Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – Matthew 7:16-19

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. – Matthew 7:16-19 ESV

Security

Is there a relationship between the works/fruits of a person and their destiny? If there is, could a sense of security be a fruit from a life well lived? A life that is meek, humble, gracious, giving, self-sacrificing, loving, faithful, patient…. A life that reflects the Master’s character?

A couple of points in my mind come to the surface.

The Lord states:

  • A good tree gives good fruit.
  • A good tree does not give corrupt fruit.
  • A corrupt tree gives evil fruit.
  • A corrupt tree does not give good fruit.

If the fruit is good, the tree is good. Trees that do not bring forth good fruit are cut down due to their fruit bearing ability.

Trees are not judged on the quality of their sap, or the strength of their trunk, the amount of leaves they produce or the depth of their roots, the quality of the wood they are made of, or the height of their branches! If the fruit is not good, the wood is simply burned up.

Is it possible for a believer to produce consistent, continually bad fruit? Is the fruit bearing of a believer, a proof of the life we claim we have? Is fruit a conditional aspect of our Christian lives, ie, a result of obedience to the Master?

Security In a Believers life

If so, could a sense of security be in direct relation to the fruit/works produced in a believers life?

(Huh?  Where am I going wrong here?)

Security – that state of being free from danger or threat, if experienced throughout a believer’s life, brings about the ultimate security that is real (and not merely theoretical).

In the midst of allowing Jesus to live through us and producing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, self-sacrifice and humility, He rescues us in our weakness and fallenness, showing Himself strong.  But we must trust Him now, in our daily battles, to know the real security.

He is my Security.


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Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – Romans 6:11-23

Why are you bringing this passage into the topic of conditional security Carl? This verse is obviously in the Bible for the sake of evangelism.

How often have you used Romans 6:23 in presenting the gospel to the lost, or heard someone refer to it in a gospel presentation. Romans 6:23 is a critical verse in the common “Romans Road” method of sharing the gospel.

With that background to the passage, how can the topic of conditional security become associated with it? Am I simply looking for any verse to wrap up into a conditional security teaching? I hope not – You be the judge!

Let’s consider the passage by first reading it.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:11-23

Take a look at that last verse. Yes – Romans 6:23. I will wager a penny that many of my readers have this verse committed to memory. I know I do, and have had it wobbling around in my head for close to 40 years. But many years ago, a brother by the name of Jim challenged me to consider the passage above.  He asked a very pointed question (further below) that I fought against for years.  After hearing the question, and when this passage came to mind, I simply ignored Jim’s question, it and referred to passages that seemed to support my “unconditional security” understanding of the Scriptures.

Paul is discussing the servant-hood of the believer in this passage.  It is commonly accepted that by this time in the epistle, he has laid the foundation of the gospel and is dealing with the present condition and sanctification of the believer.

What was the question Jim asked?

“Why did Paul mention death in verse 23 of this passage?”

It can not simply refer to physical death, can it?  Notice that Paul begins to conclude his thoughts on service to God by defining the fruit of our service (unto holiness) and the end being everlasting life.  All through the passage, Paul is referring to believers and suddenly brings the topic of death into the mix.

Why?

The thing that really confused me, even as a young believer, was that as evangelicals, we use verse 23 to evangelize the lost, which is in the middle of an extended teaching on the Christians responsibility to serve God.

The question above was put to me over 25 years ago, but God is faithful and in my many wanderings and detours, some things just kept hanging on in my mind. The idea that death is an option by way of choice for the believer is a fearful thought, and yet I sense an authority I welcome and a growing respect that I have lacked far too long towards Him.

As always, your thoughts on this passage are always welcome.


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Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – John 3:16

John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Recently I have blogged about conditional security.

During these posts, I have not addressed verses that I used when I defended the “Once Saved Always Saved” (OSAS) teaching.

I suppose it is easy to pick the low hanging fruit of the common conditional security verses to defend this position, but sooner or later I will have to discuss OSAS verses, at least to be honest with myself.

Therefore, I will occasionally post to the blog a verse or passage that seems to support the OSAS position. I say “seems” since I am in the midst of the study of the OSAS passages. I consider it wise to seek to understand the opposing side’s argument without prejudging. I suppose that is why I have had so many adjustments in my thinking in the last 5-10 years.  Come to think of it, adjustments are another way of describing repentance – a changing of the mind.

This verse is pregnant with meaning and offers much to discuss, but I will restrain myself to the topic at hand. A key to this verse I believe, in relation to the topic of security, is the word believe. As far as I can tell, believe is a present tense participle which might be translated as – “the continually believing ones” If this is so, then the idea of entering a salvation contract by signing on the dotted line with single past belief seems to be weak.

Initially Considering Conditional Security

One of the verses that made me initially consider the conditional security topic was also in John 3, where the Master states – You must be born again”

I think I understood Him to say “You must become born again”, but that isn’t what He said. You see, to be something is a present condition. To be an engineer is not to simply begin on a career based on a momentary decision, but a lifetime of decisions based on that first decision. To be born again, although dependent on the initial decision to repent and trust, must be maintained on a lifetime of decisions stemming from the initial commitment.

Security in the Person of Christ

Earlier I mentioned that the tense of believing is a key to the verse in understanding the impact on conditional security. Another item of interest in the verse is the concept of eternal life.

Is eternal life dependent on time? (Remember that God created time and He existed prior to the creation, therefore eternality is outside of the realm of time.)

Why all this metaphysical junk?

Sometimes when I would teach on OSAS, I would make the argument that since eternal life was a gift, and by definition it was eternal/forever, it could not be returned.

But I think I missed the bigger picture. Eternal life is in the person of Christ. (1 John 5:11) If I am in Christ, I enjoy the benefits (and responsibilities) of eternal life. If I intentionally depart from the Living One, I remove myself from the eternal life that is in the Son.

Nowadays I consider eternal life to be the quality of life (in the Son) instead of simply a quantity of life (from the Son).


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Conditional Security – 2 Timothy 2:8-13

2 Timothy 2:8-13

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.

The security of the believer is a topic I seem to find popping up in daily conversations with other believers. I have spent the greater part of my Christian life teaching and defending the eternal security of the believer, (sometimes called the “once saved always saved” teaching), but after considering some of the “difficult verses” in the Word, I think I have to reconsider this position.

Conditional Security

One passage that has “difficult verses” that needs consideration is 2 Timothy 2:8-13.  And wouldn’t you know it, but we were in Sunday School a while back and the topic of eternal security popped up again.  We began to look at 2 Timothy 2:8-13, and the context was security, suffering, denial and commitment.

Verse 10 speaks of the elect, out of which they may obtain the salvation…

Notice that Paul says that he endures all things for the elects sake, that they may obtain the salvation.  I do not think this is the same as ….for the elects sake, that they shall obtain the salvation…

In my thinking this allows for two interpretations.

  1. Out of the group of elect, a subgroup of those who actually obtain salvation exists, based on the choices made by those within the group of the elect. This implies that there are some of the elect that never obtain salvation.If there are some in the elect that never obtain salvation, why are they called the elect? I suppose the simplest explanation would be that Paul is referring to the nation of Israel as the elect, but this isn’t a very satisfying explanation. I don’t see him mentioning Israel within the letter and he is speaking to a gentile convert concerning a gentile church.
  2. Out of the group of the elect there are some that do not remain in the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. The context seems to lean, in my opinion, towards this interpretation. Paul’s immediate context is endurance. Paul is speaking of suffering, commitment and denial within the Christian church, and specifically to Timothy, a Christian. He reminds Timothy, in verse 12, of the faithful saying, if we endure, we shall also reign with him: if we shall deny him, he also will deny us.

A fine Christian man within the Sunday School class made a valiant effort at defending the eternal security position.  Even after class, we chatted about the benefits of open discussion between believers, and we assured each other that Christianity needs to allow for this openness.

As an adherent of eternal security, I use to struggle to explain this verse.  I no longer am so sure of the eternal security teaching and as I open myself up to the possibility that our salvation is conditional, I find that throughout the Word, choices made by believers have had eternal consequences.

Let me know what you think.  I am hopeful that your comments and questions will stir up some good discussion!


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Conditional Security – James 1:12

James 1:12

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

A while back, a preacher chose the book of James to speak on, and it set me thinking.  That particular week, we were discussing James 1:12 in Sunday School class and questions on eternal security came to mind again.

Questions like

  • When will temptation stop?

We had looked at the verses in the beginning of the book (verses 1-4) and it seemed obvious that the “trying of our faith” could stop any time I chose.  If I was sick and tired of resisting sin, or of the mockery from my peers, or decided to live a life focused on my wants, all I had to do was to choose to live that life.  I could find relief from any faith-based trial simply by giving up my faith.

  • What is the purpose of being tried?

