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 (  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

Faith and Creed (Two views on Enduring Faith) – Part 2

In the prior post we took a look at the literary context and form of the creed found in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 evaluating Charles Stanley claim that this passage strongly supports the idea that enduring faith is not necessary for salvation.

Since the creed is considered older than the letter to Timothy I thought it would be interesting to see if the ideas in these statements were expressed in Jesus’ teachings.

If we died with him, we will also live with him.

This passage is primarily understood as referring to our being raised with Christ to new life because of our identification with Christ by faith. This draws from the same ideas expressed in Romans 6, particularly 6:5 and 6:8. These ideas are also found in Col 2:12-13.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Paul, continues to explain that because we are identifying ourselves with Christ’s death we should live for Him (Rom 6:11-14; Col 2:20;3:1-6).

The idea of dying and giving up our worldly desires, kingdoms, and even life so that we might live as a disciple was expressed by Jesus (Matt 10:38-39; 16:24-25).

If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake (dies for him) will find it (live for him).

If this teaching of Jesus is what the creed is trying to capture then those who identify with him (and find life) are contrasted with those who do not. This would give support to the third line of the creed referring to those who deny Christ as losing or being denied eternal life. Continue reading

Faith and Creed (Two views on Enduring Faith)

In his book, Eternal Security, Charles Stanley seeks to defend the idea that enduring faith is not necessary for salvation.

God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved – only an act of faith.

In chapter 10 he asks and answers in the affirmative the question: Does the Scripture actually teach that regardless of the consistency of our faith, our salvation is secure? In seeking to provide a basis for his answer of yes, Dr. Stanley says:

The clearest statement on this subject is issued in Paul’s second letter to Timothy (2:11-13). …

The apostle’s meaning is evident. Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy. Christ will remain faithful.

This passage captures, what most scholars consider, an existing creed (or hymn) used by the early church.

If we died with him, we will also live with him.
If we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we deny him, he will also deny us.
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.

If this passage is the clearest teaching that we don’t need enduring faith to be saved then it is this position that is in jeopardy. Not because this passage cannot be construed in the way Stanley and others in the Free Grace movement propose. But, because this passage is not explicit and thus open to other (and in my opinion better) interpretations. In this post we examine how some tackle this creed in light of the context and literary form.

Continue reading