Can you lose your salvation?

To be saved means to be saved from the penalty (eternal damnation) of one’s personal sin. To further extend the definition, to be saved means to be given a new life in Christ.  Since salvation requires a recognition and a turning from (repentance) from your sin, some Christians wonder if it is possible for some folks, who once claimed to be saved, are still saved. They see a lot of people who pay lip service to Christ, maybe by making a decision during an altar call or just by the fact that they grew up in church, but then see them live hypocritical lifestyles.

The word “hypocrite” means “a person who lives contrary to their stated beliefs and opinions.” Certainly a Christian would not have to look far to see that there are indeed some people who claim to be Christians yet consistently their words and actions  do not match up. And I’m not just talking about the occasional slip-up or even the acknowledged struggle with sin, but an unrepentant attitude toward some aspects of their lifestyle.  

So, there are some that would say, “Yes, you were once saved, but you have forfeited that salvation by your lifestyle choice.” Check out what this pastor said:

If you could not give up your salvation voluntarily, then once you become saved you could then go ahead and do whatever you wish. You could steal, murder, cheat, lie, never pray, reject the scriptures, lead others astray, blaspheme God from morning to night – do anything that is sinful, rebellious, and against the laws of God. To believe that “once saved, always saved” is believing that one has a “license to sin” after the person is born again.

So, to summarize it, they seem to be saying:

A)    A person claims to be saved.

B)     He/she may start out with some evidence of their salvation.

C)    They stop going to church/caring about spiritual things and start making worldly decisions.

D)    The Bible makes it clear that you cannot say you are born of God and still make a practice of sinning.

E)    Therefore they must have lost their salvation.

 But, is that the right assessment? Continue reading

Should Women Be Pastors? (part five of five)

Read part one here.

Women in ministry: a complementarian vision

            There are several considerations to ponder as I unpack this vision: 1) There is far more freedom than restriction on what ministries women can participate in, 2) there will be gray areas,  and 3) when in doubt, remember God’s grace. With extreme views on both sides being given, a good dose of reality is in order so as to maintain a Biblical balance between seemingly contradictory truths. Instead of jumping to one side or another, we need to do as my theology professor, Dr. Russ Moore at Southern Seminary, suggested we do: implement theological triage. Just as in an emergency room at a hospital, there may be two patients that have need of medical attention, but the one that is closer to a life or death situation takes precedent. Similarly, we need to understand that, on the one hand, we don’t believe women should teach men authoritatively in the public church assembly, but women do teach men in the Christian life and it can be a good thing. This is not a contradiction, but two things that are true and exist in reality. As long as you understand which truth takes doctrinal priority, there will be no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As my pastor always says, heresy is born out of one truth taken to its extreme without the counterbalance of other seemingly opposite truths. This is how I can work alongside (not at the same church, mind you) women pastors who believe in the inerrancy of scripture and exclusivity of the gospel. The latter two truths take precedent over the fact that she is a woman pastor. Continue reading

Should Women Be Pastors? (part four of five)

Read part one here.

Controversial passages of scripture

              The two passages of scripture that are most often quoted by both sides are 1st Corinthians 14:34, 35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15.  Without a doubt these passages are where the focal point of this whole debate. But, before we can get to them, we have to deal with what each side claims as their pressupositional proof texts: the proof text that colors their interpretation of both of the above-mentioned passages. I am speaking of Galatians 3:28, the foundational verse for egalitarians, and Ephesians 5:22, the foundational verse for complementarians. It is those two verses, not the ones in 1st Corinthians and 1st Timothy, which drive the conflict between the two groups. Continue reading

Youth Ministry and Theology (they CAN mix)

I shared this story awhile back on an early blog entry, but when I was a youth pastor of a church in Jacksonville, FL, I attended a camp that was sponsored by our local Baptist association. The speaker we hired for the week preached on what it means to be “more than conquerors” in Jesus Christ.  He was a very serious-minded preacher, who did not tell a lot of jokes, but was really good at breaking down some deep theology into bite-sized pieces for the teens in attendance.

