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Have I Lost my Salvation and other Questions

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Question #1:  

Good evening,

Hope all is well. I wanted to first thank you for your helpful article. Initially, I joined a baptist church, and believed to accept Jesus in junior high school and was baptized. For a couple years I was really involved. But then I fell away. I prayed at times and felt I could live in a Worldly fashion, money, lust, etc, and ask for forgiveness and be safe. I grew in anger and hostility to religion. I really fell away. I am now in my late twenties. Recently, all of a sudden I have had this burning and overwhelming desire to read the Bible and search for meaning. I have become hardened over time, and I do struggle with temptations and wrongful thoughts. But now the Gospel is hitting me and I know I have erred. I am deeply troubled however by Hebrews 6:4-6 and 2 Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26. Is it not possible for someone to return to repentance after having denied God earlier? Can a person who goes through the motions, then goes his own way, come to repentance? Or have I crossed a point of no return, that is impossible as these verses seem to indicate by saying fall away. Or is falling away a consistent state that can be broken? 1 Timothy 1:13 is troubling as well. What if one willfully sins after having knowledge? I am really struggling with these sorts of chapters dealing with apostasy. I just feel like i am lost. Please help!

Thank you.

Response #1: 

Good to make your acquaintance. You are very welcome – it is always an encouragement to me to hear that these materials have been helpful to my fellow believers in Jesus.

This question of yours is one of the most common concerns my brothers and sisters in Christ share with me, and I always like to begin by stating my opinion that anyone who is troubled by the idea that he/she may no longer belong to Christ necessarily does still belong to Christ. Apostasy, biblically defined, is not merely a wandering away from the Lord and not merely a process and period of disobedience – it is the complete death of faith. There are many reasons why a person may completely lose faith in Christ or reject Him totally after having once placed faith in Him. It often involves sin. However, it also often involves some trial or tribulation or loss which the person then blames on God: "How could God let this happen to me?! If there is a God!" Whether out of a pattern of sin or disappointment or any other proclivity to do things one's own way instead of God's way, in all such cases the person by their own free will abandons all care, concern, and faith in the Lord. The faith plant of the parable of the Sower dies completely so that the individual in question no longer believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for their sins, and no longer has the least bit of interest in Him going forward (except possibly some residual hostility).

And those [whose seed of faith fell] on the rock do receive the Word with joy when they hear it. However these [types] have no root [to their faith]. They believe for a while, but in time of testing they apostatize.
Luke 8:13

The above is a much different situation from the "prodigal son" scenario. In the latter case, the believer has not lost faith, but has merely lost his or her way. Mind you, we are responsible for the way in which we conduct ourselves in the world and any and all deviations from the path we ought to take will cause trouble, especially if, as in the case of the prodigal son, we really do go off into a "far country", putting the Lord way down or even effectively entirely off of our priority list in order to pursue our own interests in this life however defined. Individuals who estrange themselves from the Lord may, in the great grace of God, be wooed back to Him in time. That is to say, just like the prodigal son, when pursuing their own interests and ignoring God leads them to dire straits as it did in the case of that young man, they may "come to their senses" and decide to return to the Lord. Naturally, having been so far away for so long, and now coming to their senses and realizing how poorly they have treated their relationship with the One who bought them, they may, just like that young man, be tempted to think and say, "I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Lk.15:18-19 NIV). But what does the Father say? "this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (Lk.15:24 NIV). God's grace cannot be underestimated, and the love of Jesus Christ who bought us with His blood is higher and wider and deeper and broader than the human mind can imagine (Eph.3:18; cf. Rom.5:17). He came to save us, not condemn us (Jn.3:17). How would our Lord then not want to have us back in His fold in good standing? And so He does: "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Lk.15:7 NIV). We, our will to be there, is the only true obstacle.

"God does all these things to a man – twice, even three times – to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him."
Job 33:29-30 NIV

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:8-12 NIV

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Micah 7:18-19 NIV

So where there is life, there is hope. Hope for the unbeliever that perhaps he/she will see the pointlessness of this life and be moved to take hold of the salvation offered freely to all in Jesus Christ, and hope too for the prodigal believer who has wandered far from the Lord, that he/she will see the pointlessness of their lives without following Christ and be moved to come back to Him and be restored. In the case of the one, absent this conversion, condemnation is the result. In the case of the other, salvation is assured as long as faith in Christ still lives deep in the heart, but, surely, life for a believer estranged from the Lord will never be satisfying, and it is certainly spiritually dangerous. For while a believer who is in close fellowship with Jesus has little to fear from the prospect of apostasy, one who is far away is in danger of turning to the left rather than back to the right, of becoming 100% estranged in the death of their faith rather than determining to come back to the Lord and be restored (see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").

Consistent with the above, there are no scriptures which teach the impossibility of restoration. Rather, scripture is replete with examples of grace given to the unworthy (and we are all unworthy), of believers restored, and of God's calls to the wayward to mend their ways and come back to Him with all their heart.

As to the verses you ask about, my translation of Hebrews 6:4-6 is as follows:

(4) For, in the case of those who have been enlightened (i.e., have become believers, "light in the Lord": Eph.5:8), and who have experienced the heavenly gift and become partakers of the Holy Spirit (i.e., have been baptized with the Spirit so that He indwells them, and by the Spirit into union with Christ), (5) and who have experienced that the Word of God is good, and [who have experienced] miracles [foreshadowing] the age to come, (6) it is impossible to restore them to [true] repentance after having fallen [into sin] as long as they keep crucifying the Son of God afresh and exposing Him to open shame (i.e., while they continue in their sin, the particular sin in question here being continued participation in the sacrificial rites of Law which foreshadowed Christ's work on the cross and suggesting by that participation that His work was ineffective).
Hebrews 6:4-6

The KJV's and other versions' "fallen away" in verse 6 is very misleading. The Greek verb is parapipto here means "fall to the side" and refers to falling into sin and not into apostasy (contrast aphistemi in the parable of the Sower). Secondly, to translate the participle which introduces "crucifying" in verse 6 as "because" (NIV) or "seeing that" or (KJV) "since" (NASB) is also very misleading, since it does not make clear the essential point as being temporal/conditional: as long as this is going on, there can be no restoration – but if it stops, restoration is possible. The prodigal son came back – and was not restored until he did. If we are in the process of a life of sin, the first thing we need to do is to change our mind about it and return to the Lord. It does no good to say we want restoration but be unwilling to stop doing the very things which are causing the estrangement. It is also important to note (as you may have read at the site on this passage) that the particular sin in question in the passage above was the continuation of Jewish ritual sacrifice by believers in Jerusalem in Paul's day. This was traditional and very tempting to continue for those who had grown up with it, but it was also, in effect, proclaiming that Jesus' work on the cross had not been effective. So on the one hand the sin here is not repeatable by believers today; and on the other hand, whatever sin we may wish to insert is an issue in restoration only as long as we remain unwilling to give it up so as to be restored.

On 2nd Peter 2:20-22, my translation is as follows:

For if after having escaped the defilements of this world by recognizing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ they should be overcome [spiritually] by becoming involved again in these foul things, then they have become worse off than they were before. For it would have been better for them not to have accepted the Righteous Way in the first place, rather than – once having accepted this holy command [for faith in Christ] committed to them – to turn their backs on it now. And so in their case this proverb is true: "The dog has returned to his vomit, and the sow, though washed, to her muddy sty".
2nd Peter 2:20-22

This verse, rightly understood, expresses the state of the unbeliever who was once a believer as being worse than never having believed in the first place. Sin is an issue because it is often at the root of apostasy – not as the ultimate cause (one stops believing of one's own free will) but as a major contributing factor (it is often by giving allegiance to sin in preference to the Lord that a person ultimately decides to throw faith overboard in the tension between the two: please see the link: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death). The operative part of the passage above is that the person has now "turned his/her back" on the "command" to believe in Christ, that is, the person is now not a believer. Since unbelievers are condemned, of course that is a sorry state. No doubt Peter thinks of it as worse because if a person has never believed in the first place, well, perhaps they might yet be responsive to the gospel appeal (so there is hope); however, if a person has known Jesus and yet has come to reject the blessings of salvation and the Lord who bought him, the chances of repentance would seem to be much less than before.

Hebrews 10:26: My translation is as follows:

For if we willfully continue in the life of sin after accepting and recognizing the truth [of the gospel], there remains no further sacrifice we can make for our sins, but only a terrible expectation of judgment, and a burning fire, ready to devour those who oppose [His will].
Hebrews 10:26-27

While out of context these verses have often troubled believers with the thought of damnation (although in the translation above I believe it is clear enough that it is continuing in sin which causes the danger – no idea of any impossibility of restoration for those willing to repent is present but rather an encouragement to repent so as to avoid said judgment), it is important to note that in the context the continuing sin Paul refers to is, as in the case of chapter six, continuing in the sacrifices of the Law which have now been abrogated by the reality of Christ's work – so that continuing to sacrifice is, in effect, trampling Jesus' and His work for us underfoot:

Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:28-29 NIV

These two sets of verses are contiguous and cannot be split apart without misrepresenting the meaning of the whole. Taken together they are clearly a call for believers to stop a specific pattern of sin.

1st Timothy 1:13: I'm not sure what the issue is with this one, unless it is that the versions say Paul was "shown mercy because" he acted in ignorance and unbelief (so that one might assume that a believer acting in cognizance would not be shown mercy). In fact, the "because" is a mistranslation in my view. I render the passage: "But I was shown mercy for the things I did in ignorance and unbelief." That is to say, the Greek does not really imply what the English translations do, namely, that only ignorance and unbelief are grounds for mercy (nor is that biblical).

The one major thing in your email, therefore, with which I would quibble then is the statement, "I really fell away", since that implies a loss of salvation. There is a big difference between becoming estranged from the Lord – something which is sadly all too common for believers in our day and age – and fully falling away into apostasy, that is, into a state of total rejection of the Person and work of Jesus Christ. If that is what you are worried about, by definition, you have not suffered it, otherwise you would not be worried. But the Spirit is remonstrating with you and wooing you back to a life of joy and obedience in Jesus Christ. Take His advice and give yourself over to growing close again to Jesus through faith in Him and His Word. This is the only safe path for a Christian to follow, and in following it closely there is great eternal reward.

Yours in the One whom we love more than life itself, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the Righteous.

Bob Luginbill

Question #2: 

Dr. Luginbill,

I'm sorry to bother you again, but I just had some follow up questions. I know you've said that what I've explained to you as my behavior years ago doesn't seem to you to be tantamount to grounds to losing my salvation, but honestly, I think I hardened my heart toward God so much during that time that I'm terrified I did just that under Hebrews 10:26 et. seq. Even though the actions described may not sound like gross sin, I truly believe that I hardened my heart so much that I'm afraid the Spirit quit striving with me. I honestly fear that there was a day that I felt Him leave me. If that were in fact the case, do you truly believe that there is hope for me to be restored to God. I have sought him so much but - nothing. Also, I was wondering if you could reconcile for me Romans 8:30 and Hebrews 13:5 with Hebrews 10:26 (and Hebrews 6:6?)? If my worst case fear was true and I committed willful sin as described in Hebrews 10:26 to the point that the Spirit left me, would that constitute blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, or the unforgivable sin?

I hope you are having a blessed Christmas season. Thank you for your continued patience.

Response #2: 

While I am happy to hear from you I am sorry to hear that all this is still troubling you so much, and I do hope that you will be able to work through this and finally have some peace as to your salvation in Jesus Christ.

