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Salvation, the Gospel, and Unbelief II

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Question #1: 


Your study of Salvation is 192 pages (link). I can see seminary students working on this and probably more studies than this. But not the average searching Christian like myself. One who desires to understand (maybe the basics) of salvation. Churches certainly do not offer a serious basic study.

Why don’t you consider a condensed study, for many Christians like myself? Then those that wish can go further with the longer study.


Response #1: 

Have a look at this link:  Salvation: God's free gift.

Question #2: 


Back on Salvation again - Can we give a short description first which then leads to the longer one:

The Christian Sinner 1 Cor 6:11 -
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Sinners by profession (Ungodly) - ps 1:5 -
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

A Christian - We need to Believe and seek forgiveness:
When seeking forgiveness from God, it is important to know that there is a wonderful promise given in the book of John. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). God has provided a signed and sealed guarantee that "whoever" calls upon the name of the LORD, shall be saved (Romans 10:13). The one who calls upon the name of the LORD Jesus Christ and believes in Him is saved, born again, and given the gift of eternal life.

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Response #2: 

When we are born, we are born with sin natures and we all sin. This means that 1) we are dead to God as sinners, 2) we are going to die physically, 3) we will be judged and thrown into the lake of fire after death. That is a horrible fate – but God sent His Son to deliver/save us from that fate. He did so by dying for our sins on the cross (the blood of Christ; link). Hearing about this – that Christ's spiritual death has removed the sins which keep us from God, produce our physical death, and guarantee an eternity in the lake of fire – is good news! And when we respond to that good news, trusting in Jesus for eternal life, both who He is (God and man) and what He has done for us (dying for our sins) we are "saved" – which means many things as you know, but first and foremost that we are saved from the lake of fire and from a judgment of condemnation so that our physical death means nothing because we will be resurrected and live with Him in paradise forever (for the details see the link: BB 4B Soteriology).

In respect the verses you include, salvation, like sanctification (link), is described in scripture in all three of its aspects, namely, the fact of it based on history (our position in Christ by grace through faith), the eternal future of it when we are resurrected (our ultimate sinless state), and the process of it (our current experience while in this world): since we are saved/delivered positionally when we believe, but only ultimately when we are resurrected, scripture sometimes says that we "are saved/delivered" (at belief), "will be saved/delivered" (at resurrection) – and of course we are still in this world in between so the fact that we "are [now] being saved/delivered" is also found, meaning the process wherein our faith is confirmed and we respond to the Lord in growth, progress and production (ideally) rather than falling away back into unbelief (apostasy).

James 2:19 is not part of the picture. That verse merely makes the point that believing a fact is much different from accepting who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us, then putting our trust for eternal life in Him – all who do the latter will be able to show at least some small production for Him in eternity (even if it is only a tiny bit of trust and prayer, e.g.).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hi, I want to ask you, if we are saved now or after second coming of Jesus? Some verses says we are saved now, but there are verses that say we will be saved.

Response #3: 

Believers are "saved" when they put their faith in Jesus Christ for deliverance from sin and death. At that point we are "born again" and given eternal life. We are not yet experiencing that eternal life, however, and we will not experience it until we are resurrected. And God leaves us here on earth in the meantime to test the depth and quality of our faith. So scripture sometimes does speak about having been saved, being saved, and going to be saved. We have been saved (when we believed), and we have that hope as "an anchor" which secures us to heaven (Heb.6:19). We are being saved in that the Lord is bringing us safely through this world and this life in spite of all the fiery missiles of the evil one – if we are but resolved to maintain our faith in Him (1Cor.15:2; Heb.3:6; 3:14). And we shall be saved on that "day" when He calls us home or, should it be our lot to abide in this world until then, when He returns for us at the second advent. Here are some links where this threefold nature of salvation is discussed in more detail:

Saved, being saved, will be saved

The tenses of salvation

Peter #28

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Thank you. People in the OT were saved like we? Through faith? They had faith that God would send Jesus for forgiveness. Our faith is that God did send Him? So it's almost same?

