The false “little gods” doctrine

The term “exegesis” is mostly used in reference to a critical examination of biblical text in order to determine exactly what the text means. It is by no means flippant or casual. It does not just take another person’s word for it. It seeks, it probes, it searches and it uses the appropriate tools of interpretation to arrive at its conclusion.

So, imagine what my excitement would be if someone walked up to me and assured me that I can be like God, in fact, that I can exercise godlike authority on earth over my circumstances. I mean, if you know my “wahalas” (as a father of 3 kids with one of them about to start secondary school in september) I could really do with some godlike powers. Wow! Such powers could help with my mounting electricity bills, I could get my wife her new car, and save up enough for a holiday.

But, because of the seriousness of these persons’ claims, I would not just take their word for it.
I would ask them to show me EXACTLY where God promised us these godlike powers, and I would critically examine the text (particularly since the person has made the claim that God Himself has promised us that). Because I claim to fear and love God, I would want to “see” this for myself so that it can begin to shape the tenor of my life. Afterall, I am what I think about God. So, off to Psalm 82; but I will not just read verses 5-7 but all the other verses so as to have a proper context for such a great promise (if it is a promise)

Why would I do that?

Well imagine if you had a person who was stalking you and writing romantic letters to you. You were able to ignore him (I am assuming you are female) for a while, but after some time you were no longer willing to stand the harassment. So, one day you decided to write “A LETTER TO END ALL LETTERS” to this pest. You go ahead and write a very lengthy letter, the summary of which was “Look, stop stalking me, I DO NOT LOVE YOU NOW OR FOREVER”. But this stalker decided to remove the “DO NOT” so that the letter now meant, “I LOVE YOU, NOW AND FOREVER” and chose that to be his reality? Imagine how pathetic that would be?

So, it is always important to read things in their context. Especially those things that have both temporal and eternal consequences;

Like Psalm 82:1-8 ESV

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

One thing that should not escape our notice is that this psalm was written by an Israelite and if there is one thing there is to know about a Jew, is the Shema. What is the Shema?

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Immediately, this helps me understand that whatever was meant in Psalm 82, cannot in anyway contradict the Shema. So, lets follow the text and see whether it has something else to say. The text opens with God accusing “gods” for judging unjustly; this ought to supply us with a clue to whom he has in mind. Judge unjustly? Partiality to the wicked? All this judicial language, widows, fatherless, etc. must be referring to men. But what sort of men? This question should cause me, to search the scriptures for instances where men were referred to by God as gods. And those instances would necessarily predate Psalm 82 (for the obvious reason that it is used as a starting point by the psalmist, so that it must have been an acceptable terminology)

The first instance in Scripture where God alluded to man being “as God” (that is apart from the sad episode of the fall, which by the way should be a caution to those seekers of Godlike powers/influence) is in Exodus 4:16 and the text yields the very obvious intention of that statement:
Exodus 4:10-16 ESV

But Moses said to the Lord , “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord ? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.

The text above is self explaining.

Also, Deuteronomy 17:1-13 gives a clear explanation of those leaders in Israel whom the Lord had appointed as judges and whose words “in office” were final as though they were the very words of God. It would therefore make sense for the Psalmist in Psalm 82 to refer to these representatives of God (in respect to judicial matters only) as gods. Since they acted on God’s behalf before his people.

So you see, a careful examination of the text starts to dim my prospects of godlike status.

The Psalm itself is broken into clearly discernible parts:

1. The Problem is identified and brought to Heaven’s council.
God’s judicial representatives are perverting justice!
They are perverting Justice against the defenseless and taking up the cause of wicked men.

A double tragedy if you ask me. But God isn’t going to sit back and let justice remain perverted for ever…Oh no! He is going to do something about it.

2. So God declares his righteous standard for justice in verses 3 and 4

3. But these “gods” fell woefully short of the standard and the consequences of their perversion of justice are of cosmic proportions (verse 5).

4. Now, God passes his Sentence on these Judges; these unjust judges, in verse 6 and 7; they would not only lose their privileged positions, they will die like uncelebrated and ordinary men..

