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Apostasy and the Sin unto Death,

the Conscience and Sanctification

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Question #1: 

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 2nd John 1:7 NIV

At first I also found this passage difficult to understand but taking Peters advice that no scripture is of any private interpretation and comparing other scriptures upon the same subject the meaning seems to be abundantly clear to me now so I thought I would share it.

Firstly we find the passage located near the end of a discourse which is firmly aimed at opposing false doctrines concerning Jesus as the Christ promised by the Prophets. John gives us to understand that these false notions concerning Jesus had arisen within the Christian assembly and that the perpetrators had at length "gone out from" the assembly and formed a community of their own. This group of apostates from the faith taught another "Jesus" and another "gospel" contrary to that taught by john and the other Apostles. To preach another Jesus in johns words is to preach "antichrist" that is another Christ instead of the true and thereby in opposition to and against the true Christ. These apostates from the original faith taught that Jesus was not born a man of flesh and blood like ourselves. These apostates spoke of a Jesus who only appeared to suffer crucifixion. and who only appeared to die and be raised again. This was to preach a "false Christ" and at the time John wrote there were many divergent views about Jesus and hence many "false Christs" and false gospels. But only John and the Apostles preached the truth about Jesus and therefore only belief and obedience to their Gospel could give the life promised. These apostates from the original faith also had very loose morals believing that faith alone without works of righteousness and without abstaining from fornication could save them. Now John says that in teaching this other Jesus these apostates were denying the true Jesus and thereby denying the father also, and John says that whoever denies the son "hath not life’. This is the Sin Unto Death! To Deny the son and the Father by teaching a doctrine or doctrines in opposition to that the which the apostles taught. All manner of sin will be forgiven men but blasphemy of the holy spirit will not be forgiven, because the spirit testified that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. To turn away from the truth concerning Jesus is for a brother or sister to sin a sin unto death it is to deny the power of god unto salvation which is belief and obedience to the gospel. In this crisis Johns exhorted those faithful to the original Christian doctrines to pray for the week and erring but not for those who opposed sound doctrine "An heretic after the first and second admonition reject" and "though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached to you let him be accursed"

Response #1: 

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance, and thank you for your e-mail. Your thesis to the effect that the "sin unto death" is believing in or teaching "another Jesus" is not far from the mark. Denial of Jesus Christ is the same as faithlessness or, in the case of former believers, loss of faith. However, John's epistle is, as you explain, addressed to believers, so that the "sin" in context is one indulged in by believers. There are therefore some important distinctions which I would care to make, for the Bible is precise in its terminology and all of these things are not exactly the same.

First, "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" (aka the "unpardonable sin") is rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior – this is the only sin for which our Lord could not and did not die, the rejection of the value of His death by those for whom He died (i.e., the blasphemy is saying He is not the Messiah in the face of the Spirit's witness that He indeed is).

Secondly, when believers are ensnared by false teaching and/or give into a life of sin, they begin to "backslide". Unless they repent, one of two outcomes eventually results in cases of complete reversion: 1) the sin unto death; 2) apostasy. These two things are very often confused with each other. To take the latter first, apostasy is the death of faith, that is, when a believer stops believing. In such cases, "the end result is worse than the beginning" (2Pet.2:20-22). This is different from the "sin unto death", the outcome which befell the Corinthian man involved in incest in 1st Corinthians chapter 5 (assuming he did not repent – we are not told of the final result). Paul handed him over to Satan "for the destruction of his flesh that his spirit might be saved" (v.5). The "sin unto death" is thus one not even worth praying for, because it involves a believer who has become entwined with sin to a horrible degree – and yet still hangs on to his/her faith even while refusing to repent of his or her course (as opposed to apostasy where faith is abandoned but gross sin may not even be part of the equation). God is already doing the most for such a person by putting maximum pressure on him/her for repentance through ever intensifying divine discipline, and, in the event that repentance is not forthcoming, by taking the person out of this life before his or her faith is completely destroyed. This is merciful on His part, albeit such a believer will depart in a horrible way (i.e., the sin results "unto death"). As awful as the sin unto death is – and it is horrendous, giving a horrible witness – falling away from the faith into apostasy is worse, even if no immorality or other gross sin is involved. For in that case there may be a lack of comparable divine discipline (the person has lost faith and is no longer a child of God so as to be subject to filial discipline, after all), but the end result after death is far worse, not simply loss of reward, but loss of eternal life.

You can find out more about all of these topics in detail at the following link: in Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin, section IV.6, "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

In the Lord who died that we might have eternal life, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:  

THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND RESPONSE. YOU SEEM TO THINK THAT A SIN UNTO DEATH FOR A BELIEVER IS AN OUTRIGHT REJECTION OF JESUS AS THE MESSIAH PROMISED BY THE PROPHETS HOWEVER I WOULD LIKE TO REMIND YOU THAT PAUL GIVES US TO KNOW THAT THOSE DECIEVERS THAT LIVED IN HIS TIME PROFESSED TO BELIEVE IN JESUS AS THE CHRIST BUT BY TEACHING THINGS CONTRARY TO THE APOSTLES DOCTRINE THEY IN EFFECT DENIED HIM NOT BY AN OUTRIGHT DENIAL BUT BY A DECEPTIVE DENIAL WHICH WAS HOW OTHERS WERE DECIEVED. FOR EXAMPLE WHEN PAUL WROTE TO THE CORINTHIANS HE SPOKE OF A HERESY WHICH SAID THAT THERE WOULD BE NO FUTURE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD AND THAT THE ONLY RESURRECTION THAT WOULD TAKE PLACE HAD TAKEN PLACE ALREADY. PAUL TAKES THIS DOCTRINE TO ITS SCRIPTURALLY LOGICAL CONCLUSION WHICH IS A DENIAL OF CHRISTS OWN RESURRECTION. NOW THE PERPETRATORS OF THIS FALSE TEACHING DID NOT DENY THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS, BUT PAULS ARGUMENT SHOWS THAT THIS FIRST ERROR LOGICALLY LED TO THIS DENIAL EVEN IF THEY DID NOT KNOW IT! NOW A BELIEVER CAN BE CORRUPTED FROM THE FAITH BY FALSE TEACHING ABOUT THE LORD JESUS, HE MAY STILL BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST BUT HE MAY NOT BELIEVE HE WAS OF SUPERNATURAL CONCEPTION HE MAY BELIEVE JESUS WAS THE LITERAL SON OF JOSEPH AS SOME DO. THIS IN ITSELF IS NOT AN OUTRIGHT DENIAL OF JESUS AS THE CHRIST IN WORDS BUT IN DOCTRINE IT DENIES THE SPIRITS TESTIMONY THAT HE WAS BEGOTTEN OF THE SPIRIT AND HENCE IT DENIES HIS DIVINE ORIGIN FROM THE FATHER AND NOT OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH. THIS IS IN EFFECT TO DENY THAT JESUS WAS THE CHRIST PROMISED BY THE OT PROPHETS WITHOUT AN OUTRIGHT DENIAL IN WORDS. IF A BELEIVER BE SEDUCED TO SUCH A DOCTRINE AND OPPOSE THE TRUTH HE IS LOST! HE HAS TRANSGRESSED THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST! "IF THERE COME ANY UNTO YOU AND BRING NOT THIS DOCTRINE RECEIVE HIM NOT INTO YOUR HOUSE NEITHER BID HIM GOD SPEED". ACCORDING TO THE APOSTLES IT MATTERS WHAT WE BELIEVE CONCERNING JESUS. IF WE BELIEVE THINGS ABOUT JESUS THAT ARE FALSE WE HAVE BEEN DECIEVED FROM THE FAITH AND TO OPPOSE THE TRUTH AS AN HERETIC IS UNFORGIVEABLE! MURDER IS NOT UNFORGIVEABLE AS KING DAVID COMMITTED BOTH MURDER AND ADULTERY BUT GOD WAS PLEASED TO FORGIVE HIM. THE CASE OF THE CORINTHIAN FORNICATOR ONLY ADDS WEIGHT TO THE PROPOSITION HE WAS NOT AN HERETIC BUT A BELIEVER WHO SINNED THROUGH WEAKNESS OF THE FLESH HE WAS NOT AN APOSTATE FROM THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST. THE SIN UNTO DEATH IS NOT A SINGLE ACTION BUT A HABITUAL WAY OF LIFE OPPOSING THE TRUE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST THROUGH IGNORANCE OR OTHERWISE.

YOURS IN THE HOPE OF ISRAEL

Response #2: 

Dear Friend,

Not at all! As I said in my last e-mail, and outline in great depth in the links provided, the sin unto death is not an "outright rejection of Jesus". Rather, it comes in situations where believers refuse to let go of their faith and yet also refuse to repent of extreme sinful activity. In such cases, they are taken out of life by the most intense form of divine discipline: the sin unto death. Apostasy, on the other hand, is the technical term for believers who come to reject Jesus outright. They may not even experience visible discipline – for after all once they have cast aside their faith they are no longer part of the family of God (and no longer disciplined as sons and daughters). Please see the main link for these issue: in Bible Basics 3B, "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death" (where the two are distinguished).

We seem to be in agreement – no?

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

After reading the topics you listed I find I have some points in which I must differ and I have attempted to set them out in the following paragraphs. It seems clear to me that when we contrast the first man and woman in the original paradise with that future state of blessedness depicted in the last chapters of revelation, that the original animal creation was not the end which God had in view but only a means to that end. But I can not do better than quote Pauls words on the subject when he discoursed to the Corinthians concerning the two "Bodies" that is the "Natural body" made of the dust of the ground and the "Spiritual Body" with which the faithful are to be invested at the resurrection. Paul states that there is an ORDER in the development of these two bodies, he says that which comes first is the "NATURAL" and that which comes last by resurrection is the "SPIRITUAL" and in proving this proposition he cites the creation of the first Man Adam from the dust of the ground. In his explanation Paul quotes Genesis chapt 2v 7 and equates "NATURAL BODY" with "LIVING SOUL". It therefore seems clear to me that in the apostles mind Adam at his creation and before sin entered the world was a natural body in a "very good" state capable of being corrupted or capable of being perfected, and that mentally morally and physically. At his creation Adam was neither sinner nor saint but was capable of going in either direction. It seems equally clear that the principle at work in creating adam in such a state was that he might be tried, that his faith might be put to the test and that through such trials he might at length attain to perfection mentally morally and then lastly physically by his animal body being transformed into the glorious incorruptibility of the "spiritual body". Had Adam remained faithful under trial no doubt at some point he would have been granted to undergo that glorious transformation, however sin interrupted the process of perfecting Adam and the sentence of death was passed upon him before he had gendered any children. Therefore Adam was not created in a state of incorruptibility and deathlessness yet neither was he mortal in the sense of being a dying creature. He was a creature made of the dust of the ground as we but his natural body was not a dying body until he transgressed. The natural state of creation before sin entered the world was vastly superior to that which now prevails and this appears from the fact that even after the passing of the sentence of death it took many generations before the average lifespan fell below hundreds of years.

At the crisis of adams transgression God said "look now the man has become as one of us to know good and evil". There is much in this record that I feel you may have overlooked. Firstly the original Hebrew words translated by the English word god is "ELOHIM" which literally means "Mighty ones" and points to a plurality of agents employed in the work of creation. Now one of the chief uses of this word "elohim" is to describe not the Father himself whom no man hath seen at any time who dwelleth in light unapproacheable, but those ministering spirits sent forth to minister unto them who shall become heirs to salvation, that is, Gods angels. We have direct teaching concerning this for when we read of moses at the burning bush it is said that "the ANGEL of the lord called to him from the midst of the bush and said I am the God of thy fathers etc" and paul when commenting upon this says that the law was given through the disposition of ANGELS. So that when we read in the English version that God spoke to this and that it is understood that it was not the Father himself but his messengers who excel in strength and might who do his pleasure in his name energized by his power. Paul in Hebrews when commenting upon Christs superiority over the angels quotes two psalms in particular where the Hebrew elohim is translated by the greek aggelos. It was these ELOHIM that performed the work of creation in the name of the father and it was these ELOHIM who said "look now the man has become as one of us to know good and evil" Man before sin had only experienced good but through transgression he came to know both good and evil experimentally. Now this statement of the ELOHIM shows that they to had once been in the same position as that of Adam! they had once been subject to sin and death and had at length been redeemed through some means. These ELOHIM are what we hope to become equal to at the resurrection for Christ says that "they who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage neither can they die any more for they are EQUAL TO THE ANGELS OF GOD IN HEAVEN" now pauls says of this same class that at the resurrection their mortal bodies will be transformed into spiritual bodies. From this we learn that what the angels or ELOHIM are now we hope to become and that therefore the Angels are now spiritual bodies deathless and incorruptible.