Response #4: 

Yes, that is essentially the case. In the Old Testament, they (i.e., those who responded to the truth) knew they were sinners and needed God's deliverance, and the means of being saved and forgiven, the substitutionary death of the Savior, was represented in the animal sacrifices of the Law. So being saved was the same: trust in God's Substitute. However, the revelation of the truth is what is different – as it had to be different before Christ actually came in the flesh and suffered and died for all sin on the cross: they looked forward to the cross through shadows in the Old Testament, whereas today we look back to the reality of the cross and the salvation it provides. As Peter says:

(10) Even as they foretold this salvation that was to come to you, the prophets of old diligently investigated and inquired about this [gift] of grace, (11) being eager to discover the precise time the Spirit of Christ within them was signifying as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories [of salvation, among other things] that would follow [the cross]. (12) For it was revealed to them that in prophesying these things, they were not so much serving themselves as they were you – and these same things have now been proclaimed to you through those who gave you the gospel through the Holy Spirit, sent from heaven – even angels want to look into these things.
1st Peter 1:10-12

Here are some links on that with more details:

What is the Eternal Future of those who Lived before Christ?

How could the Old Testament believers be saved?

Pre-Cross Salvation

*The Gospel before the Cross (in BB 4B)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

And what about people in another country than Israel in OT times who couldn't know the true God? And what about Jesus seeing Moses and Elias? They didn't wait for judgment day?

Response #5: 

These are two separate questions. Our Lord's meeting with Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration was a preview of things to come during the Tribulation, not the resurrection of the Church. Moses' and Elijah's bodies have been uniquely preserved in heaven after their deaths in order for them to be resuscitated during the Tribulation as the two witnesses who administer the Jewish revival under the 144,000 (see the link). But they will rise in eternal bodies when we do – at our Lord's second advent return.

As to the salvation of Old Testament believers who were not Jewish, no one was Jewish before Abraham, but there were believers before Abraham. And there were gentile believers after Abraham. Many of these were brought by the Lord to/into Israel so as to gain the salvation they wanted and were willing to accept (e.g., Rahab the Canaanite, Ruth the Moabite, Uriah the Hittite, etc.). And on one occasion of which we are informed, the Lord sent Jonah to Assyria for the Assyrians to be saved (those who were willing). So while we don't know all the details of the lives of all of these people in antiquity, we do know that our Lord knows all and has always known all. Everyone of us, every spirit ever created, is put by the Lord in the right place and at the right time for him/her to be saved (if at all willing) and to grow (if at all willing). He planned your birth and life circumstances just as He has done for every single human being who has ever lived or ever will – to a degree of detail it is impossible for us to fathom at present. Once we understand something of just how "BIG" God is, all of these little problems and seeming complications vanish instantly.

"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us."
Acts 17:26-27 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Dear Robert,

Your explanation regarding millennial believers and their future state clarifies the matter.

The subject in this email addresses Peter's revelation as recorded in Acts 15:11 "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.". A mystery revealed to Paul, not known before as received from the risen Christ; "... make known the mystery of the gospel, ... (Eph. 6:19c) and Acts 20:24 refers.

Why 'salvation point of contention'? I believe that I understand that 'the gospel of the kingdom of God' and that 'the gospel of the grace of God' (Mark 1:14 and Acts 20:24 refers respectively) both have Christ as the substance for salvation. However, Christ and the disciples ministered to Jews and Paul mainly to Gentiles. Paul did minister to Jews early in his ministry. My question is: it seems as if the methodology of salvation may differ. The gospel of grace has 1 Corinthians 15: 3 - 5 as means of salvation by faith in His person and work on the cross. The gospel of the kingdom as to be proclaimed by the disciples is yet future, because they failed to or had no understanding of the Cross (Luke 18:34). In short 'the gospel of the kingdom of God' focuses on repent and be baptized ( with Matthew 28:20 ... to observe... ), whilst Paul's gospel focuses on grace (faith alone). Why Paul if the command to the disciples to take the gospel to the end of the world materialized. I believe that Paul had to 'step in' on behalf of their lack of understanding. Yet, the Jewish nation will fulfill their obligation in this regard during the millennium reign of Christ.

It seems to me that there is a 'to do' practical add on to their faith that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is their Messiah and should they believe then repentance and baptism must follow.

Faith in Him as the sent one fulfills the work of God whereby we receive eternal life as the will of God.


