Following is a reply I wrote to a commenter on another blog.
That person has spent some time arguing against a series of articles written by the blog owner, in which the blog owner was addressing the errors of “Once Save Always Saved” (OSAS).
The commenter includes links to a site promoting “Free Grace” theology – which basically says that once a decision has been made for Christ, then no matter what comes afterwards, that decision ensures eternal security.
As an example of this belief system, in one article posted by that commenter it was stated:
“The Bible clearly teaches that God’s love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand (my emphasis in bold type – onesimus)”
Such a statement is the worst kind of false teaching because the Bible does not teach anything of the kind, clearly or otherwise.
The “foundation” to this belief seems to be a single phrase “by grace you are saved” found in Ephesians.
In one of their replies to me the commenter said:
I told you not to bother answering me and to go back and study things…….didn’t think you would…….
This was my reply:
I have spent a life time studying, from my late teens.
The first years I studied what men said about scripture and what they said scripture meant, and I could quote verse upon verse to prove what they had taught me.
And then a lot of what I’d learned came crashing down when I found I could no longer push aside my increasing questions about why some of their teachings didn’t add up; that the parts of scripture they ignored tended to contradict some of the things they were teaching.
During the last couple of decades, I have let scripture itself be the authority and found it was much easier to understand than I expected.
I learned that proof-texting, or relying on individual bible statements to “prove” a point was not only counterproductive, it was destructive.
ANYONE can quote verses to “prove” whatever they want to believe. It’s often more enlightening to note which parts of scripture are avoided instead of the parts being quoted as “proof”.
The Bible is NOT a collection of countless individual theological points encapsulated in convenient quotable texts. The Bible, as a whole, is a developing revelation of God and His relationship with His creation, (in particular mankind) from the very beginning of this current creation, through to the establishment of a new heaven and earth.
It is impossible to grasp the truth by fixating on parts of scripture while ignoring the rest.
It is impossible to grasp the truth by fixating on individual words in scripture, while ignoring the rest.
Instead of fixating on a word like “grace” from one verse of scripture to establish an all-over doctrine of salvation – try getting an understanding through the whole of scripture, seeing God’s grace AT WORK through His ongoing relationship with mankind.
See God’s grace in action rather than applying man’s artificial definitions of what grace means.
It would be a worthless exercise for me to attempt to counteract the proof texts of others with proof texts of my own – I long ago recognised that proof text duelling is a fruitless exercise.
The truth will only be discovered and accepted by those who have a desire for the truth, who are willing to search the scriptures (the WHOLE of scripture) to find it.
It will not be discovered in out of context, cherry-picked parts of scripture.
I highly recommend this very insightful article.
How and why would professing Christians think that supporting someone like Donald Trump is a good thing?
If you take faith in Jesus seriously, if you want to increase your understanding of what is going on in the world today regarding church involvement in politics, please click on the link below and read the article.
The issue goes much deeper than the support of one particular man.
I remember a moment, as clear as if it happened yesterday, although it was about 40 years ago (!) and it prepared me for what is happening today. Indeed, it was crucial, even though I did not know it at the time. Thank you Lord.
Fast-forward to today. I watched a short video [thanks to OnesimusFiles] that examined today’s political and religious events in America (America principally, but also affecting the rest of the world). That too recalled the truths I refer to above. Both roots sprang up together – because everything in our lives is ordered by God.
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The populist right is forging an unholy alliance with religion
This … might go a long way to explain why rightwing populists have scored so many victories in recent years: populists have proven very adept at hijacking religion.
The deployment of religion is not about the doctrinal strength of religious life – religious practice continues to decline steadily in most western democracies, and most citizens are not involved in religious institutions. Instead, populists’ use of religion seems to offer a way of forging a new consensus. It is a tool to engage a society that is felt to have lost its moral centre.
The French fascist Charles Maurras said that he did not believe in God but “thought it crucial that people believed in him”. Amid the dizzying effects of globalisation, “God and country” populism offers a way of incorporating capitalism into some kind of traditional religious framework.
