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The Daily Word of Righteousness
A Warning to the Backslider
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (II Peter 2:20,21—NIV)
That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so we will not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:30-32—NIV)
There are verses in the Bible that bring comfort to the person who wants to believe and serve God—assurances that what Christ has begun in our life Christ will finish. There are other verses in the Bible that should terrify the individual who is neglecting his or her salvation, who is yielding to the pressure of the world spirit, the seductions of the flesh, or the imaginations and drives of personal ambition.
In our day in America the numerous assurances are presented again and again but one does not often hear the terrifying warnings. All of the tribes are on Mount Gerizim proclaiming the blessings. Mount Ebal is silent.
The purpose of the present essay is to attempt to bring back a wholesome balance to the Gospel of the Kingdom by emphasizing the terrifying warnings found in the Scriptures that are addressed to the backslider.
The above two passages represent one of the numerous seeming contradictions found in the Scriptures. The first passage is saying if we go back into the world it would better had we never been saved in the first place. The second passage is saying when we are judged for having transgressed against the Lord in some manner He disciplines us so we will not be condemned with the world.
How we treat seeming contradictions in the Scriptures is critical to our ability to rightly divide the Word of truth. One incorrect way in which to approach a seeming contradiction is to fasten on the side we prefer and ignore the other. This approach seems to be the way in which Evangelical deductive theology has been constructed.
Another incorrect way is to seek a "balance" such that neither verse is taken in the fullness of its apparent meaning. To do this is to end up with a soup that is neither hot nor cold.
The only correct manner in which to approach two seemingly contradictory statements in the inspired text is to regard each as the unchanging Word of God and to accept it fully, even though we cannot for the moment understand how the two statements can possibly be reconciled.
There is no way we can waltz around the first passage (above), claiming it does not apply to Christians, or it is spoken only to Jews (a favorite technique for evading the inconsistencies of current Evangelical teaching).
Notice whom Peter addresses:
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: (II Peter 1:1—NIV)
Obviously Peter is addressing all true Christians.
To be continued.