“Once Saved, Always Saved” and Three Cups of Tea: Cup 2

This is the second part of a three-part guest post by David Bates of the blog Restless Pilgrim, on the topic of the doctrine of eternal security, better known as “Once Saved, Always Saved”:

In the last post I began to examine the responses of Mack, a recent commentator on my Once Saved, Always Saved post who offered some constructive criticism concerning the Scripture passages I presented.
previously looked at Mack’s commentary of 1 John 5:16-17 and 2 Peter 2:20-22. I will now look at his analysis of several other passages which I offered in defense of the idea that it is possible to lose one’s salvation. Mack basically attempted to disqualify these texts since they were drawn from letters addressed to groups of people.
So, grab another cup of tea and we’ll look at what he had to say…
tea

Text #3: Romans 11:1-23

Scripture

David Bates
“But if some of the branches were broken off [the Jews], and you, a wild olive shoot [the Gentiles], were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree [Jesus Christ], do not boast over the branches…For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you…Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off” 

Mack’s Comments

[This] is addressed to gentiles as a group who are invited…to join the family of God, but warns them as a group of holding the Jews in contempt since God is able to turn again to Israel and dump the Gentiles (which will happen during the tribulation period). No saved individual Christians are sent to hell in the passage.

My Response

Mack emphasizes that these words are addressed to a group of people, the Gentiles. In his commentary on other passages he explains what he sees as the implication of this so I will address that point then.
A real warning?
Mack and I both agree that this passage from Romans is a warning. Paul tells his Gentile readers that they share in Christ “provided” they “continue in His kindness”. I would suggest that this is the main warning, rather than against “holding the Jews in contempt”which Mack asserts.
I have to ask, is this a warning without teeth? What will happen if Paul’s Gentile readers don’t continue in the Lord’s kindness? Paul says that they will be “cut off”, separated from Christ. Can someone who is separated from God really enter Heaven? I don’t think so.
An immediate warning?
I may be wrong here, but I get the impression from Mack’s comments that he doesn’t think this passage has any direct relevance to the original Gentile recipients of Paul’s epistle.
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles… – Romans 11:13
It sounds like Mack thinks that these words only apply to the Gentiles at some point in the distant future. If he does believe this, I would appreciate an explanation as to why he holds this view.
So once saved, always saved? I’m afraid it doesn’t sound like it to me…

Text #4: Galatians 5:1,4

Scripture

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace

Mack’s Response

[This] is addressed to a group of persons (saved and lost church attendees in Galatia) who are drifting off into Jewish legalism and other human self-effort types of religious do-goodisms. They have fallen from grace into legalistic bondage. No saved Christians go to hell in the passage, although they might be among all the people mistakenly caught up in legalism because of the church’s bad teachings.

My Response

As above, Mack appeals to the fact that this passage is addressed to a group of people.
Group members are people too!
I’m afraid I really don’t see what possible impact the group nature of this epistle has concerning the passage’s meaning.
For example, suppose I take a group of friends rock climbing and I say to them “You should all make sure you put on your safety harnesses otherwise you’ll hurt yourself if you fall”. I’m speaking to a group, but the truth I’ve just communicated applies to each of them individually. If they don’t obey what I say, they will each have to suffer the consequences of not heeding my words.
Likewise, Paul’s words are for the Church in Galatia, but they are obviously meant for each member.
Does gravity apply only to groups?
Again, maybe I’m misunderstanding Mack’s words, but it sounds like he thinks that groups can fall away, but individuals can’t.  How does that work exactly? If this is what he believes I find it logically problematic. If one assumes “once saved, always saved”, then the following two statements must be true:
(i) It is impossible for someone “saved” to fall away
(ii) The non-saved have never been “saved”, so there’s nothing from which they can actually fall
So, given these two statements, who exactly are these people “fall[ing] away”?
Extreme Words
Returning to the passage itself, I just don’t know how a person can be “burdened again….[returned to] slavery…alienated from Christ…fallen away from grace” and still end up in Heaven. As I asked in my original post, how could the language be any more extreme? Paul is saying that the Galatians are returning to the same slavery they experienced prior to coming to Christ!
So once saved, always saved? I’m afraid it doesn’t sound like it to me…

Text #5: Colossians 1:21-23

Scripture

“And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel”

Mack’s Comments

In the King James Bible the “ye” demonstrates that Colossians 1:21-23 is plural, a statement to the group. No individual Christians are damned in the passage, rather the local church is suppose to not move from the faith (sadly many have). Of course, individual saved people can be carried along by false doctrines (like St. Peter, see Galatians 2:13), and it would bring them into temporal condemnation only.

