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Salvation, the Gospel, and Unbelief IV

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Question #1: 

When Paul commanded Timothy to make prayers for all people, did he command Timothy to pray for every single individual (over ten million) of the genus Homo sapiens sapiens that was living at the time?

Of course not!

Therefore it is false to interpret "God wants all men to be saved" as meaning God wants every member of Homo sapiens sapiens to be saved. Rather, Paul is saying that God wants all kinds of people to be saved

Response #1: 

The fly in the ointment is the nature of the comparison: Timothy is a human being; God is God. So what Timothy is encouraged to do is not equivalent or truly comparable to what God desires to do. More could be said, but that should suffice: God DOES want all to be saved (Ezek.18:23; Matt.18:14; Jn.3:17; 12:47; 1Tim.2:4; 2Tim.2:24-26; 2Pet.3:9), but He has given us free will to decide whether or not we want to be. Sadly, in the history of mankind those who are willing to submit to Him to accept the Gift of Jesus Christ has been remarkable small.

Hope you are doing well!

Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

I was also thinking about "all kinds." Could God save all kinds of people without committing injustice? All kinds, including psychopaths, narcissists, corpse-in-jackboots fascists, and betrayers?

Response #2: 

Nothing is impossible for God and Jesus died for all. Here is what I read in scripture:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.
1st Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV

The Lord is our righteousness; we are justified by faith in Him and God the Father is just to save us because Jesus paid the price for it all.

Of course, once saved, we are responsible to the Lord NOT to be "that kind" any longer (Ps.85:8b).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I don't know if you remember me or not. I know it's been a while .I'm emailing you because I've been going through some things lately. And I honestly don't know how to make sense of it. I've been completely brought to my knees by this situation. Recently, my family was hit pretty hard with two deaths. [details omitted]

I had drifted pretty far, Dr. Luginbill. To the point where I'd kind of consider myself an agnostic. But now that this has happened, I have wanted so badly for there to be a God. For there to be a God, and for me to be acceptable to him. I want it to be real. I want to be saved. And I want my entire family to be saved. I want there to be a God above all other wants that exist in the world. But it feels too good to be true. I've walked so far away, I don't know what or how I really believed. I want to know it and believe it to be true. But I'm so scared to get my hopes up. I don't want false hope. I'm too afraid to even think it .I want to come back. But it feels like wanting to return to your home, and finding that's it's been burned down. I don't know if there's anything left for me. I don't know if it's true.

I don't know what else to say besides this Dr. Luginbill.

Thank you for listening,

Response #3: 

While I'm glad to hear from you I'm very sorry to hear your sad family news. I can well imagine how bereaved you are by this double tragedy. I have lost people close to me (my mom this past January), but, blessedly, in those cases where the loss was heavily felt, they were all believers in Jesus Christ. When we lose someone who is a believer, we grieve – even our Lord Jesus wept at Lazarus' death so there is nothing wrong with normal grief – but "not as those who have no hope" (1Thes.4:13). We know for an absolute certainly by faith that they are with the Lord and no longer have any troubles or sorrows whatever – and that is "better by far" than the troubles we are still experiencing in this life (Phil.1:23; Rev.21:4).

"And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ "But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. ‘And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ "
Luke 15:21-24 NKJV

There is "more joy in heaven" over one person who comes back to the Lord than over ninety nine who don't need to come back from that "far country" (Lk.15:7). The Lord is happy to have you back . . . if you are willing to come back. I have to say that in my own youth, very many years ago now, I, like many believers, took a long journey to a "far country", far, far away from the Lord. The day came when in a flash He confronted me with the folly of my actions and shook me awake in an instant. In shock, I repented of my foolishness and began the journey back to Him immediately. It took quite a while get all the way back to the "high road to Zion", and it is not as if I didn't bump down into the ditch on the side of the road a few times on this journey, but turning around for me was night and day – as I confronted the abyss that was the alternative. I have never regretted turning around and coming back. My only regrets have to do with not doing so sooner and more emphatically.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."
Matthew 13:44 NKJV

Nothing can be compared to salvation. Salvation is everything – and everything else is nothing. As in the parable, if we could imagine the "greatest thing in the world", and had the opportunity of attaining this "greatest thing", certainly we would spare no expense, energy or effort to get it. But the kingdom of heaven, salvation, is more valuable than all the treasures of this world. Nothing can compare to the bliss of life eternal in the New Jerusalem face to face with the dear Lord who paid for all of our sins to save us from death and damnation. We truly have no idea at present how wonderful the other side is going to be. But we know that the Lord told us the truth: He went ahead of us to prepare a place for us to be with Him forever (Jn.14:1-3).

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?
Matthew 16:26 RSV

Nothing in this world is worth losing one's chance at eternal life. Even if a person could gain the whole world, the whole universe, he/she would have it for only a very short time – because everyone dies physically sooner or later, and the time goes by faster and faster with every passing year (trust me on this one). But if we are believers in Jesus Christ, even if we have little in this world besides trouble, we can rest in the peace of a blissful eternity where all of our tears and sorrows will be submerged in glory and joy beyond present imagination. That is what we hope for – hope in the biblical sense of absolute confidence that God has not lied to us in His Word but has always told us only the truth. We will have eternal bodies which will never know pain or hardship again. We will have sweet fellowship with our dear brothers and sisters in the Church with no sin or guilt or rancor ever again. We will have a place in the New Jerusalem, the right to the tree of life and the waters of life, and access to glories untold and as yet unwritten in the new heavens and the new earth as we enjoy "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1Cor.2:9). And we will bask in the glory of the Lord we love more than life forevermore.

If your relatives were believers, then they are experiencing some of the firstfruits of these things even now. We grieve for the loss of those we love, but in the case of believers we rejoice that they are out of the trouble of this world and even now before the resurrection enjoying blessings beyond the best of what this corrupt world has to offer.

I have been praying for you every day. You know the Lord loves you – He died for every single sin you have ever committed or ever will, the least of which sacrifice is "bigger" than the universe. He wants you back, and He is waiting with open arms.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I hope you've been well since we last spoke. I had my surgery. It went well. I was just a little sore the next few days. I've been so stressed and anxious lately. I know I say that in every email, but it's true. I just feel so desperate. I've been reading passages in my bible. I got so upset last night, it was the only thing that would calm down. It did remind me that going to God was the only thing that ever provided me with real comfort. Part of me misses being as devoted and unwavering as I was before. I was so sure. I want to get back to that. But I have serious doubts. I know that's not a thing you want to hear from a supposed believer. I just don't know how to help myself.


Response #4: 

I'm relieved to hear that your surgery went well, and I do hope to hear that there are no complications and that this is the end of it. I know it does take a little while to recover from procedures like this so I'll keep you in my prayers for that as well.

I'm also happy to hear that the experience has caused you to remember how good the Lord is – and how good it is to be close to Him, good in every way. One thing I can tell you about that is that instead of theorizing about it the best thing is just to keep reading your Bible and also to keep accessing a good source of Bible teaching, whether a local church where that is the priority or reading or online or wherever you find something that meets your needs. Everyone has doubts – about all kinds of things. But that is just a function of where we are in our journey closer to Him, and the solution is always to get closer to Him – and that only happens through paying attention to and believing the truth.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord, the only Savior.

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I've been going through a really rough time lately, and I won't get into it right now, but suffice to say that He's finally broken me. I can't do it anymore. For so long I've been in-between about God. It's like, I never quite stopped believing. But I put God on the back burner. I would only read my Bible a little sometimes before bed. I'd say a prayer at night, supposedly out of habit. I even went so far as to call myself an agnostic, meaning I just didn't know. But now, I feel compelled to come back. I've been having such a hard time lately. In an instant, I felt the feeling of having faith in God surge within me. It felt familiar, and new at the same time. And I immediately had the knowledge that God is King, and I had come back to Him. And it felt so good. It felt like a weight off. I know that I need my church. I need support and love from my church family. I need to read my Bible, and hear the word of God. And I need God. I can't be away from Him. I realized all of this in an instant. I was at my lowest point, and it came to me. I'm not trying to claim that I had some sort of mystical experience. I don't know if it was me going back to God, or God pulling me. All I know is that I had lost my faith, I was in so much pain emotionally that deep within me I said there was no God, and now I have it again.

Thank you,

Response #5: 

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to hear that you are purposing to return to the Lord with all your heart! This is a real answer to prayer!

I very much encourage you to begin some serious Bible study along with your Bible reading every day and your prayer time with Him. It's the foundation of all spiritual growth, and, while it may seem to be "not so important" missing one day, missing day after day always results in spiritual decline – which is what missing one day often results in.

Or as the famous violinist Jascha Heifetz used to say about missing practice: "If I miss one day, I know it; if I miss two days, my orchestra knows it; if I miss three days, everybody knows it".

Keeping you in my prayers for a speedy recovery and a blessed renewal of your walk with our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this there is not only great joy and peace, but eternal reward that eclipses the best of what this temporary world has to offer to an infinite degree.

Let me know how it goes – keeping you in prayer daily.

In Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

It is nice for me to be back, isn't it? If nothing else, it's one less thing for me to worry about. When you're going through such a hard time, the last thing you want to wrestle with is your faith. I'm glad I finally gave up the struggle and came back. I've been put through an emotional wringer. I had to come back. I have to believe that the God of the Bible is real and true, because the alternative is unacceptable. I don't know how that sounds, but it's the truth. My faith in God is sometimes the only light in my dark days. I don't have any hope apart from God. And I know I couldn't make it without believing in God. Life is hard enough, but the thought of having to go on without the God that I know is unbearable. I'm also still reading up on the Bible, and more importantly, reading the Bible. I feel like my old self again, sometimes. I don't remember if I told you about the Mormons that came by. I still kind of keep in touch with them. Not because I believe them or anything. I think I just like being in the company of other young people who are devout. But that's about all from me. I hope you're doing well and everything is going according to plan for you. And I hope you're still growing in your walk with Christ and that you're not weary of it.


Response #6: 

I'm thrilled that you have come to see that the Lord is the only way. Many of us have had this same experience. This is why the Lord has worked out "life" the way He has worked it out in the perfect plan. It shows us – and everyone else – who we really are and what we really want more than anything else, confirming believers and refuting unbelievers.

Keep moving towards the light of the truth, my friend, and do feel free to write me any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.
p.s., I've known some fine Mormons; but just as I've known many fine Roman Catholics (some of whom were as you say "devout"), they are not saved since in both cases we have a religion of works absent grace – and only by grace are we saved (Eph.2:8-9).

Question #7: 


I really hope you're doing well. I know it's been a while. I would like to find a church home. I've been struggling lately. Not as much as I have been in the past, but things could be better. I'm recognizing that I need the support of a church family. I really do need people to lean on. It's been years since I've been in church. I don't know where to start. I want God to lead me to the right one.

On a side note, I've been experiencing a spike in anxiety lately. It's turning into a thorn in my side. I think it might be that once you've had cancer, the fear never really goes away. Whenever I even hear the word cancer my heart jumps out of my chest. I'm deathly afraid of being diagnosed with cancer again. I'm afraid that God will allow me to get cancer again because He knows it's a fear of mine. He knows it's a weak spot, and I'm afraid He'll press right there. I'm afraid to be tested like that.

How have you been since your mother passed? I hope you're dealing with the grief well. And hopefully I'm not making it worse by bringing it up. I think that you're blessed though. I'm guessing that your mother was a good age. It was how it should be. Parents shouldn't have to bury their kids. I'm glad you got to keep your mother to old age. And I'm glad that your faith is strong and you have Christ. People who aren't believers have no hope at all. They can get by, but it's cold comfort. I know because I've been having doubts lately. Or rather, I had kind of walked away. And now I would like to make my way back. When I think about my mother having to bury me, and this being all I have in this universe and eternity, it grips me with a deep existential fear. I desperately want to believe. But these doubts plague me. I know I sound like a ball of contradictions.


Response #7:

I think many people have fear of disease and fear of death. It's rational, after all -- for those who are not believers in Jesus Christ. People whose "portion is in this life" really ought to be afraid, because there is nothing but judgment staring them in the face on account of their rejection of Jesus Christ.

But we have a better hope, after all. For us, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil.1:21), and inasmuch as we hate this world, we only bear up with being in it because that is what our Master wants as long as He leaves us here. So like Paul at the cited passage, we don't know what we should choose: staying in the world gives us opportunities to fill our thesaurus with eternal reward by helping our brothers and sisters (so it is a blessing on two counts for us and for them), but being taken home to be with the Lord is so much "better by far" (Phil.1:23).

Of course, this is the perspective of the mature believer who is walking closely with Christ and who has passed the tests of spiritual maturity. It is certainly true that many and probably most Christians in the world today behave little better than unbelievers. But such spiritual immaturity is a dangerous place to be, and all the more so considering that we are on the cusp of the Tribulation where the faith of all believers will be tested as never before. Those who are prepared will come through with flying colors and great rewards, but a third of the Church is prophesied to fall away in the Great Apostasy. So nothing is more important that pushing forward spiritually and setting ourselves to draw closer to Jesus day by day.

I'm very happy to hear that you are committing yourself to doing just that, my friend. Such has been my prayer for a long time now.

Please know that you are in my prayers daily – and do feel free to write me any time.

In Jesus Christ who is our life, now and forevermore.

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

You sound like you're doing very well. That makes me happy. Thank you for praying for me. I feel that it really does make a difference.

I've decided to go back to my old church. I don't know if I'll make it my permanent home, but I want to try it out again. I was a different person back then. I honestly don't think I gave it a fair shake. I wasn't as concerned with God as I should have been. I was more concerned with religion and doctrine, and being right. I was judgmental, and I had no right to be. I thought I was pretty clever at the time, but my heart wasn't in the right place.

