“Is Soul Sleep Biblical?”

I am writing to seek clarification on the rather thorny issue of life after death. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 Paul outlines how the process of judgment will take place. He says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first.” Isn’t this a substantive indication of “soul sleep”? If what Paul asserts is anything to go by it means that after death the soul remains in somewhat a “holding cell” until the day of judgment regardless of the person’s beliefs and tenets prior to death. An appendage would be 1 Samuel 28:1-14; I believe this passage also corroborates the “holding cell” school of thought.

Thanks for your letter. This is a very important issue. I am personally persuaded that the doctrine of “soul sleep” is incorrect. When the Bible speaks of death in terms of “sleep,” it is speaking this way because the person’s body looks as if it were asleep. In other words, this way of speaking has to do with the body, and not the soul.

This is evident, I think, when one considers a passage like Luke 16:19-31. Both the rich man and Lazarus die, but their souls are very far from being “asleep” (in the sense of unconscious). The men in this story, although physically dead, are pictured as consciously awake and aware of their surroundings. Their bodies have died, but their souls are very much conscious in the afterlife.

This is also evident in Revelation 6:9-11. And it is further supported by the teaching (concerning believers) that when we die, we go immediately to be with the Lord. Here, remember what Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Or consider Paul’s statements in passages like 2 Cor. 5:1-10 or Philippians 1:23. All of these passages indicate, I think, that believers are conscious and with the Lord in paradise between death and resurrection. Unbelievers, likewise, are also conscious (though they are in torment and separated from the Lord).

Hence, the Bible seems to teach that we continue to experience some form of personal, conscious existence between death and resurrection.

I hope that these passages from Scripture will help to clear up this issue for you.

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

Posted July 2014
© 2014 Probe Ministries




“My Girlfriend’s Parents Won’t Accept Me Because I’m Not Saved”

My girlfriend’s parents do not accept me because I am not saved though I have never put a foot wrong. I would like to know where Probe Ministries stands on this. As a footnote, she has a child which I have accepted as my own.

Thanks for writing. Although I do not know all the details of your case, there is actually biblical justification for your girlfriend’s parents reaction to you. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians as follows in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16:

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’

This passage clearly forbids believers to marry unbelievers. If your girlfriend is a Christian, then this could at least partially explain her parents’ reaction to you.

Of course, the good news is that you don’t need to continue relating to your girlfriend’s family as an outsider! After all, Christ died for you too! So why not repent of your sin, give your heart and life to Christ, and place your trust in Him for forgiveness, cleansing, and the free gift of eternal life? Of course, you must do so genuinely and sincerely and from the heart. But if you do, then you will (most importantly) be an adopted son of God and a member of His family forever. In addition, if you sincerely give your life to Christ, it might also make you more acceptable to your girlfriend’s parents. Of course, I want to be very clear, that you do not PRETEND to become a Christian in order to win their approval. That would be a very great sin in the eyes of God. However, if you genuinely and sincerely give your life to Christ and become a member of the family of God, then He may (as an added bonus) grant you the approval of your girlfriend’s family as well. And even if He doesn’t, you will still have the greatest good that any man can ever have/M a personal relationship with the Triune God, your Creator and Redeemer who loves you, and gave His Son for you. And what could ultimately be better than that?

Shalom,

Michael Gleghorn

Posted July 2, 2014
© 2014 Probe Ministries




“Your Answer About OT Prophecies of Jesus’ Resurrection Are Troubling”

You responded to a question written by someone titled, “Where are the OT Prophecies of Jesus’ Resurrection?” Your answer is troubling. In Acts 13:32 God the Holy Spirit through Luke makes it expressly clear that He did prophesy in the OT regarding Christ’s resurrection. You answered that there are no prophecies in the OT about Jesus’ resurrection. Summed up: Your answer is in contradiction to Acts 13:32. Resolution?

I do (in fact) believe that there are OT predictions concerning the resurrection of Christ. The issue I was wrestling with in my response, however, is whether any of these predictions are “explicit” or “specific.” I state this quite clearly in my original letter:

“I do not think there are any specific predictions of Jesus’ resurrection in the OT.”

