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OASAS – Once Actually Saved Always Saved

The issue of the security of a believer’s salvation is a foundational doctrine of great importance to his spiritual well being. This precious doctrine of eternal security has been under attack in every generation and as such needs to be taught and its attackers rebuffed.

But before we rush headlong into the fray let us setup some important principles in order to fairly evaluate the many scriptures which are thrown about. The first principle is that a plain and clear verse in the scripture can never be overridden by an obscure and hard to understand verse. God does not contradict himself.

The second principle is we cannot truly see a person’s heart to see if they are born again by the Holy Spirit, only God can see their heart. Therefore we cannot truly declare that we know this person was saved but has since fallen away and then go and find some obscure scripture to try and justify our analysis.

A third principle is verses in the Bible can either be salvation verses or sanctification verses. Salvation verses deal with the new birth and our position in Christ (past tense), while sanctification verses deal with our personal walk with the Lord (present tense) as we seek to learn how to be filled with the Holy Spirit and experience victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.

A fourth principle is the understanding of what a "work" that is acceptable to God actually is. Prior to the new birth, none of our works were acceptable to God. He calls them filthy rags (Isaiah 64 v 6). After the new birth, only when we are yielded to the Holy Spirit and He energizes our will to give victory over sin do we experience a "work" acceptable to God. How much we learn to and to what degree we live a yielded life to the Holy Spirit determines our level of rewards at the Bema seat of Christ (1Cor. 3 v 11-15, 2 Cor. 5 v 10). All acceptable works done after salvation have to be done through you by the Holy Spirit.

The fifth principle is by their fruits you will know them and the boundary of Godís chastisement for true Christians. In other words if you are truly born again the Holy Spirit will produce a pattern of fruit and works in your life. Also if you are truly born again and give into the world, the flesh and the devil in your daily walk you can be guaranteed God will bring chastisement into your life (Hebrew 12 v 6-8) to free you from a pattern of sin.

A sixth principle is called the "perseverance of a true saint". Jesus himself, identified in John 8 v 31 "continuance and endurance" as a characteristic of genuine disciples. We read, "ÖIf ye continue in my word, then are ye (truly) my disciples indeed". Jesus had the same problem of people following for the wrong reasons and departing later, see John 6 v 66. Perseverance is not somebody working to maintain their salvation standing but is characteristic of somebody who has been "genuinely" born again.

A seventh principle is the "context" in which a difficult to understand verse sits. The context in many cases will give indication as to how a word is to be understood. Lifting verses out of context and "scripture dumping" to appear to prove your point is a common approach seen.

 

The Salvation Experience

Understanding what actually takes place at salvation will give us a framework to understand why our salvation is secure and to better refute arguments against eternal security.

Salvation is a one-time event where a death and a new birth takes place. God through the Holy Spirit draws that person to Jesus as per John 6 v 44 "No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him…". Each person is asked by the Holy Spirit to repent of running their own lives, believe that Jesus died in their place, and to open their heart (surrender their will) to Him. If a person with their will opens their heart and receives the gift of salvation, a number of irreversible acts by God take place. The order is first for each person to exercise their free will and repent, and second, for God to "effect" the gift of salvation.

ACTS OF GOD John 1 v 13 "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of (the will of) God."

NEW BIRTH John 3 v 5-7 paraphrased, "you’ve had a physical birth but you need to be born again spiritually in order to enter Heaven"

1 Peter 1 v 23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever"

In the new birth God imparts a new life which is incorruptible, eternal and lives forever.

DEATH OF THE OLD MAN Romans 6 v 6 "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."

BIRTH OF THE NEW CREATION 2 Corinthians 5 v 17 "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new."

There is a 100% new person made, the old man in Adam is not fixed up but is put to death and a new person is born albeit still in a mortal fleshly body. The Holy Spirit seals Himself with your human spirit and soul and is referred to as the "inner man".

BIRTH OF THE NEW MAN Ephesians 4 v 24 "And that ye put on (yield to) the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

The new man or inner man is the "real you" and is created in holiness of character.

ADOPTED TO A NEW FAMILY Colossians 1 v 13 "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness (kingdom of Satan), and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son". Ephesians 2 v 1-7 paraphrased, "by nature children of wrath and disobedience under control of the prince of the power of the air (Satan)"

The "old you or old man" who was a member of the kingdom of Satan has been put to death and the new man created in holiness has become a member of the kingdom of God. You are now and always will be a member of God’s family and subject to His chastisement.

All these above are sovereign acts of God when we truly repent and receive Christ. You cannot go back and undo these realities by sin or an act of free will. It is too late, a person has died and a new person has been born, the consequences of getting saved are irreversible. Once you have a new person and a new family you will always be a new person and a member of God’s family. The consequences of the first free will decision to be saved eliminates the possibility of going back and resurrecting the old man and putting to death the new man and being transferred out of the kingdom of God and back into the kingdom of Satan. The fact that the new man is created holy and righteous eliminates the possibility of choosing such a sinful thing as trying to return the gift of salvation. It becomes an oxymoron.

 

Grace versus works

1 John 2 v 2 "And he is a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world"

Romans 3 v 20, 24, 28 "Therefore by the deeds (works) of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin…Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds (works) of the law."

Galations 3 v 24 "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith"

Ephesians 2 v 8,9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast"

Acts 20 v 21 "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ"

It is insightful to look at the meaning of a number of words in these verses to get the full impact of what is being said. The word "propitiation" describes the full payment Jesus made on the cross for your sins. He took all sins past, present and future and paid for them on the cross receiving the wrath of God in our place. He fully satisfied God’s violated justice. Your sins have been "paid in full". The word "justified" has the meaning of being declared righteous in God’s eyes. A person is given the infinite righteousness of Christ imputed to his account when born again. The word "redemption" refers to the changing one’s state from being a child of Satan, in slavery to the power of sin to being adopted into the family of God and being set free from the power of sin.

God never intended for us try and be good, keep the 10 commandments or do good works as a means of entering heaven. The law was given to reveal the slavery and power of sin each person is under. The law was given to show us our utter bankruptcy in getting to heaven by our own efforts or works. Only when a person truly sees themselves in this light can they truly repent and surrender their lives to Jesus alone as their way to heaven. Only then will the Holy Spirit cause you to be born anew.

 

Clear Scriptures on the Security of the Believer

John 3 v 16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have (present tense) eternal life."

John 5 v 24 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath eternal life (present tense), an shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death (old man) unto life (new birth, past tense)."

John 14 v 16 "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever (Holy Spirit comes to indwell forever)"

Hebrews 13 v 5 "…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

1 Peter 1 v 5 "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

Philippians 1 v 6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"

In order for a person’s salvation to become undone there would have to be a power greater than the power of God and God would have to be a liar because of his failed promises above. And God would have to step down as God because he failed both in power and promises to do what He said which is a big impossibility.

 

The Sanctification Experience

Romans 8 v 29 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

2 Corinthians 5 v 20 "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God"

1 John 5 v 4 "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."

Galations 5 v 16 "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh…"

1 John 3 v 8 "…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."

2 Corinthians 5 v 20 "For we must all appear before the judgment (Bema) seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad"

1 Corinthians 3 v 12-15 "Now if any man build upon this foundation (new birth in Christ) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work will be manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

Hebrews 12 v 1 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us"

A person who is truly born again has already seen their utter bankruptcy and surrendered their will to Jesus forsaking their own will. The new believer enters into an entirely new battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. These three realms are 100% against the new person in Christ that you have become and seek to exert their former control over you. Sanctification is the process whereby we "experience" personally the victory over the world, the power of sin and the fiery darts of the devil.

God’s purpose is to "conform us to the image of his Son" and for us to represent Him as his ambassadors. In short we are to learn what Jesus would speak and behave like and order ourselves accordingly, but only with the enablement of the Holy Spirit. God has positionally given us victory over the three realms mentioned above but consistently experiencing that victory is a long road to spiritual maturity. We have (past tense) overcome the world because of the new birth escaping out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. However to escape the thinking of the world we must exercise our wills and seek to renew our minds (Romans 12 v 1, 2) according to God’s word. We do not have to obey the lusts of the flesh if we are yielding to and controlled by the Holy Spirit. The power of the flesh has (past tense) been broken. However to experience that victory consistently we must learn to yield our wills to the Holy Spirit. And this is a process due to our fallen ways of desiring to be in control. We do not have to obey the devil or any of his demons because "greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world". The devil’s power over you has (past tense) been destroyed. However to experience this involves learning to claim your freedom in Christ, keeping short accounts with regards to sin, and putting on the spiritual armor of God (Ephesians ch 6).

God likens our walk to a race, and to the degree we grow and learn to walk in the Spirit there will be rewards given at the Bema seat of Christ. The Bema seat is for rewards not to determine one’s salvation status. The new birth has settled that. Each believer’s walk will be judged as to what was truly done "in the Spirit" (gold, silver, precious stones) and what was done "in the flesh" (wood, hay, stubble). Since every believer’s walk will be made manifest it behooves us not to get sidetracked onto earthly things but to make becoming Christ like and being controlled by the Holy Spirit as our main goal. To seek anything other than that will be burned at the Bema seat.

A comment on 1 Corinthians 3 v 15 listed above is in order here. Some have used this verse to say that a person can be a Christian and live a life completely contrary to Christ and yet so be saved. His works are burned up but he is saved so as by fire. Matthew 7 v 20 says, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them". God also promises chastisement to bring correction to any true believer who has been sidetracked into sinful habits. No, we do not give any comfort to one who professes Christ but shows no fruit nor correction. I believe the verse is only referring to a young believer who before he has been grounded in the Word has been called home. His time before going home was spent still basically dominated by the world, the flesh and the devil in daily experience. Had he been given longer, with sound nourishment, spiritual muscle would of developed, and he would have produced spiritual fruit.

What does a person do as per Hebrews 12 v 1 when we experience the sin which so easily trips us up? Are we falling in and out of God’s kingdom and family? Are we saved one moment and unsaved the next? I think the scriptures above say unequivocally NO!! Because Jesus has already paid for our future sins we need to thank him for his payment and grace and give back to the Holy Spirit control of our life. Remember "walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh." Under grace we have the freedom to fail, get back up and onto the narrow path. It’s part of the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

 

The Confusion as to Who is Really Saved and can One lose their Salvation?

Matthew 7 v 22, 23 "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Philippians 3 v 18 "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ"

2 Corinthians 11 v 26 Paul describes being "…in peril among false brethren"

2 Corinthians 11 v 14,15 "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness…"

2 Corinthians 13 v 5 "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"

Galations 4 v 20 "I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law…"

From the verses mentioned above it becomes obvious that "many" who claim to be Christian in fact, are not. Many have aligned themselves under the "Christian Banner" for other reasons than true repentance and faith in Christ. Satan also is a great counterfeiter of true Christianity. Many are on the religious trip where your own efforts plus Jesus merit a chance for heaven. In this scene of religious deception it is easy to find examples of those who for a time "appeared" to be one of Christ’s but after a time lapsed into gross practicing of sin or abandoned Christianity altogether. Are we to conclude that these once were saved and now have lost or given back their salvation. I think not.

There has been so much preaching of a watered down gospel that appeals to the flesh that many are sitting in Church but unregenerate. How many times have you heard the emotional appeal to just "ask Jesus into your heart" or "ask Jesus to be your friend"? My friend, this is far from the true gospel. This brings us to Paul’s admonition to show forth proper fruit as in sound doctrine and the fruit of the Spirit if you are indeed truly saved. This is precisely why Paul says to "examine yourselves" and "I stand in doubt of you". He had observed a lack of fruit, discernment and sound doctrine, which "must" accompany salvation. And this is precisely why we in this generation, the generation of the "great apostasy" can stand in doubt of many professions of faith. Not because I can see the heart of a person, but so I can exhort them to make sure they are truly saved.

We therefore conclude that those who are truly saved will bear fruit, hold to sound doctrine, and have spiritual discernment to some degree depending on the diligence they have used with the unction of the Holy Spirit. Those who do not, we have every right as Paul did to stand in doubt. But to teach that a true Christian can subsequently be lost is serious and grave error.

 

Common Scriptures Misinterpreted to Show a "Saved" Person Losing or Working to Maintain Their Salvation

 

James 2 v 19 – 24 "v19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. v20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? v21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the alter? v22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works and by works was faith made perfect? v23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. v24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Are we to understand that James is saying that works is a requirement for salvation which seemingly contradicts most of what Paul said? Or should we understand the relationship of works to faith in another more satisfying and true way? I believe the latter will make sense as we go through these verses.

I believe James is trying to distinguish the characteristics of a possessed faith versus a professed faith. A person can believe in God intellectually and not be saved just as the devils believe in God also. In verse 20 James uses the phrase "faith without works is dead". He is not saying that works has a part in salvation but is saying that if you are truly born again you will manifest the fruit of that salvation. He is saying that if you profess faith but have no evidence of a changed life then you had better examine yourself to see if you are truly saved. This is the same message Paul has given in his writings where he says, "I stand in doubt of you". Paul also was dealing with professed Christians who were not evidencing the fruit that would be expected.

