Eternal Security ~ Part 7

God’s Sovereignty and Free Will

In my last post, we dug deeper into Hebrews 6:4-6 with some experts that have a different take on what the author of Hebrews may have meant when he wrote this passage.  In this post, we will explore a different, but I think related issue ~ God’s Sovereignty and Free Will.

In our American culture, we are raised to value our individual freedoms.  The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the “Bill of Rights,” literally scream freedom and free will.  As a matter of fact, the Tenth Amendment specifically states that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people (emphasis added).  In short, we are free to do whatever we want to do as long as we accept those consequences for doing something we are legally not entitled to do.  Clearly, I have the absolute right and free will to arm myself under the Second Amendment and the freedom to not exercise that right.

The concept of free will appears extensively in the writings of the Tanakh, but generally in relation to the “free will offerings” outlined in Leviticus 7:16;22:18, 21, 23; 23:38.  The concept is not as prevalent in the Brit Hadashah.  Yeshua stated, “No one takes it [His life] away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” ~ John 10:18. Again, in relation to an offering, Sha’ul writes, I tell you they have not merely given according to their means, but of their own free will they have given beyond their means.” ~ 2 Corinthians 8:3. And in his letter to Philemon, Sha’ul writes,“but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.” ~ Philemon 1:14 (NASB)

In “Rightly Dividing the Word,” Rev. Clarence Larkin [1] wrote:

“There is no question but that the “Doctrine of Election” is taught in the Scriptures, and that it applies not only to “service,” but to “salvation.” It is equally true that the “Doctrine of the Freedom of the Will” under certain conditions is also taught. We may not be able to reconcile the “Sovereign Will of God,” with the “Free-will of Man,” but that is no proof that they are not reconcilable. They are the corresponding halves of the Doctrine of Salvation, “Election” is the Godward side, and “Free-will” the manward side.”

I take from this statement that we have the free will to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation through faith in Yeshua and the free will to reject that offer.

A.W. Tozer [2] has this to say on the topic of free will in “The Attributes of God – Volume 1: A Journey into the Father’s Heart:”

“God is good toward all who accept His goodness. And for those who reject His goodness, there’s nothing that even the Almighty God can do if He’s going to allow man his free will—and I believe in free will. Free will was given as a gift of God—He’s given us a little provisional sovereignty out of His absolute sovereignty. He has said, “I’ll allow you, within a little framework, to be your own boss and to choose to go to heaven or to hell.” If a man will not take God’s goodness, then he must have God’s severity toward all who continue in moral revolt against the throne of God and in rebellion against the virtuous laws of God.”

In “The Attributes of God – Volume 2: Deeper into the Father’s Heart,” Tozer expands on his doctrine of God’s Sovereignty and Free Will which in the interest of space, I only quote in part.

“The matter of man’s free will versus God’s sovereignty can be explained in this way: God’s sovereignty means that He is in control of everything, that He planned everything from the beginning.  Man’s free will means that he can, anytime he wants, make most any choice he pleases (within his human limitations, of course).  Man’s free will can apparently defy the purposes of God and will against the will of God.  Now how do we resolve this seeming contradiction?

Down through the years, two divisions of the church have attempted to resolve this dilemma in different ways. One division emphasizes the sovereignty of God, believing that God planned everything from the beginning, that God ordered that some would be saved and some lost, that Christ died for those who would be saved, but He didn’t die for the others who would not be saved. That is actually what followers of John Calvin believe.

On the other side, there are those who say that Christ died for all and that man is free to make his choice. But those who teach the sovereignty of God in this exclusive way say that if man is free to make a choice, then God isn’t sovereign.  Because if a man can make a choice that God doesn’t like, then God does not have His way.

God’s sovereignty means absolute freedom, doesn’t it?  God is absolutely free to do anything He wants or wills to do—anywhere, anytime, forever.  And man’s free will means that man can make any choice he wants to make, even if he makes a choice against the will of God.  There is where the theologians lock horns like two deer out in the woods and wallow around until they die. I refuse to get caught on either horn of that dilemma!  Here is what I see: God Almighty is sovereign, free to do as He pleases. Among the things He is pleased to do is give me freedom to do what I please.  And when I do what I please, I am fulfilling the will of God, not controverting it, for God in His sovereignty has sovereignly given me freedom to make a free choice.

And when I make a choice, I’m fulfilling His sovereignty, in that He sovereignly wills that I should be free to make a choice. If I choose to go to hell, it’s not what His love would have chosen, but it does not controvert nor cancel out His sovereignty. Therefore, I can take John Calvin in one hand and Jacob Arminius in the other and walk down the street. (Neither of them would walk with me, I’m sure, because Calvin would say I was too Arminian and Arminius would say I was too Calvinistic!)

But I’m happy in the middle. I believe in the sovereignty of God and in the freedom of man. I believe that God is free to do as He pleases and I believe that, in a limited sense, He has made man free to do as he pleases—within a certain framework, but not a very big one. After all, you’re not free to do very many things. You’re free to make moral choices. You’re free to do a few things, but not that many. But the things you are free to do are gifts from the God who is utterly free. Therefore, anytime I make a choice, I’m fulfilling the freedom God gave me and therefore I’m fulfilling God’s sovereignty and carrying it out.

God has said that those who follow Jesus Christ and believe in Him shall be saved, and those who refuse shall be damned. That’s settled—eternally, sovereignly settled. But you and I have freedom in the meantime, to do anything we want to do. And though most people think very little about it, we’re going to answer for that someday, according to the sovereign will of God.

God has certain plans that He is going to carry out. “The LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3KJV). When God is carrying on His plans, He is moving in a certain direction. When the enemy comes along (exercising the little freedom God has given him to be an enemy of God) and intersects the will and purpose of God, then there’s trouble. As long as we move in the will of God, everything goes smoothly. But when we get out of the will of God, then we have trouble on our hands.”

It’ hard for me to argue with Tozer.  I’m beginning to think I might be a Calvi-minian.  In my next post or two or three, I will explore Calvinism followed by Arminianism.

