Where Are You Building?

I’m doing a lot of running around today, getting things done before vacation.  One of those things was to get a haircut.

Turned out that the gal who cuts my hair had just gotten back from her vacation.  She was telling me about it and showed me some pictures on her iphone.  She told me about this mansion she and her family had visited in NC and about their visit to the Titanic Museum.

This “house” – she showed me a picture of it as well – 250 rooms(!).  Wasn’t finished until after his death, but his wife knew how he wanted it and finished it.  A gorgeous place, with spectacular view of the mountains in the distance.

I couldn’t help wondering where those folks who built the house were now.  What did they “live” in now?  Was it worth it?

Ah, friends and visitors to the blog.  Beyond a certain point, it doesn’t matter what kind of a house you live in now.  Where are you “building” for eternity?

What is your hope for the future?  Are you looking to what you can do, or be?  There’s only ever been one who could, in and of Himself, “prepare” for death.  For what lies beyond it.

He told His disciples that He was going away to prepare a place for them, where He and they could live forever.

Are you one of those who will be with them?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

My one and only original parenting tip

I think this is a really great post, and a really great idea!!

bronwyn's corner

A beautiful smiling baby wrapped in a furry green blanket

I am something of a mommy magpie: I keep a beady eye out for excellent mommy tricks, and when I see a shiny-mommy-skill, I nab it.

I confess to nabbing all sorts of tips to put in my mommy-bag-of-tricks: I thieve tips from online mamas, friend mamas, my own mama, stranger-in-the-park mamas, literary mamas. And Claire Huxtable. She gets her own category.

My mama-toolbelt is stuffed with pilfered mommy tricks, all nicked from other clever mamas. Except for one mama trick, which yours truly stumbled on all by myself. It has become one of the most used weapons in my maternal armory. I call it the “how many kisses” tool. It works particularly well for the 2-6 age group, and is useful for any of those situations where there are preschooler tears for not-so-serious injuries (they are called “owies” in our family)

Here is how it works: wailing toddler runs…

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Hebrews 6:4-6: Putting Christ To An Open Shame

[This is the third of 3 projected posts]

In the first post, we saw that, in the phrase if they fall away, the writer wasn’t teaching that Christians could lose their salvation.

In the second post, we saw that the context of Hebrews 6:4-6 deals with the idea that the Christian life is just that: life, and, as such, has the expectation of growth and development into maturity.

There is much more that could be said about these verses.  For instance, even though Christians truly saved cannot lose their salvation, there are many, not truly saved, who do leave “the faith.”  This is evidence they were never saved to begin with, cf. 1 John 2:19.  The writer does have a little to say about them in Hebrews 6:7, 8.

That, however, isn’t the subject for this post.  It’s found in the last part of v. 6.

Thinking about it, I’m not sure that I even know how to write about this idea that the death of Christ on the Cross could somehow be turned into something that shames Him.

But that’s what the writer says – and why it is impossible to be saved a “second” time, …or a third, …or a fourth, because

they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” 

“Put Him to shame,” because one for whom He died, and whom, it is said, He saved through faith, is, nevertheless, lost.  In other words, He failed.

How could this even be considered as a possibility?

It seems to me that even the idea that one could lose his or her salvation, let alone any such thing actually happening – even the very idea that anyone could lose their salvation is highly dishonoring to our Lord and puts Him to an open shame.

Hebrews 6:4-6: A Different View

[Post 2 of three projected posts]

In our first post, we looked at the idea that these verses teach that one can lose his or her salvation.  This view is based on the words, “if they fall away,” which is taken to mean that one who is truly saved, can “fall away” and ultimately be lost.  I had a Boston Church of Christ elder tell me that he believed that one could be a child of God and be in hell at the same time.

We examined that view.  However, those verses clearly state that if one could lose salvation, he or she could not be saved again.  Such a thing is impossible.

Well, then, if the writer wasn’t teaching the loss of salvation truly had, what was he teaching?

In the study of any Scripture, there are three things to keep in mind:
1.  context.
2.  context.
3.  context.

Kind of like the old saying that the three important things in real estate are location, location, location.

However, this is much more serious than that somewhat light-hearted, though often true, statement.

There really are three things to consider in “context.”

1.  What does the verse actually say?
This probably has more to do with “content,” but still is in the context of what the verse actually says.  We saw that in the first post.