We now move to verses 22 and 23 with the example of Abraham given by James. He uses the term "justified by works". This is referring to the trials God put Abraham through in order to manifest to the world that Abraham’s faith was real. In this sense our response to trials confirms our true faith not just a professed faith. He uses the term "by works was faith made perfect". This is referring to the maturing process that God puts every believer through. The true believers will manifest a maturing trust in God as they face the daily trials of life.

Given the above how then do we understand the phrase in verse 24 "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only". The word "justified" used here does refer to being given the imputed righteousness of Christ or receiving salvation. We see in verse 23 that Abraham was given this by faith alone. The word used here in verse 24 and in this context means "to show forth" or "to manifest" to the world that one has a true living faith versus only a professed faith void of real fruit.

Our conclusion is that James does not teach that faith plus works are necessary for salvation but that true faith will manifest appropriate behavior. God orders our trials to show forth those who have true faith and reveals those who only have a professed faith.

 

Revelation 3 v 5 "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."

The understanding of this verse revolves around the word "overcometh". Is it saying we are to strive and work as a Christian and if we don’t perform well enough we can be blotted out of God book and be lost? No, we find the true meaning of the word overcometh in 1 John 5 v 4,5. It reads, "For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" Overcometh refers to the born again experience not how you walk as a Christian. Escaping the kingdom of Satan and being transferred into the kingdom of Jesus Christ at the moment of salvation is the meaning of "overcometh" used in Revelation 3 v 5. It does not refer to the security of your salvation being based on your walk or performance with a possibility of losing your salvation.

 

Philippians 2 v 12, 13 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more than my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. v13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

Is the phrase "work out your own salvation" to be taken to mean that we are now to work and maintain our salvation with the possibility of losing it? Unequivocally no! We already know that salvation is a gift of God not of works lest any man should boast. The phrase "work out" in the Greek has the meaning of "manifesting" or "showing forth" something that you already possess. That something is to manifest the "inner man", the "new creature in Christ" in our daily walk. Once you have been born again we are called to "yield to the Spirit" so as not to carry out the desires of the flesh. We are called to let our light so shine before men, see Matthew 5 v 16. We have entered into a great spiritual battle with the world, the flesh and the devil and can only have victory by yielding and manifesting the inner man who has been created in holiness and righteousness. This why the phrase "with fear and trembling" is added. The battle is real and if we are careless and don’t submit to the Holy Spirit we can still manifest the worst aspects of the sinful flesh. If we do not seek God’s will daily the self-inflicted trials we can get into can be horrendous. We are to walk carefully and not abuse God’s grace even though His grace will cover any of our failures. We note in verse 13 that God himself is the one who energizes our will and desires and actually accomplishes his will in us. Our conclusion is that a Christian is to "manifest" the inner man in order for his light to shine and that this passage is not teaching any sort of works salvation which could possibly be lost.

 

Colossians 1 v 22, 23, 28 "…to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight; if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, …Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus"

As we have begun to understand, not all who profess to be Christians or Disciples of Christ are genuine. One of the characteristics of a genuine Christian is that of stedfastness, perseverance and continuance in the faith until the end. Jesus stated this in John 8 v 31 "…if ye continue in my word, then are ye (truly) my disciples indeed." This is what Paul is referring to when he uses the term "if ye continue in the faith". He is not saying that salvation is conditional and based upon how you walk you could lose it. No, he is saying a genuine Christian will be marked by continuance and if you do not have this trait you’d better "examine yourselves to see if ye truly be in the faith". There are a number of examples where a person walked for a time as a disciple but turned away when trials or the cost was understood. The Bible says they were "not of us" when they turned back to the world or to Judaism or to false teachers etc.. Many receive the news about heaven, forgiveness, the love of Jesus with joy but upon learning more about the cost of following and surrendering your will and life in order to be saved they stop at the door of salvation. Many also just stay in the church as a tare, looking like a Christian but having joined for social or business reasons or perhaps received an easy believism message on which they hang their hat. We read in Luke 8 v 13, speaking of the sower of the word of God and the four soils, "They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation (testing) fall away." We read in John 6 v 66, speaking of temporary disciples who left when they understood the cost, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."

We conclude then that, Paul is speaking about the marks of a genuine Christian and is not in any way indicating that salvation is conditional. No, Paul is making distinguishment between possessors of the new birth verses professors of the new birth.

 

1 Corinthians 9 v 24-27 "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

Context is very important when we seek to understand a hard phrase such as "I myself should be a castaway". In verses 17-23 Paul is speaking on being a servant to Jews and Gentiles that he may win some to Christ. Paul in verse 19 speaks of his limiting his freedom so that he may more effectively be a witness and reach out. In other words Paul is saying that through discipline and diligence he would be a useful instrument in the hand of God.

In verses 24-27 he compares the Christian walk to an athletic race. The Greeks had two great athletic festivals, the Olympic and the Isthmian games. In order to compete in the Isthmian games you had to demonstrate 10 months of rigorous training with the last month at Corinth where the games were held. Any contestant who failed to meet the training standards was disqualified and could not compete let alone win. Paul then compares the "prize" as rewards either a perishable crown for the athlete or for the Christian an imperishable crown. We know from other scriptures in the NT that there are 6 crowns of reward for Christian service (1 Cor. 9 v 25, 1 Thess. 2 v 19, 2 Timothy 4 v 8, James 1 v 12, 1 Peter 5 v 4, Rev. 2 v 10). He compares the athletic training with the Christian training of keeping his body (the flesh) under control so he can better compete. Just as an athlete must restrain himself when it comes to eating, sleeping and disciplining his body to work out so must the Christian also have discipline and self control in order to run a good race and be usable by God for witnessing. In this context how do we understand the term "castaway"? The word castaway initially gives the idea of a shipwrecked mariner when the true understanding is "unfit or rejected for service". The idea here being that one must grow in spiritual maturity and experience victory over the world, the flesh and the devil in order to be used by God for effective Christian service. A lazy, careless, compromising Christian is more of an offensive stumbling block to non-Christians than someone who is seeking to consistently be filled with the Spirit and through self control be an effective servant for God in reaching out to a lost world. We can through our own lack of diligence be disqualified for Christian service and this was something Paul did not want to have happen to himself, especially after teaching on it.

So, in proper context Paul is talking about being disqualified for Christian service due to lack of self-control and discipline and is not referring to himself as possibly losing his salvation.

 

Philippians 3 v 3 and 3 v 10-14 "…and have no confidence in the flesh. …That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; v11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. v12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already made perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. v13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, v14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

What is Paul saying here? Is he saying he was unsure if he was going to be saved because of his performance or is he talking about rewards for his walk as a Christian? We can see that Paul says in verse 3 that he put no trust in the flesh. This phrase means that Paul put no trust in his own performance, Jewish heritage and religious observances as a means to entrance into heaven. Based on his clear declaration in verse 3, to interpret verse 11 as Paul hoping he walked well enough to be saved would be the exact opposite of what he just stated. No, we must dig a little deeper.

