Skip to comments.Catholic Apologist Initiates Debate on Eternal Security
Posted on 10/07/2013 5:26:01 AM PDT by jodyel
The following debate between Mike Gendron and Tim Staples appears in the January - February 2012 Issue of Catholic Answers Magazine.
Mike Gendron's First Affirmation
God promises eternal life to those who repent and believe the glorious Gospel of Grace. When He gives spiritual life to those who are dead in their sins, He does not place them on probation or give them conditional life. Eternal life is given by grace through faith so that the divine promise can be guaranteed (Rom. 4:16).
God's promise is upheld by His holy character, unlimited power and sovereign purpose. Listen to the Lord's promise: "He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
Jesus declared that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). The Good Shepherd protects the sheep who were given to Him by the Father with these words of assurance: "I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:29-30). Eternal life is a free gift of God that is irrevocable (Rom. 6:23; 11:29). Believers can know right here and now that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
The word that describes a believer's eternal salvation is the same "eternal" that describes the eternal triune God (Rom. 16:26). The word means everlasting, forever and never ending. Not once does it ever mean "temporary" or "conditional". According to God's eternal purpose, every believer has been saved from eternal judgment, eternal destruction and eternal punishment (Eph. 3:11; Heb. 6:2; 2 Thes. 1:9; Mat. 25:46). Believers possess eternal redemption through the eternal Spirit who guarantees an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:12-15; Eph. 1:14). The eternal Gospel promises every believer eternal life and eternal glory in His eternal kingdom (Rev. 14:6; 1 John 5:13; 1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Pet.1:11). The eternal King calls salvation eternal and He has given believers eternal comfort (Heb. 5:9; Mark 16:20; 2 Thes. 2:16).
Tim Staples's First Response:
Catholics agree God gives "eternal life" to all who believe in Christ (John 3:16; 5:24, etc.). We agree "no one can snatch [followers of Christ] out of [Jesus'] hand" (John 10:29-30). And we agree we are kept by the power of Christ who is "able to keep [us] from falling and to present [us] without blemish before the presence of his glory..." (Jude 24; cf. Eph. 1:14) However, no biblical text denies followers of Christ can walk away from Christ.
Moreover, the New Testament repeatedly sets conditions upon our salvation. 1. We must be baptized (Mark 16:16; Romans 6:3-4). 2. We must continue to abide in Christ in order to receive the promise of eternal life (I John 2:23-25). 3. We must be obedient (Matt. 19:16; Romans 6:16; Heb. 5:8-9; Acts 5:29-32) and 4. We must endure until the end to be saved (Matt. 10:22; Rev. 2:10). If we refuse to obey, we will be lost (cf. Matt. 24:45-51).
The Catholic Church teaches we can "know we have eternal life" if we understand "knowledge" as St. John does in I John 5:13. In verse 14 he refers to this "knowledge" as a "confidence" analogous to the "knowledge" we have of our receiving what we petition God for in prayer. We use the term similarly in English: "I know I am going to get an A on that exam tomorrow." We know this confident assurance is not absolute because St. John gives conditions for our attaining eternal life in this same epistle (I John 1:7-9, 2:23-25; 3:15).
The main point is this: The eternal life we can "know" we possess and that is promised to us can be lost. "Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off" (Romans 11:22; cf. John 15:1-6, Heb. 12:14-15, II Peter 2:20-22).
Mike's 1st Response
Scripture speaks of two groups of professing Christians - those who have been born-again and those who have not. Those born-again are born by the will of God, not by the will of man (John 1:12-13). It is the will of God that Jesus will not lose even one (John 6:39). At the moment of spiritual birth, the justified believer, now sealed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, begins walking by faith and doing the works God has prepared for him to walk in (Eph. 1:13-14; 2:10). They persevere in the faith, abiding in Christ and His Word, because of God's faithfulness and His discipline as a loving Father (John 8:32, John 15:7, Heb. 12:7). Paul declared our assurance: "I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). The work started "when we were dead in our trespasses...He made us alive together with Christ...and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places" (Eph. 2:4-7). This is such unshakable assurance that, positionally, they are already seen in heaven as trophies of God's grace. Clearly, it is impossible for those who have been born-again of imperishable seed to ever perish. Their inheritance is reserved in heaven and protected by the power of God (1 Pet. 1:3-5; 23).
