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Question #1:

[Question about commentary by John G. Reisinger who attacks a supposed theory about two types of Christians, carnal and spiritual]

Response #1:

Thanks much for your note, and also for your continuation with the studies – that means a lot to me.

As to the enclosed article, I don't think we have a problem here. I most certainly do not believe that there are "two kinds of Christians", carnal and spiritual. To me, that is a false dichotomy. Certainly, I would not describe all Christians as carnal. But does that mean that all Christians are spiritual at all times? Do I take from this article that once a person believes, that person never sins again? Or do I take it to mean that true Christians may commit certain minor sins hardly worth mentioning, but would never fall into gross carnality such as the list in Galatians chapter five? Or, to put it as one recent correspondent did, Christians do not commit "sins of the flesh". In fact, that is the whole basis of my disagreement with much of the confused theology behind some of these ideas. Every Christian should be spiritual (in the Spirit) at all times; no Christian should be carnal at any time. But all Christians fail some of the time. And there is no biblical basis for putting sin into two different categories on the one hand, or claiming that we never sin on the other – and the logic of this article and similar "teachings" demand one or the other – which probably explains why such types are very reluctant to spell out what they mean in detail but leave the specifics hanging guilt-drenched in the air instead without explication.

In assessing this current piece, I am sure that Mr. Reisinger would admit to falling into sin at some times; but he would also make a very big distinction between "telling a white lie" or "getting irritated with a friend" on the one hand, and fornication, idolatry, theft, etc. on the other. And there is certainly a big distinction in terms of the seriousness of the sin – however and importantly, to God, sin is sin. Every sin needs to be confessed for a believer to be restored to spirituality, big or small. For, consider, Christ had to die for every single sin – whether we consider them big or small; and one single sin would be enough to condemn a person to the lake of fire, no matter how small (if the Lord had not removed sin as an issue by His death in Calvary's darkness).

That is my main objection to the practical application by these sorts (when one starts quizzing them and getting down to specifics about what they really mean when they say these sorts of things). I note that this article, rather than teaching what is meant outright, sets up straw-man positions and knocks them down without ever getting to the "meat" of what is really being sold here. That "meat", unfortunately, is rotten, because it preaches two classes of sins, bad ones and forgivable ones (unless sinless perfection is meant – that is the only other alternative). And, inevitably, the "bad ones" are the ones somebody else commits; any sin "I" might do, is by definition in the "not so bad" category. And if "I" ever commit one that really is so bad that I can no longer make that claim, then I will hide it (convinced that I am forgiven), but will teach that others who do likewise are not really Christians. This all seems to me at best to be a silly and ineffective way to try to stop Christians from sinning – or it would be silly if it were not so dangerous to those who believe it. For them, continuing to be Pharisaically "good" leads deeper and deeper into legalism (with all the negative spiritual consequences), whereas serious failure in carrying out this false, man-made standard has the potential of plunging the believer who has bought into this false theology into such guilt that "I've lost my salvation!" becomes the logical conclusion.

It is a fact that believers do not lose their sin nature and that believers do sin after salvation. Those who want to minimize these truths have to go one of two ways, either teaching sinlessness after salvation or, alternatively, teaching a two-tiered system of sins. Both of these heresies are freighted with potential spiritual disaster if and when believed. Grace is a fact, blessedly. Those who abuse it will be sorry. Those who deny it, well, I am sorry for them.

Sin is serious business, and in my writings I have gone on in great detail to explain how that apostasy or the sin unto death lie at the end of the dangerous road of indulging in sin to the point where it "gives birth" and then "comes to fruition", because the end of that road is death, one of these two ways or the other (Jas.1:15).

As to Charles Hodge' statement: "A man professing to be a Christian professes to renounce all these sins; if he does not act consistently with his profession, he is not to be recognized as a Christian", I would note two things: 1) "consistently" covers a lot of ground and makes the essence of what is said first here palatable to me: no one who does not consistently stay away from gross sin is going to fail to find him/herself headed for apostasy or the sin unto death; however, 2) "he is not to be recognized as a Christian" makes the statement largely meaningless. After all, it is of little moment to me personally what people think of me; all that matters to me is what the Lord thinks of me. It may be that the Lord's opinion of me is more laudatory than that of other Christians, or it may be exactly the opposite. Like the apostle Paul, "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself" (1Cor.4:3 NIV).

Is it really the business of Christians to do as Hodge seems to encourage us to do, namely, to pass judgment on them as to whether or not they are really Christians? If a person is acting badly, we are told not to associate with them; we are never told to reckon up their behavior and decide whether or not they are believers, and, if we think they are, how good or bad they are. Instead, we are told not to judge – apart from the obvious principle just mentioned of staying away from those who are indisputably carnal in their behavior. If someone is acting badly, we stay away. And we should leave it at that. The Bible is very clear about the dangers of sin and the consequences of sin. We do not need to overstate scripture or add to scripture. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of speaking to the consciences of any and all wayward believers who, under the bludgeoning of the divine discipline that always follows gross sin, may come to rue their bad decisions and wish restoration. For all who do repent, God provides a way for every prodigal son to return; for those who are not willing to give up their sins, death will soon be at the door, and, in many cases, the self-induced frustration of the experience will try their faith to the point where they give it up. In such cases, the end is worse than the beginning.

Only God knows what is in the heart of any human being. Our job is to learn and teach the truth that those who are far from Him might be brought near through the grace and forgiveness which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior who died for every single one of our sins,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dr. Robert Dean Luginbill:

Just came across your website and I am curious to Know your core beliefs.

Please Respond, Thank you!

Response #2:

Good to make your acquaintance. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, my all and my everything, and it is my heart's desire to love Him with all my heart and mind and might and strength, and to walk pleasing to Him in this world by learning and applying His truth, helping others to do the same.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21 NKJV

In his final talk with the Ephesian elders, Paul made the following statement:

"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God."
Acts 20:26-27

In that same spirit, it has always been my policy to strive to teach the entire realm of biblical doctrine, both systematically (in the main studies), but also answering any and all Bible questions on any and all legitimate topics. For example, the most recent posting of such conversations, Gospel Questions VIII, comes to some 20+ single spaced print pages, and this is only one week's material (many weekly postings are much longer). It would be hard to summarize this posting, let along the 1,000 plus files posted to the Ichthys website. Bible Basics 4A: Christology: the Study of Jesus Christ, for example, is 220 pages single-spaced – but in a standard denominational creed it would be rare to have more than a few dozen words (if that) speaking about this most important Christian subject for anyone who follows Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master. In my opinion, these things are far too important to summarize in any sort of official or purportedly final way, because in the summary the very simplicity and brevity will give some false impressions. There is a reason the Bible is the length that it is. So I would encourage you to look at the materials themselves, and I stand ready to answer any specific questions you might have. Here is what I have about this on the "About Ichthys" page:

Although the Bible study materials found here are in the Protestant, Evangelical tradition, this site has no denominational affiliation – the Bible studies at Ichthys are intended to speak for themselves. It is my profound hope that these lessons will contribute to the spiritual growth and progress in the Christian life of those who make use of them.

Feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In our dear Lord Jesus, "my Lord and my God",

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:

Dear Bob,

Another question that still bothers me. There are many places where I read ambiguities in English translations.

One such is Genesis 2:17: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

That could be read at least two ways. One would be that they die that day and the argument is often made that, to God, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day as justification for that position. What seems more reasonable to me would be the understanding that "in the day that you eat it, you will guarantee your death." That also seems to be the prototype for the result of sin in general. I realize that I may be adding what isn't there in the original and the paraphrase may not be accurate. To be fair, no one recorded lived more than a thousand years. Paul, however, says that we bear sin in our flesh (another ambiguity) that seems to argue for the notion that something in that fruit created a physical change. Ecclesiastes says that we are no different than the animals which doesn't seem to agree with the original Genesis account of man's creation which God declared good and also argues for a physical change after eating the forbidden fruit. I'm sorry to kick a dead horse but this one has bothered me since our last conversation on the topic. The question actually is, "Is the original clear or is it also ambiguous?" Am I straining at gnats? Thanks.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #3:

Good to hear from you. I think you have this about right. Biblically speaking, death has three aspects (please see the link: in BB 3B: Hamartiology: "the Three Aspects of Death"). First, everyone (since the fall) is spiritually dead to God from birth on account of the sin nature we all possess as descendants of Adam which in turn guarantees that "all sin" (Rom.3;23); secondly, as a result of having that sin nature, everyone eventually dies physically (Ps.49:10); and third, absent some miraculous divine intervention, as spiritually dead individuals who now have "no place to go" but the judgment bar of the Almighty, all are destined for eternal death (Heb.9:27). Blessedly, Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind so that now the issue of personal sin and spiritual death is removed as an obstacle to salvation – for those who are willing to accept that great sacrifice on their behalf (Jn.3:16-18). For those of us who are "born again" (out of spiritual death), therefore, there is no "second death" after physical death (Rev.20:6).