And although I could always be wrong, it doesn’t seem to me that the predictions are of this sort. It is only after His resurrection that we can clearly see that these passages were intended to refer to the resurrection of Christ. Prior to this, however, it does not seem to me that it was clear from the OT that the Messiah would be raised from the dead. This is certainly not something that the Jews of Jesus’ day (including Jesus’ own disciples) were expecting. This is quite clear, I think, if you look at those passages in which Jesus predicts His resurrection to His own disciples (e.g. Mark 8:31-32; 9:30-32; etc.). Indeed, the apostle John tells us quite explicitly that he did not believe until he saw some evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. And (speaking for himself and the other disciples) he specifically tells us why:

“For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9).

In other words, ______, in spite of all the OT prophetic evidence AND Jesus’ repeated predictions that He would rise from the dead after being crucified, the disciples did not understand any of it. It was still not clear to them. They were not expecting the death and resurrection of their Messiah and they were initially quite surprised by it all.

So while I agree that there are OT predictions of the resurrection of Christ, I just don’t see that these predictions are explicit in the sense of telling us directly, “The Messiah will be raised from the dead,” etc. Of course, if you can point one out to me that is explicit in this sense, I would be very grateful.

So it seems to me that the resolution to your difficulty, ______, is to read your sources a bit more carefully in the future.

Posted July 2, 2014

© 2014 Probe Ministries




“Is the Phrase ‘Holy Ghost Fire’ Biblical?”

I hear people, even pastors, speak this phrase “Holy Ghost Fire.” Is this phrase biblical? Because I’ve searched the scripture and haven’t come across it.

Thanks for writing. This particular phrase does not occur in the Bible. It sounds like to sort of thing that Pentecostal preachers might say in reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The biblical basis for this sort of language would be passages like Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16, in which John the Baptist distinguishes his baptism from that of the coming Messiah (Jesus) who will baptize with “the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

Later, in Acts 2:1-3, we have the account of what happened to Jesus’ disciples on the Day of Pentecost. We are told that “tongues of fire” came to rest on each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues (or languages).

It is probably to passages of this sort that these preachers are indirectly referring. Of course, this raises a lot of questions about the precise nature of the Holy Spirit’s baptism and what it means to “speak in tongues,” etc. If you want to explore these issues further, from a non-Pentecostal perspective, I would recommend visiting bible.org and doing searches on some of the things you’re interested in. This site has a great deal of biblical and theological material, including the NET Bible, all free of charge.

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

Posted July 2, 2014
© 2014 Probe Ministries




“What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?”

I have a few family members who have recently gotten tattoos. I was wondering if there was any mention in the Bible about this being a good thing to do or a wrong thing to do? I thought that at one time I read something about it being wrong. And if it is wrong how can I address the issue in a decent way to people I love and care for who are not Christians?

Actually, yes the Bible does address the subject of tattoos. Lev. 19:28 says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.”

If your loved ones are not Christians, they may or may not care that God specifically addressed this issue in the Bible. If they do, knowing God said not to do it might be enough. If not, you might mention that there must be a good reason for God to forbid His people to permanently mark their bodies this way, and it turns out there are several.

1. To quote my brother-in-law, who became enamored of “body art” when he was younger and sports seven large tatoos on his body—which he now despises—”Permanent is a long, long time.” The majority of people who get tattoos regret it later.

2. Tattoos are exceedingly painful and expensive to have removed.

3. Some tattoo inks have metal in them, so if one’s health is threatened, an MRI can be complicated (and there can be some discomfort) by a tattoo.

4. On a more spiritual note, God may not want us to permanently mark our bodies because it is disrespectful to the body He fashioned and gave to us to steward. The fact that a tattoo cannot be undone (completely) reflects the sad truth that some decisions are one-way and we box ourselves into a corner. Tattoos make a statement physically, but God intends that the purity and beauty of our LIVES make the statement, rather than “I was young (or drunk, or on drugs) and did this to myself.” (Yes, I am biased, I will cheerfully admit. <grin>)

Now, the New Testament doesn’t repeat this prohibition, and it’s not a moral issue like sexual sin or lying or stealing which are still wrong and forever will be, so I don’t think it’s a sin anymore. Many people believe this is an area where we have Christian liberty, the freedom to do something that used to be prohibited.