Professing Christians, who have not been born-again, are victims of distorted gospels or faulty methods of conversion. They say they have faith, but have no works, no evidence of spiritual life and have never departed from iniquity (Jas 2:26; Mat. 7:21-23, Titus 1:16). Since they are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, their faith is dead and they do not abide in Christ. Many fall away as apostates because they never received the gift of eternal life (1 Tim. 4:1). Those who "choose to walk away" from Christ are giving evidence of their false conversion.
Finally, water baptism does not cause, nor is it the instrument, of the new birth, but it is an act of obedience for those who have received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:47).
Tim Staples' Second Response:
God knows with infallible certainty those who will persevere until the end, but Scripture makes clear that we don't (apart from a private revelation); thus, even in the above-cited case of Jesus declaring "[he] should lose nothing of all that [the Father] has given [him]," he later makes an exception with Judas, saying "I kept them in your name, which you have given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12). Though Judas was "guarded" by Jesus, he chose to walk away from him.
Catholics acknowledge we cannot merit heaven by our own power. We will only be saved because it is the will of God to save us and keep us (Eph. 2:8-9; John 1:12-13; Eph. 1:14). Indeed, we know God is faithful to complete what he has begun in us (Phil. 1:6). However, the Bible is also clear that we must allow him to do so. "Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain" (II Cor. 6:1). "You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace... You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth" (Gal. 5:4-7).
The Catholic Church agrees that Christians are seated "with [God] in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7). In fact, Scripture says Christians have "become partakers of the Holy Spirit... tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the world to come" and yet, it also says they can "commit apostasy" and fall away from Christ (cf. Heb. 6:4-6). Though Scripture does speak of some who are rejected by Christ in the end as perhaps never having known him (cf. Matt. 7:21-23), Scripture also reveals some who will have known him and even "escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of... Jesus Christ," and yet they will have fallen away from him (II Peter 2:20-22).
It is difficult to see how Scripture could be any plainer with regard to baptism than to say, "baptism... now saves you" (I Peter 3:21), "wash[es] away your sins" (Acts 22:16), and "baptiz[es you] into Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:3).
Mike's 2nd Response
Those born of God do receive private revelation. "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:16-17).
Jesus knew all along that Judas would fall away and become an apostate to fulfill Scripture (Ps. 41:9). In fact, when Jesus chose the twelve apostles, He knew Judas was a devil and would betray him (John 6:67-71). Clearly, Judas never had justifying faith. He had the faith of demons, which caused him to shudder and commit suicide (Jas 2:19). His apostasy is consistent with John's description of other professing Christians who were never born again. "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us" (1 John 2:19). Those born of God are kept forever by Jesus (John 6:39-40).
In Galatians 5:4-7, Paul is warning those who were trying to be justified by the law that Christ would be of no benefit to them (Gal. 5:2). Those who chose to continue under the Law would be rejecting Paul's teaching of salvation by grace.
In Hebrews 6:4-6 the author is referring to apostates who had never been born of God and therefore were never Christians. The passage makes no reference to salvation or the new birth. People can be partakers or witnesses of the Holy Spirit's power and yet not have His indwelling. They can also taste or sample the Word of God but spit it out in unbelief. Since they never ingested God's Word in justifying faith they were never saved.
In 2 Pet. 2:20 the people did not know Jesus but had knowledge of Him. Once again these are apostates who after hearing the Gospel of Christ, escaped the defilements of the world for a time but later rejected the offer of salvation.
In 1 Pet. 3:21 eight people were saved from the wrath of God because they took refuge in the ark. In a similar way those who take refuge in Christ who was baptized (immersed) in God's wrath as atonement for sin will be saved (Luke 12:50).
Tim Staples' third response:
In your first response, you based an absolute assurance of salvation on the ideas of our "inheritance" (salvation) as well as the "word of God" by which we have been "born anew" being "imperishable" (cf. I Peter 1:4; 23). Both are imperishable, of course, but Scripture also teaches we can forfeit our inheritance as Esau did and we can reject the word of God for various reasons and be lost (see Heb. 12:14-17; Luke 8:12-13; Heb. 10:35-39; Matt. 5:Rev. 2:10, etc.).
