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Sin, Guilt, and Salvation IV

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Question #1:  


Is Salvation as simple as it is preached?

Response #1: 

I suppose that all depends on who's doing the preaching. It certainly wasn't easy for our Lord Jesus Christ who was judged for all of our sins.

Scripture says . . .

(8) For you have been saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Christ]; and this did not come from you – it is God's gift. (9) Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for [the purpose of accomplishing] good works, which [very works] God has prepared ahead of time for us, that we might walk in them (i.e., live our Christian lives in the accomplishment of them).
Ephesians 2:8-10

Here's a link to a short evangelism posting of mine: "Salvation: God's Free Gift".

And here's the link to my major study on the subject: BB 4B: Soteriology.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Hi Bob,

Yes I knew that writing that would be problematic. I was trying to find a simpler way of saying "imputed righteousness" in a way that a regular person would understand.

From how I understand it is the righteousness of Jesus that God sees when He looks down on a believer not our own righteousness (because we couldn't have any ourselves as we are still sinning). I can see from the Old Testament that again it was faith and approaching God through sacrifice that imputes righteousness to a believer not works. The sacrifice done in faith looked forward to the once for all time sacrifice and atonement of Christ.

I guess I was looking for another word for "imputes" as it may be a little tricky for some. I realise that what I wrote then, rather than trying to simplify "imputed righteousness". Instead I have written something that is completely different.

This has been an important exercise to face though I have to say I have been nervous about getting it wrong. I realise that we all should be able to give an account for the hope we know have. As you know, until recently I was stumbling over the teaching that we are judged on works not sins!

Maybe I should leave this part off then if it is too confusing? I said to ___ that Salvation IS a very simple thing but it reminds me of a clock. You look at a clock face and you see the hands move and it tells the time in a very simple fashion but when you look into the back of the clock there are lots of cogs and inner workings that are complex and miraculous. That is what Salvation is. Simple enough for a child to understand on the face of it but the inner workings and also what all of them mean separately is enough to busy a theologian for the rest of his days!

So glad to hear that the pavements are coming back! We have daffodils and crocuses now but I bet tarmac is now a sight for sore eyes!

Just to clarify then, if I instead wrote "Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us through faith" would this be accurate and then would I be ready to roll with the rest of it?

It's interesting as I think I should study further about aspects such as "mercy", "grace" and "righteousness" as I think I still have a bit of a blurry sense of these doctrines. So I need to study on with it.

Many thanks again.

In Jesus,

Response #2: 

I definitely also like to stay away from the words "impute / imputation" also – because these terms were co-opted by Augustine and created a huge theological problem that even Protestants haven't gotten over yet (link).

On the other terms, I would suggest instead reading the relevant studies at Ichthys. Traditional theology has caused a great many problems by first creating categories in a way that the Bible does not, then defining those categories and building doctrine on logic and reason and throwing in some doubtful scripture (leading to the confusion about the truth), and THEN back-reasoning FROM their dubious categories and faulty doctrines to produce MORE and even less truthful "doctrines" as a result (the history of the RC church in a nutshell).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Good evening,

I have emailed multiple websites to which have never responded. I would like help understanding a few things. I basically live in fear and have anxiety and depression over it.

1. I get scared that because I give into sin that God will ignore my prayers for my family’s health, or worst cause family to get worst as a punishment for me not resisting?

2. Am I suppose to enjoy life? Am I suppose to have self worth and always think positive? Have hobbies and such?

3. I have given up a lot of Bad habits since being reborn, I aim to forgive others and accept them foe who they are and pray for them to find god and through him change some of the things about themselves that would lead to a better life for them and their children or other cases of improvement, but I sometimes still give into certain thing. When I do I am overwhelmed with fear and guilt and depression to the point I don’t function well and sometimes sit there crying having an anxiety issue. I fear punishment, or whatever else could happen. I ask for forgiveness but get worried it’s not real because if it was, would I have given into it in the first place? I over analyze everything due to being a salesman.

Basically multiple ways of explaining those 3 questions. It gets very bad sometime, I really need help understanding this. I am constantly down and scared and just wrecked most of my day each day.

Thank you for your help or any explanation and insight into these.

Response #3: 

Good to make your acquaintance.

I don't think your experience is particularly unusual or unique (based on doing this ministry for many years at least).

The main thing I would want to point out to you is that we are here on earth to glorify our dear Lord Jesus, and there is only one way to do that, namely, His way.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
Matthew 16:24 NKJV

How do we do that, though?

Self-denial does mean seeking what is pleasing to God, not ourselves, and that does mean growing in sanctification and turning away from sin more and more. But that is not possible without spiritual growth. As I often say, spiritual growth is the "offense" of the Christian life. And while a good "defense" is very important, no one can win anything without a good "offense".

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

To live life as Christ would have us to live it, we need to be growing spiritually day by day, passing the tests that then come our way (these mainly come to the spiritually mature), and then helping others to do the same (through whatever ministry the Lord then gives us). That is the way to earn top rewards before the Judgment Seat of Christ (see the link).

There is a great deal at Ichthys about this. Here is one major link regarding the process of spiritual growth: BB 6A: Peripateology.

Once you start walking with the Lord in spiritual growth, progress and production, all of the other problems will gradually be resolved.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

So I read into the link, I swear I get more and more confused. 1 corinthians 3:15 Sounds as if it’s more toward pastors or leaders looking to teach others? Also what’s the loss it refers to?

