Church · Theology

Hebrews 6:1-8, eternal security, perseverance of the saints, justification, and sanctification.

     Hebrews 6:1-8 has been incorrectly used to support works righteousness, and legalism for years. This misunderstanding of scripture comes from eisegesis and poor hermeneutics. It, in fact, is an agreement for perseverance of the saints. We will look at just the section of scripture to begin. Then we will give it context within Hebrews and then within the entirety of the new covenant. I think it will be helpful to those who have been struggling with their own justification and soteriology.  Hebrews 6:1-8;
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
     Here is a link to a book introduction from Dr. John Macarthur that will give us the context I was mentioning earlier; Book introduction for Hebrews

     Many have been confused by this section of scripture. It has been used to argue against perseverance of the saints. Perseverance has been misunderstood by some as to mean eternal security. They claim that eternal security is a false teaching, and if wrongly understood, I would agree. We don’t believe that one will be saved, and remain saved, while practicing all sorts of ungodliness in unrepentance. It is as God said through Paul in Romans 6:1-2;
“…1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?…”
John 14:15; “…15“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…” and James 2:14-17, “…14What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?15If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. …”
     Here is a link from Matt Slick of CARM.org about perseverance of the saints; http://carm.org/can-believer-lose-his-salvation
     Here is a great article from CARM.org also dealing with this issue; http://carm.org/about-can-person-lose-salvation
     And here is another from GotQuestions.org that will also help us to see the context in the new covenant; http://www.gotquestions.org/license-sin.html

     A person, who is truly justified by God, granted faith and repentance, who has been regenerated by God, simply does not choose to fall away, or become apostate. They did not save themselves. God did the saving to them. How many of you pray for person to be saved, when you know they want nothing of God, and claim to hate Him? You don’t seem to care about their alleged free will at that time do you? No, you want God to change their heart. So for all who truly believe, it is an act of the Sovereign God miraculously regenerating them to justification and on through the ordo salutis. If Christ did the work to justify us, then what work could we do to negate the perfection of His? None! In keeping with the spirit of salvation, we are changed, born again, a new creature with new desires, and affections. This new creature, loves the things of God, and hates the sin of his past existence, and bondage to his fallen nature. In this state of God granted repentance, and regeneration the new creature, of his new will and volition, derives his joy from doing that which is of the Father’s will, as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did upon the cross of His crucifixion. For this creature there is no ability in him to apostatize. Only for the religious person, who has not been freed from the old nature can fall away in any real sense, alas they were never really in Christ, so their falling away is even a false apostasy, thus the hyperbole of this scripture. For the one made to be resurrected unto eternal life, there are no sins of his account, to be tallied against him on the day of judgment. They had all been expiated, through the propitiation of Christ Jesus. Thus, for them there would be no grounds to repent, and believe again, or to crucify Christ, who once and for all died once, and was resurrected to never be crucified or die again. The absurdity of this concept should propagate the ideology of perseverance not the antithesis.
We fall into this heresy when we don’t understand justification and sanctification rightly.      When we think we had something to do with our justification we tend to believe we need to keep ourselves saved. This view is held by all works righteousness religions. The practitioner maintains their state of pseudo-grace by doing deeds and sacraments. Well, we all know this is a heresy, so why do we fall for it? Idolatry and pride, that’s why. We still want to earn it. We want to be better than others. Then there is guilt and pride. You are so bad, look at you, of course there isn’t enough grace for you, you must add something. These are powerful adversaries to fight against because they are stealthy. They sneak in to rob you of your security and joy. They take from you the delight you have in the Lord of your salvation. When these appear we need to crop off their ugly heads with repentance and prayerfully remember who it is that did the saving. It is the Almighty God, Lord of Lords, and Eternal Creator, who justifies you! Justification is solely the work of Jesus. He did the work on the cross of atoning for our sins and imputing His righteousness to us. That is how we are justified.
     Sanctification on the other hand involves our efforts in obedience. We try our best out of the provisions of God to affirm His will and be conformed to it. Notice we aren’t doing it out of our own provisions because we have none of any efficacy. Our pitiful temporary repentance and faithless intellectual understanding don’t do a thing for our sanctification. It is also the Lord who sanctifies us to Him through His provisions of all that is necessary. We through the true repentance of sins and the true faith are in concurrence with God and desire His will be done to us and by us.
     So the difference between the two doctrines should be clear. In justification God does the saving and keeping. In Sanctification we do the agreeing and growing. We are like a baby in a crib. We can think about growth and desire it. We can focus all of our efforts towards it, but we will grow according to His will. It is His design for a baby to grow to maturity. The immature believer will grow by design. Of course here is where the synergism comes in, like a child we must be fed good things and given work and exercise. We must be nurtured and disciplined. God being our Good Father sees to it. We are part of our sanctification for sure, but it is not what keeps us saved. I hope this has helped.

