Clear Method Cloudy Task

Although this ship sailed a long time ago, back in the day, that day being 11th through 13th century High Middle Ages Europe; theology was considered the “queen of the sciences.” However since modernity usually understands science as exclusively referring to something that can be measured quantitatively and verified empirically, past nomenclature is often dismissed as hopelessly flawed.

Medieval intelligentsia saw it differently. For them the various branches of learning required an overarching standard. And that standard was the Bible. The Scriptures were seen as the source of all truth, and so theology became the standard to which all other scholarship had to ultimately conform.  The scholars of this period recognized that one’s view of God and the Bible affects every other area of life. One’s theology was the foundation of one’s worldview thus shaping their study of philosophy or any other field of inquiry.  In that sense, theology was viewed as the “queen of the sciences.” To say this another way, God’s self – disclosure in written form was regarded as the majestic source of knowledge informing all other knowledge.

Today, the discipline of theology carries a largely negative set of connotations. Say the word theology and for many that conjures up images of something that’s bigoted, arrogant, exclusivist, and riddled with impracticality. In contemporary culture, people will allow you to talk about your theology as long as you don’t talk about it with too much conviction implying that you actually believe that you’re right and their wrong. It’s all right to have your beliefs as long you don’t make too big an issue of it by insisting it applies to everyone.

So what is theology anyway? I like how Charles Ryrie put it. He said theology is “thinking about God and expressing those thoughts in some way.” That definition works for me because it reflects the fact that everyone does theology to some level and degree whether they realize it or not. This is true of both the theist and the atheist. The issue then becomes how we do it, and whether or not we do it well.

David Wolfe in his book Epistemology: The Justification of Belief, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1982), persuasively argues that the adequacy, rationality, reliability, and suitability of a system of theology can be evaluated or validated on the basis of the following criteria: Consistency—the assertions, hypotheses, and opinions expressed by the system should be free from contradiction. Coherence—the assertions and hypotheses should be related in a unified manner. Comprehensiveness—the system should be applicable to all evidence. Congruity—the system of assertions, hypotheses, etc. must “fit” all evidence. It must be accurate, adequate and precise to fit all data. In other words, the whole must equal the sum of its parts. If one part of the whole is out of sync with the whole, then the whole must be revised to include this part without throwing the other parts out of sync. We are searching for the interpretation which best “fits” all the data.

Another way to flesh this out is to say critical theological thinking involves the ability to formulate comprehensive theological description, definitions, and argumentation based on accurate analysis and synthesis of Scripture, theological tradition, and present day theological, philosophical, and cultural views.

The simplest most succinct way I can describe the actual practice of theology is to speak of it as connecting the dots. And connecting theological dots requires one to ask the question, “If this thing is true over here how does it affect that over there?” One doctrinal area of biblical truth cannot be viewed in isolation from other another area of doctrinal biblical truth. Doing theology well demands thinking holistically well.  And that requires that we read widely, think deeply, and pray fervently.

When all is said and done, I think when doing theology, it helps to remember that even with a clear method this activity is still cloudy.  Attempts to elucidate the inscrutable interface between limited thinkers constrained by time and space with the Creator who is not constricted by time and space is inherently problematic. For example, with respect to divine sovereignty and human responsibility in relation to the outworking of spiritual salvation; if we excessively try to bind God’s eternal acts to our boundaries of time and logic,  we run the risk of turning something mysterious into something nonsensical. Yet if we approach theology the way Isaac Newton approached science; seeking to think God’s thoughts after Him, the entire enterprise could and should be viewed as an act of worship that engages the totality of our being thus making God look supremely good.  Absolute truth is out there and waiting to be discovered because as Francis Schaeffer said concerning God, “He is there and He is not silent.”

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Prophetic Litmus Test

This week’s Parshah (Torah portion), is Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9. It’s a section designated by the Hebrew word shoftim (sho-fa-teem). Shoftim is the first word in Deuteronomy 16:18. It’s derived from the root shafat, which means to judge or govern.  Shoftim, being plural in number, is translated “judges.”