I just finished up a very long discussion with a "once saved, always saved" person, and it is interesting I suppose that on the one hand so many people are determined to believe that nothing at all can affect their salvation, whereas on the other side there is a great tendency nowadays – and I believe I have shared with you that a large number of emails I receive are concerned with this very issue – to believe that salvation can be lost through the commission of sin. As I have tried to show several time, the truth lies in the middle. On the one hand, salvation cannot be secure apart from a believer's free will, because salvation depends on faith. On the other hand, salvation is indeed very secure because the only thing that can remove it is the total abandonment of faith. Believers are saved; unbelievers are not. So it is not a "half-full, half-empty" set of discussions I find myself so much involved in currently, but with those who are "all full" on the one hand and "all empty" on the other . . . whereas the truth lies in the middle.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are saved. If you are not, you are not. But everything you have shared with me indicates to me that your current status is indeed that of a believer. It's not just that you are worried and concerned for your salvation (that is certainly a valid indication of the fact that you are saved), but your entire approach to the issue and your good-hearted concern for all things righteous are completely incompatible with someone who is not "of Christ".

So the question really is all about "where are you now" and not "where were you then". The only way that the past would matter is if it were the case that "someone who is a believer whose faith then completely dies can never come back to salvation again". Let me start by saying that I do not believe this to be true or even biblically supportable – but even it if it were (which it is not) my "spiritual diagnosis" from you have shared is that it would not be a cause for concern for you in any case since in my view you never "became an unbeliever", that is, your faith though challenged and buffeted never completely waned.

Scripture is replete with examples of God wooing back to Himself those who like the prodigal son went off to a "far country". Why would God do this if there were no chance of being restored? God wants all to be saved. Why would He condemn someone who genuinely repents, regardless of past behavior however defined? Jesus died for all sins. Why would someone who now believes, regardless of previous bad faith, be condemned? Such a policy, even if there were scriptures which on the face of it suggested it, would not square with anything we know of the merciful character of God. All He asks for salvation is that we say "yes" and not "no"; if we said "no" a thousand times, one "yes" would suffice. Why would "yes", "no", "yes" be any different, as long as we end up with "yes"? Passages such as 2nd Peter 2:20-22 do not, therefore, express the impossibility of salvation again after apostasy, merely the reality that if a person who has "tasted that God is good" does apostatize, that is most likely a very firm decision of the heart which they are not going to then later change back. But we do control our free will as long as we are here in the world. That means that every believer can throw aside faith; that means that every unbeliever can embrace Jesus Christ. And all that matters is what we do in the end.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
Romans 11:22-23 NIV

God is able to graft back into His loving embrace anyone who has been cut off through unbelief.

As to Hebrews 10:26, the passage is a warning to believers. It warns us that continuing in serious sin is spiritually dangerous. It results in discipline. And it can result in the sin unto death (if we persist in gross sin but refuse to relinquish our faith) or apostasy (if we do relinquish our faith giving preference to our sin). The passage says nothing about any impossibility of repentance. "No further sacrifice" is speaking about the Mosaic Law which has now been fulfilled, so that the animal sacrifices in which these individuals were engaged were the problem and were not going to be releasing them from their sins; and since Jesus has died for all sin, there is "no further sacrifice" to wait for as the continuation in these rituals implied. We have the blood of Christ. Failing to honor His sacrifice by proclaiming it unclean is dangerous; and by application to us today any sort of continuation in sin without confession and repentance is dangerous for all the obvious reasons. But there is nothing here to suggest that there is no possibility for repentance; merely that without repentance and confession and with the continuation of sin instead there will judgment (please read the link: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death). When judgment does fall, a believer will either 1) respond positively; 2) fail to respond but hold onto faith (risking the sin unto death); 3) fail to respond and choose to relinquish faith instead of sin (resulting in apostasy).

As to Hebrews 13:5 and Romans 8:30, these and many other passages stress the fact that God will never let us down on His end of things. As long as we are believers in Jesus Christ, nothing can touch us. That does not mean He condones sin and will not punish us for it, nor does it mean that if we abandon our faith and become unbelievers we will have salvation anyway. Hebrews 6:6 says that we have to mean it when we repent and confess; we cannot make a rote confession while we are in the process of sinning with no real intention of turning away from our sins and not expect divine discipline. And, as mentioned before, continuation in a pattern of gross sinning is always dangerous. For those who do not care about the Lord all that much, believers though they may be, it may lead to apostasy (these are seeds that fall on the rocky ground); for those who do care about the Lord but who put other carnal things in place of a walk with Him, it may lead to the sin unto death (these are seeds that fall among the thorns). Neither case is desirable, but at least the later are saved "yet as through fire" (1Cor.3:15). The question is one of faith.

Finally, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is telling the Spirit that He is lying when He witnesses to Christ. The only way this sin can be committed unto non-forgiveness is by persisting in the attitude of disbelief. Whenever a person turns to Christ, the veil is lifted through the Spirit and this particular sin no longer applies (2Cor.3:16-17). So believers cannot be in a state of committing this sin. Only unbelievers are judged for this one sin for which Jesus could not die, the sin of rejecting Himself, and only if they persist in unbelief (please see the link: "The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit").

I am convinced that you are a believer, and, as such, a child of God and a member of the Body of Jesus Christ. The peace you seek will begin to happen when you accept this truth and allow the Spirit to comfort you for all your past travails.

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Micah 7:18-19 NIV

May you soon find just this peace in our dear Lord Jesus.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27 NIV

Your brother in Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Dear Sir,

How are you? Sir, Have you written anything about 1Cor.9:19-23? I want to understand these verses. Will please help me?

God bless you sir

In Him,

Response #3: 

Always good to hear from you, my friend.

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1st Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV

This passage is one of Paul's many expressions of his personal application of the Christian "Law of Love" (Rom.14:1-28; 2Cor.6:3; Gal.6:2; cf. Matt.22:37-40; Rom.13:8-10; Gal.5:22-23; Jas.2:8). As the highlighted portions of the passage above make very clear, Paul's overall purpose in his adaptation of his behavior is the furtherance of the gospel, and, specifically, to avoid giving offense to anyone in insubstantial matters so as not to hinder the most important matter of all, salvation through Jesus Christ. Here is something I have written in regard to the ministry of the 144,000 tribulational evangelists who will spread revival to Jews worldwide (in CT 2B):

Given that one of the top priorities for making this ministry as effective as possible is, as we saw in the previous point, the avoidance of giving offense in the Jewish cultural context, the use of an all male cadre would seem to be a necessity. For this principle we may recall the words of the apostle Paul, who, as far as he was able, made himself "all things to all people", adapting himself to the backgrounds of his audience whatever their backgrounds may have been, the better to win as many lives as possible for Christ (1Cor.9:19-23).

