Perseverance of the Saints Part 9: Hebrews 10:32-39

We finish our exegetical examination of the warning passage in Hebrews 10 with verses 32-39:

[32] But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, [33] partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. [34] For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have a better possession and a lasting one.  [35] Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. [36] For you have need of endurance, so that when you will have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. [37] ‘For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. [38] But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’  [39] But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. (NASB)

Verse 32:  “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings.”

Here we encounter the word “enlightened” again.  Grudem argued that the term was used only of hearing the gospel in Hebrews 6:4, and therefore had no reference to any saving experience.  Verse 32, however would strongly suggest otherwise.  Here the writer of Hebrews uses the same word to describe those who were truly saved and the fact that they were “enlightened” seems to have reference to conversion rather than just hearing the gospel message.  His audience is instructed to remember that after they had been “enlightened” they “endured a great conflict of sufferings.”  Verses 33 and 34 give us more information regarding what these “sufferings” entailed.  They suffered by being made a “public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations” and they accepted “joyfully” the seizure of property, “knowing that [they had] a better possession and a lasting one.”

These had suffered joyfully for the sake of the gospel and yet we are to believe that this enlightening had reference to only hearing the gospel?  Such a shallow concept of “enlightened” simply does not fit the description that immediately follows.  It makes no sense to say that as the result of merely “hearing the gospel” they endured a great suffering.  Many hear the gospel, reject it, and suffer nothing for it.  It is only those who embrace and appropriate the gospel by faith that are willing to suffer for it.

It should be clear, based on the context, that “enlightened” means far more than just “hearing the gospel” to the inspired writer of Hebrews.  It has reference to conversion itself which only reinforces the contention that the “enlightened” apostates of Hebrews 6:4 were truly saved prior to having “fallen away.”  We also find that these “enlightened” ones gladly suffered the seizure of their property because they knew that they had a “better possession and a lasting one.” (verse 34b)  That can only mean that they were looking forward to the heavenly reward of their faith and proves that they were indeed in the faith since faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)  They had already passed one test of faith and were now being called on to pass yet another.  The reminder of their past success is for the purpose of strengthening their resolve that they might not “shrink back” from the faith they began with (see comments on verse 38 below).

Verses 35 and 36: “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you will have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”

Notice that the inspired writer is not admonishing them to gain confidence (i.e. believe the gospel and be converted), but to keep the confidence that they already have.  They are being told to endure in their faith which plainly assumes that their present faith is genuine.  In fact, their faith has been proven so by the way they had responded to prior trials.  However, they cannot rest on what they had done in the past but must continue to press on in the face of present trials to gain the promised reward of final salvation.  They “have need of endurance.”  The inspired writer never questions whether or not his readers have genuine faith.  He only questions whether or not that faith will last.  This is the main concern of the entire epistle.  Verses 37-39 decisively drive this truth home:

‘For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’  But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

Just as Hebrews 6:7-8 conclude as a further description of the apostates in verses 4-6 so do verses 10:37-38 conclude as a further description of the apostate spoken of in verses 26-31.  The point that is very important here is that the servant who “shrinks back” in verse 38b is not a different servant from the one who lives by faith in verse 38a.  It is the same servant, “and if he [that same servant] shrinks back [from the faith that made him righteous], my soul has no pleasure in him.”  Robert Shank quotes Franz Delitzsch:

The subject in both clauses is the same- the just man, the man who is justified by faith; and in the sense in which hupostellesthai is here used is that of not keeping faith, wavering in faith, forsaking the path of faith and the community of the faithful.  The just man, the man accepted before God, lives by faith; but if he loses his faith, and faithlessly draws back from the right path, his acceptance is forfeited.  That such apostasy is possible even for those who have been truly justified, i.e., for Christians who have more than a superficial experience of divine grace, is one of the main points of instruction in this epistle. [Life in The Son, 163]

It cannot be overstated that the servant is described in verse 38a as “righteous” by God Himself.  It will not do to say that the servant only appeared righteous, for the Lord Himself confirms the servant’s justification.  This righteousness is due to a life of faith.  However, if that same righteous servant were to shrink back from the faith that justified him, then the Lord would no longer take pleasure in him.  And why not? Because “without faith it is impossible to please Him”(Heb. 11:6).  What happens to those who shrink back?  Verse 39 tells us that they shrink back “to destruction.”

