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Sunday, 16 March 2014

O.S.A.S - And Hebrews 6:4-6.

One of the best things about blogging on the Internet is that I can express my thoughts on issues closest to my heart and know that someone, somewhere will read and I hope, feel edified. Therefore to share on the love, goodness and mercy of God through Jesus is a wonderful privilege, and blessed be to God for giving me the grace to glorify him here on this site.
And one of my core beliefs is knowing that once I'm saved, I have been regenerated in my spirit, I am going through sanctification of my soul, and one day I will have a glorious, immortal body - very much like the risen Saviour has now. All this gotten through grace, I guess, an acronym in the English language for Gift Received At Christ's Expense. It is the righteousness of Christ which is imputed to my life account; my own righteousness is as filthy rags, like a shrivelled leaf blown away by the wind. There is absolutely no way I can have fellowship with the Lord in Heaven based on my efforts. Without Jesus Christ, I have absolutely no hope. Therefore if he is to save me from the well-deserved separation in Hell, he would have to save me fully and completely, without any works or merit on my side. Therefore, common sense in itself should testify that if God has started a work in me, he will finish it. The very omniscience of God, who foreknew me and predestined me to conform to his Son, ought to guarantee that once saved always saved - a work of God, with whom the Holy Spirit within is himself a guarantee.

The Omniscience of God is what I believe to be the strongest argument for Once Saved Always Saved. It means that God is all-knowing. There is absolutely nothing which can happen that will take God by surprise. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then God already knew this long before you were ever born. Long before conception, God not only had each day of your life numbered, but every single deed carried out, every single word spoken, every thought passing through your head, every other person you met, every friend, every foe, all your family members and your parents - all were written in his book long before even your father and mother were born. If you read the prophetic section of the Old Testament, you will see all this come out.

For example, why not read Isaiah chapter 53, and notice that the futuristic prophecy of God's Servant atoning for Israel's sins was written in the past tense, as if these things had already occurred. Or read the whole book of the prophet Daniel. Read about the terrible visions he had about the empires which were still to arise to dominate the Jews long after the prophet's death. Read in particular chapters 10 and 11, and with the rise of the Greek Empire, four sub-kingdoms were to arise after the premature death of Alexander the Great. Read of the conflict between the Northern and Southern kings, with so much intricate detail, that it reads like a newspaper. When I read this, I stood back in awe, speechless.

What a tremendous display of God's omniscience! And why did God take so much trouble  to foretell the ins and outs of a future empire which arose long after the death of Daniel? Could it be because when the prophet died, Israel was still dominated by the Mede/Persian Empire? And during the Greek Empire which was to follow, had God already known that no part of the Bible would be written during that period? Then on the personal side, knowing God to be omniscient, as well as omnipotent, and his omnipresence is an encouraging thought during times when the chips are down, or when afraid, fearful of the future, or when I wish things were better than they currently are. King David must have realised this too, for he penned Psalm 139.

Yet in light of all this, there are many Christian believers who think that one must hold faithful and remain obedient to God in order to "stay saved" - normally known as Arminians, but sometimes this kind of theology is called Conditional Security. In other words, falling away could well mean the loss of salvation. Now if this was true, then the gift of salvation we now have in Christ as believers, would not be a gift at all. Instead we would all be on lifetime probation. In the world of business and employment, a candidate applying for a post is normally given a probational period set by the employer. It may be for a month, or up to three months. During this period, the boss watches carefully the candidate's performance. If he is satisfied, then the candidate is offered the job and becomes a full time employee. But if not satisfied, the company will give him his marching orders. That is what probation in this context is about. Conditional salvation is very much like that. And they would quote a number of verses in the New Testament to prove their point.

And the verses quoted most often by Arminians is Hebrews 6:4-6, which reads:
It is impossible for those who have been once enlightened, who has tasted the heavenly gift, who has shared in the Holy Spirit, who has tasted of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Then Hebrews 10:26-27, 39 may also be taken into consideration:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God...
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who believe and are saved.

If these verses prove that a believer can lose his salvation due to falling away from the faith, or by committing a serious sin, or leading a not-so-godly life, then indeed, the Arminians were right after all. It would have meant that no Christian alive is eternally saved, and that every believer is on a lifelong probation, not knowing the verdict until after death. Furthermore, God himself is watching every move, every work the believer performs, because the Almighty needs to know whether the believer is worthy enough to enter Heaven, therefore denying God's omniscience. That is, God does not know how the believer will perform, and he can be taken by surprise.

The result of all this is more akin to fear of punishment rather than a selfless love for God. Over the last forty years of being a Christian myself, I have noticed that Arminians tend to be stronger prayer warriors, more zealous in Bible study, more enthusiastic in evangelism and handing out tracts, more dedicated in door-to-door (particularly with Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons, who are both Arminians) and during services, louder in praise and speaking in tongues - as proof that they are Spirit-filled. All these things are good in themselves, of course. But if the fear of likely punishment or the possibility of being shut out of Heaven is in the believer's heart, he would make certain that all these works - and more - are all there. The conclusion to all this, at least on what I can make out, is that Arminianism is more likely to be self centred rather than centred on God's glory and his Kingdom. Yet Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-27 are the most oft-quoted verses to disprove eternal security.

Hebrews 6:4-6 points out five phases a person can go through. These were:
1. Having been enlightened.
2. Tasted the heavenly gift.
3. Shared in the Holy Spirit.
4. Tasted the Word of God.
5. Tasted the powers of the world to come.