I know I should be feeling good and hopeful but the more I learn the fear grows instead. I never get a real answer as to which how I am suppose to be. I feel like God wants me to live, love, grow, and help others do the same as I can. Giving the credit to him each time and thanking him as I go. Praying for help, for thanks, and for anything in between. To not judge myself and mentally punish myself over and over, to have faith even when I screw up often and go on staying positive and growing, even if it takes me my life to quit or stop one bad thing. Is that accurate at all?

I read about the sinning of death or something like that, and it was very scary. I can see 2 point of views. 1 is that if you do the same thing over and over you can lose your salvation, but that goes against so many other teachings! 2nd is I think it means that if your heart/soul turns away from god completely because you choose to sin and not believe anymore. I feel like I am over thinking this, I honestly feel like god does not judge us based on our actions even if it is a deliberate sin. I think it’s more based on our heart, how we truly feel and what we truly think and believe. I feel like for example if a person gives into a drug addiction or stopped but went back to it one more time, that if deep in his core he truly feels bad or knows it was wrong, and wants to stop. That he would not be judged or punished.

It is difficult to fully understand a lot of what I read. Sometimes I am nervous to learn more because it leads me to more and more judgment on myself. My mother keeps it so simple and says “trust god, pray for help or understanding, read your Bible to learn, do your best to grow and get closer to god”. With my issues in general about negative thinking/intrusive thoughts I always find a way to turn it into a scary alternate meaning. Is it really as simple as some say? Have faith, and work toward pleasing God.

Sorry for my many emails, it’s nice to have someone to chat with and get another perspective.

Response #4: 

Absolutely you have the right to feel good about your salvation and all the glories of eternity on the other side! You absolutely have the right to cast away terror and fear and know that God is with you, not against you.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:8-10 NKJV

(31) So what shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (32) He who did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over for our sake, how will He not also graciously give us everything [we need] along with [that gift of] Him? (33) Who will [dare to] bring charges against God's elect? God is the One who is pronouncing [us] justified. (34) Who is he that condemns [us]? Christ Jesus is the One who died [condemned in our place], and the One, moreover, who was raised from the dead [for us], who is [seated] at the right hand of God, who is also making petitions on our behalf. (35) What will separate us from Christ's love? Tribulation? Or privation? Or persecution? Or hunger? Or destitution? Or danger? Or violence? (36) As it is written, "For your sake we are being put to death all day long. We were accounted as sheep for slaughter". (37) But in all such things we are decisively victorious through Him who loved us [enough to do what He did for us]. (38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angelic nor human authorities, neither things present nor things to come, neither heavenly powers, (39) be they the highest [of the elect] or the lowest [of the fallen], nor any other created thing [on this earth] will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39

In terms of understanding, you can't expect to digest it all in a couple of days. Here are two places to start at Ichthys:

1) The Peter Series

2) Weekly Email Response Postings.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 NKJV

In Jesus our merciful Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:  

Hello doc!

Hope it's all well with you there, I know this is the most disturbed year especially where classes and church gatherings are concerned. Here, they allowed churches to run at 50 with all guide lines from healthy followed and with a revocable license if such healthy guide lines can be crossed. Anyway, we hope in our Lord who can quench this wind.

Let me drop these two at your door.

1). Predestinational election and reprobation. Jesus said, this my blood/body broken for many, (not all). He said again, I will draw many to myself (not all). But there stands a difference in the apostles' presentation of the same gospel when they said: Jesus is the Savior of all men especially those who believe (not many). He wants all to be saved, (not many) cf 1timothy 2 :4, 2 Peter 3:9.

Then the apostles change their style and join Jesus when they said God has chosen some to salvation, act 13:48, Romans 8:28-30, 9:11-13, Ephesians 1:4-6,1:12, 1These 1:4-5, 2Thes 2:13, Rev 13:7-8, 17:8 et al, and that others have been designated for destruction ; Jude 4,Rom 9:17-22,11:7, 1peter2:8.

If these two sides can be taken to their extreme, I can see that man's salvation or destruction is designed by God, who can overrule God's predestination by his will?

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ who wants to save all?

Response #5: 

Good to hear from you, my friend! I've been thinking about you (and keeping you in prayer), especially since a number of my friends from Ichthys who live in your country have let me in on some of the difficulties over there at present.

1) Let me assure you: the message of the Bible is 100% uniform from Genesis to Revelation. Apparent inconsistencies always turn out – upon sufficient godly study – to be apparent only.

As to this issue, sometimes the Bible makes clear that the atonement is universal:

On the next day, [John] saw Jesus coming towards him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, the One who takes away the sin of the world".
John 1:29

But if anyone hears My words and does not hold on to them, I do not condemn him. For I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.
John 12:47

And sometimes the scriptures say "many":

But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
Romans 5:15 NKJV

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.
Romans 5:19 NKJV

But as the last passage above especially makes clear, "all" and "many" are not considered to be mutually exclusive by the Holy Spirit. Clearly, all are sinners, but all is certainly "many" and sometimes "many" is used to express magnitude, NOT to suggest "not all". The modern concept of "all" is in any case somewhat different in the ancient world where scientific enumeration was not yet in vogue (and in truth that lens is not perfect for us either; see the link).

We all have the image of God – absolute free will. But we could only use it – and in fact could only exist – in a universe created and sustained by God Himself and within a plan which was completely ordained in every last detail. Or, put another way:

Q1: "Does the fact that God knows what we will choose and has thus ordained that we do so mean that we don't have free will?"

A1: "Absolutely not. God is smarter and more powerful than we can imagine, and those qualities allow Him to be able to do as He has done".

