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Sin, Atonement and Forgiveness I

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Question #1:

Thank you for your words of encouragement, and I really appreciate your help. I've had a email from your contact & he's also on the out look for a church to help me. You've really got me thinking about even maybe starting a fellowship. Please keep me in your prayers.

Reading through your material has been awesome, you truly have a good understanding of the word of God. I guess if God wasn't with you that wouldn't be possible. I do have a question though, "Is it possible for a believer to fall into the sin of adultery one time or even two times and still have a saving faith if he doesn't repent after the sin or sins?" Paul says no adulterers will enter the kingdom of heaven, how many un-repented acts of adultery would make someone an adulterer? My guess is one. My understanding of your writings is that it's not that cut throat. The believer can still have some saving faith at that stage. I wouldn't want to stand in front of the Lord being in such a position, I don't think I can look him in the eyes, not that I can look him in the eyes anyway. Only his made that possible because of his work on the cross, which I hold fast too. Am I being a legalist having such a view, is it unbiblical? Hope to hear from you soon.

Also, as I continue to read your material I am overwhelmed and encouraged by the way you debate the "false doctrine" of "once saved always saved" (OSAS). I still believe one of the strongest passages that refutes this evil doctrine is the parable where Jesus is telling his disciples to be "Be Watchful", (Luke 12:35-48) however you've never used this passage. Why? Is it easy for a OSAS believer to argue against this passage?

Love in Christ

Response #1:

You are very welcome! And let me say that I draw great encouragement from your enthusiasm and effort. I will most definitely make a point of keeping you in prayer.

On the issue of sin, while we are not "irrevocably saved" so that nothing we do can endanger that salvation (we have to maintain our faith), it is also not the case that we are living on pins and needles in fear of losing our salvation (faith must be abandoned for us to become apostate). We are saved as long as we believe. The only thing that can endanger our salvation is losing hold of our faith. The problem with sin is that it does attack faith. What you said is very true, namely, that if we stray from the Lord in behaving in ways we know are displeasing to Him, we become ashamed to "look Him in the face", and the next step, should we be reluctant to repent and reluctant to confess our sin and reluctant to own up to the fact that the divine discipline we are receiving is a result of our own doing, then we will of necessity begin to drift away. And if we drift away far enough and long enough there will come a point when we no longer are believers.

For this reason, it is all the more necessary for us to pay attention to the [teachings] we have heard, lest we drift away [off course].
Hebrews 2:1

I give you this command, Timothy my child, in accordance with the prophecies that were made long ago about you, that you conduct a good campaign, one that is in keeping with [those predictions], holding onto your faith and to a clean conscience (cf. 1Tim.1:5-6) – which [conscience] some have rejected (lit., "pushed away") and [have thus] suffered the shipwreck of their faith.
1st Timothy 1:18-19

Generally speaking, this process of apostasy happens as a reaction to tribulation, persecution or loss. People tend to blame God for trouble (like the loss of a loved one), and when they do their faith erodes. When faith dies, when a person no longer believers in Jesus, that person is no longer saved – because only believers are saved.

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

The passage you are concerned about, 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, also includes among those who will not inherit the kingdom "the greedy, drunkards slanderers, swindlers" – and not only that: Paul adds, in the parallel passage in Galatians, just in case he has missed someone's sinful inclination, "and the like", meaning that his list here is not meant to be a complete catalog. So we would all be lost if held to the standard of not inheriting the kingdom for doing "any such thing". Blessedly, we are forgiven all of our sins in Jesus Christ, but we are also commanded not to "return to our folly" (Ps.85:8). The point is, we are all sinners; but we who believe must "pursue holiness" as the only safe course going forward in the Christian life (Heb.12:14). Sin is dangerous business not only because of the discipline it brings (and the Lord knows just how to spank us so we'll remember the punishment), but also because, when taken to extremes, it can deaden faith and lead to the loss of faith; alternatively, believers who refuse to "stop believing" but also refuse to "stop sinning" will find the sin-unto-death at the end of that treacherous road (see the link below).

In the Corinthians passage, idolatry is mentioned and we know that idolatry is, essentially, greed. The 10th commandment is the one that "killed" Paul, and who can claim they have never coveted anything or anyone since being saved? Or only done it once? Sin is terrible and deadly to our spirituality, but as long as we inhabit these sinful bodies we will be subject to falling and erring from time to time. When we do, we must change our mind forcefully about our conduct and confess our sin to the Lord (1Jn.1:9), bear up under whatever divine discipline follows (and worse sins have worse consequences, not only from the Lord but in the natural course of life), and resolve to keep moving forward, because nothing is more deadly to our spiritual growth than wallowing in guilt and seeking to punish ourselves.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV

You can find out much more about all this in the Basics series 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin, and especially the section "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

As to your other question, I do use the parable in part 7 of the Coming Tribulation series in discussion the readiness and alertness to which we are called and which we should strive to hone in anticipation of the difficult days ahead. I don't generally use the parable in regard to OSAS because it brings up the alternative problem of what I call "pins and needles salvation"; that is, to use this passage in that context would then require explaining that the punishment of the unfaithful servant as necessarily being loss of salvation, whereas in fact the idea is loss of reward as a result of unfaithfulness ("cut him apart" = the sin unto death; "put his share with the unbelievers/unfaithful" = loss of reward as a result).  

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello. My friend, I pray that you are doing well. I am still going through the Satanic Rebellion and as always, it is so good and informative. I have a question for you. I am realizing that the sinful nature was infused in us through the disobedience of Adam. Are there any solid and concrete works that you can suggest that thoroughly explain the sinful nature in an in-depth manner?

Thanks so much!

Blessings upon you in Jesus' Name,

Response #2:

Good to hear from you. Thanks for your good words! On your question, please see the link, "The Sin Nature", found in Basics part 3B of Hamartiology: The Biblical Study of Sin.

Keep up the good study of the Word of God!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hello Robert, me again.

I was rereading the emails we exchanged and still have a nagging question if you wouldn't mind me asking? Back when I was heavily engaged in gross sin (after becoming a believer), I tried to repent on a few occasions but they didn't produce fruit but there were also times when I resisted the Holy Spirit and repentance and indulged in the sin. There were long periods of time when my conscience didn't bother me at all and I sinned profusely. Isn't this repeated resisting of the Spirit the blasphemy against the Spirit and might that explain why I just do not sense God's forgiveness now? Maybe I have offended God to the point where He has cut me off forever even though I desperately desire forgiveness and restoration and have forsaken all my sins and begged Him for forgiveness? I can't seem to get any assurance that God has forgiven me for all the years of sin after believing and I usually always have a sick feeling in my stomach because of it. I can't understand why God would, or would want to forgive me for so much sin committed after believing.

Thanks Robert

Response #3:

God wants to forgive you . . . because Jesus paid the price for every single sin you or I or anyone else has ever committed. All that is required to be forgiven is to ask for forgiveness. However, what is required to have assurance of forgiveness is believing God's promises. God has promised to forgive you for all your sins when you confess them. If you do not believe Him, that is a problem. Our God is a God of mercy, and He can be merciful because the price for all of our transgressions has already been paid at the cross. Unbelievers go to hell only because they refuse (for selfish reasons) to accept the forgiveness God offers in Jesus Christ. Refusing to confess one's sins would be the believer's equivalent (and creates grave spiritual problems as well). Refusing to accept the truth of God's promise that we are forgiven when we repent and confess is a bad choice; I understand the pressures to make it, but it is a choice nonetheless. You don't have to go that way. You can choose to believe what God has promised you. Part of the problem here is the emotion of guilt and emotions generally. When you say you don't "sense" His forgiveness, well, I am not aware of anywhere in the Bible where it says anything about what we "sense" having anything to do with anything. People often elevate their emotions to a position of importance – indeed, it's the "natural" thing to do (as in "old sin nature"). But as believers in Christ it is often the case that we must reject what we are feeling in preference for what we know from scripture (see the link: "Who controls our thoughts and emotions?"). Our emotions have to be led, not pandered to, and that is often a difficult thing to do (especially until we get into the bad habit of so doing). Our God is a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of forgiveness.

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

[Through] the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. [They are] new every morning; Great [is] Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NKVJ

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

I encourage you to embrace all of that goodness, and to turn your back on self-destructive and counter-productive guilt. If you have any more discipline coming, God will provide, believe me. He doesn't need your help on that score. He has the work of the Son – and that is more than sufficient.

(8) But God commends His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) So how much more is it not true now, after we have been rendered righteous [through faith] in [Christ's] blood, that we shall be saved from the [coming] wrath through Him?
Romans 5:8-9

Here is a relatively new link on the subject which may be of some help to you:

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.

Jesus bought you with His blood. Trust me: you are very important to Him; you are part of His own Body, His Bride. And He will never let you fall out of His hand – as long as you are willing to keep accepting the mercy and grace He wants to keep pouring out upon you . . . through faith.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Robert. Thanks for your reply, your answers always help to clarify. If I might ask a couple of questions about what you wrote?

1. Why can I not seem to get from condemnation to forgiveness if the Spirit is not cutting me off? What about all the dire warnings and threats in scripture about disobedience to God such as the blessings promised to 'His people' in Isaiah 65 13-16 but the warnings to those who forsake the Lord like Isaiah 65 11-12?

2. I can't get past the shame and regret of having disobeyed the Lord so badly. How can I gain back any confidence after failing so badly. I have no confidence that I can get my confidence back.

3. What if I sinned to spiritual death like mentioned in 1 John 5? Could this be why I don't sense the Spirit?

4. Does your response at the end of your email mean if I can't embrace forgiveness fully or doubt, God won't forgive me and I am lost?

5. Isaiah 55 verse 7 has a great promise for forgiveness but verse 6 says 'seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near'. How can I tell if I didn't wait too long and I missed that?

Finally and very importantly, I am AFRAID to believe I am forgiven in case I'm not and that would incur God's anger in a major way.

Thanks Bob.

Response #4:

You are very welcome.

If the problem is sinning at present, my advice is "stop sinning" – and in this I am sure I have the Spirit of God. But, if as you say, the problem is past sin, sin long ago confessed, sin long ago dealt with by the Lord through discipline, sin long ago put away and repented of, then the answer is looking ahead in confidence and faith, not looking backward in guilt and doubt.