But to return to adam after his transgression, as you have said the sentence of death pronounced upon him became a physical law working in his flesh which Paul terms "the law of sin and death which is in my members". This physical principle has been passed on to all adams fleshly descendants, it is our misfortune not our crime that we inherit this sinful and corruptible nature. It is equally clear from pauls words to the romans concerning how sin and death entered the world that God is dealing with our race through TWO FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVE HEADS, that is, the First Adam and the Last Adam or Christ. Hence paul says "for by one mans disobedience many were MADE sinners so by the obedience of one shall many be MADE righteous" and "as IN ADAM ALL DIE SO IN CHRIST SHALL ALL BE MADE ALIVE". Now we are all born INTO ADAM by being born of flesh and blood and inherit death thereby, hence the flesh profits nothing. But to access the justification unto that life of incorruptibility that the faithful will inherit at the resurrection a man must first undergo a mental and moral cleansing by believing and being obedient to the gospel, if he do this he is provisionally IN CHRIST his body is still in adam but the spirit of his mind has been created in the likeness of Christ so that he now no longer lives his life following after the lusts of the flesh and the desires of the mind but he follows after righteousness holiness meekness love etc. he is not yet free from the "lusts of the flesh" they are still there but he now fights against them he refuses to let them be the ruling power of his life, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience the spirit of the flesh. If such a man continue in this struggle of the flesh against the spirit though he may occasionally fail he will experience a physical cleansing of his being from that principle of sin and death when his corruptible body becomes clothed in the incorruptible and glorious nature of the Spirit at the resurrection. Now the way of justification from the sentence of sin and death is through one who as our REPRESENTATIVE HEAD has done two great things for us that we could not do ourselves as individuals. He lived a life of perfect obedience by OVERCOMING and putting to death on the cross that VERY NATURE that we all possess. In doing this he thereby vindicated Gods righteous judgment upon sin in the flesh. It is clear that God was not willing to forgive sins without one of our race having conquered this sinful nature by being free from personal transgression and by offering the sinful nature in sacrifice upon the cross. As you have pointed out there are two principle ways in which the term Sin is used in scripture first it refers to those acts of disobedience which are the transgression of gods laws and secondly it refers to that motive principle in flesh and blood which leads to sin transgression. Paul calls it "sin in the flesh" and the same apostle teaches that Jesus partook of this same flesh for the express purpose of condemning "sin in the flesh". We are told that we have not a Christ who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities but that he was tempted in all points as we are yet without sinning, and that every man is tempted when he is draw away of his own lust and enticed. Therefore Jesus flesh was the same flesh common to us all he knew the "lusts of the flesh" personally but he was always victorious over them and at length he nailed it to his cross and in this way carried our sins in his own body for carried that nature which is the cause of all sin which nature we inherit from Adam. Jesus himself in revelation exhorts us in the following words "to him that overcometh will I grant to sit in my throne even as I overcame and am sat down with my father in his throne" Now I fear that you my friend have fallen into the very doctrine which the apostle john spoke out against namely that Jesus Christ did not come in the same flesh as the rest of us for whom he died!

To deny that Christ carried the same sinful nature in his body during the days of his flesh means that he could not have been a sacrifice for sin! And without that there can be no forgiveness of sins! "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH" and " for as much as the children were partakers of flesh and blood so he also himself likewise took part of the same" and he was of "the seed of David according to the flesh" and "that which is born of the flesh is flesh" etc. There is a prevailing idea among Christians that Jesus suffered and died instead of them or in there place but the scriptures use terminology that point to him as a representative sacrifice for sin and being such he has set forth his life and death as a pattern for us to follow. And indeed this was literally the case for his apostles who in like manner suffered execution for there faith as did many who became Christians in the decades following the ascension. Christ himself said if any man would follow me let him take up his own cross! Paul also in like manner exhorts us to crucify the flesh with christ! So what our Saviour went through we are asked to go through and this is not the language of substitution. Christ through his life of obedience unto death has purchased forgiveness for us as our representative head so that we might with confidence fight the same fight run the same race overcome the same sinful nature, and at length attain that crown of incorruptibility and freedom from sin and death. Now we will never render the perfect obedience that Jesus has but he has secured us a supply of forgiveness for that very purpose

Therefore I find it quite an unnecessary effort in attempting to define three aspects of death or pursue what differences might exist between sin and evil etc. For the scriptures always deal with man as a whole being mentally morally and physically and don't attempt to give us such distinctions. When we read statements like the world is dead in tress passes and sins it is only affirming the certainty of their destiny if they never come to believe and obey the truth. They are walking corpses so to speak! They maybe very moral persons but if they are buddists or follow Judaism or any other religion save the truth they are outside forgiveness and therefore dead in there sins. The sin unto death that can only be committed by a believer of the truth is one in which there is no forgiveness and hence death is inevitable whether it be inflicted by god providentially or otherwise. Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Hebrews where he says "if we sin willfully after having come to a knowledge of the truth there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" the "sin" to which he is referring in the context of his discourse consisted specifically in Hebrew Christians of the first century turning back into the ritual observances of the mosaic law and the various Jewish fables and traditions that accompanied this. Paul spends the entire letter proving and arguing the failure of the many various aspects of the old covenant given at Sinai in contrast to that established in Christ. And so paul says to them "the just shall live by faith but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him but we are not of them who draw back unto perdition but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" of them that did draw back Paul said the following " For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the holy ghost and have tasted the good word of god and the powers of the age to come if they shall fall away to renew them again unto repentance seeing they crucify to themselves the son of God afresh and put him to an open shame". This "turning back" was a "willful sin" that is, it was not the result of momentary weakness or being deceived by false doctrine it was a conscious and deliberate return for the purpose of avoiding persecution or to secure worldly gain. In the days of the apostles there were two general sources of error that opposed the doctrine of christ, there was the judaizing faction which consisted in Jewish Christians who also believed that men must not only believe in christ but also keep the ritual laws of Moses. Then there were the gentile believers who sort to explain many elements of the gospel such as the nature of christ, his death and resurrection with worldly science falsely so called.

It would appear that the propagators of these errors did so in an attempt to avoid suffering persecution from the communities in which they lived. They sort to make the doctrine of christ less offensive to the Jewish and gentile populations by blending it with their customs and practices. The heresies arising from these false teachings were seducing believers from  the apostles doctrine in both faith and practice. Paul was so very grieved by it that he said of them that had embraced it that they had become "the enemies of the cross of Christ". Now I do agree that a believer can embrace a life of fleshly depravity and vice that can become so habitual that he becomes irrecoverable but, the sin unto death of which the new testament letters treat is more specifically a willful departure from the original truth delivered by the apostles to the lying hypocritical profession of another gospel for the purpose of worldly gain or favor. This departure may be in doctrine or in morals or both! But the subject of it has not been deceived and they have not stumbled through weakness of the flesh! They know full well the truth but they do not love it but rather use it to serve their own selfish interests not those of the Gospel. They were guilty of turning the truth of God into a lie, of such God sends them strong delusion that they might be deceived by their own lies that they all might be condemned who love not the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness.

In short the prodigal son may repent and find welcoming arms but the willful corrupter of the truth hath never forgiveness for the spirit is the truth. To become a true Christian in the first century was to put life limb family and worldly possessions at grave risk. Many who initially embraced Christ could not afterwards bear up under the pressures placed upon them from the jewish and gentile authorities. Some therefore recanted some attempted to make peace by combining Christianity with gentilism or Judaism, but they who held fast to the faith once for all delivered to the saints as taught by the apostles were willing to follow Christs example and lose all to attain that prize of incorruptibility and deathlessness at the resurrection.

Response #3: 

Dear Friend,

I have no major disagreement with your opening statements, although it is not my practice to go into great detail in speculation about what might have happened or might not have happened had Adam not sinned. Much about that is unknowable (to be honest, I don't imagine it was a reasonable possibility in the long term). However, your acceptance of the "living soul" mis-translation common to many of the versions is problematic for your later comments. So by way of a preliminary statement, let me point out that the nephesh is the inner person, the mind or heart or psyche or what have you, the "us" that exists when we are born (or directly created in Adam and Eve's case) when God endows our flesh with a human spirit. There is no "soul" as a separate, independent entity – man is dichotomous, spirit and body. On all this, please see part 3A of Bible Basics: Anthropology.

As to the notion that angels participated in the creation, and that this is the explanation for the plural of the Hebrew word 'elohiym, it is true one finds this interpretations for the plural "let us make man" in some medieval Jewish commentaries, but such is merely an attempt to explain away this very clear evidence for the Trinity. It is of course true that angels are occasionally referred to collectively as 'elohiym (as are human beings; cf. Ps.82:6; Jn.10:34), but always in a context where the meaning is clear. After all, it is in the Jewish-produced Septuagint version that the two Psalms to which you refer, Psalm 8:7; 97:7, use aggeloi (angels) and not theos (God) to translate 'elohiym – so there can hardly be any significance to Paul using that same translation in Hebrews. Just as you and I know quite well from context whether we are looking at the English present tense "read" or the past participle "read" even though they are spelled the same, so also it is obvious enough prima facie from the context that the 'elohiym in Genesis refers to God and that the 'elohiym in the two Psalms you quote refers to angels, for only God can create (so one would need rather more than the fact of the occurrence the word 'elohiym as the grammatical subject of "let us create" to make the argument that these creatures were creating); and on the other hand "let all the 'elohiym of God worship Him" can hardly be said of God (since He is the object of the worship).

The distinction between the "spiritual and natural" body is a bit more complicated than may first meet the eye. The angels are spirits but that does not mean that they do not have some 'thing' within which they live (they are restricted to a single time and space, for example). Paul goes on at length in his description of bodies in 1st Corinthians 15, and it is certainly clear for his description there and also abundantly clear from the example of our Lord in resurrection that our perfect "resurrection" body will be quite something different from what the angels have. As Jesus Himself tells the disciples and speaking of His resurrected body in contrast to that of angels: "a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Lk.24:39). One also should not overly rely on Luke 20:36 isangeloi as if it meant "identical to the angels"; Jesus' words here clearly mean that we will not be inferior to the angels, not that we will become angels or identical to angels (that is not what the Greek word means); likewise this passage is paralleled by Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25 where the quotation is "like the angels" (and that is clearly what Luke means too). Finally, the attribution of similarity involves marital relations, and that is thus the only point of similarity that one can reasonably draw from this passage: neither angels nor resurrected believers get married (for there will be no need of further propagation in eternity). Please see the link: "Is the Soul a Tertium Quid?"

As to the sin nature and Christ's human body. You and I and all in Adam do have a sin nature (1Jn.1:8: "If we say that we do not possess sin [i.e., a sin nature which is producing personal sins], we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us"). Originally, however, Adam did not have a sin nature, yet he was tempted. Eve did not have a sin nature, yet she was tempted. Therefore I see no fundamental reason to assume that in order to be tempted, Christ would have had to have a sin nature. And He did not (He is "the Lamb without blemish"). That is the reason for the virgin birth. For the sin nature comes down from Adam, the male line (as Paul explains in Romans chapter five; cf. also 1Cor.15:22), since Adam was not deceived when he transgressed but made the decision to sin without mitigation or excuse (1Tim.2:13-14).

Christ did indeed come in the "same flesh" as we are born with, only His flesh was uncorrupted and He Himself though tempted remained "without sin" (Heb.4:15). To say that He had a sin nature, sin in the flesh which is the result of our position in Adam, runs afoul of your argument about the difference between being "in Adam" and "in Christ" – if Christ had a sin nature, how then would He too not be "in Adam"?

As to Romans 8:3, God's condemning sin "in the flesh", the precise meaning of that passage is not very clear as it is rendered in most English versions. Here is a translation directly from the Greek which you may find helpful:

For what the Law could not accomplish (i.e., solving the sin problem) because it was weak on account of [its dependence on sinful human] flesh, God [did accomplish]: having sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the purpose of [expiating] sin, [God] rendered summary judgment on [all] sin in [Christ’s] flesh.
Romans 8:3

Thus it is not "sin-in-the-flesh" which God judged, but "sin" is what He judged; "the flesh" (of Christ) is the place where He judged it. That is the testimony of scripture everywhere else for Jesus "bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1Pet.2:24; cf. Eph.2:15; Col.1:22; Heb.10:10).

Thus in respect to the death of Christ, it is not the physical death of our Lord by which we are saved. Rather it is His spiritual death wherein He entered the darkness on Calvary's cross and was quite literally judged for our sins. For when the darkness ended and before He gave up His spirit to die physically He proclaimed "It has [now] been accomplished!" (Jn.19:30) – and only then did He breath out His spirit. Thus Jesus died (spiritually) before He died (physically). And what He did for us is incomparable to any other death, for anyone can be nailed to a cross, but only Jesus was qualified to have the penalty for all human sins poured out on His body and to expiate them through suffering – in those three hours of darkness He faced the flames of hell for us and by His wounds we have been healed. Jesus' life was a necessary preliminary and prerequisite, so to speak – something He had to go through to get to the cross (and in the course of which He ministered the ministry of all ministries and set the example of all examples). But what He did in dying for us, being judged in our place and bearing the penalty for all our sins, was in every way fundamentally different from what we are called upon to do. He had to live a perfect life (impossible for us with our sin nature) and then go to the cross to be put to death for our sins (something we cannot even imagine let alone contemplate doing). This is a truth very poorly understood by most Christians. You will find this all at the link under "Spiritual Death" in part 4A of Bible Basics "Christology"; it contains a very detailed explanation of our Lord's spiritual death in expiation of sin.

As to the conclusion of your letter, I find myself a bit baffled. From what I can discern, you find little to disagree with in the teaching of this ministry to the effect that there is a difference between apostasy and the sin unto death, and that both are committed by believers. As to "willingness", it seems important to point out we are all responsible for what we do. We all have free will, and that will is always under pressure of one sort or another, yet that does not remove our responsibility. It is true that deception often plays a large role in apostasy, but people have to allow themselves to be deceived. For example, if Eve had refused to listen to the Deceiver, things may well have gone quite differently (to indulge in a bit of speculation myself). But even though Adam was not deceived and Eve was, he sinned too, though in full cognizance, so that both were "in the transgression" and both were condemned (1Tim.2:13-14). If we are led into the sin unto death by deception (self-deception or the deception of others) or if we are led into apostasy by deception (self-deception or the deception of others), there is no practical difference in the end than if we had our wits fully about us. Either way, in the first case we are going to die a horrible death (though we may rejoice that our "spirit will be saved on the day of the Lord": 1Cor.5:5), and in the second we are just as lost and just as damned in either case. The distinction between these two things is one of faith, with the sin unto death falling upon the believer who wants to indulge the flesh in spite of holding onto to faith, and apostasy being a case of a believer abandoning faith (whether or not he/she does so out of gross sin).

