Monday, August 31, 2009

Losing Salvation: P.S. "Proof Verses"

Do these verses say that a child of God can lose their hope of eternal security?

Now, I've posted a lot of thought and scripture that seem to say very clearly that a born-again christian cannot lose the promise of eternal salvation, but I am aware that there are some issues that I have not yet addressed. I'm going to just very briefly respond to a few favorite "proof verses" that people use to try to prove that we can lose our promise of future safety.

Case 1: Fallen From Grace

Galatians 5:4
"You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace."
Some interpret "fallen from grace" to mean "lost your salvation," because we are saved by grace. They fail to take into account that we need grace from God every day in our christian walk. To say that those who attempt to do things on their own apart from God's grace to not get God's grace is very logical.
James 4:6
“...God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

God will resist a proud christian, but will give grace to a humble one. Galations 5:4 says nothing about salvation; it speaks of grace. Without reading anything more into the text, it does not at all seem to imply that a christian can lose the promise of salvation.

Case 2: Blotted Out from the Book of Life
Revelation 3:5, Revelation 22:19
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

"And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Some people take these verses to mean that if you a christian, your name is in the book of life, and if you either don't "overcome" or take away from God's word, that He will take your name out of the Book of Life. Serious stuff.

Now looking at this closely, we see that these verse say two things clearly:

1. God will not blot out (someone's) name from the Book of Life

2. God will take away (someone's) part in the Book of Life

Notice that the first verse does not say that anyone's name will be blotted out. One could figure that it would not say that those who overcome will not be blotted out if it didn't also mean that those christians who don't "overcome" will be blotted out. But what if all christians overcome, through the help/grace of God? That seems to me to be, by far, the more likely meaning, being much more in line with the rest of scripture. People can, and do, interpret it differently, but the fact is, the verse does not specifically say that anyone's name will be blotted out.

The second verse, you may notice, also does not say that anyone's name will be blotted out. It says that someone(hypothetical) will not have a part in the Book of Life. But I can already think of several people who don't have a part in the Book of Life! They aren't saved, and therefore of course don't have a part in the Book of Life. I believe that the verse is saying that God will take away their space - the space that He could have written their name. As we know, anyone whose name is not written in that particular book will be cast into the lake of fire. So, if there is no space to write their name, because the space that could have been theirs was removed, they are doomed forever! So yes, the person mentioned in the verse is doomed forever. Was he a born again christian? The verse does not say that he was, and implies strongly that he was not.

These verses do not clearly say that anyone will lose their salvation. The verses do say that some will be saved, that their names will not be blotted out, and that some will not be saved, that they will not have a part in the book of life. It further describes those who are saved as those who will overcome, and those who are not saved as the type to take away from God's word.

Case 3: Shipwrecked Faith
1 Timothy 1:18-20
"This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."

The first thing about this verse that caught my eye was the reference to these two reprobates being delivered to satan. Does that mean that they were christians, shipwrecked their faith, and then lose their salvation? It that what being handed over to satan means? I decided to look up another verse referring to delivering people to satan.
1 Corinthians 5:5 "Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

Nowhere is it suggested that being delivered to satan means a loss of eternal security, since us humans cannot determine that, but we can, apparently, "deliver people to satan." The guy mentioned in Corinthians, I am pretty sure, is not saved, since the verse mentions hope of his spirit being saved. The two with shipwrecked faith do seem to be christians who had had faith, but are now in a dreadful situation, far from God, "delivered to satan"(possibly excommunicated), and being taught some sort of lesson about blasphemy. However, the text does not say that they have lost hope of eternal security. As far as we know, those poor fleshly christians, with all their failings and faithless, are still sons of God, whom He will chasten, as Father chastens a sons. Satan may, according to the verses, destroy the flesh, but not the spirit. Once again, this proof verse warns against shipwrecked faith, but does not say that a christian can lose their hope of eternal security.

Case 4: Disqualified

1 Cor. 9:27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

Ahh, that does sound pretty scary. What if we become disqualified? What are we being disqualified from? Let's read it again, in context...
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."

Disqualified from receiving an imperishable crown. Interesting. Also interesting to note his analogy of a competition, when we know that salvation is not at all a competition. So what might this crown be? Does it mean salvation for sure?
Philippians 4:1
"Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved."

People can be a crown... hmmm
1 Peter 5:1-4
"The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away."

This crown of glory is offered to those christians who do live righteously on the earth, that Paul says he is an applicant for, (a fellow elder) and he also describes as not fading away. This crown seems most likely to be the one discussed in 1 Cor. 9:27. Paul speaks of competitions and of crowns for right living. Why then would anyone think that he is obviously talking about losing the hope of eternal safety? Nowhere does Paul say that were he to be disqualified somehow, he would lose hope of eternal life, the same "hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began."(Titus 1:2)

It seems to me that none of these verses at all seem to say that any person could lose their salvation. I believe that every verse should be interpretted in context with all of scripture, which clearly states many times that the children of God will be saved, and will not perish.

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