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Encouragement, Isaiah 6:11-13, and the Hope of Repentance

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Question #1:  Dear Bob, I do hope you don't mind me writing again, but I just want to encourage you and say that I passed your site on to some family members and they are being really blessed and encouraged, and enriched by your writings. So here in ..... the Lord will bless your site, and how we need people who speak the truth of God's word that is pure. There are so many churches here that are following another gospel, and even within my own family we are suffering, as one family member has got caught up with a false doctrine his spouse is in great need, torn between her marriage and the truth (fortunately she doesn't go along with what he believes). So it is good for Christians here in ..... to read your site and be encouraged, but so many of our long standing friends have fallen away, and have either followed a different Gospel/teaching or have totally gone away from the Lord, and I am talking about those who have been on the road for thirty years plus. And so for us it has been a sad time these past two years as we have lost our friends, and those same friends have/are persecuting us, but we know the servant isn't above the master, and shouldn't be alarmed when friends betray us.

It is all part of the walk of the way of the cross. But Bob we are pressing on, soon Jesus will return! He is our hope! our blessed hope, and it shall be worth it all when we see Jesus! and I know we will have to go through the tribulation, and both my husband and I agree with what you have written, and have believed this for some time, and we have to listen to what Jesus told us in Matthew about what would happen before he returns. It is plainly put in his word, so we cannot listen to anyone who preaches otherwise. And so we are watching the signs of the times, as Jesus asked us to do, and he told us not to be deceived, and to hold fast. These times are very evil, but let us praise God, for we are kept by his power if we walk in obedience to his will. May the Lord continue to bless you in your writings, and thank you once again for giving to the body of Christ, your gift to us from the Lord. It is appreciated, especially the time you must put in. May God Bless You always and right now I am going to pray for you, my dear brother, that the Lord will send out His word through your website.

Response #1:  Thank you so much for taking the time to write this note. As I said before, your words of encouragement - and especially your prayers - are very, very much appreciated. I am also grateful for your efforts on behalf of this ministry. It really is very much a "grass-roots" "word-of-mouth" ministry, so that your help is very important to me indeed. Moreover, nothing gives me more pleasure than when someone has benefitted spiritually from these writings. For me, there is no greater thrill than to come to know that others are experiencing the same joy in Jesus Christ and in His truth that I feel. For without His words of truth, how can we know Him? How can we draw close to Him? How can we really understand what His will for us is and then set to doing it? Without the pure, refreshing water of truth, everything in the Christian walk is problematic. But as long as we take the time to drink deeply from the living springs along the way, the road to Zion will ever be a pleasant Sabbath day's journey, until we reach our destination and appear before our Lord in glory.

You may also find the following links of some help:

The Peter Series: Coping with Personal Tribulation

Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials.

Waiting on God's Timing.

Encouragement in Christian Sufferings.

In need of encouragement.

In Him who is our love and our life and our joy forever, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2:

My question is about the verse Isaiah 6:11-13. What does it mean - could you just give me brief explanation please?

Thanks and take care!

Response #2: 

Isaiah 6:11-13 refers historically to the coming elimination of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by Assyria (ca. 712 B.C.) and Assyria's devastation of the Southern Kingdom (which was rescued by God [see Is.37:36-37] - a remnant of the truly faithful would survive in spite of the terrible divine discipline inflicted for spiritual rebellion). Isaiah was told to continue his prophetic ministry in the face of unbelief until the "razor of Assyria", God's instrument of divine discipline which would destroy the North, had also "shaved" Judah (Is.7:20).

In addition to its near-term historical application, this passage has a far-term eschatological application as well, for, importantly, it also refers to the devastation of Israel during the coming Tribulation - at that time as well only a remnant will survive (cf. Is.10:20-23 with Rom.9:27-28).

Prophets of the Old Testament often made use of this "Day of the Lord paradigm", that is, using the future Tribulation as an analogy to bring home the gravity and severity of the coming contemporary divine judgments (see The Coming Tribulation: Part 1, section IV.1.b, "The Day of the Lord Paradigm").

Hope this helps.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Long story short, a friend of mine has a crazy ex-boyfriend. He actually has a tattoo that says "Jesus Saves" and he was a Christian (emphasis on "was"). But he's going into the Marines and at the moment he's into binge drinking. Somehow I ended up thinking that you were in the Marines and came out ok, so I was just curious if you were actually a Christian beforehand. Basically, we were just looking for some shred of hope that he might actually turn his life back around in the Marines. He's so far gone that he actually wanted to get the aforementioned tattoo removed. Sorry to put you on the spot, but we were just curious.

Thanks, I really appreciate it.

Response #3: 

I was a Christian when I went into the Marines, but, like your friend, I wasn't particularly committed and my walk was nothing to brag about, to say the least (and that was as it always is nobody's fault but my own). Indeed, it was in the USMC that God got my attention and provided me with some good Christian friends and substantive Bible teaching. It took some serious shocks to turn me back to Him, but when I finally did get back on the right road, I was zealous to learn all I could about the Bible and, I hoped, be able to help others in the same or a similar way to how I had been helped. That's the reason I went into Classics, feeling that a sound knowledge of Greek and Hebrew et al. were essential for any serious study of scripture. That's the reason I do this ministry and do it in the way I do it.

In my experience, the service in general and the Marines in particular are not bad places for "prodigal sons" to find themselves. As far as your friend is concerned, it is certainly true that there is plenty of opportunity in service for "trouble". But in the course of serving there are usually moments that make a person look at him or herself very closely (it took a couple of these for me).

In the history of the Church, there have been countless believers who turned away from Christ, and many who went to a "far country" before coming back into the fold. Which way things turn out is entirely a matter of the heart of the individual concerned - and which of us can see that clearly into another person's heart?

God is patient, God is loving, God is forgiving. He doesn't want any to perish, but wants all to come to repentance (Ezek.18:23; Matt.18:14; Jn.12:47; 1Tim.2:4; 2Tim.2:24-26; 2Pet.3:9). But we have to choose for Him and stand by that choice. I don't know anything about this situation you describe except what you have shared here, but it doesn't sound to me as if the removing of that particular tattoo "Jesus Saves" is a good sign (at least not for the reason he's removing it). Personally, I am not a fan of tattoos (see these links for more on that: What does the Bible say about tattoos? and Three Questions about Tattoos), but to remove something that says "Jesus saves" does seem like a renunciation of those words, and that would not be a salutary development (Lk.12:9). The only thing that we can do is to pray for your friend - and I promise to say a prayer for him - but even that has definite, scriptural limits in these cases (1Jn.5:16). But as I say, only God really knows the heart. There have been some, like Peter, who have indeed turned around from what would look to all the world like an irreversible repudiation of our Lord, and have gone on to be great servants of Christ (Lk.22:60-62).

In Him who is the "Yes" to all our questions, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

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