Archive for the Scripture Category

Falling Away

Posted in Scripture with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2014 by James Polk

fallingHeb 6:4  For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
Heb 6:5  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Heb 6:6  and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
Heb 6:7  For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
Heb 6:8  But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

This is a favorite proof text among Arminians/synergists against the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. There are many who use this passage to prove that salvation can be lossed. But is that really what the writer to the Hebrews was teaching when he wrote verses 4 – 6? It sure looks that way, that is, until you continue reading.

Heb 6:9  Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.

While there is much to consider and much to discuss, (which I’m willing to do), regarding the passage in question, my purpose in this short post is to point out the elephant in the room. The writer is clear in verse 9. Despite his manner of speech, his words apply to false bretheren, not those who possess true salvation.

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Judge Not!

Posted in Scripture with tags , on December 26, 2010 by James Polk

Judge not! Way too many irresponsible Bible readers wield these words like a Jedi master wields a light saber. The context is usually some theological disagreement or the condemnation of sinful behavior as such. But doesn’t Scripture instruct us to be discerning? Are we not told to use ‘right judgment?’ It sure does. John 7:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:21 & 1 John 4:1 are great examples.

So what’s the problem here. Does the Bible contradict itself. No. Even a cursory examination of Matthew 7:1 quickly reveals the problem.

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Mat 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Mat 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Mat 7:4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Mat 7:5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

This is a classic example of how an out-of-context quotation can be made to mean whatever you like. Jesus did not say, “Judge not.” He said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” We’re being told not to make hypocritical judgments. What Jesus says in the four verses after our infamous statement goes on to explain this. The standard by which you judge another will most certainly be used against you and may reveal a bigger problem in your own Spiritual walk. Again, this is not an injunction against judging and discerning. It’s a warning against hypocritical judgment. It’s a warning against placing yourself on the low end of the ‘curve’ while holding others to the high end.

So the next time someone says to you, “Judge not!” You can tell them “No, judge not, that you be not judged!”

Missing The Mark: Sola Scriptura Does Not Foster Disunity

Posted in Scripture with tags , , , on September 26, 2010 by James Polk

I just finished listening to a debate between TurretinFan, (Presbyterian), and William Albrecht, (Roman Catholic), on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. More specifically, “Does Sola Scriptura foster disunity and division within the body?” William Albrecht takes the affirmative position and TurretinFan takes the negative position. You can find the debate here.

The charge that Sola Scriptura leads to disunity is nothing new. It has become a stock objection made by many Roman Catholic apologists. Unfortunately for these apologists, the focus of their objection is completely misplaced. Sola Scriptura, rightly understood, cannot be the source of disunity by definition.

Yes, that is a provocative statement, but I can defend it. I’ll begin by defining Sola Scriptura according to the Reformed Faith, not according to the misunderstandings of those who oppose it.

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. . .

. . .The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.

—1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith – WCF with Parallel Confessions

In other words, the Scriptures alone are the only inspired and infallible standard for all matters pertaining to the Christian Faith. Tradition and extra-biblical writings are not on an equal par with Scripture. The Bible is our final court of appeal. Sola Scriptura means that the Christian Faith has an objective standard that is subject to none.

I think with this definition in mind it’s not difficult to see the absurdity in the idea that having an objective standard leads to disunity. The problem isn’t found in having an objective standard, it’s found in what sinful, fallible men do with it. Just because people misinterpret or even twist the various parts of an instruction manual, for example, doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the manual or that it’s necessary to look for another standard. So it is with Scripture. In the same way that the role of an instruction manual as the final court of appeal in its own realm is not negated by those who misinterpret it, so Scripture’s role as the only infallible standard and final court of appeal for the Christian Faith is not negated by those who mishandle it. Sin and ignorance lead to disunity, not Scripture. The charge that Sola Scriptura leads to disunity misses the mark.

If The Foundations Are Destroyed, What Can The Righteous Do?

Posted in Creation, Scripture with tags , , , , on September 13, 2010 by James Polk

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are foundational to the history of redemption and God’s plan of salvation. Unfortunately, there is a growing number of believers who are very concerned that Christians not look foolish in the eyes of unbelievers, especially those in the scientific community. They suggest that the beginning chapters of Genesis are parabolic or even mythological. The creation account is not to be taken literally, but is rather a figurative framework. Pivotal figures like Adam are probably representative or typical, not historical. We’re assured that they are meant to convey a useful lesson or message and need not be literal or historical. Continue reading

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