Hebrews Lesson 105
October 25, 2007
NKJ Psalm
119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin
against You!
We are in Hebrews 7. Hebrews 7 is an argument for the superiority of Christ’s high
priesthood based on the fact that it follows the pattern of the Melchizedekean priesthood
that Melchizedek was a royal priest and it doesn’t follow the pattern. (I use the word
pattern instead of order because it communicates I think a little better.) Order of
Melchizedek is one of those words we have been using a lot, but we tend to get - it
becomes one of those words that loses meaning the more you say it.
Now last week somebody asked me the question, if the Melchizedekean high priesthood
was eternal. I may have miscommunicated on that in that I was talking about the fact that
Christ as a Melchizedekean priest is eternal because Christ is eternal, not because the
Melchizedekean priesthood is eternal. Of course Melchizedek wasn’t eternal and any
other examples of royal priest-king in the Old Testament were human. They weren’t
eternal. But the point that is being driven home by the writer of Hebrews is that there is a
change of priesthood. That means there’s a change of law. A change of law indicates a
change of covenant. Everything is structured according to these legal documents. The
change of priesthood is from one that is based on the Mosaic Law after the pattern of the
flesh to one that is based on the order of Melchizedek. It’s an eternal high priesthood.
The emphasis here is on eternal.
So I’ve got 10 points of summary. Now I went through 8 of them – or 9 of them last
week so you should have them. If you weren’t here, you will frustrate yourself trying to
write them down because I simply want to breeze through them so that we get context for
where we are in verses 23 to 25. So I just try to alleviate a little frustration. As always,
somebody who comes in that wasn’t here the week before and when you are doing a
serial study like this, they feel like they are a little bit out of place.
1. The first point that the writer of Hebrews is making is the completion of the plan
of salvation could not take place through the Levitical priesthood because it was
incomplete. This is verse 11. The Levitical priesthood was incomplete. It is
fascinating how this concept of incomplete and complete weaves itself all the way
through the book of Hebrews in various ways.
2. Because the order of Aaron was insufficient, another order or type of priest was
necessary. That’s in the second part of verse 11.
3. Third, he makes the point that the order of priesthood this new order or type of
priesthood, is tied to a particular covenant, the Mosaic Covenant. This is in
Hebrews 7:12.
4. Fourth, a change in priesthood therefore necessitates a change of covenant, also in
verse 12. There’s a change of the law, a change of covenant.
5. The Levitical priesthood was based on physical factors, not spiritual factors. This
is a really important point because most people never understand this. You didn’t
have to be saved; you didn’t have to be spiritually growing; you didn’t have to be
anything spiritual to be a Levitical priest. You just had to be a descendent of Levi
without any physical deformities. To be a high priest you just had to be
physically related to Aaron.
Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi so He wasn’t qualified under the Mosaic Law to
be the High Priest. Therefore another order of priesthood was necessary. Under
the Mosaic Code, Jesus would have no right to be High Priest because He was of
the tribe of Judah. This is covered in verses 13 and 14.
The Mosaic Code said nothing of another kind of priesthood because it wasn’t
operational within Israel as such in that time.
Therefore the Lord as a Melchizedekean High Priest is superior because that order
did not pass away. It’s still there, but it is not part of the Mosaic Code or that
which was operational specifically to Israel. Or you could say that which is
target-specific to Israel.
The point that he makes in verses 15 to 16 is Christ’s high priesthood is not based
on a temporal law code, but on the power of an endless life. This is where he
starts bringing in this idea of eternity. From 16 down through 25 this idea of
eternity that He is eternal and therefore the priesthood is eternal. And therefore
whatever He does has eternal value is his basic argument. That is so fascinating
in light of claims today that it was the early church (specifically the Nicene
Church in the early 4th century) that invented the idea of Jesus’ deity when in
Hebrews it is very clear that the whole idea of eternality is a God-only
characteristic or attribute. The whole argument in the second half of the chapter
is that because Jesus is eternal, it gives us an eternal High Priest and therefore that
which our eternal High Priest does has eternal application. Therefore where we
are headed in verse 25 is because we have an eternal High Priest, He secures our
salvation eternally. Because we have an eternal High Priest, He secures our
salvation eternally. It is one of the strongest passages for eternal security in the
New Testament.
So we come down to verse 15 and I retranslated it last week to give it a little more clarity
that it should read:
It (that is the principle of a change in the priesthood and Jesus’ higher status as
covered in the previous verses( 12, 13, and 14)) is even made.