Response #6: 

Let me assure you that salvation has always been the same:

And [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:6 NKJV (amplified)

Abraham believed "in the Lord", trusted in Him for deliverance from sin and death. And that is what brings salvation. The Lord then was Jesus Christ and the Lord now is Jesus Christ. Moreover, Abraham believed before there were any Jews (he was only circumcised after faith as a symbol of faith; cf. Rom.4:1ff.).

And let me assure you that the method of salvation for Jew and gentile is likewise the same:

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
Romans 3:28-30 NKJV

It is true that Jews have a different background than gentiles do, and Paul spends much time throughout his epistles explaining Jews to gentiles and gentiles to Jews, weaning the one group away from insistence on the Law and the other from a too extreme anti-nomianism that would offend Jewish believers. But all these were saved, whether "by faith" or "through faith" – it is one and the same things; the prepositional phrases are varied by Paul in the verses above to make precisely the point that while it may look different it is not actually different. And if we all "knew and believed" everything in the Bible, all of its truths, we would all see it all the same way. The differentiations come from relative ignorance on both sides (whatever the sides; here Jewish vs. gentile). Hence Paul's explanations. Here are some links:

The Gospel before the Cross

Trinity in Salvation in the OT

Pre-cross Salvation

What is the Eternal Future of those who Lived before Christ?

The twelve apostles (I include Paul) are indeed a special case because they came from a Jewish background but were charged with proclaiming the gospel and establishing the Church beyond Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria throughout the whole world. That meant that they had to get to the point of "seeing it both ways", that is, of understanding everything in the Bible even as it was being completed. This took time, and we do see in Acts evidence of the steep learning curve they had to climb. Here are some links on all that:

Acts is different

Historical and Transitional Nature of Acts  

Peter's "Learning Curve" in the Time of Transition

More on the Transitions in Acts

Do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

So all animals before eaten or sacrificed must gave their necks cut? When I read verses about animals and sacrifice its sounds brutal and cruel.

Response #7:

What verses are you talking about? The Bible says to pour out the blood; it isn't particularly graphic about the process.

In any case, this is symbolic of what Christ did for us on the cross – and that is the whole point. In dying for the least of your sins or mine He suffered more than the whole human race put together – and He died for every single sin. So the fact the slaughter of animals seems terrible to watch, and it is, is meant to demonstrate to us by analogy just a very small part of what Christ had to do for us to be saved. Animals have spirits but not the image of God so that they are not condemned as people who reject Christ are.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

I mean when killing animals today (for food) we kill them quickly and then we let them bleed. But in the OT people must cut their neck and let them bleed to death. So its sounds painful for them but I don't know what process is better.

Animals have souls? I thought only humans did.

Response #8: 

There's no prohibition in scripture as far as I can see which conflicts with present practice in slaughtering animals (i.e., today they are knocked on the head then have their throats cut). The point is not to be cruel to animals (the Law specifically prohibits cruelty; e.g., Deut.25:4); the point is to prevent the blood remaining in the flesh when it is eaten. Many gentile nations had the practice of deliberately retaining the blood in the flesh, but this confused the symbolism in the animal sacrifices of the Law, because the blood is a symbol of Christ's work, His spiritual death whereby He died for all our sins that we might be saved (link).

Animals and human beings have spirits (Eccl.3:21; cf. Ps.104:29).

"Souls" are "hearts", the internal us – it's not some "thing" we have; the "soul/heart" is where the spirit and body meet (see the link).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Thank you; so you want to say animals are similar like us? They know about themselves?

Response #9: 

No, they don't have the image of God, so they don't have free will as we have it; they don't have self-consciousness as we have it, nor self-determination. But they do have spirits (link). The involuntary sacrifice of the animal having its literal blood spilled teaches the voluntary sacrifice of our Lord who bore our sins in His body and took them out of the way that we might be saved (that is "the blood of Christ"; see the link).

Question #10: 

Hi, I have question: what about people who lived before Jesus or had no chance to hear the gospel? Like babies.

Response #10: 

Anyone who dies without having a chance to express their choice for or against God, as in the case of those who die before this "age of accountability" or else those who are mentally deficient, are saved automatically: Jesus died for their sins and they neither rejected Him nor had the opportunity of refusing to accept Him (see the link).

