Note: For five months I didn't hear hide nor hair from Ed Newby. Then, out of the blue, he wanted to re-engage. Frankly, there have been other things more pressing, things that certainly took precedence over answering someone who didn't seem ready to stay engaged. But, because Ed is indicating that I have failed to keep up my end of the bargain, and even that there is some ulterior motive for me not posting his very tardy response, I have consented to his demand to post it. I have taken the time to make a reply, which I hope he will reply to speedily. —Allan Turner
From Ed Newby, email@example.com, on 8 June 2001
Hi Allan, I sent you this posting on March 11, 2000 and sent it again on May 18, 2000. To this date you have not posted it on your dialogue page and I'm wondering why. At present you have left the dialogue dangling with the impression being that I have given up and quit. After waiting over a year I believe it's only fair to ask what the problem is. Fortunately, you did include my email and those who have contacted me were sent what you haven't posted. May God grant you a standing in this present age.
I never saw this posted and trust you did receive it. According to the record, I originally sent this on March 11, 2000. Nevertheless, I'm sending it again, just to be sure.
Subject: Hello again Dear Alan
I began this towards the end of January and filed it away. Having since had a new computer, with all the sundry "teething" problems inherent with the same, and my draft lurking who knows where, we’ll just have to make a new start. You ask what’s wrong with winning. Nothing, if that were one’s sole goal in life. I have too much experience with "winning" the argument in the past and losing the relationship. It’s also well to remember that the greatest victor who ever walked this world won the battle by losing His life. Since the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to consider the example of the Lord Jesus Christ who "who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:3), it is best to follow His example whether we contend (discuss enthusiastically) with saint or sinner. Furthermore, only the Lord Jesus Christ can renew a mind to the point where pride is dethroned and truth is triumphant.
I also am willing to receive rebuke when deserved and some of the greatest growth in my Christian life has come from faithful men of God who were willing to haul me up short when I needed it.
When my wife and I were at New Tribes Institute, our instructors confronted me with the issue of pride. I'll admit, that's something that exercised too much influence in my early Christian life. Hopefully, and by God's grace I've progressed some and obtained some victory as well. Therefore, it really doesn't matter to me who wins a debate. And as you apparently plan on posting these dialogues on your website, I'm rather counting on the discernment of those who read, as opposed to any surface recognition of a winner. You are correct that I was the one who first referred to "OSAS," although I had picked it up from earlier correspondence with others and noticed its ubiquitousness on the many sites that attempt to discredit the concept of the believer's security. Nevertheless, you did not use it first and I apologize.
I also acknowledge that I may perhaps fall into the category of a "fuss budget" at times. You used the term "fuss bucket," but unless that is a colloquialism peculiar to your area, I suspect you really mean the former.
You feel I overreacted concerning your wording of "I expect better of you," and ask if I want you to repent for thinking the best concerning me. The answer is obviously "no," were your explanation sustainable in the light of what you wrote then and what you followed it up with. The paragraph in question closes with the following: "Quite frankly, the quoting of such a passage -- which is an extremely critical passage for those of us who are trying to live so as not to become castaways -- falls on the deaf ears of those intent on defending OSAS doctrine. However, I expect better from you."
I am defending OSAS doctrine, do I have deaf ears? You (and unnamed others) are trying to live so as not to become castaways. What's the obvious inferance? Try and look at this passage in an unpartisan manner. As words do have meaning, can you not discern how through your poor choice of words you certainly did create an impression of an ad hominem attack? You make a charge that those who defend OSAS have deaf ears. That's an ad hominem attack, whether unintentional or not. It is an attack on one's character, rather than a strict examination of the issue. It is one thing to make a charge of deaf ears, it is quite another thing to prove it. I am also labeled as "blind" in the last letter, another charge sown freely amongst the websites I have referred to. It would be instructive for the readers of this dialogue to investigate these sites as well to see how name calling dominates so many of them. Then, ask "why?"
You further chide me for my observation (based upon experience) that a certain, discernable pattern may develop during discussions of this type. I didn't mean to imply that you were falling into that pattern, I was only relating what has been my experience. Perhaps this is a place where I wrote poorly.
Nevertheless, after you have chided me for mentioning this observed pattern, you then do the very thing to me at the end your letter. It would have been sufficient to just state that you do not follow that pattern and let it go at that. You say it's the others who degenerate into ad hominem attacks. In view of the few items I've already mentioned, can you not see that I might very sincerely ask, "What did you say to them?" Consider the following: You say "I reckon you think Paul lived in a constant state of nervous tension in [his] relationship with the Lord." How, other than your imagination or supposed opportunity to score a point, do you reckon this? Where have I ever suggested such a thing of Paul? As I think you must certainly be aware of my feelings concerning Paul's position, why do you erect this straw man, using misapplied statements? This is a little bit of grandstanding. "Hey guys, he's picking on Paul and me again." You know very well that I was reporting my encounters with those whose conditional security doctrine had not served as a deterrant, but rather sowed discouragement and failure. That has happened. And, as I suggested earlier, we do not need to parade anecdotal evidence of either position's supposed failures. The one who "falls away" may have no real concept of what the gospel is.
As I have stated and now restate, I formally took your position. Nevertheless, I'm now convinced that the Scriptures do not support this. You say this is blindness upon my part. I am willing to be corrected, but one does naturally begin to wonder why the charge of blindness is so readily bandied about. Am I blind to state that the passage in John 10 contains only declarative statements of the Lord Jesus Christ with no such qualifiers? Where are they? Show me. Should I not expect a reasonable response, rather than a charge that I can't see it because I'm blind? One defender of falling away doctrine has determined that his way around the meaning is to specialize on the tense of the word "follow." In response, a defender of OSAS states, "[This gentleman] tries to draw a distinction between Christians who continue to follow Jesus and those who eventually turn back. Jesus however, shows he was making a distinction simply between the pharisees who did not turn to Christ and the those who did as stated in verses 24-26 of Chapter 10. Furthermore, the verses plainly puts the security of eternal life in the strong right arm of God. When the verse says no man may pluck them out, the phrase "no one" is all inclusive which would mean we can not jump out of God's hand even if we wanted to for some strange reason. The good shepherd recovering his lost sheep in Matthew 18:12-14 and the Father disciplining his children Heb.12:5-12 are excellent examples of God securing our salvation."
I am quite aware that all passages must conform to the rest of Scripture, but as this is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself speaking, the rest of Scripture must also conform to them. As I quoted the commentator in my previous letter, the Lord's words are strong and emphatic. One has to add qualifying words to the Lord Jesus Christ's statements and obscure what is very clearly said in order to support falling away doctrine. To state "yes I know His sheep (ie., those who hear his voice) will endure," is to add words to Scripture and reacast the Lord's very own words to support one's doctrine. Jesus on the other hand said, "My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me." Period. What is not stated is how closely they follow, whether they straggle at times, how muted the Savior's voice may seem, or what resources the Shepherd utilizes to ensure that what He says will happen. That is something I have not seen addressed. Neither is your remark that I have said nothing new a sufficient response.
Based upon the discussions I've had, along with the material I've read by those supportive of falling away doctrine, I begin to think that it is a requirement to inject the accusation that any other position can only be an incentive to riot and ruin. As my debate teacher in college told me, "such tactics indicate either a paucity of evidence or a lack of confidence in the same." It is also indicative of a misunderstanding of what it means to truly be a Christian. No fruitful Christian spends his time with thoughts of "I better not commit adultery, fornication, homosexuality, drunkenness, et. al., or I'll go to hell." Paul teaches that it is the "goodness of God" that leads a man to repentance (Romans 2:4). Some in the conditional security camp have taken their doctrine to such an extreme that they have concocted a vision of God with His hand on the controls of the trapdoor to hell, just waiting to trigger it. Nothing less to them seems to promise deterrance.
A recent book encountered draws a distinction between the doctrine of the security of the believer and the perceived doctrine. Since I have lived in both theological camps, I have had some opportunity to observe a great many believers. From the time that I have been attending churches of the opposite tack to you, I have not met one single believer who ever used OSAS (perceived or otherwise) as a license to sin. To the contrary, I have noted a great awareness of the necessity for personal holiness. There is also an active conviction that allowing oneself to lapse into sin is a n invitation to experience the great chastening hand of our loving Father. The idea of having one's flesh scourged (literally to rip from the body) is a very potent deterrant. Further, the thought of the Lord saying "you are the man" (2 Samuel 12:7 and following it up with "by this deed you have given great opportunity for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme" (2 Samuel 12:14) is absolutely terrifying to the one who has fully apprehended the grace of God. I remember when as a young believer and my "hippiedom" but a few weeks in the past I committed a horrendous sin. When my new Christian roommate asked me what was the matter, it seemed like the accusing finger of the Lord was stabbing me in the chest. I burst out with an emotional full confession and my roommate asked me, "did you ever feel this way after committing this sin in the past?" "No," I answered. "Then what's different now?" That was the beginning of understanding what it meant to be a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). That night in my devotions I "happened" to read Psalm 32. I don't believe this was a coincidence.