The even there is an ascensive kai. It is not “yet it is far more evident”; it is “even made
exceedingly even more evident”. It’s a strong superlative here.
Literal translation: It is even made exceedingly more evident since another priest
according the order of Melchizedek is arisen.
That got it right.
It is even made exceedingly more evident since another priest according the order of
Melchizedek is arisen.
That has a perfective sense of the present tense there. It is something that arose in the
past and has ongoing efficacy.
10. The tenth point he makes here is that Melchizedek is dropped out of the picture at
this point. He is left behind and the superiority of Christ is established as a High
Priest of a better covenant. He goes again to Psalm 110: 4.
NKJ Psalm
110:4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest
forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
That’s the emphasis, that word “forever”. He is going to quote this again and
quote the whole verse in verse 21, but here he is just quoting the two stanzas so he
can pull in and emphasize that one word “forever”. He is not emphasizing
anything else in the quote, just the “forever” aspect that it makes it a superior
priesthood. Then he will develop that in the next couple of verses. Verses 18 and
19 continue the idea that the Law made nothing perfect and therefore there is a
need to have a better hope.
11. This high priesthood is based on a legal oath with the result that His life is an
eternal surety or security deposit of our salvation.
Now that’s kind of where we stopped last time so let me pause on this a minute. The
point that is being made when we get down to verses 20 and 21 down to 22 is the idea
that this is based on an oath and there was no oath sworn by God in relation to the
Levitical priesthood. This idea of an oath brings in a certainty or legality to the
establishment of this priesthood that goes beyond that of the Mosaic Covenant. It takes
this priesthood to a higher level. His argument in verse 20 is:
NKJ Hebrews
7:20 And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath
Then there is a parenthetical in verse 21 with a quote from Psalm 110 and the thought is
picked up in verse 22.
It should read:
In as much as He was not made a priest without an oath.
Then verse 22.
NKJ Hebrews
7:22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better
Now set aside verse 21 for a second because that is a quote from Psalm 110:4 again to
support his point from the Old Testament.
Now the word translated surety is the Greek word enguos. I meant to transliterate that. It
should be engous. A double gamma is always pronounced like an “ng” just like angel is
really aggel. But the gamma comes across as an “ng”. So it is enguos. This means
surety. It has the idea of a person who takes responsibility for the payment of another’s
debt or a pledge deposited as a security against loss or damage. Let me comment on that.
The first idea – this word is only used one time in the entire New Testament. It’s
common in extra-biblical documents. In the first meaning it would relate to
substitutionary atonement, the idea of a person who takes the responsibility for the
payment of another person’s debt. But that’s not the context here. So he’s not talking
about Christ being our surety at the cross. He’s talking His being our surety as our High
Priest and His ongoing intercessory ministry as our High Priest.
The second idea of enguos is that of a pledge deposited as a security against loss or
damage. It’s like the security deposit you make when you go rent a place. You put up
usually a months rent or two months rent as a security deposit in case or to hold the place
until you can move in, to take care of any damage that may incur. As long as that
security deposit is made, that’s yours. That is a legally binding thing. That’s the point
that he is making – Jesus has become our security in an ongoing security deposit of a
better covenant.
Now as soon as you translate it in the sense of a security deposit, the key word there is
security. As long as He is our security deposit, then whatever transactions occur on our
behalf are as long lasting as His security deposit which means that salvation can’t be lost.
It is a great argument for eternal security that He is our surety.
Now in verse …as we go forward into verse 23 he brings in another point. That is also
related to eternality.
NKJ Hebrews
7:23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented
by death from continuing.
NKJ Hebrews
7:24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable
The key interpretive words here in these two verses are “death” and “forever”, the
contrast between the temporal nature of all human priests. Sooner or later they have to
die so there has to be a whole bunch of them.
That word that is translated unchangeable is the Greek word aparabatos. Now there are
three parts to this word. There is the alpha privative at the beginning, that first letter “a”
which is like our “un”. It’s a negative, “un”. And then parabatos – you have para which
means something going beyond. It’s a preposition attached root batos. It has to do with
something that you are not able to go beyond. You can’t go beyond this point. It comes
to mean something that is unsurpassable or that which is the final or ultimate expression
of something. So what the writer of Hebrews is saying:
But He (that is Jesus Christ) because He continues forever…
So he picks up that whole theme of “He is a priest forever according to the order of
Melchizedek” that He is the final priesthood. He is that unsurpassable priesthood. You
could never have anything that would go beyond that. He is the final expression of a
priesthood because He is the only one who is eternal. He is the foundation of the
Now I want you to take a look at verse 24 a minute.
NKJ Hebrews
7:24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable
So you have a causal statement there. And then you are going to have a proposition
But when you get to verse 25 you are going to draw another conclusion from the causal
clause. Because He continues forever, first of all He has an unchangeable priesthood.
Second we can draw the conclusion that because He continues forever...
NKJ Hebrews
7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who
come to God through Him, since He always lives...
…to make intercession for them.
So, verse 25 is built on the doctrine of the eternality of the Second Person of the Trinity,
the eternality of Jesus Christ. Because He continues forever (because He is eternal), He
is able to save to the most complete way, the fullest way those who come to God through
Him since He always lives (eternality) to make intercession for them.
So this whole passage drips with eternality. The point is that because Jesus is eternal,
because His high priestly ministry is eternal, anything He does toward us in relation to
His eternal high priestly ministry is eternal. So when He saves you; He saves you
eternally, not conditionally. When He saves you, it is not with a caveat attached that I
will save you as long as you’re obedient. It is totally based upon Him. When we look at
the verb, the verb has as its subject the one who performs the action of the verb - He is
able to save. The one who performs the action is Christ, not us. He saves us; we don’t
save ourselves. The most important thing you can understand in salvation is that you
don’t contribute one thing to your salvation or your security – not one thing. That’s what
grace is. Jesus does everything and we don’t do anything – not one thing. It’s totally
dependent upon Him and His power and His will.
Now let’s look at a couple of terms that are here. If you are using a New American
Standard (I don’t know what the NIV says but), the New American Standard says:
NAS Hebrews
7:25 Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near
to God
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But it’s confusing because in James 4 the concept of drawing
near to God (Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.) is a fellowship verse, not a
salvation verse. It’s a totally different word. The word in James is not the word that we
find here in Hebrews 7:25. What we have here is the simple word proserchomai. Pros is
the preposition prefix, erchomai simply means to come. It’s translated “to come” many,
many times through Scripture - that those who come to God through Him is simply a
statement of salvation.
Jesus said:
NKJ Matthew
11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest.
There it is erchomai, not proserchomai.
Coming to God is another synonym for trusting Christ as your Savior because that is the
way we come to God.
So in verse 25 when we read:
NKJ Hebrews
7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who
come to God
Those who come to God are those who believe that Christ died on the cross for their sins.
Now what does it mean that He is able to save them to the uttermost? That is the Greek
word panteles. Now the pan means all or every. It’s the word that encompasses
everything. Teles comes from our familiar word teliao, telos and it has to do with
complete. It has the idea of “with all completeness.” So He is able to save completely or
utterly or to the fullest extent. He is the one who is able to do all of the work related to
through Him,.
Again we have the statement that echoes what Jesus said.
NKJ John
14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through Me.
Same grammatical construction, dia plus the genitive. So the statement here is a very
strong statement that God is the one who saves us the uttermost.
since He always lives to make intercession for them
It connects that ongoing salvation (that security) with His intercessory ministry. His
keeping us is part of His high ministry. That’s what He prays in His high priestly prayer.
So this is a very strong verse and a very important verse for understanding the Doctrine
of Eternal Security.
Now this is a doctrine that so many people are getting confused about today because you
have a lot of historical confusion and today you have a lot of confusion because nobody
wants to teach the Bible anymore.
So I thought it was important to go over the Doctrine of Eternal Security and I have
added a few things and tweaked a few things to try to deal with some of the things that
are going on today and answer some questions that I’ve had. It’s amazing. I’ve had
several questions from people coming from the direction of how do I deal with Lordship
salvation, the Lordship concept of perseverance. I’ve had people ask me. They are
talking to somebody and this comes up. I know of one person who doesn’t live locally
(lives in another part of the country) has been going around from church to church for a
number months trying to find a church where they can at least find a level of comfort
zone so the kids can go to Sunday school. It always gets twisted up on this. If you don’t
understand the theological nuances...
This one guy was telling me…he said it was almost like playing a word game with the
“You come up and ask them, ‘Do you believe this?’, and they try to do everything but tell
you what they really believe so that you’ll still come to their church.”
