Whole Counsel Theology

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Fifth and Final Part of the Analysis of the AoG Position on Security

The last section in the AoG position paper is short, but a lot of exegesis needs to be done since they cite a few verses and erroneously use them to support their position. "Proof-texting," or pulling a verse out of context to try to demonstrate a point, can often be a dangerous thing to do, and is best avoided lest we misrepresent what the Word of God is saying. This position paper, sadly, does that frequently.

I pray that God would grant me the grace and wisom I need to divide His Word rightly as I move throughout this last section.

"IV. Salvation Is Forfeited by Rejecting Christ"

This is their summary section, and they grab a few more Scriptures to try to demonstrate this to be true. Let's see what happens.

"God does not let anyone go easily. (See Romans 10:21 where Paul was speaking of Israel, but the principle applies.) But a believer can be lost if he disregards the continuing checks of the Holy Spirit and reaches the point where he rejects Jesus as his Saviour."

I suppose since God doesn't let anyone go, you could say that He doesn't let anyone go easily. Their second statement is exegetically unfounded. My previous five posts (counting the addendum) show this to a large extent, and I'll do a little exegesis on John 10 when I finish this one, but let's deal with Romans 10:21 real quick, and we'll see again that we have an issue of context:

Romans 10:18 But I ask, "Did they not hear?" Yes, they did: Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the inhabited world.
Romans 10:19 But I ask, "Did Israel not understand?" First, Moses said: I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that lacks understanding.
Romans 10:20 And Isaiah says boldly: I was found by those who were not looking for Me; I revealed Myself to those who were not asking for Me.
Romans 10:21 But to Israel he says: All day long I have spread out My hands to a disobedient and defiant people.

OK then, what is Paul talking about here? He is stating that people who were NOT looking for God found Him (20). How did they find Him? He "revealed [Himself] to those who were not asking for [Him]." This is a clear reference to the Gentiles, peoples who were not seeking God, yet peoples that God decided to go to with His Gospel through people like Paul (and modern day missionaries) so that they would be saved (see verses 13-17). At this time, God has decided to overlook Israel as a nation. He invited them to come, but they did not. It just goes to show what Paul said in Romans 3:10-18 is true; no one seeks God. Israel thought they had claim on God's blessings, even when living in gross sin. God held out his hands, but didn't choose to reveal Himself completely and effectively. So, those Israelites with their sinful natures resisted God in every way, provoking Him to wrath and earning their just punishment, which all of us deserve.

Given the context, this doesn't appear to be talking about people who truly knew God, that is, the people who were "disobedient and defiant" since it contrasts them with the people to whom God revealed Himself in verse 20, people that really did follow Him, though originally they were not seeking Him. So then, we have an example of eisegesis on the part of the AoG since they ignored the #1 rule of good interpretation -- context.

"It is possible to believe for a while and in time of temptation to fall away (Luke 8:13). It is possible for the weak brother to perish for whom Christ died (1 Corinthians 8:11). It is possible for a name to be written in the Book of Life and then removed from the Book (Revelation 22:19)."

Alright, let's look at each of these three passages.

Luke 8:13 And the seeds on the rock are those who, when they hear, welcome the word with joy. Having no root, these believe for a while and depart in a time of testing.

This is part of Jesus's explanation of the parable of the sower. These people in this case "believe for a while" and "had no root" so they "depart in a time of testing." Given the fact that these people "had no root" it seems right to state that they never had real faith. The passage indicates that they never really had root in the word; they took it with joy, but apparently only had a superficial belief. Everything was fine when things were going well, but when testing came, their faith was proved to be ingenuine; it had no root in Christ. See my previous post's discussion on John 8:30-31.

Now for the passage in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 8:7 However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now, that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
1 Corinthians 8:8 Food will not make us acceptable to God. We are not inferior if we don't eat, and we are not better if we do eat.
1 Corinthians 8:9 But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 8:10 For if somebody sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, won't his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols?
1 Corinthians 8:11 Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge.
1 Corinthians 8:12 Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won't cause my brother to fall.

