Grace for All: What is Hebrews all about anyway?

This post is a part of a series that is examining each essay in the recently published book Grace for All. 

This is the final essay in the book Grace for All, and the second entry by Grant R. Osborne, the author. In this essay, Osborne notes that there are numerous questions about the book of Hebrews. We don’t know who the author was, who specifically it was written to, and where the original recipients were located. The warning passages in this book are also a topic of great debate (see some thoughts on that here).

This essay focuses on the main theme of the book, concluding:

The writer [of Hebrews] argues against a static Christianity that is content to dwell in the assurance of final inheritance. Such a faith is not faith at all; it inevitably stagnates into immaturity (5:13-14; 6:1) and leaves itself open to apostasy (6:4).

The emphasis of the essay is similar to the one by Steve Witzki arguing against the Moderate Calvinist/Free Grace assertion that saving faith is a moment in time decision that guarantees salvation even for the apostate. Osborne notes that even the high Christology that fills its pages is used as a means to encourage the readers to endure in their faith and not apostate.

This essay provides a good introduction to the view that Hebrews is teaching about the need to persevere in faith and avoid apostasy. However, those interested in this topic would need to pursue other works to grapple with these points in greater detail.

I will conclude with this large quote from the essay, which describes faith (emphasis added):

In Hebrews faith is the faculty to perceive the reality of the unseen world of God and to make it the primary object of one’s life. The whole of chapter 11 relates to the writer’s concept of salvation as a future-oriented gift. He uses the Old Testament faith-heroes as examples of his basic definition in v. 1 and as illustrations of his concept of salvation. They too had to persevere in accepting the future-thrust of salvation as a promise from God. They lived as through the future state was a present reality. Faith was simply accepting God’s word, believing it, and living in that light.

The lesson is therefore obvious. Salvation must be secured by persevering faith which grasps the future salvation and makes it a present reality. Faith must take hold of his promises in the midst of trials and suffering, trusting God in light of the blessings Christ has wrought.


3 thoughts on “Grace for All: What is Hebrews all about anyway?

    • Great question. The “Moderate Calvinist” view is what Geisler calls his view. It is covered in detail in his chapter in the Counterpoints book Four Views on Eternal Security. The label is terrible as it in no way resembles Classic Calvinism. In fact it redefines all the points in TULIP so they have none of their original meaning.

      Here is an excerpt:
      The final letter in the Calvinist’s TULIP is P for the perseverance of the saints, also known as eternal security. This means all regenerate persons will persevere to the end. … However, there is a difference between strong and moderate Calvinists here too…

      The book points to a table, under which moderates would say ”
      One need not be faithful to the end to have it.” while strong Calvinists would say “One must be faithful to the end to have it”.

      In a nutshell the view holds on perseverance, the idea that the elect are saved based on their initial decision of faith but do not necessarily persevere to the end.

      • Thanks. I would argue that the eternal security folks are not really Calvinists, then, but what would that accomplish? I appreciate the information.

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