Again, the first few verses of the chapter indicates that the trial produces patience in the saint.

Patience is a rare commodity in this fast paced society.  Patience is that tool that God uses to bring about the mature man, the man who is considered complete, lacking nothing. (vs 4).  In short, trials produce maturity (if we endure!)

  • What is the crown of life?

We didn’t get to discuss this question, but it seems to be the critical issue in the conditional security / eternal security debate.

If the crown of life is a reward to Christians who endure, do those Christians who do not endure simply receive no crown?

If so, might the crown of life be more aptly named the crown of endurance? or the crown of patience?

But if the crown of life is synonymous with eternal life, James is describing something much more important.

Security Problems

The last question is a problem.

  • What if a believer simply gives up and chases the temptation instead of enduring?

No big deal, right.

The crown of life is simply a reward for faithfulness. At least I get to go to heaven when I die.

Maybe even meet up with Demas.

Somehow I fear this thinking may be producing a shallow, complacent “believer”.


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Conditional Security – Leviticus 26:14-45

Leviticus 26:14-45

14 “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments,

15 if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant,

16 then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you.

18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins,

19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

20 And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

21 “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins.

22 And I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you few in number, so that your roads shall be deserted.

23 “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me,

24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins.

25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute vengeance for the covenant. And if you gather within your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

26 When I break your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven and shall dole out your bread again by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

27 “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me,

28 then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins.

29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.

30 And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you.

31 And I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas.

32 And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it.

33 And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.

34 “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths.

35 As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it.

36 And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues.

37 They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though none pursues. And you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

38 And you shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.

39 And those of you who are left shall rot away in your enemies’ lands because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them.

40 “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me,

41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies–if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity,

42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

43 But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes.

44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God.

45 But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.”

I was on my way to see my grandson play some flag football, and listening to the book of Leviticus.  You know, when I am listening to Leviticus, I honestly don’t expect to hear something that arrests my thoughts and get me to thinking.  

The following passage did just that.

It seems the Lord is warning His people of their conditional security throughout this passage.

Throughout the passage, the mercy of God seems to scream out at me. When I was strongly encased in the eternal security camp, this passage usually brought a confusion to my thinking that I either did not want to discuss, or simply considered the passage to not be applicable to me.

After all, it was a completely different covenant!  What could this passage teach me as a Christian?

Conditional Security

As we consider this passage, I would like to preface it with a few comments

  • I realize this passage is speaking to Old Covenant believers, but I would like to consider the security God offered His people at that time.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

We have this passage in the Word for our edification – that is, we can learn from it as Paul expected us to.

Romans 15:4

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

  • I also see a progression of rebellion and apostasy, leading from the loss of security to entering into war with the covenant God.

It occurred to me as I was listening to the passage that this may typify the progression of a backsliding Christian.  If so, it may be highly instructive to heed the passage as a warning for ourselves.

Lets read the passage.

Leviticus 26:14-45

Initial Disobedience of a Covenant People

14 But if ye will not hearken unto me,
and will not do all these commandments;
15 And if ye shall despise my statutes,
or if your soul abhor my judgments,
so that ye will not do all my commandments,
but that ye break my covenant:

Response of the Covenant God – Security is Slipping Away!

16 I also will do this unto you;
I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague,
that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart:
and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
17 And I will set my face against you,
and ye shall be slain before your enemies:
they that hate you shall reign over you;
and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.

A Refusal to Repent

18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me,
Continued Action of the Covenant God – Further Loss of Security
then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
19 And I will break the pride of your power;
and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
20 And your strength shall be spent in vain:
for your land shall not yield her increase,
neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.

Before we continue, it may be important to bring up the phrase that struck me on my ride to the football game.  You see, when the term “contrary” came up, it struck me as odd, and in my study afterwards, I found out that it is synonymous with hostility.

A few things are worth noting.
* The hostility originates with the covenant people.
* The hostility is a response from God towards those already at war with Him.
* The hostility in verse 28 becomes extreme

Hostility from the Covenant People – Open Oppression

21 And if ye walk contrary unto me,
and will not hearken unto me;
Continued Action of the Covenant God – Increasing Danger
I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
22 I will also send wild beasts among you,
which shall rob you of your children,
and destroy your cattle,
and make you few in number;
and your high ways shall be desolate.