My Response

Mack is perfectly correct here that the King James Version (KJV) reveals that the “you” here is plural. But, again, I have to ask: so what? Groups are made up of individuals! Do warnings, when spoken to a group, not actually apply to the members of that group? Can the ”local church”, a group, “move from the faith” while itsmembers remain “saved”? Who exactly is moving from the faith?
Orthodoxy or orthopraxy?
Mack speaks about “individual saved people…[being] carried along by false doctrines”. The example he gives is unfortunately not an especially good one since it concerns orthopraxy (correct action) rather than orthodoxy (correct belief). St. Peter knew that the Gentiles were part of the New Covenant, in fact, they were first brought into the Church by Peter himself! The problem was that he wasn’t practising what he preached (Acts 15:7). Unfortunately he wasn’t the last Pope of the Catholic Church to say one thing and to do another…
Salvation by ANY faith alone
To my mind, Mack’s response implies something extremely radical. It sounds like he’s asserting that it’s possible to embrace legalistic heresies with absolutely no impact upon salvation. He concludes that there will be “temporal condemnation only” for legalism, although I’m unsure what it is he is seeing in the text to lead him to that conclusion.
I don’t know the denomination to which Mack belongs, but it seems to me that embracing this belief together with sola fide (salvation by faith alone) presents some real problems. Within Lutheran theology the only real “mortal” sin is heresy, since it strikes at faith. When someone embraces heresy, he still has faith, but in what does he have faith? He has faith not in truth, but in error. To quote St. James, can such a faith still save him?
If Mack is saying that we are saved by faith alone and that it doesn’t matter if that faith is a heretical one, I’d like to hear his explanation and reasoning.
Again with that pesky conditional…
Returning to the original passage, Mack has not addressed the important part of the sentence which was underlined in my original post: “…provided that you continue in faith”. What will happen to the members of the Church at Colossae if they don’t continue in faith?
So once saved, always saved? I’m afraid it doesn’t sound like it to me…
I’ll address Mack’s final two Scripture interpretations in my next post.

47 Comments

  1. Pure Land Buddhism heavily relies on the faith in Amitabha Buddha. Those who recite his name will be reborn in a pure land where it is possible to gain enlightenment, as opposed to this corrupt place.

    I wonder why I thought of that in relation to this.

    1. There’s the cup!

      I love that response you have, “Groups are people, too!”

      Of course they are. Unless they are groups of dogs or some other creature. But we are speaking of Christians and Christian groups are composed of individuals. Of people. It sounds to me as though Mack is desperately grasping at straws. He seems to be intentionally attempting to confuse issues, no matter how ridiculous his statement may be, in order to “save face”. In the process, he achieves exactly the opposite.

      Great job, RP!

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

    2. Mack said:

      De Maria,

      Thank you for proving my point re 2 Peter 2:20-22 KJV, namely that dogs are not Christians and never were.

      .

      The point is that St. Paul was not addressing dogs. He was addressing people and warning them that they could fall away from the faith.

      1 Timothy 1:19
      Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

      De Maria

    3. “that dogs are not Christians and never were.”

      This is so dishonest a thing to say that you should try to stop arguing if you are driven to it as an alternative to admitting to being wrong. To take the word “dogs” because your opponent uses and to slander early Christians with it — well, the verse you should be mediating on is John 8:44

    4. Marycatelli,

      I don’t understand your point. A Christian is called a sheep and the lost are called dogs. This is scriptural typology and if you look it up you’ll see it is quite consistent.

      Obviously the question of whether individual Christians lose their salvation needs to be addressed by passages that deal with individual Christians who allegedly lost their salvation. Citing a passage addressed to a group proves nothing unless you can prove that every single person in that group was saved.

      This is common sense and simple logic.

      – Mack.

    5. That does not mean that any reference to actual dogs, not human beings, is a reference to sinners, and furthermore, there is no way that any adult human being can honestly not know that.

  2. Pilgrim,

    Regarding Galatians 5, did you notice that “fallen from grace” means departing from reliance upon God’s grace alone, and thus falling into legalism by trusting your own works?