Adam Clarke is even more frank with his comments concerning the servant mentioned in this passage as well as the erroneous translation of the KJV:

But if any man draw back] kai ean uposteilhtai. But if he draw back; he, the man who is justified by faith; for it is of him, and none other,that the text speaks. The insertion of the words any man, if done to servethe purpose of a particular creed, is a wicked perversion of the words ofGod. They were evidently intended to turn away the relative from the antecedent, in order to save the doctrine of final and unconditional perseverance; which doctrine this text destroys.  (Commentary: Hebrews pg. 209, Wesleyan Heritage Collection CD)

This is detrimental to Grudem’s exegesis.  If Heb. 10:37-38 speaks of the same servant, then we have even more reason to believe that Hebrews 6:7-8 has reference to the same land.  The servant of 10:37-38 shrinks back from the faith which had made him righteous, and the land which once bore fruitful vegetation in 6:7-8 later bears thorns and thistles upon “falling away” from the faith.  These are not descriptions of irrevocable reprobates who rejected the gospel message upon hearing it; these are descriptions of true believers who have turned away from the truth that they had once fully embraced.

It is significant that the writer of Hebrews altered the text from which he drew this warning.  The LXX reference in Habakkuk speaks of one who is puffed up in pride shrinking back contrasted with the righteous one who lives by faith, “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright-[Septuagint: And if he shrinks back I will not be pleased with him.] but the righteous will live by faith.” (Simon J. Kistemaker, Hebrews, pg. 302)

Donald A. Hagner explains the significance of the altered reference:

The author also transposes the clause of Hab. 2:4 (which the LXX begins with the words, ‘but if any of them shrinks back’) so that it is the righteous one who must directly confront the possibility of turning back and experiencing the displeasure of the Lord.  The author thus accepts the messianic understanding of the passage (as in the LXX) but applies Heb. 2:4 to the Christian believer (despite the singular, my righteous one). (NIBC Hebrews, pg. 176, emphasis his)

If the writer of Hebrews was trying to express what Grudem believes he was trying to express (that the apostate never had justifying faith) then the Habakkuk text would have better served the author’s purpose left as it was originally penned.  Instead, the author of Hebrews deliberately changed [inverted] the reference to describe a single servant who shrinks from the faith which had previously justified him before God.  That the writer of Hebrews changed the reference in such a way further demonstrates that he understands and defines apostasy as the decisive repudiation of justifying faith once held.

In verse 39 the author expresses confidence that his intended audience has not presently abandoned the faith and is given as positive encouragement in order to complement the negative encouragement of the previous warnings.  The inspired author is not expressing infallible confidence that they will persevere since even in Calvinism no such infallible assurance can be given to another.  While he is supremely hopeful that these “justified servants” will not shrink back, he cannot be certain.  Such uncertainty is the basis for the dire warnings and urgent encouragements which preceded verse 39.

Conclusion:

We have found in verses 32-39 further confirmation that our exegesis of Hebrews 10:26-31 was accurate.  One who is both justified by faith and sanctified by the blood of Christ can yet shrink back from the faith and face eternal punishment as an enemy of God.  We also gained further insight into the warnings expressed in Hebrews 6:4-8 by confirming that “enlightened” has reference to the experience of conversion and not just exposure to the gospel message.

We have also discovered that the metaphor of the land in Hebrews 6:7-8 parallels the description of the righteous servant who shrinks back from the faith in Hebrews 10:38.  This undermines Grudem’s main thesis which was built on the errant assumption that the metaphor in 6:7-8 had reference to two lands rather than one.  Just as it is the same justified servant who shrinks back from saving faith in Heb. 10:38; so it is the same productive land which ceases to bear fruitful vegetation and instead bears thorns and thistles upon “falling away” from the faith.  The servant (10:28 ) and the land (6:7-8 ) are both “destroyed” and “burned” as the result of  falling away from faith once held.

Go to Part 10

Go to Part 1

About these ads

32 Responses

  1. I’d read about that translation problem in the KJV before. It does seem a bit odd that they’d insert ‘if’ in two different places where it speaks about apostasy.

  2. JC,

    Odd indeed. The KJV used Beza’s NT translation as a primary reference source (and I am almost certain that they followed Beza’s translation in these passages). Coincidence? Maybe.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  3. Ben,

    Thank you for your effort in this series. It’s easy for some to discount the possibility of a faithful individual falling away. Easy that is, when living in countries and cultures that allow, if not embrace, the Christian faith. If we were faced with the level of trials and difficulties the first century Christians had to endure – up to the point of the shedding of blood – I think those same calvinists would better understand why some are tempted to “love this present world”, or “go away sorrowful, for he had many possessions”.

    There has always been a price to pay for following Christ. That price is not just limited to the intial commitment, but it includes a lifetime of service.

    As Jesus told Peter in John 20, regardless of where life takes you, “Follow thou me”. If a man puts his hand to the plow and looks back, he is not fit for the Kingdom of God. Or do we need a pillar of salt today to remind us of the penalty of subsequent, willful disobedience?

  4. Steven,

    Thanks for the comments. Calvinists need to make “false converts” out of so many, which in the US makes sense to a lot of people (many preach the gospel for personal gain, etc.), but in countries where it is a near certain death sentence to be a Christian, or where severe persecution is nearly inevitible, I would venture to say that there are not very many “false converts.” This seems to clearly be the same sort of situation that the writer of Hebrews was adressing which makes it even more unlikely that false converts were in view.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  5. Dear Ben,

    Looking at Calvin’s commentary one gets that in all probability the “anyone” should not be ascribed to Beza because Pagininus and others had used it before Beza.

    Praise be to God

  6. Mitch,

    You may be correct. I think Shank has a section on it in his book. I will try to find the reference. In any case, it is not just the “any man” that is at issue, but also the “will not be pleased with it” rather than “him.” The other issue has to do with the seemingly hypothetical “if he should fall away” in Hebrews 6:6.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  7. Robert Shank quotes S.T. Bloomfield’s The Greek Testament With English Notes, Critical, Philosophical, and Exegetical in a footnote on page 36 of Life In The Son:

    “[Beza’s] ostensible reason for introducing tis [is] that , by this rendering, another version was avoided, by no means agreeable to Beza’s theological opinions….[In Bp. Pearson’s opinion] when Beza translated , ‘But the just man shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in it,’ his two methods of excluding the ‘just man’ from being the subject of the latter clause- 1. by introducing the words ‘any man;’ and , 2. by transferring God’s displeasure from the person who draws back (him) to the act of withdrawing (it)- indicate either a want of good faith, or an undue concession to theological opinions ….Though [Calvin] did not venture on the change introduced by Beza, yet he strove to suppress the sense naturally resulting from the words, by rendering ean huposteileai, ‘si subductus fuerit;’ though such is evidently at variance with sus loquendi both of the Classical and Scriptural writers. And, as it would not have been convenient to attempt any justification of this version, he chose (contrary to his usual custom) to be silent upon these verses. Nothing is plainer than that all the above methods were (to use the words of Dr. A. Clarke) ‘intended to save the doctrine of final and unconditional perseverance; which doctrine this text destroys.” (Vol. II, p. 457)

  8. Ah, looked it up in Greek, I was mistaken there, it wasn’t another ‘if,’ that was only ch 6; ch 10’s “if he” was replaced with “if any man.”

  9. So Shanks does not relate that Pagininus used it before Beza??? Perhpas then he does not give as detailed accounting of the history as is presumed.

    Praise God

  10. Mitch,

    Shank quotes Bloomfield, so if anything your charge should be leveled at him. You only mentioned Calvin referring to “any man” and not “it” (maybe Calvin addressed both but you have only mentioned the “any man” rendering).

    Bloomfield is addressing both the “any man” and the “it” and is pointing the finger at Beza because Beza’s NT translation was the primary source for the AV. In either case, whether it originated with Pagininus or Beza, the rendering is inaccurate and may betray a desire to rid the implications of this passage from their respective translations ( which would especially seem to be the case with Beza as noted above).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  11. BTW, when I look at Calvin’s commentary he says nothing about Pagininus. The comments you refer to are found in a footnote that seems to have been written by the translator, John King.

    Now maybe we need to look at Pagininus’ writings to discover if he had used it prior to Beza (which really doesn’t make much of a difference anyway) since it could be that John King does not have his facts straight.

    Bloomfield seems to be speaking specifically of the combination of “any man” and “it” instead of “him.” It may be that Beza followed Pagininus and compounded the error by changing “him” to “it.” Clearly there is no justification for doing so except to try to alleviate the difficulty this passage poses to the doctrine of inevitable perseverance.

  12. Dear Ben,

    I have no idea about the “it”, I have looked at several different translations of the verse and have not seen “it” I only have seen “in him” in the versions that I have looked at. As for why the author reversed the order it seems that was done because it best serves the flow, after all he then immediately applies the next verse to it. So if he had quoted it properly as it is in Habakkuk then there would be some ambiguity and he could not transition into verse 39 as effectively as he does by reversing the order. You still have the author contrasting the righteous one with faith and the one that shrinks back. If we look at the original quote in Habakkuk we clearly see that it is referring to two different people, now you seem to think that by reversing the order that that proves it is the same “he” when in actuality all it could mean is as stated above that he reversed the order so that he could then immediately use it to make the flow of his argument better.