You have to sort of understand the jargon or the code words to know what to listen to or
you will be suckered right into some congregation. You are going to think it sounds
right, but it really isn’t. So let’s go through the Doctrine of Eternal Security. First, let’s
define it.
Doctrine of Eternal Security
1. Definition First of all it is the work of God. God is the one who secures us - not
us. God provides the security. It is the work of God toward the believer at the
instant of faith alone in Christ alone. There is something that happens that is so
dramatic when we put our faith alone in Christ alone, that is so multi-faceted. We
receive the imputation of Christ. We are justified. We are regenerated. We are
indwelt with the Holy Spirit. We’re given a spiritual gift. We’re baptized by
means of the Holy Spirit. All of these different things and I could go on and on.
All of these things happen at the instant of salvation.
To say that you can lose your salvation isn’t simply a matter of saying, “Well, he was
going to go to heaven and now he’s not.”
That is such an over simplification. To lose your salvation means you have to be unbaptized by the Spirit. You have to become unregenerate. You have to lose that imputed
righteousness. All of these different things have to be reversed so that you can then lose
your salvation. It’s a real failure to deal honestly with the complexity of what God does
for us at the instant of salvation. So the first part of the definition is that it’s the work of
God toward the believer at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone which guarantees that
God’s free gift of salvation is eternal and cannot be lost, terminated, abrogated, nullified,
or reversed by any thought, act or change of belief in the person saved. You can’t get
saved one day and truly understand the gospel that Christ died for you and you trust Him,
You can’t believe it one day and disbelieve it the next day and lose your salvation.
Salvation is not based on what you do after you are saved. It’s based on that point where
you put your faith alone in Christ alone. It’s so simple, but it is such a battlefield today.
You may not realize this and if you are not engaged in trying to witness to people or even
trying to have a conversation about what you believe with other Christians, then when I
start talking about things like this and doing this comparison and contrast with these other
belief systems, then you are going to be totally lost. That’s because you are living a
spiritual life on an island which frankly is not a biblical spiritual life. We have to be
engaged, witnessing to unbelievers and encouraging believers.
So anytime you start opening your mouth about what you believe as a Christian to
anybody else, they’re going to immediately say, “Well, I heard this or I believe this.”
And now all of a sudden you are put in a place where you have to articulate what you
believe and why you believe it.
The next thing you know you are going to come along and somebody will say “Well, I
have been reading this book by this author and he says this and I really like that and that
makes sense to me.”
You are going to say, “Wait a minute. Let’s go to the Bible.”
Oops. Where are my notes? Where is that Scripture verse? What did Robby say?
Somebody commented on this to me the other day and said, “I went back over my notes
and I realized if I just knew everything in my notes I would be really smart.”
But, we are all that way. It just takes time. When I say that it’s not to ridicule or get
down on anybody. I am just as much at fault on that as the next person. I don’t think that
quickly on my feet.
Usually somebody says, “Well, what about this?”
I think, “Hum.”
On the way home I have a good answer.
I know you can all relate to that.
Let me break this down in a slightly different way. When a person trusts in Christ for
salvation God permanently justifies and regenerates and gives eternal life. This cannot be
lost, no matter what that person does or does not do from that instant on until the day he
Let me comment on this because each one of these clauses can be challenged and
attacked and changed and misinterpreted by any number of people as they say, “What do
you mean by belief? What do you mean by trust?”
A person can (according to some people can) believe in Christ and it’s not a saving faith.
“What do you mean by salvation? What do you mean by justification?”
Most people today –you would be amazed. I had the opportunity in the past few days to
spend some time with my pastor-friends. I won’t mention them. Yeah, I will. Bruce was
over hear the other day, David Dunn. We have a great time together. Igor was over here.
Chris was back here. Ike was over here last week. We were having a gripe session about
how hard it is trying to teach (and this doesn’t relate to either of our congregations), but it
relates to other teaching environments that we have Christians who are so biblically
ignorant – profoundly, abysmally ignorant of the Scripture and basic doctrine and don’t
seem to care a wit that they are. In fact I experienced this some when I was teaching at
the College of Biblical Studies. In fact they think that they can come in and on the basis
of the fact they have been studying their Sunday school quarterly to teach their Sunday
school classes for ten years, they think they can tell you what the Bible says and it
doesn’t matter the fact that you have been a pastor for 30 years and have a masters in
theology and everything else and know the original languages. They’re right. They really
came to school just to get a diploma rubber stamped and tell you what the Bible says.
