The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

The Lord’s richest blessings to you, readers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ. Welcome to all the newbies and to you seasoned veterans of the blog.

Because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Or maybe you’ve been around a while and haven’t noticed something that might be helpful. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a CliffsNotes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

Fourth, if you don’t find your question answered in one of these ways or below, you might want to check previous Asked & Answered articles and The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.

And finally, let me get you new readers some answers to the questions several of you have asked. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!

What is your take on having a “life verse” or favorite verse? People ask this frequently and I can never tell them one specific verse as there have been many verses through many situations that have been special to me.

I think you’ve hit on an important part of the answer. Life is constantly changing, and the Word addresses all of those various needs and situations. Who could banner or cling to only one verse in the midst of all of that, and why would anyone want to? I’ve answered this a bit further -with Scripture- in my article…

My “Life Verse”

Hi! I’m looking for sound doctrine Spanish women teachers.

It’s always encouraging to hear from women who want to make sure they’re consuming sound doctrine! Don’t limit yourself to women teachers, though, especially when the language barrier is probably already severely limiting your choices. There are far more doctrinally sound male pastors and teachers out there than female, with far more resources.

From my article: The Mailbag: Potpourri (Christian romance novelist, home schooling sons, Spanish resources…)

I would check Grace to YouLigonier, and HeartCry Missionary Society (Paul Washer). I know they all have books and resources (sermons, articles, etc.) in Spanish, and if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for on the site, you can contact them directly, and they can point you in the right direction.

My husband and I have gone to a “contemporary” Christian church for 12 years. The music isn’t our preference but we’ve overlooked it because the teaching was solid; however, after recently learning the truth about Bethel, Hillsong and Elevation, we’ve discovered other false teaching with the use of IF: Gathering for women and Orange curriculum for children/youth. We plan to talk with the lead and administrative pastors who are also elders very soon. Should we stay to see what happens or do we have the freedom to leave now? Thank you.

I’m so sorry the leadership of your church is doing this.

You should stay until you’ve talked with the pastors and elders. If they clutch their pearls, gasping, “Oh dear, we had no idea these were false teachers! Please give us more information so we can eradicate false doctrine from our church!” well, praise God, stay, and help them.

But in my experience, when false doctrine and false teachers have infiltrated a church to this extent, the leadership of the church are either so biblically ignorant and lazy that they don’t know what constitutes false doctrine, or they simply don’t care that they’re feeding poison to their congregation, and they will dig in their heels and try to make you the bad guy for confronting them. They care more about scratching the itching ears of the people who fill the pews with what’s easy and popular than they do about pleasing God. They’re committing pastoral malpractice by shirking their Titus 1:9 mandate. And all of this disqualifies them from the office of pastor / elder, no matter how solid the teaching seems (don’t think that their theology and teaching isn’t affected by this). I do not envy them the day that they will stand before God and answer to Him for their shoddy shepherding.

If you find this to be the case when you talk to your pastors and elders, feel free to leave and find a doctrinally sound church. You’ve done all you can and all God requires of you.

Here are a few resources that may help you and others in similar situations:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

The Mailbag: When is it OK to leave a church that’s begun embracing false doctrine?

The Mailbag: How to Leave a Church

Searching for a new church?

My husband is Catholic and comes from a deeply Catholic family tradition. I have recently started attending a Bible-teaching church on my own. Outwardly, he approves. I prayed over this subject yet still wrestle with it and wonder if I am being disobedient. I would appreciate wisdom on this.

I know this is a really difficult situation. May the Lord comfort you and give you wisdom. Sadly, situations like this – in which the husband is either unsaved and / or wants to go to a heretical or unbiblical “church” and the wife craves a doctrinally sound church – are not uncommon. Here are a couple of cases I’ve addressed in the past:

The Mailbag: A Lost Husband, a Saved Wife, and an Apostate Church

The Mailbag: My husband wants to stay at an unbiblical church.

No, you are not being disobedient, either to your husband (especially since he says he approves) or to God.

What are your other options? The only two I can think of in your situation would be going to Catholic services with your husband or not going to church at all. Both of those would be wrong.

God is quite clear all over Scripture that He doesn’t want His people anywhere near false doctrine or false teachers, and that’s what Catholicism is. It’s an anti-biblical, non-Christian religion. It is one of the accursed “another gospels” of Galatians 1:6-9. You no more belong at a Catholic service than at an altar of Baal or in the temple of Artemis.

Yet God commands you (and all Believers) not to forsake assembling with the local church.

