NT:3844 and NT:4098; to fall aside, i.e. (figuratively) to apostatize:]

    to renew [NT:340 anakainizo (an-ak-ahee-nid’-zo); from NT:303 and a derivative of NT:2537; to restore:]

    them again to repentance, [NT:3341 metanoia (met-an’-oy-ah); from NT:3340; (subjectively) compunction (for guilt, including reformation); by implication reversal (of [another’s] decision):]

    since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
    NKJV

  40. Fred says:

    my brain [lit. not much of it left, or figuratively, never was much there] hurts [as of pertaining to a squeeking sound, as a rusty wheel] from that glorious [freakin’ good] expository [Latin, not to be confused with suppository] on that Scripture passage [a derivative of ‘one of dem der bible verses’], Robert.

  41. Fred says:

    Shannon,
    Back on a serious note .. I agree, but I went into YouVersion and that Scripture read almost identical with every translation.

    Also, as for those other Scriptures that talk about “turning away from genuine faith being impossible” … did you present them already? Most of the time, people throw out the ones like “nothing can separate us”, etc … but I don’t think that Scripture is applicable, as whether we are saved OR NOT has nothing to do w/ whether God loves us … we can be saved, not saved, going to heaven, going to hell … that doesn’t mean God’s love for us has ceased. His love for us is why He’s so grieved, and desires that “no man would perish”.

    I probably should spend more time re-reading the posts, than asking again, though, right?

  42. I met a man one time who was convinced he was going to heaven because his mother was catholic.

    I know a person who is openly gay and is convinced that they are not in danger of hell because he/she prayed the sinners prayer when they were seven years old at revival – during the second verse of Just as I am.

    Doesn’t matter what the scripture says about homosexuality, and “those who practice” it not being able to inherit the kingdom of God. They got saved when they were seven years old, and now they can keep a lifestyle that the scripture directly contradicts and they are still “ok”.

    Sorry guys, I don’t mean to be snide, crude, or rude. No one is going to change their mind here, and I know that’s not the purpose of this blog. But it sure seems so.

    I asked a co-worker of mine to read this passage of scripture. To his own admission, he knows nothing about the bible.

    He believes this scripture means what it says. He believes that “there’s a line that you can cross” where you can’t come back.

    And guess what? He doesn’t believe that GOD drew the line. Or that GOD is the one “damning” the perrson.

    He believes it is the person who makes a choice.

    That’s from an “un-redeemed” person who can read the bible and take it “like a little child”. I think it actually caused him to think about his life a little.

    Selah

  43. Robert – And I grew up surrounded by family who feel that salvation is not determined until the judgment day. Their basic doctrine is that one asks God for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ, at which point all their prior sins are forgiven. They are then expected to live “right”, asking forgiveness any time they realize they have sinned, and God will judge their condition immediately after death. I don’t mention this to ridicule anyone – it’s their sincere belief and I believe that many of them are truly saved. However, this is almost the opposite extreme to the “I prayed the prayer at 7” mentality that you mention. My family does believe in a salvation experience, unlike the Amish, but “assurance” and “certainty of Heaven” is a concept that they frown on heavily, as they feel it promotes a cavalier attitude toward sin. To them, any doctrine which even remotely resembles “Once Saved Always Saved” is a deceptive concept which offers a false assurance. They are Free Will Baptists and they believe in the Free Will of man until the very end of life. They cannot believe that God judges us as eternally saved or eternally lost until death.

    Just some counterpoint. Not defending or offending either. 🙂

  44. Fred says:

    Bernard –
    Wow, what a frightening way to live!

  45. Bernard,

    I agree with Fred

    I know that I am saved. I cannot conceive that I will ever be anything other than saved. I was saved, am being saved, and will be saved for my whole life.

    I want to share a dream I had with all of you. This happened to me in 1986. I got “saved” at Mark Rutland’s youth advance in 1984, but still wanted to hold onto a few things that were just plain BAD. I was involved in things that were directly opposed to christianity – even to the place of being in that list of things that “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

    In 1986 I had a dream that I was on a tight-rope. I was doing pretty good keeping my balance, but came to a place where it was no longer open on both sides. The rope ran RIGHT UP AGAINST a sheer wall.

    On one side of this rope was heaven, on the other was hell. The sheer wall “cut off” heaven from me. I knew that if I took one more step I would only be able to fall one way, and it was a way that I didn’t want to fall – trust me.

    I also knew that I would have no room to turn around without falling. The Lord spoke to me in that dream and told me that if I took one more step I wouldn’t be able to trun around. He asked me to “fall” now and “choose” to fall on the side of heaven.

    Now – we can get into more debate here, but that’s not where I wanted it to go. I can only say this for me. FOR ME . . . I had to choose. I knew in my own heart that I had reached my “line in the sand”, and that I had to choose one way or the other.

