14 misconceptions about the Christian life

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  • That the Christian life begins with a decision, or choice for Jesus. 
  • That the Christian life is one of progression…getting “better”.
  • That Baptism is merely a symbol of your commitment and seriousness about following Jesus. That God isn’t really doing anything in Baptism.
  • That our “free-will” is a solution to our problem of sin, death, and the devil.
  • That the Lord can, and does use earthen vessels to accomplish His will here on earth…EXCEPT for the Bible…which is totally perfect and without textual error…as the Muslims claim their book to be.
  • That the law can be used on Christians to keep them in line and right with God.
  • That our sin problem is something that we can work on to improve in the eyes of God.
  • That the Lord’s Supper is a mere remembering of what the Lord has done for us, and in no way carries the true body and blood of Christ.
  • That preachers and pastors and priests are somehow different, more holy, more sanctified, a bit more elevated than everyone else.
  • That our own version, or denomination of Christianity is the only one that knows the real Truth.
  • That God can only work in someone when they reach a certain age, or level of understanding.
  • That once we are saved, we are always saved…. it’s a completed contract.
  • That God in Christ Jesus does not love, and did not forgive the entire world.
  • That we cannot have real assurance of our salvation unless we look inside and examine ourselves to see if we really measure up, and if we really are serious enough about it all to know that we truly are His.
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35 Responses

  1. Just picking up on two of them

    14 – “That we cannot have real assurance of our salvation unless…” implies we can have real assurance but not that way. Yet

    12 – The misconception “that once we are saved, we are always saved…. it’s a completed contract” implies we are not (never in this life) in a position of being irreversibly saved

    But how can we have real assurance if we are never irreversibly saved.

    ??

  2. Being saved (the process) is God’s doing. He saves us, keeps us in faith through the hearing of His Word and the receiving of the sacraments.

    We can have assurance by relying on these external (from us) things that God has done, is doing, and will yet do for us. Totally apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think.

    Actually, Richard, this is why I am a Lutheran and not one of the other denominations that are close, but not quite there.

    (not to say, at all, that those folks are not Christian – they just lack the assurance that we have because of our proper understanding of the Word and sacraments)

    • ok – so if God does it all then why not ‘once saved, always saved’ – (which you see as a misconception)

      • Because God has every right to let you go. He’s done it before (with some of the people in Israel)…he can do it again.

        Will He? How far will He let us wander before He doesn’t come after us? Who knows? Hopefully a very long way.

        But we never want to take God’s grace for granted or presume on it…even though we have confidence and assurance in His promises.

      • Thanks, Steve (only just seen today – sorry)

        Doesn’t that put the onus (the ‘works’) back on us (not to wander)?

        Doesn’t that ‘qualify’ His Promises? (‘I will save you…provided you do not wander too far’)

        However you see God’s relationship with the OT Israelites (a unilateral ‘grace’ covenant or a bilateral ‘works’ covenant), surely the New Covenant is that God will do it all because man cannot even do a bit. He will even change our hearts (or ‘wills’ if one prefers that more muscular word)

        So we can have total confidence in what God has done, is doing and what He has said He will do – ie deliver us home. Our sanctification (if one wants to use that word for the Christian life) is as much His work as is our justification.

        To waver on that is to be double-minded, surely. It is the scandal of the cross that there is nothing more to be worried about. It is only when we stop worrying that life in Christ begins in earnest

      • We will wander.

        We do it all the time. But He comes after us. He leads us to repentance and brings us home.

        How far will He let us wander? Hopefully very far. Will He let us go? Hopefully not. There are some comforting verses in Scripture that says He will not lose any that the father has given Him.

        So we can have assurance. He will keep us.

        But to preserve God’s freedom…and so that we won’t take Him for granted..and because He has let others go…we allow for the possibility of us letting us go.

        He will save whom He will save, after all.

        That doesn’t, in my mind, put the onus back onto us. I mean, what are we going to do about it anyway? But trust that we are His.

      • Steve

        I understand but I can’t help thinking that position is either inconsistent, or at best psychologically manipulative, rather like the common view of the Hebrews warnings about apostasy – that God doesn’t mean it but He wants us to believe it.

