Two Great Questions

This month at FBC El Dorado, we are offering a class for new members and/or guests called “ACQUAINT.” The purpose is, you guessed it, ACQUAINT new members and guests to our church.

The second class focuses on Southern Baptist distinctives. It is one of my favorite classes to teach – and the class this past Sunday was no exception!

Our discussion proved very lively, entertaining, and (I hope!) helpful.

Below is a section of an email I sent to all the class members this morning. The content of the email will clue you in on the subject matter. I include it here on the blog simply because I don’t believe those in the class are the only ones who have these same type of questions.

One has to do with “once saved always saved” & the other with baptism. Perhaps this will help you some. Or, perhaps you can pass this on to someone you know who might be wrestling with these same things.

Here you go!

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Good Monday Morning Everyone!!!
Man, oh man, did we have a great class yesterday! Wow. The discussion and questions you all asked were tremendous. THANK YOU for your participation and your willingness to talk.
For those of you who had to be out yesterday – just know that we got through about half of the Baptist Faith and Message. We had to stop the discussion around 9:55 am, where I promised to pick it up next week.
I still plan to finish up the high points of the Baptist Faith and Message this coming Sunday. However, I wanted to go ahead and send a brief response to the question we left on the table yesterday as well as a reference to something I was bit fuzzy on in response to another question. I want to do this to go ahead and answer your questions, AND to save us some time for this upcoming Sunday morning.
HOPEFULLY – this will make sense!
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First, when class dismissed yesterday, the discussion was on the topic of “once saved, always saved;” or “once really saved, always saved;” or the “Perseverance of the Saints” as it is often called. The question was asked, “What about what the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 6:4-6????
Great question! Of course, Southern Baptists (myself included!) believe strongly that once someone is a genuine follower of Jesus, he/she will always be a born again believer in Jesus. However, verses 4-6 of Hebrews 6 seem to say otherwise.
Consider these verses: “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.”
 
Whoah. See what I mean?? What do we do with THAT??
 
There are 3 Possible Ways to interpret this:
#1. The writer means that genuinely saved persons can lose their salvation (note: if this is true, then it is impossible to be saved again, or to be “resaved”).
OR 
#2. The persons in view here were never actually saved (note: if this is true, how can someone actually “share in the Holy Spirit,” yet be lost?).
OR 
#3. The persons in these verses are actually and permanently saved (their salvation is real), yet the “falling away” is a hypothetical situation. 
 
The first one (#1) cannot work due to the countless Scriptures that point to the assurance of salvation for the believer (John 10:27-30; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Romans 8:31-39; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:12). The second option (#2) cannot work due to the fact that if one shares in the ministry of the Holy Spirit – then he/she MUST be a born again believer. 
This means it has be number three (#3). As with ALL Scriptures, context is critical. For brevity sake, consider what the author of Hebrews says to these people in verse 9 of this same chapter: “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things – things that belong to salvation.” Here is our answer. The author is speaking to the same people in verse 9 AND verses 4-6. That being the case, he (the author) is letting us know that he is speaking in a particular way – hypothetically. He says, “Though we speak in this way. . . ” In other words, he was speaking to them in a way other than “normal.” Verses 4-6 are a warning of sorts to follow Jesus. It’s as if he is saying, “You can’t fall away . . . but if you could, just think of how awful it would be!” Left to themselves, the readers could most definitely fall away. However, they will not be left to themselves. God will keep them!
If that’s not enough evidence, consider what he goes on to tell them in verses 10-11: “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end.” The author of Hebrews is acknowledging the work of God in their lives in the past AND looking to the future of their “full assurance.” 
When he says what he says in verses 4-6, it is a hypothetical situation for his readers. 
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Second, the issue of whether or not baptism completes salvation came up in class yesterday. To put it another way, the question “Does baptism help save you, or is it ‘just’ an act of obedience after salvation?” Of course, Southern Baptists (again, myself included!) believe that baptism (by immersion!) is a symbol and an act of obedience, where a believer identifies with Jesus and the family of God after salvation. Southern Baptists, in other words, do not believe baptism must be practiced in order to complete salvation. Jesus is the Author AND Finisher of our salvation!
In this discussion, a question of something Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3 was asked. In John 3:5, Jesus said this to Nicodemus – “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” The question was, “If baptism doesn’t save you, what is meant by ‘water’ in this passage?” Again, this was yet another GREAT question! And again, context is critical. In the context of this passage, Jesus is not talking about baptism by immersion, but being “born again,” or, being saved, or becoming a Christian. Likewise, most biblical scholars agree that Jesus’ language here is pointing back to an Old Testament prophecy made about salvation. Yesterday in class I wasn’t sure of the exact passage, but it is found in Ezekiel 36:25-27. It is clear in this passage, when God refers to water – it is a physical image to communicate a spiritual reality.
So, when Jesus mentions water in John 3 – the context and the reference back to Ezekiel both point to a spiritual reality of someone being “made new” or “born again” into the kingdom of God.
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One thought on “Two Great Questions

  1. janis camp says:

    Matt, will you have a time when you will tell folks about individual SS classes? Of course, I am interested in females who are looking for a female class that studies scriptures, any age, any marital status….just wanting to learn and worship our Lord. janis

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