    Why do I get the feeling though that you will not agree:)

    Praise be to God

  13. Mitch said: “Why do I get the feeling though that you will not agree”

    One would think because the grammar indisputably presents the righteous person as the one who God will be displeased with if he shrinks back and so destroy. “38 BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (NASB) If who shrinks back? God’s righteous one who lives by faith. What happens to the righteous one by faith who shrinks back? He gets destroyed. Lesson? One important one is that we who are righteous by faith should be careful to persevere in faith and never let it go lest we shrink back to destruction.

  14. Mitch,

    Apparently Beza’s version had “it” but the KJV may not have followed him there while adopting “any man.” But like I said before, neither is an accurate translation and it is hard to imagine any other reason for Beza to render the passage that way except that he was trying to save his doctrine. That alone demonstrates the force of this passage against the doctrine of inevitable perseverance.

    As Arminian said, the language of the passage in Hebrews is decisive. The inspired writer could have written it any number of ways, but he chose instead to render it so that the just man who lives by faith is the same who may shrink back from that faith to destruction. We need to allow him to use the OT reference according to the emphasis that he wants to place on the warning, and that emphasis is plainly that genuine believers can turn back from faith once held to destruction.

    So while I allow the inspired writer to use the passage the way that he determines according to the way that he wants to structure and emphasize his warning, you deny him that privilege for the sake of saving your doctrine. I am a little surprised that you are willing to do that.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  15. Dear Arminian,

    It seems that you are rather certain of your view and praise God and the Spirit for giving you such assurance. To me it seems that one reason why the author of Hebrews reversed the order is because it better suited the flow. I see that he could have said it like this-

    Behold his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him, my soul shall have no pleasure in him: but the just shall live by faith. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul

    Instead what we see is that he reversed the order so that he could then directly apply it and have it flow better for his purpose. The point of course is that the author of Hebrews is still contrasting two groups of people, this seems clear to me when we see verse 38 & 39.

    Praise be to God

  16. Mitch,

    So it is all about “flow?” I may be wrong, but I think the writer of Hebrews often writes things rather awkwardly for the sake of making his point. You may have noticed the way he used OT references to apply to Christ in Chapters 1 and 2. Was he just interested in “flow” in those chapters or was he trying to drive home the point of Christ’s supremacy and deity?

    To think that the writer of Hebrews is just concerned about “flow” is hard to even take seriously. He is concerned with making a point and that point is impossible to miss when we take him at his word: those who are justified by faith can yet shrink back to destruction. That truth is his primary concern under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and it should be our primary concern as well.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  17. To add to Ben’s comments, it is implausible to think that the author of Hebrews was interested in keeping a flow that amounts to keeping reference to the unfaithful next to one another as opposed to making the statements parallel, which would flow just as well, to think that his interest was to keep such a minor and unnecessary flow even though it necessitated changing the *explicit* subject of the sentence so that grammatically it just happens to clearly express that the righteous one might shrink back to destruction, which according to you the author does not really mean. Is it reasonable to think that he explicitly says one thing with objective grammar, but that we are to discard that and assume he really meant something else besides what he explicitly states based on your subjective sense of what flows better? It seems like Calvinistic presuppositions driving your interpretation here. I’ll take the Arminian interpretation that actually sticks to the text.

    God bless!

  18. Dear Ben,

    I see that you do not like the word “flow”, alright then we do not have to use it. The point is still that the author of Hebrews is contrasting two different people and it is rather clear in light of the very next verse. Now it seemed by reading your post that there was some belief that by reversing the Habakkuk verse that lends more credence to your interpretation, yet that seems not to be the case. I agree that he is trying to make a point, but the point is to differentiate between two different kinds of people. Looking at verse 39 we see that the inspired writer contrasts the one that believes to the saving of the soul to the one who draws back unto perdition, same as he does in verse 38 by contrasting the one that lives by faith to the one that draws back. Also, by looking at Habakkuk we get even clearer picture that this is contrasting two different people and the notion that by reversing the Habakkuk verse that then proves that the writer is not contrasting two different people seems strenuous at best.

    As I stated earlier though, we will end up agreeing to disagree on this as well.

    Praise be to God

  19. Mitch,

    The point is still that the author of Hebrews is contrasting two different people and it is rather clear in light of the very next verse.

    Actually he is warning true believers about falling away from the faith. That is more than “rather” clear from the preceding verses, which I have covered in detail in more than one post, as well as the plain language of verse 38 which states that the justified servant can shrink back to destruction (cf. vs. 39).

    The confidence expressed in verse 39 does not negate the possibility of falling away. It is positive encouragement. We have all encouraged people in like manner even if we could not know with infallible certainty if they would live up to the confidence we expressed concerning them.