So I again see no major disagreement on the issue with which this discussion began. Please do have a look at the link "Biblical Anthropology" as the mistaken notion of a soul as a tertium quid has rather many doctrinal side-effects, all of them negative. And please do let me know if you have any questions on the link BB 4A dealing with the spiritual death of our Lord on the cross. It is a blessed and important teaching, and one, as I say, greatly under-appreciated.

In the Lord who died for us, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Dear Bob,

Thanks for your response it is becoming clearer now as to the reasons for your beliefs on the matters we have been discussing. The following may seem to be a digression but it will have an impact so here goes. When you cast your eyes upon the earth and the heavens and all the wonders of the material creation, what do you believe them to be made of? The bible says that all things are "out of God" and that by "His Spirit he hath garnished the heavens" and that "God is Spirit" and that he is "deathless and incorruptible" that "in him we live and move and have our being" hence the spirit is that eternal incorruptible and deathless power that is the substratum of all things that exist. Now though the power is eternal and unending the forms which it sustains may only be temporary hence "flesh is spirit(ruach) which passeth away and cometh not again" there is no other power but that of the Diety he is the fountain of all existence and his spirit the power by which they are all sustained. But some forms of the spirit are to be permanent i.e. the "spiritual body" So when the angel appeared to manoa and manoa asked "art thou flesh or spirit" it is understood that though all things are made of the spirit those eternal forms are distinguished by a use of the word which is secondary. When jesus said to the apostles that a "spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have" he was using the word spirit in the sense of a disembodied state and thereby giving them to know that the life promised from the foundation of the world was a real physical existence manifested through a body with shape and form. To be equal to the angels at the resurrection is to inherit that life and existence which they possess and hence die no more, thus all inherit the spiritual body however not all are equal in rank and power. The distinction you attempt to make is not a scriptural one. Your idea that only god can create is not in danger by the fact that the elohim of genesis are the angels for they can do nothing without his power and authority. What he does through them he does by himself. For they are manifestations of his person and power. It is certain however that asserting the elohim are a trinity is a most un scriptural position. Did the father who has purer eyes than to behold sin "know good and evil" as adam had done? I think not!

When paul made the distinction between being in adam as opposed to being in christ, Christ had already risen from the dead and had become a Spiritual body he was no longer in the flesh of adam. Hence the apostle exhorts us to walk as if we were already in the spiritual body and already dead to the flesh. The apostles no where attempt to make the distinctions about Christs flesh that you are making. That the same principle of decay and corruption was present in the flesh of christ is mentioned in the psalm predicting his resurrection " my flesh shall rest in hope for thou will not leave my soul in hell neither will thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption". Christs body did not remain in the grave long enough for that law of sin and death to return it to dust. That this law of sin and death had hold of christ during the days of his flesh is manifest from pauls words contrasting his life after resurrection with what obtained before "death hath no more dominion over him" which implies it had dominion over him prior to his resurrection. Besides all this Christ is set forth as a fore runner as captain He is the pattern after which all must follow. First in adam then in the glorious nature of the spirit.

The sinful nature which we possess was that nature developed in the transgression of the first man and woman. After the serpent made his proposition to Eve the hitherto latent potential of her nature was aroused and she "desired" to be "wise" and like the elohim, this desire was what tempted her. She gave to her husband with her and likewise his passions were enflamed also. The lust of the flesh the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are all here in the genesis record of the fall. Up until that point all their desires had been "very good" and in harmony with Gods will for them. After the sentence of death was passed upon them these blind instinctive passions became the ruling force of flesh and blood as evinced by the history of man that followed in the scriptures. Adam occupied a very different position to all who followed for he was created in adulthood with a working vocabulary and intellect, he never had to grow up as we do he was not born in total ignorance and powerlessness having to learn a language to walk etc etc. Today we are all born mortal and ignorant possessing only those selfish instinctive urges of the flesh that constantly beckon to be gratified. If we are fortunate to grow up with some training and practise we can learn some degree of self control over these blind passions otherwise they can rule our lives almost totally. Now it is these basic appetites of the flesh that Paul terms "sin in the flesh" and the "carnal mind" and the "natural man" who is the enemy of God Because unchecked and unenlightened by the word of God these blind desires lead to the works of the flesh. Now I say that the apostles teach that Jesus had this flesh nature, for he was a mortal man who experienced thirst and hunger and desire etc. He was tempted by desires from within for there is no other way to be tempted. One can not be tempted by a lack of desire! Otherwise his temptations would have been a sham having no personal keenesss to them. The fact that he had such a nature to struggle with makes his victory over sin and death even more victorious! And makes him far more sympathetic to our plight, for has entered into our temptations.

I think the biggest trouble people have with admitting to this fact is they think it somehow diminishes Christ. On the contrary for "this purpose was the son of God manifest that he might destroy the works of the devil" Now "sin" can not be condemned in the flesh unless there is "sin" in that "flesh" to condemn. That Jesus was a "lamb without blemish" shows that he Was one of the flock without personal transgression.

It has been interesting talking with you Robert but i see that you bring many notions to the bible such as the trinity, pre-existence, conscious existence after death and before resurrection, the idea that the bible devil is a fallen angel, etc. Its these notions which you are trying to save in your expositions and they manifestly are not compatible with the scriptures but are part of that early corruption of Christian faith from the simplicity that is in christ.

Thank you for your time

Response #4:  

Dear Friend,

Passing on all of the other things worthy of comment here, it is necessary to get one thing straight before we can profitably continue. Do I understand you to say that you do not believe in the Trinity?

Thanks for your indulgence, and my apologies in advance if I misunderstood.

In our Lord Jesus, the God-Man.

Bob L.

Question #5:  

Dear Robert

I do not agree with the doctrine of the trinity if it is that doctrine which makes the Son and Father the one and same person claiming that the son was not a created being or that he had a personal existence prior to his virgin birth or that he is equal in power and knowledge to the Father. Further I do not agree that man has any conscious existence when his body is dead nor that the bible devil is a fallen angel. I find no support for such in the scriptures. It seems to me that if the bible is read with a mind free of bias and preconceived notions that none of the above mentioned doctrines have place.

Response #5:  

Dear Friend,

Thank you for clarifying.

This ministry is for believers in Jesus Christ, designed to help them with their spiritual growth by nourishing them with the Word of God, faithfully taught. This is not an apologetics ministry – we all have our own gifts, and that is not mine.

In my reading of scripture, it is impossible to be a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, to have a saving faith in Jesus Christ, and yet fail to accept either His work (in paying the penalty for the sins of the world by being judged for them in our place), or His Person (specifically, that He is both God and, since the incarnation, Man). You are certainly free to have a different view, but in the end it is only God's opinion that matters. I am not confident about many things in this world, but I am confident in my relationship with Jesus Christ – and I believe in this I also have the Spirit of God.

I have no compunction about rejecting "doctrines" that are not supported by scripture, and the reason that this ministry is on the internet has everything to do with that fundamental principle. Were I willing to compromise, my life would have taken a different track altogether. So please do not assume that my acceptance of the truth of the Person of Jesus as being both divine and human is just due to being in some "traditional" rut. The Bible teaches it very clearly, clearly enough for me, at any rate. Please see the following links:

Jesus is God.

