Only Two Possibilities:
Eternal security is one of those issues you can’t ignore.
It involves salvation and, more specifically, whether or not you can count on it when you need it most, at death.
Some people believe once you’re saved you’re always saved. You can never lose it so there is no need to worry about keeping it. Others think there is no guarantee. It can be lost by any qualifying misstep, although there is debate as to where that line is drawn.
Settling the issue isn’t easy. You can throw out a few verses to prove whichever side you take but for every verse you quote there are plenty of reinterpretations to confuse things.
So I’ve decided to come at this from a different angle. I think much of the confusion can be cleared by taking an analytical/philosophical approach and that is the point of this post. I want to ask and answer pertinent questions. What you learn from this process is that once you ask one relevant question it opens the door to another and then another and eventually you have an avalanche of un-answerables.
When you do this for both sides you realize that one side fairs much better than the other.
Those of us who believe in “once-saved-always-saved” (yes, I’m one of those people) are very happy that it’s true. Those who don’t believe it have a lot of questions to answer most of which are not directly addressed in the Bible.
That fact alone should give you pause. If you have questions about how to keep your salvation intact – a very serious issue indeed – but you don’t have specific answers, then how can you be certain?
It doesn’t make sense that God would give us a salvation we could lose and then refuse to give us very clear, obvious, easily accessed and straight forward instructions on how to keep it.
Living with that uncertainty everyday would be enough to induce a nervous breakdown. Would a loving God be so cruel?
Thankfully, the opposite, eternal security (once saved, always saved), is a lot easier to live with and enables more productivity. You don’t need to worry about keeping your salvation so energy can be channeled into better less selfish pursuits.
You’re secure. You can relax. God will take care.
Sounds too good to be true, I know, and it doesn’t parallel life as we experience it but we are talking about something that doesn’t claim to parallel life. It is impossible without God. Every theory about salvation is too good to be true. Eternal security just happens to be the most rational choice.
But, as I said, thinking you can lose salvation raises many questions that the Bible just doesn’t answer. Let’s take a look. Read more
Zacharias And Simeon
Are Similar Yet Different
Both Add Richness
To The Story
There are many supporting characters in the Christmas Story. Some have very short roles but they all add richness to the plot. Because they are diverse, they symbolize different types of believers.
More on that later.
Two characters that illustrate this are Zacharias (Luke 1:5-25) and Simeon (Luke 2:21-35). They were alike in many ways but very different also. Neither could be called an unbeliever but each expressed their belief in different ways as the following comparison shows: Read more
Marriage Is Holy
Ceremony Or Not
I don’t like the word “holy.” Just hearing it gives me the creeps but don’t read too much into that.
I know the word is in the Bible, and I really do appreciate that, but the way it is used doesn’t always agree with how it is represented in the Bible. The application is very narrow. It doesn’t fit with everyday life. Let me explain.
The word “holy” is associated with synonyms like sacred, hallowed, revered, sanctified and consecrated. Another word distantly related is “solemn.” These are not commonly used words. They are religious terms and not just normal everyday religious terms. They are “inner sanctum” words. Institutional religion didn’t coin these words but it definitely owns them.
And the ominous nature of “holy” is compounded by the way it is used. When any ceremony – I don’t like that word either – is referred to as holy or sacred you get the idea that smiling or relaxing or enjoying the occasion is not allowed. These words are spoken only in a serious tone of voice and accompanied only by actions that are performed rigidly, well arranged, in a scripted manner. Robotic might apply.
The following wedding video illustrates the point. Scroll to the 53rd second if you’re in a hurry: Read more
“Where did Abraham get the idea
there was only one God?”
It’s not a surprising question given the polytheistic nature of today’s religious scene. Coming to belief for the modern individual is like shopping for just the right outfit only worse.
There are many different gods to choose from and once you settle on one you still must wade through the many different conflicting ideas popularized for the one you choose.
You’d need a guru to lead you along. Trying to keep track of it all is near impossible.
But did Abraham have the same problem? Are we to assume he also faced an endless list of gods?
The world was polytheistic in Abraham’s day for sure but rather than ask where Abraham got the idea of one God, a better question might be, “where did the multiple-god idea originate in the first place?”
We mustn’t assume that what we observe today was always true.
For example, where would Abraham, in the dawn of human history, get the idea there was only one God? Did Abraham coin the concept or did monotheists predate him and pass the idea down?
The evidence indicates the latter is true.
- It was one God who spoke to Adam and Eve.
- It was the same God who accepted Abel’s offering and confronted Cain.
- Who took Enoch.
- Who spoke to Noah.
- And led Abraham to the land of Canaan.
Abraham and his ancestors were familiar with only one God. There was no reason for him to expect there to be more. Only an overactive imagination would lead him to think otherwise.
And apart from what Abraham’s ancestors experienced and believed, is there anything in nature, in his day or ours, that suggests polytheism is true?
Is there any reason to believe that the control of a universe too vast to measure could be managed better by disparate, sometimes antagonistic multiple gods rather than by one?
Since Adam and Eve, and those who came after only dealt with one God, maybe we should see polytheism as the outgrowth of: Read more
Being Only Positive, Only Negative
or Only Neutral
Is Not Constructive
This is the second sermon in our “Stick” series in which sticks are used to illustrate things we should do or be as a church. The first sermon used “Chopsticks” to illustrate the functionality of the church. It emphasized the importance of each member’s committed effort in the work a church does.
Chopsticks work well only with coordination and practice and the same is true with church members.
This sermon, however, uses toothpicks to illustrate the importance of constructively critical interaction between the members. To do better we must get better. A toothpick symbolizes the decent and appropriate approach to finding and removing flaws.
So, the first message focused on function and the second focuses on relation.
To keep the picture clear it is important to start with a few passages of Scripture. We are talking about the church so it is important to have an idea what the Bible says about this organization.
That makes sense. Church is not my idea or your idea or just a good idea, it is God’s idea so we need to know what He says about it.
So let’s take a look.
The Church Is Functional
In Matthew chapter 16 and verses 19 and 20 Jesus was speaking to His disciples – core members of the church He started – and He said:
I will build my church (you guys), and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (you). 19 I will give you (the church) the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
There are a couple of interesting observations to take away from this passage.
- One, Jesus is the one building the church.
We, the church members, work but Jesus is ultimately the leader and builder. He makes things work together for our good. He does what we can’t do and brings about outcomes that we might not otherwise realize.
As builders with Christ we must be faithful, committed and determined to do our best but Jesus is in the lead. It’s kind of a paradox. He does the building but not without us. He works through people and for them.
- Two, this passage resonates with delegated authority and personal responsibility.
Jesus is the builder but we have the “keys” to the kingdom. The person with keys is trusted. God designates which doors are to be opened but “key” people unlock them. That’s power!
Simply put, having the keys means we are authorized to make decisions, initiate action and perform functions – binding and loosing. And to say we are authorized to do this means we are accountable if we don’t. Sitting around doing nothing is not an appropriate response to a passage like this. Read more