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Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

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Question #1:  

First off, I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this. I got saved a little less than a year ago, and I was baptized not long after that. I try to live a redeemed life, but it is hard, as you know. Before I was saved, my "favorite" sin was, and is, pornography. Although I despise it now, I am still drawn to it. While I sometimes still view pornography, I keep telling myself that this is wrong and that I should stop. Often times, I am able to stop looking, but frequently, I can't stop. After wards, I am so ashamed and pray to God that I am sorry, I understand what I did is wrong, and that I am not going to do that again. But I keep failing in my promise. Last night was one of those times. After it was over, I felt so low and so lost. I am afraid that I may have lost my final chance at true salvation. A few hours ago, on the way home from school, I prayed to God and felt completely revived. I was not able to go to my church service tonight, but I asked my mom if she would ask the church to pray for me and anoint her on my behalf. However, now, I feel as though I am sinking again. I am truly sorry that I have sinned. Have I lost my salvation? So I guess I am emailing you for support, prayer, and any guidance that you might offer.

Thank you,

Response #1: 

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance. It says at Hebrews 12:1 about our need to master sin in order to get moving in the Christian life, "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (NIV). "The sin" there is sin generally, but since we have the definite article we can also take it to mean the particular sin or area of sin with which we are personally plagued. Thus scripture recognizes that all of us have in addition to general weaknesses particular weaknesses, areas of vulnerability to sin which may be different from the next Christian's weaknesses. The point is that we all have some area or areas where gaining control of ourselves is hard. But it is very important to understand that while it is hard it is not impossible – that is why it says "let us throw it off".

After all, who controls our thoughts and our emotions if not us (please see the link)? Satan is very good at "recon", finding out what a Christian's weak point is and hammering away there for best effect. Once we stumble, he is also very good at getting us to implode emotionally. The biblical answer for all such spiritual quagmires is very clear: 1) repent and confess our sins (1Jn.1:9); 2) determine to follow through by refusing to be deceived and broken down the next time; 3) perhaps most importantly, dedicating ourselves to the process of spiritual growth through reading the Bible, listening to substantive, orthodox Bible teaching, believing the truth, applying it to our lives, and eventually helping others to do likewise through the application of our personal spiritual gifts – because as we grow we become better at this sort of warfare in every way. And when we do fail, it is important to get right back into this same process so that a mistake, error, foul-up, self-indulgent indiscretion however gross does not become a pattern and is not allowed to compromise our entire walk with Jesus.

We do not have plunge ourselves into despair because we fail. Rest assured, God will discipline us appropriately for all of our sins and if we take the lessons of Hebrews chapter 12 to heart we will be able to smile through the pain on account of the assurance that He cares enough to punish us (just as David did: read Psalm 51, and for the exegesis of Hebrews chapter 12 see the link in BB 3B "The Fact and Purpose of Divine Discipline").

It is very important to understand and to accept that while none of us will ever be perfect this side of heaven and that while from time to time even mature Christians will sin, nevertheless we can and we should and we must gain an ever better mastery over the sin in the flesh. This we can and will do if we accept fully the responsibility for the new life we have been given (please see the link: in BB 4B "Our New Orientation as Born Again Believers").

On a practical note, there are a few important "rules of thumb" to consider in all this:

1) While we should be perfect overnight, in reality we should not allow ourselves to be put off by the fact that our victory over sin is not instantaneous. We will get better at this if we are sincerely committed to walking with Jesus and putting Him first. It is very difficult to beat the devil's offensive with a good defense alone. Growing up spiritually through learning and applying the truth carries with it a better understanding of the issues and more resources to do a better job of pursuing sanctification. That is to say, there are many Christians who are not at all interested in growing spiritually but that is not the life to which we have been called. The more we are in the habit of doing everything the Lord has called us to do, the easier it becomes to have success in specific areas – like turning away from particular sins.

2) We cannot afford to let our mistakes cascade into bigger problems. You are most definitely saved, and the only way a believer can lose salvation is by abandoning his or her faith in Jesus Christ and doing so completely – not an easy thing (please see the link: in BB 3B: "The Sin unto Death and Apostasy"). But what can easily happen if one is not determined to move forward in spiritual growth is a complete demoralization which has a believer doubting their salvation. So we have to adopt the attitude of aggressively walling-off every failure when we do fail, turning away from and forgetting it after confession, then moving on with the positive things the Lord has called us to do.

3) As it says in Hebrews, "You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood"; this means we need to be hard on ourselves about staying away from sin, especially of the gross and self-destructive type. We can be harder on ourselves and so we should be. If something is really a problem, then we should develop an absolutely implacable attitude of determined resistance, making it a point to have nothing to do with such sin or to even get closed to anything which might lead us into such sin. A person who is not tempted by alcohol might not have a problem having a hamburger in a bar. A person with an addictive tendency toward alcohol should never even enter a bar, e.g.

4) And in all this we need to keep the big picture in mind. We are all going to be evaluated by the Lord for what we have done here. And if we are bouncing along off the bottom agonizing over sin all our lives we are unlikely to have gotten very far in personal spiritual growth, personal spiritual progress, and personal ministry – the very areas which constitute the basis for our eternal rewards (see the link). But if on the other hand we are motivating ourselves to succeed spiritually for Jesus Christ, eager for the rewards He wishes us to desire, then we will be all the more apt both to want to put aside everything that hinders us in this race and also better at doing so (especially as we gain the skills that come with spiritual maturation).

Please do be encouraged. Know that you are forgiven in Jesus Christ. Embrace that forgiveness and reclaim the joy of your salvation, putting aside "the sin that so easily besets", and like Paul "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead" (Phil.3:13 NIV), until you break the tape and gain "the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil.3:14 NIV).

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

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

Please do feel free to write me back about any of this. Here are some other links which may be helpful to you:

Addicted to Sin

Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology: The Biblical Study of Sin

The Judgment and Reward of the Church

Have I lost my salvation?

