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Struggling with Salvation . . . and Relatives

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Question #1:  

A question about the story of Isaac's sacrifice. It is clear through out the scripture that one should not kill and the Bible especially condemns people for child sacrifices to Molech. Why would God then ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Let us view this from a 21st century standpoint. I agree completely that everything I have including my job, body, family, money and everything has been given to me by God and he has the right to take it all. In all things we are supposed to bless his name. Imagine a good Christian man came to you and said, I got a dream and God told me that he will soon take my only son. I am sure you and other saints may pray for this man and if God does what he said, we will all come to the conclusion that we cannot question God. But imagine this same man comes and tells you that God told him to kill his son as a sacrifice. Would anyone tell him to go ahead? So my question is, God could have done any number of things to test Abraham with the same scenario. He could have said place the boy on the alter and fire from heaven will come and devour him. Why the command to kill? It baffles me.

Response #1: 

This was a unique test – for an absolutely unique believer. Perhaps Abraham is not the greatest believer who ever lived, but, if not, he is on the short list for sure. Let the record show that God did not allow Abraham to lay a hand on Isaac and never had any intention for him to do so. What God did do was to demonstrate to us, the world of men and angels both, and for all time what He obviously already knew, namely, that Abraham loved and trusted Him more than anything or anyone in this world – even his own deeply treasured son. Abraham also had absolute faith in God and was totally convinced that if God was telling him to do something, even something so hard and inexplicable as this, that, well, "God knows what He is doing and I trust Him even if I don't understand". We know something about Abraham's rationale from Hebrews:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Hebrews 11:17-19 NKJV

It's a wonderful self-test case for believers. Of course God is not going to tell us anything like this – Abraham was unique – but He may very well put us into a situation where it all seems so impossible that we cannot imagine what God has in mind. At such times, it will be very tempting to doubt God, His wisdom, His love, His care, His concern – but that would be a huge mistake, and constitute failing the test. When we do find ourselves in impossible situations, we have to remember that the Lord is the Lord of the impossible (as in the example of Abraham), that He has absolutely everything in hand, that He is in fact always and at all times "working everything out together for good for those who love Him" (Rom.8:28), even if (and perhaps especially if) we do not see it. To grow to the point of spiritual maturity and beyond, we believers have to come to trust our Lord more than we do our eyes, our ears, and our emotions. We have to know "by faith" that what He is asking of us is good, and right and proper, and that, being the loving, forgiving, all-knowing and foreseeing God that He is, He will work it all out for us in due time and at just the right time – even if that seems absolutely impossible by worldly standards.

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26 NKJV

Here are a few links on this topic:

Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac

Genesis Questions (see #5)

Question #2:  

Hi,

What must I do to become a born again Christian? Can we lose our salvation? I'd like to know your p.o.v. on these issues.

Thanks,

Response #2: 

Good to make your acquaintance. I'm happy to answer your questions:

1) Putting your faith in Jesus Christ is all that is required to be born again and saved:

"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved"
Acts 16:31

See the links: "Salvation: God's Free Gift" and "God's Plan to Save You".

2) Salvation can only be lost if faith is lost. All believers are saved; no unbeliever is saved.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:18 NIV

Apostasy is the abandonment of faith in Jesus Christ wherein a person who was a believer reverts to being an unbeliever through ceasing to believe (see the link: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death).

Hope this helps! Please do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:   

A man of God back slides /falls and dies immediately before he repents, saved or lost?

Response #3: 

Anyone born again is saved and will be saved even if dying in a "backsliding" mode, as long as the person is still a believer. The only way to be lost after being born again is to become an apostate – that is a complete death of faith so that the person is no longer a believer. While we all retain the free will to choose as long as we remain alive, it is arguable whether a person who once believed then lets their faith die out completely will ever come back to the Lord – not because it is impossible but because it is beyond unlikely that someone who has "tasted that the Lord is good" and thrown Him completely behind his/her back so as not to believe in Him at all any longer would ever be interested in returning so as to be restored (I know of no biblical example of any such case). Please see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

Question #4:   

I'm confused as to whether I'm saved or not because of two things:

1) How much of the gospel do you have to know to be saved? The bible repeatedly shows Jesus say to people to "believe in him and they'll be saved" which means they don't have to understand much about the gospel. I came to Christ because I couldn't control my thoughts anymore and I knew that nothing I did would work and that I needed to do things Gods way because my way didn't work. I knew that he died on the cross for my sins, but I didn't understand why he died on the cross. But I was desperate for someone to save me from myself.

2) A Mormon could believe in Jesus Christ. They believe he died on the cross for their sins. Is the difference between them and Christians is that they believe they are pretty much good? I know my works wont get me into heaven, which is why it would make sense for Jesus to die to be a mediator between man and God, since he is man and God, but just because I believe that doesn't mean I've accepted him as my lord and savior.

I just want to know if I am trying to work out my salvation. I don't want to fool myself into thinking that I'm following Christ when I never was. As the bible says "It's a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God" and nothing would be worse than to face God knowing that I've been reading the bible, but that I haven't accepted any of it.

Response #4: 

Good to make your acquaintance.

Let me assure you that you are saved. All believers are saved, and you most definitely do believe. All it takes to be saved is faith as small as a grain of mustard seed. And faith/belief is essentially a choice: a committing of oneself to God through accepting His sacrifice for our sins, the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants everyone to be saved (1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9; cf. Jn.3:16). Unbelievers only go to hell because of their own unwillingness to reconcile to God. So salvation is not "hard" or "far away" (Rom.10:8); all a person has to do is not to say "no" to the Lord. You are definitely saved.

It is hard to estimate what is in the heart of someone else. As your experience shows it is hard enough for us to fully comprehend what is in our own hearts, let alone the hearts of others. Therefore we cannot judge this matter perfectly from the observation of others. There are many people who make a good show of being godly and who may say very good things about Jesus Christ – but whether or not they have actually given themselves over to Him in faith so as to be born again is something only God knows. Many people are not really interested in living with Jesus forever and are only "apparent Christians". That is the real issue rather than what group a person belongs to (many people who belong to group X do not actual believe everything group X teaches, whether right or wrong). Although it is certainly fair to ask why a person who had truly accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior would continue in a group which really is all about works rather than faith (such as the Roman Catholic church, just for example). But as I say, only God really knows what is going on in the hearts of individuals. The point is that you know that you have put your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. And you are absolutely correct when you say that you didn't know everything about Him or the details of salvation when you first believed – no one does. We trust God in the Person of Christ – that is all God requires of us to be saved. Later, as we grow up in the Lord, reading the Bible and entrusting ourselves to solid Bible teaching, we learn more and more. That doesn't mean we weren't saved before; it just means that as children grow in understanding with age, so also Christians should grow in their knowledge of and walk with the Lord as they spend more time on this earth as believers.