Similarly here, you imply Romans 8:16-17 saying the Holy Spirit "bear[s] witness with our spirit that we are children of God" equates to Christians having absolute certainty of their salvation. The text, however, simply says that we are God's children. And as such, we are "heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ..." The second half of verse 17 adds a very important qualifier: "... provided we suffer with him in order that we may be also glorified with him..." And further clarification is found in verses 24-25: "For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? ... we wait for it with patience." The context makes clear that our "inheritance" is contingent upon choosing to suffer with Christ until the end. We do not "see" or possess that inheritance yet.
The Bible does not seem to concur with your opinion that Judas "never had justifying faith." In fact, Judas is included when John 2:11 declares all of the apostles "believ[ed] in [Jesus]" through the miracle at Cana. Jesus says specifically of the twelve, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear," as opposed to unbelievers who did not (cf. Matt. 13:13-16). Perhaps most importantly, all of the apostles confessed Jesus Christ to be the Son of God in true faith in Matt. 14:33. And notice: these all occur before Jesus' declaration that Judas "is a devil" in John 6:70. If you trace the time-line here, it appears Judas would have fallen away at the time of Jesus' great Eucharistic discourse.
Catholics agree: God wills "that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life" (John 6:39). In fact, I Tim. 2:4 tells us God "desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (see also II Peter 3:9). But Scripture is equally emphatic that some will reject the will of God for them and end up in hell (cf. Matt. 25:46). Therefore, Catholic theology harmonizes these two biblical realities understanding God's will to have both an antecedent and consequent nature. God's antecedent will is for all to be saved. But as a consequence of creating man with free will, it is God's consequent will for those who reject his antecedent willregardless of whether they are Christians or not when they do soto be separated from God for all eternity.
And finally, you missed the point of the biblical texts I cited. Galatians 5:4 refers to Galatians "falling from grace," though they had been "running well" with the Lord (vs. 7). Galatians 3:3 says they had "received the Spirit." This is a phrase used of Christians (see Acts 8:14-17; 19:2).
Hebrews 6:4-6 refers to it being impossible for certain apostates to be "restore[d] again (Gr.- palin) to repentance." Again implies these people had already experienced "repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18; cf. II Peter 3:9). It also refers to them as having been "enlightened," a term this same inspired author uses for Christians as does St. Paul (cf. Heb. 10:32; Eph. 1:18). And contrary to your claim, this text does not say these apostates were simply "partakers or witnesses of the Holy Spirit's power;" rather, it says they were "partakers of the Holy Spirit." They were Christians.
II Peter 2:20 never says it is referring to people who had "knowledge of [Christ], but did not know [him]." St. Peter uses the same language he used of Christians who had "obtained a faith of equal standing with [his]" in chapter 1:1-4 to describe them. In 1:3-4, Christians are said to have "escaped the corruption that is in the world," "through the knowledge of [the Lord]." In 2:20, he says, "... if, after they escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord," they fall away, "the last state has become worse than the former."
I Peter 3:20-21 is fairly straightforward that baptism is an instrument of salvation when it says, "... during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you..."
Mike's 3rd Response
As we interpret the Bible we must look for the author's intended meaning and purpose and be sure the context is consistent with the full counsel of God's word. Your assertion that believers can forfeit their promised eternal spiritual inheritance because Esau forfeited his material inheritance is invalid (Hebrews 9:15). God guards the spiritual, not the material inheritance of His children (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
Romans 8:17 does not give "suffering with Christ" as a contingency for our inheritance, but a reality that believers will experience. Their glory in heaven is assured in the next verse. "The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." And verse 30 reveals the unbroken promise of God "those whom he justified he also glorified."
If Judas had justifying faith, as you assert, then God must glorify him according to Romans 8:30. There are many who believe Jesus is Lord (as Judas did) but have not been born again (Mat. 7:21-23). Like other mere professors of Christ, Judas was never one of the Lord's sheep because He never knew him (Mat. 7:21-23, John 10:14). Furthermore, Judas never demonstrated repentance. Everyone whom God has raised from death to life has been granted faith and repentance (Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:1-10).
