Seems to me that one of the things we’re talking about in this whole regeneration discussion is the proper pastoral balance between warnings and promises for the covenant people of God. And that’s a huge wisdom call for pastors who have to regularly, prayerful seek the Spirit’s guidance for applying God’s word to their people. Different circumstances will call for different Biblical “mixtures.”
The promises of God include the promise of the finished work of Christ on our behalf, the forgiveness of sins, the promise of perseverance, the promise of eternal life, the certainty of salvation, etc. Jesus says that He came to bring eternal life, and all those whom the Father has given Him cannot be lost but will surely be raised up on the last day. That’s a fixed, guaranteed inheritance, a gift given, sealed with the Spirit that cannot be lost. Part of a pastor’s job is regularly, repeatedly exhorting his congregation to believe the promises and rejoice.
At the same time, God also warns His people repeatedly that He judges and prunes His people. Fruitless branches will get cut out and thrown into the fire. Some false prophets will sound an awful lot like gospel preachers, and wolves will creep into flocks doing their best sheep impersonations. Some pigs will get washed and return to their wallowing in the mire. Some will taste the powers of the age to come and then fall away. Some will believe for a time and then the pleasures of this world will choke that faith out. Faithful pastors have to preach the warnings as well as the promises.
And the fact that God promises eternal, indestructible life that cannot be lost, cannot be forfeited, cannot be undone because it was absolutely, permanently accomplished on the cross and by the resurrection of Jesus, is not at odds with the fact that others will pretend to have this life and go through the motions and ultimately be unmasked — if not now, at the last day. It doesn’t lessen the reality of their rebellion, their covenant status, or the life they were offered and even shared in for a time. And this is not at odds with the fact that in this messy, vaporous world those who are granted eternal, indestructible life receive it by a simple faith looking to Jesus alone in absolute desperation for salvation, and they do not coast into heaven on some kind of presumption or secret gnostic knowledge or revelation. Faith clings to Jesus, and knowing Jesus is the most secure thing in the world. There’s nothing uncertain or perishable about that.
Faithful pastors preach both realities, and depending on their congregations, mix the promises and warnings and distribute them with fearful, awful care, praying for wisdom, grace, and courage to represent our Chief Shepherd Jesus faithfully in doing so.