In some ways, it feels like I'm starting all over again. A little baby in the faith. I don't begrudge it though. I'm happy and contented to be reduced to the level of not knowing anything but that Jesus died on the cross and I'm saved. All of the excess boiled off, and I'm left with this little nugget of Truth. I'm happy to have something so simple. I still drive myself crazy with worry thinking about all the possibilities in my future. But I feel that if I can just hold on to the fact that God died for me and it's finished, that it'll all come out in the wash.


Response #8: 

I'm doing fairly well and I'm VERY pleased that you are coming back to the Lord! That has been my prayer for you for a very long time now.

I don't believe in religion, and most "doctrine" as taught in denominations is flawed. But the truth of the Word of God is the believer's spiritual life-blood. So while I do hope that this return to your old church will be a blessing to you in every way, everything always does come down to the truth. Yes, the truth of who Jesus is, God become man as well, and what He did for us, dying in the darkness in expiation of everyone of our sins, is the rock upon which everything else is built, just as He is the Rock of all creation; but that is the start point, not the end point.

To be frank, while we have not communicated that much in the last couple of years, I had the impression that the "problem" was not too much "religion and doctrine", but a preference for political engagement over the truth of the Word. Many Christians today have gotten themselves stuck in the quicksand of politics, and it never ends well. What all political groups and movements and causes have in common is that they are jealous idols that will not permit or brook any compromise, setting those who fall in with them at the throats of those on the other side. That is not Jesus Christ. He wants all to be saved, and then to serve Him. And His Kingdom is not of this world. That is the Kingdom we have been called to serve, and the way to do so is always by learning the truth, walking in the truth, and helping others do the same.

You are always welcome at Ichthys, my friend, and do feel free to write me back any time!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

I don't understand why-- in just a few words-- you won't self-identify with regard to whether you believe in "once saved, always saved," or conditional (including lose-able) justification. And you needn't assume any particular predisposition of my own with regard to this.

Response #9: 

I disagree with both OSAS and "pins and needles salvation"; all who believe are saved (secure through faith: 1Pet.1:5); but only believers are saved (insecure if faith lapses entirely: Lk.8:13). It's a question of maintaining faith firm until the end. Apostasy is not something that happens accidentally or overnight, but it does happen (please see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death"). So here is a case where a label would be misleading and only a detailed explanation will do – there are many such at the site; to get both sides of the perspective you might try "Three False Doctrines which Threaten Faith" and "No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation".

Question #10: 


I love your research and teachings of Scripture! Wow!!! It is so biblically clear and sound. That's becoming very rare today. I have a question about that parable of the Prodigal Son. There seems to be two different viewpoints of this parable. One teaching is that the Prodigal Son was never saved. He was lost. And the older son, represented the religious Pharisees. The other teaching says that he was a backslider that came back home to his father. Which one is true? Is this a story about a sinner or a backslider returning to his faith who lost his way? I would love to get your viewpoint on this parable. Thank you so much! I hope to hear from you soon.

Response #10: 

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for your encouraging comments.

As to your question, in my opinion the only reason why there is any controversy about the interpretation of this parable is that individuals with theologies which are out of step with the Bible often want to rewrite the (usually many) passages which show their ideas up as being wrong. Sometimes this takes extreme forms, as with Marcion in the early days of the Church who wanted to take a scissors to the canon (and even today many hyper-Messianics want to cut out anything written by the apostle Paul).

This parable tells us of a son and a father – a close and unalterable relationship. The son departed from the father, acted foolishly, but eventually came back. And while the son assumed that the father had disowned him, he finds out instead that his father is overjoyed to have him back. So the entire point of the parable is restoration of the relationship through "coming back" (repentance). How anyone could imagine that it meant anything else is inconceivable to me. However, the idea that there is backsliding from God and repentance and return to God which He accepts with open arms is uncomfortable for a number of groups who have flawed theologies, those who teach that they and theirs are now "sinless" for example. But even though we stumble, and even though we stray far away, God the Father always takes us back if we genuinely return . . . because we belong to His beloved Son who died for us. And that is the most wonderful news of all.

I will say that the older son does parallel the attitude of any manner of self-righteous individuals; the Pharisees were certainly self-righteous . . . but most of them were not saved in the first place.

Here are a couple of links at Ichthys where the parable is discussed further:

The prodigal son

God is waiting with open arms

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

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Our friend understood that we are saved by grace through faith, but he needs to understand how to reconcile this with verses which may seem to teach salvation by works. He has just asked me about Matthew 25:31-46 (40: "The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me'"; “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’"). These are the key points I would make:

Scripture never contradicts itself. If it says that we are saved by grace through faith and we have verses which seem to suggest otherwise, we need to look for a solution - in faith.

The context of Matthew 25:31-46 is that of belief and unbelief (despite the view of the commentators whose notes I've seen) - as in the parable of the 10 virgins and the parable of the talents.

True faith always finds expression in works (James 2:14-26). If someone really believes in Christ, this faith will bear some fruit, even minimal.

The judgment thus goes - "to the extent that you did it - in accordance to this faith of yours - to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me"; and "to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these - in accordance with your unbelief, you did not do it to Me". I could not believe that Meyer, whose work is helpful at times, sees it as a judgment of believers only, despite what Matthew 25:46 says (!) and then some of these believes being thrown into hell for lack of love (!): Because the judgment is a judgment of Christians (see on Matthew 25:31), faith is presupposed though not formally mentioned. The truth is, the Judge regulates His decision according to the way in which faith has been evidenced by love (1 Corinthians 13:1 ff.; John 13:35), without which as its necessary fruit faith does not save (Galatians 5:6).

The fact that the works are accepted is another evidence they have been produced after salvation - in the power of the Holy Spirit and not, as in the case of unbelievers, blasphemous works tainted by sin, coming from the sin nature which are meant to earn points with God. No work tainted by sin and done not in the power of the Holy Spirit can be accepted by a perfect God.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #11: 

I think your five points do say it all. If Matthew 25 were to be explained by works to the exclusion of every other consideration, then we would have to admit that a Mafia don, for example, who spent his whole life doing evil of the most detestable kind, would have to be let into heaven for plunking down a penny one day in the Catholic collection plate. That is obviously not the case, and such a person's life of ill-behavior will only serve to demonstrate that he was not a believer in Jesus Christ in the first place; on the other hand, I doubt there will be a single believer who either 1) did every one of the things our Lord mentions, or 2) did only one of them. This passage can only be understood – can only "work" with the rest of scripture – if we understand the genuine works done in the power of the Spirit as proof of being a believer and the absence thereof (with works done in the power of the flesh not deemed acceptable) as evidence of unbeliever status.

Question #12: 

Another thing Sir is the statement of Jesus in Matthew chapter 7 towards those who claim to have done many miraculous things in the ministry but , Jesus disowned them by saying “I never knew you!”. Are these people an example of apostasy?

How about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? I've read long back from the book of Jacobus Arminius that only the believers can commit such kind sin since they are rejecting something that they already knew, and that's unpardonable before God.

Thanks a lot for all your help ,

Response #12: 

Good to hear from you, my friend!

1) On, "I never knew you", this statement indicates very clearly that Jesus "never knew them", not that "He had known them but they turned away". So this indicates to me not that these individuals are apostates but those who were never believers in the first place. Do they seem like believers from what they have done? Perhaps – and that is a good lesson for us. I would estimate that of all the people in this world who call themselves Christians and go about doing "Christian-looking" activities, only half are saved (or maybe far less). What does it mean to be saved, then? It means to put one's trust in Jesus Christ and Him alone, His perfect person, God and man, and His perfect work in dying for our sins. Many people of other religions do "good works" of all sorts – that doesn't make them believers and won't save them. The same is true of people who join a "Christian" group and do all manner of Christian-like things (as the world sees things) but do not believe in Christ. Therefore the direct answer to Matthew 7:22's "didn't we?" is "no you didn't, not really". The sons of Sceva were performing exorcisms in the Name of Christ – but they weren't believers (Acts 19:14ff.). See the link: "I never knew you".

2) The "blaspheming of the Spirit" is a sin only unbelievers can commit. It is attributing the works of Christ to the devil when instead they were being accomplished by the Holy Spirit. As to the "unpardonable sin", Christ died for all the sins of all people for all time, believers and unbelievers both. The only "sin" He could not die for was the sin of rejecting His work in dying on the cross for all sin: accepting Him and His work is the way to be saved -- the only way to be saved. So rejecting Him and rejecting His work is the definition of being an unbeliever. Unbelief is not pardonable because this life is all about the choice we have been given to accept Jesus as our Savior . . . or not (see the link BB 4B Soteriology for more).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

What does Genesis 15:1-21 mean? Does Abraham's question in verse nine indicate deficiency in Faith?

Response #13: 

It is very hard to know what is going on in someone else' heart – it's hard enough to know what is going on in our own. No one is perfect. And even the greatest believers had to grow. By the time that he was told to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham's faith was massive and an example to all for all time. So I would tend to agree with you here. We know that Abraham made some mistakes (e.g., Is.43:27), as we all do. We also know that he became one of the greatest believers of all time. The test of waiting Abraham passed (if with a few bumps along the way) was no doubt much harder than anything we have had to face, if only on account of the decades long duration. But look at the faithfulness of the Lord! The experiences He gives Abraham in this chapter and the promises He makes to him are sufficient to help Abraham carry through and pass the test. There is a lesson here for us all. Whenever we are facing something truly difficult, the Lord always finds a way to encourage us and bolster our faith – if we are willing to listen to the Spirit.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1st Peter 5:10 NIV

Question #14: 

About the Levitical offerings, these are supposed to be a "statute for your generations forever" says the Lord to Moses. The Adventists quote verses similar to this to prove the necessity of continuing the practice of some of these Jewish traditions. What does the "forever" mean? How to answer this SDA reasoning? Is it not the fact of Israelite inability to obey no matter how hard they try the point of God's command? There is also the matter of sacrifices for "sins of ignorance". Why is this mentioned? Is it implied that the other category of sacrifices not specifically labeled for "planned sins" is for "planned sins"? Or, is it that when the sin one committed is planned he has no chance to be forgiven because all these different types of sacrifices are only for sins of ignorance? And because it is unavoidable not to intentionally sin one is left helpless in one's sinful condition before God? So that this leads a person to intentionally be mindful of his spiritual relationship with the Lord so that the consequent speech and conduct would be pleasing to Him every day?

How do you answer nitpicking of John 1:12 "received" being different from "believe" to the point of saying that just as the demons' faith in James' letter is similar to dead faith, "believing" without "accepting" does not save? Is not it that having/receiving/accepting Jesus as one's Savior or eating his flesh/drinking his blood is by believing/trusting/having faith in Him in His complete sacrifice? The hypothetical believer in James is not in danger of losing his salvation if he does not show evidence of his good works. That is not the point of James if I understood it correctly. It is not even about how to be saved. Maybe the emphasis of the belief+acceptance=salvation proponents is on degrees/quality of faith like the often heard difference between historical faith and saving faith (really, really believe) because they are concerned about the sincerity of the believer. Is there a difference/degrees of faith in Greek in the Bible, like faith that saves versus faith that does not?

When you have the time; no hurry, I know you are busy.

Thanks for your kind patience as always. God bless you!


Response #14: 

The Law was fulfilled through the cross (Rom.10:4). Now we have a New Covenant which has superseded the Old one:

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
Hebrews 7:18-19 NIV

In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8:13 NKJV

Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.
Hebrews 10:8-9 NKJV

What can one say about various groups which will not even consider scriptures so clear as the above? We have to say, I think, that they have substituted a law of their own making for the gospel, the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Law couldn't save anyone. What it did was demonstrate that we are sinners in need of God's intervention – and Christ intervened, dying for all of our sins. To suggest that the Law needs to be kept is in effect to reject the sacrifice of Christ in dying for the sins committed "under the Law". But as I say, they have invented a law, because, clearly, they are not keeping THE Law. They are not sacrificing animals. They are not attending festivals in Jerusalem. They are not giving the Levites their first-fruits . . . or anyone of another thousand things which the Law demands. They are playing a sick legalistic game, and if anyone in this mess is even saved, I would be very surprised. See the link (which will lead to many others): "Law, Legalism, Rome".

Sins of ignorance: MOST of the sacrifices under the Law are for these types of sins (variously named) if a correct translation is consulted. Why? Because "willful sin" was in most cases to be met by capital punishment. "That's impossible!" you say? Indeed. And that is the point. No one can hope to be righteous under the Law, and I doubt if a single Jewish man or woman ever lived (beyond childhood) who never ever committed any of the very many sins of cognizance which technically demanded death. Of course throughout the whole pre-exile period, Israel, so far from trying to keep the Law, was idolatrous! And after the exile, "keeping the Law" meant conforming to the Pharisees' version of what keeping the Law meant – which was certainly not keeping the Law since God was essentially excluded from their approach. Here is what Paul, a "Pharisee of the Pharisees" says:

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Romans 3:20 NIV

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Galatians 3:23-25 NIV

The gospel is the answer to sin; the gospel is the answer to the Law; trying to keep the Law in large part or in small is a one-way ticket to hell because it rejects the grace of God and spits in Christ's face.

John 1:12 is just another way to express things, but important in the context because that verse is talking about the reception Jesus Christ received in Israel. As verse eleven says (NKJV): "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him". Israel was supposed to be composed of believers, so John the baptist's ministry was one of restoration . . . of those who were already supposed to be believers but who were in need of being restored. Salvation of unbelievers (gentiles) is expressed by John as follows:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:18 NIV

Pretty clear. Believe. We know what that means too, very well: to put our trust in the Lord Jesus for deliverance from death and condemnation, believing in His perfect Person, the God-man, and in His perfect work in paying the price for our sins by being judged in our place. God is not an accountant. He is not looking to deny someone salvation on account of failure to follow some regulation to the tee (cf. Jn.3:17). He is patiently waiting for us and longs to be gracious to us (Is.30:18), if only we would grope for Him, because He is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:27). He wants us all to be saved (Ezek.18:23; Matt.18:14; Jn.12:47; 1Tim.2:4; 2Tim.2:24-26; 2Pet.3:9), and it is so easy to be saved . . . for us, because Christ died to open the door of grace for us. Adding things to salvation is the epitome of legalism and actually endangers the salvation of all who give into such nonsense. That is because if we are trusting in our own works – as they do in the R.C. or Mormon or JW "church" – then we are by definition NOT trusting in the Lord.