Continued Hostility from the Covenant People – Increasing Rebellion

23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things,
but will walk contrary unto me;
Introduction of Hostility from a Covenant God
24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you,
and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
It is difficult to place where all security has vanished for the covenant people, but from this point on, it seems this is it.  When the covenant God speaks of hostility towards His people, it seems evident that security has evaporated!
25 And I will bring a sword upon you,
that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant:
and when ye are gathered together within your cities,
I will send the pestilence among you;
and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread,
ten women shall bake your bread in one oven,
and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight:
and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.

Hostility of the Covenant People

27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me,
but walk contrary unto me;

Extreme Hostility of the Covenant God

28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury;
and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons,
and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.
30 And I will destroy your high places,
and cut down your images,
and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols,
and my soul shall abhor you.
31 And I will make your cities waste,
and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation,
and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.
32 And I will bring the land into desolation:
and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
33 And I will scatter you among the heathen,
and will draw out a sword after you:
and your land shall be desolate,
and your cities waste.
34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths,
as long as it lieth desolate,
and ye be in your enemies’ land;
even then shall the land rest,
and enjoy her sabbaths.
35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest;
because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.
36 And upon them that are left alive of you
I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies;
and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them;
and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword;
and they shall fall when none pursueth.
37 And they shall fall one upon another,
as it were before a sword, when none pursueth:
and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies.
38 And ye shall perish among the heathen,
and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands;
and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.

Prior to the offer of restoration, the Lord describes the end of the covenant people, that is of those left.

….they shall pine away.

What does that mean? The word is a verb meaning to waste away, to rot away. It means to dissipate, to decompose, to putrefy; used of Israel as a people in exile (Lev_26:39; Eze_4:17; Eze_24:23; Eze_33:10)…
Prior to any restoration conditions offered, all security and safety has evaporated, with no hope.

Conditions of Restoration – An Opportunity to Regain Security?

40 If they shall confess their iniquity,
and the iniquity of their fathers,
with their trespass which they trespassed against me,
and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them,
and have brought them into the land of their enemies;
if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled,
and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob,
and also my covenant with Isaac,
and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember;
and I will remember the land.
43 The land also shall be left of them,
and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them:
and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
because, even because they despised my judgments,
and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies,
I will not cast them away,
neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly,
and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.

At this point in the progression of apostasy and restoration, it may be necessary to remind those of the eternal security camp that the refusal to cast away His people comes after the condition of restoration has been performed.

What are the conditions to regain security?

1. If they shall confess their iniquity
2. If they shall confess the iniquity of their fathers with their trespass which they trespassed against me
3. If they shall confess that also they have walked contrary unto me
4. If they shall confess that I also have walked contrary unto them
5. If they shall confess that God brought them into the land of their enemies
6. if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled
7. if they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity

Lets continue

45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors,
whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen,
that I might be their God: I am the LORD.

Security is a blessing, and this security is available to those who satisfy the conditions.


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Conditional Security – James 5:19-20

James 5:19-20

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,

20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

I attend a church that occasionally teaches the eternal security of the Christian.  This mornings service was good.  Don’t get me wrong – it usually is – but the message this morning in the book of James, and the pastor made some comments that triggered my thinking about the book.

One of those comments was that the book of James has difficult passages in it.  I definitely agree since James is a practical book, and is very challenging in various ways.  As a former eternal security adherent, I was always confused about the passage considered in this post.  The passage considered today is a difficult passage to understand if the eternal security teaching is Biblical.

Another comment that the pastor made was that James addressed his letter to believers.  This is obvious in many passages, as it is in the passage we are considering today.

This also bothered me as a believer when I supported the eternal security teaching.

Lets read the passage before we dig in.

Security Problems

James is describing a situation where one believer errs from the truth, and another believer converts this sinning brother from his errors.  The problem is that James describes this as “saving a soul from death”

This is a big problem if eternal security is true.  Eternal security teaches that true believers are eternally secure, with no danger of falling away. But James doesn’t seem to know of this security.  He describes one of these brothers – the erring one, as being in the state of death.  The erring brothers conversion is described as his soul being saved from death.

Now of course the word “soul” may be translated as “life”. But that fact isn’t supported by the context of James message. Notice that James does not say that the brother may die, or is in danger of dying, which may support the death as being a physical death.  The experience of the erring brother was one of death.  The physically alive brother was in the state of (spiritual) death.  Therefore, the translation of “soul” makes sense to me and the general teaching of the scriptures in relation to eternal security seems weakened again in my thinking.

What think ye?  Where might I be erring in my thinking here?