Paul wrote his epistle to Galatians to defend justification by grace through faith and to warn them of the dire consequences if they abandoned this essential doctrine. The perverted gospel of the Judaizers was nullifying grace (the only means of salvation) by placing people under the law (Gal. 1:6-9). He was not warning them that they could lose their salvation, but that they were loosing their grip on the principle of grace which must remain mutually exclusive of works (Rom. 11:6; Gal. 5:4).
Your assertion that "partakers of the Holy Spirit" are Christians is not supported by Scripture (Heb. 6:4-6). The Greek word metochos has to do with association, not possession. Prior to Pentecost the Jews had never possessed the Spirit but were present where the Spirit was ministering. The Bible never defines a Christian as being associated with the Spirit but in-dwelt and sealed by the Spirit. People can have a change of mind (repentance) without trusting Christ for salvation. Repentance unto life must be accompanied by faith.
In 1 Pet. 3:21, water was the agent of God's wrath, not the means of salvation. Just as those in the ark were saved from God's judgment, those immersed in Christ will be saved from judgment. Jesus was baptized (immersed) in God's wrath on the cross so that those who believe could be saved (Luke 12:50). The only baptism that saves sinners from God's wrath is the baptism of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13).
You have failed to see the distinction between those who merely profess Christ and those who possess Christ. Those who have never been born again cannot lose their salvation because they were never saved. Those who have been born again of incorruptible seed cannot lose their salvation because they are new creatures in Christ, kept by the power of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit, eternally saved by Jesus, redeemed from the curse of the law and have a permanent right standing before God (John 6:40; Heb. 10:14; Gal. 3:13, 1 Pet. 1:23; Eph. 1:13).
Tim Staples' Fourth Response:
You've missed the entire point of the inspired author's use of Esau in Hebrews 12:16-17. He uses the temporal inheritance of Esau as a metaphor for the eternal inheritance of Christians. The context makes this clear: "Strive for... the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no 'root of bitterness' spring up... by it many become defiled... like Esau..." (verses 14-16)
You seem to pass over the many "ifs" which represent contingencies with regard to our salvation all over the New Testament. The "if" (Gr.eiper) in Romans 8:17 is just one of them (see also Matt. 6:14, I John 1:7-9, Hebrews 3:14, 10:37-39, etc.). This is entirely in keeping with the teaching of Christ who said we must take up our crosses daily and endure until the end with him in order to be finally saved (Luke 9:23; Matt. 10:22, Rev. 2:10).
Romans 8:28-30 reminds us that Christ both provided for the salvation, justification and ultimate glorification of all on the cross and that he knows who will endure until the end and so be glorified. However, Scripture also makes clear that unless we cooperate with the grace he merited for us to accomplish all of these things in our lives, or as St. Paul says it, unless we "continue in his kindness... [we too] will be cut off" (Romans 11:22). Our final glorification is revealed to be something we yet "hope for" in this life (cf. Romans 5:1-5). Hope is something that can be lost along with the salvation that is hoped for (cf. Hebrews 10:23-39).
Your claim that "partakers (Gr. metochous) of the Holy Spirit" are not Christians in Hebrews 6:4 borders on the ridiculous. Association and not possession? While metochos can be used in the sense of "campanion," it is more a synonym of koinonia when used in that sense. It denotes a union in a cause that brings about communion. But to get a sense of its usage here we would do well to examine how it is used in the rest of Hebrews.
In verb form it is used to describe Christ as "partaking" in our human nature (Heb. 2:14; see also 5:13; 7:13). Metochos is used in the nominative plural to describe Christians as "metachoi tou Christou" or "partakers of Christ" (3:14). Hebrews 3:1 refers to Christians as "holy brethren, who share (Gr. metochoi "sharers") in a heavenly call" (see also Heb. 1:9). This is not mere association. Neither is Hebrews 6:4. The context is clear.
Mike's Final Response:
Esau was an apostate, godless, immoral person who had knowledge of the truth but found no place for repentance (Heb. 12:16-17). Your opinion of a metaphor is unsupported.