In terms of Genesis 2:17, from the divine point of view the statement is true in every way: 1) Immediately upon eating, Eve and then Adam died spiritually (evidenced by their sinful behavior immediately thereafter in donning fig leaves, hiding from the Lord, and blaming others); 2) consequently as the result of eating they would in a few short years (by eternal standards) die physically; 3) ultimately – absent God's merciful intervention on their behalf and their acceptance of the Substitute (symbolized by the sacrifice necessary to procure the "coats of skin" and their willingness to wear them) – they would have been cast into the lake of fire as being both spiritually dead and physically dead. So when Satan told Eve "you will not die", his half-truth cloaked a monstrous lie. The whole truth was, "while you will not physically die immediately, you will die spiritually immediately and this will result in your ultimate eternal death following your eventual physical death". Of course this is ever the devil's way, namely, spinning the truth into a lie that suits his purposes and leaves shattered lives in its wake. There is much more about all this at the following links: "The Fall of Man" (in BB 3A) and "The Insidious Nature of False Teaching" (in Pet. #27).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they willingly disobeyed God, resulting in sin. Because God is good, God wanted this sin to be forgiven. In order for sin to be forgiven, there must be the shedding of blood. In order for the shedding of blood, there must be death. Therefore, when Adam and Eve ate from the fruit, God brought death into the world, but he didn't do it because he wanted to destroy Adam and Eve, but because he wanted Adam and Eve to be reconciled with him again.

Sincerely,

Response #4:

God certainly had all this "baked into the cake" of the Plan of God before He created the universe. I do agree that physical death, the "ultimate concern" as theologians sometimes call it, has the effect of concentrating the minds of mortals to the issues of their own ephemeral nature, their own imperfection, and God's unyielding justice. This is the motivation to accept His Substitute, of course. What is remarkable – to any believer – is the incredible arrogance and hardness of heart of the vast majority of the human race in being unwilling to respond to the Lord even so, even in the face of such immense consequences, and even though the solution has been provided for entirely by grace.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

What I wanted to say is that God is Adam and Eve's friend. Death, in so far that it produces suffering, is necessary for God to reconcile his friends back to Him. God did not destroy Adam and Eve because he knew that they were mistaken, not evil. But if God were to allow them to die, then he could reconcile them back to him, because then there could be a kinsman-redeemer who could shed his blood for Adam and Eve.

This is important for explaining why God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden and did not allow for their progeny to eat from the tree of life. It also explains why he said this: ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ (Genesis 3:22)

Sincerely,

Response #5:

I would certainly agree that there are many theological reasons why mankind, once corrupt, was not going to be allowed to live forever in that sinful state. After all, this is exactly what the devil (and human beings following his lead) want most of all: an eternity to do as they wish without God's interference. But the Plan of God is for an eternity in a universe where only righteousness dwells. The course of human and angelic history as God has apportioned it was the only way that the latter could happen without the former, with the residents of that blessed time to come still having had genuine free will to make that decision for themselves to be with God forever on His terms – or else retain their "freedom" to be without God and His authority (at the cost of an eternity in the lake of fire).

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind, especially believers.

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dear Sir,

Your interesting articles about the fall of Lucifer raise a problem for me. If God does not want any of His creatures to lack free-will, how can the future New Jerusalem, or heaven or whatever you wish to call it, be a place where all sin is eliminated forever ?

The angels with free-will shall be there. Resurrected, glorified humans, with free-will, also will be there. With all that free-will sloshing around, how can there be any guarantee that another rebellion won't occur ?

Could the whole awful scenario get repeated ?

If God acts to prevent the possibility, won't He be removing free-will ?

Thanks.

Response #6:

As to free will and eternity, this is only an apparent problem. If there had been no "tree of knowing good and evil" in Eden, then Adam and Eve, possessing no sin nature up to that point, would not have fallen. Further, we human beings will by that time all have had our chance to demonstrate whether or not we wanted to be with God forever or, at the cost of eternal bliss, be "the masters of our own ship". Once the resurrection takes away our sin nature, once the old world is replaced by the new, there will be no more sin or sinfulness or capability of sinning. The "free will" that is significant from the biblical point of view is the choice for or against God and His truth; that is the only real moral choice there is from God's viewpoint. Once that choice has been finally and irrevocably made by all of His creatures, no further "opportunity" for rebelling against Him will exist. Those who were determined to be His enemies will be removed from the New Heavens and the New Earth forever; those who were willing to be obedient to Him will be with Him forever. Just exactly how it is that angels became "confirmed" in their status as fallen or elect is not entirely spelled out in scripture, but we can make some good guesses about that. I have written this up at a number of places. Please see (to get started) the link: "The Nature of Angels". Suffice it to say here that being a creature who sees God face to face, who knows so much more than we know, who has been around for thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of years before the time to choose came, means that the nature of the choice is different in terms of its mechanics, but not in terms of its moral or eternal effects. I.e., we human beings may vacillate until we come to a decision which is based upon incomplete information (limited as we are) – but we still choose based on accepting or rejecting the truth. Angels made the decision of decisions after a tremendously long time, and that fact, along with their vast knowledge and spiritual nature meant that the choice was at once an enduring and a complete one. Either way, all who are made in God's image choose their own eternal destiny. Once eternity arrives, there is no more opportunity for that sort of choice. For example, while I imagine that in the New Jerusalem we will be free to choose which of twelve fruits of the tree of life we will have today, it will not be possible – nor will it likely even come into our heads – to think, do or say anything sinful or to rebel against the Lord in any way. Here and now is where we are having those struggles, and our success in fighting the fight after we become believers is the basis for our eternal rewards. But this war will end, and we will enjoy the fruits of our labor forever – if we have chosen wisely. There is much more about all this at the link in BB 4B: Soteriology.

Question #7:

Hey Bob,

Well I answered your response on the Book of Life with the question of: why Paul would point out ".. those who labored with him in the gospel, who's names are written in the Book Of Life.." - if everyone's names are written? That/your view doesn't make logical sense. But I don't expect you to change your belief in this area (most already in ministry are never willing to do this ). No worries.

So another question. What keeps people from heaven? Sin, right? What gets people accepted into heaven, righteousness or sanctification?

Blessings

Response #7:

I did respond to your email; I guess you didn't get it. I'll paste that response in below. As to your current question, Christ died for all sin. That is why the last judgment will be a judgment of works (Matt.25; Rev.20; see the link: "The Last Judgment"). Eternity (which we conventionally call "heaven" but which will ultimately be on the new earth) will be refused to those who refused to accept the One who died for their sins. Sin doesn't keep a person from God; refusing to accept the One who died for our sins does. This is the wonder of the plan of God in that it allows everyone to "self-select" for "heaven" or hell. Those who want to be with the Lord will be; those who preferred their own will and their own works to the Work of Christ – who wanted a universe without God – will have an eternity without Him (just what they wanted). By examining their works it will be shown not only that those who rejected Christ were worthy of death, but also that nothing they did was of any value in God's eyes. In other words, what unbelievers already know deep in their hearts will be demonstrated in great detail: their condemnation was anticipated and accepted – and would be so if they lived a thousand lifetimes.

Everyone, on the other hand, who accepts the Person and Work of Christ is saved. God wants all to be saved and has made provision for all to be saved. Believers did not say "no" to the Holy Spirit when given a chance to escape condemnation; instead, we embraced the chance and gladly accepted the Work of Christ in place of our own impossible situation. In so doing God accepts our acceptance of the Son and considers that "righteousness", the righteousness of faith; in so doing, we are then placed under the protective umbrella of His holiness; we are sanctified (positionally). Sanctification has three phases, so it might be helpful to look at this link on that subject: "Sanctification" (in Peter #13).

And here's the paste in from the earlier response on the book of life:

I'm not sure what version you are using, but the Greek actually says here "the rest of my fellow workers, whose names (plural) are in the Book of Life". So rather than being singled out, Clement is, technically, not included. But we may be sure that just because Paul speaks of some of the church at Philippi as being "in the book", this by no means can be meant to suggest that others are not. As explained in the links below (q. vid.), everyone is "in the book" at first – meaning that the offer of salvation really is genuine, and that God's first best destiny for every human being is salvation. He wrote the book before the creation, and that necessitated Christ dying for the sins of all. Only by arrogant self will (expressed either in overt rejection of the Lord in this life or failure to come to God through the blood of Christ before life runs out) is a person's name blotted out of the book.

"Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written." And the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book."
Exodus 32:32-33 NKJV

Sinning against the Lord in the context above is rejecting His Substitute. Being "in the book" is thus a wonderful source of encouragement for believers who have indeed come to Christ and thus have no fear whatsoever of being blotted out when this life comes to an end – just as long as we persevere with faith intact faithful to the end. Here are those links:

Tithing and the Book of Life

"The Book of Life" translation issues

The grammar of Revelation 13:8 and "The Lamb slain"

I will assuredly not erase his name from the Book of Life (in CT 2A)

The Book of Life (Revelation 13:8) - in CT 4

The godly and the godless and the book of life (in CT 6)

Last judgment "books" distinguished from the book of life (in CT 6)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

I am in a spiritual mess and I don't know what to do. It is affecting me physically and emotionally to the point of depression and panic attacks. I am so scared I am an apostate or blasphemer. It started many years ago [details omitted]. After some years of living that way I wanted to walk with the Lord. I had prayed as a child and knew He was there. I prayed everyday and knew when I did wrong. I was sent to church on the church bus but was not raised in a Christian home. Anyhow, I started praying and reading my bible some and asked the Lord to take over my life. Things really changed for us. I still battled my temper and emotions but left the other things behind and wanted to please God. I never remember doubting that He was there and saw many times He answered prayer. For a while things were better but then after moving and things got bad. I really started doubting God. I quit praying and reading like I had done for years, then I fell into sin again. I felt like I heard the Lord tell me that if I went thru with it I was separated from Him forever. I went thru with it and concealed it for years. I struggled to get back to where I was but never seemed to find any kind of peace. I feel like I was a hypocrite. After that I had a nervous break down I guess. I felt like I had lost all touch with being connected to anything around me. I have struggled with my nerves and depression ever since. I can't even repeat the horrid things that have plagued my mind. I used to feel connected to the Lord, now I feel since that moment that I have no perception of Him. I have struggled so since that time and have doubted if He is even real. I feel like my faith died. But then yet, I try to live a separated life from sin, and do cry out to Him. I want my family to know Him and I do want to be free to love Him and be connected to Him again. I long for Him. I battle jealousy, pride, and all those works of the flesh and it grieves me. I get scared that when I had that nervous break down that was Him judging me eternally. Please help me. I have worn out every friend and pastor I know.

Response #8:

Good to make your acquaintance. Let me tell you that many believers run into trouble in this life. Pursuing sanctification is essential, but it is not an easy matter, and it is quite common for believers to struggle with sin – all manner of sin (and not just what some people in a limited way think of what sin is; for more on that please see the link: BB 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin).

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be 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 3:16-18 NKJV

These verses make very clear that believers are saved but unbelievers are not saved. That means that all this is a question of faith. Now a believer has faith in Jesus Christ; an unbeliever does not believe in Him and pays Jesus no heed. If we really do believe in Him, then we will follow Him; if we mess up in following Him, it will hurt our relationship and will hurt us too, because God disciplines all His children when they sin (Hebrews chapter 12). But those who stay faithful, who continue to have faith in and to faithfully follow our dear Lord Jesus are saved no matter what; it is only those who turn aside from Him, who not only sin but who stop confessing their sin, start justifying their sin, and, eventually, stop being believers in Jesus who are lost. An apostate is someone who once believed but who now does not (see the link). Sin plays a role in this process, because sin is disobedience and disobedience alienates us from the Lord. However, there is a big difference between a disobedient son or daughter who keeps getting dragged to the woodshed for punishment, and one who runs off and abandons the family entirely for all manner of reasons. If you are disciplined, Hebrews tells us, then you are a son/daughter – and the discipline proves it (because those who no longer believe no longer belong to Christ and are no longer subject to His oversight).

The fact that a person is concerned about salvation is always an indication to me that said person is still a believer. And if you still believe in Jesus, then you are saved, and how you feel about it (or what anyone else may have to say about it) is beside the point. Now of course anyone concerned with your welfare (or the welfare of any brother/sister) would advise you to walk the straight and narrow, to respond to the discipline God has graciously given you and to be careful to stay close to Jesus, to pursue sanctification, to confess and turn away from any sin whenever you may stumble, and, most importantly of all, to commit yourself to a course of spiritual growth, progress and production. That, growing to the glory of the Lord, is why we have been left alive on this earth after salvation: to determine whether or not we really love the Lord, and, if so, just how much. This life is about more than "being good"; we should definitely "be good", but we will never get anywhere in the spiritual life – we will never even be able to "be good" to any great degree – without spiritual growth. Learning, believing, and applying the truth of God's Word is the purpose to which this website is dedicated, and you are certainly welcome to all the resources here. Here a few links which touch on the issues you have mentioned:

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

Lost my salvation II?

Have I Lost my Salvation?

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #9:

I became a Christian when I was very young. However, I doubt now if I ever truly was or that i have lost what i once had. Throughout my life I have wavered back and forth between obedience and disobedience. I rededicated my life to Christ and became serious in following Him. I faced some serious trials after including being fired from a job because of my faith to being accused of hating homosexuals even though I had never said or done anything to provoke the attack because of my beliefs. But I pressed on. I experienced incredible joy and deep fellowship in the spirit. I prayed all the time in the spirit and was so happy.

Finally, after a serious battle involving the failing mental health of a close relative, a slow decline in my walk where I had quit going to church and a growing resentment toward God, I decided to throw in the towel on walking out the Christian life. I told God I was angry at Him for not delivering me from my situation and I fell into sin. I told God that all the non-believers seemed to have a much better life, they weren't being attacked all the time, so I wanted to try living that way since following Him was leading to one disaster after another and I didn't believe I could stand up under it any longer.

I did it. I walked away. I believed the lie I was being told. I believed God didn't love me, that I was His least favorite, that although I knew He could rescue me from my situations, His reasons for not doing so were more than I could bear.

Thus I betrayed Jesus. All the while I lived in that sinful lifestyle, I knew it was wrong, but I kept doing it. I didn't care. I kept saying I was mad at God and just didn't want to deal with anything. In the process I sunk lower than I ever had in my life. So many things I am ashamed of. All the while, though, I considered myself to be a Christian, albeit a bad one. I believed that Jesus death on the cross had covered all the sins I was committing. I was confused, hurt and angry at God when I should have been angry at sin and the enemy. I couldn't see clearly and was running from all responsibility.

Toward the end of all this I found myself in the ultimate place of hypocrisy. I was in a church service in all sinfulness. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to run to the altar and repent, yet I didn't want to give that up and embarrass everyone. How pathetic of me. I didn't listen.

After the dust settled I realized how empty and sad my life had become. I missed the light and love I experienced while following Jesus. I decided to turn back to Him. From there life began to improve. I felt better than I had in a long time, as I was back to living as my spirit believed. I was praying regularly and going to church. Although, I still never developed a healthy bible study routine. I felt I heard God saying for me to move back near my family, so I left a good job and moved. I believe He was telling me my time would be difficult at first but it was so I could learn to trust Him completely. Once, I was sitting in church and listening to the message. At the end I felt broken for what I had done in light of knowing Jesus. How could I have done all that I did while knowing Him, having experienced His love, yet still walking out? I decided it was because I must not have ever truly accepted or believed in Him completely as my savior and Lord. I raised my hand at the end of the service to truly accept Jesus. I felt silly when all was said and done because I believe I had already truly accepted Him years ago.

That night, I was awakened in the middle of the night. I had been dealing with anxiety and fear of dying (which I now believe led me to try to fully accept Jesus out of fear). I prayed silently and asked God to direct me to some scripture that would prove beneficial. I was led to proverbs 1. I read that chapter and toward the end I became scared. It talked about a fool not heeding wisdom and their destruction. I said I don't like this one, Lord lead me to another and I heard Hebrews 6. So I read and when I got to Hebrews 6:4-6 my world was rocked and everything I thought I believed was shattered.

I flew into a panic. Since that time I have not experienced peace. I have intervals, but overall I am in torment because I believe I truly committed the unpardonable sin of apostasy by turning from following Christ to turning back to the world. Whenever I read the bible now it doesn't make sense or I am scared by much of what I read. Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26, 2 Peter 2, the curses of Deuteronomy 28, it's riddled throughout the bible to persevere and hold the faith. Don't give up. I didn't persevere.

I failed my family all in so many ways in the past and now I am failing them even more in this horrible state of mind I am in. I failed to love God by not keeping His commandments. I have no personality now. I obsess over whether I have committed this sin that can't be forgiven. I wonder if I have truly repented, whether I am even capable and whether God will forgive me if I truly can. My faith is definitely shipwrecked. I have thoughts all the time of ending this life, yet I feel that would be even more selfish toward my family and I certainly don't want to go to hell any faster. I also hold a hope that I am wrong as I want so much to have a relationship with Jesus again. Not to mention, I don't want to cause further damage to anyone else's faith that I love. I fear it would be something that might cause my family to turn away from God if I were to do something like that. Even if I don't get to heaven, I certainly want all if them to get there. I guess I want assurance for them too.

Ultimately, I know that God chooses those He loves, so in effect, what I do or don't do has no effect. I basically just frighten and depress those around me because of my hopelessness.

I look back now and see all the ways I went wrong. I should have held on and had other believers pray for me way back when I was getting weak. I should have continued to believe that God loved me, especially during the darkest trials. I should have been in the Word so I could know the warnings about guarding my faith. I should have loved God more than I did. I should have not fallen for the lie and selfishness. I should have told God I did those things against Him because I was prideful, foolish and not following Him and not blamed it on lack of knowledge or acceptance of who He is.

Anyways, I was hoping for a fresh perspective. Most of what I read says either I am not a believer and never was or I am a believer who lost salvation. In either scenario, it seems that all sides agree that I am hopelessly lost since I had the full knowledge of Christ and turned my heart away in rebellion.

I would love to leave this nightmare and regain a right relationship with Jesus. At this point, I simply feel like Esau who is crying for an inheritance he sold for a bowl of soup. Not sure if I am truly sorry for the sins I committed in full knowledge against God or if I am just regretful.

Without the assurance of the forgiveness of my sins, I find it very hard to serve without it simply being works. Everything I do I examine to see if its because I am saved and still loved by God and still forgiven or in response to being loved and forgiven.

Hope to hear from you,

Response #9:

Dear Friend,

While it is possible for believers to become apostates, Judas is the one who betrayed our Lord, and it is no longer possible for any such thing to happen since Jesus has been resurrected. It is possible for believers to do and say very un-Christian things . . . and yet retain their faith. Peter denied that he even knew our Lord three times, and yet his reward in heaven is great in spite of that notable failure. Here is what I read in scripture:

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be 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 3:17-18 NKJV

Jesus Christ died for the sins of the entire human race. He died for all of my sins, paying the price in full for them, and He died for all of yours too. Since Jesus has paid for the salvation of all, it should not be surprising that the Father wants all to be saved (1Tim.2:4); that is the reason our Lord came into the world. As these verses make clear, God is thus not looking for reasons to condemn us; rather, He has done everything possible necessary to save us. And saved we are and will be – if we put our faith in Jesus Christ and abide in that faith faithfully until the end. So, as this passage above makes very clear, the question in each and every case is not "what have you done?" but "what think ye of Christ?".

I suppose there are some brothers and sisters out there in the world who have never had a "prodigal son" experience, but in my observation and personal experience these seem to be few and far between. If our Lord only accepted perfect people, then no one could be saved. But as our Lord said, " I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance"(Mk.2:17).

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."
Luke 15:4-7 NKJV

It is not the apostate who desires to return to the Lord; it is the prodigal who, having realized that his/her dalliance with the world was a mistake, returns in humility, proclaiming him/herself no longer worthy to be a son or a daughter. But what does the Lord say? Embracing the prodigal with joy He proclaims, "this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (Lk.15:24 NIV).

Those who really have utterly rejected our Lord as their Savior really do no longer have any use for Him or the Father and really are not interested in ever having a relationship with Him again. The fact that you are desirous of coming back to Jesus is a sure sign that your faith, be it ever so battered, has not been extinguished, even for all the wasted time.

The angels rejoice at your return to the Lord and so do I, your brother in Jesus Christ.

One final thing for now: this is all about Jesus, not about us. He died; we benefit . . . by grace through faith. It is a mistake to get so hung up on our own failures that we lose sight of just how merciful, loving and forgiving our Father and His dear Son our Lord truly are. True humility accepts that Jesus' work is sufficient to wash away all of our sins, if we are only willing to accept the forgiveness God longs to extend to us:

I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,"
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Psalm 32:5 NKJV

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just so as to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9

I encourage you to set yourself now to spiritual growth to strengthen your faith again, so as to be able to stop looking backwards and instead to move forward with Jesus and earn the eternal rewards which our dear Lord has in store for you.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees' and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
Hebrews 12:12-13 NKJV

Here are some related links which may be helpful to you in this process:

Have I Lost my Salvation?

Sin, Atonement and Forgiveness I

Sin, Atonement and Forgiveness II

Being Saved: Security, Apostasy, and the Sin unto Death

Spiritual 'ups' and 'downs'

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

Lost my salvation II?

Does Hebrews 10:26 teach loss of salvation?

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #10:

Robert,

Thank you for replying so quickly. Perhaps I used incorrect verbiage in stating I betrayed Jesus. I walked away from Him and to the world. I had put my hand to the plow and not only looked back but walked away and left the plow sitting in the field. I want so badly to believe that I have not committed apostasy, but in my heart, I can't reconcile what I did with faith in Jesus. I fear that in my unbelief now I have canceled all hope. I guess upon analysis, I didn't walk out on my faith way back then, I came back, was excited and working with the Holy Spirit to move forward. However, in the most recent trial of my health, I became afraid, began examining my life and walk and feared that I had not truly accepted Jesus. The fear that I had accepted salvation, but did not follow Him and listen to Him led me to tell God that I did not truly believe. Because of how it all happened, telling God this, raising my hand in church and then my next look into the bible sending me into despair, I fear now that I canceled something very precious. It's like I was posed with the question, why did you sin so grievously? And my reply showed my heart, I couldn't see the truth at that moment if it slapped me in the face. I told God it was because He wasn't with me, essentially, by saying I hadn't truly accepted Jesus. Wasn't I saying I didn't know Him and therefore saying that I no longer believed? I was blaming ignorance for my behavior and failing to remember all I had known and experienced previously? Would saying this to God be attributing all that had preceded that moment in my life and the spiritual miracles to the devil if I was saying I wasn't saved? I go in circles. Over and over. If I believe Jesus died in the cross for all of my sins and that God still loves me and wants me, then the only rejection could be from me. And if I have rejected God, then He in return is rejecting me? See the tight little circle I have myself trapped in? It's frustrating and scary. If Jesus is my birthright, by saying I didn't believe I knew Him, is it the same as Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of soup? As if He has no value? I feel I have spent my life and especially the few years preceding now taking Jesus for granted. Considering Him of little value. I know this is a wrong heart. However, I feel my heart has been blinded now and for me to realize and deeply believe in Gods love for me, now seems impossible as I go in this circle of thoughts. How can I say I have continued in faith of I had no faith at that moment? It's like I am back in that place I was in when I chose to walk away, but now instead of needing faith that God would deliver me from the circumstance of my mentally ill husband, I am struggling to have faith that God will deliver me from death and the grave.

I read the bible and see so much that seems to condemn me. The curses of Deuteronomy 28:66-68. I know these were for the Jews who would rebel against God after coming into the promised land, but it explains exactly what I have been experiencing. I want so badly to believe I am forgiven still. I have to be honest and say that my initial return to God was because I missed the benefits of knowing God. I can't honestly admit that I missed God Himself. That is horrible to admit and I hate that I have to even admit the thought or the fact this is in my heart at all. This ties to the idea that I am like Esau crying over the loss of his birthright and not repenting for giving it away. I don't feel angry at God anymore. Ever so often a bit of anger tries to rise to question Him for having created me to be so stupid. But then I remind myself that He provided the means and my choices are what decided my downfall. Then I feel very angry at myself. It's as if I have no where to put this anger at what I did. I don't feel like I can put it on Jesus. And that in and if itself is wrong because He would be the only one who could free me from it.

Anyway, you can tell by this email how incredibly confused and self consumed I am. I want to turn to Jesus and let this all go but every time I try it tumbles back upon me in great torrents of guilt. Thank you for listening to me. I am praying you have some answers and uplifting encouraging thoughts and words to help me move forward and stop this crazy cycle. I fear I have discouraged your reply by my last email. Hope to hear from you. Need help.

Response #10:

I've been very busy and am behind on answering emails. It's late, but I do want to tell you tonight that God forgives you. He says so (1Jn.1:9). Failing to accept His word on that is a big mistake many believers make, and throw themselves into paroxysms of panic and doubt as a result. Apostasy is not something that can be "committed"; apostasy is the state of no longer believing in Christ, which, by definition, means that the person in question does not care. You care. You are praying to the Lord. Doesn't it seem a little incongruous for a person to be praying to a God they don't believe in? So you do believe in Jesus; therefore you belong to Him. Like the prodigal son, Jesus does welcome you back after being willing to come back (there is no sin so terrible that it cannot be forgiven because Jesus died for all sin), but gaining confidence and spiritual momentum again after spiritual setbacks is not necessarily quick or easy. It requires the hard work of a good daily regimen of Bible reading, Bible study (from a solid Bible teaching ministry), prayer, application of truth to life, and, above all, faith. You have to believe the truth when it is heard, when it is remembered (as you aggressively call it back to mind), and also when you apply it to your life (as you should do every step of your Christian life).

