Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Other Side, Part III: Other Passages Regarding Losing Faith

In my last post, I tackled the question, “Can a person lose faith?”, and found the answer to be “yes.” I looked at Luke 8 and demonstrated that, in the explanation of His Parable of the Sower, Jesus made it clear that certain soil did not receive the word so that they could “believe and be saved.” Jesus linked belief to salvation in Luke 8, and I think we would be wise to follow suit. So even the rocky soil experienced some of the blessings of salvation in Christ...only to turn around and walk away because of temptation.

There are a number of other passages that deal with this as well. Among them, a good one is the sticky passage of Hebrews 10:

“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
‘For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.’

The Greek word for “draw back” is “huposteiletai,” which comes from the word “hupostello.” This word means “to draw back,” “to shrink from declaring, to conceal, to dissemble,” “to withdraw oneself, to be timid, to cover, to shrink,” etc.

My question would be, “How does one “withdraw” from something they were never a part of to begin with? Within its context, Hebrews is written to Jewish converts who are scattered throughout the world. So to tell them to not shrink back was to tell them to endure persecution, even if it involved being refugees in the world.

In verse 39, the writer contrasts “withdrawing to perdition” to “believing to the saving of the soul.” The word for “perdition” here is “apoleia,” which is “destruction.” So to withdraw is to go back to “destruction,” to go back to the first state---a life without Christ, bound for Hell. But the person that goes on to salvation (“the saving of the soul”) is the one that continues believing, that doesn’t withdraw from Christ and their faith in Him.

Peter talks about those who come to Christ but then return to the world:

“They [false teachers] have forsaken the right way and gone astray...” (2 Peter 2:15, NKJV)

The Greek word here for “forsaken” is “kataleipontes,” which is a verb plus the letters “ing.” The verb comes from “kataleipo,” which means “to leave behind, TO DEPART FROM, to abandon, to NEGLECT.” The definition of “kataleipontes” as “neglect” makes for an interesting connection between 2 Peter 2 and Hebrews 2:

“how shall we escape if we NEGLECT SO GREAT A SALVATION, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him” (Heb. 2:3, NKJV).

The word for “neglect” here is “amelesantes,” which is a passive verb, translated as “having neglected.” The verb here comes from the word “ameleo,” meaning “to disregard, to neglect.” Both 2 Peter 2 and Hebrews 2 show that salvation can be tossed away, disregarded, thrown away. I don’t advocate believers doing this; but I must affirm what Scripture says when it says that there are some who could do this---and that they cannot escape God’s wrath if they do so.

There is another passage from 2 Peter that clearly shows us the person who leaves the world for Christ and then goes back to the world:

“For if, after THEY HAVE ESCAPED THE POLLUTIONS OF THE WORLD THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, they are AGAIN ENTANGLED IN THEM AND OVERCOME, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than HAVING KNOWN IT, TO TURN FROM THE HOLY COMMANDMENT delivered to them” (2 Pet. 2:20-21, NKJV).

We see in this passage that there are those who “escaped the pollutions of the world,” meaning that they had come out of the world. But then, we see them “again entangled in them and overcome,” which means that, not only do they go back to the world, but they get caught up in the immorality and sinfulness of the world. How can anyone read this passage and deny that such persons once experienced blessings of salvation?

These are just a few of the passages that pertain to attacks on the so-called Doctrine of Eternal Security. In my next post, I will deal with Arminius’s response to the issue of falling away, as well as Calvin’s Doctrine of Temporary Faith.

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