Clearing Some Doctrinal Air/Error
Study Guide, October 27, 2019
Pastor Clay Olsen
There are many things in life that we know some things about, but it would be really good if we knew even more about them. One of the surprising things in the natural world that is good to know more about is with this little mammal we know of as ‘a bat’. What we don’t often think about is just how amazing these little creatures really are and just how beneficial they are to our well-being. They have kind of gotten a bad rap over the years…or a ‘bat rap’ we could say. We could actually spend the rest of our time pointing out all the benefits, but let’s just list a few. Did you know that without these little guys our mosquito problem around the world would be far worse than it is? Each bat can consume 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour. They can eat their weight in insects every night. That would be like a teenage boy eating 200 quarter-pound hamburgers in one night. Or, we could put it like this: The agriculture industry would have to spend nearly 25 billion dollars more in pesticides to equal what bats do for free.
They are also major pollinators for agriculture…for everything from fruits to nuts. In fact, just one example will cause you to have a whole new appreciation for our little friends. They especially pollinate cacao trees, from which we get our beloved ‘chocolate’! So the next time you see a bat…thank him for the chocolates!
Plus, their very design has inspired research on everything from learning more about echolocation to even the invention of ‘drones’. They have even become big business in Texas, where people visit a bridge near Austin to watch thousands of bats fly out each night to feed. That attraction alone generates over 10 million dollars in tourism each year.
You can show your own new appreciation for these little helpers by putting up your own bat house on or near your house. They will help clear your yard of more of those pesky bugs each night.
I got a little carried away with these fun little creatures, but it leads us to some other issues that we can also clear the air on, like some doctrinal issues…clear the ‘air’, and also clear out the ‘error’. Like the question that comes up about the unpardonable sin: Some people, even Christians, have from time to time feared that they had committed some sin that they thought may be that ‘unpardonable sin’ and would keep them out of Heaven. Some people have been in despair of worrying if sins like premeditated sins or suicide, for example, might be the unpardonable sin. Of course, the Accuser, the Devil, especially uses ideas like that to confuse and discourage people in the faith. But even if we just logically think about the Gospel of the Cross of Christ, that would mean that there was some sin or sins that Jesus didn’t die for…as though when Paul said in 1 Cor 15:3- “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…” NASU, that he meant to say, ‘except for a few sins that He left out.’ But no, Jesus’ sacrificial death provided for a full atonement, a complete pardon from our sins. Like the Prophet Isaiah recorded God’s comforting words to us about this: Isa 1:18- “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.” NASU
So no, the unpardonable sin is not a reference to some sin or sins that would cause a believer to lose their salvation. Jesus identified it as a particular sin of blasphemy and unbelief against the very deity of the Messiah, when the Jewish leaders attributed to the devil the divine powers of the Holy Spirit that were working through Him, the Messiah. Take a look: Matt 12:24- “But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder He can cast out demons. He gets His power from Satan, the prince of demons.” But then Jesus said: “Every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.” Matt 12:31,32 NLT
So actually, in a practical sense, this was a not only a particular sin, but it was also a unique sin when Jesus was present on the Earth. Again, the false teachers were not just speaking sinfully about Jesus as a man, they were saying that it was the devil that was working in Him and not the Holy Spirit, thus denying He was one with God and the Divine Messiah. That of course, was unpardonable. But in principle, any unbelief in Jesus as the Messiah, in whom all the fulness of God indwells and through which all must believe and receive in order to be saved, well…there is no pardon of sin apart from faith in Jesus Christ alone as Lord and Savior.
Now then, this concern about if there is some sin that God cannot forgive or will not forgive is also often connected with other confusions that some Christians have about their position in Christ. They confuse their position in Christ, as to their salvation, with their practice as a Christian, in terms of their sanctification. In other words, they are confusing their spiritual birth with their spiritual behavior. And right away, by putting it this way, or putting it in these Biblical terms, it helps us all a great deal as to being much more at ease about our salvation, since it is our birth that determines our relationship with God. Our behavior might fluctuate, but our birth relationship remains permanent.
In the Christian life it is as important to understand things that differ as it is to understand things that are the same. And again, one of the things that differ is this difference between our position and our practice, or again, between our spiritual birth and our spiritual behavior. In fact, most unbelievers continually think that having a relationship with God is based upon spiritual behavior. Our spiritual behavior is certainly essential and Jesus will evaluate the faithfulness of His children. But Jesus made it clear that a relationship with God is based upon spiritual birth.
Think about this: In the same way that once you are physically born you cannot become unborn, so also once you are spiritually born again, you cannot become spiritually unborn. To be even more precise, in the same way that once you are physically conceived you cannot become physically unconceived, so also once you are spiritually conceived you cannot become spiritually unconceived. So just like in physical conception, that the union creates a permanent soul and body, so in spiritual conception, the union of the Spirit of Christ with our human spirit creates a permanent new spirit in our soul.
Paul also talked about this in that passage in 1 Corinthians 15. Notice: 1 Cor 15:45- “The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit.” In the new birth, when a repentant person receives Christ as their Savior, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, joins His eternal life with the believing person’s human spirit that had been spiritually dead in trespasses and sin. And that new spiritually conceived person is then eternally one with the eternal God. Note that in 1 Cor 6:17- “But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” NLT
Plus, this spiritually born again person is now among the saved family of God to whom Jesus said: “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb 13:5 NKJV Remember, Jesus was forsaken when He took our sin penalty and paid for our pardon on the Cross. He was forsaken for us, or ‘in place of us’. He was forsaken so that we would never have to be forsaken, nor ever will be forsaken. That is God’s promise to us, and God’s promises cannot be broken, and will always come to pass.
So remember, salvation is not a behavioral issue. Salvation is a birth issue, a spiritual birth issue. And once you are born again, it is both logically and theologically impossible to be spiritually unborn. Plus, to be spiritually born again means to have been spiritually conceived by the union of Christ’s Holy Spirit with your human spirit. And once you are spiritually conceived, you can no more become spiritually unconceived than anyone who becomes physically conceived could become physically unconceived. These are both physical and spiritual laws of the natural world and the supernatural world.
And speaking of natural and spiritual laws, that leads to another point of confusion by some people concerning if by chance there is some chance that after this life people might get a second chance at salvation. And one overlooked point about that is the fact that anyone who neglects or rejects God’s great salvation has already passed up second, third, fourth, and on and on chances already. Jesus doesn’t just knock once on the door of a person’s conscience and heart and then go away. The Bible pictures Jesus standing at the door ‘knocking’ throughout a person’s life, giving them chance after chance to heed His knocking and open the door of their life and invite Him in as their Lord and Savior.
Remember, anyone’s failure to repent is not because God did not supply them with enough chances, it’s because they neglected or rejected all the chances God gave them. Paul says they ‘suppressed the truth’. Notice: Rom 1:18-21- “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks…” NASU
When people respond to God’s witness of Creation and His witness of conscience because of His law, or His truth, already written in the heart of man, then they will come to know the One who is the Truth, the Way, and the Life, the Messiah and Savior. But if they are unrepentant, or are suppressing the truth God has already given them, then, like Abraham told the unsaved man who wanted Lazarus to return from the dead to witness to his unsaved brothers, like if they only had a second chance, Abraham reminded them of this: Luke 16:29-31- “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ “But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'” NASU Remember: Resistance to repentance begins as a ‘volitional’ problem, not an informational problem. It starts as a problem of ‘the will’ not ‘the mind’.
Also, the fact is that it is appointed once for man to die, and the next appointment after that is the Judgment. Heb 9:27-“…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…” NASU The unsaved man that Abraham was speaking to was already confined in Hades, the temporary place of the unsaved awaiting their final sentencing at the Great White Throne Judgment of the unsaved. And that’s another reason that the Apostle Paul said: 2 Cor 6:1-2- “As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” NLT
So if anyone ever brings up the notion of a second chance at salvation on some ‘tomorrow’ or maybe even after death, help clear the air on that by stating that no one is promised a tomorrow here on Earth. But God does promise a tomorrow and even an eternity in Heaven with Him. Yet, that promise is for those who receive His gift of salvation in Jesus Christ before they leave Earth, and while it’s still called ‘Today’. And today is all we have, and ‘Today is the day of salvation.’
There is so much confusion around us and error in teachings and beliefs. But as we freely share the truths of the Gospel and God’s Word, it will help others come to know the Truth, and the Truth will set them free.