The arrogance that is out there today in the visible church is unbelievable. This country
is headed for a real discipline from God because the only thing that’s supposed to be the
salt of the nation has lost its savor. The church today is ignorant. It’s running away from
the truth. It is so postmodern.
The stories I get from the few people that we have that are going to seminary is that the
seminary students are so postmodern that if they in conversation say, “Well, maybe the
Bible actually says X.”
“Well, how can you say that? I would mean that I am wrong and I am offended.”
It is difficult for them to even have a conversation with other students because everybody
wants to think that whatever they generate out of the idolatry of their own naval is
absolute truth. It’s incredible. It’s so great to have a congregation like this. It makes you
want to fall down on your knees every night to thank God for it because people want to
know the Bible. But most people out there want a band aid. They want something that
makes them feel like they have done something for God. And, that’s it. And if you don’t
validate that, then you are right out of the pit of hell. You are judgmental and arrogant
and terrible. So it’s really hard to have these discussions, but you have to know what is
going on.
When a person trusts in Christ, faith doesn’t mean faithfulness. John MacArthur tried to
do that in his first edition of the Gospel According to Jesus. He tried to say that pistis in
Ephesians 2:8-9…
NKJ Ephesians
2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith,
…should be understood as faithfulness.
For by grace you have been saved through faithfulness.
Let’s go see the pope. That’s Roman Catholic theology. You are saved by your
faithfulness. You’re not saved by the object of faith in Jesus Christ. You are saved by
So I say when a person trusts in Christ, by trust we mean to rely on, to believe in. That’s
how the Apostle John expresses it in the Gospel of John again and again and again - to
believe in Christ, to accept as Savior, to accept what He did on your behalf. That’s the
imagery of Jesus bread of life.
NKJ John
6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to
Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
It is accepting Him and all that He is and does into us - accepting it into our lives. Those
are just different ways of expressing this concept of completely and exclusively relying
upon Jesus. That means that you are not going to trust in Christ and get any
soteriological benefit from going to church or from participating in the sacraments. It’s
faith alone. You’re not helping it or strengthening it any by doing anything else. It’s
only believing that Jesus died for you. The object of faith is what has the value. It’s not
the kind of faith because faith is faith.
If you talk to anybody coming out of a Calvinistic position that holds to a Lordship view
of perseverance, they see faith as a gift. They see faith as a gift.
Hold you place here in Hebrews and turn over to Ephesians 2.
I think I covered this last week. I don’t know which night. I did a lot of teaching on this
section 1 through 10 when I was at the WHW Conference out in Los Angeles. Verses 1
through 7 are one sentence in the Greek.
The grammatical subject of that sentence doesn’t occur until verse 4 - God. You can
circle that. That’s your grammatical subject. That means that everything that is said up
to that point is secondary to the main idea of this sentence. The main idea of the sentence
is expressed in the independent clause of the sentence which is composed of your
grammatical subject and your verbs. You have three verbs that explain the action of God.
God performs the action. The three verbs begin in the second part of verse 5.
NKJ Ephesians
2:5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
That’s regeneration.
NKJ Ephesians
2:6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the
heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Those are the three verbs. So you have one subject, God, who does three things. He
makes us alive together, raises us together, and sits us together – three things He does.
Now if I were to ask you to give me one word that would summarize the work that Christ
did in making us alive together, raising us up together, and sitting us together with Christ
what would that one word be? What would that one word be? Tom, have you got it?
What would that one word be? The first one is regeneration. I want you to think about
this. That’s why I am asking you this question. It is kind of unusual in Bible class. He
made us alive together. That’s regeneration. He raised us together and seated us. He
made us alive and raised and seated us. What one word covers those three things? He
saved us. He saved us. That’s why you have this almost an expletive at the end of verse
5. See He summarizes these three verbs in the one verb - you have been saved.
NKJ Ephesians
2:5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
That is the statement that’s made in the middle of these three verses that is grammatically
unrelated to the rest of this sentence from 1 to 7. Why is that important?
This is one of the great examples I use to show why grammar really matters. Why is that
important? Do you see that phrase “for by grace you have been saved” any where else.