As to those who lived before the cross, ever since the Lord provided the coats of skin for Adam and Eve (the "protoevangelium"; link), and since Abel made animal sacrifices to God, the Lord has used this symbol of animal sacrifice to foreshadow the cross. All history before Calvary looks forward to it through these shadow-teachings; all history afterwards looks back to it with a clear view of what happened: Jesus actually having born our sins in His body on the cross (2Cor.5:21; 1Pet.2:24). The cross is the great dividing point in human history. But salvation has always been the same. Those who wanted to be saved before the cross looked forward in faith to the Substitute that God would provide to die for their sins; those who have wanted to be saved afterwards have the actual Son of God who has now actually died for them to receive as their object of faith.

You have to keep in mind that God has everything planned. He has never let a single person perish for lack of information. This is a fallacy which many unbelievers in their ignorance of the greatness and majesty of our Lord are keen to throw at believers. But in doing so they admit that they themselves have in fact "heard" and so are without excuse. And it turns out that all unbelievers will be without excuse, regardless of where they lived or when. If they were the least bit interested in being saved, God provided the means. He always has, and He always will.

If you are interested in more details on this, please see the following links:

The mentally deficient are saved.

Salvation of those not able to understand the gospel

God has not forgotten anyone in respect of salvation

Natural Revelation and Accountability

The gospel prior to Christ

Are Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel Lost?

God is bigger than you think.

The justice of God and the heathen

From every tribe, people, language and nation

Old Testament salvation

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Hi Bob,

Occasionally, people who believe that God desires all to be saved point to the verse Ezekiel 18:32

"For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!" (Ezekiel 18:33)

However, that is not what the verse is saying. The verse is saying that the disobedience and death of the wicked makes God angry, with the effect that he is displeased as a result. It does not say that he wants to save them.


Response #11: 

Of course God doesn't actually get angry (see the link: anthropopathism). Also, this verse says not that He is angry but that He "takes no pleasure in" the death of the wicked – it can't really be turned round the other way.

So I do use this verse as clear evidence that God wants all to be saved (cf. Jn.3:17) – and we know is true since He is love and since this truth is also confirmed in many other passages (Matt.18:14; Jn.12:47; 1Tim.2:4; 2Tim.2:24-26; 2Pet.3:9). After all, what is the alternative to this eventuality in which He takes no pleasure but that they might repent so as to live? Jesus paid the price for everyone so everyone could be saved; having already paid the price for them – and what a price! – how would the Father not want the unbeliever to be saved? He does . . . but all have free will and the opportunity to reject an eternity with Him.

In Jesus Christ who died for the sins of us all.

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hi Bob,

You said that unbelievers if they were given an unlimited number of chances would make the same choice. However, I found a verse in the Gospels that may contradict that. Here:

"And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day."
(Matthew 11:23)

Jesus Christ said that if the residents of Sodom had seen his miracles, they would have become believers. So it might be possible that those who do not believe would have believed if they were given a second chance, but God in his sovereignty chose not to.

Response #12: 

Not at all. This is a contrary to fact condition (protasis: aorist indicative / apodosis: aorist indicative with the particle an). Similar to "if you were born in Beijing, you would have learned how to speak Chinese" – but you were not born in Beijing. So the circumstance does not actually apply. For that circumstance to have applied, moreover, many other things would have to have been changed in the plan of God. But there is only one plan of God. So this statement by our Lord exposes the incredible hardness of heart of the Jewish people of that time – the "this generation" which is still in place even today (link) – towards accepting Him. So hardened are they in fact, that they are even worse than the people of Sodom who, if they had been the chosen people, would have reacted to the Messiah differently. But they were not for many reasons and for many reasons this all could not happen and did not happen – the whole plan of God would have to have changed for that to happen.

That is the mistake that people often make with this and similar passages. One has to understand that God is not reacting to events, that He doesn't decide to do one thing today and another tomorrow based upon how we behave – or based on anything else. Everything has already been decreed. In this perfect plan, things happen as they happen, with the free will of every one of us who possesses the image of God perfectly taken into account, and, most significantly of all, with Christ (now) having already died for the specific sins we actually did commit (Himself having been committed to do so even before He did so).