Q2: "Does the fact that we choose now in real time from genuine free will with the image of God we have been given mean that God has not actually predestined our choices?"

A2: "Absolutely not. Everything has been predetermined, even the actual choices we decided of our own free will to make: there is only one plan, the perfect plan; there are no alternative or hypothetical plans; if one small thing were changed, it would not be the perfect plan – and it is perfect, based on the bedrock of all bedrock: the cross where Jesus died for every single human sin."

Jesus died for ALL. The fact that He had to die for so that any could be saved tells us all we need to know about the justice of God and the love of God – and how these were reconciled at the cross, the enormity of which is beyond all else to an infinite degree.

See the links:

The universality of the atonement (in BB 3B)

Unlimited atonement (in BB 4)

In our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Hello Professor,

There is one more issue I wanted to ask you about. We have discussed the relationship between free will and God's sovereignty in the context of the sin unto death and apostasy (1 Corinthians 5:1-5), a relationship that may admittedly be impossible to comprehend entirely. But there is another question I'm trying to understand. I accept that it may be impossible to answer it fully, but I want to establish whatever conclusions it may scripturally be possible to establish.

I don't believe we can say that God saves some people from apostasy. Apostasy is a free will choice to abandon faith and God does not take away our free will. To say that God saves some people from apostasy would mean that He saves people from their free will choice and arbitrarily allows some to follow the path to condemnation while protecting others from it. The purpose of our earthly life is to exercise our free will choice to believe or not to believe and God clearly allows us to do that - some fall away and others don't.

Nevertheless, there are some questions here that I'm trying to resolve.

1. Believers differ from each other with regard to the strength of their faith, but I wonder whether this differing degree of trust in God pertains not only to our walk with Him, but to the fundamental saving faith in Christ as well. That's the first difficulty - should such a distinction be drawn? Is it the case that the saving faith in Christ is a simple mathematical 0 or 1, with our growth in faith applying to how we trust in God with all else (provision, day-to-day decisions, etc.), or is it the case that it is not a simple 0 or 1, but rather 0 to whatever number can be set, if any, so that while 1 still means salvation, this saving faith can also reach a level of 100?

Answer to the above question will determine the answer to the one that follows.

2. We know that God does not allow us to be tested beyond what we are able (1 Corinthians 10:13) and there seems to be no reason not to apply this principle to faith also. Thus we could say that God does not test our faith beyond what our faith can take. However, if we should say that the faith as applied to its saving component can be of varying degrees, then from this would follow that God does not allow the saving faith of believers to be tested beyond what it can take. And this could be understood as protection from apostasy. This consideration introduces a question as to how much faith is enough to be saved and why are some tested so as to fall away and some are not. I acknowledge that answering these questions may be impossible, but maybe we can understand at least some scriptural principles that could govern this process.

Nevertheless, I think the possibility must be considered that saving faith is a 0 or a 1 rather than a quality of varying degrees. The sin unto death could be understood to confirm that - a particular believer clearly does not trust God enough to live by His Word and obey it, yet is unwilling to let go of their saving faith in Christ. His walk with God is a failure - and such a failure, ultimately, does have to do with their faith - but He does hold on to Christ for eternal life.

In our Saviour,

Response #6: 

Logic has some uses when applied to grammatical exegesis (but even here there are things "between the lines" in language that such analysis may miss). When it comes to theology, it's always dangerous to use such constructs. One could also ask, "What about children who die young? They're all saved, right? Why do some die in time for that and others are allowed to live a few more years and then are condemned for lack of faith? In fact, since God wants all to be saved, why didn't He just cause all unbelievers to die before they were responsible for what they were going to do?" To which I have a biblical answer to give:

Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
Romans 9:21 NKJV

Which is not to say that God has foreordained anyone to hell without a legitimate opportunity to be saved. The cross refutes all such lies.

We can say that God's wisdom is higher than ours and He knows and always knew all alternatives. We know that there is only ONE perfect plan with no hypotheticals whatsoever and that everything in the one perfect plan that He did ordain is perfect (not in any hypothetical alternatives our minds might envision). And we know that God is fair – that in His perfection He could not be otherwise. AND we have the cross as the ultimate answer. The cross answers all important questions, and on this one it tells us that since God does want all to be saved and that since Christ did die for the sins of absolutely everyone, we do have to trust Him that it is all fair and just and right, and that He has done absolutely everything that could be done for everyone who's ever drawn breath.

Do we not have a pat answer for hypotheticals based upon the problem you pose (and I posed) and the like? That is irrelevant because there are no such hypotheticals. There are only actual individuals. And each individual is different. It's hard enough for us to really "know" ourselves, so it really is pointless for us to look at someone else and say "God saved him/her from apostasy but not person X over there". We don't know any of these people (or anyone at all, for that matter) well enough to make those judgments.

What are we to do? We are to teach what the Bible teaches. And the Bible teaches for believers who refuse to repent from gross misconduct in the face of increasing discipline the resultant "sin unto death" (whereby there is "destruction of the flesh" but the person "saved": 1Cor.5:5). But the Bible also teaches that apostasy is a real possibility for those who abandoned their faith in Jesus Christ entirely. These two things are related in that they both involve believers leaving the right path, but they are fundamentally different in that with the former the believer never stops being a believer, but in the latter the person abandons faith to relieve the pressure (see the link). How God comports Himself towards believers who are hanging in the balance between the two is not possible for us to judge – but we can trust the Judge.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:  


Response #7: 

First, I stand behind everything I wrote you and everything I've posted to the site.

