“I Stopped Believing After Visiting an Atheist Webpage; Can God Forgive Me?”

I accepted Christ but then I went to the atheistic page that convinced me and I stopped completely believing for a few days. Later, I realized it was a mistake and repented. Can God forgive me? Am I apostate? Hebrews 6:4-6 is why I’m afraid.

Thanks for your letter. Hebrews 6:4-6 is a highly disputed passage with a variety of interpretations on offer. Fortunately, however, I do not think that we really need to delve into any of these in your case. The sort of sin that is in view in Hebrews 6:4-6 appears to be a very willful and determined apostasy from Christ. It appears to picture someone who, in spite of numerous spiritual benefits experienced, nonetheless turns his back on Christ and utterly rejects Him forever. In other words, the passage seems to suggest that anyone who has committed this sin will never turn to God again in repentance. Their heart has been (or is) irrevocably hardened against God and they will not repent.

But this is clearly not you! As you say in your letter, you realized that you had made a mistake and you thus repented and turned back to God. Sometimes atheist websites can seem convincing and a believer might be temporarily fooled by them, so to speak. But for a true believer, this will be very temporary indeed (as again, your own case shows). For the true believer has the witness of the Holy Spirit within him (or her) self—and this witness testifies to the truth of Christ with all of the authority of God himself!

The bottom line, I think, is this: anyone who is willing to repent of their sin and turn to Christ for forgiveness and salvation cannot have committed this sin. For the person who has committed this sin is irrevocably hardened against God and will never again be brought to repentance.

One final note. As believers it is important for us to grow in our understanding of the riches of our faith. Although some believers are called by God to engage with the material on atheist websites, the Lord always prepares such believers exceedingly well beforehand. Personally, I would encourage you as a brother in Christ to stay away from the atheist websites. The fact is, these sites are utterly wrong in their denial and rejection of God. They will not encourage nor build you up in your faith. Instead, I would recommend daily reading (and actually studying) your Bible, getting involved with a good Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church (and small group), and reading good works of theology and Christian apologetics. Take the time to carefully read something like John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, for example. And for apologetics, read the articles on the Probe website (www.probe.org) — and check out the material as well on William Lane Craig’s site, Reasonable Faith (www.reasonablefaith.org). Don’t waste your time—I say this in all seriousness—with atheist websites. Rather, go deep in your study of the Bible, Christian theology, and Christian apologetics. You won’t regret it!

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

Posted April 27, 2017
© 2017 Probe Ministries




“Did I Commit the Unpardonable Sin?”

I have read your answers to others who fear they have committed the unpardonable sin, but they do not seem to satisfy my fears for the same. I was raised in Christian home and had Bible teaching all of my life. In my junior year of high school, I had a conversation with a boy about the virgin birth of Christ.

For some foolish reason, I had never “caught on” to what it really meant that the baby Jesus was put into Mary’s body by the Holy Spirit. My words to him were, “Mary and Joseph had to do something.” To which he replied, “But, I thought that was the whole idea, that they didn’t do “anything”?” (referring to fornication)

Is this denial of the work of the Holy Spirit? Is this the unpardonable sin? I stated to him that Jesus was the Son of God, but I just didn’t understand how it could have come to pass without “something”(fornication) taking place. I know you have probably never heard of someone being so ignorant of the scriptures, but it had never been explained to me fully.

I am 40 years old, and I still struggle with this. I have discussed it with my husband ONLY, and he assures me it is not blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I fear to not know and I fear to know, but I need someone’s honest opinion who has no attachment to me. Please be frank, it is hindering my life and possibly the reflection of the church to the world. If I cannot be saved, then God does not need me around hurting the reputation of the saved. If I am, I need to get past this so I can bring Him glory. I would appreciate your honesty.

I promise, you did not blaspheme the Holy Spirit, which involves a hardness of heart and a wicked unbelief which you did not and do not have, or you wouldn’t be asking. When you were in high school, during that momentous conversation, you were just asking the same question Mary had when Gabriel came to her: “How can this be?”

Do you have children? Let’s assume you do. Don’t you make all kinds of allowances for them because they’re kids and not adults? Especially when they were very young?

Why would your heavenly Father be any different? He completely understood then, as now, that it just took you awhile to catch on to the breathtakingly miraculous. He doesn’t hold it against you that you were young and still working through this “God stuff”!! <smile> He fully understands and LAVISHES grace on you.

I send this with a prayer that God lets you hear His loving and tender voice in your spirit saying, “She’s right, beloved ______. . . just relax in My love, and let go of this doubt once and for all.”

I truly hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2008 Probe Ministries




“Do You Have Articles on Losing Your Salvation?”