        Surely the point about the goodness of God is that He chooses to put aside part of His freedom in His Promises to us. He wants to be known as a promise-maker and a promise-keeper. How can we truly trust Him if this were not the case? We enter new territory when we believe this fully.

      • I don’t know if a God would ever put aside His freedom. That’s what real God’s do…whatever they want to do.

        And we aren’t out to resolve every tension. So we live with a God that will do what He will do…and a God that has made promises to us in Christ Jesus…and we pray, we hope, and we have the blessed assurance that He will keep those promises to us.

        Maybe it’s not a tidy answer, but I think it’s the best that I can do. I’m sure others would answer it better than I.

      • There are two fundamentally different views of God – the God of Reason, and the God of Revelation. Christianity is clearly the latter BUT we remain excessively influenced by the Reason we inherit from Aristotle, medieval scholasticism and the Enlightenment.

        The God of Reason is essentially unknowable other than through his attributes primarily power and unchangingness along with others too. He has an ‘attitude’ of love towards us though we fall short of attributing to him the ability to love ‘affectionately’ since this might conflict with his unchangingness (impassibility).

        Because these attributes are total and constant, we face problems with their interrelation, eg justice/holiness and love. We call these a mystery or a tension. There are indeed many mysteries facing us, eg how Satan came to fall or the date of the second coming, on which scripture is resoundingly silent. But salvation and freedom from sin and assurance etc are the primary messages of the bible’s content about what a sovereign God does for us. If these are the content of Revelation, then they cannot also be essentially Mystery.

        Philip makes this mistake in Jn 14 when he asks ‘Show us the Father’ to which Jesus gives the astounding answer ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the Father’, ie there is nothing more for you to know than what I have taught and shown you. We should not therefore try to peer behind Jesus to see who the ‘real’ God is.

        If the message of the OT is God showing His total sovereignty – over other gods who are not at all – then the message of the NT is showing how God wishes to use that power, to sacrifice Himself for His people. The cross is a message of a God voluntarily entering a position of unfreedom. It minimises the cross to say ‘well, it was just for 3 days and He knew it would be over’. God moves from freedom to unfreedom, that we might move from unfreedom to freedom. You cannot say that God does not have the freedom to give up His freedom if that is what He wants to do – THAT would be a denial of His total power!

        Of course He could, logically speaking, change His salvation plan altogether but then He would then not be the god He has revealed Himself to be. But even to contemplate this is to doubt His promises.

        Of course our Aristotelian logic (that still tells us that our picture of God is better than His revealed picture of Himself) is uneasy with a ‘bound’ God. So we set Him free by re-binding ourselves – to a performance or a perseverance without which God is again free to punish. This is essentially the Catholic view, but it is ruled out in scripture. John says that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. It would not be just of Him to punish us for our sins because Jesus has already been punished for them. One sin cannot be punished twice; that would be unjust. To say that God might after all choose to punish us for our sins is to say that Jesus had not been punished for our sins – and Lutherans of all people maintain that Jesus was punished for the sins of all the world!

        The language of taking a bride, which is so much stronger than the language of taking a people, implies an unending commitment which, since God is so powerful, can never be broken on His part, any more than the love within the Trinity could be dissolved. This marriage covenant is hinted at in the Abrahamic covenant where God alone passes through the divided animal parts while Abraham is in a deep slumber. Here God says ‘may this (the tearing apart of the animals) be to Me if I renege on My promises’. And the fact that Abraham does not also pass through this carnage means that God also takes responsibility for Abraham’s responsibilities which of course do cause Jesus to be like the torn up animals.

        There is nothing more certain than that God will keep his promises. When we say we hope and trust that He will, this should not be wishful thinking. Hope in scripture is a certain knowledge; the word now means less than certain knowledge. Trust, similarly, is simply belief or faith in something certain and external; it is not a hope in something uncertain and external to which we somehow add some sort of internal commitment to make up the difference. That would leave us open to doubt and fear when we found that internal commitment shaky.

        God has given up once and for all His freedom to judge and punish the elect. This assurance sets us free to love Him and call Him Father.

      • Our reason wants to make God over into the sort of reasonable being that we are.

        But He is not like us. He is wild, and unpredictable. In Exodus we are told that “the Lord sought Moses to kill him”.