    Notice he says “we are not of those who shrink back” including himself among them but in verse 26 he said “if we deliberately keep on sinning…” also including himself among them. So he is not speaking of two groups of people (believers and unbelievers) but the same group (believers like himself) who may or may not shrink back to destruction depending on whether or not they heed these urgent warnings to “endure” and keep their “confidence”, etc.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  20. Dear Ben,

    I am glad that God has given you sufficient strength to maintain your justification before him. I for one will keep praying that he who started a good work in me will finish it.

    So far is this from proving the final and total apostasy of real saints, that it establishes the doctrine of their final perseverance; for he that is just or righteous by the everlasting righteousness of Christ, will ever remain so; who will live spiritually, and that by that faith which will never fail, and is inseparably connected with salvation, and so he shall never die. John Gill

    AMEN

  21. Here is the whole quote if any care to see it in context-

    I see not why the supplement any man, should not stand, made by our translators, which the grammatical construction of the words seems to require. Grotius owns the justness of it. Now this carries off the sense from the just man that lives by faith, to any of those who had made an external profession of religion, but were withdrawing themselves from the communion of the saints, through fear of persecution, who are threatened with the just resentment and displeasure of the Almighty; but lest this should be startling and surprising to true believers, the apostle adds, but we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. So far is this from proving the final and total apostasy of real saints, that it establishes the doctrine of their final perseverance; for he that is just or righteous by the everlasting righteousness of Christ, will ever remain so; who will live spiritually, and that by that faith which will never fail, and is inseparably connected with salvation, and so he shall never die. John Gill

    Praise God

  22. I am glad that God has given you sufficient strength to maintain your justification before him. I for one will keep praying that he who started a good work in me will finish it.

    Mitch,

    That is a very lame thing to say. I do believe that God gives me the power and the strength to trust in Him according to the Scriptures:

    “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires…Therefore my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things [see verses 5-9], you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-4, 10-11)

    And just what do you mean when you say,

    I for one will keep praying that he who started a good work in me will finish it (?)

    Do you mean that by praying that God will finish the good work He began in you that you will thereby maintain your justification before God?

    I see not why the supplement any man, should not stand, made by our translators, which the grammatical construction of the words seems to require. Grotius owns the justness of it. Now this carries off the sense from the just man that lives by faith, to any of those who had made an external profession of religion, but were withdrawing themselves from the communion of the saints, through fear of persecution, who are threatened with the just resentment and displeasure of the Almighty; but lest this should be startling and surprising to true believers, the apostle adds, but we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. So far is this from proving the final and total apostasy of real saints, that it establishes the doctrine of their final perseverance; for he that is just or righteous by the everlasting righteousness of Christ, will ever remain so; who will live spiritually, and that by that faith which will never fail, and is inseparably connected with salvation, and so he shall never die. John Gill

    This is likewise lame. And why does Gill want this translation to stand? It is not in the least required by the grammatical construction, but rather contrary to it. He wants it to stand because without it his doctrine cannot stand.

    And now we can just add Grotius and Gill to the list of desperate Calvinists willing to make hay with the plain language of the inspired author for the sake of preserving their doctrine, and pretending that verse 39 indicates some sort of infallible confidence of perseverance for his audience while previously trying to maintain that the letter is written to believers and unbelievers alike. How convenient.

    I prefer the honest assessment of Clarke:

    “But if any man draw back] kai ean uposteilhtai. But if he draw back; he, the man who is justified by faith; for it is of him, and none other, that the text speaks. The insertion of the words any man, if done to serve the purpose of a particular creed, is a wicked perversion of the words of God. They were evidently intended to turn away the relative from the antecedent, in order to save the doctrine of final and unconditional perseverance; which doctrine this text destroys.” (Commentary: Hebrews pg. 209, Wesleyan Heritage Collection CD)

    And Ellingworth:

    “The restructuring of the verse means that the subject…is no longer ‘the vision,’ as in the LXX, but ‘my righteous one.’ This supports the author’s presupposition that his readers are all believers (and thus ‘righteous’), but that some of them are in danger of shrinking back from the life of faith.”

