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The Perseverance of the Saints, part 4

November 3, 2015

Grace to you! God’s children will persevere in their faith till they are with Christ. God preserves His children many ways but one way is by warning them to watch from falling away from Him. Acts 27 showed us that Paul was assured by God that no life would be lost yet when people sought to bail from the ship Paul told them that if they did not stay on the boat, they would die. God used the warning to keep all of them on the boat and therefore alive. We also see this same pattern in the book of Hebrews. Two passages in Hebrews are often used, incorrectly I think, to teach that a person can lose their salvation.

Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

And Hebrews 10:23-27, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”

Both passages state that someone who is a believer needs to heed the warnings not to fall away from Jesus. However, neither passage says that the falling away actually has happened. What function do these warnings serve, then?  “Instead, the conditional warnings appeal to our minds to conceive or imagine the invariable consequences that come to all who pursue a course of apostasy from Christ” (The Race Set Before Us, 199).  The warnings are intended to serve as a means of salvation for God’s elect by helping them imagine with their mind’s eye the horror of apostasy and, as a result, never choose such a course. God begins the good work and finishes what He starts. And yet He uses means, such as the warnings, to bring about His end goal. The means of grace, such as prayer, warning passages, etc., are never skipped over in getting us to our final secured haven with Christ. God’s children will hear the warnings about ‘going over the edge’ and will therefore stay away from the danger. As Hebrews 6:9 says in light of the warnings, “Though we speak in this way (the way of warnings), yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.” The writer knew the warnings would be used by the Lord to keep all of God’s children from wandering away.

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