Second, I hope the methodology I use has been of some benefit to you. Everything posted at Ichthys is a result of the same approach.

Third, while my answer wasn't direct, it was what I felt appropriate to answer – and still do. That response is the context and lens through which I see this issue.

As to hypotheticals, we really don't understand the hearts of others. Only in very broad terms. So my description and explanation of these matters comes from that point of view. In general terms, we can't say by human observation whether someone is "headed to apostasy" or is actually going to hold onto faith no matter what. There are no doubt many things that go on inside the heart which only the person in question and God are privy to. But we can express what the Bible does. 1st Corinthians 5 makes it indisputably clear (in my view) that but for the sin unto death experience this particular young man received he would have been lost. Does it work that way for all? Not necessarily. Not many have the benefit of an apostle looking out for them. What we can't do is attempt to put God in a box on this. Of course He wants all to be saved. Of course He doesn't limit free will. Of course He intervenes – in the best way for each circumstance. But He doesn't eliminate our free will. That is the whole reason we are here. It is this image of God we have been given which is resolving the entire conflict brought on by Satan's rebellion. Beyond stating the biblical principles, it is impossible for us to parse things since each case is individual and unique. We can only be absolute where the Bible is so. Making rules – of behavior or interpretation – where things depend in each case on circumstances unknown to us is what I mean by the problem of hypotheticals: it doesn't work.

Overall, I don't really get the sense of there being any great difference between what you write and what I teach. It is a problem to consider big differences as unimportant, but in my view attributing more importance to small differences than they deserve is also problematic.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

How are things going for you my friend? I hope you and your family are well. Have been spending a lot of time in the word and have found myself becoming a lot more serious about salvation with advancing age. More to the point, I am really trying to resist sin and living in the flesh.

Actually thinking about each individual commandment and doing my best to follow them. Spending the day Sunday watching Bible-based documentaries online. Later I will visit your website. There was a time in my life where I would actively seek out sin and enjoy every aspect of it. Now that kind of life makes me sick. Thanks for your prayers!

In Jesus Christ

Response #8: 

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I'm glad to hear that you are making progress with sanctification. In my experience and observation, however, the best approach to this is not by focusing in on what NOT to do (the Spirit is very good about reminding us of that . . . if we are walking in the Spirit: Gal.5:16-25), but by moving forward with what we SHOULD be doing: spiritual growth, spiritual progress and spiritual production.

Plenty of denominations and religions and various groups have developed all manner of complex systems to "help" their members stay away from sin. In the end, not only do they fail to work but they also generally distract from the main business of what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ. In terms of commandments, here's one I recommend focusing on:

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:34-40 NIV

Because . . .

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:10 NIV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Hey Bob,

I've been wondering, how do we answer the question of "how is it fair that we have been infested with sin natures because of what Adam and Eve did?" Aside from the fact that we inevitably are sinners, how do we answer this? I haven't really been able to figure it out.

In Him,

Response #9: 

The direct answer given by Paul is found in Romans 9:6-29. Operative verse:

Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
Romans 9:21 NKJV

In other words, we should beware of complaining that God "made me this way". We are sinners (that is very clear), and we go from there, looking to God's mercy. Too much speculation on this point has led to many historical heresies, Pelagianism in particular, where it is imagined that sin can be avoided and a person therefore not need salvation – which is crazy and only may seem to be made to "work" if a person redefines sin to a small list of particularly nasty things they've never done and are capable of avoiding (but we sin in our thinking all the time, not to mention that the tongues is not capable of being fully tamed; cf., e.g. Gal.5:19-21).

On the fairness question, I suppose if we were to press this issue with the Lord before being created (impossible of course, but just for the sake of argument), His response might be not to create us at all . . . just to honor our request for fairness. Because of what Adam and Eve did, human beings are born the way we are born and in no other way – with One exception of course, Jesus Christ. For the rest of us, creating our spirits in naturally generated bodies is the only way for us to come into the world. And truly the only other option WAS not to be created at all. What if we were all given our own personal garden of Eden? I guarantee that we all would have ended up just like Adam and Eve (maybe quicker, maybe after a few hundred more years, but inevitably). God could have worked things that way, but He worked them the way He worked them. We must never forget that THE way He has, is and will work things is the one and only perfect plan of God . . . with not a single solitary variation permitted to what has been decreed (otherwise it wouldn't be the perfect plan). And at all such times we must also never forget that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the entire world. The least part of the cross is greater than all that is or was or ever could be – how much more the totality of it!

So when it comes to fairness, could a loving God do more than pay for all of our sins in the precious blood (spiritual death) of His One and only dear Son? Sins we were definitely going to commit, one way or another, no matter if we were Adam and Eve or who we actually are? That is REALLY not fair . . . to the Father and the Son. But He did it anyway, out of a love that passes human understanding. I'll take that sort of "unfairness" any day, gratefully.

In Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:  


Sorry for taking a while to respond.

I think all your points make sense and I also thought a lot of the same. God couldn't have possibly given up more. Some verses that also came to mind were Romans 5:17-18. I also understand what you're saying about a hypothetical garden of Eden for everyone, but no one actually being obedient forever.

With Romans 9:21, we still basically assume that God gives us the choice to be obedient or not, correct? It seems in the passage that Paul refers to God hardening who He wants or letting whoever He chooses to harden themselves against God with their own volition. I mean, God could justifiably remove our free will if He wanted because He knows our hearts so well, but I don't think the element of free will is absent here. Maybe you could interpret it both ways.

Let me know

Thanks a lot

In Him,

Response #10:

No worries!