Here are three good links which will tell you more about these issues (and which will lead you to other links as well) – and do feel free to write me back about any of the above:

Salvation: God's Free Gift

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

BB 4B: Soteriology: the Biblical Study of Salvation

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior in whom we are secure . . . through faith.

Bob Luginbill

Question #5:  

I guess the reason I even asked that question is because I know I haven't been doing what Christ said like I should be. I don't belong to a church and I don't go out and share the gospel or anything. The fact that I keep avoiding having any conversations with my family and only want to isolate myself everyday makes me paranoid that I'm not saved. But I honestly feel mentally exhausted. 

I wasted two years not ever sharing the gospel. The first year, i kept trying to spit the words "I'm a Christian" out of my mouth, but I never did. And when I objected to why I wouldn't do or talk a certain way because it would be sinful, I didn't take the opportunity to say it either. And the second year I feel into a deep depression because a certain even made me realize that I couldn't do what God asked of me, and it made me angry. I only gave my testimony  just recently, but to only two people: my parents. But they didn't understand what I was saying. I feel as if I'm trying to take advantage of my salvation, which I know you can't. And since you cant take advantage of God, it makes me feel as if this is just a work-based thing and not a true submission to Christ. 

If you have a bunch of people on their way to hell, it would be logical to go out and preach the gospel, but I don't.

Response #5: 

Good to hear back from you.  Of course we should share our faith – at the right time and when we are being led by the Spirit to do so.  However, I do have to say that contemporary evangelicalism places a disproportionate and false emphasis on this.  We are Christians because we follow Christ, not because we jam that message down the throats of passers-by who don't want to hear it.  We all have different gifts, and not all are gifted in the area of evangelizing.  We should all witness when called to do so; but witnessing is not a litmus test of our faith or the quality of our walk.

What the Lord wants from all of is the same in general terms:  1) growing up spiritually (through Bible study, prayer, and, importantly, consistently accessing solid Bible teaching); 2) progressing spiritually (passing the tests of life by applying what we have learned and believed); 3) helping others do the same through the ministries Christ calls us to.

Witnessing does not produce growth.  Learning the truth and believing it does that.  Christians who are courageous and confident in the Lord (and truly so, not just showing off for others) become that way by believing more and more of God's truth (which has to be learned first in order to be believed).  Truth is the Spirit's capital and we can only be used of Him when we have made headway in spiritual growth.  Once we have grown, we will be tested, and when our faith is refined under pressure and we pass those tests by believing God and His truth more than what we see or hear or feel, we become more useful to Him.  At that point, Jesus will lead us into ministry
– and not only the "traditional" ministries that most evangelicals think of.  There are many types of gifts and many subdivision / different colors and shadings and textures of gifts – and as many different ministries and sorts of ministries as there are Christians. 

So I would advise you to commit yourself to a course of spiritual growth.  At the right time, the Lord will make clear to you where your gifts lie and what He want you to do with them.  It could be witnessing
– but it could be a thousand other things (and most likely is something I could never guess).

The Peter Series is a good place to start (and to find out about spiritual growth).

Best wishes for your future walk with the Lord.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Hi again,

I appreciate you answering my questions, but because I have had answers similar to yours about salvation (in which they have said that I am saved), I feel as if I'm only being told what I want to hear in the same way a person comforts a friends whose loved one has just passed away by saying that she/he is in heaven because that person was a "good person". Even though we both know its not by works, I still I feel as if I'm not being told the right thing about me being saved.

And because you (and many other Christians) disagree on different topics like the time of the rapture, church, the way in which we share the gospel, separating yourself from the world, baptism, and whatnot, I feel as if I shouldn't ask any Christian about any topic and just read the bible myself. But I know there are times where I will misreading the verses.

I know I alone am responsible for finding the truth, so I have to be careful on what I take in from a Christian because they can be wrong as well (or not be a Christian at all). I don't want to believe I am saved just for comfort, but I'm tired of not knowing whether or now I am saved. The fact that I keep thinking I'm going to hell makes me think "Okay, I'm probably going to leave the faith because I will eventually get sick and tired of being scared of hell and just go my own path because a Christian shouldn't be scared of hell because being saved, there is no eternal punishment to fear." Many ex-Christian testimonies go like that, in which they left the faith because they were tired of fearing hell.

Response #6: 

Dear Friend,

This life is all about choices. However, I am missing the logic here when you say because you are worried that you are not a believer and so may find yourself in hell, that you see the solution as ceasing to believe so as to definitely end up in hell. Anyone who recognizes that there is a hell ought be motivated to avoid it. And blessedly God wants all to avoid it and has made eternal life easily available to all – not easy for Him or for His Son our Lord who had to pay the price beyond prices to attain that for us – but easy for us. It's all about Jesus. Either we are loving Him and following Him, or we are loving ourselves and loving the world.

As to Bible reading and ministries, absolutely, keep reading your Bible (please see the link: "Read your Bible")! However, Bible reading, crucial though it is, is not enough. No Christian can advance past a certain point without being "fed" by a good Bible teaching ministry. It is certainly true that there are plenty of ministries out there which do not actually teach the Bible (in fact most of them do not), and it is also certainly true that there are plenty of ministries which claim they teach the Bible that are actually cults or teaching many false and inaccurate things. But that is not an excuse. Trust God. If you really want to find a good teaching ministry which will help you grow, the Lord will lead you to one. It may take some effort on your part, but the Lord will provide – if you are really interested. It would be my pleasure to have you make use of Ichthys for that purpose, but everyone has different needs. You have to find the right place for you. However, finding fault (and legitimately so) with most Bible teaching ministries does not mean that all Bible teaching ministries are at fault. My job as a Bible teacher is to do a good job teaching the truth of scripture. Your job as a Christian is to find a good Bible teaching ministry and learn what is being taught, believe the truth you hear through the Spirit, and apply that truth to your life. If either side of this equation falls short, there will be no growth. Clearly, since you are having serious concerns about your salvation and what is true and what is not, there is a need on your part for a ministry to help you learn the truth. No believer can do it all him/herself. We all have needs. We are one body, the Body of Christ, and every part needs every other part. This ministry could not survive without the prayer support it receives from many believers who learn and grow from it in turn.