5. And because they were no longer fit to Judge, the Psalmist (or some other unspecified third party) pleads for God himself to judge in the place of these unjust men.

The text is not an allusion to humans attaining godlike rights or powers. The only promiser of such an illusion was Satan in Genesis 3. And Adam and Eve found out soon enough how much of a liar the devil was: They never became gods.

The truth is, becoming a god is an appealing proposal. Especially when we are convinced that the only reason we have to deal with all the stuff we deal with is because we are just mere humans. But nothing is further from the truth than that. Our biggest problem isn’t that we are just human, our biggest problem is that we are sinful. And what we need is not to shed our humanity, but to have our sins forgiven.

You see, God is good and we are not! This creates a huge problem for us as the Almighty God who is the righteous judge must needs judge sinful humanity. We are sinners who dwell in a sinful world. And even when the issue of our sin has been dealt with, we still have to dwell in a world affected by the sin of others. Remember Psalm 82:5? The sins of a few judges affect the entire earth to its foundations.

So, we are best served by being made to realize that as long as we are in this world, we would have tribulations but our hope should not dim, nor our resolve fail because Christ has overcome the world. It may not look that way, as we go through tough times, but we can trust the one who not only gave up his life as a ransom for many, but was raised from the dead, as infallible proof of mission accomplished!

I will not bother with the other scripture references because I trust that if this one thing is clear, then the others cannot piece together coherently; as all of them depend on the misreading of Psalm 82:5-7

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On Scriptures’ Sufficiency

How can it be said that the Bible is sufficient, yet it does not address every conceivable scenario that will ever confront even one person, let alone that of the nearly 7 billion people on the face of the planet at the moment or even the billions more that have passed into eternity since the world was created?

How can something be sufficient but not exhaustive in the information it provides?

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Well there are people who may say that it must cover every issue for it to be considered sufficient, and since it doesn’t it can’t be sufficient and so they conclude that we need something else, “a voice in our head” (aka “God told me”),

There are others who never even ponder the question and therefore never seriously weigh the challenge a lack of understanding of, and confidence in, the sufficiency of Scriptures poses for their ability to properly and accurately understand the Bible.

Others still attempt to solve this problem by creating the concept of ‘hidden meaning” that there is “the letter of the word” (which kills) (also referred to as logos) and “there is the spirit of the word” (which gives life) (also referred to as rhema).

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They create this false dichotomy and they seek out these “hidden meanings” as the solution to their everyday issues. Such issues as “what course should I read, where should I live, whom should I marry, what church should i be a part of etc.”

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Some see the flaw in the approach of dichotomizing scriptures and therefore rather they dichotomize life into the “sacred” and the “secular”. They now think of “everyday decisions” as secular and those they think have to deal with the faith as “spiritual”

Bottom line is, everybody who says they are Christian, whether they know it or not, have to at one point or another deal with the issue of the sufficiency of Scriptures and whatever conclusion they come to on the matter will affect their view of life.

But is the bible truly sufficient?
Does it have an answer to every single issue we face as humans?
Can the Bible be sufficient but not exhaustive in the information it provides?

I will deal with the surprisingly simple answers to these questions in a subsequent post; but for now, think about which side of the argument you are.

The Vanity of Positive Confession

I have often said that the proof of the Word of Faith camp as a false group is evidenced by the fact that a nation like Nigeria, where many in this camp abound, remains one of the poorest and most corrupt on earth. And the very fact that many continue to argue in favour of this falsehood and give support to its leading proponents, is very proof of its devilish nature.

Perhaps my choice of words is a bit strong and may be perceived as harsh, but those are words I chose carefully to convey my utter dismay at the attitude of many Christian professors in the face of the truth of God’s Word.