I hope this helps.

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries
August 2001

+++++

Several e-mails arrived shortly after this article was posted, pointing out the fact that this prohibition against tattoos was part of the Levitical code, but Christians do not live under the Old Testament laws. Otherwise, we would be sinning to:

  • Shave off beards and sideburns
  • Wear crew cuts
  • Wear linen/wool blends
  • Not take a bath after intercourse
  • Circumcise baby boys on any day other than the eighth
  • Attend church sooner than 33 days after the birth of a baby

I appreciate being shown the need to explain the fuller picture.

The person who wrote merely asked if the Bible said anything about tattoos, and it does, and I pointed out some good reasons for that prohibition. However, it is also true that we do not live under Old Testament laws, and most of the Levitical prohibitions and requirements no longer apply because we live under a new covenant of grace. (I hasten to add here that the moral prohibitions, such as those against any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage, including homosexuality, are still firmly in place.)

Thus, while the Bible did prohibit tattoos in the Old Testament, it is not a sin to get one today. Dumb, maybe, but not sinful. <grin> (That’s a joke. Please don’t send me e-mails if you have one and like it. You have complete freedom in Christ to do anything He gives permission for you to do.)

+++++

. . .And then this appeared in “Dear Abby,” which I thought was well worth sharing:

Dear Abby: You have printed letters about tattoos, so I thought you might get a kick out of my experience. Two summers ago, my sister “Julie” confided that her daughter, “Whitney,” had decided to get a tattoo before returning to college. Julie was upset about it, but could not change her daughter’s mind because Whitney is on a full scholarship and didn’t need anyone’s approval. Julie asked if I could talk Whitney out of it, and I racked my brain trying to think of something to say that would sway her. A few weeks later, our families got together to celebrate Julie’s 50th birthday. Whitney was there with her boyfriend. After we all had enjoyed ice cream and cake, I took Whitney and her boyfriend into the living room and popped in a videotape of a party my husband and I had thrown during the disco craze of the 70s. There we were in our leisure suits, gold chains, permed hair, platform shoes and having a great time.

Whitney and her boyfriend were rolling on the floor with laughter. They couldn’t believe that “look” was actually the craze at the time. “Yes,” I said, “that was the style. But as times changed, styles changed, and what was once ‘in’ was soon ‘out.'”

At that moment, Julie and her husband walked into the living room dressed in retro clothes and wigs. They were followed by Grandma and Grandpa, who had applied fake tattoos to their arms and shoulders. Whitney was stunned to see her conservative grandparents so out of character.

It was then that we reminded Whitney we had been able to buy different clothes and change our hairstyles when the fad was over, but tattoos are forever.

Disco clothes and wigs: $85
Fake tattoos: $30
The look on Whitney’s face: priceless!

(To date, no tattoos for Whitney.)

Signed,
Creative in Las Vegas

Dear Creative: Your letter: a gem. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. You made your point with an object lesson that was far more effective than any lecture would have been.

June 2003

+++++
Addendum, September 2014

I’d like to add this YouTube video addressing the question of tattoos from my wise pastor, Todd Wagner of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas:

See also “What About Body Piercing?”
 




“I am a Christ-Believing Hindu”

I am a Hindu by birth. A Christ-believing Hindu (we will get to that a little later).

I was just reading your write up on “Do Hindus believe in Jesus.” And I am writing to thank you! Thank you for not calling Hinduism a religion creating by Satan as some do, for not outrightly dismissing our faith as pagan or evil. Thank you for the open mind with which you view Hinduism. And thank you for not considering Jesus a western God.

But the article talks about the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus that the Hindu man believes in. Being a Jesus lover myself (don’t get me wrong, I mean I love Jesus absolutely, unconditionally, and like crazy, talk to Jesus 24/7 and try to listen to what He tells me), I can tell you that Jesus is God according to Hinduism as He could be according to Christianity. This is because Hinduism lets you choose your path to salvation. It lets you believe in any Ista of God or all of it. And I have chosen Jesus and His path to salvation.

