Principle for Bible Reading
It is very important to study the tenses of verbs, especially in this case when they are in an if/then conditional statement. When you come across an if/then statement, restate the condition and study the implications. For instance, can someone who has truly been saved fall away from the faith? John Piper answers in this lab.
Can True Believers Fall Away? (00:26–06:34)
- Paul’s warning makes it sound like believers (“brothers”) can fall away from God (3:12). This is a potential problem for eternal security (or perseverance of the saints).
- All those who are faithful to the end prove that they have been in Christ (“have come”), and only they can be in Christ (“if”).
- You can say the same thing the opposite way: All those who are not faithful to the end prove that they have not come to share in Christ.
- Therefore, true believers cannot fall away, so Paul calls them, “brothers,” because he’s giving them the benefit of the doubt and speaking to a crowd, not because he believes they are all true believers.
- If anyone falls away from the living God, they are not falling away from Christ, because they have proven that they were never truly in him. No, they are falling away from some other experience.
Hold Fast to the End (06:34–07:11)
- Therefore, brothers who are genuinely in Christ cannot be lost.
- If we hold fast to Christ to the end, we prove we have been in Christ.
- And if we don’t, we prove that we have not (ever) come to share in Christ.
- Why is Hebrews 3:12 a potential problem for our belief in eternal security (or the perseverance of the saints)?
- Restate the if/then statement in Hebrews 3:14 in your own words.
- Why would Paul call them “brothers” if true believers cannot fall away? Are there reasons he would use that term other than to say that they were all true believers?
Piper: “Anyone who falls away from God is not falling away from salvation, but from some other experience.”