What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Conclusion

by Jay Guin

Now let’s compare what these passages teach to the stated position of the conservative advocates.

* Notice how all three books speak expansively of salvation being a continuous state of being — not an occasional, off and on sort of thing. Those who walk in the light have their sins continuously purified. Those who are being made holy by God, through the Spirit, are made perfect forever, once for all. Those who’ve been saved are now much more saved — and should be accepted by others on the same terms on which the others were accepted when they were saved.

* We fall away when we rebel, have a hard heart, lose faith, or deliberately continue to sin. Because faith includes so believing God’s promises that we act in reliance on those promises, these are all much the same thing.

* Just so, John says we fall away when we lose our faith, fail to love through acts of righteousness, refuse to listen to apostolic teaching, or refuse to obey the command(s) of Jesus. And for much the same reason, these are all the same thing — that is, if you have true faith, you’ll truly love, obey, and listen. Those with the faith described in 1 John and in Hebrews are necessarily penitent. (Compare Rom. 10:9.)

* But as John says plainly, we all sin. The point isn’t to be perfect or to repent perfectly or to confess perfectly. The point is to have true faith, which leads to obedience, but not necessarily perfect obedience.

* As a result, both 1 John and Hebrews can say frequently and plainly that we should be confident in our salvation because of our faith. 1 John plainly and repeatedly says that those who still have their faith remain saved.

* Thus, as Paul commands in Romans 15:7, we must accept a mature Christian by the same standards as a new convert: faith, repentance, and baptism. Of course, a mature Christian will know Jesus better than a new convert, and so his obedience should be a deeper, richer obedience — but this is an effect of his salvation, not a cause.

* And as Paul taught in Romans 5, a Christian is “much more” saved in his subsequent Christian walk than he was in his initial conversion. This is because a Christian has the gift of the Spirit to lead him and help him obey.

* We see that God doesn’t incrementally remove grace from his children. Rather, the grace we receive at our conversion continues with us until we surrender it through rebellion, become hard-hearted, and deliberately continue to sin. And that grace includes not only forgiveness but God’s own Spirit, working in us to help us make to the end.

And so, is a Christian who misunderstands God’s will regarding instruments or hats in worship damned? Wrong question.

Does the Christian still believe in Jesus? Does he so believe that his life is penitent — as shown through acts of love? Does he still listen to apostolic instruction?

Of course, he still sins. We all do. Of course, his understanding of the scriptures is less than perfect. Who could claim otherwise?

But he’s saved. Indeed, he’s much more saved than when he was baptized — and so I must accept him as a brother in Christ.

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55 Comments on “What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Conclusion”

  1. Nicodemus Says:

    Good work, Jay and Todd.

    Mac, Phil and Greg, you have lost this former conservative.

    Through these discussions, it has been made plain to me that the position I have been taught is bankrupt.

    The positions espoused by my three brothers here and elsewhere does not fit together – it is inconsistently practiced and explained.

    In fact, the explanations offered here have made it even clearer than before.

    Now, to set off on my new voyage of faith.

  2. Daryl Says:

    Amen,
    Great work brothers.


  3. A well-reasoned defense of the power of Christ’s blood to cleanse us from sin – whether we have the full picture of His grace and all the finer points of it down, or not.

    Thank you for this!

  4. Rich Says:

    Jay,

    You have done a fantastic job of creating false mud.

    You continue to test the words of Mac and Phil concerning repentance against something you don’t consider sin in the first place. And since you don’t consider musical instruments and other similar issues as sin the concept of repentance or grace doesn’t apply.

    Pick topics that all four of you agree are sins and see how your wording fits. Assume someone believes they are faithful to Christ but still practices that sin because they don’t believe it is a sin.

    In other words, you don’t believe they are walking in the light but they do.


  5. Thanks Jay,
    You have done a marvelous job of clearly stating the facts and direction of the discussion. If one doesn’t clearly see the facts of this discussion after the last articles you have written it is because they are blinded by pre-conceived ideas and teachings. May God continue to bless your works and your efforts.

  6. Alan S. Says:

    Rich,

    Not false mud – maybe additional examples can be used, but not false mud.

    And if the four were to discuss a sin that they all agree is a sin, would it be a sin that God has called a sin, or something that they all just think is a sin but God is silent on.

    God bless.

  7. Rich Says:

    Alan S.,

    Thanks for keeping me honest.

    You and I have probably both seen on Jay’s blog (a very well organized blog) what happens when Jay declares a particular behavior/lifestyle as sin based on the Bible. Inevitably, someone will criticize Jay for not showing enough grace or love. That’s an easy offense against someone who declares a particular behavior as sin.

    The issue being discussed now is repentance and apostasy. It is not where to draw the line between sin and not sin. The progressives and conservatives draw that line differently.

    Therefore, the only true test of proper thinking on the subjects of repentance and apostasy is in the region where both sides can agree is sin. Only then, may one test the two proposals for which works best with the scripture.

  8. Royce Ogle Says:

    Jay,

    Having just read all of these recent post I commend you for a job well done. If this is “mud”, give me more “mud”.

    I suggest that your critics sit down with an open Bible and take the time to see if you have fairly represented what the Bible says in Hebrews, 1 John and Romans.

    You will always be wrong to a big percentage of church of Christ folks if you don’t teach salvation by works, or at a minimum, staying saved by works as if what Christ has done is not sufficient.

    Thanks for your clear teaching. While I have some disagreements with you our agreement is overwhelming.

    Royce

  9. Jerry Starling Says:

    Dell,
    You wrote, “If one doesn’t clearly see the facts of this discussion after the last articles you have written it is because they are blinded by pre-conceived ideas and teachings.”

    Don’t be too quick to say some one is blind. Some sincere people just don’t get it, although it appears clear as glass to you and me. Let’s continue to love and gently, patiently draw them back to what the Word of God actually says.


  10. I will certainly give them the benefit of the doubt but I can’t imagine anyone who cannot clearly see the facts as they have been presented in these articles.

  11. Jay Guin Says:

    Rich,

    You are not being fair to the arguments made. In this last series of posts, I’ve hardly mentioned instrumental music. In fact, we’ve spent far more time discussing fornication — which all four agree is certainly a sin. Regarding the instrument, I’ve said,

    We never ask a convert his position on divorce and remarriage, instrumental music in worship, or even elder re-affirmation. We just ask whether he believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

    Just so, Phil has written regarding instrumental music in worship,

    The blood of Jesus can certainly cleanse those who walk in the light. Walking in the light is not sinlessness, because no one is capable of sinless perfection. But people can fool themselves, thinking they are in the light, when they are not (1 John 1:6). Sand theology does not yield the same results as rock theology (Matt. 7:21-27). Sand theology is when people build where they want rather than heed the words of Jesus. Self-made religion and innovations are sand theology. Those who plant their own plants will find themselves uprooted (Matt. 15:14). That’s what Jesus says about it.

    And so — when we sin, God forgives us, because we’re walking in the light despite our sin. But when we worship with instrumental music, well, that’s sin, and so we’re outside the light and damned. It makes no sense!

    That’s it.

    Those are hardly the centerpiece of the argument. In the first quote, while I don’t believe instrumental music to be necessarily sinful, I do believe that divorce and remarriage is sometimes sinful and sometimes not. The point remains the same. The Churches of Christ have never demanded adherence to list of positions on the issues to admit someone to baptism.

    As to the quote from Phil, the argument isn’t at all about instrumental music but my assertion that he is being inconsistent. The case would be the same whether he was discussing instrumental music or lust. If you’re going to declare some sins covered by grace and some not covered by grace, you need to explain the biblical basis for making the distinction.

  12. Randall Says:

    Jay,
    After reading this website for months as well as your blog I commend your efforts to try to bring an understanding of “Grace” to the CofC. I know you must be heartbroken over the condition of the CofC and the resistance of so many to accepting God’s gifts and promises.

    Regrettably, I feel compelled to comment that there is little difference between the positions advocated by the “conservatives” and the “progressives.” I believe you have sort of made this point yourself.

    Indeed the progressives position has portrayed God as more lenient (more gracious?) than the conservatives. There is more latitude allowed for our failures when it comes to penitence and obedience. You make the point that although we are not capable of perfection in these matters, we do need to be walking in the light and abiding in him, and then we remain saved – then his grace will continue to cover us so long as we don’t behave too corruptly. We could believe and even practice some things wrong (e.g. IM, DMR) and still be saved I think this sums up your position – and feel free to correct me if I have not gotten it quite right.

    This seems to me to be more semi-Pelagian than Arminian. That is, it advocates a position of I took the first step and God helped me, and his grace covered me when I didn’t get it all right. But the difference between me and the lost person is that I continued to try and he didn’t. So the trying (running and willing from Romans 9) logically becomes meritorious even if we try to downplay it being so. This is not unmerited favor. It gives grace to those that walk in the light enough and abide in him enough, but not to those that fail to measure up. It still comes back to the question of how good does one have to be.

    My own personal experience has been that I could never be good enough in any way. My best efforts were wrecked by me. I looked into my behavior, my desires and soul and saw ugliness. I was in the abyss and I was there by my choice, but God saved me and he never let go of me. The good news is that plain and simple. Isn’t that what grace is?

