I used to hold the same extreme views you do.

Dear Ralph,
My husband and I gave our lives to Christ (him 7 months ago and me 20 months ago). We gave up severe drug and alcohol addiction as well as a very sinful life when we gave our lives to Him. After that I began studying the Bible daily and held some pretty "extreme" beliefs by most christians standards, but practically identical to yours - I could have written your pages myself!!

Until. Last Sunday, after 20 months of sobriety and clean time, my husband and I fell in a pretty hard way (got drunk) without having planned it at all. Just fell into temptation, after a long hard road. Having held the belief that one can lose their salvation all along -- like you -- I found myself in the uncomfortable position of being "on the short end of my own stick". Found myself so depressed and so disappointed, separated from God and sure that I "had lost it" that I could not even pray. Needless to say, more negative thoughts from the Deceiver came pouring in, trying to convince me that God's love is to be earned by neverending perfection while he, Satan, would always accept me the way I am. I found myself in a dire position, because having fallen, and having another 40 years to live still (at least) I had to confront the fact that I probably will fall again and again, if not in this way, in some other way (losing temper, pride, slander, etc...). Who's to say which sin the Lord really hates most? (personally I think it's pride)

Thoughts of suicide immediately flooded my mind. "If my salvation was lost, and Satan is all I had left, wouldn't it be better to die before I cause any further harm?" I fortunately realized with the help of a Southern Baptist minister at a radio station in North Carolina which I called one night (must have been desesperate!) that if salvation can be lost with sin, then none of us will likely make it. Which one of us stops sinning entirely after we're saved? I had to reconsider my own theory (I used to teach the same as you do with much conviction) realizing that if my Father does not forgive me more than once or twice, than He expects us to do more than He has commanded us (7 x 70) -- that makes us better than him -- and also, since Satan (who I used to serve) is always there for me and ready to take me back -- which he is-- that makes him better than God too.

That was quite shattering. I still totally agree with you that if you deliberately walk away from the faith (i.e. become Hindu or such) or minimize sin with a sense of security and arrogance, you may be calling judgment. But I think we ought to be VERY careful when we teach that sin causes one to lose their salvation because it can lead christians who fall short to discouragement, depression or! Even suicide like some of your writers. It needs to be Cleary spelled out that sin that is not intended, out of weakness, temptation, etc.. still can be forgiven if repentance takes place (Psalm 51)

The Baptist minister pointed the following verses out to me -- which I used to think were meant for people before they were saved. Now that I think about it, John was writing to Christians so that had to have been saved already. My dear brother in Christ, perhaps one day your heart and spirit will be broken like mine over some sin you commit, maybe once maybe more. Since you love the Lord, you too will come under attack. Won't you be happy then to know that you haven't "run out" of Grace?

In Yeshua (Jesus) Peace and Love,

1Jo 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1Jo 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1Jo 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

My response is in Green:

I was somewhat troubled by your message. You say that you used to believe the way I do, yet what you wrote shows me either you did not believe as I do, or you don't understand what I believe. I have never, for example, said or believed that a person can lose their salvation. I have said that I believe that a person can give it up, but not lose it. That might just sound like semantics to you, but it is much more than that.

What I am trying to say is that I believe our salvation is a relationship between us and God. We were alienated from God by our own sins. Only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ were we able to come to God the Father and have a relationship with Him. That is our salvation that we have obtained eternal life and that life is in Christ Jesus. That is our relationship. Now my point is that if we don't maintain that relationship then we don't maintain our salvation. I am not talking about works to maintain it, I am talking about maintaining a relationship just as we would maintain any relationship with another person.

Why do you think you were depressed after you sinned? It is because that relationship has been harmed. Depression and guilt are both ways that God calls us back to Himself. Yet for whatever reason when you felt guilt and depression instead of going back to your Savior you thought of totally turning away and rejecting Him totally. Maybe that comes from your service to Satan, that you were so quick to turn, but it is not what God wants.

