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Salvation, the Gospel, and Unbelief VI

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Question #1: 

Hi Bob,

My brother died today of a heart attack. I am very grieved and he will be missed. I had told him about the Gospel about 5 years ago and he came to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and for that I am glad that he is at rest with the Lord and very happy where he is now. I know that all things work together for good to those who love God (Rom.8:28) and in the end it will all turn out for the best. Please pray for my family members that they will be comforted. What is odd is that I heard my brother's audible voice while I was lying down on my couch at night, and this happened 2 days ago. I don't know what to make of this.

God Bless,

Response #1: 

I so very sorry to hear this, my friend. But it is a blessing not to be underestimated that you have assurance of your brother's salvation and that you were instrumental in bringing him to the Lord. Many people have great regrets when loved ones pass, either because they're not sure if they responded to the truth or worse yet were never given the truth by these very loved ones. You have been blessed to know that you did not hold back and that he did accept Christ. And blessed also, it seems to me, in the Lord giving you an indication that all is well, and this was meant for your comfort. You will see your brother again when we all rejoice before the Lord in glory.

I'll be keeping you and your family in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hi Bob,

There was a man in a bible study who was discussing the topic of being saved in three tenses and he didn't make any sense at all, and people were confused because they were taught that they were saved once they placed their absolute trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. He mentioned something along the lines of phases of being saved, but that didn't help at all. I believed that we are saved through Jesus, and that the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit continues in our lives until we are glorified. What he was saying was something completely different. What exactly does it mean to be saved in three tenses?

God Bless,

Response #2: 

I wasn't there of course, but the Bible does say that we are saved (position in Christ; e.g., Rom.8:24), are being saved (brought through this world as believers through maintaining our faith; e.g., 1Cor.1:18), and will be saved (finishing the course with faith intact; e.g., Rom.5:9-10; see the link). It's all part and parcel of the same thing, but it is an important aspect of the question, especially these days with so many "once saved always saved no matter what I do or don't do" proponents about.

Here's a link with more references which puts the matter into proper perspective: in BB 6A "Principles and Practice".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hi Bob,

Is the verb "believeth" in John 3:16 a continuous tense? And if so, why? I always understood that we are saved at the moment we put our faith and trust in the Lord to save us from eternal judgment. Someone suggested that it is saying that we have to continually believe in order to be saved. Jesus also says "eateth" and "drinketh" in the book of John and it seems as if that is in the same tense as "believeth" in John 3:16. Is the word "sealed" in Ephesians 1:13 also in the continuous tense? I've heard several interpretations on the word "sealed" from various bible teachers. Some have suggested that sealed refers to something along the lines of a "seal" of approval. Then there are those who say that it represents a "sealing" as in sealing an envelope. Which is the correct rendering of the word sealed? This is confusing me because it seems to imply that this is a future event that has not taken place yet. Somewhat along the lines of a future promise and not a present one. I did some research on the word "sealed" and it is in the aorist passive indicative; and I have NO clue what that means because my grammar skills are very poor, let alone Greek grammar. The Greek word "sphragizo" and it has several meanings; so how do we know which meaning is the correct one? It says it means a "mark" or to "secure" something. I've never understood how interpretations work when there are several meanings to one Greek word. I would greatly appreciate your help!

God Bless,

Response #3: 

It's very dangerous for folks who don't know and really understand ancient Greek to draw conclusions based upon things like tense-aspect. English is different from Greek. That means that what an English translation may imply may not be what the Greek really means, especially if too much weight is put on an issue like this. It is important, but it is a very involved grammatical issue wherein there is really not much substance when all is said and done. Greek, for example, does not have an aoristic present as English does, so that any Greek verb form referring to the present may be either continuous OR aoristic (i.e., English can say "I run" but also "I am running" whereas trecho means either/both without distinction in Greek). In John 3:16 we have a participle with a definite article – common in Greek but unusual in English: "the believing one" or "the believer" or "the one who believes [in Me]". If we are believers, we believe in Christ; those who believe in Christ are believers.

It is true that the hyper-Once-saved-always-saved position is untrue, because it is possible for a believer to apostatize, that is, to entirely abandon faith in Christ – to stop believing (and hence no longer to be a believer). One third of the Church will do this during the Great Apostasy of the Tribulation (2Thes.2:3; see the link). Of course, "pins and needles salvation", the false doctrine that one little slip condemns the believer is also a dastardly lie. If we believe, we are believers; and all believers are saved, but ONLY believers are saved:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

Yes, we are sealed by the Spirit; He is our pledge of security. But God does not take away our free will when we believe. If we turn completely away from Him we will suffer for it eventually, either through apostasy (loss of faith – something we decide) or the sin unto death (something He decides). Please see the link in BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

That is the issue behind the "three tenses of salvation" you asked me about before. This is a question of true (theology); not grammar. Here is a good basic link on this:

Three false doctrines that threaten faith (Pet.#27).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi Bob,

"It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy."
(Romans 9:24)

If salvation does not depend on human desire, then that means that it is possible to desperately want in this life for the Lord to save you but he might reject your request.

Response #4: 

With all due respect, the whole point of the context of that passage is refuting just that incorrect point of view, so I see this entirely the other way around. We know from scripture that He wants "all to be saved" (e.g., 1Tim.2:4); and we know that Christ died "for all" (link). So the fact that salvation depends on God's mercy (because we cannot do anything to be saved) and not human desire (who would NOT desire to be prevented from being cast into the lake of fire?) is very good news. Only those who are unwilling to accept God's merciful offer of salvation to all in Jesus Christ, something He wants in the case of all, are not saved – that is, those who prefer their own will to God's will and throw His Gift right back into His face. So the picture I have from this sentence of yours of an arbitrary God who rejects those who sincerely want to be saved is the polar opposite of the truth I find in the Bible. Indeed, it is the unbeliever who arbitrarily (in the etymological sense of substituting his own authority for that of God's) rejects the gracious offer of eternal life in Jesus Christ from the Father and who is therefore at fault, not the other way around.

It always pains me to see you waging war against your own peace of mind, my friend. You are secure in Jesus Christ, and absolutely so as one who believes in Him. Are you perfect? No? Welcome to the human race. But then we are not working our way into heaven. That is impossible. We are all prizes of the grace of God.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
1st Timothy 1:15-16 NIV

In Jesus Christ who died that we might be saved through faith in Him.

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Does cursing the holy spirit is blaspheming the holy spirit? if any one curses holy spirit can be saved?

Response #5: 

Hello Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance.

The "unpardonable sin" also known as "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" mentioned by our Lord in the gospels is the sin of disbelief. The context where our Lord talks about this is that of the Pharisees blaspheming the Spirit who was producing miracles by claiming that demons were doing this instead. They were rejecting the miracles that were the proof of the truth of the gospel which the Spirit was sharing with them and all who observed these wonders. By rejecting these signs and by rejecting the gospel the Spirit was pouring out in their hearts, they confirmed their unbelief. Only believers are saved. So anyone who rejects the gospel message which the Spirit is making clear to them in their hearts remains an unbeliever and all unbelievers are condemned – absent repentance, the change of mind which leads to faith in Christ. Here are a couple of links on this where the details are given:

The Unpardonable Sin and Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

Have I committed the unpardonable sin?

