Of all of the things most deadly to a person, unbelief is the only thing that can truly be said to damn.  The writer of Hebrews notes that it was unbelief that prevented the Israelites from finishing their journey.  He does not cite the building of a golden calf as the reason, nor does he cite grumbling against the Lord, the work of the sons of Korah, or any other issue besides simply not believing the promise of God to go before them in battle, defeat the enemies, and absolutely obliterate any hindrance to their possession of Canaan, their Heaven.  This makes sense from an Old Testament and New Testament perspective, as one can recall the story of the twelve spies who spied out the land.  Caleb and Joshua responded with faith in God's promise, which stated His Divine Intent to grant them the Land.  The other ten spies looked at the strength of the enemies, saw the same things that Caleb and Joshua observed, but with one critical difference that must be thoroughly apprehended if we are to understand why certain beliefs on Justification are heretical:  They considered their strength in relation to the enemies, they relied upon their own ability, they looked at themselves, while Caleb and Joshua simply looked upon the strength of their God, He being thoroughly able to do as He had promised.  

The writer of Hebrews discusses right belief, right faith in relation to the old Israelites, and he himself uses Canaan as a parable for Heaven, and the journey from Egypt as a parable for the Christian life.  If this fact is established, we may move forward.

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.    Hebrews 3:12

The writer of Hebrews makes direct applications of the Israelite Journey to Canaan to the Christian's estate preceding Justification and proceeding from Justification. As of late, this imagery and exploration done by the writer of Hebrews has been of especial assistance to me.  

And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.  Exodus 6:4

Here is the initial promise made to the people of Israel before they left
Egypt.  We see this pattern arising again and again whenever faith is mentioned: God promises to do something for someone, and they believe God, most notably occurring Abraham's case wherein righteousness not his own was imputed to his account.  The significance of this promise to the first generation Israelites is that we get to see a situation where a promise was made to them but instead of believing, they did not receive the promise and refused to believe God was for them.  

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.   Hebrews 3:19

This is in line with the conclusion in Hebrews.  Again, he does not mention any outward action of any kind when discussing this problem.  Would this not also be in line with the Pharisees condemnation by Christ?  Outwardly, their actions were like golden glasses washed, tombs white and beautiful, but inwardly they had wicked unbelief just like their forefathers.  Again and again, faith residing in the human heart is the issue, not action.  Furthermore, what should the Israelites have taken as surety, as a deep assurance of their reward?  Their actions or the Word of God, adamantine and immovable, written in the Heavens?  Quite honestly, nothing suits to give the full assurance upon which Faith must rest but the Words of God, for in us is no good thing.   We dare not look inward to our own golden calfs, our own grumblings against the Lord, or any other such place to establish the veracity of our justification.  Let us look no where else but to our High Priest who stands before the throne of God, interceding for us in our many weaknesses.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.   Hebrews 4:11

How?  How must we labour?  Thankfully the writer delineates this clearly, not allowing any room for a works augmented justification to survive by his statement proceeding from this directive:

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;   Hebrews 3:14

Confidence being used as a synonym for faith, it is clear that we must retain our confidence in the Lamb of God, renouncing all attempts to labor in the desert.  From this bedrock proceeds all true sanctification.  

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.   Hebrews 4:14

Hold fast your profession.  What a beautiful statement; what a call to war; what a renouncing of the powers of hell; how against all human inclination, but how necessary while we walk on the waves.  We dare not do anything else, lest plague and pestilence be our only reward, lest we sink in the waves of despair, guilt, fear, and doubt.  The result is the Sabbath rest for the people of God, a rest which is promised to us in the future, but which we also may enjoy to great delight and comfort here in the Wilderness.

For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.    Hebrews 4:10

I do not relish calling out heresy.  I relish the right holding fast of the Gospel, and I care too much for my soul and yours to not speak the hard truth against the slow decay evident in many of our ministers and churches.  Let us exhort one another all the more to look to Christ while it is yet called today, that we not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.   Hebrews 10:19-25

Piperian Idea of Justification Compared to Biblical Idea of Justification:


Freedom from Egypt + Promises of God to Give the Land + Good Works in the Wilderness to Receive the Land = The Gift of the Land, Canaan, or from our perspective, Heaven.  


Freedom from Egypt + Promises of God to Give the Land + Belief in God's Covenantal Promise = The Gift of the Land, Canaan, or from our perspective, Heaven.

One equation focuses on God's role in the matter of salvation.  One focuses on Man's response to the promise.  This is an important distinction that gives rise to the crux of our problem.   So, as ministers of the Word, how must we deal with mass unbelief from a pastoral perspective?  Let's look at the way Paul Washer and John Piper differ on the way they address the issue of mass unbelief in the Church, and perhaps the matter will become yet clearer.  

Piper clearly stated in his sermon from the previous post that one must bear the fruit of faith to get finally saved.   This he stated in utter error.   If this is not making sense, go listen to the first full minute again.  The first full minute is his thesis and the part near the end is simply confusing the matter even more by adding a "counter-balance" to his previous statements.   I'd be fine with it if that paradox between initial and final salvation was in any way a paradox found in Scripture.  His counter-balancing statements allow him to say "You're misrepresenting me!", when in truth we are simply responding to the main thrust of his message.  

Piper emphasized over and over, that if your justification is in doubt, you must work to bear the fruit of faith so that you may inherit the land, Heaven.  This is clear.  He did not confuse us on that.  From having read many of Piper's works, this message is consistent with the way he would pastorally deal with an issue of unbelief en masse in his church: emphasize the mortification of sin, inward looking upon the self, and laborious work, instead of gazing upon Christ and His Finished Work.  The endless question to his statement is, "How much holiness Dr. Piper?"  "How much repentance Dr. Piper?"  "Isn't Justification the final verdict Dr. Piper and not just a simple step in the Journey?"  Anyone who looks within with a true view will see a heart burdened down with devilish desires and wanton pleasures, for this is the state of us, that is in the flesh.  This should grieve us deeply, and send us flying to the Mountain.  Nothing in our hands we bring, simply to the cross we cling.  Foul, we to the Mountain fly, wash us Savior or we die!

How does Paul Washer deal with this very real issue?  He simply addresses the heart of the issue: the heart bearing the true Faith from God.  

I recall many stories he has told of sitting with people for days, weeks, sometimes months, praying for true belief to be planted in the person's heart, if God did in fact reveal to them an evil heart of unbelief.  How beautifully pastoral! How Biblical.  He does not focus on the works, nor does he preach in a way that causes a person to labor in the Wilderness.  He walks with that person, praying that they truly receive by faith the promise of God fulfilled in Christ.  With joy, he recounts stories of people realizing halfway through that they believe and they are saved.  But, as a shepherd he got on his face with them and prayed for this saving grace to apprehend  Christ.   For Paul Washer, justification is the final verdict where the sinner is declared righteous, saved by grace through faith.  There is no mixing of justification and sanctification in his speech.  He does not focus on the quality of the faith as Piper does, in emphasizing Christ as Lord, Savior, and Treasure, for that is to trust in the instrument not the Giver of All Good gifts, in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning.  He focuses on the Goodness of God to not deny the humble and contrite who fall on their knees, begging for washing; the Goodness of God to in no wise cast out any who come to Him.  

God is good.  

Those three words roar from the Scriptures but due to heresy many fail to hear them, their hearts being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, as they refuse to accept the goodness of God, instead choosing to work.  

God save us, for night has fallen and our flesh is deceitful and we are beset by sin.  

Let us exhort one another brothers, for without one another, we may fall.  Hold fast your profession of faith to the end, and pray the same for me, for my knees are weak and my heart needs healing.