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[1]  Rev. Clarence Larkin (1850–1924) was an American Baptist pastor, Bible teacher and author whose writings on Dispensationalism had a great impact on conservative Protestant visual culture in the 20th century. His intricate and influential charts provided readers with a visual strategy for mapping God’s action in history and for interpreting complex biblical prophecies.

[2] Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor.  For his work, he received two honorary doctoral degrees.

Sukkot 5777

The Ultimate Sukkah

In 2016, the festival of Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles, begins at sundown on Sunday, October 17th.  Sukkot is the third of the great annual pilgrimage festivals (Vayikra 23:33-43).  Each year, all adult Jewish males were required to go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts of Matzah, Shavuot and Sukkot.   The festival is also called the “feast of ingathering” (Sh’mot 23:16; D’varim 16:13).  It is celebrated immediately after the harvest, in the month Tishri, and the celebration lasts for eight days (Vayikra 23:33-43).  During this period the people leave their homes and live in a sukkah, a temporary dwelling, formed of the branches of trees as a memorial of the wilderness wanderings, when the people dwelt in sukkot (Vayikra 23:43).


Typical Backyard Sukkah

Like Thanksgiving Day in the United States, Sukkot is a time of feasting, rejoicing, and giving thanks to God for His bountiful gifts (D’varim 16:13-15).  In fact, it is widely believed that the Puritan colonists, who were great students of the Hebrew Scriptures, based the first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot.

We are to “rejoice before the Lord God” during all the time of this feast (Vayikra 23:40).  The tradition of the Jewish people is that they were to express their joy by dancing and singing hymns of praise to God, with musical instruments.

Sukkot (the plural form of sukkah) are temporary dwellings, many with canvas walls.   The roof is made of natural materials such as bamboo, corn stalks, or other greenery, usually supported by a few wooden beams.   It provides more shade than sun, but you can still see the sky through it and the stars at night.

Today, as in the Second Temple days, we still wave the lulav (palm branch) and etrog (citron) as mandated in the Torah.   The lulav is made of a palm branch, arava (willow), and hadas (myrtle).   The etrog is a citron.   Together the lulav and the etrog are referred to as the Four Species.

Of all the feasts of the Lord, Sukkot best illustrates the fact that God would dwell in the midst of His people through the presence of the Messiah (John 1:14).  He may have literally fulfilled His promise on the very day of Sukkot.  We don’t know the exact date of Yeshua’s birth.  But we do know, it certainly wasn’t December 25th.  For me, there is sufficient evidence to corroborate that Yeshua’s first coming came on Sukkot.

Sukkot pictures the future kingdom God has prepared for Israel when Messiah returns (see Zechariah 12:10-13:1; Isaiah 35; Luke 1:67-80).  The Prophet Zechariah described the changes that will take place in the topography of the holy land and how the Gentile nations will celebrate Sukkot along with the Jewish people   (see Zechariah 14:16-19).

For Israel, the best is yet to come!  The scattered people will be gathered; the sinful people will be cleansed; the sorrowing people will rejoice.  And for Messianic Believers, the best is yet to come; for we shall be together with the Lord and His people, every stain washed away, rejoicing in His presence.

Sukkot has always been known as the appointed time that commemorates God dwelling with His people.  How fitting for the Kingdom of God, when it fully comes to the redeemed earth, to be considered the ultimate fulfillment of this appointed time.  God himself will finally dwell with His people in all His fullness.  The Sukkah of God will be among men when Messiah Yeshua dwells as the ruler of the 1000-year Messianic Kingdom!

All the Feasts of the Lord have their own particular lessons to teach.  Yet, because of its latter day fulfillment, Sukkot seems to be the apex of all the other appointed times of God.  The goal of God’s plan is ultimately the establishment of His Kingdom here on earth.  This explains why, of all the appointed times, Sukkot is said to be the premier celebration of the Millennium.

As the Prophet Zechariah has told us in Chapter 14, in the last days all nations will be gathered together against Jerusalem.  They will take the city and plunder it. (Zechariah 14:1, 2)  The Lord will then take charge of His people; He will appear upon the Mount of Olives.  By splitting this mountain, He will prepare a safe way for the rescue of those that remain.  He will come with all His saints (Zechariah 14:3-5) to complete His kingdom.

The other pilgrimage feasts (Matzah and Shavuot) have been fulfilled, but the Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot finds its fulfillment during the millennial kingdom of the Messiah (Vayikra 23:33-44; B’midbar 16:13-15; 31:10; Nehemiah 8:17, 18; Revelation 20:1-6).

The remnant of the nations will turn to the Lord and come yearly to Jerusalem, to keep the feast of Sukkot (Zechariah 14:16-19).  Can’t you just imagine it?  The feast of the Millennium!  What a party that will be!  This feast will be kept by all who have come to believe in Messiah, to thank the Lord for His grace in that He has brought them out of the wanderings of this life into the blessedness of His kingdom of peace.

In the perfected kingdom of God there will be no more sinners, but only those who are righteous and holy.  This is affirmed in the last clause of Zechariah’s prophecy: “there will be no merchants any more in the house of Adonai.” (v. 21)

Thus, does Zechariah’s prophesy close with a prospect of the completion of the kingdom of God in glory.  All believing commentators are agreed that the final fulfillment of Zechariah 14:20-21 lies before us in Revelation 21 and 22.

According to Isaiah, God has promised His people a new heaven and a new earth (see Isaiah 65:17; 66:22).  The old creation must make way for the new creation if God is to be glorified.

Certainly, many interesting questions could be asked about our future abode in heaven, but most must go unanswered until we reach our glorious home.  In fact, John closed his book by reminding us that we have responsibilities today because we are going to heaven.

Sukkot has always known as the appointed time that commemorates God dwelling with his people.  How fitting for the Kingdom of God, when it fully comes to the redeemed earth, to be considered the ultimate fulfillment of this holy day.  God Himself will finally dwell with His people in all His fullness.  The Sukkah of God will be among men when Messiah Yeshua tabernacles with us as the ruler of the 1000-year Messianic Kingdom!

What a celebration there will be as His people, both Jews and Gentiles, wave the lulav and chant, Ana Adonai Hoshiana!  (Lord, do save us!)  Amen.  Come quickly, Lord Yeshua!  Come and dwell in Your Ultimate Sukkah!