        Why?

        We never want to make this relationship we have with the Lord into a contract. I don’t think it gives the Lord His due.

        But, we can trust in His promises.

        There you have it. Trust…but know that He can, and is able to kill you, anytime He pleases.

      • I think we are 30% in agreement and 70% not

        (I don’t think you have done justice to my argument about God committing Himself to His people, His bride)

      • That’s the best I can do, Richard, without removing God’s freedom.

        He cut off some of His chosen in the Old Testament. He let them go. And we have to allow Him the freedom to do what He wills, whenever He wills, and even to change His mind if He wills to do so.

        But that is not our focus. Our focus is on the blessed assurance in Christ Jesus. That is our message. The other is just letting God be God.

      • If He changes His mind in the way you suggest, then His Promises are not worth a row of beans

        I for one would prefer to defend His character as having a willingness to commit, rather than His rights never to commit

        We do after all have very different views of God – we cannot both be right

        (I think you fail to see the enormity of the switch from old to new covenant)

      • I didn’t say that He will…or that He does.
        I said that He has…and that we have to allow that it is in the realm of possibility that He could do it again.

        Not that He will. Not that His promises are not good. But that He is God and that He CAN do whatever He darn well pleases to do.

        Otherwise, we chop Him down a bit.

        No thanks. I won’t do that.

      • Bless you, Steve!

        I suspect you are sufficiently afraid of ‘presuming’ on God that YOU ‘chop him down’ by not trusting Him for what He HAS said. Or maybe this is a Lutheran ‘thang’?

        In Isaiah 43, God says ‘Put me in remembrance of my word (my promises)’. Check out how all the commentators see that

        https://peebles.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/isaiah-4326-kjv-“put-me-in-remembrance”/

        Imagine if you did not trust him enough to remind Him that He had promised to save you – yes promised with all that commitment. He might say ‘You fool, did I not say that I would save those who would trust me for that with their whole heart, without equivocation’!

        Do you think there will instead be those who run up to their Father and Older Brother with love and gratitude, only to be told ‘You trusted me too much’, ‘you presumed i would save you’, ‘You were too certain of that I meant what i had said’.

        Ask Pastor Mark whether God has been pleased and happy to bind Himself to His promises, or whether God wants us to remain just a little bit nervous in case He changes His mind

        Steve, if I promised you something, you would be right to be careful because I am unreliable meaning you cannot rely on me. But are you saying that you cannot – really – rely on God’s promises, just in case He changes His mind ?

  3. Like to just mention a couple if I may (I’ll try to number them):
    #1- While the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and need for Christ, I do believe it is a choice (we are not forced). So I would obviously disagree. 🙂
    #2- While I don’t think it is a matter of getting “better,” I do believe it is a matter of growth and growing into a deeper walk with Christ.
    #3- While I believe God is doing a work within at baptism, I also believe it is a symbol of that person’s commitment to love, honor and cherish Him. My question: how does infant sprinkling say anything about the individual?
    #5- confused about what you are trying to say. (Call me thick)
    #8- Not tracking with you on this. I do believe it is symbolic of the body and blood of Christ.
    #9- totally agree. I am one.
    #10- your answer to Richard seems to give this impression (although I think I know you better).

    i do agree with much of what you say here, Stephen, because I believe very strongly in grace, and that neither law nor works can save. Nor can we get better by following any laws. Just some thoughts I have.

  4. Thanks, Bill.

    I’ll try and give the Lutheran response to your ideas about what I wrote.

    #1 – The Bible clearly says that we do NOT choose.
    Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”
    The gospel of John says that “we were born not of blood,
    nor of the will of the flesh, NOR of the will of man.”
    So much for our ‘choosing’.

    #2 “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”
    When we try and ‘help God sanctify us’ (as if He needs our help)
    we get all self-focused and self-conscious, and lose the freedom
    that He dies to give us. And then we are in danger of getting
    prideful (when we think we are doing ok) or falling into despair
    when we don’t measure up…which we never can measure up.

    #3 “Baptism now saves you.” 1st Peter
    We receive the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit in
    Baptism. – Acts 2:38
    Baptism isn’t supposed to say anything g about us…it is
    an act of adoption by God. It is all His doing. He gives us His
    name and His promises in Baptism.