    The expression is used colloquially to mean falling into sin, but that’s certainly not what the passage is talking about.

    – Mack.

    1. Mack said to Pilgrim:

      mackquigleyJune 29, 2013 at 7:48 AM
      Pilgrim,

      Regarding Galatians 5, did you notice that “fallen from grace” means departing from reliance upon God’s grace alone, and thus falling into legalism by trusting your own works?

      No. That is your twist on the Scripture. But it is not what it means. Read further. God expects us to do His works. And we are incapable of doing His works without His grace. Therefore it is those who disobey His Son and refuse to do the works of love which He commands who have fallen from God’s grace.

      Gal 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

      Philippians 2:11-13
      King James Version (KJV)
      11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

      The expression is used colloquially to mean falling into sin, but that’s certainly not what the passage is talking about.

      Yes, it is. That is certainly part of what the passage is talking about:
      Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
      21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

      De Maria

      Gal 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

    2. >”fallen from grace” means departing from reliance upon God’s grace alone, and thus falling into legalism by trusting your own works

      Are you saying that this kind of faith can save someone?! If so, wouldn’t this mean that, from your point of view, any evangelical who later became Catholic would still be saved? After all, from your point of view, they’ve fallen into a works-based legalistic religion.

      > The expression [“fallen from grace”] is used colloquially to mean falling into sin, but that’s certainly not what the passage is talking about.

      What from the text leads to you to this conclusion?

      What about the phrase “alientated from Christ”? If you are alientated from someone, how much do you have to do with them? Will someone who is “alientated from Christ”, upon death, be immediately brought into glorious union with Christ?

  3. Mack, I don’t have much else to add to De Maria’s response.

    All I’ll say is that if you want to convince people here of your position you’ve actually got to engage the arguments I’ve made and demonstrate them to be false, showing where my logic is incorrect. At the moment it rather feels like you’re avoiding my actual arguments.

  4. Pilgrim,

    If you can’t figure out what “fallen from grace” actually means (“whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” Gal. 5:4 KJV), or figure out that dogs, goats, and pigs are different from sheep (“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” John 10:14 KJV), or realize that groups are different from individuals (“He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.” John 13:10 KJV) then I’m afraid logic won’t help you much.

    You have persistently ignored my repeated attempt to draw your attention what salvation means to (1) a body, (2) a soul, (3) and a spirit – even while you are pretending that you want to have a discussion about what “once saved always saved” means. You desperately wish to remain ignorant about what the word “saved” means as applied to a body, a soul, and a spirit – so how can anybody have an intelligent conversation with somebody who doesn’t even know how to define the term under discussion or differentiate how it is applied to different things?

    The grafted branches in Romans 11 stand for gentiles as a group, not for individual Christians. During Christ’s ministry he specifically excluded gentiles from his immediate ministry as unwelcome, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:5-6 KJV; and “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24 KJV.

    But you won’t recognize scriptural development, won’t rightly divide the scriptures, and you refuse to recognize when the New Testament came into effect, so how can anything I show you in the Bible pertaining to “saved” make sense to you?

    So just give it up, you’ll never understand it.

    – Mack.

    1. Nonsense. People have engaged every one of your points. Your explosion here springs from the fact that they have rightly refuted them from scripture — and logic, like your “groups are different from individuals” bit by which you mean that something can happen to a group without happening to those it is composed of.

      As for “rightly dividing scripture,” that is a pretty little euphemism for demanding not sola scripture but sola mackquigley, and that we discard Holy Writ rather than disagree with you. You have joined with the Jews who rejected Jesus and divided their own scripture rather than admit what it showed.

    2. > If you can’t figure out what “fallen from grace” actually means …then I’m afraid logic won’t help you much.

      Mack, I think you need to appreciate that your understanding of Scripture historically stands very much alone. Therefore if I ask what sound to you to be stupid questions it’s because I’m trying to understand your novel definitions and interpretations.

      > You have persistently ignored my repeated attempt to draw your attention what salvation means to (1) a body, (2) a soul, (3) and a spirit – even while you are pretending that you want to have a discussion about what “once saved always saved” means.

      No, I just don’t understand why you think the one does not affect the other. As I wrote, it sounds more like Libertine Gnosticism to me.

      Also, if you look at my articles, you’ll see that I refer to what you wrote a lot, whereas your responses so far really have not engaged what I’ve written.

      > The grafted branches in Romans 11 stand for gentiles as a group, not for individual Christians.

      You’ve said this before, but as I pointed out you speak of groups as though they’re not made up of individuals! In my response I gave the example of the rock climbing excursion. Where is the logic I present incorrect?

      Also, in my response I suggested that you don’t think Paul’s words have any relevance for the Gentile recipients of his letter? Is that correct? Does his warning have any relevance for them?

      > But you won’t recognize scriptural development, won’t rightly divide the scriptures, and you refuse to recognize when the New Testament came into effect, so how can anything I show you in the Bible pertaining to “saved” make sense to you?

      No, what I refuse to accept is that Jesus’ preaching had a shelf-life of three years. Again, I must point out that nobody in the early centuries of Christianity understood Salvation History in the manner you describe. It feels like you’re driving a wedge between the Saviour and the Apostles.

    3. Maryc & Pilgrim,

      I fail to see what part of “whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” Gal. 5:4 KJV has been invented by MackQuigley? Why are you mistaking a jerk like me for the Apostle Paul and the Holy Ghost? That’s a rather stupid thing to do.

      The verse says – not MackQuigley speaking – that legalism, i.e., trying to justify yourself by the law, means you have “fallen from grace” – setting up in opposition either being justified by the law or else by grace.

      The phrase “fallen from grace” means exactly what the scripture says it means, and not “fallen into sin” which is how people erroneously use it all the time.

      This show that importance of READING the words in scripture, rather than relying upon TRADITION.

      – Mack.

    4. Pilgrim,

      Everything in the entire Bible applies fully to us today, but not necessarily as Church doctrine, but rather as spiritual instruction – things we can learn from.

      Jesus Christ was not talking to gentile Christians, he was talking to Jews under the Old Testament law. After his death and resurrection, which instituted the New Testament, he then appointed Paul for the ministry of speaking to us.

      Ebionites and so-called “Red Letter Christians” wish to reject Paul’s doctrines and stick to the Jewish approach that was central to Christ’s ministry to observant Jews under Moses’ law. This is a heresy. Christians in the church are gentiles saved by the gospel Paul preached (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 KJV) apart from the Jewish law.

      In later ages, once the Jews are saved, there will be the reconstitution of Theocracy and temple rites – but at that point the Church will have been completed, and we will reside in Heavenly Jerusalem, rather than amongst those on earth and in the universe living under the future system that will combine both works and faith in Christ.

      Unless you pay attention when the Bible explains theses time periods you will be applying things doctrinally to the wrong time period, rather than applying them in a spiritual manner as you should. That’s what rightly dividing means (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). It was demonstrated by Jesus himself in Luke 4:18 KJV by reading from Isaiah 61:2 KJV and leaving out the words “and the day of vengeance of our God” because they did not apply doctrinally yet at that time. But the remainder did apply, and what he left out will apply literally at a later time.

      – Mack.

    5. > The verse says – not MackQuigley speaking – that legalism, i.e., trying to justify yourself by the law, means you have “fallen from grace” – setting up in opposition either being justified by the law or else by grace.

      You are assuming that “fallen from grace” means to embrace legalism, rather than describing the sin of embracing legalism. But either way, the relationship of grace with God has been ruptured. Are you saying that a legalistic faith can save?

    6. >Jesus Christ was not talking to gentile Christians, he was talking to Jews under the Old Testament law. After his death and resurrection, which instituted the New Testament, he then appointed Paul for the ministry of speaking to us.

      Either way it still drains the force from all his words. Suddenly forgiveness of one’s enemies is demoted from being essential to a “nice-to-have”.

      As I’ve pointed out before, NOBODY in the early centuries of Christianity made the distinction that you’re making. To what do you account this? Stupidity? Ignorance? Deviousness?

      >Ebionites and so-called “Red Letter Christians” wish to reject Paul’s doctrines…

      …and the Catholics of the early centuries rejected this approach. However, they didn’t also reject the words of the Master in favour of the words of Paul.

      You may also be aware of Marcionism, which tried to extract Judaism from Christianity….which the Catholic Church also preached against.

      > ….That’s what rightly dividing means (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

      …in your opinion. It’s not the opinion of the vast majority of Christianity, either throughout history or even today, or even today within Protestantism.

