Friday, February 15, 2008
A discussion on eternal security
I'd like to point out a thread where I'm participating on the topic of eternal security, and the discussion is interesting.
Here's my most recent post, responding to 'momesansmom' who has a tendency to make strange, extensive, and peripherally-relevant comments on God's non-temporal nature. I'm perplexed as to why she thinks that the Reformed viewpoint puts God into time, but hey, if you don't hold to the biblical view on stuff, you'll inevitably get messed up. My comment follows:
All of what you've said about temporality and such I agree with, except for your (to me) cryptic references to "encounter with the exalted Christ". I'm not following you on that one.
Part of the problem is that I express the same things but use diff words. Yes, God lives in the eternal NOW.
Yet you agree that God intervenes in time. Jesus CHrist is the same, period, but He is not always DOING the same things. He is not eternally dying on the cross - where would be the resurrection, then?
And I hasten to remind you that Romans 8 uses the words foreknowledge and predestination. What are "fore" and "pre" if not temporal statements? Sthg is being communicated there, and I think you need to acct for it.
I believe you are talking out of both sides of your mouth on this question. On the one hand you talk a great line about eternality and non-temporality and all that. But then you say this about asking questions about the diff between our free will choices to leave Jesus now vs after death:
Once a saint has exited time completely, there will be no falling away for him or her because he or she is in eternity. This isn't loss of "freedom" but it is the end of changeability in time.
So we're NOT living in eternity right now? Great - we're in agreement. This is what I'm saying. God has made it this way and uses language to express TO US certain concepts.
I said that in response to David Bryan's assertion that it's apparently unthinkable that our free will could be limited in such a way as to prevent our falling away once we are truly justified.
All that said, I still don't think that you've dealt with the fact that Rom 8 says that God foreknew AND JUSTIFIED those who will be glorified. Or, to be more proper (properer) and to comply better with what you've been saying about temporal language, it's that He foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. All in the past tense. And all the same "those", the same people.
Romans 5:1 (on which you missed the point) says that we were already justified. It's an aorist tense - it's completed. Paul apparently thought he could talk in terms of an "us" who have been justified and which action of justification has been completed. Thus, all the same those of whom he is speaking, their destiny is to be glorified. None will fall away since it's the same "those" justified and glorified in Rom 8.
justification can be in a sense described as a done deal, but salvation is not a matter of a moment when one is justified, it is a matter of a life lived in Christ.
There are at least two biblical uses of the word "salvation", but it is several times used as an equivalent to justification, which is the point at which an exponentially much greater number of things occur in changing the rebel enemy of God sinner to a friend, an adopted son, a lover, a holy one, of God. Thus this is most properly labeled as salvation, though salvation in a broader sense includes justification, sanctification, and glorification, all.
John 3:16, John 11:25-26 and so many other passages make it clear that it is "he who believes" that shall never die.
Yes, of course.
God will guard those in faith who are justified.
If someone dies in unbelief, they never believed. It's not that hard.
If you read 1 John 2:19 the way you're using it, then you are forced to assume that all phony Christians will eventually leave the faith.
Not at all - it doesn't say that. It says that those who left were never of us. But that doesn't mean that ALL who are not of faith WILL leave. Matt 7 obviously indicates that there will be some who persist in false profession until death, as you pointed out.
As regards Heb 6, you said:
And those who DO come back obviously CAN, so they obviously are not the ones to which this passage refers.
Sorry, but that's seriously a case of special pleading.
The psg says that those who fall away CAN'T COME BACK. So the choice is:
1) Believe that those who fall away once are screwed forever.
2) Believe that Heb 6 is not referring to a loss of salvation, and thus abandon it as a prooftext against eternal security.
1 Cor 9 - thanks for posting those words from those men. But their arguments don't change the force of John 10 and the fact that they obviously failed to take into account the many evidences for eternal sec in the NT. All I can do is parse what they said and the fact that 1 Cor 9 makes multiple references to the prize, the reward. Salvation is not strictly speaking a reward; it's a gift, can't be earned (Rom 4:4-5). Paul is speaking of sthg he CAN earn - eternal rewards.
You didn't deal with John 10:28-29 at all, and that's disappointing. Let me remind you of the issue here. It's pretty simple.
Jesus says that His sheep will never perish. Forget the questions about who can snatch.
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me.
26 "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.
27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
The promise in John 10:28 can quite easily be seen to describe our condition once we are totally free from the bonds of time.
Read it again. No it can't - the sheep are sheep IN THIS LIFE, else quite a lot in that psg wouldn't make any sense.
And the consequence of your position means that we can never be His sheep until we die. Is that really what you believe?
So, please let me ask you to comment again on what it means that His sheep will never perish. If they fall away and don't come back, will they not perish?
Augustine...did not seize the chance to elaborate "and they will never perish" as anything more than a taunt to his unbelieving audience, who would perish.
Fine, but what does it mean that they will never perish? How could it be a taunt if His sheep will indeed perish?
and that this sustains me even in my own faithlessness, even turning my sin into opportunity for grace as I live a life of continual repentance thanks to his faithfulness.
Then what's the problem with the idea of eternal security? Is it not part of your convictions that YOU MUST LIVE THE LIFE or else fall away and perish?
John 15. "Every branch IN ME that does not bear fruit He takes away."
Of course. And did He not take away the branch of the unfruitful Jewish nation? Does He not prune His church thru church discipline (not that Orthodox are strong in that area, I'm talking NT teaching here)?
He does not, in some pretemporal "era," choose some and reject others (this is truly the attitude that is not "God-honoring").
I don't believe that either, but IF IT WERE THE TRUTH, you as a mere mortal have NO call to judge God thusly. It is your responsibility to submit to what He has ordained. Talking back to Him and saying "What you've done is no good!" is the very definition of not-God-honoring.