Question from a Site Viewer
There is no doubt that all Christians sin willfully against God, somewhere in their walk. However, the true believers eventually recognize their transgressions and repent. As explained by John MacArther there are those believers who continue sinning willfully against God and NEVER repent. God will then turn their minds into “reprobate minds” and turn their hearts away from him. Once this happens there is no turning back to God. Because he will then allow calamity to strike and death will soon follow. This I know to be true because it hapend to me and I am so horribly ill and miserable that suicide is my only escape from 24 hours a day of excruciating pain. And we all know there is no forgiveness for those who take their own life. Am a right or am I wrong? I’ve seen nowhere in the Bible where anyone dies by his own hands and God pardons the murder of self. I think that you are wrong in your advice. Sin only leads to more sin which leads to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (rejecting God’s salvation) which leads to sickness and then death. Which is why God is always warning us not to sin. One can push God too far, or to the point of no forgiveness.
Furthermore there is the question of predestination. I personally believe that Calvin was 100 percent right when he said that God chooses us and not the other way around. Thousands of people choose Christ as their savior but fall away forever and are lost. In other words, if one chooses Christ and his or her name is not in the book of the living there is no way that person is going to finish the race as a Christian. God will make sure that he or she does not finish the race.
I was taught 30 years ago that God is always loving and forgiving. However, with constant backsliding I found the horrible reality of living in constant fear, pain, illness and depression. If God truly wanted me to finish the race he would have given me an understanding of my backsliding and what misery it caused me, however, I could not see the forest for the trees. Therefore I am now lost for eternity. In other words there is always forgiveness for one who has their name in the “Book of Life” and there will not be forgiveness for one whose name is not there. It would have been better for me had I never tried to be born again.
I apologize for not being able to respond sooner. My heart goes out to you. But I want you to know that no matter who says what about God, the God you depict is not the God of Scripture. There is no Scripture that would support a position that God will turn minds into reprobate minds and turn hearts away from Him. I challenge anyone to provide such a Scripture. While Scripture affirms that God gives people over to their own debased minds (Romans 1:28), God does not turn minds into reprobate minds nor does God ever turn hearts away from Him. To the contrary, Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). And, He has reconciled Himself to the world and now pleads with us to be reconciled to Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
No matter what one believes on predestination, election, the sovereignty of God, the presence or absence of the free will on the part of man, Scripture does not support the type of resignation or determinism that you have expressed. To the contrary, God plainly states that those who have been chosen by God for judgment, when they turn to God, will always find mercy. This is what Scripture expressly states in many places (Judges 10:11-16; Jeremiah 18:6-10; 26:3, 12-13; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:24:2). God is merciful to all (Romans 11:32). We can choose to seek after God (2 Chronicles 15:4, 15; 17:4; 22:9; 26:5; Psalm 34:4; 77:2; 119:10; Isaiah 55:6; 65:10; Matthew 7:7; Acts 17:27). That is our choice. Fatalism is never part of biblical theology.
Even strongly Calvinist preachers such as Jonathan Edwards called upon people to seek after God. And if you listen to John MacArthur, you will find him calling on people to repent. This is the call of God Himself (Acts 17:30). And in case you think that your sins have been too bad for God to forgive, look to King Manasseh. Manasseh knew what was right. He was the son of a good king. But he deliberately turned away from God. He did evil according to the abominations of the nations that were before him (2 Chronicles 33:2). He also built altars to foreign gods in the temple of God (2 Chronicles 33:4). He built altars to the host of heaven (2 Chronicles 33:5). He caused his sons to pass through the fire (2 Chronicles 33:6). He practiced sorcery, consulted mediums and spirits, and did “much evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 33:6). He even set up a carved image in the house of God (2 Chronicles 33:7). He seduced Judah to do more evil than the nations who were before him (2 Chronicles 33:9). If there was ever a person who had sinned so much that he was past the point of forgiveness, Manasseh should have been that person. He is described as the person who did the most in Scripture to turn God’s wrath against him. But we find that even with Manasseh God’s character as a forgiving God is not forgotten. When Manasseh repented, God restored him (2 Chronicles 33:13). What brought about Manasseh’s restoration was that he “implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (2 Chronicles 33:12). Don’t tell me that you are worse than Manasseh.