2.  What does the surrounding context say?
That is, what do the verses around a particular verse say.  What does the paragraph or chapter say?  On this, remember that verse, paragraph and chapter divisions are not “inspired” by the Holy Spirit.  While perhaps making the study of Scripture “easier,” they often obscure the meaning because they break up the writer’s thought in ways that it shouldn’t be broken up.

3.  What does the Bible itself say?
That is, what is the teaching of the entire Bible on a given subject?  One or two verses on any subject cannot and do not give us a complete understanding of that subject.  John 3:16 isn’t all the Bible says about the love of God.  Ephesians 1:4 isn’t all the Bible says about election.  Acts 2:38 isn’t all the Bible says about baptism.  Acts 2:4 isn’t all the Bible says about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and tongues.  Matthew 7:1 isn’t all the Bible says about “judging”.  Etc., etc.

So.

What is the “context” of Hebrews 6:4-6?

Though it’s recipients aren’t named, it’s apparent that the book was written to Jewish Christians, who would have understood all the Old Testament references in the book.  These Hebrew believers were apparently suffering persecution because of their faith.  The Temple was still standing in Jerusalem and the sacrificial system was still being followed.  These believers were being tempted to desert Christ and go back to their old religion, to the old way of doing things.

The Book of Hebrews warns them not to do that.

Further, in 5:11 (NKJV), the writer sort of scolds them for not having matured to the point where he could teach them some things hard to explain.  He told them that they really needed to be taught the first principles of the oracles of God, v. 12, though they had been saved long enough that, he wrote, by this time you ought to be teachers, v. 12.

“First principles” are those things which a person just saved or just coming to salvation begins to understand.

However, the writer doesn’t take them back to those things.  In 6:1, he begins …leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection [maturity], NOT LAYING AGAIN THE FOUNDATION OF REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS AND OF FAITH TOWARD GOD [emphasis added].

In other words, he doesn’t take them back to the point of their first being saved.  He wants them to “go on,” not “start over.”

Then

in v. 3, he makes a startling statement: and this we will do if God permits.

A lot of people seem to treat salvation kind of like a hat.  You put it on and if the wind blows it off, you just retrieve it and put it back on.  So, they “get saved” and if they “lose” it, they’ll just “get saved again.”  However, the salvation of our souls is a lot more serious than that.  Our “advancement” in the things of God, even our very entrance into them, is in the hands of God.  It’s not something to be thought of lightly or taken for granted.

You see, salvation is indeed “of grace,” so that no one need despair.  However, It is of “sovereign grace,” so that no one dare presume.

Then,

v.4, For it is impossible….

The reason the writer didn’t “take them back” is because that’s impossible.  There is no “redo” in salvation.  There is only “forward”.

Our Lord spoke of the new birth.  Both testaments say that the just shall live by faith, Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17.  But life is more than just about “birth,” though that’s obviously essential.  My wife and I are looking forward, next Tuesday, Lord willing, to flying to Montana to meet our new granddaughter, who has just been born.  We’ll also see her big brother, whom we have met.  But he won’t be just a new baby.  He’s about three years old.  He’s grown.

Our other grandchildren were once just babies.  But now two of the boys are teenagers and the others aren’t far behind.  I kid my daughter that in 10 years or so, she can look forward to being a grandmother. 🙂  I hope mom and I are still around to see that.

They’ve all grown.

Birth.

Life.

Growth.

The writer to the Hebrews tells his readers that they’re not still to be “newborns,” they’re supposed to grow, develop, mature.

In the context of Hebrews, “falling away” isn’t about denying the Lord, or of walking away from the things of God.  It’s about “standing still,” not progressing, not growing, not “living.”  We might paraphrase it as “falling by the wayside.”

The writer told his readers,

“It’s time to grow up.”

Hebrews 6:4-6, “…if they fall away….”

[Note: Because this is such a controversial portion of Scripture, this post is the first of three projected, Lord willing, posts on these verses and what they actually teach.]

Apparently, these four words out of the 67 which make up vs. 4-6 (NKJV) are the only ones many people read.  Having done so, they exclaim, “Aha, you can lose your salvation; the Bible says you can ‘fall away’.”  Then they go on to berate the “devil’s doctrine of eternal security”.

Some of these folks say that they’ve been saved…several times.

Without getting into the discussion about whether or not the author is referring to “real” Christians, let’s just simply say that if the writer is saying that Christians can lose their salvation, he also says something else.

If you can lose it, it is impossible to get it back.  The writer says of the people he describes in vs. 4-6, …it is impossible …, if they fall away, TO RENEW THEM AGAIN TO REPENTANCE,… (emphasis added).

