Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making sense of the warnings and promises

Making sense of all the data on salvation and assurance is a challenge. Most systems do not factor in all the data.

Some folk focus on the warnings and point out that the New Testament teaches we must persevere to be saved [and therefore, we may lose our salvation].

Others focus on the many promises that God will keep us safe [and therefore we cannot lose our salvation].

But a few folk put these warnings and promises together and come up with this:
1. Salvation is assured to those who trust in Christ alone. Consider Romans 8:28-39 among many passages in the New Testament.
2. But we are warned that only those who persevere to the end will be saved. Hebrews chapters 6 and 10 for example.
3. However God in his mercy ensures that we will persevere through giving us these threats and promises to keep us on the path. But this perseverance itself is God's doing. I think Philippians 2:12-13 and many other passages teach this.

Many Calvinist and Puritan authors have taught the above.


Timothy Wonil Lee said...

Keeping both, warnings and promises, within my sight is not always easy, but strangely empowering.

Yet, it is still difficult for me to understand how the warnings are to serve us in a real sense, because, as D. A. Carson once told an audience, if you believe these warnings are simply the means to scare the hearers so they keep in faith, the stronger you believe in that way, the lazier you become in keeping your faith.

Since the day I heard him saying that, I have been somewhat lost how to understand and apply those warnings in the Bible.

David McKay said...

Hi Tim [or do you prefer Timothy?]
The warnings are very challenging and sound pretty severe to me.

I take them seriously, and believe they are used by God to keep me on the path.

If I don't take heed to them, I will suffer the punishments described.

I don't see how also believing in eternal security nullifies them.

The threats are real, as are the promises.

And you find both in Hebrews and in the teaching of Jesus.

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

Hello, David,
You can call me Tim. :-)

I agree with you that those warnings are challenging and severe, and they are as real as the promises. Hence we ought to trust the warnings as much as we trust the promises. So, in some ways, I don't have problems with those parts where the warnings are given.

It's just that sometimes, when I think about the warnings, it seems that the salvation depends on my part, where as when I think about the promises, my salvation depends on Jesus. And, as far as I understand and am convicted, I believe the salvation is only by God's grace. So, I have difficulty in getting my thoughts organised.

David McKay said...

Hi Tim
If we only had the promises, it could lead to us presuming on the grace of God and living in disregard of him.

If we only had the warnings, it could make us think it is all up to us.

But the warnings tell us there is a life to live, a race to run, a fight to win and the promises tell us that it is God who gives us breath, legs and armour!