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Conditional Security – Exodus 23:20-22

To those who have been with me for a time, this is a repost of a previous standalone post from back in March of 2020. I find it to be relevant to the topic and offer it to those who may have joined this blog recently.

My intent with the previous posting was to remind us that the claiming of His friendship had some conditions. Although this is an Old Testament promise, please consider if this truth may be applicable to our standing before Him in our present day.

Exodus 23:20-22

20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.

21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him

22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.

Being The Lord’s Enemy

The Old Testament seems to always have a special little problem when I read it. But this time, it is not just a little problem. As I was reading Exodus this morning I came across the verse above and it stopped me in my reading for a couple of reasons.

God will be an enemy?

An Enemy Does Not Obey

Many times I have heard or thought myself of how the Lord is on the side of a certain people group.  Take for instance in the Old Testament.  It was commonly thought (correctly at times) that the people of Israel had God on their side.  I suppose that is how it appears, (I hope I am not splitting hairs here) but it seems that is not exactly what is going on here.  The initial condition that has to be met is that the people “pay careful attention to him and obey his voice”, “do not rebel against him” and “carefully obey his voice and do all that I say”, THEN God will be an enemy to their enemies, an adversary to their adversaries.

Note that the obedience to the voice of the Lord brings the people into the will and desire of the LORD Himself.  The “enemy” here does not gain an adversary in God if the people of God obey God.  God’s enemy does not change (unless of course they change into His friends).  The people simply join God in having the same enemy.

Is our motivation in obeying God simply to earn a big brother to beat up a personal enemy that may have hurt our feelings or made us cry.

Huh.

An Enemy Is Not Pardoned

What is tarnation is going on with verse 21?  “he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him”

I don’t know about you but whenever I hear “my name is in him” I automatically think of a theophany.  Also the fact that the one referred to is “an angel”, I want to think it is a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Himself.  Usually the Old Testament mentions “the Angel of the Lord” as what is commonly accepted as a theophany – I don’t know.  If it is the Lord Himself or a representative (angel), the message is the same.

I fear that sometimes modern nations fall into this wrong-headed thinking.  They give lip service to God and call on Him to fight for their nation.

This gives me pause. Why would God do this when the Word clearly describes His nation as a holy nation of saints that is pulled from each nation on earth.

1 Peter 2:9

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

I suppose judgement must fall on nations who do evil, (and maybe that is the idea of verse 21?), but to think that God is pleased when innocents die in war, or enlisted men are killed simply due to an imaginary line in the sand, this is beyond my understanding.  I admit my past desire to see justice after 9/11, but looking back on those days, I see my understanding of God’s will for this planet was wrong.

My Confusion

If someone can explain verse 21 to me, I sho nuff would appreciate it.  How could it be said that he (God or God’s messenger) would not pardon their transgressions, when many times the Old Testament clearly states that the Lord Himself is plenteous in mercy

Psalm 86:5

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

Ps 86:15

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Ps 103:8

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

It is good to remember His mercy to us as we stumble through this life, through misunderstandings, through fears, through trials and bad decisions.

He is plenteous in mercy, and that draws me to Him. Oh to love Him just a bit more today. Simply for the sake of how wonderful He is.


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Conditional Security – Matthew 24:23-26

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. – Mathew 24:23-26 ESV

Security

True security depends on truth.  (Duh)

Let me tell you a story of how the great Teacher prophesied of an impossible danger.

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, the great Teacher told His students (disciples) of a danger they were not to worry about.  He only had a few days left with them before departing, so instead of giving the students (disciples) information that would directly impact their lives, He decided to share what some saints consider a hypothetical situation that would be misunderstood by the students (disciples) He was speaking to.

Security is found in the Truth

Lead astray, if possible, even the elect? Deceive many believers?

The Lord seems to be directing this warning to His current followers at least. I realize that the last passage could make this a hypothetical situation, but then why give the warning if it was not possible. Could it be that the possibility of being deceived is dependent on the “elect” and not on the Elector?

In other words, if a saint is following, the deception is not possible.  Security is experienced in the believer through their faith relationship with the Lord, and God will protect.

Who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – 1Pe 1:5 ESV

Otherwise, if a believer tends to wander, (by his own choice), the deception is very possible and the security spoken of may be simply self deception.

This is a difficult, scary situation, but sometimes we have to recognize that the King does not appear to be safe, and that at times a challenge may appear to be beyond our hope.