Have I lost my salvation II?

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:  

Thank you so much Mr. Luginbill for responding to me so quickly. I have read what you had to say and I feel that it has enlightened me to things I previously hadn't thought of.

But I am curious about the 6th chapter of Hebrews, particularly verses 4, 5, & 6.

4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Reading these verses is what frightened me in the first place. Can you shed any light on this and how it applies to me?

Again, I thank you for you help.

Response #2: 

You are very welcome. As to your new question, this is one I get all the time, but let me assure you right from the beginning that this verse most definitely does not indicate that believers who make some mistake are irretrievable lost. That is most certainly not the case and not what these verses mean or really say (please see the link: "Are those in Hebrews 6:4 who "crucify the Son of God afresh" lost?"). The book of Hebrews was written by the apostle Paul to the community of believers in Jerusalem who were, at the time of writing, beginning to slip back into the orbit of Judaism. In doing so, they were coming under the influence of a number of false teachings on the one hand (e.g., thinking of Jesus as "an angel" rather than as the true Son of God), and justifying a continuation of involvement with Jewish rituals on the other. The latter of these problems lies behind Paul's words at Hebrews 6:4-6. Here is how I translate the verses:

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

These Jewish believers were continuing to sacrifice, but the sacrifices of the Mosaic Law foreshadowed a Messiah who had not yet come. For believers to continue to sacrifice, therefore, was to say, essentially, that Christ had not really been the Messiah or that His work in atoning for sin had not been sufficient. That really is "exposing Jesus to open shame", so that it is no wonder that the forgiveness of sins we all require (and receive upon confessing to the Lord: 1Jn.1:9) was not forthcoming on the basis of such animal sacrifice. Rather than animal sacrifice being "better" than simple confession, Paul makes it clear that as long as these people continued in the Mosaic rites there could be no forgiveness: verse 6 should actually say while or so long as "they are crucifying Him anew" (not "because"). For that is just what continued sacrifice implies: re-crucifixion as anticipated or necessary, and nothing could be farther from the truth, because the essential truth of all of history is the fact of our dear Lord Jesus' efficacious sacrifice for all of our sins once and for all on Calvary's cross. He died that we might live, and suggesting or implying by our behavior that such is not the case is the worst sort of denial of Him.

These verses, therefore, can only apply to contemporary Christians in a most general way. If we fall into spiritual rebellion or apostasy, we are not going to be restored if we are unwilling to give up that rebellion or apostasy. In other words, true repentance turns away from the offense that requires it just as sure as true confession is a result of genuine repentance. You might want to have a look at this link apropos of this issue:

"Sin, Forgiveness and Confession"

Yours in the One who died for all of our sins, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Bob L.

Question #3:   

Hi Bob,

I just want to let you know that your web site has been a real encouragement to me. You see, for many years I went back and forth concerning certain "gray area" items, like melodic instrumental secular music (music with no lyrics), watching old Outer Limits DVDs and other such. I would get the music or videos (because I could honestly see nothing wrong with them) but later feel condemned like I might miss the rapture or end up in hell, then I would toss the stuff out. Then a few years later repeat the cycle, trying to use common sense that those things were not bad, but then coming under condemnation and tossing it again. I went through this cycle three or four times over the space of many years. Then recently, I was hit with a sudden blast of horrible fear that I had gone too far and it was too late to repent. What started the horrible fear was I was reading some testimony on the internet about a girl in South America that supposedly died and saw heaven and hell. To make a long story short, that story scared the daylights out of me and WHAM - it hit me. "It is too late this time, you waited too long to get rid of those videos - now you are judged and condemned". And an awful fear just rose up in my heart like I am lost. That was back in June and I am still battling this thing. It is not so much whispered words as just raw fear that I have been cast off. I still seek the Lord and at times I sense His presence. I have even thrown out all offending items to make it right, but the fear still comes on me daily. I desperately want Jesus and seek His presence and even sensed Him saying that I am forgiven twice when I cried out from my guts to Him. But the fear persists. I think it could be a combination of the evil one lying to me and some kind of anxiety disorder the fear triggered, because the fear always goes away at the end of the day, so I can sleep. My doctor prescribed something which caused the fear to pull back like 90%, so I think it might be at least in part a physical disorder of some kind. But this is the SECOND time I have gone through this. It also happened many years ago and took over a year to finally go away. I feel so STUPID for having to go through it again. The Lord has sent many different encouragements, answered prayers, scriptures and such like to help me in all this, not to mention a very loving and supporting wife. But it is HORRIBLE. I originally thought the first event was discipline from the Lord, but now I believe that one and this is nothing less than an ATTACK from the evil one. Interestingly, both times, just before it happened I had prayed that God would have all of me, no holds barred. Please pray for me that I will hang tough through this. I know I have never blasphemed the Holy Spirit; I would not be wanting the Lord if I had, I think. Is there anything scriptural to the idea that God would finally say, "That is it. You went back and forth too many times, you are cut off, anathema, (like what happened to King Saul in the Old Testament)? Sorry this was long. God bless, and thanks again for your encouraging website; it helped me a lot!

In Jesus,

Response #3: 

Good to make your acquaintance. I am very pleased to hear that these materials have been helpful for your spiritual growth and confidence in the faith. Thank you also for your testimony – it is by no means unusual for believers to be distressed about their eternal status. In fact, this seems to be one of the main areas where the evil one is currently launching a major offensive (judging from the volume of emails I am receiving about the issue at least). But of course the feeling that one may have "lost salvation" has always been an issue. As I have remarked before, in my opinion it was to counter just such feelings of insecurity that Calvinism went to such extremes in their defining of election, and also that modern evangelicals have been so emphatic in their pronouncements of "once saved, always saved". However, both "pins and needles salvation" (i.e., the idea that salvation is very easy to lose if a person merely makes some "unpardonable mistake" etc.) on the one hand, and "once saved, always saved" on the other are, of course, far wide of the mark, and both false doctrines can cause major spiritual damage if pressed to their natural conclusions: the former creates spiritual paranoia and brings spiritual growth, progress and production to a screeching halt; the latter emboldens believers to behavior which actually can, if unchecked, lead to their spiritual downfall (see the link: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death). As always, only the actual truth of scripture is salutary.

I dearly wish I had a better way of encouraging the many people who write in and express angst about their spiritual security – as I say, it would be great to be able to tell them "once saved, always saved". What I do usually say is that concern about salvation is not something true apostates would express if they could: the definition of falling away from Jesus is no longer being concerned at all about what pleases Him – because the person's faith has entirely died out. If we are wringing our hands about what we have done in the past and feeling "spiritually dry" etc., this strikes me more as an indication of someone who does care – and for that reason would still have to be a believer (if for no other reason than that said person does believe that believing in Jesus is the only way to be saved – and how can one believe that and not be saved?). After all, God is doing everything He can to save us – sending His Son to die for all sin – not to condemn us.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:17 NIV

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

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

Feelings of spiritual insecurity, as with almost every other negative in the Christian life, can only be fully addressed through the process of spiritual growth: the pursuit of sanctification (our defense against the flesh) and of taking in of the truth of the Word (our offense against the world). It may take time and effort, but all true spiritual recovery is always predicated upon learning more and more of God's truth, believing it decisively, and applying it to our lives consistently. Everything else is gimmickry.

Finally, on Saul, here is what Samuel tells him the night before his death:

"The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me (i.e., in paradise)."
1Samual 28:19

Saul wasted his opportunities, but he did not lose his salvation.

In hopes of your continued growth in the grace and knowledge of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #4:   

Hi Robert,

Greetings again ... what a quick response! You must be one busy brother in the Lord. Thank you much for your encouraging reply; just today in the church fellowship I go to the Lord gently but firmly let me know that I am HIS and not to come to Him wondering if He will receive me, but KNOWING that He DOES receive me, and to ACT LIKE IT.

I really like the balance that you demonstrate in your teachings; i.e. the Godly middle ground between Once Saved and Pins 'n Needles as you called it. Your ministry is helping a whole lot of brethren who have been blind-sided by this kind of attack, i.e. "you sinned one too many times, yer cut off". Your web site has been like an oasis in the desert for me. Keep up the (His) good work. Many being attacked like this could be suckered by it and give up without such encouragement and eye-opening like you teach from the scriptures.

God bless, bro. and thanks again!

In Jesus,

Response #4: 

You're very welcome,

And thank you for all your good words as well. Here is the apostle Paul's brief encouragement to the Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:  


I will tell my entire situation so you know my problem. Please bear with me it may be quite long.

I became a Christian in the mid-nineties. I know I truly believed in my heart the gospel and in Jesus Christ and the entire Word of God. I trusted Jesus to save me and forgive all my sins. After I was a Christian for about a month I was reading the bible one day and had a really profane thought pop into my head. I was mortified. I was terrified that God would think I said that to Him though that wasn't my intent. I could not stop stressing over it and read and studied everything I could read. I definitely had a full grasp of the gospel and was afraid I had committed the unpardonable sin. It totally robbed me of my peace and joy. For the next 3 years I read and listened to sermons (mostly by John MacArthur) and grew in my knowledge. But my relationship with the Lord was never the same after that though I tried to seek the joy and acceptance I had when I became a Christian.

I begged the Lord to forgive me. [many details of falling into various sins and resulting divine discipline omitted].

I see things clearly again for the first time in more than 10 years. I have begged God to forgive me and restore me to Him so I can serve Him with the rest of my life but I have seriously been stopped by Hebrews 6 and 10 which say if you have fallen back into a life of sin after coming to full knowledge there is no more forgiveness for you. You are cut off forever.

Now I don't know what to believe anymore. Other than the time I got sick [ omitted ] and just recently I can't see God disciplining me at all through most of the last 10 years (that’s why I mentioned it earlier). Scripture says that's proof I was never saved. Also, how could I have sinned for long periods of time like that? Scripture also says those saved can't do that. But I know I truly believed when I became a Christian so if I wasn't saved then, then I am lost. I don't know how to be saved.

Passages like Hebrews 6 and 10 and 2 Peter and 1 John 5 all seem to say it is too late for me, I have no hope. There are people who say Hebrews 6 and 10 mean the Jews apostatizing back to Judaism and there are people who say it means falling away back to a life of sin. It seems to me to say if you fall back into a life of sin then forget it. I was overcome by sin and didn't struggle against it. Was I never saved? If I was, why was there no discipline for the longest time? Or have I lost any chance for forgiveness, God has written me off forever and that's why there was none?

I feel so lost and beyond hope. Full of despair for the sins I committed after coming to Christ for forgiveness. Where I once had confidence in myself being faithful to God and my relationship with Him I now have none.

I don't know how to find the restoration, peace and assurance I seek so badly. I don't know how to get from here to there, I don't even know if I can get from here to there. I'm not sure if the Lord was calling me back to Himself or if I'm cut off forever. Hebrews 6 and 10 keep condemning me and I can't muster enough faith to believe God has forgiven me for the last 10+ years. I am truly confused as to how I was even able to fall into these sins for so long. I desperately want to be forgiven and restored and I am profoundly unhappy and full of sorrow all the time for what I have done against the love and grace of God and our relationship. Am I without hope?

Sorry about the length.

Response #5: 

Hello Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance. The first thing I would like to do is to assure you that the "worst-case analyses" of Hebrews 6 and 10 are most definitely incorrect ( see the links: "Does Hebrews 10:26 teach loss of salvation?" and "Are those in Hebrews 6:4 who "crucify the Son of God afresh" lost?").

