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Q&A: Growing up I was always told that if you sin after accepting Jesus you will lose your salvation.

Q: Growing up I was always told that if you sin after accepting Jesus you will lose your salvation. Is that true?

So basically you were taught that Jesus saves us, but staying saved is up to us! But the Bible teaches that our salvation is a gift from God and the forgiveness we are granted through Jesus is ongoing.  — even when we sin.

One of the most wonderful promises from God's Word is found in 1 John 1:7 which says:

...if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

​​The verb ​"purifies" is in the present tense in the Greek, which speaks of an on-going provision ​of forgiveness ​against present and future ​sins.​ It could literally be translated this way:

​and the blood of Jesus, his Son, ​KEEPS ON CLEANSING ​US from all sin.

G​od knows that we are sinful and imperfect and He made a way for the sacrifice of His Son to keep pouring out His mercy on our lives. Please let me know if you have additional questions. God bless you, Josh.

Q&A: Does God want me to use only the Hebrew names He was called in the Old Testament?

Q: I have a friend who refers to God using only Hebrew names from the Bible (such as Yah).  Am I wrong to use the word "God?" Does God want me to use only the Hebrew names He was called in the Old Testament? Will it make a difference when I pray what name I use?

A: I get emails and notes from people quite a lot who do the same thing you're referring to. It is very popular these days to refer to God either by using a Hebrew name or even typing God's name while purposely leaving out some of the letters and replacing them with an asterisk. (G*d)

The short answer to your question is: no, you are not wrong to use the words, "God" or "Lord" when speaking of God or when praying. Some people might object to this, reminding you that such words are just titles and not His true name. However, there's nothing at all wrong with titles. In His instructions to us about prayer, Jesus said:

"Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.'"   Matthew 6:9 (ESV)

So, we see here, Jesus specifically taught us to pray using the word "Father" which is ALSO a title.

There has been a resurgence of interest in Hebrew language and culture among many Christians. In fact, an entire movement has emerged called the Hebrew Roots Movement which has encouraged believers to learn more about Hebrew culture and language. Much of the desire to gain a better understanding of such things is good, however, I have seen this focus turn into a point of spiritual pride and a path toward legalistic thinking. (Check out this link to learn about the dangers associated with the Hebrew Roots Movement.)

It's very easy to think that we have some kind of special access to God because we use the right words or refer to Him using a special biblical name. But we need to remember that our access to God is through Jesus Christ and through Him alone. We're told in Matthew, Mark and Luke that when Jesus died on the cross the veil in the Temple was torn in two. That was God's way of showing us that the way into the Holy of Holies (His presence) had now been opened through the death of Jesus Christ. So the way is not a name or a word or a title — it is a Person. Remember our Lord's words:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 (ESV)

Q&A: Why does Satan do things against God when he knows he will fail?

Question: Since Satan, knows he will be defeated and that he is ruled by GOD, and needs GOD'S permission, why would he still try to stop the birth of our Savior, knowing that he could never be successful?

Excellent question, but the truth is, we don't know with absolute certainty what Satan knows and what he doesn't. But either way, Satan's efforts and actions always spring from his nature. He doesn't just do evil, Satan is evil. That means he can't do or be otherwise. Darkness will always hate and try to eradicate the light, simply because it is evil. It needs no more reason than that. Jesus said:

...the devil...was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 (ESV)

Notice Jesus said that Satan "speaks out of his own character." That means he lies because he is a liar. He murders because he is a murderer. He seeks to do evil because he is evil. Satan is what he is, and all his actions stem from that awful reality.

Q&A: Why do we say we believe in the Catholic Church in the Apostle's Creed?

Q: A friend of mine was upset because her church recited the Apostle's Creed which includes the statement "I believe in...the holy catholic church." What is that all about?

A: That statement in the Apostle's Creed has nothing whatsoever to do with Roman Catholicism. The word "catholic" literally means universal so that creed is basically saying, "I believe in the universal Body of Christ." Roman Catholicism is not being mentioned or referenced at all.

Q&A: Do you believe that a Christian can lose their salvation?

Q: Do you believe that a Christian can lose their salvation?

A: Let me start by saying that I greatly dislike this question. I've been asked it many times, but I always hate to answer. No one asks this question because they're wondering what the answer might be. I find that most Christians have their minds pretty well made up on the subject and the reason they ask is so they might know whose side I've taken.

That being said, I always endeavor to answer each and every question I receive by taking a serious look at God's Word—not allowing myself to be swayed by passionate feelings on either side of the issue. There is so much emotion attached to this question that I'm not at all sure people even want to know what the Bible has to say. I get a distinct impression that Christians just want to be told that losing their salvation isn't possible so they can get on with their lives without being bothered by the notion.

Here's the fact of the matter—I don't have any idea whether or not a person can actually lose their salvation. Even if it were possible, I don't know how you or I would come by that kind of information. We just don't possess that level of insight.

Here's what I do know and am absolutely certain about: the New Testament authors issued repeated warnings to born-again believers about the danger of walking away from Christ. Here are just a few examples:

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (ESV) 
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 

Galatians 5:2-4 (ESV) 
Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

Hebrews 2:1-3a (ESV)
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

I know there are many sincere followers of Christ who passionately reject any idea of a true believer possessing the freedom or ability to walk away from the Lord in unbelief. I respect their position, but as I study the Word of God, I see repeated warnings by the New Testament authors about doing that very thing. As a Bible teacher, I feel it is my responsibility to respectfully communicate the message of God's Word without bias or partiality. Although it seems impossible to think about someone being saved and later being unsaved, my number one goal is to communicate what God's Word says. 

Q&A: How were people saved in Old Testament times and where did they go when they died?

Q: How were people saved in Old Testament times and where did they go when they died?

This is an excellent question and one that I have been asked many times.

It is often assumed that today we are saved by accepting Jesus as our Savior and that believers in Old Testament times were saved by their obedience to the Law of Moses. But that is not at all true. The argument of the Apostle Paul throughout Romans is that the Law was never meant as a means to save anyone, and he makes it abundantly clear that " one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law..." Romans 3:20 (NIV)

So, if people weren't saved by keeping the Law in Old Testament times, how then were they saved? The simple answer is, the same way we are saved today — BY FAITH. The Old Testament sacrificial system merely gave the Israelites a graphic touchpoint for placing their faith in God's goodness and mercy. It provided a clear example of a blood sacrifice involving the exchange of one life for another — all pointing beautifully to the final sacrifice of Jesus Christ which was yet to come.

So, people in Old Testament times died placing their faith in things hoped for and things not yet seen.

As for where they went after death, Jesus made it abundantly clear that prior to His death on the cross which opened the way to heaven, no one who had died before that time had ever gone there.

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. John 3:13 (ESV)

So, if they didn't end up in heaven, where did they go? Jesus revealed the answer to this question in a story that he told which is recounted in Luke's Gospel account. As you read the verses below, take special note of the descriptions given about the place where people went after death.

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31 (ESV)

It's important to note that this story is not a parable. This is a true account concerning real people and real places. (Notice that Jesus used a proper name in these verses, which was never done when merely relating a parable.) 

When Lazarus (no relation to the man of the same name whom Jesus raised from the dead) died he was taken to a place which Jesus referred to as "Abraham's side" (the Greek word is literally translated bosom.) This is certainly not heaven, but a kind of holding place of comfort where those who died in faith awaited entrance into heaven. 

The rich man in the story also died and Jesus said that man was sent to a "place of torment" called Hades (which literally means the grave or hell). The incredible thing is that these places were within some kind of visual range from one another. It was even possible for the inhabitants of each place to converse, even though moving from one place to the other was impossible.

I believe this story gives us a unique glimpse into the place where those who died prior to the cross of Christ awaited the opening of heaven. Now that Jesus has paid the full price for our sin, all who have placed their faith in His finished work on the cross are immediately ushered into the presence of God upon death. The words that Jesus spoke to the penitent thief on the cross are now ones we can all confidently embrace: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 (ESV) 

Q&A: How do we know when decisions in life are ones we need to hear from God about before acting or if they are something we just need to take care of ourselves?

Q: How do we know when decisions in life are ones we need to hear from God about before acting or if they are something we just need to take care of ourselves? 

Your question is pretty common, and yet I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding about this sort of thing in the minds of most Christians. 

Walking with the Lord is not so much a matter of figuring out when and where you need to ask for guidance. It's really more about having a surrendered heart that desires the Lord's leading even when you don't ask. As the Lord spoke about Caleb in Exodus 14 He said, "But my servant Caleb...has a different spirit and has followed me fully..." Numbers 14:24 (ESV) The Lord called attention to Caleb's heart attitude to simply follow the Lord in all things.

Like Caleb, we ought to be desiring God's will and direction every single day — and our prayers should reflect our desire. "Lord, lead me today and guide my life as You think best. I give my day to You and ask that You would open and close doors according to Your perfect wisdom." Then, as we go through our day, we can walk in the expectation that He is leading and directing us. (See Psalm 32:8)

Now obviously there are some really huge, life-changing decisions that we encounter from time to time, and some of them may require us to wait for a very specific directive from the Lord before preceding. And I think we identify those kinds of decisions by quieting our hearts in His presence and spending time in the His Word. 

But even if other decisions seem small and insignificant, I would never want to think of myself as taking care of business on my own. I believe the Lord always wants His children to walk in a surrendered attitude toward all our decision-making, and to pray for His guidance each day. Then we can step out into our day with an expectation and confidence in the Lord's leading.