Is Paul talking about salvation here? It doesn't appear so; he is discussing the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols and not doing something that would cause a brother to stumble who thinks it is dishonoring God to eat this meat. This passage has absolutely NOTHING to do with salvation, which is fairly obvious when given the context. The believer being ruined is not being references with regard to his salvation; it is referring back to his "weak conscience" and being led into sin by the more mature believer's reckless actions, and the result was very injurious. However, and it is bad if this were to happen, it is not a loss of salvation; this person is still referred to as a brother. The context makes it pretty clear.

Revelation 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.
Revelation 22:19 And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, written in this book.

This is a confusing passage, because we really don't have a lot of context to work with. With that said, this passage doesn't have a soteriological (salvation discussion) context either. Furthermore, this is not talking about the Book of Life. The "this book" is talking about "this prophetic book" which has to be talking about the book of Revelation that John is now finishing. So then, if someone were to take away the words of this book (Revelation), then God removes his share of the tree of life. It seems to be a reference back to Genesis with Adam and Eve (the real Tree of Life), in that if someone does this, then death will result. God took away Adam and Eve's right to eat from that tree and have eternal life; so then, someone who takes away from the words in this book will also not have life in Heaven (the holy city). Do true believers do this? The answer is a resounding no, as we have established from other verses. However, it might be of help to grab one of John's references to this (from a passage that really IS dealing with how people are saved), since John also wrote Revelation:

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish--ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.
John 10:29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

No one snatches them out of the Father's hand; no one snatches them out of the Son's hand when Jesus gives someone eternal life (saves them). Some would say, "well, can't we jump out even if no one else can snatch us away?" My answer would be twofold:
1.) No one means no one; no exceptions.
2.) Secondly, someone who raises that argument is ignoring the word "never" in the same verse. Someone who Jesus saves will "never perish." This is a double negative in the Greek, which serves to strengthen the denial (hence the Holman's translation with the emphasis). Someone who is saved CANNOT be lost.

"It is not always possible to determine whether a person has already turned his back on Jesus as his Saviour. Therefore it is well to leave judgment of these matters in the hands of the omniscient God. Of this we can be certain, however; if God does not give up in His efforts to bring the prodigal back, neither should the church of Jesus Christ. Too often people write off an individual when God has not written him off at all."

This can have some good application to testing to see if someone is truly saved or not. If they are being convicted, then they truly were. However, if they show evidence that they are not and do not care at all, chances are they were never saved, as I have stated before. I will readily agree that we write people off far too often.

"The Bible does recognize the possibility of forfeiting salvation,"

No it does not, as I think has been evidenced clearly in this series.

"but it never ceases to offer hope for anyone who wants to respond to the entreaty of the Holy Spirit. Jesus' invitation is without qualification. He speaks to all when He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Again the Bible speaks to all when it says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13)."

This is a good final statement, and indicates that indeed, the Gospel must go out. Jesus's invitation is universal, and those He quickens and want to respond will. Only the elect will want to, as we've already discussed, but, since we will never know who the elect person is until they trust Christ, we share indiscriminately. And this, like everything else is,

For the Glory of God Alone.

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2 Comments:

  • With respect to Revelation 22:19, be aware that there is an actual historical instance of a certain Reformer having it removed from his Bible. Here is a link to the 1599 Geneva Study Bible where this verse is repleaced by a meaningless footnote to make the point: [http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GenevaStudyBible/gen.cgi?book=re&chapter=022].

    You need not speak of such things in abstract terms like "reformers" when more concrete terms like "John Calvin" or "William Whittingham" will do.

    Can I have a restatement of your position on the deletion of this particular verse that mentions the culprits by name?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, May 23, 2008 6:13:00 PM  

  • Dear Anon:

    I wasn't aware of anyone in any time period removing this verse from the Bible; I haven't looked at the GNB too much either and wasn't aware it was omitted.

    In any case, I wouldn't approve of its deletion of course, whoever decided it should be removed.

    SDG,
    dbh

    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Friday, May 30, 2008 7:40:00 AM  

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