The apostle Paul, in 1st Timothy 1:18-20, warns us that a true Christian can shipwreck himself spiritually.
Paul exhorts his spiritual son Timothy to wage the good warfare against Satan. How do we do that? By means of faith, and maintaining a good conscience. We build up our trust in Christ, so that it is a whole walk and not just a moment of conversion. A turning-point leads to a life. We learn to avoid sin, and also confess it when we commit it (1st John 1:9).
However, Paul and Timothy both knew some who had rejected faith and a good conscience. I believe these people are different from the people described over in Hebrews 3-4. In Hebrews 3-4, Paul exhorts certain readers who had not yet exercised faith in Christ to do so. He warns them not to be like the traveling Jews in the wilderness, just along for the ride, enjoying the benefits of Exodus deliverance but still worshiping their idols. In the end, they dropped dead under the wrath of God before they reached the promised land.
In this case, however, Hymenaeus and Alexander at one time had faith and a good conscience. I say this because you can't, in the strict sense, fall away from a belief you never had accepted; and more importantly, they had been members of the church (Paul says he delivered them over to Satan, which is very similar to his counsel about disfellowship in 1st Corinthians 5-6). This presupposes they had been baptized, since an unbaptized Christian church member in the 1st century was unheard-of.
Hymenaeus and Alexander hadn't been dithering indecisively around the gang-plank of Christianity. They were both already sailing, and then, by their own laziness and self-centeredness, they rejected faith and a good conscience, shipwrecked themselves. Paul holds out their example as something that can happen to any Christian, if we don't take the pains necessary to avoid it.
Paul doesn't speak to the question of their eternal destiny in the afterlife. He doesn't address "eternal security" here at all. If you want Paul to exposit here on security and assurance, you are disappointed. He made one simple point, which was a warning: for a Christian, spiritual shipwreck is possible. You cannot be assured that everything ahead will be smooth sailing. Your Christian life is not like a Tesla self-driving car.
The responsibility of building up your faith and godliness rests on you.
Witnessing doesn't make someone an elder.
Most people know that forgiveness is a big deal in the Christian faith. Christ died so that God could justly forgive us, and Christ taught that we should forgive others. However, I've run into a number of wrong ideas about forgiveness that hinder people from fully forgiving others. These clarifications aren't original with me, but I thought I would pass them along.
The Lord Jesus warned His people to beware three kinds of yeasts (ideas, teachings): Phariseeism, Saduceeism, and Herodianism (Matthew 16:6, Mark 8:14-15).
What does our church teach about homosexuality?
The Bible teaches the right to life, when it says, "Thou shalt not kill." Just as the baby in the womb has the God-given right to life, so too entire nations have the same God-Given right to life.
Here are some reasons why Christians should believe in a young earth ("young" usually being defined as somewhere between 7-8K years old).
1. The Biblical genealogies take you backward to a fixed point in history, and that fixed point is not millions of years ago.
There is no evidence that great gaps of time exist between the names in the Biblical genealogies. In fact, the two New Testament genealogies of Christ (Matthew 1 and Luke 3) show direct successions from fathers to children. And the Luke 3 genealogy takes you all the way back from Jesus of Nazareth to Adam. Jesus' chain of ancestors cannot span backward millions of years.
2. We believe in the Biblical account of creation on the basis of authority, not on the basis of empirical observation. No one, regardless of their convictions about religion, can empirically observe, or reproduce, creation.
Moses wrote the book of Genesis, and Moses was a prophet of God. Being a prophet of God, it was impossible for Moses to err when he wrote. God controlled what Moses wrote, and God cannot err, therefore Moses could not err. There are liberal theologians who claim that human beings are not capable of writing error-free material, but they say this because they don't believe in the miraculous.
The error-free character of Moses' writing means that, if Moses wrote that there were six days of creation, and each of those days were split into binary parts (morning and evening), then that is what happened. It all rides on whether Moses was a true prophet of God.