You think I was not sincere in my offer to go line-by-line through the verses in question. That is not true. I will confess, however, to a great weariness in knowing the time and investiture of effort required. Consider also the fact that I have now nearly gone line by line through 2 Peter 2, showing in verse after verse that the words used do not support the idea that these false prophets had a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. You in turn have stated that you do not believe my interpretation and have singled out a few verses, apart from context in the attempt to shore up your theory. The last verse you cited was verse 1, where your implication was that "blood bought individuals" can only refer to the saved. As I pointed out and perhaps too sarcastically asked, "are you now a Calvinist." Everyone is blood bought, whether or not they appropriate it. Jesus died for us (the Church) and not just for us, "...he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). Your point is meaningless. Further, it ignores Peter's own interpretation of what happened to these false prophets. As stated and restated, it is instructive to read 2 Peter 2:22, where the apostle quotes Proverbs 26:11. I suggested that a random selection of people could demonstrate the clarity of what is said in Proverbs 26:11. Once again, Peter says that the key to understanding what happened to these individuals is fully explained by that Proverb. Rather than presuming to speak for the apostle, it is better to let the apostle speak for himself. Unless we are willing to overturn the laws of nature and the obvious meaning of Peter's words, we are stuck with a certain conclusion. The passage does not introduce the concept of losing one's salvation and if we try to force into a preconceived mold, we obscure what it really means and rob the Scriptures of a very clear warning passage against false professors.
You say I have made no convincing arguments to make you change your mind, and state that this is not to say that I am not right, but that you don't think I am and then say there is no need to repeat what has been already written. That is true, as the explanations offered do not address the issues raised . If I have made no convincing arguments, then that must be shown.
Rather than this happening, in John 15 a suggestion of "angels" was made to identity those doing the "taking away" to burn. Burn is assumed to be speaking of the judgment of hell. Such a solution only creates a greater problem with the passage. As pointed out, it absolutely does not fit John's very familiar and understandable image of a vineyard. No vintner hires angels to prune his vineyard. It is not sufficient to ignore the discrepancy and continue on. The only reasonable and logical conclusion is that these are men. And if so, men have no role in the final judgment other than being themselves judged. Consequently, this passage does not address the issue of loss of salvation. It is absolutely impossible to make this passage support falling away theology unless truth takes a backseat to expediency.
In considering other passages, part of the problem seems to be that verses using the words "fall," "fallen," or "take away" are automatically assumed to be speaking of loss of salvation. This is illustrated well in the reference to Galatians 5:4 (marred by an accusation, "another passage you have refused to deal with"). As I have stated, one step at a time. We'll get there. And since we seem to be there, do you realize what you are saying? The context is talking about circumcision and becoming a debtor to keep the whole law. Nevertheless, it is insisted that Paul's expression "you are fallen from grace" must mean the loss of salvation. If so, the only catalyst for loss of salvation is circumcision. It would certainly be difficult to prove that the unnecessary act of circumcision (for a gentile) is a sin that will send one to hell! How then can this passage say the very opposite of what I claim? Do we ignore context or the words used for the sake of one's doctrine?
Now I realize I'm exaggerating a bit to make a point, but this interpretation cannot be reasonably sustained without letting one's preconceptions attain a force overrriding everything else. An accusation in a previous dialogue spoke of turning Galatians into gobbledygook. What has been done by insisting that "fallen from grace" must refer to salvation? This conclusion is not faithful to context, the meaning of words, and ignores Paul's recognizable style of writing. Furthermore, Paul does not say, "you have fallen from salvation," he says, "you have fallen from grace." There is a difference. The point is clear, he cannot be talking about the salvation of a believer. How then is my preconception dictating interpretation and how on earth might that be reasonably demonstrated? Something else is in view in this passage, requiring a bit more time than we have right now. But we can do that at a later date.
