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).

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Grace for All: Is Faith just a Moment in Time Decision?

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

Is saving faith the “act of a moment” or is it instead an attitude of a lifetime? That is the question that noted Arminian Steve Witzki tackles in his essay in Grace for All. Witzki relies on Robert Shank’s work Life in the Son, which presents a Classical Arminian view of eternal security.

There are three primary yet different views on eternal security and apostasy (see this link). In this essay, Wtizki presents these views under the headings the Moderate Calvinist view, the Classical Arminian view, and the Reformed Calvinist view.

The Moderate Calvinist view (as well as the Free Grace Movement) hold that a true believer can fall away from the faith (commit apostasy) and still be saved (possess eternal life).  The latter two views both hold that an enduring faith is required to be saved. An apostate would not possess eternal life. The Classical Arminian view is that an apostate has forfeited their salvation. The Reformed Calvinist view holds that the apostate was not ever really saved.

I don’t particularly like these labels, since the Arminian view, while advocating enduring faith, encompasses both the idea that one can forfeit salvation and the idea that one was never truly saved.


However, Witzki doesn’t focus on the differences between the latter two views noting that they are very similar. Instead, the essay targets the flaws in the Moderate Calvinist view (including Joseph Dillow and Charles Stanley).

Many believe that saving faith is the act of a moment – … They believe that one grand and holy moment of decision ushers one into an irrevocable state of grace in which he is unconditionally secure.

However others …

are persuaded that saving faith is not the act of a moment, but the attitude of a life; the initial decision must be perpetually implemented throughout the life of the believer

The question presented in Shank’s book and quoted in Witzki’s essay contrasts these two views asking who is right? Continue reading

Grace for All: Paul, the Potter, and Perspective? (Romans 9)

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

Dr. James D. Strauss, who passed in 2014, was Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Lincoln Christian Seminary (link). His essay, edited by John D. Wagner tackles the challenging argument that Paul presents in Romans 9.

This chapter starts off a section that is widely accepted as starting in chapter 9 and continuing through to the end of chapter 11.

By (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

By via Wikimedia Commons

The section starts off with Paul’s concern for the Jewish people:

For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites … (Rom 9:3-4 NASB)

A concern that is marked throughout the section, as it is expressed again in chapter 10:

Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. (Rom 10:1)

and again in chapter 11:

… Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them … (Rom 11:13-14)

It is within this context that Paul writes about God’s sovereign right to have mercy on whom He will, and harden whom He will (Rom 9:18) and to form His creation as He desires.

Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? (Rom 9:21)

In Arminius’s examination of Roman’s 9 he notes that it is important to settle the main thesis or question that Paul is addressing. He proposes the challenge that Paul will seek to refute is as follows:

Does not the word God become of none effect, if those of the Jews, who seek righteousness, not of faith, but of the law, are rejected by God.

Is that the right thesis that Paul is refuting?

On what idea does Paul base his argument? Continue reading