My friend believes it is possible to lose your salvation. He believes if you are in sin or sinning at the point of your death and have not had a chance to repent you will not go to heaven. Do you have any articles on this?

We cover that issue in several answers to email:

“Can a True Believer Commit the Unforgiveable Sin?”

“Is God Punishing Me Because I Committed the Unforgiveable Sin?”

“I Fear I Have Committed the Unforgivable Sin!”

“I Don’t Know How to Answer this Biblical Argument Against Eternal Security”

“What is the ‘Sin Unto Death’?” [Jimmy Williams]

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

“How Can I Know I’m Going to Heaven?”

“Were Those Who Fell Away Ever Saved or Did They Lose Their Salvation?”

“Can a Christian Lose His Salvation?”

Hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2008 Probe Ministries




“Is God Punishing Me Because I Committed the Unforgiveable Sin?”

I enjoy your website a great deal, and have especially found comfort in the Probe Answer to E-mail “I Fear I Have Committed the Unforgiveable Sin.”

I, much like person who wrote in, have been assailed by doubts and fears that I’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit. I’ve read so many things indicating that I haven’t, but I’ve had a hard time accepting them. I recall a specific time in my life that I (for no reason) wanted to push God’s limit. Knowing there was a blasphemy against the Spirit, I tested and cursed (in my head) God. After a while of this (and I didn’t want to do any of these things–they came out of nowhere–or just my sinful nature, perhaps), I started reading the scriptures dealing with this sin and wondering, “What if Satan’s really behind Jesus and His miracles? What if Satan has fooled us all into believing in God, but it’s all a joke?” Immediately after thinking these things, I just knew I had blasphemed the Spirit by calling God Satan.

While I’m also aware that other scriptures don’t carry the disclaimer, “unless you commit the unpardonable sin,” I fear that it still applies, since Jesus Himself made this sin the one exception. Just because it isn’t always there in a disclaimer doesn’t seem to make it null and void, in my opinion. In addition, I feel that my concern doesn’t really prove my innocence. A lot of times, people say that the fact that I’m concerned means God is working with me, but could it be that God has left me, and my own conscience is torturing me? Or maybe it’s Satan, telling me, “You can never be saved now! You’re through!” Perhaps it IS God working with me, but He isn’t offering forgiveness. Maybe, as part of my punishment, He’s calling me–dangling that carrot of salvation out in front of me, while also saying, “You’ve gone too far–you can’t be saved!” Why is there no evidence that He did it with the Pharisees, if this is the case? Maybe He did! Or, given their personalities, maybe it would be worse punishment for them to build more and more power, just to see it crumble when they reach Hell. With my sensitive conscience, perhaps the greater punishment would be to torment me here AND in Hell.

Is there any way you might be able to clear this up for me? My girlfriend, who is a Christian, says there’s no way God would send someone to Hell for having weird thoughts, and I desperately want to agree with her. But we all, as sinners, deserve Hell to begin with…so I’m very torn. Every time I feel safe from worry, I start over-analyzing and talking my way out of assurance…

“Everything can be forgiven, but you’ve rejected the last appeal..” vs. “Everything can be forgiven, but you’ve gone too far!!”

Dear ______,

Bless your heart. Satan really has been playing mind games with you, hasn’t he? What a dirty rotten liar and skunk.

Please remember that God loves you, MUCH more than you have the capacity to receive or even imagine. Please remember that He understands just how fallen your intellect and your conscience is (as is the case for ALL of us). Please remember that He fully knows that we can only “see through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12 KJV) on this side of eternity. Therefore, He completely understands that we’re going to jump to faulty conclusions because we have faulty thinking, and He has more grace to extend to you than you can possibly experience.

I think growing older will help you with this. Once you are married and you are a father, you will understand the heart of God toward you much more than you can now. You will know that God passionately loves you and will do just about anything to help you know Him and understand Him and ENJOY Him. As a father, you won’t want to play mind games with your children or dangle carrots in front of them–your love will blow those kinds of thoughts away.

Instead of trying to explain away all the mental gymnastics you’ve been going through to wrack yourself with doubt over the fear of committing the unforgiveable sin, I’m going to make a very serious suggestion: that you pray every day, for three months at least, “Lord, teach me that You love me.” Look for the ways He will answer that prayer. (And He will!)

And then write me back and let’s see where you are in your spiritual life.

I really mean this, ______.

Sue Bohlin

© 2006 Probe Ministries




“Can a True Believer Commit the Unforgiveable Sin?”

Can a true believer turn away from God at some point and eventually commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? I don’t believe a true Christian would be capable of that no matter how far they strayed because one saved, always saved, but I need verses to support my opinion to share with someone else.