Recently, I was in place where someone received the sad news of the death of two kinsmen. This person’s (he happens to be the pastor of a branch of a very popular Charismatic church in Lagos) first reaction was to say, “I cannot take this….. I won’t accept this.” And my first thoughts as I looked in the direction of my wife were “what foolishness!” Just yesterday afternoon I received a call from my wife about the death of a distant relative and the reactions by her other relatives who happen to be professing Christians. One of them is noteworthy and is the reason behind my writing this piece. The particular statement was this “…..we have to keep praying…….we will not accept this. She must live again!”

Now, it is understandable that grief should arise as a result of the loss of someone dear. It is even possible that for a brief period, that unbelief at the loss of such a person will cause hallucination. It is only natural to man that pain follows the loss of someone and this loss may sometimes lead to emotional expressions that a person may not be able to control. But where one boasts against the providential act of God over His creature, such a person exposes a lack of understanding of God’s Word despite his or her belief to the contrary.

This is the exact case of those in the Word of Faith/ Positive Confession/ Name it-Claim it camp. It is the result of a poor understanding of God’s revealed truth and the proper approach to explaining it. The history of this group is long and their damage and reproach to the name of Christ enormous. Their leaders are men who though claim to be servants of Christ, serve mammon. Men whose god is their bellies and who glory in their shame, for they mind earthly things. These are men who think themselves little gods and possessive of a tongue that can speak whatever their vain heart’s desire into existence. Men who pour contempt at the concept of a sovereign God who can do with His creation as He so pleases; for if this were so, they would not be able to decide what they want, when they want it and how they want it. They, along with their followers do not really seek the city whose builder and maker is God, but are more occupied with their best lives now. They love the world and are not pilgrims passing through to a far better place. They preach Christ only for earthly gain.

Two passages of Holy Scriptures record succinctly the truth of God’s sovereignty over His creation. In Job 12:10 we read “in whose (God)* hand is the life of every living thing, and the breadth of all mankind.” The other verse is Acts 17:28 where Paul says to the philosophers at Mars Hill, “for in Him (God)* we live and move and exist….” [*emphasis mine]

These two verses highlight an important truth that all who profess to belong to Christ –indeed every single man on alive— should note, “the God who gives life is the same who takes it. And when he decides to take it, none whosoever, can stay his hand! If this were not so, He would not be God” Men should quit this strange idea that they hand halt death in its tracks by their positive words. Those who do such will do well to acquaint themselves with verses such as 2Peter 3:10-12, to see the description of the world their hearts pander after.  The Son of God did not die that men may “live and not die” but that they would “die to themselves and live for Him who loved them and gave Himself for them that they might gain their live eternally to the glory of the praise of God.” The one who fulfils the latter is the true Christian.

I end by saying there is a right manner to respond to the death of anyone. If the deceased was a child born of God, we may be rest assured that such a one has only just slept and will pass from death to life [1Thess. 4:13-14]. If the deceased on the other hand had no saving faith evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit (even if he professed all his life to have been born from above), we may use that opportunity to contemplate the brevity of life as Job did [Job 14:1-2], and spend our time from that moment seeking first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, and telling those we know about the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Dichotomous, Really?

Some people insist that a dichotomy necessarily exists between what they disparagingly call intellectualism and spirituality. 

This false dichotomy is what these folks fall back on when they are hard pressed to defend their unbiblical and illogical assertions. 
Whereas, the reality is that Jesus actually taught that a right understanding engenders true worship and adoration:

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 

Notice how her request for living water was contingent upon her knowing who he really was.

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 

Notice also how their joy was contingent upon what God spoke to them

John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 

Notice again how the disciples glorifying of Jesus, as sent by the Father, was contingent on their knowledge of “all the words” that God gave to Jesus for them!

True worship is impossible from right knowledge, If we love the Lord, like we so much love to claim with teary eyes and raised hands, then we would give diligent attention to the study of his word so that we may know EXACTLY what he has said and obey.

Jesus is not fooled by tears, he sees right through them. if you love the Lord, study His word.

The Eternal Security of Saints

A Brief Introduction
Before I can begin to undertake the exegesis of any part (verse, a collection of verses, a chapter or collection of chapters) of the Holy Scriptures, I believe it is pertinent to establish a few ground rules; such as I have tagged “foundational presuppositions” outside of which any meaningful communication of biblical truths would be futile.