    You know I am not advocating lawlessness or anything short of complete and total devotion and obedience to God and you also know we can never attain it – we can’t even come remotely close. We can only accept our right standing with God and the associated blessings as a gift wrought for us by Jesus himself.

    Peace to you and prayer that God will make his grace known to a multitude too large for anyone to number.
    Randall

  13. Jay Guin Says:

    To several who are posting:

    This is a discussion between the progressive and conservative elements in the Churches of Christ. Both sides are Arminian. Neither side advocates for the perseverance of the saints or once saved, always saved.

    This is not the place to advocate for such views. I mean, I wouldn’t go to a website where Reformed theologians are debating the infralapsarian vs. supralapsarian views and start arguing my views of grace.

    As I’ve said here before, I’m very happy to host such a discussion over at http://oneinjesus.info, and I suggest that a good place for it is Once Saved, Always Saved, Part 3.

    I’m way behind on responding to the comments over at OneInJesus already, and so can’t promise to be an active participant.

    The best chance of luring me into the discussion is to show why my exegesis of Hebrews is wrong — other than declaring it somehow contradictory to John or Romans or whatever. Show me a better way to reconcile the Reformed verses with the Arminian verses than what I’ve proposed over there! That’ll start an interesting conversation.

    In the meantime, please limit the conversation here to this internal dispute within the Arminian camp.

  14. Rich Says:

    Jay,

    I’ll reread the articles to see what I may have missed.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    What amazes me is that this discussion is really about a divided church denomination determining if us other churches are saved. The conservatives deem us as condemned, the progressives don’t thus the conservatives deem the progressives as condemned. The progressives are feeling a bit of what other churches have felt coming from the coC for years and they don’t like being called apostate by the conservatives. What will the fate of us other churches be at the end of this discussion? So is it a discussion for the progressives to not be called apostate by the conservatives or should it be a discussion that is to bring unity to the church as a whole. And to top it off us other churches are asked not to speak about our views when our views are really what’s on trial here.

  16. Dusty Chris Says:

    Thank you Jay for articulating your thoughts here. WOW. I look forward to the conservative response…Man, I am glad I don’t have to argue the conservative side.

  17. RPC Says:

    Dusty, I agree. I would not want to argue/debate from the conservative side either. It seems that the conservatives are very quite on this site – which isnt, at all, how they are when teaching against denominations. I know many are reading the post here, but you hear very little from them. Also, even more strange is that many conservatives reject Mac as a man of God, seeing his views on the Holy Spirit do not line up with theirs.

  18. RPC Says:

    Jay, I suggest asking Mr. Johnny Robertson church of Christ preacher from Martinsville to join this discussion. He is a conservative and one who disagrees with Mac. I think Mac and Todd both know him. Johnny is probably the most radical ultra conservative in the US – some blogs http://bondservant3.wordpress.com/ even calling him a cult leader.

  19. Royce Says:

    I am wondering…What do traditionalists, like Mac and Phil think Christ accomplished when he offered himself as a sacrifice for sins?

    How can I expect a rational, informed, discussion about apostacy from people who don’t understand how God saves sinners? It makes little more sense than having someone working at NASA who believes the earth is flat.

  20. laymond Says:

    Royce, you seem to have all the answers. Why not inform the rest of us as to just why God the Father felt that he, the creator of all things, needed to sacrifice his only begotten son, for sins, and to whom was this sacrifice made.? was this sacrifice made to us, if so why?

  21. Alan S. Says:

    RPC, I am not sure it would be helpful to include the “radical ultra conservatives” in the conversation. From my experience, discussion is usually the last thing on their mind. Pronouncements is more their preferred method of communication.

    Some even teach a form of gnosticism as reflected in this post: “Nevertheless, here are some possible reasons why the plan of salvation is not found in one place. It may be God’s design to keep those not spiritually minded and disinterested out of the kingdom.”

    I wish this were not so, but I am very sceptical that any of them would choose to participate. To do so, in their words, would mean walking with an apostate according to their interpretation of “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

    God bless.

  22. RPC Says:

    Alan S, very well stated !

    Indeed, pronouncements are more of their preferred method of communication. In my area, we have around 4 meeting places for the Churches of Christ. One of these 4 consider the other 3 as apostate/wayward brethren and have no fellowship with them. This “1” group here also considers Mac as an apostate because of his position regarding the Holy Spirit and if you disagree with them at all on any given scripture, you are subject to being an apostate.

    Oddly enough, the same man/leader of this radical ultra conservative assembly has admitted with another preacher that he was mistaken for most of his years regarding a marriage issue – I guess he was an apostate all them years if he applies his rules to himself.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    laymond, why do you always have the need to pick on Royce? Royce is entitled to speak what he thinks of this discussion.

  24. Rich Says:

    RPC,

    Due to human nature, there will always be the extremists who take any communication in a direction beyond the original intent. Likewise, there will be those taking the words presented by the progressives here to eventually conclude there is no effective sin because the heart is the only thing that matters even if the person is incorrect in the most clear of passages. I accept that this generation of progressives doesn’t believe that but the day will come.

    Whenever we reposition ourselves based on a reaction to an extreme position we set ourselves up for mistake. Our position might be different but our thinking is the same as those on the opposite extreme.

  25. Royce Says:

    Anonymous,

    Since I know everything, I’ll answer for Laymond. I’m sure he will be glad.

    I believe Jesus is God as every Christian has throughout history. I believe in the bodily resurrecition of Jesus, a glorified body, but a real touchable, seeable body. And, most repulsive to Laymond, I bleieve God only justifies sinners based upon the work and worth of Jesus.

    Laymond if I have mistated your position, please correct me.

    Royce

  26. laymond Says:

    Anonymous, When someone questions another s knowledge or motives, they should at least have the answers. Royce is famous for questioning others without supplying answers.

    besides you would have to be acquainted with the long running discussion between Royce and I to understand, I guarantee Royce gives as much as he receives. Royce can take care of himself, you don’t need to worry about that.

  27. laymond Says:

    Royce I am still waiting for the answers to my questions, maybe Anonymous can point them out to me. I can’t find them.
    I will ask in a different way, you say Jesus is God, so did God sacrifice himself,? and to whom did God sacrifice himself,? did he sacrifice himself to himself? or to mankind.?

    I’m just asking to you the same question you ask of others. quote “I am wondering…What do traditionalists, like Mac and Phil think Christ accomplished when he offered himself as a sacrifice for sins?”
    I only find the phrase “sacrifice for sins” twice within the New Testament writings.

    Heb:10:12: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

    If you notice the Hebrew writer referrers to this sacrifice as “a man” not a god. I actually believe the better descriptive words here would have been (after he had BEEN offered) God gave his son.

  28. randall Says:

    I appreciate that this is a discussion between two differing perspectives within the CofC. I currently attend a CofC and have as substantial a CofC pedigreee as most anyone that comments here. However, there are e some issues that arise unintentionally from the four people presenting for the two sides.

    The title of the site is GraceConversation, but I see little emphasis placed on grace as it relates to our coming to salvation, nor our remaining there, though there is an exhortation to be more gracious in who we regard as brothers and sisters. But being gracious in that sense is different than the biblical doctrine of grace.

    I do understand that you don’t think it appropriate address the doctrine of eternal security nor the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. I am not suggesting that you should directly address that as all four of you deny the doctrines. (Though you do not speak for the entire denomination. There are other CofC folks that comment here that do affirm perseverence of the saints.)

    I beleive the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is one that the progresives claim to adhere to and I am suggeting that is contradicted (at least partially/applied inconsistently) by some of the material posted here by the pregressives. The progressives state they are Arminian but talk just like the semi-Pelagianism of the conservatives – they just allow a little more latitude on some specificis.

    Hereafter, I will respect your request to leave this topic alone, but I hardly see the value of trying to convert some semi-Pelagians to be a little more tolerant on a few specifics while missing the larger point of grace. Again, y’all chose to title this site GraceConversation.

  29. Richard GF Says:

    Greetings in Christ from sunny California, for at least one more day or so,

    You know and most of us know that the “label” you receive often depends on which side of the person you are standing.

    I however from reading some of this that the progressives are not church of Christ folks at all.

    However, as I read from some one else and from my own experience–“progressives” are tolerant of conservatives except when they are exempted from the Kingdom of God by said group.

    That is one of the primary issues with the denominations with the c of Christ.

    Apostasy takes place–when you cut through all the long worded, long winded explanations—when folks now want God to save them…but on their explanation and understanding of the texts i.e. progressives do fit this understanding.

    Everyone here fails to grasp the power and cunning of our common adversary.

    Like the Jews–who believed and acted the same way with the Mosaic law–They insisted that they knew the law better than God and as a result–inserted their man made scribal laws as God breathed–while ignoring the clear and plain teaching of the texts,

    The big problem that Jesus had and I see here is that folks are just not willing to believe that it could be them. Like the Jews they like and unfortunately “believe” their explanatio of the texts.

    The churches of Christ are somehow blessed with two real extremes one on the extreme right and the extreme left and one other group. The wantabe’s who have left and seek justification for their actions.

    Now, the last group is the “audience” or the group between the two opposing poles of thinking.

    For the progressives, you folks have just got to have long involved sometimes convulted explanations which you must then accept and believe and teach.

    The ultra right on the other hand…cannot accept any thing other than what they have been taught to teach.

    Jam 1:11 For the sun ariseth with the scorching wind, and withereth the grass: and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his goings.
    Jam 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him.
    Jam 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man:
    Jam 1:14 but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.
    Jam 1:15 Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death.
    Jam 1:16 Be not deceived, my beloved brethren.
    Jam 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.

    Whether on the left, right, the middle or a wantabee pay attention to these verses.

    One is lost when one reaches this point–end of story.

    I have read that now folks who teach the tradtional view of MDR are guilty of teaching the doctrines of devils\demons–but they cannot believe not accept that thought as having any merit.

    I have watched folks who just cannot live without the instrument in their worship–give such explanations that are truly the doctrines of devils in an attempt to get the saints to concede to their wisdom of thinking.

    Finally, a lot of this automatically goes away when everyone keeps trying to kill off the other side using the Mosaic law in order to do so.

    Well, have to take wife to walwart for some new duds since the medical procedures are over and then begin packing to return home.

    You all need to get closer together on your basic terms and keep each other in those parameters.

    Richard

  30. Royce Says:

    If you will read ALL of the book of Hebrews you just might get it. It is one of the most clear presentations of what God has done for wicked sinners in the Bible.

    I can’t make you or anyone else believe the Bible account of Jesus Christ. Over and over, now for years I suppose, I have been presenting the preminent Christ who alone can save and you have consistantly rejected Him and His work for you. That is a very sad thing.

    Royce

  31. laymond Says:

    I agree Royce the book of Hebrews is a good place to start to understand just who Jesus was, and is. why don’t we start with

    Heb:7:24: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
    25: Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

  32. Rob Woodfin Says:

    While Jay makes a valid point that there must be limits on the scope of this discussion to keep it managable and focused, Anonymous and Randall hit the nail on the head, I believe, when they question whether conservatives really see this as a debate with “the progressive wing of the Church of Christ.”

    Once someone has “gone off the deep end,” he may be allowed to remain on the church role for the purpose of preserving a decent contribution, but I suspect more than a few of the non-conservatives reading this would readily agree that they are treated by the conservatives in their congregations (at best) more like denominational visitors than “fellow Christians.”

    Having “no divisions among us” forbids the conservatives from fellowshipping anyone who doesn’t agree with them, does it not? (I couldn’t find the facetious symbol on my keyboard, so I ended that last line with a question mark, even though it wasn’t a real question.) And since one of the subtopics in this discussion is ecumenism, then we progressives have seemingly already apostatized to the “them” side by suggesting that we would even fantasize about fellowshipping “them.”

    I think Randall’s challenge, however politely put, begs consideration. Whether or not we label this blog an “internal dispute,” do we by our daily conversations cause those outside our tradition to infer (perhaps unnecessarily) that we don’t really consider them worthy of grace? This is not a gauntlet I’m throwing at Jay’s feet but my own. How is it possible for anyone to have a fruitful conversation with me if they misunderstand who I think they are? And by the same token, what influence can I really expect to have on people who parenthetically edit my name, (he says he is a) Christian?

  33. Royce Ogle Says:

    Why Laymond? Because he is referred to as a man? He is a man, our man in heaven interceeding for us forever.

    Did you notice the words that dash your statements that Jesus is not God? Only God saves, according to your own words. This verse is clearly talking about Jesus and it says of him “he is able to save them to the uttermost…”. The reason He can save, He can live forever, His name is above every name, He is king of kings and Lord of Lords is that He is God.

    He created everything, He said before Abraham was “I AM”, he forgave sins, he commanded the weather, He is called both saviour and God, so why is it again that you don’t believe that the one who was “God with us” is not God?

  34. Jay Guin Says:

    Royce and laymond,

    How about I set up a place over at OneInJesus for your discussion on the Nicene Creed? This isn’t really the place.

  35. Royce Says:

    Jay,

    You have been very, very patient. I accept this rebuke and apologize.

    In Christ’s love,
    Royce

  36. laymond Says:

    Jay said, “But he’s saved. Indeed, he’s much more saved than when he was baptized — and so I must accept him as a brother in Christ.”

    Jay, can you please explain what you meant by “much more saved” are we saved in increments, reminds me of what Royce said about sinning by degree. is this something regular Christians should know about? or is this a thing only known by progressive Christians.