And yes, my Jesus is the Jesus of the Bible. I read the Bible as often as I can. I was introduced to Jesus by the Bible and I know no other Jesus. There is nothing just nothing in the Bible that does not fit into the Hindu scheme of things. Yes, John 4:16 says Jesus only! But so does every scripture of Isha. Scriptures will tell man that following God/Jesus/Allah/Krishna is the only way of attaining God! This is because there is just One God. So there can be only one way. And that is to follow God.

It is important that people of God (I will happily claim that I belong to the group) accept that there is just one God. Different people choose different ways to reach God. But so be it. As it is stated in Romans 14:4, who are we to judge another, it is before our master, that we stand or fall. Our Master is one. He is the same to a Muslim who believes in Allah, to a Christian who believes that Jesus is the only way to heaven, to an atheist and to a Christ believing Hindu who believes that loving Jesus is the awesomest thing ever.

Good day
Bless the Lord

First of all, let me thank you for contacting Probe Ministries with your thoughts on Jesus. We must confess that your letter was thought-provoking and deserves a reasonable response. Hence, let me point out few things to shed some light on few things mentioned in your letter.

I agree with you that we have no choice when it comes to our birth. However, we all have the privilege of making a choice on what to believe and what to reject.

Regarding your comment on Jesus, we agree that Jesus is “not a western God.” In fact, Jesus, in his incarnation, was born in the Middle East. So, when it comes to region, He was more eastern than western. However, we must clarify that God, the Creator of the whole universe, is not limited to a region. He is not a foreigner or alien to any country or culture.

We are pleased to know that you have a loving relationship with Jesus. That is wonderful. We hope that this relationship will help you to listen to Him better and understand Him better and to follow Him better. In fact, Jesus said that “If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15).

While we respect your freedom to believe in Jesus or not to believe in Jesus, we want to point out a couple of things that Jesus taught. The first thing to keep in mind is that the information about Jesus as God is available only in the writings of the disciples of Christ. Hindu literature does not speak about Jesus. In the writings of the disciples of Jesus, it is made very clear that Jesus made some exclusive claims. For example, Jesus claimed “I am the way, the truth and the life.” The definite articles in these claims make it clear that they are exclusive claims. He also claimed that “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The Bible is unambiguous in making exclusive claims. Exclusive claims of truth are logical. Truth by definition is exclusive—truth excludes what is false. It is from this kind of a worldview that the followers of Jesus, who loved him, believed His claim that He is the only way to the Father and therefore the only Savior of the world (Acts 4:12).

We agree with you that there is only one God. On the other hand, if there is only one God, it is reasonable for us to leave it to God to decide how many ways are there to reach Him. In fact, you might have heard of a religion known as Satanism. It will be injustice to the followers of Satan if we claim that their religion will lead to God. Don’t they have a right to pick their destination? Won’t it be cruel to them if we or God refuse them their right to follow someone other than God? If God has given that freedom to men, let us respect that freedom.

We agree with you that we do not have to judge others. And we do not. Jesus will be the judge during the final judgment. We just believe Jesus’ claim that He is the only way to the Father, and teach that belief, as an expression of our faith in Christ and as a response to His love shown to us on the cross. In fact, if there were another way for mankind to be saved, the death of Christ was futile or meaningless. We hope that you will find meaning in the death of Christ on the cross for you and me and will show your love to Jesus by believing in His claims. For a factual belief in Jesus, read the writings about Him and His teachings recorded by His direct disciples who saw His death and witnessed His resurrection and ascension. If you really love Jesus, you will believe His claims and obey them. I am sure that you do not want to love someone who taught wrong things, right? Jesus was either right in making those claims, or he was a liar or lunatic (to die for those claims). You must make a choice!

Rajesh Sebastian

 

Grace and peace of God be with one and all. Thank you for considering my mail and send such a beautiful reply.

Just two things. One, Lord Jesus Christ has been mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. So has Noah, Adam and Eve. Besides I see no reason why the holy Bible would not qualify as a Hindu scripture.

And second, Mr. Rajesh spoke about the option to choose your destination. If there can be two destinations, can’t there be two paths to a destination?? Why did the holy Bible give us the laws but later God blessed us with the Grace through Lord Jesus Christ? That’s two paths, right? And accepting that Jesus Christ is the path does not mean that we deny the laws.

Lastly, the very thought of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ going meaningless sends a chill down my spine. For He has done so much for me and to save me. But trust me, as long as all the sheep get home safely, my Shepherd will be glad. That’s all that matters to my Savior.

May the Grace of Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

Happy Sabbath.

 

Greetings in the name of the Saviour.

You brought up some interesting topics for discussion. Let me quickly respond to a couple of them that might be beneficial to you.

You mentioned that “Lord Jesus Christ has been mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. So has Noah, Adam and Eve.”

You are right. It is true that Bhavishyapurana mentions the names you have mentioned above. However, there is nothing to wonder about that. It also mentioned the names of Muhammad, Sankaracharya, Babar, Akbar, East India Company, Queen Victoria etc. Guess the date of its composition!

As mentioned to you earlier, let me repeat that the only source of reliable information for the teachings of Jesus Christ are from the writings of the disciples who gave their life for following those teachings. Almost all of them were killed for their faith in Christ by followers of various religion. St. Thomas was killed in India.

You also stated that “Besides I see no reason why the holy Bible would not qualify as a Hindu scripture.”

On the other hand, will you have a problem if Hindu Scriptures are considered as Islamic or Christian or Jewish? Each religion and their texts present different and competing worldviews to people. They are mutually exclusive. While Christianity believes in One personal God, Hinduism offers One non-personal Brahman (Nirguna Brahman) as the ultimate reality. Both views can not be right at the same time in the same sense.

Regarding your question “Can’t there be two paths to a destination?” We would prefer to say that it is for God to decide how many ways are there to reach Him. We also believe that, if there were another way, the death of Christ would have been unnecessary. Moreover, what God has revealed to us in the Bible is that there is only one way to Christ. Jesus and the writers of Bible are unambiguous about it.

Regarding your comment on law and grace, let me clarify that Bible clearly teaches that the giving of the law and the sending of Christ were both actions of grace. While the law was helpful in preventing sin, it was not enough to save sinners. So, as planned in advance and promised in advance, Christ came to make the sufficient incarnation and sacrifice once and for all so that whole mankind can be forgiven through his sacrifice. Law is never presented as a path of salvation in the Bible.

As you wrote, we hope that you will find your trust in the True Shepherd and Savior. He is the way, the Truth and the Life.

Rajesh Sebastian

Posted March 2014
© 2014 Probe Ministries




“I Think Some of the Indian Gods Are Aliens From Ancient Visits to Earth”

I think we’re not alone in the universe because of lots of old evidence of aliens found on Earth. I’m an Indian, there are (traditionally 330 million!) gods and goddesses in Hindu culture. I’m always confused about whom to pray. In Indian culture I heard about the flying machine that our gods used at that time and also heard that our ancestors found all the planets in our solar system thousand years ago that scientists came to know with the help of modern technology. I think thousand of years ago aliens visited India, and it may be some of the Indian gods are aliens. So there is a possibility that they exist in the universe.

You brought up an interesting and relevant issue worth discussing. People talk a lot about alien beings these days. The Bible also speaks about aliens. In the Biblical language, they are called angels, spirits, cherubim, etc. The Bible also speaks about their interactions with human beings at different times in the history of mankind.

All through the history, without geographical and cultural limits, mankind has been making scientific discoveries based on research methods available to us. Such scientific advantages have been made by people of different cultures and nationalities in different part of the world. India is one of them. However, to assume that they were revelations will be making a giant leap. This will undermine the foundational principles of science, which is observation and research. The Bible teaches about seeking and finding. Those who seek find solutions in spite of what their culture and nationality is. Fictions will always predict possibilities. There is no wonder when a fiction speaks about flying objects or beings. There are other examples in history where people wrote about flying objects before man actually made airplanes.

The Bible teaches that there is only One God who deserves worship and prayer. This one God created everything else in the world. Therefore, God is not an alien to any culture of country. He is the Master and Creator of the whole universe. In fact belief in many gods will fall on its own feet when you ask a couple of questions—who created god “D,” who created god “C,” who created god “B,” and you will end up in an absolute One. That is the One we call God and who deserves your worship and prayer.

Rajesh Sebastian

Posted March 2014
© 2014 Probe Ministries




“What About Believers Who Stop Believing in Christ?”

I saw your response to a question regarding Hebrews and the warning of falling away. The thing is, I’ve known people who stopped believing in Christ, and then were restored to faith. How does this go together with these verses? Even missionaries like Adoniram Judson, Isobel Kuhn and John Newton all had times of rebellion in their younger years. And so did I; even though I grew up in a Christian home, I denied my faith in Christ at age 17—I sort of lived as a “Secret Christian” because of my Muslim fiancée at the time. At that time I didn’t even know how bad it was. Because I wasn’t born again or knew of repentance I never felt convicted of sins before. It’s now been three years later, and I recently experienced a hatred for sin and a true faith in the sacrifice of Jesus (a faith beyond just mental acknowledgement). Does that mean I’m beyond hope?

I’m a little confused also because the verses you say refer to not true believers. My question also is, would a Jew really leave Judaism to become a nominal Christian at that time? I doubt one could say that they were nominal Christians who were in danger of falling away, when I know how much it means to leave one religion for Christianity in a country with mostly people who belong to false religion. To leave their faith to convert to Christ meant to sacrifice all—it would be like a Muslim converting and losing his family just by some superficial faith . . . that’s why I feel like it didn’t make sense to say the Jews who fell away were just superficial believers?

These are some very important (but also difficult) questions. We must honestly admit the difficulty, I think, as we nonetheless strive to understand (and believe and obey) what the Bible teaches. My own view is basically this:

First you ask: “I’ve known people who stopped believing in Christ, and then were restored to faith. How does this go together with these verses?”

If these people were true believers, and have been restored to genuine faith in Christ, then they are saved. If “eternal security” of the believer is true (i.e. once saved, always saved), then they were always saved (since first trusting Christ for salvation). If this doctrine is false, then it appears that they have been graciously restored to faith (and salvation). Either way, if they are trusting Christ for salvation (and their faith is genuine), then they are saved.

Of course, it’s also possible that they weren’t initially true believers at all. Sometimes people think they are Christians because they go to church, or believe in God, or because they have been baptized, or something else. But they may never have truly trusted Christ for salvation. One cannot lose what one never had. In this case, such people are not really saved at all until they truly trust Christ for salvation. And this may not actually happen until after some period of rebellion.

Indeed, you say of yourself, “Because I wasn’t born again or knew of repentance I never felt convicted of sins before. It’s now been three years later, and I recently experienced a hatred for sin and a true faith in the sacrifice of Jesus (a faith beyond just mental acknowledgement). Does that mean I’m beyond hope?”

Of course you’re not beyond hope! You have trusted in Christ for salvation and you are saved! But it doesn’t sound like you were saved before this (even though you may have grown up in a Christian home). In other words, it doesn’t sound like you ever really left the faith, because it doesn’t sound to me like you were saved until recently. And the same would almost certainly be true of Adoniram Judson and John Newton. By the way, Christians continue to struggle with sin after salvation, but that is a different matter from completely abandoning the faith.

Finally, no, I do not think that a Jew would abandon Judaism to become a nominal Christian (except possibly under extreme duress). But people may become lax in their faith over time. And such people could potentially abandon their faith to return to Judaism. Note: I’m not saying this actually happens. But it could. And if it were to happen, then such a person might indeed forfeit salvation (if “eternal security” is false, which is debatable).