Incidentally, in trying to discredit the example of Gomer from the book of Hosea, you inadvertently argue against yourself. You reference Romans 9:6, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Paul argues very well that all those who were physical members of Israel, were not members of spiritual Israel as well. That brings us back to 2 Peter 2 where these false prophets (also among the people, vs. 1), who did not have a spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Moving on to Hebrews, there is a profession of astonishment by my dismissal of the "force of" chapter 6 and some needless pilloring of the word "hypothetical" without any evident attempt to understand what is actually being said. I also have to confess to being a bit hurried at the time and thinking, "ah, we'll deal with that in depth later." Ignoring the force of chapter 6 is something performed by the other side. As the chapter very plainly states, if "falling away" (interpreted as loss of salvation) occurs, there is no way back. That's the force.
It would be instructive to consider something recently encountered. A writer to the ministry who was objecting to OSAS grappled directly with this issue. "That is correct, there is no second chance in this life for someone willing to trample underfoot the precious blood of Christ. If someone falls away, he will live out the rest of his life with absolutely no opportunity to repent." What an idea to hold.
As to charges of sarcasm observed, perhaps I was too sensitive. But when one encounters asides such as "conditions (there's that word again)," it's difficult in view of the other items mentioned to slide over such things. Such a remark is just another gimmick without substance. It attempts to span a four foot chasm with a two foot board.
Finally, another letter taking issue with the doctrine of the security of the believer arrived at the office. It might as well have been written in red ink, as the "temperature" of it would warrant such treatment. One of the arguments presented was the familiar recitation of alleged scriptural examples of once saved individuals who lost their salvation. Among the familiar names of Judas, Saul, etc., was the name of Mary Magdalene who, according to the author, was "saved and lost seven times." The letter writer cited Mark 16:9 as scriptural proof. Although seeming familiar, I have to confess I had to look it up. Dealing with post resurrection appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ, the passage in question spoke of Mary Magdalene "...out of whom he had cast seven demons." Giving renewed emphasis to the concept of "reaching," this interpretation conjured images of a patient Lord casting a demon out of Mary only to have this woman possessed again. The Lord's patience was surely taxed as Mary for six more times fell into sin and was again demonized. How far is one willing to go to prove a point?
Well, this is another long email. I hope I don't need to apologize as I spent a lot of time praying about this, cutting, and also adding a few things. May God continue to bless as you go about the ministry he's given you.
Reply from Allan Turner on 9 June 2001
Ed, I am going to bypass much of what you've had to say in your last response, as it appears to be not much more than a sophomoric attempt at self-justification on one hand, and invectives justified by evil surmising on the other. True to form, you have continued to "bob and weave" around the pertinent scriptures. However, as any attempt on my part to answer your points only serves to inflame your already overworked sensibilities, I can only hope I'm not casting pearls before swine. In my past responses to you and others who hold your position, I have expended a great deal of time attempting to refute arguments, only to hear this countered with charges that I've made no attempt to deal with the subject. In those few places where you actually give me credit for trying to engage your arguments, you charge me with making ad hominem arguments. You claimed this when I mentioned your perceptual blindness—a blindness I believe to be the direct result of your Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS) position. In response, you asked me where my proof is, like none had been presented, and then dismiss such "tactics," as you called them, as simply debate posturing. Ed, the proof of your perceptual blindness is to be found in your own arguments—arguments where you repeatedly dismiss relevant passages. Time and again you wrest scriptures from their context in order to explain them away.
For example, according to you, the branches in John 15:2 that are taken away (and this is the way the translators believed this passage should be translated) are not really cast off at all. According to you, these branches, because they are "in" Christ, are OSAS. Therefore, the passage does not say these fruitless branches are really taken away. Instead, and this is still according to you, they are actually taken up (or pulled up) out of the mud and soil, and this so they can eventually bear fruit. So, instead of letting Jesus tell the story, you re-tell the story to coincide with your doctrine. In doing so, you make an appeal to the translating of the Greek word airo, which you claim does not primarily mean "taketh away," a meaning you claim can only be found when we get to the tertiary meaning of the word. Now, if we were to apply your argument to other important places where this word is used, we'd have some very radical interpretations, even for Ed Newby. For instance, in John 1:29, the Bible speaks of "the Lamb of God, which taketh away [airo] the sin of the world." Well, Ed, did He take away the sin of the world, or did He just hold it, or lift it, up? Also, in Acts 8:33, where Isaiah 53:8 is quoted, Jesus' justice (the judgment offered Him in his three mock trials) is referred to as being "taken away" (airo). Well, Ed, did Jesus get justice before the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pilate, or was it really taken away, as the scriptures clearly say?
I think you will affirm that Jesus takes away (removes) the sin of the world. I also think you will affirm that justice was taken away (i.e., kept from) from Jesus at His trials. However, when this same word is used in John 15:2, you want to find some way to explain it away. Why? Because you don't believe that once one is "in" Christ, he can actually be cast "out." It seems that the only thing you've gotten right about this passage is that it has something to do with eternal salvation. Nevertheless, when you get down to verses 4 through 8, where the branches that don't abide "in" the Vine are cast out "as a branch, and [are] withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned," you say this doesn't have anything to do with eternal salvation. Your proof of this is that the ones gathering them up are men, not angels. But, as I pointed out in my previous response to you, this is just more of your bobbing and weaving around the issue. As you have already appealed to the Greek for the justification of your position, I know you know that who they are that are doing the gathering is not the point of this passage. In fact, who they are is not even mentioned in the Greek. The KJV translates them as "men," while the NKJV translates them as "they." But the point is this: The branches that did not abide "in" Christ are gathered and burned. Therefore, your argument that this scripture cannot be referring to eternal salvation because the gatherers are men and not angels is weak, weak, weak.
I admit to arguing that OSAS proponents are both blind and hard of hearing. Hence, my remarks about "deaf ears." And although you can't see or hear my arguments against your position, you claim that you are neither blind nor deaf. You claim that all I'm doing, when I do this, is making unfair ad hominem arguments. But, Ed, it is your own responses that clearly demonstrate my case. Having said this, I want to make it just as clear that I realize that I, too, may be both blind and deaf to arguments that refute my position. If I am, then what I write will demonstrate it. So, I ask only for a fair reading of what I've said up to this point. If I haven't listened to, or seen, your points, this should be obvious. On the other hand, if it is you who is, in fact, the prime suspect in the crimes for which you accuse me, then this, too, should be obvious.
Yes, I chided you for your reference to a "discernible pattern" that you claimed to have observed developing during discussions of this type, and I did so because I believed you were including me in that pattern—a pattern I clearly eschew. You now say you didn't mean to imply that I fit that pattern. Oh really, then why did you bring it up? Ed, this is OUR dialogue, and if you would just confine yourself to my arguments, I shouldn't have anymore problems misunderstanding what you are implying. Further, you mentioning several times that you previously held my position does nothing but cloud the issue. If, as you say, you held my position, but changed, does this mean that you could never go back to your previous position? In other words, am I just wasting my time with you? Is it possible for you to admit that you could be wrong now, and that your previous position may have been given up because you didn't have the knowledge to adequately defend it scripturally? If so, then we can probably have a profitable discussion. If not, we are both wasting our time. It is true that I believe your position is wrong. However, I remain open to the idea that you could be right, and if you are, I truly want to know it. Nevertheless, the slip-shod way you handle scripture does not bode well for your position, even if it is the position taught in Scripture.
You then accuse me of doing the same thing you did when you mentioned a pattern. I plead guilty to seeing a pattern in these kinds of discussions, and unlike you, I meant what I said. Ed, you fit the pattern I described perfectly. However, I did hold out some hope that you weren't going to be like this, when I wrote, "Time will tell if this is just more of the same." Ed, thou art the man! What I said was:
In conclusion, let me talk about a pattern I see over and over again. Someone takes issue with something I've written on my website. They write to me, not to argue, they are quick to say, but to tell me that what I've written is contrary to God's Word. I counter. A dialogue is undertaken. After a while, when those on the other side begin to run out of ammunition, they begin to resort to ad hominem arguments because that's all they have left. Eventually they just quit. Time will tell if this is just more of the same.
Your five month truancy put the exclamation point on this pattern, and based upon what you're now saying, I suspect you've taken some heat for it. Now that you're back, I hope you'll be willing to see this thing through, no matter where it leads.
