How to Understand the Warnings in Scripture – Thomas Schreiner

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In a sermon on Hebrews 6:4-6, Charles Spurgeon expounded upon the warning as follows,

“If Christians can fall away, and cease to be Christians, they cannot be renewed again to repentance.  “But,” says one, “You say they cannot fall away.” What is the use of putting this “if” in, like a bugbear to frighten children, or like a ghost that can have no existence?… [Spurgeon responds] If God has put it in, he has put it in for wise reasons and for excellent purposes. Let me show you why. First, O Christian, it is put in to keep thee from falling away. God preserves his children from falling away; but he keeps them by the use of means… There is a deep precipice: what is the best way to keep any one from going down there? Why, to tell him that if he did he would inevitably be dashed to pieces. In some old castle there is a deep cellar, where there is a vast amount of fixed air and gas, which would kill anybody who went down. What does the guide say? “If you go down you will never come up alive.” Who thinks of going down? The very fact of the guide telling us what the consequences would be, keeps us from it. Our friend puts away from us a cup of arsenic; he does not want us to drink it, but he says, “If you drink it, it will kill you.” Does he suppose for a moment that we should drink it. No; he tells us the consequences, and he is sure we will not do it. So God says, “My child, if you fall over this precipice you will be dashed to pieces.” What does the child do? He says, “Father, keep me; hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” It leads the believer to greater dependence on God, to a holy fear and caution, because he knows that if he were to fall away he could not be renewed, and he stands far away from that great gulf, because he know that if he were to fall into it there would be no salvation for him.”

The question of how to handle biblical warnings has been answered in a variety of ways, most of which fail at some crucial point, usually allowing either the promise side of things, or the warnings side of things, to swallow up the other, effectively rendering it inconsequential. 

If you’ve ever wondered how these two can be bridged in a responsible and carefully exegetical manner, then I commend to you Dr. Schreiner’s four part lecture on the subject.  I think he’s right on.  And I think he and Spurgeon, given what Spurgeon said in the above quote, would have much in common.  So if you like the quote, of if the quote piques your interest, give it a listen.

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Students of theology will especially appreciate these lectures.  As for the rest, give them a listen if the subject interests you.  They are understandable and well reasoned. 

Download Audio,  How to Understand the Warnings in Scripture.  See Picture.      

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