Thursday, August 10, 2017


"Hope" implies uncertainty.

Let us say, for instance, that a management position exists. We know that it does because others have had that position. You were promised the job if you performed well, and the rating system validates that. There are no others in competition, so you expect that you will be promoted. Your expectation is hope. The truth is that the position exists, you qualify, you were promised the job, but yet it is not yours yet. Hope in this case is to cherish a desire with anticipation :  to want something to happen or be true. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Let is focus on the second part of the definition. We want that the position be there when it is our time. We strongly believe that it will be, but what if management is lying about your opportunity? Then you have been deceived. You are offered the carrot, but the meat doesn't exist. You see, the management position is not tangible. It can just disappear in an instant. Believing management and the reality that the position will be there when you qualify is based on faith. Well, what is faith?

Faith is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof, or another definition belief and trust in and loyalty. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

I actually prefer God's definition of faith better:
Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
In a nutshell, faith is based in hope - a strong desire that we want something to be true. Faith is intangible since it cannot be seen. We must trust that what God promised is real. Heaven and hell must really exist to be saved, or there is nothing to be saved from, or a place to dwell safely in the afterlife.  Christians want eternal life. We can't stand the thought of ceasing to exist, or worse yet, going to a place of eternal torment. God says that both exist and we want to believe that - at least the heaven part! That premise is based entirely on God's Word. We can't see God, but yet we believe in his existence, and power to save. As such, salvation is a hope.  Paul called it that:
1 Thessalonians 5:8 "But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation."
Not only does God's Word have to be true but we must firmly believe it. Faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8), and was given to each in a certain measure (Rom 12:3). Since the apostles had a little faith (Matt 8:26), and were saved, it doesn't take much.  Why blame God for having little faith since he is its source? Because Christians must work to make it grow. That is the work of faith (1 Thess 1:3). Salvation is a gift of God but it must mean enough to us to make it grow. If we don't, then we can lose faith. Here are some examples:
Colossians 1:23 (NKJV) "...if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV) "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons..."
1 Timothy 5:11 (NKJV) "But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, 12  having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.
1 Timothy 1:18 (NKJV) "This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19  having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."
In essence, Christians have only the hope of salvation for two reasons: (1) It is not yet attained being at the end of life, and (2) one comes to disbelief at the instigation and deception of Satan's representatives. Of course, the stronger one's faith is, the more assured they shall be saved. That strong faith is of one's own belief - God gave it and the recipient practices it.

Sola gratia is Latin for by grace alone. That is Calvinistic in doctrine. Salvation is available by grace alone, but to receive it takes faith. If one doesn't do the work of faith, Satan replaces it with doubt. Since only God has perfect faith, there remains some doubt in all of us. Even with Abraham's great faith, that left some room for doubt. Our hope of salvation depends on keeping the faith. Sure, we can doubt, but some faith must remain. Those who have no faith are reprobate, as Hymenaeus and Alexander surely found out. In short, we can commit apostasy, the sin of blasphemy, which those two did. They lost their hope. Although they once believed, they ceased to and fell into apostasy. They lost their faith, and their hope ceased.

It's not "hoping that we're saved" because until the end we are not. Specifically, Paul said that we are nearer our salvation than when we first believed (Rom 13:11). The way to obtain that salvation is to run the race (1 Cor 9;24) where it says that we are to run in a manner so as to obtain. Anyone who has ran in a race knows that to win, one must be serious. All run but few win the prize. Our hope is that we persevere until the end (Rev 3:10). The race we run is a hard course, but with God it is made possible. Satan shoots his barbs at the runners, but the runners must dodge them, Faith is how that's done. Our hope is that we miss all his barbs and finish the course. That is the hope of our salvation!

Admittedly, this is Arminian doctrine, but it is based on the word of God. Although I can't see how it is denied, Calvinists do. Am I right? I believe so. I have faith that God is true to His word. Of course, the easy route is Calvinism, but by faith we obey. If we cease to obey, then that's a display of little or no faith. Continuing in sin after once having been born again is akin to crucifying Jesus all over again (Heb 6:6).

Salvation isn't I hope so, but that I have confidence because of faith that I shall be.(Acts 2:21).

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