Posted in True Christianity, tagged accountability, Bible study, Christ's return, Christian life, Christianity, church, excuse, faith, God's Word, ignorance, Jesus, judgement, judgment, punishment, readiness, reward, Scripture on August 25, 2008 |
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I found it interesting while reading through the Old Testament law that the commands that God gave His people He expected them to keep. Ignorance of the law was not an excuse. As soon as the person who had broken the law found out about it, he wasn’t given a freebie and told, “Since you didn’t know the law, it’s okay this time, but next time do better.” Instead, once the person found out that he had broken the law, he was required to make atonement for his transgression. I found that principle interesting. Though he acted in ignorance, he was still a transgressor who had to make atonement. Ignorance of God’s law was not an excuse from keeping it.
I pondered this principle for quite some time, thinking of the state of the church. There are so many people who profess to be Christians and yet, they don’t know God’s Word. They don’t study it. They are ignorant of what it says. One night while studying the Bible with my husband, I stumbled across something else that Christ said that seemed to further demonstrate this theme. In Luke 12, Christ tells His disciples a parable about a master returning to home to his servants from a wedding banquet, telling them to watch and be ready for their master’s return.
“The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:42-18
So 3 types of servants are briefly mentioned here:
- The servant who knows and does his master’s will.
- The servant who abuses his master’s absence and mistreats his fellow servants and becomes a drunkard.
- The servant who does not know his master’s will and in ignorance does “things deserving punishment.”
Notice the fates of these servants:
- The servant who knew and did his master’s will was rewarded.
- The servant who knew and did not do his master’s will was severely punished.
- The servant who did not know his master’s will and did not do it was also punished, albeit, lightly.
So that brings us back to main point of this post: ignorance is not an excuse. Those ignorant of God’s Word will be punished still.
God expects us, His servants, to know His will and requirements by studying His Word. Saying to God “but I didn’t know” when we have access to the Scriptures is completely inexcusable.
Let us study His Word so that we may do His will and be ready for the Master’s return!
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In the previous post entitled Is God Able to Keep People from Falling Away?, I posted the answer J.C. Thibodaux gave to TurretinFan on this topic in their debate about eternal security and the warning passages of Scripture. As the debate has continued, TurretinFan has asked JCT about how Christ’s intercession affects our salvation:
Given your comment, “God can do whatever He pleases within the range of His holy nature, nobody prevents Him,” is it pleasing and within the range of Christ’s holy nature to save to the uttermost those whom he wishes to save by making intercession for them?
Most definitely. Just as the priests in the Old Testament made intercession for the people, so Christ eternally makes intercession for His, and is our Advocate with the Father if we sin, and the Mediator of the better covenant God has made with us. Unlike the Levitical priests which were imperfect and subject to death, Christ lives forever and is perfect, and so can save to the utmost, in contrast with the animal sacrifices by the Levite priests that could not. He being the sole way to God, our salvation wholly relies upon His mediation between ourselves and the Father. The question as far as the conditionality of salvation is concerned is not whether Christ makes intercession for us, but whether He’ll do so for one who departs from Him. He indicates that He won’t, as He states,
“But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33, similar statement made in 2 Timothy 2:12)
Some may argue that Christ’s intercession will imperatively keep all genuine believers from apostatizing, but such an idea is not found in scripture. Indeed the fact that His confession of us before the Father is conditioned upon our confession of Him indicates conditionality. Others point to Christ’s prayer in John 17,
…keep through Your name those whom You have given Me… (John 17:11b)
The conditional nature of salvation comes to light when one considers that God keeps us through faith (1 Peter 1:5), which we are exhorted to hold fast to, and told that not all have done so,
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck… (1 Timothy 1:19)
It must be noted that Paul does not distinguish the latter as some superficial, ineffectual form of faith; nor would the exhortation to hold to faith be coherent if no one with true faith could ever forfeit it. The theme of continuance in the faith of Christ as being necessary to our being forgiven runs throughout the New Testament, many wicked acts such as unforgiveness being incompatible with saving faith:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
This sentiment is also reflected in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. When scriptural warnings (including the three in question) indicate consequences of damnation for believers who unrepentantly commit certain sins, taking them as serious and violable is not salvation “by works” as was erroneously insinuated in the opening statements –such actions necessarily reflect a heart no longer in union with Christ.