Where do you see it? Verse 8. That’s right. What happens in verse 8 is he is using that
phrase “for by grace you have been saved” to summarize everything he said in 1 through
7. He is taking all that content in 1 through 7 and he scrunched it down to one phrase,
“for by grace you have been saved through faith.”
He adds the idea in verse 8 that it’s through faith. All of this that God does for you in
verses 5, 6 and 7 is done is through faith.
Then you have the phrase “and that.” Now the interesting thing in the Greek is that the
“that” is a neuter in the Greek. It’s a neuter pronoun. A neuter pronoun has to refer to –
easy question. See, I am being so Aristotelian tonight - so Socratic. A neuter pronoun
has to refer to:
A. A masculine noun
B. A feminine noun
C. A neuter noun.
A, B, or C? C.
Well, grace is a feminine noun and faith is a feminine noun. So the “that” can’t refer to
faith or grace. It’s not the faith that’s the gift which is what every Calvinist will tell you.
It is what God did for you in 2, 5, 6, and 7. The fact that He made you alive together,
raised you together, and seated you together - that is the gift of God. That whole
salvation package is the gift of God, not the faith. But see when the faith that saves you
is a different kind of faith, then you can have a non-saving faith in Jesus. So if you can
believe in Jesus and it’s not salvific (It won’t save you.) and you can have a faith in Jesus
that can save you, how does a person over here distinguish his non-saving faith in Jesus
from the person over here that has saving faith in Jesus? What’s the difference going to
be? Because the person over here is not going to have works consistent with his faith.
This person is going to have works consistent with their faith. So the only way you know
if you really believed in Jesus is you have works that are consistent with your faith.
So how do you know if you are saved? Works. It’s legalism; but it’s a works that is
brought in the backdoor, not brought in the front door. So that is why I have this
statement here.
When a person trusts in Christ for salvation then God does the work. He permanently
justifies, regenerates and gives eternal life. I couldn’t put everything in there, but I
thought those three things summarize it. He justifies. That means imputes righteousness
and declares you just. He regenerates. You get a new human spirit. You are born again
and you are given eternal life. This cannot be lost no matter what you do or don’t do.
Now that’s really important because what happens is that in 90% of Christianity people
say that what you do or don’t do after you trust in Christ is either going to cause you on
the one hand to lose your salvation if you were saved or it’s going to prove whether you
had the right kind of faith – if it was the non-saving faith or saving faith. This salvation
cannot be lost no matter what that person does or does not do from that instant on until
the day he dies.
Now the two schools of theology that you have to understand here are on the one hand
Calvinism and on the other hand Arminianism. Calvinism is the theology that is
developed from the followers of John Calvin. It is not necessarily everything Calvin
believed, but it is what is basically calcified into his theology by the end of the 16th
A man by the name of James Arminius (or Jacobus Arminius whether you want to use the
Latin or the English form) comes along and he actually believed in eternal security. But
his followers solidified his theology and you had this huge theological confrontation that
occurred in the Senate of Dort in Holland in the early 1600’s. I think it was 1614 or 1615
or something like that. The Arminians actually had their 5 points and they were called
The Five Remonstrance. They were the 5 points of Arminianism. And the Calvinists
answered it with their 5 points called The Counter Remonstrance and that became known
under the acronym of TULIP.
TULIP is for total depravity, but they actually mean total inability. You can’t even
exercise neutral positive volition to God. You can’t do anything. God does everything.
He even gives you positive volition. So you have total inability.
The U is for unconditional election that God doesn’t base His choice on who will be
saved and who won’t on any condition. He just chooses.
“You, you and you will be saved and the rest of you won’t.”
In the more extreme forms, you get a double predestination where “you four are
predestined to heaven and the rest of you are predestined to hell.”
But not every Calvinist holds to double predestination. But it is sort of a passive double
The L stands for limited atonement. See, if God chose who would be saved, then that’s
set in concrete so Jesus doesn’t need to die for those who aren’t chosen. So He only dies
for those who are chosen.
They’ll say terms like, “Well, if you believe Jesus died for the unsaved, then He just
spilled His blood on the cross.”
Like it’s an accident.
The I is irresistible grace or sometimes efficacious grace. (This will confuse everybody
here. I have re-educate every young guy that goes to seminary.) Efficacious grace
doesn’t mean in its historical theological context as almost every theologian has ever
used it - efficacious grace does not mean that the Holy Spirit makes your faith efficacious
for salvation. Efficacious grace means that the Holy Spirit is going to give you the grace
you need to be saved because you’re the elect. It’s a Calvinistic term. Some of you had
it redefined for you which is not really kosher. The term historically by every theologian
for the last 500 years has meant that the Holy Spirit is going to irresistibly give you grace.
