As I read Robert Belanger's excellent reply to Eric Rose today, http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/july2011/robertb77.htm , I was reminded of a thought that I believe the Holy Spirit quickened to me a while back. Before I get into it, let me say to all readers, that we definitely need to base our beliefs on supporting scriptures and study the scripture to weigh all the verses on a particular subject and not just pick "proof texts". For myself personally, even though I have some strong rooted beliefs, I always want to be open to any scripture that might contradict my beliefs. Until I have reconciled all scriptures on a subject, I probably don't have a complete understanding of that subject, and part of my belief just could be wrong. When Satan tried to use the scripture incorrectly by quoting a "proof text", Jesus had to remind him that "it is also written". It would be sad to get to heaven and find out that we were in the wrong in all the battles that we fought over our pet doctrines. If all letters were written in the same spirit of encouragement as Robert's, we could have some great discussions without John having to shut down threads on subjects that Satan fights the hardest to keep Christians in the dark.
The subject of whether or not a person can depart (not fall) from grace is one that repeatedly comes up and John usually has to shut it down after some time because there are "proof texts" that support both sides of the issue, and everybody believes their church doctrine is correct on this subject. If well meaning Christians could just lay aside church doctrine for a while and take a fresh look at all the scripture on this subject, they might come to a greater understanding of how God's keeping power and man's free will interact on this subject. The key to truly understanding this subject, requires an understanding of spiritual maturity which gets into the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that is another controversial subject. I have stood on both sides of these two issues and understand where both sides are coming from, and what they've been taught on these subjects. I have also worked in a scientific/engineering environment and repeatedly seen people that deal with logic daily, set aside logic when it comes to interpreting the scriptures if it contradicts their doctrine. I've said all that, just to challenge you to watch out or you may get caught fighting against God's word unknowingly, and serving Satan's purposes rather than God's.
In the fifties, playing marbles was a favorite pass time for most boys in America. If you were good at marbles, you would like to play for "keeps", which meant you got to keep the marbles that you knocked out of the ring. Just like in a poker game, all the players would have to "ante up" a certain number of marbles to put into the ring at the start of a game. We usually wouldn't risk our favorite marbles by including them in the ante, but would use our least favorite ones instead. Those favorite marbles were called "keepers". One day as I was thinking about salvation, I believe the Lord reminded me of playing marbles for keeps. He asked me the question, "Did you ever discard any of the ugly or chipped marbles that you knocked out of the ring?" Well the answer was a resounding; "Of course not!" Even the worst one had value. It was easy to immediately recognize what the question had to do with salvation. To God, there is great value in the most decrepit soul that man can imagine. How much more will he not discard any spirit that has trusted in him, even though their soul is still carnal and none of their works abide the test of fire. Born again spirits are much more precious than ugly chipped marbles. In God's eyes, they are all "keepers"! If you are ever tempted to think that you have failed and God no longer cares about you, just remember that you are still a "keeper" and he does care deeply.