  37. Jay Guin Says:

    laymond,

    Paul is the one who said “much more.” I’m just quoting the apostle (Rom 5:8-10).

    My theory is that he has reference to the work of the Spirit, who works in us to complete the work begun at our conversion.

    Todd has reminded me of this passage —

    (1 Pet 1:3-5) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

    Somehow, God’s power shields us. Again, the reference could be to the Spirit, or the fact that God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond our power to endure. It’s hard to be doctrinnaire. It’s just that the scriptures are abundantly clear that our standing before God is less perilous having been saved than at the moment of our salvation.

  38. Richard GF Says:

    Greetings from 117degree warm California,
    you stated..
    RPC, I am not sure it would be helpful to include the “radical ultra conservatives” in the conversation. From my experience, discussion is usually the last thing on their mind. Pronouncements is more their preferred method of communication.

    My Observation– who do you think Mac and Phil are–they most certainly do not reflect the middleof the road here at all.

    They are a lot like you–except at the other end of the scale.

    People can discuss the issues–without having to “walk together”.

    To apostasize one must sin– and the progressives here are bad at not understanding the word “right” righteous and how to apply it.

    Guys, only in your minds is there “degrees” of being saved.

    Remember the lost Jews–they took their man made scribal laws and replaced the Mosaic law with them causing them to be lost.

    Their own man made laws apostasized them and they knew it not.

    Then there is the story that Jesus taught the Jews about the good samaritan–which the extreme conservative would do well to reflect upon. Again, they would not “see” themselves in that manner..but because one does not see does not necessarily make it good.

    Richard GF

  39. Richard GF Says:

    Greetings Royce,

    It is indeed difficult to expect much when the one expecting “expects” answers that they want.

    Any Rational informed person–would do well to question all that goes on here–

    BTW–could it just possibly be that God saves sinners in a way that you are not espousing?

    Richard GF

  40. Royce Says:

    Jay,

    While it is true that the Spirit is at work in every believer and there are dozens of wonderful promises that show just how secure one in Christ is, I disagree that somehow we “are more saved” or that our standing is “less perilous” than when we are first saved (justifed).

    A pregnant woman is no more so at 3 months than she is at 30 minutes. What keeps bleeding through is that salvation is not sure and depends largely upon the performance of the believer. That is not the case and if it was every last one of us would ultimately be lost. None of us who walks in the light does so perfectly.

    I am beginning to see less and less difference between the two sides here. Its just that in the traditionalists view our common salvation is more perilous and on the progressives side it is less perilous. There is no real security on either side.

    “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him (Christ).” Is it that he is able but not willing?

    Royce

  41. Royce Says:

    Richard GF,

    I find you a tiny bit…well more than a tiny bit, hard to follow. I don’t know the intent of your statemnts.

    The answer to the question is “NO”.

    Royce

  42. Jay Guin Says:

    Royce,

    I’m only quoting Paul —

    (Rom 5:8-10) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

    If “much more … saved” doesn’t mean much more saved, what does it mean?

    It seems to me that the statement anticipates Paul exhultation in chapter 8 —

    (Rom 8:31-39) What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

    35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  43. laymond Says:

    Jay, you could be right, and I know what a Christian should do, but in my view, and in my years I have seen many come to God through Jesus and baptism, and none I have seen are more faithful and jubilant than when they come up out of the water, it seems they experience relief, and are anxious to share with others. I can’t see how a soul could be more saved than at the moment when all sins are lifted from them. like a new born baby until that first sin after baptism. but it becomes old hat and the new wares off, and it becomes easier to accept what Royce says, there is nothing you can do, it is Jesus job now, you have accomplished what he asked of you,and he promised, don’t worry be happy.
    No I see no time where we can be more saved than when we come out of that watery grave, we don’t even need to ask forgiveness for sin, we don’t have any.

  44. Jerry Starling Says:

    “How much more shall we be saved”
    Royce & Jay,

    In Romans 5:9 & 10, both times “shall be saved” appears, it is the 3rd person, plural, future passive indicative of Sozo (to save).

    Paul is not saying that there are greater degrees of salvation. Rather, his point is that if God has done so much to bring us into a saved relationship with Him, we can be certain that He is even more willing to keep us saved.

    I really believe all of the discussion about “degrees of salvation” is off point. As Royce said, either you are saved or you are not. But as Jay points out, there is a “much more” involved.

    We could paraphrase Paul to say, “Now that God has saved us, and we are no longer His enemies but are justified by His Son through His death, how much more can we be sure that we shall continue to be saved by Jesus through His life [which is in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit]!”

