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philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 once justified, always justified?

Controversial territory I know, but I came across something this morning which challenged me.
But my righteous one shall live by faith: And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him. (Heb 10:38 ASV)I am quoting from the ASV because it corrects the KJV sense.

The KJV says 'if [i]any man[/i] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him'. The italics signifying that the translators have added these words in the interests of explanation. The 'any man' however makes it sound as though we are dealing with two different 'men'; the one justified by faith, and the one drawing back. In fact, it is the same man, hence the ASV's 'if he draw back'; 'he' being the 'justified one'.

This 'drawing back' is the word used of Peter's 'withdrawal' from fellowship with Gentiles; a first step of 'withdrawal' was followed by the second of 'separation'. Gal 2. In some ways the word is similar but opposite to 'hupomeno'; the Greek word for 'patient endurance'. Literally it means to 'remain under' something. The word for withdraw is hupostello; meaning to remove from under.

The contrast is seen in this section of Hebrews;Heb 10:36-38 Darby For ye have need of [u]endurance[/u](hupomonE) in order that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. (37) For yet a very little while he that comes will come, and will not delay. (38) But the just shall live by faith; and, if he [u]draw back[/u] (hupostellO), my soul does not take pleasure in him.The writer seems to be referring here to a 'case' of God's 'just' or 'righteous' one, whose 'life' is the product of his faith, and who might 'draw back'. So faith is not a single event but a state of heart, from which 'he' might draw back. What would his status then be; would he still be 'justified by faith' if his faith was no longer functioning?

Hence my question; once justified, always justified?


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Ron Bailey

 2005/4/1 3:06Profile









 Re: once justified, always justified?

I guess we are talking about the unforgivable sin. I read this thing online when I was really worried about this and it really helped me with the whole question of whether and how someone can 'fall from grace' and I thought it was one of the best explanations I have read. Here is the link - I think it makes sense to me but I wonder what others think about it.

http://www.cnetwork.co.uk/leon22.htm

Liz

 2005/4/1 4:51
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

That's a good link, but I wasn't referring specifically about an 'unforgiveable sin' but whether or not a person who has had faith can 'draw back' and consequently lose God's favour, and perhaps later come to faith again... and so on.

The question would be what is the state of a person who once had justifying faith but currently has drawn back? At this exact moment in time, is he 'justified by faith' if he is not exercising justifying faith?


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Ron Bailey

 2005/4/1 5:45Profile









 Re:

Oh yes I see what you mean......
Well if you don't know then I definately don't!
:-D

I always wonder what would happen if the Lord came back and someone was currently in that state. Do you think He would take it into account if they had fallen temporarily but their heart had not completely hardened and there was still opportunity for them to come back and be renewed again to their former faith because He knows what they would have done and the state of their heart? I find this whole area very confusing. :-?

 2005/4/1 6:01
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re: once justified, always justified?

Quote:
What would his status then be; would he still be 'justified by faith' if his faith was no longer functioning?



I am curious how we might define "no longer functioning?" More to the point, what is "shrinking back?" If this verse is talking about the loss of justification, then I believe "shrinking back" can only mean the willful retreat from "the faith.", which is all together different from "losing faith". There is a faithlessness that many believers experience caused by immaturity, poor doctrine, or personal crisis, in which they have not rejected Christ, yet feel that God has surely rejected them.

Could we say that Hebrews 10:38 is really repeating verse 29? I believe this whole passage is not rebuking those whose faith is weak or failing. On the contray I think the writer is encouraging even the most fearful of us to boldly hang on to Jesus. The warning is aimed at those who have rejected or departed the faith and "insulted the Spirit of Grace."

This series of promises from 2 Timothy 2:12 comes to mind.

Here is a trustworthy saying:
1 If we died with him, we will also live with him;
2 if we endure, we will also reign with him.
3 If we disown him, he will also disown us;
4 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Line 1, is identical to the promise Paul reveals in Romans 6:8 "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. He explains, in this same chapter of Romans, how we died with Christ a few verses earlier. "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." This obviously ties into the concept of justification! We have been united with Christ, which, judging by Paul's explicit tone, is no flimsy metaphor but an imputed death, burial, and resurrection reality. Furthermore, this reality existed for these "believers" in Romans before they knew about it. (or don't you know that all of us...)This unity with Christ is a mystery that was, before the writing of this scripture, unknown to these spirit filled Christians. Therefore this reality was begun and upheld by Christ's power inspite of their ignorance.

I believe in line 2 Paul is describing the rewards of faithfulness. If we endure we will actually do more then make it to heaven; we will reign with Him. Paul is adding to the promise in line 1.

However, line 3 is the reason this verse came to mind regarding Hebrews 10:38. It seems if there is a willful rejection of Jesus, then he will "disown" us. (I know some versions read "deny us" which could mean that Christ would deny us the rewards of line 2.)If this is not talking about those Jews (and gentiles) who have rejected the Gospel in the first place, then it is a very sobering line for true Christians. Taken as such it does seem that there is a penalty for willful rejection of the Lord.(I would be willing to listen to other ideas...)

To end up where I started, I think Hebrews 10:38 could be talking about departing from the faith, which is a different issue then failing faith. I think "drawing back" must be referring to a decisive rejection or abandonment of the gospel. It can't be referring to the kind of immature faith that falters under dire circumstances or other personal crisis. In fact, weak or failing faith is addressed explicitly in line 4 of 2 Timothy 2:12. Through Paul, the Holy Spirit is most assuringly explicit: "if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Well, that's all this layman has...

