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- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
As in any church, from time to time questions creep up regarding doctrine. It seems that one of the most debatable doctrines in the entire Bible is that of, Can one lose their salvation? I looked at this topic more closely in my hub, Oops! I Lost My Salvation (http://lifegate.hubpages.com/hub/Oops-I-Lost-My-Salvation). Although it is a debatable topic for sure, I will not debate it. The Bible is the only source of doctrine we have, so that is where I spend my time.
Recently a young girl in my church had some ongoing questions about this topic. I am taking you directly to an email I received from her and my response. This may clear up some issues for some. It may antagonize others. Let God be true.
She wrote: Can u clarify these passages? 1 cor. 15:1-2. 2 peter 2:20-22.... Take ur time in getting back to me. Thanx again. :)
I wrote: Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. It's been another one of those busy weeks.
I Cor. 15:1, 2--"Moreover brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."
I know sometimes these verses can be a little tricky, but if someone is really searching for the truth (like you), they'll find it. Like your Dad said, we all have bias, and if we are taught that we can lose our salvation there will be a certain spin people put on these verses to justify their erroneous belief. We, likewise (as believers in eternal security) have to keep from putting our own spin on things lest we fall into the same trap. So the only thing to do is let the Bible speak for itself and with a little study God will make these things plain to you.
There are two main principles involved in what we call the study of hermeneutics (the study of proper interpretation). One is to always keep things in their proper context, and number two, parables do not determine doctrine. Much of the eternal security debate falls into one or both of these categories. That being the case, I Cor. 15 is not a parable, but it is filled with doctrine, so we must first get the context.
Paul mentions that he is writing to belivers (brethren) in verse one. He also goes on to mention that the Corinthians have both received the Gospel and stand in it--the same Gospel that saved them.
Remembering that God wrote only one Bible (in Hebrew and Greek and a little Aramaic) we need to see what is being said in the original language of Greek. There are four words in v. 2 that have a slightly different English meaning:
If--can mean "if, that, or whether"
Believed-to have faith
Vain--Without a cause, without purpose
So we can render the verse as follows:
" By which also ye are saved, [whether] ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, [If not, then] ye have faith without a cause."
The bottom line is not that their salvation was lost, but that their "faith" was useless, without purpose, without a cause. Weak faith is not a loss of faith. I hope that helps.
Her homework assignment was to rightly divide II Peter 2:20-22, which she also asked about.
It saddens me to see so much controversy and misunderstanding in God's church, sometimes even to the point of anger over this topic. Although I only considered these two verses for this article, there are many verses that people use to prove or disprove the doctrine of Eternal Security. Let it be known that I do not promote an "add Jesus to your life" message. For someone that is truly saved God's grace is sufficent to keep him as well (I Peter 1:5), and we will seek to please Him as Lord.
On the other hand, if I can lose my salvation, my God is not very powerful at all. It is not enough to know a handful of verses. It is enough to trust a holy God with my keeping. So many of us have faith to believe for salvation, but not strong enough faith to believe God can keep us when we raise our fist in His face. For sure, He will deal with us as children (Hebrews 12:6-9). For sure, He will make every attempt to draw us back.
I think of my own children. They did not always obey. At times there was outright rebellion. They were still mine. Even if I had disowned them, they still would have been mine. Honestly, have you given up on your children? I did not think so. Thank God for His amazing grace that never gave up on me although I certainly deserved it. He is still my God and will continue to be my God throughout eternity. That is eternal security.