To apply the passage you ask about to contemporary Christian behavior, were I to be speaking with someone who was not saved, I would not make an issue about their hairstyle, or their tattoos, or their political choices, or any other of the myriad things that people get worked up about, but I would try to keep the focus on Jesus Christ, even if that meant having to overlook behavior which is otherwise offensive to me. Many legalistic Christians in this country make quite an issue over smoking, drinking, dancing, gambling, etc.. But it is a violation of the Law of Love to make an issue of a person's alcohol use (for example) instead of giving the person the gospel. Paul would not say to an unsaved person who was eating meat which still had the blood in it "You are violating God's law"; he would say "God offers you salvation through Jesus Christ". By the same token when witnessing we should not say to a person doing drugs, "You need to quit doing drugs"; we should say "God offers you salvation through Jesus Christ". These are extreme examples, so how much more it not true that we Christians should be careful not to make issues of things that are not even necessarily sinful, just because they offend our personal sense of propriety?

One thing the Law of Love does not do, of course, is exempt Christians from sticking up for the truth. The Law of Love does not mean that if an unbeliever who is not interested in the gospel says something like, "I believe that there are many ways to eternal life", we should remain quiet or, heaven forbid, agree with the person. Rather, the truth is where we draw the line: "There is only one way of salvation, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world!" The whole purpose behind the Law of Love is to emphasize critical truth, sacrificing all things nonessential for the sake of that critical truth. We overcome our prejudices and predilections regarding the way others look or act "for the sake of the gospel", "so as to win some", that we "may save" as many as possible. But we present the truth of the gospel in a pure and undiluted form – otherwise all of our efforts are to no avail.

Do feel free to write me back about this, especially if I have not answered the specific concerns you have about this passage.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

God bless brother Robert. I pray that all is well. I have 2 question for you.

1st - are there any authors you recommend for a study on the church of Corinthians? I'm looking for good information about an overview of the Corinthian church, background etc.

2nd - Could you provide a link to your site to how the Spirit of God indwells the saints. Literally or by the word being in our hearts.

Thanks my friend.

Response #4: 

All that may be known about the Corinthian church comes from the Bible. There are no extra-biblical sources to speak of (a couple of inscriptions which may mention some of the people named, but not much help for what you want). That means that our sources for determining what was going on in Corinth are the book of Acts, the two epistles, and the occasional mentions of the situation there by Paul, specifically Romans chapter 16. That does not mean, however, that there aren't people who have done a lot of work in speculating, often intelligently, about what can be known. Most of these excurses are to be found in that genre of work known as "New Testament Introductions". There are some good ones. My favorite is Thiessen's; close second is Guthrie's. Unfortunately neither of these is available on Google Books. There are a number of NT intros available on line in that service, but one has to be careful since the majority of such works are the production of very liberal scholarship. In checking one out from the 19th cent. in preparation for replying to this email I found a heading "the genuine epistles of Paul" – meaning that the writer didn't consider all of the canon to be legitimate (a very typical trend in liberal scholarship). Also possible help are commentaries on the epistles to the Corinthians. Most such commentaries will include a historical section in the introduction at least. Charles Hodge's does (though it is brief); and that is available on-line for free (see the link). Finally, a good "history of the Christian Church" will also say what may be said about such things. The classic one is Schaff's, also available now online (see the link).

Here's one link to the topic of the universal indwelling of the Spirit. You will also find related info at "The Filling of the Holy Spirit".

Hope this helps, and sorry for the short and sweet reply: I'm off to the airport in about half an hour and gone until next week.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Brother Robert I pray that all is well. I know you are probably out of town still, so I don't expect a response any time soon. I know you gave me links to my question about the indwelling of the spirit. But I really couldn't find the specific answer I'm looking for. I know in order to be called a child of God, we must have his Spirit. My question to you is how does God put his Spirit in us. Every since I heard some teaching from the church of Christ about how the spirit dwells in us, I must say that I have been a little unsure how he dwells in us, though I know he does dwell in me. The part were I'm a little confuse is if the Spirit dwells in us by the word in our minds, by which word we are washed and sanctified by the truth. Or does the Spirit of God dwell in our body or mind literately so? I hope I'm not making to confusing. If you could share your thoughts on this subject direct, it will be greatly appreciated. Your website is great, but on some topics, it could be very challenging suffering through the question and answer trying to find certain specific answers. As always, thank you very much for talking time to share with me. You have truly been a great help to me.

Your brother in Christ,

Response #5: 

Sorry for the delay - just got back into town and am now digging out on the emails.

As Christians, the Spirit literally indwells our bodies (cf. 1Cor.3:16; 6:19; 2Cor.6:16):

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."
John 14:16-17 NASB

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the [S]pirit is alive (lit., "life") because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Romans 8:9-11 NASB

Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
2nd Timothy 1:14 NASB

Or do you assume that the Scripture (i.e., Gal.5:17) says to no purpose "The Spirit" which dwells in you "sets its desire against" [such] envy [emanating from the sin nature, a situation rampant among you (as is evident from the examples given in verses 1-4)]?
James 4:5

Through His indwelling of our bodies, the Spirit influences us – our minds, hearts, consciences, etc. The Spirit's ministry is what makes it possible for believers to understand the truth, something impossible for unbelievers to do.

For the Spirit Himself testifies to our spirit that we are God's children.
Romans 8:16

(14) Now the unspiritual man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. They are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But the spiritual man (i.e., the believer with the Spirit) is able to discern all things, but he himself can be discerned by no one (i.e., no one can see how he "knows"). (16) For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he might instruct Him? But we possess the very mind of Christ (i.e. the Holy Spirit illuminating the scriptures which are Christ's very thinking).
1st Corinthians 2:14-16 (cf. v.12-13)

The Spirit only controls us if we cede control to Him instead of to the sin nature – that is, only if we do what we should be doing and follow the WILL of God instead of our own will at any given time.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Galatians 5:16-17 NIV

I hope this answers your question. Part 5 of Bible Basics: Pneumatology, which is all about the ministries of the Spirit, is still a ways off (though I am at work on it at present). So please do feel free to write back about any of this or if you have other related questions.

