Roy Ingle, “The IF of Hebrews”

, posted by SEA

Arminianism embraces a conditional view of salvation. We believe that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, but we believe that the Scriptures also teach that we are to continue in our faith through perseverance until the very end. Therefore, the use of the small word if is quite important to Arminians. We use the word all the time because we believe that God has given man the free will to either choose to follow Jesus or to rebel against him. We believe that God allowed the Holy Spirit to add the small word if to the New Testament as a testimony to God’s willingness to be loved by free creatures. So Arminianism thus sees if, for example, in the doctrine of election. Election is not set in stone by God’s arbitrary choice or decree, but election is by faith in the blood of Jesus. The elect are those who repent of their sins and become disciples of Jesus. Election is based on the word if because we become the elect if we are in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 1:3-14). Arminians also see the importance of the word if  when it comes to perseverance as well.

The writer of the book of Hebrews leaves no room for doubt that we are called to continue in our faith until the very end. Time and time again the writer uses the small word IF in his writings. What I want to do is to simply lay the passages out before your eyes to allow you to see what Arminians see when they read the book of Hebrews and the entire New Testament for that matter. Many evangelicals will take issue over the Arminian position by seeking to prove that Hebrews was written mainly to those who were Jews but either considering Christianity or had embraced the Pharisaical position found in Acts 15. Either way, whether the writer of Hebrews was addressing Christians (as I believe he was) or those “seekers,” the force of the use of the word if cannot be missed.

The following passages from Hebrews are all taken from the English Standard Version.

2:3 How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

3:6 But Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if  indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice.”

3:14 For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

This little word, if, provides the reader with a word that is conditional. If denotes a conditional on which something depends. For example, “If you purchase a ticket then you can enter the gate.” The usage of the word if  in the book of Hebrews clearly shows that the writer means it to be a conditional clause. The bottom line is that the book of Hebrews’ usage of if shows the need for perseverance in the life of the believer. There is simply no other way I can see that if can be seen but conditionally.

[Link to original post and comments on Roy Ingle’s blog, Arminian Today]