    7. “Everything in the entire Bible applies fully to us today, but not necessarily as Church doctrine, but rather as spiritual instruction – things we can learn from. “

      You didn’t find that in the Bible. That is why we notice you are not engaged in sola scripture but sola mackquigley.

      Especially since you ignore the explicit warning of the Bible that it is not of private interpretation, and that the Pauline letters that you (unscripturally) exalt above all others contain “some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.”

  5. In an effort to keep this discussion focused on the texts discussed, here are some questions I’d invite Mack to address…

    ROMANS 11:1-23

    1. Is Paul speaking to the Gentile recipients of his letter in this passage or is he only speaking to future Gentile Christians at some point in the distant future? Put simply, does this passage have any relevance for his Gentile recipients?

    GALATIANS 5:1,4

    1. I assert that a warning to a group has consequences for the individuals in that group. I gave the example of a rock climbing trip. How is my logic incorrect?

    2. If someone dies who has been “burdened again…alienated from Christ…[and] fallen away from grace”, will that person be immediately united with God in Heaven?

    COLOSSIANS 1:21-23

    1. Can a legalistic, heretical faith save?

    2. How exactly does a church “move from the faith”? What does this mean in practical terms? Has anything changed in any of the individuals of that church?

    1. Pilgrim,

      The topic of whether individual Christians can lose their salvation has to be answered by citing a passage that clearly applies to individual saved Christians. I can cite scores of such passages explaining in detail our eternal security in Christ because our souls are saved.

      You have presented on the other side various scriptures that have to do with groups, such as the Jews, the Gentiles, and to church assemblies, and simply assumed that everybody in such groups is saved and that the warnings imply hell awaits them. So you are making leaps of logic that simply don’t follow.

      Of course, Romans 11 has relevance, Paul is explaining how God went from dealing amongst Jews to dealing amongst Gentiles, but indicates that God can easily go back to dealing amongst the Jews again.

      Your rock climbing example would be better if you said, “don’t let your hands slip when you climb or you will tumble off the ledge; but nevertheless don’t worry about falling all the way down, these ropes and safety equipment will catch you.”

      The way you phrase it is one-dimensional, not three dimensional like a saved human. But we can fall in two ways, in body and spirit, yet the “rope” holding our souls will never break, it is Christ.

      Falling into legalistic bondage after you had true conversion will only mess up your Christian life, it won’t destroy your soul. If Paul says “Christ will profit you nothing” (Galatians 5:2 KJV) he is talking about profiting in the Christian life, i.e., having a fruitful Christian life by abiding in Christ and walking in the Spirit rather than relying upon dead legalism.

      In Colossians 1:23 KJV the “if ye continue” only means there is a question as to whether the entire group will continue and a question as to the amount of rewards in heaven you will get if you live a blameless Christian life. Obviously if you die in sin, your soul remains saved, but now you have to answer for these sins by watching your worthless “wood, hay, and stubble” go up in smoke (1 Corinthians 3:12-13 KJV).

      The “hope of the gospel” is are awaiting for Jesus Christ to bring up our new heavenly bodies and heavenly rewards – and when people stop expecting/anticipating Christ to return (“be not moved away from the hope”) then they start slacking off and thinking in terms of this life only, frittering away heavenly rewards and incurring issues that Christ will have to settle with them when he judges them – a judgment that is for his Christians only, not the judgment of the world.

      Once again, read carefully and see that there is nothing in what you have cited that sends any individual saved Christians to hell.

      – Mack.

    2. >Of course, Romans 11 has relevance, Paul is explaining how God went from dealing amongst Jews to dealing amongst Gentiles, but indicates that God can easily go back to dealing amongst the Jews again.

      So let’s say that there’s a Gentile Christian in Rome called Marcus. Paul’s letter arrives and it is read at the Eucharistic celebration on Sunday. What does Marcus make of the words of Paul? Does he assume that Paul is speaking to him, exhorting him to “remain in God’s kindness” otherwise he will be “cut off”? Or does he know that these words don’t apply to him and instead refer to other Gentiles at some point in the future? Does this passage have any relevance to Marcus?

      >Your rock climbing example would be better if you said, “don’t let your hands slip when you climb or you will tumble off the ledge; but nevertheless don’t worry about falling all the way down, these ropes and safety equipment will catch you.”

      I think you’ve missed the point I was trying to make here.

      You’ve been repeatedly making a distinction between warnings to groups and warnings to individuals. I say you can’t warn a group without warning the individuals in that group. I therefore gave my rock climbing example. When I give that warning to my group of friends, does my warning apply to each individually? Yes/No?