There are many "ex-Christians" out there, aka apostates. Only believers are saved, but all believers are saved. The most important thing we have in this life is our faith, and we need to protect that faith at all costs – and the best way, really the only way, is to move forward in the Christian life of learning the truth, believing it, applying it, and ministering it to others. Everything else is secondary.

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2nd Peter 1:1-2 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

I do not see the solution as ceasing to believe so that I will end up in hell. I see the solution as apostatizing now so that I don't gain more knowledge about the bible and apostate later, because apostates receive greater punishments in hell for knowing the truth. So the more truth I know, the greater punishment if I end up apostatizing.

The fact that I keep worrying about whether or not I am saved, and keep thinking I'm going to hell makes me believe I am not saved because many people who have left the faith (demonstrating that they were never saved to begin with) say that they left the faith because they were tired of worrying about going to hell. And I'm at that mentality right now: I'm tired of caring yet I keep reading the bible because I don't want to be an apostate. Worrying about all this isn't getting anything done it's only aggravating me. I'm scared of finding a church and sharing the gospel because I feel like as soon as I do, I will break away from the faith if hard times.

Response #7: 

Dear Friend,

There is no distinction between levels of punishment in eternity – at least the Bible gives no evidence of that whatsoever. That is a popular view which goes back in great part to Dante's Inferno (which needless to say is not inspired).

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:31b-32

Following Jesus and learning, believing, and therefore knowing the truth is what the Christian life is all about – that is what it means to be a disciple (literally, a "learner"; Greek: mathetes).

We all get tired. We are all tempted to despair at times. But we all find that if only we trust God just a little bit more, giving Him just a mustard seed's worth of faith, He can and He will encourage us through His Spirit. Feelings should never be our guide, because feelings, if they are not responding to the truth, will always be responding to the world, the flesh and the devil instead (please see the link: "The Battlefield Within").

People who once believe but later leave the faith are apostates – they did believe but they then made the poor choice (there could be no poorer choice) to abandon that faith and turn back to the world.

"They believe for a while, but in time of testing they apostatize."
Luke 8:13

All of your despair, all of your confusion, all of your fear stems from misinformation. "The truth" will set you free from all these things – but you have to seek out that truth, learn that truth, believe that truth, and live that truth. As I say, you are very welcome to all the materials at Ichthys, but if not here, then please do find a good, orthodox, Bible-teaching ministry (if that is a "church", well and good, but just because a place is a "church" does not mean that it fills this bill). I am also happy to recommend Bible Academy (see the link).

You are suffering from spiritual malnutrition. The pure milk of the Word will restore your spiritual energy, vision and vitality. Please do not give up. Jesus loves you more than you can know or understand. Respond to Him, draw back close to Him, give yourself up to Him and His Word, His truth – that is the only way forward (and there is nothing to the rearward but heartache, pain and regret).

Yours in Jesus Christ whose Bride we are if we but hold fast to our most precious faith in Him,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Thank you for answering the sowing the seed question.

I've been concerned with this one because I remember that after trying to live life according to Christ the wrong way. I remember during that time still reading the bible and coming across the parable of the sower and becoming scared because of it saying that "Those on the rocky ground 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 believed for a time, purposely hide it not to be made fun of, and then when worse trials come, I don't want to do it anymore.

During that time, was it possible that the whole time the holy spirit was convicting me and preventing me from apostatizing? Or is it that I just didn't quench the spirit to the point of apostatizing? Because many times I worried about going to hell and had nightmares about it, but because God says not to be anxious about anything, it would seem as if I was just being paranoid.

Response #8: 

Dear Friend,

This world is a difficult place – because the devil is in charge of it. We who have given our lives to Jesus Christ are not of this world, and so the world and its present ruler have no use for us. Indeed, they often persecute Christians in all manner of ways, and it seems that you have been the target of your share of attacks (please see the link: "Strangers in the Devil's Realm" in SR 4). I can't tell you whether or not failing to be more forthcoming about your Christianity was wrong or how wrong, but in my personal opinion from what you have shared with me so far you have been far too hard on yourself. This life – for Christians – is a battle and a struggle. It is not all nice and clean and easy and straightforward. Everyday we try our best to walk worthily of the Lord – or so we should. But we will never be perfect in this, even though we should get better at it. Hammering ourselves for past failures is one of the worst traps a believer can fall into. No one should ever underestimate the mercy of God, the grace of God, the forgiveness of God, the love of God.

In my view, what is needed is more "truth in the heart", and that will take some time engaging in Bible study. Not just Bible reading, but accessing a good, solid Bible-teaching ministry in which you have confidence. Truth not only has to be learned – it has to be believed in order for it become usable in your heart by you and by the Spirit. I think the fact that some misinterpretations (taking counsel of your worst fears) have been at the heart of many of your troubles, and not understanding more about the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God has also been causing your problems. I would never dream of sending a raw recruit into combat if he didn't even know yet how to operate his weapon. Similarly, understanding that we all fall short and stumble in many ways (Jas.3:2), and knowing that God is ready and waiting to forgive us all of our mistakes and all of our sins (1Jn.1:9) – in His great love for us opened up for us by Christ dying for all those sins – is, for example, just as basic and essential a skill for a new Christian.

The Christian life is peace and joy – or at least it should be, and it can be, but not without spiritual growth.

So, again, the solution to all these problems remains the same for one and all: learn and believe the truth, put it into practice day by day, and grow the point of being able to help others do the same.

Jesus loves you more than you can know – but you can know a lot about the depth of His love. It takes knocking. But He opens to all who do so.

