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*Frequently asked questions*
The Bible, the written word of God, is our sole authority in answering all questions pertaining to our spiritual life. However, in reading the Bible, we must keep in mind that the Bible is not written like a book of science where each statement is exact and complete in itself, nor like a book of law where the goal is to elaborate matters in sections and sub-sections so as to avoid loopholes. The Bible is written for the heart, and can be understood in its proper sense only by those who are spiritually minded (1Co.2:14), and who desire to do the will of God once it is revealed (Jn.7:17). Those who want to argue against the word of God can always find arguments, and those who do not want to obey what God says can appear to find words of God themselves to support their stand. Please read the following with an open heart and a willingness to know God's ways and obey them. - Jacob Ninan
The security of a believer
1. Is there not a security for a believer in Jesus Christ?
A believer in Jesus Christ is the most secure person on earth, because God is on his side as his Father (Ro.8:31), he will never perish but have eternal life (Jn.10:28), he is safe from the judgment of God (Ro.5:9), he will have the peace of God that passes understanding (Jn.14:27), he will enjoy life abundantly (Jn.10:10), blessings will pour out of his life like rivers (Jn.7:38), God will cause all things to work for his good (Ro.8:28), he will not be tested beyond his ability (1Co.10:13), no one will be able to snatch him out of God's hands (Jn.10:29), he does not have to fear what man shall do to him (He.13:6), he will reign with Jesus forever (Re.22:5), etc. These, and many more promises are there for the believer to enjoy. The extent to which we actually experience them depends on how much we trust God and His word, how much we long for their fulfilment, how much we obey the voice of God in our life, etc.
2. What is eternal life?
Eternal life is everlasting. But it is more than that because even life in hell is going to be everlasting (Mt.18:8;25:41;Jude.7;Re.20:10). Eternal life is that which has been from the beginning (1Jn.1:1,2), that is, the life of God. When we partake of the life of Jesus, we receive eternal life. It is essentially a matter of quality rather than duration.
3. What are the conditions under which we can have eternal life?
All who believe in Jesus have eternal life (1Jn.5:13). 'Belief' or 'faith' in the biblical sense is much more than an intellectual acceptance of facts about Jesus. James points out that demons also have that kind of belief (Jas.2:19). True belief involves a wholehearted love for God, a surrender to His lordship, a trusting dependence on Him (Lk.10:25-28;Jn.14:21;Mt.14:30,31). Faith is not a one-time act, but an attitude of heart. Though one may have small ups and downs, as long as he has a general life of true faith, he is an heir to eternal life.
4. Is it possible for a man who has been born again and has become a child of God to lose that relationship?
Many warnings in the Bible addressed to people of God become meaningless if this is not so. See Mt.24:10,12,13, Lk.8:13,14, 1Co.10:1-12, 1Ti.4:1, He.3:12-4:2, He.6:4-8, Re.2:5, Re.3:2,3, etc. He.3:12 makes it clear that it is possible for 'brothers' to fall away from the living God. He.6:4-6 warns us that those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, can then fall away.
Think of Demas who was a trusted co-worker with Paul (Co.4:7-14). He could not have been chosen by the radical Apostle if he had been less than wholehearted. But later on Demas left Paul, desiring things of the world (2Ti.4:10). It was a choice he made. But it was not just Paul he left, but also the love of the Father, because it is not possible to love God and the world at the same time. "Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1Jn.2:15). We do not know if Demas' fall was temporary or if he fell away from the faith altogether. But is clear from the verses quoted in the previous paragraph that the latter is a distinct possibility.
A man is born again not according to the flesh - in a natural way - but according to the spirit (Jn.1:12,13;3:6). It is a spiritual relationship with God, and not a physical one. This happens through repentance from sins and faith in Jesus. And then he stands in that relationship only through faith (Ro.11:20,21). If a man turns his back on God and gives up his faith in Jesus, will he not also lose that relationship? The passage in He.6:4-10 points out that it is possible for those who have come to a life with God to fall away. But it also gives an indication that God does not allow this to happen in a cold, heartless manner. He knows the weakness of our flesh (Ps.103:13,14). His longing is not to punish us or teach us a lesson, but to save and bless us.
5. Is there not a difference between backsliding and falling away?
Yes, there is. Backsliding is temporary, and falling away is the final result of continued resistance to God's voice. The fearful warnings in He.6:4-8 are not about backsliding but about falling away.
The parable of the prodigal son illustrates the heart of God towards one who has backslidden. This gives hope to everyone who wants to go back to Him.
6. Are you saying that a man can be 'unborn' after he is born of God?
When a child is born to a physical father, he cannot nullify that fact ever, even if relationships are spoiled, because it is a physical fact. Being born of God is not like a physical birth. It is a spiritual relationship that depends on a man's faith. Even though a man becomes a child of God, he does not 'become' god - he is still a created being to whom the life (character) of God is imparted.
