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September 22, 2015

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Titus 2:11-12 and our experiential reality affirm what we all experience when we are cherished, when we are valued, when we are loved.

The verses specify Grace arriving and, then, yielding that very natural and proper response to the affirmation of our own status as "the beloved". Grace carries us to a place of wanting to love, and by example teaches us to embrace The Good, to reject the Dark.


Hate a child from the ground up - valued only when he wins, and watch.

Love a child from the ground up - valued relentlessly despite failure, and watch.


Scripture and observational reality converge.

The challenge is fallacious.

Why? Because the Challenger isn’t talking about Christianity.


"Christianity credits what you believe far above what you do."


Wrong.


Reality is what God does and says, not what Christians do and say. We are not valuable because of our knowledge base, nor because of our acts. The challenge therefore gets it wrong on Grace, and on Knowledge, and on Behavior, and on value. The challenger gets it all wrong and, so, isn’t speaking of Christianity.

We are valuable because the bitter end of actuality just is the end of all appeals and that End of All Things is, the Christian will tell you, "love Himself".

It (the challenge) is nothing more than an appeal to "Real Christians commit real sins".

The Christian will agree, and then carry it even farther: that which is human at some foci somewhere will offend The Good, will experience the rightly felt ought not have. In short: we all experience moral failings.

And still that which is human is, God tells us, His beloved.

This is why the self-righteous cannot understand Grace and so go about contriving challenges like we see in the OP. But once one has felt one's own dark little corner of ought not have and finds that Grace even still affirms one as the beloved, one begins to understand what it is the Christ is actually doing by fulfilling – and allowing to pass away – the Law. Grace out-distances the Law, out-reaches it, seamlessly accomplishing what Law cannot.


We see this every day.

As in:


1) Hate a child from the ground up – valued only when he wins, only when he gets an A+ on his Knowledge test – and watch reality affirm Scripture’s metanarrative.

2) Love a child from the ground up – valued relentlessly despite failure – and watch reality affirm Scripture’s metanarrative.


On author asks, Why be good? and finds, at the end of the line, not Knowledge, nor Behavior, but the very natural and proper response to the work of grace which Titus 2 affirms:

“That is, most of the objections to it show a marked confusion about the nature of Christian morality. That is, if you think that threats of Hell are the basis of Biblical morals, you aren’t talking about Christianity.

One would think that the fact that Christianity is about forgiveness would be well-known enough that “You are good because you’re afraid that God will send you to Hell” would be widely recognized as a terrible argument.

But it is tragic that more people don’t know what the actual motivating force of ethical behavior is within Christianity. Far too many people, even many Christians, are missing out on the brilliance of the idea. So, what is it?

In a word, gratitude.

Christianity, though not necessarily the Christian, recognizes that reward-punishment systems tend to make us either arrogant or terrified, judgmental or guilty. This is a death-trap. Those who think they are good enough tend to be condemning to anyone not living up to their standards, and those who know we could be (and should be) better are very often plagued by self-accusation.

Terrible as it is that so many have fallen into this trap, this is a very big part of what forgiveness was meant to dispel. Forgiveness is meant to drill home to the arrogant person that he didn’t earn any right to claim to be good – and isn’t better than other people – while simultaneously showing the guilty person that she is indeed accepted.

Those who understand, and believe in, this truth will naturally begin to become a better person.

The process is simple, if difficult to live out: the one who knows she has more than she deserves is grateful, and genuinely grateful people do kind things without expecting to get something back, without hoping or demanding that she’ll be rewarded, but just because the thankfulness overflows out of her.

I, for one, believe that gratitude is the core of all human virtue. It is how we can help others without being secretly condescending or selfish. And that is the brilliance of the (actual) Biblical approach to morality.”

scbrowmlhrm hits home immediately. The challenger totally misunderstands motives in the biblical concept of sola gratia.

So, let's step back and examine what should prompt good behavior in a non-Christian mindset. I can think of two extremes: social acclaim for your righteous behavior (Jesus' critique of pharisaical smugness) or avoidance of punishment (staying out of the slammer or hell). What if there is a factor that allows one to ignore these motivations. scbrowmlhrm notes that prompting: Grace carries us to a place of wanting to love, and by example teaches us to embrace The Good, to reject the Dark.

