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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Double Crucifixion Part XVIII - The Argument
If you haven't done so already, you may want to read the posts which preceded this one (for some context):
     I, II,III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, and XVII.


We have said in previous posts that the text of Hebrews 6:4-6 is speaking of an hypothetical believer, and the reasoning behind the text is that a true believer cannot be restored again to repentance if he falls away - that is, he cannot be saved twice.

Regardless of what we try and make this text say, one thing this text makes inescapable: you can only ever be saved once.

The question of authorial intent comes into play at this point. Here we ask our selves, is that the point the author is trying to make? Is this inescapable truth stand the end of the author's intent or does it serve as a means to a different end entirely?

Before we explore that question, let's be certain that we understand fully the gravity of what is being said here, and why it makes sense. Just how many times can Jesus die for all your sins? The answer is once, and only once. Once Jesus has died for all your sins, he cannot die for them again.

Those who think you can be saved, and lost and saved and lost again - these do not understand this text, nor the absurdity of their opinion. Jesus cannot die for the same sins twice, either he dies once and for all your sins, or he hasn't died for your sins yet. In other words the "Christian" who abandons his faith was either never saved in the first place, in which case he can be still be saved, or if he was a true believer, and somehow fell away, this text says he could never again be restored to repentance (and therefore salvation).

I don't think the author of Hebrews intends to teach that you can lose your salvation forever, rather I think his intention is to show that you cannot fall in and out of salvation by showing the absurdity of such a notion - for if you could fall in and out of salvation, then Christ would have to die again and again for the same sins, and that is not only patently impossible, it is absurd. I think it was the author's intent to show that since it is impossible to be restored to repentance through Christ's death more than once, it is likewise impossible to "lose" your salvation - for if you could lose it, you would never be able to get it back, because salvation doesn't work that way.

By showing the absurdity of the conclusion, the author proves the false nature of the premise; that is, the author demonstrates that you cannot lose your salvation once you genuinely have it and he does this by walking the reader through the absurd conclusion that such a notion produces: Jesus would have to be crucified again and again for all your sins!

Consider the context this passage is framed in. The author began by speaking of the elementary principles of Christianity - principles that his readers are still grappling with because of their spiritual immaturity. This is where he identifies, I think the mire in which these particular believers were stuck - they were so busy trying to stay saved, they weren't growing in their faith. So he cuts that idea off at the roots by showing that you can't be saved more than once - either you are saved, or you never were saved in the first place, the soil that receives the rain either produces good crops or thorns and weeds - not that the crops change from wheat to tare and back again, you receive the gospel and become one or the other - and not some transforming hybrid that bounces in between both.

The author is convinced that his readers are not tares, but wheat, convinced that the seed has produced vegetation and not worthless thistles, convinced that God is not going to forget their work and the love they have shown - and upon this thought the author shows that he doesn't think his readers are lost souls, but soundly saved believers whom God will reward.

This is the doctrine of eternal security - the idea that genuine believers remain saved in spite of their sin. There are two ways to think of this doctrine:

The first is that you can sin like the devil and still be saved, so why bother trying to be holy, you may as well enjoy the ride and let go of all the guilt and stress. I would say that anyone who adopts this first attitude is demonstrating a profoundly carnal bent and is either about to receive the chastising of a life time because they are genuine and God is disgusted by their attitude - or they show themselves to be false, they think they are saved, but their heart attitude witnesses against them that they are not saved. When a person isn't saved, but is convinced that they are - this doctrine can be just another nail in their coffin, because they will use it as a shield to comfort themselves when they should be repenting.

The other way of thinking is that God is saving us, and we are not saving ourselves, it gives God glory, but doesn't excuse, condone, or even remotely suggest that it is now "okay" to sin. We flee from sin, not to get into heaven, but because we love God - the love of God constrains us, and even though we are eternally secure, that love continues to constrain us.

If a person thinks they can lose their salvation, what will they do to keep it? Why good works of course. They will set about to keep their salvation through good works, and because they are trying to do something selfish (I love my life, so I am trying to preserve it), it follows that all their good works are being done, not out of love from a pure heart and a good conscience, but out of self preservation, and fear - and rather than be drawn closer to God in their good works, they will instead be driven further from him, for no carnal work is good enough to draw a man to God.

A right doctrine, produces a right walk - and a right walk is not a stagnant walk, but a productive one. You are drawn to God because you are not trying to do Christianity in your own strength, but always and ever you are dependant upon the Lord to continue the spiritual work he has begun, and all your obedience is a reflection of your trust and love in God.

The end.

Labels:

posted by Daniel @ 10:32 AM  
4 Comments:
  • At 6:27 PM, February 19, 2009, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Good conclusion. For some reason i feel like I should use about 1000 words to say that, but that's all you get.

    Oh, good series, too -- not just the conclusion.

     
  • At 6:28 PM, February 19, 2009, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Sorry about that lower-case i. You can delete my comment if it offends you.

     
  • At 6:42 PM, February 19, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, I was offended, and was poised to delete, when your second comment came through, and mercy wormed its way into my cold dead heart.

    I learned something from this series... I learned that I prefer to write gi-mongous posts more than several little ones.

    Regardless though, it is good to have the series online so I can refer back to it next time someone asks me what I think that text is talking about.

     
  • At 8:57 PM, February 21, 2009, Blogger Strong Tower said…

    "mercy wormed its way into my cold dead heart"

    A classic line.

    I am glad you got to your conclusion I was starting to sweat... now I can put my beads away.

     
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