So the comparison is valid without at the same time admitting of God having made a mistake in how He set things up. And, perfect that He is, we know that He set things up perfectly. If unbelievers might actually be wooed away from unbelief by some change of circumstance, He knew that – and provided for that. But being "who we are" is something that cannot be changed, and our free will is the basis of that. Consider that the fallen angels have been in a state of rebellion for eons, and even the judgment on the universe, the re-creation of earth, the creation of mankind, and everything that has happened since has not changed the allegiance of a single one.

Similarly, unbelievers are not destined to hell but have chosen for it resolutely – or at least have chosen against having any relationship with God even at His own ineffable cost and even given the consequences of such stubbornness. What life does is provide a fair demonstration of all this (namely, that we are choosing freely based upon who we are) in each individual case, longer for some, shorter for others, with all of us having a period of proving less than the angels but more than sufficient to demonstrate that we actually have made these choices for ourselves from the heart. I would imagine that there will be all manner of excuses given before the Great White Throne, but I also know that the Lord will have no difficultly whatsoever in showing that no change of circumstance will / would have made any difference concerning this most fundamental choice.

In fact, the people of Sodom did not repent; if they had been given miracles of the sort done by our Lord in Judea and Galilee, it might have perhaps constituted an unfair pressure on their free will. After all, without supernatural hardening as in the case of the Pharaoh of the exodus, there comes a point for human beings where the demonstration of divine power is so intense that free will is essentially removed from the equation. Given circumstances wherein they were genuinely free to choose, the Sodomites chose to reject God. So did our Lord's generation – but in their case they did so even in the face of undeniable proof that He was/is the Messiah. That is the truly amazing thing about all this, and goes to show the incredible hardness we are dealing with here, a hardness capable of resisting pressures which would have "flipped" notoriously and outrageously sinful others (even against their will).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

My friend says: all unbelievers and people who live before Jesus get a chance to repent in the time of the millennium.

Response #13: 

People can say anything they please. But that doesn't make it true.

Scripture is very clear that God knows who wants to have a relationship with Him and who does not; all who do, receive the truth they need. Those who don't, don't – or if even they are given the truth but reject it, then it doesn't make any difference to their eternal situation.

Let's be clear about the resurrection (link): the Church (believers from Adam and Eve until the second advent) are resurrected at Christ's return. Millennial believers are resurrected at the end of history; unbelievers are the last to be resurrected . . . so as to be judged and cast into the lake of fire (see the link: "The Last Judgment").. But no one is going to be "resuscitated" in the Millennium for a second chance. One chance at life is all we get:

(27) And inasmuch as it is ordained for (unbelieving) mankind to die once (i.e., the first, "physical" death), and after this [face] judgment (i.e., “the second death”; cf. Rev.2:11; 20:6; 20:14-15), (28) so Christ having been offered up once to bear the sins of many will appear without [any need to bear] a sin second time unto those who are awaiting salvation (i.e., believers).
Hebrews 9:27-28

And one life is all we need to demonstrate to ourselves and to all what it was we really wanted: God or no God. All unbelievers would always choose to reject Christ (or to refuse to accept Him), even if they had a thousand life times and a thousand chances. God has set all this up very efficiently . . . in fact perfectly (no surprise) so as to allow each person to determine where he/she wants to spend eternity: with God or without God (those are the only two choices). So there is no need of second chances: people "are who they are" by their own free will choice, and, as long as that choice is not placed under duress (so as to take away the freedom of the choice), would always choose the same way, not matter how many "second chances" they were given.

I'll give you the key link on all this again: "God's plan to save you".

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Hello Professor,

I hope that you are having a blessed day. I have a quick question that I was presented with by someone. They asked me, how can someone that's blind, deaf, and mute get saved? Personally I've never met anyone like that so I'm stumped.

Response #14: 

I don't know about the mute part, but Helen Keller was famously blind and deaf, but learned (with the help of a dedicated teacher) to communicate, and went on to be an author, lecturer and political activist. Whether or not she was saved is another question. Someone in that or a similar situation without the benefit of a teacher to accomplish the same sort of thing HK did would clearly have a hard time hearing the gospel – but nothing is impossible with God. What He did for this famous woman He could certainly cause to have done for anyone in a similar situation whom He knew wanted to have the truth (I'm not sure HK was a believer; if not, she'd have been better off not receiving this "blessing", even if that is not the way the world sees things).