We distinguish the ideas of Law motivation (I sure don't want to go to hell; I want God to notice how much I love Him)and Gospel motivation (I wish to show my love for God to glorify Him for the mercy and forgiveness He granted me through Christ). The weakness of the challenge is a failure that there could be motivations beyond what he imagines. But he can imagine all sorts of wickedness that Christians have committed. Christians understand sin, and never claim a perfection of their own. That perfection is found in Christ. We have been credited with what is His.

As for playing the Inquisition card, let it be known that if the Inquisition was to match the levels of atrocities committed by the atheistic regimes of the 20th century, it would have to equal the number of executions in the near two century career at over 2300 times each year at the usual rate to equal these pogroms.

What evil lurks in the hearts of men? Only God knows, and is capable of doing something about it.

That's the gist of the Gospel.

Our friend here needs to read the book of James. They may find they have a bit in common. Belief produces action. It's as simple as that. If I believe a chair will support me when I sit in it, yet I do not sit in it, then do I really believe in the chair? Likewise, if I say I believe in Jesus, yet disobey his teachings, then do I really believe in Jesus?

scbrowmlhrm and DGFischer well done.

If I were speaking to this atheist, I might ask him where his understanding of grace and faith come from. It doesn't seem to come from a careful reading of scripture. If that proves difficult for him I might point him to Matthew 22 and Jesus' response as to the greatest commandment. Loving God means loving one another. I might also take him to the book of James that clearly demonstrate that faith and actions go hand-in-hand.

I might also ask him what misery and suffering over the last two millennium he is referring to. The argument that religion (and Christianity in particular) has lead to more death and destruction than any other cause has been refuted numerous times. Elementary school arithmetic and access to an encyclopedia is all that is necessary.

I might ask him to provide some rationale as to why someone should believe that the death penalty dissuades people from breaking the law. I understand it makes sense intuitively, but the data just don't back that up. Moreover, I don't believe the death penalty is intended to dissuade, but rather as an act of justice. That is why it is only instituted for capital crimes.

First, I'm glad that he recognizes that orthodox Christian doctrine holds that salvation is based on God's grace as opposed to earning salvation based on our works. Many Christians don't quite understand that.

However, he can't miss the fact that the orthodox Christian doctrine of salvation doesn't simply include the fact that we receive justification based on grace, but that we are sanctified unto good works. That is, true salvation will result in those being saved exhibiting good behavior according to what the Bible reveals is good. In fact, orthodox Christian doctrine recognizes that a lack of good works generally indicates a lack of having been saved by grace.

But we need to talk about what good works are. I used a phrase above that bears investigation: "...good behavior according to what the Bible reveals is good." Different people have different ideas of what constitutes good behavior. But do you see what came first? Ideas necessarily dictate our behavior. The doctrine of grace actually provides an ideological foundation for biblical "good behavior". My question back to the challenger would be how he knows what good behavior is. That can't be answered without an appeal to an ideology. The challenger himself has an ideology in mind when he thinks of what good behavior is. Otherwise, there's nothing to tell whether any behavior is good or bad.

Romans 6 is part of the Bible that Christians believe in.

The challenge states "the promise of unconditional forgiveness is enough to entice people to break the law ." This is not false and, sadly, it has become the reality of many "Christians." However, it is not truly Scriptural.

Doctrines that endorse the forgiveness of past, present and future sins, just as the OSAS tenets among others, are an exemplification of what the challenger means. Yes, the conclusions of such doctrines are not truly found in Scripture because God's forgiveness is not unconditional, but conditional upon repentance and forgiveness of others on our part ("But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours.") Also, the FULL measure of His love is not unconditional either as many have been taught and keep on teaching, but conditional upon keeping Christ's word and commandments (i.e. loving Him): "Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him." Yet, we love because He loved us first; and we can keep His commandments because His grace empowers us to do so - if we truly desire this; and we can only desire this because He has given us His Spirit. However, we can still desire the world and its lusts and forsake Him for its vain pleasures and worries.

Therefore, that appending of the word "unconditional" to the love, grace and forgiveness of God, has never been nor ever will be Scriptural. Yet, that is what the many, many "christians" adhere to, especially when it applies to them, for they are much less inclined to forgive and love others. So, the challenger seems to have picked on that.

Fersen. Nice post.

The Atheist is reacting to the "I'm not perfect, only forgiven" bumper sticker Christianity.

The idea that grace is completely divided from works is a Reformation over reaction.

And yes, there is a grave problem in the United States with the way professing Christians live.

Does that invalidate Christianity? No. Obviously not.

The doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone on account of Christ alone, and apart from works is Scripturally supported and therefore true.

What if belief in such a doctrine causes sinful people to rationalize their own sin?

Does that make the doctrine untrue?

No.

It makes it like everything else...sinful people can use it as an excuse to sin.

Every sentence in this accusation (it doesn't really seem to be a "challenge") raises a question or two:

"Christianity credits what you believe far above what you do." As others have pointed out: what you do flows out of what you believe. If what you do is "take liberties with people's lives and property" what you believe isn't Christianity. Jesus, and other places in the Old and New Testaments, say that "by their fruit you shall know them". That certainly seems to indicate that Christianity does, in fact credit that what you do does indeed count for something.

"This idea has caused much misery and suffering over the course of the past two millennia." And yet the idea that God wipes your slate clean is also the basis for millions of transformed lives that have liberated people from addiction, abuse, slavery, and all other forms of misery.

"The notion that what you believe can erase your bad deeds is a very attractive idea to someone who wants to take liberties with the lives and property of other people." On the contrary, it is very convicting to a person who wants to take liberties with the lives and property of other people that doing so IS a sin that God will judge one for. The notion that there are sins and that God doesn't like it when people sin and that sins need to be forgiven is the single most repulsive idea in our "tolerance-is-the-highest-virtue" society. The only "sin" these days is calling immorality a sin.

"If you believe that the threat of the death penalty is enough to dissuade people from breaking the law then you must acknowledge that the promise of unconditional forgiveness is enough to entice people to break the law." As has been stated by other respondents, what, exactly, is "unconditional" about a forgiveness? We are called to "repent and believe". People who encounter Christ and His forgiveness respond to that forgiveness by seeking to redress the wrongs they've committed, like Zacheus, the corrupt tax collector, who promises to pay back double what he had cheated from people. If Christ's forgiveness doesn't drive you to care about the people you've victimized, have you really encountered Christ's love and forgiveness? I've known people who reject Christianity exactly because it demands that they let go of their grudges and hatreds. If the death penalty is an incentive to not break the law, than the threat of eternal damnation should be infinitely more inspiring to live up to the law. So why must I "accept" that the promise of forgiveness is an incentive to break the law? The very need for forgiveness recognizes guilt for breaking a law, that that guilt deserves punishment, or indeed that there is a law to break. I find the idea that there is no absolute moral law to break a far greater incentive to break the cultural and social standards we call "laws" than a worldview that allows for God's grace, but puts that grace in a context of our misdeeds violating absolute standards of morality that condemn us to hell.

"And this is exactly what happened during the scourges of the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by Christians." That's historically odd, since the Inquisition had as its primary target Protestant Christians who believed in salvation by Grace alone rather than salvation by belonging to, and obedience to the Catholic Church. I'd also be curious as to what these other "atrocities" are. The accusation is often leveled by people who dislike Christianity, but rarely are these "atrocities" clarified and enumerated. Just how "atrocious" was the Spanish Inquisition? Do you know? Do you know how many people were actually tortured or executed by the inquisitors? Or do you merely assume that the history of the church is rife with "atrocities" because you want to hate Christianity? I think the vagueness of the accusation is because there really aren't all that many "atrocities" and that most of them, when examined, are easy to see that there are a lot of other political, economic, and cultural factors involved besides religion.

In the end this "challenge" is an attempt to lay the blame for "atrocities" and common criminal behavior at the feet of Christian doctrine and God's love. It never really proves, either logically or by providing actual examples, a link between people experiencing God's love and forgiveness and people "taking liberties with other people's lives and property". It simply asserts that we must "accept" such a link between the challenger's flawed notion of "unconditional" forgiveness and the wrong people have done when taking God's grace for granted.

I will acknowledge that there are Christian teachers who seem to encourage taking God's love for granted. We in the church often emphasize God's love and grace, while neglecting God's call for his people to "be holy as I am holy", to love other people the way He loves people. And if you love people you won't "take liberties with other people's lives and property". It's one of the reasons why I think the Church needs to pay a bit more attention to those flyover books between Psalms and Matthew, since a major theme of the prophets is the dangers of taking God's grace for granted. And there is, in the popular culture, the image of the mafioso who can attend mass on Sunday morning and then commit crime all week long. But, even in that image (which comes more from movies than it does from real life) it's easy to see that the guy who can break knees for a living doesn't really believe in Christianity, that his "religion" is a cultural thing, and not a matter of heart or belief.

