True vs False Believers

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by J.D., Jul 25, 2007.

  1. J.D.

    J.D.
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    I was reading Gill's "The Cause of God and Truth" and came across this:

    Notice the timeless issue of true vs false believers. Gill addresses the issue so well. And he cuts to the heart of modern soul winning controversies. He makes it clear that fire-escape professions are false. People who only want to escape hell, but have no love for Christ, are not converted. They may partake of the visible covenant - the local church - being baptised, coming on Sundays, learning the church jargon; but they have no love for the Lord Jesus. They are not converted.​

    Forget millinium salvation/rewards/punishment and a thousand years of purgatory. The unconverted do not make it. Hell is their home.​









     
    #1 J.D., Jul 25, 2007
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  2. Faith alone

    Faith alone
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    Hello JD,

    This commentary is regarding Hebrews 6. As I read Hebrews 6, I am convinced that the author (Barnabas?) is writing to genuine believers, who were falling away from a close walk with the Lord. Look at the words he uses:

    Hebrews 6:4-6 [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, tasted God's good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.

    These people...
    [/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]were once enlightened[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]tasted the heavenly gift[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]became companions (METAXOI) with the Holy Spirit[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]tasted God's good Word[/FONT]
    • [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]tasted the powers of the coming age[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]Earlier in Hebrews it says that Jesus "tasted death" for us. Does that mean that He didn't really die for us? [/FONT][FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]These people above who "tasted the heavenly gift" and "became companions with the Holy Spirit" surely are children of God! [/FONT][FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]Earlier the author referred to these readers as not growing in maturity as they should (Hebrews 5:11-14). And in the 1st few verses here we read about them:

    [/FONT]Hebrews 6:1, 2 Therefore, leaving the elementary message about the Messiah (Christ), let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

    These people knew the basics. They had come to believe ("faith in God"). Look at 5:11-14...

    Hebrews 5:11-14
    We have a great deal to say about this, and it's difficult to explain, since you have become slow to understand. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God's revelation. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature--for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
    [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]
    In 1 Peter when Peter referred to his readers needing meat, not just milk it was clear that they were Christians. The same should be understood here.



    That said, I understand what is being said about so many in our churches today who have never really come to believe in Christ. I just do not think the text he chose is appropriate.

    I am also concerned about Gill's comments about "modern soul-winning controversies." My concern is that people tend to add works in some manner to the gospel. That destroys the gospel. We are saved by simply believing in Christ. At that moment, we are re-born - born spiritually. Such should follow Christ, and that certainly is to be expected... not all do - faithfully. But great care should first be taken not to add to the gospel. And we do need to be very careful that the gospel we share is clearly understood. Does the seeker understand who Jesus claims to be? Does he recognize that he is a sinner? Does he understand that Christ paid the penalty for his personal sin?

    But... if the seeker thinks that he must turn over a new leaf, that faith in Christ is not enough, that it does not save, then he doesn't really understand the gospel. Let's all be careful not to add anything to the simple, beautiful gospel message: "faith alone in Christ alone." The rest has to do with discipleship. I personally am actively involved in discipling others. That IS very crucial. But let's distinguish between the gospel message and discipleship. IMO Gill appears to have been a bit sloppy about that. (Either that, or he is teaching that we are saved by works, and I am confident that was not his intent!)

    Thx,

    FA
    [/FONT]
     
    #2 Faith alone, Jul 26, 2007
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  3. J.D.

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    FA, very keen observations. Gill allows for a viable understanding of the passage as applying to those that are saved, much as you stated, but he clearly favors the one I posted. You can find his entire comments here: http://www.pbministries.org/books/gill/Cause_of_God_and_Truth/Part 1/section_50.htm

    I share your concern about the clarity of the Gospel. But if the Bible was silent on the "things which accompany salvation"(Heb 6:9), the I would be silent. I believe God saves his elect and He doesn't ask me my opinion on who I think the elect are. Some are saved on the death bed, and we never see fruit from their lives. But those he saves are changed. The test is not whether someone cuts their hair or stops wearing jeans or such stuff. The acid test is love for the Lord. If anyone claims to have been converted, and yet has no love for the Lord, he is mistaken. His love may wax and wane from day to day, but the Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts whereby we cry Abba, Father! And I dare you to prove to me that love has no effect on works.