An Extended Conversation on the 'Unpardonable' Sin

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Thank you for your answer. I want to clarify one more doubt. If a man cursed god and holy spirit and played jokes on them in his youth but if he repents for his sin and wants to be converted and if he prays god will jesus forgive him?

Response #6: 

Hello Friend,

God wants everyone to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, accepting the Gift of Him through simple faith.

(12) "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? (13) And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. (14) In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
Matthew 18:12-14 NIV

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

[God] who wants all men to be saved and come to accept the truth.
1st Timothy 2:4

The Lord is not delaying in the fulfillment of His promise (as some think); rather He is exercising patience for your sake, being unwilling for anyone to perish, but desiring all instead to come to repentance.
2nd Peter 3:9

Jesus died for everyone, for every sin. The only reason a person is condemned is for refusing to respond to the offer of eternal life in Jesus Christ, that is, for refusing to believe in Jesus Christ, who He is, God and man, and what He has done in dying in our place for our sins:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:16-18 NKJV

Here is a link which will give you some basic information on how to be saved:

Salvation: God's free Gift.

Please feel free to write me back.

In Jesus Christ our Savior in whom we have life eternal by grace through faith.

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hi Dr Luginbill,

I just chanced upon your website and enjoyed reading some of the materials there.

I have a few questions that have not received any satisfactory answers from the Christian community. I hope you can address these.

1) Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were banned from the garden of Eden to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life and thereby living eternally in a sin-cursed world. This I understand. However, it is quite possible that prior to eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve, had already eaten from the Tree of Life. The bible is silent on this. So we can't assume that they had not eaten from the Tree of Life. If indeed they had already eaten from the Tree of Life then they would still live forever even though they consumed the forbidden fruit at a later time. Am I right?

Or are bible students making a deduction that they hadn't eaten from the Tree of Life based on Gen 3:22 (And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.")

Your insights on this is much appreciated.

Response #7:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for you email.

As to your questions:

1) You are right about the tree of life and the probability of our first parents having already eaten of the tree of life. I think it's absolutely clear that they must have done so regularly (even though scripture doesn't say). Genesis 3:22, while it might be taken to mean "eat one time and then have eternal life no matter what" is actually consistent with – and actually means – "keep eating from the tree of life and not die as long as they do so = forever". This first body, even in an non-corrupted state, requires maintenance and sustenance. The tree of life would have kept Adam and Eve young and healthy "forever" . . . absent eating of the other tree which was directly opposed to it both positionally and morally in the garden. After the fall, however, nothing could be worse than sinful people living on and on. Death is what motivates us to seek God's solution to it and to sin – salvation through Jesus Christ. For more, please see the link: "Status Quo in Paradise".

Question #8: 

2) Because of Adam (and Eve), sin entered the world and mankind inherited the sinful nature (with the propensity to sin). This doesn't seem fair to mankind to inherit the sinful nature due to Adam's sin. Pls address this issue of fairness. Additionally, Adam and Eve, who were created and knew no evil yet succumbed to sin, mankind on the other hand with the inherent sinful nature is therefore at a greater disadvantage and surely will gravitate towards sin. Also, the fact that Jesus was born without the sinful nature as he's not from the seed of Adam and therefore not have inherited the sinful nature. So again, Jesus (born sinless), seems to have an advantage over mankind (who has the sinful nature). Therefore, no wonder Jesus was tempted in every way like us and yet without sin. Because it was easier for him as he was born without the sinful nature. So it does seem like an unfair comparison.

Response #8: 

2) God is perfect. God is just. God is righteous. He could not be otherwise and be God. Therefore everything He does is fair and just and perfect and righteous. So we start with the fact that we know that what He did was fair because He is God. Our job is to understand and accept (and to accept in any case, even if we do not yet understand: patience and continuing growth in the truth eventually resolves all such concerns for those who trust Him and wait on Him).

Secondly, our Lord was not born with a sin nature – true. But that was necessary for Him to be the perfect Substitute. If He had committed a single sin, no matter how "small", He would not have been qualified to die on our place and we as a result would all be damned to the lake of fire. He did not sin. Nor did He ever fail a single test. His life was more difficult and exponentially so than that of anyone else who has ever lived in a human body. He was opposed by the maximum effort of the evil one and all of his forces. He had to learn the entire realm of truth perfectly, apply it perfectly, and teach it perfectly. Once He had lived THE perfect and model life, in spite of all of the disadvantages that come with a mission beyond anything anyone can really understand in terms of His earthly ministry, He had to run a gauntlet to get to the cross which involved physical and emotional abuse which would have broken and destroyed any other human being. And once He had been crucified, not coming down from the cross even though He could have done so easily enough, Son of God that He is, even when we turned our backs on Him, He persevered. And then . . . when the darkness fell, the sins of the entire world were poured out in His body and He was judged for every single one of them. It is not to much to observe that the sufferings of the whole human race from beginning to end put together would not equal what our Lord had to endure in dying for the least sin the least guilty human being ever committed. So great is the cross, as great as the majesty of God if we might possibly even limn its outer extent in its smallest part. Everything pales in comparison to the cross.

Was being born without a sin nature an "advantage". It was a necessity. And I notice that both Eve (deceived) and Adam (not deceived) sinned when pressured to do so. Yet Jesus did not, even though the pressure on Him was beyond our understanding. He had no need to come into this world. He is God. But He did so for our benefit.

(5) You too should have this attitude which Christ Jesus had. (6) Since He already existed in the very form of God, equality with God was [certainly] not something He thought He had to grasp for. (7) Yet in spite of this [co-equal divinity He already possessed], He deprived Himself of His status and took on the form of a slave, [and was] born in the likeness of men. (8) He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even [His] death on [the] cross [for us all].
Philippians 2:5-8

It is "easier" not to sin without a sin nature? Adam and Eve as mentioned didn't let that lack stop them. But what we have to remember is that with a sin nature we have all sinned – but that Jesus has died for every single one of those sins. For that we are eternally grateful. Because if we had been born without sin natures, we all would have sinned eventually anyway – just as Adam and Eve did – and it is naive to think otherwise (for anyone with any life experience or for anyone who's read any history). But while we do sin, our sins have been paid for – something impossible if our Lord had not deigned to come into this world to rescue us (for which rescue leading a sinless life was absolutely necessary).

So no, it's NOT fair – that Jesus should have born all of our punishment while we get off scot-free merely by placing our trust in Him. It's not fair – it's grace beyond imagination. The cross is how the justice of God and the love of God have been reconciled and the problem of sin solved in the sacrifice of our dear Lord Jesus.

Question #9: 

3) on which day of the creation story was Satan (and other angels) created?

Response #9: 

3) The seven days of restoration occur at an unspecified time long after original creation. The universe is created in Genesis 1:1, but in Genesis 1:2 the situation is that of an earth devastated by judgment and plunged into darkness. The seven days make the ruined earth habitable for mankind. Angelic kind had already been around for a long time (no one knows how long), Satan had already become proud, sinned in his heart, roused many of the angels to rebellion, taken over the earth . . . and eventually God had judged the rebellion. But mankind was created to demonstrate the grace and goodness of God which Satan and his followers had rejected. This is the theme of the Satanic Rebellion series (at the link); the specifics of your particular question are covered in part 2 of that series: The Genesis Gap (at the link).

Question #10: 

4) as God is omniscient, is it fair to say that Jesus (2nd person in the God-head) knew his fate (eventually needing to die on the cross for man's sin) even before creation of the world/man? If so, is there any reason why Jesus wasn't 'introduced' into the scene and die for mankind right after Adam (and Eve) sinned. Why wait 4,000 yrs with all the drama?

Apologies for asking several questions at a go. I certainly hope to hear from you soon.

Thanking you in advance.

Best Regards,

Response #10: 

4) Our Lord is God and man – since the incarnation. In order to be fit to redeem mankind, He had to live His human life as we all do, without the obvious advantages of His deity benefiting Him unduly (this is called, kenosis; see the link). Part of this humiliation involved Him having to grow up spiritually just as we all do. Our Lord learned everything, every single bit of truth that the Father has for human beings in this world, and did so at a very young age (cf. His amazing the teachers in the temple: Lk.2:46-47). So as a human being He knew His role perfectly very early on.

The other question here I don't think relates to the above. Why did Jesus come when He did? Why are the ages composed by God as they are? They certainly have a perfect symmetry, don't they? Six thousand years for Israel and the Church Age followed by the Millennium. The second advent splitting these two at the conclusion of the seven year Tribulation, and the first advent coming at the end of the two thousand years of the Jewish Age and, after the cross, inaugurating the two thousand years of the Church Age. No doubt the progress of God's dealing with Satan's rebellion has much to do with the structure and the sequencing (see previous links). What we can say is this: Jesus came at just the perfect time:

(4) But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (5) in order that He might redeem those under the Law, in order that we might receive the adoption. (6) And since you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father!"
Galatians 4:4-6

[Christ Jesus whose coming was] foreknown before the creation of the world, but who appeared [in the flesh] at the end of times because of you (i.e., for your salvation).
1st Peter 1:20

As it is, once and for all at the conjunction of the ages [Christ] has appeared to remove sin through the sacrifice of Himself.
Hebrews 9:26b

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

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Regarding the issue on fairness, God is a just God and I do agree and recognise this especially having experienced his grace and mercy. It is actually a question by non believers which I still find it very difficult to articulate and explain to them. It's hard for them to fully grasp and accept that God is just.

I will take time to read your other teaching materials and if i have further questions, I will 'trouble' you again.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge so freely on the internet. May God continue to bless you in your ministry and use your teachings to bless many more disciples of Christ.


Best Regards,

Response #11: 

You're most welcome.

Taking God to task for being "unfair" is the devil's original political ploy. It's also something most unbelievers do as a kind of "insurance policy" (so they think) against being condemned. I often hear, "What about all the people in aboriginal civilizations over all the centuries who never heard the gospel? It's not fair for God to condemn them when they never had a chance to be saved . . . so it's not fair for Him to condemn me!" As I often point out, regardless of the "those who never heard" issue (see the link, answer #3), people using this argument are self-deluded. First, THEY most definitely HAVE heard, so regardless of how God has treated others (and of course He is always fair and could not possibly be otherwise since He is perfectly just and righteous), He is most certainly NOT being unfair by condemning unbelievers who know they have heard the gospel but who were not willing to submit their will to His WILL (that choice is what being here in this world is all about).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

Just finished reviewing your three studies on the following subjects:
1. The tribe of Dan in the last days.
2. The prosperity Gospel heresy.
3. Questions about tithing.

The first was really and eye-opener for me, I had reviewed this study for the third time and still find it interesting and fascinating. I forwarded studies 2 and 3 to a believer who I have been teaching for about 8 years. She had asked me about tithing, whether it was valid or not in the New Testament. The church she attends is the one where I was the Associate Pastor, and I took her under my wing to teach her and guide her. She is from the Philippines and was a staunch Roman Catholic. I know that these studies will help her greatly. Most Christians are not even the slightest bit aware of this doctrine. I had another Pastor friend who I discussed this tithing "obligation" with, for at that time, about 10 years ago, I did not accept the fact that it was biblical, and as you stated in your study, most ministers preach condemnation to their flock. Too bad. I believe some of them know the truth but don't want to preach it for fear of losing money.

I just want to say that all of the studies I have reviewed are excellent. I am currently starting again with the Part 1 "The satanic rebellion". Can't express in words what a tremendous help all these studies have been for me. You are truly blessed and anointed by God as you prepare each of these. I have an observation and a question that goes with this observation.

In Luke 15:7 Jesus says the following:

"I tell you that in the same way, thee will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons (who need no repentance)."

I find it interesting that Jesus would say at the close of the verse: (who need no repentance). I read these words with the thought that Jesus is speaking about the ninety-nine righteous persons (these righteous being those who are already believers of the Gospel). However, when Jesus says (who need no repentance) perhaps the meaning of this is those who have already repented of their sins initially at the moment of believing. But I am also thinking that (repentance) is a continual action ? After the initial repentance our lives do change, but we always have to die to self and put down the old man, and when we sin according to 1 John 1:9, we "confess" or admit our sins, and He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

Your study on Hamartiology states the following:

"Repentance, confession, and forgiveness constitute the essential mechanics of recovery for believers who have made what are, God willing, temporary slips (as opposed to taking faith shattering falls). Small or large, these deviations stand in stark contrast to the "job description" of holiness evident in the long list of positional attributes of believers catalogued above. Just as the process of sanctification (treated in section V.2 below) develops our ability to reflect these positional characteristics and encourages us to strive to make them as complete a reality in our experience as possible, so these characteristics of our position in Christ both serve to encourage us to repent, confess, and claim forgiveness when we sin (e.g., grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption are ours in Christ, so why would we not want to return to the Lord after sinning?), at the same time as they hold up for us a perfect standard which convicts us of our failures (e.g., we are born again, made new, heirs and children of God, light in the Lord – so how can we continue in sin?). "

Would appreciate always your input to my comments, especially on "repentance".

Response #12: 

Thanks for all the encouraging words, my friend!

As to your question, I think you have hit on the solution. First, of course our Lord is making the overall point that even if those who needed no repentance were many and those who did were few, the divine perspective focuses on seeking out the lost sheep rather than sitting comfortably with those who are not wandering – a wonderful insight into the mercy and love of God as well as prod to us to have the same attitude.

"Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."
Matthew 18:14 NKJV

As to the repentance per se (see also the link), therefore, our Lord is not saying 99% need no repentance. And you are right to point out that if we are talking about saved vs. unsaved, we who have repented "for salvation" do not need another bath after we have been washed (though we do need to have our feet cleaned when we sin: Jn.13:10; cf. 1Cor.6:11).

The other thing to remember is that our Lord came to "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matt.15:24) – but of course ALL of Israel were supposed to be believers, so that their repentance which John was charged to effect, "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk.1:17), was supposed to be a matter of turning BACK to the Lord (rather than to Him in the first place). Of course we know for certain that there were in fact many unbelievers in Israel at this time (and at all other times: Israel never came close to fulfilling her mandate as the people of God). So this verse actually "works" both ways. Heaven is overjoyed when unbelievers turn to the Lord (even if many believers already have), and also overjoyed whenever a prodigal son or daughter comes back to following Him (even if many believers never went far a field).