  45. Jerry Starling Says:

    Lamond,
    Perhaps new Christians are more exuberant when they first come out of the water because we have taught them well that God forgives them in baptism.

    But we do not do as good a job of teaching them that He keeps them saved day by day. As they begin to see that they still sin, they lose the joy of salvation they once had in a general worry that they are not measuring up.

  46. Royce Says:

    Jay,

    You can’t be more saved in the same way you can’t be more born. Those who are born again are born again.

    I have two grand daughters who are adopted. (One of the pictures given in the Bible to describe our relationship to God)

    Before their parents knew anything about them other than that they were girls, one Mexican and one bi racial, they loved them and took the necessary steps to complete the adoption process. They were fully daughters and can’t be more daughters than at the very first.

    But since they have entered that relationship, “How much more” is their well being looked after? “How much more” is their place in the family cherished? Because their parents are not God, they are even loved more now than at the first.

    Paul is making a contrast. If while we were enemies Christ reconciled us to the Father, “How much more” can we expect the salvation to be completed since we are sons?
    “How much more” fully can we live by His life?

    God loves sinners but those who are in his family he loves like he loves Jesus.(John 17:23) The destiny of every son is that he will be saved from the wrath of God in the end.

    Thanks for your time,
    Royce

  47. laymond Says:

    In Jay’s comment to Rich on July 17 at 9:46 PM he said ; “ There is a great difference between accountability and being damned for not knowing God’s will as well as the holder of a doctorate in theology.”
    So not having such a doctorate, maybe I will be forgiven when I can’t understand, how Jay came up with “he’s much more saved than when he was baptized”, from reading the following.

    Rom: 5:8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    9: Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
    10: For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

    I’m sorry, maybe if I had that “doctorate in theology.” ?
    1 Cor: 3:19: For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

  48. Jay Guin Says:

    3rd person, plural, future passive indicative means it’s correctly translated as “shall be saved.”

    He twice says we “shall be saved” “much more.” “Much” intensifies “more,” and you’d think “more” would be sufficient to make a mere comparison. But Paul clearly wants to make a strong statement, and he chooses his words for that very purpose.

    The challenge isn’t to make the language go away, but to conform our theology to Paul’s language.

    I think the answer is found in chapter 5:1-5 —

    Rom 5:1-5) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

    Vv. 1-2 summarize the gospel. But vv. 3-4 take us in a surprising direction. We have this good news, but thus who are justified may still find suffering in this life.

    Paul then explains that because of the gospel, we can rejoice in even our sufferings, because they lead to growth in Christian graces, leading ultimately to hope.

    Hope thus comes from being transformed in such a way that the trials of life make us stronger and even more likely to persevere to the end.

    How does this remarkable thing happen? Because God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. That’s what makes it happen.

    Now, Paul won’t fully explain how this works until chapter 8 (this whole sequence anticipates chapter 8). But it’s clear enough even this early in the letter that God’s love is in us through his indwelling Spirit — and this Spirit allows even suffering to lead to hope.

    Now, it’s only hope because we are confident of the outcome. This confidence comes not from our own strength or merit, but the assurance of God’s love within us — which gives us strength.

    Rom 5:6) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

    Paul now looks back to how we were before we were saved. We were “powerless.” Why “powerless”? Because we didn’t possess the Spirit.

    (Rom 5:7) Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.

    “Might possibly dare” is redundant in the Greek, too. Paul begins a series of repetitions to emphasize his point. God has done a remarkable thing in Christ, because Christ died for the unrighteous.

    The point is how utterly unmerited our initial salvation was.

    (Rom 5:8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    The intensity of God’s love is therefore shown by Christ’s willingness to die for sinners, the ungodly, the not-righteousness, and even enemies of God.

    (Rom 5:9-10) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

    “Justified” and “reconciled” are past tense. It’s already happened. We didn’t deserve and we had no reason to expect them, but they happened.

    As reconciled people, and in God’s eyes, no longer sinners, no longer ungodly, but righteous and even friends of Gods — indeed, his children — the salvation should be that much more assured.

    We had no right to expect to be saved before, but now we are family. Indeed, we’ve been incorporated into Christ himself (c. 6 will explain this).

    If by “saved” Paul means “forgiven,” then it’s hard to see how we can be “much more” forgiven. And the Churches of Christ, and evangelicalism in general, have always emphasized personal forgiveness to the near exclusion of all other blessings of salvation.

    In this case, we can see from the immediate context — and the grammar — at least some of what Paul has in mind. He speaks in the future tense. He’s speaking our being saved at the Judgment, not being forgiven right now.

    And this, of course, is the direction of vv. 1-5, where he speaks of our hope not disappointing us, that is, of our not failing to make it to heaven. “Hope” looks to the future (8:24).