      > The way you phrase it is one-dimensional, not three dimensional like a saved human. But we can fall in two ways, in body and spirit, yet the “rope” holding our souls will never break, it is Christ.

      The problem is that you’re assuming the different parts are completely independent. What I do with my body has consequences for my soul.

      > Falling into legalistic bondage after you had true conversion will only mess up your Christian life, it won’t destroy your soul.

      Okay, so this is huge!

      You are saying that somebody with a legalistic and heretical faith, trusting in his own works and own abilities and not trusting in grace by faith…you’re saying that this person will be saved?! So you believe in “Sola Fide” where the “Fide” can pretty much be anything? Do you think Luther would approve of this?

      > If Paul says “Christ will profit you nothing” (Galatians 5:2 KJV) he is talking about profiting in the Christian life

      Where from the text do you reach this conclusion?

      Also, since when does “nothing” mean “something”? Paul doesn’t say Christ won’t benefit them with a fruitful life…he says that Christ will profit them NOTHING. How more extreme can his language get?

      > In Colossians 1:23 KJV the “if ye continue” only means there is a question as to whether the entire group will continue and a question as to the amount of rewards in heaven you will get if you live a blameless Christian life.

      Is that what the passage says? I’m afraid not. Where does this passage even mention heavenly rewards?

      To find out what will happen if this condition is not met we just need to look at the earlier portion of the verse. If they don’t “continue”, they will return to their previous state, being “estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds”, they will no longer be “reconciled in [Christ’s] body”, they will not be “holy and blameless and irreproachable before him”. Does that sound like someone who’ll be saved?

      > Obviously if you die in sin, your soul remains saved, but now you have to answer for these sins by watching your worthless “wood, hay, and stubble” go up in smoke (1 Corinthians 3:12-13 KJV).

      hmm….kind sounds like Purgatory…

    3. 2. If someone dies who has been “burdened again…alienated from Christ…[and] fallen away from grace”, will that person be immediately united with God in Heaven?

      You didn’t answer this one directly, but I’d like to confirm. Would I be correct in thinking that you’d assert that someone who has been “burdened again…alienated from Christ…[and] fallen away from grace” will be immediately united with God in Heaven?

      I don’t think you really addressed this question:

      2. How exactly does a church “move from the faith”? What does this mean in practical terms? Has anything changed in any of the individuals of that church?

      I’m trying to establish a differential here. What has changed in a congregation when it has “move[d] from the faith”?

    4. Pilgrim,

      The reply to this is #1. “alienated” is wrong, it should read “no effect” (KJV) meaning an ineffective Christian life; #2 “moved from the faith” is wrong, should read “moved away from the hope of the gospel” (KJV) meaning looking forward to Christ’s return (Titus 2:13 KJV) leading productive Christian lives.

      – Mack.

  6. When I give that warning to my group of friends, does my warning apply to each individually? Yes/No?

    EACH INDIVIDUAL. It doesn’t make sense to warn each person individually. Otherwise, if someone wasn’t named individually they might think the warning doesn’t apply to them.

    1. Scene: A group of friends is outside in a rocky area. One member of the group has just finished speaking.

      John: [Internal monologue] “Hmmm….David just told us that we must remember to put on our safety harnesses….buuuuuut he was speaking to us as a group, so I’m sure that doesn’t apply to me…”

      [A little later]

      John: “Hey guys! Look, I can do this with no haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaands…..”

      [There is the sound of shattering bones]

  7. Restless –

    Debating scripture with a P is like arguing over which is the better football organization without being able to look at history to determine which football team has won the most SuperBowls.

    I’m not aware of one P who woke up and admitted that their interpretation of scripture was incorrect. I think the best way to convert Ps is at an epistemological level. There are so many bad worldviews/constructs (ex. sola scriptura, history was Protestant, man has the ultimate authority to interpret scripture and preach his interpretation, Christ did not create a physical Church on this earth that has lasted since Pentecost, church can mean almost anything, early Christians didn’t believe in the real presence, there is no supernatural on this earth, the eternal now is ridiculous, Christ’s Bride was just his believers, Christ didn’t really protect his Church or give us enough truth, don’t take Christ at his word as a default position) that you have to fight through before you could ever get a P to admit the Catholic position is correct.

