Bible Study, Mailbag

Throwback Thursday ~ The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it

Originally published October 9, 2017

 

I am struggling with reading the Word. I find myself having to drag myself to it to dedicate time to read it, struggling against doing other things instead. I love the Lord with all my heart. I love His Word, LOVE everything about the Bible. I know that love for God’s word and hunger for it is one of the marks of salvation. I want to hunger for reading it like a baby hungers for milk. I want that passion for His word.

Please don’t tell me to check my salvation as I daily obsess about this to the point where my sister in Christ said I have OCD about this. I hear about false converts and it scares me. An elder told me that you can do the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit and I thought that once I was saved I could not do that, that was the sin of unbelief. Now, I am sometimes scared to even think about the Holy Spirit, because what if I do that! Please take me Lord, before I would do that! Please help me. 

This question from a friend of my Facebook page just reached through the screen and clutched at my heart. I’ve been right where this sister is now, and I know many of you have been there as well. If you would, take a moment to pray for her and any other Christian you know who’s struggling with this kind of anxiety in her walk.

The Unpardonable Sin
You cannot commit the unpardonable sin. No one living today can commit that sin. I don’t mean to sound harsh, as we all make mistakes, but I am appalled at your elder’s ignorance on this issue and what he said to you. It’s a very common question, and he should at least know a simple answer to it. I’ve covered it here: What is the unpardonable sin?

Check your salvation?
There is no reason for me to tell you to check your salvation, and it never entered my mind to do so. Lost people don’t ask God to take their lives lest they commit the unpardonable sin or worry about whether or not they hunger enough for God’s Word. Only saved people think like that, because saved people are new creations in Christ, with the mind of Christ, who desire to please Christ. Lost people can’t even understand the things of God because these things are revealed by the Holy Spirit, which they don’t have.

I would really encourage you to work through the book of 1 John (I’ve written a study on it if you’d find that helpful). John wrote this epistle to reassure believers. As he says in 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Getting over the “hump” of reticence.
What you describe about dragging yourself to do your Bible study but then loving the Word once you get over that hump of reticence is absolutely, without a doubt, one hundred per cent normal. Pastors feel that way. Elders feel that way. Bible teachers feel that way. Every Christian, including me, feels that way at least sometimes. Usually several times a week for me.

That feeling does not mean you’re not hungering for the Word or that you don’t have a passion for it. Indeed, if you weren’t hungering for the Word with such a passion, you wouldn’t be so up in arms about feeling tempted to do something besides reading your Bible.

That feeling is not something lacking in your desire for the Word. That feeling is Satan tempting you to do anything rather than study your Bible. And the way you combat that temptation? You pray through it, pick up your Bible, and start reading – regardless of how you feel about it. Obedience is hard sometimes. But when you grit your teeth against that temptation and obey God anyway, that is a precious offering to the Lord. He doesn’t require that you feel all hearts and flower-y while you’re doing it. That’s you putting that pressure on yourself. This is battle. Fight. You obey and let God worry about your feelings.

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31a

Peace be unto you.
God did not save you in order for you to spend your life in a state of fear and anxiety. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Forever starts the moment you’re saved. God wants you to enjoy spending time with Him in this life just as much as He wants you to in the next.

Christ is the Prince of Peace and His desire is for you to be at peace with Him. He knows you inside and out and He still delights in you. It is safe to let go, relax, and rest in His love and delight. He is not going to let go of you. Here are a few Scriptures that may bring you some comfort and reassurance. Believe them. Trust Him. He loves you. Let that sink in and simply love Him back.

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Psalm 149:4-5


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.

Bible Study, Mailbag

The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it

 

I am struggling with reading the Word. I find myself having to drag myself to it to dedicate time to read it, struggling against doing other things instead. I love the Lord with all my heart. I love His Word, LOVE everything about the Bible. I know that love for God’s word and hunger for it is one of the marks of salvation. I want to hunger for reading it like a baby hungers for milk. I want that passion for His word.

Please don’t tell me to check my salvation as I daily obsess about this to the point where my sister in Christ said I have an OCD about this. I hear about false converts and it scares me. An elder told me that you can do the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit and I thought that once I was saved I could not do that, that was the sin of unbelief. Now, I am sometimes scared to even think about the Holy Spirit, because what if I do that! Please take me Lord, before I would do that! Please help me. 

This question from a friend of my Facebook page just reached through the screen and clutched at my heart. I’ve been right where this sister is now, and I know many of you have been there as well. If you would, take a moment to pray for her and any other Christian you know who’s struggling with this kind of anxiety in her walk.

The Unpardonable Sin
You cannot commit the unpardonable sin. No one living today can commit that sin. I don’t mean to sound harsh, as we all make mistakes, but I am appalled at your elder’s ignorance on this issue and what he said to you. It’s a very common question, and he should at least know a simple answer to it. I’ve covered it here: What is the unpardonable sin?

Check your salvation?
There is no reason for me to tell you to check your salvation, and it never entered my mind to do so. Lost people don’t ask God to take their lives lest they commit the unpardonable sin or worry about whether or not they hunger enough for God’s Word. Only saved people think like that, because saved people are new creations in Christ, with the mind of Christ, who desire to please Christ. Lost people can’t even understand the things of God because these things are revealed by the Holy Spirit, which they don’t have.

I would really encourage you to work through the book of 1 John (I’ve written a study on it if you’d find that helpful). John wrote this epistle to reassure believers. As he says in 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Getting over the “hump” of reticence.
What you describe about dragging yourself to do your Bible study but then loving the Word once you get over that hump of reticence is absolutely, without a doubt, one hundred per cent normal. Pastors feel that way. Elders feel that way. Bible teachers feel that way. Every Christian, including me, feels that way at least sometimes. Usually several times a week for me.

That feeling does not mean you’re not hungering for the Word or that you don’t have a passion for it. Indeed, if you weren’t hungering for the Word with such a passion, you wouldn’t be so up in arms about feeling tempted to do something besides reading your Bible.

That feeling is not something lacking in your desire for the Word. That feeling is Satan tempting you to do anything rather than study your Bible. And the way you combat that temptation? You pray through it, pick up your Bible, and start reading – regardless of how you feel about it. Obedience is hard sometimes. But when you grit your teeth against that temptation and obey God anyway, that is a precious offering to the Lord. He doesn’t require that you feel all hearts and flower-y while you’re doing it. That’s you putting that pressure on yourself. This is battle. Fight. You obey and let God worry about your feelings.

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31a

Peace be unto you.
God did not save you in order for you to spend your life in a state of fear and anxiety. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Forever starts the moment you’re saved. God wants you to enjoy spending time with Him in this life just as much as He wants you to in the next.

Christ is the Prince of Peace and His desire is for you to be at peace with Him. He knows you inside and out and He still delights in you. It is safe to let go, relax, and rest in His love and delight. He is not going to let go of you. Here are a few Scriptures that may bring you some comfort and reassurance. Believe them. Trust Him. He loves you. Let that sink in and simply love Him back.

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Psalm 149:4-5


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?


Homework

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

Mailbag

The Mailbag: What Is the Unpardonable Sin?

mailbag

 

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.