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Struggling with Faith and Sin

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Question #1:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your site and work you do for the king of Kings Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. I have a very deep thinking analytical brain. I'm currently living in South Africa.

I have had a long windy road with the lord. I think I was saved at age if 10 in youth. To cut a long story short I back slid as I was getting depressed with Gods word and condemnation. Not being like "other Christians" filled with joy etc. I had an evil experience on __. But ja I felt evil and hallicunated. I ran to the lord. Tried to get saved again still had this fear etc. But I eventually experienced the holy spirit physically when was prayed over and confessed my sins on paper.

So once again I tried to be as strong as I could be still depressed what had occurred in my life. The terrible depression and condemnation would not leave I used to get so angry with God. I eventually had to go on depression tablets which over time stabilised me. I back slid into the world again though ____. Trying to find joy in wrong areas. Then had long term gf for long still always knowing Jesus is real etc. But afraid to read the word to be condemned etc. When my sister was killed in hi-jacking in 2008 I went to the UK for 3 years I went off the rails ____. I cant remember if I asked for forgiveness of this but I do remember not being happy and still knowing how real Jesus is.

Then came back to RSA after my dad died so could also be closer to my mom. I basically carried on but still knew how real God is was basically hiding from him. But recently I lost a lot of money gambling and those has brought me wanting God again much deeper etc. I have confessed my sins with sincerity but the old head is rearing again with Hebrews 6: 4-6 , Hebrews 10:26. I have researched tremendously on these and either they denied Christ fully or they sinned. I have found it quite impossible to deny Jesus even during my sinful state I knew how real he is which probably makes it worse. The trouble is the church especially doesnt know how to deal with a depressed Christian. " just pray more" "rebuke the devil" etc.. in saying all the other biggie for me is Jacob and Esua I HATED and he tried to repent but was rejected.

In a nutshell I LOVE THE LORD JESUS. THERE IS NONE ELSE ABOVE HIM. I HAVE NO DOUBTS AS I HAVE EXPERIENCED THE HOLY SPIRIT PHYSICALLY EVEN. My question to you is I am truly trying hard again with my faith and walk. But these passages truly make me depressed yes GODS word not sin per say. Surly Jesus could have seen how much these scriptures would cause damage to sensitive believers such as us which ACTUALLY stumbles our walk with Jesus getting better.

Kind Regards

Response #1:

First, let me assure you that you are correct: you 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

Also, you were forgiven whatever sins you committed as soon as you confessed (and continue to be – which is we why we pray daily, "forgive us our sins as we forgive our debtors/those who have trespassed against us"):

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

The Bible says what it says and means what it means. Some passages take a little more than English-only perusal by non-teachers to figure out. Things are designed that way by the Lord for a number of reasons. One reason is so that it will become easily obvious that everyone needs to submit to the authority of a teaching ministry in order to grow spiritually. That is true even if a man has the gift of pastor-teacher . . . until such time as he has prepared to the point and grown to the point of being able to feed himself and others through teaching the Word of God.

From what you have written here, it sounds to me as if most of the stumbling blocks of the past have been put aside. But it is typical of believers who finally decide to get serious about following the Lord to be tempted to fall into the trap of looking backward and/or becoming mired in guilt and legalism. It is good to remember David's words after he had committed murder to cover up adultery:

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

Since the Lord has forgiven us, it is ungrateful and actually arrogant (as if our sins were more important than the blood of Christ which covers them) not to joyously accept forgiveness and move forward. The Christian life is supposed to be all about moving forward – in spiritual growth.

Ichthys is one such place where you can grow. There aren't many of them out there of which I am aware (most churches are into entertainment, ritual, numbers, money, music and all manner of worldly pursuits, but are not teaching the Word of God in anything like the depth and orthodoxy necessary for growth). One other place I always recommend is Bible Academy (at the link).

But to grow, one has to put the past aside and move forward daily in learning the truth, believing the truth, and applying the truth. It doesn't happen overnight, but in short enough order you will find all such problems resolving as you begin to see the world and view the world through the eyes of the truth.

Here are a couple of links that deal with the passages you mention (but as indicated, spiritual growth requires a systematic and broad approach rather than an "only look into what concerns me" approach).

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

Does Hebrews 10:26 Teach Loss of Salvation?

Hebrews 10:26

Are those in Hebrews 6:4 who "crucify the Son of God afresh" lost?

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Thank you so much for your response and helping me through this it is very tough in depression. The other one I battle with is Hebrews 17 about Esau's birth right. And he didn't get repentance then I think am I like an Esau.

Sorry you made me worry about music now as I have got some good Christian worship music. Like Hillsong etc. But certain passages in the bible really stumble as Christian's when all we want to know is the truth as his word says we have to test everything. The most sad part about all of this is it's even harder when we suffer with depression as even the promises etc some times don't help as affects FEELINGS of flesh mainly. As I said before I have a very deep analytical brain and look very deeply into certain things. I know Hebrews was written to Jews trying to go back to old rituals etc. But when u see what's written it truly affects us in a condemning way. How do you ignore that or try get past that and move forward in Gods Grace when u read that?

I pray God helps my brain and take captive any wrong thoughts easier said than done. I don't want to be the 1,2,3 seed in the shower I want to be 4. But when u feel like the Bible is condemning u an then see other scriptures on Grace etc it seems blatant contradiction. Which in turn makes me upset with God as I cant get a clear answer and live in Fear of what he actually is saying. Then in saying that because of the current situation you start to think he allowing this on purpose but how can that be when it has happened through out my life. From day one even before saved had very worry pot brain. It's terrible. When all I want to do is walk in his LOVE and light. Be filled with Joy and Peace. This sometimes doesn't work in the flesh. I know it's TRUE in spirit the battle continues!

Also I don't understand how you can lose salvation if you truly believe and are sealed with the Holy Spirit that is like being unborn again?

Response #2:

Esau was never a believer (see the link).

"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

As this and many other passages affirm, believers are saved, unbelievers are not. If a person who did believe rejects Christ later and stops believing, then he/she is no longer a believer, and only believers are saved. The Spirit protects us. The Spirit does not take away our free will. That is muddled Calvinism and not biblical. The only reason we are left here in the world following salvation is to make choices – to the glory of God. But God is glorified even if we behave like the seed planted on the rock that shriveled under the heat of testing:

"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."
Luke 8:13 NKJV

Believers do fall away back into unbelief – our Lord just said so. But apostasy (which is what that is called) is not an easy or overnight process. It doesn't happen by accident and it's not something a person is "penalized" with because of sin. Sin may play a role, but more often the cause is a believer becoming unnerved by testing or "mad at God" for some perceived slight (such as the death of a loved one). In any case, apostasy is loss of faith – that is a choice just as faith was a choice (see the link:  Apostasy and the Sin unto Death).

Deciding to indulge or not indulge in music is a matter of application. There is plenty about that on the site because people ask questions about it. But to grow spiritually – so as to get better at applying the truth to life – one needs to concentrate on the whole realm of doctrinal truth, not just bits here and there.

So I commend the Peter series (as well as the Basics series thereafter). Not that it's not good to read everything posted (I certainly hope so), but a systematic approach that produces balanced growth is the best one (the weekly email postings are also good to read: link to the archives).

As you grow, you will get better at the fight. One can't expect a solider to do well in fierce combat with an experienced foe if he has not yet even had proper basic training. The Lord is our perfect drillmaster too. He will see to it for all those who do wish to grow that the tests coming occur in a doable order – to allow application of the truth as the person is able to handle (1Cor.10:13).

Keep fighting the fight, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Thank you Bob,

But I sinned because I wanted __ it doesn't mean I didn't believe any more. What's worse is I put him to shame by sinning thus why I talk about Hebrews 10:26. I did not stop believing but wanted to sin so I'm worse than a un believer is what I am saying. In saying that in have truly asked for forgiveness and repented of these sins. But it says you cant get repentance coz you will have to re sacrifice Jesus. This is the problem so how do you move on in Grace if this is what Hebrews 10:26 says?

And regarding Esau God hated him before he was born so how could he ever have a chance of believing he showed favour over Jacob before birth. So some are predestined to be saved and others aren't ?

I took a screen shot from your one article that you put in the e-mail. Please see attached to this e-mail you see this is contradiction to Hebrews 10:26 cause say we cant come back to repentance? And here you say all our sins forgiven? [fr BB 3A about sins of cognizance vs. ignorance] Been reading a lot through your notes. What is your conclusion of me fearing God so much that it made me sin? Coz basically that's what I think happened when I felt the holy spirit physically and obviously fear of the devil too. That's why my case is not the same as many others. I KNOW how real God is but certain bible passages made me fear so much and lose hope if I can achieve what he wants. Once again this is not an excuse but truly what I feel in my case. An improper foundation of his Grace and love?

I don't want to kid myself as we all know our hearts in flesh are evil.

Also how do I know what is Gods discipline and the devils condemnation? As we must capture every improper thought. Then I think maybe God is disciplining me mentally on purpose.

Response #3:

If you read the links, you will see that his is NOT what Hebrews 10:26 means at all. I realize that the evil one has used misunderstanding of this verse to generate guilt in many Christians (I've heard all this before many times). If that were what the verse taught, that is what I would teach. In fact, however, the verse is telling participants in the temple rites that no physical sacrifice of animals can take away this sin of dishonoring Christ by continuing to engage in such sacrifice – an affront to Christ because He has already come now and died on the cross for us (e.g., Rom.10:4). There is plenty of application of that principle for us today: no legalistic works approach will ever find favor with the Lord. But torturing oneself over past sins for which Jesus died and which were forgiven when confessed is just such an approach! What you are saying, in effect, is that you are so special in your sinning that Christ's sacrifice was not good enough. No other sacrifice, however, exists – and His sacrifice was all-sufficient.

All sin is forgiven on confession, whether ignorant or cognizant. God is fair to ladle out the divine discipline in each case as appropriate, but He does so as a loving Father who cares for His children (Hebrews chapter twelve).

The fact that God knew ahead of time that Esau would never believe does not mean that Esau never had a chance to believe. Jesus died – paid the entire price – for all of Esau's sins. So to be saved, all he had to do was all any of us have to do: put our trust in the Lord and accept Him as our Substitute. This Esau never did so he falls into the "hated by God" category; while Jacob did put his trust in the Lord, so he is beloved. It's the same with every human being who's ever lived. God's foreknowledge does NOT eliminate free will. Indeed, unless God had ordained history it could not be taking place. Foreordination and free will are not mutually exclusive – that's muddled Calvinism; in fact there could be no free will without God's perfect decree of all that is and will be (this is all explained in detail at the link: BB 4B: Soteriology).

As to "fearing God so much that it made me sin", I would counsel you to pitch all such dangerous thinking overboard. God never tempts anyone to sin in any way:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
James 1:13-14 NIV

On "how do we know", etc., my best advice to you: settle down and have a tiny bit of faith that the Lord loves you – which He most certainly does, having died in the darkness for all of your sins. You can't expect to recover from years of spiritual drift and believing all manner of untrue things overnight. If I were an M.D., I tell you to take some pills, go to physical therapy, and come back in six weeks if you weren't mending. The principle is a good one though the analogy doesn't exactly fit: what you need is some time reading you Bible, praying, learning and believing the truth by studying consistently under a good ministry like Ichthys, and applying what you know in faith and not in doubt. The going may be slow and painful at first (lots of scar tissue to clear out of your heart as in the case of all of us who must go through spiritual recovery), but you will see progress if you stick with it. In any case, this is the only way to grow spiritually and redeem the time in this world that the Lord has given you. Everything else is merely window-dressing.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Robert.

Thanks once again for always replying to me and helping me through this difficult patch I'm going through. I definitely do not think Jesus cant forgive my sins at all. I know I need to accept this in full.

But what I am trying to make you understand is my walk was hindered due to these certain passages and improper foundation. So in a sense I need to change MY mindset while still asking God to help me through it as I cannot do it alone. I DO over analyze scripture and dont seem to look through the eyes of grace rather fear and condemnation when reading the word thus my struggle and depression eventually causes burn out and frustration and thus eventual sin. I thus gave up on the bible due to frustration and not getting answers on certain passages clearly not on Jesus or how real he is and thus went back into a "back slidden state" due to my irritating brain.

Regarding Esau and his time that was in old testament so I don't know how Jesus could have saved him? He was under old testament rules ? And I know Jacob "Israel" and Esau "Edom" eventually came to be. I in turn cant questions Gods motives or sovereignty on this matter. Just tryna' understand what it means to my life in the 21st century once again trying to UNDERSTAND it in Gods love and not be confused by it. I ask myself how other Christian's don't get confused? This why I say I hate my brain all I want is faith like a child and ignore these difficult passages which play on my brain and hinder my walk.

"Regarding me talking about God fearing so much made me sin" I never stated it was God I'm stating with regards to what i said earlier regarding the burn out and not being able to understand. I sinned God didnt make me sin. I sinned as I couldn't handle me trying so hard to understand and not get answers to certain passages. Thus sinned to try and feel better but we know that this just makes it worse. I have forgiven my sisters killer so I do not harbour forgiveness on my side. As stated before sometimes things happen like when I lost a lot of my money gambling this eventually drew me closer to God again and my eventual repentance of past and specific sins which I couldn't remember clearly if I asked for forgiveness before.

I don't understand the "window dressing" sorry. Thank you regarding the faith and Love but I do question why God couldn't have made those passages clearer as they really hurt us sensitive deep thinking believers. Once thank you for tour time and will read over that link again.

PS where are you based? So in essence to get straight to the point some people believe in OSAS. Some people strongly believe in tongues etc why does God allow so much confusion why cant we all just agree on one thing? It's so irritating as there is no clear cut answer on either side of the coin. It will definitely hamper a believers walk no knowing which way to turn or trust basically testing everything and living in fear and ultimate burn out. This trying to just believe in Jesus because everything else is this person's opinion or this persons opinion. It's truly irritating and I don't think God wants us to be like this or in my case the way I am.

Response #4:

First, apologies for the delay. Saturday is posting day (so that believers who rely on this site have something new for Sunday), so emails received after COB on Friday I don't usually get to until at least Sunday.

I do understand what you are saying. In fact, the Roman Catholic church uses the disagreements among Protestants as a "proof" that they must be correct – since they believe nothing about the Bible, I suppose. In reality, of course, the fact there are 100 interpretations about position X only tells us that there are at least 99 wrong ones – and possibly 100 wrong ones. It does NOT tell us that there is no correct interpretation. There is always a correct interpretation. Sometimes within the community of ACTUAL faith, that is to say, the genuine Church of Jesus Christ composed of born again / from above believers as opposed to the church-visible which has a majority at least of unbelievers, there is near unanimity on any given teaching; sometimes there are only two or three major positions; sometimes even in near unanimity the popular position is wrong.

What does this all mean? It means that the truth is the truth, and our job #1 as believers is to seek the truth, believe the truth and apply the truth. For those who DO take up this job seriously, God always provides. There are ministries out there where the actual truth is being taught. How would that not be the case? Of course God provides that. But your objection is that it is not so clear and easy to figure out which is which. Yet the Lord did lead you to Ichthys. So He has done right by you.

Indeed, you have a right – even a duty – to verify that Ichthys is the ministry for you before you start to suspend your skepticism and accept and believe what you are being taught here. That is easy enough to do. The fruit test given to us by the Lord tells us to examine the tree in aggregate; once we find a tree we know for certain is good, then we can in good faith and confidence accept that the fruit is good too, and get on with the process of spiritual growth.

There are good reasons, after all, why our Lord has set things up as He has, making it "not so easy" but definitely not impossible to find the right place. That is to demonstrate to ourselves and all others, men and angels both, that we really DO want the truth. If it were too simple, there would be no need for a search that demonstrated just that. Our Lord did not go up to the mountain top for no reason – the dedicated disciples were the ones who followed Him up there (e.g., Matt.5:1).

And there is a good reason why you cannot figure all this out from the Bible completely by yourself and by means of a Smorgasbord approach going from one internet site to another. That is the need for authority. Every believer has to put him or herself under the authority of a teaching ministry in order to grow. A believer will never grow by playing referee over every teaching and bouncing every new thing taught off of other ministries. That is because only genuine truth you actually believe is converted by the Spirit into "full knowledge" (epignosis), that is, truth in the heart which is usable by the Spirit to guide you in life. If you hear the truth but don't commit to believing it, that does little good; and if you keep weighing multiple interpretations, you are believing nothing – not even the true one.

I'm not saying that for even the most positive and dedicated believers that there won't be times when a particular teaching is just too hard to accept – at the moment. My old mentor used to call these "bones in the fish". Because the fish has bones doesn't mean you stop eating the fish; instead, you put the bones aside for the moment and move on eating what you can.

So this really is up to you at this point. Ichthys is certainly not the only teaching ministry out there, but there aren't many which are solid enough in the actual truth for you to grow as you ought to want to grow. But whatever you decide about this ministry, it is absolutely the case that to grow you'll have to find one place you can trust and commit to learning from it. That means accepting the authority of the teaching, believing what you're taught, and then living accordingly through the Spirit. Obviously, any reasonable Christian on hearing this would want to make doubly sure of the rightness and orthodoxy of the place chosen before the fact. That is the correct procedure. But once a truly good place is found, it won't do you any good without respecting the authority of the teaching and committing to believing what is learned. That is the only way to grow.

I certainly believe that Ichthys is such a place – I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't (it's not as if there is monetary benefit in this grace ministry, e.g.). But that is for you to decide as to whether or not it's for you (it's surely not for everyone for a variety of reasons). What I said before is worth repeating in principle too. I think if you do give this ministry a chance, not fencing over everything you bump into but accepting it and trying to learn and believe it, you will find in a very short time that more and more of your questions are being answered and that more and more pieces of the puzzle are falling into place.

This doesn't mean I'm not happy to answer questions too. I do understand that especially in the early stages of growth there are kinks to be worked out and particular issues which trouble, concern or especially interest individual Christians. To that end, let me say in response to one of the specific issues you brought back up here that Esau was never a believer. Were things different in the Old Testament? Not in principle. We do see Jesus, His perfect person, human since the incarnation and God forever, more clearly know, and we do understand more about His sacrifice in dying for the sins of the world on the cross. But in the OT regime they too looked forward to a Messiah, a Substitute who would solve the problem of sin (e.g., Rom.3:23-26). Salvation then as now was based on putting one's trust in God that He would make it right and bring to resurrection in the end. Those who believed were saved, following the pattern of Abraham:

And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:6 KJV

Here are a few links on this (the major study on all this, linked before, is BB 4B: Soteriology):

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

Pre-cross Salvation

More on pre-cross salvation

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

This is a perfect example of why us sensitive Christian's lose Hope look at this Jennifer's comments on E-bible platform. You will also see mine. But e-bible sometimes doesnt let you say openly how you feel on the platform (review) comments.

She basically saying sorry you willfully sinned Game over. I cannot in my deepest heart see how God would allow that if some one is truly repented? How does this women even get this in her brain it boggles my mind. Even me as a human being would give a fellow man a second chance.

What also irritates me is why can there be so opinions. We have to constantly scratch, test and search for truth. Especially in these passages.


Response #5:

So this is a perfect example of why Christians who want to learn and grow in hope – and all other Christian virtues and spiritually generally – need to stay away from false teachers, bad influences, and internet garbage generally . . . especially, as in your case, if they have found themselves to be vulnerable to it and susceptible to the devil's influence therefrom.

You've got an itch? Stop scratching it. It won't heal over until you do stop.

Find yourself a good place and stick to it (all other prior advice applies).

I also recommend Bible Academy (at the link).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Bob,

Bible Academy has nothing on Hebrews searched the whole site.

Response #6:

But there is much of great worth on that site (as there is on Ichthys).

Point is, proper procedure is to learn consistently and systematically EVERYTHING the Bible has to say; in so doing, all such problems and concerns are eventually solved – not just because they are covered but even more so because the student has the frame of reference to receive and understand the teaching about them when they do come up.

I do understand that some topics, subjects concern individual believers so much that they can tend to dominate all converse with the Lord. It is not wrong to want particular information on a near-and-dear subject (or better put in most cases as "what-I-most-fear" subject), but spiritual growth is really the only solution to the spiritual issues that cause these concerns in the first place. To use a medical analogy, band-aids aren't much good in treating sores caused by a systematic infection; the system has to be cured for the sores to go away.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

I understand what you saying but it's hard to move on having those passages lingering there all the time.

Response #7:

What is needful is the truth. If these passages that bother you meant what you fear they say then you would be right to be upset. Since they do not mean what you fear they say there is no basis for being upset.

I tried to explain the specifics to you and gave you links to places where all these passages are discussed in greater detail. So if there is anything in the explanations you do not understand, do feel free to write me back and we can discuss these.

However, if it is a question of someone telling you the truth in an understandable way but you not being willing to accept the truth, there is little I or anyone else can do about that.

Emotions are difficult things, and guilt is one of the worst, easily stoked by the evil one where believers are concerned. But we have to learn to master our emotions just as we have to learn to master sin (see the link).

We are saved by believing the truth of the gospel, the message about Jesus Christ, who He is, God and man, and what He has done, dying for our sins on the cross. But if someone hears the gospel and refuses to believe it – for whatever reason – then said person is not saved. Similarly, we advance spiritually after salvation by seeking out, listening to and believing the truth as it is taught. But if a believer refuses to seek a truth-teaching ministry, or refuses to listen, or refuses to believe what is taught, then no growth will occur.

As Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us, there is a time for everything. In my opinion, it is high time for you to cast aside your doubts, fears and preoccupation with the past and accept the mercy and grace and forgiveness our dear Lord offers you . . . and get cracking with spiritual growth.

Major posting on this at the link: BB 6A: Peripateology

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

I hope you are keeping well and blessed. I'm still battling with Hebrews 10:26 but trying my best to focus on Gods love and Grace for me. Not allowing emotions to to take over faith!

I will keep pushing on as I condemn myself even after asking for forgiveness and repenting.

Keep well and God bless you in Jesus Holy name.

Response #8:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

Just remember, Hebrews 10:26ff. was written to individuals who were literally doing the wrong referred to here (i.e., "trampling" the Lord underfoot by continuing in the Levitical sacrifices so that there was no Levitical sacrifice that could redeem them from that sin) with the purpose of them repenting. Some no doubt did so and so did not fall into the apostasy / sin unto death (which latter event, again, does not result in loss of salvation; link) . . . because they heeded Paul's warning. So this is all about what we do TODAY. It's not about what we did yesterday. If we sinned yesterday, we can confess today and have no qualms about our eternal tomorrow because Christ died for all the sins we confess and we are forgiven when we do so.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

I truly believe if your are truly born again it basically impossible to lose your salvation there is no where else to go to.

Response #9:

As long as you are a believer, you are indeed safe and secure and no one can snatch you out of the Lord's hand.

"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

Important to note, not "he who once believed in Him but now no longer does" but "He who is believing in Him ("now", Greek present tense)". Link: Apostasy and the Sin unto death.

"But he who endures to the end shall be saved."
Matthew 24:13 NKJV

This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
2nd Timothy 2:11-13 NKJV

In confidence that you will endure until the end so as to be saved.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello again Bob,

I feel quite embarrassed and ashamed at the decisions I've been making spiritually, but I nonetheless pray you keep your patience with me and AGAIN thank you for your time.

Though since our first messages I truly felt I trusted and approved of your correction and teachings, as well as your advice to heed "a smorgas-board approach to Bible teaching" but rather to find a safe tree and "eat the fruit thereof", I have failed to heed it to a unnecessary expense.
I foolishly was wrestling with these doubts we spoke of, and something came over me and I randomly messaged some ministry I came across about something. This person though perhaps sincere is definitely a hyper-calvinist and they answered my question telling me that my conversion was "a false conversion" and that if I was "of his sheep" I would not be confused and know his voice, this really messed with my head and I became so heartsick the last couple days that I got down and asked Jesus save me. A few minutes later I got back down and repented of saying such a thing. Because no matter what anyone says, I know for a FACT that the Lord called me and led me to his gospel which I believed in and was therefore saved, regardless of my walk from that point on. Now I am feeling uneasy of having said such a thing which was in no way pleasing to the Lord, this is the main reason I wrote you.

I see how destructive this pattern of thinking is getting, and this really took a heavy toll on me while already in a shaky place as you know, I want to henceforth stick to your ministry as though I don't think anyone of us knows everything (only God does), almost everything we've talked about and that I've read on your site resonates accurately with all the scripture in me heart and mind. I never left, but I have not been aggressively "eating the fruit and sticking to it".

Truly you have shown your humility and patience with me time and time again, may God bless you for it.

P.S. - I saw you comment in an answered email that "it takes some believers some time to get cracking with the truth" and that it certainly did for you. This gives me heart, because most stories or testimonies I hear of people being saved is that they rather quickly progress in revelations and understandings of Gods love, and it has been a while for me and you know my story.

In Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

Response #10:

For sure, none of us knows everything. If that were the standard, even the apostles wouldn't have measured up, especially at first. But we can know plenty. Better yet, we can BELIEVE plenty that is true, and grow in grace and the knowledge of our dear Lord Jesus Christ thereby, walking closer with Him day by day.

There are lots of wolves in sheep's clothing out there, and more than enough who are "merely" poor servants of our Lord as well. So I wouldn't be too hard on myself for this. In any case, I think the Lord used it to show you that you do possess a basic store of things you know are truth and CAN know are true. That is what to build on.

I have often noticed that when it comes to various influences and influencers "out there", the ones who most impress people are the ones who exude absolute confidence. But that is not a substitute for the truth. Being confident about the truth is wonderful – and we have the Bible and the Spirit to guide us there. Making things up or believing things that are not true and not confirmed by the Spirit or the Bible and being confident about that is at best terrible self-deception; at worst it is the methodology of the evil one meant to deceive (2Cor.11:13-15).

I'm happy the Lord led you to Ichthys, my friend. I pray for your peace and for your spiritual growth. Indeed, it does take many of us a rather long time to "get there" in terms of our willingness to get moving forward with spiritual growth. But this is definitely a case of "better late than never":

"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him."
Matthew 21:28-32 NIV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Thank you Bob,

I was likewise thinking that the Lord may have used this for that purpose, a scripture came to mind where Paul said "for we know God makes everything work for the good of those who love him". Also, thank you for that scripture from Matthew, I forgot about that parable, that's a very loving message from our Lord, showing his patience and mercy, amen.

If you don't mind I would like to ask your take on something that's been going through my head a lot. I know marriage and divorce are not simple matters, and I read some writing you have on this matter that resonated with what I thought myself, basically that our Lord said "no man may divorce his wife save adultery", yet Paul said "if you are divorced remain as you are". I have 2 dear people I am concerned about:

The first is a dear dear childhood friend whom was saved before me and the Lord used her as one of the signs which stirred up my conscience and led me to himself. She has also been a great comfort since. Now before being saved she got into a lot of terrible stuff...drugs, witchcraft, I remember she was not herself at all, one day she had called me and said she was marrying some random guy she didn't even know because she was bored in life and it would be fun (again, not like her, made no sense). She signed marriage papers, went and lived with him for a few months and then left and got "divorced".

Sometime later the Lord saved her, she became the beautiful loving person the Lord knew he could make her. About a year ago she married a really nice Christian guy, started a family, and their marriage is based on the love of Christ. Now I recently remembered that whole thing she did prior, I took the liberty of asking her about it, and she said she thought of this before she was married and struggled a little, but came to a realization with prayer that what she did prior wasn't legitimate and that she wasn't in her right mind. I believe this and believe the truth is seen by her fruits, but I worry sometimes because marriage and divorce are not a joke.

I also have a dear relative, who is no Christian, and not even a believer in God. Nice quiet meek guy. He got married and his wife was a nightmare, she constantly threatened him and his older parents, broke stuff in the house, threatened his life...insanity. He quietly divorced her and his family was very broken over the whole situation. Now I hear he may be getting remarried to a nice girl whom I know soon (also not a real Christian). I pray one day he may be saved, yet if he gets re-married, and is led to the Lord, is this marriage adulterous? Obviously it is, but his circumstances are complicated due to his lack of faith and knowledge.

In Jesus Christ our savior,

Response #11:

Happy to help.

On the new question, I really wouldn't get exercised about what other people do. Jesus died for all of their sins – as He died for ours. As you mention, this is a complicated issue, and if it is complicated further by the question of what someone did before becoming a believer, we can be sure that all such are "washed" clean when they believe (cf. 1Cor.6:11). After all, Saul was a murderer (or at least an abettor in murder) and a persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ – before he believed. Faith changes everything. I'm happy friend #1 is now a Christian and has a good marriage – praise the Lord! And I'll say a prayer for your relative (marital status is a tiny thing compared to the question of eternal life). When it comes to outside parties, moreover, there is always a great deal we do not know – even if we may think we know plenty. It's a good saying: "I have enough of my own problems without getting involved in somebody else's"; or Proverbs 26:17.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello Bob,

I pray you are well. I want to update you on how I'm doing and follow up with a few questions. Thanks in advance for your love and time as always, as I know my messages can get rather long.
I have made it to lesson 28 in your Peter series, it is clear now that this is more than merely breaking down Peters epistle, but more so a foundational breakdown of the NT. Though I cannot say my confidence is restored, I can say that I feel my despair melting as I read your teachings. It is in a very unexpected way, and definitely not in the way I thought it had to if it did, your previous messages and advice really resonate and echo as I read them, praise God, yet I'm still very shaky, but have hope.

Unfortunately my doubts seem to slowly but surely creep up on me and eventually find a way in which can probably be seen in my thought pattern during the rest of this message. Also, I do not doubt that your prayers as well as my dear friends whom I mentioned are helping me. I truly owe it to you both to consistently keep you in my prayers.

1) The apostasy process and faith testings you describe and warn about really speaks to me and make sense scripturally, but I have a few questions:

a) Though I believe in Jesus, know he is the only truth, and know I encountered him, I am realizing that I haven't really understood or had a revelation about his sacrifice on the cross. I believed from the beginning that he came for sinners and without him there is no forgiveness, that he was crucified and rose from the dead, yet I am realizing that the whole core of the gospel is the cross which strangely enough wasn't clear to me. It comes to mind when Paul said "we did not preach to you with clever words, lest the cross of Christ me made void of its power". Upon finding Jesus, I had supernatural revelations which played a big role in me knowing without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the truth, and that by believing in him one is saved, yet if I haven't understood the cross, what does this mean? I also realize that many times when attempting to preach the gospel to people (many of which I convicted), I didn't really preach the cross, I preached Jesus as the truth and the only way, I testified to my encounter and experience. Did I in turn preach "another gospel" or "make void the power of the cross"?

b) About all testimonies of Christians that I've heard of include backsliding into sin, and initial struggles with sin, even in scripture a good example of this is the Corinthians, yet what all of these people have in common is they never walked away from God, I fell into a dangerous trap, instead of continuing my walk and praying about it, I truly decided I didn't want to let go of sin yet, thus I turned from God, and I felt terrible about it, for I had experienced and appreciated his love for me. The truth never left my heart, but I eventually got to a point where I was starting not to care, this scared me, and I became so miserable in my sin, and I finally realized I'm going to hell if I don't repent now. Since then due to my uncertainty it's almost as I've been "working" for salvation, I have let go of many bad things and habits, but with a mindset "i have to stop doing this", and perhaps that's why I haven't felt good about them. I know from all Christian testimonies I've heard that they let go of bad things because they are convicted and know God is telling them to stop, with me it's been like a check list I'm realizing. I won't engage in a lot of behavior anymore because simply I'm scared to do so, I don't seem to have a Godly conviction about a lot of these things anymore, simply I'm scared of them. I know this is not how it should be. Maybe all the mental and spiritual turmoil is preventing me from feeling this conviction and thinking clearly?

c) To add to all this, the "Peter chapters" about refining faith really spoke to me, yet a part of me wonders how much they apply to someone who has been shaky about their salvation since finding it?

1) Eternal security - I want to say that the way you teach against this and the scriptures you cite are essentially my original conviction upon reading the Bible. It is so plain and blatant, so direct and obvious I truly do not understand how people believe otherwise? It's actually rather disturbing. Even more alarming is the hand in hand idea of an unconditional election, though this has stumbled me from the beginning, because I couldn't really believe such a thing, yet there are a decent amount of scriptures hard to get around, yet I truly find it hard to believe such a thing is the character of God. This is what the vast majority of "evangelicals", reformed theologians (early and present) believe. How can this be? This is a very depressing and disheartening doctrine, though Christians don't seem to think so at all. The very idea of this as a possibility has troubled my heart since I found Christ. Due to these beliefs I can't imagine how many Christians were disheartened and deceived into apostasy, this definitely has been a constant danger for me. In this belief system in many many cases people are intermediately dismissed into the category of "he was never saved" or "he was not really elect". I am beginning to be confident that this is madness. My questions on this subject to you is this:

A) This is a belief among most evangelicals, who for the most part I believe consist of the majority of Christ's church, why is there no Godly conviction on such an important fundamental matter?

B) Whether this is acknowledged or not, these doctrines build the foundation for a very different theology, so many scriptures are twisted and ignored as a result, this boggles my mind, these are not minor discrepancies, either these foundational doctrines are correct or they are terribly wrong. How can saved Christians preach that Christ did not die for everyone? What a chilling thought.

C) I read some email replies on the matter and it amazes me that you originally were in the process of defending such positions, wow, tradition can have a stronger influence than I realize. My dear friend warned me early on that "many protestants have a lot in common with catholics though they don't admit it and to be careful who I listen to", I take it now she was talking about tradition.

I also saw someone mention that you went to school with Macarthur if I'm not mistaken? I am curious what you make of such I don't want to put you in a situation that is out of line to judge someone, but I have been afraid of such teachers and tried to steer clear since early on, which has proved difficult as it seems they are the majority I feel like such teachers make Christianity an exclusive club which you can't be a part of I really don't think that is the character of God. God bless you for your courage in Christ and going where the scriptures led you rather than tradition.

All the above can be said about the pre-trib rapture as well, it just doesn't make sense and it's not there. I noticed for some time now that "many saints will be beheaded" during the tribulation, therefore how can the rapture be before the tribulation, yet the "fact" of such a thing among Christians really stumbles me. If these teachers are really spirit filled Christians (which at least I I don't understand how God doesn't convict them.

I know I've thrown a lot of different topics out, and upon rereading them it may seem I'm in the same I messaged you, but again, due to spending time I am relaxed a I have been in constant up and down panic for some time now.

Anyway, I'm grateful to be able to message you and have your attention I am going through.

With much love, in Jesus,

Response #12:

Thanks for the update and all your kind words, my friend.

1A) If having a knowledge about our Lord's sacrifice as detailed as is found in, e.g., BB 4A and 4B, were necessary to be "truly saved", then almost no one would be. I certainly didn't understand much at all about the details when as a very young child I put my trust in the Lord to save me. The Spirit needs only the essential truth, well expressed by you, to lead someone willing to be led to the Lord. You did fine by this report.

1B) Beware of putting too much stock in testimonies. In the first place, everyone's experience is different. In the second, there is an expectation in evangelicaldom today about what testimonies should sound like and most people who make them have heard plenty – so it's no surprise that they sound similar. If yours sounds different, it is probably because it is entirely truthful without embellishment or modification for group consumption. In any case, you are a believer NOW so the details about the past are of little moment – unless you make the mistake of looking backward and agonizing over them. We've talked about that trap a great deal.

1C) You are a believer. That is the first thing and the most important thing. Now you are trying to grow. Growth is what stabilizes faith – in fact. What you call "shaky" could also be legitimately called a genuine search for the truth – which resulted in you finding a place to grow in the truth. Isn't that outcome better than being smugly "solid in faith" but only by appearance – because in fact the truth is only superficially understood and appreciated?

2A) It boils down to a deep disinterest in learning the truth for a large group of people for whom "Christianity" is merely a traditional exercise of rote and ritual. Whenever the Spirit is responded to, however, any Christian who wants the truth will find it (it may take a search). Remember, this is the era of Laodicea where lukewarmness was predicted as the salient characteristic. If someone doesn't really care about the truth, well, it's not surprising that they will be satisfied with explanations and "doctrines" which plainly do not square with the Bible.

2B) It's actually a case of starting with the "doctrines" and then building the theology. Going to the Bible first will generally undermine some points of ANY "theology". Remember, Calvin was fighting a life and death struggle with works-religion Roman Catholics. Emphasizing the God-side of the equation, the grace side, was a logical and proper thing to do. Doing that to the point of excising free will as hyper-Calvinism does is wrong.

2C) MacArthur is a graduate of the seminary I attended and he spoke at our daily chapel service on at least one occasion I recall. While I appreciate that he is a person who strongly believes in Christ and who also believes in "teaching the Bible" (as opposed to delivering sermons), he has a lot of problems theologically – precisely because of what I've mentioned above, namely, inheriting a system of theology and proceeding to defend it, rather than looking to the Bible first and foremost. I'm grateful for my Reformed roots and also for my seminary experience and the tutelage of my pastor Col. Thieme. But in the end, the truth overcame potential obstacles because I was not willing to compromise the truth of scripture for the sake of any emotional attachment to traditions or individuals. It's all about the truth – or at least it should be. If we are willing to be led by the Spirit, He will lead us; if not, then not. There is much good in what many of these organizations and individuals and traditions have done in the past; but there is also much that needed to be corrected. If in the last hundred years or so there had been a willingness to go after the truth no matter what, then perhaps we would all be singing off the same song sheet. But this is all part of a prophesied disinclination to love the truth; they don't hate the truth; they just don't love it. That is the definition of lukewarmness. That is Laodicea. That is where we currently reside – but we are not obligated to follow her deficient ways.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Thank you Bob,

I truly want to thank you for the humility and care you have shown me in answering all of my messages, great or small.

I want to tell you that I am truly struggling. I cannot seem to get around what I did and certain scriptures. I truly want with all my heart just to serve the Lord and move forward, to spend time studying the scriptures, and to bear good fruit for him. But I am truly terrified and fear I cannot do this. I hope against hope that this is not the case, and I refuse to lose hope in Jesus Christ because there is no other hope, but I truly feel rather hopeless.

I have put off messaging you because I really keep thinking I need to rely on the Lord rather than to keep running to others, and it seems I do get subtle signs from the Lord, and I pray I do him no dishonor and he forgive me if I do by holding onto this, I do not want to offend him or his sacrifice, but I literally am having a hard time living like this.

I do have brief periods of peace, which mostly are when I am not reading scripture and not focusing on my growth, but what I want is to grow in the Lord and not ignore him, and when I turn to scripture I become uneasy, now I pray it is my doubts that are doing this to me if that is possible, for there are scriptures I enjoy. Yet I will give you a detailed account of the main scriptures which trouble me and how they speak to me in relation to my past, these scriptures are mainly in the book of Hebrews:

Last time we were discussing these matters I had started rereading the NT, after reading Hebrews I truly felt like I would have a heart attack, I couldn't even pray, and I had prayed beforehand, yet felt very condemned. God knows how I got through that night...the next day I reread it and prayed for comfort but not false comfort in reading it, and got no comfort rather I got the same feeling.

I want to recap that I had clear signs from God which lead me to the Gospel, I cried upon reading the second page of Matthew, I finally broke down and cried like a baby one night when I understood Christ came for me, I felt him, I felt so sorry and ashamed of what I have done in life. I felt his presence and knew it was his Holy Spirit.

Then, with little Bible knowledge other then the first couple Gospels and the warnings there in, I felt I didn't want to leave my sins, ___ in particular. I knew all I needed to do was to ask Jesus to help me and he would, yet I didn't want to. I felt it impossible to walk forward with this attitude, and I felt it was either this or to walk away, and without knowing the passages from Hebrews I felt that in doing this I couldn't come back, and wouldn't deserve to be accepted, yet with the heaviest heart I have ever had I walked away and begged Jesus wait for me.

Finally out of fear, and realizing how far, and for how long, I had turned away I decided it wasn't worth it. I didn't know if I could come back but hoped against hope that somehow I could.

Now the Hebrews passages speak to me in this way, and honestly so clearly and so terrifyingly:

Heb.2:1 strikes my heart as a great warning
Heb.4:1, this is probably the most troubling passage for me, is says let us fear if, anyone of us may seem to have come short of it, and when I read it, it troubles my heart
Heb.4:2 Jesus as the only way was united to me by faith, but could my own thoughts and actions have lacked faith in my own salvation, which they did at least to an extent, so does my faith still count as faith, have I perhaps come short of this because of what I believed and still did believing such a thing?
Heb.6: 4-6 Now it would seem evident that I have repented, even been freed of the slavery to sexual sin when crying out to Jesus when making a choice to turn from it for good, yet something in my heart wonders if this is repentance or perhaps sorrow for a coming consequence of my decisions, which I hope and pray is not the case but it feels this way
This passage also says "cannot be bought back to repentance because in doing so they are crucifying the Son again to themselves to open shame", God forbid, yet is this what I am doing, after receiving the light and choosing to turn away, and now looking fora breakthrough and not getting one, is this what I am doing? Lord God have mercy I pray not in Jesus' name!
Heb.10:2 As I'm sure it's evident, it seems I am unable to remain in a clear conscience
Heb.10: 22-23 Though I believe in Jesus, does this count if I am not confident in my own standing and have not been from the point of making this decision?
Heb.10: 26-30, this strikes me as what I did, and 27, "a terrifying expectation of judgement", now I know there is a Romans passage that says "there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ", but why do I constantly fear a terrible expectation of judgement, why do these passages speak out to me so much and trouble my heart when reading and rereading them even after sincere prayer...
Heb.12: 16-17 When I read this I see what I did as selling my birthright for a meal as synonymous, and as I've stated this is what I felt I was doing even as I did it, and still did it. Then it's stated how when afterwards Esau sought the blessing, he was rejected though he sought it with tears, again I find myself there since I have this fear and feeling yet seek peace and confidence. Also, scripture says "Esau found no chance to repent", this is interesting wording since it does not say he did not repent but he had no "chance" to repent.
Also there is a passage in this book that says the word of God splits the bone and marrow and Spirit and reveals the intentions of the heart etc., I feel this all the more amplifies how I'm feeling...

On top of this Jesus said "no man who puts his hands to the plow and looks back is worthy of me". We also know that Lots wife was turned to a pillar of salt after looking back. Also Jesus said that "if a man tidy's the house and does not invite the Spirit to dwell in him, the demon returns with 7 others more powerful than themselves and the last state of the man is worse than the first. Also when Peter says "don't you know that the Spirit of the Lord lives in you, unless you fail the test?", this troubles me. In one epistle he tells those who were circumcised after being saved that they have fallen from grace. I have found myself of late trying to go by instruction in the NT but feel empty and off...almost as if I'm trying to go by works, though it's not my intent...

I am not trying to build a case against myself I am just being honest, I feel scared rather than comfort when reading scripture and I know nothing else matters or is of any worth other than Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 2:20 seems to be a very hopeful passage in my situation if indeed it means what I interpret it to mean "they are entangled therein AND overcome..." knowing the original languages wherein this is written, does this actually leave a possibility of this case where one is entangled therein and NOT overcome? If it does this is truly hopeful, yet I'm not sure it cancels out such a specific situation related to such specific scriptures causing such specific conviction and fear.

I sought and prayed for an experience of relief or weeping upon turning back, or some encounter with the Lord. I have had subtle signs, or so I think, but not what I would consider a bold encounter. Upon being called to Christ and breaking down way back, I unmistakably knew the Lords voice, this isn't the case since I quickly made the horrible decision that I did. I want to just forget the past, yet I don't want to wrongly convince myself everything is ok if it's not, and pretend to be saved and be led by the Holy Spirit. I recently fasted for 2 days and prayed for an encounter with the Lord but did not get one.

Some people have told me that "God has forgiven you, you need to forgive yourself".
Can this be true? I don't remember anything in the NT about forgiving ourselves. I believe STRONGLY that any verdict must be reached based on scripture and IN context. Yet this is what I am feeling to my core when reading it, I find it hard to believe that one can spiritually misinterpret scripture to such an alarming extent. Again, I understand people are saved and struggle with sin, but to make a choice to turn back because I don't want to even ask to be freed of something when I knew it's all I needed to do is insanity, foolishness, and plain stupid, Lord have mercy. If this is a case of me needing to let go and forgive myself I would love to do so in a heartbeat, I desire nothing more, yet I cannot do this if I can't see this as a scriptural reality.

Whatever the case with me is, May the Lord Bless you greatly and abundantly and keep you steadfast in him and on his straight and narrow path, and reward you for your love and humility. I pray your response is Spirit led, truthful, and accurate whatever it may be, and if I am misinterpreting these scriptures as well as the situation, I pray that the Father reveal it to me through you in the name of Jesus Christ, that this roadblock may be shattered and that I may grow and move forward in the Lord without looking back unless it is to help another by it.

May God bless you,

Response #13:

You're welcome, my friend.

I'm happy to address these questions, but allow me the liberty to say a few things by way of preface. First, please understand that a person is either saved or not, and that all who are believers in Jesus Christ are saved, while all those who are not believers are not 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

These are basic and essential truths. You can feel good about them or feel bad about them, but regardless of how you feel about them, they are the truth. So the fact that you are a believer means that you are saved, no matter what emotional state you are in. Walking with Christ and growing in Christ and having peace in Christ is absolutely dependent upon accepting and believing and applying truth.

Apostasy is the state of no longer believing in Christ. Apostates no longer care about their spiritual status and the Lord is no longer concerned with them. So you are not an apostate; you are a believer (the two things are by definition mutually exclusive). The sin unto death is the ultimate divine discipline leveled on believers who are engaged in outrageous activity which constitutes a horrible witness to the Lord and who refuse to repent of that activity after ascending levels of discipline. You are concerned about your situation and nothing you have shared indicates that you are under any such terminal discipline (some terrible disease, e.g.). Neither one of these two states, by the way, is something that cannot be recovered from. To take them in reverse order, if a believer does end up under the sin unto death, true repentance may bring restoration and recovery (it did in the case of the young man described in 1Cor.5:1ff.). Apostates don't seem to care so I doubt if recovery from that arrogant state is anything but very rare, but since our God is a God of hope and mercy and forgiveness, there is no scriptural indication that He wouldn't take even an now-unbeliever back. More about all this at the link – but neither of these situations apply to you. Being upset about past behavior is a very common thing for Christians, I can assure you, and it is also not uncommon for someone to get fixated on this issue and get themselves locked into looking backward even though the Christian life is all about forgetting the past and moving forward.

Lastly, by way of introduction, focusing on problems one has and consulting scriptures regarding these is, while understandable, not a means of spiritual growth. Spiritual growth requires regular Bible reading AND systematic access to good teaching wherein one learns the whole realm of biblical doctrine (not just a few odd things that concern them personally at the moment). If a person wants to get into good physical shape, doing isometric tightening on one's left calf alone to the exclusion of all other exercise is certainly not going to accomplish the goal. And in terms of application of truth, the wrong way to go about it is the way you are doing it. When we are concerned about issue A/B/C, we look to scripture broadly and the teachings we have received which we know to be true. Then we focus on the rule not some perceived exceptions we find in reading scripture. Correct procedure when reading the Bible and bumping into an uncomfortable verse: "Hmm, this is disturbing, but I know these truths which comfort me and lead me to understand that this cannot be the worst case scenario I fear; there must be an explanation; if I keep growing, the Lord will reveal that in due time". Incorrect procedure when reading the Bible and bumping into an uncomfortable verse: "Egad! Everything I have learned must be wrong because of my initial impression of this verse, fed by guilt and not based upon knowing Greek or Hebrew or much about systematic theology or being trained as a pastor teacher, suggest the worst possible case!"

Hebrews 2:1: Drifting away is indeed falling away from the faith (although it can't be made to exclude the sin unto death, the difference being that in the latter case the person is still saved, although taken out of life in a horrible way). I'm not sure why this should disturb you. This is a call to action, as much of scripture is. The "not" part is entirely in your hands. It has nothing to do with what happened yesterday – and if you are concerned, then you have not "drifted off" to the point of not being able to do anything about it. This has everything to do with what you do TODAY. So as long as it is "called today", I urge you to do the right thing, namely, to pursue spiritual growth. Yes, sanctification is part of that, and that is a fight, to be sure, but it is only a fight one is going to win WITH spiritual growth and never apart from it. And it can be won. What is needed is the willpower to do it. That is to say, you have to choose what's right. But it is a trap to incorrectly impugn the character of God by even suggesting in your heart that somehow it's "too late". That is never the case if you are still alive.

Hebrews 4:2: An important verse which states that if a person does not believe the truth, then there is no benefit in knowing the truth. So seek the truth, but believe it too. That is the way it becomes useful to the Spirit. In terms of the exemplar, it is an open question as to how many of the exodus generation were 1) never believers, 2) became apostate, 3) died the sin unto death, 4) "merely" made no discernible progress, spiritually speaking. Scripture lumps them as one which is standard procedure in such cases because none of these possibilities is a good thing and because failure to have faith is the key issue for them all. Importantly, the word "gospel" cannot be made to mean only the truth to be saved; the "good news" entails the entire realm of truth about the kingdom our Lord has won for us (see the link).

Hebrews 6:4-6: First, as I've pointed out several times now, this is a particular sin that cannot even be committed today (since it involves believers continuing to sacrifice at the temple), and only has to do with us by way of application. Second, the operative phrase here is "as long as they are continuing to crucify"; most versions have got this translation dreadfully wrong – because they don't understand what's being said (no one translating from another language will "get it right" if they don't actually understand the text they're translating). So by way of application, it clearly does no good for a thief to confess and repent the sin of stealing while he/she is still inside the bank at night putting money into a bag. First step: stop it; second step confess it; repentance is the attitude of accepting the truth that leads to stopping it and confessing it. I'm sorry if you don't "feel good" about having repented, that is, having stopped and confessed and fought the fight going forward. Indeed, you SHOULD feel good about it. But this is not about how you feel (I might have mentioned that before). God is not impressed by how we feel nor is He going to withhold His grace and love and mercy from us because we are "feeling bad". He deals in absolute justice. If we've stopped and confessed – true repentance – then He deals with us fairly, regardless of our feelings. As we grow, our feelings will come into balance with the truth, that is, as we learn to lead them rather than to be led by them.

Hebrews 10:2: The point of this verse is to demonstrate that the sacrifices of the Law were merely symbolic and did not actually provide cleansing for all sin for all time. Indeed, only the blood of Christ cleanses from sin, that is, His death on the cross in dying for all of our sins.

Hebrews 10:22-23: Confidence grows with spiritual growth. The mustard seed is small, but as we grow, it turns into a mighty tree. We just have to keep at it.

Hebrews 10:26-30: We've discussed this before as well. Remember, this is addressed to those sacrificing in defiance of the will of God. And Paul tells them that if they do so in fact there is "no further sacrifice for sin" that will avail because all of those physical sacrifices have been abrogated – and, indeed, it is their very sacrificing that is the problem. Certain sins are particularly egregious – as with the young Corinthian man's incest (1Cor.5:1ff.) – and will not be tolerated. That is true for us all. The egregious sin of the Jerusalem believers was their "pretending" that Christ had not died and fulfilled the symbolism of the sacrifices, all in order to avoid being persecuted for their faith. Can't imagine a worse witness. This only applies to us in terms of the sin unto death: if we CONTINUE in egregious behavior we can expect the sternest judgment. But even for these believers, if they did not give up their faith, they are saved (even through fire in a "terrifying end"); and if they responded to this epistle and repented, then that did not befall them.

Hebrews 12:16-17: Esau was never a believer. He didn't care about his birthright = he didn't care about being saved. That is where most unbelievers are. They give up Jesus Christ for worldly things. Believers know better, or should. If we act like Esau when we belong to Christ, nothing good will come; if we drift away as a result and lose our faith, then we are unbelievers; if we continue in outrageousness, then the sin unto death awaits (but the body is destroyed so that the spirit may be saved: 1Cor.5:5). The "change of mind" that Esau sought was FROM HIS FATHER – and we know from the narrative that he did seek that "change of blessing" from Isaac with tears. Esau's unbelief was his problem; he never sought God as a result of this disappointment.

Looking back: Lot's wife was an unbeliever and her action merely confirms it. Taking one's hand off of the plow is the same as drifting way (with the same two possibilities repeated many times now). What is NOT present here is any sense that this is some action that cannot be repented of. If you're dead (like Lot's wife), well, that IS the end. But if you are alive, there is always a place for repentance.

The Spirit does live in you – and in all believers (Rom.8:9); "falling from grace" is preferring the Law to grace and is only a continuing state if a person perseveres in rejecting grace for Law. As long as a person is alive, choice continues. It's all about what you choose. It has nothing to do with how you feel, especially about the past.

2nd Peter 2:20: "Overcome" means giving in to sin to the point of death, or giving into unbelief to the point of the death of faith. That is the worst possible situation, but Peter doesn't say anything about someone still alive having no chance to repent. This passage – and all such passages – are NOT written to demoralize defeated believers; they ARE written to encourage believers not to fall into such traps or if in a trap to get out of that trap.

If you have confessed your sin, God HAS forgiven you. Forgiving yourself? Nothing in scripture about that. The point is that we are NOT what or who is important: Christ and what He has done for us is what is important. Doesn't matter how we feel about ourselves or what we've done or failed to do. The Lord wants us to get up and fight the fight day by day. If we are doing that, we are not only going to grow and be safe and have peace – we are also going to be earning good rewards. Feeling good about ourselves is just as unimportant as feeling bad. It matters what we choose, not what we feel.

The Bible was written for our peace and encouragement. I encourage you to stop waging war against your own peace of mind, not by becoming unconcerned about your spiritual status but by doing something about it.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Thank you Bob,

In response to your "way of introduction": Thank you for the liberty you've taken by way of preface. I agree with a lot of what you are saying, a general weakness I have had in life is to jump the gun and fixate on something, and it's comforting to hear you say this is not uncommon among Christians in such a case.

When you quote John 3:18, it is very comforting, but I can't help but think that just merely believing in the Lords existence is the full context of believing, because we know that "many of the pharisees believed, but they preferred the praise of men over the glory of God", and in James' epistle it is stated "you believe in one God? You do well, the demons do also and tremble", yet we know these pharisees weren't saved. Also Jesus told Peter "when you are converted, strengthen your brothers". So can one be saved without being converted? Or how do the events in the Gospels then fit into context if they were not yet saved or converted?

Also, I truly agree with the way you describe correct/incorrect way to react upon a uncomfortable verse, and that fixating on some specifics will not fix the problem, the thing is that this fixation has greatly discouraged me from pursuing growth and prevented me from concentrating when attempting to. Though I now and again get a incomprehensible feeling of peace, usually after desperate single minded prayer, and a pull to let go and look forward, yet I seem to find reasons to keep looking back at this thus not remaining in this peace, I now believe this is truly the Lord and it seems I keep resisting, so I am now praying that he help me let go and stop looking back, and trust his timing that I may clearly see and not look away from the bigger picture.

Though, the sin unto death you speak of, though many concepts of how you explain the Biblical scenarios are very accurate, I find a hard time believing that the sin unto death is not unto "spiritual death", or being cut off. You say one can always return, yet throughout the Bible there were instances of people being cut off, God hardening them as a consequence, and their names being blot out of the Book of Life. Also, John said "i do not say you should pray for one who commits a sin unto death"...

Also, are you suggesting that someone who is struck dead by the Lord due to their hypocrisy is still saved? I don't think I can believe this, for example the couple struck dead in Acts for hiding some of the money from the land they sold, or the people who died described by Paul for partaking in the Lords Supper without examining themselves, I think it's pretty clear that they were struck dead to the second death.

Hebrews passages, response to your responses:

In verse Heb.4:1, is it saying "to fear if anyone seems to have come short of it while the promise remains" as a warning to change ones course? The first time I read it I felt very worried as if I should fear, then when I reread it I noticed it might be warning to fear so as to change ones course while there is still hope if one has something to fear of for falling short.

Heb.6:4-6 and Heb.10:26 - that's interesting that you say they have it dreadfully wrong...i do understand the comparisons that were used about the sacrifices, yet I feel like it's aimed at us as well and not just the Hebrews. What terrifies me is that I interpret this as "if you fit this category that's what it is", but if I can see it as a warning, I understand that it would actually be very encouraging. Perhaps I am letting the enemy get in my head, but it just seems to strike terror in me.
I will link this to the next passage Heb.12:16-17, basically I guess what scares me is that I feel like these passages linked together are saying that even if one repents it is too late in this case, "Esau found no place for repentance", yet he was still alive. I have repented, yet I for whatever reason keep seeing these passages as saying there is a point where repentance is worthless because one in having made certain decisions is now crucifying Christ to themselves again and trampling the Spirit of Grace, Lord forbid!

I think you misunderstood my comment about Peter 2:20, I was basically asking if I was correct in interpreting it the way you are explaining it. Because it seems rather hopeful that Peter doesn't stop at "and entangled therein" but continues and says "and overcome", I understood that to mean that one can turn back to corruption and end up NOT being overcome, and thus meaning one CAN turn back and repent even after doing such. If this is correct, it is interesting how it is placed shortly after Hebrews, almost like an explanation if one is fearing the worst such as in my case. This would also contradict the way I am interpreting Hebrews and mean that one has to be wrong.

With love and gratitude in Christ,

Response #14:

On John 3:18, the verse says what it says and is very clear as to what it means. The question "what does it mean to believe" is one that everyone has at some point. Belief is an act of faith. For that reason I often call faith "free will faith" to express the difference between believing some fact is true and putting one's faith in Christ for salvation. The former is a typical human act of accepting that something is true; the latter is the most important decision a human being can make in this life, a swearing of allegiance, so to speak, to the Lord, accepting that He is who He says He is, God and man, and that He has done what the Bible says He has done, die for our sins so that we are free to have eternal life through faith in Him.

Now it may be difficult for us human beings to tell if someone else "really" is a believer; after all, throughout the time of the New Testament and ever since there have been pseudo-believers and temporary believers (i.e., the seed sown on the rock which perishes when the heat comes) – not to mention very many actual believers who are so weak in faith and application that they don't seem too much different from unbelievers. But WE personally know very well whether or not WE personally have committed ourselves to the Lord. So while there may be theoretical issues worthy of investigation from an academic point of view, this is not a practical question you need be concerned with in this particular discussion. You believe in Jesus Christ – with all that entails. So you are a believer. And all believers are saved. This does require perseverance (which the "sown on the rock" types do not have), but that is a different issue. Those who actually do fall away are not believers any longer – they've abandoned their commitment (see "Faith Dynamics", and the discussion in BB 4B: Soteriology).

On the sin unto death, please read the full discussion (link). When you say "yet throughout the Bible there were instances of people being cut off", I'm not sure to what you are referring. Examples of believers being condemned for bad behavior? I know of none. If you mean, for example, someone ending badly because of bad behavior, that is certainly true, but many of these are not believers in the first place. Saul ended very badly, but we know that he was saved even so (1Sam.28:19). As to Ananias and Sapphira, scripture does not tell us that they were believers. If they were (as I expect), then they died the sin unto death. But Acts 5 says nothing about them being "blotted out of the book of life" or anything of the sort. We know that the incestuous young man in 1st Corinthians 5 was given over to the sin unto death precisely so that he might NOT be condemned: "deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1Cor.5:5). Seen from that point of view, the sin unto death is an act of grace, taking the person out of this life to avoid loss of faith and apostasy. If someone is so far gone as to get to the point of the sin unto death, John tells us that prayer is not going to be effective. True. But why? Because this is a case of a person having to make the decision to repent or not, something that is all about free will choice with no other aspects to it at all. Only the person in question can do that. To get practical again, you are not under the sin unto death. And as a believer, you are not an apostate. You are struggling to start walking with the Lord – and I am urging you to get cracking with just that.

Hebrews 4:1: Good application. A great deal of scripture is meant to warn us. And it's pointless to warn someone if they are fundamentally unable to do anything with the warning. That's one major reason why the "doom and gloom" interpretation of Hebrews makes no sense: Paul wrote this book to get the believers in Jerusalem to straighten out – he didn't write it to tell them there was no point because they were condemned and there was nothing they could do about it. Prophet after prophet was sent to the people of Israel – to get them to respond! The Bible is written for a purpose – not to no purpose.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4 NKJV

Hebrews 6: 4-6 and 10:26: Yes, a warning (see prior response). Our God is a God of mercy. What does that mean? It means He forgives us – if we are willing to be forgiven by repenting, that is, confessing and changing our ways. After all, Christ died for ALL of our sins. So the Father is just to forgive us anything and everything – and that is the point of it all.

Hebrews 12:16-17: Re-read what I wrote. The "repentance" here is NOT Esau's; the "change of mind" he was seeking was from his father Isaac. That is very clear too if you read Genesis 27.

Glad to hear that you have 2 Peter 2:20 right (apologies for the confusion).

I encourage you to begin an aggressive campaign of spiritual growth, my friend. This will solve all problems in the long run, and lead to the peace, joy and hope that are ours in Jesus Christ.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Bob,

I'm going to revisit a lot of the stuff we've talked about in this email. I always feel the need to thank you for your love and patience in advance because you've truly proven to keep your patience with me in my doubting and struggling with much love and encouragement, you've shown me that you really do care and want to help me, rather than losing patience.

I have read your Peters series and am in the process of re-reading it. I have learned a lot from it, and made sense of a lot of things I couldn't clearly make sense of in the past, and I've also remembered some things I initially understood and forgot or became unclear on later on.

My faith has truly been damaged and I know it is due to my own foolishness, I agree and understand that looking back is a trap and not the answer, and that spiritual growth is. The problem is that this is proving incredibly difficult for me. The process of growth you explain in your Peter series is one that came naturally to me upon finding Christ. Upon finding Christ and reading scripture, though there were obviously a lot of blanks, I was able to discern a great amount of scripture and I knew the Holy Spirit was guiding me and speaking to me. I was overjoyed and impressed with how much I knew and understood. What I didn't understand and appreciate, and what I understand now looking back, is that all this great amount of knowledge and understanding that I gained so quickly was not of my own intelligence, but rather my mind opening through the Holy Spirit.

What troubles me is that in my doubt and turmoil I have constantly been dreading scripture thus preventing me from really reading it. When I do find myself in a state of enough peace to do so, usually due to prayer, other peoples prayers, or peace from reading your teachings, I find myself puzzled at even the simplest of scriptures and unable to discern them, this is a very startling and disheartening thing. Also, what does seem to speak to me, is every little warning, and it speaks to me in a negative way. Both of these things are making it very difficult to really read scripture.

For some time now, the picture of the Lord in my head has been painted in a very negative and wrathful way, perhaps this is the enemy attempting to make me believe this by exploiting these windows of doubt. But I've come to think back and realize that I really have known and appreciated the love and goodness of the Lord, but this negative picture is all due to fears that keep circulating that I may be beyond it, God forbid.

I have come to accept recently that dwelling on those "Hebrews" passages is not the answer for various reasons as you've explained, and I really am not thinking about them, but I find myself in a nonetheless similar state of mind as I was in before I even new of those passages which then amplified how I was already feeling. Namely, I strayed so so far from the truth in those two years or so I've talked about. All the while like I've said with a heave conscience etc., yet in the end I repented not even thinking about the Lords love anymore, nor because I felt I really cared about the things of the Lord at such a distant point that I was, but because I became miserable in the sin I wouldn't let go of and fear for my soul overcame this hard hardheadedness. What I'm getting at is that during this time period, though I never forget or denied what or who the truth was, I was so far gone from the ways and changes the Lord had made in me I don't know how I can really have been a Christian. I became so nasty and disrespectful with my family, pursued such perverse lusts, lusted and pursued money, used such foul and dirty language, swore on the Lords name like a non-believer, it's hard to believe I still had the Holy Spirit in me. Though none of this was without guilt and fear of the direction I had chosen to walk in.

Upon repenting I have realized, especially reading your Peters series, that a great amount of the changes I have made since (about 6+ months) are at least to an extent "whitewashed". When I found the Lord the changes were from his words and my very heart. Though I wasn't learned in the doctrine of "faith through grace alone" or what that meant, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I i was saved because I believed in Jesus Christ. I believed he died for us, but it never really spoke to me deeply how his sacrifice worked, perhaps to this day (though I understand more about the mechanics now), I just knew that I was saved by believing in him and that if one believed in him they were and would be saved, simply because he said so and I believed him.
Now as I started saying, since repenting, due to all this shakiness, I have been almost trying to "whitewash myself to heaven", but not that I don't want these changes, but they've definitely been forced and unnatural and largely out of fear. I wouldn't be able to do such things anymore literally out of fear. But my mindset in this turmoil has been backwards, namely "ok you can't do this because you're going to go to hell".

Those 2 years or so were not short, yet I was not under such a sickness as in a "sin unto death", nor am I aware of any discipline, though I do remember many instances where it seems God intervened to stop certain events from occurring (bad choices I was making) though I was pursuing them, and I remember that I got to such a miserable place and fear as caused me to repent.

I have made note that in this time and prior to this season beginning, I was convicted of the sinfulness of these things. What also troubles me now is that I don't seem to have this conviction anymore. These things that I hated and saw as sinful yet strongly lusted after now in my head seem "wrong they'll send you to hell", but I don't seem to have a conviction of them as wrong in my heart at this point which is indeed alarming, perhaps this is due to the cycle of panic and turmoil I've been going through one would hope, I don't know.

On top of this, where scripture reproves and warns, it often tells the recipient to look back to the days where they found salvation and joy and live in such and such a way. it is not easy for me to draw encouragement from this, because it was so soon after finding this salvation that I chose to turn away. Literally I followed the Lord and gained great understanding for a couple months or so, which led to a night where I broke-down and was certain of everything, the Spirit in me, his love fore me, etc. And within days I weighed out leaving to this sin and devastatingly chose to pursue it, though I never planned to completely turn my back to the Lord for good. So in all this, one wonders about the concepts of saving faith and if my repentance counts for a real repentance. In examples like the Corinthians, they seem to have progressed for awhile and nonetheless stayed in prayer and their congregations even when committing those terrible sins.

In all this extensive repetitious detail, what I am trying to say is that, though I know leaning on my own understanding and trying to figure all this out is probably impossible and not the answer or what scripture recommends, it is hard to focus on going forward and spiritual growth if one is constantly uncertain or in doubt of their salvation, forgive me Lord. I know such a thing opens countless opportunities for the enemy and his to get into my head which they will gladly take advantage of. It's interesting how you constantly explain that you must believe the word, take it in, and apply it in faith. Though I didn't think of it this way, this is actually exactly what I did upon finding the Lord, but how can I do this if I'm constantly in doubt and find myself unable to discern scripture (maybe and hopefully only due to my doubt, this is perhaps the most disheartening thing). This is proving to be a great, perhaps tragic struggle, not because I don't believe Gods word or his promises, or what I hear from you or your teachings, but if I am in doubt about my standing, in turn this makes it extremely difficult if possible to apply these things.

With love and sincerity, and apology for my repetitious grumbling, in the truth which is Jesus Christ,

Response #15:

It's my pleasure, my friend.

1) When you say your faith has been damaged, I need to point out that faith is essentially free will; that is, choosing to believe something is an act of choice. That is a quintessential and inviolable part of every human being (at least those not medically or genetically impaired). It can't be damaged. But one can develop proclivities – towards doubt of some things and trust in others; and we get stronger and weaker "in our faith" (that is, in our application of it) as we grow, but the fundamentally aptitude of being able to believe if we choose to do so is the essence of the image of God. 

The Christian way of life is largely characterized by learning to trust God and His truth more easily and more often (or should be), and that tendency grows as we grow spiritually: we learn more about Him, who He is, that He is absolutely faithful and totally worthy of that trust. As we learn more AND believe it, we are given more opportunities in our lives to apply that truth in faith to what we see and hear and feel; doing so in the right way builds "faith" like muscle, that is, accelerates our trend toward trust. So faith is a momentary choice and the sum total of our choices to trust in the past at the same time. But it is always us choosing (whether we choose to trust Him or not).

2) When you say, "I find myself puzzled at even the simplest of scriptures and unable to discern them", that is not entirely a bad thing at all. Believers who are still in the early stages of growth or recovery who understand much are probably actually misunderstanding much. Getting to the point in recovery of recognizing that one does not have it "all figured out" is a mark of recovering humility. But the reaction here too needs to be one of trust. No one is supposed to be able to understand all the ins and outs of the doctrines of scripture without proper teaching; as we grow, we will be able to apply more and more, but there will never be a time when you understand it all. And the "simple ones" are often the ones that only seem simple.

3) On the "negative picture", read from the gospels daily. There's no such wrath there, only mercy. Christ came into this world, not to judge, but to save (Jn.12:47), and so He did. On the cross, Jesus paid the entire price for all of our sins. Dying for the least sin of the least person in history is more valuable to the Father and was more difficult than the entirety of history put together. The cross, as I like to say, "answers all questions". If our Lord loving? Scripture says so of course – He "is" love (1Jn.4:8; 4:16). And the cross proves it. Who else would die for someone else – and no one could die for our sins and the sins of all humanity except Him (Rom.5:6-11).

4) Hebrews, guilt and fear: Very important: God the Father cares a lot more about the death of His Son for your sin than He does about your sin. The blood of Christ is infinitely more important than anything we could ever do, good or bad. It always goes back to the cross. Straying over into the mental minefield of thinking "my sin is so bad it trumps the cross" is not only as wrong as wrong can be, but it is actually the height of arrogant blasphemy. The impetus for this is guilt, and guilt is the devil's act trump. You must remember: all this has nothing to do with how we feel. Our feelings mean nothing to God. He is impressed by the cross; and by application He honors those who honor His Son by revering and even "boasting in the cross of Christ" (Gal.6:14). Not only do we have a right to rise above the noise and churn of this world with its emotions and lusts – that is our obligation.

5) Whitewashing: Confession is something we are commanded – by the Lord in the Lord's prayer. It's not whitewashing. It is true that we ought not to get this backwards. We are forgiven in God's grace. THEN we make it a point to pursue sanctification. We cannot pursue sanctification for forgiveness absent grace – that is works; that is the RC church.

6) Conviction: This seems to me to be a question of feelings again. If we sin, we confess. God forgives. That is that. It doesn't matter how we feel about it. If we are tempted to sin, we resist. It doesn't matter how "convicted" we may feel about rightness or wrongness. God says not to do it. We want to follow the Lord. We do what He says (and don't do what He says not to). If we fail, we are disciplined as sons and daughters; if we confess we are forgiven. It's all very simple. If we try to make it too complicated, we end up with the RC church.

7) Repentance: Biblically speaking, repentance is a change of thinking which leads to proper action. If we sin, we come back to the Lord and confess our sin – and do our level best not to go down that road again. It doesn't matter how we feel about it. God is not concerned with our emotions – unless we listen to them instead of the Spirit and that leads us to do things the wrong way, such as flagellating ourselves (literally or mentally) because we don't think that God has been hard enough on us or some such nonsense. I call it nonsense, but it is a common misapplication for some reason. The ultimate reason of course is arrogance. Humility accepts what the Lord says and what the Spirit has written. Arrogance wants to add or change (for various reasons) – because it doesn't want to completely trust. So we are back to faith. We have a choice. We do things God's way, or we suffer the consequences.

8) Discerning scripture: From what you wrote at first, I get the impression that you are making great progress. Have a little patience. Have a little faith. And keep plugging along. If you wanted to become a world-cup class goal keeper, you couldn't accomplish this in fifteen minutes in your living room. You might have to get out on the field and sweat a little first. Spiritual growth is the same. We learn. We believe. We apply – we are tested and pass the test. So you're being tested now. Trust the Lord and pass the test. That speeds things up.

9) Your status: So we've discussed the particular verses you were using to advocate against yourself in guilt, but now we still have residual guilt. That is certainly understandable since you are human. But your job now is to spit that guilt out, trample it under foot, cast it into the great deep and remember it no more. Your job now is to trust the Lord. Do you have a right to do so? Of course, since you know very well that there is a plethora of passages which teach you about God's love for you and your relationship with Him. Here's just one – from the book of Hebrews:

For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5b NKJV

Believers suffering from your malady want to tell me "but that doesn't apply to ME because ___". The filling in of the blank is always a little different but all have this in common: you're telling God that His Word is wrong and that you are so bad that His grace has been stymied, that your offense (or whatever) is bigger than the cross of Christ. Let me tell you. That is dangerous thinking and nothing could be more wrong – because nothing is "bigger" than the cross of Jesus Christ.

"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

These are our Lord's words. You are a believer in Him, right? You've placed your trust in Him for life eternal, right? You certainly CANNOT be described as someone who has no faith in Him, no respect for Him, no love and appreciation for Him, right? So you are a "believer", right? All believers are saved; only unbelievers are condemned. So what is your status? Born-again, born from above, child of God, united with Christ, part of His Body, part of His Church, part of His Bride, with a wonderful eternal future in store for you at the resurrection as long as you persevere in that faith. Be pleased to do so – and please recognize that this backward approach you're having a hard time giving up is working at cross purposes with that.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

I have read you message a few times through the last couple days.

5 and 6) While I appreciate your response on this (whitewashing), and it does speak to part of what I was saying, what I also was saying is that I believe I have white washed a lot of my behavior in this fear rather than it changing from the heart.

Other than that, I thank you for all of the guidance, I know there is a lot of wisdom in your response to me, and it is very encouraging. I will keep "plugging" along and praying as you advise, and I will also spend some time reading the Gospels daily.

God bless you my friend,

In Jesus Christ our Lord,

Response #16:

You're certainly welcome.

As to "whitewashing", just remember, as a believer you have been "washed" (1Cor.6:11), and no longer need "a bath" (Jn.13:10). That is what counts with the Lord – we have been cleansed by the blood of Christ.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Question #17:

Hello Bob,

I pray you're well, as I'm attempting to "plug along" as you advised, the prodigal son keeps popping into my mind. Reason being because I feel that if this truly could be referring to a backslider, my confidence and faith would accelerate. But I am having a difficult time seeing it as that because at the end of the parable the Lord says "he was dead and has BEGUN to live" or "he was dead and is alive again".

If he was saved then how could he have been dead and now begun to live. Also in the parable of the coins and the 99 sheep at the end the Lord says "heaven rejoices more over one repentant sinner", it seems difficult to perceive that a "repentant sinner" in this context is someone already saved.

In addition to all this I wonder how certain lessons in the Gospels should be taken into context being that they occurred before the Holy spirit came down at Pentecost and if they can be directly applied to believers (such as Peters denial of Christ etc.), initially I believed they could and are directly applicable, but I wonder considering such statements as Christ telling Peter to "strengthen his brothers after he is converted".

In Jesus Christ our Lord

Response #17:

I'm doing fairly well – hope you are too, my friend.

As to your questions:

1) The prodigal son was a son before he strayed and a son after he strayed, and even though he says he's not worthy of being a son, his father never considered him not a son (and that is the key point). The lost sheep was a part of the flock before it strayed and didn't cease to be important to the shepherd after it strayed: he seeks it out and leaves the others to find it, in fact, and the "finding" causes joy in heaven.

2) The entire Word of God is important and applicable – the question of "how" is one of interpretation. As to the gospels, the first advent of our Lord is a special interim period which is, technically speaking, not part of the Age of Israel or the Age of the Church. Much of our Lord's teaching is directly looking forward to the Church Age, but couched in parables because of the inability of His disciples to perceive it without the gift of the Holy Spirit. But just as today the entire New Testament has opened up so much in the Old for us, this is even more true of the gospels. Moving from one dispensation to the other was a major shift and required a time of transition. That was true even after Pentecost (the apostolic era). There will be much more about all that in BB 6B once it's completed. I'm working away on it [posted at the link].

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Bob,

It's been awhile since I've messaged you, I will say that I do try to consistently make mention of you in my prayers, though I fall short to the extent that I should.

I wish I was messaging you with better news, but unfortunately I have to say that I have not overcome my struggle. I am not exactly sure why I am messaging you, as I already know for the most part your advice and position, as well as having read numerous emails posted on your website related to the topic. Yet I am becoming very weary in this spiritual hurricane that I am in, and it is proving to be a category 5 hurricane, I seem to be stuck in it, and I seem to be worse off then I was during the time I was grossly unrepentant of my sin. Also, the longer this lasts, the more it seems to be the norm, and the more breaking out of it seems to be far off.

I do have moments, as well as days of peace, but they do not last, and I seem to be sucked back in because the issues seem to be unresolved completely in my heart.

You know the core of my problem and worries, yet I have a great assortment of worries on top of them due to lack of spiritual growth, this is all the more complicated because again, I turned away from the truth close to immediately after finding and embracing it, leaving no time for any real growth and appreciation of such.

I have to say that though there are some points that I find slightly questionable or at least debatable in your teachings, I have come to truly believe that you are a genuine safe, gifted, and loving Bible teacher and servant of the Lord and I do trust your site and advice. The problem is, in my case, it's hard take comfort in it, because while I believe spiritual growth is the answer to everything, this is seemingly impossible when one is not fully convinced in his heart of his standing. I hate this because of how dangerous I know it is, and how I know it has the potential to offend the Lord and his sacrifice, which I have no desire to do, though perhaps I am arrogantly doing so none the less.

I wonder if and how much I've hardened my heart which is very alarming, much truth and encouragement I've gotten from others as well as from yourself, does seem to ring true and make sense, and is comforting, but it doesn't seem to last in my heart, what I felt in my heart and the way I did what I did seem to keep overpowering such encouragement, and the absence of a direct example in the NT of someone willingly turning away from the Lord and coming and being accepted back is a reason, especially when the turning back was at a point so far gone that I was not out of love or appreciation of love, but of fear and misery. Now I know the prodigal son would be a perfect quote in and of itself, yet I cant seem to take it completely to hear because the end says "he was DEAD and now he lives", and I can't come to terms with someone being saved, yet DEAD.

The only real Christian fellowship that I have are is a friend I've mentioned and her husband which live in Europe, and they have been a great comfort and encouragement, but they themselves recently said that they believe there is nothing more they can do for me, that I need to have faith and find this relief and peace in the Lord myself, which makes sense, but you see where I am...

I see so much work needed done for the Lord around me, so much potential to labor, so much desire to do, but unable due to my situation, unable to confidently express the joy and hope in the Lord so as to convict others due to what I am going through.

I honestly have had many subtle sign, especially early on, though progressively less and less, that the Lord I still with me, but I can't seem to be at peace with that completely in my heart or 100% be convinced in my heart, which in and of itself is dangerous, Lord help me.

I have never experienced anything even close to this in my life, and I do not wish it upon even any enemies, truly, and this is quite a statement being that I have been through, done, and experienced many many things and hardships that most people do not from an extremely young age.

There is no word to describe the terrible dreadful feeling of thinking of the possibility of being beyond the Lords love, and on the other hand due to the duration of such a thing, I fear to say perhaps progression, a distorted image of his love and mercy which I know is false yet has made such a stronghold in my life, it is like being torn to pieces.

I want to end this email with 2 questions,

1) Though obviously Christians suffer through similar storms, yet at the same time very different, I have seen some gloomy emails you've posted from people that were in a "somewhat" similar situation, can you honestly tell me that THEY, and/or in addition anyone else you've known in such a situation, have overcome and been restored spiritually from such situations?

2) On apostasy, though a lot of the stuff you've written seems pretty close to completely accurate, I have seen you comment in some places that "it is never to late to turn back to the Lord", yet you contradict this, and rightfully so, because we know from Jude, as well as other scriptures, that one can be "double-dead and uprooted", as well as God can give people over to a reprobate mind.
So my question is really this, there seems to be many lost people who proclaim Jesus Christ such as described in Jude, and such people are apostate who have become wolves in sheeps clothing, so how do we define apostate since some of these people are clearly uprooted yet proclaim and continue to teach Jesus Christ however backwards their words may be....

Actually another question comes to mind, you have given me as well as on your site, your interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6, my problem with it is this (though even if I'm right I'm not necessarily including myself in that category), how can every single Bible translation have gotten it so terribly wrong? It just doesn't make sense to me, especially since we know that people can be "uprooted and double-dead", and such people do not necessarily deny Jesus Christ, but rather can falsely proclaim him.....?

Also you often quote Corinthians say God will not allow us to be tested beyond what we can endure, while this is fine to believe, it actually says he will not allow us to be TEMPTED not TESTED, so how can be confidently substitute tempted for tested?

P.S. - Peter comes to mind a lot when he said "where else are we to turn", yet on the contrary he had never departed....

With love in Jesus Christ, however deprived of it I may feel, may he work a miracle beyond my comprehension, and may he bless you, your ministry, and your family greatly,

Response #18:

On the prodigal son, if I were you, I would focus on the [now] "lives" part. You are born again / born from above. That is the gift of eternal life all who believe in Jesus Christ have. Nothing is more important than that.