In broad strokes, here’s what’s going on. Moses commands the people of Israel to appoint judges in all the cities allotted to their tribes. He does this so that justice will be enforced throughout the Land God was giving them. These judges were to be above reproach by showing no partiality and refusing bribes. And as was typical with Moses, he emphasized underlying principles more than procedures. He was about establishing guidelines to insure that Israel would have the right kind of leadership; leadership that would help them maintain their testimony as a distinctive people representing the true and living God.

Also, within these six chapters, Moses anticipated a day when Israel would desire a king to rule over them in the same manner that was true of the other nations. And in the context of dealing with that desire for a king, Moses spoke of a future prophet as the true and rightful King of Israel; which is the focus of today’s portion within the portion.

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 reads, 15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers — it is to him you shall listen — 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

The key to understanding the promise of a prophet like Moses is to see how Hebrew Scripture itself understood it. Moses himself recorded one clue in Numbers 12:6–8, explaining that his speaking to God face to face is what made him a unique prophet. The common way God communicated with His prophets was by giving them dreams and visions. Moses was a specially privileged prophet. God spoke to him directly without any special mediation or reserve. He spoke with Moses in the same way that friends speak with one another. So, whoever the prophet like Moses would be, he would be required to speak to God in the same way—face to face.

Another clue is found in Deuteronomy 34:10–12. This passage, written after the death of Moses, and most likely at the close of the prophetic period, provides an inspired understanding of the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15–19. It views Israel’s history of prophets retrospectively. And it states that the prophet like Moses never came. And so now Israel is to look to the future when God will send a new “Moses” who will speak to God face to face. The point is Hebrew Scripture itself reads the prediction of a prophet like Moses in a future oriented way. It closes the Torah by pointing Israel to a future Moses like figure.

Is Jesus this future Moses like figure? Yes He is! Both Acts 3:22-23 and Acts 7:37 refer to Him as the direct fulfillment of the Deuteronomy 18 prophecy. By providing prophetic revelation, communing with God, and performing miracles; Jesus functioned prophetically as Moses did.

But also, Jesus was, and is, immeasurably superior to Moses. Not only did He speak with God, He spoke as God! He provided salvation through His death. He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven. He continued to give revelation from God after His death through the New Testament prophets. He presently intercedes for His own. He will return for His own. And He will literally bring His own into God’s presence. He’s Moses on Messianic steroids!

So in terms of a principle to live by, regarding the testing of prophetic messages; when someone claims to have a prophetic message from God, we’re to use the Scriptures to evaluate the authenticity of this message.  God told Old Covenant Israel to evaluate prophetic messages carefully to see if what was prophesied came true in every detail. If it did not, they could be sure the message was not from God.

And for us today, any so-called prophecy, whether it claims to be new truth or a restatement of old truth, if that message contradicts the Scriptures in any way, or fails to come true in every detail, it should be rejected! That in a nutshell is the prophetic litmus test.  And when that test is applied to the name it, claim it, and frame it spiel of prosperity theology; that health and wealth gospel is proven false; which is a good thing because instead of the flesh being fed the spirit can be fed.  And when the assertions of replacement theology fail to conform to the prophetic promises of Scripture, the errors of that theology should be rejected. And when the errors of replacement theology are rejected, explaining the reasons for that rejection can help people see how replacement teaching can lead to the anti-Zionism of so-called Christian Palestinianism, and how that ultimately leads to anti-Semitism! The days in which we live demand this kind of application of the prophetic litmus test.

Faith Horse Regeneration Cart

With some things there’s clearly a sequential order that is both logically dependent and functionally complimentary. Before we run we walk. Before we walk we crawl. And before we crawl we usually need six to nine months of life under our belt. Any attempt to circumvent or by-pass that kind of fixed pre-determined/pre-ordained order results in inability to perform a task and failure to produce an intended and desired outcome.

Such mandatory progression is also true in the spiritual realm. In theological jargon there’s what’s known as the “ordo salutis,” or order of salvation. This refers to either the temporal or logical sequence in which the various elements of salvation are imparted to the believer; elements like justification and sanctification for example. So the broad sweep of time in view here is the initial redemptive starting point to ultimate glorification. And within those boundaries some groups have elements unique to their system, but in every system believers eventually get to the final eternal state. That’s the culmination of the journey, but different systems take different routes to get there. The names, number, and order of steps leading to final spiritual deliverance are not the same.

A point of contention in this discussion is whether regeneration precedes or follows faith. In other words, in order for one to be able to believe the gospel and trust Messiah as Savior, do they first need to be regenerated? Or, does one first exercise saving faith and then as a result of that become regenerated? I’m convinced that the second sequence of faith then regeneration is what actually transpires.

What is meant by the term regeneration? Regeneration is the act in which the Spirit of God imparts eternal life to a person dead in sin. That’s the quality aspect. Regeneration is also the act in which the Holy Spirit unites a believing sinner to God. That’s the relationship aspect. Regeneration is needed because man is dead in sin, without the life of God, and separated from God. Regeneration happens instantaneously and is not consciously experienced.

Regeneration also has various results. Man is given a new nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Man becomes a new creation or new man (2 Cor. 5:17). Man has a new relationship in that he becomes a child in the family of God (Gal. 3:26), and he has a new Father (John 8:44; Gal. 4:6).

The Spirit also has a preparatory work prior to salvation. This is seen in His ministries of illumination and conviction. Illumination is the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit which enables man to understand the message of salvation (cf. 2 Cor. 4:6; Heb. 6:4, 10:32). While conviction here means to prove wrong and it results in a person acknowledging truth at least inwardly.

This preparatory work of the Spirit is a divine enablement which makes a person capable of having confident trust in the total sufficiency of Messiah’s finished work for forgiveness of sin. But this enablement is divine persuasion not divine regeneration. Regeneration takes place through the indwelling of the animating Holy Spirit. And that indwelling comes through faith (Acts 2:38; Gal 3:2). So then, regeneration is not the cause of faith, it is the consequence of faith.

Another aspect to this issue is whether or not total depravity also means total inability. I take it that the bible pictures sin as corrupting all facets of our being but not rendering us completely incapable of responding to a basic sense of right and wrong written on our hearts as image bearers of God. And here I think it’s helpful to consider the biblical picture of spiritual deadness.

Essentially spiritual deadness is separation from God. But God does not picture spiritual deadness as a corpse in the sense of total inability to respond in anyway whatsoever. Even spiritually dead people make choices in the moral/spiritual realm. People still have some kind of a conscience in relation to God. They are able to choose lesser sins from greater sins. In fact, often times unbelievers are able to resist temptations that believers fall into. So yes, unbelievers are spiritually dead, but the bible does not picture them as a corpse. They are seen as dead in certain areas, but not all areas.

What then does total depravity mean? It means that man, left to himself, will not seek God (cf. Rom. 3:11). But praise God, He doesn’t leave people to themselves. God works and enables people to exercise belief which brings regeneration.

Why is this a big deal? It’s a big deal because if one has to be regenerated in order to believe, then the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” is that the sinner needs to beg God to give him saving faith. And if that’s the case, the condition for salvation is praying for faith, rather than believing in what Messiah did on a Roman execution stake. Plus, the very second one believes, at that very second, one is regenerated. They come at virtually the same instantaneous point of time.

I’m simply saying that the elect (chosen by God in eternity past) are not saved until they believe. So then, I’m also saying, that the actual possession of salvation by the elect doesn’t begin at the moment of completion of Messiah’s sacrifice at Calvary, it begins at the moment an unsaved elect individual believingly responds to the gospel. And of course as a corollary to that, this would mean that regeneration follows rather precedes faith.

It’s my contention that a faith horse pulling a regeneration cart, in no way compromises or minimizes a balanced biblical understanding of Divine sovereignty and human depravity/responsibility. At the end of the day, all facets of spiritual salvation are ultimately and gloriously theocentric in their design, execution, and realization.

Coming to a Community Near You

While touching base with the Facebook world this morning, I saw that a fellow Jewish believer and ministry colleague for whom I have much respect, posted an article I found both disturbing and compelling. The piece written by Jewish comedian Elon Gold was titled A Hate Incident. http://www.jewishjournal.com/hollywood/article/a_hate_incident_against_elon_gold

This is the gist of his story:

“We were walking home in Los Angeles after a Friday night dinner at a friend’s house, dressed nicely for shabbat, easily identifiable as a Jewish family. We waited for a light to change on a corner of a major intersection when a black Mercedes SUV pulled up alongside us. Four middle eastern men in their 20’s were in the car. The one in the back rolled down his window and yelled, ‘Free Palestine!’