Thank you for your question. The “unpardonable sin” of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the three synoptic Gospels: Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-29, and Luke 12:10. Historically, these verses have aroused a great deal of anxiety and fear, especially in those with a sensitive conscience. But what do these sayings mean?

In my opinion, the two best positions are the following:

  1. This sin is committed when someone willfully attributes the work of God the Holy Spirit to Satan.
  2. This sin is simply willful and persistent rejection of, and lack of faith in, the person and work of Christ.

If the first option is correct, some would hold that it is not even possible to commit this sin today. In this view, this sin could only have been committed while Christ was physically present on earth and performing miraculous feats through the power of the Holy Spirit. Others would hold that the sin can be committed today; nevertheless, there is a pretty large consensus among evangelical Christians that a true believer could never commit this sin. After all, Peter says that all true believers “are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5). And Paul tells the Philippian believers that he is “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Although I may certainly be wrong, I honestly prefer the second view. Please notice that if this view is correct, a true believer could not possibly commit this sin by definition. While I could list many reasons why I prefer this view, let me mention just a few.

First, it is by far the easiest way to make Scriptural revelation self-consistent. For instance, we know that persistent unbelief is an unpardonable sin. But Jesus says that all sins and blasphemies will be forgiven except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-29). Logic, then, seems to require that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is persistent unbelief.

Second, notice the progression of ideas in Matthew 12:30-33. Jesus begins by stating the importance of being rightly related to Him (v. 30). He then describes the unpardonable sin (vv. 31-32). He then seems to present His listeners with a choice: “Either make the tree good…or make the tree bad; for the tree is known by its fruit” (v. 33). Could Jesus be offering those who had spoken against Him in v. 24 (they are the ones He is speaking to – v. 25), an opportunity to repent (i.e. change their minds about His identity) and become rightly related to Him in v. 33? If so, it would seem to indicate that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is persistent unbelief. And the cure is faith, leading to forgiveness.

Third, although Mark’s parenthetical explanation in 3:30 could be taken as evidence of the first view; nevertheless, I see in it evidence for the second view as well. After all, if they were saying that Jesus “has an unclean spirit” (v. 30), it certainly indicates that they did not believe Him to be who He actually was (and is). Thus, this statement is consistent with simple unbelief in the person of Christ.

Finally, why doesn’t John mention this sin? It certainly seems like it would have been important. But what if he did mention it, but simply described it differently? Look at John 16:8-9. Jesus is speaking of sending the Holy Spirit after His ascension. Notice what He says of the Holy Spirit: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me….” The Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning the sin of unbelief, or lack of personal faith, in Jesus! Could the persistent rejection of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and the willful refusal to believe in Jesus, thus be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? That, at any rate, is my opinion. Thus, by definition, it is absolutely impossible for a true believer to commit this terrible sin. It can only be committed by someone who persistently rejects the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, choosing to remain in their unbelief.

Additionally, this ties in very well with what is said in other parts of the New Testament concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. All true believers receive the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:9, 14). The Holy Spirit testifies that believers are God’s adopted children (Rom. 8:16). The indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is said to be permanent (John 14:16-17), a pledge or “down-payment” of an eternal inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is said to “seal” believers “for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30)!

Just a very few of the many good passages on the security of the believer can be found in Rom. 8:28-39; John 10:27-30; and 1 John 5:9-13. But my own favorite is John 6:35-40. Read this passage carefully. Notice v. 37, that the one who comes to Jesus will certainly not be cast out. Notice that Jesus came to do the will of His Father (v. 38). But what was His Father’s will? That the Son lose none of those who come to Him (v. 39)! But think about this. If Jesus loses even a single one who truly comes to Him for salvation, then He has not fulfilled the Father’s will! But this is impossible for Jesus always does what is pleasing to His Father (John 8:29). Thus, it is impossible that Jesus will lose any who come to Him for salvation. Thus, Christians cannot commit the unpardonable sin.

Hope this helps. God bless you!

Michael Gleghorn
Probe Ministries

 




“I Fear I Have Committed the Unforgiveable Sin!”

I went through a very tough time about ten years ago. My best friend (besides my loving parents), my great-grandmother, died. I’ve never been closer to anyone before or since her, but I let her down on her death bed. I was bitter towards God for taking her, and upset my job was adding pressure to my life. One night at work, I blew up at God. I don’t remember all I said to Him, but it was really bad, and at that time I meant it.