    This is what is most important in this conversation, Fred. What does an individual’s heart tell them? My heart knows that I had reached a line that I couldn’t cross. God (in His grace and mercy) let me know that I was at that “line” and let me know that I was the one who had to choose.

    No one can tell me that my personal experience wasn’t real anymore than anyone could convince me that if I’m chewing on an apple that it’s really a steak. I’ve tased both and I know from personal experience that it’s an apple.

    And you know what? It really doesn’t matter to me. Believing that one can reject their salvation says nothing bad about God. If anything, it makes it safer and provides a very godly “fear” to “keep ourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21).

    On the other side of the coin, if one believes that they are saved, and that they can never reject it due to their personal experience with God and knowing that they would never turn away from Him (this is me) . . . that they are and always will be saved . . . that’s just fine, too.

    Let us beware, though, the way that we present this gospel to babes in Christ who could possibly (and trust me – I know several who do) believe that “I can do whatever I want to because I got saved . . . ” It could cause them to stumble very easily. And there’s a scripture about a millstone that scares the liver out of me, too.

    Personally, I would rather that neither side of this coin be presented to the flock. Just tell new christians to love God and love people, and if they can do that, they will have achieved all God has for them. “All the law” hangs on these two commandments (Matt. 22:40)

  46. Good words, Robert. I’ll be honest – this kind of “I don’t know” has put a huge dent in my willingness to witness for years, and that’s a shame. As Christians, it’s easy to allow Satan to use our personal insecurity, doubt, or even ignorance to make us “un-bold” in our witness.

    The only hope the world has is Jesus. Period. I DON’T know the answers about all these questions – and I never will. I can only know what I believe. Anyone who pounds the black book and claims that reading one verse can answer these things is highly unwise. But we need to tell the world about Jesus. Thank God He offers a salvation to bring us into a personal relationship with Him. I can’t justify the beliefs of others, but I shouldn’t let those things be the focus of my evangelism or the lack of. The part of the story that I KNOW is that Jesus Christ forgives sinners who come to Him by faith.

    Sure, we all come into questions, and I’m not downplaying the questions. I think this is a great discussion and I think it’s worthwhile. But we shouldn’t let these “uncertainties” be the focal point and limit our witness. New converts and young Christians shouldn’t be the victims of intense debate on this, because it can easily misdirect them. Neither should their assurance be in “saying the prayer.”

    I’m preaching to myself, here, not anybody else, believe me.

    All this is especially important for me as my 6 year old son comes to more and more realization of his need for God. He tells me that he’s decided to be “on God’s side”, and he is making such a hearty effort to be a good little boy, but I’m very leery of asking him to pray to accept Jesus and then assure him that he’s saved forever based on that prayer. It’s a very hard time for me, especially since I’m minded a little different than virtually everyone around him…. His mom and her family are pretty solidly “Once Saved Always Saved”, my mom is Free Will Baptist, and my dad is a “gospel chapel” kind of fundamentalist, or something like that. Here I am, kind of a half-baked Calvinist, desperately wanting my son to come to know Christ but not wanting to give him false assurances to struggle with later in life as I have…

    Thanks for the discussion, all. This isn’t just theological for me – it’s a very practical thing, and very important.

  47. I’ll be honest: I have no reservations in saying this – I WANT to change your mind, at least as much as I am convinced that what I believe is Scriptural (again, not “Once Saved, Always Saved”, but “Eternal Security”/”Perseverance of the Saints”), and beautiful – the ‘doctrines’ hold a special place in my heart, and elevate my view of, admiration and love for God. So – no bones about it – it is my whole-hearted intention to change people’s minds AND hearts about this.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘central importance’ – meaning, it’s not a matter of life or death (or eternal life/eternal death), and I don’t IN THE SLIGHTEST think someone less a Christian for not agreeing with me on it. Just so you ALL know…

    AND I STILL think everyone is asking the wrong question, since I don’t think salvation is our to lose, BUT…

    I’ll work up a blog of my own on this soon and post it over at my ‘theological’ blog: http://heatlight.wordpress.com/
    Then you can discuss it further over there.

    Also wondering, Fred – have you looked at our Church’s official doctrinal statement recently (last I heard they were going to make some changes before adding it back to the website)? Does it comment on the subject, out of nosiness?

  48. Shannon – Noble cause, brother, but I have lived through a literal hell where my father and mother fought, screamed, yelled, and in general acted very un-Christian in trying to convince each other to change. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.

    This “fight” nearly drove me to reject everything religious. I refused to even discuss it for years. I hate – literally hate – the dissension it causes. So I leave it to God to change someone’s mind about it. I refuse to attempt to convince someone to move to my way of thinking, since that way of thinking seems to be continually evolving and has been proven to be incorrect at many times in the past. I want to point folks to Jesus and to the Word, not to Bernard’s Doctrine 101. If the Holy Spirit isn’t capable of helping them understand – through teachers, preachers, the Word, personal study, and, indeed, conversations like these – I would be very unwise to presume that I personally am responsible for convincing them.