Your statement that "partakers (metochous) of the Holy Spirit" denotes a "union" with the Holy Spirit is wrong and your position has a serious problem for Catholics since it is impossible to restore those who fall away to repentance (Heb. 6:4-6). There is not a Greek lexicon that defines metochous as "union." It means "to share or to be associated with" the Spirit. In one sense every unbeliever is a partaker of the Holy Spirit since He convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11).
Secondly, God's Word never contradicts itself. Those indwelt with the Holy Spirit persevere until the end in God's power and faithfulness, not their own (Rom. 8:11). Jesus declared: "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me, I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life" (John 6:39-40). Eternal life, not conditional life, is the will of God for everyone the Father gives to the Son. The "if" statements you quoted were given to discern true faith from spurious faith.
The recipients of everlasting life strive to please God not in order to obtain or maintain salvation but in thanksgiving for having been eternally saved by the finished work of Jesus. Those who belong to Jesus will take up their cross and suffer with Christ because of their fervent love and heartfelt gratitude for Him (John 14:15). Those who merely profess Christ, then fall away into apostasy were never justified or born of God. They failed to persevere because the Savior NEVER knew them (Mat. 7:21-23).
Your assertion that hope "can be lost" along with salvation violates the very definition of genuine faith which is "the assurance of things hoped for" (Hebrews 11:1). God-given faith is the present assurance of the future reality of an eternity with God. John's first epistle was written so that Christians could know, right now, that they have, in their possession, eternal, everlasting, never ending life (1 John 5:13). Jesus is able to keep them from stumbling, and to make them stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy (Jude 24-25). Those who rely on their own power are, in effect, trusting a god who is impotent to finish the work he started (Phil. 1:6). Those who trust God and His Word know they are kept and protected forever by His power (1 Peter1:4).
Tim Staples' Final Response:
Once again, you missed the point of Hebrews 12:14-17. Esau found no place for repentance only after he "sold his birthright." The "inheritance" is the metaphor for our "inheritance" as Christians, eternal life. He had to possess it in order to sell it.
I would suggest you examine Gerhard Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 2, pp. 830-832, which concurs with everything I said about metekein/metochos. The New Testament never uses metochos of the Holy Spirit or of Christ with reference to "the world" as you claim.
Apostates in Hebrews 6:4-6 could not be restored to repentance because they left Christ and the New Covenant to go back to the Old Covenant in order to be saved. The Old Covenant no longer has any such power (see chapters 5, 7-10, 12:18-24, cf. Acts 15:1-2). However, if they turn back to Christ and the New Covenant, they could then be restored to repentance.
The "if statements" I referenced were not merely to determine who has faith and who doesn't. Faith is not the issue; it is assumed. The issues were perseverance, walking in the light and confession of sins, and more (Matt. 10:22; Matt. 6:14; John 1:7-9, etc.).
Granted, Jesus said if we love him, we will keep his commandments. That is the greatest motivation for service. However, Jesus also said, "If you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Matt. 19:16). St. Paul tells us, "[God] will give eternal life" to "those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality" (Romans 2:6-7; cf. Gal. 6:7-9; Matt. 5:44-45). What we do determines whether or not we will go to heaven and not simply faith alone, according to Scripture.
In the final analysis, I think you emphasize the texts that speak of God's power, protection and the blessed assurance the faithful in Christ possess rooted in hope (cf. Jude 24; Romans 8:28-39; I John 5:13, etc.). The problem is you do so to the exclusion of texts that plainly say Christians can "fall away from the living God" or walk away from God's protection and power (Heb. 3:12; cf. Matt. 5:32-33; Eph. 5:3-6). In so doing, you fail to declare with St. Paul "the whole counsel of God" that is necessary for salvation (Acts 20:27).
Mike's Overall Conclusion: (not included in the Catholic Answers Article)
This debate reveals the importance of using proper hermeneutics to interpret and understand the Word of God. Biblical hermeneutics is the study of principles used for interpreting Scripture. The best method to use is a historical-grammatical principle based on historical, socio-political, geographical, cultural and grammatical context. We must also be aware that verses taken out of context can be twisted and distorted to mean something completely different from the author's intention (2 Pet. 3:16). Thus we see the importance of looking at a verse in its chapter, book and biblical context.