In verse 10 Paul gives his life goal as a Christian which is to experience a personal intimate walk with Jesus, which includes victory over the world, the flesh and the devil, as well as the similar sufferings and rejections Jesus had dealt with. Paul wanted in every situation and circumstance to respond, act, show compassion, and speak just as Jesus did. This is a hard process for we are all born self-willed and to consistently keep the Holy Spirit at the helm of our life during the spiritual battle is difficult indeed. But this battle to manifest Christ in his life is the same for every Christian and leads to spiritual maturity to one degree or another and eventually the Bema seat of Christ where we are given rewards for our degree of maturity.

From this perspective I believe the correct understanding of verse 11 "if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead" is that Paul might experience the resurrection power of the "new birth" to an increasing degree until he was called home. We see in verse 13 the phrase "not as though I had already attained, either were already made perfect" which is referring to a mature spiritual walk with consistent victory. Paul himself had not yet arrived in manifesting the "new man in Christ" but his goal was to press on to maturity. We see in verse 14 Paul is pressing on toward the "prize". This again confirms that Paul is speaking in verse 11 of his resurrection power walk, which will conclude at the Bema seat of Christ and the reward ceremony.

 

1 Timothy 4 v 1, 13, 15-16 "v1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. v13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. v15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. v16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee."

We see in verse 1 the spiritual battle where Satan enters the church disguised as a Christian teacher or minister and seeks through subtle error to lead many astray. Satan counterfeits the true Christian faith using much truth but mixed with error to subvert. Paul knowing that this is an ongoing battle, which will end the Church age with great apostasy, gives counsel to Timothy to combat this. In verse 13 he says to give heed to study of the word of God and to sound doctrine. In verse 15 Paul says the result of this will be spiritual maturity and in this context especially discernment. In verse16 we see the result with the term used "save thyself and them that hear thee". How do we understand this term? Are we to understand this to mean that by doing these things he and his followers will go to heaven and if not end up in hell. Is that what the term "save" is taken to mean? I think not, because it would violate the context and also limit the word "save" to only one meaning and that is just not true. The word "save" has the meaning of "to deliver, to protect, to preserve, or to safeguard" and the context determines its meaning. With the context given, Paul is saying that by growing in sound doctrine and discernment you will protect, preserve, safeguard yourself and others from coming under the influence of these false teachers and doctrines of demons and being led astray. One who is growing in their knowledge of the Lord Jesus, in sound doctrine, and manifesting the new man in Christ in their behavior will be able to spot a counterfeit teacher and false doctrine because of that. No, these verses do not teach that you are maintaining your salvation by "continuing in them" but teach that a close walk with Christ will enable you to not be taken in by false teachers and false doctrine which abound.

 

2 Peter 1 v 3, 5-11 v3 According to his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness… v5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; v6 and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; v7 and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. v8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. v9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. v10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for in doing these things ye shall never fall: v11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

As we seek to rightly understand these verses we need look at two things. The first is the context, and the second is the meaning of the phrases "to make your calling and election sure" and "in doing these things ye shall never fall". Verse 3 is the foundation of our Christian walk. Through the new birth we have received the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is infinitely stronger than our flesh, the devil, and any other spiritual obstacle which we will face. The issue becomes one of yielding our will to the Holy Spirit giving Him the throne of our life each day. However as we go through verse 5-7 we will see that we must exercise our will and cooperate with the Spirit of Grace in order to manifest the "inner man".

The term "giving all diligence" refers to our goal of manifesting the new creation in Christ in our personal walk; in order to experience the freedom in Christ we have received positionally. If your primary goal as a Christian is anything but being Christ like then you are off the narrow path headed for time in the ditches of life. The process of spiritual growth continues with adding "virtue". This has the idea of learning God’s character and moral will and lining our daily walk up with it. The next addition to our faith is "knowledge". This has the idea of taking in Biblical truth, understanding it properly, and then applying it. As we put virtue and knowledge into practice, "self-control" follows. Self control is about growing in our ability energized by the Spirit to control the flesh, our emotions, and bodily desires. From here we move to "patience" which develops spiritual muscle not to give in to temptation or trials no matter what the cost. Which finally leads to godliness and brotherly kindness which means a mature capacity to live reverently, loyally, and obediently towards God mixed with true agape love for others. All of these above take time and diligence to grow in.

In verse 8 Peter says if we are growing in "these things" mentioned above, we will be useful for service and experience consistent victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. Conversely in verse 9 Peter says he that lacketh these qualities mentioned in verse 5-7 is not thinking clearly and the result will be a roller coaster of spiritual experience for the battle is both serious and real. If you are not diligent to follow carefully and obey the Spirit’s leading you will be open to yielding to immoral desires, having a tongue which brings forth unfruitful talk, spiritual oppression and emotional instability, wrong priorities in life, as well as all the ongoing consequences. Thank God that when sin abounds, grace super abounds covering our every stumble. Thank you Jesus!

We now come to the result of diligently seeking to manifest the "new man in Christ" in our daily lives. In verse 10 Peter uses the phrase "to make your calling and election sure". From the context above we receive "personal assurance that we are truly saved" because we have "experienced" spiritual growth and maturity and consistent victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. The divine life God put in you when you were born again has been manifested in real life. Making our election sure is confirmed to us personally as evidenced by our walk. We see the promise in verse 11 of our entrance into Heaven to stand before the Bema seat of Christ will be with an attitude of assurance and confidence having run the race and done the will of God.

On the other hand we know that if there is a lack of diligence and sound doctrine, there will be a lack of personal assurance of salvation even if we are truly saved. The product of a careless, lazy Christian life will be doubt, unsureness, questioning of our salvation and a roller coaster experience with the world, the flesh and the devil. In 1 John 2 v 28 we read, "And now little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence (personal assurance), and not be ashamed (careless walk) before him at his coming. It is obvious, that at the Bema seat of Christ there is going to be a wide range of walks evaluated, some will bring "well done thou good and faithful servant" and some will experience being ashamed at their lack of diligence.

This leads us to our last term from verse 10 "if ye do these things, ye shall never fall". Some would like to offer the meaning of the word "fall" as somebody that fell away from God and lost their salvation. But this cannot be the correct meaning for a number of reasons. The Greek word used for fall is Strong’s # 4417 which means "to trip, to err in thinking, to sin". It is a generic word whose meaning is determined by the context. The Greek word for "fall away" as used in Hebrews 3 v 12 "fall away from the living God" and Luke 8 v 13 "and in time of temptation fall away" is Strong’s # 868 which means "to revolt or to desert God". The Greek word used in 2 Thessalonians 2 v 3 "except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed" is Strong’s # 646 which means a "defection from the truth or from God". Because the Greek word used for "fall" does not mean forsaking God or apostasy from the faith, as do the other verses mentioned, we can conclude that it does not refer to a believer who through lack of diligence lost his salvation.