The only thing that can keep any of us from God is our own pride. If we think we are too good for God, too bad for God, too anything for God, we will find that to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But, if we will humble ourselves before God, seek His face, turn from our wickedness, acknowledge our sins, and seek to follow Him, we will find forgiveness and restoration. This is who God is (Exodus 34:6-7). He is the God of mercy. God has issued a promise and backed it up by His own immutability, that those who flee to Him for refuge will have an anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:17-20). Those who draw near to Him will find that He will draw near to them (James 4:8). This is His promise.
You state that you have lived a life of constant backsliding. Such indicates to me that you had a desire to live for Christ but that you were like the man the Apostle Paul describes at the end of Romans 7 who could not find a way to live rightly before God. There is another way to live. There is no victory in Romans 7. There is no defeat in Romans 8. Those who live by striving to do what is right will always find failure. We cannot love God by keeping the commandments, whether they be Old Testament commandments or New Testament ones. This is the teaching of Galatians 3-5. But we can keep His commandments by loving Him. Love must always come first. If we love Him, then everything else will fall into place. Thus, our effort must be geared towards loving God. And love comes naturally to those who (1) spend time with another, (2) seek to bless the other, and (3) are thankful for the other. This is where walking with the Spirit provides such a different way to live out the Christian life. Those who walk with the Spirit will always find victory (Galatians 5:25).
What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? Walking with God is such a huge concept in Scripture. Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:24). Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Abraham and Isaac walked before God (Genesis 48:15). Levi walked with God (Malachi 2:6). The disciples walked with Christ (John 6:66). Walking with someone is the concept of being in close fellowship with them, of being beside them in the daily journey of life. When we walk with the Spirit, we are in close fellowship with the Comforter whom Christ gave to be our helper (John 14:16-17; 26; 15:26). Such a walk is one of liberty (Galatians 5:1), not bondage. It is freeing, not condemning. It is praying without ceasing—constant communion with the God we love. It is making Christ a part of everyday life. We do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17). He becomes the life we live (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4). We become one with Him, even as Jesus prayed in John 17:21-23. We cease striving and start simply trusting in His grace and salvation. We abide in Him (John 15). Trying to please God by trying to do right things simply never works. But a heart that begins to focus on what He has done for us, and in gratitude responds with praise and adoration to God, much like the woman in Luke 7:47, will find the favor of God. It will be a heart that grows in love for God and for man. Thus, our religion ceases to be about us measuring up, but rather about us renewing our minds by growing in love for God through focusing our eyes on Jesus Himself (Hebrews 12:2; Psalm 16:8). He welcomes the sinner back, whether it is 7 times, 70 x 7, or many multiples of this. We all stumble in many ways (James 3:2). But there is a God whose grace abounds over our sins.
This is true, whether we are at the end of life or the beginning. The thief on the cross could be received into paradise (Luke 23:43). It is the nature of Satan to accuse us and cause us to think that we are the ones who are outside of His grace. It is the nature of the Father to forgive us and welcome us back. And He is more than willing to forgive, even after we have squandered all of our inheritance (Luke 15:11-32).
I encourage you to make a fresh start with Christ. If you confess your sin, He is faithful and just to forgive you (1 John 1:9). There is no condition on this promise of God no matter what one believes about predestination. John MacArthur would urge you to do the same thing. A broken and contrite heart God will not despise (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 66:2). Those who come broken before God will find that God will be pleased to dwell with them (Isaiah 57:15). Put your past behind, and like Paul reach to what lies before (Philippians 3:13). Seek Christ every day, and all through the day. Such may not remove all of the pain in your life, but seeking the God who promises to be found (Jeremiah 29:13-14; Matthew 7:7) may do more for you than you ever dreamed. Seek Him. He is a gracious God, as His saints have long known. His delight is in rescuing people from darkness and bringing them into Christ (Luke 15:7, 10). He has no delight in the destruction of anyone, but rather desires for them to be saved ((Ezekiel 18:19-32; 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4).
May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and come to know His welcoming embrace and the awesome meaning of what it is to have a Savior.
a sojourner seeking the face of God,