Your message made it sound as though you think that I think once a person is saved they cannot afford to ever sin again or they will be lost for eternity. I have to wonder how you came to think I believe that? I have never said that, nor do I believe it. You mentioned that Jesus told the disciples to forgive 7 times 70 times and then you asked the question would God do any less. Of course not, but you are fighting a straw man, because I never said nor do I believe God won't forgive us.

My problem with your message is that it appears you are saying that you now believe our sins are forgiven past, present and future and therefore there is no reason to worry about sin. That is dangerous teaching and I do totally disagree with it. In fact look at one of the passages that the radio pastor gave you: (1 John 1:9 NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Now my question is this. If our sins are already forgiven and don't really matter anyway, why would John tell us to confess them and if we do God will forgive us?

This goes straight to my point, when you and your husband sinned, it was natural for you to be depressed and feel guilty, but those emotions should have drawn you to your knees before your Savior and urged you to confess those sins and ask Him to forgive you.

You go so far as to tell me that I should not tell people who are contemplating suicide that sin can separate them from God. Well my problem with that rational is that it can separate them from God, and the very fact that they are thinking about suicide shows that there is a problem with their relationship with God. Remember I believe our salvation is a relationship.

Let's look at you for a minute. You sinned, but did not go to God for forgiveness. So there was the first blow to your relationship (the sin) and the second blow (your lack of confessing and asking for forgiveness), then you contemplated the third (suicide). Do you see where I am going? You were thinking of turning your back on that relationship. It was not the sin (as in one act of weakness) that would have destroyed your salvation (relationship with God) it was your continued actions and in the case of not confessing your sins, your inaction.

Now my other question is this. Since you spoke to this radio pastor have you confessed your sins and asked God to forgive you? Look at another of the passages the radio pastor gave you: (1 John 2:1 NIV) My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. Now again if you don't need to confess your sins and they are already forgiven, why do you need an advocate (someone who speaks in your defense) before the Father?

Don't miss my point, Jesus does speak to the Father in our defense and our stumbling and falling will not destroy our relationship, but our attitude about our failures sure can. Look at a few other passages:

(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

(1 Corinthians 15:2 NIV) By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

(2 Peter 1:5-9 NIV) [5] For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; [6] and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; [7] and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. [8] For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (Bold added)

(Ezekiel 18:21-24 NIV) [21] "But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. [22] None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. [23] Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
[24] "But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.

None of these passages should scare a person, however, they all say much the same thing, we need to continue in the faith and continuing in the faith means continuing to follow Jesus. When we stumble, all we need to do is go back to Him and confess our sins and He is faithful and will forgive us. If we refuse, for whatever reason, to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness then we are fooling ourselves that we are continuing to follow Him.

We do not have to worry that we might stumble and even die in our sins and be sent to hell. If we keep our relationship with God in tact then our salvation is safe and secure.

You also misjudged me over one other point. You seem to believe that I have never sinned since I accepted Christ as my Savior. You could not be more wrong. Was I depressed and did I feel guilty when I failed and sinned? You bet I did. I did not feel worthy to come back to God, but you know what, I don't have to be worthy. I wasn't worthy in the first place and I don't have to be worthy of His grace and love now, but I do have to be willing to admit my sin and ask Him to forgive me.

I am not trying to say that you have not asked God to forgive you, but I want to stress the point that if you have not you need to. It is the only way to repair that relationship and keep on the right track. Yes we all sin but sin should not characterize our nature, if it does it shows that there is a problem, just as this passage explains: (1 John 2:3-6 NIV) [3] We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. [4] The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [5] But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: [6] Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

I am at a disadvantage because I don't know what the radio pastor told you, other than what you alluded to. I know that most Baptists believe that once you are saved all your sins, past, present and future are already forgiven so it does not matter what kind of life you live from then on you will go to heaven. I am sorry but that is not what the Bible says. We will stumble and fall flat, but as long as we keep coming back to the Thrown of grace we will be okay. It is when we think that we no longer need God's grace because we already have a full portion that we get into trouble.

I will continue to tell people who claim to be Christians and who are contemplating suicide that they need to come back to God, because I believe their relationship is in trouble. Yes He will forgive them if they confess their sins and ask for forgiveness, but if they just continue on in sin, what hope is there?

Ralph

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