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Archive for December 30th, 2008

I wonder if we take the plain writing of scripture seriously? In both Galatians and Hebrews. Lets look at the two warnings:

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

Now the argument usually goes like this. “Well that falling from grace in Galatians 5, means a lost of rewards” or “this is hypothetical and doesn’t mean that” or most common “they were never saved at first”. Why? Because our theological presuppositions tell us that one who comes to faith can’t fall away. Usually Romans 8 and John 5:24 are quoted.

The argument for Hebrews is usually verse 9 again this is a hypothetical statement and doesn’t mean what it says. But Paul says in Hebrews 6 that these individuals have been “enlightened”, have “tasted the heavenly gift” and “shared (partaken) ” of the Holy Spirit”. These aren’t experiences of the nonbeliever this seems to be the language of one who has trusted in the Gospel and has been born again.

Here is what I am not saying. I am not saying that sin seperates us from God and I think this is what John 5 and Romans 8 convey. I am saying that a man can willfully follow Christ trust in Him and as Matthew says in his Gospel the 13th Chapter one can get so concerned with this world, count the cost of the Christian life and walk away. I believe this is what Paul is conveying in Hebrews 6.

If we follow the letter to the Hebrews. The theme is one huge warning. “To turn back to Judaism due to persecution is to reject the true High Priest, the true land, the true sabbath rest, the true Son of God, the true temple and to turn back to Sinai which has been replaced by Zion”. That is why the writer tells the Hebrews to “go outside of the camp”. Because this is where the scapegoat goes, to take the guilt of Israel away. We see Jesus as that scapegoat, who takes our sins away and bears our guilt and shame, however, this is predicated on a continual faith.

Now there are two camps who agree with OSAS. The first are those who reject the Doctrines of Grace and for some reason these are the people I have the greatest quarrel with. They reject the Doctrine of Election by saying “Jesus would never force anyone to come to Him”. Which is fine. However, in the same breath they say “Jesus would never let someone go who doesn’t want Him anymore”. This is a blaring inconsistency here. To say Jesus won’t force you to believe but He will force you to continue believing once you have believed is a bit weird to me. The big reason this train of thought follows is to protect and uphold the erroneous doctrine of the “Carnal Christian”. Which, biblically speaking, is false.

The other camp is the Calvinistic camp. I don’t agree there anymore; however, they are the most consistent. They say “God elected you, Christ died for you, so God will sustain your faith, less He proves to not be totally sovereign over your salvtion”. I applaud the consistency though I disagree with the conclusion.

Here is why. Paul gives a stern warning in Galatians. We all know the issue. They are looking at turning back to the Jewish law for justification (Chapter 5). Paul says once you attempt to be justified by a Covenant God has rejected and replaced with the New Covenant (the Gospel), you have in turn rejected the subject of that Covenant, who is Jesus. So in essence to attach anything to Christ’s work is to reject Christ wholeheartedly. As Paul says in Chapter 2 “Christ died needlessly”. Paul goes on to say “I would have labored in vain”. This doesn’t seem like the language of the hypothetical and Paul seems to be convinced that they were born of the Spirit but now want to be justified in the flesh.

In Hebrews Paul is saying “if you turn back to a dead, obsolete, worthless, Covenant, then there is no way for you to gain favor or repentance from God”. Paul was not saying that they could never trust in Christ again. He was saying that you can’t reject the New Covenant and gain repentance from God, thus to turn back to the Old Covenant is to reject God and that Old Covenant can’t save you thus you have no hope!

I close with this. We can’t allow our theological presuppositions to drive our hermeneutic. If we do, we can’t reject the way others read and interpret the bible, because we do the same we just dress it up in theological jargon. Let me know what you think! 8)

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