I appreciate what you do, but...

As I said, I appreciate what you are doing, but at the same time, just as you say, nobody is perfect, and I believe there are some mistakes that you have preached in your suicide help section.

Let us begin with the most quoted verse in the bible: John 3:16. In it, it says "whoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Grace. Believe in Him, admit that you are not perfect and you will sin, and you will be saved. That does not say "whoever follows his word to the 'T' should not perish"... I suppose the point I am trying to make is while you may be judged, suicide will not Damn you, as you have made it seem like. It makes God cry, but he gave us free will, and belief in him absolves us of our sins. Were this not the case, Jesus would have descended to Hell for nothing... that is the REASON he died for us, to go in our place.

Some of your preaching gives the impression that if we are not perfect, we will not go to Heaven. I am not sure which denomination of Christianity you consider yourself closest to, but in UCC we believe in Grace... acknowledge Jesus as your savior, your imperfection, and your unavoidable sin, and you will be saved. John 3:16.

Yes, one could argue that in Pro 3:5-6, a contradiction arises. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths." A conundrum, now... but, also remember Proverbs was written by Solomon, and not all of it necessarily came from God's mouth himself. I have to agree with the writer in "Throwing the 'sin' into your diatribe..." who said that the bible is often misquoted and misrepresented. The word of God is not open to interpretation, yet here we sit debating, as do many religious scholers. It is the way He made us, we each have our own opinion as to what was meant and which side of a contradiction to believe in.

A movie, while I would never take my son to see, I enjoy, is "Dogma," written by Kevin Smith. It is loaded with swearing, but at the root of it are some very powerful messages about Christianity. One quote is: "No denomination has nailed it yet... Its not WHAT you believe, but THAT you believe." Which leads us back to John 3:16... as long as you believe in Him, and make an attempt to live your life as you feel He wants you to, you shall not perish, but live eternally in Heaven. God is powerful enough to take our beliefs, and make them come true. It is my opinion that all Christians, when they die, will experience exactly as they believe they would. In other words, while my views may be different from yours, it is MY belief that I would go to Heaven should I ever commit suicide. And thus, because of John 3:16, I will, regardless of how you interpret the Bible. Conversely, if I had believed as you did, and commited suicide, then I would go to Hell.

I digress, though. Please, feel free to respond to me either publically or through eMail... I am interested in how you would respond to this.

My response is in Green:

So I take it from what you wrote that you believe in Once Saved Always Saved? Meaning that after placing belief in Jesus Christ it does not matter what you later believe or don't believe or what kind of life you live?

You have misrepresented what my views. Do I believe we have to be prefect? No, but I do believe we have to continue to follow Christ. There is a difference between falling and sinning and deliberately living a life of sin. We are human and we will continue to struggle with sin, but we should not take it so lightly that we think it does not matter. Let me give you a couple quotes from the Bible to show you what I am talking about.

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV) [19] Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; [20] you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

(Colossians 1:21-23 NIV) [21] Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. [22] But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation--[23] if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Notice it says "if you continue in the faith" meaning that we must continue to follow Christ. I do believe in grace, but grace is not a license to sin.

(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.

This passage makes it pretty clear that we must follow Him and obey His commands. It is pretty hard to claim you are following Christ while you take your own life. I am not talking about falling into sin, I am talking about getting to the point where you are no longer following Christ and then committing suicide. Grace will not cover deliberate rebellion (sin).

(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.

Our salvation is a relationship with God, bought and paid for by Jesus Christ's death. We cannot come to the Father except through Jesus Christ. Our salvation requires us to continue in that relationship.

(John 15:6 NIV) If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

(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.

We are saved as long as we hold firmly, otherwise we have believed in vain. One sin will not destroy our relationship with God, but if we refuse to confess our sins and harden our hearts and refuse to follow Christ that will. A normal person who is a Christian who has continued in the faith and followed Jesus Christ will not just wake up one day and decided to commit suicide. To get to that point there has been a break down and that is what I am trying to show people. When they get to the point where they are thinking of suicide they need to come back to Christ and get right with Him. Suicide is not an option for Christians. It does not matter what you believe, it matters what God says.

Let me show you how seriously Jesus took sin:

(Mark 9:42-48 NIV) [42] "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. [43] If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [45] And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [47] And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, [48] where "'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

He was speaking to believers, yet He told them that if their hand causes them to sin they should cut it off and cast it away because that is better than ending up in hell. So am I taking sin too seriously when I tell a person that if they can calmly decide to sin and not worry about what God thinks that I believe they are in serious trouble? As I said grace won't cover willful disobedience.

(2 Corinthians 1:24 NIV) Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

By faith we stand firm. That is what I mean, a person must continue in the faith. They must continue to follow Jesus Christ. I am not talking about being perfect, we all stumble, but if a person decides not to follow Christ that is a completely different matter. When a person decides to commit suicide they are telling God that they no longer care what His plan for them is, they want to be the god of their own life and death. He will allow them to do just that, but they should not expect that He will just overlook it.

You also mentioned unavoidable sin. I am not sure what that is. If it is unavoidable it is not under your control and if it is not under your control then it is not sin. But again God has something to say about that:

(James 1:13-15 NIV) [13] When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; [14] but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. [15] Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

We are tempted by our own evil desires.

(Romans 6:16-18 NIV) [16] Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? [17] But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. [18] You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

We have a choice, we can be slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. It is a choice. Sin is rebellion against God. If we stumble and then confess our sins, He will forgive us, but if we just write them off as unavoidable we will slowly drift away and apostatize.

I will continue to tell people that deliberate sin will separate them from God and bring punishment. I believe that and I want to help people.

Ralph

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