Jesus is God and man.

The Person of Jesus Christ (in BB 4A)

Now that the outlines of your theology are clear, it seems there is little point to continuing this discussion. You are most certainly not going to convince me to reject what I have found in scripture from a lifetime of careful study, and it is not my job to convince you.

I do wish you the best, and also pray for your salvation in Jesus Christ, before whom every knee will bow.

In the One who became flesh to die for us that we might be saved, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hi Bob,

The other day I told someone that the bible states that we are born with a sense of morality - knowing what is right and what is wrong. I was challenged to give the reference; but, alas, unable to do so. Do you know the verse(s)?

Thanks,

Response #6: 

Good to hear from you. I'm not sure there is a verse which says this outright, but you clearly correct. The biblical teaching for this is that of the conscience. You can find all this taught in great detail at the link: "The Conscience" in Basics 3B: Hamartiology".

Here is the summary paragraph followed by a few verses that come as close to the point you are looking to support as I can think of:

To sum up, like Adam and Eve after the fall, everyone is born with a conscience, a capacity for understanding the difference between what is genuinely good and what is truly evil. But this capacity must be developed (Deut.1:39; Is.7:16), these consciences of ours must be "calibrated", so to speak, to the true standards of what is right and wrong from the only correct point of view, namely, from God's point of view. Nature itself teaches us certain things (1Cor.11:13-14), so that even unbelieving gentiles who have never heard the standards contained in the Law of God can develop passably good consciences from their observation of the world as God has constructed it, and from learning the lessons of life as He has ordered it (Rom.2:14-16).

For whenever the gentiles who do not have the Law do by nature the things [written in] the Law, these who have no Law are a Law for themselves. For they demonstrate that the essence of the Law has been written in their hearts when their conscience testifies against them, and their [mental] deliberations [based on conscience] alternatively either condemn them or acquit them.
Romans 2:14-15

Therefore it is necessary to be subject [to authority] not only because of this severity, but also for conscience' sake (i.e., everyone's conscience teaches them "by [observation of] nature" to obey legitimate authority).
Romans 13:5

Judge for yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with an uncovered head? Does not even nature itself teach you that a man suffers dishonor if he prays with long hair, but that long hair (i.e., God's "head covering") is her glory? For her long hair has been given to her in the place of a veil.
1st Corinthians 11:13-14

You might also look at the following links:

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (in SR 3)

The Conscience as a restrainer of satanic influence (in SR 4)

The Process of Apostasy

Hope this helps get you started!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Dear Bob,

I will limit my responses to what I think will be useful at this point.

The Lord led me to a ministry as a counselor (Psychologist) for Christians' with problems adjusting in a faithful way to the wishes of our Lord. Many of them were pastors. I had earlier, in work with children - particularly those with seemingly intractable behavior disorders- come to the conclusion that many or most of them were driven not so much by the will to do wrong as by nervous systems that had serious and even untreatable (at this time) brain disorders. With Christians I saw not so much a lack of desire to follow the Lord's teaching as I perceived that something kept them from the desires of the heart. This led me to learn what I could about the brain and, subsequently, neuroethics.

I see current development in that field as a serious and direct challenge to biblical thinking: there is no God, there are only brain processes, as in physicalism and post-modernism. So, in this sense I suppose I am writing an apologetic - although the descriptor is not something I had thought of. It is more than that. I am attempting to help members of the Body to understand the effects of brain disorders so they might modify some of their scapegoating ("look at him, not at me") and emotional bullying.

The intended audience is the broader evangelical community.

I have been given the task of writing this book to help further the Kingdom of God. I do so with great trepidation and humility. There are many areas of scholarly work in which I am woefully lacking - hence my queries to you and others. On the other hand, I am not deficient in my perception of the problem or in matters related to my profession.

This work has been years in the making. I pray often that I know God will finish this work through me, if indeed it is consistent with His Truth, His Word.

I will insert below another small piece of my writing to help you better see what I am trying to say.

In the name of Him whose name is above all other names,

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Why do Christians (or non-Christians for that matter) not always behave in the way their heart and mind desires? Why do people with loving hearts who desire to please God and their fellow man do what they do not want to do? It was mentioned above that our Kingdom is that over which we have effective control. Does not the Holy Spirit show us the way?

The most common understanding of this problem is that sin occurs because we choose it. It is believed that if we try hard enough, we will not sin. This concept is a part of the underlying cause of the further wrong of scapegoating or "blame and shame". Indeed, there are times when reasonably healthy people have a great deal of choice in their behavior. They may often deliberately decide to act wrongly when they could do otherwise. Even when they usually make good choices they are at risk of the most serious sin – pride. I am convinced that everyone is, to some degree, constrained in their choices by brain disorders. These are minor in most people. In some, such difficulties are tragically serious. The effect of various brain problems on our relatively free-will is the topic we shall look at now.

The focus on brain disorders that is discussed here is to counter the "religion is myth" thinking found in the influential writings of many psychologists and neurologists who use new information about the nervous system to argue….

There are those who suggest there are only a few categories into which we can neatly classify the entire human race and that we are thus able to describe and predict each soul's behavior, even their very being. That is truly nonsense. No one can convincingly pretend to grasp the mystery of our lives. To see hints of the infinite complexity that lies within each of us may open us to greater uncertainty but it is a most gracious gift. To become more tolerant toward the good and the bad in all of us makes us more open to the power of forgiveness based on understanding, however imperfect that comprehension may be. I hope to encourage you to see yourself and others in a different and more loving light; indeed, to alter the manner in which you view human life.

One of the simpler ways to obtain a perspective on the complexity of the way our nervous system works to create useful functioning is to look at it's participation in dance. To do this I will draw on two papers written by Steven Brown. Rather than trouble you with details of his studies, I will list the brain areas involved in the co-ordination of music and movement. Never mind if you do not know what these neurological regions are – just try to get a sense of how complex this is. Metric or rhythmic dance strongly activates the right putamen and ventral thalamus. In addition, the structures involved in control of the lower limbs include the superior parietal lobule, cingulate motor area and cerebellum. Brown's data indicates that motor sequencing not including that activated by music activates the right frontal operculum. The last example I give here relates to kinesthetic guidance of leg movement during navigation in dance: it activates the medial superior parietal lobule. These and other sections of the brain all have to be co-coordinated to produce rhythmical movement. I suggest that people who have difficulty learning to dance probably have issues in one or more of these areas. Brown has not considered what happens in the dance-challenged population – a considerable number of men, it seems. The frontal lobes are the chief manager of co-coordinated, sequential, activity. Thus, any problems arising from distractibility most certainly will negatively affect this skill. (I'm reminded here of my own great difficulty with singing while trying to understand a song's lyric or text.)