    #5 I was saying that we live by faith, in the Word of God (which is
    Christ Jesus Himself). We do not fall into the trap of biblicism
    or ascribe the same value of meaning to every single jot and
    tittle of Scripture. We believe it all to be true and valid and
    infallible…without believing that it floated down from Heaven
    with a bow tied around it.

    #8 Jesus said, “This IS my body. This IS my blood.” “Whoever
    does not eat my body and drink my blood has no life in them.”
    And He commanded that we do it, “Do this…” “take and eat…”
    He never commanded us to do anything where He would not
    be in it, for us.
    For us it is not a symbol…but He is actually in it (how? – who
    knows?)…working His will in our life of faith.

    #10 We believe that there are Christians in all sorts of different
    churches where Christ and His forgiveness of sins for the
    ungodly are proclaimed in some fashion.
    But we want people to know the great freedom that Christ
    Jesus has won for them on the Cross…totally apart from
    anything that they do, say, feel, or think.
    It’s wonderful! And it keeps us off the religious ladder-climbing
    project, which leads to either despair…or pride.
    That’s why we critique how others handle the message of the
    gospel.
    We don’t ever judge anyone’s salvation. Ever.

    Anyway, Bill, those are some of the reasons that I have (we have) for the believing the way we do.

    God bless you, friend.

    – Steve

  5. Bless you, Steve!

    I suspect you are sufficiently afraid of ‘presuming’ on God that YOU ‘chop him down’ by not trusting Him for what He HAS said. Or maybe this is a Lutheran ‘thang’?

    In Isaiah 43, God says ‘Put me in remembrance of my word (my promises)’. Check out how all the commentators see that

    https://peebles.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/isaiah-4326-kjv-“put-me-in-remembrance”/

    Imagine if you did not trust him enough to remind Him that He had promised to save you – yes promised with all that commitment. He might say ‘You fool, did I not say that I would save those who would trust me for that with their whole heart, without equivocation’!

    Do you think there will instead be those who run up to their Father and Older Brother with love and gratitude, only to be told ‘You trusted me too much’, ‘you presumed i would save you’, ‘You were too certain of that I meant what i had said’.

    Ask Pastor Mark whether God has been pleased and happy to bind Himself to His promises, or whether God wants us to remain just a little bit nervous in case He changes His mind

    Steve, if I promised you something, you would be right to be careful because I am unreliable meaning you cannot rely on me. But are you saying that you cannot – really – rely on God’s promises, just in case He changes His mind ?

    • Richard,

      God will keep His promises…on His own. Would you force Him to?

      Or would you grant that for those who wander a long way off, God could retain the right to let them go?

    • I’ll ask Pastor Mark how he would answer your questions.

      I’ll see him tomorrow for the Ash Wednesday service.

  6. I was thinking last night about where Jesus warns us about being caught up in the worries of the day or in drunkenness…lest we lose ourselves.

    And then my mind went to Psalm 51 where the “apple of God’s eye (David) asks to “not be cast away from your presence Lord” and “take not your Holy Spirit from me”.

    I think there’s a certain amount of attitude adjusting that God does with us…so that we will not get arrogant and take Him for granted.

    That, and that we preserve the freedom of God to be God, is why we are not “once saved, always saved” people.

    But I will ask Pastor Mark about it tonight.

    • Your comment above, and your earlier comment of..
      “God will keep His promises…on His own. Would you force Him to?
      Or would you grant that for those who wander a long way off, God could retain the right to let them go?”

      I think our different starting points lead to different outcomes. You have a strong mental construct of what a God looks like. His sovereignty means, and must mean for you, that He can change course at any time and without explaining himself to us – that makes Him almost arbitrary. No wonder you need to hope; and fear; and to remain uncertain.

      I tried to explain my differing view. In brief God is a Person who is big into Relationships, first the joyous, ever self-giving within the Trinity, and then towards his creation which was created for His self-giving love. He wants, and will bring about a Relationship with his People which is the ultimate Marriage Relationship, involving warm indeed exultant ever self-sacrificial, self-giving love to the point of death. He delights to do that just as Jesus delighted to do His Father’s will

      This is the God of Augustine, Luther and Jonathan Edwards, whereas the God reserving all Power in his Aloofness is the God of Aristotle, Aquinas and most of the Puritans. But such a God is little different from the God of Islam, let alone the Catholics, in the psychological perspective of God that it creates in man’s unconscious.