To that end, this ministry is devoted to supporting just that sort of spiritual growth. But I can't do that for you. You have to take your faith in your own two hands and commit to believing and casting out doubt. It can be done; there are plenty of Christians in the same boat and plenty who were but recovered. Please do have a look at the links I shared in the last email. I think you will see what I mean. There is plenty more material at Ichthys too, and I am more than happy to answer any specific question you may have. The main thing I would want to leave you with tonight is that believers are saved; unbelievers are not. Believers are those who believe in and accept the deity and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who died for their sins; unbelievers don't believe it and don't care. There is no middle ground on that point. From everything you have shared with me you are a believer, albeit one who has tied him/herself up in knots – not, as I say, an uncommon thing these days (see the previous links). But the good news is that you are saved, and when you confess you are forgiven – and you can recover from whatever spiritual malaise you find yourself in. There is only one way to do that: the process of spiritual growth.

Yours in the dear Lord Jesus who died to save us, not condemn us, and who will never let anyone take us out of His hands, as long as we belong to Him through faith.

Bob L.

Question #11:

I have a few questions. I am afraid that God has turned me over to a reprobate mind. I got saved as a young girl but always had doubts because I didn't have a personal walk with him or feel his spirit daily. When you get saved you have to come to him when the spirit is dealing with you in alter call. That is the only way to come to him right ? By the spirit drawing...I feel like God dealt with my heart so many times and I just sat back and said no not now or I'm ok. My heart would feel like it was going to beat out of my chest but I would convince myself I was saved as a child. Some help would be great as I have had to be hospitalized and medicated for my fear of dying and going to hell.

Response #11:

Salvation comes by grace through faith alone (Eph.2:8-9); it has nothing to do with "altar calls" or making public demonstrations – it's all about what you believe in your heart: All who believe in Jesus Christ are believers, and all believers are saved.

"For God loved the world so much, that he gave His only beloved Son, in order that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16

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

So, as long as you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are most certainly not going to hell (only unbelievers go to hell of their own free will because they prefer hell to bending their will to God's will so as to accept Christ as their Savior: see the link: "God's plan to save you").

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand."
John 10:27-29 NKJV

Let me assure you that the Father loves you. He loves you so much that He sent His one and only dear Son our Lord Jesus to die for you.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1st John 4:10 NKJV

Having sent Jesus to die for all the sins of the entire world, let me assure you that the Father is looking to save everyone willing to be saved.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2nd Peter 3:9 NKJV

Who then is saved and who is lost? Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are saved; those who do not believe in Him are lost:

"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

In Romans 1:28, the "reprobate mind" (KJV), is a mind, literally in the Greek, which is "unfit" to respond to Him and is therefore turned over to "inappropriate behavior". This is speaking about unbelievers who harden their hearts against the truth of the gospel so as not only not to be saved (their free will choice) but also so as to reject the truth forcefully while still in this life. These are the ones who "who suppress the truth (i.e., of the gospel) in unrighteousness" (Rom.1:18 NKJV).

Christianity is a matter of believing the truth, not a matter of feeling. One of the main problems with the teachings of the church-visible today is precisely this false emphasis on how a person feels from moment to moment. But faith triumphs over all circumstances. No doubt Daniel's three friends could easily have "felt bad" when on the point of being burned to death; and if they had not understood and aggressively applied the truth to their circumstances they may well have let their emotions swamp the truth of what they knew by faith, namely, that they were in God's will and that God was for them and that even if they died it would be to the glory of God. This, of course, is not the stuff of spiritual immaturity, and it is true that if we are mired in gross sinfulness and unwilling to repent and straighten out our lives we will incur divine discipline; but even so, God deals with us as sons and daughters (Hebrews chapter twelve; see the link in BB 3B: "Repentance, Confession, Forgiveness"); He is looking to reconcile us when we do stray – like the one sheep out a hundred or the prodigal son – not to destroy or abandon us. He is a true Father to us in every way that an ideal human father should be, and much, much more besides. He is love itself.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
1st John 4:16 NKJV

So I would not build anything on how you feel. With the ministry of the Spirit which all believers have, it should be easily possible to see where one is in the Christian life and what needs to be done. We Christians are left here after to salvation to grow up spiritually, to make spiritual progress, and then to help others do the same according to the gifts we have been given and the ministries to which we have been severally called. Growth takes commitment. A believer who really wants to grow up spiritually so as to please the Lord (and that is really the only way to do so), has to commit to a serious Bible reading and prayer regimen, but also and most importantly to a daily (if possible) taking in of the teaching of the Word of God from a serious, substantive and orthodox Bible teaching ministry (and there are very few of these out there in Christendom at the moment). As a Christian grows, he/she learns to put feelings and emotions into their proper, subordinate place, and to walk instead by faith, navigating with what is known to be the truth, through believing it, rather than being swept along by the daily currents of emotional ups and downs (cf. Eph.4:14). To get you started, here are some links at Ichthys where these matters are discussed further.

Spiritual 'ups' and 'downs' Read your Bible: A Basic Christian Right and Responsibility

Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.

Spiritual Growth, Church-Searching and "Discipling"

Fighting the Fight I: Accountability, Faith, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reward

Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing

Fighting the Fight III: False Teaching, Local Churches, and the Truth

Best wishes for your encouragement in the Lord and spiritual growth in His honor.

Bob L.

Question #12:

Shalom,

I've been blessed by many of your article, I pray Gods continuous grace over you and your ministry. Through a recent study as a result of a revelation I had, I've been looking into the word "Christian". I've come to a conclusion that, that was never Christ intention for us. I strongly believe that the name Christian subjects man to a copy of Gods original plan for man. A copy can never function 100% as the original. I believe a group of unbelievers who had never had an encounter with Jesus, saw his disciple's functioning as a "CHURCH" (which I believe is Gods plan and the purpose of Christ coming to redeem man) hence they had no revelation, concluded these fellows are "LIKE CHRIST". They are not him but are LIKE HIM. This I believe is were the problem of believers started. No apostle ever addressed themselves or other believers as Christians.

The three times the name was used in the bible had no positive effect. In conclusion, I strongly believe Christians try to shine the light of Jesus which isn't scriptural. Jesus himself said "LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE" reason being 1) we have the mind of Christ 2) we have the peace of Christ 3) we have the holy spirit.

With this three forces in us "MEN WILL SEE OUR GOOD WORKS AND GLORIFY OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN".

Kindly reply me if you have a contrary view with detailed explanation.

Thanks a lot once again.

Response #12:

Good to make your acquaintance. I do have a detailed posting on this matter:

The Origin of the Name "Christian"

Please do have a look at this posting. It turns out that the earliest manuscript does not even have the word "Christian" but instead Chrestianos (commentary and explanation at the link).

For better or for worse, however, "Christian" is the "term of art" employed today for believers in Jesus Christ, and I have used it myself throughout my life and throughout this ministry. The word "Christian" itself, though I would agree it is not found in the Bible, means whatever the person who uses the word thinks it means. As I say, I use it to mean "a believer in Jesus Christ, part of His Body, a member of His true Church". Etymologically, the word most likely means "of the household of Christ", rather than "copy of Christ", so that is not a problem unless people want to assign a false meaning to the word (and there is nothing anyone can do about that sort of thing besides trying to straighten them out with the truth – as this ministry tries to do on all biblical issues).

As to the issue of believers and our actions in this world, we are to take Jesus as our "role model" in all things (1Pet.2:21), and we are to "follow Him" (Matt.16:24) and "abide in Him" (Jn.15:1ff.) and "reflect" Him and His truth (2Cor.3:18), "sharing His sufferings" (Rom.8:17) as we march up the high road to Zion. Without question we are insufficient in this attempt to be like Him in all things, but that is, nevertheless, the standard to which we have been called.

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
1st Corinthians 11:1 NKJV

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
1st John 2:6 NKJV

Yours in the dear Lord Jesus Christ for whom and to whom and through whom we live.

Bob Luginbill

Question #13:

Dear Professor Bob Luginbill,

Could you kindly explain in brief whether widely accepted precept "Once saved is always saved" is consistent with Biblical teaching?

Response #13:

Here is what I read in the parable of the Sower:

"But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away."
Luke 8:13 NKJV

This scripture clearly states that there is an entire category of individuals who "believe for a while", but later "fall away" (the Greek verb translated "fall away" here is the word from which our word "apostasy" is derived).

There are many other scriptures which demonstrate the sad fact that not all believers choose to persevere in faith until the end (and many other which give the lie to the false doctrine of "once saved, always saved").