I'm keeping you and your family and your concerns in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hi Professor,

1) What does "grace to you" mean? You may say this seems obvious, but after the way you exegete (is that the right word?) the first verse of Peter in the series, that is pretty amazing, and that is my lead into this common beginning greeting.

2) I was thinking a bit further on our conversation about gentiles and the law. Remember I had said that in the future (and possibly in the past before the Lord came) gentiles followed it, so we have to harmonize. And it does make more sense to me for that the Jews and gentiles having the same law (to the degree that it is applicable-I mean in the OT the agricultural laws wouldn't make sense in some areas of the Earth but that is an academic positing). But maybe this is the solution: the idea already is that we wouldn't follow it now because the reality of the law came in the person of the Lord. And maybe (here is the main key) in terms of the future, that is different because the Lord will be here again ruling in a material fashion as a monarch in charge of a (actually all) country. So follow the law in the OT isn't comparable to following when the Lord is really here ruling during the Millennium. What do you think?


Response #13: 

I think this is the right answer. I would add that anyone who behaves oddly or arrogantly or in a way that sets off our "spiritual common sense alarm" should be perhaps handled with a bit more care and standoffishness – as a matter of prudence. When it comes to participating in "religious rites" on the job, I think it's unquestionable that this has to be voluntary and that it is a matter of spiritual courage to stay away from things that one finds offensive for biblical reasons. I don't think I'd have a problem with "saying grace", generally, but then that would depend who was saying it and what they were saying (I socialize with colleagues as little as possible).

On the Law, I think you're correct in the general statements made. I can only reiterate that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump". Many people find aspects of the Law to be attractive – and I am the first to say that for spiritual growth and instruction of course we want to use the whole Old Testament (cf. Rom.15:4) – but pretending we are the divine state of Israel or a modern day transformation thereof is precisely what the RC and Orthodox churches do, and we can see where all that led them.

On grace, the words in Greek and Hebrew both means "favor" and "good pleasure" and refer to God's attitude towards us, His creatures. Grace is not a "magic" word. Many religious groups treat grace as if it were some sort of pixie dust to be sprinkled on this individual or that for one action or another. This is the wrong way to think about it. God loves us. That is grace. The fact that He can love sinful us in spite of His perfect righteousness is ALL grace. And that good favor is based upon what Jesus did in dying for our sins. That is why we can be looked at by the Father with love and mercy instead of anger and retribution – because Christ took away all of our sins. We enter into this good favor experientially when we believe; we grow in this good favor as we grow up spiritually, progress and help others do the same. He is more pleased with us when we do things that are well-pleasing to Him. But the important thing to remember about grace is that it is received by us non-meritoriously. Christ has all the merit. We are blessed with God's good favor because we respond to Him by doing what we should do, accepting the Gift "through faith by grace", and by continuing to respond throughout our Christian lives.

(8) For you have been saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Christ]; and this did not come from you – it is God's gift. (9) Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

In Jesus our dear Savior by the grace of God alone.

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Hi Bob,

I was listening to an expository preaching on the eternal state and the glorification of believers and the preacher came up with some odd things to say, and I don't know if it can be proven in scripture. He said that there is no water at all (i.e., H2O) in the eternal city, and that the "river of life" will not be made up of the same substance as we find here on earth. He said since in order for there to be life in this world or dimension (1st and 2nd heaven), there has to be water in order to sustain it. And since everything is eternal in the world to come, then water will no longer exist, and if it does, it will be completely different than we can imagine. He further said that the new bodies will have no blood or water because neither water or blood that sustains our bodies will not be necessary.

He also said that there will be no flowers, and I don't know how he came up with that from the bible. There will also be no animals at all, and that animals were taken into the ark only as a "food source" only. Someone made a defense that God created pets for us and that it would be illogical for them not to exist in heaven. He said that pets and such are "common grace" and is given to us to aid us and bring happiness and joy at times, but there is no reason for them to exist in eternity because our main focus will be in Glorifying God and Worshiping Him for all of eternity.

He said that our new bodies can never forget anything, eat, fly, and walk through walls. He said we can walk to enjoy the splendor of the city and the new infinite universe, and fly as fast as the speed of thought; otherwise there would be great difficulty to traverse a 1,400 mile high city. He said that the eternal city will be nothing like anything we can imagine because it is not made up of the same things that our current universe is made up of. No water, flowers, etc. will be replaced with new things that would have never entered our minds. Does this sound far-fetched to you? Or is what he said biblical?

God Bless,

Response #14: 

People speculate about such things with no evidence and little godly reflection all the time. If this is the definition of "expository preaching", I would want no part of it.

I fear you are exposing yourself to all manner of rubbish, my friend. If a person eats exclusively a diet of potato chips fried in hydrogenated oil, it can't be good for their physical health long term – as an analogy.

And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts."
Revelation 21:6 NKJV

The Greek word for "water" here is the same as the word for "water" in Greek everywhere else. Is this the best water ever? Indeed! It is the "water of life". But saying it's not water is not something justified by any orthodox canon of interpretation.

No animals in eternity? Scripture doesn't say that – anywhere. We know they have spirits. We know that in the case of human beings and angels, no spirit ever goes out of existence. Even the rebellious ones are preserved (albeit in the lake of fire). I would argue that all animals are going to be somewhere in the new heavens and the new earth – they did not have free will and so are not liable to the penalty of the lake of fire for rejecting the Gift of Jesus Christ.

No flowers?  The tree of life bears twelve types of fruit continually (see the link). Fruit, in the experience God has given us by the way He has created things, is always preceded by flowering. That argues for flowers on the tree of life (which does have leaves), and if so, why would God not have flowers in eternity? We can't say for certain; but saying "NO" is definitely not authorized by scripture and runs against the evidence directly.

No blood? Perhaps. Our Lord told the disciples that He was not a "ghost" because a "ghost" would "not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Lk.24:39). So in other respects the resurrection body is like the old one – only much better by far (see the link).

Flying and moving through walls? Our Lord did the latter and was able to move to the third heaven and from place to place instantly; our body will be like His.

There is a GREAT deal about what is coming that we do not know and cannot say for sure. We are given enough to know that it will be wonderful beyond imagination; we are also kept enough in the dark, looking "through a mirror darkly" (1Cor.13:12), that our motivation in this life to do what God wants us to do is not unfairly overwhelmed by thoughts of eternity. But we do know that there is much to learn and that it will be amazing.

But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
1st Corinthians 2:9 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hi Bob,

"Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'"
(John 11:16)

It seems that he is scoffing at the idea that Jesus has the ability to raise the dead. Given that the Bible has many harsh words to say about scoffers...how did he have such a close relationship to Jesus Christ? I suppose I ask this because I am concerned for my own soul. From a young age... I have been one to have trouble having faith and even had a tendency to scoff at God's words. This is a deep-rooted character trait that I want the Lord to change, especially in light of these verses.

"Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you."
(Acts 13:41)

"Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier."
(Isaiah 28:22)

"If they won't listen to Moses and the prophets..."

"Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies."
(Psalm 58:3) [Is this why it happened from a young age?]

This is not new either. It has been around for the past seven years as a believer, needed to fight sometime but mostly dormant. I have been praying every day the following prayer: "Lord, do whatever it takes to fundamentally and irreversibly change my character and personality for the better. Make it so that I am spiritually unable to return to the old me." May the Lord have mercy on me, for he knows my heart even if I do not.

Response #15: 

Thomas' conduct is clearly not to be emulated. But he was only saying what the others were thinking (cf. Jn.11:8 earlier in the chapter). Thomas probably always had this characteristic of skeptical irony (hence his sobriquet of "Didymus"); but when it comes to anything sinful, none of us is "that thing" as a believer in Jesus Christ . . . because we have been washed (1Cor.6:9-11). If we revert to natural type in any sinful behavior, then we need to confess and come back to the Lord in repentance; when we do, we are forgiven. It is a terrible trap to say "I'm X! Therefore I can't help myself!" That is a very dangerous false rationalization. The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is God. He has no trouble restraining any impulse – but we have to be truly willing. That part is on us.

The Spirit is willing to help you put aside disbelief in all things – but you have to reach out and accept. It's the same with all temptations and weaknesses we have. God is not going to take away our free will. He does help when we are genuinely willing to be helped – but that genuineness is manifested by action on our part to reach out and accept.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

We read in Obadiah that Edom was extremely hostile to the Jews. But by the time of John Hyrcanus they all converted to Judaism and abandoned the worship of Qaus. What caused this change of heart? Did they realize that they had more in common than they did with the Greeks?

At this time Judaism was still God's way to salvation. And why does that happen anyway? I'm talking about how acknowledging Jehovah was the one true God would have earned you great currency in Jeremiah's day but was worth next to nothing in Hyrcanus's day. I think any OT prophet would have found a mass exodus in a pagan nation from paganism and idolatry to monotheism and iconoclasm nothing short of miraculous. Seems kind of weird that in this time it doesn't count for much.

Response #16: 

Who knows why unbelievers do what they do. Herod's family, the notable examples, certainly weren't believers.

I just don't believe, based upon Herod et al., that there was any genuine faith there. When you say, "Judaism was still God's way of salvation", I would say that Jesus Christ – faith in Him and His sacrifice (even if veiled behind God providing a Sacrifice and not yet fully understood) – has always been the only way to be saved. Edomites like Herod getting circumcised and sacrificing animals and attending festivals out of political expediency and for social reasons is akin to nominal Christians in the Catholic church who are anything but saved (same goes for probably the majority of traditional Protestants).

I'm not aware of any words of deeds from these people indicating that any were truly saved. And, after all, most of the generation to which our Lord came were not believers either.

Question #17: 

Hello Bob,

I hope you are doing well and appreciate your work and ministry to others. Through your site I have begun to research and study eternal security. I am more and more convinced of your position regarding the need to hold on to your faith to the end. As I discuss this with family and others I am want to ensure I am strongly grounded and search the scriptures for my position.

In doing so I would love if you could help to clarify a few things for me.

1. I see you use 2 Timothy 2:12–13 (ESV)

if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

I fully understand vs 12 it makes perfect sense to me however, can you help me understand vs 13 if we are faithless would not mean we no longer have the faith it seems to point that he still remains faithful to us and will not deny himself in us.

Also John 6:39 (ESV)

39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

Would you then say that God only sends those who will endure to the end and that is who Jesus will raise up. I have a hard time with this verse.

Finally when speaking to my dad he struggles with the idea of how we can be born again and receive the Holy Spirit then in leaving the faith in a sense dying or being unborn again and have His Spirit leave us. He sees us being sealed by the Spirit as a thing that even of our own choosing we cannot undo or would even want to once we have His Spirit. I agree with you that the Bible teaches to hold to the end and endure but am not sure how that aligns with the idea of a rebirth and dying to Sin but then having that reversed if I leave the faith. Can you expound on how you could explain that concept to someone?

Thanks so much

Response #17:

Good to hear from you again, my friend – and thanks for your kind words.

1) On 2nd Timothy 2:12-13: verse thirteen comes after verse twelve; it's an obvious point but an important point. Verses in scripture are arbitrary inventions (16th inventions, along with the NT chapter divisions), but Christians today tend to look at verses as "stand alone" when it suits their purposes. Knowing that context is important is a principle which carries even more weight once we realize that splitting ideas up via verses in incorrect. Verse thirteen expands on verse twelve: He will deny us – if we are deny Him; and if we are faithless to Him in that way (i.e., rejecting faith and apostatizing), He will not change even though we may; He will remain constant, faithful to the principles of truth, faithful to the Father, faithful to Himself even though we may prove totally unfaithful to Him in falling away from Him. To see this as an "eternal security" OSAS verse, one has not only to ignore the context and what is being said over all (which seems to me very clear even in any English translation), AND assume the "He remains faithful" means "faithful to us . . . even though we have proven unfaithful to Him". But think about it: wouldn't that be a COMPLETE reversal of what was just said in the prior verse, namely, that if we deny Him, He will deny us? Indeed it would.

2) Here is what I read also from John's gospel:

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled."
John 17:12

The exception is important. Judas was lost in spite of the fact that our Lord picked him and without doubt prayed for him constantly. Whether or not Judas was ever a believers is a moot point (I think not), because in the end he most certainly was not. And that is the point: anyone who rejects Jesus Christ, even if once they had accepted Him, has reverted to their previous state so that none of the previous blessing enjoyed and none of the blessed status one was privileged to hold obtain any longer. That is a choice – a horrible one, but a choice nonetheless.

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
2nd Peter 2:20-22 NKJV

Pretty clear. People do revert. They do apostatize.

In terms of those given to the Son by the Father, we know that the Church is a perfect number ordained in the Plan of God from eternity past, equal precisely to the exact number of the fallen angels for whom we are the replacement. But only that ACTUAL Church is the Church. Those whose names are blotted out of the book of life are not part of the Church, and that is true whether those so blotted out rejected Jesus Christ overtly in this life, refused to believe before their lives came to an end, or believed but then fell away again, failing to persevere until the end.

"But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away (lit., "apostatize").
Luke 8:13 NKJV

As to "a thing that even of our own choosing we cannot undo", this is the nub of the misunderstanding. If we could no longer choose, there would be no purpose for life in this world from that point forward. This life is all about choice. That is why human beings were created: to demonstrate God's justice in condemning the devil by showing that, given the choice (paid for at the highest price at the cross), some possessed of the image of God would be willing to return to Him. But that willingness has to be shown to be genuine. It has to be tested in the furnace of life experience and demonstrated to be true and resilient and not merely a half-hearted and superficial choice. Even for believers who never ever go anywhere spiritually in the Christian life, exiting this life with faith still intact is "the victory" (1Cor.15:57; 1Jn.5:4; Rev.15:2; cf. Rev.2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:26; 3:5; 3:12; 3:21; 21:7). But without that victory of faith, no one will see the Lord.

(3) May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be praised, who has in His great mercy caused us to be reborn to a hope which lives through Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead, (4) and to an inheritance which will never be destroyed, defiled, or dimmed, but which is being guarded in heaven for us, (5) who are ourselves also being kept safe by God's power through our faith in Him to an ultimate deliverance ready to be unveiled at the end of time. (6) In anticipation of this ultimate deliverance, your joy overflows, though at present it may be your lot to suffer for a time through various trials (7) to the end that your faith may be shown to be genuine. This validation of your faith is far more valuable than gold, for gold, though it too is assayed by fire, ultimately perishes. But your faith, when proven genuine in the crucible of life, will result in praise, glory and honor for you at the glorious return of Jesus Christ. (8) Though you have never laid eyes on Him, yet you love Him. And though you cannot see Him at this present time, yet you have faith in Him. For this reason you rejoice with an inexpressible joy that bespeaks the glorious future to come, (9) when you shall carry off in victory the ultimate prize – the [eternal] deliverance of your lives (soteria, "salvation") – which is the very purpose and objective of this faith of yours.
1st Peter 1:3-9

Happy to speak with your further on this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Thank you Bob for the very well thought out quick response. I appreciate all your teachings. It seems so strange to me that this concept of once saved always saved is not more debated in most Christian denominations today. With so many versus and concepts in Gods word teaching to endure you would think it would be debated as much as election versus free will.

I appreciate your response over the last year or so I have felt compelled by studying the scriptures to move away from a once saved always saved doctrine. When I have shared this with others I have found you have to be very careful in how you explain it as many jump to conclusions about how I feel salvation can be loss. This has all come to a head now as I have been asked to be a deacon in my local church and I believe I will have to decline as they have once saved always saved directly in their doctrine statement of which I must agree. I may need to speak with my Pastor regarding my request to be removed from consideration. Please pray for me that I may have the words to share with him regarding the churches position.

I do find the concept of enduring faith actually gives me more peace then the once saved always saved position. I was saved at the age of 4-5 and through my adolescence I must have prayed the salvation prayer 50 times in my fear that my prior confessions of faith were not genuine enough. This is common as you know for those raised in a Christian home. I think a lot of this fear came from seeing people who believed abandon the faith and hearing everyone say well I guess they didn't really mean it. Any time I felt I had strayed from the Lord or did not desire His Word in my life like I should I assumed I must not have really meant it before and the cycle would repeat. I never really had rest in my salvation as I was expecting that moment others share where I asked for salvation and was instantly changed into a whole new person for Christ. As I have matured into the faith I now look back now I see that I had faith but did not have strong roots and instead of focusing on trying to get that perfect salvation I should have focused on trying to grow in the faith I always had so that I could mature and better prepare for the times when I may be tempted by the trials of the flesh.

In closing I did want to still get your thoughts on the following concepts.

1. Please help me understand better the concept of being Born again in Christ I assumed that happen at the first point of faith would you say that analogy Christ gives is in regard to those who endure or he knows will endure in their faith. I am just thinking of those who do fall away and how they were reborn in their faith then left that faith it's a hard concept to get my head around.

2. Also I know they are not inspired but it seems that from my quick research the early church fathers also preached a need to hold on to your faith are there any good examples of this.

Thanks again

Response #18: 

You're most welcome, my friend. Glad to help. Thanks also for the testimony. I think there are a lot of Christians out there who have since decided to get serious about following the Lord who will be able to relate to many of the things you say here. I can certainly attest to the fact that those of us who were saved very young (I would say at four or five years old for myself as well), don't have an "it all changed at that very moment!" experience – but we are saved nonetheless. It's not about emotion or experiences; it's all about the truth, believing it, loving it and living it.

In that same vein, I would say that if a person stops loving it they will stop living it, and eventually stop believing it. That is what apostasy is. It's always dangerous to argue derivative logic from analogies. One can only take them so far. E.g., "I am a son of God, sons get an inheritance – where is my prosperity?!" Of course we all DO get many things from the Lord, and our eternal inheritance is wonderful beyond understanding – but that doesn't give us the right to press the analogy too far in ways we want it to go; conversely, it is not right to press such analogies too far in ways we don't want them to go either. Yes, we are born again, born from above, born of the water of the Word. We have life eternal, but that life "is in His Son" (1Jn.5:11). What if we cease to be "in Him" any longer (cf. Jn.15:6 NKJV: "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned")? Then we no longer have that eternal life. All we have from God comes to us as believers in Jesus Christ. All the gifts received depend upon our relationship with Him. If we eschew and forswear that relationship, ending it of our own free will and against what He wishes, we cannot expect for the gifts to abide when we are no longer abiding in Him. We are in the Vine or out of the Vine; we are empowered with life of God as long as we abide in the Vine; but if we take ourselves out, we have nothing because our power, strength, blessing and life comes from Him. It is not some independent force that bears no relation to our relationship with Him; quite the contrary. So viewed correctly, the fact that we have been born again does not mean that we are incapable of rejecting that new relationship we have with Jesus Christ. Some do (sadly), and that is why there is SO much in scripture warning us to stay close to Him (from Peter #27):

1. Passages demonstrating that salvation is conditional upon continued faith:

You were once alienated from God – your very thoughts were hostile towards Him and your deeds were evil. Yet God has now made peace with you through the death of Christ in His physical body so that you may stand before Him as holy, without blemish and free from accusation – [this you will do] if you remain solidly grounded and firmly fixed in the faith, and un-moved from your hope in the gospel . . .
Colossians 1:21-23

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we persevere, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.
2nd Timothy 2:11-13

It is through this gospel that you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you – otherwise you have believed in vain.
1st Corinthians 15:2

We are of [Christ's] household, if we hold fast to our courage and confidence in this hope.
Hebrews 3:6

For we have all become partners of Christ, if we hold fast to our original conviction firmly to the end.
Hebrews 3:14

2. Passages that warn us to protect our faith:

Examine yourselves to see whether you still stand steady in the faith. Put your qualifications [as Christians] to the test. Or didn't you know this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is at home in you (cf. Jn.14:23) – if He's not, then you are already disqualified.
2nd Corinthians 13:5

These things all happened [to the Exodus generation] by way of an example so that we might not lust after what is evil as they did. Don't practice idolatry, as some of them did (as the scripture says "the people sat down to eat and got up to frolic"). Don't fornicate, as some of them did, and 23,000 of them fell dead in a single day. And let's not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did, and were killed by snakes. And don't complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel. All these things happened to them to give us an example, and have been written in scripture to warn us as we confront history's final epoch. So let whoever thinks he's standing firm be careful not to fall!
1st Corinthians 10:12

Watch out for yourselves, so you don't lose what you've worked so hard for, but receive a full reward instead. No one who goes wandering off – that is, does not keep to the teachings about Jesus Christ – has a share in God.
2nd John 8-9

I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
John 15:5-6

3. Passages teaching that sinful behavior is antithetical to faith:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies – and whatever is similar to all these things. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Galatians 5:19-21

Don't you know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor practitioners of homosexuality nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1st Corinthians 6:9-10

But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse jesting – things that have no place [among you]. Thanksgiving [is what ought to be heard coming from you] instead. For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure, or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Don't let anyone deceive you about this with empty words, for it is because of just such things that God's wrath comes upon those who refuse to obey and believe. So don't enter into partnership with them.
Ephesians 5:3-7

Those who want to get rich fall into temptations, traps, and many senseless and harmful lusts – the kind which swamp men['s hearts] to their destruction and damnation.
1st Timothy 6:9

I'm no expert on the church fathers. Like all other uninspired Christian writings, I don't have a problem with others drawing from them if that is helpful. I've never found it to be so in particular. Five minutes in the Bible is worth five hours in the fathers (at least), and that is true if even if you hit a "good one" like Irenaeus. Also, they can be very misleading and even dead wrong (and often are both) . . . but the Bible never is.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Question about the eternal status of an alcoholic family member who committed suicide; and agonizing over attended the funeral which was to be held in a Mormon temple [details withheld].

Response #19: 

I'm very sorry to hear this, my friend. It's not easy losing people you care about, especially when they are young and it is totally unexpected (I know something about that).

One thing I can tell you is that your conclusion that she "wouldn't mind" is absolutely correct. Funerals are for the living. If they are not even Christian ceremonies, it's a very hard thing to put up with and questionable to go unless there are compelling reasons in terms of people going who need the support.

Another thing I can tell you is that very good Christian people like yourself always seem to second-guess about "what I could have done" after the fact. That is understandable but also the wrong way to look at things and even potentially spiritually dangerous. Believe me, God has this in hand. For whatever reason, this was His time to take her home. Nothing you could have done would have changed that. And nothing you might have even considered doing would have changed her free will to do things differently. I'm not much into the AA mumbo-jumbo, and I don't really like the term "co-dependency", but it certainly is true that when it comes to someone we care about who is an alcoholic, it is very easy to buy into the wrong idea that "we can do something" to get them to stop. No, we can't. We can be loving, and if there is a genuine willingness to try to stop maybe we can lend a hand (helping them get into a program to dry out or something like that), but victory lies in their hands entirely, and nothing we can do can ever reach into their heart and pull a switch to stop them. They have to do that. The same is true with all self-destructive and dangerously sinful behaviors, of course. This is something everyone ought to realize from consideration of our own free will, but it's an easy trap to fall into if we love someone who is in trouble.

I pray you might have peace on this, my friend. However it ends, life with the Lord after this world is very much "better by far" (Phil.1:23), even in the case of those may not be winning the crowns of reward. All the more reason for us who are still here to keep fighting the fight in hopes of winning all three.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

. . . continued

Response #20: 

Yes, when it comes to any sort of addictive behavior, pretending it doesn't exist or doesn't matter or won't lead to bigger problems, or that apologies for outrages committed under the influence mean anything is all folly. Keeping a distance – if possible – is always the best policy.

When I overreacted to a dear friend's death in graduate school, it began a chain of events that really got out of hand. God is good! He rescued me in the end and I am deeply appreciative. It did teach me that legitimate grief or any other emotion when allowed to cascade into inordinate and misplaced guilt is a very dangerous cocktail which has great capacity for harm (leading to depression, bad decisions, vulnerability to things a person normally would be immune to, etc.). The truth is always best. We have to learn to see things as they are, not, on the one hand, as we want them to be in misguided optimism, and not, on the other hand, as we fear them to be at their worst possible manifestation. Things "are what they are", and if we are walking closely with the Lord, He gives us all we need to cope with whatever REALITY we face every day.

I'm very happy to hear that you are already feeling better, my friend.

If your ___ was a believer as you seem to me to know she was, then she is so much better off now by far that she could ever be in this world. That is the hope we all keep close: to be with Jesus Christ, and to have every tear wiped away from our eyes.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21: 

. . . continued

Response #21: 

It's always my pleasure.

Life stinks. That is the biblical position.

Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 NIV

Or as I sometimes say when people complain about depression (in a deficit of political correctness), "if you're not at least a little depressed, you're obviously not paying close enough attention".

Of course as believers in Jesus Christ we have a brilliant and absolutely sure hope that burns through the dark clouds of this life and anchors us to the throne room of heaven where our dear Savior is waiting for us and to which He will bring us just as soon as we finish our course down here (Heb.6:19).

Clearly, if we get tired of running this race and decide to throw in the towel, that is NOT what our Master wants from us. He has put us here for a reason, and this life is actually a wonderful opportunity to glorify Him by earning eternal rewards, the smallest part of which is worth more than this entire world. Our treasury is in heaven (Matt.6:19-21), and we have the great privilege of adding to that treasure every day – which is what the Lord wants us to do.

It isn't easy, of course. We are bombarded in this world by all sorts of troubles and opposition, and the evil one is especially interested in throwing stumbling blocks into the path of those who are genuinely following Jesus Christ (there are few enough of us, after all), and accusing us before the Lord should we be tripped up even a little bit. When severe testing hits, it's very easy to get discouraged like Job did (cf. Job 3:1ff.), and forget "the big picture". In the end, it really is all a matter of focus. If we are seeing our Lord seated at the Father's right hand, if we are seeing ourselves being rewarded before His judgment seat for a job well done, and if we are seeing just how big and powerful God is and how perfect and comprehensive His perfect plan is, then we will keep going even when the going gets tough. But if we lose that godly perspective, it's very easy to fall into self-pity, and the end of that process, carried to extremes, is never good.

"As I was falling, I realized I could have fixed every one of my problems except for this one."
– Golden Gate Bridge Jumper

This was sent to me by an Ichthys reader. I don't agree that problems are necessarily "fixable", but this does make the point of how foolish giving into despair of this sort is – but not necessarily realized until too late. Even for believers it is easy to lose the basic perspective of the mature walk, seeing the Lord as in total control – as He is – and understanding that like the perfect Shepherd He will guide us through whatever valley of death-darkness we have to pass through. We may have to rely on our peace and take pains to summon up joy at such times, but if we hold onto the that absolute hope, we will never flag in our faith; rather, we will grow daily in our love for the One who died for us that we might live in paradise forever with Him.

If a person was a believer, that person is in heaven after death, even if they foolishly took their own life. If a person was an unbeliever, that person is in hell after death, even if they endured life to the end.

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

Taking one's own life is not a good sign of great spiritual growth, obviously. It is a refusal to drink the cup to the dregs as our Lord has commanded us to do. We are responsible for finishing the race – if we want to break the tape and be rewarded for our efforts. So I doubt that any suicides will have crowns of reward (or any other significant reward in eternity).

Your are correct that the Bible says nothing directly about suicide. Scripture often feels no need to comment on things that are clearly wrong by labeling them wrong when anyone with a lick of spiritual common sense will know it anyway (i.e., also abortion, illicit drug use, etc.). But it also doesn't say that suicide is an unpardonable sin. Only refusing to accept the Gift of Jesus Christ or rejecting that Gift is unpardonable because salvation comes only by grace through faith in Him.

"The LORD will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me."
1st Samuel 28:19 NIV

In the passage above, Samuel tells Saul that – in spite of his many backslidings and sins, consulting a witch for one thing – that he and his sons will be with Samuel in paradise the next day. And we know how Saul died. He committed suicide.