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Marital Love

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Marital Love

            When two people get married, usually they are in love.  This is true for Christians and the lost.  What happens when one person stops being in love with the other?  However this comes about, let’s assume that it has happened.  In a marriage of lost people, what is there to keep them together?  Once the one spouse realizes the other is no longer in love with them, why should they stay?  Why would anyone want to stay in a marriage where they are not cherished and loved?  There might be some pragmatic reasons like, convenience, money, or children.  Some people will stick it out just for these reasons.  What is the point of all of that if you don’t have the love of your spouse?  You might as well be living on your own, looking for someone to share love with.

Nobody gets married, thinking that one day they won’t be in love anymore.  People get married to share their love and lives together.  So what happens to a Christian couple when one of them stops feeling in love with the other?  The same thing happens to them, that happens to a lost couple.  About half the time they get divorced.  The others stay married out of pragmatic reasons or some sense of duty or obligation.

How should it be with a Christian couple?  What should the spouse do that has found out their spouse isn’t in love with them anymore?  What should the spouse do that doesn’t feel in love anymore?  Should they divorce and look for someone to be in love with?  Should they stick together because of duty, obligation, or their faith?  We know that God hates divorce.  We read about it in Malachi 2:16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”  So the Christian couple should stay together, but that doesn’t fix the problem.

They are not in love anymore.  Either both of them have no feelings for each other, or one of them has lost their feelings for the other.  How do we resolve this?  What does the bible say about love?  We read this about love and God’s love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, “1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

How pointless is life without love?  The love of Jesus for us, the love we should have for each other is explained in the cross of Christ.  In 1 John 4:7-13 we read this, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”  Are we starting to get the picture?

Maybe they are not in love anymore because one or both of them feel like they have been wronged or victimized?  If so, they are holding on to hurt feelings and resentment.  Healing of their marriage can’t happen until they forgive each other.  In Matthew 6:15 we read, “but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Ephesians 4:31-31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

We know that in a marriage there are two sinners living together.  Sins are bound to happen.  One of them will sin against the other and the other might sin back or sin in the way of harboring a grudge, hurt feelings, or resentment.  If these things are left undealt with they will keep coming up to cause problems.  Both people must repent.  Sometimes one person believes they never did anything wrong.  They think, “It is all the other persons fault, I don’t need to repent.  What could I have possible done wrong?  They are the one who hurt me!”  Most of the time, both people are thinking the same thing.  This is why both need to repent and ask not only God to forgive them, but they have to ask for forgiveness from the other.  When you humble yourself and come to someone asking them for something that they can give or deny it takes the power away from you.  You are at their mercy.  Hopefully you have a truly saved spouse who can see their own sin and grant you their forgiveness because of how much they have been forgiven by Christ.

Even still, while you are living in this torment you can’t give up.  As Christians you aren’t allowed to stop loving your spouse just because they aren’t in love with you anymore.  Oh, you might want to.  You might even feel yourself beginning to resent them as you put yourself on the throne of your life.  You might hear, “You poor, poor person you…  You don’t deserve to be treated like that by them!  How dare they!  Don’t they know how good they’ve got it with you?  You’ll teach them!  You’ll leave, and then what will they do?”  So you like what sin is telling you?

Do you want to be on the pitty pot?  You have failed to remember that you are the worst kind of sinner.  Christ bled and died for your sins.  Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  Jesus pursued us, our salvation, and the Father’s will, all the way to the cross and the grave.  How dare we give up on forgiving, loving, and repenting!

Sinners who don’t think that they have been loved the way they think they should be, you have been loved by Jesus in spite of your many sins against Him.  Your sins are responsible for His suffering on the cross.  You don’t deserve love!  You deserve death and Hell, being so self-centered, to think that you deserve to be treated with love from anyone is ludicrous.  Repent of your selfishness, ask Jesus to forgive you.  Ask your spouse to forgive you for not loving them selflessly, even if your love is not reciprocated.  Love them, while they are yet, not in love with you.  The only love you need is the love of Christ.  Pour yourself out for them the way Christ did for you, and Love them to the grave.  See your sins, and how much they cost Christ.  Look at your spouse, and see them for what they are.  They are a sinner, just like you, in need of The Saviors’ grace.  Demonstrate love and mercy towards them, because you have experienced the love and mercy of God.  Repent of harboring bitterness and forgive them.  Fill your heart with the love of God and then pour it out as a merciful balm of healing on your marriage.  Together, repent and be restored to each other and God.  God can make all things new, including your marriage.  You should know this, because when you were saved, He made you new.