You can’t say no. He is going to give you the grace you need to trust Christ as savior
because He is going to give you the faith also. That’s historic Calvinism.
P is perseverance. Perseverance isn’t - although some like Louis Sperry Chafer held to a
non-lordship perseverance where for him perseverance of the saints was the perseverance
of Christ. But for most Calvinist and reformed theologians the P stands for the
perseverance of the saints. What it really means is that you persevere in good works so
that you know that you’re saved. If you don’t persevere in good works, then you didn’t
have the right kind of faith. You didn’t have efficacious grace and you just had a nonsaving faith in Jesus. So that’s how they define it.
Now let’s look at a couple of historical documents so we understand this. This is the
Westminster Confession of Faith written in the early 1600’s by the so-called Westminster
Divines, the Westminster Theologians which captures English Presbyterian theology. In
the Westminster Confession of Faith it states (Notice the grammatical subject here. It’s
really important.):
They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called…
See I told you – efficacious grace was terminology that meant the Holy Spirit irresistibly
draws you to the cross. There’s the term.
…and sanctified by His Spirit can neither totally nor finally fall away from the
state of grace,
Now what that is saying is if you were really saved, two days later deny Christ and go
into carnality for the rest of your life and die in a cesspool of sin. You can’t do it – not if
you were really saved. You may commit egregious sins as a believer. You may have
periods of carnality. But you’re not going to stay there with the pigs and the prodigal son
until the day you die – not if you were really saved.
So what are they saying? If you are really saved, you’ve got to have works consistent
with your salvation.
but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved.
Notice that – they will certainly persevere. Who performs the action of “certainly
persevere”? The “they”, the believer, not God.
Now Louis Berkhof well-known reformed theologian (We had to read his Systematic
Theology – parts of it when I was in seminary. Very good, very reformed. Good in some
parts.) says:
The doctrine of perseverance requires careful statement especially in view of the
fact that the term perseverance of the saints is liable to misunderstanding. We
should guard against the possible misunderstanding that this perseverance is
regarded as an inherent property of the believer or as a continuous activity of man
by means of which he perseveres in the way of salvation.
See he recognizes the danger there that it’s not – you can’t articulate it as man being the
one who works.
However, Charles Hodge who was a great reformed 19th century theologian wrote in his
commentary on I Corinthians 9:27 regarding the Apostle Paul that:
This devoted apostle considered himself as engaged in a life struggle of his
Huh? Can you picture Paul waking every day struggling to make sure he was saved?
That was Charles Hodge not to be confused with Zane Hodges. Okay, that was Charles
Hodge, 19th century Princetonian theologian.
His son A. A. Hodge named for the man who founded the Princeton Law College which
became Princeton Seminary wrote:
Perseverance and holiness therefore in opposition to all weakness and temptations
is the only sure evidence of the genuineness of past experience of the validity of
our confidence as to our future salvation.
In other words the only way you can know is by your experience of good works, not by
the promise of God. See that’s the difference. Is God’s promise good enough or - I don’t
look to the Bible I look to fruit? I have to become a fruit inspector rather than relying on
the promise of God.
On the other end of the spectrum you have an Arminian like Robert Shank who says:
There is no saving faith apart from obedience. There is no valid assurance of
election and final salvation for any man apart from deliberate perseverance and
See how close that sounds to what the Calvinist says? Now the way most people think of
this is that Calvinism and Arminianism are on opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s a
misconception. They think that Arminianism and Calvinism are complete opposites.
But it is really more like this. There is just a little bit of distance between them because
the Arminian is putting works up front and the Lordship Calvinist is putting in the
backdoor. The Arminian says there is no eternal security and the Lordship Calvinist says
there is eternal security but you can’t really know you are saved if you don’t have works.
They are both introducing works into the equation.
But Scripture says it’s not on the basis of works either before or after salvation. And so
in neither of these systems can you really know if you are saved. Now where it gets
tricky is you will go up and you’ll ask somebody - let’s say you are out there in the rest of
the country, the world somewhere, and you are trying to look for a church somewhere
and you say, “Do you believe in eternal security?”
The pastor says, “Yes. I believe once saved, always saved.”