Hope all goes well – thanks as ever for your encouraging words!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

I've got some questions if you're willing to answer them. thank you!

1. so angels came down and cohabited with woman. can you hazard a guess as to how that's possible biologically? angels don't have semen do they? could they somehow spiritually manipulate a female egg to produce offspring? but that seems unlikely due to it sounding like they'd be creating something. and they couldn't have possessed human males to do it, since their offspring would be regular humans.

2. is it right to fight back if we're being persecuted for being a christian? or are we supposed to let the persecution happen and count it as joy? for example, a couple years back there was a christian school in another country that got overrun by muslims. the muslims openly attacked the school and killed the children and the adults in charge. would it be wrong to fight back and stop the slaughter, or should i let it happen because they're killing us for our belief in christ?

3. i have another question about the last supper. so jesus takes the bread, dips it and says, "i'm going to give this to the guy who will betray me." he then gives it to judas and no one connects the dots? there's obviously some kind of disconnect here with my knowledge. how did the disciples miss such an easy statement? i know they weren't stupid, right? maybe they didn't hear jesus? i just kind of assumed everyone listened every time jesus opened his mouth. i know the disciples routinely missed a lot of what jesus said, but this wasn't a parable. or maybe they thought it was?

I'm tremendously thankful for any info you can shed on these questions, and I hope grading finals is almost over for you, if not already. or maybe a full professor doesn't have to grade anything. anyhoo, thanks for all your hard work, it's definitely appreciated.

Response #6: 

I'll do my best:

1) All we know is that a) some fallen angels most definitely did cohabitate with human women; b) these women did give birth to half-human, half-angelic creature: the Nephilim (see the link). I have speculated before that the dinosaurs are most likely products of the devil and company's genetic manipulation of the pre-judgment fauna of the earth. How exactly they are able to do these things, I cannot say (how did they bring down fire on Job's flocks? Job 1:16), and I would rather not go any deeper into it because it would only be a guess (and a non-scientific one at that). Suffice it to say that there are many things that the angels do and can do about which we have no clue – and, really, there is quite a lot we don't know even about the material realm for all of our scientific prowess and progress. If we are honest on that score, the more we find out, the more we realize we don't know.

2) The distinction I draw here is between suffering personal humiliation and shame through minor abuse wherein no serious laws are broken on the one hand, and of crime/foreign attack on the other. In personal situations, Christians should turn the other cheek. In situations involving crime or warfare, they should be courageous in opposing evil. I have no problem with Christians being involved in law enforcement, the military, and also in practicing self-defense to protect life, limb and property of themselves and others – and I believe that position is biblical (for the details on this please see the link: Christian Love, the Golden Rule, Christian Military Service and Self-Defense).

3) I think this catches the notice of most consistent Bible readers. It may seem odd, but it happened, and I believe there are two essential conclusions to draw from the incident: a) the disciples made a habit of not "getting" just about everything during Jesus' earthly ministry (the gospels are replete with examples of this after all); b) Judas was the ultimate white-washed hypocrite. My guess is that while everyone else's shortcomings were fairly obvious, Judas seemed to those who had no spiritual radar (as the disciples before the cross and the gift of the Spirit certainly did not) to be a paragon of virtue, good taste, and holiness. In other words, he was so much the last person that the others might suspect that even if they did "put two and two together" it seemed to come out "five" so that they might have figured they had misinterpreted Jesus' words (and there are plenty of examples of that as well). Please see the link: Judas and the Plot to Kill Christ.

Thanks for your good words, and, yes, I just finished my grading yesterday!

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Dear Professor,

Another set of questions:

An embarrassingly basic question to ask, but when reading your response you mentioned Sabbath in the context of the fourth commandment. In catholicism it is the third, so the numbering is different. Why is that the case?

Response #7:

The numbering of the "ten words" is not universally agreed upon (although I stand by the format used which is the standard Protestant construction: see the link: The Ten Commandments). For example, Jewish tradition generally makes the introduction, Exodus 20:2, the "first commandment". Roman Catholicism follows what is known as the Augustinian division, and I believe Lutherans likewise use that schema, but as you will see from the link provided there are good reasons for preferring the system of which I and most Protestants personally make use.

Question #8: 

What do the terms 'wild' and 'cultivated' mean in the context of Romans 11:17-24?

Response #8: 

Agricultural science and technique was actually well advanced in antiquity. The grafting in of one tree's branch onto another tree's root-stock was a common activity (just as it is today in order to mix the best of two varieties, i.e., a hardy root with a more productive type for the branches: common in fruit production in the USA). The "cultivated" olive is the one which, over time, has become domesticated so as to be very fruitful and productive, whereas "wild" species have not been so cultured. The process in Romans 11:17-24 is the reverse of what is usually done in agriculture, however: the only reason in farming to graft is to put a productive stem on a hardier stock. Therefore the grafting in of the gentiles is incredibly gracious: not only do we not belong on the root-stock – we also are less productive and less fruitful by nature, making our grafting in anyway a major act of grace.

Question #9: 

Does the king of Assyria knows he is being used as God's tool in Isaiah 10:5-19? Does he start attributing his temporary prowess to himself having previously attributed it to God, or had he attributed it to himself from the start?

Response #9: 

I don't see any indication in these verses or elsewhere that the Assyrian kings of this period were at all aware (or at all concerned) about our Lord's supervision of events. The generation which responded to Jonah's mission had long since passed away at this point (at least a half a century earlier than Isaiah's prophecy here), and Assyria had apparently reverted back to paganism (at least in its ruling class).

Question #10: 

Could you please clarify what Paul means in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10?