Yours in the Lord who loves us so much that He paid the price for all of our sins, a price beyond understanding.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi there, I have a question. So I've been a Christian now for less than a year. Recently, I fell into sin. Well after that I repented but was troubled by Hebrews 10:26. For awhile I was tormented by it. Now I am at peace and feel forgiven. All I want to do is serve God and not sin but I want to ask if Hebrews 10 means a willful sin mean you are damned or willful sin till you no longer care.

I await your reply!

Response #9: 

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance.

Christians are saved by God's grace through faith. All who are truly believers in Jesus Christ are saved. We are forgiven everything (with a capital "F") when we believe; if/when we sin after salvation, we are forgiven those sins (so as to resume our fellowship with Christ) when we confess (1Jn.1:9). Sin does not destroy salvation. However, sin can undermine, erode, and, if taken to extremes, kill off our faith. And only believers are saved. That is to say, apostasy as well as the sin unto death are each a possibility if we are totally careless about our lives after we have committed ourselves to Christ (please see the link in BB 3B: Hamartiology, the Biblical Study of Sin).

In addition to the link above, you can find out more about all this at the following links:

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation.

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

Lost my salvation II?

Have I Lost my Salvation?

Hebrews 10:26 again,

Does Hebrews 10:26 teach loss of salvation?

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Savior, the One who died to cleanse us from our sins with His blood.

Bob Luginbill

Question #10:  

I have another question? Apostasy is not a single willful sin you feel horrible about committing and change your ways? But a state of saying Christ is not the savior and I no longer care what I do? Example you are a Christian and you sin which turns into more sins, and then turns to everyday which turns to no conviction and at last doubting faith and Christ's validity and no longer seeking repentance or his ways?

Thanks SO MUCH! You and your site is much help.

Response #10: 

You are very welcome. That is correct. Apostasy is, literally, "rebellion" from God, the complete death of a person's faith whereby that person stops believing entirely and is thus transformed from a friend of God to His enemy. Sin may play a role, because sin, when unconfessed and unrepented, hardens the heart and accelerates the process (although many believers apostatize when trouble comes and they feel [wrongly] as if God let them down). Occasionally, believers refuse to give up particularly gross patterns of sinning, but also refuse to let go of faith. In such cases, the Lord takes the believer out of this life in a very painful way, aka "the sin unto death" (cf. 1Cor.5; 1ff.; 1Jn.5:16). Neither course is advisable; both are easily avoidable by the believer who is moving forward and not backward. Sin does have other consequences, however. There is the fact of divine discipline (see the link). God really knows how to "spank us" so that we learn our lessons. No one should think that he/she can sin with impunity; if a person does have that idea, God will quickly dispel the false impression. I think the fact that you have been thrown into spiritual turmoil by your experience is probably part of the punishment. Instead of feeling good about our relationship with the Lord, sin has a tendency to sour things and it can take some time to recover our previous momentum. But I am a firm believer of making lemonade out of lemons. If I were you, I would use this experience not only to learn the obvious lesson well, but also to take the point of how important specific scriptural knowledge is (really epignosis – truth understood and believed so as to be usable by the Spirit; see the link). There is much more about all these and related issues at Ichthys, especially at the links previously provided.

Best wishes for your future spiritual growth, progress in your Christian walk, and eventual service to the Lord through the gifts you have been given – that is how to win the three crowns of eternal reward.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

Thank you so much! I've just been believing that Hebrews is apostasy and the hardening of heart to where you no longer care? Does this seem accurate?

Response #11: 

It depends on the verse (please see the previously provided links). In any case, hardening of the heart precedes apostasy; apostasy is the complete loss of faith where the person is no longer a believer:

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

Yours in Jesus in whom we have put our faith "firm until the end",

Bob L.

Question #12:  

The verse I was referring to was still Hebrews 10:26-31. I'm not too worried about the loss of my salvation. I'm just worried now that maybe I should be worried. This sounds to be self punishment which I don't want to do, but I also don't want to take the issue too lightly and not be secure.

Response #12: 

Dear Friend,

For detailed exegesis and explanation of this passage, please see the previously supplied links. It says at Hebrews 10:26, "If we deliberately keep on sinning . . ." (NIV). So a good application would be not to worry about "whether to worry or not", but instead make sure not to "deliberately keep on sinning". If a person "deliberately keeps on sinning", only bad things will happen (i.e., horrific divine discipline, possibly the sin unto death, possibly even apostasy); whereas if instead we take the advice later in the book and "strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed" (Heb.12:12-13 NIV), only good things will happen.

At some point we have to "enter into God's moment by moment Sabbath rest" (also in Hebrews, chapters 3-4); at some point we have to recognize that He is love, that He loved us so much that He condemned His one and only dear Son in our place. Having done the most for us while we were His enemies (Rom.5:10), do we really imagine that God is "out to get us" now? That He is only "waiting for a slip up" to condemn us? That is not only absurd but blasphemous (cf. Job's foolish comments at Job 10:13-14). The only people who go to hell are those who would rather do so than submit to God (link: BB 4B: Soteriology). No one goes to hell by accident. God wants all to be saved (1Tim.2:4), and Jesus died for all (see the link). We are safe and secure in the hands of God and no one can snatch us out (Jn.10:28-29); the only way to get out is to jump out willfully and deliberately. Sin only plays a role because sin is contrary to the will of God and too much of that without confession and repentance sours our love for God, hardens our heart, and can result in the death of our faith when it leads to the point of having no faith in or loyalty to Jesus Christ whatsoever (link: BB 3B: Hamartiology).

Don't look back. Don't worry. Do move forward in spiritual growth through diligent study of the Word of God from a solid teaching ministry. And do try to put away the "sin that so easily besets" (Heb.12:1). Failing to do so can get very painful, even if it never comes close to endangering your salvation (just ask David who endured fourteen years of intensive divine discipline that included the death of three children and the near end of his kingship and life at the hands of one of them).

Yours in Jesus Christ the Righteous,

Bob L.

Question #13:  

Oh ok, I think I finally understand.

It's not to sit and worry about salvation because of the verses. It's to trust Jesus and not continue in that sin. Even though I let it get the best of me I have repented and now is time to move on and continue to grow again.

Response #13: 

Good for you brother!

Keep on running the good race for Jesus Christ – in that there is great reward.

Yours in Him,

Bob L.