      So, those who wander off? God ‘could’ (logically) let them go, but then He would not be the god He has chosen to be – the Shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the 1 etc. Without a grasp of the Father’s Heart, one is, well, back to Aristotle. Is He the Good Shepherd or the half-hearted Shepherd who goes only so far? And for that, we give Him the Glory

  7. So you could not pray the prayer that David prayed in Psalm 51?

    • Yes, I certainly can and do all the time – but for very different reasons than you do.

      I don’t see to be getting my point across to you.

      You have read your bible and have come up with your view which is widely shared. I have done the same. Our views are different (though I used to share your view so I know what it is like). Both views can actually be argued from scripture and yet we might both be wrong!

      I think we will have to agree to disagree – though I would feel happier if you understood my view more than you seem to.

      We both start with God’s absolute sovereignty. You want to keep it that way; I want to see what God wants to do with His sovereignty. I believe the bible is a picture of what He wants to do. It is more a picture of what He wants to do with regard to his fallen creation than it is a (static) picture about Him in isolation almost as a mighty being to be worshipped and feared like some ancient capricious animist god

      So, in my view, what does God want to do with His sovereignty? Enter into a marriage commitment. We apologise (repent/ask for forgiveness) within marriage not just because we fear that our human spouses might otherwise leave us, but because we know we have hurt them. We do this even when we know – in fact even more so when we know – that they will not leave us; in such circumstances we are all the more sorry that we have hurt such a lovely, committed person.

      So with David with God.

      You have read Ps.51 as if David feared he might lose his salvation (or rather, that He might so irritate God sufficiently that he would lose his probationary status for ever). I and others read it totally differently.

      v. 1b – ‘according to your unfailing love’; David knows God has promised to be unfailing. That belief, that God will keep His promises, is like Abraham believing God when God says he will have many descendants despite having to kill Isaac. Both believed God’s promises; God likes that.

      v. 4b – ‘justified when you judge’; this does not mean that David expects to be judged and punished with hell, but that God is just and needs to judge, and David has realised that the Messiah must somehow take on that burden. If the OT is about looking forward to a Messiah as a Solution, then surely David glimpsed that

      v. 5 – ‘Surely I was sinful at birth’; this is not a question of how much David might ‘wander off’. He recognises ‘that there is no good in’ him. We are not judged by how much we ‘wander off’ (your phrase). Grace means God rescuing us when we wander off, which we do – and none of us can say ‘I wander off less than you’. Nor does He give up on OT Israel – though He does teach them that ‘not all Israel is Israel’ ie biological Israel is not what matters; it is the Israel that trusts God’s promises. indeed I have to ask – what promises do you actually believe God will keep to?

      v. 12a – David does not say ‘Restore to me my salvation’ but ‘Restore to me the joy of my salvation’. His guilt had stripped him of his joy. Yes, God does that and it will seem like hell on earth. God thereby disciplines those He loves; in this, yes, He is to be feared – but it is about the discipline of the ‘righteous’, not a sign of Milton’s Paradise Lost

      v 11,12 – Yes I dare say that they can be interpreted as David fearing losing his salvation; but they can equally be interpreted as David knowing and fearing the loss of the joy of his salvation, of grieving a God who loves him. David was a man after God’s own heart – it would be so marvellous to be described like that by God Himself. David is not a man on the edge of ‘wandering off’ too far – he in fact went far beyond most of us ever will – virtually compulsory sex with an employee’s wife, and then murder of that employee.

      v 14aii – perhaps more than any other ‘the God who saves me’. Even in this blood-guilt, David knows (not just hopes) his God is one ‘who saves’ him – not who ‘might’ save him. The point is ‘saving’ in this context (and much of the time, including for us now, and certainly for me which is why – yes – I can pray that prayer) is about saving me from myself, not saving me from hell; surely if Jesus accomplished anything, He saved me from hell – are you denying that?