I find it interesting to note here that the word tasted appears in three out of the five above statements. There is a difference between tasting and drinking. To drink is to consume entirely, but as for tasting, the first picture that comes to mind when tasting something is wine-tasting. Here a small sample of the wine is sucked into the mouth, swivelled over the tongue, than spat out into a spittoon. This is a very good analogy of a person joining a church without being born again and regenerated in the spirit. Over the years, I have communicated with quite a number of people, mostly working school leavers or college undergrads, who attended church for a while, made friends with the regular members, then disappear. When asked how they feel in the spiritual area, they have shown utter hostility towards anything to do with God and the Bible. And I recall at least one of them actually exhorting me with a Scripture verse back in the 1970s when I was going through a period of doubt. Now, if I was to meet him, he would slam the door to my face, demonstrating his heart hardened into rock.

If the theology of conditional salvation does seem to have a point, it's most likely item #3 - Shared, or made partakers of the Holy Spirit. They would argue that if a person shares in the Holy Spirit, then he must already be converted. I don't think so necessarily. First of all, John 1:9 says that Jesus is the true light that shines into every man born into the world. Secondly, in John 16:8, Jesus says that after his Resurrection, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin and judgement. However, when an unbeliever enters a church, he will feel the greater presence of the Holy Spirit among God's people, as 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 so demonstrates.

It is possible for an unbeliever to be convicted by the Holy Spirit and still remain unconverted. If this were to occur, the unbeliever's heart will harden to such an extent, that it would be impossible to bring such an individual back to the point of repentance, no matter how fervently a believer may persuade him. On the other hand, I had attended baptism services where the candidate had testified that he or she had grown up in a Christian home, then deviated from the faith for many years, before coming back and submitting himself for baptism. During all this time away from the faith, was such a person saved? Yes, I believe he or she was saved, and remained saved throughout all that time. This was evidenced by a heart which never hardened to the point that it became impossible to come to repentance. The same can be said of a devout believer who serves God for many years, then comes across a crisis in life which would turn him away from the faith, whether temporary or more permanent. Has he lost his salvation from that moment on? The very omniscience of God should answer that one. If his salvation was so forfeitable, then through his foreknowledge, God would have called him home while his faith was still strong.

As for the case of Hebrews 10:26-27, I think the same idea is taught, maybe with the addition that the whole of the letter was addressed to the Jews. The very title, which is translated, To the Hebrews, suggest that the letter was addressed to all the Jews, whether believers in Jesus Christ or not. The whole letter is about how the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ made on the cross was better than all the Temple ordinances which foreshadowed the Atonement made by Jesus Christ. If a person rejects the Gospel, and then returns to the Temple ordinances, then it becomes necessary for the Lord to be crucified all over again. This is what the verse 26 is talking about, which the King James Version brings out more accurately:
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.

The one "sin" sometimes referring as the unpardonable sin, is rejecting the Gospel after hearing it, and returning to Temple ordinances. With the sacrifice of Jesus already accomplished, the one who rejects the Gospel not only sins against the Holy Spirit, but will be accountable for all his sins, as they cannot be forgiven unless the Lord Jesus goes to the cross all over again. A good example of this kind of attitude is found in Acts 3, where Peter and John heals a lame beggar, then uses this miracle to demonstrate the Atonement and Resurrection made by Jesus. The members of the Sanhedrin who witnessed the miracle had rejected the Gospel, demonstrated by their imprisonment of the apostles.

Finally, I have included verse 39, as this is still in the context of 10:26. It talks about shrinking back and are destroyed rather than believing and are saved. When reading this, I get a picture of a strong tower, like in Proverbs 18:10, which reads:
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Ancient cities in the Middle East were normally walled and had a tower which served as both watch tower and refuge for the citizens of the city. When the city was threatened by an enemy army, its citizens ran into the tower for protection. I can imagine someone running into this tower and is safe. But another person runs to the tower but stops short of it, and walks away. As a result his life remains in danger. This is a good analogy of someone who was brought by the Holy Spirit to the point of repentance, but turns away just short of it. His heart would begin to harden, and it would then be impossible for him to return to that same point of repentance.

Oh, the foolishness of some.


  1. Hi Frank,
    it is good that we can use blogging to share our thoughts, and particularly our experiences in the Lord. Whatever the Lord calls a person to do, he or she must do, each has a separate gift. The human mind and its way of thinking is a far cry from the mind of the Lord and His thoughts, and as long as we are led by the Spirit and not by the carnal mind then that is good. As far as scripture is concerned, there is a wonderful description of its usage in 2 Timothy ch.3 vs.16 and 17:-which is very encouraging to the believer 'All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works' How loving is our God.
    God bless.

  2. Dear Frank,
    Your readers are always blessed by your careful exposition of God's Word and your love for Him. I know He will bless you richly for being His faithful ambassador. Praise God that we did nothing to earn our salvation, for He did it all, and that once we are truly saved by placing our faith in Christ's death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven, there is nothing we can do to lose it. I am so thankful for His amazing grace!
    God bless,

  3. Unfortunately, a great many who believe in losing one's salvation spend a lot of effort telling people how they can get it back, completely ignoring the last part of Hebrews 6:4-6, when the author says it will be impossible for them to do so if they did lose it. What a hopeless position to be in.