This concept reminds me of the last lines in the chronicles of Narnia, where Susan and the Beaver are speaking of the Great Lion, Aslan

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Whether the Master was speaking to His apostles of their possible falling away, or to us, we are all to cling to Him, to see Him as our only hope, our only salvation, the only One who truly is good in His Royal Bearing and Being.

Trust in Him for He is good. Seek Him in your daily walk and do not turn your heart from Him. Ask for His help, His guidance, His wisdom, His boldness, even as disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment crowds your thoughts and heart. That is when trust becomes real, and when the security has an opportunity be realized


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Conditional Security – Hebrews 7:25

Hebrews 7:25

25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

I would like to look at what seems to be an unassailable eternal security stronghold verse today. My intent is to look at the verse for what it says, in relation to the believers security .

So often I have found that in my zeal to understand the Word that I find “my truth”.  What  I mean is that I may have an agenda or teaching, and find support for it in the Word.  This is a difficult issue to handle, since I am not a blank slate, but I come to the Scriptures with a history, a bias and a weak mind.

With my limitations clearly stated, I still intend to consider how the passage relates to the security of the believer, with an honest mind and open heart.

Conditional or Eternal Security

Is it the authors intent to discuss the eternal security question?  Lets consider the phrases in this verse and try to understand what the apostle (or apostolic representative) is trying to say.

He is Able

Roget thesaurus gives me my first clue as to what is being communicated to us as believers.  The thesaurus has a definition for “able” as “capable of performing”, “having an innate capacity”, and uses words like capable, competent and strong as synonyms.

Strong’s dictionary is also helpful.  

“Able” is the translation of the greek word dunamai, a very familiar greek term for many believers.
G1410, dunamai, Of uncertain affinity; to be able or possible: – be able, can (do, + -not), could, may, might, be possible, be of power.

Hopefully, it is obvious to you, as it is to me, that to be able to perform an action does not inform us that the action is being (or even will be) performed!  It is simply a description of the capacity of the Messiah, in His office of High Priest.  And yet we know He is a loving and merciful God.

Shall we presume that since He has the ability to save to the uttermost, that He will do so independently of all other considerations?  Is the eternal security doctrine falling into this trap?

Is there a condition upon which the ability to save to the uttermost becomes reality in a persons life?  And is this reality in a persons life that which is the security believers seek?

Coming to God

The condition in this passage is that those that will be saved, must come unto God by Him.

It is important at this point in the study to realize that all verbs in this passage are “present tense” which in the Greek signifies continuous or habitual action, and often reflects a lifestyle.

This speaks volumes when you consider the verb “come” in this text. Those that are being saved, even to the uttermost, are those who come (continuously) to God via the Great High Priest.

This is the condition upon which His abilities to save are released.

But lets consider one more aspect that I found intriguing.

To the Uttermost

When the author is describing the abilities of our Great High Priest, he states that Jesus is able to save “to the uttermost”  I have always come away from this verse, wondering what exactly this means and I am glad this study is forcing me to consider it.  You see, what I have found is that “to the uttermost” refers to the result of the sanctifying work of God in a believers life.

Uttermost is the English translation of the Greek παντελής (pantelēs). This word speaks of completely, or perfectly, that the action being performed is finished. It is a rare word in the New Testament, used only in Hebrews 7:25 (our verse today) and in Luke 13:11 in a negative sense.

Luke 13:11

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

She could in no wise lift herself up.  She could not “completely” lift herself up. She couldn’t “finish” standing straight!

If the eternal security teaching is true, then I would have hoped that the previous term would have a time element associated with it.  What I mean is that the saving action of our Great High Priest would be perpetual based on my initial coming to Him.  Sadly, I am not sure this verse supports such a teaching.

So lets recap

To be able to do something does not necessarily imply action.

The Great High Priest has conditions to be met prior to a saving work being performed.

Those coming to God are described as continuously coming.  A lifestyle of coming to God! With each coming, the High Priest is able to save, that is completely save.  (I take this to mean in a sanctifying process.)

Praise God.

But I still have a problem!

He Ever Liveth

Lets consider the next phrase – He ever liveth to make intercession.  Again the present tense, He is always alive in order to always make intercession.

I suppose at this point I have a question that I am not sure if the verse answers.

Does He make intercession for us since we are His children, or does He make intercession for us as we come to God by Him?

I am not going to loose any sleep over it, since we both know that as believers, we are to constantly seek His favor and help.

It is just so great that He is there when we seek Him. He is Good, and He is able! Let us seek Him.


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