Blessings,

MC


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Mike Compton

 2005/4/1 6:32Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
I am curious how we might define "no longer functioning?"


Perhaps we can take one idea at a time. The Romans 6 will lead us into other waters that have been and can be discussed elsewhere. Namely what 'baptism' is Paul referring to here?

I am always impressed by the fact that John never used the noun for 'faith' in his gospel, but always the verb. This leads me to ask is faith and acquisition or a function? Can 'faith' exist without it being exercised; it is a commodity? or a continuing relationship with Another.

Although a believer may not always be conscious of his faith due to other concentrations of work or whatever... when he looks within he discovers that steady reliance upon who God is and what He has done. This would bring us into the area of 'the witness of the Spirit' and reminds me of Wesley's prayer-hymn and the need to 'consciously believe'.

Is the immature believer a believer in this sense, or is he 'coming to faith'? I always tread carefully here not wanting to unsettle folks, but in almost 50 years of 'believing' I have never had the feeling that God has rejected me. I know to say so is to put my head above the parrapet and ask to get it shot at, but I can only testify to an abiding 'feeling' of His faithfulness.

I return to my original question. Is the 'drawing back' of our text an irreversible movement? The tense used is Aorist which suggests a decisive moment.

And while we are at it... what is a layman? do you mean you are not functioning as a priest? shame on you. ;-)


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Ron Bailey

 2005/4/1 7:39Profile









 Re:

Quote:
I return to my original question. Is the 'drawing back' of our text an irreversible movement? The tense used is Aorist which suggests a decisive moment.



If it is then there must be more than one stage of 'drawing back'. If that is not true then I myself, who went away from God for many years and did my own thing could not have come back to God and got forgiveness again and started again to follow Him and obey Him and as a result God has made me to have a new and much deeper relationship with Him than even I had before. So do people think that there are different levels of drawing back?

 2005/4/1 8:11
dann
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Joined: 2005/2/16
Posts: 239
Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

 Re: once justified, always justified?

Two questions jump to mind in considering this - where is the quote taken from - that is, what is the context of the quote that the author of Hebrews is quoting (Hab 2 doesn't cover the "shrinks back" section) and secondly verse 39 of Hebrews 10 makes it plain that we are not of those who do fall back to perdition.

John said a similar thing in first John - they went out from us because they were not of us.

I have always understood this to mean those who do fall back to perdition did not possess "justifying" faith in the first place.

Dan
/\/
\/\


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Daniel van de Laar

 2005/4/1 11:37Profile
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re:irreversible movement

Quote:
Is the 'drawing back' of our text an irreversible movement? The tense used is Aorist which suggests a decisive moment.

...whether or not a person who has had faith can 'draw back' and consequently lose God's favour, and perhaps later come to faith again... and so on.


These two quotes, at least to me, seem abit at odds with one another. Although I am unqualified to discuss greek tense, I think the first quote is better stated. For my part I believe all of the warning verses in Hebrews are talking about a decisive departure from the gospel. Whether this departure is before or after conversion can be debated although the text could be talking about a final apostasy of both....anyone who rejects the gospel and draws back to their original state of evil unbelief. (Which in the case of Hebrews was Judaism.) As such, could we then say that "drawing back" is defined as deliberately withdrawing from God's justification in Christ without remorse?

I don't believe we can say, from Hebrews 10:38, that our justification can oscillate over the course of our lives with the flicker of faith like a light bulb does with unstable current. To "shrink back" from the faith is a different heart issue then the faithlessness of 2 Timothy 2:12. God commands all men to believe the Promise and not believing is mankinds' worst sin!

"“He who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

"... he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

“The master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.” (Luke 12:46)

Can we agree that our faith itself is no merit or virtue? It is the object of our faith that justifies.... Faith is not the justifying work, but ceasing from the work of justification. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

Also, (to further support a preference for the first quote,) I don't think the scriptures are pre-occupied with descriptions of the right kind of believing, or degrees of believing. I'm not overlooking James who talked about the worthlessness of a faith that is not lived out. Afterall, if there ain't smoke in the chimney, can there really be fire in the hearth? I am talking about the quality and intensity of the fire itself, which may waver greatly. "A smoldering wick He will not snuff out...") Some are focused on their own strength, even the strength of faith, as opposed to the Person and work of Him who is Lord and Savior. I personally feel it demonstrates the irresistible impulse of self-justification, contrary to mature rest, when people agonize over the right way of believing or repenting their way into justification.


Blessings,

MC


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Mike Compton

 2005/4/2 5:00Profile
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
I have always understood this to mean those who do fall back to perdition did not possess "justifying" faith in the first place.


I think most have. Perhaps Darby's translation will make it more clear; Heb 10:38 Darby But the just shall live by faith; and, if he draw back, my soul does not take pleasure in him.This was my point, that this verse seems to be talking about one man whose live is 'by faith', it refers to this man as 'just'. It then goes on to say 'if this one draws back'. The Greek personal pronoun 'he' is built into the verb form and this is what the NASB and other versions are pointing to when they translate 'he' rather than 'any man'.

The question I am asking is does one 'spurt' of justifying faith last for ever?


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Ron Bailey

 2005/4/2 13:54Profile





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