But what he didn’t tell you is that he doesn’t know if you can know if you were once
saved. He doesn’t know how you can know you were sure you were once saved.
I remember asking John MacArthur one time when he was speaking at a bookstore in
Dallas for a pastor’s breakfast.
Tommie Ice and I were sitting right in front of him and I raised my hand and I said,
“Well Dr. MacArthur, are you sure that you are saved?”
“Well, only 99% sure.”
See even he couldn’t be 100% sure that he was going to heaven when he died because
there was a possibility at least that he faith he had in Jesus was a non-saving faith. There
might come a time when he might reject Christ and fall into sin for the rest of his life and
then he would have proved that it was a false faith. It was a pseudo-faith, a pseudosalvation. So that sort of sets it up. This is the battle and what we have in the middle as
the alternative to this is the movement that really (not that the theology wasn’t there
before because it was), but it became crystallized in the midst of this theological debate
that began to develop in the 60’s and 70’s. It became known as the Free Grace
Movement. That was really a product, a lot of the writings of Zane Hodges, a professor
at Dallas Seminary who was my first year Greek professor and some of the books that he
wrote. He wrote a great book called The Gospel Under Siege.
There was another well-known beloved professor at Dallas Seminary named as S. Louis
Johnson. S. Louis Johnson was Pastor Thieme’s Greek professor when he was in
seminary. So a lot of guys who came up out of that background went up to seminary and
they had this pre-suppositional trust in Dr. Johnson. Within three months they were 5
point Calvinists because they were told that they could trust Johnson. Wrong. So
Johnson became a 5 point Calvinist. At least he had the integrity to realize that he wasn’t
in step with the seminary so he retired from being a professor at the seminary. But he did
- I remember when he and Zane Hodges had a debate at a brown bag luncheon at Dallas
Seminary back in the 80’s and he re-punctuated the title of Zane’s book. He said he was
here to review a book The Gospel - Under Siege by Zane Hodges.
So they had a lot of fun with that of course were very good friends. Back in those days
we were all gentlemen at Dallas Seminary. But this has been a battle and now what’s
happened and some of you are aware of this and others of you are not, but even within
the Grace Evangelical Society there has developed within this a new kind of twist that
there are saying (and Zane is one of them. I think he is completely off on this.) that the
gospel content is just accepting, believing that Jesus will give you eternal life.
What’s not there? This has become a major battle. It has affected us at Chafer Seminary.
They had a big conference in Dallas last week dealing with this and I was going to go,
but it was a bridge too far after coming back from WHW. This has become the big issue
now. These battles are going on and you just need to be aware of some of these things
because you may hear things.
In I Thessalonians 4:13 Paul writes:
Thessalonians 4:13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren,
concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no
For if we believe that Jesus gave us eternal life God will bring with Him those who sleep
in Jesus.
Is that what it says? It’s not what it says.
Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again.
Paul said:
Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except
Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
See what’s happening now is we are getting people in the free grace camp who have and
the terminology has been developed by others have a crossless gospel. As long as you
are trusting Jesus to save you, you don’t have to believe in the deity of Christ or His
substitutionary atonement. You just believe that He is going to give you eternal life and
that’s enough. This is going to be a major issue. The sad thing is what we are seeing is
in the last 30 years. We have seen 50 at least, maybe a 100 new theological positions
develop fragmenting evangelicalism, splitting churches that didn’t even exist when I was
back in seminary back in the 70’s.
Everybody is battling each other and nobody is having any impact and everybody is out
there saying. “Well there are 50 positions and I can’t think them through so let’s just
come together at church, light a few candles, sit on our sofas, hold hands and sing
Kumbaya and…”
“The only thing we have in common is experience. We have all had some experience
with Jesus, but let’s not put it in words because if we put it in words we will start fighting
with each other so the only thing we can do is have a unity of experience.”
But Paul said in Ephesians 4 that it is the unity of faith the body of doctrine and doctrine
is worth splitting over because there is truth and there is falsehood. God didn’t
communicate to create a fog between our ears. He communicated to give clarity between
our ears so we can know what God says.
So next time we’ll come back and having introduced what the issues are in relation to
eternal security we will go through the various passages related to security because what
we see in Hebrews 7 is that the intercessory ministry of Jesus Christ is based on His
divine characteristic of eternality. It is because we have an eternal High Priest, He can
secure our salvation eternally.