Some themes keep coming up in our conversations regardless of where a post begins.
For some time now I’ve been preoccupied with the thought that every proverb, prediction, song, and story in the Bible needs to be read first for what it is– God breathed writing to and through people living in ancient times; and then, in turn, as words that are helping to tell the story of the Living Word– as He lives in and through His people today.
In that sense, we keep coming back to two basic ideas related to the Scriptures and Christ. One idea sounds something like, “Let’s be careful how we use the Bible to quote a God who spoke in different ways to other people living a long time ago.” The second idea is, “Let’s read and reflect on the inspired Scriptures with the goal of seeing how they lead us beyond themselves to the Messiah, Son, Savior and Lord whose story they tell.”
The result, beyond the complexity of important theological formulations etc., is a focus on a Person, God in the Flesh, who has come to save us from our sins and lead us into a life of loving others, as he has loved us.
Now back to where this started. Another theme that has been resurfacing from one of the friends of this blog is that Christ didn’t come to leave us in our sins. That’s something I think all of us agree with. We also agree that, as we live in Christ (“abide in him”), we are changed. I haven’t heard anyone in prior conversations arguing that those who are “in Christ” can now honor their Savior, or make something good of their life by continuing to live as if they had never met Him.
So how can we respond to a thoughtful friend who feels alone in arguing for a life of vigilant concern and change because the rest are not giving enough attention to the fact that the Scriptures also say that those who fall away will not inherit the kingdom of God? If such a comment doesn’t resonate with others could it be (at least in part) that none of us are trying to defend or reassure the person who denies Jesus as Lord while living a life of self-serving indulgence.
But what about the question that is being pressed? Under any circumstances, can persons who were once “in Christ “lose their salvation” by denying in word and life that Jesus is Lord? On this point of radical departure, there is longstanding disagreement in the Body of Christ. Yet most agree that the warning passages of Hebrews etc are not about whether careless, distracted, or immature children of God are in danger of losing all that they had in Christ. The issue is whether those passages are saying that those who willingly turn their back on Christ can lose their salvation.
Interestingly, the same warnings say that if some do “fall away”, they cannot be “renewed again to repentance.” Yet, I don’t know of anyone who would say to one who “comes back to Christ” after a long time of “being away”, “Sorry friend, you’ve lost your chance to be accepted by Christ and his family.”
So do we really have a disagreement worth pursuing? No one here, that I can tell, is arguing for a life that doesn’t reflect Christ
Since most of us seem to recognize how far short we fall of constant focus on Christ; and how shabbily we live and love as he did, let’s keep doing what we do best– use every part of the Scriptures, together with our own stories, to cultivate our relationship with the truth of Christ, and the love for others that reflects our relationship with him.
Sorry this has gotten so long. But didn’t think it was helping to ignore the tension and themes that keep surfacing in these posts.
Let’s continue to use all of the Scriptures to think about all of life in a way that brings us together (even in our differences) rather than driving us apart.