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

I am always also quick to note that, since simply by remaining solid in our faith for Jesus Christ "nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom.8:39), our salvation is very secure. It's just that it is not absolutely secure since it rests on our continued choice to stay faithful to Jesus Christ. That is because all believers are saved, but no unbeliever is saved, as our Lord makes very clear:

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

So Calvinists and Arminianists both have one foot in the truth (which is all to the good), but one foot in the false (which neutralizes the good). It is wrong to teach that a person can lose salvation through a simple misstep since no sin can separate us from Christ; only our own apostasy, our own total abandoning of our faith to the point where we are no longer believers in Christ, can do this. It is also wrong to teach that nothing at all can imperil our salvation, because sin, among other things, can weaken our faith so that "in time of testing/temptation" we may choose to fall away (as for in the all too common example of people who blame God for the death of a loved one and abandon their faith as a result). If we believe, we are saved, no matter what; if we stop believing, we are not saved, since we are in that case no longer believers.

Here are some links to get you started with the details:

Being Saved: Security, Apostasy, and the Sin unto Death

False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security I

False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security II

False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security III

Eternal Security (in Peter #21)

Positional Security (in Peter #27)

Apostasy and the Sin unto Death, the Conscience and Sanctification

In BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death"

The Process of Apostasy (in CT 3A)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is our life eternal,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dr. Luginbill,

Only recently has the Lord opened my Southern Baptist eyes to the false doctrine of eternal security. I had begun to doubt the doctrine a few years ago and finally after much bible reading and prayer came to the overwhelming conclusion that what I had been taught was a lie. I decided to tell my 80 year old mother but was not really prepared for her reaction. She told me I was listening to the devil and to start reading my Bible. No amount of Bible verses, that obviously teach otherwise, would convince her because her Wiersbe Bible Commentary assures her those passages don't mean what they are saying. Help! What would you say to this woman? Thanks,

Response #14:

Good to make your acquaintance. The false doctrine of absolute eternal security is a problem, mainly because it serves in many cases as an inducement to playing fast and loose with one's behavior. No single sin can bring about condemnation (since Jesus died for all our sins), but the process of sinning can lead to apostasy as the heart becomes ever harder when a person gives in to doing things that he/she knows are wrong. Eventually, that may lead to throwing away one's faith. Alternatively, if a Christian refuses to let go of faith (a decidedly good thing) but also is unwilling to give up a pattern of gross sinfulness (a decidedly bad thing) the terminal divine discipline known as the sin unto death may well result (see the link: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death). In that case, the person's "destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord" (1Cor.5:3).

There have been many wonderful Christians of the past who were wrong on any number of doctrinal positions. Getting it right is very important, since the edifice of truth in our hearts is most stable when it is completed in every way and with complete integrity. That perfect standard is difficult to achieve, of course, but it should be what we shoot for, and it is also true that in many cases being wrong on some important point has had unforeseen repercussions – just as even seemingly unimportant bits of truth believed and stored in our hearts can be critically important for good at times and in circumstances we never would have expected.

This is a long way of saying that you mom at her age is, I am assuming, a good Christian woman, so that from a practical point of view convincing her of this truth is not as crucial as, for example, making it clear to one's children just entering adolescence. As I often say, apologetics is not my forte, but in my own case I make it my policy to explain the truth to all who are near and dear and interested in hearing the truth, but I don't beat them over the head with it. Interest in the truth has to come from within; it cannot be instilled from without. That is the essence of free will, the image of God, the process of choosing for which we are all here and continue to remain on earth after salvation. Clearly, I would wish that all of my own family members and all who are near and dear to me would have the same desire to grow spiritually through knowing and believing the absolute truth of everything God tells us in His Word – or an even greater desire to do so. As it is, I am just happy to know that most of them are saved. Some people are gifted in the area of "firing up" the lukewarm, but for most of us it has to be enough to be ready to give a defense for the faith in the truth that is in us, and to show by our Christian walk the power of truth in our own lives.

Best wishes on this – I promise to say a prayer for you and your mom. Additionally, you may find some helpful points in the following links:

Being Saved: Security, Apostasy, and the Sin unto Death

False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security I

False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security II

False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security III

Eternal Security (in Peter #21)

Positional Security (in Peter #27)

Apostasy and the Sin unto Death, the Conscience and Sanctification

In BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death"

The Process of Apostasy (in CT 3A)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

Penal substitution states that Jesus Christ died in exchange for us because violations of the law demand a punishment, and God's justice can only be satisfied by an acceptable sacrifice. Jesus Christ's death on the cross was an acceptable sacrifice. Therefore, the justice of God is satisfied.

So why would it be unjust for God to forgive everybody after the death of Christ? God's justice was satisfied only because of Christ death. Christ died. Therefore God's justice is satisfied. Christ died regardless of whether someone believes in Him or not. Therefore God's justice is satisfied whether someone believes in Him or not.

One answer to this is that unbelievers are forgiven of all their sins, but they won't be allowed into heaven because they didn't produce anything good.

Sincerely,

Response #15:

I think we've discussed "penal substitution" before, and I believe I mentioned that I don't use that term. One of the problems with doing so is that it often does more harm than good, leading to debates about theories which are based on theories and only bringing in the Word of God as an after thought. Christ paid the price for all of our sins, being judged in the darkness of Calvary for them all; He was burned and not consumed, rising in the flames until the justice of God was perfectly satisfied; that is His spiritual death for us all (see the link).

The fly in the ointment with the suggestion here is that if such were the case there would be no need for anyone to choose. It would be far better in that case for God to have created us perfect and perfectly holy without the possibility of sin – that way Christ would not have had to die, and since His death is the most profound thing in history to an unimaginable degree, a price beyond what we can even suppose, that would have been very desirable to say the least. However, we would not be who we are in that case. Who we are is impossible to disentangle from the image of God we possess. Having free will, moral determination and how we use that capacity, is what defines everything about us as individuals and as a species. Free will is also the mechanism God has in His incalculable wisdom made use of to allow us all to choose for ourselves whether or not we wish to spend eternity with Him as the Ruler of the universe. Only those who refuse to accept His authority will be excluded from the New Heavens and the New Earth. Jesus is the choice, and the perfect choice. If a person is unwilling even to accept the Substitute God provides for their salvation in order to avoid hell, that person is definitely not willing to live in a universe with God as the Ruler. Unbelievers are indeed not condemned for their personal sins; they are condemned for their refusal to accept the One who died that their sins might be forgiven. That is the eternal sin, rejection of the gospel. Reject the gospel and you reject the One who died that you might be saved; reject Him and you forfeit life. Your name was written in the book of life but by your refusal to accept the work and Person of the One who died for you that name is blotted out. It is beyond fair, beyond gracious, beyond loving . . . and it is perfect also in the respect of making the issue of rejecting eternal life with God in charge the entire reason for going to hell.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ through whom we do have redemption, the forgiveness of sins in His blood shed for us.

Bob L.

Question #16:

Robert,

Good evening and I hope Christ finds you well and my pray as always to your ministry and its outreach.

I have question as it relates to potential saved individuals. We can assume God is a God of order and he doesn't do things out of haphazardly. Can we assume that since 2/3rds of angelic beings didn't join Satan in his revolt, can we then assume 2/3rds of all humans will have been saved as well or the purpose is only to replace the 1/3 that revolted?

I know you have expounded on this is in the Satanic rebellion but I have not read it fully yet. Still reading CT and at the rate I am studying it, it will take me many more months to finish really digesting this massive but excellent exposition of Revelation.

Once again thanks again and may God continue to bless your ministry in Christ Jesus. If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Response #16:

Good to hear from you as always, and thanks so much for your encouraging comments.

As to your question, while scripture does give us the ability to discern the 1/3 vs. 2/3 of the number of angels (rebels vs. those staying loyal to the Lord), I'm not aware of anything comparable for human beings. While it is an interesting idea, I also think that from what we may discern by observation the proportions for humanity of saved vs. unsaved seem to be a far worse ratio than the inverse of what is true of the angels. Consider. There are some seven billion human beings on earth at the present time. Only a fraction of these are even nominally "Christian", and I believe it is also fair to say that a large majority of nominal, tradition-Christians are not born again or truly saved. Since there are many more people around today than was true, for example, before the birth of Christ (where the percentage was worse), there doesn't seem to be much opportunity historically for this ratio to be achieved. Add to this a few other facts: 1) the entire pre-flood population, which may have approached a billion people, was entirely non-believing at the end (only Noah and his family remained as believers); 2) even among the actual Christians of today, that is, genuine believers, fully a third will abandon their faith during the Tribulation's Great Apostasy; and 3) while the population of the Millennium will grow to levels beyond anything currently imaginable (even though starting out from a very much depleted post-Tribulation population), despite the perfect rule of Christ at its end the vast majority will listen to the devil upon his release and will actually assault Jerusalem – and be destroyed. In other words, my sense of this is that even positing 10% saved would probably be far too high a number. It might even be less than 1%. The only factor I know of which does work in the opposite direction is that all who die without have attained maturity are automatically saved (as well as all who are mentally incapable of making a genuine decision). This has been, historically, a rather large part of the human race, so I would not be surprised to learn if this last composite group ends up being the most numerous of those resurrected and inhabiting the New Jerusalem with us and our Lord.