Then this Arab young man opened the car door, stepped onto the street and yelled at me, my wife and four young children: “I hope your children die! Just like you are killing children in Gaza!” We all stood silently in utter horror and fear.

Then he got back in the Mercedes and they drove off. We were in a state of complete shock. My ten year old daughter immediately started crying and couldn’t stop. She kept yelling, “I’m scared.” My 5 year old daughter asked me why they want her to die? My other kids were too rattled to say anything.”

On one level I found this story disturbing because it’s a in your face example of the anti-Israel/anti-Jewish hatred becoming increasingly common in America. My heart also ached for these four young children who in a very real sense had their innocence stripped from them by being exposed to this level of hatred in such a demonic full frontal fashion. Unless you’ve grown up as a target for haters who love to hate, you’re simply unable to fully fathom the mental/emotional number this does on a person.

On another level I also found this story compelling because I was born in Hollywood, and grew up in West LA and Santa Monica. I have many fond memories of that locale. Yet every time I go back to California, it’s clear that it’s not by a long shot the same place it was 30/40 years ago. It feels like a modern day version of Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns. There’s almost a surreal sense of these words from Matthew 24:37-39 being played out before one’s eyes:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

I’ve often quipped, “It always seems like Jesus is returning sooner when I preach in Cali.” And so during this current season of life, I’m sincerely grateful to be living in Texas. With respect to what’s going on in the world today, particularly in relation to Israel and the Jewish people, in the circles I run in, more folks seem to get it in the Lone Star State. Yet even in Dallas, the so-called “Belt-Buckle of the Bible Belt;” as Bob Dylan sang, “The Times They Are A Changing.” That’s the song that comes to mind every time I pass by the local neighborhood mosque.

I don’t make that statement as an Islamophobe. I say that as one who has come to realize that so-called radical Islam is more accurately termed conservative Islam ; because those who espouse jihadist ideology and use it to justify terrorism in order to establish sharia law, are essentially applying the same literal grammatical historical hermeneutic to the Koran that I apply to the Bible. And basically these mislabeled Muslims are asking the same central interpretative question that I would ask of a biblical text; what was the author’s intended meaning to his original audience? And from there we would both proceed with an explanatory exposition and a contemporary application that seeks to be true to the intent of written communication that is believed to be of divine origin expressing God’s will for man.

Now obviously if one gives any rational credence to the inherent contradictory nature of radically conflicting truth claims; both the Koran and the Bible can’t come from the same source. And both narratives cannot be simultaneously true at the same time in the same way. Actually, in point of fact, given that the eternal destiny of human souls are at stake here; one comes from God and the other comes from the pit of Hell.

Now in the matter of discerning a true prophet from a false prophet, Israel’s Messiah said, “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:16). Fruit in this context speaks of the moral and ethical conduct of an individual. And based on that criteria, where to rank the relative merits of Muhammad and Jesus is the mother of all no brainers! And praise God that many, despite years of Islamic indoctrination, are supernaturally coming to that very realization.

Frankly, I wonder how people who don’t have an eschatologically informed biblical worldview stay sane. It would seem that to emotionally cope in today’s world you would have to be in big-time denial while living in the land of your own customized reality. And certainly such a mindset is to be expected from those who make no pretense of being spiritually connected to the Jewish Messiah. But as I travel and speak within the contemporary church at large, this way of doing life seems to be all too common among professing believers as well. But at the end of the day we can deal with that, because we keep fighting the good fight knowing that our labor for the Lord is not in vain (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58). Plus, even though the kind of hate incident that Elon Gold and his family were subjected to may be coming to a community near you, (if it hasn’t already), there is soon coming One who is coming to every community!  And His true disciples don’t say, “Believe or die!” They say, “Believe and live!”

