Why I Don’t Bother With The Losing Salvation Debate

Is this debate worth having? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I saw someone else on Facebook recently make a post about losing salvation saying the idea was heretical. A later post toned it down, but the die had been cast. This is one of those debates I used to take part in, but now I don’t really even bother.

In all openness, my thinking is much more on classical Arminianism. I reject open theism and I don’t hold to Calvinism. However, if you asked me if I believe in works salvation, of course not. Now some people will say that saying you are to believe in Christ counts as a work, but I just consider this pedantic.

This does not mean I deny the sovereignty of God. My thinking on the whole issue is I just hold to two statements. God is sovereign. Man has free-will. How do those work out? Beats me. Better philosophers than I have wrestled with that and it’s not a necessary question for me.

So what about losing salvation? This question I think misses the mark because we really lose sight of the goal. I think we all agree that we want to preach the gospel so that people get saved and come to know Jesus, we want to instill a life of discipleship in people, and we want them to live holy lives.

The Calvinist will evangelize because he doesn’t know who the elect are and he knows that this is the means God has chosen to bring people to salvation. The Arminian will evangelize wanting to give everyone a chance to come to know the gospel. Both are doing the same thing. Both will encourage repentance, holy living, and discipleship.

So why not focus on those things that we are encouraging? Why not instead of thinking about salvation and if it can be lost, have people live in such a way that it won’t be a concern. The overwhelming majority of Arminians don’t think you can just casually lose your salvation. Instead, it’s more that they think you have to outright apostasize or participate in some blatant sin, such as those in 1 Cor. 6.

I will interject this. I do think it needs to be addressed when someone is concerned they have lost it, such as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. If someone is doing a sin that they are concerned about, we really need to be doing is calling them to repentance. A little bit of leaven goes through the whole dough and sin can easily destroy everything in someone’s life.

Yet looking at this, let’s suppose we have someone that both Calvinists and Arminians agree is living in blatant sin. What are both sides saying? Calvinists are saying “Was never saved to begin with.” Arminians are saying “Lost it.” Again, both camps agree on the conclusion. The person is not a Christian.

Therefore, instead of debating on this point when we agree on so much really, why not ask this question. How can we encourage Christians to lead more holy lives? What can we be doing to foster discipleship? How can we help those who are struggling with sin and those who are unrepentant?

Oddest thing. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing anyway? If we do that, then the question really won’t matter.

Now some might say, “But you’re not trusting in God for your salvation.” I don’t know any Arminians who rely on their works for salvation. We say God is the one who is saving us and it’s not because of what we do. How that works with sovereignty and free-will I do not know, but I do just choose to trust God and live as I ought.

Thus, I don’t engage in the debate between Calvinists and Arminians. It would be far more profitable for both sides, and may both of us see one another as fellow Christians, to just come together and work on what we can do to increase discipleship and holy living, which we do agree on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:10

Does apostasy show the end is coming? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Verse 10 seems pretty generic.

“And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.”

Okay. That sounds common. Hasn’t that been going on for awhile? Yes it has, and yet what we have to ask is if this was going on in the first century or not? The answer is definitely yes.

If we read the epistles, Paul talks about Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10 who loved the world and went back to it. The book of Hebrews regularly encourages people to stay true to the faith and to not apostasize. There was plenty of incentive to do so!

The book is arguing that Jesus is superior to the Jewish system of redemption with their four great figures of righteousness, namely angels, Moses, the high priest, and Melchizedek, at least in the area of Alexandria. It was tempting for Christians to return to this system. Why? The writer says there blood had not yet been shed.

It was tempting because of social ostracism. If you think that is not a compelling factor, then just consider peer-pressure today and up it greatly. After all, how many of us have done something we look back on and think is foolish but we did it because at the time, we didn’t want to be frowned upon by the peers we were wanting to impress? So it would have been with Christians in the first century.

The book of Revelation warns of those who have fallen from their first love in the church of Ephesus. I realize that not everyone dates this to before 70 A.D. like I do, but we can still see that at least in the first century this was a problem. Can we see the other options as well?

Yes. Hating one another has always been common. There was a period around the time of 70 AD where you had a cycle of Roman emperors as one would get assassinated after another. In Acts, Christians were regularly being persecuted by the Jewish people they were trying to witness to. Even in the Sermon on the Mount, we see that Jews were taught to love their neighbors and hate their enemies.

Remember, I am not claiming this behavior was only going on in the first century. It’s quite easy to see this happening everywhere. I am just aiming to show that it does fit within the first century. Later, we will get to more specific statements.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Josh Harris

What do I think of Josh Harris’s “Deconstruction?” Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Back when I was in Bible College, I remember hearing a lot of talk about a book called I Kissed Dating Good-Bye. I never read it because frankly, dating and I had never even really got to say hello to one another. My apologetics books were much more interesting to me anyway. While I was unaffected, it turns out that many people were affected by this book.

While I am sure Harris had a lot of passion and good intentions, it looks like he did not have knowledge and experience. Still, his book had a major impact on the purity culture. The purity culture had a great desire for holiness, but they also had a number of huge problems. Purity should be emphasized, but often it sounds like sex destroys purity. If you have sex before marriage, which you shouldn’t, you’re just damaged goods.

I also know a lot of people who wanted the first kiss at the altar idea. I really can’t go along with this as there is supposed to be some physical involvement in dating. I think that as long as you’re not touching intimate areas, you’re fine.

But this isn’t about dating. This is about Josh Harris. It’s been known that he recently had a divorce from his wife. As it turns out, it’s not only dating and his wife that he kissed good-bye, but also….

“My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.⁣⁣
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I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.)⁣⁣
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The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.⁣⁣
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Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. I have lived in repentance for the past several years—repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few. But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.⁣⁣
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To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” “

All of this is available on his Instagram.

So what are we to make of this? One step I can think immediately is to stop creating the celebrity culture, especially for Christians too young to know better. Harris was put in a spotlight, which is hard for anyone, but harder still when one doesn’t have the maturity needed for fame. Just consider young child celebrities we often see today.

Second, Harris has talked about growing up in a fundamentalist background. This often does lead to a kind of apostasy. You all know I am extremely conservative on sexual morals, but many times fundamentalism even goes beyond that. It’s as if any sexual thought whatsoever is dirty and wicked.

Third, we need more training on marriage. It did not escape notice that Harris has gone a full 180 and is now saying that he is supporting so-called marriage equality. If anything, this was something that really stood out to me and left me wondering why this was included.

Should we pray for Harris? Absolutely, yet at the same time, the fact that this is such a story does make me think that we have too much of a celebrity culture built up. Pray for his ex-wife too. Keep in mind that we don’t know why this happened and we will naturally speculate, but we can’t demonstrate anything yet. We’ll wait and see what happens.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts on Silence

Is this a film worth seeing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, Allie and I used a gift card from my sister to the movies and we went to see Silence. This is a film based on the novel of the same name. The story is about Christians first coming to Japan to do evangelism. The persecution was quite severe and Christianity was an outlawed religion.

I’m going to try to avoid giving spoilers but, one aspect that I want to deal with is what tempted people to apostatize their faith. In the movie, the main way to do so was to have a picture that would depict a Christian image and then the person was to step on it. Often it was presented as a formality, but it was never a formality. It was always greater than that.

The theme of silence is also prevalent in the film. Silence opens it up and aside from some people singing hymns at times, you will not think about music in the film. The question also arises about the supposed silence of God in the face of suffering and persecution. Where is God? Why is He not stepping up for His church in a new land?

I kept thinking throughout how comfort seems to rank so high in our world. We would like to say love is our highest good, but could we not seek love because of the comfort and not because of the love? After all, we rarely ask people to love us in ways that are painful to us.

My wife did write a review of the movie. One thing she did not get right about my stance is not that I am sure I would not apostatize. I would hope I would not. I do not want to say definitely because there was a man in the Bible who made such a proclamation and it did not end well. I think his name was Peter.

Yet every time, it was an appeal to comfort. Either the person could be released and freed if they apostatized, or else the person could be responsible for the freeing of others and hey, do you want on your conscience that others died because you refused to apostatize? The problem is that one idea that wasn’t mentioned that would be huge in Japan was the idea of honor. Who is worthy of the greatest honor? What would it cost to go against the honor of God?

The movie left me also thinking about our evangelism to the people of Japan. It’s my understanding that less than 1 percent of Japan is Christian. Consider how much of an impact Japan has on the world. If you know someone who loves anime or video games or both, you know someone who has been influenced by Japan. As a Final Fantasy player, it’s something I’ve come to expect that the church will always be evil if it ever shows up in a game. There’s a reason for that.

Despite all of this, we are not doing that much to evangelize the people of Japan. There are millions of people living in this island country and all of them need to hear about Jesus. Hopefully, something like this will lead to Christians over here getting more of their materials ready for a Japanese audience.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/5/2015: Roger Maxson

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Long have I stressed the importance of discipleship to the church. I have said that we cannot live in a world where we isolate ourselves from the culture and expect to produce strong people of faith. We might produce good people, but we will not convince a world that has intellectual difficulties with what it is that we believe. There have been too many tragedies down this path as even people in Seminary and Bible College can lose their faith, largely because they do not have a strong grounding to begin with. So many of these tragedies could have been prevented and perhaps having someone around to answer the questions could help. One such tragedy that was prevented is Roger Maxson.

And he’s my guest to talk about his story.

Who is he?

RogerMaxson

Roger Maxson earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, with a focus on Pastoral Ministry, from Crown College of the Bible in Knoxville, TN. He is an ordained minister, and served as an assistant pastor for three years. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Apologetics from Houston Baptist University, and is preparing to launch an apologetics lifestyle blog.

I know Roger’s story well because I was a part of it. More of the details will come out on the show, but Roger and I did work together at Wal-Mart once and we got along well, although we were quite different in our approaches to ministry. I moved to Charlotte eventually and Roger went his own way. It was nice knowing him I thought and maybe one day I will see him again. It was a shock when I did get in touch with him later on and found out that he was struggling with his faith. Unfortunately, it was his growing up in a highly highly conservative Christian culture that made his faith vulnerable to criticisms. He’d read writers like the new atheists and others and didn’t know what to do. In a last act hoping to find some light at the end of the tunnel, he emailed me.

Thus began a long period of emails and questions back and forth as I helped him with the doubts that he was wrestling with and helped him to see the objections he was encountering were not really as powerful as he thought. Where is he today? Today he is preparing for ministry studying at Houston Baptist University. He is a bright and shining light for Christianity and I think his story is worth sharing.

You see, Roger was fortunate that someone like me was around, but I can’t be there for everyone and there are plenty of people who will go through this and they won’t know that someone like me is around wherever they live, or sadly enough, there might not be an apologist in their area, and then what will happen? Roger’s story is a story on the importance of having a good and firm backing of your faith. It’s also a story of the difference that can be made when that backing is had. It is not going to be a hindrance to one’s witness. It will in fact be an aid.

Please join me on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and parents with young children especially listen. You need to hear Roger’s story.