Thanks for your concern! This is a critical week for us, and prayer is very needful. So please do keep praying, and I hope to have good news of deliverance in short order [Thanks all! See prayer request list].

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dr. Luginbill.... I am DEEP into studying and sharing your five part series on eschatology. I started by seeking data on the GAP THEORY, but became fascinated on all the lights you suddenly turned on! I hope my printer holds up as I go through numerous ink cartridges and reams of paper!

What a breath of fresh air! So many questions I have had for YEARS are coming to light... as Paul Harvey would say, Now we know THE REST OF THE STORY! The only problem ( on my part) I have to date is over Dichotomy vs Trichotomy. With over 500 uses of SOUL in my Strong's Concordance, and my hopes of having my soul refurbished while in my interim status between death & Resurrection! Also, When were our first parents finally SAVED?

Thank you so much for sharing so much of his grace. Major USAF ret

Response #17:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your enthusiastic and encouraging words. Sorry about the print-outs! Nowadays I sometimes read these materials on my tablet rather than in print (easier to organize and keep track of et al.).

To answer one question "between the lines" here, yes indeed there is a conscious, blessed "interim state" for all who die in the Lord before His glorious return (see the links: "Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State" and "2nd Corinthians 5 and the Interim State"). This is not an issue of "soul vs. spirit", and there is no such thing as "soul sleep" (see the link: "Biblical Anthropology II: 'Soul sleep', & dichotomy vs. trichotomy"). Yes, "soul" is a biblical word alright – or rather it is an English translation of a Greek word and of a Hebrew word (psyche and nephesh respectively); what they mean is something else again, namely, the whole "person". When the Bible talks about our "souls" being saved, it means "we as whole persons" are saved – and will have both a spirit (the same one we presently have) and a body ("interim" after death and a "resurrection body" after Christ's return) always and forever. That is good news indeed! At any rate, there is much to say on those subjects, and I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have (the links above will take you to most of the materials at Ichthys where the subject is discussed).

One final note on this: when you say "five part series on eschatology", I assume you mean The Satanic Rebellion series? That's where "Part 2: The Genesis Gap" is to be found (and, by the way, there is much more about that topic at the website; here is a link which will lead you to many others: "Genesis Gap: Questions and Answers II."). This series is a prologue to the Coming Tribulation series (nine parts), which includes a complete exegesis of the entire book of Revelation (and covers systematically most of biblical eschatology).

On your "Adam and Eve" question, the first thing I would say is that they couldn't be saved until they were lost, so that however long they were in the garden before falling, they were not "saved" because at that point there was not even any issue of salvation being necessary. When were they saved after the fall? The traditional view, one to which I personally ascribe, is that they put their faith in the Lord almost immediately. When it says at Genesis 3:21 "Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them" (NKJV), this is sometimes referred to as the protoevangelium or "first giving of the gospel". Adam and Eve had attempted to cover their sin with works (the [trad. "fig"] leaves), but, as in the case of Cain vs. Abel some time latter, only animal sacrifice was acceptable to the Lord to symbolize His removal of the problem of sin (and death): the animal has to be killed to get the skin. Inasmuch as we know that the Lord gave Adam and Eve personal instruction about the meaning of the trees of life and death (i.e., "knowing good and evil"), it is not amiss to conjecture that He also told them about the symbolism of the coats of skin. Throughout the Old Testament and until the cross, animal sacrifice is the shadow or symbol which points to our Lord's sacrifice on the cross, and while scripture is not definitive it seems more likely than not that Adam and Eve responded immediately to the "good news" that in spite of their horrific failure they could still be saved . . . merely by accepting God's gift in faith, gladly receiving from Him the coats of skin representing the Gift of Christ in dying for their sins and ours.

Please do feel free to write me back any time.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #18:

Much has been written concerning the death of Jesus. Some allege that Jesus sacrificed himself, thus to atone for our sins; past present and future I assume. I even read of Jesus being a blood sacrifice. A blood sacrifice? In some ancient mind the thought was perhaps pondered that a man rather than an animal would solve the vastly expensive and enormously wasteful slaughter of animals by a single stroke. Let a rabbi carry the sins of a people to his death. Let him be the final scapegoat to ease the sinners mind. Perhaps that was the motive behind the arrest and execution of Jesus. However if Jesus went voluntarily to his death. If he sacrificed himself for others then he committed suicide-albeit by proxy. Others write that God gave his only begotten son to be sacrificed for the sake of humanity. But if we accept this latter scenario then we must accept also that God was complicit in the murder of his own son. Filicide is the act of a parent killing his own child. It is a criminal act. Perhaps where God is concerned the killing his own son was for the common good. Now I can understand a stupid primitive mind might entertain such a macabre thought. But a God? A super intelligent deity? I do not think the logical mind can accept such a thing. When an ancient peoples sought to cast away their sins onto the back of an innocent animal they abandoned responsibility for their own sins. In effect they cruelly punished an innocent creature for their own crimes. Let someone else or something take the blame. Cowards. And Jesus by his so-called sacrifice did exactly the same thing-only in reverse. A stupid and immoral act. Now we can sin as much as we like for Jesus has absolved us of all our sins. Utter nonsense and stupidity. But let us take a final look at the death of Jesus. He died for us. But he did not die did he? Jesus cannot die. He is immortal. Therefore the much publicized death was no more than play acting. It was all a charade. And those responsible committed a crime of fiction that has clouded men's minds for over two thousand years. Shame

Response #18:

Dear Friend,

You don't seem to have a question (this ministry answers Bible questions for believers).

If you really do want to know more about this subject, please consult the following link:

The Spiritual death of Christ

I don't follow your logic here (e.g., being forgiven is not an inducement to sin anymore than not being forgiven is a restraint on sinning; cf. Rom.6:1ff.). Jesus is God, but He also had to become human to bear our sins, the most blessed thing of all which He did in fact do – unless you reject the authority of scripture entirely (in which case, how would you even know that there was a "Jesus"?).

As I say, these matters are all discussed at the link above. I would urge you to have a look at it, and to write me back with questions (you might also find BB 4B: Soteriology helpful).

Whatever one thinks of the mechanics of salvation, the object of faith is clear: our Lord Jesus and His death for us on the cross. Only by accepting the Father's gift of the Son, His perfect person and His perfect work in bearing our sins can anyone be saved.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.
Acts 16:31a

In the Name of the One who died for us, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #19:

Robert,

Good evening and God Bless. I am reading the most recent Q&A about atonement and Christ death. There are some in-depth conversations that I will probably delve into in a different study but I have a question that keeps nagging at me while following the threads. I have not read your series on Christology yet and it might be included in there so I apologize in advance.

1) How was Christ Judged? What was his judgment for bearing our sins? Was it separation from the Father for 3 hours. If so, I thought our sins were eternal. If they are eternal and Christ being God, he can bear it. But he will not be bearing our sins for all eternity, will he? If he will bear it, then when we are resurrected, we are no longer sinless but like him.

Can you enlighten me on some of these issues? I really appreciate it and hope all is well with you and your family.

May God continue to enrich your ministry in Christ Jesus.

Response #19:

Praise God our sins are not eternal – they have already been paid for by Christ's spiritual death on our behalf. The link explains these matters (as far as they may be explained). Separation was part of the difficulty indeed, but only of Christ's humanity, not of His deity – which explains why He is said to have offered Him "through the Holy Spirit" (Heb.9:14); i.e., the Spirit's special ministry was necessary in order for the humanity of Christ to bear our sins while the deity of Christ had no such contact with them.

The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Romans 6:10 NIV

He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Hebrews 7:27b NIV

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Thanks for the quick response. I meant to say I thought our sins were not eternal. Thanks for the correction and God Bless it is not eternal. I will re-read the link and like I thought, it is under Christology. This is a follow-up question, I understand the concept of Christ dying for our sins spiritually but after His spiritual death was our Lord in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit eternally?

To put in terms of our salvation, when we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord and God of our live, our old spiritual nature died and we were reborn or indwelt with the Holy spirit to regenerate us in Christ image.

For an eternal God that died for our sins spiritually, how is He regenerated or reborn? I guess that it the question I am trying to find an answer for and we might not have all the answer this side of eternity and just have FAITH that His atoning work on the Cross is all we need.

I hope I am clear Dr. Thank you again for your ministry.

Regards

Response #20:

Our Lord in His humanity has ever been indwelt by the Holy Spirit (we have discussed the exception of the cross; for more please see BB 4A: Christology, "The Baptism of Christ: The Role of the Holy Spirit"). Christ did not need to be "born again" – He suffered spiritual death in that He suffered for our sins; He did not sin personally (so as to require rebirth in the way that believers do which is only effected by relying on the work of our Substitute, Jesus Christ).