Faith does grow, just like a mustard seed. It always starts off small, but with spiritual growth, the passing of tests, learning and believing more and more about the Bible, and eventually helping others to do the same, it can became a massive tree which fills the whole empty hole of our heart – but legalism is antithetical to growth and to true Christian faith.

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend!

You continue to be a beacon of inspiration to me in your fight – and I am sure that is true for others who are watching your good walk in Jesus Christ as well.

In our dear Savior.

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Is There Salvation Without Repentance?

Jesus: Person A, even though you were wicked all your life and never shown any shame or remorse for your wickedness, I died for your sins so you get eternal life.

Jesus: Person B, you have sinned. But even though you were horrified by your sin and cried to God "what have I done?" and ashamed, and prayed to God for forgiveness, and never committed the sin again, I did NOT die for your sins so you have to pay the debt yourself.

Is such a thing possible?

Response #15: 

Jesus died for the sins of everyone (1Jn.2:2).

God wants everyone to be saved (1Tim.2:4).

It's not about sin.

It's all about faith – being willing to accept the Gift of Gifts in Jesus who died for our sins.

All who humble themselves to do so are saved.

All who arrogantly refuse to do so are not saved – even if they go through Esau or Judas like gyrations (that is just another form of self-centered arrogance and works).

When our Lord stated that "one of you will betray Me", all of the BELIEVERS were legitimately concerned, asking "Is it I, Lord?" – when of course they should have known very well that it was not any of them. Judas asks the same question, in great hypocrisy, knowing very well that it IS him. That is the distinction between believers and unbelievers in a nutshell. Believers often wrap themselves up in knots of worry about being saved or not – when our salvation is absolutely secure when guarded through faith (1Pet.1:5). Unbelievers could care less, and only play this game to deceive others and themselves, as in Judas' case. Believe me when I say that while we may have a hard time seeing the difference, that difference is profound, and crystal clear to the Lord (as it was on that famous occasion).

In the Lord who died that we might live – through faith in Him and what's He's done for us, Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Started to Bible Study today talking about "Before the foundation of the world", which I view as a pre-requisite to Romans chapter 8. I used your material on the subject of "The Providence of God".

Along this line, I read the scripture verse in Rev. 13:8 which mentions the :Book of Life. Someone asked the question of when the name is written in this book, my reply was that, to my knowledge scripture does not say. But, I stated that I believe that it is written when a person becomes a true believer in Jesus Christ our Lord. From there I mentioned that there is only one sin that Jesus could not die for, and that was the unpardonable sin of Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, because that person denies the truth that he was told by the Spirit. Some then asked if they could ever come back to Jesus by repentance. Well, I said, not to my knowledge, but I am a bit sketchy on this subject. But, suddenly Romans 1 jumped to my mind, so we began our discussion on that particular chapter beginning with verse18 and continuing to 32, and I saw the answer to my dilemma. I stated that , when a person crosses over a line, that only God knows where it is, that it is impossible for them to repent and return to Christ. This was based on Romans chapter 1. I also stated that the fact that Peter denied Christ 3 times, but he did repent and come back to Jesus. My view is that he did not cross that invisible line. John the Baptizer also questioned whether Jesus was the Messiah, or were they to look for another. Scripture is silent on what eventually happened to him? This sin of Blasphemy was, for a few minutes a puzzle to me, but God cleared it up by directing me to Romans 1. In Timothy, the apostate believers who deny their faith, have crossed that line with no possible return either, because they fall away from faith in Jesus.

In Hebrews Chapter 6, I recall a teacher who taught that these Jewish believers, who did or were attempting to return to OT practices stated: that the translation states that Verse 6 says that if they continue to remain under the OT law there is no more salvation for them as long as they remain apostate to Jesus. To me, this is not what this verse says. I don't know what the Greek implies or depicts, so I am under the opinion that they have committed the sin of Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, for knew the truth, just like those in Timothy, but have fallen away from the Faith. The reason they can never return is stated in 1 Timothy verse 1B "They paid heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons. Verse 2: "by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.

Would like to know what your thoughts are about my comments above. I believe there is a definite difference between one who backslides from the faith, and one who literally leaves the faith and denies the Gospel. The later has no hope, whereas the former does.

Thanks so much again,

Your friend,

Response #16: 

These are topics I've written a lot about, so I'll give you the gist here and point you to the links:

1) The book of life was written "before the foundation of the world" and it contains the names of every human being – until such time as the person either chooses irrevocably to reject Jesus Christ (in which case he/she is blotted out of the book) or dies without accepting Jesus Christ (same result). Revelation 13:8 is frequently mistranslated: "before the foundation of the world" goes with "written in the book" (i.e., that is WHEN all were written in the book). Here are those links:

Translating Revelation 13:8

"The Book of Life" translation issues

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 4:3 and the Book of Life

This is an important issue because it means that God's "default setting" is salvation since Christ died for all, and it is only by rejecting His will for one's life that one's name is "blotted out". So the policy is grace: it's already paid for but you do have to accept it – through faith not works: works assumes you "do something" to get into the book. But we are all "in the book" by the grace of God and the cross of Jesus Christ – and remain there . . . unless and until we opt out through life-long refusal to believe or deliberate rejection of Him.

2) Technically speaking, there may be "a point of no return", but not in the practical terms in which we engage with the world. God wants everyone to be saved, and only someone who He knows does not want to be saved and would never change, given free will, is "beyond the pale", but that is a free will decision too about which God knows and God alone (and has since He decreed the world). Romans says:

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
Romans 11:22-23 NKJV

So while we are saved and secure, still we have to persevere in this life; and while those who are hardened against Christ are lost and bound for the lake of fire, still if they were to turn to Him and not persevere in disbelief they would be saved. This is therefore one of those times where "theology" doesn't work. What I CAN tell you is that the following is a scenario which has never ever happened and could never happen: someone rejects Christ / blasphemes the Spirit / does all manner of things to demonstrate they want no part of God or His salvation in Jesus – then said person actually and genuinely turns back in repentance and wants to be saved but is not able to return because of crossing some invisible line. In practical terms, the only line that can't be recrossed is physical death. God knows the difference, but we don't. For these reasons, it is problematic to talk about an invisible line / point of no return, because that makes it sound as if some may wish to change latter but God won't let them. That is contrary to scripture and has never and could never happen. In addition to that problem, you wouldn't believe how many people have written me over the years fearing that they have crossed just such a line and that God won't have them back. Most of these people are believers, mind you, but mixed up and in spiritual turmoil for want of truth. But the "no return" false teaching is out there and, divorced from any understanding of how the Plan of God actually works (or what it actually is on top of that), can really send immature believers who have lived questionable lives into paroxysms of fear. Some links:

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation.

Hebrews 10:26 again

Does Hebrews 10:26 teach loss of salvation?

Hebrews 6 and 10 again

There is a difference between being estranged from the Lord, going to a "far country" away from Him such as the prodigal son did yet still remaining a "son", a believer on the one hand, and on the other completely abandoning faith so as to become a non-believer again (as in the case of the seed which fell on the rock and shriveled when the sun came out and scorched it: Matt.13:5). The question of "does an apostate have a chance to recover" is perhaps an interesting theological one, but along the lines of the discussion above, since scripture doesn't address it, practically speaking it doesn't matter. If a person ever turns to the Lord in this life, he/she is received and forgiven regardless of whatever went before. Has it ever happened? Only God knows. But if it did ever happen, such a person was saved. It doesn't matter, and it doesn't matter BECAUSE the failure to come back is not a restriction placed on the person/situation by the Lord but undertaken freely by the person's own free will. That is very important. God does not reject anyone. Those who end up in the lake of fire have rejected Him. He wanted all angels to be saved. Satan and His followers rejected Him and never came back. He wants all human beings to be saved. And Christ paid the entire penalty for the sins of all so that there is no impediment whatsoever for anyone being saved . . . except their own determination not to be saved. Wherever a person is on the continuum, salvation is merely an act of faith away because in grace God has already provided it. So I am always reluctant to put anything in such terms, not only because I know the damage it can do to those whose faith is weak, but even more importantly because I don't find scripture stating things in such terms. Grace is bigger than anything we can imagine. And that is a wonderful thing – because we are ALL in desperate need of it.

Do feel free to write me back about any of this, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

By your response, you have again opened my eyes to so many things I did not know. I really, really appreciate your input, and I cherish it so much.

So much to learn, and so little time.

I don't have the advantage of knowing the Greek, so that is why I did not have a clear understanding of Rev. 13:8 in the way it was translated.

Romans 3:23-27 is the same. The translation you provided makes it so much clearer.

Blessing be with you always,

Your friend

Response #17:

You're most welcome!

Continuing to keep you and your family and your ministry in my prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hi Bob,

A fear of mine. What if God poses some question to my spirit, I answer in a way that demonstrates that I have a hard heart, says "now I have proof that you have a hard heart" and then denies me any opportunity to change?

Response #18: 

Don't be like the man who was in such fear of God he hid his talent; rather be like the ones who in love for God went out and worked hard for Him – meaning spiritual growth, progress and production. That is the true love for God in which there is no fear.

As far as change, we are all here to change. That is what repentance is. And Christ calls all to repent . . . until we get to the point where it is no longer necessary.

Question #19: 


Thank you for the Christian walk material. I am reading / working through it, enjoys the methodical system to it and the Biblical truths reflected.

However, if you could clarify your motivation for focusing more on the legalistic stance of others and giving a reprieve against ", judging others for engaging in it most definitely is a sin". I think i am in line with you when it is done legalistically! For "GRACE" is paramount!! But, what if it becomes a matter of "... your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit...; "...glorify God in your body..." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Again, for "GRACE" is paramount in acknowledging the "work of Christ's" cross to engage in victorious living. Would you allow the same teaching to the Priest's in the Old Testament, to enter into the most holy place with an unclean thing or even a different kind of holy garment as directed by the Lord? "Proscribing" a wrong as not sinfull or not focussing on the higher good of overcoming something of which the person has become a slave off, is confusing! Romans 6:12-18 defines that by which you become a slave of; the lust after something is thus also included as a sin. For smoking and drinking does not lead to "..obedience leading to righteousness' (V16c). We are to be "...slaves of righteousness" (V18) and ".. as slaves of righteousness for holiness." (V19). Being 'body of Christ' should be the semblance of our Lord Jesus Christ as our growing process towards glorification!! Church for that matter can accommodate your stance. But 'body of Christ' (1 Corinthians 12:27) should not promote matters as 'alcohol and smoking', an acceptable norm.

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceedingly joy, To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power both now and forever. Amen.

Response #19: 

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I have always maintained, as you suggest here, that salvation has always been the same. The difference before the cross is that the sacrifice is anticipated; after the cross we see it clearly in the face of Jesus Christ. As Paul says:

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.
Romans 4:3-5 NKJV

So beyond all argument Abraham was saved just as we are, by grace through faith – and not by works (Eph.2:8-9).

You are certainly right to allude to 1st Peter 1:10-12 in regard to the issue of the prophets of the Old Testament not understanding with specificity the incarnation and the sacrifice of Christ – not, that is, the same specificity we today possess. But it is hard to read Isaiah 52-53 without realizing that they were not unaware of the great sacrifice to come. And as the title of your email suggests as well, they could not help but see in the lamb slain and the other animal sacrifices the price in blood and fire that would have to be paid to redeem them from sin.

Here are a few links on this:

Salvation in the Old Testament and the New

Pre-cross salvation

The Gospel before the Cross (in BB 4B)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Dear Dr. Luginbil:

Sir, I recently stumbled onto your website after trying to do some research on the two natures of Man. However your article on the "Three False Doctrines That Threaten Faith" caught my attention. I read it and enjoyed it very much and thought it was spot on. I have been trying to tell people the same thing for years and of course all the So-called Christians, mostly false preachers try to tell me that I don't know what I am talking about.

I am currently trying to write a book about "Pride", and its destructive nature and how the sin from it is extremely corrosive and deceiving and it definitely causes back-sliding. In your article there is a section where you wrote about the danger of back sliding. I would like to use a portion of that in regards to how once your heart starts to harden that attitude of not wanting to seek God becomes more prevalent and a must for the sinner to justify their sin. Of course I would seek permission first if that time comes prior to using any of your material.

I was raised by a fire brimstone preacher who pastored for 67 years and the same church for 52 of those years. My Grandfather is now dead but the amount of people he introduced to Christ lives on. He had 40 million air miles as a missionary and preached a lot on the false doctrines that many churches and pastors are pumping out today. This perversion of God's word is an abomination as you know and the idea of sinning Monday-Saturday and getting right on Sunday is complete nonsense.

I greatly appreciate your time and patience, and please feel free to send me anything that might be of interest and would help me! Again, thank you very much!

My Respect,

Response #20: 

Good to make your acquaintance. Your request seems to fall within the fair-use quotation stipulations I have posted (see the link for the details: "Copy Policy"; and do feel free to ask further if there is anything that is unclear). There is more detail and more recent material about hardening the heart at the following link in BB 4B: Soteriology, beginning with "Phase One Hardening of the Heart".

With the Tribulation close at hand, and with most Christians in our lukewarm Laodicean age blithely imagining "it doesn't matter" because they are going to be "raptured", falsely assuming "I'm saved no matter what" will be an even bigger problem. Why not then take the mark of the beast (and avoid all the unpleasantness)? Fully a third of believers are prophesied to apostatize during the Tribulation, and belief in the three false doctrines detailed in the posting you cite is no doubt going to be a large contributory factor to their spiritual vulnerability.

One point of clarification seems in order, however. Salvation, while it is only secured once we are with the Lord, is also not a "pins and needles" thing. It takes the complete loss of faith to lose salvation. Salvation is guarded by faith (1Pet.1:5; cf. Jn.3:16-18). All believers – those who believe in Jesus Christ – are saved. Unbelievers are not. So the issue is faith, not sin. Sin does play a role, because sin, especially giving oneself over to a lifestyle of gross sin, not only alienates us from the Lord but also degrades us spiritually, and can lead to never wanting to return as the prodigal son did. Believers who give themselves over to sin always face a crossroads of this sort – because the Lord is not going to allow Himself to be so poorly represented forever. At that decision point, if the believer - - no doubt under severe divine discipline for his/her behavior – fails to repent, return, confess and begin moving forward again spiritually (like the prodigal son did), then one of two things is going to happen: for those who still refuse to let go of their faith even as they refuse to let go of their sin, the painful "sin unto death" is the result (horrible, but not resulting in loss of salvation: cf. 1Cor.5:5: "that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord"); for those who are unwilling to let go of sin but willing to let go of the Lord (to get out from under the pressure of discipline), loss of faith is the result – apostasy; and loss of faith means loss of salvation and loss of eternal security. This is a very short reprise of what you can find in detail at the link: in BB 3B: Hamartiology: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

Best wishes for your enterprise to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Sir, thank you very much for responding to me.  On another note I did not know you were in the Marines until I looked at your bio.  I was in the Marine Corps as well (Hollywood Marine) From 1988-1996, 3rdBN 5th Marines.  I went in right after high school and ended up going to Desert Shield/Storm and a few other awful places.  I was a 0311 and 0331.  Then from 2002-2005 I worked PSD security both OCONUS/CONUS, but mostly in Iraq and Africa.  I have been contemplating of potentially trying to get in to Physician Assistant School and becoming a PA.  So in the meantime I am trying to finish up a couple more prerequisites, Genetics, and Bio Chemistry while also trying to spread the Gospel around the nursing homes and hospitals.

If I can ever be of any assistance please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Semper Fi,

One in the work of Christ for the healing of the nations through Christ.

Response #21: 

I'm pleased to hear this – thanks for your service, and thanks also for your kind offer.

I was in the corps just after Vietnam so I never got shot at. This was the era when those in service were getting spit at, not shot at.  But I do have a pair of steel pins in my left ankle where it was crushed in an M60 tank.

Best wishes for your future career – and your work for Jesus Christ.

Do feel free to write any time, my friend.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Dr. Bob:

Sir, being crushed is not something I would be a fan of.  The Marine Corps has changed drastically since then.  And even more since I was in the late 80's.  Gotten pretty soft from what I hear.  On another note, there are too many so-called Christians acting like Lott.  And with that there are far to many pastors and churches trying to synthesize Jesus down to a sissy.  And Jesus was no sissy as you know.  These churches are distorting the truth with a common theme around that God is only love, tolerance, and acceptance.  That way they can take the accountability off themselves and justify their sin and wicked ways.  Or fulfill their own kingdoms, rather than fulfill God's Kingdom.  We can see that in 1 Peter 2:8, and Galatians 1:6-8.

These hirelings are nothing more than money grubbing self serving morons.  The truth has been distorted so much that people actually trying to find Jesus can not.  Looking at 1 Corinthians 1:18 and abiding by it, it's almost impossible to try to get these people to listen.  Not all preachers or Christians are ignorant but many are lost and unwilling to yield.  They do not want to hear the truth, but be filled with a rock band and a latte rather than preaching of God's word!

I had considered law school to, but thought the PA route might be a little more interesting.  Not sure, been praying about it.  Forty-eight years old and trying to figure out what to do. LOL

Take Care,

Response #22: 

Too true, my friend.  This is the era of Laodicea, after all.

Stay "red hot" for the truth.

And it's never too late to do the right thing.  I'll say a prayer for your guidance.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23: 


I have been thinking about what you said about "aggressively seeking the Lord through spiritual growth". I would like to do this please. I am worried that I've made a mistake. I thought that being born again would mean that the changed heart would mean that I would never sin again. I am more aware of sin now than I was before and see it differently now. I have sinned since becoming born again. Will that mean that I will lose my salvation?

I am confused about this. I know that none of us are good enough and it is only through believing in Christ dying to save us and that he has saved us that we will have salvation. It is the grace of God not through works.

Surely though we should still try to live a sinless life? Is a sinless life possible for us? Is that what I should be aiming for?

Although it is good to not give into temptation and repent of sin. At what point am I depending on myself (not sinning) and at what point do I depend on Christ (his paying for the debt in full)?

I have to say that I am not tempted the same anymore. I am a different person but I have been shocked that I am still able to sin after being saved. It is not that I now believe that I am perfect but I guess I thought I wouldn't be tempted any more. I have to say that for the most part I am not tempted but I have sinned Bob and I want to work towards sanctification as I realise that I am a baby in Christ and really don't know anything at all but would like to live as a good Christian and not backslide.

I hope this doesn't sound offensive to you. I am being very honest and I hope that you can guide me towards how I can take my next steps towards spiritual growth. Amen

God bless you,

Response #23: 

Always wonderful to hear from you, my friend.

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

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
1st John 1:8-9 NKJV

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
1st John 2:1 NKJV

David, one of the greatest believers who ever lived, certainly did sin after salvation (cf. Ps.51:1ff.); but he reports in the citation quoted above that his sins were forgiven on confession (Nathan the prophet says the same: 2Sam.12:13). John, writing to believers, tells us that if we say we have no sin the truth isn't in us, that if we claim not to have sinned we are lying, but that if we confess our sins, we are forgiven; and that if we do sin – although of course we should not do so – the Lord who died for all of our sins is Himself our Advocate.

The false doctrine of sinless perfection is one of the most noxious and dangerous ever perpetrated on the church visible. In the very many years I've been doing this ministry, I have probably answered more emails about good Christians who are worried that they have "lost salvation" than about any other single topic. Inevitably, only a believers even COULD be worried about losing salvation – because unbelievers and apostates do not care.

Sin is a serious issue of course. But far too many "churches", preachers, groups and cults have gone far "beyond what is written" in claiming that sinning results directly and immediately in loss of salvation. That is not only untrue but VERY dangerous to believe. Why? Because if a person believes that false teaching, one of two things is going to happen. Either the person with a good heart will be terrified when they do sin (and as John affirms above all do sin; cf. Rom.3:23 in the Greek: "all sin"), or else a person is going to be tempted to downplay what behavior is sinful and restrict "real sin" to certain extreme behaviors that he/she is not particularly tempted to commit. The latter is what the Pharisees did, and it was consistent in fact with lack of being saved – somewhat ironic I suppose. Sin is a very wide and deep and dark are and composes plenty of behaviors we may not even recognize as sinful. Even if we can control our physical behavior, which of us is really in control of his/her tongue (Jas.3:2-16)? And even if we could theoretically posit a person who never ever erred in anything he/she said, who of us could dare to claim to be in complete control of what is going on in our hearts (Jer.17:9)?

I highly recommend reading part 3B of Bible Basics: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin where all of these issues are discussed in detail. And I will give you some links below to a number exchanges with true Christians who, on account of the false teaching of sinless perfection, were coming to doubt their salvation. There is no doubt but that the devil is behind this one, because once a Christian starts becoming worried about salvation, erroneous guilt is in the driver's seat, and said Christian is going to be hors de combat for as long as this worry persists, going nowhere in spiritual growth, making no progress in testing, being unable to help anyone else in the Church, no matter how blessedly gifted.

Of course, none of this means that we are not to struggle might and main against sin. We certainly are. Nor does it mean that sin does not produce divine discipline designed to straighten us out. It certainly does. This is serious business indeed, and without sanctification, no one will see the Lord (Heb.12:14). Why? Because the Lord is looking to shun us? Heaven forbid! He died for every single sin of the entire human race and if that doesn't demonstrate His love for us, what could? The problem is that only believers are saved, and giving oneself over to a life of sin will eventually sour our relationship with Him and push us ever farther from Him. In some extreme cases, the believer in question allows his/her faith to die out completely and becomes apostate, that is, reverts to the status of unbeliever; but only believers are saved. However, very importantly, ALL believers are saved. You are a believer, and you are saved.

When we stumble (and all do: Jas.3:1), we confess to the Lord and He forgives us immediately. If there is discipline forthcoming to help us not to make the same mistake again, that discipline is from a loving Father to sons and daughters He loves with a boundless love; and that ought to encourage us as to the security of our relationship with Him as a result, not the other way around. Our job is to keep fighting the fight day by day no matter what. This Christian life is a war and we are being opposed by an enemy we cannot even see (Eph.6:12). We can't allow ourselves to get taken out of the fight by mistakes here and there. We should try not to make them (absolutely – that's that safest and least painful course); but if and when we do (none of us is perfect, after all), we need to confess, take our lumps, and move on, trying not even to break stride in our running for the Lord. He is for us. Who can be against us?

So what shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 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? Who will [dare to] bring charges against God's elect? God is the One who is pronouncing [us] justified. 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. What will separate us from Christ's love? Tribulation? Or privation? Or persecution? Or hunger? Or destitution? Or danger? Or violence? As it is written, "For your sake we are being put to death all day long. We were accounted as sheep for slaughter". But in all such things we are decisively victorious through Him who loved us [enough to do what He did for us]. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angelic nor human authorities, neither things present nor things to come, neither heavenly powers, 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

So please keep reading your Bible, praying, and accessing good Bible teaching daily (you are most welcome at Ichthys). And please keep doing so whether or not you have stumbled. When we stumble in this race, we are to get back up, confess, and get back in the race, never looking behind, but always looking ahead to the goal of the upward calling that is ours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord (Phil.3:14).

Here are those other links I mentioned:

Salvation Lost and Found

Does Hebrews 10:26 teach loss of salvation?

Lost my salvation?

Lost my salvation II?

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

No, Hebrews does not teach that you lost your salvation.

Feel free to write any time.

In Jesus Christ our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Hi Bob,

I oftentimes get into friendly conversations with the homeless and the atheists. One of the most asked questions by them are, "How can a loving God send anyone to hell for all of eternity for the short life we have on earth if He is the most forgiving and merciful?" They also quote Psalm 136:1, where it says that "His mercy endureth for ever." (Psalm 136:1)

I thought I had a fairly good understanding of Scripture until these questions I'm confronted with proved that I have a LOT MORE to learn from the Spirit of Truth.

The bible says that it is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment. They will ask why would God shows no mercy or forgiveness after the lost are judged?

Thanks in advance!

God Bless,

Response #24: 

Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners (1Tim.1:15). The Son of God, in the presence of God the Father (Jn.1:1-2), one who had absolutely no need to prove anything or any need to defend His deity took on true humanity, lowering Himself and fighting through this world and this life as a man in order to save us (Phil.2:5-8). When He had taught us the truth and shown us the way, He endured a gauntlet to get to the cross that would have destroyed anyone else physically and/or emotionally (Is.53:1ff.), and He persevered even though as God He could have called a halt at any time. They mocked Him and dared Him to come down from the cross, and we turned our backs on Him. But when the darkness fell, He didn't turn His back on us. He went into that darkness and gave Himself over to rise in the flames, to be burned and not consumed until He has paid the entire price of judgment for every single human sin from Adam to the end of time. It is not too much to say that Christ's death for the least sin of all time is worth more than the entire universe, and that all human sorrow and suffering from the beginning to the end rolled into one bitter pill would not equal what He endured in dying for that least sin. So great is the victory of the cross. So great our Lord Jesus' sacrifice – for everyone. He died for everyone. He died for all these people who find fault with God's grace and mercy. But please tell me what more Christ could have done than to sacrifice everything for us? Tell me what more the Father could have done than to sacrifice the dear Son He has always loved with a perfect love?

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?' ”
Romans 9:20 NIV

The Gift of Christ is for all – but all do not accept it. Everyone has been given the ability to accept the Gift: free will, the very image of God. But not all choose to use that ability to honor Him and to return a humble response to the One who sacrificed more than we will ever know that we might be saved. Some use that very free will to throw the Gift of Christ back in the Father's face – and blame Him for it! "Why did you make me like this?!"

Praise be to God that life is short! Who would not want to live in this miserable, temporary world forever? Answer: the devil and unbelievers who want the benefits of what God has done but without acknowledging Him as God, without bowing the knee to Jesus Christ. But in the end, every knee shall bow before Him (Is.45:23; Rom.14:11; Phil.2:10).

God is merciful and perfectly so. God is love, and completely so. God is not at fault – God forbid!

But people are arrogant. They want the blessings of God while remaining gods unto themselves.

Life may be short, but it is plenty long enough in each and every case for the person in question to demonstrate by their words, actions and thoughts what is really in their hearts.

Those who return God's great love by responding with faith in Jesus Christ are saved. Those who never were willing to do so go to hell – of their own free will choice. This will be made VERY clear at the last judgment where every thought and intent of every heart will be revealed (Matt.10:26; Mk.4:22; Lk.2:35; Eccl.12:14: Rom.2:16; 1Cor.4:5a), and it will be shown that these arrogant people are without excuse and that their defenses were defenses of clay in the face of the light of the glory of God.

God has mercy . . . on those who are willing to receive it.

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Romans 9:14-16 NASB

In the One who paid a price beyond imagination that we might be saved, Jesus Christ our dear Lord.

Bob L.


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