    I only offer my thoughts and try to pin down what I believe. For those who have already settled all their questions and thus no longer wish to be advised but only has answers and conclusions to offer, I say Praise God. I’m not quite “there” 🙂

  49. Fred says:

    Shannon –
    quit using the word “lose” … as soon as I see that word in there, I close my eyes. I continue to say we don’t “lose” our salvation.
    As for the doctrinal statement, not lately, although I know that eternal security is one of the things mentioned in there …. I’d not heard that it was being revised, though?

    More comments later, gotta go for now.

  50. Amen, Fred!

    Shannon, let me say it out-right: I don’t believe ANYONE can LOSE their salvation. Period.

    Bernard –

    I’m so moved by your pure way of expressing yourself here. You seem to be “as real as dirt”. I appreciate your comment more than words can say when you said that all the bickering and fighting over a subject like this caused you to almost reject “religion” altogether.

    I’m so glad you didn’t. I know people who have, and it reminds me again of that blasted “millstone”. Don’t want to be guilty of it.

    I encourage you to share the gospel. Period. And what is that gospel? God so loved the world that He gave His only son – that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

    Also, John 1:12 says that as many as received Him, He gave them the power (right) to become sons of God.

    THAT is the gospel. The good news. Sadly, that’s all most people hear. It’s all about Jesus being savior, and nothing about Him being Lord. We also need to show them that we were bought with a price and are no longer our own (I Cor 6:20 and 7:23).

    Give your son and others these words of life, and train them up in the way that they should go, and let God take care of the rest.

    The scripture is clear: all we are to do is plant the seed and water it. It is the Lord that causes the growth. Let’s not weigh them down with a bunch of other things that only cause division and doubt. Simply keep it simple.

    You’re right, brother. WE complicate the simplicity that is in Christ straight to the point that we cause the very “world” that He loved and died for to say “I don’t want to deal with what I see in the church. They fight among themselves more than we do in the world!”

    Kieth Green put it so well when he wrote “keep doing your best, and pray that it’s blessed – and Jesus takes care of the rest.”

  51. Bernard – hey man, I hear you…and most definitely it’s not worth ‘arguing’ about. I can’t CHANGE anyone’s mind or heart – the process by which that happens is far outside my hands, ya know? I hope I didn’t make it sound like I was going to chase anyone who doesn’t agree with me down and cram Scriptures down their throat. I was just trying to be real: don’t we all, really, want others to agree with us? If we didn’t, would we enter these discussions to begin with? I did overstate my intentions, though.

    Fred, sorry – I didn’t even notice that I had phrased it that way, and had to reread my post 4 times to find the reference – what I should say then is “I don’t believe that Salvation is ever ours to do anything with or to” – it’s God’s, as are we, safely in His hands. That’s my firm conviction at this point, BUT – believe it or not – I have changed my views on this (hard to believe) more than once. 😉

    I asked about our doctrinal statement because I had lost my copy that I had printed out, but I was talking to another church member at a wedding who had joined our church last year from a PCA Presbyterian background, and he specifically mentioned how “Calvinist”-leaning our church’s doctrinal statement was (with, as he put it, ‘touches of Southern Baptist’ and others) when he had read it only before visiting. Given that so many of the church’s founding members are/were ‘reformed/presbyterian/calvinist’ (most had helped found a PCA church locally before starting SSCC), I wondered if ‘Eternal Security’ might be in there. Honestly, I actually hope it’s not (again, hard to believe, I’m sure) – I don’t think that’s an issue to divide a church over, for sure. I think we do a good job at standing FIRM on the Gospel – the church, you (Fred), & I (Shannon) – and that’s EXACTLY where a church should stand. I’m blessed to be a part of that.

    p.s. – I responded to “what type of worship leader are you”

  52. Fred says:

    Hey,
    Last time I read/saw the document maybe 6 mos ago or something, it definitely WAS in there, which was NOT a deal-breaker for me.

  53. I feel ya Shannon. I know I want everybody to agree with ME. Thank God they don’t!! I would have steered some folks away if they did.

    And I don’t think any less of any of you all for being wrong . . . . (just kiddin’).

    Anyway, you all have caused me to “re-think” what I’ve always said that I believed. You’ve caused me to go back to the scriptures and really dig deep. I don’t want to be wrong about anything – though I know that I am and will always be wrong about SOMETHING. Isn’t this what growth is all about?

    I’d love to meet all you folks. Fred really has found a gold mine. I thank you all for allowing me to share in his wealth.

  54. I don’t think any less of me for being wrong, either 🙂

    This has been an excellent discussion. I’ve said most of what I think, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop talking, so somebody pull out the coffee press and let’s get some java flowing and see what happens then…

  55. Did Adam have a belly button?

  56. Speaking of Adam and belly buttons, have you ever watched Kyle XY? 😉

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