    Assurance of salvation is not for those that have false professions. But there's no avoiding false professions, because no matter how clear you make the Gospel, people will still "do" whatever they think they need to do to escape Hell. They'll observe the church, make a profession, adopt the language, etc., but until God does a work in their hearts, they are not saved, no matter how much they may act the part.

    Faith is not the end, but the means to the end. Faith is HOW God saves us. "Kept by the power of God THROUGH FAITH". Those who lack genuine faith will eventually fall away, but they may find comfort in an antinomian church where they'll never be confronted with their lack of conversion.
     
  4. Faith alone

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    Thx JD,

    I appreciate the spirit with which you share. Regarding whether or not these were believers, I guess you, I and Gill will just have to agree to disagree, I imagine. That's OK, if so. But permit me to comment on Gill's article (thx) and the text a bit.

    Where Barnabas wrote that his readers were "once enlightened" does not mean that they are no more enlightened - we should not assume that. It just means that at a point in time in the past, they became enlightened. For me, the phrase which is the nail in the coffin is their being referred to as "companions of the Holy Spirit." The Greek word there is μέτοχος (plural - μέτοχο) which refers to being companions, partaking in the same ministry. And the phrase used referring to them needing milk, not yet being ready for real meat, is clearly a term used for baby Christians. That was how Peter and Barnabas both used it. And it is never used to refer to unbelievers in the NT.

    Now regarding vs. 9, I'm glad you brought that up for people tend to
    study this troublesome text while not considering the context of vss. 7-12 which follows vs. 4.

    Those who insist on seeing this text as referring to unbelievers often do so because they hold to the security of the believer, as do I, though typically from a Reformed perspective. But the problem is that this text is not talking about a person losing his salvation. It is talking about how God disciplines His children. Let's look at vss. 7-12:

    Hebrews 6:7-12 For the ground that has soaked up the rain that frequently falls on it and yields useful vegetation for those who tend it receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is useless and near to being cursed; its fate is to be burned. But in your case, dear friends, even though we speak like this, we are convinced of better things relating to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints. But we passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises.

    What we see here is a reference to a field which is not producing the crops expected by the farmer. What does He do? He burns the field, which clears out all of the useless weeds, etc.. It also prepares that ground to be fruitful. That's what farmers do, especially in those days, to cause a ground to regain its fertileness. IMO this is a picture of what happens to believers who do not walk with the Lord and do not produce useful fruit. They go through a very difficult time. The purpose is to bring us back into a vital walk with God. Sometimes, we reach a point where that is all that will work. Notice the text I underlined above. This refers to someone who is in serious straits. This text is very similar to the warning in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Only in this instance, the burning is not at the judgment seat (BHMA seat), but during this life, IMO. We need not fear this burning as referring to hell. This is serious judgment by God - it is not hell. What is this text would make someone think that it was? Inheriting the promises above is something which only faithful Christians do. There are rewards and consequences for our actions.

    Now vs. 9 is one thing that convinces me that these are believers -saved indivudals, and let's include vs. 10:

    6:9 But in your case, dear friends (beloved), even though we speak like this, we are convinced of better things relating to salvation.For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints (saints - This term is always used to refer to Christians in the NT).

    He calls them beloved (ἀγαπητοί). He says that he is convinced of better things in their behalf - things which "accompany" salvation. IOW, these are saved individuals, and he is confident that their actions will be what he expects to naturally accompany salvation. Look at vs. 10 (in lighter blue): there we see that these people are serving other Christians. How can that be referring to unbelievers?! He also said that they demonstrated their love for the name of Christ. Uh, gotta be Christians. Is it possible for unbelievers to demonstrate love for Christ? Unless they have been regenerated, they simply cannot do that, right?

    Now regarding your earlier concern for Christians who do not walk in discipleship - I share your concern. Regarding some who think they are Christians, when they do not really understand or believe the gospel - happens a lot in churches these days.

    It's our responsibility to make it clear to them though what the gospel is, and who Christ is.