Some time passed and I realized I was wrong. I asked God to forgive me, but I never had the feeling that I was forgiven. One day I was in a Christian bookstore and read about the “unpardonable sin.” Several articles I read afterwards seemed to say I hadn’t committed this horrible sin, but the seed of doubt was there. I have asked others about this, and have usually been “convinced” that I had not or could not have committed this sin, but after some time passes, the doubts come back in and it puts me back where I started.

I have asked Jesus to take control of my life since, but I just don’t feel his presence. I long to feel the presence of God in my life, but I don’t know what I should do. I am not sure of my original salvation. When I ask Jesus to come in and take control of my life, nothing happens.

Can you help me with these questions? Thanks for whatever help you can give me on this.

Thank you for your e-mail and your concerns about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Let me see if I can help you.

First, what is “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”?

Most have taken the view that Jesus’ statements in Matthew 12:31,32 must be interpreted in an historical context–that is, what was actually occurring at that time and place when the Pharisees accused Him of casting out demons in the power of Satan. They blasphemed God (the Holy Spirit) by attributing God’s work and power to Satan. The purpose of the Holy Spirit was to authenticate the Messianic claims of Christ by demonstrating the presence of divine power through the various miracles recorded in the Gospels (see also Mark 3:28-30).

Part of Jesus “humbling Himself” involved the voluntary giving up, or emptying Himself of, the direct use of His divine attributes as the Second Person of the Trinity (cf. Phil.3:5-8). Rather, Jesus lived by faith, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit Who came to authenticate Christ’s Messianic claims to that particular generation, and specifically, the Jews. Immanuel had come: “God with us.”

The Pharisees chose to reject that conclusion. They could not deny the miracles; they only questioned the source of the power. In ascribing Christ’s actions as something empowered by Satan, they were blaspheming the Holy Spirit’s efforts to demonstrate that God Himself was in their presence!

One can only blaspheme God when God is present (Jesus). Lewis Sperry Chafer said,

“To say that attributing works that men may be doing in the power of the Spirit to Satan is the same offense as to go utterly beyond what is written. . . It is impossible for this particular sin to be committed today.”

In other words, to ascribe the healing ministry of Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn as Satan’s work, for example, would not be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, as neither of these men is claiming to be God or Messiah.

Furthermore, the many places in the Gospels where Jesus says, “Whosoever will, may come,” are without any other qualification. And nowhere in Scripture is the gospel preached with the one caveat that “whosoever” means everyone but those who have committed the “unpardonable sin.”

In that first century context, those actual Pharisees, and other unbelievers or scoffers, stood in the presence of God, robed in human flesh, as He performed miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. But when they came to the conclusion that all of this was being done through satanic power, they blasphemed against God Himself–an unpardonable sin!

Could any human beings in history have more light and grace from God than to actually be in the presence of the Messiah while he healed people, and come up with such an abominable explanation or conclusion?

By way of application, however, each one of us since the time Jesus walked the roads of Palestine is in danger of committing an unpardonable sin. It is the sin of rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts Who testifies of Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf and gently nudges us to respond in faith to what He has done for us.

Jesus promised over and over that He would send the Holy Spirit to authenticate His Messianic claims. And Jesus said that “When He comes, He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father. . . and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:8-11).” Clearly, here Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would continue to do through the centuries, all over the world, the same thing He was doing wherever Christ went during His three years of public ministry: testifying to the truth of Christ’s Messianic claims and calling for true repentance and the acknowledgement that we have sinned and are in need of a Savior, that our (human) righteousness is inadequate to make us presentable before a Holy God, and that judgment is sure: There will be a “pay day” someday.

We are accountable for our actions and our choices. And it is the task of the Holy Spirit (Jesus tells us in these verses) to convict men and women of sin, (lack of) righteousness, and judgment. Every person in history who has heard the gospel message is faced with the same choice that those Pharisees had who were eye-witnesses to His miracles: we can turn in repentance and faith to Christ, or we can reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit to our hearts, and, in so doing, we HAVE committed an unpardonable sin, because we have rejected the only provision God has made for our salvation–Christ Himself (John 3:18,36; Acts 4:12).

Therefore, getting angry at God, or making a swear word out of the Holy Spirit (although it is curious, and perhaps instructive, that in all the profanities of humankind, we never hear anyone using the third Person of the Trinity as a swear word!), is not committing blasphemy in the “unpardonable” sense implied in Matthew 12.

To blaspheme God, to take His Name in vain, whether Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, is sin, but it is not an unpardonable sin. When Paul speaks of the Law (the Ten Commandments), from which we are freed of condemnation through Christ’s death, he implies that Christ’s blood has covered ALL of the commandments which we have broken, including taking God’s name in vain.

