I believe born again Christians can fall away, but I am convinced God won't let them, by making them take heed to the warnings. Although this statement appears contradictory, I think it not only does best justice to the full revelation given us in the New Testament, but also reflects the experience of Christ during his earthly life. The fact that Christ suffered when he was tempted surely meant that he could have fallen into sin. But God's promises concerning his victory must have meant he wasn't going to. It may be difficult to hold together but I cannot see how we can avoid this tension.
Just as Jesus lived knowing each temptation was make or break, born again Christians must live knowing that they cannot take their genuine repentance and faith for granted.
If this understanding is right, then there is no need to resort to the intricacies of exegesis that Wayne Grudem, and others, must resort to in order to avoid a plain reading of Scripture. The writer of Hebrews is speaking to those he believed to be born again Christians and warning them of the real possibility of falling away. Significantly, in 2:1, he includes himself in the warning. He is aware in his own life of the danger of genuine Christians drifting. It is my conviction that even if the author knew that all of his audience were born again Christians he would still issue exactly the same warnings because this is the means by which God keeps his people.
Now, I hasten to say again, I don't believe this means genuine Christians will fall away. They won't. My point is rather that they won't fall away because genuine Christians will recognise the warnings as real warnings to genuine Christians and take heed of them.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Andrew Heard wrote a very good article for The Briefing, issue 299, in which he addresses the issue of whether Christians can fall away and be lost. This is his summary, posted in a later issue: