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Salvation, the Gospel, and Unbelief V

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Question #1: 

Hi Dr,

I have a quick question. I work and am around many people who don't believe the Gospel and some who do but don't profess it in their walk, i.e, walk prove otherwise. What is the biblical mandate as it relates to witness for Christ? Since I know they have no interest in anything of God, should I approach it as " don't throw pearls before swine?" or should I attempt to insert conversation about Christ in there or just be silent?

I don't want the Lord to admonish me for not talking about heavenly things when I know they just don't care. When I am at work, the only thing I can do is really walk away but there are instances where I can't just walk away and what to do in that instance. I just want to glorify the Lord but don't want to be obnoxious about it as well or can you be obnoxious? Is being obnoxious a code word of "lack of boldness " on my part?

Your wisdom in this matter is helpful and I will also do a private study as well down the road but I want immediate applications.

I hope you and your family are doing well and let me know if prayers are needed.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #1: 

Thanks for prayers, my friend.

As to your question, this is a very common one, and it's one which is difficult for everyone to answer. It's so difficult, in fact, that until a Christian gets to a certain point of growth and experience, he/she is likely to feel he/she "should've when he/she didn't, and shouldn't have when he/she did". That is not a bad interim position, by the way. The worst thing is to feel justified and self-righteous about doing it or not doing it when in fact it's much more of judgment call situation.

The main Person to consult is the Spirit. If we really are keeping the Lord in mind, we will not feel bad about being embarrassed because we spoke up when it was uncomfortable, nor will we feel bad about enduring in silence when it was made clear to us that the time was not appropriate. This is not something someone else can tell us, either, because who we are as individuals and exactly where we are spiritually has a great deal to do with the "yes or no" of it.


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 10:14 NKJV


The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.
Proverbs 12:23 NIV

These two verses bring up the "pearls before swine" issue clearly enough. With whom are we dealing? If the person is not going to respond, and if we can tell that well enough, the Spirit will be sending us stop signals. But if the person is ripe for the gospel and the time is right, the Spirit will help us overcome our shyness and do what the Lord wants done.

Some links:

BB 4B: Soteriology

Atheism and Evangelism

Evangelism in Principle and Practice II

Evangelism in Principle and Practice.

Your friend in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hi Robert,

I wanted to let you know I have been reading your new study, I am at spiritual growth 7. It's just what I needed at this time in my life. I need to tell you I had lost everything on my computer quite awhile ago and had no idea of how to find your site again. A few weeks ago I was thinking about how I missed reading your studies and "lo and behold" your e-mail came up!!

I am so blessed that you included me in your list of people who you sent this wonderful study too. I have a lot to read now since I now have your site again. Thank you so very much again, you have no idea how happy I am that I have your truthful studies. I know that the Holy Spirit is guiding you thru all your words and they are truth. Thank you for following His Word, so that people like me can hear the word in truth.

Bless you Robert for your dedication to the truth and word so we can all benefit from it.


Response #2: 

Thanks for this greatly encouraging email!

I'm very happy to hear that we have "reconnected". I lose touch with folks all the time (lots of email address changing without letting me know about it, for one thing).

Very pleased to hear also that this study is a help to you. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to hear that.

Thanks for all your good words, and do feel free to write back any time.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Dear sir,

A quick thing: my grandmother watches a lot of TV, and over time she starts spouting the awful lines you know they push. I even got her to admit they were pushing certain things, but she went right on with my other relative and keeps watching.

I say this because she of all people knows there are old TV shows with good morals that she could watch. So there is a good/better alternative, but goes with the new stuff anyway. One of the most popular kid's movies recently was Frozen. And the song every kid sings goes 'no right no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free'! And I saw another Disney film where the entire film they were making being wicked seem sexy and desirable. I am not exaggerating, the main characters were self-avowed wicked kids, that supposedly chose good right at the very end, but don't actually disown the entire first 99% of the movie. And of course the wicked main characters were all glitzed out in fancy clothes while everyone else was in normal clothes. Christians should not be letting their kids watch this stuff!! Why are we funding it? Are we that enslaved to entertainment. I used to wonder from the few days I was in my grandpa's church how anyone could fall for the Beast. Well it is easy if they don't know what is in the Bible, or if they are being conditioned in this way.

I read about what you said about being poor. And I was thinking of how I kind of lambasted you unfairly-the Boomers as a group. I am very sorry about that. I know how being poor can be hard. There was a time I would throw things I owned away because I couldn't carry it with me. And sometimes I wake up to roaches on me. It would be very hard to then be accused of being greedy and ungrateful. I really admire that you preferred learning the Word to worldly comforts. I am already tempted sorely to just put the Bible down and finally just enjoy and relax a bit.

Response #3: 

I'm not very tech savvy (still have a landline phone), but here is what I have discovered re: TV and movies et al. in regard to my command control:

1) 4th best button: delete

2) 3rd best button: pause

3) 2nd best button: mute

4) best button of all time: off

Movies and fiction TV shows, especially nowadays, are toe-jamb as far as I am concerned; I do watch news (business news when available) when I'm eating. And when deleting of taped shows, pausing of dumb segments, muting when it gets insufferable ceases to work, I finish eating and turn it off – then do some cross-wording or reading until it's time to hit the hay and start over tomorrow.

Reading is great. Non-fiction reading even better.

The culture is bad and is only going to get worse. We can get upset about it . . . or we can turn it off and make more valuable use of our time.

I often say that God doesn't begrudge us some rest; if you find a way to relax that isn't leading you astray, then that's terrific. This is relative thing; there is no "one size fits all" – that would be legalism. It's more along the lines of deciding which things that are "permissible" are for all that "not profitable" and making good decisions as unto the Lord.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Just to clarify she specifically has talked about a show where they portray Islam as what the left sees. And I happened to see an episode of another show that did the same. This poor Muslim refugee man trying to protect this woman who converted out of Islam to Christianity from these awful Christians (wouldn't she be stoned?). Talking about how if only her child didn't have hate in her heart like some of the Christians (hey we don't stone you in our countries but you would kill us in all of yours). And it is the secular main characters to save the day from Christian bigots. I don't mean to sound upset. That did seem to be the narrative they were going with though. And I talked to her and she know it is falls in the details when I even bring one up, but for some reason thinks us Christians are so awful and backwards.

Just meant that I don't know how to counter what the TV tells her, because it is fiction, but she knows that, and lets it brainwash her anyway. How do I talk to her about our Lord who wants her to be saved and died for her sins if-when the TV says Islam good, Christianity bad-she believes it? She is knowingly believing the fiction. I have always HATED TV and hate it so, now. I started to write you a rant about it, but deleted it because I know I talk too much. I am like an old person from before the 50s telling the young'uns that it will turn your brain into mush (I read it became widespread in 50s and 60s). But also I would add it will ruin your life in a number of ways. I can prove it though, and people agree when I talk it out, but they watch it anyway.

Reading the Bible is the best.

I really don't see how the culture can get much worse, or maybe it was always like this, just more under the table.

Response #4: 

I do understand your concern. I will make a point of trying to remember your grandmother in my prayers. Everyone is different and for all those who do come to Christ, there is no set pattern or time. I have seen / heard of a number of people in my life who left it to the last minute. You are a very good granddaughter to be so concerned and persistent.

The one thing I can tell you is that all this extraneous stuff means nothing. Victory in giving the gospel is never won on the peripheries. So keep the pure and simple truth of the message of life ever ready on your lips. People who aren't ready to receive it yet construct all sorts of elaborate systems of untruth to protect themselves from having to deal with the truth. These can't be defeated by debate. Only the truth of the gospel in the power of the Spirit can break through – when they are ready to let it do so.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hello Bob,

How are you? Hope you are well. I have missed your sage advice! Sorry for sending you that petition. Today I was thinking of two things that you may be able to help me with.

The first thing is that an old friend has just got in touch with me (due to the petition actually). He seems to be lost and raging against the current socio-political climate and I felt the urge to talk to him about Christ. I am not sure how to go about this, being a baby Christian and I don't want to be clumsy about it. Do you have any advice?

The second thing [details omitted]

I suddenly realise that my whole life may have to drastically change and I suddenly feel panicked about it.

I want to do what God wants of me though. That has to come first for me.

In Jesus Christ,

Response #5: 

No worries about that, and it's good to hear from you, my friend. I have been keeping you in my prayers.

As to how to speak the truth to others, honestly, the key there is knowing the truth and telling it like it is. So the better we understand the simple truth of the gospel, the better we will share it, and the better we know about all other areas of truth, the same goes for these as well.

There is no point in sharing, say, details about the Tribulation, with unbelievers. If we are speaking with someone who does not accept Christ, then the only thing that will do that person any good is the gospel message: salvation by grace through faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. When we resolve to do this, when, that is, we are led by the Spirit to do so, He is the One who "makes it happen". If we are practiced to a tee and the person is resistant, said person will not be saved; if we are nervous and clumsy about it and hem and haw – but the person is open to Jesus – the Spirit will do the rest.

It's not about us AND it's not really "us" who are doing it. We do participate; we have to be willing to do what the Lord wants us to do (and the more we have learned about the truth prior to the point of time in question the better prepared we will be to do so), but it's important to remember that this is about Jesus Christ and that the Holy Spirit is the One empowering all legitimate acts of ministry. Praying before and after we decide to engage is also an indispensable part of ministry of any sort. In sharing the truth, moreover, there are times not to do so (if, spiritually speaking, the person / people we are contemplating sharing with are truly not worthy of it: Matt.7:6); and even if we are being led to do so, there is such a thing as a "right time" when the Lord opens up a clear opportunity. These are the things to consider, but personal spiritual growth day by day and specific prayer before the fact are the two universal principles to employ.

As far as other people are concerned, we are all accountable to the Lord for what we do or fail to do. So in the case of people we love, it is very common to see them doing something spiritually dangerous or failing to do what needs to be done and to want to intervene. On the one hand, we need to be courageous about standing up for the truth when asked about it and also to give a good witness in what we do as well as what we say; on the other hand, we are not called to meddle in the lives of others when they are not willing to follow our no doubt good advice.

As to your own situation, I'm notoriously shy about giving advice about such things, and generally only break that rule when I sense that someone is in immediate physical danger. When you write, "I want to do what God wants of me though. That has to come first for me", I rejoice to hear these words, and I know that the Lord will help you figure out what is best for you to do and when and how. And don't be surprised if things begin to happen, because He is not shy about intervening on behalf of His saints, especially when they are willing to be helped but face obstacles that are seemingly insurmountable. I have seen this many times and experienced it many times as well. I do promise to keep you in pray about this, my friend. In the meantime, my advice is to keep devoting yourself to spiritual growth as priority number one: that truly is "what God wants of me", because everything else begins to fall into place once that process is solidly underway.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Dear Teacher

Thank you very much, Sir. That helped tremendously. I know that "hobby horse syndrome". I suffered it for a while myself before I was brought to you. It seems to me that one big problem for many of those who are apparently zealous for the Lord is a refusal to submit to a qualified teacher because they consider themselves qualified teachers as well. But I feel like as long as they are willing to argue on biblical authority even if their understanding is flawed, they are in a better position than those who reject teaching authority because they have issues with biblical authority itself despite insisting that they are themselves believers in the Lord Jesus.

I always feel like I'm bursting. So sometimes I just roam looking for people who want to discuss the Bible on WhatsApp. It's always frustrating to find no one. I am thankful for my fiancee, you and our friend and for the young man whom I mentioned to you some time ago. That last has been vacillating like a pendulum for a while but he doesn't seem willing to let his Faith go or to completely ignore the need to grow and produce spiritually. He just had a very hard time deciding to give up the party of the world. I have been praying for him everyday and I want to ask you to please remember him sometimes in your own prayers. Our conversations over the past couple days have given me some extra confidence that he will stick with the program. He is now going through Peter's Epistles with some commitment. At least, that is what he said. Could you please pray for him too?

I spoke with the two young men I told you about today. I definitely lost one: he declined to continue our partnership although he says that he is a "devoted Christian". He just doesn't like having religion come into business. The other one said the same thing and then went silent so I am assuming that he has probably ended our partnership as well. I can't say that any of it surprised me. Young people today like to be identified with "progressive" ideas and movements. The start-up movements is a global one and part of its ethos is that religion (generally read Christianity) is a public enemy that cages minds and creativity. So, it's a red flag once anyone edges that way without showing a cool philosophy badge. Still, I am hoping that my application was correct. I know that we must work with unbelievers and even lukewarm or grossly sinful believers while we are in this world but I am entering a co-founding agreement with these people. Our activities in business will be tied together for the foreseeable future, it seems to me. It seemed to qualify as being "bound (or yoked) with [someone]". And both of them claimed to be believers. The one who went silent said that he is a Christian but he does not try to follow the Bible and that his primary religion is humanity. I told you what the other said already.

I am confident that the Lord has a plan and will deliver me. But I am hoping that I read this right.

I am still studying the answers you sent me. I have to look at the links. So I may send some follow-up questions later unless, like now, I have none.

For some time now, it has sobered me to consider that I am rather very gifted spiritually. I do have a higher standard to meet, don't I? I'm not sure there is a question here, maybe just a request. Could you just pray for me that I will follow through and realize all my full potential for the Lord so that I will not be ashamed when I see Him? I need to be a bit harder on myself: I slack too easily.

Yours in our loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Response #6: 

Always a pleasure to hear from you, my friend!

It's something we all need to learn to do, that is, find the right modulation between "too hard" and "too lenient" with ourselves. Most people lean one way or the other, and over-compensation in the other direction is to be avoided. More common is misunderstanding the situation and not recognizing that one is being too lenient (so continuing to be too or even more lenient) or too hard (so continuing to be too or even more hard) on oneself. Cold-blooded realism which spits out any sort of emotional interference on this score is the best approach. We want to fight the best fight we can. Listening to the Spirit we will see what is helpful and what is not and adjust accordingly without looking back or worrying about past imperfection in the fight.

I will say a prayer for your friend. I have had correspondence with other individuals from your country, so I know there are pockets of positive response. That's all there are in this country too: pockets. Without the internet, I'm sure that this ministry would never have been able to amount to very much. The people who are interested are spread all over lower 48 – and around the world (not exactly commutable as a local church).

I'm sorry to hear that you've lost your partners. But if they were going to be trouble down the road, that's probably just as well. I have one correspondent who runs a successful internet start up business (I don't know too much about it). I could ask her if she would be willing to correspond and give you the benefit of her advice.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Thank you so much for this Bob,

I am starting to understand what you mean now and along with the understanding is a peace and contentment in my heart that I only experienced before as a very young child. I think I was close to God in my youth but my heart hardened after much pain and misfortune. I didn't have the relationship that I do now as Catholicism acted as a wall between myself as a believer and Christ. They put many men on that wall including the Pope himself.

To hear the Pope say now that a personal relationship with God is dangerous makes me very angry indeed, especially since this viewpoint had the effect of driving me away from God for most of my adult life. In my ignorance I equated Catholicism with being the only possible way to be a Christian. I know better now.

I think that a personal relationship with God is indeed dangerous...to the Catholic Church and therefore the Vatican. If the great majority of Catholics discovered that a personal relationship is essential to being a Christian then the power that is the Vatican would crumble and fall overnight.

I am saddened to say that this will not happen. Part of it is an affection for ritual, even I have found it hard to accept that I don't need it any more, specifically the sacraments (Bob do I need the sacraments?)

Some of the rituals I found odd even as a child; praying to statues, incense, lighting candles and worshipping Mary through rosary beads. Why is it that even though to this day I haven't read the bible cover to cover- why as a child did I know in my heart that this wasn't right?

I threw away the baby with the bathwater and it pains me to think of what could have been if I had faith earlier.

I don't know why the Pope is fast tracking on such a collision course at the moment. He never makes it clear what is his personal views or the views of the Church. It would be fairly damning even it were just his own views!

He has been non-committal on same sex marriage/LGBT movement, denied the existence of hell and said some horrible things about the crucifixion and said atheists go to heaven!

He seems to be as insightful about Christianity as Hitchens or Dawkins and probably causing even more irreparable damage.

Maybe he will be involved in the Anti-Christ deception. At one point I found it ludicrous but now I'm not so sure.

Is the Vatican really Babylon? I would not be surprised now I really wouldn't...

I once read something that echoed my own sentiment. Remember, God doesn't trick people. If there are complications or stumbling blocks before your faith, they may be there to test and strengthen your mettle but if they are hard to shift then they haven't been put there by God and that it shows that you are heading in the wrong direction anyway. Why would God want to stop you from knowing him? Man changes but God doesn't.

I have recently been thinking about truth and mimesis. The way I see it is that Jesus the son and God the father and the Holy Spirit are in the centre of all things. They are truth itself. If you travel outside of this centre you then encounter man and all the creatures and things of creation. Further out from simply being in our natural state is our "knowledge". This knowledge is a continuum along aspects of mimesis of actual being. Further along mimesis, comes mimicry and eventually you will find falsehood and lies which are the polar opposite of truth. At this point you will find the devil as he is the father of all lies.

The mimesis can be very seductive and can appear shiny and exciting. As our whole culture and system is based on mimesis then the continuum will draw you out towards the devil NOT towards God and the truth through Jesus Christ.

The two lies that the devil has told is that he doesn't exist and if he does, he is merely rebelling against an authoritative order and was unjustly punished.

The truth about him is that the devil has no truth and no knowledge worth having. The truth is that he hates us and wants us to lose our faith and our love of our Father.

Nothing in this world will lead us towards the truth which is the only truth. Especially now that the hour is late, we must see the mimesis for what it is: an illusion, a distraction, a mirror that reflects a distorted image and projects it into the wrong direction. An artifact of old that will rust and fall away into the sea.

I am determined to keep on running toward him like a child separated from his loving father. I may trip and fall but I will pick myself up again and again and carry on running.

When children fall over, they tend to think about whether to cry or not. Irrespective of whether they have hurt themselves or not, children will often look to their parents whether they should cry. If the parent makes a fuss, then so will a child. A whole day can be ruined this way. However, if the parent encourages the child to get back up, they often do and keep on running, forgetting within seconds that they were ever on the floor.

This is how I want to be, part of the race of life. Getting back up, overcoming and enduring.

In our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ,

Response #7:

Thank you so much for this encouraging email. Your comments on the R.C. church are also very penetrating and enlightening.

No, you have no need of "sacraments". The only authorized "ritual" – if that is even the right word – for the Church Age is communion (another word with unfortunate baggage). Jesus told us to "remember Him" when we eat and drink; because, after all, food represents His perfect Person and His body given up to judgment for us that we might have a new and perfect one with Him forever; and drink represents His blood, His spiritual death wherein He expiated all of our sins in the flames of darkness. We have everything because He gave up everything for us (see the link: "the meaning of the communion memorial").

No, the pope, is not antichrist, but I suspect that along with the rest of organized religion he (whoever is pope at that time) will be in league with the beast. Antichrist will convince the non-believing world (and, sadly, many believers) that he is "Christ" (hence his name), and all the world's religions and "Christian" denominations in particular will flock to his support so that there is one unified world religion – with true believers persecuted for maintaining their witness to the Lord (Rev.6:9; 12:11; 12:17; 17:6; 19:10; 20:4). Some links on this:

The Anti-Christian Religion and its Worldwide Expansion

Characteristics of the New Religion

The persuasiveness of the tribulational false religion

The False Prophet

Dangers of cooperating with antichrist's religion

On the other hand, Babylon is not an organization or religion but a specific geographical place in the biblical "west" (see the link).

Keep fighting your good fight for the Lord, my friend. I promise to keep you in my prayers as you do so.

In Jesus Christ who is our life and life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Bob,

Why was Jesus unwilling to do miracles in his hometown? We are told:

"And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."
Matthew 13:57-58 LKV

But one explanation is that there was a limited supply of honor, and Jesus because he was familiar and of lower status would have offended the locals elders. So he correctly diagnoses this as "unbelief" and gives them what they want.

Response #8: 

Why no miracles in Nazareth? There is no point in casting pearls before swine. There were unbelievers elsewhere too, perhaps the majority in most places. But the hardness of heart in His hometown – the lack of faith – made it pointless for the most part for Him to do so.

Question #9: 

Hi Bob,

I read about a Pastor who knew someone that was deeply devoted to God and loved Him with all of his heart, but during his later years suffered from mental illness such as Dementia or Alzheimer's. He was a biblical scholar and planted thousands of churches too. During his later years he could not even remember what it meant to be saved, or if he was a Christian. What happens to those who love God and lose their understanding of what it is to be saved? He understood the message of the Gospel better than most people and even lived it to where he was seen as a perfect example of someone who walked the walk and deeply loved the Lord.

Jesus said that he who does not believe will be condemned. And in Revelation it states that all unbelievers will be cast into the Lake of Fire. He didn't even believe, or didn't have the capacity to believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Those who were close to him were in sorrow because of this, and they didn't know if he would be in heaven. I have a difficult time reconciling what the fate of this man was according to scripture. I heard one response from a Pastor who said that he would be treated as a baby, who doesn't have the ability to believe, and therefore would or could not be condemned. He cited the Great Commission where Jesus said, "he that BELIEVETH NOT is condemned." He also said that people are not able to believe like babies cannot be condemned, because only those who "believeth not" are the ones condemned.

Even that raised the issue of those who are in other parts of the world where the Gospel hasn't been preached yet to them. And because of that, should they be held responsible because they did not have the opportunity to believe. And from what I understand, that is not biblical to say that they will enter heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This is what Billy Graham believes when he said that there is a "wider mercy" where those in third world countries haven't heard the Gospel, but believe in the existence of God. He said that those people will be in heaven. I was stunned when he said that. Can you help me understand what the Bible says regarding this matter? Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #9: 

Every Christian has trouble of one kind or another sooner or later, and most especially those who are determined to follow the Lord. At the moment, I am currently praying for a number of Christians who have been closely associated with myself or this ministry who have cancer. It almost seems epidemic to me at the moment. But that doesn't mean they have done anything wrong (ask Job); it does mean that they are being tested in this way just as we are all tested in some way. I see dementia and every other disease, accident, disaster in the same way.

The "answer" to this question and to the one about "what of the people who never heard the gospel" is one and the same: God is much bigger and much smarter and much more capable than you could ever imagine in your wildest dreams. The fact that pastor X contracted Alzheimer's did not sneak up on God and take Him by surprise! It never could have happened if it were not in the divine decrees. Alzheimer's renders grown adults the equivalent of infants, and we know that infants are saved if they die before being able to choose. So someone who no longer has the ability to exercise free will in a normal way is certainly not going to be held responsible for his/her choices after that point – any more than a person in a coma – so that all such conditions will certainly not wipe out a person's saved status.

God's complete and comprehensive understanding and planning of all things also applies to the supposed "people who never heard". Consider this. No one receives life until God gives that person a spirit. So God knew about every single person who was ever born and planned that birth perfectly. In other words, we are all "in the right place" and we all are given lives "at the right point in history". It's not an accident that the twelve disciples were born at roughly the same time Jesus was born and in the same locality. That was their time and place. The Lord knew very well that they would respond and be the "right disciples" for Him (even if one was "a devil" – that was part of the plan too).

On the other hand, what if a person was not going to have any use for the gospel no matter when or where he/she was born, not even if born in Jesus day in Palestine, not even if born in the Millennium when "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Hab.2:14 NIV)? Does the Lord have a responsibility to give the gospel to someone who is going to reject it no matter what? He certainly knows the hearts of all. And that is the point.

When a person comes to "God consciousness", he/she always expresses in the heart the desire to know about God . . . or not. At the last judgment, it will be revealed that everyone who wanted the gospel got it. That is true even of those who "never heard". But how do we know for certain that person X never heard? God has many ways of spreading the truth. We will no doubt be surprised at the last judgment to learn about evangelists and evangelizing which in terms of documentary history we know little or nothing about at present. That makes sense. You give the gospel to others but that has never appeared in any newspaper. How do we know that God never sent any angels when human beings couldn't make the trip? How do we know that He never spoke to anyone in a dream – He certainly did for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph – men who WANTED to know about Him. And for others, how do we know that He didn't cause person X to be removed from land Y and brought to land Z where the gospel was available? That has always been possible, even if we don't know the details of everything that has happened in history. Does it seem unlikely? Only to those of little or no faith: the Spirit picked Philip up and transported him to meet the Ethiopian eunuch and then took away thereafter. The Spirit can do this for the evangelist (Philip) and could to it for the one wanting to be evangelized too. Does our ignorance about all historical events constitute unrighteousness on God's part? God forbid! And finally and importantly, for all the aboriginal peoples of the world and those living in far-flung places over the course of history who skeptics imagine could never have received the gospel, ALL of their children who died before reaching the age of God-consciousness and accountability are saved:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb
Revelation 7:9 NIV

But why did God do it that way? Believe me, He has His reasons for why EVERYTHING happens. That is the plan of God, and the plan of God is, by definition, absolutely perfect, having taken into perfect consideration every act of free will no matter how small and weaving the totality of all of our lives into the perfect tapestry wherein we have responded to Him as we wished to respond – to be saved or not, and if yes to receive a reward or not . . . and just how big.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Hi Bob,

I was reading an article from a Christian who said that the bible teaches annihilation and pointed to several verses that I am not familiar with or do not know how to answer them. He said the Greek words "perish" and "destruction" apoleia and olethros suggests a finality and not perpetual punishment that is never ending. He also points to passage that uses words that describe utter destruction (phthora), and it means "disintegration". He compares this to burned up branches and chaff where nothing is left afterwards (Matt.7:27; 13:48). Or Lot's wife turning into salt (Lk. 17:27). The one that threw me off was the wicked being "ground to powder" (Matt.21:41,44). And finally, there is the passage in Matthew 25:46 where the same Greek word for everlasting punishment is used for eternal life. He said it means "destruction of the ages" or not literally eternal punishment, but rather the never-ending duration of the "results" of the punishment. Can you show me how this person is incorrect? I am very cautious to examine everything anyone teaches because some people just assume that whatever their Pastor teaches is correct without being a Noble Berean. Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #10: 

These are all "arguments from vocabulary", and no such argument can be decisive out of context. That is to say, what a modern English reader "thinks" a Greek word "must" mean is one thing (and it may be incorrect); but to take that and then say that "since the word usually means X" we can deduce that "the Bible is saying Y" is always dangerous. And when the Bible directly refutes Y, then we have a case of false teaching:

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Revelation 20:10 NKJV

Notice 1) the beast and the false prophet, who were thrown into the lake of fire at the beginning of the Millennium "are" still there a thousand years later; and 2) all these (and all unbelievers and fallen angels), "will be tormented day and night forever and ever". As you recently remarked, how could the Bible say this any more clearly?

Contrast the verse above with any of the passages adduced where it is definitely NOT clear that there is some annihilation – that is a deduction these people have made from the vocabulary and what they say it "must" mean. Remember too that the Bible describes being in the lake of fire "the second death", a fate so terrible that it is called "death" (Rev.20:14; 21:8), even though those in that state are going to be conscious and suffering for all eternity (which is their choice, we have to keep in mind).

There are plenty of verses which likewise make clear that the terrible eternal state of unbelievers is just that: eternal. There is no annihilation. That is a pagan (Epicurean) teaching, but not a biblical one. Here are some links to where this is all discussed in much more detail:

Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment II

Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment

Eternal Realities: Real Heaven and Real Hell

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

"Their worm" in Isaiah 66:24 (see Q/A #3)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Hi Bob,

We spoke about Annihilation before in a previous email, and then I came across this verse in the bible which hold to the false doctrine of Annihilationism. They claim that the verse below proves their doctrine to be true because it mentions the word "destruction". I examined this verse to see if it makes sense, and it does not. I don't see how it's possible for the lost to be punished with everlasting destruction FROM the presence of the Lord if they cease to exist. If they cease to exist, then how can they be eternally destroyed away from His presence. I don't see how it's possible for a non-existent thing to be FROM or AWAY from God's presence because they wouldn't be ANYWHERE. It seems as if these false bible teachers try too hard to prove their false doctrine as correct that they overlook the clear meaning of bible verses. Maybe I have misconstrued this passage, but I am not sure. Does the exegesis of this verse interpreted from what I am reading in its correct context?

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction FROM THE PRESENCE of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

God Bless,

Response #11: 

You are absolutely correct, my friend, and your reasoning is sound. "Destruction" that is eternal / everlasting is clearly not something that happens and no longer has any meaning / existence thereafter – because it is eternal / everlasting. Good for you!

Separation from God is what unbelievers want, that is, to have no need to obey Him or to have to have anything to do with Him – and so that is what they shall receive, but it will be a horrible thing to be without Him since all blessing comes from Him and apart from Him there can be no blessing whatsoever, so terrible, in fact, that along with "destruction" in 2nd.Thess.1:9, it is also called "the second death" (Rev.2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8), but they will consciously experience it forever.

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Revelation 20:10 KJV

Looking forward to the New Jerusalem instead by the grace of God the Father and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hi Bob,

I have somewhat a difficult question and have heard so many answers to it. How is God able to wipe away all tears and sorrow in the eternal state if we have loved ones who are in hell? Some have said that we will be perfected and thus will have contempt for the lost, who freely chose to reject the Gospel message. I have also heard that the state of being we will be in is not capable of having any sorrow, or our joy and bliss will overshadow any negativity. What is the correct answer? Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #12: 

I think the scriptures which apply say it all:

"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 'he will lead them to springs of living water.' 'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'"
Revelation 7:17 NIV

"'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Revelation 21:4

"And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."
Isaiah 66:24 NKJV

The characterizations which you include which no doubt seek to explain these passages are a case of "going beyond what is written". I see no reason for doing so in this case inasmuch as the above seems very clear to me. We are not going to be troubled by anything in resurrection – and it won't be because we are less and know less: we will be more and know more in every conceivable way (and in ways which are as yet inconceivable).

That being the case, it is a trap and a waste of time and energy to worry about departed loved ones whose status at present we cannot know for certain. For those who are still with us and not saved, we do what we can to lead them to the truth (recognizing that this is their decision) – and such we should do whether or not we knew how we would "process" these things on the other side.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hello Bob,

I hope all is well with you. I have a prayer request for someone whose soul is in danger. This person has been a drunk for over years and nothing has changed. He claims to love God but then does heavy drugs, get's drunk, and commits fornication all the time and has no regret or remorse. He came over to my place today unexpected and started banging on my home violently and began accusing me of taking his "tablet". He kept accusing me over and over again. He would not leave and got violent with me. Unfortunately, I had to defend myself and I had no other option but to forcibly get him to leave my place. He very well may come back to attempt to physically harm me. Please pray for this person who I believe has demons in him. May Almighty God chasten him to where he will repent, or ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive him and turn his life over to Christ.

God Bless,

Response #13: 

I would counsel you not to have any further contact with this person until such time as there is a complete change of behavior.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
1st Corinthians 5:9-11 NIV

The translation "claims to be" is a good one: the Greek says "named as", which likewise carries with it the idea of being so in name only. Paul doesn't get into ways to determine whether so-called Christians who act like the worst unbelievers could possibly be believers or not. That is because it makes no difference. Anyone who claims to be a Christian but does not act like one is someone we are forbidden to associate with.

Believers cannot be demon possessed (only unbelievers can). But believers can act just as badly as if they were: it's all a matter of choice.

Please protect yourself, my friend. I will say a prayer for your protection.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Can you please give me a short synopsis on what Mormons believe and why it doesn't line with the true faith? There is a class here called What is Mormonism to get people to join their church. A brother from church asked me what it is Mormonism. He doesn't know and I really can't explain their beliefs. I told him I will reach out.

Response #14: 

As to Mormonism, it is a cult and not a Christian church. This is not an indictment of the people who belong to it who individually may be fine and upstanding people. But the religion is not Christian. For one thing, they don't consider the Bible the authoritative Word of God – they consider the Book of Mormon the last word on all things, and it contradicts the Bible throughout. That book only exists in English, but they claim that Joseph Smith received a copy in some unknown foreign language from an angel and was also give special spectacles that allowed him to understand and translate into English. Neither the original (or any trace of it) nor the spectacles survive (unsurprisingly). Mormons do not believe in the deity of Christ – not the way you and I understand deity. They believe that God is really a super being (i.e., god rather than God) who exists inside of this universe, rather than existing outside of time and space, and that Jesus became who He is (i.e., is not originally even god but worked His way into it), and they believe we can do the same thing. It is a religion of works and the rewards for working the right way are to be another sort of Jesus on another planet somewhere and have offspring that populate that planet. They also pray for the dead and are in the process of trying to pray for all the dead from Adam and Eve onward (I'm still not clear of the magical significance of this) – that is why they are so big into genealogy. They wear magic underwear, long johns that are specially blessed that supposedly ward off evil. And of course they practice polygamy as a means of spirituality; it is true that they don't do this officially in the US anymore, but that is what their book teaches and many offshoots still do this; it is widespread in parts of the west. One could go on. The main thing I would want you to take away from this is that while Mormons present themselves as something akin to "Lutherans" or "Presbyterians", in fact they don't respect the Bible, don't believe in the actual Jesus Christ, don't understand what He did for us on the cross (salvation is by works not by grace through faith), and are involved in all manner of extremely weird activities behind the scenes. I would be very wary of confronting them if unnecessary because in my experience with some folks who have escaped from the cult they can be quite vindictive.

In closing, here are ten points of Mormon "higher doctrines" they don't mention when recruiting – in Jesus our dear Lord (source C.A.R.M.) :

--God used to be a man on another planet and Mormon members
may become gods of their own worlds. 1
--There are many gods. 2
--The Trinity is three separate Gods. 3
--Entrance into celestial heaven is by the consent of God and the
Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. 4
--God has a body of flesh and bones. 5
--God is married and produces spirit babies by having physical
relations with his goddess wife. 6
--Jesus, Satan, and all of us are spirit brothers and sisters
procreated in a pre-existent spirit life. 7
--God had relations with Mary to make Jesus’ body. 8
--You must shed your own blood for the forgiveness of some sins. 9
--Good works are necessary for the forgiveness of sins. 10

Question #15: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your reply.

I am so grateful for your ministry and your love and dedication to our Savior.

One thing that has been on my mind for a long time (even prior to finding your ministry), and is a question I sent to CARM, perhaps years ago, however I never got a reply; is:

A) Should I testify at the local mormon meeting house the “truth of the gospel”, why I left, what I have discovered in the scriptures, and why I am back to testify?

(I only know a few there in passing mostly, as this is a different town to where I was active in the church, so then I would afterwards venture to the city to where I mostly had engagement)

B) I have deliberately not asked you this question before, as I confess wanting to leave open for myself this option.

C) I had in mind a somewhat co-ordinated approach if I can contact others around the globe to do the same.

D) Each 1st Sunday of the month is “fast and testimony” meeting where members get up and bear their testimonies to the truthfulness of the Gospel, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, a living prophet today, the one and only true and living church on the face of the earth, etc

E) Having in the past, said these false things myself, wanting to state my belief now, from the Bible only.

F) Most meetings, including fast and testimony meetings are open to the public.

I have had reservations along the lines of:

1) Not adequately prepared myself scripturally and emotionally
2) Thinking of how, if I were still an active mormon, receive such a testimony myself
3) What could I offer them if they doubted the mormon faith
4) Would any “apostates” tend towards atheism
5) Being a small town there probably would be some repercussions
6) Would need to attend with 2 or 3 witnesses
7) Not wanting to put your ministry in any jeopardy.
8) Knowing that the General Authorities in Salt Lake would react

I think you probably get the gist of what I am saying. The list is by no means comprehensive; rather it demonstrates there are potentially many different outcomes.

In my past life as an active mormon, I listened to the General Authorities preach our duty: “Let he who has been warned, warn his neighbour.”

Would they consider this me doing my duty?

Your student and friend in Jesus

Response #15: 

Always a pleasure to here from you, my friend.

The first thing to say is that I'm always reluctant to give specific advice in such cases. This is your decision.

It's always dicey, that is, considering whether to share the truth when the audience my not be receptive. Giving the gospel is a wonderful thing. Then again, being wise as serpents that we are, while we are not cowards we are also not fools. There is a time and a place. Opinions will differ on that score, but it is true that there are definitely times that scream out to us as being "right!" – and the unquestionably wrong ones are also generally very clear.

The fact that you are asking multiple people about this shows that you have reservations. It would be good to consider whether these are coming from fear . . . or from the Holy Spirit. It's never a good idea to disregard what He is saying – if it is He who is saying it. Paul was a great believer, but his biggest recorded mistake was ignoring the Spirit's words telling him not to go up to Jerusalem – and he suffered some grave consequences for doing so. Knowing whether or not it is the Spirit's voice we are hearing is a skill that gets better with growth. But, generally speaking, quiet confidence and an absence of negative or exuberant emotion will characterize decisions made in response to Him (and the opposite if the opposite).

If you will read a recent week's email postings, you will see that the folly of trying to change organizations from the inside is a widely understood one (new wine in old skins, and those inside always feel "the old is better": Lk.5:39). What you are proposing is a bit different, I understand that. But this verse is one that I personally would weigh before committing to anything. As our Lord said:

"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."
Matthew 7:6 NKJV (cf. Prov.12:23)

You responded to the truth. But then you were not a "swine" in your heart of hearts. What others may or may not be can only be determined by us through their actions. Continued residence in the sty is certainly one thing to consider – and I certainly do not want to see you trampled.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your response.

I meant to email you before your reply so as to minimise the call on your valuable time.

Working through your subject index, I have just read many of your excellent emails on Evangelism ( had read some previously, though it seems I need to re- read to have important information for easier recall), and find I judge I am not prepared enough for a big campaign at the moment.

The short of it is, I am asking myself and the Lord, do I just go quietly or, do you Lord want me to do something different with my situation.

I know I am being edified in my faith in Christ through your ministry which is marvellous.
My OT teacher friend said he learns from me also, to which I replied that he knows I also have an online teacher at Ichthys.

Professor, sometimes I think that I am a bit of a slow learner when I think of the doubts I had over years, while still in the mormon church, yet it took the Lord, to pull me out with His mighty hand. (Hard to overcome the indoctrinated lie of the one and only true church on the face of the earth)

I just thought of another excuse “silver lining” in that over the years my ambivalence in what to do has resulted me giving a secession of mormon callers my reasons I believe that mormonism is false.

I feel it is important for me, whenever I see the mormon missionaries, to show from the bible, that the mormon faith is false and is a cult. To the very few mormons I still have contact with, I also try to persuade from scripture, and the mormon deeds, that mormonism is indeed a cult.

The fear for many I believe comes from the only doctrine which leaves nowhere for them to go, except disbelief. Trapped! I believe you are correct , the antichrist will use all religions in his campaign. However, I stand by my assessment of the mormon faith as being a striking resemblance to antichrist. Appears to be wonderful in presentation. Grand temples built throughout the earth. Even, the admittedly smaller Perth temple, has the “golden” statue of Moroni with trumpet as its spire. Dead but now alive, praise to the man, a living prophet on earth today, only one true religion, blood atonementS, secret oaths and covenants, slaying of “non believers” etc. Some of this is still openly taught, while the unpalatable is covered with soft fluffy wool. Beware, beast inside.

Thank you as always for your courageous pursuit and defense of the truth. I hope and pray to be forever grateful for you and your ministry “feeding this sheep”.

Your student and friend in our dear Lord Jesus.

Response #16: 

I've had other former members of that group agonize about "membership rolls" and the like. I wouldn't worry about it. The only membership that matters is the one we have in THE Church of Jesus Christ – and that membership roll is in heaven (Lk.10:20).

To the extent that there is a realistic chance of helping others to be freed from the yoke, it should be considered. To the extent that any such protest would only be processed by those high up in the organization – whose hearts are no doubt as hard as they come – I couldn't recommend it.

My friend and protégé had a somewhat similar experience with the Roman Catholic church. His catharsis has been to write a detailed exposé of the cult of Mary – wherein a great many of the fundamentally flawed positions of that organization are treated and exposed in the process (see the link). Not only has this been helpful to him, but he designed it as a help to others struggling to extricate themselves from that group's false teaching, and I have to say it was eye-opening for me to read it (even though I have been exposed to that church and studied a fair amount about it in seminary and in the process of doing this ministry).

In other words, maybe writing for others who choose to read rather than speaking to those who are not disposed to listen might be something to consider. I would be happy to give it a home at Ichthys.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Dear Professor

Thank you for your most generous and thoughtful reply.

I followed your link and have downloaded it for further reading, and it may be useful as my wife has many Catholic friends; though no worries on this front as in my early days in mormonism I was taught they were the most Abominable Church.

The pot calling the kettle black!

And yes, if I do manage to contribute anything useful, such as the link your friend provided above, I certainly would be appreciative of your kind offer.

Please allow me another small indulgence.

In the turmoil to gain the leadership, following Joseph Smith being killed, the “talent” Brigham Young had of being able to accurately mimic others, he used to clinch the leadership by convincing members that Joseph Smith was actually speaking through the person of Brigham Young. Some believed it was J Smith--so perfect was the imitation. The “prophet ascended to heaven”, killed (once dead), now forevermore alive in spirit, speaking through his “son” to deceive those upon the earth.

The scriptures, as you have taught, do warn of many antichrists gone out into the world to deceive. The one that once deceived me and continues to deceive millions, resides in the mormon religion. As the scales keep falling from my eyes of understanding, the mormon resemblance to an antichrist is becoming most strikingly clear!

I truly believe your ministry is guided by the Spirit and you are blessing the lives of our Lord’s sheep. Your Coming Tribulation Series is most assuredly the message for our time. It is the real wake up now time call, time is almost gone to prepare for the Bridegroom through the Tribulation, if it be our cup to live the few years remaining before the dark night that precedes the glorious new Dawn.

When talking with my OT friend about the darkness to come; his response: “there will be no wimps in heaven”

Thank you for blessing my life and others, with your courageous devotion to the truth in our dear Lord Jesus.

Your grateful student and friend

Response #17:

You're most welcome, my friend.

No doubt some "organizations" will be more instrumental than others in solidifying the beast's hold on the world, and I wouldn't want to underestimate the weight of the Mormons – or the R.C. church – in so doing.

Points well taken. Contemplating the darkness, we have to keep our eyes fixed on the glorious dawn to come.

It will be a unique day—a day known only to the LORD—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.
Zechariah 14:7 NIV

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

One thing the Mormon group has is a lot of fear. A ton of fear built in the (LDS Church) from the beginning once the child has a smallest understanding and then it grows like wild fire and never goes out. I can see it in these clients. I feel like I'm behind this glass and they are on the other side drowning and I cant get to them. Feeling a little helpless. I have learned I don't say much unless they ask though. Maybe someday one of them will and I may be able to help then.

Response #18: 

Thanks for the insight into the M's. It's interesting to hear your comments and compare them to those of others. What really amazes me is the difference between the foul reality inside and the pleasant picture this group displays to the rest of us who don't know anything (unless through friends like you) about what is actually going on within. Reminds me of what our Lord said about white-washed tombs.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Oh my gosh, I had to look up what the Lord said about white wash tombs and YES...this is exactly what it reminds me of also. The M's portray this image of greatness, happiness, love, kindness, but the foul reality is really what's inside. It's a lie and it's big. My parents are very, very good at this. It's been put into their heads to portray this image since they were born as both of them were born into the Mormon church too. It's goes back generation after generation on my side of the family.

This is exactly what raised a red flag in my mind since I was little about the church .I couldn't wrap my head around this lie of appearing to be good, beautiful and righteous and then they would turn right around and be the opposite....sometimes in a real sly way. This is always a clue to me that it's what is truly inside of their hearts. I would sit in church and think if this was so true why can't they do as they preach and teach.

I know why now! I tell God every day thank you for showing me.

My dad's favorite word was hypocrite. I learned later in life it was exactly the image he portrayed and unfortunately still does. My mother plays the role within her own family (which she learned at church), constantly covering up the negatives her children choose to make and portraying this image of a perfect family. Her and I didn't get along very well growing up because I would always call her out on it, therefore her lie was being uncovered. She really wanted me to sit back and play along. At times I did just to keep peace. I ended up leaving home while still a teenager.

Response #19: 

You are a prize of grace, my friend. I praise the Lord for delivering you. This is a clear witness to me that a person who has a genuine love for the Lord inside cannot be stopped or suppressed from having it bubble forth.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers day by day.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Dear Bob,

Thanks for your explanation.

The JWs I've already written off. I did one of their "Bible studies" and got into an argument over their translation of John 4:24 where their version is translated as "...must worship _with_ spirit..." where the KJV and 13 others are rendered "...must worship in spirit...". When I argued that "in spirit" and "with spirit" meant two different things, they eventually got offended and stomped out never to return.

I've got to give them credit, though. Since I've moved, I'm a long way off the road over a rough lane. That these two women made it back here today is a testament to their zeal.

Can I safely assume, then, that references to "the Word of God" e.g., 1 Kings 12:22. "But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying..." or Genesis 15:1. "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, ..." refers to Jesus?

In the same vein, is the title Jehovah in the old testament referring to Jesus?

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #20: 

Whenever there is a bodily appearance of THE Angel of the Lord, or the Lord, it is our Lord Jesus who is appearing (link). This is because He is the revealed member of the Trinity. So for example even in Isaiah 6:1ff. where we would think it was an appearance of the Father, we find out at John 12:41 that it was actually Jesus Christ.

I understand "the Word came to __" somewhat differently. This does not require a visible, bodily appearance of our Savior; it means that He spoke to the person in question the Word of the Father through the Spirit.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Hi Bob,

Even if someone believes that Jesus Christ is Lord, Jesus said that that may not be enough for salvation.

"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"
(Matthew 7:21-22)

Response #21: 

A much misunderstood passage (commentary at the link).

These are unbelievers. Judas said, "Lord, is it I?", but Judas was an evil unbeliever who had and would betray our Lord; calling Him "Lord" was not from the heart or representative of belief, and the same is true here.

Jesus says He NEVER knew these people; so it seems that these are not even apostate former believers but unbelievers from beginning to end.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Hi Bob,

I've talked to unbelievers and asked them the simple question: do you want to believe in Jesus Christ? And all of them said "no."

It's extremely disturbing when I see so many people who confess that they have absolutely no interest in God. Or rather, they say they have no interest in God but for some reason constantly attack and belittle the Bible. Either way, it's a horrible state of affairs and I never enjoy seeing people like that. But it gives me a lot of hope when I see the rare person who says "Lord, I [want to] believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24) This has to be the most moving piece of scripture for me.

Response #22: 

You're a good man.

Your experience certainly lines up with scripture: we are all here to choose; that is the purpose of life. Only believers have a further purpose: growth, progress and production after salvation.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 


Can I ask a biblical question of you? Matthew 7:14 basically says few find the way to eternal life with Jesus Christ. Does Christ sometimes help people find him before it is too late? My friend said sharing the Gospel is useless since most will be in Hell. I find this difficult to believe.

The New Earth has no Sea and is all Land which means more space for people.... There is a floating city too which is the size of the United States.... Then there is the Third Heaven where the throne of God is right now.... Why so much space if nobody will be up there?

Response #23: 

Here is what I read in scripture:

And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation."
Revelation 5:9 NIV

One of the reason that there will be a multiplicity of saved individuals in the Church when it has been completed is because all who die before reaching the age of accountability (and all those who never achieve it because of mental deficiency) are automatically saved. Given the high rate of infant mortality outside of the west and before modern times, this no doubt accounts for a very large number of people. Christianity is considered "the largest religion in the world" at present (with an estimated two and a half trillion followers); now of course many and perhaps even most of those professing traditional Christianity are not saved (Roman Catholicism, JWs and Mormonism come to mind, just for a start), but there are millions upon millions who doubtless are believers, with many more who have since gone to be with the Lord. So the Church – which consists of all believers from Eden to the second advent – once complete will be quite large by any standard. In fact, it will precisely equal the number of fallen angels, being a replacement for them (please see the Satanic Rebellion series at the link).

In terms of those not saved, this is a decision on their part. The Gift of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice suffices for all to be saved – since He died for the sins of each and every human being who has ever lived or ever will – but that Gift has to be accepted. A person has to be willing to "bow the knee" to Him and ask forgiveness, be willing to be saved, accept Him as their Lord (however one wishes to put it – this is not a list of requirements, merely examples of how we might variously express it). In short, a person has to be willing to submit their will to God's WILL. That is the whole issue. The fallen angels rejected the authority of the Father and the Son; human beings are restored to fellowship with the Father through Jesus Christ when they subordinate their will to His by the simple act of accepting who He is and what He has done . . . through faith (see the link: God's Free Gift).

But most people in the history of the world have in fact not been willing to do so. They do want to be in heaven but not at the expense of being subordinate to God – just like Satan. That sounds crazy to any believer, but arrogance/pride is at the heart of the matter: it's how the devil fell and it's how fallen human beings refuse to come back to God the Father through Jesus Christ. That is what life is all about, actually. It is a deadly serious exercise to determine and to demonstrate who wants to be with God forever and who does not – at the price of acknowledging Him through His Son. Those who do wish eternal life by accepting His solution have been graciously provided for in the most amazing way: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in dying for their every sin. Those who do not wish to be under God's authority get their wish, but they have to live it out forever in the lake of fire, because all blessing comes from God, and those who want no part of Him consequently rule out any blessing for themselves forevermore.

As to your friend's very odd conclusion, I've not heard that one before! I would think that the fact that most people are going to end up in hell ought to be motivation for every Christian to share the gospel at every meaningful opportunity! I don't suggest casting pearls before swine or wasting time on hearts that are unquestionably hardened past the point of response, but surely we want all who are willing to be saved, and this is what Paul says about that:

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Romans 10:13-14 NIV

Does the Lord "help people find him before it's too late?" Jesus Christ died for the sins of every last human being. He paid the price of judgment in the dark on the cross for the millions/trillions of sins which every unbeliever committed. When we consider that dying for a single sin of a single person is greater than the universe and all of history to an infinite degree, we have some small notion of the immense scale of the sacrifice of the cross. Nothing could be bigger, and the magnitude of it really cannot be comprehended this side of heaven. Dying for a single sin was more painful and grueling than all of human suffering combined from the beginning to the end of history – how much more all sins of all time!

So never doubt the profundity of the love of God and what Christ has done for us all – even for those who reject Him. Does He "help people find Him before it's too late?" Most assuredly. But said people have to be willing to respond. The one thing God never does is compromise the free will of any of us. This life is all about how and what we choose. For the unsaved, it's about whether or not they are willing to accept the Gift of life eternal at the price of putting their trust in Christ – a subordination of their will to the truth and God's authority. For believers, once saved, this life is all about just how much we do love Jesus Christ and how much we are willing to sacrifice for Him in doing what He wants us to do: grow spiritually, walk ever closer to Him in applying the truth and passing tests especially after achieving spiritual maturity, and helping others do the same through the proper and mature functioning of the spiritual gifts we have been given – all that is the basis of the eternal rewards we will have in the New Jerusalem and in the new heavens and new earth forever (see the link). The least member of the Church will be blessed forever with all the basic benefits of life eternal, but it would be a mistake not to allow ourselves to be motivated to do what the Lord wants us to do. Acting in faith in this way is really the only way to please God.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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