Free will is why we are here – so that is never absent. We never lose that . . . as long as we are in these bodies on this earth. God allows people to harden themselves to the point where they will never bend (as in the example of the Pharaoh of the exodus) – but that too is a series of personal free will choices (see the link).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:  


Okay. I guess if I were to think of a crazy example, if someone got hit by a bus and had some sort of irreparable brain damage and basically couldn't make choices for themselves anymore, wouldn't we have to recognize that God knows that person's heart so well and that He is perfectly just in doing that, because he knows if they would have ever come to know Him? God certainly receives more glory when He acts righteously in response to the free-will actions we make, but couldn't He still do whatever He wanted if it was part of His greater plan? Let me know.

In Christ,

Response #11: 

If a person is in a coma and never wakes up until death, I would say that's exactly the same thing as if already being dead – for our purposes.

But I'm always loath to discuss such issues by employing hypotheticals . . . because there are no such things in the actual plan of God where only what does happen was ordained to happen and there are no accidents, truly. So when the Sadducees told our Lord about the woman who had seven husbands they had to frame it as if it had actually happened for Him to entertain the question – I doubt that it actually did, but He uncovered their false motives and dispatched their flawed implied argument beautifully – as usual.

God the Father can do whatever He wants, but we know from His Word that what He wants is for people to respond to Him and His Son voluntarily, and everything in the plan has been set up for that to be so. The fact that so many refuse just goes to show that "all this" was indeed necessary – in order for us who did not refuse His Son to be saved. Otherwise, why would our Lord have had to die for all those lost individuals who rejected Him?

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
1st John 2:2 NIV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Dear Bob,

This question may look very basic but seeing different interpretations, especially quoting (Psalm 19:12) thought to should get your views concerning whether we could ask God's forgiveness for 'unknown sin's committed.

Thanks for your support


Response #12: 

On the one hand, I don't know of any biblical verse or teaching that directly or indirectly prohibits praying for forgiveness of all sins, even ones we may have "missed" in our personal accounting of them. On the other hand, a good many of the sacrifices under the Mosaic Law had to do with just such unintentional and/or unknown sins (cf. Heb.9:7).

And there are also these verses:

Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Psalm 19:12 NKJV

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

In respect to the first passage, the word "faults" (found in most English versions) is supplied by translators, with "secret [things]" being more literal. In a context of asking for forgiveness from sins (see the next verse, Ps.19:13), the "secret things" seem to me clearly to be sins/transgressions – things needing forgiveness, "cleansing" as the psalmist (David) asks for here.

In respect to the second passage, it is clearly stated that when we confess, we are forgiven/cleansed from ALL unrighteousness (sin and anything else needing cleansing and forgiveness).

So I would say that it is certainly legitimate when confessing to ask for such cleansing – and 1st John 1:9 says we receive it in any case when confess known sins. And the Lord's prayer that we are to pray every day asks for the Father to "forgive us our sins/trespasses/debts", not making any distinction.

The larger point really is that we are all sinners and are all cleansed ONLY by the blood of Christ. He has already died for everything we have done or will do, so that confession is meant to help us remember that – to remember the cross. We must never let the cross of Christ fall from our hearts, for it is through His great sacrifice that we are saved.

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:  

Dear Sir, Thank you for the update, I can see where you are coming from, but it does seem to be a lot of items to digest, This is my own understanding, according to the Word of God, Initial Salvation, ( born again) which will give us a complete download of everything that we will ever need for our christian life(in seed form) Then the further development of the information within that seed IE, denying our own soul life ( as per the Lords instructions) in fact our own soul life is the harder outer shell (so to speak) that is preventing the s/Spirit from being released, Now we have movement ! And we are able with some help from the Lord, in the way of a few tribulations, and by the further work of the cross, to deal with our self/soul life, We are now being practically sanctified as well as having been positionaly sanctified, The Lord expects us to change into the New Creation in this life, It will not happen in the twinkling of an eye, because he has made provision for it to happen in this life and at this time, ( there is no excuse for not being transformed) Then at The Judgment Seat Of Christ, If we bear His Image, and If we have changed in life, and we will automatically have lived the life that pleases Him, because we will have been living a life like unto His Own Life and by His Life( in fact Him Living In Us And Out Of Us) Then we will enter into the Next Age (millennium) And in particular into the Heavenly Part of that Age ( This Will Be Our Reward for Losing Our Soul Life and not Allowing Our Soul Life To Have Had its Pleasure On Earth For those who decided not to pursue The Lord further in this Life( for whatever reason and there will be a very many reasons and excuses on that Great Day) And instead, decided to live in the initial download of their salvation (childhood) and have an easy time of it whilst many of their brethren will be pursuing The Lord even all over the earth and going through many tribulations ( so as to receive a better resurrection) Well, for these ones( the childish ones) there will be a further discipline ("as though through fire" ) They are still God's Children, they cannot be lost, or God would not be God, ( and how then could we ever believe Him for Salvation)? But according to the Bible, they will have a taste of the second death and also according to the Bible they could very well be at the Great White Throne, waiting for The Lord to re-enter their names back into the Book of Life, and then they should catch up with their brethren 1000 years later in The New Heavens and The New Earth God is not mocked, we asked him to save us and indeed he will truly save us, either we take the prescribed way "in time" or else we take the" hard way in eternity" We are in a desperate need for the True Gospel at this time in history to go forth "God is not willing that so many Christians should perish at that time" Even though they will not perish forever, there is simply no need for it, because God has made a way....

Response #13: 

Good to hear back from you.

I take it you are referring to the false doctrine of "Once saved, always saved"? There is a lot on this subject at Ichthys. Best two links for issues of salvation:

Peter #27: Three False Doctrines

Bible Basics 4B: Soteriology

I don't know what to say about your theory, exactly. I only know what scripture has to say (I'm not one for building theology on reasoning and theory):

"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

We can't look inside of the hearts of "those who decided not to pursue The Lord further in this Life" to know if they are still believers – still have faith in Jesus Christ – or not. But "the Lord knows who are His" (2Tim.2:19) . . . and who are not. All who believe belong to Christ. All who do not believe do not (as in the verse above). So drifting after salvation is very dangerous. The best one could hope for is faith preserved but opportunities for earning reward lost. But for many, faith dies out – and eternal life is lost (e.g., Lk.8:13).

When it comes to believers to travel far off the path and away from the Lord, it's a case by case thing as to whether or not faith dies entirely. We can't know about this down here in every case, but it will be shown to us in eternity. But we can certainly say that letting weeds grow up is not a healthy spiritual thing for any believer, even if in the end they end up not falling away into apostasy (see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").

Best thing for anyone considering this issue is to render it merely theoretical where our own walk with the Lord is concerned.

(24) 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. (25) 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. (26) 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. (27) 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

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:  

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for reaching out because I actually am struggling with these things I’ve mentioned.


This is all very hard and I pray to get back to normal to growing with joy and with a sense of purpose, but it’s currently difficult the way my brain is functioning and stuff related to that, although it is sort of the result of a bad couple of weeks starting toward the end of school. I hope this makes things a little more clear.

Response #14: 

Putting it all on the line for the Lord is always difficult, especially in the early going. When we go out on a limb all on our own, not only will our motivation be tested, but everything else will as well. And you can bet that the evil one will vigorously oppose anyone who dares to devote their life to Jesus Christ.

In terms of "blaming ourselves", that is a very common thing many believers do. But we have to learn to forget the past and remember that we are here to fight for the Lord one day at a time. It does no good to worry about yesterday. Yesterday is gone, the good and the bad. It can't be changed. So other than remembering that our Lord was absolutely faithful to us in every yesterday we've yet experienced – and other than remembering above all else the yesterday that really matters, the one wherein He died for all of our sins – we need to be focused on today. We confess our sins. We are forgiven. End of story. Did we mess up yesterday? OK. We can try to do better today. It's all about what we are thinking and saying and doing now. Not yesterday which can't be changed. Not tomorrow which is completely unpredictable in fact. "Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it." (Ps.118:24)

I'm sorry you're having trouble with how you're feeling, but that is another common trouble advancing believers – and especially those who have committed to ministry – have to get a hold of and conquer. How we feel has nothing to do with anything – except that it is an impediment to forward progress, to peace and joy and hope if we don't learn to ignore negative feelings. We have a right – and an obligation – to "think of the things above" (Col.3:1-2) and not the things down here, much less to feel bad about them.

On the other side, we'll never feel bad about anything ever again. True, we cannot excise our emotions. We wouldn't want to. But we do NOT have to pay excessive attention to them. In my experience and observation, when they are in an uproar, if we do ignore them for the most part and just continue to press forward with the Lord, they eventually come along . . . and the joy returns. Emotions are "followers"; they do respond to good leadership; following them instead always results in disaster (see the link).

So keep on with the truth, my friend. There is no better cure for whatever we are suffering.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Can you give me an explanation of these words: Sin, inequities, transgression, trespass. It seems that these words among others, can all be classified with the term "Sin". Why all these other words? Are they actually expressing the different levels of sin? or is this giving a level of severity?

Here is a statement that I noted in your study on sin:

Since sin is, in its essence, the act of opposing God's will, by definition sin could not come into being before the creation of finite creatures who possessed a will of their own. ???

What about Satan, and the fallen angels who followed him, who all sinned against God. Are these questions addressed in your teaching? Thanks so much for your help. Coming out of Roman Catholicism many years ago, they classified sin into two categories, Mortal and venial, as you already know. I just need this explanation for the different words used for sin. In my mind sin is sin.

May God richly bless you, and continue His grace upon you.

Your friend,

Response #15: 

I can't find the word "inequities" in any Bible version. However, you are correct that there are many synonyms for sin in the Bible; transgression and trespass are two common ones. They reflect different aspects of sin, but I wouldn't want to say more without a context. And of course the Bible delineates specific acts that are sinful. As an example, see the link for a brief list of sins of the tongue in Peter #35.

The definition I give in BB 3B and which you quote is exactly the way I see it. Angels are finite creatures too. And they also have free will. They seem to exercise it differently because of their different perspective, not being bound to the earth as we are for a very short time. But their ability to choose is exactly parallel to the image of God we have. The manner in which Satan and his angels originally sinned was different in type from the manner in which Adam and Eve did, but it was a violation of God's will out of arrogance, and that is the essence of all sin.

(12) "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, O son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, O you who laid the nations low. (13) For you said in your heart, 'I will ascend heavenward. I will set my throne above the stars of God. And I will take my seat on the mount of assembly on the sides of the north. (14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the Most High God'. (15) But indeed you will be brought down to Sheol, to the sides of the pit."
Isaiah 14:12-15

Keeping you and your family in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I misspelled the word stated where you could not find any Bible translations which had inequities. Sorry for the confusion, and the typo.

Your friend,

Response #16: 

No problem, my friend.