Response #10: 

In 1st Corinthians 5:9-10 Paul is making an important distinction between necessary association and voluntary association. We live in the world, and if we were to insist on only working with and for "good Christians" or selling only to "good Christians" or only going out where there were "good Christians", we would not be able to hold a job, manage a successful business, or even go out in the world at all: we would all need to be hermits (and this doesn't even work). However, when it comes to those with whom we choose to have friendly, personal fellowship, Paul tells us to avoid hypocritical or grossly sinful "believers". Notice, we are not told to avoid having friendships with unbelievers who may be of good moral character (cf. 1Cor.10:27), nor are we told to separate from our family members merely because they may be unbelievers (cf. 1Cor.7:12-14). The only associations forbidden here are those "Christians" whose conduct is a reproach to the very name "Christian". Four examples are given. Those involved in 1) sexual immorality; 2) greed (not just an occasional attitude: the Gk. suggests a pattern of taking advantage of others); 3) fraud (i.e., criminal behavior); 4) idolatry. The list is just for illustrative purposes. Anyone who is involved in any sort immorality, gross personal sin, criminal behavior, or false religious activity while calling themselves "Christian", should be avoided by the believer rather than embraced in close friendship.

Question #11: 

You wrote: 'When a believer strays so far from the Lord and involves him or herself in such gross sin and apostate-like behavior that apostasy would result – except for the fact that the individual in question is unwilling to give up his/her faith /or/ his/her sin – God takes that individual believer out of this life in a painful and terrible way, often, apparently, by withdrawing the divine protection without which no believer would be able to continue in this life in the face of satanic and demonic opposition. The unique thing about this passage (1Cor.5) is that it is shows a very special and unique apostolic authority to bring on this judgment personally and immediately. No such authority exists today, but believers who turn their backs on the Lord to the same degree can expect the same sort of horrific exit from this life – absent repentance, confession, and turning around, that is'.

Is this 'handing over to Satan' a way of divine disciple that purges the sin, or is it the beginning of hell for that particular person?

Response #11: 

God disciplines all His children. So much is this the case that Paul can say at Hebrews 12:8, "If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. " (NIV). This "handing over" is far more serious. It represents the removal of the divine protection that believers otherwise enjoy. The devil and in fact all angels are far more powerful than the most powerful human being. Were he allowed to do so, no doubt Satan could destroy all humanity in very short order. Believers are his special target, and there is a limit to what the Lord allows the evil one and his subordinates to do to us. However, when believers get to this particular point of separation from the Lord, having broken through many barriers, ignored many warnings, and refused to confess and repent and change direction, in such extreme cases the Lord allows extreme latitude to the devil's forces. One would think that a believer in this strait, being unwilling to let go of his/her faith but also up to this point being unwilling to reverse course, would, under such terrible pressure, do just that. God is merciful, and I have no doubt that where there is still life, there is still hope. But for those who persevere in their rebellion even at this stage, the sin unto death is the result, and John assures us that there is no point even praying for someone who has allowed their spiritual life to reach such a nadir, is experiencing such intense discipline, and yet is still unwilling to repent of their actions (1Jn.5:16b). The sin unto death is reserved for believers. Apostasy is something different: that is the complete loss of faith on the part of the former Christian (see the link: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death). Since such persons have thrown aside their precious faith, there is no longer any reason for them to be disciplined by the Lord (by their own choice they now no longer belong to Him), and no great reason for the evil one to destroy them – indeed, in my observation these sorts are often regarded as "prizes" of a sort and rewarded. But whatever "benefit" a person may receive from Satan in this life, even if he/she gained the entire world, it would not be worth an hour in the lake of fire – let alone an eternity.

Question #12: 

Could you please explain Matthew 12:32 - why can speaking a word against the Son of Man be forgiven, but not against the Holy Spirit?

Response #12: 

On this question, please see the link: The Unpardonable Sin and Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit. The short answer is that the Spirit is the One who testifies to the truth of the gospel, the One who witnesses to the truth about Jesus Christ through which gospel message alone a person may be saved. Jesus died for all sin, so that all sin may be forgiven, even such a terrible thing as speaking against Him who is the Lord of life. But to "blaspheme against the Spirit" is to say, in this context, that the Spirit's communication of the gospel itself is untrue. Now if a person rejects the gospel, how can that person be saved? Jesus died for all sin, but the one "sin" for which He could not possibly die was the rejection of Himself as the means of salvation. That would have taken away the whole issue of choice and free will. In order for there to be the choice for salvation, there also has to be the choice to refuse to accept it.

Question #13: 

Your response and reading your study of angelology progress my understanding of the matter, but I still cannot understand 1 Corinthians 11:10. Why specifically is it because of the angels that a woman ought to have authority over her own head?

Response #13: 

The "symbol of authority", a woman's long hair, represents the subordinate position that women have to men in God's plan. In the angelic realm, it was, after all, the devil's refusal to accept his own subordination to God that resulted in his rebellion and the subsequent creation of mankind with the purpose both of replacing him and of validating the justness of God's judgment against him for that insubordination. In the nine verses of discussion that precede 1st Corinthians 11:10, this issue of authority is the paramount concern, and, specifically, the authority that Christ has over believers. By bringing in the angels, Paul reminds everyone in Corinth (and us too), that these are not small matters of no particular account, but in actuality matters with consequence for the entire plan of God in strategic terms. How a woman treats her hair is not a minor issue: it reflects on how she views the whole issue of authority which is the central issue of history, human and angelic both. By adding "because of the angels", Paul reminds us that we are here as a part of God's resolution of Satan's rebellion, that the angels are watching us closely and learning from what we do, and that there is no more critical part of this equation than the essential authority relationships upon which it pivots and from which no one is exempt:

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
1st Corinthians 11:3 NIV

Failing to behave properly in this matter turns all of these essential relationships upside down, at least symbolically, and that is precisely what Satan desires (as he said duplicitously in the garden: "Ye shall be like gods").

Question #14:  

Could you please explain Matt.22:11-14? Why is the person thrown away and what does it symbolize?

Response #14: 

This man represents the gentiles who are given the good news (i.e., invited even though they are not on the "A" list), but refuse to act accordingly (i.e., do not believe in Christ). Here is what I write about this passage in BB 4B:

As the context in which Jesus' words "many are called but few are chosen" occurs makes clear (Matt.22:14), the invitation to salvation goes out to many (the king compels various and sundry to come the banquet), but not all are found worthy (the man without the proper wedding garment represents those who have not been cleansed through faith in Christ; cf. Rev.3:4; 16:15; 19:8). Only the elect are resurrected to eternal life (cf. Ps.106:5; Is.41:8; 65:9; 65:22; Matt.24:22; 24:24; Mk.13:20; 13:22; 13:27; Lk.18:7; Jn.15:19; Rom.8:33; 11:7; 1Tim.5:21; 2Tim.2:10; Tit.1:1; 1Pet.2:9).

Question #15: 

Genesis 6:5-8:

5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Why does the Lord 'regret' something he knew by being omniscient? Is this a figure of speech?

Response #15: 

The technical theological term for this sort of phenomenon is "anthropopathism", that is, God being described in human terms (here, emotion) in order to communicate a point of truth in a way we will understand. Clearly, as One who could never be "surprised" by anything that would happen in time (history can only "happen" because He decreed it before He created the universe), God never actually "changes His mind" – nor can He. This expression is designed to bring us to see how "disappointing" human behavior was up until this time. It also shows how necessary the post-diluvian establishment of nationalism through the splintering of language into many subdivisions would be to keep the human race from being overwhelmed by satanic propaganda and so destroy itself.

Question #16: 

Could you please clarify 1 John 5:4? Depending on the translation, it could be understood that faith is what has overcome the world, or that it's something that has been overcome during the victory (as the 'even' may suggest in the NIV):

for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:4 New International Version (NIV)

Response #16: 

I take this in an individual sense. The world is what opposes believers and it is also that with which believers have to contend. The "kosmos" is the system of the evil one which will not be replaced until the Lord returns. In the meantime, we believers have to continue to resist "the world/kosmos" individually and personally (rather than collectively and corporately). That resistance is summed up as and identical to our faith. For by our faith we say that what we see is not real and that the lies which the "world/kosmos" of the devil spews forth are not true.

Question #17: 

Which prophecy of Jeremiah does Matthew have in mind in Matt.27:9? None of the ones I've got listed in the footnotes says what he quotes in the gospel.

Response #17:

This is a well-known crux. The quotation itself seems to be mainly taken from Zechariah 11:12-13. How then can it be attributed to Jeremiah? Two main solutions are usually proposed: a) this paraphrase contains information also from Jeremiah (i.e., Jer.19:1-13; and cf. Jer.18:2-12 and 32:6-9); Archer and Chricigno point out, for example, that no "field" is present in Zechariah and explain how they feel that may be an element Matthew is taking from Jeremiah; b) it is possible that the scroll Matthew was using combined Jeremiah with the minor prophets (or at least with Zechariah); there is some other evidence of this (e.g., Mk.1:2 citing Isaiah instead of Malachi). In antiquity, the entire Old Testament was most likely not on a single scroll, especially in the Greek version, and we are completely in the dark today about what books may have been contained with others in popular editions (the codex form dates to the ca. the 3rd century after which the larger scrolls begin to fall out of use). In either of the above two solutions, the idea is that the Major Prophet gets the top billing, even though the quote (or the bulk of it) comes from a Minor Prophet associated with him in the current edition or scroll.

Question #18: 

What would you say is the most accurate translation of Jesus' reply in Matthew 27:11? Sometimes it's translated into: 'You said it' (which can be interpreted as if Pilate said something Jesus didn't necessarily agree with).

Response #18: 

John's gospel gives the full quote: "You say . . . that I am a king. For this purpose . . . etc.". I.e., Jesus is merely explaining one facet of Pilate's statement in order to bring His response around to the really important question of why and what He was doing there: " . . . to witness to the truth" (Jn.18:37).

Question #19: 

Could you please explain 2 Corinthians 4:4? Paul says that Christ is the 'image of God', which could be interpreted as he was a reflection of the Father, but not a divine person coequal with Him.

Response #19: 

Christ is the visible face of God, especially in His humanity:

"Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."
John 14:9b NIV

The word eikon does not necessitate that Christ not be God. It merely shows that God can be seen through Him (cf. the similar usage in Col.1:15). Hebrews draws out the principle more fully:

[Jesus] is the [very] shining forth of [the Father's] glory, the precise image (Gk. character) of His essence, the One who sustains the universe by His mighty Word . . .
Hebrews 1:3a

Question #20: 

The expression 'Book of life' (Revelation 13) triggered a reflection from me - how does it relate to free will. Based on what you wrote before on a similar matter, I understand that although our choice is free, God still knows who would choose Him and who wouldn't, which means the concept of 'Book of life' and free will don't conflict with each other.

Response #20: 

The Book of Life is frequently misunderstood and misconstrued (please see the links: "The Book of Life" and "God's Plan to Save You"). Everyone ever created has their name "in the book"; it is only wiped out when a person rejects Christ, whether overtly and deliberately or by refusing to accept Him until their time runs out.

Question #21: 

 You wrote: 'He is also "Lord of Hosts", that is, commander of the angelic armies (e.g., Ps.84:3; Is.6:5; Am.5:14-16; Zech.1:3-17)'. Could you please briefly clarify how does each of these passages talk specifically about the Lord being a commander of the angelic armies?

Response #21: 

I'm not sure about the translation(s) in your language, but it is true that many English translations have "Lord Almighty" for the Hebrew phrase YHVY tsibaoth. Such translations are a mistaken attempt to simplify. The word tsibaoth means "military formations" and it is in that sense that the heavenly armies are in view (cf. 2Ki.6:17).

Question #22: 

Does Isaiah 6:7 mean that the angels have got the authority to take away the sins?

Response #22: 

It is the burning coal which touches Isaiah's lips which is said to "atone for his sins", and the burning coal comes from the heavenly altar of judgment. This is the burning fire into which Jesus went to have our sins seared away in His body during the three hours of darkness on Calvary's cross. In all of the representations in Revelation, this fiery altar of judgment (corresponding to the brazen altar in front on the temple on which the sacrifices were burned) does not appear – since the act of atonement has now been completed by Jesus sacrifice. So the coal providing atonement is a symbol of Christ's (at that point in Isaiah still impending) death that would provide atonement (in an analogous way to the blood of sacrifices representing His suffering on the cross).

Question #23: 

Some believe that Jesus was 'discovering' his deity. Is that really part of kenosis?

Response #23: 

Well, He certainly knew all about it at age 12 when He told His parents, "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Lk.2:49 NIV).

Question #24:  

Could you please explain the difference between Mk 10:17 and Matthew 19:16-26? In Mark it is said 'good teacher', in Matthew, 'what is good'? In Luke 18:19, Jesus asks 'why do you call me good?' Is this a different translation/interpretation of the same manuscript?

Response #24:

The Greek texts of Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:18 are identical: "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God". Matthew has "Why do you ask Me about the good [One]? One is the Good One". Matthew wrote first, and for a Jewish audience; Luke was next, writing for a mixed audience; by the time Mark wrote, the Roman audience who first received the book would have been predominantly gentile. Mark follows Luke (he no doubt had a copy of Luke's gospel). Matthew and Luke are most likely translating the same Hebrew phrase. Jesus had left Galilee for the last time and was already in Judea in the days before the cross when He spoke these words (cf. Matt.19:1), and Luke tells us that the individual being addressed by our Lord was an archon, some sort of Jewish "ruler" (no doubt a member of the Sanhedrin). So the conversation would have been in Hebrew. Assuming that the Hebrew was something like Delitzsch's back-translation into Hebrew: maduah tiqraeniy tobh, "Why would you call out to me 'good'?" (other renderings are certainly possible as well), both Matthew and Luke's translations are understandable as coming from the exact same original. In any case, the key elements are there in both cases, namely, Jesus' response questions the appellation used, and does so on the basis of the use of the adjective "good" (the second phrase can much more easily seen to come from a common source and, indeed, Delitzsch has the same Hebrew for both Greek phrases).

Question #25: 

Regarding Luke 18:19 - why doesn't Jesus, as God, doesn't accept being called 'good'?

Response #25: 

As to why Jesus makes these statements, in my view this is because our Lord always got right to the point in a way that cut through all dissembling and false motivations. The man's attempt to flatter Jesus by calling Him "good" (a rather unprecedented title in the Hebrew culture of that day, apparently) is not only exploded but used to expose the fallacy in this fellow's entire approach: if Jesus is really "good", then He must be God – but of course the man, though concerned about his spiritual status, is not ready to accept Jesus' deity at this point. The further discussion wherein Jesus proves to him very easily that he is not perfect completes the gospel appeal, leaving the man's hopes of justifying himself so as not to need a Savior completely undone. This is God's mercy at its most perspicuous, because unless and until we accept that a) we are sinners needed forgiveness; b) cannot live with a perfect God without that forgiveness; c) and will not live in the world forever but will face a judgment we cannot survive absent that forgiveness, we are unlikely to be motivated to accept the gospel. Indeed, everyone of normal mental competency comes to understand these things usually very early on in life (but most ignore these truths and go their own way anyway). This man was blessed to have the truth brought home to him in an especially vivid way by the Messiah Himself. We can only hope for his sake that with a little more thought he eventually decided to subordinate his will to God's WILL so as to be saved (on all this see BB 4B).

Question #26: 

Could you please explain Hebrews 4:1-11? I remember you said that the commandment regarding Sabbath has not been maintained in the New Testament, but the first verse of this passage could be interpreted as if it was kept.

Response #26: 

Actually, this chapter, Hebrews 4, is talking about the day-by-day all-time Sabbath that believers are now to celebrate in a walk of rest with Jesus Christ at all times. "Today" is always the Sabbath, as Paul teaches us in this chapter, and we are always to be resting in faith and not relying on our own works (and after all Sabbath observation had become a type of salvation by works even in Jesus' day). "Let fear lest any promise be overlooked of entering into His rest" certainly sounds to me like something that must be done at all times and not on only one day of the week (as the rest of the chapter confirms). It is the "entering in" that is the key: this is something that is done by us out faith in action, not something that needs to happen just one day a week.

Question #27: 

Could islam be considered as the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (refusing the message of the Gospel, crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection) and hence an unforgivable sin?

Response #27:

All religion which does not acknowledge faith in the Person of Christ (deity and humanity) and the Work of Christ (dying for the sins of all on the cross) is false. Anyone who deliberately rejects this gospel has "blasphemed the Holy Spirit", because the Spirit witnesses that the gospel is true, and rejecting the gospel is calling the Holy Spirit a liar. Religions don't blaspheme the Spirit; only individuals can do this. God deals with every human being one-on-one. This is a fundamental principle of the system of history He has established for the sorting out of us all according to our own choices. So if a person thinks that by "joining" a "Christian" group they are safe (without believing in Jesus), he/she is dead wrong. Similarly, it is not really the false doctrine of clearly anti-Christian groups for which those associated with them who have rejected Jesus will be judged but for their own free-will choice of rejecting Jesus (regardless of whether they associate with like-minded individuals of whatever "flavor" or not). When the truth is rejected, some lie will always be accepted to replace it. Islam is just one on a very long list.

Question #28: 

Could you please explain 1st Corinthians 11:3: 'Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God'. What is meant by God being the head of Christ?

Response #28: 

In His humanity, Jesus is (by choice) subordinate to the Father. Outside of creation, the Trinity is coequal and coeternal; that fact cannot be altered even inside of creation, but in history the Members have chosen particular roles to play in the working out of the Plan of God. The Father is the overall authority in the Plan; the Spirit empowers the working of the Plan; the Son is the Plan. Or to use a loose human comparison, the Architect of the grand strategy, the Commanding General in the field who carries out the strategy, and the Chief Logistician who supplies everything necessary for the strategy to be effective.
 

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