Faith

Five Ways to Beat Bitterness: #3 - Zoom Out

Modified NASA model of the Milky Way

Read the series so far.

Bitter attitudes hinder worship, strain relationships, and generally drain all the joy out of life. Apart from the initial pain of loss, mistreatment, disappointment or failure, bitterness does us no good.

Fortunately, Scripture and the wisdom of experience show us multiple ways to beat bitterness. Previously, we’ve considered how the attitudes of worship crowd out bitterness and how a quick escape from bitter thinking can keep it from pulling us in for a long ride.

A third approach is to confront the narrow focus and loss of perspective bitterness brings. Read more about Five Ways to Beat Bitterness: #3 - Zoom Out

The Dinner Table Taboo Americans Would Rather Break

"Two-thirds of Americans (64%) say they had at least three conversations about politics in the last month. . . . By contrast, fewer than half (44%) had three or more spiritual conversations in the same time frame." CT

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A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 7)

(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission. Read the series so far.)

Nature of Falling Away

There are three words or phrases in Hebrews 6:6 that describe what it means to “fall away.” Each of these is discussed individually.

Fall away. The first word used to describe falling away is “fall away” (παραπεσόντας).1 There are two broad categories of understanding concerning the nature of falling away. Some suggest that falling away is absolute apostasy, a total rejection of Christ and his gospel, an alignment with those who crucified Christ.2 Others suggest that falling away is a serious sin that a believer can commit which is usually identified as a decisive refusal to trust Christ’s high priestly ministry for help in daily living.3 The word “fall away” itself does not help in choosing which view is correct, because it does not have an object in Hebrews 6:6.4 It is uncertain from what one falls away. Neither does its use in the LXX aid one’s decision.5 Gleason concludes, Read more about A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 7)

A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 2)

(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission. Read Part 1.)

Several views see those described in Hebrews 6:4-8 as genuinely saved individuals. At least four variations exist within this general category.

Hypothetical Rejection

Those who hold the hypothetical rejection view suggest that the author of Hebrews desires to shake true believers loose from their moral lethargy by mentioning what would happen if they “fell away.”1 These believers would lose their salvation and face eternal condemnation. According to this view “fall away” means to reject the gospel of Christ, and the judgment that follows is the eternal condemnation of the unsaved.2 However, proponents of this view are quick to point out that this “falling away” is impossible for true believers. The author of Hebrews is merely using a hypothetical impossibility to warn true believers about continuing in their spiritual immaturity. Hewitt states, “The writer by the use of the phrase if they shall fall away does not say that the readers or anyone else had fallen away. He is putting forward a hypothetical case as the RSV translation, ‘if they then commit apostasy,’ suggests.”3 Read more about A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 2)

A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 1)

(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission.)

Hebrews 6:4-8 is one of the most difficult New Testament passages to interpret. Almost every article written on this passage begins with a statement of its difficulty.1 At the same time, the interpretation of this passage is crucial to the interpretation of the other warning passages in Hebrews and to the development of one’s theological position on several soteriological issues.

There are three key issues in Hebrews 6:4-8 that must be interpreted in order to arrive at an acceptable interpretation of the entire paragraph. The first issue is whether or not “those who were once enlightened” are actually saved.2 The second issue is the nature of the falling away in verse six. Is it a rejection of Christ’s offer of salvation, or is it a rejection of some aspect within Christianity? The third issue is the nature of the judgment for falling away in verses four and eight. Is the judgment eternal damnation of an unbeliever, or is it the sever chastisement of an erring believer? The proper interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-8 must provide solutions of each of these issues. Read more about A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 1)

Dealing With Loss: A Hero Named Larry

I have always appreciated the old hymn “It is Well With My Soul.” The melody is hauntingly beautiful. The words are especially touching, as they were written while Spafford was crossing the Atlantic when he was near the place where his four daughters died after the vessel in which they were traveling was involved in a collision at sea.

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll.
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

I can barely sing these words without tears welling up. Imagine the faith Spafford must have had to pen these words—especially in that place and at that time. Imagine how he must have suffered and agonized on his journey to being able to speak like that. He must have known God’s word well, to be able to lean on God’s promises like he seemed to do. Read more about Dealing With Loss: A Hero Named Larry

Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 2)

Relief with sacrifice to Asklepios (c. AD 320)

Sometimes the Weak Brother is Right

In 1 Corinthians 8-10, Paul wrote about idol meat. The one who avoided idol meat had a weak conscience. Romans 14 refers to meat-avoiding weak believers as well. Both passages warn the eaters that their eating could cause stumbling and destruction. Both argue for love over liberty. Both deal with standing and falling. However, though these passages deal with similar issues, the Corinthians were struggling with much closer involvement with idols.

In 1 Corinthians 8:1-7, the strong are said to have knowledge. Paul used two words for knowledge. First, γνῶσις, “knowledge,” is found in 1 Corinthians 8:1,7,10,11. The same word as a verb, γινώσκω, “I know,” is found in 1 Corinthians 8:2,3. Second, εἴδω, “I see” or “I understand,” occurs in four verses in 1 Corinthians 8:1 (know), 2 (know), 4 (know), 10 (see). These two words are somewhat interchangeable1. Romans 14:14a uses εἴδω, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus.” Romans 14 does not use γινώσκω. Read more about Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 2)

Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 1)

The goddess Diana (2nd Century Roman depiction)

How Weak Are the Weak?

Paul addressed some ethical controversies in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. The “weak in faith” ate no meat. The one whose “conscience is weak” could not eat idol-meat. What does Paul mean by “weak”?

For many, it is a foregone conclusion that the weak brother is a doubting believer who lacks knowledge. In this series we will take a closer look at the weak brother. He is deserving of much more respect than he has been afforded.

A word of caution. The weak brother presented here is very different from what you might have previously learned. Most readers will find it new and unusual. Don’t try to fit it into your previous understanding of the “weak.” It might help to assume that you are being asked to understand that the “weak” brother is the good guy. Read more about Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 1)

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