7. If it is possible to stop being a child of God, then what happens to all the promises such as Jn.10:27-29?
All the promises of God do not apply to everyone. Those who fulfil the conditions associated with a promise receive it. It is those who believe who will never perish (Jn.3:16). It is those who love God for whom He causes all things to work for good (Ro.8:28). It is those who take heed lest they fall who are not tested beyond their ability (1Co.10:12,13). It is those hear the voice of Jesus and follow Him who are protected from being snatched away from God's hands (Jn.10:27-29). It is those who hold fast their hope and confidence till the end who are God's house (He.3:6). It is those who endure to the end who will be saved (Mt.24:12,13). It is those who wait patiently in faith who receive the promises (He.6:12). It is those who take heed to exhortations who will be saved from the deceitfulness of sin (He.3:13). It is those who put on the full armour of God who will be able to stand against Satanic forces (Ep.6:13). Etc., etc.
8. Jesus said that He would never leave us or forsake us. He also said that God would not allow us to be taken out of His hands. Does this not mean that we cannot lose our place in Him?
Jesus promises that He will never ever leave one who has become His disciple (Mt.28:20;He.13:5). He even goes after those who go astray like sheep (Lk.15:4). But He leaves alone those who consciously choose to go away, even though He waits with sorrow for them to return (Lk.15:11,12; 18:22-24). God never takes away a man's freedom to choose whom he will serve, whether God or his own desires. He never forsakes those who have turned to Him. But people have the freedom to forsake God after they have come to Him.
9. When someone leaves Jesus and goes into sin, does it not show that he never really knew Jesus in the first place?
It is possible. The idea is that such a person was not really born again, but only acting like a child of God externally. For example, one joins a church and takes part in all the activities, without any real change in his heart. When such a one falls away it only exposes his real condition. But at the same time, it is also possible for those who really showed unmistakable evidence of spiritual life to fall away afterwards (He.6:4-8).
10. Once a person's name is written in the book of life, can it be removed from there?
If that is not possible, then the promise that Jesus will not erase an overcomer's name from the book of life will be meaningless (Re.3:5).
11. If all this is true, will it not make us fearful and deprive us of our security in Christ?
If we have a clear conscience, we have boldness towards God (1Jn.3:21). God has also made provision for our cleansing if we fall (1Jn.2:1). If we are not choosing sin deliberately, and we always settle things with God and men if we fall into sin, there is no reason why we should not be bold and secure. If we have backslidden and become careless even in committing sin deliberately, there is a way back to God through repentance (Ho.14:4). If Jesus asks us to forgive someone who sins against us seventy times seven times, will He also not forgive us an innumerable number of times? But we must also remember that every choice we make that takes us away from God's will is a step in the direction of falling away. A healthy fear is necessary to keep us sober and alert. We have to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation (Mt.26:41). Without such a fear, it is possible that believers become careless with sin and not even realise that they are headed towards a final falling away (Pr.29:1).
There is a spirit of deception that makes it look as if the blood of Jesus gives us a license to sin (Jude.4). In other words, people think that it is not so serious to sin because we have the blood of Jesus to cleanse us. If we want freedom to sin, the Bible does not offer us any security. But there is total security for all those who love God and want to please Him in everything. God does not want us to sin. But if we fall into sin, He has provided a way for us to be cleansed from that sin and to get back into fellowship with Him (1Jn.2:1,2:1:9). Once we are washed by the blood of Jesus our heart once again becomes white like snow, and then the devil will have no foothold in us. This is the boldness that we can experience constantly.
12. I think I have committed the 'unpardonable sin'. Is there any hope for me?
The only unpardonable sin that the Bible mentions is to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit (Mt.12:21). Jesus said that all other sins could be forgiven. He said this when the Pharisees accused Him that He was casting out demons by the ruler of the demons.
When we understand the heart of God who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Eze.33:11), who is willing to forgive the darkest of sins (Is.1:18), who knows our frame and is knows how fallible we are (Ps.103:14), and who overlooks times of ignorance (Ac.17:30), we understand that this is more than thinking or making statements that a certain work of God is from demons. As in the case of Pharaoh, it involves increasingly hardening oneself against all the conviction that the Holy Spirit brings in the heart, till finally the Holy Spirit leaves one altogether (Pr.29:1). And then such a person begins to work against the Holy Spirit.
There are very few who have sinned to the extent that they cannot be forgiven. If we can still feel the conviction of sin and we want to repent, it shows that the Holy Spirit is still at work in us. In other words, you would not be asking this question if you had actually committed the unpardonable sin.
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