I would be the first to admit that no one goes to Scripture without their prior conceptions and this is by no means wrong; however, one must be careful to examine these preconceptions and to ensure that they do not run contrary to what the Scriptures teach about God.

As G.H. Clark said,

“It must forever be kept in mind that a theologian’s (or any inquirer’s) epistemology controls his interpretation of the Bible. If his epistemology is not Christian, his exegesis will be systematically distorted.”

Put in simple English,

“What we accept and believe as true, affects how we interpret the Bible”

For your benefit, and the benefit of those who will get to read this, these are my presuppositions:

  • The Bible alone is the word of God who cannot lie
  • The Bible is infallible, inerrant in the original manuscripts, and sufficient for all matters of Christian doctrine
  • ALL TRUTH is either expressly stated in the Bible; or can, by good and necessary consequence, be deduced from it.

From these presuppositions, I am able to deduce the following corollaries that

  • No part of Scripture can contradict another part
  • Although there are immediate historical, cultural and grammatical contexts for every text in Scriptures, the ultimate context for the texts in the Bible itself
  • This means that any apparent contradiction is a function of scholarly limitations, and such contradiction can be resolved without a distortion of Scriptural truth.
  • God is Absolutely Sovereign. He is sovereign over all things and in all things.

These constitute the starting point for all that I believe in God’s word and defend.

I believe that the Scriptures can be understood, and that God gave us the gift of the Scriptures so that we may understand it. The Scriptures do not furnish us with all the truth about God such that we have an exhaustive knowledge of truth; but it certainly reveals all that we must know about God to be fully persuaded and be saved!

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”- John 20:30-31

I have painstakingly attempted to establish my presuppositions so that you can examine them for yourself and scrutinize this write-up by them.

Why this note?
On 13th March 2011, you asked me if I believed in the Eternal Security of Believers (although I do not think that is exactly how you put it) and I said yes, then you asked me if this means that nobody who is truly saved will fall away, unfortunately, I said, “Yes”.

The reason I said unfortunately, is because I did not ask you whether or not by your question you meant, “Can a person who is truly saved fall away for a season?”, or that you meant “Can a person who is truly saved fall away forever and be damned”?

The obvious answer to the first situation would be “Of course!” sheep stray; in fact they stray again and again! That is the point of God’s relentless pursuit of his people: it is the point of God’s discipline and chastisements.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. AND WHEN YOU HAVE TURNED AGAIN, strengthen your brothers.” –Lk 22:31-32

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. -1 Jn 1:7-11

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.- 1Jn 2:1

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.- Mat 18:12:17

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure–not to put it too severely–to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. -2Co 2:5-11

As for the second situation, my answer is “Never! A person who is truly saved, cannot fall away so as to be damned!” and this is what I set out to show in this note and from the Scriptures.

What is it all about?
What is all this talk on the eternal security of saints about? The best and only place to start is the bible. I will state my position, which is no different from the reformed position, with relevant scriptural references:

There are three very popular positions on the Eternal Security of Saints as follows:

  1. Some teach that, “All who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation.” This position suggests that True Christians can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith, by falling into a state of serious sin, etc.
  2. Some teach that, “All who make a profession of faith are eternally secure, whether or not they keep up their faith.” (This position is described by opponents as “Easy Believism” Or “Once Saved Always Saved”)
  3. Some teach that, “All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in Faith by the Power of Almighty God and therefore continue to persevere in faith.” This is clearly my position and I am convinced of this by the plethora of Scriptural support for this position. I will share a few with you but will be more than willing to furnish you with more.

Scriptural Support
The person who truly believes in Jesus Christ HAS new Life that is ETERNAL.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jn.3:16

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Jn.3:36

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Jn.5:24

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life. Jn.6:47

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Jn.6:51

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 1Jn.5:13

Notice how the Scriptures mention the life the believer gets; it is “Eternal” and it is “Forever”. The question any inquirer would ask is that. “How can such a life, that is eternal and forever be lost?”