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.
1st Samuel 31:4 NIV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Hi Bob,

A friend of mine is struggling with mental illness and it runs in her family. She keeps writing to me about her doubts as whether she is or is not saved. I asked her a simple question and took her to the Roman road, and she believes all of it wholeheartedly. She tells me that she doesn't feel saved at times and has doubts because of her actions and sins, but truly desires to do what's right, and to keep the commandments. I know that the bible says that we can know for certainty that we have eternal life (Jn. 5:24; 1st Jn. 5:13). I don't think that Christians should live in fear or doubts regarding their salvation, and it seems that the bible gives us absolute assurance of salvation if we put our trust in Jesus Christ alone to save us. I can only speak for myself that I know with absolute certainty that I have eternal life, and nothing will ever convince me otherwise. The faith that I possess is as the bible says: the substance of things hoped for and the "evidence" of things not seen. I will go to my grave believing this. Why do some true born-again Christians often have doubts about their salvation? And how can they know with absolute certainty that they have eternal life without ever doubting?

God Bless,

Response #22: 

I take "My word" in John 5:24 as referring to the gospel; similarly, 1st John 5:13 expresses the fact of all believers having eternal life. So we agree on this point:

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:17-18 NKJV

As to doubts, many believers do have them. In my observation and experience, this is a result of a failure to grow spiritually after being saved, and allowing instead the influences of the world to intrude and compromise the basic truths that attend to salvation and the ministry of the Spirit. That is not the same thing as apostasy, however. But it does mean that such a believer is vulnerable. In fact, we are all vulnerable when we are not vigilantly pursuing spiritual growth. When we are making it a habit to pray, to read our Bibles, and to attend to solid Bible teaching – and believe it – we find that doubts receded as we grow closer to Jesus Christ. The clearer He is to our spiritual vision, the less there is to doubt. If we are keeping our eyes on Him, we are not going to sink no matter how rough the sea and waves and no matter how strong the wind, but if we let our vision stray away from Him and towards the threats around us, we will begin to sink straightaway . . . and will find ourselves streaking back to the boat. And there is no progress in the boat.

How do we mature believers have certainty? We believe the truth we have learned much more than what our eyes see, what our ears hear, and what our feelings feel. We believe the Word of God. And belief is always a choice.

In Him who is the very Word of God, Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23: 

Good day

Hope all is well. I have read an article on eschatology. The author says there will be no human beings in heaven. There will be a new earth... What will happen is that the cosmic world will dissolve with all its principalities and thus a direct "view" of heaven just like in the beginning. I don't think I want to come back on earth. He quotes the famous verse. The meek will inherit the earth. Please help? What is heaven then? Is it a place full of God's presence no matter the dimension?

Thank you

Response #23: 

Hmm. . . that's why I recommend Ichthys over anonymous websites.

Upon exiting this life, all believers are taken into God's presence in the third heaven (see the link: "our interim state").

When Christ returns, all departed believers will be resurrected, and those still alive will be resurrected at that time too, namely, the second advent (see the link: "the resurrection of the Lamb's Bride").

We will "be who we are" on the other side, only things will be much better by far, even before the resurrection, but assuredly all the more so thereafter!

As to our eternal destiny, after ruling with Christ for 1,000 years, the Millennium, we will all receive our eternal inheritance (see the link: "the reward of the Church") in the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and the new earth; the old will be obliterated (see the link); the new will be a place where only "righteousness dwells" (see the link: New Jerusalem and the eternal state).

The meek are the opposite of the arrogant; the arrogant oppose God and refuse to bow the knee to Him, refusing His Gift of Jesus Christ; the meek respond to Him, not only accepting the Gift but following Jesus Christ daily, carrying our crosses in emulation of Him. We will be rewarded and inhabit the New Jerusalem with Him forever – that it the inheritance "of the land" that is the ultimate inheritance.

Please do consult these links, and do feel free to write me back about anything.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24: 

Dear Bob,

I suspect that Paul made a similar statement in Romans 9 verse 3, albeit with the right attitude and motivation to express their love for the nation.

Both, Moses and Paul, had the gospel of Christ made known to them. Not much is written about how Moses came to understand the Cross, but 1 Cor. 10:4 declares the Christ was the Rock in Israel's midst. Luke 24:44 speaks clearly of the purpose of the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms, concerning Me (Christ). Paul had a much more clear understanding of the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) and he was taught by the risen Christ.

I hope this short explanation of Moses knowing about Christ (Deut.30:12-14; Heb.11:26) will suffice to make my question clear!

Would it be to far a stretch to assume that Moses perhaps wanted to copy a "Cross-scenario" for himself to redeem his people? "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin-but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written." (Deut.32:32 NKJV) If the Gospel was made know to him (perhaps with partial understanding), he wanted to imply reminiscently that which Christ was to do according to John 3:16?

Grace be with you,

Response #24: 

The question of the gospel before the cross is a commonly asked one. We do know that Christ died for the sins of the world, present and future, but also past (Rom.3:25). The cross itself divides human history, with all history before it looking forward to it, and all history afterwards looking back to it. Salvation has thus ever been the same. Before the cross, faith had to be placed in God's promised Substitute (made clear in all animal sacrifices from Abel onward); after the cross, we look back and see Jesus and His work for us clearly. The passages you cite take this all into account and make it very clear that Moses definitely knew the Lord as His Savior.

I have written about this before, and here are some links:

Pre-cross salvation

The Gospel before the Cross (in BB 4B)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Hi Bob,

Would we know about evil in the eternal state? It seems as if there is no need to even have the knowledge of evil if there will no longer be any evil. And that God says in Revelation 21 that the "former" things are passed away. Am I correct in reasoning that even just the "knowledge" of evil would be done away with?

God Bless,

Response #25: 

I think it is unlikely that we will not have a more complete knowledge of all things in eternity rather than a less complete one. Our perspective on things will be entirely different, however, being perfected in sanctification and dwelling in the presence of our dear Lord. But how, for example, could we ever completely appreciate the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross if we were lobotomized to the point of not knowing any longer what sin was?

(22) "For just as the new heavens and new earth which I am about to make are going to continue before Me", says the Lord, "so your seed and its name will continue. (23) And it will come to pass that from month to month and from Sabbath to Sabbath all flesh will come to worship before Me", says the Lord. (24) "And they will go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who rebelled against Me, for their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched and they will be abhorrent to all flesh".
Isaiah 66:22-24

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26: 

Greetings to you the man of God. I am very young in the word of God. I have come to you so that I can learn and grow starting from how to be borne again ?

Response #26: 

Good to make your acquaintance.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:16-18 NKJV

Everyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ, believing that He is God and man, and that He died for the sins of the entire world, is saved – born again, born from above, given new life. All such will live forever with Him, provided they persevere in faith steadfastly until the end.

Please see the link: Salvation: God's Free Gift

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #27: 

Thanks man of God. Then after believing ! what is my duty?

Response #27:

Hello again,

The way I put it frequently is this: our job is to grow up spiritually (by Bible reading, by prayer, and very importantly by accessing a good teaching ministry, learning AND believing the truth taught), to progress in our walk with Jesus Christ, passing the tests that come to help us grow, and eventually to help others do likewise by carrying out the ministry that our Lord has for us (He has something for everyone).

You can find out much more about the above in the recent posting: BB 6A: Peripateology: the Study of the Christian Walk.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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