"Iniquity" is another common synonym for sinful behavior, especially in the OT (Hebrew: 'avon). In fact, in the LXX Greek it is often translated as hamartia (the standard Greek word for sin found in the NT).

Have a look at this link: in BB 3B: The Three Types of Sin.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Hi Dr.

I pray all is well with you, your family and your ministry. Prayers for you is continually in my heart and mouth. I have a question regarding 1Jn 5:16-17, "sin that leads to death" and "sin not unto death" that was brought up in our bible study.

My understanding is that "sin that leads to death" is unbelief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Basically an unwillingness to respond to the message of Grace. "Sin not unto death" in my understanding are sin(s) that are committed in ignorance due to immaturity or lack of knowledge of the Word of God or leading of the Spirit.

Can you elaborate further if you can?

Thank you and May the Lord bless you real good.

Response #17: 

Sorry for the delay (posting day – just finished Peter #36; at the link).

As to "not the sin unto death", well, those are all the many other sins people commit which are "not the sin unto death". I.e., only two categories in John's presentation in order to show that just because a believer sins does not mean that he/she has/is committing "the sin unto death".

As to the "sin unto death" itself, that is a believer continuing in a pattern of gross and shameful and dangerous sinning without repentance, reform and confession, in spite of increasing divine discipline. We are here to be witnesses to the Lord, but if we fail in that witness dramatically, well, there are certain things the Lord will not tolerate from us forever. Saul is a famous example of a believer being taken out of life in a painful and shameful way because of just this sort of thing. The incestuous young man at Corinth is another, and Paul's commentary on that explains the process:

[For I have already decided], in the name of our Lord Jesus, when all of you are gathered together with my spirit by the power of our Lord Jesus, to hand such a one over to Satan for the destruction of his body so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
1st Corinthians 5:4-5

This is just a nutshell view of what's written up in BB 3B: Hamartiology (at the link).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:  

Hello Bob,

I am writing you for some insight on something I've been pondering. I understand that just about every ministry, including yours, teaches that we are saved by believing in Jesus and his death for us on the cross. I am not disagreeing, yet when I was saved I am not aware that I understood that he died to pay for our sins, maybe I did on some level and didn't realize it, but I wasn't led to Christ through anyone, God put it in my heart to search for the truth, gave me numerous signs, one thing leading to another, finally, a close friend also out of the blue told me she was saved and that Jesus is the truth not religion etc., and I ended up reading Matthew and the Holy Spirit just melted my heart one night (that's the quick version).

I know I was saved, and that by believing in Jesus as the truth, the Son of God, and the only way to forgiveness, I believed he died on the cross and rose due to an evil world and without fault, and that we are all at fault. I believed he came for me, and for all. So I simply believed that I would be forgiven by trusting in him alone, which I did and I was.

For awhile, in my limited knowledge, I would preach Jesus to people after being saved, yet I didn't understand how to give a clear Gospel message, I would preach all manner of things from the written Gospel, and that the center of it was to believe in Jesus not religion, but I felt like I was missing something. I now know that that simple "something" was that he died for our sins.

Interestingly, I don't think there is one direct statement in Matthew through Acts that directly says He died for our sins, other than perhaps in John where the high priest says "it is better that one man should die for the many", though I hadn't read John for some time. Also, there are many accounts in Acts of both Peter and Paul preaching a short sermon in which many were saved during Acts, yet I am not aware that they directly expressed that he died to pay for our sins, neither did Peter explain this when he preached to Cornelius and his family, rather again and again they preach Jesus crucified and risen, and that forgiveness of sins is through His name alone. Only in Romans 3 are we told that we are saved "through faith in His blood".
Then in 1 Corinthians Paul says "the Gospel I preached, in that He died for our sins". Etc.

So questions are,

1 - I'm just trying to understand, does someone need to understand that Jesus died for their sins to be saved? The letters seem to say so, yet again, throughout the Gospels Jesus tells everyone they've found/will find salvation by believing in Him, not by believing that he was about to die for their sins. So I would just like some insight on this matter as im a little confused.

2 - I realize I have some trouble grasping this, I believe it, foremost because God says so, yet I have trouble understanding how Jesus dying in my place covers the legal penalty before God

Thanks in advance for your time.

In Christ

Response #18: 

Good to hear from you, my friend.

Salvation is not about knowledge; it's about choice. We're here on earth to exercise our free will in response to God's truth or against it. The Holy Spirit only needs a spark of positive response to cause someone to be born again; on the other hand, a person could write a theological tome about the subject and accurately so, and still not be saved – if they don't believe it. It's very clear from your description that you responded positively to the gospel truth the Spirit was making clear to you and were then in fact born again, born from above, reborn through the Holy Spirit.

What we do afterwards is another story. Some fall away and are lost (Lk.8:13). Many live their lives among the weeds and fail to produce (Lk.8:14). It takes "fight" to move forward and produce for the Lord the way He wants us to do (Lk.8:15). That is what this ministry is about: supplying the "ammo" for that fight.

I don't want to quibble about your understanding of the way the gospel is expressed in certain parts of the Bible. The fact that it doesn't meet OUR expectations means nothing. But it is "all there", and every book is part of the perfect whole which contains God's perfect message (see BB 7 at the link). If you want to have that discussion later, we can do so.

Question 1: I think I've addressed that above. We only need "a mustard seed" of faith to be saved – meaning we don't have to know much . . . because it's not about knowledge but about faith, the free-will, image of God choice we make to follow Jesus Christ; we only have to give our will over to His WILL and the Spirit will do the rest. The Spirit is the Evangelist in chief. This is not an academic exercise. He is God and He knows very well what is going on in the heart of the person hearing the gospel; He makes clear what is true and allows the person being evangelized to "see" the truth. A positive response results in salvation – every time.