All those who come to GENUINE SAVING FAITH in Christ ARE KEPT SECURE IN HIM FOR ETERNITY BY THE POWER OF GOD.

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. “And this is the will of Him who sent me that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John.6:35 – 40

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” Jn.10:27 – 30

“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, KEEP THROUGH YOUR NAME THOSE WHOM YOU HAVE GIVEN ME that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name. Those whom you gave me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Jn.17:11 – 12

“I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but THAT YOU SHOULD KEEP THEM FROM THE EVIL ONE” Jn.17:15

…who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Cor.1:8

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, YOU WERE SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Eph.1:13-14

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, BY WHOM YOU WERE SEALED FOR THE DAY OF REDEMPTION. Eph.4:30

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Phil.1:6

True believers WILL persevere (meaning, they will remain faithful, and abide in Christ) to the end in faith and obedience by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

“He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Jn.14:21

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples. “As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. Jn.15:1 – 11

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph.2:10

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1Peter.5:10

Therefore, brethren, BE EVEN MORE DILIGENT to make your call, and election sure, for if you do these things you WILL NEVER STUMBLE; 2Peter.1:10

Therefore, my beloved, as you 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; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Phil.2:12-13

But, what about Hebrews 6:4-6?
What about it? Does it teach that those who are truly saved can fall away and be lost?

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. – Heb 6:4-6

I believe a verse by verse explanation will be helpful. It is also important to note that we must not ignore the overwhelming evidence in scripture to support the position that people who are truly saved will endure to the end and since the scriptures cannot contradict itself, Hebrews 6:4-6 must mean something else entirely.

Interpretative Challenges
A proper interpretation of Hebrews requires the recognition that it addresses three distinct groups of Jews as follows:
i. Believers (Hebrews. 10:32-34)
ii. Unbelievers who were intellectually convinced of the gospel. (Hebrews 2:1-3, 6:4-6, 10:26-29; and 12:15-17)
iii. Unbelievers who were attracted by the gospel and the person of Christ but who had reached no final conviction about him (Hebrews 9:11, 14-15, 27-28)

By far the most interpretative challenge is found in Hebrews 6:4-6. The phrase “once been enlightened” is often taken to refer to Christians, and the accompanying warning taken to indicate the danger of losing their salvation if they “have fallen away” and “are crucifying once again the Son of God”. But there is no mention of their being saved and they are not described with any term that apply only to believers (holy, born again, righteous, or saints).

This interpretative problem arises from inaccurately identifying the spiritual condition of the ones that are being addressed. In this case they were unbelievers who had been exposed to God’s redemptive truth and perhaps made a profession of faith, but had not exercised genuine saving faith

Hebrews 6:4: For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit

Enlightened: They have received instruction in biblical truth, which was accompanied by intellectual perception. Understanding the gospel is not the equivalent of regeneration. John 1:9 makes it clear that enlightenment is not the equivalent of salvation.

Tasted the heavenly gift: Tasting in the figurative sense refers to consciously experiencing the something (Christ tasted death on our behalf- Hebrews 2:9). The experience might be momentary or continuing. Christ’s tasting death was obviously momentary not permanent. All men experience the goodness of God, but that doesn’t mean they are saved (Matthew 5:45; Acts 17:25). Many Jews, during the Lord’s earthly ministry, experienced the blessings he brought from heaven. Whether the gift refers to Christ (John 6:51) or the Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Acts 7:51), experiencing either one is not the equivalent of salvation.

Shared in the Holy Spirit: Even though the concept of partaking is used in Heb 3:1, 14 and Heb 12:8 of a relationship that believers have, the context must be the final determining factor; the context seems to preclude a reference to true believers, it could be a reference to their participation in the ministry of Jesus who was empowered by the Holy Spirit; or in the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit which obviously can be resisted without experiencing salvation.