    I read that article by Gill. He tries to distinguish between those referred to as enlightened in Hebrews 10:32 with those here, because in 10:32 it clearly refers to Christians. I don't buy it. It's the same expression. He struggles with the expression "impossible to renew to repentance" out of concern that this is viewed by some as referring to someone who has lost his salvation. But he misunderstands to what "renew to repentance " is referring. It is not referring to someone coming to Christ for the first time. I understand that "repentance" is used at times in the Bible to refer to the process of coming to Christ. But it is more often used in the NT to refer to something which Christians need do at times as well. Christians can get caught up into sin pretty heavy, and when that happens, they need to repent. Those Christians in Hebrews 5:11 - 6:12 are such as are near that point. They need to be brought back to a repentant attitude. It is not talking about the gospel at all.

    Gill starts off that article by saying,"This scripture is often used to contradict the final perseverance of the saints" His concern is that some do use this text to say that the perseverance of the saints - the security of the believer - is not valid. I anticipated that this author was Reformed before I even read it. This is a common, but unneccesary, approach by Calvinists to try to deal with this passage. (Not all, but it is most common among Reformed theologians, so that was what I anticipated.) But it is simply not necessary to do so. Martin Luther himself in commentary on Hebrews says that those 5 expressions refer to saved individuals. It is not necessary to view them as unbelievers - those who have come close, but never quite believed. The issue is what "impossible to renew to repentance" is all about.

    Perhaps we can talk about that expression at some other time, cause this post is getting to long! :p I've got lots to say on it, but it gets very lengthy, and technical. :applause:

    CYL,

    FA
     
    #4 Faith alone, Jul 26, 2007
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  5. J.D.

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    Very good exegisis, although you have not dislodged me from my opinion. I see a definite change in personnel in verse 9. And I wouldn't try to make much of it being a "reformed" view, other than it is definitely not arminian (loss of salvation). Sproul (reformed, Calvinist, presbyterian) basically agrees with your analysis. It can be loss of blessedness, or loss of visible covenant relationship with the church.
     
  6. J.D.

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    Also, I think the key to understanding the whole of Hebrews is the overall context - the intended audience - which was PROFESSING jewish believers. By 'professing" I mean those that professed faith in Christ, including both pretenders and genuine believers.

    The warnings are applicable to those professors that turn back to temple worship, and by their apostacy, reveal their true condition. They were "enlightened" etc etc by their visible association with the new covenant, the church, the Gospel. They were not to be "jewish" christians - they were to be just Christians; that is, they were not to participate in temple worship AND church worship. They could not be under both covenants - it was one or the other, make your choice, and your choice will reveal where your heart is. Choose the temple, and you will perish with it.
     
    #6 J.D., Jul 26, 2007
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  7. canadyjd

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    I appreciate the comments above and would like to add (briefly) my own.

    The passage in Hebrews 6 (which Dr. Luke penned):smilewinkgrin: is addressing a specific question that has been given to him. This is evidenced by v. 4-6 "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit (5) and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age tocome. (6) and then have fallen away...."

    He has been asked a question. Can believers lose their salvation? He may have also been asked whether a person who has lost their salvation, could then regain it.

    Notice the rest of v.6. ".....it is impossible to renew them again to repentence, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame."

    If they could lose their salvation, then restoration would be "impossible" because they would have to crucify Jesus all over again. Luke then relates a popular teaching of Jesus concerning the bearing of fruit.

    Further, it is plainly seen in v. 9 ("But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation...") that he doesn't believe "falling away" (v.6) or "yielding thorns and thistles" (v8) are the things that accompany salvation.

    Rather, the things that accompany salvation are 1. "your work and the love which you have shown towrd His name" 2. "ministering to the saints." 3. "realize the full assurance of hope until the end."

    Though we are not the "salvation police" or "fruit inspector" nor can we pronounce anyone "saved" or "unsaved", I believe we can stand on scripture and say that if a person has professed Christ as Savior and shows no evidence of a transformed life, they should have no assurance of genuine salvation.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  8. Amy.G

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    I was going to post, but you stole my words! :thumbs:
     
  9. J.D.

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    Very well said. I enjoyed reading it. But I would change one little word. When you say "shows no evidence of salvation", what if we say "has no evidence of salvation"? The reason is: I know I believe, and that belief is itself something I have as evidence of my salvation, and because of it, I have assurance. Technically, I can not show my faith, not directly, but I can show you my faith by my works. But how would someone religious but not saved, who does good works (humanly speaking) before they're saved - how would they show their faith in a way that would show the transformation that has taken place? I know people that have had this experience, that have done everything in the church that you can name including "winning" souls, but after having a conversion experience, stated they did all those good works, not for the love of Christ, but just because it's what they thought they should be doing to prove their salvation. Which takes me back to the OP. People, being motivated by a "natural self-love", will make all the appearances neccessary to be saved from Hell, but will lack that super-natural love for Christ that attends only those truly converted.

    So, showing is fallible (James notwithstanding), but having is not. Make sense?

    BTW just so I'm not misunderstood, I agree completely that those that LACK good works have no business having assurance of their salvation.
     
  10. J.D.

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    Great minds think alike! :) (at least on this thread)
     
  11. canadyjd

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    Actually, I said "shows no evidence of a transformed life" and not "evidence of salvation" for a reason. "Salvation" refers to your status before Almighty God. You are no longer an enemy of God. The relationship or fellowship or status has been put right because of the work of Jesus. It is, however, not readily observable to others. As you said, it is hard to discern true believers based solely on who is doing "good works". Indeed, many will deceive themselves into believing the relationship has been restored until Christ says, "depart from Me.....I never knew you!"

    However, evidence of a transformed life should be the fruit of every believer who has that salvation. It really isn't seen in the things we do, per se, but in the things we love and the things we love to do. The focus of that love must be Jesus our Lord.

    Do we see ourselves as slaves of Christ? Do we adore Him, and seek to know more about Him? Do we love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, and minds and spirits and strength? Do we love the brethren, and the times of fellowship? Do we love our worship, both private and corporate? Do we love the cause of Christ, and rejoice in it? Do we love our prayer time (as if we believe we are actually communicating with God), do we love our bible study (as if we believe we are actually reading the very revelation of the God we love)?

    I see we are both saying the same thing.:godisgood:

    Yes, that makes sense.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  12. Faith alone

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    I realize that some see this change there. But when I read in 6:1 "...let us go on..." it is clear that these are the same people, IMO.

    I will say that Barnabas is speaking of some in the readership who are considering returning to Judaism, due to the intense persecution.

    So RC Sproul agrees with me - nice. I am not making much of this as Reformed. But Arminians see them as saved, who lose their salvation. It is Reformed and any who hold to eternal security in some form, in general, who might interpret it in this manner out of a concern that some may view it as possible loss of salvation. That is what Gill said.

    But certainly anyone who holds to eternal security might interpret it as Gill has.

    FA
     
  13. Faith alone

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    As I see it, the overall context is of believers... where do you see any hint of "professing" believers in the book?

    Gotta go. More on this later.

    Thx much,

    FA
     
  14. J.D.

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    Notice Heb 3:1: Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

    Take for example the passage below. It can only be understood in light of the mixed multitude - true believers and pretenders, yet all professed believers. Wheat and tares growing together. The visible church.

    Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

    This obviously is descriptive of true believers - the ones that are the "house" of Christ, that endure unto the end.

    Heb 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;

    Clearly, he's holding the possibility, moreover, the probability, of pretenders amongst them and he is addressing them here

    13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

    Exhort one another - some of you are not saved even though you have a profession of faith.

    14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

    Who are the true partakers of Christ? Those that preservere in faith.

    15 while it is said:"Today, if you will hear His voice,
    Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

    Who rebells? Pretenders, not true believers

    16 For who, having heard, rebelled?

    Yes, WHO rebelled, pretenders or true believers?

    Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?

    They were all visible Israel, both those that fell away (pretenders) and those that preservered (true believers) (application: visible church)

    17 Now with whom was He angry forty years?

    Answer: Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?

    Does this decribe true believers?

    18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?

    Some did not obey. Does that describe true believers?

    19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

    This is why they, the pretenders, did not obey - they did not believe.

    So in Hebrews we find warnings to pretenders, and exhortations that can only apply to the visible body inlcuding both wheat and tares, and some doctrine which clearly applies to only true believers. In other words, "professing" believers.
     
  15. Faith alone

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    JD,

    Thx for responding with some specifics. Regarding the use of "profession," above, please take note that this in no way refers to someone who professed something which he did not believe. It only refers to genuine believers.

    ὁμολογίας - hOMOLOGIAS - noun of the verb which is translated as "to confess." IOW, when we profess or confess as used in the NT greek it means to admit or acknowledge something to be as you hold to, you believe. Paul uses the same term in 2 Corinthians 9 to refer to believers whose life causes people to praise God in their "confession of the gospel of Christ." In 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul told Timothy to "take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

    Someone could surely profess to believe something which he does not really hold to, but that is not the context in Hebrews 3:1, and it is not how this term isused in the NT. The profession/confession of the gospel is acknowledging before people that you believe in Christ. But just look at 3:1 itself:

    Hebrews 3:1 "Therefore, holy brothers and companions in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession"

    He refers to those who made this confession/profession as "holy brothers" and "companions (METAXOI - only used of believers in the NT) in a heavenly calling."

    FA - That is not what it says above.
    The comparison is of those who believe in Christ and follow Him faithfully, and those who believe in Christ yet are not faithful - they are not METAXOI - companions of Christ. Immature believers are not companions of Christ, though they are His children.

    Agree with this last italicized comment. But the distinction is not between false and real professors. That is never even hinted at in Hebrews. It is between those who are companions with Christ and those who are not, yet who believe the gospel. They are, as it says in Hebrews 5:11ff, still babes in Christ and need someone to teach them again the basic concepts about growing in Christ. They are living on milk, not meat. But they are clearly believers. Unbelievers are never referred to as infants in Christ.

    Throughout Hebrews the author warns his readers of the dangers of not continuing to faithfully follow Christ. His readers are believers, Jewish believers. The word translated at times as "partakers" is the same Greek word (METAXOI) translated most often as "companions." The distinction made is about those who are METAXOI believers vs. those who are not - who are baby Christians.

    This also reveals a difference in how we view Christians. Reformed theology says that all true believers will persevere to the end. I do not. Some Christians may fall away, may be unfaithful. If we were all candid, we'd admit that it could happen to us, and may have at some time in the past. We are not saved because of our faithfulness, but because of the faithfulness of Christ. We merely receive a free gift, by faith alone.

    And that also shows why it is Reformed holders of "eternal security" who insist that Hebrews 6 refers to false professors... due to the form of their eternal security which they hold to - "perseverance of the saints." Such a view leaves little room for unfaithfulness among believers. That's why I am impressed that RC Sproul admitted that Hebrews 6 refers to believers. He took the hgih road.

    Here's the Hebrews 3 text:

    Hebrews 3:12-15
    [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica] Watch out, brothers, so that there won't be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. (IOW, true believers, brothers, CAN depart from following the living God.) But encourage each other (These believers are challenged to encourage one another, all believers, to so that none ofthem are hardened by sin. It IS possible for that to happen to Christians.) daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin's deception. For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. (IOW, all believers are not METAXOI - companions of Christ - but only those who hold firmly to the end in following Christ.) As it is said: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.

    Do not harden your hearts ... IOW, it can happen to believers. "as in the rebellion." IOW, that rebellion ion the desert that you were referring to above refers to believers who became hardened.


    Take care,

    FA

    [/FONT]
     
  16. Faith alone

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    Hebrews 6 - true believers addressed

    Let me repeat some of what I said before about burning, as I feel this is a key reason why people see those in verses 4-6 as unbelievers - merely professing faith. The burning of a field that yields thorns and thistles does not destroy the field. The purpose is to hopefully prepare it to yield a useful crop in the future. The parallels with 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 are so close as to be undeniable and 1 Corinthians 3 clearly refers to lost rewards and a painful experience...

    1 Corininthians 3:15 - "but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire."

    Now, compare that with:

    Hebrews 6:8 - "it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned."

    Burning is often used in the NT to refer to God's discipline and purging:
    1 Peter 1:6, 7 - In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
    (Compare with James 1 below: )

    James 1:2-4 - Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

    1 Corinthians 3:13 - each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.

    Revelation 3:18 - I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. ​
    You've made some good observations and a common point made in defense of those not being believers is about the apparent pronouns, which you're alluding to. But the issue for it being believers is much more complex than just the pronouns, and seeing a change in the audience at vs. 9, and is difficult to refute.