You have written that you'll get to arguments I've made in due time. This appears to be nothing but empty rhetoric. That may be something you learned from your debate professor in college, but it doesn't fly here. I have repeatedly asked you to deal with Galatians 5:4, which says that those Christians who go back to the law of Moses for justification "are fallen from grace." Your long awaited answer betrays the reason for your delay. In truth, you don't have an answer, do you? If you do, why didn't you offer it? This passage, along with others, flies in the face of your OSAS doctrine, and I believe you must know it. Again, your handling of this passage is absolutely atrocious. The context of Galatians 5:4 informs us that the apostle Paul encouraged the Galatian Christians to "stand fast" in the liberty in which Christ had made them free, and for them not be "entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). Yes, you are correct that, under the new covenant, "circumcision availeth nothing" (Galatians 5:6 and 6:15). But Paul makes it clear that those who thought it did (which would also obligate them to keep the "whole law" in order to be justified), were told that they had become "estranged from Christ" (verse 4a). In such a condition, the apostle says they were "fallen from grace" (verse 4b). So, it is clear from the passage that Paul taught that those who attempted to be "justified by law" were divorced from Christ and fallen from grace. Nevertheless, you have the audacity to ask what this has to do with a "loss of salvation." In doing so, you ask, "Do we ignore the words used for the sake of one's doctrine?" Yes, Ed, you do, and your explanation of this passage is the kind of "gobbledygook" to which I referred in a previous response. You claim, however, that it is I who engaged in gobbledygook when I argued that "fallen from grace" must somehow relate to salvation. How is my interpretation gobbledygook? If we are saved "by grace," and the Bible says we are (Ephesians 2:5-8), then how is it that falling from grace can have nothing to do with salvation, as you are claiming? But if falling from grace has nothing to do with salvation, then why did you not think yourself obligated to tell me what it does refer to? Did you do this? No, you didn't. Instead, you claim that you don't have the time right now, and that such can be supplied at a later date—and all this from one who had just finished writing reams about less relevant things. But, you go on to pontificate:
Furthermore, Paul does not say, "you have fallen from salvation," he says, "you have fallen from grace." There is a difference. The point is clear, he cannot be talking about the salvation of a believer.
No, Ed, the point is not clear. What is the difference? You need to tell me. How is it that Paul "cannot" be talking of the salvation of a believer? But, you then go on to say:
How then is my preconception dictating interpretation and how on earth might that be reasonably demonstrated?
Ed, to see a prime example of it, all anyone needs to do is read what you've written here.
Now to that apostle Paul thing you've made such a big deal about. Paul said he buffeted his body daily so that after preaching to others he himself did not become a "castaway" or "disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:27). I know of no reason, other than your OSAS doctrine, to think that Paul is not speaking of salvation. Such is consistent with his warnings to Christians that they must continue to the end in order to be saved (cf. Romans 11:21-22; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Galatians 6:7-9; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 4:1). Further, this is in complete harmony with what Jesus taught while on earth (cf. Matthew 10:22; 24:13; John 8:31-32; John 15:1-6). Therefore, based on your attempt to capitalize on my statement about trying to live as not to become a castaway, and how this revealed more than I intended, it seemed appropriate to think that if you consistently applied to Paul the same picture you have tried to paint of Christians who believe they can lose their salvation, then you would have to think the apostle lived in a constant state of nervous tension in his relationship with the Lord. If not, then why do you try to paint this picture of me and others who think a child of God can lose his salvation?
Yes, I am sure it is true that some who think a Christian can lose his salvation do live in constant fear that they will be lost. Perhaps this is how you felt about it when you held this position. However, it is not how I, and many others who hold the position, think about it. Trusting in the God who has demonstrated over and over again that He is "for us" (Romans 8:31), we confidently trust in His wonderful promises. Although we believe that, due to our own free wills, we can become lost again, we just as surely believe that the Christian does not have to fall from grace (2 Peter 1:10). We believe that with every temptation the Lord provides a way of escape, and that He does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able (1 Corinthians 10:13). Therefore, because God is for us, we trust that if we continue faithful unto death, we will one day be eternally secure in heaven—that New Jerusalem that comes from above. The ogreish god you and your OSAS proponents try to erect for folks like me (viz., the one who sets trap doors under folks and delights in pulling the switch), is nothing but an idol. On the contrary, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the God I am attempting to serve faithfully), is a God who doesn't want any to be eternally lost (2 Peter 3:9). Although this is contrary to the tenets of Calvinism, it is nevertheless what the Bible clearly teaches. However, it is a sad and unfortunate truth that many will be lost. Why? Because they, of their own free wills, will not subject themselves to the will of God. Therefore, if one goes to hell, and many will, it will not be God's fault.
So then, how should one live? Like Paul, "I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:27, NKJV). Further, not thinking myself to have yet obtained that for which I am "apprehended," I press toward the goal that is set before me (Philippians 3:12-16). This journey is referred to in the Bible as a "walking in the light" (1 John 1:7). Now, do I think that this walking in the light is some kind of sinless perfection? No, I certainly do not. If it were, there would be no need for the blood to continue to cleanse us. It saddens me to say that I do, and will, sin. If I were to claim otherwise, I would be making God a liar (1 John 1:10). But, the "helmet of my salvation" (Ephesian 6:17) is that if I continue to confess my sins, God will continue to cleanse my sins in connection with the precious blood of His Son, Jesus. Glory to God! However, the If of "If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9) clearly sets a condition, and, yes, there's that word again. OSAS doctrine, of course, doesn't cater to conditions, as it is claimed that such would take away from God's sovereignty. Hogwash! Obedience, which necessarily sets conditions, is required of all who would be saved through the glorious gospel of Christ. In fact, believers on that first Pentecost after the Lord's ascension into heaven were told that in order to have their sins remitted they needed to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). Do these two things (repentance and baptism) have anything to do with the "remission of sins" or salvation? Not according to a doctrine that says salvation is wholly of grace through faith alone. Such a doctrine says obedience (in this case, repentance and baptism) is a work, and that works somehow nullify grace and faith. All this, however, is completely contrary to James 2:24, which says a man is justified by works, and not faith only. Nevertheless, and here's my point, if, after having walked in the light for a time, I was to become hardened against acknowledging my sins, refusing to confess them, then such would be a failing to meet the conditions stipulated by the Holy Spirit in 1 John 1:5-2:2. Would the blood then, according to this passage, continue to cleanse me? If you insist on saying "Yes," then give me the book, chapter, and verse, for it is clearly not taught in this passage. Similarly, if I were to turn back to a system of justification through perfect law keeping, as some of the Galatians evidently had done, a system that had ultimately condemned us all as sinners, then the Bible teaches that I would no longer be walking in the light. Consequently, the blood of the Father's only begotten Son would no longer be cleansing me from my unrighteousness. As a result, my fellowship with Christ would be severed and I would be, for the lack of a better term, "fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4). Therefore, I find your claim that this passage has nothing to do with salvation to be quite ludicrous. Your promise to eventually tell us what is really under discussion in this passage seems disingenuous, to say the least.
Ed, my patience with you has run thin. It is time for you to either put up or shut up. As I await your reply, I want to remind you that the ball is now back in your court.
In service to Him,
From Ed Newby, firstname.lastname@example.org, on 20 June 2001
I've taken my first look at the posting you made and will withhold all comments save one. As I stated and you should recall, my time is at a premium, as is yours. Therefore, there will be no immediate response until I have read, reread, prayed, drafted, redrafted, and prayerfully brought my response to what it should be.
As to my current situation, my wife and I have been brought to closure on one aspect of our lives. My wife's mother has been in a terminal situation which went far beyond the doctor's expectations and prognostications. She passed away on June 9. Now we are engaged in settling her estate which shall probably take the best part of the summer, although my wife and I hope to be able to get away for our 25th anniversary.
We often wondered why God allowed mom to linger so long. It seems that she had one more secret to divulge. My wife, who has always thought she was an only child has now discovered she has a half brother. The Lord wouldn't take mom home until she brought this secret out. She opened up to my wife on June 2 and seven days later she entered into her rest. We have since made contact with our new family member.
May God encourage and strengthen you beyond the limitations of our human expectation and understanding.
Reply from Allan Turner on 21 June 2001
Sorry for your problems, Ed. When you finally get around to it, don't forget to include your promised exposition of Galatians 5:4.
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