So you can’t go to services with your husband. You can’t not go to church at all. Your only other option is to do what you’re doing – find a doctrinally sound church and go without him. What other choice do you have?

Here are some additional resources that may help:

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians

Roman Catholicism: Mass Confusion at A Word Fitly Spoken

Truth and Love – with Mike Gendron at A Word Fitly Spoken

I do appreciate your post. One question – in hearing God speak. I have heard God speak to me. I have felt prompted and convicted. From what I am seeing on your website, it seems as if you are saying that is unbiblical. Can you please clarify and provide scripture for that? Also, just recently when reading the Christmas story, I noted that Joseph was warned in a dream. Trying to reconcile with what you are saying.

That’s a great question, and it sounds like God is growing you in discernment and the knowledge of His written Word. That’s wonderful!

First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about “hearing God speak”. When I use that terminology, I’m talking about things like, “I audibly heard God speak to me and tell me to buy the red car instead of the blue one,” or “God spoke to me in a dream and told me I’m going to marry a guy named Todd.”. Direct, specific, extra-biblical revelation. God doesn’t do that today.

I’m not talking about things like, “I was praying and suddenly felt convicted over the lie I told yesterday, so I repented,” or “I keep seeing or hearing, in various places, this particular Bible verse about trusting God, and it has really made me think about my lack of trust in God. So now I’m praying and studying Bible passages about trusting God more.”. God does do that today. Those are just a couple of ways the Holy Spirit guides us. That type of thing is not what I mean when I say that “hearing God speak” is unbiblical. We need to be careful that we’re not conflating the biblical with the unbiblical.

You say you’ve heard God speak to you. Was it the first way I mentioned, direct, specific, even audible extra-biblical revelation? If so, how do you know – as a matter of objective fact – that it was God? Think of it this way – if you had to prove in a court of law that it actually was God speaking to you, what evidence would you offer?

Because I’ve never encountered someone who said God spoke to her in that way who had anything to offer up as “proof” that it was God other than her subjective feelings or opinion, or the purported intensity of the experience. In other words, just because you believe something to be true doesn’t mean it is, and just because you had a really intense experience doesn’t mean your interpretation of said experience is correct, especially when those things contradict Scripture, which extra-biblical revelation does.

God Himself tells us that His written Word is sufficient for everything we need. Extra-biblical revelation undermines the biblical doctrine of Scripture’s sufficiency. Here are some resources that help explain:

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

That’s Enough! The Sufficiency of Scripture at A Word Fitly Spoken

Isn’t the Gospel enough? (The Sufficiency of Scripture) at A Word Fitly Spoken

How Does the Holy Spirit Lead Us? at A Word Fitly Spoken

Do you have a list of the biblically solid women writers you would recommend? I’m compiling a list of resources for our women’s event table. I have some…but I thought you might have some I hadn’t thought about.

Yep! See that blue menu bar at the top of this page? Click on “Recommended Bible Teachers“.

I’m so glad you want to provide doctrinally sound resources for your ladies! (As I mentioned above, I strongly recommend that women not limit themselves to women authors and teachers. There are far more doctrinally sound male authors and teachers out there with far more resources available. Your event table might be a great place to introduce your ladies to some of them!)

I thought this might be a common question, so maybe you can point me to something you have already written on this topic…

You came to the right Mailbag. :0)

I was given [a heretical] book from a well meaning, but undiscerning family member. Do you recommend throwing it directly into the trash

That is definitely one option (especially since you mentioned you’ve discussed these problematic doctrinal issues with her before). I’ve discussed several methods of disposing of heretical books in this article:

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Soul Ties, SBC Communion, Women in children’s ministry, Heretical book disposal)

(I know the book you were given wasn’t a false teacher’s study Bible, but I’m going to throw in an article that deals with disposing of those, too, for other readers: The Mailbag: Asked and Answered (July 5, 2021).)

[Or do you recommend] offering to read through it together with the family member so we can discuss the problems in it, maybe reading through it on my own and then discussing the key problems? My husband and I have addressed this topic with the family member before, but I guess it didn’t stick. They attend a church that loves Bethel music and they have shared sermons with us that are borderline Word of Faith stuff, which is when we have addressed the issue with them before.