I would also advise you to turn off your emotions for a bit. Stop listening to them altogether and "stick to your knitting". Believe what learn and strive to apply it to your life. In time, things will balance back out.

The Christian life is about believing. If you commit to believing the truth that you are saved (that is what the scripture says about all who believe in Jesus), then you can move on and not pay any attention to emotions and harmful thought patterns which want to say different – motivated as they are by satanic influence. You can say "no" to them. That is in your power. You have free will – the image of God. Be pleased to start using it – aggressively and courageously . . . and in faith that the Spirit will help you in this.

Don't worry about producing for the Lord just yet; He will give you ample opportunities when the time is right. He uses prepared people, and that means believers who have gotten past these sorts of tests and have developed the spiritual armor – the shield of faith – to deal with them. If you go into battle without your armor, it's hard to assist others in the fight.

The Lord loves you – and you love Him. These are fundamental truths. Don't give into the lie which says otherwise. Fight that fight.

1) I've seen plenty recover. I've seen plenty who have no need of recovery. I've seen plenty not interested in recovery. All categories are sufficiently well populated in my estimation to make this not a question of trends or statistics but of personal choice. You have to choose to rise above the resistance you're encountering.

2) When you write "yet you contradict this", I'm not aware of ever doing so. Reference? I've never read in scripture that anyone is beyond the pale – except for those who take the mark of the beast (and even in their case their doing so just demonstrates that they have made their choice in a way that is so resolute they would never do so of their own free will). People who take the mark reject Christ to enthusiastically embrace the son of the devil. But you LOVE the Lord. See the difference? It's all the difference in the world.

On "how do we know", it seems easy enough to me:

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
Matthew 7:15-20 NIV

Paul says in Hebrews several verses later:

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation.
Hebrews 6:9 NIV

How could he say this if these people were already "damned without a chance of recovery"? In fact, why, if that were true, would he be writing to them at all? To what point? In fact, he was striving for their spiritual safety. The Bible is written "to teach us" (Rom.15:4), that is, to get us to respond the way the Lord wants us to respond – NOT to proclaim our unalterable condemnation.

This is a good example of what you have to stop doing, namely, spending your time being an advocate against yourself. God forgives. Did you know that? He is love. So loving is He that He sent His Son to die for every one of your sins. And Jesus did – die for every one of your sins. Therefore your sins have been paid for. So on the one hand, you are not being condemned for whatever you've done; and on the other how would a God who did that for YOU not want you to be saved? Only those who reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ go to hell . . . out of their own desire to have nothing to do with Him. But you deeply desire to be with Him forever. You are a believer. And believer's are saved.

I'm sure the devil is happy to have you wasting your time on all this. On the other side, if you have the faith then you have now (and I can't see why you wouldn't), all these things you are torturing yourself with won't make any difference at all. It will just be made clear that you had wasted your time by engaging with them . . . instead of getting down to the business of spiritual growth, progress and production. That is what we are rewarded for.

This is a war. Nothing is pretty. Nothing is perfect. There are plenty of mistakes and everything is messy. The only way to fight a war is head down and straight on, not paying any attention to the loss and the errors and certainly not to the past – until the battle is over. There will be time enough for post mortems "post mortem". Until then, we fight the fight.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32 NIV

Peter did indeed deny the Lord – three times! But the Lord, even though He knew this ahead of time, tells Peter here to get over it . . . and then do his job. Good advice for us all.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Well thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for the patience.

On the prodigal son, I think you're right, but it's very interesting to term this person "dead", yet I have noticed that towards the end of "James", it is written "whoever turns a SINNER back from the error of their way will save their soul from DEATH", so this is interesting as well, because the people addressed are obviously saved, yet James addresses these backsliders as "sinners".
Paul says somewhere "some of you were sinners" before being saved, and the parable of the coins and the sheep says "the angels rejoice more over one repentant sinner", so this makes me wonder if these people are people who were not yet saved, yet again James is referring to repentant backsliders who are saved as repentant sinners, so it is very interesting...often I feel the Bible seems to contradict, but I believe it never really does...

On reference, to 2), I would have to go through some of your teaching which I've read, but again a good example is when you quote Jude in his epistle speaking of these double-dead people showing their shame like wild waves...it seems rather direct that these people are lost for good, so how can we then say that there is still hope for such people for example? This leads to my other question, yes the Lords parable of figs and fruit is how we know, but my question was how do me then define an apostate? If an apostate is someone who no longer believes in Jesus, then what do we call these people who are equally lost yet proclaim Jesus and dwell among believers? What then is the definition of an apostate versus these people?

As to Paul in Hebrews, yes, I agree that these people addressed were not beyond hope, but I still believe that he was telling them that there is a point which is beyond hope, I am not all out dismissing your interpretation, I just find it strange that every Bible translation would have gotten such a verse wrong.

And last, again, I would like your opinion as to how we can substitute the word "tempt" for "test"...when Paul says God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can endure, I have been pondering that question for some time now...

May the Lord keep you patient and humble in all the work you do for him.

In Jesus Christ,

Response #19:

You're most welcome, my friend.

Death in scripture refers to literal, temporal and eternal death, so the context is important. Saving someone's life "from death" could be either from apostasy or the sin unto death.

To be honest, I'm not concerned with people who have enlisted in the devil's army and who are embracing the lie – not concerned with explaining them, that is. Clearly, the Lord wants all to be saved and so we do as well, especially if we care about said individual personally. But everyone makes their own choice. Here's a category that does not actually exist: an unbeliever who is still drawing breath and who wants to be saved but cannot be saved. That is the nub of it. It's non-existent. It never says anything close to this in the Bible and if it were true it would contradict the cross and the integrity of God. And yet . . . I do hear from many believers . . . believers . . . who from whatever twisted penchant for self-torture have convinced themselves that they are damned because of some sin in the past or for some other reason such as they don't "feel" saved. But God is bigger than our feelings. He created our ability to have them. And God is greater than our sins. His Son died for them all and has already paid the price for them all on the cross. No doubt the devil is pleased to get believers into such a state because it neutralizes them in this fight we are in. So he does egg them on – and there is a despicable sort of so-called "teacher" out there (and a number of so-called churches too) which teach this horrific bunch of lies. Their destruction is certain (2Pet.2:3).

Re: "I just find it strange that every Bible translation would have gotten such a verse wrong"; if you mean Hebrews 6:6 "If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" (KJV), the translation isn't helpful, but it still reads fine IF it is understood: "seeing that they . . ." means "because/since/while" they are doing it; but if they stop doing it, then it is NOT "impossible to renew them again to repentance". You can't confess adultery while you are in the very process of committing it, e.g.

Tempt and test are the same word in Greek, so we have to interpret from the context. It's only in English that we see these two things as non-overlapping categories; in Greek these are two sides of the same coin. See the links "tempt vs. test I" and "tempt vs. test II".

Keep moving forward, my friend – and try to let the past go. That is the only way to make progress for Jesus Christ.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #20:

The Lord has shown me things that I could not see before. Through this terrible year I have learned so much, but as I was telling some on the community through private email, I have inflicted a lot of a self harm on myself. I know that I do not have to report to you, but I need to discuss this with someone who is prepared to answer accordingly.

[details omitted]

It pains me to tell you this but I needed to tell someone. I hate the way I have been living my life and I have been planning so very vigorously to get my act together, confess, forget, move on, and fight as hard as I must to beat this sin in my life. I mentioned to our friend my struggles, and he informed me that he was confident I would overcome them. But having struggled badly with depression and anxiety in the past that makes it even harder, but even all that I inflicted on myself as well.

I haven't been spending time with the Lord and haven't made any efforts to move forward, though I intend to do just that. move forward. And I know it, and the Lord's discipline has been so heavy on me lately that life is becoming unbearable and miserable to a T. I have to confess and will do just that! I take responsibility for letting myself go the way I did, and I'm aware that I've got a lot of cleaning up to do.

I feel like a total hypocrite and a two-face, and I feel so ashamed and weary. I want to teach the word one day but I know that teachers have no business with this. Would this kind of a track record I have prevent me from teaching one day even if I overcome this sin in my life and make adequate preparations? Will the Lord allow me to continue pursuing this dream as long as I'm combating and beating this sin in my life? Or does my track record up to this point disqualify me?

I know I have emailed you a good bit throughout this year, and I have struggled to get going and stay consistent, but I tell you Mr. Luginbill I am on the verge of getting my act together now and getting in and staying in this time. I have had enough with this sin in my life and I am tired of being miserable. I am tired of the delays, I am ready to move forward and not look back at this point. I want to put this sin out of my life!

At this point we probably only have about 7 years till testing comes, and that is where I wish I had more time. But I will do my best to make the most of the time the Lord has left for me.

I guess that if I was to describe this year in one word I would say "delay" because that is exactly what it has been. I learned a lot, and see things I didn't see before, but I cannot stay this way, and refuse to allow this to continue.

I hope you do not find this email discouraging in any way, as I know many have been praying for and hoping for me. But those prayers will see good results. They will be answered. Know that I have every desire to give my best for the Lord, even if my past and even up to this point has been terribly sloppy.

In His Grace

Response #20:

No one who sets out to be a teacher of the Word of God is going to be without serious testing and opposition. So don't feel bad about being tested. Physical disease can be discipline, but it can also be testing; and after sin is confessed, it is for blessing . . . and testing. So do not despair.

That said, if you listen to the Holy Spirit and follow where He is leading you, you cannot lose a single battle; if you fail to do so, you can't win one. He is God. Trust the Lord and determine to do what is right and stay away from what is wrong.

You know all that already. It's not the knowing – it's the doing. And HE will help you do what is right, if you just reach out with a mustard's seed grain of faith and be consistent.

I'll be keeping you in prayer on this, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Brother Robert,

How are you doing? How's your family, health and work? I hope everything is going week with you. I have had a few questions bugging me over the past few days and I did not know who else to ask but you. They are:

1. You explained once about how sin can not make people lose salvation (at least not the way we know), so we don't have a sin-problem. How then can a person lose his salvation??

2. Do you upload my emails on the ICHTHYS website, how can I see it?

3. How can a teacher use the old Testament to teach his flock? Mostly, we are threatened in church with the kind of punishments God met on the old testament character, telling us that if we do the things they do, we will also be killed. So, what is the right way to use the Old Testament as a teaching tool?

4. I started listening to Andrew Wormack recently. How good is he? Do you know anything about him?

Thanks so much.

In Christ,

Response #21:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I'm hanging in there – hope you are too (I'm keeping you in my prayers).

As to your questions:

1) Everyone sins, even believers. Sin is most definitely "a problem"; we are called to be holy as He is holy, so we have to fight against sin always. Believers are forgiven and redeemed at salvation; we are forgiven sins we commit when we confess (1Jn.1:9). As we grow, we get better at pursuing sanctification, but we will need to be confessing sin to the end, because anything we think, say or do may be sinful. As to loss of salvation, it is possible (e.g., 1Tim.2:11-13). Sin may play a role in apostatizing. But apostasy is the complete loss of faith in Christ. When faith dies, like the seed sown on rocky ground in the parable of the Sower, that is that. All believers in Christ are saved, but only believers are saved (Jn.3:18). So it's all about faith. Sin may play a role because believers who pursue a life of sin move farther and farther from the Lord of necessity, and this process degrades their faith and sometimes even leads to them denying Christ entirely, for example if they become so unwilling to even look Him in the face anymore in preferring their sinful behavior and being unwilling to accept His discipline for what it is. Even more common, as the parable of the Sower tells us, is the situation where persecution turns a person away for the Lord. And many people who suffer or lose something they feel they cannot do without (like a loved one) will often blame the Lord and this may erode their faith. If faith dies completely, then the person is no longer a believer, and only believers are saved. This is all covered at the link in BB 3A under "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

2) Bible question emails sent to Ichthys often end up being posted for the benefit of all who partake of this ministry (with personally identifying features and items of a personal nature removed for the most part). However, the lag time there can be as much as a year or more. I don't think I've posted any of our communications yet. The place to find the most recent postings is at Ichthys Emails (see the link); the archive is at "Previous Postings" (at the link).

3) As Paul assures us, "whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom.15:4 NASB). However, when it comes to the Law, he also tells us, "the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully" (1Tim.1:8 NASB). And our Lord tells that "every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old" ( NASB), meaning that he uses the Old Testament as well as the new teaching of our Lord – but in a correct way. It's all about the method. The way you describe the teaching of the OT indicates to me that the people who are teaching are teaching it wrong.

4) As to Mr. Wormack, I don't know anything about him, but I understand he is of the charismatic persuasion and those teachings (tongues, faith healing, etc.) are dangerous heresies. So I couldn't recommend him.

I do recommend this ministry – even though it is not an easy lift to read and digest these materials, that is the quickest route to spiritual growth of which I know. I also recommend Pastor Teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy (at the link). You've also been in touch with our friend., I believe. He is first rate. Some of his work is also posted at Ichthys (at the link).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

I have sinned in gross manner most of my life while using Jesus as an excuse to do so now I see the error in my ways and realize how far I've gone I’m afraid I've gone too far. I don’t have a love for God or Jesus but I most definitely believe in them I believe that Jesus died for all sin but I’m afraid I’m too far gone in fact I've never been punished that I can tell for this sin. I've repented and stopped my sinful way but my repentance is of no emotional value. I am selfish all I want is salvation I don’t seem to have a desire for God but only His gift. Hebrews 12:17 seems to tell me there is a too late in this life and I feel as though I may have become an Esau.

Response #22:

Good to make your acquaintance – although I'm sorry to hear of your plight.

The first thing to remember and not doubt is that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ – a person who has faith in trust in Him for life eternal – then you are saved, regardless. Only unbelievers are condemned:

"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

The second thing to remember and not doubt is that all sins are forgiven believers when they confess them to the Lord:

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

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

Remember: Jesus Christ died for all these sins of yours (and all of mine and those of every other person who has ever lived or will). Only He could take away sin and He has taken away all sin as an issue in condemnation. Those condemned are condemned for rejecting Him and His work on the cross in redeeming us from those sins.

The Lord does discipline believers for sin, and the discipline can really hurt – but the Father punishes us as sons He loves, not in anger or vengeance (Heb.12:1ff.).

When believers head down a wrong road, into a "far country" as the prodigal son did, they do experience the sort of mental and emotional anguish you are reporting. That is the Lord through His Spirit coaxing you back to Him. It's typical for believers at such a time to say just what the prodigal son did, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Lk.15:21 NJKV). But what did his father reply? "But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’" (Lk.15:22-24 NKJV). And that is God's attitude toward you as well.

Esau was NEVER a believer. What he wanted – and what this verse says – is that he wanted a change of mind on the part of his father Isaac so that the blessing that went to Jacob might be his; but he couldn't have it. Why not? Because he was never a believer; that is why Jacob received the blessing and not Esau (see the link).

The main point I would like to leave you with is that turning away from sin is only the first step in doing what Christ wants you to do. He wants you to grow up spiritually, make progress in your walk with Him, and eventually help others do so through whatever gifts you have been given (see the link). That is not only the only safe way to live in this world as a Christian – it is also the way to earn eternal rewards that will glorify our dear Lord forever and bless us as well (see the link).

The studies at Ichthys are designed to help with that process. You are very much welcome here any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

I guess I’ll put all my questions into one email. First off how can I know my repentance is true? Second how can I know I am saved and born again?

Response #23:

Repentance is not some mysterious outside force. It's a decision you make from your own free will. You will be challenged; you will be tested. It's up to you to fight that fight. But you don't fight it alone. You have the Holy Spirit in you. And He is God. If you listen to Him, follow Him, obey Him, it is possible to win any such fight. If you don't, it's impossible to win.

If you believe in Jesus Christ, you are born again / born from above. It's not an emotional experience (not that it can't involve emotion). Many are saved as young children and don't even remember "the hour they first believed". Doesn't make them unsaved.

You wouldn't be writing me and struggling with these things if you were not a believer.

What you need now is a massive dose of Bible. Not just reading it, but accessing good teaching about it so that the truth of it washes over you (Ichthys is my first choice; I also recommend Bible Academy at the link). And of course then you need to follow through on what you learn.

Spiritual growth is the ultimate answer to all these sorts of questions. As you grow and grow closer to Christ, so will your confidence and faith grow. It's a matter of putting on foot after the other, of following every good decision up with another, then another, etc.

You're most welcome to the materials at Ichthys which are designed for that very purpose.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Thank you I will delve into the truth pray that it sets me free! Is doubt the opposite of faith? someone told me if I doubt I am not saved. Should I use the book of first John as a test of assurance like so many do?

Response #24:

I recommend starting with the Peter series (at the link). Also good is trying to make a habit of reading some at Ichthys every day. One thing it's nice to keep up with are the weekly postings (at the link).

In terms of scripture "all scripture is profitable" as the Word says (2Tim.3:16-17). But you have to know what it means (that takes growth through a solid ministry), and you have to believe the truth you've learned.

Everyone has "doubts" at some point, especially in the early innings; so if this were true, there wouldn't be anyone saved. But as we grow, we learn to trust the truth and the witness of the Spirit more than what our feelings tell us, or our ears hear or eyes see.

You're up off the ground. Now start running the race.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

I read your view on the unpardonable sin but I keep hearing others say that it is if we sin persistently enough that the Holy Spirit is taken from us and we would know if we no longer felt conviction over that sin and that any sin that puts us that far is the unpardonable sin.

I’m afraid I No longer feel sorrow nor conviction . What is the witness of the spirit? And also what was your answer on first John?

Response #25:

1st John is good to read . . . as is the entire Bible (and the more the better). It's not just the reading of it, however, it's the understanding of it (that requires Bible teaching) and the believing of it (that requires the choice to put your trust in the truth you are taught).

The Spirit speaks to us through the truth we have learned, guiding us gently with His "still, small voice". Here's a link for that: "The Guidance of the Spirit" in BB 5.

As to losing the Spirit, that is impossible . . . for believers. Anyone who is a believer in Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit as scripture affirms (link in BB 5).

As to "but I keep hearing other say . . .". You have to choose what ministry you give your attention to. I can tell you this. If you treat this as a Smorgasbord, you'll never learn anything because you'll always have multiple opinions and won't know which one to choose – or you'll choose the wrong one (not being gifted as a teacher and/or prepared to teach yourself). Our Lord told us to use the "fruit test": you find a good tree (by sampling the fruit) . . . and then you stick with it. That is the only way to grow up spiritually.

There is no "unpardonable sin" apart from rejecting Jesus Christ in unbelief – that is the only sin He did not die for since sin is forgiven by faith in Him (see the link).

As to "I no longer feel sorrow nor conviction", the Christian life is not about what we "feel". It is about what we believe to be true and what therefore we know to be true through faith. We may feel good. We may feel bad. We may feel guilty. We may feel innocent. But our emotions are generally speaking a terrible guide to any sort of spiritual truth. They are infected by our sin nature and respond and react to it (as well as to our circumstances) until we train them to behave better through the truth. The more we grow up spiritually, the more our emotions will get to the point of responding to us telling them the truth. Until then, they are best ignored as much as possible (especially as far as getting any "guidance" from them). Our emotions are NOT the Holy Spirit talking to us. Here's a link on that: "Who controls our thoughts and emotions?".

As I told you before, genuine spiritual growth is the R/x for what ails you. All believers need to turn away from sin, yes; but that is only the first recovery step. After that, what is needed is spiritual growth through attention to a good teaching ministry (which Bible reading, prayer, etc. supplement). Find one that the Spirit tells you is truthful and give your attention to it, believe what you are taught once it is tested, and act upon the truth you have believed. That is the only way to feel confident in the Lord and grow closer to Him. But allowing oneself to be "tossed to and fro by every wave of (false) teaching" never ends well (Eph.4:14).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

How do I refute someone who says it’s possible to completely stop sinning in this life and it’s necessary as a believer to do so? I don’t want to sin but I see a lot of verses making it seem like we need to stop sinning completely and that it’s possible.

Response #26:

Is it possible not to sin? Yes. It is possible never to sin at all any longer in heart and tongue and hand while here in the world in a body infested by the sin nature? No. Anyone who says differently is gravely mistaken. And those who do say differently have usually redefined sin to mean only horrible and gross things which indeed they are not doing. It is certainly possible to stop stealing (Eph.4:28). But can a person tame the tongue so as to never ever say a harsh or harmful or sinful or less than accurate word ever again? James (Jas.3:1-12) and David (Ps.39:1-3) writing in the Spirit say no. But what we think can also be a sin. Our Lord told us that mental adultery, for example, is as culpable as physical adultery (Matt.5:28). Hatred, jealousy, anger, selfishness, envy and all manner of other mental attitudes and thoughts are sins (e.g., Gal.5:19-21). I certainly hope these people are not telling you they never get angry, they never fear, they never have a single negative or lustful or harmful or un-Christian thought. If they tell you that, we all know enough about human nature from our own experience – not to mention from the Bible – to know that this would be a lie . . . which is certainly a sin.

Clearly, some sins are more damaging and more harmful to oneself and others. It's certainly worse to murder someone than it is to tell a "fib". But it is well to consider that all sin is sin. All sin has to be confessed to be forgiven. And Jesus had to die for every single sin of each one of us, paying the price for that sin, however "small" we feel it is, in order for any of us to be saved. The cross is ineffably great beyond understanding.

And just because a person does not realize or "know" they're committing a sin, does not make it "not" a sin. Jesus had to die for those sins as well. Most of the sacrifices in the Law were for "sins of ignorance". But even if we are ignorant, it doesn't mean we are innocent. Eve was deceived – she still "fell" when she ate.

This is not to diminish sin – quite the contrary. The better we understand its pervasiveness, the better we will be able to combat it. We can and we absolutely must, as believers, get better day by day at mastering the sin nature residing within us, and whenever we let the Spirit guide us, we will have victory (Gal.5:22-25). But it is absolute folly – and betrays a near complete lack of knowledge of biblical truth – to claim that one has completely won that victory this side of heaven-home.

That is the truth. In my opinion, better to stay away from self-deceived legalists of this sort than to try and refute them.

As I've told you, getting better at "defense", staying away from sin, is something we as Christians all have to work at every day. But as with everything else in life, you'll never get anywhere through defense alone. What you need is "spiritual offense", that is, spiritual growth. The more you learn – that is, the more you learn which has the virtue of being true – the more you believe the truth and the more aggressively you apply the truth, the closer you will draw to the Lord and the better you will get at fighting this fight. But please make no mistake. It will continue to be a fight, all the way to the end.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1st Corinthians 15:57 NKJV

For more on all these issues, please see BB 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Hello Mr Luginbill

I am doing better but I still am afraid for my salvation. I believe in Christ but I can’t seem to put my trust in him to be saved what do I do? I know he is real but I can’t seem to trust that his salvation is for me.

Response #27:

It is true that this is all about faith. Learning to trust the Lord is something everyone has to take one step at a time. But for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, trusting that we are in fact saved is fundamental to all further forward progress. Every verse of the Bible shouts at us that we have nothing to worry about if we are walking with the Lord; if we are not, then we need to start. So the more you read your Bible, and the more you access a good teaching ministry, listen to what is taught, believe it and apply it, the less this issue will be a problem for you. But you can't sit static and expect for your faith to grow. You have to reach out and engage with the truth. That is axiomatic.

Did Jesus die for you? He died for us all. Did He die for all of your sins? He died for every sin of every human being, past, present and future. Was that easy for Him to do? Dying for the least sin of the least guilty human being in all of history was harder and larger and more important than the entirety of the universe and all human history and suffering rolled into one – and He died for every sin. Does God love you? God knows He must to have done that for you! Since Jesus bore your sins, salvation is definitely "for you" – and for all. The problem is that many "do not consider [them]selves worthy of eternal life" (Acts 13:46). Whether that is because of defiance or subjective arrogance does not matter. All who refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the One who came into this world to die for the sins of the world, are essentially spitting in the Father's face when they reject the Gift of gifts.

Of course "salvation is for you". It is for us all. But we have to accept it. Once we do, we need to treasure it like the "pearl of great price" (Matt.13:45-46), because nothing in this world is anywhere near as valuable. And we do that by doing what the Lord has called us to do: growing spiritually through attention to the truth, passing the tests that come our way once we mature, and helping others do likewise once we are led into the personal ministries the Lord has for us all.

So it's time to get cracking, and there is no time for doubt and hesitation. The Lord will help you – but you have to be willing to be helped.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

I am most willing and I want to trust with all my heart I’m engaging in bible study more frequently now and I hope it helps please pray for me. I wish I could just fully trust now I don’t know why I cannot. How do I know I’ve accepted it enough I accept its truth but my heart feels like it’s out of the picture .

Response #28:

I will pray for you, but this "heart/head" issue is one all Christians have from time to time, especially if they're recovering spiritually. It takes time for the joy to fully return (there is a lot of scar tissue clogging up the heart in the case of all "prodigals" who return), and it takes learning a good deal of truth to begin to be able to sort through and distinguish emotion from decision. The emotions can never be allowed to lead us. If we are going the right way, they may resist, but eventually they will follow. Believers all have to learn to "go with what they know [by faith]" and not "reel from what they feel [which has nothing to do with faith]". Here are two good Q/As on that topic (and there are many other such files at Ichthys): "Who controls our thoughts and emotions" and "The battlefield within".

I also recommend the Peter series as a place to get started (link).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:

How do I know if I’ve been disciplined for my sin? I know there are times where I’ve sinned over and over yet never remember a discipline.

Response #29:

Details on all that can be found at the links in BB 3B: "The fact an purpose of divine discipline" and "Principles of divine discipline".

In general, if you're not aware of being "spanked", then praise God for His great mercy! He truly does know how to "hit us where it hurts" (consider the discipline David suffered), so if you have been spared a little or a lot, that is all the more reason to gratefully thank your heavenly Father!

On the other hand, look what a mess you are in and how unhappy you are. How is that not directly related to divine discipline? Sometimes the natural consequences of what we do are enough to show us the error of our ways, and the Lord is also good about not loading on us more than we could bear without breaking spiritually – but allowing enough to let us see that indeed we cannot "handle it" without Him.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Due to the seriousness of such offenses and the reality that stirs in my mind that I'm not saved. I humbly ask of guidance I do not have a church I go to. I believe in Jesus Christ; it's the only thing that's got me this far. Though I fear my wicked heart has at last deceived me to the point that now even I'm rejected of God.

Response #30:

Dear Friend,

All believers in Jesus Christ 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

If you are familiar with this ministry, you should know that there are very many postings which deal with this same exact issue, that is, Christians who don't "feel saved" because of their past behavior (see the link). It is true that recovery from an addiction to gross sin is not easy, but the Lord helps all who are willing to be helped. First step is repentance and confession TO HIM (1Jn.1:9), and from there it is a matter of warding off the bad (sanctification) and embracing the good (spiritual growth). Ichthys is devoted to helping brothers and sisters in Christ along that good path, and you are certainly welcome to all the materials here.

In Jesus Christ who has redeemed us from ALL of our sins.

Bob Luginbill

Question #31:

It's the things I have done afterwards that bother me. That make me question if I was ever saved. I feel so much fear when I read verses like Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:27. I have done things that I did not know I was capable doing to the point I thought I was possessed. In looking at my receiving of Christ and the subsequent life afterwards the only difference is that I recognize His wrath towards sin. I did not know we had free will. Yet the sins I have committed carry a significantly greater weight to them. They can only stem ____ that I never let go of. Even writing it out to you the writing is on the wall. I did not love Jesus more than my sin. I don't understand that looking back. Why I would violate my conscience and allow His peace to be lifted. I had so much unbelief that manifested in ways I couldn't have known. Read scripture and didn't understand it properly. If I was once enlightened and tasted the goodness of his word and been made a partaker of the Holy Ghost which is another issue I had. I have been fighting for 6 years some days harder than most other days high and disillusioned. Im sorry not that I seek to stir any believer to pity. For I deserve death but I pray that Gods mercy would be wash over me. That even though I have done heinous sins after believing I hate those very things to my core. Not knowing I had free will during those dark days and that trusting Jesus to help me to overcome them was key. I see my folly perhaps there is nothing to be said and all that awaits are the very unquenchable fires of hell. Even with this I see that God is just and I am a liar. I just want Him still I want to love Him deeply and eternally. I want to put that trust I should have had years ago into practice and this I shall do if God wills. To kill sin to crucify my flesh. Im just scared and conferring with people who do not care about these things fills like Gods way of cutting me off further. That I not offend God further I can say as much as I know to be true and subject myself to examine if I had faith in Christ at all. The things I have done all fall heavily upon because I believed and upon looking at the parable of the sower can only surmise that I let the things weeds and thorns choke away at the seed planted. With all this being said having read several teachings of yours I see you are both honest in your regard for context and the application of the word. I struggled with whether I saved years ago or not and now I realize that it can be lost. I'm trying to grasp both the severity of my offenses and if God will permit true repentance. I was an ignorant immoral man given a precious gift I did not cherish as I should have. I still believe against it all I still believe that I will not renounce I know for certain Jesus can save. The only thing keeping me from truly contemplating suicide other than my family and going to hell that much quicker is that as I said Gods mercy and the faith that Jesus can save to the uttermost so I strive to come to Him even as a despicable as I am. Thank you for responding.

Response #31:

As mentioned, I've heard this exact story many times before – including regarding the passages you ask about. Here are a few specific links:

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

Does Hebrews 10:26 Teach Loss of Salvation?

Are those in Hebrews 6:4 who "crucify the Son of God afresh" lost?

Any believer who sins is restored to full fellowship with the Lord upon repentance and confession (see the link).  And anyone who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation, trusting in Him, accepting who He is, God and man, and what He has done in dying for our sins, is saved (Jn.3:18; see the link).

The fight against sin – sanctification – is not easy. And it is especially hard when it comes to behaviors to which we may have become addicted through failure over a long period of time. But if we are really willing to get tough on ourselves, the Holy Spirit within us is more than capable of combating all sinful tendencies (Gal.3:16-25). But we have to be willing to fight it out "to the point of blood" (Heb.12:4).

One thing I mentioned last time – a key point usually missed – is that no one has ever won a battle on the defensive. In order to make progress with anything in the spiritual life, the struggle against sin is really only going to be won through spiritual offense. That means growing up in the Lord and His truth daily. The Spirit uses the truth we have learned and believed to help us and to motivate us and to strengthen us. But if we have no such reserve of spiritual capital in our hearts, there is little chance of doing anything right in the Christian walk, and especially not if we have already dug ourselves into a hole.

Ichthys is devoted to spiritual growth, and you are more than welcome to all the materials here. But the right approach is to confess/repent . . . and then get cracking spiritually, moving forward in the truth (NOT waiting around for the next wave of temptation to hit).

Two good places to start:

The Peter series

BB 6A: Peripateology:  the study of the Christian walk.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #32:

Mr. Luginbill

The faith imparted to me leaves only one certain and absolute course believe and endure. Having read through repentance confession and forgiveness. I find a hope that I thought long dead. My prayer from here on forth until I pass into life eternal is to always meditate upon, appreciate, esteem the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior as the highest and most magnificent event the cosmos could ever witness. I thank God for His work in you that brings a sinner to repentance and then shows him how he may once again come humbly for His God and trust the sacrifice as Jesus as all powerful and complete in its redeeming work.

Response #32:


I will say a prayer for you, my friend.

Please feel free to write any time.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #33:

I thank you for your work before which helped refute Catholic claims regarding Kecharitomene, and recently I was in a debate about OSAS. My position is that Scripture warns believers as believers against having an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, drawing back unto perdition, back into bondage, making Christ of no effect, to no profit, falling from grace, etc., (Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 10:38,39; Galatians 5:1-5) thus forfeiting what faith appropriated.

In response, one of the many opponents argued that in John 5:24, the verb expressing "is passed from death unto life" is in the perfect tense and therefore is not conditional at all.

"An awkward but better translated sense is that the person who is continually hearing Jesus' Words and persistently believes in the Father is that very person who has once-and-for-all passed out of the realm of eternal death and into the realm of eternal life. As a consequence that would mean that God does not permit a reversal of the process. This verse expressly guarantees OSAS in an unconditional way. There is no subjunctive sense here at all as in John 3:15-16, so any faulty error in interpretation there is cleared away."


"See the following: Robertson's Word Pictures Hath eternal life (echei zōēn aiōnion). Has now this spiritual life which is endless. See Jn. 3:36. In Jn. 5:24, Jn. 5:25 Jesus speaks of spiritual life and spiritual death. In this passage (Jn. 5:21-29) Jesus speaks now of physical life and death, now of spiritual, and one must notice carefully the quick transition. In Rev. 20:14 we have the phrase “the second death” with which language compare Rev. 20:4-6. But hath passed out of death into life (alla metabebēken ek tou thanatou eis tēn zōēn). Perfect active indicative of metabainō, to pass from one place or state to another. Out of spiritual death into spiritual life and so no judgment (krisis). -------- Marvin Vincent's "Word Studies" Heareth Closely connected with believeth. Hath eternal life See on Jn. 3:36. Shall not come into condemnation (εἰς κρίσιν οὐκ ἔρχεται) The present tense, cometh not. So Rev. Not condemnation, but judgment, as Revised Version. See on Jn. 3:17. Wycliffe., cometh not into doom. The present, cometh, states the general principle or order. From death (ἐκ θανάτου) Rev., correctly, out of death, pointing to the previous condition in which he was. Life (τὴν ζωήν) The life; the ideal of perfect life. F. Wittman "The Gospels: A Precise Translation" John 5:24 (APT): Amen, amen, I am saying unto you&, "The one continually hearing My /Word and persistently committing trust to The+ One |Who| sent Me is continually possessingg eternal absolute life. And he is not coming into judging, but h he has permanently transferred out of the death into the absolute life." Superscripts meaning: / = articulated + = masculine gender |. . . | = understood from context g = same as having h = on / contrarily"

I finally responded that "No one has really attempted to deal with the many texts I supplied except to argue that these were not written to believers, as believers, which as shown, is simply contextually untenable. And if your case rests your argument of what the Greek means based upon your scholastic (as emphasized) sources, then again I suggest you try to correspond with a exceeding well-credentialed conservative scholar on the issue who do not as re. Jn. 5:24 meaning what you insist it must."

Whether this poster will or not, I decided to ask for your input in what the Greek denotes, and would appreciate if you would provide that. Thanks. Grace and peace thru Jesus the Lord.

Response #33:

Dear Friend,

The key to John 5:34 is not the tense of metabaino; the key is the CONDITION which sets up this statement. Our Lord says, "he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me". In terms of grammar, "the one who believes" is a present participle phrase which is a common way to express "believer", that is, "one who IS NOW believing". So believers – those who NOW believe in Christ – are indeed secure; but what happens if they stop believing? That is apostasy: the death of faith. Only believers are saved. So having crossed from death to life is wonderful. And it is in the perfect tense which does describe the state of the BELIEVER after salvation: absolutely safe and secure . . . as long as he/she IS a believer, that is, a person who IS BELIEVING in the Jesus Christ. But a person who allows faith to die off to the point of no longer believing in Jesus Christ is no longer a believer – and only believers are saved (Jn.3:18). So playing silly grammar games like this person is doing, sifting out a gnat while ignoring the camel (ONLY believers are saved) is not helpful.

As to the falsity of OSAS, how does this verse (one of very many) not put the lie to that false doctrine?

If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
Hebrews 11:15 NIV

But we who remain steadfast in our faith "do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved" (Heb.10:39 NIV).

For much more on the principle of apostasy and the sin unto death and related issues please see the links:

Apostasy and sin unto death (in BB 3B)

Three false doctrines that threaten faith (Peter #27)

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #34:

I told you that I was doing better, and in a way I am. I feel very zealous for the Lord and am so eager to continue living for Him and grow through His words and dive into my studies. So the desire is there. Your last answer was of great comfort to me. But I'm still feeling delayed at a crossroad. My mental health still has me concerned, however, [omitted]

I feel like I have trapped myself due to my own many failures, of course I take full responsibility but I feel completely stuck due to this. I know I have to reach out in faith but right now I feel like it's a losing battle because my body is fighting against me. This most certainly is the biggest test of my life Mr. Luginbill, the greatest I have ever encountered. I'm trying not to panic, but I will be honest that I'm really scared right now. I felt good the other day, I was in my studies and I was on fire for the moment and felt so happy doing what I love to do, spend time with the Lord, grow in His truth, and prepare to serve Him in the future. But then that physical feeling/tickling I mentioned came, and it went to my head and I failed. I felt it useless to confess as the feeling continued and didn't go away for a while. That is why I feel stuck, and now I'm reeling the consequences of my actions. When I'm studying, reading the word, spending time with the Lord, I'm fine. But my issue is that because of this health issue I am having I feel it is preventing me from being consistent. I can't study or focus for long.

I'm dying to confess and remain consistent, but I feel like I'm being inhibited. I thought maybe going to a Biblical counselor as a possibility, but I just don't like that idea either. I do see you as a mentor and that is why I tell you these things as I trust you the most over any counselor.

I know this is a matter of doing, I am trying but I feel I have inhibited myself. I have never been so humbled in my entire life. I know with all my heart its not going to stay like this though, and I'm doing my best to stay positive.

Other than you and the others online I have no one to talk to about these matters, in person that is, which makes going through this all the more harder and discouraging. I know nobody else is going to understand as they think that it partly has to do with the fact I don't go to church and experience in person fellowship with other believers, that is one of the answers some of my family members gave, but I know they don't understand Laodicea. So I don't bother going to them for obvious reasons. Lukewarm churches never helped me and always did more harm than good.

In His Grace and Power

Response #34:

You're right that I'm not big on counselors or psychiatrists. As I always say at such times, however, I have known some who have gotten help from those sources – even if in my heart of hearts I feel they'd have done better committing themselves fully to spiritual growth.

Are you getting any physical exercise? That has been known to alleviate a lot of other things if done regularly and vigorously.

Also, I'd like you to keep in mind that just because things are bad at the moment, doesn't mean that they will never get better. That is a very common trap even believers who ought to know better tend to fall into when plagued by physical ailments (or troubles generally). God is faithful and always gives us what we need. That doesn't mean, however, that we don't occasionally have to wait a while and "deal with it" (whatever "it" is) to demonstrate and also to build our faith. Trust Him. He will bring you through. He always has; He always will.

As to confession, either you are sinning or you are not. If you are not sinning, then you don't need to confess whatever "it" is. If you are sinning, then you need to confess and the quicker the better. Don't let anything stop you from doing that. This is a fight, you are in, and it doesn't matter how it came about. If it were completely undeserved or if you were completely culpable with no mitigation, the tactics are the same: repent, confess, forget – and fight on. Repeat as often as necessary. The Lord promises to forgive you whenever you do so, and He is telling you the truth of course. So believe it.

Worrying about the past – even yesterday or earlier today – is only a waste of time; actually it's worse because it takes our attention backwards not forwards.

Have confidence that the Lord will deliver you from this, my friend. I promise to pray for you. In the meantime, be absolutely unyielding with yourself in all matters where self-discipline is necessary.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #35:

I have exercised on and off. Just gotta stick with it consistently. Currently I am seeking some remedy for the physical ailment I mentioned to you. As for the mental issue the doctor spoke to me about, well I know in my heart that that is a spiritual issue, and of course I just don't see what some "verbal counseling" from an unbeliever is going to do. So I see it best to avoid it. Biblical counselors can be helpful, and I believe you when you say you know some people who have been helped. I prefer not to but that doesn't mean they can't be helpful.


It really is just the physical discomfort that bothers me, if I could only find,(I am in the process of looking) something to alleviate this then I'm good to go. No joke, this bothers me badly, keeps me up at night sometimes and I can't sleep. The doctors I have talked to don't know whats causing it and dismiss it saying it will go away on its own, but I believe I know whats causing it, the problem is finding something to alleviate it. I researched and I think I found something that would really help it, but I don't know if it is available in the area I live in. Have been asking God for wisdom and guidance. Difficult times, I'm not enjoying this at all, but it can't last forever.

I wish I had more time left. I know we don't know when the tribulation will begin, but if it is only 7 years away then I wish that it was more. I don't see myself reaping a bountiful crop for the Lord, not at all actually, but with these 7 years I want to prepare as much as I can so as to be of most help when those terrible days hit. Accomplishing something is better than accomplishing nothing I suppose. I'm not discouraged by this.

What you said regarding confession was true, even if I have to confess many many times in the beginning. Its so hard though.

In Christ

Response #35:

I support your decisions. If it were me, I'd probably do push-ups whenever something like this started bothering me. Since it's a chronic problem, you might get to the point of being able to do one-armed push-ups if you persevere. I had a friend in the USMC who was trying to get ready to go to the Army's Airborne school, and he used to do push-ups every ten minutes or so while in preparation. You'd be talking to him and then all of a sudden he'd drop and do twenty. If that can be done for a secular goal, well, there's nothing more important than the kingdom of God and our relationship with the Lord. This might not be the best approach for you, but I've always preferred being proactive and attacking the problem where possible rather than relying on defense solely.

There is plenty of time left to do all the Lord has for you to do, and some do a great deal in a very limited amount of time. Take it one day at a time – that is all we get in any case, no matter what the clock or the calendar say.

On confession, you can do it. The Lord died for your sins – all of them. So you have nothing to fear. Let go of that and do what needs to be done.

And remember: this sort of thing never lasts forever. It will come to an end. So this is a test to stay strong and faithful and to trust the Lord until He does bring about your deliverance – which He always faithfully does.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #36:


Response #36:

I grew up in Chicago many years ago, and bullying was a standard thing among boys. I had confrontations of one sort or another pretty much from the third grade until the end of high school (a technical HS with over 5K boys and no girls). I was amazed when I got to college and there was no such thing! I know many people for whom high school was "the best time of their life" – wow! Not so for me. I survived it (that's all I'll say). But as to college, I liked it so much that, apart from my time in the USMC, I never left!

I think your observation about more mental illness these days is spot on. People "dealt with it" back in "the day", if there was anything to deal with. Of course there is some truth to it, and thus we have the reality of true problems needing intervention and help vs. over-reacting because we are in a culture of that depends seeking such solutions. For example, it is absolutely true that extreme stress can really damage some people. "Combat fatigue" now PTSD and earlier "shell shock" has always been true, and some have a much higher tolerance for such extreme stress than others do. But one thing I can tell you from my studies in history is that very few people don't have a breaking point when it comes to this sort of thing. And it is also true that traumatic experiences tend to linger.

What to do about it? My preference is spiritual growth and learning to lean on the Lord – as opposed to medication and therapeutic counseling. As you know well from reading the website, that doesn't mean that all of us don't need some encouragement from time to time. That ministry of the Body to itself – and the great comfort of the Holy Spirit linked with faith in the truth and eyes on the Lord – is more than sufficient for myself. On the other hand, while I have been under stress and have dealt with a great deal over the course of this ministry and preparing for it, I would be reluctant to compare what I am and have been dealing with in my life to, say, the experiences of a prisoner of war.

I have known good Christian people in my life who do seem to have benefitted from the type of therapy and medication currently being given for such problems. So I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bath water as they say.

I know that ___ would be happier with the Lord – obviously. We can certainly be praying for __ – and we will continue.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #37:


Response #37:

You're very welcome, my friend. I'm happy to hear that ___ is doing some better. We'll take that, regardless of how we got to that point. The mercy of God is infinite and His plan is perfect. We don't know the ups and downs ahead of time (thank God!), but we have faith that it all comes out in the perfect pre-planned way in the end. And it always does.

As always, I'm so encouraged by your own stalwart spiritual warfare! You are the perfect example of just how far a Christian can progress with their walk with the Lord – and just how fast – if they really do commit themselves to Him in absolute trust, heart and soul. Good for you!

Keeping you and yours in my daily prayers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #38:


Response #38:

Your situation seems pretty unique to me! I'm not sure that's a good thing – except that it indicates that the evil one is pulling out all the stops, which in turn indicates that you are doing exactly the right thing for the Lord. So my advice: continue doing exactly the right thing for the Lord, come what may.

Are you still living at home? I only ask because I would hate to see you involuntarily forced into some sort of highly counterproductive "therapy".

As to your pain, I've placed a prayer request on the Ichthys list for you, and will be praying for you as well.

It's always the case that when we turn to the Lord with all of our hearts, it has a tendency to change the way we look at the world – and how others look at us because our shift of focus always brings changes to how we speak and think and act, changes for the good (though not always received that way as in your case).

In short, I'm thrilled to hear of your rapid and excellent spiritual advance, and I know that the Lord is for certain. He will be with you in this fight – never forget that (Ps.56).

So keep fighting the fight, my friend. There is a great reward at the end of this rainbow-road that puts all the "blessings" of this temporary world to shame.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #39:


Response #39:

It's my pleasure, my friend. Do feel free to write me any time. Ichthys is "my church" as well!

Thanks for the update on your background and situation – it explains a lot. As to "cults", you can let your family know that you're not being asked to do anything dangerous or anything weird, or give any money, or move anywhere, or quit anything, or stop having contact with friends and family (or any other of the common behaviors cults engage in to entrap their victims). I'm very pleased that you are choosing for the Lord and His truth over all else – that is just what our Lord told us to do, after all (e.g., Lk.14:25-27). Following Jesus Christ – the right way as you are doing – is always a sacrifice. And it always seems to create friction with those who know and love you who do not have the same priority. The devil has a lot to do with that. All good choices we make are challenged, especially the big ones. But that is an important part of the plan too, because by continuing on the right path despite opposition we demonstrate that our faith is genuine, not "sown on the rock" type faith, but "30/60/100-fold" type faith – the kind that receives a rich eternal reward. Our Lord told us that it was "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matt.19:24) – and that greatly upset the disciples. Because while they were not at all "rich men", yet like all of us in this world we do understand that on one level we need resources to survive. But God always provides in His perfect faithfulness. There was never a single time He let a single believer down. Not once. That is the truth, but believing and acting on that truth under pressure requires spiritual growth to get to the point of truly trusting Him no matter what. I'm thrilled to see you moving aggressively in that direction. Keep up the good work! Your confidence will grow as you grow, and all doubts will recede as you draw closer and closer to the Lord day by day. What He tells you is true. What people tell you is only true if it's the same exact thing that He's telling you.

As to prayer, everyone is different here. Generally speaking, more is better but only if it is good. I would say that a Christian who wants to do his/her part in being a prayer warrior should do as much as they can feel good about doing and be consistent in doing it. It's not good to be in a situation where one feels guilty all the time for "not praying enough". It's also not very helpful to the Body of Christ to only pray once in a while with no consistency. Somewhere between those two extremes is the right place to be.

I'll be keeping you in my prayers.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #40:

Hello Dr. Luginbill, I pray all is well you and your ministry.

Recently, many around me have been struggling with Jealousy, envy, depression, insecurities and anxiety. I would appreciate some advice and biblical readings I could share with them

Thanks in advance.

Response #40:

Hello Friend,

Good to hear from you.

As to your request, I'm not sure that there is any special passage et al. for this. These sorts of mental funks are the common status quo for unbelievers, and also for believers who are not advancing spiritually. In other words, for those who are consistently growing closer to Jesus Christ, all such issues gradually recede. It doesn't mean that we don't have to cope with attacks and ups and downs; but it does mean that we get better at doing so, less vulnerable to surprise onsets of such conditions, and have the inner resources to weather such storms. For such spiritually mature individuals – Christians who have not only learned a great deal of truth but who have committed it to their hearts by actually believing the truth they've learned and who have made a practice over time of applying it to their lives, analyzing and seeing the world through this ever clearer lens of truth – recalling principles and reading applicable Bible verse really can help. But for someone who has not mastered these truths and techniques, even the perfect scripture to apply and the most fitting principle probably aren't going to make much of an impact.

For that reason, I always R/x "spiritual growth". For someone just beginning, reading the Bible regularly is important – but it has to be combined with serious teaching to get beyond a very pedestrian level. For those coming to Ichthys for the first time, I recommend the Peter series (at the link). It's not complete, but there is a great deal there, and it's geared more to those who are committing themselves to serious Bible teaching for the first time.

There are also very many email exchanges posted at the site which relate the encouragement of Christians under pressure. Here are just a few (you can sort through the entire list by title at the link: "Previous Postings"):

Fighting the Fight X

Believers in the World IX

Spiritual Warfare VI

The Battlefield Within II

Sin, Faith and Suffering

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.



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