3. The natural systems of the earth cannot function correctly, or even survive, without each other.
Nature is an intimately-interconnected system of life. Vegetation cannot survive without sunlight. According to Genesis 1:11-13, God created vegetation first. The next day, God created the sun and moon (1:14-19). God also created the oceans before He created the moon (1:6-7); yet tides don't exist without the gravitational effect of the moon. The absence of tides would impact everything else.
It would be impossible for the earth's water cycle to exist without evaporation (which is caused by the sun) and tides (which are caused by the moon). So, to say the creation days were millions of years long would mean there was no evaporation or tides for millions of years.
Similarly, it would be impossible for the vegetation to survive without sunlight for days, let alone millions of years. This is a reason why there could not be thousands or millions of years between the creation-days, because of the inter-connected nature of life.
4. Moses explicitly equated the length of the Jews' Sabbath day to the lengths of the days of creation (Exodus 20:8-11). He used the same word ("yom"), in the same context, speaking about the same thing. There are no reasons present in the context to say that Moses used the word "yom" literally in the first half of the sentence, then without explanation switched to an allegory in the second half.
5. The days of creation being millions of years in length empties the phrase "morning and evening" of meaning. It would force us into a mystical interpretation of "morning and evening", an interpretation which is not in the passage. Doing that then leads to worse troubles, as that mystical method of interpretation infects other passages of the Bible.
The measured age of rocks does not prove that the earth is millions of years old, because that idea assumes a non-miraculous origin to the earth, and also assumes the absence of miraculous divine intervention in natural history.
Genesis explicitly teaches a miraculous origin to the earth. Once you accept a miraculous origin to the universe, the need for a millions-of-years-old earth dissolves.
According to Moses, God created everything already aged. God didn't create seeds, eggs, and fetuses. He created fully-grown forests, meadows, birds, cattle, bacteria, insects, reptiles, fish, and a fully grown human couple. This implies He also created chemically fully-developed fresh and salt water-systems to support all of it, and fully grown geology, which would include molecules already breaking down.
If you accept the book of Genesis and that Moses was God's prophet. there are no solid reasons to believe in a millions-of-years-old earth.
Should the Lord’s Table be open to whomever is attendance in the Lord’s Day service? Some say no. An article by a brother and fellow pastor whom I respect says this:
“In contrast (to what the author calls “close communion”), open communion recognizes any baptism or no baptism, any church membership or no church membership, and makes membership and participation in its responsibilities optional and immaterial. Meaningful discipline is impossible in a church that practices open communion because the church cannot withdraw fellowship when it extends the privilege of communion to anyone who happens to be present. How can a church excommunicate when it has no requirements for communicants?”
My thoughts are these:
We can see the wisdom in this, especially for very large churches like Antioch or Rome. Passover was celebrated in each private home, but the Lord’s Table was to be celebrated altogether as an entire congregation. The father of one family would know who was whom for Passover, but for the ever-growing NT church the burden shifts completely over onto the individual.
For these reasons, I support the Evangelical Free Church’s policy of open communion.
God never causes people to sin. Human moral choices self-originate, except in cases of demon possession.
Even though God is sovereign, that doesn't mean there's only one will in the universe. If we human beings were divinely programmed robots, predetermined by God unto every choice we make, then there is no moral accountability. Accountability for wrong actions would fall back on the invincible programmer, none would fall on the robots. But the Bible is clear that there is such a thing as human moral accountability. Therefore, human beings are not programmed robots.
However we sort out the complicated, difficult relationship between God's sovereignty and man's will, it is clear that God has preserved a degree of free-will in the human race, and that, in the Bible, God speaks to people and deals with them as if their decisions originate with them.
We must avoid a positive, humanistic view of the human will, or else we will underestimate the need for prayer for people's hearts. Here is what I mean...
Don't let humanism influence your thinking. Prayer for non-Christian is a essential part of how we all come to Christ, because we don't have the natural capacity to understand the Gospel or break free from Satan's coils.