“Professing Christians” and Kingdom Exclusion

Posted: December 18, 2008 in Kingdom Exclusion
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When conversing with Christians in Christian forums, I’ve come across those who believe that all Christians will inevitably end up in the kingdom of God because of the grace of God (Calvinism). This means, of course, that there is no kingdom exclusion – period – for such believers. According to this view, if a person falls away, then he was never saved to begin with. This person is commonly called a “professing Christian” by the Calvinists. This is distinct from those who are “true Christians.”

In theory, the idea that the saved will always be saved and those to be punished must not have been saved in the first place sounds plausible. But when I examine specific warning verses with the theory in mind, the theory falls apart.

In Matt. 6:9-13, for example, we have the Our Father prayer. Verse12 says, “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Jesus emphasized the conditional aspect of forgiveness when He said in verse 15 that we will not be forgiven if we do not forgive. There is nothing in the passage that indicates that forgiveness will be withheld from the professing Christian merely because he is a professing Christian. The plain teaching is that forgiveness is conditional on our forgiveness of others – period. If we forgive others, God will grant our plea for forgiveness. This is individual accountability.

Nearly every warning, like the one above, is clearly offered as a consequence for one’s behavior, not because “you’re not saved.” If a person is not saved, you would point them to faith in Christ,. You don’t try to change his behavior. Some Christians are told to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.” Does an unregenerate person have the means to examine himself in that way? Will he not think the endeavor is foolish? The passage is addressed to Christians. Such needed to see whether they had turned to faith in other things instead of resting in faith in the One who promised.

If none of the warnings have any real force for the saved, then Jesus is just lying, because those warnings can’t happen to the saved anyway. It’s like the dubious reason a manufacturer may give for a warning on the bottle of poison: “We’ll add the warning to the bottle, but nobody will ever drink it, anyway. If they did, it will never harm them. It will only harm those who are not supposed to drink it.” The argument is crooked.

  1. Kevin Hobby says:

    The problem seems to center on how Calvinism views the concept of election.

    For example, Jonathan Edwards once stated “the sure proof of election is that one holds out to the end”.

    Let’s apply this standard interpretation to the following verse:

    “μετοχοι γαρ γεγοναμεν του χριστου εανπερ την αρχην της υποστασεως μεχρι τελους βεβαιαν κατασχωμεν”

    metochoi – companions
    gar – for
    gegonamen – we have become
    tou – of the
    christou – Christ
    eanper – if indeed
    tēn – the
    archēn – beginning
    tēs – of the
    upostaseōs – confident assurance
    mechri – until
    telous – the end
    bebaian – firm
    kataschōmen – we should hold

    “For we have become companions of the Christ if indeed the beginning of the confident assurance we should hold firm until the end”

    The high majority of Christianity would actually affirm this to be the teaching of said Scripture:

    …’We prove that we have truly possessed a saving faith and that we are true possessors of salvation if we are not tricked into apostasy. Otherwise we never really possessed a saving faith in the first place — we were merely professors not possessors’…

    Contextually, the verse is drawing from the experiences of the Israelites under Moses within a type/anti-type framework, in order to teach Christians great spiritual truths. Caleb and Joshua held the beginning of their confident assurance firm until the end; the remainder of the nation however, twenty years old and upward, didn’t. These events are outlined within Numbers thirteen and fourteen. These Israelites which consequently failed to enter into the earthly land, ruling at the head of the nations within a theocracy, were the same Israelites which had applied the blood of the lamb back in Egypt. They didn’t just profess to have applied the blood!

    The word ‘metochoi’ therefore, is a reference to those individuals who will, just as Caleb and Joshua, be established within the land of our calling within a theocracy. The ‘metochoi’ are the Christians who will reign as “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).

    To quote from Roel Velema:

    “Predestination and election do not refer to some fatalistic element in the way God would predestine some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation. With some basic knowledge of the “gospel of grace” and “the gospel of glory,” and with a few simple observations (as shown in this study) one can easily see that “election” and “predestination” — without exception — have to do with the gospel of glory, not with the gospel of grace. After an unredeemed person has been saved, God has called (or elected or predestined) that redeemed person “with a holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:9), in order that he might “obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus,” and with it “eternal [aionios, age-lasting] glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). This is the way Scripture approaches the matter. And a knowledge of that which Scripture has to say about the matter should serve the Christian — not as something which will cause Christians problems within man’s theologies — but as a God-given challenge to reach “the end [goal] of our faith” (1 Peter 1:9).”