If she is willing to sit down with you and discuss it – calmly, rationally, Bibles on the table – then please do take the time to do that. (Wouldn’t it be amazing if God used you as He brings her out of darkness and into His marvelous light!) If things start out well but then seem to be getting a little heated, you can always say, something like, “Why don’t we take a break from this for now and pick it up another time? How about some ice cream?”. Or, if she shuts down the conversation: “We don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to, but if you ever have any questions or decide you’d like to talk about it, my door is always open.”.

Here are some resources I hope will help:

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones at A Word Fitly Spoken

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? (this is obviously about dealing with church leadership, but many of the principles remain the same when dealing with friends)

Can you provide insight on what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is which will not be forgiven? In Mathew 12.

Can do!

The Mailbag: What Is the Unpardonable Sin?

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 5

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

Mark 3:

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him.14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider

1. In verses 1-6, we see again one of the major themes of Mark: Jesus’ lordship over the Sabbath. Take a moment to review question 6 from Lesson 4 (link above). What are the similarities and differences between Mark 2:23-28 and Mark 3:1-6? Look at these two passages in a physical Bible. What do you notice about their placement, or sequence, in the manuscript, despite the fact that some time elapsed between the two incidents? Why might Mark have organized his manuscript this way?

2. Why was guarding against profaning the Sabbath such a major issue for the Pharisees? (1-6) What might they have worried God would do if Jesus influenced Israel to (in the Pharisees’ eyes) break the Sabbath? What did Jesus mean by his question in verse 4? Why didn’t the Pharisees answer Jesus? (4-6) Sometimes we think of anger as being sinful. Here, we see Jesus get angry. Why was His anger not sinful? (5)

3. What was Jesus doing (8) that drew such large crowds to Him? (10, 20-21) Compare the crowds, and their reason for flocking to Jesus in verses 7-12, 20-21, with this passage. What was the reason Peter and Jesus’ true followers stuck with Him? Do you see any similarities between the crowds that came to Jesus in droves for miracles, yet turned away from His teaching, and the crowds that fill miracle-promising “churches” today, even though those “churches” do not preach the truth of the gospel? What does Jesus want us to come to Him for?

4. How did Jesus’ ability to heal, his lordship over the Sabbath, His ability to cast out demons, and His definitive teaching on forgiveness (28-29) demonstrate that Jesus was God and that His authority over the physical and spiritual realms was equal to God’s? How would the authority over demons that Jesus gave the disciples for this mission (15) have authenticated the message they were preaching? (14) Was the disciple’s primary objective to preach the gospel or cast out demons? (14)

5. You may wish to examine verses 22-30 alongside these parallel passages in Matthew and Luke for better understanding. What is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (also called the unpardonable sin)? What were the scribes accusing Jesus of? (22) In your own words, explain Jesus’ reasoning to them. (23-27) Why did Jesus say the scribes making these accusations would never be forgiven? (30)

6. Why might Mary and Jesus’ siblings have been looking for Him? (20-21, 31-32) Was Jesus dishonoring his mother or rejecting his siblings in favor of others? (33-35) What point was Jesus trying to make? Compare verses 31-35 with these passages. What do we learn from these Scriptures about the importance of our spiritual family? Think about religions that unbiblically venerate Mary and ascribe supernatural attributes to her. Would this passage seem to support those beliefs?


Think about your church family. Is there a brother or sister, or maybe even a spiritual “mother” or “father,” who has helped you in your walk with the Lord, encouraged you, been there for you, maybe even led you to Christ? Take a moment this week to touch base with that person and express your love and appreciation.

Suggested Memory Verse

For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:35


The Mailbag: What Is the Unpardonable Sin?



What is the unpardonable sin -the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit – and can a Christian, or anyone else, commit it today?

Jesus mentions the unforgiveable sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, in Matthew 12:31-32:

“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Earlier in chapter 12, the crowd had expressed amazement at Jesus’ healing of a demon oppressed, blind and mute man, by exclaiming, “Can this be the Son of David [the Messiah]?” (23) The Pharisees, wishing to discredit Jesus, responded, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons,” (24) attributing the work of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus, to Satan.

It is is in this context that Jesus speaks in verses 31-32 about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan).

It is generally agreed upon by reputable theologians that Christians today who have been genuinely born again cannot, nor would they desire to if they could, give Satan the credit and glory for works done by God the Holy Spirit. The first resource I have listed below makes a compelling argument that no one can commit this sin today since its context was limited to the miracles done by Jesus while He was on earth.

Additional Resources:

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit—The “Unpardonable Sin” at Apologetics Press

What is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Can A Christian Commit it? at CARM

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit, part 2 at Grace to You

If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.