    And Daniel Whedon:

    “The words any man, as the Italics show, are not in the Greek, but are interpolated by our translators very improperly; for the proper subject of draw back is the just who live by faith. The just shall live by faith: but if he draw back my soul, etc.” (Hebrews, pg. 158 )

    And more could be added. The difference between your quotes and mine is that the scholars I quote are honest with the plain language of the text while yours are desperately trying to escape the implications of that plain language to the point of taking liberties with the text for the sole sake of preserving a doctrine which is contradicted by these very inspired words. So you can have Gill, Grotius, and Beza all day long. I will stick with what the passage actually says and develop my theology accordingly.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  23. Mitch,

    A slight revision as I had confused Grotius (an Arminian) with Gromarus (a Calvinist) in my comments above. Grotius, if indeed he allowed for that translation (though I will need to look into it as I suspect that he may have allowed for it but preferred the other) is an exception among Arminians and was in this case, along with the Calvinists referenced, simply wrong.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  24. Dear Ben,

    Lame??? I was careful to say that it was God that gave you the strength to stand; I did not want to say that it was YOU that maintained your standing. If that is lame then I will be lame.

    Even if it is the same “he” you still would not have proven your case. You still have a third class condition that could depict any of these three things- likely to occur in the future, could possibly occur, or be just a hypothetical that will not occur. The writer then tells them that he does not see THEM drawing back, instead he believes them to persevere. It seems that the writer seems certain that whoever he is speaking to are ones that will believe to the saving of their soul. Seems that you are putting too much emphasis on IF to try to prove your point.

    I admit that I do not have any writings of Grotius, but I also have no reason to doubt Dr. Gill when he writes what he did. I will try to find what Grotius did say about the verse in question; it seems from the little that I know of him that he was a scholarly man that would have had good reason to stand by the translation.

    Praise be to God

  25. Mitch,

    You are not paying close enough attention to the details of the text. teh author does not say that he sees that they will persevere. But he says that he and they–we–are not (presently; the present tense is used)shrinking back, but are (presently) believing unto the salvation of the soul. So he is warning them to continue believing unto the salvation of the soul so that they will come to the final salvation of the soul, and not to shrink back from the salvation they already have. That’s why he exhorts them repeatedly to persevere in their faith, here to not be a righteous/justified (= saved) person who shrinks back to from faith and salvation and righteousness and justification to destruction. He mentions their present faith and its benefit to encourage them not to forsake it.

  26. Mitch,

    The “lame” part was what seemed to be the obvious insinuation that I was maintaining my justification before God because I reject inevitable perseverance. Now if that was not what you intended then I have to wonder why on earth you made the comment at all. Feel free to explain.

    It is not the “if” that I have a problem with but the “any man” which shifts the focus from the just one to “anyone” which could include unbelievers. The text will not allow for this.

    Of course it is a conditional because the issue has to do with whether or not they will indeed persevere. They have the God given power and ability to persevere “if” they should heed the warnings, but they also have the ability to resist God’s grace, fail to heed His voice (the warnings) and shrink from the faith they now have unto destruction. That is the whole point!

    This is clear from the warnings. They are not senseless warnings against impossibilities. It is the same “we” (believers) that are being addressed in 10:26-31 and 10:38. Therefore, there is no ironclad guarantee despite the confidence expressed in 10:38 as I already pointed out:

    The confidence expressed in verse 39 does not negate the possibility of falling away. It is positive encouragement. We have all encouraged people in like manner even if we could not know with infallible certainty if they would live up to the confidence we expressed concerning them.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  27. Dear Ben,

    What exactly does God do in Arminianism besides bestow grace? From reading your comment it appears that God gives people grace and then it is up to the individual what he/she will do with that. In such a scenario then would not the individual maintain their salvation? We all have the same amount of grace, so the only difference is the individual. If that be true then some people are better suited to persevere by their knowledge and/or environment or lack of either. So in Arminian theology God has given everyone the power and the ability to persevere, some use this power and ability to persevere and some do not. So the difference is the individual and his intrinsic characteristics on how he uses this power and ability.

  28. Mitch,

    Are you now admitting that you implied what I suspected you implied with your comment?

    It seems that you already answered your question here:

    Lame??? I was careful to say that it was God that gave you the strength to stand; I did not want to say that it was YOU that maintained your standing. If that is lame then I will be lame.

    God gives us the power to remain in Him. It is still God who saves us since we are powerless to save ourselves; hence the need to trust in Him for salvation. That is what faith is. We maintain our trust in Him and God is faithful to save the ones believing since He alone can save. It is not accurate to say that we maintain our own salvation.

    The difference between the believer and unbeliever has to do with the fact that one decided to surrender to God and the other did not. Salvation is conditioned on simple trust and anyone can exercise simple trust, whether they be the most intelligent of people or the most foolish of people. God enables all to put trust in Christ just as He enables all Christians to resist temptation. That one trusts in Christ and another does not makes him no more “inherently” better than the Christian who resists temptation while the other does not.