In addition to the answers here already, I think it's worth questioning the assumptions of the question itself. What is the true extent of the atrocities mentioned? (e.g. the inquisition) What bothers you about that? What atrocities have been committed by atheists? Do they bother you? What does atheism have to offer to solve this problem? (If everything is relative and nothing has eternal value, won't this also cause me to take liberties with the lives and properties of others?)

Once we establish that this is a question that every world view must answer, we can show that Christianity has much better answers than atheism.

Just looking at his given example, was the inquisition a result of people understanding that it was wrong to torture people in the name of religion .....or was it based on the false assumptions that it was completely in line with what they believed to be right?
Let's also not forget that the inquisition was mainly instated by the royals in charge and not by the church. The church just, like unfortunately way too often in history and present day, gave in to the pressure and views of the world, instead of trusting His word (abortion on demand and samesex "marriage" comes to mind).
People are not released from the consequences of their actions because of forgiveness. But it allows us to start over, finally do the right thing ....Gods forgiveness is not a get out of jail free card.

Fersen,

The challenge states "the promise of unconditional forgiveness is enough to entice people to break the law ." This is not false and, sadly, it has become the reality of many "Christians.”

You seem to want to say that OSAS is responsible for this. But I’ve known many people who have believed (and believe) that you can lose your salvation and yet they live worse than many Christian that I know that believe in OSAS. One reason why there are so many Christians who believe you can lose your salvation but still live like hell might be because the question of when one has lost their salvation is always a moving goal post for the person who believes it.

When has a person failed to do enough good works to have lost their salvation? No one can answer that question, right? And so I’ve seen in both the lives of friends and family members how the belief in conditional security does not keep them from living just as bad as anyone else.

While some people may use easy-believism as an excuse to live like hell, there are plenty of people who reject easy-believism but still manage to live like hell and think they are secure because they are ‘good enough.’

Doctrines that endorse the forgiveness of past, present and future sins, just as the OSAS tenets among others, are an exemplification of what the challenger means.

The challenger is still abusing or misunderstanding the real nature of those doctrines. You can try to pin that on OSAS per se, but you would be mistaken for doing so.

And we could present a similar challenge for those who reject the idea of forgiveness of future sins or OSAS. Suppose we believe that Jesus death on the cross does not forgive us of post-salvation sins. (My brother believes this.) And suppose that we believe that after having been justified we can lose our salvation. Will these doctrines keep people from being enticed to break the law? No. And we’ve seen empirical evidence of this. This is where the Roman Catholic doctrine of “last rights” comes into play. And in Christian history we have plenty of examples of people withholding baptism until the last minute so that they could live like hell and then have the greatest guarantee of getting all their sins forgiven.

Yes, the conclusions of such doctrines are not truly found in Scripture

On the contrary, the conclusion of eternal security is found in Scripture. I’ve never seen anyone who believes in conditional security capable of answering Paul’s logic in Romans 5:9-10, and I have a brother who is *obsessed* with arguing this issue and believes you can lose your salvation (so much so that he has cut off my entire family for not continuing to argue with him—after he has written over 100 pages on the topic).

In Romans 5:9-10 Paul presents with a type of logical argument called “a fortiori” which basically means “from the lesser to the greater.” It goes like this: “if x is true then we can be even more certain of y.” Paul says that if we are now (present) justified by Christ’s blood then we it is *much more* certain that we will be (future) saved from God’s wrath.

The belief that you can lose your salvation flatly contradicts Paul’s logic in this passage. If we can lose our salvation, then we cannot have more certainty that we will be saved based on our presently being justified and Paul turns out to be wrong.

because God's forgiveness is not unconditional, but conditional upon repentance and forgiveness of others on our part

No one except some universalists says that forgiveness is unconditional in *that* sense. And not even all universalists would say that (many would simply say that eventually everyone will be brought to faith and repentance). So if the challenger is making that his basis of the challenge then his challenge only applies to a very small number of universalists.

I could quote for you several Reformed scholars (who do not believe we can lose salvation) who talk openly about “conditions” of salvation and forgiveness (e.g., Voss and Henry come immediately to mind).

("But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours.")

As John Nolland points out in the New International Greek Commentary: “Taken absolutely, the Matthean wording of v. 14 is seriously in danger of being excessively formulaic (the forgiving person is automatically forgiven by God!), but that will not be Matthew’s intention.” I think the point of this passage is that there is a logical connection between being forgiven by God and our willingness to forgive others. It’s a logical condition, but not a contingent causal condition. Or as Matthew Henry put it: “as where other graces are in truth, there will be this, so this will be a good evidence of the sincerity of our other graces. He that relents toward his brother, thereby shows that he repents toward his God.”

Also, the FULL measure of His love is not unconditional either as many have been taught and keep on teaching, but conditional upon keeping Christ's word and commandments (i.e. loving Him): "Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him."

I agree. Just as I may have a son and there is a sense in which the fullness of my love is not experienced by him when he is disobedient.

Yet, we love because He loved us first; and we can keep His commandments because His grace empowers us to do so - if we truly desire this;

Scripture doesn’t merely teach that God empowers us—as though God holds out a bottle of empowering grace to us and then leaves it up to us as to whether or not we will embrace his gift. Scripture teaches that God *works* in us both to will (corresponding to your desire) and to work (corresponding to your “to do so”) (Phil. 2:13) and it teaches that God’s work will be brought to completion (Phil 1:6).

However, we can still desire the world and its lusts and forsake Him for its vain pleasures and worries.

Because the work of salvation is a process that is not yet complete (cf. Phil. 1:6 and Gal. 5:17). But this doesn’t mean that the work God started (regeneration, justification, sanctification) will fail to be completed.

Therefore, that appending of the word "unconditional" to the love, grace and forgiveness of God, has never been nor ever will be Scriptural.

It is truly unconditional insofar as faith, repentance, and works are gifts from God that we do not merit. The fact that it is not logically unconditional (as though God will save a person apart from faith and repentance or sanctification) does nothing to disprove that.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

First off how did he come to the conclusion that this "idea has caused much misery and suffering over the course of the past two millennia"? Pretty broad and bold claim.

"The notion that what you believe can erase your bad deeds is a very attractive idea to someone who wants to take liberties with the lives and property of other people" - My answer to that would be and... Ha! Not sure what that says about Christians. That's why the bible tells us to beware of wolves in sheeps clothing. Just because that idea is attractive to someone who is looking to take advantage of someone doesn't mean that those are the only people this idea attracts. That's to say that the idea is what attracts people anyway. I would argue that the idea is just part of the belief. I don't believe because I have unconditional forgiveness, I believe therefore I have unconditional forgiveness.

"If you believe that the threat of the death penalty is enough to dissuade people from breaking the law then you must acknowledge that the promise of unconditional forgiveness is enough to entice people to break the law. And this is exactly what happened during the scourges of the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by Christians." - First off in this statement, just because one might believe the death penalty is enough to dissuade someone from breaking the law, doesn't then necessitate that same person to then hold to unconditional forgiveness entices people to also break the law. One doesn't automatically mean the other is true. I would tell them that I think I understand what they are trying to say. And I would agree somewhat with the idea that yes, realizing we have a freedom in Christ is a difficult thing to deal with. The reason it is difficult is because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We as Christians might be inticed to sin, but it is a battle that takes place when that happens. The difference between who this person is bringing up, and who a Christian is are two different people. He is talking about a person who is looking to take advantage of the system. A true Christian is an individual who has repented (recognized their sinful way and changed their mind) and starts looking to God to start doing things His way. As disciples of Christ we are looking to do what He says. The whole idea of being a mini Christ is to be like Him. He was not looking to take advantage of a system. Neither is a true Christian.

I got to give it to him though. It seems he understands the total depravity pretty good.

Hi Remington,

Thanks for taking the time and care to provide a detailed answer to most of what I wrote.

However, I do not wish to enter in arguments with you regarding your points on OSAS and similar beliefs (which I cannot find to be Scriptural). Surely, you've had enough of these discussions with your brother and, moreover, I've found that every person I've met who holds firmly to them really care little, if at all, about sanctification. But this last bit is my experience and not an universal assessment on reality nor on your conduct, for you seem to hold sanctification on its due place.

Having expressed that; I want to share the next with you.

I assuredly believe one can lose salvation by failing to live up to the true meaning of that salvation, that is, becoming sanctified to the measure of our Lord and Savior. Walking as He walked. Yielding holy fruit by remaining firmly rooted in and nourished by Him. The apostle Paul clearly noted in 2 Thessalonians: "But we ought to give thanks to God always concerning you, brothers beloved by the Lord, that God has chosen you from the beginning unto salvation in the sanctification of the Spirit, and by faith of the truth;"

So, regardless if we believe that we can lose our salvation or not, or if we believe many other, perhaps very interesting and appealing, theological tenets, said salvation does not depend on these beliefs, but on our sanctification by the Spirit and our faith in the truth. The truth.

If we as Christians truly remained steadfast in our faith and love to our God, sincerely submitted to the desires of His Spirit, ever growing in discernment between good and evil, firmly grounded on the vocation of our calling by God, faithfully exhorting and encouraging one another to the love of God and the good works He has prepared for us beforehand to walk in; our light (which truly would be His light shining in us) would perhaps be bright for others to see and be inspired.

However, in place of the previous what we have is discussions and obfuscations between one another, combined with delusions and lies tightly held on to as truths, seasoned with constant condemnations of the world and the wicked ways of its people, even when our ways are not really that dissimilar to theirs'. So we give onlookers additional fodder (on top of all they may unjustifiably have) to accuse us of hypocrites, of having double standards and of being entirely in the wrong. Maybe even evil.

It is sad indeed. But let me close by quoting these words, hoping they will help us rightly judge where we are in our Christian walk; how we are faring in our sanctification; and how valid is the truthfulness of our beliefs.

"Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity [or perfection], not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned."

Fersen,

Two things: (1) if we do continue to persevere it will be by God's grace (v. 3 - and God will complete his work (Phil)). And perseverance belongs to salvation (v. 9- which you cut off). So if you have salvation presently then you have the perseverance that belongs to it.

Yes, Remington, on both your points. But perseverance is not something everyone does. Some (or many, I do not know) have fallen away. Hence the warning in Hebrews, and in many other Scripture passages. Hence the examples in the Parable of the Sower. But like I said before, I will not argue with you.

Fersen,

Remember that you're the one who decided to attack OSAS when no one else had mentioned it. I've only been *responding* to you. You say you don't want to argue, but you keep trying to make points, so I'll keep responding:

But perseverance is not something everyone does.

The one who doesn't persevere never had salvation. This is why when some disciples fail to persevere in the New Testament John says "if they had been of us, they would have continued with us" (1 John 2:19). If the person in Hebrews had salvation they would have had the perseverance that belongs to it (Hebrews 6:9). The notion that you can lose your salvation makes John's statement in 1 John 2:19 completely illogical, since one could have been "of us" and not continued/persevered. It makes Paul's statement in Romans 5 that I quoted earlier completely illogical. And it makes the statement by the author of Hebrews in 6:9 and 10:39 completely illogical.

Hence the warning in Hebrews, and in many other Scripture passages.

Hebrews actually confirms exactly what I'm saying. The author of Hebrews talks about those who don't persevere (6:4-8) and then he contrasts that with the people who have "better things" (perseverance) that belong to salvation. And we see the same thing in Hebrews 10 (cf. 10:39). If anyone who had salvation (or faith--Heb 10) could fail to persevere be saved in the end then the author has no real basis for his confidence--indeed it makes his talk of "better things" that belong to salvation utterly meaningless.

Hence the examples in the Parable of the Sower.

There is *nothing* in the parable of the sower that indicates that all the different types of persons (represented by the soils) are saved. That's your own reading *into* the parable. The Bible clearly indicates that there is a non-saving faith/belief (John 2:23-24; Jas 2:19, and cf. 1 Cor. 5:11 where Paul speaks of "so-called" brothers). And so we have no reason to assume that just because someone responds positively to the gospel or even believes in Jesus (John 2:23-24) that this means they are saved.

Salvation is a work of God. He begins it and he brings it to completion: Philippians 1:6.

In re-visiting this challenge, I was trying to break down the logic at the end:

...the promise of unconditional forgiveness is enough to entice people to break the law. And this is exactly what happened during the scourges of the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by Christians.

If we break this down logically, the argument seems to be that A → B where A is unconditional forgiveness and B is people break the law. But, then, they state that B is true as proof that A → B. Logically speaking, the argument doesn't seem to be coherent. Christians doing bad things could be caused by many different things and doesn't prove anything about the causes.

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