When we got back from that camp, I met with one of the youth pastors in charge of the camp and asked him what he thought of the preacher. Suprisingly, he rolled his eyes and, speaking out of the side of his mouth, said, “If I wanted a lecture in theology, I would have taken my youth group to a seminary class.”  Despite the fact that the altar call was filled with young people giving their lives to Jesus, this particular youth pastor thought the guest preacher failed to connect to youth.

I thought he was wrong then and this weekend’s retreat served as a reminder that what Christian youth need today is solid APPLICABLE Biblical theology. Continue reading

The Ascension of Christ (part 2 of 2)

The Roles of the Ascended Christ

 The offices of the Ascended Christ are important to understand because it explains to us why the Old Testament system of yearly sacrifices is no longer need and how the work and purpose of the atonement of Christ do continue on today.  Continue reading

The Ascension of Christ (part 1 of 2)

Introduction

Many modern-day theologians and preachers have largely ignored one of the most important doctrines in our lives as Christians— a doctrine that is absolutely crucial to the survival of our faith; that doctrine is the Ascension of Jesus Christ.   A few denominations do celebrate it in remembrance, but with little enthusiasm.  Although, Mikeal Parsons notes that the Ascension has received significant attention since the 1950s, it can be generally said that the Ascension is largely ignored among Christian scholars and laypeople throughout modern history. Continue reading

"Pushing the Antithesis"

This is a perfect example of how to use a skeptic’s presuppositions against him.  Taken from his book “Pushing the Antithesis”, Dr. Greg Bahnsen shows us amatures how to expose the inconsistencies in a skeptic’s worldview. (P.S. You have to have some familiarity with the laws of logic and with the debate over the existence of God. If you read the exerpt and find yourself scratching your head, don’t worry, it’s totally understandable!)

The following is an excerpt from “The Great Debate: Does God Exist?,” a formal debate between Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen and Dr. Gordon S. Stein that was held at the University of California (Irvine) on February 11, 1985. Dr. Bahnsen begins the cross examination:

Dr. Bahnsen: “Are all factual questions answered in the same way?”

Dr. Stein: “No, they are not. They’re answered by the use of certain methods, though, that are the same—reason, logic, presenting evidence, and facts.”

Dr. Bahnsen: “All right. I heard you mention logical binds and logical self-contradictions in your speech. You did say that?”

Dr. Stein: “I said. I used that phrase, yes.”

Dr. Bahnsen: “Do you believe there are laws of logic, then?”

Dr. Stein: “Absolutely.”

Dr. Bahnsen: “Are they universal?”

Dr. Stein: “They’re agreed upon by human beings. They aren’t laws that

exist out in nature. They’re consensual.”

Dr. Bahnsen: “Are they simply conventions, then?”

Dr. Stein: “They are conventions, but they are conventions that are self-verifying.”

Dr. Bahnsen: “Are they sociological laws or laws of thought?”

Dr. Stein: “They are laws of thought which are interpreted by men and promulgated by men.”

Dr. Bahnsen: “Are they material in nature?”

Dr. Stein: “How can a law be material in nature?”

Dr. Bahnsen: “That’s a question I am going to ask you.”

Dr. Stein: “I would say no.”

Moderator: “Dr. Stein, you now have an opportunity to cross-examine Dr. Bahnsen.”

Dr. Stein: “Dr. Bahnsen, would you call God material or immaterial?”

Dr. Bahnsen: “Immaterial.”

Dr. Stein: “What is something that is immaterial?”

Dr. Bahnsen: “Something not extended in space.”

Dr. Stein: “Can you give me an example of anything other than God that is immaterial?”

Dr. Bahnsen: “The laws of logic.”

Moderator: “I am going to have to ask the audience to hold it down please. Please. Refrain from laughter and applause. Can you hold that down please?”

 

Talk about walking right into that one!   I have heard this debate in its entirety and must admit that Dr. Stein was way out of his league. I wonder how a more competent atheist would handle Bahnsen’s line of questioning here.