Since the word "fall" is a generic word we must determine its meaning by the context. The context is contrasting the personal assurance of salvation, which comes with a diligent walk versus the resulting lack of personal assurance that comes with a careless walk. In this context we would conclude that the word "fall" refers to coming short of personal assurance of salvation because of a less than diligent walk.

 

Romans 11 v 13, 16-23 "v13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am an apostle of the Gentiles… v16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy (set apart): and if the root be holy, so are the branches. v17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and the fatness of the olive tree; v18 Boast not against the branches (Israel). But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. v19 Thou wilt say then, The branches (Israel) are broken off, that I might be grafted in. v20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: v21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also not spare thee. v22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shall be cut off. v23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. v25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. v26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob."

We come again to another difficult to discern section of God’s word. Paul is addressing a number of issues, the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Abrahamic covenant, has the Church replaced the nation of Israel and the rise of anti-Semitic attitudes in the Gentiles.

In verse 13 we have the group that Paul is addressing "Gentiles". I believe, that this is a reference to the "Gentile nations" and not to the Church. We will see how this fits as we move ahead. In verse 16 we see the use of the terms "firstfuits" and "the root". In verse 17 we see the "wild olive tree" grafted into the cultivated olive tree. What does this mean? The start of the nation of Israel goes back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These founding fathers (see v28) received the OT covenants from God to the exclusion of all other nations. They were the nation who received the promises of the coming Messiah. For a Gentile to come under God’s covenants prior to Christ he had to become a "Jewish proselyte" and was required to come to the temple in Jerusalem a number of times per year. Within the OT Abrahamic covenant was the promise that "in thee, all the nations of the world would be blessed (see Genesis 18 v 18)". This was a reference to forgiveness of sins coming to both Gentiles and Jews through the Jewish Messiah Christ Jesus. Both groups would come under the New Testament covenant. Up until this time the nation Israel had a position of privilege and a special covenant with God. We see the "cultivated olive tree" as representing the nation of Israel and included both believers and unbelievers. We see in the same way, the "wild olive tree" grafted in as representing the Gentile nations, believers and unbelievers. The entire world is now under God’s covenant, but as with the nation of Israel individuals must repent and receive the Messiah for themselves, in order to receive the covenant blessings and promises. As a nation, when Israel rejected her Messiah, she was temporarily set aside, while God gave the Gentile nations the place of privilege and attention (see Matthew 21 v 43).

From this we see that "firstfruits and the root" refer to the Abrahamic covenant and the "wild olive tree" refers to the Gentile nations now being included in the covenant. In verse 17 we also have the term "some of the branches be broken off" referring to those of the nation of Israel who because of unbelief and rejecting the Messiah were cut off. Even though as a whole the nation was under the OT covenant individually each Israelite was responsible to repent and put his faith in the coming Messiah in order to be saved. The same now applies to the Gentile nations, they have opportunity to respond to the New Covenant and be saved by faith and enter the Church or be cutoff by unbelief.

We come now to verses 18-20 in which an "anti-Semitic" attitude has arisen amongst the Gentiles because of what has happened to the nation of Israel. The Gentiles were boasting and gloating about their newfound place of privilege, with the Gentile nations as the head and Israel as the tail. Paul greatly condemns this anti-Semitic attitude. The correct attitude should be humbleness before God not boasting and being puffed up. He warns them in verse 21 and 22, that if they do not respond properly to God’s call to repentance and faith in order to receive the new birth and do not show genuine fruit, they too, would experience the same as Israel. In verse 22 we have the term used "if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off". In its proper context as referring to Gentile nations it would be warning that the Gentile nations will only have their privileged position as long as they allow the word of God free reign in their society. And also to actually receive the promises it must be as each individual within that nation comes to true repentance and faith in the Messiah. Both nations and individual Gentiles will be cut off if they remain in the same unbelief as Israel. History records the darkness and misery of nations who have turned from the word of God. Just take the communist nations as your example. Murder, mental brainwashing with evolution, thought police, and material destitution. Consider Catholicism, a counterfeit form of true Christianity, and the reign of terror they had in Europe. I digress, but it is a sad thing we see as now all Gentile nations are embracing murder (abortion), brainwashing with evolution in the schools, politically correct thought, and eventually loss of God’s general blessings. God’s cup of judgment is almost full. The great tribulation is on the horizon.

Some have interpreted verse 22 as evidence of a Christian losing their salvation, however this could not be, because of both the context and in what we know of the phrase "if ye continue". If this verse did refer to the church and individuals within it, the context shows them to have developed an anti-Semitic attitude contrary to true Christian fruit. The phrase "if ye continue" would fall under John 8 v 31 where Jesus identifies his "true" disciples as ones who continue in his word. If it is referring to individuals Paul is warning them to bring forth a right attitude towards Israel showing that they are truly one of Christ’s. If they continue in anti-Semitism they will be cut off because they were never truly saved. Throughout the Church Age groups of false brethren such as Catholicism have severely persecuted the Jews and held anti-Semitic views.

On the other hand if verse 22 refers to the Gentile nations and their privilege of position, then they are under the same opportunity as Israel had been. And, if they do not respond by repentance and faith in Christ, but seek to enter some other way and reject all the light they have been given, they too, will be cut off.

In closing we conclude that these verses are referring to Gentile nations being included in the Abrahamic covenant with the same responsibilities as the nation of Israel and does not teach that an individual Christian can lose their salvation through not performing as he should. We also, mention that Israel will again be restored to her position as the head of the nations, when she responds to the Messiah Jesus during the great tribulation and reigns with Him in the millennial kingdom at Jerusalem (Zechariah 12 v 9-14, 13 v 8,9, 14 v 1-9). Awesome plan God!

 

Hebrews 3 v 12-15 "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, departing from the living God. v13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. v14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. v15 While it is said, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation."

The book of Hebrews is written from Italy to a Jewish community in the Gentile world perhaps Italy or Asia Minor. It was written when the temple in Jerusalem was still standing, so sometime before 70 AD. At this time Jews who identified with Jesus as the Messiah were banned from the temple and the priesthood and were under great duress from their own countryman. Judaizers in Galatia had tried to entice the Galatians to come back under the Old Testament system so there was a real atmosphere of pressure to go back under the law and the sacrificial system and escape the cost of identifying with Jesus Christ. Hebrews contains a great deal of contrasts showing the superiority of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant over its shadow, the Old Covenant, with the temple, the Levitical priesthood, and the sacrificial system. We read in Colossians 2 v 16,17 that the OT system was a shadow but Christ was the fulfillment. "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (fulfillment) is of Christ."