Secondly, your concern is one of the most common ones I hear lately, no doubt the result of some very questionable teaching abroad in the church-visible today. Also, it is certainly the case that the evil one is very desirous of putting as many believers as possible "out of action", and one of the best ways to do this is to get them to begin questioning their salvation. Once a person starts doing that, it leads to a negative feed-back loop than can often occupy the believer in question for many years. As a result, instead of growing spiritually, making progress in the Christian life, and ministering to others (i.e., the process which is whole point of our being here on earth after salvation and the way in which we earn eternal rewards), the believer is stuck in the mud, so to speak, spinning wheels and wasting time. Such a situation is also very dangerous, but not for the reasons often thought. Apostasy, the technical term for rejecting Jesus Christ and becoming an unbeliever when once a person was a believer, only occurs when a person's faith completely dies out; that is to say, when a believer no longer is a believer, when a believer no longer believes that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who became a true human being to die for our sins". For this reason, the question of whether or not apostates ever recover from apostasy and come back to the Lord is really a moot question simply because it is impossible for us to tell whether a person who shows repentance and, like the prodigal son, does come back to following Jesus faithfully thereafter was ever really "lost again" or merely "in a far country". Even the people involved in these "returns" don't seem to know. In my considered opinion, they did not, in fact, "lose their salvation", because if they had indeed suffered the complete death of faith by their own choice, if they had indeed "jumped out" of Jesus' hand whence no one could otherwise "snatch them", if they did indeed renounce the Lord and really mean it to the core of their being, then they would no longer care at all about Him and would most certainly no longer be in any fear about the future because their attitude would be "I don't believe it", and would thus not be at all motivated to make the "return" to His embrace.

The more common danger in cases where a person struggles with gross and/or repetitive sinning on a descending level is the "sin unto death". There is a point of rebellion that the Lord will not tolerate among those who are called by His Name. He never rejects any who still believe, but for those, like the arrogantly incestuous Corinthian believer (1Cor.5), who are determined to do whatever they want despite the will of the One they acknowledge as their Master, the end is a very nasty and painful exit from this life, not merely corrective divine discipline, but terminal divine discipline. These individuals, if they still refuse to repent of their course when the process of terminal discipline begins, are taken out of life – but they are still saved. Mind you, they will doubtless find themselves in the fourth quarter of the New Jerusalem and will have little reward to show for their time on earth, but they will be blissful and happy for all eternity, and will apparently not be pained about their failures even though they will recognize them. You can read more about both of these important teachings at the link: in BB 3B: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death.

Clearly, you have had your struggles, but it does seem that your lack of confidence in your secure status in Jesus has contributed to those problems. As I always am quick to point out, while a good defense is very important in the Christian life (i.e., sanctification, staying away from sin of every sort – impossible to be perfect at but possible to get better at), it is really only possible to have a good defense and to improve one's defense through a good offense: the process of spiritual growth. Without learning more and more truth, and, what is even more critical, without believing it and then putting it into practice, any believer will find him or herself constantly "swept off-course and carried headlong by every breeze of so-called teaching that emanates from the trickery of men in their readiness to do anything to cunningly work their deceit" (Eph.4:14). It takes Bible reading, Bible study, and good, solid orthodox Bible teaching before any forward momentum can be achieved. Case in point is the trouble you have had for many years which is based upon a number of serious misunderstandings of what the Bible actually teaches. In fact, if you believe in Jesus, then you are saved. In fact, the only way you can "lose your salvation" is by throwing it away yourself. In fact, if a person has thrown it away, that person is not only no longer a believer but doesn't care about the fact that he/she is no longer a believer. And, in fact, if anyone is not saved (whatever the truth about apostasy), then the Word of the Gospel still stands: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31).

So it is really quite simple. Are you a unbeliever? Believe! Are you a believer in spiritual trouble? Then confess your sins (1Jn.1:9) – God will forgive you – then get about the business of carrying out His Plan for your life, a plan which includes for each and everyone of us spiritual growth (reading, studying, getting teaching about the Bible, and then believing the truth the Spirit thus makes clear to you), passing through perseverance and faith and the application of truth learned and believed the tests life brings, then, when the Lord begins to make our gifts and areas of ministry clear, begin to be a help to the Body of Christ. This is the way forward, and, as it so happens, the way forward is the only sure way not to go backward (or, best case analysis, merely crayfish sideways to no particular purpose).

Sin is serious business, and we do receive discipline for our sins, especially the high-handed ones which negatively affect other people. But I'm a bit baffled to learn that you do not think you have been receiving discipline over the years. It sounds to me from the many details of your testimony that you have received quite a lot of it indeed. And you might consider that the psychological torture you have certainly helped to put yourself through was and is part of the discipline. God does offer you peace in Jesus Christ, but that peace comes to those who turn their backs on the world and begin to trust Him in all things. That is to say, how we feel is not necessarily a measure of where we are spiritually. But if we are doing what we should do in turning away from sin and, very importantly, drawing closer to the Lord in spiritual growth through believing His truth, we will find that peace does come. None of this is magic. Much of it is the result of hard work and consistency. What amazes me is that so many Christians find that surprising.

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

I am sure you will have further questions about all this (the nature of these exchanges means that I will of necessity fail to address every concern a person might have the first time through), so do feel free to ask. Jesus loves you. He died for you, died for all your sins. And He has a mission for you, regardless of how much time has been wasted – there is still time left that can be "redeemed".

Yours in the Lord searches out the "one" even though the "ninety nine" are safe and sound,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6: 

Hi. Are you online so I can ask you a question? I am currently crushed under the weight of despair and have read many of your articles. Thanks.

Response #6: 

Hello Friend,

I'm currently at work and in between classes, but I'll be checking my email tonight. Please feel free to ask your question.

