Assurance & Warning: A Biblical Perspective

There are five passages in the book of Hebrews that have been called the “Warning Passages” (Hebrews 2:1-4; 4:12-13; 6:4-8; 10:26-31; 12:25-29). The meaning and application of these verses have been understood differently by various theological traditions. Of course, warning is not unique to the book of Hebrews, as the rest of the Bible contains similar statements (for example, 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 10:12). Additionally, there are places in Scripture where our salvation is said to have a conditional character to it (see, for instance, Colossians 1:23 where Paul, after describing the promises and assurance of the gospel, hastens to add, “if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel…”). But elsewhere Jesus comforts us by saying that none of His sheep can be snatched from His hand (John 10:28). How are we to understand the Bible’s teaching about assurance and warning?

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God’s “two” wills

“But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death” (1 Samuel 2:25).

Implication: Eli’s sons were doing God’s will.

“And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind” (1 Samuel 2:35)

Implication: Eli’s sons were not doing God’s will.

The Christology of Peter’s Pentecost Sermon

The purpose of the book of Acts is to continue the expressed purpose of the Gospel of Luke, namely, to expound “all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). The author’s first attempt to this end is his inclusion of Jesus’ command for his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the coming Spirit (1:4). When the Spirit arrives on the day of Pentecost, Peter represents the apostles as he addresses the crowd and explains the phenomenon. Peter locates the Pentecost event in the category of prophetic fulfillment, and, for Peter, this has profound implications for the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Peter’s sermon is particularly significant because it is, presumably, the earliest public declaration about the nature of Christ made by the apostolic church. If Luke’s narrative is reliable—something that Luke evidently intends for his readers to believe (Bruce 82)—then it provides a glimpse into what the infant church believed about the person of Jesus. It seems that, for Luke, Christology at its inception is high Christology.

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