Since the canon of Scripture is considered to be complete, sufficient and authoritative to make us wise unto salvation, any interpretation that contradicts any other part of Scripture must be renounced since God cannot contradict Himself. The Word of God is consistent in its teaching from Genesis to Revelation. An example of this in the debate was the use of the word "eternal." A believer's eternal salvation is the same "eternal" that describes the eternal triune God (Rom. 16:26). The word means everlasting, forever and never ending. Not once does it ever mean "temporary" or "conditional or something that can cease or terminate". According to God's eternal purpose, every believer possess eternal redemption through the eternal Spirit who guarantees an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:12-15; Eph. 1:14). The eternal Gospel promises every believer eternal life and eternal glory in His eternal kingdom (Rev. 14:6; 1 John 5:13; 1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Pet.1:11).
Then John 3:18 will have to be explained more fully - as well as Romans 2:11-13.
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
John 10:25-30 Jesus answered them, I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.
Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
2 Corinthians 5:4-8 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdenednot that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Not sure what your argument is.
You said, ... i disagree with the premise that man is damned from birth due to Adams sin...
John 3:18 says:
I maintain that 'condemned already' IS the state of man due to Adam's sin.
Romans 5:12 KJV
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Yeah, Catholics... this means MARY as well!
Irrevocable once born again is how I see it.
What thinks you?
Many Evangelicals use the phrase "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?"
I suggest everyone does, it's just that for some it is a good relationship, and for others it will be very unpleasant.
And that final damnation is always said to be based on what the person themselves did, not their forefathers. Thus it would be inconsistent with God's jurisprudence to send infants to Hell due to what Adam did .
One of the most repeated teachings in Scripture is,
"The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." (Deuteronomy 24:16; cf. 2Ki 14:5,6; 2Ch 25:4; Jer 31:29,30; Eze 18:20)
"Put to death" refers to actual punishment for sin, not the general effects of the actions of others, good or bad, which all enter into.
the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
As for for the condemnation of Jn. 3:18, "have not believed" indicates moral culpability, as seen in vs 19-21 ("doeth evil," "neither cometh,") that of man's negative choice in response to light (even conscience) because their works were evil.
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:19-21)
Certainly infants do wrong things: if they could they would pop you one for taking away their toy, for they are disposed to disobey moral commands, but as in giving, (2Cor. 8:12) judgment is "according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not," and thus "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." (Luke 12:48)
If infants have no moral cognizance to be able to make moral choices, and eternal judgment is based upon what one personally does, and thus the children are not to be sentenced based upon what their fathers did, then it hardly follows that infants must be damned due to the sin of Adam.
The premise that they carry guilt, even if not personal, is what is behind required infant baptism and speculation about Limbo, and the inability for Rome to officially teach all infants enter Heaven (even if none go to Hell).
Calvinists are divided on this, some holding God elects them all and others saying some go to Hell.
As for Rm. 5:12:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
by Adam sin did enter the world, and thus all die "through the offence of one many be dead," (v. 15) and thus "many were made sinners" as they acted out that sinful nature - even though "sin is not imputed when there is no law."
In other words, i see that "the judgment was by one to condemnation" due to having a dead depraved nature that will be personally culpable for sin and eternal judgment, while in this life all, suffer the general effects of the judgment.
The corollary is that "by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)
However, "death" affects all, even infants and nature which are not culpable, while eternal damnation is based on what one personally has done, and eternal life also requires a faith response, enabled by God's grace.
What thinks you?
Well; the BOOK says...
Well; there seems to be ONE controlling document: the Book of LIFE.
If your name IS in it; then you're good to go.
If not; I hope you like the smell of brimstone.
Notice that there ARE verses indicating that your name CAN BE REMOVED FROM IT.
2 Peter 2:20-22
20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."
Well, I believe in once save always saved...so will have to go in search of something to uphold that.
Free Grace doctrine
The Free Grace or non-traditional Calvinist doctrine has been espoused by Charles Stanley, Norman Geisler, Zane C. Hodges, Bill Bright, and others. This view, like the traditional Calvinist view, emphasizes that people are saved purely by an act of divine grace that does not depend at all on the deeds of the individual, and for that reason, advocates insist that nothing the person can do can affect his or her salvation.
The Free Grace doctrine views the person’s character and life after receiving the gift of salvation as independent from the gift itself, which is the main point of differentiation from the traditional Calvinist view, or, in other words, it asserts that justification (that is, being declared righteous before God on account of Christ) does not necessarily result in sanctification (that is, a progressively more righteous life). Charles Stanley, pastor of Atlanta’s megachurch First Baptist and a television evangelist, has written that the doctrine of eternal security of the believer persuaded him years ago to leave his familial Pentecostalism and become a Southern Baptist. He sums up his deep conviction that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone when he claims, “Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation.” For example, Stanley writes:
Look at that verse [John 3:18] and answer this question: According to Jesus, what must a person do to keep from being judged for sin? Must he stop doing something? Must he promise to stop doing something? Must he have never done something? The answer is so simple that many stumble all over it without ever seeing it. All Jesus requires is that the individual “believe in” Him.
Charles Stanley (p. 67).
In a chapter entitled “For Those Who Stop Believing”, he says, “The Bible clearly teaches that God’s love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand (p. 74).” A little later, Stanley also writes: “You and I are not saved because we have an enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our enduring Lord” (p. 80).
The doctrine sees the work of salvation as wholly monergistic, which is to say that God alone performs it and man has no part in the process beyond receiving it, and therefore, proponents argue that man cannot undo what they believe God has done. By comparison, in traditional Calvinism, people, who are otherwise unable to follow God, are enabled by regeneration to cooperate with him, and so the Reformed tradition sees itself as mediating between the total monergism of the non-traditional Calvinist view and the synergism of the Wesleyan, Arminian, and Roman Catholic views in which even unregenerate man can choose to cooperate with God in salvation.
The traditional Calvinist doctrine teaches that a person is secure in salvation because he or she was predestined by God, whereas in the Free Grace or non-traditional Calvinist views, a person is secure because at some point in time he or she has believed the Gospel message (Dave Hunt, What Love is This, p. 481).
Interesting that these kinds of things do not trouble me like they do some. I’ve no doubt all about my eternal security. To me this explains why, at the age of 9, I was saved when I professed true belief in Jesus but wasn’t discipled in my faith and fell into the world...until the age of 32 when I was drawn back. If I had died in between the ages of 9 and 32, I would still have been saved and gone to be with the Lord. Once saved, always saved....no doubt about it.
I also do not get all worked up about sin in my life. I will sin because I am still in a fallen state...I accept that. And when I do, I confess it to the Lord and ask His forgiveness and He grants it. I do not carry guilt over anything nor do I think again on the sins I have been forgiven for. I have perfect peace in the Lord. This does not, however, mean that the Lord keeps me or protects me from the consequences of my sin. I still have consequences to deal with. But I am forgiven and I am still saved.
Perhaps I am the odd person out but after the way that I have seen Him work in my life, seen the way He protects me and keeps me even during and after any sin, how could I think any differently? It is His job to keep me in the faith, His job to see that I am safe and secure now that I have believed on Him and accepted Him as my Savior. And I do truly believe with all my heart...just as a small child does.
Perhaps this is also why I do not get into nor really care about all the isms or all the theological study and whatnot. I am quite content to believe in Christ, let Him do the job of keeping me just as He said He will, and be obedient to His voice. And to be forgiven and deal with the consequences of my sin when I do fall. Just as a father picks up their child over and over again when they fall, so does our Father do the same when we fall. He does not kick us out of the house.
So that’s my story and I am sticking to it! :)
I am sure. Don’t know how a true believer can be anything but.
Again, there is no doubt.
Perhaps those who doubt interpret these verses incorrectly?
Not sure, but I am saved and sure.
Yet those verses show that the possibility exists.
I will do some research and see if I change my mind...but I doubt I will.
Somehow I think anyone losing it must never have been saved in the first place. The ones you hear were gung-ho in the faith in the beginning but then gradually fell away and ended up atheists or worse. :)
I think the true belief was never there to start with. Difference between professing and real.
Of course if the post-trib rapture ends up being true, it’s possible a lot of us will fail. lol
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