In my next post, we will return to our series on Eternal Security by looking at the issue of God’s Sovereignty and Free Will.

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Yom Kippur – 5777

The Day of Atonement

In this post, we take our second break from the series on Eternal Security to observe the second of the fall Jewish feasts of Yom Kippur.

In 2016, Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement begins at sundown on October 11th.  The Tanakh says that the blood of the sacrifice is given to make atonement.   The Hebrew words translated as “atonement” in English are kippur (noun) and kapar (verb).   The root occurs about 150 times in the Tanakh, and is intimately linked with forgiveness of sin and with reconciliation to God.  What does “atonement” mean?

Atonement means making amends, blotting out the offense, and giving satisfaction for wrong done; thus reconciling to oneself the alienated other and restoring the disrupted relationship.

Vayikra (Leviticus) 16 gives detailed instructions for a special sacrifice to be offered once a year, on the tenth day of the seventh month – Tishri.  On that day the whole community of Israel was to gather at the Tabernacle (and later, the Temple) to fast and to pray.  The high priest followed carefully prescribed steps and entered the Especially Holy Place (Holy of Holies), bringing the blood of the sacrificed animal.  There he sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat.  This animal was a sin offering for the people (16:15).  That sacrifice was an “atonement … to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites”.  Following that sacrifice, Israel was told, “You will be clean before Adonai from all your sins” (v. 30).

It is important in looking at the Tanakh to realize that in it we see realities acted out that would be unveiled later.  The whole of scripture is a progressive revelation of God.  He reveals Himself more and more throughout human history.   God planned for continuous enactments of reality, so that when Yeshua finally came to lay down His life for us, we would realize just what He was doing?  Should we be surprised at the centuries of animal sacrifice, and the stress on the shedding of blood as necessary for forgiveness?  No.  In the repeated sacrifices of the Tanakh we are led to understand that, to God, death has always been the price of life for sinful men.

Yom Kippur in Yeshua’s Time

Vayikra 16:7-10 states that the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) is “to take the two goats and place them before Adonai at the entrance to the tent of meeting.  Then (he) is to cast lots for the two goats, one lot for Adonai and the other for ‘Az’azel (scapegoat)(He) is to present the goat whose lot fell to Adonai and offer it as a sin offering.  But the goat whose lot fell to ‘Az’azel is to be presented alive to Adonai to be used for making atonement over it by sending it away into the desert for ‘Az’azel.”

There were also a few traditions that were added to the scapegoat ceremony.  According to the Mishna, lots were drawn to decide the fate of both of the goats.  The lot for the sacrifice said “for the Lord” and the lot for the scapegoat said “scapegoat.”  The people considered it a good omen if the lot “for the Lord” came up in the Priests right hand.  Also, a red sash was tied to the scapegoat’s horns and a portion of it was also tied to the door of the temple.  The sash on the temple turned from red to white as the goat met its end in the wilderness, signifying to the people that God had accepted their sacrifices and their sins had been atoned for.  This idea came from Isaiah 1:18 which says, “Even if your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow…”

Also stated in the Mishna as well as the Talmud, four events occurred during the forty years before the destruction of the temple which foreshadowed its doom.  (This would have started at the time when Yeshua was sacrificed once and for all.)  For forty years:

  • The lot that said “for the Lord” did not come in the Priests right hand…this was considered a bad omen.
  • The portion of the red sash that was tied to the temple door stopped turning white with the death of the sacrifice.
  • The westernmost light of the temple candelabra would not burn. This was crucial because this was the “shammash” (servant) used to kindle the other lights.
  • The temple doors opened by themselves. The rabbis saw the ominous fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 11:1 that says, “Open your doors, Lebanon, so that the fire can consume your cedars.”  In fact, fires did consume the cedars of Lebanon that may have adorned the inside of the temple.

Yeshua’s Fulfillment

What should surprise us is that God would give His Son for us.  What should amaze us is that the blood spilled on history’s ultimate altar would be His own.  But we should never be surprised that only the sacrifice of another life can exempt one from the death penalty that sin and guilt deserve.  Sacrifice has always been central in the history of God’s gracious dealings with men.  Over and over again, that picture is presented to us.  Over and over again we see the blood.  Over and over – till with awed amazement we look at Calvary and suddenly the pictures from the past merge into one.  And we bow, stunned by the reality.

He died. 

He died for me.

He died for you.

Even in ancient times, God lifted the veil to let us peek beyond the shadows at the reality.

Isaiah 53 was long been understood by the Jews to speak of the coming Messiah – the Deliverer to be sent to them by God.  In this passage we have a clear picture of Yeshua, and of sacrifice.

“Like a lamb led to be slaughtered” (v. 7).

“He would present himself as a guilt offering” (v. 10).

“He exposed himself to death” (v. 12).

“Actually bearing the sin of many” (v. 12).

We cannot read these words today with out realizing that they contain God’s explanation for Yeshua’s life – and for His death.

Acccording to Hebrews Chapter10, the sacrifices of old were “a shadow of the good things to come, but not the actual manifestation of the originals” (v. 1).  The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (v. 4).  The sacrifices only covered and concealed sin, thus permitting God to overlook His people’s sins until Yeshua could come to actually take away sins by the sacrifice of Himself (Romans 3:25-26).  What the ancient sacrifices foreshadowed, Yeshua accomplished!  By one sacrifice, He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

In Yeshua our sins and lawless acts have been forgiven fully, and we have been cleansed. (Hebrews 10:14) Thus “an offering for sins is no longer needed” (v. 18).  We just need to appropriate for ourselves the atonement of the shed blood of Yeshua.

The animal sacrifices had to be repeated again and again.   Their repetition was a continual reminder to Israel that sin, while temporarily covered, must still be dealt with.  The repeated sacrifices served to demonstrate that no animal’s life could ever satisfy the righteousness of God.  What a different message the bread and wine of Communion!  No longer is fresh blood required.  Yeshua has died, offering “for all time one sacrifice for sins” (v.  12).

It is enough. 

Redemption’s work is done. 

By the blood of Yeshua, you and I have been set forever free.

The focal point of God’s atoning work is Yeshua’s death on the execution stake.  Sha’ul wrote “we were reconciled with God through His Son’s death when we were enemies” (Romans 5:10).  These words not only define the meaning of atonement, they reveal the heart of the gospel as well.

At the beginning of His ministry, Yeshua was identified as “the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  The purpose of His coming was “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  He explained His death in terms of His “blood shed on behalf of many” (Mark 14:24).

The relation of Yeshua’s death to forgiveness of sins was implicit in the earliest Messianic preaching (Acts 2:21; 3:6, 19; 4:13; 5:31; 8:35; 10:43).  Sha’ul proclaimed, “Yeshua died for our sins” (1 Cor.  15:3), that He was the “kapparah – atonement” (Romans 3:25 KJV; “sacrifice of atonement,” NRSV, NIV; “expiation,” RSV), that He became “a cursed on our behalf” (Galatians 3:13), and that those “who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah’s blood.” (Ephesians 2:13).   Furthermore, Yeshua has been “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28) and has become “a new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20) into God’s presence.  He is the one who “bore our sins in his body on the stake” (1 Peter 2:24).

Though atonement is focused in the execution stake, the Brit Hadashah makes clear that Yeshua’s death is the climax of His perfect obedience.  He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the execution stake” (Philippians 2:8).  “Even though he was the Son, he learned obedience through his sufferings” (Hebrews 5:8).  Romans 5:12-19 contrasts Yeshua’s obedience with Adam’s disobedience.  His sinless obedience qualified Him to be the perfect Sacrifice for sin (see Hebrews 6:8-10).

The atonement for sin provided by Yeshua’s death had its origin in divine love.  No other reason can explain why “God reconciled us to himself by Yeshua” (2 Corinthians 5:18).  The anthem that continuously peals from the Bible is that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only and unique Son” (John 3:16; see 1 John 4:9-10).  This does not mean that God loves us because Yeshua died for us.  Rather, Yeshua died for us because God loves us.  Thus, “God demonstrates his own love for us, in that the Messiah died on our behalf while we were still sinners”. (Romans 5:8) Because atonement issues from love, it is always seen as a divine gift, never as human achievement.

No day was, or is, as sacred to the Jewish community as Yom HaKippurim, the Day of Atonements.  After the high priest had made atonement for his own sins and those of his household, he proceeded with the rites of atonement for the whole community.

“God put Yeshua forward as the kapparah – the atonement – for sin through his faithfulness in respect to his bloody sacrificial death.” (Romans 3:25)  Scripture depicts all human beings as needing to atone for their sins but lacking all power and resources for doing so.  We have offended our holy Creator, whose nature it is to hate sin (Jeremiah 44:4; Habakkuk 1:13) and to punish it (Psalms 5:4-6; Romans 1:18; 2:5-9).   No acceptance by, or fellowship with, such a God can be expected unless atonement is made, and since there is sin in even our best actions, anything we do in hopes of making amends can only increase our guilt or worsen our situation.

As a perfect sacrifice for sin (Romans 8:3; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 1:18-19), Yeshua’s death was our redemption.  He paid the price that freed us from the jeopardy of guilt, enslavement to sin, and expectation of wrath (Romans 3:24; Galatians 4:4-5; Colossians 1:14).  Yeshua’s death was God’s act of reconciling us to himself, overcoming his own hostility to us that our sins provoked (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Colossians 1:20-22).

Yeshua’s atoning death ratified the inauguration of a renewed covenant, in which access to God under all circumstances is guaranteed by Yeshua’s one sacrifice that covers all transgressions (Matthew 26:27-28; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 9:15; 10:12-18).  Those who through faith in Yeshua have “received reconciliation” (Romans 5:11) “in him…  become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

We no longer need the blood of bulls or goats.  Yeshua is our perfect atonement.  He is the Messiah!

In my next post, we will observe the third and final of the Fall Feasts of Sukkot.

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Eternal Security ~ Part 6

Apostasy ~ Part 3

In my last post, we began to unpack Hebrews 6:4-6 by looking at two commentaries.  In this post, I want to dig a little deeper into Hebrews 6:4-6 with some experts that have a different take on what the author of Hebrews may have meant when he wrote this passage.

“For when people have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh, and tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the ‘olam haba [this age] — and then have fallen away — it is impossible to renew them so that they turn from their sin, as long as for themselves they keep executing the Son of God on the stake all over again and keep holding him up to public contempt.” ~ Hebrews 6:4-6

 “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” ~ Hebrews 6:4-6 (NASB)

The authors of the Life Application Bible Commentary have this to say, in part, about Hebrews 6:4-6:

“There are four main interpretations of this passage.

  1. One interpretation states that this passage means Christians can lose their salvation. According to this interpretation, the four phrases describe Believers. … This salvation allows them to “taste the heavenly gift”; that is, they have come to know Christ, the one who came from heaven, so they experience salvation and the gifts that the Spirit gives … While we can agree that the phrases may describe Believers, we cannot accept this interpretation that Christians can lose their salvation. This idea is dismissed by other portions of Scripture (see John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39).
  2. Some interpret this passage as hypothetical: “if it were possible.” This interpretation, however, is unnatural and does not fit into the greater context of 6:7-8.  If this passage were only hypothetical, then the warning would be unnecessary.  Because the warning is urgent and real, we dismiss this interpretation.
  3. Another interpretation is that the writer may have intended to illustrate someone who seemed to be a Christian but really never was a true follower of Christ. All of the descriptive phrases could describe someone who is not really in the faith. That person could be “enlightened,” for the word was used by the early church to describe Christians who had been baptized and had professed Christ.  The person could have “tasted the heavenly gift,” if this phrase refers to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The person could have been a “partaker of the Holy Spirit,” if that phrase means that they fellowshipped alongside true believers and witnessed the Spirit’s work. Non-believers (even Judas Iscariot) saw the Holy Spirit work, heard the “good word of God,” and saw the “powers of the age to come.” … This interpretation is acceptable when considered in the greater context.  Hebrews 3:16-19 reviews how each Jew living in the wilderness had seen God’s great power, had eaten manna, had accompanied God, and had looked like God’s people, yet they never entered the Promised Land.  The writer did not want the Christians to fall into the same category and experience the same fate.
  4. Another reasonable interpretation arises by linking this portion of Scripture with 10:25-31 (another severe warning). The writer of Hebrews was warning against a specific kind of apostasy: forsaking Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for sins and returning to animal sacrifices as a means of atoning for sins. Thus, the severe warning is for those Jewish Christians who had originally accepted Christ’s redemption through his shed blood and then reverted to offering up the blood of bulls and goats as a means of cleansing their sins.