As to your present questions:

1) All of the dire warnings of scripture are designed to cause us to turn around. What would be the point of God making them if when the people of God did turn around in response to such warnings that God was not merciful to the repentant? But the prodigal son is always welcomed back with open arms. Our God is a God of great mercy, and we all need that mercy – and all need to embrace it with all our strength.

2) I'm very glad you asked this particular question. No one can fight the good fight of faith without putting on the full armor of God (Eph.6:11-18). What every believer needs in order to keep from being "tossed to and fro by every wind of false doctrine" (Eph.4:14-16) is to grow up spiritually. In other words, we need to be equipped to fight this fight by learning and believing the whole truth of the whole Word of God. In order to get past these things which trouble you, you cannot fight them with your bare hands. You need the helmet of the assurance of your salvation, you need the shield of faith that enables us to ward off all of these disturbing missiles of the evil one, and you need the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, understood and believed and committed to your heart by faith, in order to slay all of the lies and worries that assail you. That is, you need to be immersing yourself into the process of spiritual growth. Spiritual growth solves all problems in the end, for as we grow in the truth, accepting what is true as true by faith, and applying what we have believed to every aspect of our lives, we gain confidence and assurance of salvation and of our God's purpose for us in this life, and we begin to make a difference for Jesus Christ. Just as it is impossible to remain stationary on a bicycle without falling over, so in the Christian life we need at least some spiritual momentum in order not to lose our balance. Being pulled backward cannot really be dealt with merely by trying not to be pulled backward. At some point one has to move forward, and that is what makes all of these disturbing things go away. The more you know and the more you believe about the Word, the easier such things are to put in their proper perspective, put away entirely when appropriate, and go on to other things, mature things, in confidence of salvation and all the glories to come.

3) The Spirit cannot really be "sensed" by physical means. The Spirit is invisible and undetectable. But He can be heard spiritually, by all who open their hearts and put themselves in a position to hear through attention to the Word of God. If you were spiritually dead your conscience would not be concerned about your spiritual status. The two things are mutually exclusive.

4) You are not lost. You are merely a bit confused. Try trusting God just a little bit on this. Eventually, you will be able to trust Him more and more. As a personal matter it is hard for me to understand why once a person has decided to come back to God every single one does not do so energetically and unreservedly, but apparently that is not the universal approach (far from it). But coming back to Him is a good thing, however one goes about it. As human beings, none of us can do anything "fully" or without a sliver of "doubt". We come closest to perfection on this score when we stop worrying about the potential discrepancy and trust Him to make up any gap for us.

And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
1st John 3:19-20 NKJV

5) These words are designed to encourage believers to respond while they still may. Death makes all further response impossible, and so does the complete death of faith (apostasy). I do not believe that there has ever been a single case of a person wanting to come back to God and being unable to do so. The problem is that if a person does not grab the opportunity of restoration while it is available, sooner or later the person will stop caring and stop believing entirely. We only have this life; afterwards comes judgment (Matt.5:25; Heb.9:27).

God has promised to forgive you unequivocally. God cannot lie. There is nothing any person, believer or unbeliever, could ever do to void the forgiveness God offers without preconditions. The only thing anyone could do to put themselves beyond God's grace is to reject Jesus Christ. That is the only sin for which there is no atonement. Jesus died for everything else, large or small. You have been forgiven already not because of anything I say but because of what Jesus Christ did for you in dying for everything you are concerned about.

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die."
2nd Samuel 12:13 NASB (cf. Psalm 51)

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD" – and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Psalm 32:5 NIV

In Jesus Christ the Lord of mercy who died for all of our sins and the sins of the entire world.

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob, Thank you for sharing your wise thoughts about the teachings of "open-theism". It was also very helpful in what you shared here about sanctified anthropopathism. You are right that this theology does seem to illustrate a very "little" God. Some of the people who teach open-theism have doctorate degrees, but I agree with what you said in one of your articles in which you explained that even the vast majority of men should not be teachers/pastors because they are not properly prepared and they lack true understanding etc. Many of my facebook friends have websites in which they are 'teaching' (and a little of what they have is fairly good teachings, but the majority of their teachings are not so good), and some of them are curious about why I am very hesitant to have my own website. I read one of your articles about if women could speak in churches yesterday, and I think that convinced me even more that most people should be very hesitant to teach through websites etc (not only women, but the vast majority of men too as you stated.) I feel like when I found your website I "hit the jackpot" and if I lived 10 lifetimes I could never be able to share things as clearly, fully, and accurately as you do. I think instead of trying to make my own site that God would be more glorified if I sought ways to promote your site so that others might benefit from sound teachings.

The one area that concerns me in which I think many of the people I know would quickly stop listening to you (without even carefully looking at everything you have to say in fullness), is that when they come to an area where you teach "born in sin" they would immediately be turned off and not listen to you any further. Here is an example of what one of my friends posted on facebook today, and he is actually one of the people whom I respect more than most people.....He wrote:

"Original Sin"

Psalms 51:5 "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

People use this verse to try and prove the doctrine of "original sin".

The problem with that, is, it's a Psalm of David after he had been confronted by the prophet Nathan for "taking" Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. And he said it about himself. So…. WHY do people apply this verse, solely about David, to ALL mankind as well as themselves? Probably to excuse the sin in their own lives that they CAN but WON'T - lay down."

To me, the original sin/born in sin issue is rather minor and I try to avoid it because no matter how one looks at it, the fact remains that there is not a single person who has not fallen into sin in their lifetime. But many people I know tend to think that "original sin" is a way to make an excuse that "God made them this way" and they "can't help but be sinful for they were born sinful."

I'm hoping that if you find a bit of time one day that you might write a specific page on this issue (born in sin/original sin) and put it in your alphabetically organized subject area. This way people can know clearly that you do not see this as an "excuse for sin." I would sure appreciate that.

I think questions that various people I know from facebook would ask you would be questions like:

What do you mean by 'born in sin'? How can a baby sin when they do not know right from wrong; I thought babies were innocent? Does this mean that babies are sinners destined for hell? Doesn't sin occur when we make the moral choice to instead of sin being a part of our physical inheritance? (Also "sin nature" is a hot topic and is sort of related to this area and you might want to address this too. People would ask you questions like: What do you mean by "sin nature"? Isn't a sin nature something that a person develops out of habit rather something in our DNA? etc.

This is a big website that many people refer to when it comes to these topics:

http://www.facebook.com/l/QAQFc5-19AQH0rhECqi0pE8xvQdilQ6cRWx3edIm4slN-tA/www.gospeltruth.net/OS100bibleverses.htm

I sure appreciate you taking the time to check into this. I also thank you for allowing me share your site on my gospel video when I get it done some day. Like I said, these original sin and sin nature areas are not issues that are of great interest to me since I figure that everyone does eventually sin no matter how a person views these issue. But I know that if I one day share my gospel video with people and they see that I recommend your site, one of the first things some will do is to check and see if you teach 'born in sin' and 'sin nature' or not and once they find out that you do, then they will start chastising me etc. But if they can see your specific views on this topic and that you're not using these subjects as an excuse for people to continue to sin, nor that you are teaching that babies actually commit sin etc then perhaps they will be more open minded. Thank you so very much!

P.S. Here is another site (Standing the Gap) that people get HIGHLY influenced by when it comes to these issues:

http://www.facebook.com/l/AAQGcbqlnAQGqsVZHKxLSvKkuR-vslrvgim5D7YT5hY6mfw/standingthegap.org/

I am currently reading part 4 of the Satanic Rebellion: Background to the Tribulation series, and the whole series is extremely insightful and edifying for me. What a joy to read it and I look forward to any break in my day so that I can continue to dig deeper into this!

I am so blessed to have met you and I pray that the Lord continues to richly bless you and your ministry powerfully,

P.S. I don't read the writing of Charles Finney. I have heard that he was a great evangelist in his day. I just like to stick to the teachings of Scripture as you do and I think that is why my thinking is very in tune with yours. But I am noticing that many people do quote from Finney that I know and I think he may be the one who is inspiring them to get so intrigued with the teachings concerning OS (original sin) and sin nature doctrine. I speak with a lady who posted this on facebook from Charles Finney:

"Men plead a sinful nature for their excuse. And pray, what is this sinful nature? Do you mean by it that every faculty and even the very essence of your constitution were poisoned and made sinful in Adam, and came down in this polluted state by inheritance to you? Do you mean that you were so born in sin that the substance of your being is all saturated with it, and so that all the faculties of your constitution are themselves sin? Do you believe this?

I admit if this were true, it would make out a hard case. A hard case indeed! Until the laws of my reason are changed, it would compel me to speak out openly and say--Lord, this is a hard case, that Thou shouldst make my nature itself a sinner, and then charge the guilt of its sin upon me! I could not help saying this; the deep echoings of my inner being would proclaim it without ceasing, and the breaking of ten thousand thunderbolts over my head would not deter me from thinking and saying so. The reason God has given me would forever affirm it.

But the dogma is an utter absurdity. For, pray, what is sin? God answers--"transgression of law." And now you hold that your nature is itself a breach of the law of God--nay, that it has always been a breach of God's law, from Adam to the day of your birth; you hold that the current of this sin came down in the veins and blood of your race--and who made it so? Who created the veins and blood of man? From whose hand sprang this physical constitution and this mental constitution? Was man his own creator? Did sin do a part of the work in creating your physical and your mental constitution? Do you believe any such thing? No; you ascribe your nature and its original faculties to God, and upon Him, therefore, you charge the guilty authorship of your "sinful nature."

But how strange a thing is this! If man is in fault for his sinful nature, why not condemn man for having blue or black eyes? The fact is, sin never can consist in having a nature, nor in what nature is; but only and alone in the bad use which we make of our nature. This is all. Our Maker will never find fault with us for what He has Himself done or made; certainly not. He will not condemn us, if we will only make a right use of our powers--of our intellect, our sensibility, and our will. He never holds us responsible for our original nature. If you will observe, you will find that God has given no law prescribing what sort of nature and constitutional powers we should have. He has given no law on these points, the transgression of which, if given, might somewhat resemble the definition of sin. But now since there is no law about nature, nature cannot be a transgression.

Here let me say, that if God were to make a law prescribing what nature or constitution a man must have, it could not possibly be otherwise than unjust and absurd, for the reason that man's nature is not a proper subject for legislation, precept, and penalty, inasmuch as it lies entirely without the pale of voluntary action, or of any action of man at all. And yet thousands of men have held the dogma that sin consists in great part in having a sinful nature. Yes, through long ages of past history, grave theologians have gravely taught this monstrous dogma; it has resounded from pulpits, and has been stereotyped for the press, and men have seemed to be never weary of glorifying this dogma as the surest test of sound orthodoxy! Orthodoxy!! There never was a more infamous libel on Jehovah! It would be hard to name another dogma which more violently outrages common sense. It is nonsense--absurd and utter NONSENSE! I would to God that it were not even worse than nonsense! Think what mischief it has wrought! Think how it has scandalized the law, the government, and the character of God! Think how it has filled the mouths of sinners with excuses from the day of its birth to this hour!

Now I do not mean to imply that the men who have held this dogma have intelligently insulted God with it. I do not imply that they have been aware of the impious and even blasphemous bearings of this dogma upon Jehovah;--I am happy to think that some at least have done all this mischief ignorantly. But the blunder and the mischief have been none the less for the honest ignorance in which they were done. ~Charles Finney

Anyways, I thought I should share this added information with you Bob because I am seeing more and more that this is a topic that many people are really concerned about, and I think people are confused and need true clarity concerning this. I hope that you might be able to help them sort through all this. Thank you and God bless you.

Response #5:

As always, I draw great encouragement from your kind and enthusiastic words!

The passage you include from Finney illustrates quite well what I would wish to say about this issue. First, there is a difference between "preaching original sin / born in sin" and holding to an orthodox and doctrinal view of scripture. I certainly never hammer people over the head with the fact that we are born with a corrupt body . . . and certainly would never even so much as imply that this gives us any excuse whatsoever when it comes to personal sin. As the Finney passage makes clear to me, therefore, this discussion seems to be more one of emphasis, definitions and personal "hobby horses" rather than a true doctrinal disagreement. After all, there is hardly a page in the Bible that does not establish that human beings are not sinlessly perfect (regardless of the English version preferred). E.g.:

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:21 NIV

"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Luke 5:32 NIV

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:23 KJV

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.
1st Timothy 1:15 KJV

Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins and did so by dying for our sins on the cross. Since every Christian who is a Christian indeed realizes that his/her salvation comes as a result of accepting Him as the Substitute for our sins, surely the truth that we are not perfect ought to be a basic one. If we were perfect, we would not need a Savior. It is because we are not perfect that Jesus had to die in our place.

How many sins does it take to condemn us? Only one. Just ask Adam and Eve.

Assuming, therefore, that your correspondents are good Christians who understand all this (and it is hard for me to believe that a person who thinks he/she has never ever committed a sin in his/her life could be saved), then perhaps the "problem" is indeed along the lines of Finney's rant, that is, worrying that teaching a "sin nature" or that we are all "born in sin" will lead some people to believe that they can sin with impunity.

First, anyone who thinks that they can sin with impunity – for whatever reason – is completely ignorant of scripture. The fact that one extreme is absolutely wrong and potentially dangerous, however, does not mean that the opposite extreme may not be equally wrong and dangerous (it usually is).

The only safe course is to teach what the Bible teaches and believe what the Bible proclaims, taking the truths directly from the Bible and being careful about employing traditions – and traditional phraseology – in its place. Scripture does not use the term "sin nature" nor the phrase "born in sin". If someone has a problem with these terms, I do "get" that. My point would be that it is important to consider what the person using these words means by them. If they mean "you can't stop sinning so don't try", that would be terrible. If, however, they mean, "Adam passed down his sinful flesh to us all so that we all have a propensity to sin which we must fight constantly", that is certainly biblical.

The Bible never uses the word "Trinity", but that is certainly a basic and vital doctrine, regardless of the name employed to reference it. Similarly, though the Bible doesn't use the term "sin nature" or "born in sin", it is very clear that scripture teaches, whatever name we choose to give this concept, the corruptness of our flesh as being a consequence of our Adamic heritage (see the link: "the sin nature"). We are not required to follow the prodding and lusts our of flesh. Indeed, we are commanded instead to master sin (Gen.4:7), and as Christians to follow the guidance of the Spirit instead (Gal.5:16-25).

Is there really anyone out there who has not had to struggle with the flesh against sin . . . of any kind? If someone makes this claim and really believes it, in my view it would have to mean that said person has not realized how wide and high and deep sin really is. Only by redefining sin for our own benefit, limiting what may or may not be considered a sin far beyond the biblical reality, can anyone even come close to pronouncing themselves and their conduct beyond reproach.

As Christians, we are called to pursue sanctification from sin (1Thes.4:3), and without fighting that fight we stand to lose the fight altogether (Heb.12:14). But the very fact that it is a fight demonstrates the reality of the enemy within and also our inability to run an absolutely perfect race. Only Jesus was able to do that, and because He did He was able to offer Himself up for all of our sins that we might be saved. Claiming that something sinful we have done is not a sin is an immense dishonor to the One who died in darkness and flame for that very sin we wish to cover up.

Yours in the grace and forgiveness of God purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi. It's great hearing from you as well. Thanks for your prompt response. I will look into this study. Now I am starting to understand Romans 7 and myself more and more. There is truly no condemnation for those who are in Christ. I thank you so much for your teachings.

I have a question, did the sin nature not pass through Eve because Adam was created 1st?

Thanks so much,

Response #6:

People speculate on the mechanics (I am no biologist and moderns science's understanding of DNA et al. is not complete), but the reason is that Eve was deceived while Adam was not deceived. Both sinned, but the fact of the first man's understanding of his culpability before he ate the fruit of the tree of knowing good and evil is what has caused sin to come down through the male line. That is the distinction scripture makes both in Genesis chapter three and elsewhere:

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2nd Corinthians 11:3 NIV

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
1st Timothy 2:13-14 NKJV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I have heard many times, and in many sermons, that God symbolically atoned for Adam and Eve's sins by clothing them with animal skins in the book of Genesis. I cannot figure out how they make this connection. As I read and understand the bible, I understand that there is remission of sins only through the "shedding of blood". Although one can argue that there was shedding of blood because how else would God get animal skins. I simply see the animal skins not as symbolic of atoning for Adam's sins, but to cover their nakedness. Can it be shown using exegesis and hermeneutics, that the animal skins was indeed symbolic of a form of atonement?

God Bless,

Response #7:

Always good to hear from you. As to your question, this is what I teach too, and the teaching has a very good evangelical pedigree. In fact, it goes back quite a long way. This is often called the protoevangelium, or "first giving of the gospel". Adam and Eve had already clothed themselves to hide their nakedness, after all – with large leaves (usually called "fig leaves", but that is not in scripture). This covering, while good enough from the human point of view, was insufficient to cover what their nakedness and, more to the point, their consciousness of nakedness represented and meant: their disobedience in eating of the tree of knowing good and evil and the inherent sin their bodies acquired as a result. Thus the symbolism of covering their bodies represents covering sin. Adam and Eve sought to cover their sin with human good, with their own works – that was not acceptable to the Lord. But the Lord found a way for them to have their nakedness, their sin, covered in a manner acceptable to Him: through blood sacrifice.

Since all of the other parts fit together, this must be what is meant. After all, God could have just let them keep on with the fig leaves. It's not the covering itself but the One who pays for it that counts. Skins required the shedding of blood and only God is authorized to do that (unless and until He delegates that authority to mankind): blood represents Christ's sacrifice, and that is why it is unlawful to eat/drink it (e.g., Gen.9:3-6). So just as the skins which required the shedding of blood covered Adam and Eve's sinful bodies, so Christ's blood covers all of our sins and opens the way to salvation.

Here is another link which talks about this issue: The Protoevangelium

Yours in Jesus Christ who has covered the sins all who belong to Him with His precious blood, His death to sin on the cross,

Bob L.

Question #8:

In the same way [that Christ did], consider yourselves as well to be [positionally] dead to sin, but [spiritually] alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord! So do let sin reign in your mortal body so as to obey its lusts, and do not offer up your [bodily] members to sin as weapons of unrighteousness. But rather offer yourselves up to God as those now alive from the dead, and [offer up] your [bodily] members to God as weapons of righteousness. Because sin will not (i.e., must not) rule over you, for you are not under [the] Law but under grace.
Romans 6:11-14

Regarding this passage - is it a matter of translation to use either 'will not' and 'must not'?

Response #8:

As to the will/must issue, the future tense in Greek (as sometimes also in English) can be emphatic. It's a matter of context. This is most often seen in situations as we have here when expressing something that one wants to have happen as opposed to something over which one has a good expectation of control. E.g., normal: "I will go to the beach tomorrow"; emphatic: "You will clean up your room!".

Question #9:

Regarding what you wrote, I assume then that Paul here uses the 'You will clean up your room' emphatic expression when saying 'Because sin will not (i.e.,*/must not/*) rule over you'?

Response #9:

Yes, that is my understanding. Clearly, if we do not make the effort, sin can come to rule over us (every believer needs to understand that danger). So Paul is doing what all good Bible teachers do (cf. John's practice in 1st John; see the link), namely describing us in the way we should be in hopes that we will rise to meet that standard to which we have been called and to which we are being held (rather settling for the mediocre which can easily metastasize into spiritual decline and the sin unto death or worse: apostasy).

Question #10:

I asked about 1 Corinthians 14:20: What does Paul mean by 'being infants in evil'? Is it the case of naturally staying away from it, through fear for example, or is it a metaphor of being so far away from it that we don't know it, like infants? Since you answered: "Yes, I think that is it exactly. Compare Matt.10:16; Rom.16:19; 1Cor.14:20". I take it that both the fear of evil and innocence (being far away from it) apply there?

Response #10:

Yes. Whether staying away from something out of ignorance/innocence or out of adult/informed fear, either way we stay away. And since we really are adult/informed, the posture of ignorance/innocence is just a posture (i.e., we can't really become ignorant/innocent but we can act like we are in staying prudently away from everything evil). See the link: The Interpretation of 1st Thessalonians 5:22

Stay away from anything that [even] looks [like] evil.
1st Thessalonians 5:22

Question #11:

A possible correction to BB 3B: I think the wording "questionable accommodation with the world" would help:

Therefore in everything we do we need to cultivate habits of thinking, of speech, and of overt behavior which avoid sin, compromise, and, ideally, even the appearance of *(any) questionable accommodation with the world*.

Response #11:

Here is what I changed it to: "Therefore in everything we do we need to cultivate habits of thinking, of speech, and of overt behavior which avoid sin, questionable accommodation with the world, and, ideally, even the appearance of the same." I put the "appearance" at the end so that 1) it would apply to all the leading elements, and 2) not to over-emphasize the "appearance" factor. Ultimately, it is not how things appear that counts. If we are not causing our brothers to stumble, it is our business "how things appear". And, on the other hand, the Pharisees were great about appearing holy, only they were anything but. Hypocrisy is a major problem for contemporary Christianity, so I would prefer to keep this part on a "nice to have but not the real issue" basis rather than making it sound too important.

Question #12:

Could you please clarify:

Deuteronomy 18:19:
And it will come to pass that the person who does not listen to My words which He will speak in My Name, that I will require it of that person' (i.e., hold him responsible for rejecting salvation).

I understand from your comment that to 'require it of that person' means that whoever doesn't listen to the Word will be held responsible. Could you explain why this wording was used? Is it a Hebrew expression ('require something of somebody') or should it be taken literally, for example that at some point everyone will have to listen to these words and acknowledge them, for example during the final judgment?

Response #12:

On Deuteronomy 18:19, "require it of someone" is how most of the English versions render the Hebrew 'edro'sh meimmoh
(אֶדְרֹש מֵעִמֹּֽו), a little more literally, "I will seek from him". NIV has "I myself will call him to account". The problem is that the Hebrew focuses on the process of divine investigation which is, theologically speaking, the important thing. That is because whenever the Lord "officially" looks into anything, the result is always fair and immediate justice rendered. That is why, for example, conducting a census, even at divine direction, required a specific redemption (i.e., to avoid the consequences of sinful people beings scrutinized by a perfectly holy God: Ex.30:12), and why there was such catastrophe when it was not legitimate (in the case of David's census: 2Sam.24:1; 1Chron.21:1). One of the three main conclusions of natural revelation is just this, namely, that everyone will have to give an account to God who is absolutely just and holy (so that without a Substitute we stand no chance of passing muster). In English (and in most other languages no doubt), we do not see examination as necessarily resulting in judgment (which is the case biblically), so that some adjustment of the translation is usually deemed necessary.

Question #13:

You wrote: our highest love (Phil.1:21) - why did you opted for this passage to support this point?

Response #13:

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (Jn.15:13 NIV). If we are willing to die for Jesus, seeing death as gain, living only for Him in the meantime, since for us "to live is Christ", then we demonstrate that we do love Him more than anything else in this life.

Question #14:

You wrote:

Often, the worse we fail, the more pronounced this reluctance may be, even though such times are the very worst times to delay the process of admitting our errors to ourselves and then confessing them to God in a truly contrite way (cf. Elijah in 1Kng.19:1-18).

Did you put the reference to Elijah because his confession is exemplary, or exactly for the opposite reason (as it was affected by self-pity, as you wrote)?

Response #14:

For the opposite reason. Elijah's self-pitying refusal to make a true confession but rather seeking to justify himself – and God's correction of him – is famously quoted by Paul at Romans 11:2ff.

Question #15:

Regarding Exodus 34:5-7, I am still unclear about why God is 'visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations', since all of us will be judged for our own faith and deeds?

Response #15:

Yes, that is true. But it is also true that the Lord levels ascending judgment "to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me", and the attitude of hating rather than loving the Lord is the operative factor. For anyone who loves the Lord, He is merciful and gracious and forgiving, beyond comprehension; for those who reject Him, He rejects them, and in ascending fashion if it is a case of one generation following the next in doing so.

Question #16:

Hebrews 2:14:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

Could you please clarify the ending of this passage - 'him who had the power of death, that is, the devil'? Should death be understood as Satan's 'domain'? In what sense specifically did Satan have the power of death? I understand that death came upon humanity through sin and devil's temptation, but 'power of death' is still unclear to me.

Response #16:

Another difficult passage. My understanding of this is that the devil uses the fear of death to enslave human beings to his systems and ways of thinking (covered in the SR series). For all those who do not respond to God as a result of the universal calculus brought about by God's natural revelation (death, sinfulness and judgment – are seen and anticipated by all people, at least initially: Rom.1:18-32), the devil uses the terror of the grave to coax human beings into false religions and all manner of other sinful and evil activities.

Question #17:

Hebrews 9:27-28 (NASB):
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Could you please explain Paul's comparison of men's death to Christ being offered to bear the sins of many?

Response #17:

The point of comparison is the one death followed by the one eternal future: human beings die only once, but after that are judged in respect to their eternal status (believers for reward; unbelievers for demonstrating that they deserve judgment). Christ also died once and only needed to die once for all of our sins since His sacrifice was efficacious for all time. As a result, when He returns it will not be to bear sins again – as the continued Levitical sacrifices these believers were wrongly engaging in blasphemously suggested – but to do the judging, and to deliver from the threats which these people were fearing those who are really trusting in Him. Logically, the fact that Christ does not need to repeat the cross is the main point of the comparison; rhetorically, this gives Paul an opportunity for reemphasizing the point that his readers need to accept that and stop doing what they were doing and trust Christ instead.

Question #18:

I believe many adopted ES to counter 1) ridiculous "sinless perfectionism"

Could you please clarify how the false teaching of "Eternal Security" counters 'sinless perfectionism'?

Response #18:

In a nutshell, if we assume we are saved no matter what, then we don't have to worry about the false doctrine that proclaims that all true Christians never sin at all, that if we sin we are not saved or lose our salvation or at the very least are in need of some sort of works of supererogation or special intercession. These are the two false extremes where the true doctrine of Christian security is concerned: 1) absolute security (so we need not be at all concerned about sin) and 2) virtually no security (where one sin damns us or proves we are not Christian, forcing us to redefine sin to our own benefit or else despair of salvation altogether). In reality, all believers are saved; the problem (for salvation) with sin is that it attacks faith.

Question #19:

How would you explain Romans7:17 and 7:20 in light of the fact that we are responsible for our own sin?

Response #19:

It can both be true that persons with a sin nature who are not saved have no power to prevent sinning absolutely (even we believers with the Spirit lapse from time to time) and yet the person can still be completely responsible for their sins. After all, even though the sin nature "did it", we still chose to follow the sin nature. If we found ourselves in Eden before the fall, in non-corrupt bodies, we would not do anything sinful and would have no inclination thereto – except in regard to eating of the tree of knowing good and evil . . . and sooner or later we would fall just as our first parents did.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

Do you think that "ALL" Christians depart from this life when they die in a state of PERFECTION and ABSOLUTE FORGIVENESS?

Meaning they have confessed ALL their Sins and have received the required appropriated FORGIVENESS for those Sins?

Response #20:

I know this is a problem for R.C. doctrine (hence the "last rites"). The "litmus test" in biblical terms is whether or not a person is a believer upon departure from this life. If not, that person's name is blotted out of the Book of Life (if it hasn't already been through overt rejection of Christ).

Sin being what it is, it is likely (in my view) that a large number of believers have departed without having confessed some things at least. If we were being held to an absolute standard of perfection, we would all be doomed:

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
Psalm 140:3-4 NIV

Blessedly, Christ died for our sins; it is not about sin, therefore, but it is all about Christ who died for our sins – a gift of grace we appropriate and hold onto through our faith.

Yours in the One in whose blood we have washed our garments clean, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your kind and prompt response. I COMPLETELY AGREE with you that it is most likely that Christians will depart this life with some minor unconfessed/unforgiven Sin. This stems the argument made by those who support the misguided notion of Eternal Security who declare that respective of their absolute forgiveness of all FUTURE Sins at the Justification experience they will stand at the BEMA Judgment Seat of Christ in a state of absolute Sinless PERFECTION. I am of the opinion that, while in this life, any major Sins are brought to the attention of the Believer by the Holy Spirit who will encourage their sincere confession and their subsequent promised forgiveness. Although, minor Sins (i.e. hidden Sins) are another matter altogether or a Sin(s) that occurs without the ample opportunity to confess and ask God’s forgiveness (i.e. a Sin that occurs just moments before a Believer "suddenly" departs this life). This is why I asked you the question earlier regarding 1Cor. 3:15 and the hay, wood or stubble – are these merely "consequences/fruits" of works/sins built upon the Foundation Christ or does this Judgment of the Saints also include the minor Sins (i.e. venial) that are unconfessed/unforgiven by Christians and God respectively? However, the willingly unconfessed/unforgiven major Sins of Gal. 5:19-21 will most definitely not be acceptable and will remove a Believer from their Justified position in Christ. Therefore, the nonsense promoted by those who practice the doctrine of Eternal Security, who declare that these below cited FUTURE Sins, have already received their absolute appropriated forgiveness for all perpetuity, render these Passages as null and void – respective to them.

Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV)
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Moreover, some are now going as far as to suggest that the hay, wood, or stubble are not relative to their Sins in this life at all, but rather only a Judgment between their Best (Good) and Better (Gooder) Works. They support the heretical notion that there are NO CONSEQUENCES for their Sins beyond this life. I hate this untruthful infectious doctrine of Eternal Security/OSAS/Perseverance of the Saints/Reformed Theology, etc. One literally CANNOT believe this doctrine and be SAVED ... it is a direct attack on God’s Atonement and Justification principles and His Plan of the Cross and likewise, but not least, puts both God and Christ to an open shame respective to their suggested permission and support of unbridled and unchecked Sins.

Response #21:

As you know, I am not a proponent of "once saved, always saved", because it ignores the biblical truth that only believers are saved, and it is indeed possible for a believers to stop believing entirely (it's called "apostasy" in scripture; see the link). As our Lord tells us:

Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away (i.e., they "apostatize" <aphistemi from which "apostasy" is derived).
Luke 8:13 NIV

The point, however, is faith, not sin (at least not directly). Chronic sinfulness, especially of a gross and particularly arrogant type, is antithetical to faith because it is violently and willfully doing precisely what we know our Lord has told us not to do. Go down that road far enough and eventually the choice will lead to death of faith (or physical death; see below). But people lose faith for other reasons too. In fact, in my experience and observation, it may be that more fall away on account of being "disappointed with God" than because of an unwillingness to give up excessive and gross sin. However it happens, loss of faith is what produces apostasy – because all believers are saved without exception, and all unbelievers are lost and there are no exceptions. Very common among believers who indulge mightily in the types of sins you ask about is the "sin unto death", where the Lord takes a person involved in such gross conduct home before faith is lost, doing so in a very unpleasant way. The Corinthian man guilty of incest – and it is hard to imagine a worse brand of sinning – was subjected to the "sin unto death" pronounced by Paul (a special apostolic power which does not exist today – the Lord makes this decisions directly now), yet with the purpose of saving him from apostasy:

" . . .hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. "
1st Corinthians 5:5 NIV

As this verse indicates, the person involved faces the destruction of his body "so that his spirit may be saved on the Day of the Lord", that is, at Christ's judgment seat. No doubt such sinful conduct and the ignominious departure from life under the sin unto death are very destructive of any potential reward – but the person himself/herself is saved in such situations. The reason is faith. Some people who become enamored of gross sin depart from God so as not to have their consciences bothered or be subjected to His disciple any longer. These abandon their faith and are lost. Some are unwilling to give up their sinful ways but are also unwilling to give up their faith. The Lord only tolerates this "dancing between Baal and the Lord" for so long (1Ki.18:21). If a person ignores the increasing divine discipline for their behavior – and the Lord knows just how to get our attention – that discipline eventually becomes terminal. For the details on all this, please see the link: in BB 3B: Hamartiology: the biblical study of sin: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

Finally, it always good to remember that there are all manner of sins, and even the ones we may see as somewhat innocuous compared to gross and disgusting carnal behavior can have precisely the same effects. That is why in verse 21 of the passage you quote, Paul adds "and such like", lest we think that any category or type of sin is exempted because of not being on his list: Christ had to die for every sin. In His eyes, they are all damnable. Praise be to the Lamb that He has cleansed all of our sins away, and given us the ability to wash our garments in His precious blood!

Yours in our dear Lord, Jesus Christ the Righteous,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your kind, prompt and scholarly response.

I COMPLETELY AGREE with you that no matter how small the Sins they are nonetheless malignantly infectious and can only lead to greater Sins.

Meanwhile, this brings me back to my original concern - What do you suggest actually happens to our unconfessed/unforgiven Sins at the Judgment Seat of Christ that we depart this mortal life with and do they have ANY relationship whatsoever to the hay, wood, and stubble of 1Cor. 3:12?

Response #22:

You're very welcome.

On sins at the judgment, as I think I wrote at some point, the judgments seem to be focused on "what we've done", that is, they are a complete review of every single choice we have made on this earth for both believers and unbelievers. It is difficult for me to see, therefore, how anything can be kept out of the account if a person's entire life is the basis for judgment. Christ died in atonement for the sins of all mankind so that in the case of the last judgment of unbelievers we find them condemned for the single sin of refusing to accept God's Sacrifice for sin. The detailed investigation of their lives will be for the purpose of showing that nothing they did excuses them for this failure (i.e., no "good life" or "good works" carries any weight with God, having been done apart from the Spirit), as well as to demonstrate that they knew very well what they were choosing whenever they chose.

Believers are evaluated for the purpose of reward, but part of the judgment also seems to be demonstrating how we fell short of doing everything we might have done. In this respect, all fall short. But, clearly, there will be some with ample "gold, silver and precious stones" not only to rate the top tribe of the top quartile in New Jerusalem, but even so much so as to advance to Levite status so as to reside in close proximity to the throne (for more on all this please see the link: "The Gemstone Foundations and the Tribal Gates of New Jerusalem"). So it is hard to imagine that any of us will be absent "wood, hay, and stubble", at least entirely so. Even Paul was concerned about this (i.e., "we know what it is to fear the Lord" 2Cor.5:11 NIV in the context of discussion this judgment), and it is also hard to see how sin will not be inextricably linked to the production of these three worthless products. However, as with unbelievers, even more so for believers, sin – for which Christ paid the entire price – will be of no moment in regard to salvation or punishment: just as unbelievers will all come out of the judgment condemned and will be ushered immediately into punishment, believers will all come out of the judgment justified and will be ushered immediately into eternal life.

Given the above, beyond the obvious that someone who hasn't confessed his/her sins for years at the point of death will also therefore most likely have been completely unproductive for Jesus for most of that time, I'm not sure what difference confessed vs. unconfessed sin will make – other than the fact that not confessing is contrary to God's will, spiritually detrimental, and for these reasons will factor into the judgment negatively, even more so than sin of the confessed variety.

The other point, of course, is that everything we do which we shouldn't or fail to do which we should surely affects our "gross life product", both in worthless production as well as in lost positive production. From Paul's description in 1st Corinthians chapter 3, it seems very clear, however, that after the fact the one category does not affect the other. That is to say, when we stand before our Lord on that great Day, regardless of how we got the "gold, silver and precious stones", they will stand the test of the evaluation and will not be diminished or sullied by the "wood, hay and stubble". The latter will be burned up as a category apart, no matter how large the pile may be as compared to what is of eternal worth and no matter of what it is composed. So the picture scripture presents is at once sobering (if taken to heart in the manner of Paul) and also encouraging: it should motivate us to be as efficient as possible for the Lord on the one hand so as to make that Day one of as much joy and as little sorrow as possible, while assuring us on the other that nothing we do for Him, not even a cup of cold water given in His Name, will ever lose its reward.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Dear Dr. Robert D. Luginbill,

Greetings from DownUnder Australia.

Regarding Hosea 11:1:

Matthews referential use of Hosea 11:1 does not pose a problem when seen in context of Matthew 15:24; Jeremiah 31:31, 35-37 and the rest of the OT.

It applies to both Jesus and Israel in that Jesus the sheep took Israel's place as their second Passover and final Atonement sacrifice.

Israel, God's adulterous wife, was irrevocably executed in Jesus and the transgressions of Israel, God's firstborn son, were duly atoned for at the same time in order for them to keep on running with the Abrahamic promises to their ultimate intended fulfilment.

Jesus life course paralleled that of Israel from the Exodus to their execution/atonement in him. The only difference being that in him they demonstrated perfect obedience not only to the letter of the Law but more significantly to the spirit of the Law, resulting in a continuance of their life and the purposed journey to the ultimate fulfilment of Exodus 19:5-6 by means of the ethnic amalgam of Galatians 3:28-29 amply explained by the same Paul in Romans 11:1-26.

The offering of Abraham's only-begotten-son for the preservation of Abraham's seed still in Isaac's loins, completely prefigured the fulfilment of God offering His only-begotten-son for the seed (world) of Abraham Israel (Strong's 2889- Government & decoration) he loved so fervently as per John 3:16, who in turn was likewise saved by the substitutionary sheep Jesus dying in his place.

Jesus' agony on the garden of Gethsemane is certainly indicative of the one-way trip to death he was about to take being completely out of sync with the principle Paul expressed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are sleeping [in death]; that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.

The hope set before him was the knowledge of having provided the body to take the place of the only-begotten-of-god actually offered for God's firstborn son Israel -Exodus 4:22.

In Hebrews 10:5 Paul quotes from Psalms 40:6 a verse completely mangled by almost all translators except those he directly quoted from J as per these two green-headed translations:

Had John 3:16 meant to convey the sacrifice of the only begotten to be for mankind, who could not transgress for having had no law and unable to inherit sin on the basis of the Law that sons were not to be punished for the sins of fathers (Deuteronomy 24:16), then John would have used Strong's 3625 to encompass the whole inhabited earth, even as he did under inspiration in Revelation 12:9.

Like the sheep in the Abraham-Isaac pre-enactment and all sacrificial sheep gone before and since - none ever come back.

A very interesting aside must be that the sheep caught in the thicket was no offspring, son, only-begotten or whatever progeny of Abraham. He simply prepared that body and slaughtered it in place of the one actually offered.

Who was that body in the fulfilment? Hebrews 10:10 By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Who are the we here in that verse? The Hebrew remnant out of redeemed Israel who had returned to the shepherd of their souls (1 Peter 2:25) - not Jesus who never had them before to return to.

All plural pronouns need to be re-examined. Especially those in Isaiah 53 and all NT Epistles.

Who is addressed by whom and included?

Response #23:

Good to make your acquaintance. I certainly agree with your opening statement to the effect that Hosea 11:1 "applies to both Jesus and Israel". After all, the calling out from Egypt of the nation of Israel is very clear on the one hand, and Matthew specifically states that Jesus' return from Egypt with His family was also part of the fulfillment of this prophecy ("and so was fulfilled" Matt.2:15). So I certainly don't think there is any particular problem here, especially if one understands how Old Testament prophecy works (see the link: in CT 1 "Hermeneutic Issues"). I also have addressed this passage at the following link: "Is "My Son" in Hosea 11:1 Israel or Jesus?".

As to the rest of your email, I hate to sound dense, but 1) I don't see how the rest of this relates to your subject line or that issue in any particular way, and 2) I'm not sure what overall point you are intending to make – except to say that there are implications in some of your statements that cause me concern as to your understanding of the hypostatic union, the meaning of the first advent, and the Person and nature of Christ and His sacrifice generally. Please don't take undue offense at this last observation, because, as I say, I am clearly not "getting" much if not all of what you are saying.

My understanding of and teaching about the incarnation, hypostatic union, Person and nature of Christ and of His sacrifice for our sins are not greatly out of line with traditional theology, although I hope it is fair to say that you will find some things in the following study not available elsewhere (at least not explained in this way: BB 4A: Christology). Case in point is the spiritual death of Christ. I bring this point up since from what I have read here I am left wondering whether or not we are on the same page on that crucial doctrine. To make a very complicated subject as simple as possible, Jesus had to take on true humanity, not just a body, but become human as well as divine (so that now, in One Person, He combines two distinct natures), in order to go to the cross and die for this sins of the world. This He did, not through physical death (after all, He proclaimed "it is finished!" while still alive, and gave up His spirit of His own accord), but through spiritual death: in the three hours of darkness, He received the sins of the world "in His body" and paid the penalty for all sin, being judged for every sin in our place. This is the greatest thing in the world, bigger than the world, the entire universe, than all history, than all creation put together . . . and to an infinite degree. You will find more about this in the study referenced above at the following sub-link: "The Spiritual Death of Christ".

I rather suspect from the content of your email that you will have some points of disagreement (at least), but it seems that this is really the most critical part of the issue as you are parsing it, and for economy's sake it would be better to discuss one main point at a time.

Yours in the Savior of the world through faith in whom alone we have salvation unto life eternal, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob Luginbill

Question #24:

Dear Robert, (As an octogenarian I can take the liberty to call you that? Yes?)

You have absolutely no idea how much I appreciate your reply. Good to also make your acquaintance. A little about me. Originally from Berlin/Germany I came to Australia after the war. Been with the JWs for many decades, but burned at the stake, as it were, for the very same reason of fundamentally disagreeing with the most fundamental concepts of Christianity which the JWs share with the rest of the Christian community.

No you are neither dense nor do you give that impression. Albeit the reason you could not get your head around matters conveyed, is simply that you are also committed to the same general misconception of having inherited sin, depravity and punishment as a legacy from Adam.

I am the dense one here in not comprehending how the scholars and leaders of Christianity (especially the JWs in my case), have failed to get a grip on the fundamental role played by the OT. It completely eludes me.

Christians (anointed) became such in the first century solely on the basis of the OT.

The clarifying details of the epistles only became necessary for those who came later and others not very well acquainted with the OT. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading Isaiah 53 into perplexity. Imbued with knowledge of the law and associated OT documentation, he was thoroughly stumped nonetheless by these prophetic words of Isaiah. He knew however, that these words were exclusively addressed by God via a Jewish prophet to the inheritance of God, Israel, as per these opening words:

4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD*, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. KJV

* (Yahweh, Jehovah, Whatevereh as long as He has a name to distinguish Himself from man-made varieties)

Only they had a Law to transgress, which they did ever so competently, and only they were therefore in need of redemption in order to continue to run with God's promises to Abraham. Behold Romans 5:13 and 4:15:

13 (for all the time before the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not set to one’s account when there is no law. NOYES 1869

15 For the Law is the cause of wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. NOYES 1869

Used the NOYES version of the Bible while aware that all translations say virtually the same thing. I just don't like the word impute used in most, for its misuse in doctrinese.

Abraham's potential sacrifice of his only-begotten-son Isaac is just ignored to oblivion in the guilt stakes. It is, however, a complete pre-enactment of the potential sacrifice of God's only-begotten son where Jesus the sheep died instead.

As in the Abraham/Isaac scenario at the sheep's death both Only-begotten sons stood up again to continue in God's purpose to become the promised blessing to all families of the earth.

Isaac did not have two natures even as the sheep caught in the thicket did not. They were two clearly distinguishably individual living beings where the life of one saved that of another as had atonement sacrifices of animals under the law annually saved the life of God's firstborn son Israel during their Mt Sinai to Babylon epoch.

Jesus was the body prepared to take the place of the only-begotten son actually offered for Israel's redemption as per John 3:16 - the Gr word kosmos here indicating Government and Decoration as in 1. Israel's governing constitution as a kingdom and 2. the Decoration Israel was meant to be as the faithful wife of her husband Yahweh, Jehovah, LORD. Israel failed miserably in both counts, resulting in her execution as the adulterous wife in Jesus and the redemption of God's firstborn son Israel saved by their second Passover and final atonement sheep as they died in Jesus eye for an eye life for a life.

Like all sacrificial lambs/sheep that went before Jesus remains forever dead, while the heavenly only-begotten of God inherited all that Jesus had accomplished including the mantle of office -the anointing, the being Christ, in the manner of the hand-over from Elijah to Elisha who received a double portion of God's holy Spirit in addition to the mantle of office. It this context it needs to be remembered that all things written aforetime in the OT were written specifically for those living in the end time epoch (age aion) of Israel under the Law:

For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4) To whom do all the plural personal pronouns in the Epistles apply? Well, the same as they do in Isaiah 53: 1. Then to the flock of Jacob Israel. 2. Now to those out of redeemed Israel joined by Gentiles to constitute the little flock (Luke 12:32) of the Israel of God destined to heavenly governance for the benefit of all humans that ever lived, live and yet shall.

I am not part of that - staking no claim whatever. Just looking forward to a peaceful life right here on earth under that Kingdom.

Matthew 24 is all about the end of Israel under the law to Messiah and not about mankind. The Greek word there is age <165not the entire inhabitants of earth <3625>. The only portion of Matthew 24 of personal relevance to us, as in mankind living at that time, is the global public announcement of the commencement of Christ's heavenly reign verses 29-31 allowing all those hearing it to decide their individual future for themselves and who they wish to be governed by.

The Great Tribulation was only ever meant for the Tribe of Jacob and began with the destruction of their whole age and way of life by the Romans, is still continuing and will terminate at the above announcement when their original purpose has been realised at the beginning of the heavenly kingdom of God.

Finally, this is so beautiful:

19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us––by me, Silvanus, and Timothy––was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (token)

Note the plural personal pronouns. This is only about the little flock called/chosen for Heavenly governance. Only they are the ones called or chosen to be collected by the angels at the last trumpet of the Revelation scroll Matthew 24:31.

Mankind has never been under a legacy of sin and death. Enough said. Please check out my site for details.

Thank you again. May you respond positively when the Christ makes his heavenly announcement. Perhaps then we may be able to have a personal face-to-face chat when all the issues have been resolved in the affirmative. In the meantime, may we densely carry on as we are?

Response #24:

Dear Friend (Robert is fine),

You are very welcome. However, I find myself nearly as befuddled as before. When two people of radically differing theologies meet, trying to deal with every differing point of view in a single email is never a good idea. You seem to have the advantage on me in that my positions, while unique to this ministry in some important respects, are, broadly speaking, in the Evangelical tradition. On the other hand, yours, unless I am completely misreading some things here, seem to be completely unique to you. All the more reason to limit any discussion, especially in the initial going, to first principles (and one at a time at that).

This ministry is a Bible ministry, by which I mean that the theology it advances is based upon scripture as far as I can discern scripture's meaning. Any errors would be the result of misreading scripture and not the the result of building up a system of extra-biblical theology independent of scripture. So focusing on basic principles and the scriptures that support them, as narrowly defined as possible for the sake of clarity, would be my strong preference for any discussion going forward.

I tried to do that with my previous email, but your response leaves me unclear about your precise position on the Person of Jesus Christ and His work. However, your statement (among others), "Jesus remains forever dead, while the heavenly only-begotten of God inherited all that Jesus had accomplished", concerns me greatly. I do understand that people construct all sorts of exotic theologies all the time once the "yoke" of scripture has been cast off. But, honestly, how can you make this statement in light of the fact that the entire New Testament is predicated on the bodily resurrection of our Lord? What do you say about passages such as this?

(39) "We are witnesses of everything [Jesus] did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, (40) but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. (41) He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. (42) He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. (43) All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
Acts 10:39-43 NIV

But each [will be resurrected] in his own echelon. Christ [is the] first-fruits. Next [will be] those belonging to Christ at His coming (i.e., the Church at the 2nd Advent).
1st Corinthians 15:23

As you must be aware as someone who has read the New Testament, I could easily fill dozens of pages from the gospels, Acts and the epistles with passages which speak of Christ's bodily resurrection. This is such an important point (as salvation depends upon faith in the true Person of Christ and His work), that I would wish to see your position clearly delineated before going on to other matters such as the sin nature and universal spiritual death at birth (etc).

Yours in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who died for our sins but was raised from the dead for our justification (Rom.4:25).

Bob L.

Question #25:

Dear Robert,

Trust you are well, happy and fulfilled.

Having never looked at your Website before, because your Hosea 11:1 page had come up almost all by itself when I was checking for other views of that verse, I did actually spent some time with it today and was absolutely overwhelmed if not crushed by the sheer volume and detail.

Your analyses and the design of your site are incredible, metaphorically speaking. Powerful indeed. Must have taken a lot of your time. Not an overnight effort, I take it.

Wondering if all that would make it easy for someone to become a Christian? It may be more in support of those who are and wish to have the means to aid those who are not; a teaching resource perhaps. I see it literally as incredible.

In any case, some computers may not have the capacity to run these very long scripts of a number of your site pages - one of the main reasons for this note. That may apply more to XP users. Nonetheless here is my experience:

My DIY Pentiumฎ 4 Processor supporting HT Technology 3.00E GHz, 1M Cache, 800 MHz FSB with 4Gb of RAM running XP could not handle them at all. The computer just froze. My Lenovo Laptop with only a Core i3 processor running Win7/64 with 4Gb of RAM experienced some difficulties and also decided to join the ice-age, but after I uninstalled MS-Silverlight it worked fine if a little slow. My other fairly new DIY standby Core2 E8500 desktop also with 4Gb of RAM running the latest Win7, ran these scripts like a Formula 1. Thought you might like to know.

The term Hermeneutics presented me with an interesting, but not very rewarding experience when I consulted Wikipedia's Biblical Hermeneutics page. Obfuscation par excellence?

My lack of education probably colours my view.

How do I love (agape) thee? Let me count the ways:

1. By being non-adversarial, though pleasantly challenged.

2. By competing only with the self and not others.*

3. To share the pleasure of revisiting and reflecting on the reasons, the foundation of one's own faith.

* from the NWT for the wording: 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind. 4 But let each one prove what his own work is, and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person. 5 For each one will carry his own load.. . . (Galatians 6:2-5)

4. To never be or appear or be patronising. Gratefully, do I see you reflecting the above by the tenor of your patient words. Then again, perhaps I am the patient. I have taken out the Image below and replaced with an identical one reduced to 10% of its former digital weight. It will allow the email to crawl to a rush. Thank you for unexpected response; ever so glad am I.

It is quite difficult to reply about a matter dear to one's heart trained by Scripture and experience and not appear offensive. A few of many things I can say here, drawing on Jesus' experiences and the challenges he faced in the hostile environment of established Jewish tradition. I shall make every endeavour to foreclose on that.

If you don't mind, I may use the kiss principle and just reply, referring to perhaps only a couple of points raised and allow them to stand out in colour for source ID.

This ministry is a Bible ministry, by which I mean that the theology it advances is based upon scripture as far as I can discern scripture's meaning. Any errors would be the result of misreading scripture and not the result of building up a system of extra-biblical theology independent of scripture. So focusing on basic principles and the scriptures that support them, as narrowly defined as possible for the sake of clarity, would be my strong preference for any discussion going forward.

Concur absolutely. No extra-biblical theology for me. It has to be based on Scripture, while acknowledging, what we have learned to become may no necessarily reflect what we ought to have become according to those Scriptures. Since the 1st Century have far too many editors had a field day edifying it to distraction to give license to invention.

Obviously are we the progeny of those gone before, each bequeathing to the other their doctrinal luggage down the line, whatever the quality. So whatever stand we have taken, we have not done so independently, nor can we, to be fair.

Please find acknowledgements via site-map on my Website. You may also find it a little entertaining, while awkwardly written.

What contributed mightily to my apostasy from the Jehovah's Witnesses was my engaging myself in an annual journey over a period of some years through the scriptures, via their NWT conjointly with Strong's Expanded Bible Dictionary, Zodhiates KJV NT with Greek Parallel, Strong's numbers as well as his complete Wordstudy Dictionary plus quite a number of hardcopy Translations in addition to the OnLineBible, but without anything from out of the doctrinal mindfield of the multitude of churches and religious organisations directly or via the web. Been there, done that already! Like Luther, Jesus and many others, I made every effort to retain what was scripturally right out of all that I had learned before, at the same aware of the ambiguity of right.

All Jesus did and said originated in the OT, except for matters specifically prophetic and beyond its scope. He drew on the Father at every necessary turn, asking for assistance with appropriate miracles. Not having inherited Israel's sin and guilt, he obeyed the Law as every good Jew was obliged to and thereby proved himself not to be a transgressor like the whole nation had been since Sinai.

I have just decided not to dump coloured text here before replying to the chief Jesus was resurrected point made in the last three paragraphs of your email, because my comments here could not be taken out of their context. Before I can deal with that, however, some very fundamental matters need to be in place without which any discussion would be vanity of vanities. Even as you so succinctly stated: So focusing on basic principles and the scriptures that support them, as narrowly defined as possible for the sake of clarity, would be my strong preference for any discussion going forward.

I remember sitting down with tears when confronted with Hebrews 9:15; Galatians 4:4-5; Jesus' own words to the Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15:24 and his words to his disciples in Matthew 10:5-6 as I contemplated the emerging question of how did the Witnesses and all of Christianity get to the doctrine of inherited sin, depravity and death. Romans 5:12 is cannot be the answer with the very next verse negating that in concert with Romans 4:15. Then there was the apparent hypocrisy of God, because His Law given to Israel via Moses had strictly proscribed Children being put to death for the sins of fathers (Deut 24:16), along with Ezekiel 18 and actual incidents in the OT, and yet He decided to punish mankind for Adam's noncompliance.

Really? Not on within the context of His personality! No way!

How do you think I felt, confronted with affronting questions? There was a great need to press the start button in Genesis, for the question must have arisen at the very beginning of humanity.

What needs to be in place for any discussion going forward:

1. There is a Creator who designed the universe and all in it for a purpose. He actually exists.

2. The creative days are only about preparing an earth already present as per verses 1 & 2 of Genesis.

3. The Creative days, so called, commence in verse 3 of Genesis 1

4. All the creative days are in fact epochs, all with a definitive concluding phrase except for day 7:

We're still in it to complete the original assignment given to Adam.

5. God's purpose for mankind: To live on earth forever subject to eating and yielding to the small print of His good advice.

Luke 4:4: And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Can't do the latter without the former J. Try conforming to God's good advice without obeying the very first one: EATING FOOD!

6. All trees in Garden good for food, with the naughty one no exception.

Adam saw no need to cooperate. Like a spoiled child, he thought he already had it all.

7. The word also in Genesis 3:22 is either a plant or a mistranslation. Strong does not list also as occurring in that verse. See my site at the bible button.

8. Mankind inherited nothing except not being monkeys, trees or insects i.e.: one of a kind and Perfect in God's image.

It's what we do that continually creates problems for us, for we are what we have become by what we have learned. No tainted nature!

When giving the first law to mankind after the flood/deluge, generic man was still in the perfect image of the one who created him Gen 9:5-6.

9. The OT is the complete foundation of Christianity.

During much of the first Century it sufficed to make one a Christian without any of John's writings. As I had already indicated in my last email:

The clarifying details of the epistles only became necessary for those who came later and others not very well acquainted with the OT.

Without these fundamentals in place, we might as well be analysing Winnie the Pooh in the context of Islamic literature and its impact on the downfall of Communism and the Berlin Wall.

A bit over the top am I? Well, it's THAT fundamental. There are many who discuss God in a Christian context without actually acknowledging His existence.

Can I urge you to please examine ALL the plural personal pronouns used by the OT prophets and the NT Epistleliers? Who was addressing whom, what are they inheriting, sharing and experiencing. Please!

As per your concluding salutation who is the scriptural us he died for? Oh yes he died for humanity's ultimate benefit, but not for us, in our behalf or instead of us. As an Atonement and Passover lamb it can only be for Israel:

1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Ga 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Ga 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Whose Passover? Israel's! What curses? Who was subject to these curses? Leviticus chapter 26 should give some indication; while Deuteronomy chapters 27-30 deal specifically with the curses to be visited exclusively upon the ISRAEL of the 1st covenant for their continuing transgression of only their law.

Jesus became a curse in their stead and freed them to continue to run with the promises of the fathers, especially those made to Abraham for his seed Israel to become a blessing to the whole of mankind, subject, of course, to their accepting it by yielding to the small print of obedience, which Israel did not with respect to the conditions imposed upon them by their Law.

After his baptism where did Jesus quote from in the Synagogue? Why, Isaiah chapters 42, 49 and 61. What are these chapter about and to whom were they addressed? Israel! None other!

Hope I have not been too much of a bother.

As I bid you farewell, may you be blessed in what you do, as you surely are.

Thank you.

Response #25:

First, let my thank you for your observations about the website. As to scripts, there aren't really many at all at Ichthys. The site is of very simple design. From what I see at your site, your scheme appears to have a lot more Java et al. than mine does. I have never had anyone else tell me about this problem before (and the site sometimes gets upwards of 2,000 visits per day from which I receive quite a lot of feedback). I'm thinking that the issue may be the browser or browser versions you are using on your older equipment. I could make things even simpler, but I have included a number buttons (with Java) for navigation' sake. That is necessary since, as you have discovered, it's a large site, close to 1,000 HTML pages, and some of them are quite long (i.e., the major studies mostly run somewhere between 100-200 text page single-spaced equivalent). So the size of some of these files may also have something to do with problematic loading, especially if your network connection is not particularly fast and you are trying to load up one of the big ones. Still, I'll keep it in mind, and I thank you for the feedback.

As to your "nine theses", I agree with the first three.

On point 4, the seven millennial day interpretation (which goes back at least as far as Irenaeus) is what I believe and what I teach. The Millennium will begin when Christ returns (not before), and will exemplify the blessings predicted for it with which Old Testament prophecy is replete (see the link). Today, there is no Messiah ruling in Jerusalem, no end to the Genesis curse, Jews still live all over the world (by far the majority are not in Israel), and there is not even a temple rebuilt in Jerusalem yet; so, obviously, we are not yet in the Millennium. Attention to the chronological details of scripture will demonstrate that the end times are, in fact, very close at hand. Each Day is a thousand years (Ps.90:4; 2Pet.3:8). As 4,000 years were used up from the expulsion from Eden to the birth of Christ, and as we are very close to 2,000 more being used up following the resurrection, the Tribulation and the Millennium which follows are virtually on the doorstep (see the link for details: "The Seven Millennial Days").

On point 5, I have no doubt that we who find ourselves in the New Jerusalem will eat of the tree of life just as the book of Revelation says. However, that will be in the New Heavens and New Earth, and, as we shall be resurrected by then, it will not be necessary for our survival; rather, it will be a benefit of eternal life (see the link). The number of the saved, however, will be perilously small in proportion to all of humanity.

On point 6, Adam didn't want to lose Eve, and so he ate (as the Genesis narrative makes clear; see the link: "The Fall of Man").

On point 7, the word gam does occur in the Hebrew text of Genesis 3:22 – although it's hard for me to see what doctrinal difference it would make if it did not.

On point 8, the image of God is the ability to make moral choices (see the link). For example, we have the ability to read the truth of the Bible and believe it, or to replace it with our own "truth". That is what it means to be a "god" / 'el, someone with God's image, freedom of will (please see BB 4B: Soteriology). But in fact, all we can really do with this marvelous gift is to respond to the Lord and His truth or refuse to do so. The former results in salvation and eternal rewards; the latter results in the second death.

On point 9, nothing in scripture is inconsistent with anything else in scripture. However, there are many things which the New Testament makes clear that were not apparent even to the divinely inspired writers of the Old Testament (and I would think that would be obvious to anyone who has read both). As Peter tells us, "it was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things" (1Pet.1:10-12).

And I have may own "theses" that need to be taken into account as a preliminary to any serious and meaningful discussion.

1) Person of Christ: I am still unclear about your position on Jesus Christ. This is absolutely fundamental, not only to discussion but to salvation. He has always been God. He became a man as well (two natures in one Person). He bore in His body the sins of the world, being judged for each and every one of them in our place in the three hours of darkness. He was resurrected bodily, ascended to heaven and was glorified. He will return to rule the world (in very short order). All other Christians I know of (and many other people who are merely conversant with the Christian tradition) would ascribe to this short precis – even if they might phrase some of these things a little differently.

But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom."
Hebrews 1:8 NIV

2) Universal sinfulness:

For all sin, and fall short of God's glory.
Romans 3:23

3) The applicability of the New Testament to and for us all.

I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry if by any means I may provoke to jealousy [those who are] my flesh and save some of them.
Romans 11:13-14 NIV

4) "J"? The entire Bible is the Word of God.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Revelation 22:18-19 NIV

From some of your comments it sounds as if you are assuming that the text of the Bible as we have it is somehow not necessarily "really the Bible" or that it has been somehow "edited" so that we have license to take out or put in what suits our theory of what theology ought to be. I am an Classicist by profession and have spent no little time on the study of ancient texts and manuscripts, and in my considered opinion the text of both Testaments is marvelously well-preserved – so much so that anyone well-versed in the original languages and with a sound knowledge of textual criticism can easily make good judgments in those very small number of cases where it is not patently obvious what the original text of a given passage might be in either Testament. This is what the evidence for the texts actually shows, despite an awful lot of hypothesizing and pontificating to the contrary, usually on the part of secular scholars whose objective is to destroy the faith of many. In my opinion, any fair-minded atheist who thinks the scriptures are rubbish would likely agree – if viewing all of the evidence in an unbiased way – that what we have today is 99.9% of what the original authors wrote – under divine inspiration as we know. And the final one tenth of one percent is usually 1) not doctrinally of great significance and 2) possible to establish in any case with a bit of scholarly "elbow grease".

Yours in Jesus Christ the Lord, in whom alone is salvation and resurrection from the dead,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hello dear Robert,

Wanted to attach a couple of docs to my last email relative to the Trinity, but it was already 1:00am, I was tired and simply forgot. If what follows and the attachments is all too much, just do a Shift+Delete to forward it into oblivion.

I have no issue with the Trinity, since it matters none as far as my relationship with the heavenly Father is concerned and I shall not discuss or argue about it other than just offer the evidence/opinions of others as per the attached.

My salvation does not depend on it, for I am not under sin*, with death a natural consequence of all living things -humans no exception other than the original offer of lasting life with the prefix ever depending entirely on eating food, even after permission granted -see my brief essays via site menu button Life/Death. Very simple and uncomplicated. Life for humans was only ever meant to be on earth as originally intended by God, except for a very little flock taken from among mankind for heavenly governance.

* notwithstanding John's inspired words here in 1 John 1:10:

If we make the statement: "We have not sinned," we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Once again scholar and layman alike do not take his audience, addressed by all the plural personal pronouns, into account. He wrote exclusively for and to those few called out of mankind to become the Heavenly Kingdom of God, including himself:

Luke 12:32: Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Not assuming that you have not examined all the evidence, arguments pro/con the triad of Gods currently worshipped by the majority of Christians, I have nonetheless attached some:

The attached PDF I could find that contains all the illustrations. Out of the book, that was interestingly written by one Protestant minister whose default belief-system would still include the Trinity, there are only two sections: Trinity in Unity and The Deification of the Child of any relevance.

Stumbled on The origin of the Trinity.PDF only a few days ago; extremely well-researched. Never needed that for my own stand on a single solitary Theos. Having grown up in a religion-neutral nominally evangelical family too busy with their own lives' adventures, I never knew that there was a trinity. What assisted me in learning about it in the first place and the furore between the religious sparring partners was the JW broschure: Trinity should you believe it

May I assure you, that I harbour only the best of motives and have no interest in being or proving myself right.

May I encourage you to check out what my undereducated mind has presented on my site.

Finally and again: If all herein and the attachments is all too much, just do a Shift+Delete to forward it into oblivion.

Overwhelmed am I by your lengthy reply. You must be a fast keyboarder, and you certainly know a lot of things.

I shall try to touch on a couple of matters here :

1) Person of Christ:

Which Christ? The anointed (Christ) Jesus or the only-begotten son of God who was actually offered as per John 3:16 and ultimately inherited the anointing/appointment after Jesus had died. That's the scriptural reality.

Absolutely essential also to distinguish between these two separate individual lives, as were Isaac and the sheep in the prophetic pre-enactment. It is also incumbent for anyone who wishes to attain to the truth of Scripture to show that the heavenly only-begotten is actually described in John 1:18 as an only-begotten god in three translations NAS; NWT; and NKJV centre column reference, as per older, more ancient texts.

As for your reference to Hebrews 1:8 and the source of Paul's quote from Psalm 45:6, here is the actual non-edited quote by Paul Hebrews 1:8 from the only and oldest translations that I have access to -OLB- that read correctly in line with the theme and purpose of Scripture:

8 But unto the son he saith: God thy seat shall be for ever, and ever. The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.  

From the unrevised 1545 Luther Bible (German) as well as the 1912 edition.

Translated: but of the Son: God your chair shall endure from eternity to eternity; the scepter of your kingdom is a true* scepter

*(as in measure)

8 But unto the son he saith: God thy seat shall be for ever, and ever. The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

Tyndale (Rogers, Coverdale) Translation 1525-1535

From the source of the above quote by Paul, Psalm 45:6:

From the unrevised 1545 Luther Bible (German) Where the word God does not even have a presence.

Translated: your chair is always and forever; the scepter of your kingdom is a straight scepter

Your divine throne endures for ever and ever*. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity; RSV 1947

Your throne, O God, {Or Your divine throne.} endures forever and ever*.

You rule with a scepter of justice. NLT 1996

Thy throne, given of God, endureth for ever and ever*: the sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Leeser 1853

Thy throne, given of God, endureth for ever and ever*: the sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Jewish Publication Society 1917

6 God is your throne to time indefinite, even forever;* The scepter of your kingship is a scepter of uprightness. NWT

* one of only a very few places in the OT where both Hebrew words indicating a form of forever are used together. 

2) Universal sinfulness:

For all sin, and fall short of God's glory.

Romans 3:23

Yes they might all sin, but not all transgress and be accountable to God:

Romans 5:13: For prior to the Law sin was already in the world; only it is not entered in the account against us when no Law exists.

Romans 4:15: for the law worketh wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there transgression.

About the koine Greek word usually translated with all Strong's #3956 pav pas pas - an impossibility in the biblical context, where the meaning is best described here: 2a) some of all types

..." the whole world has gone after him" Did all the world go after Christ? "then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan." Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem, baptized in Jordan? "Ye are of God, little children," and the whole world lieth in the wicked one". Does the whole world there mean everybody? The words "world" and "all" are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely the "all" means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts --some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile.

(C.H. Spurgeon from a sermon on Particular Redemption)

4) "J"? The entire Bible is the Word of God.

Exactly my position with Galatians 1 making the same lucid point. That is really the problem with Christianity. They had more than 300 years to morphe God's word beyond the recognition of God's purpose so that the virginal and beautiful bride of the Christ could enter into a marriage alliance with the rulers/gods of Rome with the biblical evidence suitably obfuscated to justify their adulterous apostasies.

On point 6, Adam didn't want to lose Eve, and so he ate; No problems with that. That is what I have noted on my site anyway. However, yielding to and cooperating with his Creator was the real issue here and that the original purpose would be implemented irrespective of Eve having been deceived. She was not guilty but simply mislead. True, she should have consulted her husband Adam first, but her sin was only with respect to him and not God. Tribal identity, inheritance, guilt and responsibility always passed from the father as head of the family, never from the wife. That is also why Jesus was not fathered by Joseph whereas Mary passed neither defect nor the collective guilt and sins of the nation of Israel to her firstborn son.

On point 7, the word gam does occur in the Hebrew text of Genesis 3:22 -- although it's hard for me to see what doctrinal difference it would make if it did not. Oh yeah there are Hebrew texts that have gam in that verse. But not the older, extant. Strong says no. See my essays under the Bible button. It is not the presence, real or alleged, of gam, but the translation and the implications therefrom that gave rise to the false premise that Christ died for all mankind.

On point 9 For the first hundred years or so Christians became such on the basis of the OT There was no NT. It was a bit like when Philip explained matters to the Ethiopian Eunuch who was just reading Isaiah 53. It sufficed for him to become a Christian. The OT had it all. Then there were the Epistles of Paul and Peter doing the circuit of some, if not all, the congregations. Jesus, the Devil, the apostles only quoted from the OT. All proof was therein. I deal with that on my site as I deal with everything you mention or intimate or even have on your site. Mind you, I am still adding and fine tuning it, while nowhere near your literary pizzazz.

the Tribulation and the Millennium which follows are virtually on the doorstep

Jesus said that the Tribulation was exclusively connected to the age of Israel - see the interchange between Jesus and the disciples that ensued after viewing the Glory of the Temple from up in the garden. It is after this great tribulation that started in 70 at the hand of the Romans and is still continuing upon the flock of Jacob that the Christ will gather all the called members of the little flock to their 1000 year governance Matthew 24:29-31.

That is very close now and will catch everyone by surprise.

The Great Tribulation, Armageddon and Salvation are exclusively related to Israel in the flesh, once God's beloved. God has no issues with humanity other than getting them back to the original opportunities by means of the Kingdom.

The general understanding of the Christ coming down to rule on earth is entirely fictitious. See the attached EPI doc.

I shall not write anymore about these matters, for it is all on my site. The Trinity also seems to be a major dichotomy between us.

We shall speak about these matters after it is all over. OK?

Bye for now and thank you again for your patient indulgence.

Response #26:

Dear Friend

There is certainly much we could discuss. However, I have heard more than enough now to be concerned about your spiritual status. No one can be saved apart from Jesus Christ. He is the only Way to salvation. In order to be saved, Christ had to die for your sins. In order to do this, He had to become Man in addition to God which He was since before He created the universe. He thus took on true humanity, lived a perfect life in obedience to the Father's Plan, went to the cross, and in the three hours of darkness on Calvary was judged for the sins of the entire world, your sins and mine and everyone else's. We are forgiven our sins based upon Jesus' work on the cross when we accept Him as our Substitute, our Savior, our Lamb of atonement (if you prefer). But this requires acknowledging who He is – the God-Man, and acknowledging what He has done – paying the penalty for all of our sins. From what you have written to me, I have concerns about 1) your understanding of who Christ is; 2) your understanding of what Christ has done; and 3) your understanding of your need to embrace both for salvation.

Through the system of natural revelation God has placed everywhere in His creation (see the link), every human being knows (at least before hardening their hearts or replacing these natural truths with whatever rationalization they find more comfortable) that 1) he/she is going to die; 2) he/she is imperfect and sinful; 3) he/she is not good enough to measure up to the righteousness of the God before whom an account will one day have to be given. This is wonderful motivation to run rather than to crawl to the truth of the gospel. Sadly, most refuse to budge toward God in accepting Jesus, and many run the other way. It has to do with choice. Most people would rather create their own truths in their own universe where they rule and determine what is and what is not true. As long as we are on this earth in "time" the free will in the image of God we have received allows us to do just that. But this life does not long endure. Soon enough we will have to face the fact that it is God's universe, not ours, and if we have not accommodated to Him in the only way He finds acceptable, namely, accepting who His Son is and what His Son has done and embracing these truths of the gospel by faith, then we are lost.

None of this is accidental, of course. No one is damned because of lack of information or opportunity. The sad truth is that all those who are locked out of eternal life are so by their own choosing: they would rather rule their own will at any price rather than to experience eternal life at the price of subordinating that will to the Father in Jesus Christ.

Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
John 5:22-23 NIV

"I and the Father are one."
John 10:30 NIV

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6 NIV

If we are going to continue this discussion, the issue of salvation and the gospel would need to be settled first.

Yours in the One through whose Name alone we are saved,

Bob L.
 

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