Question #14:   

Hey Bob,

So a couple days ago I read Hebrews 6, and today just finished Hebrews 10, and for some reason I still feel unsettled reading it – maybe even a little bit fearful. I realize we have discussed I before, more than once in fact, but I do wish to discuss a couple of aspects of it, both for enlightenment ... and, admittedly, assurance. The 'trampling underfoot' and the 'insulting the spirit of grace' that is being spoken of, is this taking the gift for granted, or is this -as I think it is- the extreme of unbelief? If one believes, they're not insulting the spirit of grace for simple fact of being a believer, if I'm right about this? I remember, and still have the email and links you gave me almost a year ago now (has it been a year? It feels like two, but I may be mis-counting) when I first came to you, that you told me being a believer and doing such things as 'insulting the spirit of grace' are mutually exclusive, as in the insulting would be due to unbelief.

I still have much room to grow, and I think that as people, there is no real 'going stagnant' when it comes to faith: if you're not growing, you're going downhill, but it can be a gradual decline or a cliff, depending on the person. I don't know if I'm right about that, but either way, I've strived to keep growing and the difference between me now and me how I was before we met is astounding to me. I've already listed off the 'problem sins' I had to you in previous conversations, and most of them are gone entirely, or severely locked-down with strong discipline and simple study and keeping to the word. Yet despite all of this, when my studies bring me back to Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10:26-31, I still feel fearful, and then think back on that time when I first came to you. I know you've told me we shouldn't forget the past in terms of using it not to make the same mistakes, but the feeling of uneasiness seems to come, regardless. It's an imperfection in my track record, so to speak, which shouldn't bug me because there are many ... many imperfections in all of our 'records', but this one seems to keep coming back to haunt me. I don't want to be uneasy or fearful reading these two particular passages, and would like to get passed the past once and for all. How can I do that?

Response #14: 

Good to hear from you, my friend. I am very pleased to acknowledge that your spiritual growth seems clear to me as well. To take the last question first, this (i.e., continued spiritual growth) is the only way to "get past" any and all spiritual quirks and "soul kinks" a believer may have, namely, by continuing to grow in the truth of God's Word. Eventually, the great and growing body of truth in a person's heart forms a critical mass that renders the believer capable, with the Spirit's help and that person's willingness of course, of fending off all doubt and worry and satanic attack. The "shield of faith" Paul talks about in Ephesians six is really only completely effective when "the belt of truth" has first been buckled on securely (which is why that piece of gear is mentioned first in Eph.6:14).

As to Hebrews 6 and 10, your remembrance and present explanation is essentially correct. These passages, the way they have been traditionally translated into English and the way they have been widely and grossly misused, are very frequently "thorns in the side" of contemporary believers. It is rare that I get an email from a brother or sister in Christ who is concerned about their spiritual status where these passages don't come up. But they are what they are, and they aren't what they aren't: and they most definitely do not teach the impossibility of spiritual recovery or any such thing. To take only the particular phrases you ask about, "trampling" and "insulting" in Hebrews 10:29, these refer historically to the unwise practice in the contemporary Jerusalem congregation of continuing to sacrifice at the temple, even though they knew very well that "Christ our Passover has [already] been sacrificed for us" (1Cor.5:7; cf. Heb.10:18 which explains Heb.10:26: it is because the blood of Christ has made obsolete all these sacrifices that they "no longer remain"). Doing so amounted to acting out a false witness that Jesus' death had not been effective in removing sin, and that bad witness most certainly constituted an "insulting of the Spirit of grace" (yet even so these believers were still believers – which is why Paul wrote the letter to do battle for their spiritual welfare).

What would a parallel be today? I suppose any sort of action or speech which denied Christ would amount to the same. But even here, before someone starts worrying about some "unpardonable sin" (and there is none except that of actively rejecting Jesus Christ), it is well to consider that Peter denied the Lord three times, and yet he is most definitely saved (and will be one of the most highly rewarded believers in eternity). That is not a brief to follow his bad example on that occasion; rather it is a measure of the forgiveness and mercy of God – for all who crave that forgiveness.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:   

Hey Bob,

I know the day will come soon; in fact, Ichthys and your help specifically has really helped stem the tide of these feelings of uneasiness and fear, which is why I understand that a source of bible study outside of the bible reading itself is needed to help interpret what's really being sad and translated. I'm not sure how to put it, but you manage to articulate thoughts and express them in a way that I've only begun to be able to do. Again, thank you for your help. I'm now on Psalms, by the way, and have a long way to go since there are 150(ish?) chapters of it. Some days I feel like 'I should just get it done', but more and more often I find myself wanting to read. It hasn't happened often but sometimes I've read beyond the 2/2 per day just to read on a little bit more.

Response #15: 

Amen, my friend!

Keep running the good race. That is the way to get ahead, by making solid progress day by day.

In Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith,

Bob L.

Question #16:  

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I need your advice on something. I've been having problems out of one of my relatives.

[details omitted]

Response #16: 

Relatives, sad to say, are often problematic. I think there is probably not a person in this country without at least some "relative problems". Biblically speaking, we are responsible for helping those in our immediate family: children, parents, and, I suppose under some circumstances, siblings. There is a limit to how much we should involve ourselves with those who are trying to bring us down, however. I think your approach is exactly the right one: turning the other cheek and closing the door as much as possible. The problem really is proximity. In my opinion, your effort to become independent in a reasonable and righteous way is exactly the right approach. I would think all this would be motivation to hasten that day as much as you can. The evil one is never happy about someone like yourself getting oriented to the truth and beginning to make good life-choices as a result, so that he and his minions are wont to use whatever ready means lie at hand to distract from good purposes and good choices. I can't think of anything more distracting than "getting into it" with relatives in a situation such as this. It won't solve anything; it'll only make it harder to concentrate on your studies and your spiritual growth. My advice would be to "tune it out" as best you can, keep your head down and persevere on your excellent course of action, and put these things before the Lord in prayer day by day – the latter is the only way that otherwise insoluble problems can ever be solved.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

I pray for you. I'm hurting so bad. I am suffering for the wrong reasons. I ask for your prayers. I feel I'll be last in The Kingdom. The Lord has continued to bless me through it all. I wish I was suffering for Christ, and not for my own bad decisions. To my brother in Christ,

Response #17: 

Thanks for your prayers, my friend. I have been keeping you in prayer day by day, as well as your dad, brother and friend and her family.