In Jesus who is our hope and consolation through the Spirit,

Bob Luginbill

Question #7:  

Hello Robert, as expected a few questions. Thanks for your time.

1. In your paraphrase of Hebrews 10:26ff., forgive my ignorance when it comes to original languages and renderings but how do you know this is the correct interpretation of this passage when so many other people interpret it so far the other way?

2. In regard to the "worst case analyses" of these verses, is this not what I did by continuing in sin? I was continuing in sin and it wasn't a single misstep or a single mistake in ignorance or momentary insanity or reckless temerity.

This is where the despair and fear come in.

Response #7: 

Hello again, Friend,

You are certainly welcome. As to your two questions:

1) I am happy to address any specific question you may have about the passage, its translation, and its interpretation. As to "how I know", all I can say is that a) I have spent many years developing the tools necessary to interpret scripture (please see the link: Current CV); b) I have spent many years in the actual interpretation of scripture and teaching of the Bible along with its theology; c) as a teacher by the grace of God and under the guidance of the Spirit and with much sweat and effort over this and similar passages over many years, I am confident enough in the truth of what I have written you to sign my name to it with a clear conscience in the presence of God. It is true that there are "many interpretations" . . . about everything. Does that mean then that "we can no nothing for certain"? Far from it, in my view. Believers are responsible before the Lord to find a good source of spiritual nutrition – but for all who so "knock", the Lord always opens. This ministry is certainly not everyone's "cup of tea", but I do always try to make it very clear how and why I believe what I believe the Bible teaches, where it teaches it, and how the specifics were arrived at. I also stand ready to answer questions and give a defense of everything I teach for any and all who are genuinely interested. Here too, I am more than happy to get into any of the specifics of the interpretation which I absolutely believe to be true based, as said, upon a lot of good, hard work in the Spirit.

2) For believers in Jesus Christ, as I am fond of saying, there are only three days: yesterday, when we believed and were saved; tomorrow, when we shall be with the Lord we love forever; and today, when our job is not to look back, but in confidence in our blessing on that future day, to roll up our sleeves and "get to work for Jesus Christ" – by growing up spiritually through hearing, learning, and believing the truth of His Word, through putting it into practice in perseverance in this life, and through helping our brothers and sisters in Jesus do the very same as we minister to His Body according to the gifts we have been given.

Have you sinned once? Then confess your sin. If you already have, then you have been forgiven. Did you sin many times over a long period of time? Then confess your sins. If you already have, then you have been forgiven. Are you still sinning. Then stop, turn your back on that pattern, and confess your sins. Then you will be forgiven. At that point, whatever discipline you receive from the Lord will be for blessing, since it will be proving that we belong to Him (Heb.12:7-8) and will be meant to purify us not to destroy us (Heb.12:11).

Hebrews 6:4 says that restoration of fellowship is impossible while sin is continuing. It does not say that if a person ever sinned or if a person continued in sin or if person committed a tremendous amount of sins over along period of time that restoration is ever after impossible. It says, if you want to be restored, first, you have to stop sinning. If it meant the worst case analysis, it would be out of touch with all the rest of scripture. But please note that in fact it does not at all say that restoration is impossible under any circumstances but instead spells out the circumstances which prevent restoration, namely "while" the person in question is intent on continuing in the very sin and activity which have estranged him from God in the first place. This is exactly what John says, albeit in slightly different words:

If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
1st John 1:6

It does no good to say all the right things and yet continue to "walk in darkness". That is, "while we continue" to sin, the estrangement brought on by sin will continue. As long as we indulge in sinful behavior, we may confess, but if we do not actually turn away from that behavior, we are going to continue to have spiritual problems, continue to experience divine discipline for that sinning, continue to have our spiritual growth stymied, and continue to feel miserable, because as Christians our joy, our peace, and our happiness absolutely depends on our fellowship with Jesus Christ, something we are not going to be enjoying if we are intent upon continuing in a life of sinful behavior which we know is not pleasing to Him. But if we do repent of our misguided behavior, we will be restored as soon as we do (through genuinely changing direction and confessing our sins), so that even if we have to feel the sting of His rod for a time, we will also be able to bask again in the glow of His good-favor, feeling His presence more and more consistently and palpably as we draw ever nearer to Him through the process of spiritual growth (which, by the way, is the only way ever really to make headway against the mastery of the sin nature).

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1st John 1:7 NIV

Therefore past failure is never an excuse in the Christian life for present failure: if we are still here in the world, we can still do what Jesus has called us to do – and in that there is great reward in eternity, and great peace and joy even in the midst of the tribulations of this world as long as we are in it.

In hopes of your rapid recovery and regaining of spiritual confidence through the truth of the Word of God and obedience to that truth.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Robert, how many questions on average do you get regarding this?

Also, I fear God thinks I'm thinking these things/at or about Him. I constantly tell Him I'm not but how do I know he knows that? My conscience accuses me non stop. I resolve not to worry over it anymore but then it inevitably happens again. Has kept me spiritually crushed and not growing for years.

Response #8: 

Hello Friend,

I get plenty of questions about this, believe me, and I have never met a Christian with whom I've had a discussion about these matters who didn't admit to similar problems (Please see the links: "The Inner Battlefield" and "Who controls our thoughts and emotions?"). Plus, as in your case, there is the "pink elephant" factor. That is, if some tells you, "Whatever you do, don't think of a pink elephant!", well, that's precisely what you are likely to start thinking about. And if that is true in general terms when it comes to our inability to complete police our mental processes, what about where the sin nature and the evil one are involved?