Heb 6:5, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,

Tasted: This corresponds to what was described in Heb 2:1-4. Like Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24), these Hebrews had not yet been regenerated in spite of all they had heard and seen. They were repeating the sins of those who died in the wilderness after seeing the miracles performed through Moses and Aaron and hearing the voice of God at Sinai.

Heb 6:6, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt

Fall away: This is equivalent to the apostasy in Heb. 3:12. The seriousness of this unfaithfulness is seen in the severe description of rejection within this verse: they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Those who sinned against Christ in such a way have no hope of restoration or forgiveness (Heb 2:2-3; Heb 10:26-27; Heb. 12:25). The reason is that they had rejected him with full knowledge and conscious experience. With full revelation they rejected the truth, concluding the opposite of the truth about Christ, and thus had no hope of being saved. They can never have more knowledge than they had when they rejected it. They have concluded that Jesus should have been crucified, and they stand with His enemies.

There is no possibility of these verses referring to losing salvation. Those who want to make this verse mean believers can lose their salvation have to admit that it would then also say that one could never get it back again!

I hope this helps. God keep you by his truth always- Olamide Falase

The Substance of Faith

The Scriptures teach us that “Faith IS the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for”- Hebrews 11:1; that is, it is what hope is made from.
We learn however from Titus 1:1 that “knowledge of truth is the SUBSTANCE of Faith. In this note (part of the commentary on Titus 1:1 ), this truth is made so clear. Read and be blessed

Titus 1:1 “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, in the acknowledging of the truth which is according to godliness”

First, when “faith” is called “knowledge,” it is distinguished not only from opinion, but from that shapeless faith which some have contrived; for they have forged an implicit faith destitute of all light of the understanding. But when Paul describes it to be a quality which essentially belongs to faith — to know the truth, he plainly shows that there is no faith without knowledge.

The word truth expresses still more clearly the certainty which is demanded by the nature of faith; for faith is not satisfied with probable arguments, but holds what is true. Besides, he does not speak of every kind of truth, but of the heavenly doctrine, which is contrasted with the vanity of the human understanding. As God has revealed himself to us by means of that truth, so it is alone worthy of the honor of being called “the truth” — a name which is bestowed on it in many parts of Scripture.

“And the Spirit will lead you into all truth.” – John 16:13

“Thy word is the truth.” – John 17:17

“Who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth?” – Galatians 3:1

“Having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of the Son of God.” – Colossians 1:5

“He wishes all to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:4

“The Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 3 15

In a word, that truth is the right and sincere knowledge of God, which frees us from all error and falsehood. So much the more ought it to be valued by us, since nothing is more wretched than to wander like cattle during our whole life.

Which is according to godliness. This clause especially limits “the truth” of which he had spoken, but at the same time commends the doctrine of Paul from the fruit and end of it, because it has no other object than that God should be worshipped in a right manner, and that pure religion should flourish among men. In this manner he defends his doctrine from every suspicion of vain curiosity, as he did before Felix, (Acts 24:10,) and afterwards before Agrippa, (Acts 26:1;) for, since all questions which do not tend to edification ought justly to be suspected and even hated by good men, the only lawful commendation of doctrine is this, that it instructs us to fear God and to bow before him with reverence. And hence we are also informed, that the greater progress any one has made in godliness, he is so much the better disciple of Christ; and that he ought to be reckoned a true theologian who edifies consciences in the fear of God.

Have a lovely day!

On Arguments and Refutations

In stating one’s theological position to anybody, one must be clear on the assumptions that guide their presentation and must ensure that they do not stray from these assumptions.

I wish to share, in this post, the foundational presuppositions that guide the formulation of my arguments i.e. the premises upon which I base my positions regarding the Christian faith (which as Jude put it, was delivered once and for all to the saints!)

Firstly, I believe that the Bible alone is the word of God (this does not in anyway invalidate Christ as the Word of God as some would say). I believe that all that is required for life and godliness is either clearly expressed in Scriptures or can, by good and reasonable consequence, be deduced from Scripture. I do not believe that the Scripture is opposed to reason, but rather makes truth statements that we can trust as our premises for the conclusions we draw once we use the right tool i.e. faith and logic

(Please notice that I used the words GOOD and REASONABLE, to show that God is not opposed to the laws of thought (or logic) but rather has given us the faculty required to establish premises, and draw accurate conclusions based on his Scriptures)

Secondly, I believe that all human beings have a starting point (axiom) from which all their arguments are built up; and that as long as these axioms are faulty (i.e. badly presumed) then, their consequent arguments will be flawed. To this end, I believe that all the truth statements made in Scriptures are without fault (i.e. inerrant and infallible and non-contradictory). It goes without saying that:

God is True
The Bible is the Word of God
Therefore the Bible is true.
This is my starting point, and just like the atheist who would reject this syllogism, I also have a right to affirm it. I do not believe that the authenticity of the Scriptures rely on the credibility of any man but on itself.

Thirdly, I believe and affirm that people can actually know exactly what God intended to say in any verse of Scripture, and that given the existing set of arrangements (i.e. how Scriptures is currently arranged) no verse can contradict itself even if it may say different things under different relationships for example:

David was the King of Israel is true
David was the King of Judah is true
David was the Father of Absalom is true
David was the Father of Ammon is true
David was the Father of Solomon is true
David was the Husband of Abigail is true
David was the Husband of Bathsheba is true
Notice that it is one David, but different relationships, each one true, but none is mutually exclusive.

However, the Bible does not affirm a position in one place and then contradicts itself in another. E.g.

David the King of Israel was the Father of Solomon the King of Israel- True (written in Scriptures)
David the King of Israel was the Son of Solomon the King of Israel- False (non existent an made up)
Bottom line? The Bible has no contradictions whatsoever!

Fourthly, I have come to realize that correct thinking (good logical reasoning) is a skill that can, and must be learned. Unfortunately, a lot of folks do not follow the steps of thinking (proper syllogism) when drawing their conclusions but will rather resort to fallacies (faulty logic) when attempting to draw their conclusions. As sad as this is, it is by far the most popular means employed by people when drawing conclusions for instance:

Argument 1:

Tunji always takes things to personally so, he cannot be right!

Observation:

What has Tunji’s disposition to argument has to do with the validity of his position? Or

Argument 2:

Tunji said, “Because I feel strongly about this issue, it must be right!”

Observation:

What has Tunji’s feelings got to do with the validity of the issue?

Argument 3

Some people just want to be right at all times; they are not worth listening to!

Observation:

While this may be a valid accusation, this assertion does not in anyway take away from, or add to the validity of their argument!

The conclusion of this is that people should endeavor to refrain from personal attacks and rather refute the points been made, by pointing out:

The faulty premise (which could result from a misinterpretation of God’s Word )
The faulty Syllogism
The Faulty Conclusions
For example:

Mark 2:7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Putting this in a syllogism, it would read

This Jesus is just a Man
Only God can forgive Sins
Therefore He blasphemes by Saying “Your sins are forgiven”
Notice that the argument is very valid, but the conclusion is wrong because the premise “Jesus is just a man!” is faulty and untrue.

Fifthly, I have also come to realize that people, in defining terms don’t always mean what you think their definitions mean. So, it becomes imperative to clarify meanings when relating with people.

For instance “Bible believing Church” may have a different connotation from its denotative meaning! It is therefore vital to clarify. Also the term “I am a Christian” could have different connotations that have no semblance to the definition of who a Christian really is as explained in Scripture.

2John 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Please note that this is by no means a glorification of the intellect over a passion for God (as some would assume). As a matter of fact, Jesus taught that a right understanding engenders worship and adoration:

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Notice how her request for living water was contingent upon her knowing who he really was.

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Notice also how their joy was contingent upon what God spoke to them

John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

Notice again how the disciples glorifying of Jesus, as sent by the Father, was contingent on their knowledge of “all the words” that God gave to Jesus for them!

A clear and accurate understanding of Scriptures is our weapon , which is mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds and every argument that opposes the knowledge of Christ.

2Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

God bless you!