    Therefore, Paul is saying (at least in part) that we are more likely to persevere and be saved in the end today than we were when we were first saved.

    Why is this? Because we have the Spirit. We received the Spirit when we were saved, and the Spirit empowers us to persevere. The Spirit turns suffering into hope.

    But it’s more than that. We also have had time for the Spirit to work within us, to circumcise our hearts, to pour God’s love evermore into us. We are more and more like Jesus than when we began.

    The journey can be hard, but it has its rewards. I can look at my newborn baby and delight in the birth and the expectations, but I can look at my 18 year old son and see my values imprinted on him. 18 years later he is much more able to make it to the end in good shape.

    Paul’s point is that we should not see our Christian lives as beginning in perfection and then being a struggle just to keep our noses above water. We shouldn’t look back on our conversion as when we were the very closest to God!

    Rather, our journey is not from God but both with God and toward God. We grow in God because God circumcises our hearts with his Spirit and we follow the Spirit’s leading.

    Therefore, we are much more saved because we are much closer to the goal — not because death is nearer, but because we are nearer to God already.

    The assurance is not in our own merit but in seeing God’s work within us — and if God is willing to work with us this way, surely he will work in us to finish the course!

    We skip to c. 8 —

    (Rom 8:17-18) Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

    Paul again associates present sufferings with assurance of salvation (we don’t preach this much, do we?) But the end is not coming to glory — it’s the glory that is already within us being revealed.

    (Rom 8:28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

    And Paul speaks of God’s care for those who are his. We don’t have to make it on our own. God works in countless ways to help us make it to the end.

    And so — who is more saved? The newly born Christian or the Christian who has walked with God for decades?

    We tend to think the experienced Christian may have many unrepented sins charged to his account and so be less saved than the one just baptized. Paul says you’re more saved when, by the Spirit, God has built your character and drawn you more deeply into the love of God. And I have to figure that Paul knows.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    Amen Royce!

  50. Royce Says:

    Jay,

    Ok, now I think is see what you are saying and agree.

    You are also correct about salvation, or justification being far more than just forgiveness. Many think that when we come to Christ that only our “past” sins are forgiven. Christ fixed not only all of our sins, but “sin” as a condition.

    If all Christ brings is forgiveness we are in bad shape because every one of us will sin again at some point and we are back at square one. Thank God not only are we forgiven but are also declared “righteous” and even “not guilty”, all on the basis of the life and dying of Jesus.

    Royce

  51. Jerry Starling Says:

    Jay,
    Thank you for eloquently and passionately saying what I was groping for, but could not quite express. The “much more” is the daily walk with Christ in the Spirit that transforms us into His likeness from glory to glory!

  52. Anonymous Says:

    Jay, I agree the much more is how much more we grow as the Spirit works in us transforming us to be more like Christ.

  53. Richard GF Says:

    Royce, greetings from sunny New Mexico,

    Well, sometimes I can be but not intentionally. And it has been years since I have bothered to set traps for the wary or unwary person. There is no profit{growth} in it.

    So–

    [1] Any one who is reading any of this would do well to question everything stated.

    [2] It seems from your writings that your “view” of salvation is not found in scripture ergo– the thought that God could be saving sinners in a way that you are not considering.

    Well, that does not get at it really–so let’s try it this way–

    For the conservatives–your point seems to be that they do not grasp salvation which again raised the issue–that God could save sinners in a way that you are not seeing”.

    Oh–you are not the easiest person to stay with either–

    Richard GF


  54. Whew! That was a lot to read! I think I found the motherlode of discussion though. *lol*

    At the moment, I only have one question. If I claim to know something about the teachings in the Bible, does that make me arrogant for claiming such?

    E.g. “I know what the word ‘gospel’ means.”

    As I understand it, God wants us to gain knowledge and it is rather fruitless to attack someone, calling them arrogant, when they state that they know something and even state they believe others don’t know that something. It is a statement of what they believe to be fact, and then discussion commences to show that statement to be true or false.

    What I’m saying is this: Saying something like, “…you seem to have all the answers. Why not inform the rest of us…” is not useful.

    I’m going to make a lot of knowledge claims. I have been studying the Bible since I could read. I know a lot of things about it. There are a lot of things I don’t know about it, also. But just because I know something, doesn’t mean I’m a know it all, or have ALL of the answers. It also doesn’t mean that because I don’t know everything, I don’t know anything.

    Whatever. 🙂 I’m just musing out loud here.

    Have a great day!

    In Truth and Love,

    Ernie


  55. […] What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Conclusion, by Jay Guin […]


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