First of all, please understand that God knows all about this problem and your true motivations and all the underlying factors – much better than you yourself do. This is yet another area of the Christian life where spiritual growth, which in many ways is the answer to everything, is indeed the answer here. The better we know God, the closer we begin to walk with Jesus Christ, the less we are likely to be deceived or thrown off our game by inconsequential matters. I just recently posted a major study on soteriology (BB 4B), and a good part of the extensive first section deals with the Plan of God and the divine decrees. When we begin to digest fully the blessed truth that everything which is yet to happen in the relatively short span of human history has already been decreed by God in its most minute detail, we start to relax about things in general, realizing just how total our Lord's control over everything really is. God doesn't get surprised. Every hair on your head was numbered before He created the universe. He knows every thought, before it is formed (Ps.139:2; cf. Ps.94:11).

So, secondly, you are right not to worry. In fact, worry and fear are two thing we are expressly forbidden to indulge in as Christians (e.g., Matt.6:25-34; Lk.12:4-5). As long as we have a healthy reverence for the Lord, we don't have to worry or fear anything that may beset us in this life. I know you say it is the Lord you are afraid of, but He is on your side in this matter so that fear of Him in this regard is misplaced. If it is a question of any behavior we may even suspect is sinful, the procedure is the same: repent, confess, forget. And we do need to learn to forget about our past errors and move on without worrying about them (Phil.3:13). In terms of something like this, where we have incomplete control and where our ability to exert control decreases the more we try to assert it, especially if we are unduly upset about it, you can be sure that you are not meant to allow this to keep you spiritually down, not for a day, let alone years.

My advice would be to confess it whenever it happens and move on; to ask the Lord for a special measure of grace in controlling it and to have faith that in time He will; to pursue spiritual growth through Bible reading, Bible study, prayer and belief in the truth, applying that truth to your life thereafter – for it is spiritual growth alone that will begin to give you a greater ability to truly "bring every thought into captivity for Christ"; and finally to make a pact with yourself not to let this weigh you down in the meantime. Look forward and begin fighting the good fight again, putting this area of past defeat completely out of your mind. I believe it was Napoleon who said that if one wishes to make an omelet, eggs will have to be broken. The Christian life is a fight to the finish, and such conflicts are always messy. The forces opposing every believer are not inconsiderable (please see the link: in SR 4: "Strangers in the Devil's Realm"), and Satan loves nothing more than to get a believer chasing his tail, putting himself out of action by getting caught in a loop of sin and self-recriminations. It matters little to the devil whether the pattern of sin is serious or, as in this case, largely inconsequential. As long as it renders the believer hors de combat in the Plan of God, his work is done. Please take my advice. Don't let this happen to you. Jesus loves you and is waiting patiently for you to throw off this yoke and begin to move forward again – if the Spirit is convicting you of anything, it is of just that. I can tell from our correspondence that your internal upheaval is emotion and not a matter of genuine conscience. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference (another brief for spiritual growth – it does get easier to tell the difference), but one sure rule of thumb is that a true signal from the conscience prodded by the Spirit always recommends a very definite course of action which may be biblically verified. Absent that, a believer must "go with what he knows" to be the truth from study of the Word of God. Since plunging oneself into a morass of guilt is not biblical and since spiritual recovery and advance even after failures great or small most definitely is biblical, there is no doubt in my mind that the latter is what the Spirit is moving you to do.

In hopes of your spiritual recovery, spiritual advance, and great reward before the judgment seat of Christ.

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Hi Robert. I will be making much use of your Ichthys site. Thanks for your correspondence. Just a few questions for curiosity sake.

1. Did you study at Talbot when Dr. Feinberg was there?

2. Have you studied biblical Greek? Can you read the New Testament in Greek? I understand that it so much better than any English translation for understanding and clarity.

3. I often listen to teachings by John MacArthur, do you have an opinion - do you think his theology is solid?

4. Who else do you consider to be theologically sound?


Response #9: 

Hello Friend,

You are most welcome. As to your questions . . .

1) Yes, Dr. Feinberg was still there when I attended Talbot, but in an emeritus status. Much to my regret, I was not able to take any classes with him because he was no longer teaching regularly.

2) I read my Greek New Testament every day. I am Greek professor, actually (I teach a good deal of Latin too), and studied Greek for a second B.A. before Talbot, then concentrated on it during my M.A. and Ph.D. at UC Irvine. I also read my Hebrew Bible every day (my Talbot Master's focused on Hebrew, and I had three years of work in the language before I arrived there). For more details, please see the link: Current C.V. The difference between "biblical Greek" and the Greek of Herodotus, Plato, and Demosthenes is, in my opinion, not significant enough to mention. Much is often made of the uniqueness of "Koine", but, beyond a bit of simplification, the differences between it and Classical Greek are less than the difference between Revolutionary War English and Modern American English (needless to say, each is completely accessible to the other).

3) I listened to MacArthur whenever he came to Talbot, and a number of my former professors left that institution to join his seminary. He is on the conservative end of evangelicalism (and that is all to the good). Each of us has our own ministry and every teacher is responsible to the Lord for what he teaches. I have seen some decent things come from him, but I certainly could not give a blanket endorsement (as you will see from some question about some peculiar teachings discussed on the website).

4) This ministry stands on its own feet and isn't connected with any other. I have benefitted from many scholars and teachers in my lifetime, some, like my late father, from Presbyterian backgrounds, most, like the late Col. Thieme, from independent evangelical roots. It would be difficult to find any ministry out there which would endorse everything posted to Ichthys – indeed, it would probably be impossible to find anyone among those not enamored of this ministry who would not find great fault with one or another of the positions I espouse (since I take issue with water-baptism, the pre-Tribulation rapture, and absolute eternal security, to name but three places where I part company with mainline evangelicalism). Every Christian who "knocks" will be led to a place where they will receive just as much of God's truth as they are willing to receive. So while there may be a degree of "theological soundness" in any number of places and ministries I might mention, personally, I am interested in the entire truth of the Word of God, and if I had been able to find such a place or ministry that was uncompromisingly pursuing it the way I feel it ought to be done, this ministry probably wouldn't have ever come to exist in the first place.

In hopes of you continued spiritual growth in Jesus Christ through vigorous faith in the truth of His Word.