That is the key, namely, our desire for the truth. God is not under any obligation to provide the truth to those who have no use for it, and He certainly knows who does and who doesn't want Jesus Christ. In fact, we may intuit that a good deal of our life circumstances have to do with our free will known by Him ahead of time. Someone born in South America before the west discovered it would not seem to have had a chance to have heard the gospel. However, it has to be taken into account that 1) God knew about the person's free will before He created his/her spirit at birth in that time and place; 2) if said person died before reaching the age of accountability even so said person was automatically saved (cf. Rev.5:9); 3) there are many things which have happened in history which are not known to us – and certainly God is capable of doing things in supernatural ways we can't even imagine. The one thing I know for certain – based upon His perfect character – is that God has never allowed anyone to perish eternally for lack of information. The only people in hell are those who wanted to be there – that is to say, they didn't want to share the universe with God at any price (so that is where they end up as a result).

Please see the links:

What about those who've never heard the gospel?

Natural Revelation

Proving the existence of God

Natural and Special Revelation

*Natural Revelation and Accountability (in BB 4B)

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 


Sorry to bother you - I have it in my heart to develop some cards to leave at coffee shops etc. directed at those who may have thought or never thought about Christ or new Christians. "small tent cards” are available at Avery. They are like two business cards attached on the side then folded - giving space for four messages. I am working on a list - not deep - for People that are new to Christ or interested . Something like this - Maybe like an introduction - then dig deeper themselves

I am working on an attritional list - walk - works - Kingdom - Faith. We will see how and if I am led.

We are saved by faith.
We Need To
Believe the Gospel
Seek Repentance
Receive the Holy Spirit
Pray and invite Jesus to come into your life

For God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life
John 3:16

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say
to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God.”
John 3:3

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has
come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the
forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed,
you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 1:13

We receive the Holy Spirit by simply receiving the Lord
Jesus Christ as our Savior When do we receive the
Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit becomes our permanent
possession the moment we believe.
(John 3:5-16).


Response #15: 

My forte is not evangelism or apologetics, so please read what I write here with that in mind. Also, everyone is called to the work of the Kingdom by the Lord – once they reach a point of spiritual maturity so as to be capable of truly helping others – according the gifts they have been given by the Spirit and into particular ministries which the Father has assigned (1Cor.12:4-6). We work for the Lord, and to the Lord we answer, not to others who may or may not be free with their advice.

First, I think it's a wonderful idea (for what that is worth).

Second, scripture quotations on their own (without editorial headlines) would be my preference. Why? Because people tend to look only at headlines (which they can't do if there are none), and not at the denser text following – but if there is only a Bible verse and they read that, well, they're getting the actual truth; also, Bible verses such as the one's you've put here contain a lot of information, a lot of truth, whereas a headline will seem to limit what a person should do with / think about that truth.

Third, I suppose there's nothing wrong with "inviting Jesus to come into your life" – but I don't find that phrasing in the Bible. Especially for those in the early stages – either of coming to Christ in the first place or coming back to Him for those who have strayed – helping them to keep as close to the wording of the scriptures themselves as possible would be my choice.

Fourth, so when you say "We Need To Believe the Gospel, Seek Repentance, Receive the Holy Spirit", let me point out that in terms of the way in which the Bible mostly phrases it we need to "repent" and "believe in Christ" (which things are two sides of the same coin: turning away from the world/sin/self and toward the Lord Jesus Christ / the truth / salvation by grace through faith in Him) after which we will automatically "receive the Holy Spirit" (e.g., Rom.8:9).

However, I am reluctant to use the word "repent" without any explanation, because in our culture it has come to be loaded down with many extra-biblical connotations. In scripture it means to "change directions mentally" away from the world, away from sin, and away from self so as to turn to God instead (see the link), and that is necessary for the unbeliever to do to then put genuine trust in Christ and His work on the cross for salvation – but if a person does put genuine trust in Christ for salvation, then ipso facto it is the case that he/she has had a prior change of heart about their path and its inevitable result in order to do so. So these two things are, as mentioned, two sides of the same coin, and that is why they are sometimes conjoined as at e.g. Mark 1:15 (which you cite). But if an unbeliever is led to think that some sort of emotional display or demonstration of guilt is a prerequisite to being saved, we are in danger of turning grace into legalism, and no one can be saved if they think they are doing something themselves (as in feeling guilty, crying, weeping, wailing, flagellating themselves physically or merely emotionally) so as to be "properly repentant" in order to be saved.