    Since I believe that we are eternally secure, I could deal with it either way that fit the exegesis, of course, those being either believers or unbelievers. The reason I see it the way I do is purely based on the text and its context. My theology does not pressure me to view it either way. (Nor does it pressure Sproul apparently, as well.)

    Some refer to the pronouns in verses 4 - 6 as indicating a change in readership from verse 9, but actually, in verses 4 and 6 the pronouns "those," they", and "them" don't really exist... There is a string of participles which are more literally translated as "having..." or "while..." etc. or as "who have..."

    Also actually in vs. 4 the phrase translated something like "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened..." is really something like "For [it is] impossible [for] ones once enlightened..." in a more wooden translation.

    Similarly, in vs. 6 what is typically translated as "and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance (act. from vs. 4) since they crucify to themselves again the Son of God..." would be translated more woodenly as "and falling away again to renew to repentance crucifying to/for themselves (ἑαυτοῖς - plural reflexive pronoun - 'themselves') again the Son of God..."

    The only pronoun is a reflexive one. But translating participles so that it reads somewhat like normal English requires the use of pronouns to make it clear. That's why they were "inserted."

    But IMO the author was speaking to some believers who were not going on to maturity (5:11-6:3). He speaks aboutthe serious immatrue condition of some of his readership, then after describing the consequences to them he goes on to say starting in vs. 9 that he has confidence that they will not end up like that.

    The warning doesn't make any sense if he is talking to believers, concerned about their lack of growth, then tells them of some unbelievers who were close to being saved, but not quite and the consequences for those people, then to hop right back and say that they are confident that they won't end up like that. Well of course they won't. They're believers. How can they end up with consequences directed towards unbelievers? And IMO the warning serves no purpose if it is directed toward unbelievers. The letter was written to believers. And the 5 warnings IMO were also directed toward those same believers. But there was no threat of a possible loss of salvation. There is the possibility of great loss... but not of their eternal life.

    That's how I view it, JD.

    Let's take a brief ( :rolleyes: ) look at the context:

    There are 5 participal phrases in vss. 4-5 which are difficult to interpret any other way. Isn't it clear that only believers can be said...
    1. to have been enlightened,
    2. to have tasted the heavenly gift,
    3. to have become companions with the Holy Spirit,
    4. to have tasted the good Word of God, and
    5. to have tasted the powers of the age to come.

    This is the 3rd of 5 major warning sections in the book. What is the warning regarding? Is it warning believers that if they fall away can lose their salvation, or that they will then be severely disciplined by the Lord? Or is it referring to unbelievers? As I see it the warning is directed to believers - a very severe warning indeed... Now if someone says that these believers can lose their salvation, then logically there's no way out of their saying that once lost, always lost (OLAL). That's a strong argument against the possibility of this referring to a loss of salvation, IMO, regardless of how you view this.

    Let me look just briefly at three of those participial phrases:

    τοὺς ἅπαξ φωτισθέντας
    TOUS APAX FOTISTHENTAS -> "those having been enlightened"
    This is the beginning of that string of participles describing those who fall away. Note it is an aorist passive, indicating something done to them rather than by them. Also there is a parallel usage of this root in 10:32. There it is quite clear that they are believers.

    γευσαμένους τε τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς ἐπουρανίου
    GEUSAMENOUS TE TAS DOREAS TAS EPOURANIOU -> "both/and having tasted the heavenly gift"
    Te = "and" or"both" This is another aorist participle, dealing with what they tasted or experienced. Also, one should note that Jesus "tastes death" (same Greek word) in Hebrews 2:9, and we would not want to argue that this means He only sampled death but did not really die. The heavenly gift can be seen as a number of different things, but the sacramental understanding is the least supportable and also quite anachronistic. I would argue that this refers to the temporal side of salvation (as opposed to the eternal side, which is the finalization at the judgment).