Round the Bend Blues

I’m semi-plotzed, which means I’m semi-collapsed from semi-exhaustion in a semi-sturdy chair with semi-good back support. (When you’re pushing sixty you start semi-noticing these kinds of things). The temperature is mild and invigorating. It’s pre-dawn quiet. There’s a pleasant cloud cover. I’m overlooking the peaceful waters of Lake San Marcos near San Diego, California. I have no real schedule or agenda to contend with. I see the geese. I observe the swans. Softly rounded hills and stately palm trees encircle my vista from the right, left, and front. It’s easy to be content in this moment, and I am. Yet like a slow but steadily approaching train, I hear the round the bend blues chiming in the distance with increasing volume.

This encroaching sound is something significantly more than just a vague anticipation of the other proverbial shoe to inevitably drop. This is a biblical/theologically realistic fallen race in a fallen place appraisal of the hard rain that’s gonna fall before Messiah returns. It’s a reference to strange tough times, both individually and corporately; times that have always been around but are intensifying in our day and in days to come.

Even though I’m on vacation as I’m composing this post, out of habit, I still troll social media outlets for news articles that look like something worth the time and effort to read. In fact this is my present method of choice for staying somewhat informed about what’s going on in the world. I rarely do cable TV news anymore of any ideological stripe because it’s long on ratings driven video/sound bytes, and short on truly helpful content for making some sense out of current events. However, after digesting a story or two, it all becomes a bit overwhelming and I find myself disengaging and becoming desensitized to the incessant fallout from sin chronicled in real time with real people.

Currently the demonic drama that is ISIS, along with the Ebola virus, growing evangelical anti-Israel sentiment, racial unrest in Missouri, and the U.S. border crisis; are all like a massive snowball rolling down a pre-apocalyptic hill headed straight for the Seventieth Week of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27); a period also known as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:7). And so today, even on its worst day, is still better than the best day of this future day. Global conditions and international events will be like nothing the world has ever seen or will ever see again (cf. Matt. 24:22). This seven year removal of present restraints will culminate in the complete uprooting and overthrowing of the present world order coupled with the full establishment of the Kingdom of God on planet earth!
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However, against this future backdrop of unmitigated evil and righteous triumph, often we presently live lives of private desperation. Dreams die, relationships become utilitarian, and a mantra along the lines of “what are you going to do,” becomes an internal reflex response to disappointment and pain. And that pain is immeasurably magnified when a loved one dies in unbelief.

And yet in spite of what can feel like a surreal downward spiral that sticks to your body like a cheap suit, the reality of Yeshua’s resurrection enables the Messiah follower to be the most envied of all people instead of the most pitied of all people (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12-19). Messiah’s resurrection is the basis of the believers’ future resurrection. It means gospel preaching is not pointless, empty, and without hope. It means faith in Messiah’s person and work is not pointless, empty, and only capable of producing temporary results in this life. It means that the 1st century testimony of the apostles is true. It means believers experience deliverance from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. It means that the believer has not attached his life to fantasy but to fact. And that means that at the end of the day, this Death of Death Good News overrides the Round the Bend Blues Blues.

Seeing Love and Obedience: Up Close and Personal

This week’s Parshah (Torah portion), is Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17. It’s a section designated by the Hebrew word re’eh. Re’eh is usually translated as “see;” as in the act of visually identifying something with one’s own eyes. But in Deuteronomy 11:26, re’eh also has a metaphorical nuance as Moses commands the Israelites both individually and corporately to see in the sense of giving serious attention to Yahweh’s declaration of blessing and cursing.

The reason for this kind of declaration is that in relation to the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant, blessings are promised rewards for obedience and curses are threatened judgments for disobedience. Also, in Deuteronomy as a whole, through covenant renewal, (literally the second giving of the Law), Israel is assured of Yahweh’s love for them and unconditional commitment to them as His unique people. And they’re reminded that as each generation obeys Yahweh out of love, they will experience His blessing and realize the purpose of their nationhood. And so at this point in the post-Exodus story, Moses unpacks, in very detailed fashion, covenant principles. He does this by providing specific direction for the worship of Yahweh. And he does it by providing specific instruction for Israel maintaining their testimony as a distinctive people so all the other nations of the world will know who to go to to discover the only true and living God.

Two sets of verses in Deuteronomy 11 that incorporate these themes are 26-28, and 31 and 32. It reads: 26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known. 31 For you are to cross over the Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you. And when you possess it and live in it, 32 you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today.

With these words, Moses explains and emphasizes the essence of the Law. He directs his audience to the heart of the meaning of the first two commandments in the Decalogue or 10 Commandments; namely the central issues of appropriate fidelity to God and proper worship of God. Moses urges Israel to be absolutely faithful to Yahweh because Yahweh has continually demonstrated His love for His people, and in response to that Israel should love Him.

So fast forwarding to right here right now, in terms of expressing our love and obedience to God; what principle do we do well to live by? It’s simply this: To love God sincerely and fully, we must obey what He commands. In both the Old and New Covenant, love for God and obedience to His Word are inseparably linked to one another.

Concerning this, on one occasion a Jewish leader who specialized in studying the Law of Moses asked Yeshua which command was the greatest. And no doubt Messiah’s reply here rocked the world of those who happened to catch this exchange. Yeshua said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Mt 22: 37-40).

As Messiah followers today, a small but significant part of what that looks like is loving God and others with a Spirit-controlled authenticity as opposed to just going through the motions out of a sense of guilt, obligation, and duty; in other words demonstrating a sincere genuine love. And I think a small but significant part of what that looks like, is being cognizant of opportunities to actively listen to people share something of their life story. I realize this is not easy because it disrupts the basically default self-centered rhythm of our lives. But the fact is everyone has a story. And also everyone has family of origin issues. And as a result of these family of origin issues, everyone brings their own unique brand of baggage to the table. As so when people are truly heard instead of dismissively handled in the interest of so-called time management; a level of trust can be established, and shared encouragement and godly life change can take place. When believers make an honest attempt to do this kind of love, the church becomes a place where emotional wounds can be healed. And when that happens, people will see the body of Messiah practicing love and obedience up close and personal.

Beginning With No End

I don’t have a lot of hope of one day collecting on social security. In about 4 years when I’m 62 and able to start drawing on my benefits, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was nothing left in the pot that I’ve been paying into since I was 16. That less than princely sum will probably have to be applied toward paying off the interest on the interest on the USA’s economically suicidal loan from China. But in one sense it’s all good, hakuna matata, no worries, because I have no plans to retire; at least not in the relatively recent traditional Western sense. I just plan to keep doing what I’m doing as long as I’m physically able. It’s kind of like Bob Dylan’s, “never ending tour.” In fact I figure I’ll just check out in the pulpit one of these days, which isn’t a bad way to go.

So, as far as having confidence in the solvency of America’s social security program, not so much. But in a full frontal 180, I have complete total unqualified confidence in Yahweh’s doctrine of security program. What’s that you say? This is the work of God in which He unconditionally guarantees that once a person has been genuinely born again, he or she will never lose their relation with God and will be kept in a state of full possession of eternal life. It differs from assurance in that assurance is the absolute conviction that one is in the present possession of spiritual salvation and will be eternally kept in that state. So whereas assurance is a state of mind, security is true whether or not one realizes it or is assured of it because it’s based on the works of the triune God.

The specific works of the triune God which form the bases for this truth are these: A) The unconditional promises (John 3:16, 5:24), and keeping power (John 10:29; Rom. 8:38-39; 1 Pet. 1:5) of God the Father; B) The substitutionary death for sin (Rom. 8:1; 1 John 2:2), and present intercessory prayer (John 17:15; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) of God the Son; C) The permanent indwelling as a guarantee of future fully realized redemption (cf. John 14:16; Eph. 1:14), and the sealing until the day of future fully realized redemption (cf. Eph. 1:13; 4:30) by God the Holy Spirit.

Now in light of these works or ministries of the triune God here are some conclusions that can be drawn about the doctrine of security: 1) In order to counteract or undo these works, a person must have power greater than God’s. 2) Security is true whether a believer realizes it or not, because it is the teaching of Scripture; and at the beginning, middle, and end of the day, it is totally a work of God. 3) There is no way to determine what sin or sins severs union with God. 4) Fellowship may be broken but never union (cf. 1 Cor. 3). 5) If properly understood, the doctrine of security doesn’t lead to disobedience but obedience; because instead of trying to toe the line driven by fear over possibly losing salvation, one’s obedience is actually an expression of gratitude for what cannot possibly be lost; namely a quality and duration of life that has a beginning with no end.