The Epistle to the Hebrews is different in its target audience when compared to every book from Romans to Revelation. Every one of these books identifies its audience as the Church or Saints right in the first few verses. The common phrases used are "unto the church of God at …", "called to be saints", and "grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ". Their primary audience is Christians. The Epistle to the Hebrews does not follow this pattern because it is written in such a way to reach each part of the broad Hebrew audience. While it is primarily speaking to Hebrew believers it is written in such a way as to also speak to Hebrews who were intellectually convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and were associated with the church. And also to contrast the New Covenant with the Old Covenant to reach Hebrews who were unconvinced that Jesus was the Messiah. Different sections are directed at one group primarily but often there is a secondary exhortation applicable to one of the other groups in the same section of verses. Each of the three groups could read the epistle and it will exhort them and warn them in their own particular place of spiritual need. To Hebrew believers it would encourage and exhort them to clearly break with Judaism and not mix the old with the new to avoid persecution. Persecution is temporary, the promises are eternal. The old Jewish sacrificial system was soon to be ended with the Temple’s destruction in 70 AD. To the Hebrew who was intellectually convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the epistle exhorts them to cross the door of salvation by repentance and faith and the new birth. The consequences of turning back after receiving full spiritual knowledge leads only to God’s severest judgment. To the Hebrews who were not convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the epistle contrasts the infinite superiority of the New Covenant with the Old Covenant. It shows the infinite superiority of Jesus as the eternal Melchisedec high priest (abolishing the Levitical priesthood), as the eternal priest ministering in the heavenly tabernacle (abolishing the Temple, the earthly tabernacle), and as the perfect once for all time sacrificial lamb (abolishing the imperfect and continual sacrificial system of the OT).

In order to understand some of the more difficult sections in Hebrews, one must correctly identify three different groups that are addressed. Getting the primary group attached to the right verses helps clear up many difficult passages, which have received the brunt of many contradictory and confusing interpretations. First in the Jewish community was the true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who were wavering due to tremendous disapproval in that community. They had not yet fully cut the cord with the OT system and were in danger of mixing the old covenant with the new covenant. The second group were Jewish non-Christians who were intellectually convinced that Jesus was the Messiah but had only come to the door of salvation and had not yet repented and surrendered to Jesus Christ. They had all the "spiritual light" but were spiritually uncommitted. They were attached to the group of Jewish believers but fear of man or counting the cost had kept them from crossing through the door of salvation. The third group is Jewish non-Christians who were not convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. Hebrews is weaved in a masterful way to address each group.

Given the above lets look at Hebrews 3 v 12-15. In the verse 12, the writer is concerned by what he knows about the wavering and persecution and asks them to examine themselves to see if they were truly born again. The term "evil heart of unbelief" refers to a unsaved person because when you are born again God replaces your hard and stony heart of unbelief with one that is soft and responsive to the Spirit of God. These brethren had received spiritual light and perhaps had even professed Jesus as Messiah but because of their "unbelieving heart of unbelief" had not truly entered into rest or salvation. The longer they stood at the door of salvation the cooler their hearts would become until hardness set in and they would turn away. The sin of unbelief is always looking for more evidence but is never satisfied enough to be saved. Verse 13 calls for the true believers to "exhort daily" the others to fully trust Christ and have their unbelieving evil hearts changed by the new birth. Get saved now when you have all this spiritual light, don’t procrastinate for this will lead to excuses and your heart moving from softness to hardness. Time is not a friend in these cases. Verse 14 says that "continuance with Christ is proof of real salvation". The word "if" is not putting a Christian’s salvation as being conditional but is saying that "if you are truly saved you will continue in the faith until the end". Perseverance is a characteristic of a true born again disciple as stated by Jesus in John 8 v 31. Jesus speaking, "…if ye continue in my word, then are ye (truly) my disciples indeed." By their "fruits you will know them" is the same principle said in a slightly different manner. Continuance distinguishes a "profession of faith" from a "possession of faith". 1 John 2 v 19 amplifies this, "They went out from us, but they were not of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

Verse 15 brings the example of "the provocation". The provocation hearkens back to the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Moses and the children of Israel witnessed the mighty acts of God, received spiritual light and teaching but because they did not mix their experience with faith most perished and were not saved. They had stayed at the door of salvation but because of their evil hearts did not cross over unto true salvation. The writer of Hebrews is warning those who are intellectually convinced that Jesus is the Messiah to not make the same mistake but to mix their knowledge with faith and be saved. We read Hebrews 4 v 2 "For unto us (the Hebrews) was the gospel preached, as well as unto them (Moses and the children of Israel): but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."

 

Hebrew 6 v 1-9 "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, v2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. v3 And this we will do, if God permit. v4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, v5 and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, v6 If they should fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame. v7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed receiveth blessing from God: v8 but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. v9 But beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."

This section of verses is a warning and exhortation set between the writers teaching on the superior eternal priesthood of Melchisedec of which Jesus was made. The writer leaves off his teaching about Melchisedec in Chapter 5 v 10 and picks it up again in chapter 7. Chapter 5 v 11-14 and chapter 6 v 1-8 are a third warning to those who have come to the door of salvation or have received enlightenment about the new covenant. The first warning was in Hebrews chapter 2 v 3 "how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation". The second warning is in Hebrews 3 v 12-15 not to procrastinate and allow a hardened heart to develop. And here in this set of verses we have the warning to spiritually move on from OT types and pictures of the Messiah and fully embrace the fulfillment of all the OT, which is Jesus Christ.

Before we move directly into chapter 6 lets look at a couple of terms in chapter 5 v 11-14. The first is the writer referring to his audience as "dull of hearing" v 11 and the second is their need to be given "the first principles of the oracles of God" all over again. The term "dull of hearing" is referring to a spiritual dullness which has set in. This is common among those who have been taught truth but have not embraced it. We know of many whose spiritual life consists of little more than the knowledge of John 3 v 16 with little progress shown after that. The term "oracles of God" is referring to the OT with its shadows, types, and ceremonies, which pictured the Lord Jesus. We see in Romans 3 v 2 that unto the Jews were committed the oracles of God i.e. the OT. The writer also says that they have had enough time to be teachers themselves and yet had shown no spiritual progress. Is he talking to a group of Hebrew unbelievers or believers? I think the former as further study of Hebrews 6 v 1-8 will show.