      What I don’t understand is how many modern Lutherans have departed from the robust confidence in God espoused and modelled by Luther himself, and have instead adopted the stance of a ‘son in probation’ never quite sure whether, despite Paul, he shares in the inheritance. Why, after all, was Paul himself so sure? Because he did not ‘wander’? He called himself the ‘chief of sinners’. Was that fake humility?

      Still, if you want to keep the god of Aristotle – who is not really prepared to commit Himself to His people, his beloved – then nothing I can say will draw you away.

      It is your choice; beware you are not like the man given one talent

    • I listened to several P Mark’s recently on a long journey

      At no point does he hint at the idea that we must spend our life ensuring that we do not ‘wander off’

      He goes so far to suggest that God giving us over to our ‘free will’ – which only ever wants to sin – is His judgment on people, not His blessing on them!

      If it was left to us whether or not we would wander off, we would wander off – guaranteed – every time.

  8. “At no point does he hint at the idea that we must spend our life ensuring that we do not ‘wander off’”

    Agreed. I never said that we ought to do that.

    All that I am saying, and Pastor Mark agrees (I learned it through him) is that God is free. He’s the only one who is. He can do whatever He wants to do. He doesn’t have to save a one of us. But He has chosen to do so. And we have assurance in His promises…in the Word and sacraments. We can count on them.

    But God could (not that He would)…He could send every one of us to hell…tomorrow…if He so pleased.

    We just never want to get to the point of taking Him or His gospel for granted. We don’t want to say that He owes me anything…even in Christ. We want to preserve His freedom…even in the midst of His promises…which are trustworthy.

    That is about the best I can do, Richard. Other than that, I guess we’ll just have to have a disagreement..and have a good laugh over it when we get to Heaven.

    • You might be pleased to know that I agree with all you write here!!!

      But you say ‘all that I am saying’ and ‘we just never want to get to the point’. However, in your earlier posts, you spoke of ‘wandering off too far’ and ‘that is why we are are not once saved always saved people’.

      That, to me, is saying much more. If our behavior – wandering off too far – might prompt God not to draw us back, then in some way His promise to us – to save sinners – is conditional. It is conditional on Him not changing his mind, which He warns He might do if the forgiven sinner wanders too far.

      In those circumstances it becomes much more than avoiding a general ‘take Him for granted’ attitude (I agree with that); it returns us to a focus on our behavior lest we wander too far which, if we take it seriously, always produces some sort of self-repression. Mark mentions the sisters in Babette’s Feast and he says that is typical of the Missouri Synod interpretation.

      It might seem to be just emphasis but, as with skate-boarding, that leads to veering in a different direction. There is a fundamental difference – you seem to believe that God restores free will to us at conversion which, if misused, means we might wander off too far with deadly consequences. I don’t believe any such autonomy is ours (indeed that would limit God’s sovereignty!!)

      Pastor Mark also mentions Arndt (following Melanchthon in his older years) as the one who wrongly reintroduced this semi-Pelagianism. Others think it was Melanchthon himself.

      So we can ask ‘Do you love God for what He has done?’ or ‘Do you fear God for what He might do?’ – the two edges on the skateboard. To say ‘Both!’ is surely schizophrenic; it turns scripture from Revelation to Confusion!

    • A further thought

      I agree we will have ‘a good laugh over it in Heaven’ but that is because I believe in ‘once saved always saved’.

      But how does your position allow you to say that? Surely we cannot ‘take it for granted’ that we will be in Heaven if ‘once saved always saved’ is not true. One or both of us might wander too far

  9. Richard,

    I can say that (when we get to Heaven) in the fervent hope that we will.

    Never presuming upon God that it is a done deal (even though we can trust in His promises and have assurance in His Word and sacraments).

    We don’t expect to resolve every tension, but instead live with them by faith (not being able to know, for sure – for then, we would not need faith).

    • HEBREWS 11 v1 – “Now faith is being sure (certain) of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see” (NIV)

      ESV puts it – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”

      The ESV note reads “By defining faith as assurance and conviction, the author indicates that biblical faith is not…wishful thinking [but] a settled confidence that something in the future -..promised by God – will actually come to pass because God will bring it about”…He will ‘never leave nor foresake his own’ (13.5)

      This is a bolder defintion than yours. Hebrews v6 then warns

      “and without faith (as defined above) it is impossible to please him (for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” – not that he might reward them.