As to believers, you raise a number of different issues here, most of which are explained in part 4B of Basics, Soteriology (please see the link). Believers are born again upon faith in Christ. What that means (see the link) is all about the restoration of our relationship with God. Having been once dead to Him, we are, after expressing faith in Christ, considered alive – and so we are, although we anticipate the full revelation of the eternal life that is now ours positionally when we are resurrected. Our old bodies do not change until that point; we still have a sin nature. But we also have the Spirit, and that leads to the conflict described in Galatians chapter five (and many other places).

I hope this gets to the essence of your set of questions (and also that the links will provide more in the way of detail), but do feel free to write me back.

Yours in the One who died that we might have life eternal, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello I'm having a really huge problem right now. I'm in tears. I was saved. I received the gift of tongues and was close with God and everything was great. But I had an addiction to ___. I KNEW very well it was a sin and the Holy Spirit kept convicting me, kept telling me not to do it, and even while I was doing it, He would tell me to stop. I knew it was a sin. No doubt about it. But I kept it up. One day I went to church and was delivered of this demon. I was free and felt light and never watched it again with no issues at all. Until one day I started to watch it again and the bondage was back. And I KNEW again that it was sinful. I had other problems, I was always sinning and was so very aware that it was sins that I was committing. I knew that hellfire was the punishment whilst simultaneously committing sins. Then I started to backslide. Very badly. I dabbled in __, ___, ___ and was the worst kind of person. And I knew I was sinning. And the Holy Spirit kept telling me to stop but I ignored Him. Recently I got closer to God and turned away from my sin, of course there was the daily sin problem, but I always said sorry and tried my hardest to not go back to it. Yet I kept doing worse. And I KNEW I WAS SINNING ALL THE WHILE DOING IT. Now I realized that I'm going to hell (Hebrews 6:4) and I just wanted your prayer and/or Biblical reassurance. I'm a failure to God and He has left me. I want to die. I can't believe I have failed Him again. I'm in pieces and feel numb and evil. I don't know what to do. I can't believe I even can call myself a Christian. Just yesterday I went to church and was so happy with Jesus and loved Him. Now I'm going to hell and there's no going back because I've technically made a fool out of Jesus and there was one sacrifice for sins and I can't turn back now. I'm so, SO upset. I thought I was saved, but if I was willingly sinning then no, I'm not. I hate myself.

Thanks for reading my story.

Response #21:

Apologies for the delay; I have been quite busy and am behind in answering emails. It's late, but I did want to write to encourage you to remember that our God is a forgiving God. He says so, and it is wise to take Him at His word.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just so as to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9

No Christian is without sin. If we get involved in a pattern of sinning, particular destructive types, it will affect our spirituality, it will push us backwards, and it can have terrible consequences for our faith. It can undermine and destroy our faith in the long run. But that is different from how most Christians who have not been properly instructed in these matters see things. They seem to think that they have "sinned so bad" that now "God won't have me"; whereas in fact: 1) all sin is abominable to God, even sins we don't bother about and even sins we don't even know we are committing; 2) Christ has already died for all the sins of all the world, the ones we think of as "big" and the ones we don't even recognize – and it cost Him and Father very dearly to do so; 3) God forgives believers everything when they confess (1Jn.1:9). Clearly, continuing in sin is a mistake, any kind of sin. But how do we deal with our mistakes? The best policy is to confess immediately; then determine not to make the same mistake(s) again, riding out whatever divine discipline comes our way (Heb.12:1ff.); then get moving forward again in the process of spiritual growth. We are here on this earth to grow in our knowledge, faith and love in Jesus Christ and to help others do likewise. Any time we spend in angst about the past is wasted time . . . because we cannot change the past. But we do have today, and maybe even tomorrow. We ought then to do what Paul suggests and run forward in this race rather than throwing ourselves on the ground and looking backward:

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

The Ichthys ministry is devoted to spiritual growth and there is a wealth of material here for answering all such questions and also for growing up in Christ – you cannot fight this fight without the proper "ammunition".

Please forgive the quick response – I am happy to speak with you about this further.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Rom.8:13 says if Christians don't mortify the deeds if flesh they will die - obviously not physical death because all die physically. Must be spiritually?

Response #22:

Dear Friend,

Death has "three faces", so to speak, physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death. And one leads to another. Being mortal, we die physically; being sinful since the fall, we are dead spiritually; absent a solution to these two problems, our destiny is the lake of fire, the second death (eternal death). Believers, however, are forgiven and saved; we are made spiritually alive so that we will not be touched by the second death (Rev.20:6), even though most of us will have to die physically (only the generation of those who survive the Tribulation will be resurrected while still alive physically at the return of Christ). Please see the link: "The Three Aspects of Death".

As to Romans 8:13, the passage works according to everyone's situation. If a person is an unbeliever, then he/she will of course continue to "live according to the flesh", and that will result not only in physical death but also eternal death. If a persons is a believer but persists in living in sin, then eventually sin erodes faith, and may even erode it to the point of its complete destruction: that is apostasy, the total loss of faith; for all who did believe but then reject Christ, the end is even worse than the beginning (2Pet.2:20; cf. 2Tim.2:12-13). If we persist in sin but are not willing to give it up or our faith either, then we are providing such a poor witness to the Lord that He will take us out of this life through "the sin unto death", physical death with consequent loss of reward, but "the spirit is saved" (1Cor.5:5; please see the link in BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").

Here is my own translation of this passage which may, I hope, alleviate some of the difficulties presented by various versions:

So then, brothers, we are under obligation – but not to the flesh to live by its rules. For if you are living by the rules of the flesh, you are destined to die. But if by the Spirit you are putting to death the practices of the body, you will live.
Romans 8:12-13

"Putting to death the practices of the body" means pursuing sanctification (Heb.12:14), namely, getting better at defending against sin through spiritual growth which is the "offense" of the Christian life without which a good defense is impossible. This passage doesn't teach perfection; it does teach that we need to be seriously committed to the struggle – both defending against sin and advancing spiritually through the truth – in order to make progress in the Christian life so as to glorify our Lord.

Please do feel free to write back about any of this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Am scared I have committed this unpardonable sin. Am a Christian but brought up by a catholic parents. Change of location and circumstances made me change my doctrine. I always love to hear the way pastors preach unlike the priest. I recalled accepting Christ as my lord and personal savior many times. I have this issue of ___ that I have battled with. I have gone dead in it to the extent I started ___ . I remembered promising God on countless occasion that I won't sin in this way again. Later I see my self going back to my old life again. I love to listen to different apologetics gospel and end time prophecy. Sometimes I would prayed to God almighty to change my thinking of how I approach this. I know am committing this sin but I can't help cause it has went deep. There was a time I stopped it for some months but later resume. I am overwhelmed by a thought about the unpardonable sin. Since then I have been battling with this thought of sin. Am scared please advise me.

Response #23:

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance – although I am sorry to hear of your troubles. First, let me assure you that you have not committed the unpardonable sin. That sin, aka "the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit", is the sin of rejecting the Spirit's testimony about Jesus Christ (see the link). It is the sin of rejecting the gospel. The Pharisees said that an evil spirit was speaking through Jesus when actually it was the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:30). So they were blaspheming the Spirit by rejecting Him. No one who rejects Jesus Christ can be saved. Indeed, it is only by believing in Him that we are saved, but if we do believe in Him we are saved.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be 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 3:16-18 NKJV

Sin is an issue in that it harms our relationship with Him, sets us back spiritually, and results in divine discipline (Hebrews chapter 12), but all who believe are saved; only those who do not believe are not saved, so that a believer would have to abandon his/her faith in Jesus Christ entirely in order not to be saved. That is the definition of apostasy, rejecting Christ, and that is indeed unpardonable (see the link).

"Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away."
Luke 8:13 NASB

Finally, while we all stumble, fail and sin (e.g., Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:6-10), but pursuing sanctification is essential (Heb.12:14). What many believers fail to realize, however, is that we will never get anywhere in the Christian life in our struggle against sinning by only trying to stop sinning. To get "better" at this sort of spiritual combat requires spiritual growth, that is, learning, believing and applying the truths of the entire Word of God. That in turn requires not only prayer and Bible reading, but accessing a good source of Bible teaching. Without a good offense (spiritual growth), the devil will always manage a way around our defenses. We will continue to struggle against the sin nature throughout our earthly lives in these sin-infested bodies, but if we begin to move forward aggressively on the road to Zion through the truth of the Word of God, we will find that we get better at fighting this fight.

So take heart, my friend, you are still a believer as long as you still believe in Jesus Christ. Pick up you cross and begin moving forward – that is the best way to put these other issues to rest. Here are few links you may find helpful:

Being Saved: Security, Apostasy, and the Sin unto Death

Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

Lost my salvation II?

Have I Lost my Salvation?

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord who died for all of ours sins – and for those of the entire world.

Bob Luginbill

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