In chapter 6 v 1,2 we see the terms "leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ" and "go on unto perfection" and a description of the "foundations" of the OT. The idea behind "leaving" is to forsake, put away, abandon, and make total separation from their previous condition. The word "principles" has the idea of "first things" which would refer to spiritual ABC’s. The term "principles of the doctrine of Christ" would be the same idea as in chapter 5 v 12 and refer to all the shadows, types and ceremonies about the Messiah in the OT. It could not mean to leave the basics of the Christian life for no matter how mature a Christian becomes the basics are always his foundation and never to be abandoned. No, they are being asked to abandon the OT ABC’s on the Messiah and embrace the reality and be saved. The OT presentation was the immature presentation of the Messiah but the NT is the maturation of the Messiah hence the term "go on to perfection". You’ve had the immature shadow, now truly embrace the reality or full maturation of the OT, which is Jesus the high priest of the order of Melchisedec.

Let’s now look at the foundations of the OT which were not to be laid again. The term "repentance from dead works and of faith towards God" was an OT message. John the Baptist came preaching to "turn from evil deeds and towards God". The NT message is now "repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 20 v 21. The term "the doctrine of baptisms" note the plural, is referring to the many ceremonial washings in the OT. The NT refers only to one baptism by the Holy Spirit at the new birth. The term "laying on of hands" is not referring to NT Apostolic practices but the OT sacrificial system where whoever brought a sacrifice would lay his hands upon it identifying himself with the sacrifice offered. The term "resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment" were only revealed in a limited way in the OT compared to the blossoming of understanding of all this entails in the NT. As we have looked at these foundations of OT Judaism we conclude that these are an incomplete picture and were to be laid aside in favor of the greater things found in salvation through Jesus Christ. Again we are moved to conclude the writer is talking to Hebrews who were intellectually convinced that Jesus was the Messiah but were not yet saved but let us continue on.

We will now look in verses 4 and 5 at the five great advantages that these Hebrews had been exposed to. We note that there is no usage of salvation terms such as redemption, regeneration, justification or the new birth. First of all "they had been enlightened". They had been given revelational knowledge. They had been mentally instructed and informed but the term does not mean that a salvation response had occurred. They had been brought to the door of salvation through mental knowledge. Secondly, they had "tasted the heavenly gift" which is the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. They had examined his life and teachings and been drawn to Him but as yet had only sampled not having drank in and eaten of the new covenant. You have to drink and eat to enter in not just sample and taste. Paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 11 v 24-25 "Jesus said this is my body and blood, broken and shed for you, take and eat and drink of these emblems in remembrance of me". Thirdly, they had "partaken of the Holy Spirit". The word "partaken" has the meaning of association rather than possession. For the Christian the term for the Holy Spirit’s residence is always "dwells in you". These Hebrews had been present when the Holy Spirit ministered in the fellowship of the saints. They had witnessed the Holy Spirit’s work when the Apostle’s had preached the word in their area with signs, wonders and miracles. Hebrews 2 v 4 says concerning the Apostles, "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will". Fourthly, they had "tasted the good word of God". The Hebrews had been in the teaching fellowship "hearing" the word of God expounded but were still sampling and tasting not imbibing. They were not yet like Jeremiah as in Jeremiah 15 v 16, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts." Fifthly, they had "tasted the powers of the world to come". The Hebrews had been witnesses of the signs and wonders and miracles, which accompanied the Apostles witnessing to the Gentile world, and which were a foretaste of the kingdom of God to come. They had heard about being clothed with an immortal body and reigning with Christ for a thousand years from Jerusalem. All these five advantages had brought the Hebrew unbelievers to the door of salvation. They were at the peak of knowledge and light and yet had failed to embrace the gospel to be saved. The writer of Hebrews then gives them a fourth warning. He says in verse 6 that they were at the best point with full knowledge to repent and surrender to Jesus Christ. For them to turn back and not cross the door of salvation would be fatal. By their neglect, hardness of heart, refusal to break with Judaism they would enter an apostate position. If they turned back from this the greatest point of opportunity and went back to Judaism they would not come later. To turn back from full trust in Christ would be the same as agreeing with His crucifiers that he was not the Messiah and to declare Him guilty as charged or to put Him to "open shame" as the text says.

The writer of Hebrews then brings a final illustration in verses 7 and 8. If you been given every opportunity by God through his kind cultivation and turn away to produce only the fruit of religious self effort, there is no other remedy but being eternally lost and burned. A serious call to those holding back from truly being saved has been given and we conclude that God is speaking to Hebrew unbelievers and now turns to speak to Hebrew believers in verse 9-12.

In verse 9 the term "beloved" is only used of real believers and this is whom he is now addressing. He says that we know you will produce the fruits that accompany real salvation. This will include breaking from Judaism, sound doctrine, fruit of the Spirit, spiritual growth and changed behavior as opposed to neglect, dullness of spirit, hardness of heart and spiritual immaturity. Verse 9 closes with "though we thus speak" which refers to exhorting those within the Church who have been intellectually convinced but not yet saved to come across the door of salvation and enter true rest.

In closing we conclude that Hebrews chapter 6 v 1-8 is speaking to unbelievers and in no way would teach that a true believer could ever lose their salvation.

 

Hebrews 10 v 19-25, 26-31, 32-39 "v19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, v20 by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; v21 and having a high priest over the house of God; v22 let us draw near with a true (genuine) heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. v23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) v24 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: v25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

"v26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, v27 but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. v28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: v29 of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he (Jesus) was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? v30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. v31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

v32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; v33 partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. v34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. v35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. v36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. v37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. v38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. v39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."

To this point, the writer of Hebrews has given four stern warnings about entering into the new covenant. The first was "neglect of what Christ offered" (Hebrews 2 v 3), the second was "hardening of the heart towards Christ" (Hebrews 3 v 12), the third was "dullness of spirit" (Hebrews 5 v 11), the fourth was "hanging onto the old covenant and not maturing to the new covenant" (Hebrews 6 v 1,2) and finally the fifth and strongest warning of all against "apostasy" (Hebrews 10 v 26-31).

Between the warning of Hebrews chapter 6 and Hebrews chapter 10 we have a magnificent presentation of the new covenant. In chapter 7, the Lord Jesus Christ is presented as the high priest Melchisedec, superior and eternal when compared to the OT priesthood. In chapter 8, Jesus is presented as the eternal high priest ministering in the true tabernacle in heaven which nullifies the old tabernacle soon to be destroyed. In chapter 9, Jesus is presented as the one eternal blood sacrifice, which has put away sin forever and nullifies the sacrificial system.

From here we enter into chapter 10 which I have broken up into three sections, 19-25, 26-31, and 32-39. In different sections the writer is addressing Hebrew unbelievers and Hebrews who are intellectually convinced but have held back from being born again.

