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- Response & Reply - #2
Below is another response I received to my article Eternal Security and Hebrews, along with my reply. The responders comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.
>Hi, the first time I read Hebrews I was scared.<
Hebrews can be scary to a Christian who is not sure of his security in Christ or to anyone "pretending" to be a Christian. It is to the former that the passages quoted at the end of my article are directed (i.e. Hebrews 7:25; 10:14; 13:5f). To the later, passages like 10:26-39 are directed.
>Lately, however I have found comfort in many of Calvin's very scriptural doctrines.<
The fact that God is responsible for my security in Him, and not me, IS very comforting. This is Pauls point in Romans chapters seven and eight.
>However, I can't seem to scripturally shake the possibility of someone falling away if they blaspheme and renounce their faith. (Though I realize it would have to have been predestined if such a thing did occur.)<
The question here is the "if." Can a true Christian renounce his faith and fall away. Jesus declared, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish, and not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand. My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand" (John 10:27-29; MKJV).
Again, in this verse, it is seen that my security does not depend on me but on the Father and the Son. Now Arminians will try to evade this passage by saying, "Sure, no one can snatch us out of Gods hand; but we can walk out on our own!"
However, this claim misses Jesus words in verse 28, "they shall never ever perish." There is a double negative here in the Greek (ou me). Unlike English in which a double negative cancels each other out, in Greek this grammatical construction is an emphatic way of expressing an impossibility. This same double negative construction is used by Jesus in Matt 24:35; John 4:14; 6:35; 8:51,52.
>Anyway please explain the answer to this question on your web page: The writer of Hebrews proves to be brilliantly enlightened concerning Christian doctrine. Clearly if what Calvin said about predestination and perseverance of the elect is true then this guy knew about it. If in fact he knew that only the elect will be saved and all the elect will be saved, then why warn hypocrites, and "almost Christians" to remain Faithful and make their calling and election sure? (a calling and election that they do not have, and if they do have it they will never fall away anyway.) Or is this similar to one of God's old testament warnings to the Israelites to repent and not to harden their hearts, knowing that they would not repent and would ultimately be lost in the future anyway?<
This question is similar to on often raised against Calvinism: "If some are predestined to be saved and not others, why bother with evangelism?" Or, as William Carey was told by his pastor when Carey first proposed engaging in overseas missions during a church meeting, "Young man sit down. If God wants to save the heathen He can do so without your help or mine."
The problem with these attitudes is they ignore that God uses means in bringing about Hs predestined purposes. The means He has ordained for bringing His elect to Himself is the proclamation, explanation, and defense of the Gospel.
Similarly, among the hypocrites and "almost Christians" in the congregation the writer to the Hebrews was addressing, there very well could have been some of Gods elect. And the means God would use to bring them out of these dangerous states and to Himself would be the writer warning them of their precarious situation.
Moreover, neither the writer nor us today have anyway of knowing who God will eventually save. Thus we are called to proclaim the Gospel to all and to warn all hypocrites and almost Christians of their precarious situation (Matt 16:15; 2Tim 2:25).
Lastly on this question, right now I am reading a book titled No Place for Sovereignty: Whats Wrong with Freewill Theism. It is written by Bob Wright, the author of several articles posted on my Web site. Bob deals with questions like the above in Chapter Nine which is titled "Are There Any Arminian Verses in the Bible?" (I "just happen" to be in the middle of this chapter as I write this).
Bob writes under the subtitle "invitations" -
Invitations to come to Christ, to repent and believe, are found throughout the Word of God and are the essence of the appeal of evangelism. Arminians seem to think that Gods invitations presuppose the ability to respond in the right way. The Bible expressly denies this ability (Matt 11:27-28; John 6:44).
It is clear that throughout Johns Gospel, invitations are given not merely to condemn those who refuse them, but also to provide occasions for the sheep whom the Father has given to the Son to respond as he draws them. This drawing is infallibly effective in the case of every sheep, for Jesus says, "All that the Father fives me will come to me" (John 6:36).
The irresistible conclusion, then, is that invitations are the primary occasions for the elect sheep to be distinguished from the nonelect goats. The purpose of evangelism is the gathering in of Christs sheep (pp.163-4).
>If you can not sufficiently answer this question then you may become an Arminian who believes that God sovereignly limits his knowledge. Scripture does back this up. For example, in Isaiah I believe God says," I will remember your sins no more." M.M.<
Whether I sufficiently answered the question is for you to decide. But remember, this is just a short reply. For a more detailed discussion I recommend reading the above mentioned book. It is published by IVP and should be available from the book companies listed at Christian Books and Software on my Web site.
As for your last claim, God does not and can not "sovereignly limit his knowledge." It is logically impossible. How could the omniscient God remember what to "forget" without remembering what it was He was suppose to be forgetting?
Passages like the one you quote are similar to us saying we will "forgive and forget" someones transgression against us. By "forget" we can not mean we will erase the knowledge out of our brains. This is physically impossible. What we mean is that we will not hold the transgression against the person nor bring it up again at a future time.
Similarly, when God promises, "I will remember your sins no more" we can be sure that when we are forgiven God will never condemn us for something He has already forgiven us of (Rom 8:1).
Yet another comment on eternal security and Hebrews:
>Gary, It seems to me that 1 Cor 5:1-5 serves as a proof that Hebrews 10:26-27 is written to the non-Christian. This described the man in the Corinthian church who was committing fornication with his fathers wife.
Verse 5 (paraphrased) says to deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
'deliver to Satan' is to remove from him all protection.
'destruction of the flesh' can be either to be killed or to be tormented
that the spirit may be saved... . pretty self explanatory
Now if destruction of the flesh is to be killed then the spirit is saved and even though this person was sinning willfully (incest expressly forbidden to the Jew and the Gentiles revile this so much that they don't even named it (verse 1)) he ends up saved in the end.
If He's not already a Christian then why deliver him to be destroyed as he would be damned. If destruction of the flesh is tormented (here on earth) then there is room for him to repent and then he will be saved. Either way he sinned willfully and was saved thus negating Heb 10:26-27 if it was written to Christians.
A further explanation can be derived from Romans 5:13. (paraphrased)
'sin is not imputed when there is no law.'
I look at this as the accountability scripture. You are responsible for the law that you know. If you have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ then you are accountable for accepting Jesus. If you have not heard the Gospel but have heard the law of Moses you are accountable for keeping that law. If you have not heard the law of Moses then you are accountable to your conscience (Romans 2:13-15).
Therefore if you have heard the Gospel (received the knowledge of the truth) then there is no more sacrifice available to cleanse you of willful sin. You either accept Jesus or go to hell.
The Mosaic sacrifice cannot clean you of sin because you are now accountable for the acceptance of Jesus. You can't go back to your previous level of accountability because you now know this level of law and where there is law sin is imputed.
It's rather clumsily phrased but I'm sure you get the point.
The above all sounds good to me.
The above e-mail exchange was posted on this Web site in July 1997.
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