Question 2: The cross is "big" far beyond our understanding. As I often say, our Lord's suffering the fire of judgment for one single human sin eclipses in every way all human suffering, past, present and future. And He died for all sins. The Father placed the penalty, the suffering, necessary to atone for every sin on Jesus Christ His Son. As a result, sin is not the issue in determining eternal status. You sins have been forgiven. If you are asking how exactly our Lord suffered, there is something about that at the link (Spiritual Death), but we can't understand the depth of it here in time; we can affirm that it is greater in its smallest part than everything else that exists.

There are things that we have to take on faith, things that if we were given to see them would essentially neutralize our free will. If the devil had seen God in ALL of His glory, no doubt he would not have rebelled. But he wanted to, and he was allowed to blind himself sufficiently to go ahead and do so – because in eternity God wants only worshipers willing to worship Him "in Spirit and in truth", responding to the Spirit and the truth just as we are to do down here in this short sojourn on earth (Jn.4:23).

Similarly, if we saw the depths of suffering Christ endured to save us, we would abhor ourselves to point of no longer being able to function. That too would essentially neutralize our free will. We have been given instead the perfect circumstances, perfect, that is, for carrying out the purpose of the plan of God, to separate the wheat from the chaff and to value the quality of each grain of wheat. We are given plenty of information so as to have plenty of "knowledge" – but believing and acting on that belief is the hard part . . . and the highly rewarded part.

So stay in the fight, my friend. It will all be worth it in the end (as we all understand in our heart of hearts).

In Jesus.

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Thank you for your response.

I agree with everything you said, the answer to question 2 was interesting and insightful. The core and reason for my question is just that im trying to understand the statement that everyone teaches, that "you must believe Jesus died for your sins to be saved". Again I'm not disagreeing, but like you said, it's the Spirit that makes things known, I've learned from observation, also from looking back, that its really not about what we say, though we often get caught up in that, rather the Spirit making the heart "see" at the right time, other times He plants seeds.

I don't doubt my experience, so that's not necessarily what I'm getting at, and I've heard many other salvation experiences where one came to-and trusted Jesus simply... I don't want to "quibble", as its probably wise not to as you said, but my understanding is that someone can be saved by being told to believe in Jesus for forgiveness of sins and that's it, and like I said, it was not mentioned for example when the Gospel was preached to Cornelius that Jesus died for our sins, at least not recorded in Acts, which supports what im saying. Yet Paul says "by faith in His blood"... Hope you get what im saying.

Response #19: 

As to "Yet Paul says "by faith in His blood" ", I can't remember scripture putting things exactly that way – reference?

As to "you must believe Jesus died for your sins to be saved", I'm pretty sure I've never said anything like that. In my reading of scripture, Old Testament and New – and in my observation and experience of people actually being saved, as mentioned before the Spirit can use any spark of desire to BE saved to produce rebirth. He makes it clear what the choice is in the person's heart of heart, regardless of the specifics of information received.

I am sure, for example, that many children are saved without really having any sort of deep understanding of "sin". But they often DO realize that death is a problem and come to fear it early on (depending upon individual life experience). Fear of death is the devil's "ace" (Heb.2:14-15), but it is also the big "wake up call" to us all that nothing we could ever do would prevent death – so we need God's help. If we run to His embrace, we are saved. We may know tons of details before we get around to doing that or we may know next to nothing. The common factor is the CHOICE to "be saved" through God's help – and Jesus Christ is that only help, having provided us the opportunity for salvation by becoming a human being and being judged for all of our sins.

If complete understanding of everything after the em dash in the last sentence above were required to be saved, no doubt there would be far fewer Christians than is actually the case. But if we follow Him as we should after salvation, we will learn all about Him and all about our so great salvation. The sad thing is that interest even in this most essential set of truths is slight here in Laodicea.

As to the NT, here's just one passage I read this morning: our Lord's words to Paul on the road to Damascus:

"Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."
Acts 26:16-18 NIV

Seems pretty clear.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:  


Thanks Bob, what you explain is my understanding as well honestly, and was from the beginning as that is what I experienced and read in scripture.

I just hear a lot that we need to believe that he died for our sins to be saved, (I have seen that stated in a couple places in your studies, yet I've also seen it stated what you just explained), and in my reading of scripture I see the need, as you just stated, to turn from light to darkness and believe in Jesus Christ as a choice in our hearts...couldn't be said better as far as I understand.
Yet, there are verses that say through faith in his blood etc..., and there are verses like the one you quoted, so maybe its best just to leave it at that, yet I was just trying to confirm what I understood (sometimes this is helpful in my overall understanding of things), which you are confirming.

It's helpful to get insight on these things from someone more mature and knowledgeable. So I appreciate it when I just pop over with a question like this...

With love, in Christ

Response #20:

As to, "I just hear a lot that we need to believe that he died for our sins to be saved, (I have seen that stated in a couple places in your studies" – this doesn't strike me as something I would put quite that way, particularly the "need" part. I'm pretty sure I've never said anything like "unless your affirmatively believe that Christ died for your sins you're not saved" . . . because I was saved probably before I had any real understanding of sin. I knew that the Lord was the only solution to death and that was enough.

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

The gospel as expressed above is a life preserver to all who want eternal life instead of death. It's question of essential choice about where we want to spend eternity, not a comprehensive exam.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.


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