So Christ saving those He wishes to the uttermost by making intercession for them is perfectly in line with conditional security, since the only ones He will confess before the Father are those who hold fast to their confession of Him.
(posted with J.C. Thibodaux’s permission)
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I have been following the debate that J.C. Thibodaux and TurretinFan have been having on the issue of eternal security vs. conditional security and more specifically what purpose the warning passages in Scripture serve. Since TurretinFan’s question and JCT’s answer go straight to the heart of the debate between eternal securists and conditional securists, and since I thought JCT’s answer was very well-stated, with his permission I’m posting his response:
Given your comment, “God desires that none of His apostatize,” (yet seemingly God might not prevent apostasy) is God able to keep people from falling away into apostasy or does something (man’s free will?) stop God from keeping them from falling?
God can do whatever He pleases within the range of His holy nature, nobody prevents Him. If God didn’t care if we apostatized, He wouldn’t give us sustaining grace enough to endure. The fact that men can still fall away despite His provision is easily reconciled by the fact that He doesn’t choose to apply His grace irresistibly. I’d pointed out this concept in 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states that God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure. ‘Can’ does not amount to ‘will;’ believers sometimes do fall, but due to our own failures, not want of God’s help.
His provision is evidenced in several passages often mistaken for support of eternal security. John 10:27-29 and Romans 8:35-39 for instance express that no one will ever tear us away from God (as countless martyrs for Christ have by their deaths triumphantly testified), but nowhere does scripture indicate that it’s impossible to willfully walk away from Him, since apostates themselves don’t separate/pluck themselves from God -scripture clarifies that God the Father Himself severs those who don’t remain in Christ (John 15:1-6). Hence, arguments such as the sealing with the Holy Spirit guaranteeing eternal security miss the mark as to how one can be lost: Since the sovereign God has both power and prerogative to cast out those who don’t abide, His own seal is no bar to Him doing so. Having the Spirit is both a gift and responsibility, for those in which the Spirit dwells are the temple of God,
…If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. (1 Corinthians 3:17b)
According to the riches of His grace, God preserves us, sustains us, and works in us to will and do His good pleasure, yet the apostles still plead with us, “not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1b). God is able to keep us from stumbling and to make the weak in faith to stand (Romans 14:4), yet we are still told,
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)
It’s only by God’s grace that the heart can be established in persevering, but the scriptures never portray the operation of grace as something unconditional or irresistible. Grace to endure is never merited, nor is it inescapably instilled, but when enduring temptation it’s written,
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
So God is able to keep us from falling, but doesn’t choose to do so apart from our willing cooperation (we being freed by His grace to serve Him -Hebrews 12:28), and thus He warns us against the real dangers of apostasy and exhorts us to seek Him,
…be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:10b)
(J.C. Thibodaux and TurretinFan’s debates can be found at both of these sites: In Death or Life.org and at Turretin Debate Blog)
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Posted in About the blog on August 7, 2008 |
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I’d like to welcome my husband, J.C. Thibodaux, as a new contributor. I’ve invited him to come on board and help write on occasion. I don’t know how often you’ll see him, though, since he’s involved in a lot of other things already.
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Rhett had written an article that I really liked a few months back entitled The Children’s Crusade. I linked to it shortly after he wrote it but deleted my link when his blog went offline for a time. I am relinking to it because I find his analogy thought-provoking and agree with his conclusions on children and the public school system.
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On his website In Death or Life.org, J.C. Thibodaux has written a Biblically solid and informative article on Original Sin. His article is in response to popular Calvinist pastor John Piper’s writing on the subject on the imputation of Adam’s sin to mankind. To those interested in knowing more about the topic, I would definitely recommend reading this article.
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