Well, you ask, so what if dance is a complicated neuro-muscular behavior? The second of Dr. Brown's papers I'm referencing gives a strong suggestion that what is at play here is something more than just a matter of physical co-ordination. Dance is gestural language. Indeed, Brown suggests it is perhaps one of the earliest forms of human language. There is evidence that dance is related to speech in that dance activates Broca's area, a part of the frontal lobes associated with speech. For all that, the intricacies of dance are small compared to the complex brain behavior that produces the dance of social interactions – both adaptive and maladaptive.

There is a general-public system of categorizing dancing abilities: one can dance, or one can sort of dance or one can dance not at all. The discussion in Dr. Brown's papers narrows these categories down to two groups. Either one can dance well or one has difficulty dancing. But if we were to categorize all of the possible explanations for why people have difficulty dancing we would need many more categories than two or three or even two times three. We could brain-scan dance behavior with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). We could divide the difficulties into categories according to the brain area(s) that do not function properly: (a) right putamen, or (b) ventral thalamus, or (c) superior parietal lobule, or (d) cingulate motor area, or (e) cerebellum, or (f) right frontal operculum, or (g) medial superior parietal lobule, or (h) frontal lobe activity related to distractibility. Now we have at least eight categories. Since brain dysfunctions can exist in several areas at the same time, we could also look at the complicating interactions that can go on between two or more regions. For example: a interacts with b (right putamen and ventral thalamus are both disordered and work on each other's weakness in various ways), a interacts with c, a interacts with d, and so on. Thus, the number of categories of dance difficulties expands exponentially and could potentially become a very large number indeed.

Many people in Christian circles categorize people by slotting them into a few simple groupings as first defined by Aristotle. For example: melancholic (given to dark moods), choleric (strong willed), sanguine (cheerful extroverts), or phlegmatic (low-paced and stubborn) [Ref: National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA) http://www.godswayservices.com/ ]. The NCCA have recently added a fifth category, called the supine (lying down, looking up). If we were to study the brain functions of each of these groups, we would find a very large number of subtypes. Parenthetically, please note the prejudices implied in the descriptive terms, e.g., dark moods, strong willed, stubborn, lying down. Judgmental language combined with oversimplified categories provides fertile fields for those inclined to make interpretations that are a part of the process of scapegoating. It is too easy to hurt people with the implication that a particular sin is based on, for example, sloth – suggesting a lack of desire to conform to the pattern of Jesus' example. As with having only two or three categorizations for dancing proficiency, rigid grouping systems of this kind are inadequate to any serious discussion of human potential - realized or thwarted."

Response #7: 

Good to hear back from you. And thanks for taking the time to explain. There's a lot of good stuff here – clearly – and as I said before, any serious challenging of so-called scientific "truth" by Christians who are active in a particular field of inquiry is always appreciated and is, in my view, a genuine (apologetic) ministry. Even for the lay person who does not really understand the ins and outs of it all (like myself in this case), the mere fact that the pseudo-truth can be effectively challenged by a believer is always going to be encouraging, especially to Christians who have questions or are being caused to doubt their faith because of this so-called "truth". After all, all modern science assumes prima facie that there is no God, and while it certainly has been possible historically for Christians to be both that and good scientists as well, scientific theory is ready made for the unbeliever who, instead of occasionally having to compartmentalize things, has ready to hand "proofs" of his atheism.

I am still not entirely sure what you mean by "scapegoating"; if it has to do with the psychological stereotyping of people (to which you refer) in an unjust way, well and good. One potential problem I see from the standpoint of Christian doctrine has to do with the issue of sin. Not being at all conversant with your field, I will use a more mundane analogy. Most of us drive. Let me liken our brains to our cars. Some are finely tuned, brand new Ferraris, some are old clunkers that can barely move. If we have a piece of junk, we certainly can't be held to account for not being able to race like a sports car can – but if either we or the other driver deliberately run down a pedestrian for making an obscene gesture, we are most likely going to jail. That is to say, from a biblical point of view sin is action we choose to do though we shouldn't (or fail to do when we should). Sin is not our inability to accomplish something, but our all too pronounced ability to do something, namely, to sin. If we have a slow car, we can't do 100 MPH, and we should not feel bad about it – that is no crime. If we have a slow brain, perhaps we can't learn calculus or Greek or neuro-science, and we should not feel overly bad about that, at least not for conscience sake. But if we run down a pedestrian with our car, or use our brain to think sinful and evil thoughts, then express them in words or deeds, that is sin, and God accounts it as such. Some sins of course are more of a temptation and more difficult to refrain from for one person than for another, but as long as we are in control of the "car", we are responsible for anything with do with that car (including running anyone down). And if the car is difficult to control for whatever reason, then we have to take that into consideration by driving more carefully (e.g., persons with a tendency to immorality should know better than to watch pornography – as should we all; persons with a tendency toward alcohol abuse shouldn't hang out in bars – as if any of us should; etc.). For in each an every case, we control the decision making – in car or brain; and in each and every case, we are responsible for and will be held responsible for the outcome – by society or by God.

I know of only two cases where this is not entirely so. The first is in the case of those who are genuinely not able to distinguish right and wrong, namely, the very young (and we train them via discipline to ensure that they figure this out as soon as possible), and some categories of the severely mentally handicapped. This may well reflect a personal prejudice but I do think that I am reflecting biblical standards when I say that my impression is that modern psychology has had a tendency to inappropriately expand the latter category and absolve people of the responsibility for their actions who do not legitimately fall into this second category (in God's estimation), a group which in terms of the percentage of the overall human population has always been extremely small (at least as biblically defined). To revert to my analogy, if you can't control your car, you shouldn't be driving, and unless you are so mentally incapable that you need 24 hr. clinical supervision, then society (traditionally anyway) and God (always) holds you responsible for your actions, crimes and sins, 100%.

The second case is that of demon possession. It is certainly true that in those situations where a person has once surrendered their will to a demon or demons who then enter in and take a measure of control over the person's body they also apparently co-opt a good part of their will as well, at least functionally speaking. The Gadarene demoniac managed to will his body to come to Jesus and fall at His feet, but the demons within him carried on the dialog with our Lord until exorcised. The degree to which present mental conditions of such apparently impaired volition fall into the gap between normal grappling with the sin nature and a state of genuinely being unable to know right from wrong as a result of true mental illness is probably unknowable, given that demons are spirits and completely undetectable by even the most modern scientific methods.

Plato was of the opinion that truly knowing what was right always led to doing what was right and that all wrong (or "sin" as we should say) was really only the result of ignorance. But scripture refutes that idea entirely and makes the issue one which is entirely a matter of choice, teaching an inherent sin nature which is diametrically opposed to the Spirit within us. How things come out depends upon to whom we listen and to which we give obedience (Gal.5:16-26). The flesh, indeed, is weak, but the Spirit is God and capable of overcoming all opposition, no matter how daunting, if only we are willing. I think that for all but the most hardened (and spiritual hardening is likewise a matter of choice), conscience is the proof of this pudding: we know we are sinners and we know sinning is wrong – at least until we willfully blot out that truth by our own bad choices.