In the first century, a pagan who investigated Christianity and then went back to paganism would make a clean break with the church. But for Jewish Christians who decided to return to Judaism, the break was less obvious. Their lifestyle remained relatively unchanged.  But by deliberately turning away from Christ, they were cutting themselves off from God’s forgiveness.  Those who truly believe are glorious saints; those who reject Christ are un-believers, no matter how well they behave—thus, this warning not to “fall away” (Hebrews 2:1; 3:12).

It is impossible for people who have professed to be Christians and have experienced all of the beautiful gifts described in these verses, then have turned away from Christ to turn around and repent again since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.  It is impossible because these people show contempt for Christ through their deliberate actions.  It would be like personally crucifying Christ again. Many have argued whether someone who turns away from Christ can be restored to Christ.  Some point to this passage to prove that a backslider cannot be restored.  But “backsliders” are not the subject here.  This passage refers to people who walk with Christ for a while and then deliberately turn around and walk the other direction, rejecting Christ.  Hebrews 10:26 says, “For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (nrsv). These people can never be restored because they will not want to be restored. They have chosen to harden their hearts against Christ. It is not impossible for God to forgive them; rather, it is impossible for them to be forgiven because they won’t repent of their sins.”

Here is my favorite paragraph in their commentary on this passage (emphasis added):

“In the final analysis, having a debate about the meaning of these verses should not be a priority for churches today. What matters most is the warning against apostasy, and the warning must be taken seriously.  The passage describes people in our churches who act like and seem to be Christians, but who have not truly believed.  When those assumed to be believers turn away, the debate may take place afterward, ‘Were they originally believers or not?’ But people reading these words must heed the warning, not just debate the issue.”

The authors of another favorite commentary I check frequently, “Hard Sayings of the Bible,” have this to say, in part, about Hebrews 6:4-6:

“Most Christians know of individuals who for one reason or another have left the faith. They may not have actually denied the faith, but they are certainly not practicing the faith.  For such people this is a very troubling passage.  Is there anyone who cannot be brought to repentance?  Can a person have shared the Holy Spirit and then be lost?  And are these people really eternally lost? Is this really a description of a Christian?

First, this passage is not unique but rather is part of a group of passages concerning people who cannot be forgiven or brought to repentance.  Mark 3:28-29 refers to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. … In 1 John 5:16 the author speaks of a “sin unto death” (KJV) about which, the elder implies, prayer is useless.  Finally, the verse under consideration here refers to a class of people who cannot “be brought back to repentance.”  The issue is not whether God would forgive them if they repented, but whether there is any way to bring them to repent at all.  The answer is no.

Second, the people under discussion are fully initiated Christians. In the preceding passage, the author contemplates whether he should discuss Melchizedek, a difficult teaching, or return to the basic teachings of the faith. … But he will not return to these teachings, for he knows these readers. They are fully initiated Christians. There was nothing defective in how they were brought to Christ, so there is no use in going back over the basics.

Third, what is the author’s concern about these people? Hebrews 6 is an excursus [an appendix or digression that contains further exposition of some point or topic] the author inserted into the argument because he is afraid that when he gets to the difficult subject of Melchizedek the readers will “turn him off.” …  Throughout the book he is concerned that they will leave their Christian faith and return to Judaism. … The author is warning them before he brings the difficult teaching not to apostatize, because the consequence of such an action is damnation.

His warning comes as a description of what it would mean to apostatize. That he is talking about full-blown apostasy is clear, for he uses the phrase “they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Hebrews 6:6). That is, they once confessed that Jesus was Lord and Messiah, which means they repented of the injustice of the crucifixion.  Now in rejecting the faith they are declaring that the crucifixion was correct after all – Jesus was a blasphemer and not Messiah.  Such a public recantation exposes Jesus to public disgrace.

What, then, is the author of Hebrews saying? … His arguments to keep them in the faith must come from deeper truth, not from a clarification of the foundational truth.  He then points out by way of warning that if fully initiated Christians turn their backs on Christ, they will so harden themselves that nothing anyone can do will bring them back to repentance.  Their end result will be eternal damnation. … They may be on the verge of apostasy, but they have not made the decision and crossed the line.”

Although we have spent three posts on this topic of Apostasy, and we will come back to it before the series is completed I’m sure, it is time to move on.  However, as much as I want to move into examining Calvinism and Arminianism, I want to delay until we examine a related topic to Apostasy ~ God’s Sovereignty and Free Will.

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Eternal Security ~ Part 5

Apostasy ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began to explore the issue of Apostasy and Backsliding.  In this post, I want to dig a little deeper on the issue of Apostasy by turning to Hebrews 6:4-6.

As I was contemplating and praying about this topic of Eternal Security, my daily reading plan through the Brit Hadashah, Psalms and Proverbs from YouVersion lead me to the Letter to the Hebrews.  This passage hit me up alongside the head:

 “For when people have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh, and tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the ‘olam haba [this age] — and then have fallen away — it is impossible to renew them so that they turn from their sin, as long as for themselves they keep executing the Son of God on the stake all over again and keep holding him up to public contempt.” ~ Hebrews 6:4-6

 This passage appeared to confirm my understanding that a born-again, spirit-filled Believer could indeed apostatize.  So, off to my electric library I went.  One of the resources I read was “Understanding Assurance and Salvation” by Robert E. Picirilli. [1]  I will be quoting from this book frequently as we continue in this series.  Reverencing this passage, Mr. Picirilli states:

“For those who believe in the possibility of personal apostasy, the book of Hebrews as a whole and Hebrews 6:4-6 in particular is one of the most important passages involved in providing a biblical basis for the view. The greater part of this chapter, therefore, is devoted to a thorough exegesis of this key passage in the context of the book and to treat questions about how it relates to the possibility that a truly regenerate person may ‘fall from grace.’”

