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Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace (Part 51) - Heb 12:14-17; Jam 1:12

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For a paperback book in outline form which addresses over 150 difficult verses that Arminians use against Sovereign Grace, check out: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace: Rooting Arminianism Out of Every Verse.

For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace

125. Heb 12:14-17
A. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15) Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16) Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17) For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." (Heb 12:14-17)
B. There are several potential problem texts for sovereign grace in this passage.
C. Follow...holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb 12:14).
i. Is this verse teaching that we acquire eternal life by following holiness?
ii. How does one acquire holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord?
iii. No man can enter God's presence in heaven, being sinful and defiled by nature (Isa 64:6-7; Psa 5:4-5; Hab 1:13).
a. God chose us in Christ that we should be holy (Eph 1:4).
b. Should - past tense of shall v.;
c. In other words, God chose us to make us holy.
d. Our new man is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph 4:24).
e. A man must be born again to see the kingdom of God (Joh 3:3).
f. Our corrupt bodies must also be changed into incorruptible ones for us to see God's kingdom in heaven (1Co 15:50-53).
iv. Following holiness and being pure in heart manifests the fact that God has created us in holiness and that we shall see God (Heb 12:14 c/w Mat 5:8).
v. Being holy as God is holy shows the evidence that one is redeemed by the blood of Christ (1Pe 1:14-20).
vi. Following holiness is therefore the evidence that we will see the Lord, not the cause of it.
D. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God (Heb 12:15).
i. Does this verse teach that a child of God can lose his eternal life?
a. No, it doesn't - eternal life can't be lost (Joh 10:28).
b. "Fail[ing] of the grace of God" is not referring to losing one's eternal life which was given by grace.
c. Consider the following things that are said concerning our dealings with the grace of God:
1. Pastor's must finish their course and ministry of testifying of the grace of God (Act 20:24).
2. We can know the grace of God in truth (Col 1:6).
3. We are to continue in the grace of God (Act 13:43).
4. The grace of God teaches us to live godly in this world (Tit 2:11-12).
5. Since we have been saved by grace we should cease living in sin (Rom 6:1-2).
ii. So what does it mean to fail of the grace of God?
a. Fail v. - III. To fall short in performance or attainment. 9. a. intr. To make default; to be a defaulter; to come short of performing one's duty or functions. 10. a. trans. To leave undone, omit to perform, miss (some customary or expected action). b. with gerund as object. Also, to fail of.
b. To fail of the grace of God is to come short of living out the grace of God (living godly) in one's life, such as by being filled with bitterness and defiling others thereby (Heb 12:15).
c. One can also fail of the grace of God by falling away from the doctrine of grace and believing in works-based salvation (Gal 5:4). (See Gal 5:4 - Section III)
E. Esau sold his birthright and was rejected and found no place of repentance (Heb 12:16-17).
i. Did Esau lose his eternal life because he sold his birthright?
a. No - Esau was never a child of God and was hated by God before he was born (Rom 9:6-13).
b. Though Esau was a reprobate, the account of him losing his blessing is instructive to Christians.
ii. Esau despised his birthright and sold it for some bread and a bowl of pottage (Gen 25:29-34).
iii. Jacob wilily stole Esau's blessing (Gen 27:1-29) and when Esau found out about it he begged his father Isaac to give him a blessing (Gen 27:34-38).
iv. Esau sought his father's repentance with tears (he begged him to change his mind) (Heb 12:17 c/w Gen 27:38), but Esau himself never repented of his foolish decision to sell his birthright.
a. What was done was done and Isaac could not change it, Esau's pleading notwithstanding.
b. The blessing that went along with the birthright would have been Esau's by grace, in that it was not earned nor deserved.
c. When Esau despised and sold his birthright which was his by grace, he failed to obtain the blessing that was associated with it (Heb 12:16-17).
d. He was still physically the firstborn, but he didn't get to enjoy the temporal benefits which would have been associated with it.
v. So it is with children of God who have been saved by grace.
a. They will never lose their eternal life which God gave them by grace (Eph 2:4-5 c/w Joh 10:28-29).
b. But they can lose the temporal blessings associated with it if they do not continue in the grace of God by living a holy life.

126. Jam 1:12
A. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (Jam 1:12)
B. Does this verse teach that we obtain eternal life (the crown of life) by enduring temptation and loving the Lord?
C. This verse does not teach that enduring temptation and loving the Lord is a means to acquire eternal life, but that it is an evidence and guarantee of it.
i. If it was a means to acquire eternal life, then anyone who was not tempted and tried, or didn't endure it, would not have eternal life.
ii. This would mean that all babies that died in the womb do not have eternal life.
iii. Furthermore, eternal salvation is by grace, not works (2Ti 1:9; Tit 3:5). (See Section II,7,A on Eternal Salvation)
iv. Enduring temptation, like belief in Christ and good works, is the evidence, not the cause, of eternal life (Joh 5:24; Joh 5:28-29).
v. Likewise, loving God is the evidence, not the cause, of eternal life (1Jo 4:10,19; 1Co 8:3).
D. The crown that we should strive for is an incorruptible one (1Co 9:24-27).
E. Elders who faithfully feed and oversee their flocks will receive a crown of glory when Jesus the chief Shepherd appears (1Pe 5:1-4).
F. Those who have fought the good fight of faith have a crown of righteousness awaiting them in heaven (2Ti 4:7-8).
G. Those who are tried and remain faithful unto death have a promise from Jesus Christ that He will give them a crown of life (Rev 2:10).

For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace