Friday, 31 January 2014

Does Hebrews 6 teach you can lose salvation?

Hebrews 6:4-6  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, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 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.

Does this mean that someone can be saved and receive the Holy Spirit but nevertheless be damned?  Does this verse teach that I can lose my salvation?  Not if you read it in context…
This is simply describing those who, to all outward appearance, are considered Christians but who later show that they were truly not.

The key is the use of the word 'tasted'; the same word is used for our Saviour tasting the mingled wine upon the cross but, of course, this doesn't mean He properly drank it.  He said that He wouldn't drink wine again until He was reunited with His people (Luke 22:18 etc.).
Therefore, I consider that those who have only tasted of the spiritual things of the Holy Spirit are like Ananias and Sapphira who claimed they were Christians and were putting all the proceeds of the sale of their house
to share with all the other congregation members; really, they were keeping some back, lacking any certainty yet trying to look good.  They didn’t truly believe in the God who could see their hearts or in the work He was doing.  As Peter said, they lied to God the Spirit and were only superficially part of the church - the body of Christ (Acts 5).
Simply tasting is different to those who are 'made to DRINK of one Spirit' (1Corinthians 12:13).

This is why the apostle says to those Hebrew Christians: 'Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.'  He believes the people he is addressing are actually saved. The things he listed before are pertaining to those who fall away and therefore states that those things do not 'belong to salvation'.  The apostle explicitly says that if you fall away like that, you don’t show any signs that you are saved.  As is confirmed by the other apostles:
1John 2:19  They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. (NASB)

This is a tricky verse, if I can put it that way, because we are so inclined to read the Bible verse by verse, like each verse is an island of truth but that is not the case and leads a great many into error. We refer to the Bible as the Word of God; it is a whole and it is one, and God's purpose is single and definite. We should try linking the chapters we read with the chapter before and after, to understand the immediate context and authorial intent, i.e. what the Spirit was driving on.

So let us recognise that when the Spirit truly starts driving us on, in and through Christ, He will never stop.

Philippians 1:6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
1Thessalonians 5:23-24  Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (ESV)

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Was the Sun Created on the 4th day?

Genesis 1:1-5  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. 

Most Young Earth Creationists affirm that God created the sun, moon and stars all on the fourth day of creation and that the gargantuan cosmic damage this would have caused to the earth and the solar system was deliberately nullified by God.  Before that time, there was supposedly no sunlight and, when we are told that light shone upon earth’s surface before day four, this was actually from some other source which God created temporarily.  John MacArthur presents this view:

‘Various suggestions have been made about what this light might have been.  Could it have been a mass of glowing matter that was later shaped into the sun?  Or (as seems more likely) could it have been a disembodied light, an ethereal temporary brilliance decreed by God to illuminate His creation until permanent lights were set in place?  The nature of this light is not described.’[1]

Isn’t it?  What does the totality of Scripture teach regarding this light and the creation of the sun?

Genesis 1:14-16  And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights - the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night - and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth…

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary notes this of the Hebrew wording in this passage: 

‘Both these lights may be said to be "made" on the fourth day—not created, indeed, for it is a different word that is here used, but constituted, appointed to the important and necessary office of serving as luminaries to the world, and regulating by their motions and their influence the progress and divisions of time.’

This is most clearly seen when God rests from creation in Genesis 2:3; He is said to rest from both creating and making.  Strong’s Lexicon says of these two words that the creating of something has the meaning of creating it directly; whilst the making of something typically involves using pre-existing materials to fashion something.  It very much appears that the sun was already in existence at day four but was being made entirely visible along with the moon and stars so that they could ‘be for signs and seasons’.  These all became the time-keepers and compass for the various biological systems God was to create afterwards. 

Do we have any verses of Scripture to verify this?  Does the New Testament teach that the sun pre-existed the fourth day?

Genesis 1:3-4  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
2Corinthians 4:6  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2Peter 1:19  So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.  

Jesus is the day which dawns, the rising sun.  The prophets use this language too to speak of the personal, spiritual illumination the Messiah would bring into the hearts of His people:

Malachi 4:2  But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings…
Isaiah 60:1  Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Scholars are seemingly in unanimous agreement that Paul quotes Genesis 1:3 (the first day) in reference to Christ who shines in our hearts as the Sun of righteousness, which Peter also confirms.  Therefore, there is a strong scriptural connection between God’s command to shine light out of darkness on the first day of creation and the appearance of the sun in the sky.  

Indeed, our entire perspective is brought to the surface of the earth from the very first verse of Scripture when ‘the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters’.  It is from this viewpoint, on an earth wrapped in darkness (Job 38:9), that we see the light of the sun appear in the sky for the first time.  This is why the sun appears to have been created before the fourth day of creation, as even some notable Young Earth Creationists agree – again, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary notes of Genesis 1:3:

‘Whether the sun was created at the same time with, or long before, the earth, the dense accumulation of fogs and vapors which enveloped the chaos had covered the globe with a settled gloom. But by the command of God, light was rendered visible; the thick murky clouds were dispersed, broken, or rarefied, and light diffused over the expanse of waters.’  

Therefore, they must logically interpret the fourth day of creation as when the sun and moon become ‘for the first time unveiled in all their glory in the cloudless sky’ with the ‘atmosphere being completely purified’.  

To conclude, the contextual and linguistic evidence of Scripture does not support the view that the sun, moon and stars were created on the fourth day.

Job 38: 4, 9 & 12  “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation…when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness…?  Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place…? 

[1] MacArthur, J. (2005) The Battle for the Beginning, Thomas Nelson, p.80