For those who may not be familiar with the term exegesis it essentially means an “explanation or critical interpretation of a text.”  You may have heard the phrase, “you should never take a text out of context.”  He goes on to state:

“One of the requirements of good exegesis is to understand how a given passage fits into its context. In this case we should consider the general thrust of Hebrews as a whole.  These three verses come in the midst of a book that has perseverance for its major theme…an exhortation to preserve is at the heart of every major section of the book (Letter to the Hebrews).

Hebrews frequently encourages the audience to endure and warns against leaving the faith (see Hebrews 2:1-4; 3:7-4:13; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39; 12:1-29).  The warning passages exhort the kehilah to remain faithful to the teachings of Yeshua.  The author of Hebrews was exhorting the readers to remain faithful to the Messianic movement and not return to the Temple sacrifices and Judaism.

Does the Passage Describe Genuine Believers?

The people that the writer of Hebrews describes are said to have experienced four positive things. The question, then, depends on the meaning of these four clauses.

  1. They once been enlightened. This seems to refer to the spiritual enlightenment we associate with salvation. The Greek verb phōtizō means to give one light or bring him into light. The very same description appears again in 10:32, where also there is no reason to doubt that the writer consciously uses it to mean conversion.
  2. They tasted the heavenly gift. The people being described, “experienced” the heavenly gift.  Interpreters are not unanimous in identifying this heavenly gift, but the disagreement is more technical than substantial. The various interpreters suggest salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, the Ruach HaKodesh, or Yeshua Himself.  Probably the best conclusion is that it means salvation and what goes with it: justification and eternal life in Messiah.
  3. They become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh. The word sharers in the Greek is metochos which means “to have together with,” is apparently used by the writer of Hebrews exclusively to refer to Believer’s common participation in things related to their salvation.  In Hebrews 3:1 we are sharers of the heavenly calling; in Hebrews 3:14 sharers in the Messiah; and in 12:8 sharers of the discipline that distinguishes between true sons and bastards. Either of these three, or the one here, will by itself should be adequate to identify such a sharer as a Believer.  To have the Ruach, in common with other Believers, is certainly to be a Messianic Believer.  Receiving the gift of the Rauch is a regular way of stating what it means to become a Believer. (See Acts 2:38-39 and Galatians 3:14).
  4. They tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the ‘olam haba. We meet tasted again; see above on the second clause. Those described have tasted God’s Word. This means that they have experienced the goodness that God has spoken of.  God has spoken good to those who put faith in Him, and these have experienced that good.  The same sentiment is captured by Kefa: “For you have tasted that Adonai is good.” ~ 1 Peter 2:3.Furthermore, they have tasted the powers of the ‘olam haba. Powers, in the Greek is dynamis, which can often means miracles (as in Hebrews 2:4).  In its broadest sense, supernatural workings. Believers, though still living in the present age, have already begun to experience the supernatural workings characteristic of the age to come. This includes more than we need to discuss here, but regeneration and the gift of the Spirit are the initial powerful works of the age to come that all Believers have in common.

Of these four clauses as a whole, then, we conclude that one would be hard put to find a better description of genuine regeneration and conversion.  Either of them will stand by itself in this respect.  The four together provide one of the finest statements about salvation, from its experiential side, that appears anywhere in the Scriptures.

Does the Passage Describe Apostasy from Salvation?

The answer to this question resides in the meaning of the clause and then have fallen away.  There is not much dispute about the meaning of the words, most interpreters readily accept that to have fallen away as used here leaves a person outside a saving relationship with Yeshua.  That is what apostasy means. In light of the contents of the entire book of Hebrews, fallen away is obviously synonymous with drift away (Hebrews 2:1), apostatize from the living God (Hebrews 3:12), shrinks back (10:38), and turn away from Him when He warns from heaven. (Hebrews 12:25).

According to Mr. Picirilli, the NASB provides an especially clear and accurate translation of this passage.  “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” ~ Hebrews 6:4-6 (NASB)

It seems clear that the Apostasy of these verses is a final and irreversible.  Picirilli concludes:

“This apostasy is therefore much more serious than what most people mean by Backsliding.  Since salvation is first and always by faith, this apostasy involves a willful defection from the saving knowledge of Christ, a final retraction of faith from Him in whom alone is provision for forgiveness of sins. The apostate forsakes the cross where he found redemption: ‘By renouncing Christ they put themselves in the position of those who, deliberately refusing His claim to be the Son of God, had Him crucified and exposed to public shame.’”

I would be remiss if I didn’t include David Stern’s notes on this passage for his Jewish New Testament Commentary.  I have kept his formatting intact in this quote.  My only change is to modify the names of the books of Scripture he references.

“These verses (4-6) have been commandeered into service of the most amazing variety of theological positions.  Arminians (named after their supposed founder, Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609)) take them as proof that it is possible for someone who has once been a believer to fall away from faith irretrievably.  Calvinists (after John Calvin (1509-1564)) interpret them in such a way as to make that a practical impossibility.  The dispute between them has fueled many fires, but often forgotten is the author’s purpose, which is not to deal abstractly with the “eternal security of the believer,” but specifically with his readers’ concern that unless the Levitical sacrifices required by the Five Books of Moses are offered their sins remain unforgiven.  Whether they had in fact reintroduced sacrifices on their own cannot be determined from the evidence of this book. But it is obvious that they were fixated on the sacrificial system; and it becomes the author’s task to show them that Yeshua’s atoning death and his elevation to the office of cohen gadol has brought about “a transformation of Torah” (7:12) which alters the sacrificial system and priesthood.

Here is a review of the author’s argument in these verses. He speaks of people who have:

  1. once been enlightened, so that they know who Yeshua is and what he has done;
  2. tasted the heavenly gift of God’s forgiveness;
  3. become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit whom God gives only through his Son Yeshua (this terminology makes it impossible that the author is referring to pseudo-believers, because only true believers become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh);
  4. tasted the goodness (compare Psalm 34:8) of God’s Word and tasted the powers of the ʿolam haba, which is interesting terminology for the gifts of the Holy Spirit as enumerated in 1C 12:8-10

When people who have experienced salvation in such a deep way and then have fallen away from faith by trusting not in Yeshua’s own sacrificial death and high-priestly office but in animal sacrifices and the system of cohanim which the Torah set up to administer them—then it is impossible to renew them so that they turn from their sin, as long as for themselves they keep on executing the Son of God on the stake all over again. The reason is that they ignore what his death on the stake means, as proved by their trusting in animal sacrifices instead of His sacrifice. Thus they keep holding him up to public contempt by not glorifying his death as an atoning death but seeing it as having no special significance, so that his execution as a criminal becomes the dominant fact about it.

I am indebted to Jerome Fleischer, a Messianic Jew with a ministry in the San Francisco area, for pointing out to me that the author’s purpose in these verses was not to provide fuel for the Calvinist-Arminian controversy of 1500 years later, but to turn his readers’ concern away from animal sacrifices and toward the significance of Yeshua’s final sacrifice (my emphasis added). This is clear from the context of the following four chapters, which deal with precisely this question and which constitute the heart of the book.

However, it is possible to make a midrash on these verses which does deal with the Calvinist-Arminian controversy. Calvinism teaches the eternal security of the believer. It is possible to define “believer” tautologically [superfluously] in such a way that no one so defined ever falls away; but then no one could be certain he is a “believer” until his life had ended. For it is manifestly possible for a person to trust the Messiah as fully as he knows how, by any imaginable subjective or objective measure of his ability to trust, and to experience subjectively all the benefits of faith, and still at some point later to fall away. If that happens, it is impossible, so long as he remains in such a state, to renew him again so that he turns from his sin. Why? Because God has given him everything he can give, yet he now refuses to accept his status as righteous with God, along with the implied responsibility of living a holy life. In vv. 7-8 these good gifts of God are compared to rain, intended to make a good crop grow; but if an evil crop comes, it is in due course burned—a reminder of the fate of the wicked on the Day of Judgment. But the New Testament’s way of dealing with the security of the believer is different. Yochanan articulates it well: “The way we can be sure we know him is if we are obeying his commands” (1 Yochanan 2:3-6).

Some, insisting on the eternal security of one who has confessed the Messiah, understand this passage to say that carnal believers will be deprived of rewards (1C 3:8-15&N), or that they will spend the Millennial Age (Revelation 20:2-7) in Outer Darkness (see Matthew 22:13-14) instead of ruling with the Messiah.”

In my next post, we will continue to unpack the topic of Apostasy by examining other expert’s thoughts on Hebrews 6:4-6.  My goal is to try to provide a balanced approach between the two main positions (which I will present soon) to this issue of Eternal Security.

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[1] Robert E. Picirilli, former academic dean and professor of Greek and New Testament studies at Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, Tennessee, has been teaching, preaching and writing Arminian theology for more than 45 years. Since 1983, he has served as the General Editor of The Randall House Bible Commentary and, in that series, contributed the volumes on 1, 2 Corinthians; Ephesians; Philippians; and 1, 2 Thessalonians. His other published works include the books Paul the Apostle, Book of Galatians, Romans, and A Survey of the Pauline Epistles, as well as numerous booklets and articles in denominational publications and theological journals.

Rosh Hashanah – 5777

Be Ministers of Reconciliation

 In this post, we take a break from our series on Eternal Security to observe the first of the fall Jewish feasts of Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah:  The Key Is Repentance, Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Biblical References:  B’midbar (Numbers) 29:1–6 and Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:23 – 25 ~ Yom Teruah (The Feast of Trumpets).  In 2016, the holiday begins at sundown on October 3rd.

Rabbinic Change:  Since this is the first Shabbat of the Fall Holidays, it has been considered as the “spiritual” New Year.  Hence the name changed to Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year.”  It is also considered the anniversary of creation; the sacrifice of Yitz’chak; the release of Yosef from Pharaoh’s prison; and, the birth of Samuel, the prophet.

The purpose and traditional observance of the Holy Day is summed up in one word – regathering.  Since the fall holidays call us to regather to a pure faith in God, Rosh Hashanah has come to represent the Day of Repentance.  It is the day when people of Israel take stock of their spiritual condition and make the necessary changes to insure that the upcoming New Year will be pleasing to God.

The shofar is sounded daily to alert the faithful that the time of repentance is near.  The observance takes on a somber character, yet always with a hint of hope because of God’s forgiveness.

The traditional challah is shaped in a circle to symbolize God’s Kingship and the coming of Messiah.  Sweet honey cakes and apples dipped in honey are a real treat and symbolize the hope of a new sweet year.

Tradition tells of three books that are opened in the heavenly courts during the feast of Rosh Hashanah; one for the completely righteous, one for the completely wicked, and one for the average person.  The completely righteous are immediately inscribed in the book of life.  The completely wicked are immediately inscribed in the book of death.  The average person is kept in suspension from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  If they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death.  Consequently, the Ten Days of Awe are a time of solemn self-examination with time spent in seeking reconciliation and doing good works in the Jewish tradition.

Since the 15th Century, the ceremony of Tashlich is celebrated in the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah.  The congregation meets at a river or stream.  Special prayers of repentance are recited and a portion of Micah is read.  People then take breadcrumbs and cast them into the water symbolizing that our sins are carried away by the water.

Rosh Hashanah has deep Messianic significance!  The rabbis have taught that one day the shofar would sound and the Messiah would come.  According to Rabbi Sha’ul, in the future all true believers in Yeshua will be gathered to meet Him in the clouds.  The dead in Messiah will rise first, to be followed immediately by those believers alive at the time.  “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar, those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.  So encourage each other with these words.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)  That day will certainly be characterized by joy, delight and sweetness for those who are called home!  As we observe Rosh Hashanah, we should anticipate the time of Yeshua’s return.