    καὶ μετόχους γενηθέντας πνεύματος ἁγίου
    KAI METOCOUS GENATHENTAS PNEUMATOS AGIOU -> "and having become partakers of the Holy Spirit"
    This is again an aorist passive participle, thus showing the outside agency of this action, that they are made to be partakers, rather than making the move themselves. A parallel structure to this verse is found in Heb. 3:14, where the readers are said to be partakers of Christ, something which points to salvation. Therefore, without making too much separation between the work of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, these phrases should be treated synonymously, or at least very similarly. It would be unlikely that one would refer to believers while the other in the same letter would be referring to unbelievers, IMO. Also METAXOI is a key terminology in Hebrews which refers to those who share in the inheritance with Christ as companions. It is always used in Hebrews to refer to believers. So if these aren't believers here it would be the only place it referred to unbelievers. (It's kinda like our expression "partners," "comrades." There's intimacy involved.)

    καὶ καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα
    KAI KALON GEUSAMEBaptistBoard.com - Reply to TopicNOUS THEOU RAMA -> "and having tasted the good Word of God"
    This is another occurrence of the same aorist middle participle, just as earlier, dealing with tasting or experiencing. This time the quality of God’s word is what is being tasted, and it is to be evaluated as good. This would seem to point toward their having been saved, IMO.

    δυνάμεις τε μέλλοντος αἰῶνος
    DUNAMEIS TE MELLONTOS AIONOS -> "both/and having tasted the powers of the age to come"
    Te = "both" or "and." This is built off of the preceding participle, so the power of the coming age is also being tasted. Here I would point toward an eschatological hope being felt now, looking at the inauguration of the kingdom of God already being experienced by believers.


    Continued...
     
  17. Faith alone

    Faith alone
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    Hebrews 6 - believers, continued

    We see also the following references to these readers in Hebrews as Christians:
    When we consider the entire book to the Hebrews, it's difficult for me to take any of these warnings within it as written to unbelieving Jews. As I read through Hebrews, I do not find one place where I feel that Barnabas was addressing some unbelieving Jews. IMO an assumption has to be made there.

    If you assume that all true believers will be faithful to the end, then I can see how one will naturally assume that this warning is addressed to unbelievers - professing believers. That's not an assumption I make.


    So that's why I see it as necessarily believers here. I never worry about it normally because the people with whom I disagree on this passage (Arminians) who say that you can lose your salvation assume that these are believers also, so it's not an issue.

    Thx. Whether you agree ordisagree, that's fine with me. But at least you'll understand why I take the approach that I do with this text.

    FA
     
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  18. J.D.

    J.D.
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    Fair enough, I've made my pitch and I don't have the time to rehash it, but I'll depart from this discussion with two things.

    1. Dont' make too much of "brother", even "holy brothers" (How "holy" are your brothers? :)) because 1) Jews call each other "brothers"; 2) among the people we call "brother" in church are some that are probably not saved. Which leads me to #2:

    2. Make sure you understand what I mean by "professing" christians. A true believer is a professing Christian as is a pretender. (although it is conventional in much Christian literature to refer to the pretenders only as "professors"). All of the church epistles are addressed to "the elect", or "the faithful", "dear brethren", "beloved of the Lord", etc., but it is to be understood that these people, the VISIBLE CHURCH, are PRESUMED to be such, but the epistles always have warnings against the tares and false prophets that are among them.
     
    #18 J.D., Jul 28, 2007
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  19. Faith alone

    Faith alone
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    JD,

    Understand and agree w/ all this. There certainly are professing Christians in the body who are the "tares" as you put it. My concern is that many consider it a matter of whether or not the faith is genuine in texts where that is not the issue. IMO, and you can see that I've spent a lot of time in Hebrews thinking it through, the issue isn't "tares" vs. real plants, but like in the parable of the sower/seeds, one of genuine growth of plants, but some of which do not produce fruit because the cares of this world squeeze it out. IMO, if it germinates, that indicates genuine growth from God. But not all plants produce fruit. We need, as believers, to choose to follow our Lord in discipleship.

    Anyway, both your position and the one I've espoused are common views, and there are reasons to consider both views. Thx for interacting on this.

    I would like to consider the idea of true and false faith, which is essentially I think your concern here, for those who would like to discuss it. I think we've beat up Hebrews 6 up enough.

    BTW, did you know that the Bible talks about who should make the coffee in the morning? It says that "He brews."

    FA
     
  20. EdSutton

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    Nah!! Apollos! :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    Ed
     

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