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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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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Double Crucifixion - Part XVII - Almost done.
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, and XVI.

We have shown in previous posts, to the best of our ability, that the author in Hebrews 6:4-6 is describing a hypothetical "true" believer. We have shown that while most of the description could be describing a false believer just as easily as a true believer, yet there is no room for such a muse when we examine the thought of restoring again such a one to repentance. If the repentance in question is genuine it marks the person as a true believer, and if the repentance is false, then there would be no point in restoring one to it, and the notion of falling away from a false repentance is sufficiently nonsensical that we can eliminate the thought as absurd.

Thus what the text is saying is that it is impossible to restore a Christian to repentance again if that believer falls away.

Rummaging through my mind I recall that Peter denied the Lord thrice, and I am tempted to use this truth to argue that it is therefore possible to "fall away" and be restored. But I don't think Peter fell away, and neither do you. Peter was trying to save his neck by lying about his association with Christ. There is a difference between Peter's denial of Christ and Judas Iscariot's denial of Christ, and to paint them with the same brush would be an error - even if it were convenient for sake of argument.

Judas knew that Jesus was the only Christ that would ever come; he knew that Jesus was authentic. He saw the signs and miracles, he was sent out to minister in Christ's name - being given authority and power to personally minister through healing and casting out demons! He knew first hand, that Jesus was the Christ. Judas was a witness of, and partaker in, all that Christ brought to this world, yet for all that Judas refused to surrender to the reconciling ministry of the Holy Spirit -- he refused Christ's reign, and in doing forever set aside the only ministry of reconciliation God gives.

The mercenary soldier wears the same uniform as the soldier who is a countryman. Both follow orders etc, but one is fighting for his country, the other for money. Judas was a mercenary, Peter, a countryman.

It wasn't that Judas possessed salvation then later lost it. Rather it was that Judas came to know the way of salvation, and rejected it from the start. He didn't want a place in the country, he wanted a paycheck; he rejected a citizenship in heaven, for the pleasures of this world. His association with Christ and Christianity was superficial, and when push came to shove, the facade fell away, and as it did he showed the world that he had always been a mercenary, and never a countryman. He wore the uniform, but did not have the heart of a countryman. When he turned aside from the army, he was not renouncing his citizenship, for he was never a citizen, and never chose to be one - he was setting aside the uniform, and the association. This is what apostasy is, and Judas was an apostate from the very start.

God planned it that way.

Peter on the other hand was a legitimate believer. It wasn't that Peter's understanding of who Christ was superior to Judas' - or that Peter believed the truths of Christ more ardently than Judas had - or any such thing; it was that Peter had turned to God when He believed that Jesus was the Christ, a thing Judas refused to do. Peter became a citizen from the heart, they wore the same uniform, but the man in Peter's uniform was Christ's, and the man in Judas' uniform was Satan's, though he probably thought himself to be his own man.

Thus when Judas denied Christ, it was like that mercenary soldier who was willing to serve in the army only until he saw no more benefit in doing so, and who then, turns coat on the field of battle. When Peter denied Christ however, that was a true soldier being routed by the enemy - fear, doubt, and weakness drove Peter from the field - his mouth denied Christ to save his life - but his routed heart did not turn away from Christ even as he fled in fear.

Thus, I am not inclined, to regard Peter's denial as an act of apostasy, for even scripture describes the event as a scattering of the flock after the Shepherd has been struck. Peter didn't stop being Christ's sheep when his Shepherd was struck, but he did panic and flee as scripture said he (as a member of Christ's flock) would.

I muse this way in order to examine whether the text is supposed to be a warning to true believers that if they fall away they will forever lose their salvation.

Think that through for a second, for if the text is saying that, and you are presently a true believer, the best thing that could happen to you today is that you get hit by a bus and die, because who knows whether you will be a believer tomorrow? Truly, if we can go from genuine believer to apostate, and if there is no return from apostasy - as this text would imply if it is in fact saying that genuine believers can fall away - then every second you live after the moment you are saved is a monumental risk. In fact, every day that God lets you live is no gift, but a cruel, cruel, curse! For if you can fall away forever once you are saved, then it is better to die immediately than live in jeopardy.

I reject the notion that God graciously gives people "eternal" life, but then takes it away forever if the same people fail to maintain their salvation.

If salvation, once had, can be eternally lost, the best way to mitigate against this loss is to put off salvation to the last minute, and who but the brass and reckless would attempt to be saved in their youth? For the longer one lives, the more likely one is to fall away, all things being equal - and if falling away is an eternal sin, then it is best to do as those early Christians who confused baptism with salvation did - put it off till the last possible minute.

Without getting mired in the various horrible spin offs of this error, it is enough to say that this text is either teaching that one can lose eternal life forever, or it is teaching something else.

I propose in the closing post to follow, that this text is arguing that no true believer can fall away, for this very reason - because they cannot be restored again if they do.

Stay tuned.


posted by Daniel @ 10:28 AM  
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