In other words, THERE IS NO SAVED, THEN LOST, THEN SAVED AGAIN.  Such a thing is impossible.

Why is it impossible to be saved, lost, and saved again?

It is impossible because of what it took to get us saved in the first place!!

If we can lose our salvation, then that means that all the things it took to get us saved in the first place DIDN’T WORK!!

We have such loose and fuzzy ideas about what the Lord Jesus did on the Cross that it’s a wonder anybody is saved at all.  Current thinking seems to be that Jesus just made it possible for men and women to be saved; His death doesn’t actually accomplish anything until we ratify it by our “accepting” it.  We “let” God save us.  We’re the ones who actually make it happen.  

Isn’t that the gist of what is taught in the majority of pulpits – if it’s taught at all, and not just some “self-help”, feel-good-about-yourself drivel?

However, the death of Christ actually paid the penalty for our sins.  He satisfied God’s justice.  Before that, He lived a life of perfect holiness and righteousness, which is imputed to those who believe on Him, because they have no such holiness and righteousness of their own.  In order to be able to do that, He had to be born into this world.  In order to do that, He had to lay aside the glory and majesty and power that was His as the Word and be conceived in the womb of a virgin so that He could live a sinless and holy life.

God raised Him from the dead to show that He was who He claimed to be – that is, the Son of God, and that He had indeed accomplished redemption for those whom He came to save.

The Holy Spirit takes what the Bible says about the work of the Son and uses it to bring a dead sinner to life, to bring that sinner to a place of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.  In other words, He regenerates the sinner and we see the evidence of that in that person’s faith.

It takes the combined “effort” of the Trinity, if I can put it like that, for a sinner to be saved.  If that sinner can “lose” or just throw away that salvation, then all that is in vain.  It didn’t work.  God’s not going to go through all that again just so someone can be “saved again.”  He’s not going to put His Son through the agony of the Cross a second time.  It didn’t “work” the first time.  Why would it be any more effective a second time?

Do you REALLY want your salvation to depend on YOUR faithfulness?

‘Cause if you lose it – you can’t get it back.

Do you really want to go there?

A Time to Weep; A Time to Laugh

A time to weep; a time to laugh, Ecclesiastes 3:4.

There was, and perhaps still is, a popular conservative radio program.  I really don’t know because I don’t listen to the radio, and haven’t for several years.  I prefer silence to the inane yammerings and what passes for music in our time on the radio, even much of “Christian” radio.

I used to drive for a living and did listen to the radio, including the program mentioned above.  In fact, I could have listened to the final hour of this program three times.  Once was enough.  This was during the time of the Clinton administration and the troubles he had in the Oval Office.  This particular program delighted in making fun of the various things reported in the news, troubles and policies alike.  I’ll admit, some of the things were cleverly done and someone spent a lot of time dreaming them up and producing them.  Still, I eventually got tired of them and turned the radio off.

The thing is, even then I recognized that the program was wrong.  Make no mistake, I am conservative, politically and religiously.  I have no use for the liberal tendency to rewrite history and to destroy the things which made this country [US] great.  We’re not perfect, by any means, but we don’t have to build walls to keep people in.  And I’m not perfect, either.  You’d only have to talk to my wife to find that out.

But “laughter” isn’t the proper response to sin.

Ezekiel lived in a similar time.  Granted, he didn’t have radio or television or the internet,  but it was still a time of great wickedness.  Early in his ministry, he saw a vision in which God told some angels to “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it,” Ezekiel 9:4 (NKJV).

True, these men would later be spared from the judgment which, in the vision, befell the city, but that’s not what I’m thinking about here.  God was looking for people who did not make light of the terrible situation of their times, but who “sighed and cried” over it.

Can I make the application to today and the world in which we live?  Things are happening which would have been unimaginable in my youth.  I’m on Facebook, write a blog, spend some time on “yahoo answers,” but seldom do I see any real concern for the moral and spiritual cesspool this world has become.  Granted, my view is limited.  But I see jokes and cartoons and off-color or worse remarks and ridicule and scorn for what our spiritual ancestors suffered and died for to pass along to us.  This says nothing about the sacrifices of life and limb young men and women have given to protect our “freedom”.

Where are those who “sigh and cry for the abominations” championed and highlighted and promoted in our society?  Where are those who are heartbroken over what has happened to our country and our world?  The desolation and damnation at the end of that road – that broad road that leads to destruction?

I know such folks are out there.  Their voices just aren’t being heard in the din and depravity of our time.

This is a time to weep, not to laugh.