Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My
Security of the believer
entry 927 | Monday, October 10, 2005
I've been so busy
lately (getting ready for vacation has that effect) that when I got a request
on Friday"Jon and Rich, Here I am, stuck again. Would you guys be so
kind as to give me your 'take' on Hebrews chapter 6? In particular, verses 1 -
6?"I "tabled" it planning to get back to it but didn't think
about it again until I realized I didn't have a topic for Monday's Jonal. So I'm
hoping that the request wasn't as time-sensitive as wanting something for a Sunday
school class of yesterday, and thinking it might be worth airing here in the semi-public
Eforum. And in doing so killing both birds of catching up on an email and having
something to fill today's space.
Here's the passage the writer
requested help with:
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let
us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead
works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of
hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will[a]
do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened,
and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if
they fall away,[b] to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again
for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.|
reply was too lengthy to take up point by point in this space, but he mentioned
the Baptist doctrine of the "security of the believer" as often mentioned
as being referred-to in these verses from Hebrews. I agree with Rich that one
can't lose his salvation the way he can lose his car keys, but I don't believe
the Bible teaches "once saved, always saved." I once believed it; I
even preached on it and cited "proof texts" that seem to make the claim
in the New Testament, but then I found other texts which talk about members of
the first-generation churcheven ones who were in ministry alongside Paulwho
"fell away." I was dismayed by this discrepancy until I encountered
the Orthodox view of salvation. The Orthodox theology on salvation, which is as
old as the times of persecution under the Roman Empire's Caesars, holds that salvation
is incremental: "I have been saved," "I am being saved," and
"I will be saved" is the way Orthodox usually put it. I have believed
for salvation, but the rest of life is walking in faith, and only by keeping the
faith until the end do I actually win the laurel of the Lord's approval in the
judgment. Though there are specific verses that speak of no one being able to
pluck out of the Lord's hands those He has elected to salvation, there are many
verses that also say only those who persevere are, in the end, the saved.
semantically, if "I have been saved," yes, I can be "unsaved"
if I turn back from the Way. But I know my "past" salvation is always
conditional on current and future behavior and believing. If I stop believing,
a Calvinist (as I was for most of my life) would say, I never "truly"
believed. So I had a profession, and it may have seemed credible to the elders
of the church who accepted me into its communion but, if I've turned away from
it it's obvious that it wasn't really credible at all. I was just an effective
con man. Same difference. All that's different between the Orthodox view of security
in salvation and the Calvinists' view is whether you're looking down from a heavenly
perspective, or up from a limited, all-too-human perspective. The outcome is the
same. The Calvinist says, "He seemed to be saved but apparently wasn't,"
the Orthodox says, "He made a promising start, made impressive progress,
but stopped short of the mark." Which is more human? I say the latter, and
therefore I have no qualms about having abandoned my previous stance for security
of the believer based on Calvin's stress on God's "election to salvation."
Hebrews passage is very complicated and complex, but in the main, I believe, is
speaking of the administration of the sacraments or the means of grace of the
church. Baptism, which Paul says is "for the remission of sins," and
anointing with oil for the impartation of the Holy Spirit, are sacraments that
are performed once, only. After that, if one sins, he slips and falls and is picked
up by confessing and repenting and going on. But if he says he was never "truty"
baptized or chrismated with oil so he wants it again, Paul is saying, no. That's
not what these sacred gifts of the church are for or how they're to be handled.
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Sent by Trudy Myers
Thought for today
men are by nature equal, made all of the same earth by one Workman; and however
we deceive ourselves, as dear unto God is the poor peasant as the mighty prince.
Plato (427 - 347 BC)
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