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Thanks Robert, I see your point in #4. Can you direct me to your position on water-baptism and can you direct me where the questions are about peculiar teachings from MacArthur. I would like to read these. Thanks

Response #10: 

Hi Friend,

The MacArthur references are salted around the website (some are not yet posted as I work on about a two year delay when it comes to posting email responses, and some of the ones I have in mind have not made it up onto the website yet). Here are three postings where he and his teachings are mentioned (you might try the search feature to look for more: Ichthys Search):

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security

Life Begins at Birth

Spiritual Warfare II 

On Water-baptism, please see the following links:

Baptism: Water and Spirit II

John's Water-Baptism versus the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

One Baptism: the True Meaning of Peter's Words at Acts 2:38.

Baptism: Water and Spirit.

Is Water Baptism Necessary for Following Jesus?

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

Thanks. I saw a couple of your books on ABE books today. They are going for quite a bit of money even used. 50 to 120. I have already started downloading parts of Ichthys. I guess it will be a while before parts 5 on are posted.

Response #11: 

Hi Friend,

I checked ABE and I thought I'd better let you know the whole story. I'm the author of two secular books (Thucydides on War and National Character, and Author of Illusions). The first is out of print, so it does tend to be pricey (it is available online at Questia at a reasonable price; see the link). The second one, however, is half the price from the publisher (or Amazon: $59.99) of what they are charging on ABE! When that book first came out, within a couple of months a few sellers were charging over a thousand dollars for it! The third thing I saw listed at ABE was a hard copy of a journal in which I have an article (along with many other authors); you can get that free through a good research library. Also, my grandad and late uncle were entomologists who published many pamphlets on, of course, bugs.

As to "part 5", I assume you are referring to the Basics series? Yes, part 5, Pneumatology, is one I have just begun work on and it will be some time before it is available (2013 sometime, most likely).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

I saw that. The one review on Amazon gave it 5 out of 5 stars and said it was scholarly and very readable.

Have you ever considered publishing your Ichthys theology in a hardcover text?

Thanks for your teaching, it's a real blessing. I have another question for you. There is a bible teacher from the 30's and 40's named David L Cooper. I have his Messiah series and several other books. He is also an expert in Hebrew and his stuff is very in depth but I never see him referenced or mentioned in any books at all. I figured you would have heard of him. Do you have any comment regarding his work? He seems very solid but I don't know why no one ever references him.

Response #12: 

Hi Friend,

You are very welcome, and thanks much for the encouragement.

I have one of Cooper's books around here somewhere. He was a Bible teacher out in LA back in the middle of the last century. He must have had some fans since his stuff continued to be published by a foundation for some time (I found it still online at this link: Bible Research Studies Group). From what I recall his work is right in line with traditional evangelical eschatology, meaning, pre-Trib rapture et al. I like to think that the work in the Coming Tribulation series represents a significant advance over these older views.

As to your other question, it is one I get rather a lot (see the link: FAQ #1 "Books"). I would certainly love to have folks be able to have these materials available in a traditional printed format. The main two problems with that are 1) I also like the idea of everything being completely free (and I am not in any position to provide printed material at my own expense), and 2) traditional publishing requires an author to relinquish some measure of control of their material to the publisher (and that is something I am not willing to do). Down the road, as things change in media, there may perhaps be some non-traditional options available. Until then, there are a variety of ways readers can "do it themselves", including loading the PDF's onto a Kindle or similar device, printing out files, or having them printed out a Kinko's or the like.

I appreciate your interest in Ichthys!

Stand fast in the Lord (Phil.4:1).

Bob L.

Question #13:   

Understood about the publishing. I am downloading your material. As far as Cooper goes I think you are correct. I also am sure one of the dedications in his books is to one of his students - Tim LaHaye.

Response #13: 

That's interesting. LaHaye, as I'm sure you know, is the (putative) author of the "Left Behind" series (chock full of inaccuracies).

Question #14:   

Dear Professor,

I wanted to thank you for your continuous support this year. It's very hard to express my gratitude with words, as your guidance is invaluable. The hard work you have put in the study of the word of God has inspired me and started bearing fruit also among some people close to me, even if there is a long way to go for all of us. Some new questions for you:

Could you please explain the beginning of Hebrews 6:

1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.

I understand that we should not lay the foundation of repentance from 'acts that lead to death', but I cannot understand why Paul states 'and of faith in God' - isn't that what we should lay our foundation on?

Response #14: 

Thank you Friend!

I always appreciate your good words and generous spirit. I also appreciate your prayers, and very much so. As to your questions:

The NKJV begins the verse with "leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ". This is a good translation in that it brings out what Paul means by "laying again the foundation", where Greek word "again" (palin, παλιν) is pivotal. Faith is critical. Having to explain elementary issues of doctrine "again" is not the stuff of mature believers. Paul makes a similar complaint in this vein in the previous chapter which explains what he means here a few verses later (cf. 1Cor.3:1ff.):

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
Hebrews 5:12 NIV

Question #15:  

Another passage from Paul, this time from Romans 10:

5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is [b]based on law shall live[c]by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness [d]based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." 8 But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"

Could you please provide a brief exegesis of these verses?

Response #15: 

In Romans 10:8-9 Paul quotes Deuteronomy 9:4 to make a point from the Law about the universal availability and relative ease of salvation. In stark contrast with what proponents of keeping the Law say, the "word" of salvation is not some far distant and inaccessible thing. Rather it is "near" – in the heart and on the tongue of every person. Simply by believing in Christ (in the heart), simply by expressing our faith in Him (with the mouth) we are saved – simple, because Christ did the work in coming into this world as a man and dying for all of our sins. One aside here: the "heart/mouth" parts are not separate things which must be individually fulfilled to be saved. Paul's entire point is that salvation is easy (for us: God did the hard part). If we believe, we will express our faith; if we express our faith, it is because we have believed. In truth, the two are inseparable and easily fulfilled "by grace through faith".

Question #16: 

You wrote: 'At all times, we will either be doing what the Spirit wills or what the flesh wills. The same is true in principle even of unbelievers who may follow God's natural truth through conscience, obedience to law, or basic prudence and self-interest'.

I'm not sure what you mean here - do you mean that even those who follow God's truth through self-interest will still have to resist the flesh?

Response #16: 

While I didn't put it very elegantly, what I meant to say here is that even for unbelievers the notion of being a completely "free agent" is wrong. We do all have free will – that is the reason we are here. But the true effective function of our free will always involves how we respond to the truth of God. So even unbelievers face daily decisions about the truth. When they respond to God's natural truth (as it is emblazoned on the universe ubiquitously) they are "not really doing what they choose" in that sense, any more than if they reject His natural and moral laws and, say, engage in a life of crime. In the latter case they are really following the devil. These are our only two choices, really. It only seems that we have a wide Smorgasbord of options, but from the divine point of view either we are with God or against Him, and that is true for believers in their internal struggle and for everyone else in the conduct of their daily lives.

Question #17:  

I hope you don't mind me asking another question on Hebrews 12:12-13:

(12) Therefore (going back to the race analogy of v.1), pick up those hands hanging slack at your side, put some strength back into your weak knees, (13) and make straight tracks for your feet, so that, [even though you fell down,] what you sprained might not be twisted completely out of joint, but might instead work its way back to health.
Hebrews 12:12-13

Your explanation clarified the meaning of this passage, I just wanted to understand it word for word, if possible. This is how I currently understand it:

Once we sin, we need to get back up ('pick up those hands hanging slack at your side, put some strength back into your weak knees') and change our ways (meaning - staying away from the sin, avoiding exposing oneself to any further temptations - ' and make straight tracks for your feet'), so that even though we committed sin ('fell down'), the damage that sin inflicted on us and our lives (the 'sprain' that was caused by walking on a path that was not level, a path of temptation and sin) might not be fatal, or of any further consequences (because walking with a sprained joint on uneven ground is highly likely to aggravate the damage and possibly make it very serious), but rather heal itself (avoiding sin will help us leave the consequences of our sinning behind at some point).

Please correct me where necessary.

Response #17: 

Yes, this is fine – as far as sin goes. However, spiritual regression involves more than sin. Sin is a symptom and an aggravating factor, but the real problem is attitude. Life is all about choice. Sin is a bad choice, but not the only type. These believers in Jerusalem were not only committing sin by becoming involved again in the temple rite which Christ's work on the cross had fulfilled and superseded. They were also degenerating spiritually and letting themselves be pulled back into the negative gravity of their old lives. There were not advancing spiritually by seeking and believing the truth – otherwise they wouldn't be doing any of the negative things they were doing, at least not so consistently. So the sin is a symptom of a bigger problem, the problem many Christians who are initially enthusiastic about Jesus often have, the problem of becoming bored, or embarrassed, or tired, or disappointed – any of which bad attitudes can cause a person to get off track. In extreme cases it can lead to apostasy (e.g., Matt.13:20-21; Mk.4:16-17; Lk.8:13). Paul's whole analogy here is meant to recall the Christian life, the race we are running, as a whole. As such, it encompasses everything that a Christian should be doing (or avoiding) as we "run for the tape" to earn our rewards and please our Lord. These verses embrace everything involved in recovering from running a bad race (i.e., taking a bad fall), getting back into the race and then running a good one thereafter, and this in turn comprises all of the decisions we make in life: good, bad, or neither of the above. Ideally, we should be "making every punch count". So I would not want to restrict the meaning here to outright sin alone (although in terms of sin I think you have it exactly right). What we have here is a familiar topos in Paul in comparing the Christian life to a race. It takes discipline to run the race as we should, but the rewards make it worth it:

Don't you know that all the runners in the stadium run the race, but that only one receives the prize? Run in such a way so as to achieve what you are after. And again, everyone involved in competition exercises self-control in all respects. Those athletes go through such things so that they may receive a perishable crown of victory, but we do it to receive an imperishable one. So as I run this race of ours, I'm heading straight for the finish line; and as I box this bout of ours, I'm making every punch count. I'm "pummeling my body", one might say, bringing myself under strict control so that, after having preached [the gospel] to others, I might not myself be disqualified [from receiving the prize we all seek].
1st Corinthians 9:24-27

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I 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

Question #18: 

Also, is the Moses generation an example of apostasy or sin onto death?

I keep you daily in my prayers, that God may bless you with everything you need to serve Him as He would have you do and that guided by the Holy Spirit you may discern and teach the truth.

In our Lord,

your student.

Response #18: 

Another hard question. We know that "by faith" the people crossed the Red Sea (Heb.11:29 – where it seems their faith is meant), and they do other things that do seem to indicate genuine faith (as in their free-will offerings for the construction of the tabernacle: Ex.35:20-29). But in Hebrews we also read that "they did not go in [to the land of promise], because of their lack of faith" (Heb.4:6) – and certainly the failures of the people of Israel during the forty years which followed their unwillingness to trust the Lord and enter the land directly after their deliverance from Egypt are legendary:

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
1st Corinthians 10:1-5 NIV

This certainly sounds like the sin unto to death, but in dealing with such a large number of people, apostasy in some cases no doubt cannot be ruled out. When it comes to analyzing specific cases, God is the only One who may know for sure whether or not a person died the sin unto death as a believer being terminally disciplined or whether we have the case of an apostate who has entirely lost faith and is being put to death for exceptional wickedness. One thing is for sure: we who are blessed to have the testimony of scripture ought take all pains to avoid falling into either trap by making our dear Lord Jesus and His holy Word our number one priorities is this life.

Here's wishing you and yours a blessed 2013!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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