This is how I see the matter. I tend to think that eternal security is true, and that a believer cannot lose salvation. But other disagree with this view and it is always possible that they are right and that I am wrong. Regardless, however, it is God’s intention to save those who come to Him through His Son. And we are definitely secure in Christ. The only way a believer could lose salvation (if such a thing is even possible) is by committing apostasy and rejecting Christ, and then persisting in this rejection until overtaken by physical death.

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

Posted 2014
© 2014 Probe Ministries




“What Is the ‘Sin Unto Death’?” [Michael Gleghorn]

What is the sin unto death, according to 1 John 5:16-17? [If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.]

The passage does not tell us what sort of sin leads to death, nor does it tell us what sort of death is in view here (e.g. physical or spiritual).

In my opinion, it seems best to understand the “death” in view here as physical, not spiritual. We actually have examples in the Bible in which believers sinned so grievously that God took their lives (see, for example, Acts 5:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 11:30 [in the context of verses 17-34]).

If your version of the Bible has the indefinite pronoun “a” before sin in these verses, you should know that this has been added by translators and need not be supplied in the translation. In other words, John is not necessarily talking about a particular sin. Rather, he is probably speaking of a category of sins which could (if committed) lead to physical death. This would be due to God’s judgment on the believer’s sin.

One final point. If this understanding is correct, it need not be understood to mean that the believer whose sin leads to physical death is therefore spiritually lost. The judgment would be upon the believer’s life in this world. It would not imply that such a believer also forfeits heaven. The believer so judged by God would still be saved. But he would probably be like one of those believer’s described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:15—”he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” Such a believer is saved, but appears to have suffered the loss of all possible heavenly rewards. If this is correct, then salvation is not at issue here, but rather the loss of rewards that could have been earned through obedience. Of course, salvation itself is by grace through faith, and not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I hope this helps. This is basically how I would understand the passage in 1 John.

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

Posted March 12, 2014

© 2014 Probe Ministries

 

See Also Probe Answers Our Email:
“What Is the ‘Sin Unto Death’?” [Jimmy Williams]

 




“Help Me Change From Gay to Straight”

Hello Sue,

I am from Australia and I read your add about how you can help me to change from being gay to being straight.

Can you help me please?

I’m not sure what you meant about “reading my add” since I don’t have any advertisements of any kind, but I have written about homosexuality on Probe.org and www.livehope.org. My understanding about how true and lasting change can occur in people is all about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who starts the process of setting things right when we put our trust and faith in Him and start the hard work of surrendering to Him. Daily. As a new way of life. Then change happens, all kind of change, because the fruit of the new life we receive from God is Christlikeness in us.

Some people who trust in Jesus discover that as they grow spiritually, receiving His great love and obeying the principles in His word the Bible, old wounds are healed, unmet needs are met through community with God’s people, and they are led into new ways of seeing life, themselves, other people, and God Himself. They discover that they are changing, and they can finish growing up, which includes changing the way they think about people of the same sex and people of the opposite sex. They can develop attractions for the opposite sex. Or even just one person of the opposite sex.

There are no exercises for this kind of change. It is a result of a new orientation of submitting one’s will to Jesus as boss (or Lord) of one’s life, following Him and trusting in Him. The change that comes is the same as learning to move beyond self-centeredness to compassion and a desire to love and serve others. Or learning to move beyond anger to forgiveness. Or learning to move beyond fear and anxiety to the peace of trusting that a loving God is in control. These changes are all reflections of emotional and spiritual maturity and God’s work inside us to make us like His Son.

Some people who walk in intimacy with Jesus never develop attractions for the opposite sex. There are several reasons for this, but the important thing is that God’s intention for our lives is far bigger and far more important than sexual attractions. Nonetheless, when God sets all things right, that includes rightly relating to both our own gender and the opposite sex—whether that process comes close to completion in this life or the next.

So, to answer your question, I would point you to Jesus. Not to religion—to Jesus Himself, which includes dynamic relationships with His people, those of us who truly know Him and are living in yieldedness and submission to Him. I would also invite you to investigate the free, confidential online support group for those dealing with unwanted homosexuality at Living Hope Ministries, www.livehope.org.

Thanks for writing.

Sue Bohlin

Posted Feb. 2014
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