Read full article here:
An article on the front page of yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald reported on attempts by Christian group to join with Muslims and Buddhists – all for the aim of opposing the “godless” Labor Party in the approach Australian Federal election.
I have to wonder what kind of alliance those “Christians” are looking for. Clearly they don’t recognise the hypocrisy of cosying up to “godless” Buddhists, and Son of God denying Muslims.
They display hypocrisy in the name of pushing a political agenda – diluting Spiritual truth for an attempted political outcome. Forging a religious alliance that compromises their own professed religion.
By making their opposition to secular “godless” politicians their priority, they willingly yoke themselves to unbelief., in the process undermining the gospel and casting aside whatever Christian witness they claim to have.
A very interesting and astute article.
Thank you to Chris for bringing it to my attention, and thank you to Gloria for getting me to check my email spam file – where for some reason, Chris’s email had been dumped by my email account.
This article reflects MUCH more than a perception of the degrading of Billy Graham’s legacy. It is a reflection of the increasingly sorry state of “evangelical Christianity” as a whole.
Billy Graham Built a Movement. Now His Son Is Dismantling It.
If you want to understand the evangelical decline in the United States, look no further than the transition from Billy to Franklin Graham.
By STEPHEN PROTHERO
During World War II era, European churches were hurt badly by the affiliation of Christianity with right-wing political movements. During the 1940s and 1950s, the United States persisted in its religiosity as European countries secularized. In fact, the Americans witnessed a powerful religious revival after the war, thanks in part to Billy Graham.
That revival is over. Religion is now declining in the United States, and evangelicalism with it. In fact, over the last decade, the portion of white evangelical Protestants in the United States declined from 23 percent to 17 percent.
The most significant development in American religion in recent years is the shocking rise of the religiously unaffiliated (otherwise known as “nones”), who now account for roughly one quarter of all Americans. This increasing distance from religious institutions is accompanied by increasing distance from religious beliefs and practices. Today 27 percent of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” and another 18 percent as “neither religious nor spiritual.” There are many reasons for this decline in religious believing and belonging. But the most important in my view is the increasing identification of the Christian churches with right-wing politics, [my emphasis in bold – Onesimus]
A gift and a promise.
For whom are they intended?
Highlighted parts of the article:
God’s sacrifice of Jesus to express his love on Earth was the favourite Bible passage of many Christians. But that is changing, as messages of hope and prosperity on social media find greater resonance with the younger generation.
“Whereas once John 3:16 was the ‘poster boy text of the 20th century, the latest star is Jeremiah 29:11”
The passage which reads: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” has been eclipsed in the UK by the offer of hope and prosperity in Jeremiah 29:11.
It reads: “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 is also the favourite in nine other countries including Canada and Australia.
“Millennials have drastically changed how they approach the Bible’s teachings… We find that Millennials tend to share therapeutic messages – it’s far more about their own identity”
A disturbing example of the way scripture can be adopted and misapplied when context is thrown out.
A section of scripture declaring God’s sacrificial act of love for the world, that made salvation available to ALL who believe, has been pushed aside to favour a verse declaring a promise to a select and specific group of people, NOT just any individuals who choose to claim the promise.
That newly favoured text from Jeremiah is being personally appropriated by people who are not addressed in the context of that verse.
The promise “to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” is not a universal promise.
It was a promise in a prophetic context addressed to a people who had survived slaughter and destruction, who had been taken captive by an invading army, and exiled from their homeland.
It is a promise to THOSE people, that their exile would last 70 years, and then they as a people – not necessarily all individuals – would be returned to their land.
This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’ (Jeremiah 29)
While that return did occur as promised, the complete fulfilment of the prophesied promise, is still to come, when Israel as a whole recognises their Messiah, and He returns to rule over the earth from Jerusalem.
The 70 year exile to Babylon referred to in Jeremiah preceded the promise being so casually adopted and misappropriated today. The promise was not made to those who hadn’t suffered significant cost.
So, what is wiser? To claim a promise not intended as an individual promise to me?
Or to focus on the importance of God’s gift to the world, a gift anyone can receive through belief, trust, faith in Jesus?
And which promise is it wiser to proclaim to the world?