Mark 1:15 is problematic to use as a salvation verse for a number of other reasons. First, because our Lord Jesus Christ took pains not to make Himself obvious as the Messiah by proclaiming Himself as such overtly. That is the reason why Christ says in the verse "believe in the good news" rather than "believe in Me", although He is the good news. Not making that critical point clear can confuse the whole issue. This verse represents what the Lord said to contemporary Israelites who, though they were "His own", yet "did not receive Him" (Jn.1:11). In other words, the people Christ was preaching too had the status of "believers who had strayed from the Lord" since they belonged to Israel. For this important reason, even though most of our Lord's contemporaries had never believed, still, because of their membership in the chosen nation of God on the cusp of the coming of the Kingdom ("the Kingdom of God is at hand" in the first half of the verse) – which would have received the Messiah's kingdom, had its citizens responded properly – they are treated as believers who need to repent and come back rather than unbelievers who have never believed (this also explains the uniqueness of John's water-baptism, by the way). This is a very long way of saying that I find Acts 16:31, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved", to be a better choice.

Helping believers get serious is a different "problem" entirely. This is the era of Laodicea and lukewarmness is the order of the day. But just as the low percentage of success in evangelism does not negate its worth – the angels rejoice over a single person who repents/believes – so also in "evangelizing" for spiritual growth. In my estimation, if one is doing so they need to point the person/persons being urged to take the truth seriously into a good direction. I'm more than happy to have you point them to Ichthys! One thing I can say about this is that I expect many who are lukewarm now to become red hot once the Tribulation begins. One third of the Church is prophesied to fall away under the pressure of that terrible time, it is true, but the other two thirds will make it through, either through being martyred – which takes great faith and much truth to endure – or surviving until the Lord's return – also impossible without a deep faith and a more than superficial understanding of the Bible's truths. So there will be much work for us all to do once "the balloon goes up", and anything we can do to start the process early is an entirely good thing.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Thanks Bob,

Great response - Lots to ponder over - I meet with 5 guys each week and I do not plan to do this quickly if at all. My main frustration is that the church (building) focuses on the second commandment and not the first. (Matthew 22:37-39)

I was going to try and interest a new Christian or one just thinking about it. Not to get too wordy - After reading your response - I may need more words and not cover so many items on the card. Maybe add one on Eschatology that can introduce the meaning on one card - for more info go to

Response #16: 

Feel free to write me any time!

Best wishes with this ministry.

Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
John 4:35b NASB

And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
Luke 10:2 NASB

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17: 


I am still working on the folded card idea - 4 sides 3-1/2 x 2) This is the way it would be read - Trying to just ask them to read enough to hope they will want to learn more. Next step could be to give them the bible verses that have been listed on the card - then ? I am not a scholar - just trying to get them to open the door. Open to suggestions of specific wording

After becoming a Christian, the greatest thing you can
do for another person is to help them know Christ. But
how shall they ask Him to save them unless they believe
in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have
never heard about Him? And how can they hear about
Him unless someone tells them?”

God loves you. “Anyone who calls upon the name of
the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13,14, John 3:16;
Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-7.

inside top
Man is sinful. (Romans 3:23) We deserve separation
from God for our sins, no matter what they are:
“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23)

Christ paid for our sins. Without the death of Christ
there would be no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 7:27;
1 Peter 2:24). Christ bore the penalty for our sins
(1 Timothy 1:15). He is the only way to God: “I am
the way and the truth and the life. No one comes
to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

inside bottom
Christ was resurrected from the dead. Because of
the resurrection of Christ, we celebrate an empty
tomb. Without the resurrection, our faith would be
worthless (1 Corinthians 15:13-14,17).