The traditional greeting during Rosh Hashanah is, “L’shanah tovah tikatevu!”  May your name be inscribed in the book of life!  As Messianic Believers we can rightly say, “L’shanah tovah tikatevu b’shem Yeshua!”  May your name be inscribed in the book of life, in the name of Yeshua!

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 – 21Rosh Hashanah: repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.  Rabbi Sha’ul wrote to the Corinthians about these key ingredients to our annual observation of this holy appointed time.  As Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the new spiritual year, so it is that we become new creations when we are united with Yeshua as our Messiah.

The key idea in this passage is reconciliation.  Because of our rebellion, we are the enemy of God and out of fellowship with Him.  Through the work of the execution stake, Yeshua has brought God and us together again.  God has been reconciled and has turned His face in love toward the lost world.  The basic meaning of the word reconcile is “to change thoroughly.”  It refers to a changed relationship between God and the lost world.  “And it is all from God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:18a)

God does not have to be reconciled to man, because Yeshua accomplished that on the execution stake.  It is sinful man who must be reconciled to God.  “Religion” is man’s feeble effort to be reconciled to God, efforts that are bound to fail.  The Person who reconciles us to God is Yeshua, and the place where He reconciles us is His execution stake.  He not only reconciles us to Himself, but he gives us the task of reconciling other people to Him.  We have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation.

Another key idea in this paragraph is that God does not count our sins against us.  In the KJV, the term used is imputing.  This is a word borrowed from banking; it simply means, “to put to one’s account.”  When you deposit money in the bank, the teller puts that amount into your account.    When Yeshua died on the execution stake, all of our sins were imputed to Him – put into His account.  God treated Him as though He had actually committed those sins.

What was the result?  All of those sins have been paid for and God no longer holds them against us, because we have trusted Yeshua as our Messiah.  But even more: God has put into our account the very righteousness of Yeshua!  “God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in Gods’ righteousness.”   (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Reconciliation is based on imputation: because the demands of God’s Torah have been fully met on the execution stake, God can be reconciled to sinners. Those who believe in Yeshua, as their Messiah will never have their sins imputed against them again (see Psalms 32:1-2; Romans. 4:1-8).  As far as their records are concerned, they share the righteousness of Yeshua!

How does this wonderful doctrine of reconciliation motivate us to serve Yeshua?  We are ambassadors with a message.  God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Since we are the ambassadors of Yeshua, this means that the world is in rebellion against God.  He has sent His ambassadors into the world to declare peace, not war.  “Be reconciled to God!”  We represent Yeshua (see John 20:21; 2 Corinthians 4:5).  If sinners reject our message and us, it is Yeshua who is actually rejected.  What a great privilege it is to be heaven’s ambassadors to the rebellious sinners of this world!

God has not declared war on the world; at the execution stake He declared peace.  But one day, He will declare war; and then it will be too late for those who have rejected Yeshua (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10).  Satan is seeking to tear everything apart in this world, but Yeshua and His Messianic community are involved in the ministry of reconciliation, bringing things back together again, and back to God.

Ministry is not easy.  If we are to succeed, we must be motivated by the fear of the Lord, the love of Yeshua, and the commission that He has given to us.  It is indeed a privilege to serve Him!

During these next 10 days before Yom Kippur, I encourage you to do some self-reflection.  Is there any unconfessed sin in your life?  Do you need to forgive someone who has hurt you?  Are there any relationships that require reconciliation?  As we enter into the start of a new spiritual year, resolve to make a fresh start and be ambassadors of Yeshua HaMashiach, “so that in union with Him, we might fully share in God’s righteousness.”

In my next post, we will return to our study of Eternal Security with Part 2 on Apostasy.

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Eternal Security ~ Part 4

Apostasy ~ Part 1

In my last post, we began to look at the concept of Eternal Security.  We will be coming back to that topic throughout this series as we discuss other aspects of it.  In this post, we will explore the issue of Apostasy in more detail.  We will, also touch on the issue of Backsliding.

 In Part 2 of this series, I provided a brief definition of Apostasy.  The Greek word is aphistēmi which means to “depart, draw (fall) away, refrain, withdraw self or falling away.”

In the Brit Hadashah its usual meaning is that of a religious defection.  The Spirit expressly states that in the acharit-hayamim [End Times] some people will apostatize from the faith by paying attention to deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” ~ 1 Timothy 4:1. Watch out, brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize from the living God! ~ Hebrews 3:12.   This is called “apostasy from the faith:” a secession from the kehilah and a disowning of the name of Messiah. The grave nature of Apostasy is shown by such passages as:

 “For if we deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but only the terrifying prospect of Judgment, of raging fire that will consume the enemies. Someone who disregards the Torah of Moshe is put to death without mercy on the word of two or three witnesses. Think how much worse will be the punishment deserved by someone who has trampled underfoot the Son of God; who has treated as something common the blood of the covenant which made him holy; and who has insulted the Spirit, giver of God’s grace!” ~ Hebrews 10:26-29 Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 4”

Eternal Security ~ Part 3

Eternal Security

In my last post, I provided a basic glossary of terms that will be discussed in more detail in this series, but may not be widely understood.  In this post, we will begin to look at the concept of Eternal Security.

It’s time we dig into the Word of God, so let’s look at a couple of passages from the Gospel of Yochanan (John).

37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will certainly not turn away.  38 For I have come down from heaven to do not My own will but the will of the One who sent me.  39 And this is the will of the One who sent me: that I should not lose any of all those He has given Me but should raise them up on the Last Day.  40 Yes, this is the will of My Father: that all who see the Son and trust in Him should have eternal life, and that I should raise them up on the Last Day” ~ John 6:37-40 (emphasis added).

From My perspective, eternal life is an integral component of Eternal Security.  According to Mark Moore, [1] “this text raises the difficult and sensitive issue of Eternal Security.  However, this passage is not a theological dissertation but a heated debate where Yeshua speaks in perplexing terms.” This does not mean that He cannot be understood, but that He frames up His message in provocative language that causes His audience to meditate on what He says.  Besides, Yeshua will make a clearer declaration of Eternal Security in John 10:28 which we will look at below. Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 3”