(17) So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do with their minds emptied [of the truth]. (18) They are darkened in their thinking, separated from the life of God because of this [willful] ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts [against the truth], (19) who, when once they have lost all sensitivity [for what is right], have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. (20) This is not how you learned to follow Christ.
Ephesians 4:17-20

Thanks again for the excerpt,

Best wishes for the successful completion of your project.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

I just read your writing on the Genesis gap, The Satanic Rebellion, A Background to the Tribulation. I was wondering if this was offered in paperback or hardcover. I looked this weekend and was unable to find it at our local bookstore. Also, I am curious as to if you have anymore writings.

Thank you!

Response #8: 

Good to make your acquaintance. The Satanic Rebellion series has five parts, most of them are book length (part two is relatively short; see the link). In addition to being available for perusal online, these are all available for download in Adobe PDF format (readable by Kindel et al.) and also in RTF format (readable by MSWord et al.). The main link for the site is: Ichthys.com; the main link for the entire SR series is: The Satanic Rebellion. I also have eight out of the nine parts of the Coming Tribulation series now completed (see the link: Coming Tribulation). And, along with the Peter Series, a study of Exodus 14, and some stand alone things (like: "Read Your Bible: Protection against Cults"), there is also the Bible Basics series; 4A "Christology" is the most recently completed, but excerpts from part 4B "Soteriology" are now available at the link. Finally, the "Your E-mails" page has several books' worth of material on all manner of subjects.

None of these materials is available commercially. I have never been willing to cede any control over them to a publisher, and am also very reluctant to offer them for a fee. As things stand now, while it may be a bit of a "hassle" to print out long files from the internet, it is still possible to do so in a fairly economical way (RTF is probably the best option for this using "econo-mode" to save toner), and also to use some e-device (Nook, Kindel, I-Pad, laptop, etc.), and certainly it costs nothing to read them on your desktop computer. It's not an ideal situation, but it is better than the present alternatives in my estimation.

I would certainly be happy to help you navigate the site if any of the above is confusing to you. Please do feel free to write back any time.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #9:  

Thank you so much for getting back with me. It has truly been a blessing from God in that he led me to your readings. The reason I asked for a book, is that I have been telling everyone about reading the Satanic Rebellion and they have been wanting to read it, too.

I know I was led to your writings, it was not a coincidence. I have a son who was baptized when he was quite young and he convinced me that he was saved. Now, he has reached the teen years (and you and I know what a difficult stage in life that is) he just doesn't know if he believes. It breaks my heart. But I think finding your reading was not an accident. I made him sit down Friday night and read the Satanic Rebellion. The next morning he thanked me for making him read it. He said he wished that you had a writing for every book in the Bible. I agreed with him. Never before have I understood Genesis so well. Although he has told me he is still not totally convinced, I think your writings had a tremendous impact.

I will have my son read the other links that you provided and ask your permission to share your amazing pieces with others. Although, I understand your concerns offering your pieces to a publisher, I do pass this thought along your prose could save and bless so many.

May the Lord continue to bless you and others like me through your writings.

Response #9:  

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. I will certainly keep them in mind. Lulu publishing, for example, does have an option whereby the price is reduced if the author takes no profit for the book. But it is an involved process which, quite apart from the expense, is very time-consuming for a single title, let alone for a large corpus. One never knows what the future will hold – I may even retire some day (looking very doubtful at present). In the meantime, I am confident that the Lord is well able to see to it that those who really do need these materials (and those who really want them) can get access, even if they are "tested" a bit in the process.

I will definitely say a prayer for you and your son. Teen years are difficult for us all, on both sides of the equation; that's the nature of the society and culture in which we live. But as it says in Proverbs, "train up a child in the way he should go and when he is older he will not depart from it". Sometimes, as my grandfather used to say, we just have to "go over fool-hill", if only to prove to ourselves that there's nothing over there worth spending our lives on. That was certainly the case with myself and some near and dear. There is always hope for the godly – and for those whom they love.

Keep on fighting the good fight of faith in Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #10:  

When I attended PCB many years ago, I sat under the teaching of Dr. Clarence Mason. He was very convincing and found his view concerning last things interesting. However in my last year at the school I had to question him about many verses that I thought were taken completely out of context. He never gave me an argument and said that I could believe anything that I wanted. As a result of my "questioning", I lost may friends. I feel sincerely that the pre-mil view is full of errors and is one big fantasy. People need to be taught sanctification. They cannot be holy from learning eschatology.

Response #10:  

I have great respect and appreciation for the pastor who introduced me to pre-millennial teaching, and I learned an incredible amount from him. But the pre-Trib view is, as you pithily state, "one big fantasy" (I am, solidly, pre-mil). I am very sorry to hear that you have lost friends over the issue. When it comes to matters of biblical truth, one can compromise on accepting others who disagree, but one cannot compromise on the truth itself. I have had very good friends from many years past finally come over to the correct and biblical way of seeing this issue, have "agreed to disagree" with others, and, like you, have also experienced the misfortune of separation and/or alienation from others who felt that I had somehow let them down. But the Christian life is not a popularity contest. We are called to believe and witness to the truth no matter what that may cost us. In years to come, when the Tribulation begins, it is likely to cost us quite a lot. And that has always been one of my primary concerns for those who are waiting on the "rapture", namely, that they will be left spiritually vulnerable when it does not occur at precisely that point in history when spiritual resiliency will be needed the most.

It is true that Christians need sanctification. Turning away from sin and leading lives that are progressively more detached from sin with every step up the high road to Zion is a critical and important part of the Christian life. It is also true, however, that sanctification is extremely difficult if not altogether impossible without concomitant spiritual growth through hearing, believing and applying the truth of God's Word. That is to say, I have never seen true sanctification come from "the outside in", but always from the "inside out". Internal transformation through spiritual growth is what gives us the resiliency, the knowledge, the fire, the desire, and spiritual muscle to follow Jesus – not just for a few weeks or months or years – but consistently day after day until He returns (or until we are taken to be with Him). So understanding and believing what the Bible says about eschatology, as with every other category of biblical truth, is an important part of our spiritual growth process. We cannot ignore what the scripture says about any one area of truth, and indeed we cannot really be spiritually safe if we ignore or refuse to believe any single point of biblical truth, no matter how small. Just as in a large, tall building, removing any single brick out of the foundation is bound to be a cause of instability to the whole – and woe be if too many are missing or removed: collapse is sure to follow when any serious stress is applied.

Thank you again for your e-mail and for your dedication to the truth, even though it has cost you to be so dedicated in the cause of Jesus Christ.

(7) But whatever I had gained [in my former godless life], compared to Christ I have come to consider these things as losses. (8) Indeed, I consider everything to be a loss compared to the surpassing importance of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of everything, and consider [everything I have lost] as garbage, compared to gaining Christ, (9) and being found in Him – not having a personal righteousness [developed] through [following] the [Mosaic] law – but having that righteousness [that comes] through faith in Christ, that righteousness [that comes] from God based on faith.
Philippians 3:7-9

In the Name of the One through whom we have died to world but shall live forever more, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

 

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