Section 19-25 is written primarily to intellectually convinced Hebrews at the door of salvation as well as those Hebrews who were unconvinced. Verses 23-25 also have secondary application to Hebrew believers as well. There is application for all three groups weaved in here. As we work through verses 19-22 we will see that it is an invitation to salvation, something that a Hebrew believer already has. In verse 19-21, the writer refers back to chapter 7-9 and says, since we have such a superior high priest and an eternal blood sacrifice which enables "individual Hebrews not just the High Priest of Israel" to come into the Holy of Holies, let us embrace the new covenant and leave the old. In verse 22 they are called to come to God and have their evil heart of unbelief replaced with a new soft and tender heart and their bodies washed by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Verse 22 is a description of receiving salvation and being born again. In verse 23 the writer primarily counsels the intellectually convinced Hebrews in the church. He says, now that you’ve come to genuine faith in Christ "hold fast without wavering" which paraphrased means to show forth the genuineness of your faith by cleanly breaking with Judaism, and accept that trials are coming for we have entered into a "living" hope in Christ. In verses 24 and 25 the writer says they need Christian fellowship to strengthen them and encourage them in their break from Judaism and to face the trials to come. The term at the end of verse 25 "see the day approaching" refers to the rapture of the church at the end of the church age but could also have a near fulfillment in the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, which set aside the old sacrificial system. As we have said above verses 23-25 are also an exhortation to Hebrew believers.

In the second section, verses 26-31, we have the warning against "apostasy". An apostate by definition is someone who is within the church, looks like a Christian, may even have made a profession, but inside has not been truly converted. Self-will, pride, fear of man, fear of material loss, keeps this type of person from genuine commitment to Christ. They have attached themselves to the church but when persecution, temptation and obstacles come, they continue for a while but eventually leave. They depart, not willing to fully surrender their will or willing to count the cost. The writer addresses such as person here. He warns them not to fall away for there is absolutely no hope for one after this. In verse 26, the terms "sin willfully", "having received the (refers to full) knowledge of the truth" and "remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" are used. Paraphrased it means, that after receiving full knowledge of the new covenant and you reject it and go on in your self willed living there is no other way to deal with your sins, you will have to pay for them yourself. All hope is gone, and in verse 27 you can only expect the full wrath of God in the future. In verse 28, those contemplating apostasy are reminded of the severe judgments given out under the law of Moses and compares that to someone who rejects the living Son of God (verse29), after full knowledge. Apostates will receive the greatest possible judgment just as Judas did when he rejected after full knowledge. The worst punishment for humans who end up in hell will be reserved for apostates. For they have willfully rejected after being given the most spiritual light. In verse 29 the term "to trample underfoot the Son of God" and "counted his shed blood as unclean" refers to having scorned and counted worthless the Son’s shed blood and substitutionary death on his behalf. Definitely an insult to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, when it was all for his eternal benefit.

In the third section verses 32-39 there is primarily a softer exhortation to the Hebrews at the door of salvation but also a secondary application to Hebrew believers. Both groups had experienced afflictions, lost material goods and were under pressure to compromise. The intellectually convinced Hebrews would turn back to perdition. The Hebrew believers were wavering so as to compromise and mix the Old Covenant with the New Covenant to alleviate the persecution. After the severe warning against apostasy, in verses 26-31 the writer appeals to the intellectually convinced Hebrews based upon their association with the church so far and the final outcome of God’s promises which are obtained by faith. To the Gentiles and Jews they were already considered Christians and had received trials and opposition because of that association. In verse 32 we have the word "illuminated" which is not referring to the salvation experience of being born again but an intellectual understanding of the gospel as well as the future rewards. In verse 32 and 33 they had endured afflictions because of this attachment to the truth. In verse 34 they knew about the eternal blessings of heaven. In verse 35 they are told to consider the results of turning away and apostasizing versus continuing on and "by faith" securing those eternal promises even though trials will be part of it. In verse 36 they needed patience to prevent the current circumstances from turning them back. Many a time when a person is on the door of salvation, Satan gives his most vigorous opposition to try and prevent a person from fully coming to Christ. You can know all about the gospel, the rewards, the eternal things yet to truly receive them means to forsake everything especially your self will. Many are in the church and have not received true salvation (Matthew 7 v 22-23). In verse 37 he says that trials are only for a short period but when Christ comes his promises last forever. Does it make sense to have 70 years of your own will and then end up in hell or to fully receive Christ no matter what the cost in this life and in the end receive the awesome promises of immortality and living with God for all eternity. In verse 38 and 39 the writer anticipates a spiritual response from many and emphasizes that to come to Christ truly it must be by repentance and faith alone and not the works of the law of which his audience had been so used to.

In closing we conclude that these verses in chapter 10 v 19-39 are primarily an appeal to Hebrews to become truly saved, to break with Judaism, to fellowship together, to pay the price of following Christ, and to turn away from thoughts of apostasy because of the horrific consequences, and to truly come to Christ by faith. And yet weaved in is also an application for Hebrew believers to consider the outcome of their faith and not to compromise. We conclude that these verses do not teach that a true believer could lose their salvation and apostatize.

 

The Conclusion

A true believer’s salvation is eternal and secured by Christ himself who can never fail. Difficult verses should never be used to override clear verses on the security of one’s salvation. The difficult verses explained above, do not teach that a true believer can lose their salvation, but often, when properly understood, are an exhortation to those who are in the Church, to cross the door of salvation or speak only of the Christian walk and the rewards for service at the Bema seat of Christ.

The security of a believer’s salvation is a precious foundation of the Christian faith. Satan knows that we are under grace and have the freedom to fail and we do fail. He wants to undermine that security to bring a true child of God back under the bondage of a subtle performance based walk where you actually believe you are "maintaining your salvation" or just to mentally harass you after a stumble. This attack against eternal security must be vigorously opposed and exposed.

On the other hand we do not give any assurance to those who profess to be Christian but do not show forth sound doctrine, fruits of the Spirits, discernment, and general perseverance in the Christian walk. To those we would say "examine yourselves to see if ye be truly in the faith". Those who go to church on Sunday, but love and live like the world from Monday to Saturday; we would "stand in doubt of you" as the apostle Paul has said. It is hoped that those who are true Christians would realize that many under the church banner are not saved and would not fall into the trap of saying, here’s someone who was a true Christian and fell away and lost their salvation because they continued for a while, then left. The proper understanding of scriptures refute this and you and I cannot see a persons’ heart to make that judgment, only God can see if they are truly saved. We can only stand in doubt and exhort them to examine themselves to see if they are truly saved.

In closing, I would say, that for the difficult verses explained, I do not hold that I have nailed all of them down from every angle and am 100% assured in every aspect of my understanding them. There are likely other believers perhaps Jewish who can add much clarity to them. I am though, convinced that the general understanding is correct and in no way teach that a true believer can lose their salvation.