“The doubts come back,” you say. When doubts do come, particularly when they involve a questioning of the integrity of God’s Word, that is, what He said, and whether He can be trusted, Christians must learn to recognize the presence of the enemy of our souls. In the Garden of Eden, Satan said, “Has God said? . . .If you eat . . .you will be like God.” Or when Jesus was tempted: Satan quoted scripture three times out of context to serve his own ends–to destroy Jesus and keep Him from the Cross. We can expect our enemy will try to do the same with us. Ephesians 6 talks about taking upon us the whole armor of God so we are enabled to stand against him.

In light of your questions, most pertinent is Paul’s exhortation “And above all, take up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one (6:16).” When the flaming arrows, “darts of doubt,” come, we hold up the shield of faith to stop them and to protect ourselves. We believe what God has said is true, not what our feelings say are true. We choose to believe Him regardless of how we feel.

The great majority of people who fear they have committed the “unpardonable sin” really have not. If anyone has a desire to repent and turn to Christ, that of itself is an indication (proof?) that he/she has not committed it. We have Jesus’ own word for it that “anyone who will come to Me I will in no way cast out or away (John 6:37).”

You mention that you doubt your original salvation. Again, it is not based on how you feel, or whether you sense His presence. It is more like marriage. If someone were to ask me if I am married, I wouldn’t say, “Well, I feel kind of married today.” Or “I feel my wife’s presence, therefore I must be married.” No. My certainty about my marriage is based on a commitment I made to her many years ago, and I am still living in the light of that commitment.

The very fact that you are concerned about your salvation and are anxious that you come to certainty about it is a sign of spiritual life! Non-believers aren’t concerned about not going to heaven or having their sins forgiven. They do not reach out to Christ as you indicate you have. If I came to the door of your home and rang the doorbell, and you opened it, invited me in, sat me down in the living room and then excused yourself every few minutes, walked back to the front door and kept inviting me in, over and over again, when I was already inside and sitting on the couch, wouldn’t that be rather foolish? Because I came in the first time you invited me to enter!

Perhaps this is your problem. You indicate you have reached out and accepted Christ as your Savior and you want to have Him direct your life. Perhaps you need to just stop going to the door and saying “please come in,” but rather thank Him that He has come in because you asked Him and He promised! Faith is when you stop saying “please” to God and you start saying “Thank You.”

You have concerns about “letting down your great-grandmother.” It is obvious you loved this dear woman very much. Perhaps she was trying to share with you her love and concern for your life and desiring to help you see your need for Christ. If I am reading you correctly in what you are saying, because of your job and other things, along with the “unfairness” of God taking someone so dear to you, these event made you BITTER instead of BETTER. You railed at God. You got angry at Him. It might be encouraging for you to know that you’re in good company. Moses got angry and frustrated with God. So did David. Read the Psalms. Here are real people struggling with the same kinds of questions and disappointments you have described. God is a big Boy. He laughs at the collective hatred and railing of the entire earth. (See Psalm 2: “Why do the heathen rage? He will have them in derision.”)

If He can handle world-wide wrath, He can handle your episode with Him. He is a God of tender mercies. He “pitieth His children,” the Bible says. Your anger made you feel guilty, and you felt that God pulled away from you. But this is not so. God remains the same. I read somewhere, “If God seems far away, guess who moved?” But you can go to Him and start anew. He holds no grudges. He readily forgives. He desires and is eager to walk more closely with you if only you would step toward Him and get better acquainted. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us come BOLDLY to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”

You might begin in the Gospel of John. Just start reading it. Begin to grow in your faith and the doubts will not be as strong.

With regard to your great grandmother: From your vantage point you no doubt feel there is some unfinished business with her and you don’t know what to do about it. You loved her and you disappointed her, and then she died. The Lord brings this verse to my mind: “I have no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4).

I believe our departed loved ones are conscious some way of what is taking place here on earth. I believe your great-grandmother is probably aware of your steps of growth toward a solid commitment to Christ, toward a life that is not “tossed about by every wind of doctrine,” (Ephesians. 4:14; James 1:6), toward a life not focused upon the past with regret and failure which is “hanging you up” and sapping your days, but rather a life focused on Christ and His goodness, and His willingness to forgive, as I am sure your loved one has also already forgiven.

Now it is time for you to forgive yourself. Accept God’s forgiveness. Know that you will be bringing joy to the Lord, and to your great-grandmother as well, by settling these issues we have discussed. Do not let the enemy rob you of the sweet joy of feeling accepted and close to the Lord and to your great-grandmother as well!

I hope this helps.

Your Brother in Christ,
Jimmy Williams, Founder
Probe Ministries