I want to remind you that our God is a forgiving God. He has forgiven us everything in Jesus Christ, and when He does discipline us for sins, He does so as the loving Father He is for our correction and spiritual benefit, not to destroy us. If we confess our sins, then we immediately come under that umbrella of punishment for blessing, and can rejoice in the discipline – because we also have His comfort in the Holy Spirit.

And our hope for you [is] steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also [you will partake] of the consolation.
2nd Corinthians 1:7 NKJV

The above was necessary to say since in this email you blame yourself. We have all made bad decisions in the past, but at some point it is necessary to get past the past and look to the future.

"For you write down bitter things against me and make me reap the sins of my youth."
Job 13:26 NIV

Job, quoted here, was, of course, not being disciplined at all at the time when he made this statement of/about/to God. In fact, he was "sharing the sufferings of Christ" (see the link). But as often happens when the testing is long and strong, we believers have a tendency to lose perspective and forget that "bad things" may be testing as well as punishment, and then assume that the trouble hasn't come to an end because we are "bad". If falling into this trap of false analysis could happen to Job, one of the greatest believers ever, it can certainly happen to us as well. Blessedly, we have the book of Job – as well as the entire scripture and all of its truths – to help us keep everything that happens in this terrible world in perspective.

The Lord has called us to joy (Jn.17:13; Rom.14:17; Gal.5:22; Phil.1:25; 1Pet.1:8) and to peace (Is.26:3; 57:2; Jn.14:27; Rom.5:1; Eph.2:14; Phil.4:7; Col.3:15; 2Thes.3:16; 1Pet.1:2). That is true even if we are being tested and tried and are truly sharing the sufferings of Christ (1Pet.4:13; Jas.1:2; cf. Rom.5:3-5; 1Pet.1:6). If we are still under discipline for some past behavior, as long as we have indeed changed course and confessed and are now walking with the Lord, He expects us to be joyful and confident in Him in such situations too. If we have not confessed and have not changed course, then it is also the goodness and the graciousness of our Lord which is at work, for as David testifies, until we do adjust our attitudes and behavior and bring our case to the Lord in prayer, we will not only not find joy and peace; we will also not find our situation bearable at all.

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
Psalm 32:3-5 NASB

So there is a proper response in every situation in which a believer may find him/herself to recover the peace and joy that are our birthright as sons of God and members of the Body of Christ. Are we out of fellowship? Then we must repent and confess. Are we in fellowship yet still suffering discipline as true sons and daughters? Then we must endure. Are we being tested as all believers must be to grow in the Lord? Then we must persevere. And in all of these circumstances the peace and our joy which belong to us as believers in Christ (Eph.2:14), will not necessarily flow to us in an automatic way.

So now that we have been justified by faith, let us take hold of the peace [we have] with God [the Father] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

We must take pains to remind ourselves of these truths and to hold them fast in our hearts. We must learn to encourage ourselves through the scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must actively engage in embracing the truth we have believed and know to be true. That is the main difference between the mature believer and those who have not yet gotten to the point of being benefitted by "solid food", namely, the habit, consistency and determination to redefine what our eyes see and our ears hear and, most especially, what our feelings feel, doing so through the Spirit and the Word of God.

The world sees our suffering as miserable, and if we see it that way too we will be miserable. But we are not as those who have hoped only in worldly things – their suffering is indeed something to be pitied. No, we are those who have entrusted our lives and our fortunes to the Lord. We are looking to an eternal reward kept safe for us undefiled in the heavens (1Pet.1:4). And even if in truth it may come to be that we are "last in the kingdom", it is incomparably better to actually be "in" the kingdom, even if last, than to have nothing but material and situational "blessing" in this sorry life and be first in hell thereafter.

But if you persevere, my friend, you will not be last. Pick up your cross and move forward in the task of glorifying Jesus Christ. Regardless of past failures, large or small, every day means only one important thing: an opportunity to serve our Master – and to earn eternal reward in the process.

You remain in my prayers day by day.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #18:  

Thank you, Bob! It's funny, as I was just praying for you last night. I can't imagine how many people you pray for, but I know God hears us! After all of my emotional tears and praying on such things, I wish to ask you what 1 Corinthians 7:29 means for married people. How can we actually live this way (I presume this is for those 'who have husbands' too?)

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not;

Response #18: 

Hello Friend,

The point in 1st Corinthians 7:29 is that as Christians we have things to do and be concerned with which far exceed everything else in our lives by many magnitudes of importance. If we were unbelievers, and if this world were really all there was, then how we would act and prioritize would be completely different. As it is, the time is short (and shorter than even most Christians today realize), and the things of the world that occupy most people are often terrible wastes of time – at least for those who realize that time is the most valuable asset we have: it constitutes the framework wherein we choose to serve the Lord, or not.

The trick (and the rub) is, of course, that we are actually here in the world, and we do actually have physical bodies, and we do have to provide for ourselves and others. Even Paul slept (occasionally) and ate (occasionally) and enjoyed fellowship with other Christians. He ran the "most efficient operation" of any post-Pentecost Christian from what we can tell from scripture, and yet we can be certain that he still had to provide for his needs occasionally (tent making) and do some of the other mundane things that occupy time and energy. And we are not Paul (we are not close to being Paul). If we are married, we have obligations to our spouses as well, and these go beyond the obvious and the basics, no doubt. Being a good husband or a good wife is very consumptive of time and energy, and beyond all argument we are required to be that if we are married (and a good father/mother if we have children, and a good son/daughter, if we have living parents, etc.). It takes real spiritual maturity to separate the wheat from the chaff on this score, to recognize when we are not doing enough or doing too much, and to hit that "sweet spot" in the middle. And even if we do hit it and manage to hold it, our loved ones will no doubt think we are giving them short-shrift even as we straining to do what we know we need to do for our spiritual growth, progress and production. In such circumstances, the test will be to be patient and endure the tension with as much joy as possible. Being human, moreover, we are likely to make mistakes even when we have reached a certain level of maturity, and we are likely to fail from time to time as well, giving somewhat less than we should to those to whom we are obligated or to the Lord or often to both. The Christian life is a fight to the finish. But if we fail to recognize this and fail to take Paul's words in this verse and elsewhere to heart and fail to prioritize our walk with the Lord, then we are never going to get where He wants us to go (or anywhere close).