    Faith excludes boasting because it is simple trust in another. I have written a few posts on this already if you want to check them out. If you want to further discuss the text of Hebrews then I would be happy to, otherwise I am not willing to get into a discussion on the nature of God’s grace (whether it is resistible or not). I have written several posts on that topic already and you are welcome to check them out and leave comments at those posts.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  29. Dear Ben,

    When it comes to Hebrews I do not see how you proved that a truly justified person will loose their salvation. Just because the writer includes himself in one verse while clearly distinguishing him & others in other verses seem to be just a rhetorical device used to make a point, if any care there is sufficient literature available that makes that case. I believe that true believers will persevere to the end and that these warnings spur them on. I also think that these warnings serve to further condemn false professors of faith. It seems clear to me at least that the writer is distinguishing between two different groups. Further, verse 38 is not just a conditional verse, but a third class one that would only entail what I wrote before. I also fail to see how the New Covenant is *better* in Arminian theology, since our Lord does not/cannot save his people from apostasy. How exactly is this different from the OC?

    As for your explanation of simple trust being easy, I beg to differ; you would have a hard time substantiating that claim. It seems that what you are saying is that God has done his part by giving everyone the power and ability to come to this “simple trust” and now it is up to the individual. How this excludes boasting escapes me, I assume you will reference that it is faith and there is no boasting in faith, the problem though is you have changed faith from being an instrument of justification to a work. What you effectively do is make grace depend on man’s ability to muster this “simple trust”, yet I am told that all that I have has been given to me by God and that includes my “simple trust”. What you are advocating is that since all men have grace but not faith, then this faith/”simple trust” is something that comes from us, and that changes faith into a meritorious work. You of course will not see it that way, but I will let the reader decide and come to their own conclusions.

    I freely admit that the more I read your comments the more confused I get about what exactly it is that you believe. I will chalk it up to my own ignorance and will leave it be. Seeing as neither of us wants to get into a heated debate/exchange I will move on and take a break from your site. Lord willing, perhaps I could get caught up with reading some Bunyan or Owen that I have been meaning to get too.

    Praise be to God

  30. Mitch,

    I really didn’t want to get into this with you but you make some unfortunate comments that should not be ignored.

    When it comes to Hebrews I do not see how you proved that a truly justified person will loose their salvation. Just because the writer includes himself in one verse while clearly distinguishing him & others in other verses seem to be just a rhetorical device used to make a point, if any care there is sufficient literature available that makes that case.

    Maybe you don’t see it because you refuse to see it. The fact that the writer of Hebrews includes himself as one who can commit apostasy as well as one who is presently believing to the preserving of the soul destroys your whole argument unless you want to be completely arbitrary in your interpretation and say it is only significant when it seems to help your case but just “rhetorical device” when it works against you. But the main thing is that the writer of Hebrews makes it very clear that one declared righteous by God Himself can yet shrink back to destruction:

    “BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.”

    I don’t need to “prove” anything. The writer of Hebrews has already done that for me. All I need to do is submit to his teaching. And of course, I already demonstrated that the apostate mentioned in 10:26-29 was previously sanctified by Christ’s blood.

    I believe that true believers will persevere to the end and that these warnings spur them on.

    And that is exactly why you will not allow the inspired writer to express himself in a way that contradicts your cherished presuppositions.

    I also think that these warnings serve to further condemn false professors of faith.

    But there is no indication at all that he is addressing false professors while there is plain evidence that he is addressing true believers. You have blatantly ignored what is actually being said for the sake of preserving your doctrine. Here it is again:

    “BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.”

    It seems clear to me at least that the writer is distinguishing between two different groups.

    And it seems clear to me that he is not. All we need to do is read the passage in question and be honest about the implications.

    Further, verse 38 is not just a conditional verse, but a third class one that would only entail what I wrote before.

    Which does nothing to help your argument, unless you want to arbitrarily assume that it entails a hypothetical that cannot possibly occur which is contrary to the context and renders the inspired utterance meaningless. The other two uses of the third class conditional work against your interpretation.

    I also fail to see how the New Covenant is *better* in Arminian theology, since our Lord does not/cannot save his people from apostasy. How exactly is this different from the OC?

    It is better in many ways. The law is written on our hearts. There is no need for animal sacrifices which can never take away sins because through faith in Christ we attain inner cleansing of the soul. Christ intercedes on our behalf. The covenant extends to all who will believe the gospel. The Spirit empowers believers to triumph over sin. The grace of God is more abundantly poured out, and much more. The OC was conditional and it is clear that the NC is conditional as well but that does not mean it is not superior.

    The book of Hebrews is heavily concerned with the superiority of the NC and yet never states that it is unconditional. In fact, the book of Hebrews is very concerned that those who are under the NC might break that covenant to their own destruction.

    The NC can clearly be broken since Hebrews tells us plainly that one who violates the new covenant is worthy of greater punishment than those who violate the OC. Only one who is in the Covenant can violate the Covenant which further works against your assumption that these warnings are directed towards unbelievers (though you have waffled between saying that these warnings are directed towards unbelievers and saying that they are impossible hypotheticals directed towards believers).

    BTW are you saying that apostasy was a real possibility under the OC but not under the NC? That seems to be a rather unique position unless you are defining apostasy as refusing to believe the gospel which would undermine your whole argument about the impossibility of apostasy under the NC in contrast to the OC.

    As for your explanation of simple trust being easy, I beg to differ; you would have a hard time substantiating that claim.

    I don’t recall saying that it was easy. I did say that anyone can trust and it does not depend on certain superior inherent qualities. That is why faith forms the perfect basis for receiving the free gift of salvation and proves that God is no respecter of persons. All the glory goes to the one trusted for salvation and condemnation rightly falls on the one who rejects God’s provision.

    In your system, however, you have God eternally punishing people for rejecting something that was never intended for them nor provided for them, and that is plainly absurd. I will be covering this in more detail in a future post.

    It seems that what you are saying is that God has done his part by giving everyone the power and ability to come to this “simple trust” and now it is up to the individual.

    Exactly. God makes the provision and offers a free gift and it is up to the person whether or not they will receive that gift. That is nature of genuine relationships. It is absurd to believe that the God of all truth and the most genuinely pure Being in the universe would be satisfied with a relationship based the response of devotion and love that He irresistibly causes in the individual. Even sinful man would not be genuinely satisfied with such a farce, but that is where your theology takes you.

    How this excludes boasting escapes me, I assume you will reference that it is faith and there is no boasting in faith, the problem though is you have changed faith from being an instrument of justification to a work.

    How you can say that trust in the work of another is a meritorious work is beyond me. If my daughter trusts me to provide for her what she cannot provide for herself does that mean she is necessarily deserving of that provision or that her trust in me is a meritorious work? Of course not. The fact that the sinner trusts in Christ to save them is exactly the reason why faith is not earning something. It is trusting in Christ to graciously give what we cannot earn or provide for on our own.

    To say that faith is a work because it is not irresistibly caused fails to do justice to both the Biblical definitions of faith and works; and it is the Biblical definitions that matter, not those arbitrarily assigned by Calvinists in order to support their system.

    What you effectively do is make grace depend on man’s ability to muster this “simple trust”, yet I am told that all that I have has been given to me by God and that includes my “simple trust”.

    God gives you the ability to believe and trust Him so it is not something you muster up yourself. How is it that you can only see grace as grace if it is irresistible? That is a truly bizarre and unbiblical definition of grace.

    What you are advocating is that since all men have grace but not faith, then this faith/”simple trust” is something that comes from us, and that changes faith into a meritorious work.

    This simply does not follow. Just because we are the ones who must do the trusting does not make it a meritorious work as was explained above. Where do you come up with this stuff? The very nature and Biblical definition of faith makes such conclusions impossible.

    Even in Calvinism it is the individual who does the trusting. Remember when you rebuked me because you thought I was misrepresenting Calvinism by saying that God believes for us (even though I did not say that)? So unless you want to say that God believes for us, then your idea of trust would fall to the same objection, though the objection is invalid anyway.

    You of course will not see it that way, but I will let the reader decide and come to their own conclusions.

    And neither does the word of God see it that way.

    I freely admit that the more I read your comments the more confused I get about what exactly it is that you believe. I will chalk it up to my own ignorance and will leave it be.

    I don’t think you are ignorant. Maybe I have not explained myself well enough. The main issue is whether or not we are allowing the Bible to teach us or if we are forcing our presuppositions into the text. I am confident that I am submitting to the text in this case and defining faith and works according to Biblical definitions rather than definitions arbitrarily assigned by 16th century theologians.

    Seeing as neither of us wants to get into a heated debate/exchange I will move on and take a break from your site. Lord willing, perhaps I could get caught up with reading some Bunyan or Owen that I have been meaning to get too.

    Enjoy your reading.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  31. Regarding Hebrews 10:38-39

    38BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH;
    AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.
    39But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

    Who are the “those” in verse 39 who shrink back? They have already been identified in verse 38. They are the righteous ones (the justified) who fall away. So this verse is not making a distinction between false believers and true believers, since false believers can never be justified. It’s making a distinction between true believers that fall away and true believers that persevere.

    God Bless,
    Michael

  32. Right on Michael!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 217 other followers

%d bloggers like this: