Churches Of Christ/Early Christians

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I asked you a question a few weeks ago and I really loved your answer. So if you don't care could you read these three early church father quotes and tell me your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? Some folks may feel they were to serious.


“For the Lord has sworn by His glory, in regard to His elect, that if any one of them sin after a certain day which has been fixed, he will no be saved. For the repentance of the righteous has limits. Filled up are the days of repentance to all the saints. But to the unbeliever, repentance will be possible even to the last day… For the Lord has sworn by His Son, that those who denied their Lord have abandoned their life to despair.” ~ Hermas (c. 150)

God gives forgiveness of past sins. However, as to future sins, each one procures this for himself. He does this by repenting, by condemning the past deeds, and by begging the Father to blot them out. For only the Father is the one who is able to undo what is done. ...So even in the case of one who has done the greatest good deeds in his life, but at the end has run headlong into wickedness, all his former pains are profitless to him. For at the climax of the drama, he has given up his part. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195).

120-205 AD Irenaeus "Christ will not die again on behalf of those who now commit sin because death shall no more have dominion over Him.... Therefore we should not be puffed up.... But we should beware lest somehow, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins but rather be shut out from His kingdom" (Heb. 6:4­6). (Irenaeus, pupil of Polycarp, Against Heresies bk. 4, chap. 27, sec. 2)

Answer
Forgive me for my delay. I like Irenaeus along with a number of other early church writers, but Clement and the Shepherd of Hermas have some strange things that I cannot put my mind around.

Starting with Irenaeus, he is essential just quoting scriptures here. See, Romans 6:9, "We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him" and Hebrews 10:26-27, "For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries." Read the surrounding chapter of Romans 6:9, and read Hebrews 10:19-31. Therefore, I very much agree with Irenaeus' references here. I cannot find this quote of Irenaeus in the given citation in his work, and his work is too extensive for me to be overly familiar with it as the Scriptures.

Clement of Alexandria does not have any apparent error here. I do not know the Greek translated for "procures", but he clearly teaches that God forgiveness, releases, and blots out sins. Yes, the Scriptures teach that one can give up one's salvation. If we practice sin, we will be lost and condemned (Gal. 5:19-21). The New Testament does not teach "once saved, always saved", but rather that we can fall from grace according to Galatians 5:4 and Hebrews 6:4-6. Not everyone who says to Christ "Lord, Lord" will be saved, but he who does the will of His Father in heaven (Matt. 7;21). For we are not saved and justified by faith alone (Jas. 2:24). Clement is rightfully referring to John's teaching in 1 John. We have no fellowship with God if we walk in darkness practicing sin (1 John 1:5-6, 2:3-6, 3:3-6). Therefore, we must walk in the light and confess our sins to the Father to be cleansed from all sins (1 John 1:7, 9).

Hermas is right about us being to repent unto the last day, but as for the rest of his words, I do not understand him about not being forgiven after a certain day unless he refers to our death and awaiting judgment.

God bless your studies. Thank you for the question.

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Scott Shifferd

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My education and experience allows me to answer most questions related to the Bible by giving scripture and other supporting sources usually without giving the standard response. I prefer to allow the inerrant scriptures to interpret themselves, and I encourage you to take the scriptural understanding of scripture over any of my interpretations. I am very capable of addressing matters in the Greek New Testament.

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Over 10 years in the ministry teaching and preaching Minister at the Dean Road church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL

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The Church of Christ

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Seeing God's Breath (GodsBreath.net)

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BA in Biblical Studies from Faulkner University Fifteen college hours in Koine Greek More than 15 hours in History

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Bible Award from Faulkner University in 2004

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Christians and Unbelievers

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