When a Christian is sitting out the fight and "enjoying what God has given", it is often the case that such a person can have a certain amount of easy peace – and why not: they are not fighting/racing/striving, and the devil sees nothing in particular to oppose. In contrast, those Christians who actually have taken up the full armor of God and who actually are counting their lives and fortunes but little for the sake of serving Jesus and earning a good reward, the same peace is not as easily won nor as easily held onto. When one has entered the whirlwind, there is only a small space of relief right in the middle, right in that sweet spot in the eye of the storm, and only if we can train ourselves to ignore the cows and cars that are swirling around us as we move forward in the track of the storm. But this is in fact the only way to fulfill Paul's injunction or to make a serious difference for the Lord Jesus. Learning how to "count it all joy" when the sky is falling is not beginner stuff (Jas.1:2). It takes a deep foundation of truth which is solidly believed and tempered through enduring many small storms and troubles first. But that is the only way to grow, and the only way to progress, and the only way in the end to make oneself usable for the ministries to which Jesus calls us. It is also the only way to get ready for the cataclysmic storm which is about to engulf the entire world.

When a person is giving it nearly everything they've got as you are, it is important to remember that maintaining a good "cruising speed" forward is more desirable than squeezing out a few more knots for a few days only to blow a boiler as a result. Keep moving forward, keep trusting the Lord, and remember that the work you are doing on the domestic front and on the spiritual front is all necessary and all good. Small changes and improvements come naturally as we grow. The really mature thing is to be able to sustain a good effort on all fronts as your ministry and effectiveness in all you do grows as you grow in the Lord.

In anticipation of your great reward on that wonderful day to come.

And thank you so much for your prayers! As always, they are greatly appreciated.

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Thank you, Bob! This would be a good question to post up for others. This scripture, below, is one of my favs; it and asking my Lord to help me to see others, love others and forgive others, just as He does and just as He has for me through our most beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ is what calms my storms.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Blessings to you, Bob and may God's love always protect and guide you!

Response #19: 

Thank you!

I will get around to posting this one day – along with your verse below.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

[details about being betrayed by unbelieving "friends" omitted]

Response #20: 

I have been in prayer for you that the Lord would grant you guidance – and deliverance – in this intended move of yours. I can tell you from personal experience (as well of course from scripture and most personal observation of others) that the Lord often does intervene in our lives by closing certain doors and opening others, sometimes in dramatic ways. I can also tell you that as good and honorable as some unbelievers may be (and as unreliable as some believers sometimes are), in this spiritual warfare in which we are presently engaged a believer is wise to remember that the evil one will use any and all means to side-track and undermine believers, especially those who are verging on being impediments to his plans through their personal spiritual growth, progress and incipient ministries, and that certainly includes the manipulation of any and all who are "of this world".

I'm very happy to hear that you have been extricated from the dangers – and perhaps that is the major portion of what is at issue here. Unbelievers have goals, priorities and points of view which, of necessity, are fundamentally inimical to what we believers are doing (or are supposed to be doing) here on planet earth. Once any association between believer and unbeliever gets too deep, therefore, it can have negative consequences just for that reason – irrespective of the intervention of the evil one.

Don't let yourselves be mismatched together in the yoke with unbelievers (i.e., in any close, intimate association). For what partnership does righteousness have with immorality, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement is there between Christ and Belial (i.e., the devil)? What agreement is there between God's temple and idols? For we are the temple of the Living God, just as God has said: "I will dwell among them and walk among [them], and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore come out from the midst of them (i.e., the ungodly) and separate yourselves" says the Lord, "and do not touch anything unclean. Then I will receive you and will be to you as a Father, and you will be to Me as sons and daughters" says the Lord Almighty.
2nd Corinthians 6:14-18

Best wishes for a stable and happy re-grounding!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:  

Thank you, once again, for your words of encouragement and amazing grasp of what is transpiring in my life. All of a sudden, age old friends are dropping me like a hot potato, with NO provocation whatsoever. As a matter of fact, without even having a physical encounter, which would give rise to even the slightest misunderstanding. It is like a collective abandonment, like a plot to isolate and punish me. If there is one thing that I can say, and may the Lord be my most severe judge in this, is the fact that I am a loyal, generous, hospitable friend. I just could not understand the hostility of people I have loved unconditionally for so many years. Thank you for bringing Cor 6:14-18 into perspective. This has been of great spiritual and moral support in these trying times.

God bless you once again for your support and compassion.

Response #21: 

You are very welcome.

Believe me when I say that I know very well the pain and trauma of rejection by those who have been befriended and well-served. No doubt the evil one does too, and uses that weapon as a wedge to try to put distance between a positive believer and the Lord. All of us, however, should be very wary of putting any sizable amount of confidence in another human being:

Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?
Isaiah 2:22 ESV

Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD."
Jeremiah 17:5 NKJV

Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; In the balances they go up; They are together lighter than breath.
Psalm 62:9 NASB

But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
John 2:24-25 NKJV

Whenever we find someone who is worthy of our trust and proves it in the crucible of life, that is a rare and blessed thing from the Lord. It is a rare thing, even among believers, and something not to be taken for granted, given the weakness of all flesh.

But the Lord will never let us down.

Yours in the dear Lord Jesus who paid for all our sins when we were yet His enemies.

Bob L.

Question #22:  

Hey Bob hope all is going well. I was having some identify issues, so I went through some of our emails and I have a question you said in Hebrews that it impossible to restore some one to a godly attitude that makes repentance possible.

I was wondering can you explain what repentance means iv read different options some say it is to turn away from sin others say it means a change of mind. In the context of Hebrews which is it.

And by the way do you have any advice on dealing with identity issues and assurance. I keep questioning my identity and who I am to God.

I find myself slipping into sin and it makes me say things like if I was really saved I'd be a new creation, old things are passed away the new has come. I'd love Christ with all my heart and choose to obey him rather than my flesh. Things like that, sorry about all the questions.

Thanks again Bob,

Response #22: 

I have quite a lot on what repentance really means in biblical terms (it is turning around 180 degrees from a person's previous point of view, regardless of whether there is much or little emotion involved in that decision):

Repentance (in BB 4B)

Repentance (in BB 3B)

Be zealous and repent.

Repent!

As to identity, here is what I read in scripture:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you;"
Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb."
Psalm 139:13 NIV

God created us. He ordained our days before one of them came to be. He planned our entire lives before He initiated the creation of the universe. The Church, of which we are a part, would not be complete – and the whole plan of God would then fail – if a single one of us were missing from Christ's Body. We are in fact so important to God that He sent His one and only Son into the world to pay the entire fiery price for our sins on Calvary's cross. Think about it: God became man, lived the most difficult life imaginable (really, unimaginable), and to get to the cross ran the most horrifying gauntlet imaginable (really, unimaginable), then died in the darkness for us all, paying every single bit of the eternal price for every single sin – that is something to which the imagination cannot even give a range of quantification – much less qualification. And now that you ARE Christ's, your are even more important to Him and to the Father – and you have been given the Holy Spirit. As a result, your identity is that your belong to Jesus Christ, and no one can snatch you out of His hand. So you and I and all our brothers and sisters should refrain from even worrying about self-worth or anything of the like: this life is now all about Jesus Christ and how to serve Him best. The answer to that is spiritual growth, spiritual progress, and spiritual production.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 NIV

If you want to stop sliding backward, you have to engage in the process of moving forward – spiritual growth

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #23:  

Good day Sir,

I need your help concerning a brother who is in ocean of DOUBT and WORRIES. Please sir, your encouragement and good word he really does need at this time. I thank the lord Jesus for preparing you all this years only for someone like me to benefit from you in my Christian journey.

Thanks in advance.

Response #23: 

Good to hear from you, my friend. I am keeping you and your family in my prayers. I would certainly be happy to pray for your friend, and also to correspond with him.

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Matthew 6:25-34 NKJV

Here are some links which may also be of benefit:

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith

How can Christians refrain from worrying?

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.

Doubt and Faith

Mutual Encouragement in the Lord

Do feel free to write me back about this and/or pass on your friend's questions/concerns.

Yours in the dear Lord Jesus who bought us from the grave through His spiritual death on our behalf.

Bob L.

Question #24:   

Robert,

My father passed away – please keep my family in your prayers. We decided on a military funeral which I am pleased with. He served in Vietnam as a flight surgeon (captain) and deserves to be recognized for his service. He died peacefully in his sleep. All I can do now is hope that The Lord showed mercy. He was a Christian man at one time but fell away later in life.

Thanks in advance for your prayers and for the prayers you have said for me and my family in the past. God Bless you and I hope that things are improving for you my friend in Christ

In Jesus Christ

Response #24: 

I'm sorry to hear your sad news. I have been praying for your dad – I know he had serious medical issues which concerned you, but also that his spiritual status was what weighed most heavily on your heart.

I have no doubt that there will be many in heaven who were only marginally holding onto their faith in this life, and it can be very difficult to gauge which is which in such cases. I think that the fact that the Lord gave your dad a peaceful departure is an excellent sign, and I personally would take it as the comfort I am sure He meant it to be.

I will continue to keep you and the rest of your family in my prayers, and I thank you so much for your prayers on my behalf as well. I am confident of the Lord's deliverance and will certainly share that good news with you when it comes.

In the One with whom we long to be, Jesus Christ who died for us all.

Bob L.

Question #25:   

Robert,

I just wanted to drop you a line to see how things are going down there, I continue to keep you in my prayers. I still find myself sad much of the time, I never thought the end of my father's suffering would be so painful for me. I guess much of that comes from fear of the unknown, not knowing what happens to folks you love after they die is very difficult. It would be nice if once in our life, we were given a window to look into the afterworld, what awaits us so that we might correct ourselves if we are on the wrong path. As Christians we know, but there are many out there who don't.

In Jesus,

Response #25: 

You are very welcome, my friend. I pray that God will work everything out for you for good, of which result I am certain. I think it is beyond question that the Lord will take everything into account when determining our eternal rewards. As I often have remarked, we know from 1st Corinthians 12 that the Lord Jesus assigns us our ministries and the Father determines their effects. Prophets in ancient Israel who were met with very little responsiveness are certainly not going to be judged by the numbers of those who repented. The Lord knows everything that has happened or will happen, and we can rest assured that this includes our times and circumstances and just how and to what degree we responded to all that transpired or will.

A good self-check moment to re-motivate ourselves to put heads down and continue to press forward irrespective of circumstances.

In our merciful and loving Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:  

Robert,

Thanks, as always, for your kind/comforting words. Could it possibly be that God looks at the hearts of men more then their actions? I'm sure this is true to some degree. It seems like I read somewhere that those (Christians) who suffered the most on Earth will have a higher position, for lack of a better term, in Heaven. There are almost certainly thousands of Christians in North Korea who are languishing in detention camps, enduring unimaginable suffering. As Christians, I think we certainly need to make it a point to pray for those people every day.

In Jesus Christ

Response #26: 

Good to hear from you. Losing someone we love is always difficult, and the emotional strain of it is something that hits many of us harder than we would have imagined before the fact, particularly when the person in question was especially near and dear.

I do understand your concern for your dad, but as I say I personally would take the peaceful manner in which he departed as a positive sign. There is so much we cannot really know or understand even about our own internal mechanics – how much more is that not the case with other people? One thing I have learned is not to underestimate the mercy of God. God is justice; God is love; mercy is where the two come together. In His Plan, the Father found the perfect way to satisfy His justice so as to be able to give His love full scope – by paying the full price of that justice in the blood of His Son our dear Lord. Salvation is very close, "in your heart and in your mouth". God did not send His Son Jesus our Savior into the world to condemn it but to save it. This being the case, if there is any avenue for a person to be saved, that person will be saved. All we have to do is "not say 'no!' ". If there are people we care about, therefore, it is right and good to give them the truth as long as they draw breath. After the fact, I prefer to give God's mercy the benefit of the doubt in all disputable cases (such as this one). And beyond any doubt, the wonders and the glories of all that is to come will far exceed the wildest imaginings of those among us with the wildest imaginations. God is good, and we know that being with Him will be good – beyond expression.

In my prayers, my friend.

Bob L.
 

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