  8. I think much of the difficulty in resolving both positions rests on how each side defines what salvation is.

    To Mack ‘saved’ is a state in the eyes of God, known from before the foundation of the world, that one is ‘elected’ to enter in to Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom at the time of death. If one is known to be saved before you are born, it stands to reason that God’s forknowledge of that fact is immutable.

    To Restless, ‘salvation’ is a process in which one continuesly strives to live out one’s faith. This process has good days and bad days, and just as hail can suddenly crush the ripened fruit–to use an analogy–so could one be cut down and die in some last minute fit of sin. In that sense, once you are part of the process of salvation, there is no guarantee known to you that you will remain saved up until you die.

    I think the Catholic doctrine of Final Preserverance leaves enough room for Mack’s view (if I have captured it accurately) and for Restless’s view (if I have captured that accurately).

    Thoughts?

    1. Sure. But there are flaws with macks. For one thing he doesnt believe that a person can choose to fall away. He believes that you either are or never were saved. The church believes that christ died for all not just the elect.

      The choice thing is an important component which im surprised nobodys brought up. Catholics believe you choose sin so you choose to fall away. Im guessing mack falls into the sin is in our nature and therefore unavoidable and not a choice. That it is grace alone and not free will plus grace that prevents sin. Im speaking of personal sin of course.

      Given how mack views sin its understandable why he also believes in osas. How else would anyone get to heaven otherwise.

    2. Daniel,

      Paul explains salvation in terms of real things that happen to a man the moment he trusts Christ’s death on the cross as payment for his sins:

      – The man is completely forgiven all sins, all of them being imputed to Christ who paid for them at Calvary.

      – The Holy Ghost bifricates the man, cutting away the fleshly body from his soul.

      – The soul is immersed into the Holy Ghost, completely sealing it within the body, and connecting it to Christ in the third heaven.

      – Because body and soul are separated, the body’s sins remain in the body, no longer imputed against the soul.

      – Imputed to the soul is God’s righteousness by the Holy Ghost.

      – the soul is now in Christ and predestinated to Christ’s glory; the Holy Ghost is irrevocably given to that soul as an earnest deposit guarantee of that.

      – the soul is adopted now as a son of God, but the full adoption won’t be realized until the body also is changed into an immortal body at Christ’s return.

      – the man’s spirit is now in communion with the Holy Spirit, and daily he has the opportunity to be refreshed and renewed by it, giving him joy and fellowship and having the fruit of the spirit manifest itself in his life.

      – the man’s body is still lost, but the souls has the life-long challenge of obeying the Holy Spirit rather than the body’s lusts.

      – If a man sins in the flesh, the quicker he repents and pleads the blood of Christ, the quicker he applies the forgiveness of Christ to his body, minimizing chastisement in this life.

      – The effects of a sinful life and of unconfessed sin are in the body and in the man’s spirit – but the soul remains saved. He may lose his health, his joy, and his eternal rewards, but his soul never goes to hell.

      There are a number of other features that accompany salvation as well (such as access to the throne of God, gifts of the spirit, membership into the body of Christ, God hearing our prayers, us being seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, etc.) but these are the basic elements.

      This is the mechanism of the new-birth for the Church-age Christian and it is the reason why a man who is saved remains saved no matter what.

      – Mack.

    3. Can you spell out what happens for those who appear to be saved for a time and fall away? How do *you* explain their fruits of the Spirit until that fall?

    4. So mack believes in trichotomism and that the body is evil. Why mack would God create an evil body? How can God create evil if he is Truth and Goodness and Love?

    5. Daniel,

      The new birth is a supernatural reality, not a superficial appearance.

      There is no killing off of the inside child of God who has everlasting life, as if a mere human will was the bane of eternal life (cf. John 1:12-13 KJV). What sort of “eternal” (Romans 6:23 KJV) exists only on a temporary/probationary basis? Or to put it another way, do words even having meanings?

      The false teachers are like pigs and dogs, and they eat vomit and roll in muck. Sometimes human beings are stupid enough to do the same things. But you are a pig, dog, or human based on your DNA, not your diet.

      – Mack.

    6. Deltaflute,

      Paul said, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” Romans 7:18 KJV. And “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” Philippians 3:21.

      So salvation entails eventually getting a transformed immortal body. If you can’t figure out why that is necessary, then I suggest you go visit a graveyard.

      If those people had to maintain their own salvation in their human bodies, they they all lost it and your form of Christianity has failed.

      Real Christianity results in a saved soul at this time, and a saved body later.

      – Mack.

    7. “Or to put it another way, do words even having meanings? “

      Not in your eyes. You throw them about like rocks to avoid that you must “work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”

  9. Good summary Delta.

    Daniel –

    I believe Mack goes one step further than single predestination and enters the realm of double predestination. Regardless, man has no power in Mack’s world to reject God’s electing grace. Man is a defacto puppet in Mack’s world (and everyone who believes like Mack believes they are part of the elect – just ask them).

    1. That’s conflating predestination of the reprobate (double predestination) with irresistible grace.

      It stands to reason for me anyway that *some* grace is ultimately irresistible. If God gave one grace efficacious for salvation, then it must save or it wasn’t efficacious, only materially sufficient.

      If you say no, he only gives sufficient grace not efficient grace, then no one would be saved because by definition it isn’t efficacious for salvation.

      Saving grace is sufficient for all and efficacious for some.

  10. Do we agree that God foreknows whom will be saved before the foundation of the world?

    Is there anyone He foreknows that they will be saved in the end who are not saved in the end?

    Is there anyone He does not foreknow to be saved that end up in Heaven?

    So is it not true that once God sees them as saved in the end in His eyes that they will always be seen as saved in the end in His eyes?

    On the other hand, in man’s eyes someone can believe in Jesus and love Jesus and forgive others and repent and so on for all the things the saved should do, and at the last moment succumb to the devil and go to hell just as hail can come and destroy good ripe fruit before harvest.

    And both of those points can be affirmed by both parties Restless and Mack, I suspect.

    Thoughts?

    1. 1) yes
      2) no
      3) no
      4) no
      5) yes

      Sure. The distinction is God’s will. Mack believes in total depravity (im assuming). The catholic position is that God made us good and wills us to be good. We choose to do bad. God knows this in advance but we make that choice. In macks scenario we dont ever have a choice and further we are created with flaws. Macks notions of God is awful since it assumes that God creates evil flawed beings. The catholic version is deemed a mystery since we dont fully understand.

  11. I suspect that Mack means that man’s nature apart from divine intervention is maximumly sinful.

    I suspect by nature you mean how man actually is: an amalgamation of our inclanation to sin on one hand and the work of some grace on the other.

  12. When I mentioned predestination it evidently set off alarm bells so let me clarify.

    The reason why a man is always saved once he gets saved is because the moment of salvation triggers a new birth, and that new creation has immortality in Christ. It’s death is an impossibility. The term predestination applies to it from the moment of new birth, not before. The vehicle of predestination is Christ, who from the foundation of the world had/has a destiny of eternal glory.

    It is like hopping on a train from Paris to Moscow. From its start in Paris it is predestinated to arrive at Moscow. At Berlin you board the train that is destined for Moscow, and predestinated to go there since it left Paris. Now you have joined in that trip, and you are guaranteed to arrive at the same location as the train because you are stuck inside the train.

    The passage is Ephesians 1, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” Man began in Adam, not in Christ at the foundation of the world, therefore what it says is God has chosen from the start that everybody who gets into Christ at this time by believing the gospel will travel with Christ to the same end result of glory.

    The invitation to join Christ is open to every single person in the entire world if they would only believe the gospel. The fact that only a limited number will actually take up this invitation is part of God’s “foreknowledge” (1 Peter 1:2 KJV) but it is not fatalistically forced upon anybody as all men experience a drawn to Christ (John 12:32 KJV).

    – Mack.

    1. Thats the strangest understanding of predestination ive ever heard. So let me make sure i understand you. Are you saying that God has no idea if you are destined for heaven or hell until you accept Christ?

      Because if you are thats not the definition of predestination and its like saying God just puts things into motion having no say in the outcome until you accept him thus making a not so powerful God.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination

    2. Deltaflute,

      God has total foreknowledge, but people make their own choices. God isn’t a like a dog barking at robots, a blasphemous caricature taught by the best “reformed theologians”.

      – Mack.

    3. Okay now im confused. First you said that predestination applies at the moment of new birth. Now youre saying that God has total foreknowledge. Which is it?

    4. Not to mention that you think saying people make their own choices is calling God an abortionist.

      You are not perhaps the best person to throw about the term “blasphemous caricature.”

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