We must respond by faith in order to have eternal life.
In salvation, I know that Jesus is God, that I am a
sinner, that He died in payment for my sins, and then
I accept His payment for my sins. I am accepting the
gift of eternal life, which I have not earned and do not
deserve, from a God who make us and chose to love
us even though it cost Him His Son (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But make sure that in your hearts you
honor Christ as Lord. Always be ready
to give an answer to anyone who asks
you about the hope you have. Be ready
to give the reason for it. But do it gently
and with respect. 1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)

John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 5:8
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 2:4-7
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Romans 10:13-14
13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”[a]
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Romans 3:23
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 7:27
27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

1 Peter 2:24
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

1 Timothy 1:15
15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

John 14:6
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

1 Corinthians 15:13
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.

1 Corinthians 15:14
14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

1 Corinthians 15:17
17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

1 Peter 3:15
15 But sanctify the Lord God[a] in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

Response #17:

These are quite good (in my opinion)!

A couple of small points:

1) "I know that Jesus is God": I suggest to add "as well as a genuine human being" or similar language.

2) "But make sure that in your hearts you honor Christ as Lord.": I guess I know more or less what you mean by this, but it's very likely that a person who is not a believer will not know what you mean by this; it's usually a mistake, in my opinion, to use phrases and concepts that are not directly from the Bible [1Pet.3:15 is directed to believers and there is no "as" present in the Greek], especially if the phrases are open to interpretation as this one surely is; if I'm not mistaken, evangelicals started saying things like this after WWII when they weren't sure – for whatever reason – about the "actual" salvation of supposed converts. That may be an issue, but I don't think statements like this are the way to solve it; happy to discuss. N.b., there is no such thing as "accepting Christ" but not being saved because of "not accepting Him as Lord" – either a person is a believer or not (link).

I know that the Lord honors you godly purpose of your heart and your hard work in Jesus Christ.

In Him.

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hi Bob,

Several weeks ago I had Japanese lessons with a woman and the topic of religion came up. She said that she, like most Japanese people, was an atheist and didn't believe in God. So I decided to explain to her that it is wise to believe in God. I talked to her yesterday and she is attending a local mixed Korean-Japanese church and is starting to believe in God.

It's rather surprising that Japan is still considered an "unreached" country despite the fact that so many people commute to it and it's a developed country at least on par with Canada or Germany. And it's not as if the mission ground is unfertile: there are lots of "low-hanging fruit" that just need someone to speak the Gospel to them.

Response #18: 

Good for you, Tom!

The fruit is only "low hanging" for those who are able and willing to pick it.

I keep you in prayer daily for the development of your ministry.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

"Where did I leave my keys?"

If you are blessed with a spouse, you can expect the reply "Well, where did you leave them?' As you go through where you've been, you find the unfinished coffee from yesterday, your reading glasses, the barbeque chicken coupon you bought from the scouts (which was for last week!), only to finally find your keys where you left them; in the ignition of the car you forgot to lock last night. Remembering something, can lead you down the unsettling path of 'did I ever know?' finding yourself at the lonely crossroads of 'humility' and 'futility'. At the robe of our Savior or at the mercy of Satan.

Today, reach out and encourage a brother or sister by sharing together the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These are days of distraction, and it has become increasingly easy to misplace your 'Keys'.

Response #19: 


Question #20: 

Hi Bob,

Thanks and I will check out the MP3 audio files. Two of my best friends passed away recently and are now in heaven. Both of them were the same age as I am. This caused me to focus on eternity:

Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.
CT Studd

I had to postpone my last mission trip overseas. Attached is the newsletter.

God's grace and strength for you,

Response #20: 

I'm sorry to hear your sad news. Thanks for the quote – I'd heard it (and used it) before, but I didn't know the provenance.

Sorry also to hear of your medical problems. It seems the older we get, the more such baggage we pick up. I'm the same age and having some "issues" myself – but we endeavor to persevere even so. Here's hoping (and praying) that you are feeling better soon and are able to get back out in the field for Church of Jesus Christ.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

This is not mine, but rather http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/invictus-redeemed

Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be,
For Christ - the Conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under the rule which men call chance,
My head, with joy, is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears,
That Life with Him and His the Aid,
That, spite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and will keep me unafraid.

I have no fear though straight the gate:
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate.
God is the Captain of my soul.

Response #21: 

The original on which this is based is so anti-God and folly-filled, giving false comfort to the heart of unbelief, that this new one is a nice correction.



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