The Warning Conundrum

A conundrum is a difficult or challenging problem. And if any book in the NT presents a conundrum it is the writing we know as Hebrews. Filled with incredibly profound  theological depictions of Christ and His work, it also has some of the most difficult passages for the reader to wrestle with. There is significant debate on who wrote the book, where the original audience lived, and to a lesser degree when it was written. But the real challenge is trying to determine what the warning passages are warning us about.

By Beeblebrox (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Picture by Beeblebrox via Wikimedia Commons

There is even debate as to which passages are to be considered warning passages (see this list here).

The warning passages confront the scholar and lay reader alike.

  • What does it mean to “hold fast our confidence”, “confession” or “hope” to the end (3:6, 14; 4:14; 6:18; 10:23)?
  • What happens if we fail to heed these warnings?
  • What punishment will we fail to escape (2:3; 10:28-29; 12:25)?
  • What rest will we fail to enter (3:11,18-19; 4:3-5)?
  • What does it mean to be part of “God’s house” (3:6) or to “share in Christ”? (3:14) or to “share in the Holy Spirit” (6:4)? How does enduring confidence and falling away affect how we participate in these things?
  • What does the author mean by sanctification? And is that something that is  considered in process, completed, and/or reversible (2:11; 10:10, 14, 29; 13:12)?

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The Apostasy Vortex

From a scientific point of view a vortex is a circular, spiral motion in water or air that pulls things toward its center. The term is often used for topics that draw or pull people in and results in a challenging situation.

By Robert D Anderson (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)  via Wikimedia Commons

By Robert D Anderson (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Recently I taught a lesson on the Hebrews warning passages and the inter-related topics of eternal security, faith, and apostasy, which created a vortex within the classroom.

In this post I hope to outline three major views of eternal security and how they relate to enduring faith and apostasy.

Before we do that, we will need to make an assertion and then define three terms.

While Christians may differ on how one comes to faith, all would agree that salvation is conditioned on a person having faith (John 3:16, 36; 6:47).

whoever believes has eternal life. – John 6:47

The doctrine of Eternal Security holds that if a person has been genuinely saved, then that  person cannot forfeit salvation. They will receive eternal life. However, how eternal security relates to the related doctrines of apostasy, and enduring (or persevering) faith varies among proponents. Continue reading

5 Things John says about Jesus in 1 John

In the prologue to the epistle we know as 1 John, the Apostle writesThe Apostle John

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, … which we have touched with our hands … we proclaim to you

Here are 5 things that John proclaims to us about Jesus in this letter:

Jesus is the Christ

  • contra the claims of the false teachers (2:22), John boldly proclaims that Jesus is the Christ (1:3; 2:1; 3:23; 4:2; 5:1, 6, 20). All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son sent by the Father to be the Savior, have eternal life (3:23; 4:14; 5:1,12 cmp John 3:16; 11:27).
  • John does not go to great lengths to explain the term Christ – which means Messiah — in this epistle. But it is evident from his Gospel that Messiah refers to the Savior and King promised to Israel and written about in the Scriptures (John 1:41; 4:25; 7:27,31,42; 12:34).

Jesus is Righteous Continue reading