Office Hours With Steve Baugh: Hebrews 12:14 Might Not Mean What You Think It Does

Office Hours 2016Academic life at Westminster Seminary California does not happen only in the classroom. It happens in prayer, it happens in the chapel, it happens in casual hallway discussions, and when one faculty member walks out of his office and into a colleague’s to say, “Hey, what do you think about this?” The original concept behind Office Hours was to give you a glimpse of those sorts of discussions and this episode grew out of just one such discussion. Steve Baugh is Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary California. His office is next to mine and one day last Spring we had one of those, “Hey, what do you think?” discussions about Hebrews 12. The specific question we were discussing the meaning of verse 14, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (ESV). This verse is sometimes understood to mean, “accumulate a sufficient degree of holiness or you will not be saved.” Is this what that verse actually says? Steve spent the summer studying the Book of Hebrews and he joined us to consider this and other important questions surrounding Hebrews 12. You might also be interested in Office Hours Season 4, in which the faculty discussed Hebrews from beginning to end.

Here is the episode.

Here are all the Office Hours episodes.

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  1. With this discussion of Hebrews 12 in mind, why are sermons by people within the reformed tradition so persuasive? For instance Kevin DeYoung recently preached a sermon titled “Can We Be Glorified Without Being Sanctified? Good Works, Good News, and Christian Assurance” at the T4G event. He taught the passage was progressive, not definitive (at the 10:27 mark). I can provide a link if need be.

    I am in agreement with the view represented in your interview, but it’s difficult to be persuade in both heart and mind with other Reformed folk using the same passages to teach otherwise.

    • Justin,

      I’m not sure that the difference is between definitive and progressive sanctification but what is the ground of our salvation. I don’t think Kevin is saying that we must achieve a certain degree of sanctity in order to be saved. We agree that progressive sanctification is a necessary consequence of justification and a part of salvation. The question is whether Hebrews 12:14 is speaking about sanctification or about something else? I think Dr Baugh presented a persuasive case. He will be writing on it.

      As to figuring out what is true, we do that by reading God’s Word, not by counting noses. We also consider what the churches confess. The churches do not confess that we must achieve a certain degree of sanctification in order to be saved. Re counting noses, most today no longer believe in the covenant of works, but it’s in the Word and it’s in the Westminster Standards. That would be true for other issues.

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