      We can have a certain hope, not a fervent hope (The Latin for ‘hope’ is ‘adspero’ meaning to ‘look forward’. It is only more recently that we have added the flavor that hope must carry some doubt with it)

    • Further thought

      The essence of faith is ‘not seen’ rather than ‘not certain’.

      We can be certain of what is not seen (including our salvation) because God has reassured us.If He was (i) not omnipotent or (ii) not consistently benevolent, then indeed we would be right to doubt. But ‘fervent hope’ contains too much of that sort of consistent doubt which casts aspersions on God’s promises

      It may be that the thing that you think makes Him happy actually makes Him cross

  10. Hi Richard,

    Good points.

    I did discuss our discussion with Pastor Mark this morning. He seems to be leaning on your side. Although he understands my concerns.

    He said that God’s promises CAN be presumed upon. In every instance.

    But He does caution against the contract mentality that often seems to be a result of “once saved, always saved.”

    He did say that it is an area that probably ought not be focused upon. He said Forde skirted the subject.

    But, I will relinquish to you the victory.

    Thanks, friend. I couldn’t have lost to a nicer guy 😀

  11. You have been unbelievably gracious – I am now indeed certain we will meet in heaven – unless you are much closer to the throne!

    I hope you will now enjoy more of the freedom that God sovereignly provides; the free joy of being a totally accepted, adopted child

    For my part, I am however still curious. How is it that
    “the contract mentality that often seems to be a result of “once saved, always saved.”

    Indeed, were you to start with ‘once saved, always saved’, there would surely be no need for man to maintain his part of the contract?!

    For me ‘once saved always saved’ is not and should not be a starting position; indeed that brings out the unpleasant edginess of double predestination which Calvin, the logical lawyer, espoused.

    I too am dead against the contract mentality, and maintain the marriage covenant is totally different and more dignifying to both God and man.

    The starting point is God’s love, demonstrated in his promises which are trustworthy.

    It is God’s love and trustworthiness that lead to ‘once saved, always saved’.

    ‘Once saved, always saved’ is not a fierce edict; it is the commitment of a loving Father who will never let you go.

    So I’m not quite clear
    i. what Pastor Mark is cautioning against
    ii. how Forde skirted what issue

    Can you enlighten – just to tidy up the issue?

    thanks
    Richard

  12. I’m no closer than the worst of the worst…since I do believe that I have them beat.

    I understand your wish for me to be “more free” in the secure knowledge of my election. But I have always had it…even though I know God can do whatever He will do. I have it because He Baptized me and I trust in the promises He made to me there. (not to rehash the whole enchilada)

    The contract mentality is one that stems from the false faith of accepting Jesus. Or making a decision for Jesus. This is not the basis for true faith and the person is trusting, in essence, in themselves…and what they did. Believing it to be a contract. I did my part…now God must do His part.

    Pastor Mark is (I believe) cautioning against focusing on things over which we have no control, and thereby entertaining doubts. (people like me)

    Forde skirted the issue of “once saved, always saved” – or God letting go of some.

    Instead, Forde concentrated on the promises and God’s steadfast love in them.

    Again…not to wind the whole thing up again.

    But that’s what I got from my brief conversation with Mark this a.m..

    Thank you, Richard.

    PS- I think you can e-mail Pastor Mark on the church’s website (first one listed on the links column (right side of the blog). To maybe get it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

    • I agree the contract mentality of “of accepting Jesus” or “making a decision for Jesus” is appalling though, in my experience, that comes from the Arminians not from the Reformed camp (usually).

      You again comment “I have it because He Baptized me and I trust in the promises He made to me there”. I still cannot handle the Lutheran (virtually ‘ex opere operato’) view on baptism but am more than happy to know that God makes promises to all who know they are sinners and who seek Him – whether or not they have been wetted

      Thanks; I might well email P Mark esp about “cautioning against focusing on things over which we have no control”. I for one am only too pleased to focus on God’s promises to save me, over which I have 0% control. Indeed I would be very nervous if I had any control over it.

      I have recently bought various Forde books – I will see how he “skirted the issue of “once saved, always saved” – or God letting go of some”.

      Thanks, Steve

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