…where those who are lost in a dark world

of sin and doubt

…can find the Way

and be blessed

when following it!


“For every one that asketh receiveth;

and he that seeketh findeth;

and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”


Luke 11:10












Roman Catholic/




Who is Jesus?

         Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior, whether or not you have accepted Him to adopt those roles in your life.  If you reject Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you may be rejecting a chance, probably your only chance, at eternal life itself.  Say what they may, no one in his or her right mind really wants that.  Jesus is also the Messiah (Psalm 132:17-18 and Daniel 9:25-26), literally the Anointed One, chosen specially by God to liberate His people.  Many Jews once believed that God would send His Messiah to free them from gentile political oppressors, such as Nebuchadnezzar II, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Herod the Great, among others, as He had freed them from the evil pharaohs in Egypt (probably Ramesses II or his successor Merneptah in the XIXth Dynasty).  Throughout history a number of anointed men fulfilled that responsibility, such as Cyrus the Great of Persia (Isaiah 45:1) and Judas Maccabeus (I Maccabees 8:1-16), but the Lord Jesus accomplished far more than mere political liberation.  He saved us – and continues to this day to save us – from our sins, and therefore from damnation.  He frees us from spiritual oppression by the Devil and his minions.














What exactly does Jesus save us from?

         Just as the Children of Israel were held in bondage in Egypt during the XIXth Dynasty, and possibly earlier, all human beings are born in bondage to sin.  That means we are born with sinful dispositions characterized by greed, lust, envy, jealousy, pride, selfishness, spite, rebellion, and a general lack of restraint.  Though they may learn more sophisticated ways to sin from both parents and peers, children don’t have to be taught to misbehave.  It’s in their nature to defy and then deny.  As the Apostle Paul pointed out, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  The Greek verb hysterountai, here translated as “come short of” also means “lack” (as in Matthew 19:20-21) and “suffer need” (as in Philippians 4:12).  It follows that we can’t share in God’s glory until we break the grip sin has on our lives.  Jesus does this for us.  Try though we might, we can’t do it for ourselves.  Our resolutions to be better people simply won’t work without His intervention.  We fail again and again without Him.  We are too deeply tainted with sin inside and out to be able to escape from its clutches on our own.







Roman Catholic







Isn’t it enough that I’m a good person?  I was a disobedient child at times, yes, but as an adult I don’t steal or kill or cheat on my spouse. 

         Unfortunately, no.  Even if you were to obey every commandment in the Bible – something no one could possibly do in spite of his or her best efforts  – you would still be a slave to sin.  Only Jesus can remove the sinful disposition that motivates much of our behavior, even if we appear outwardly virtuous.  You may think you’re a “good person” because you avoid committing major social sins in public, but the Bible reminds us, “As it is written [in Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:1-3], there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way [exeklinan, that is, have veered off the path], they are together become unprofitable [ēchreōthēsan, that is, have lost their value or status in God’s Kingdom]; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12). 

         Those who see themselves as naturally good typically succumb to pride and try to take credit for work that remains unfinished.  Salvation is a lifelong process.  Most are also hypocrites, espousing one set of values in public and living quite another in private.  The Lord  warned us about the sin of hypocrisy throughout the gospel of Matthew: “Woe unto you…hypocrites!  For ye are like unto whited sepulchers [that is, whitewashed tombs], which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).














I don’t feel like a slave to sin.  I’m in control of my everyday conduct.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

         This is pride talking.  “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord,” we are reminded in Proverbs 16:5, “though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”  An abomination is something God finds disgusting.  Revelation 21:27 uses a word that refers to intestinal gas (bdelygma) to describe such filthy acts.  That’s what our pride and vanity “smell like” to God.  Our innately sinful dispositions, which no one can successfully “control,” are fueled by the power of the Devil, and he will stop at nothing to drag your soul into the darkest depths of hell.  He may have convinced you that you can easily resist major temptations to steal and defraud and even kill, but at the same time he is constantly devising new strategies to make you lie and cheat and take unfair advantage of others.  At some of those he naturally succeeds.  That’s why Jesus taught that “except [that is, unless] your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:20).  Try though you might, you can’t save yourself.  Only Jesus saves.  Not Moses, not Buddha, not Zoroaster, not Muhammad, not Ganesha, not Krishna, not Shiva, not Mahavira, not Confucius, not Laozi, not Zeus, not Diana, not Venus, not Damballah, not Shango, not the Great Spirit, not Father Time, not Mother Nature, not Cthulhu, not the Ascended Masters, not Mahatma Gandhi, not Reverend Moon – but only Jesus.  Acts 4:12 points out, “There is none other name under heaven given among men [anthrōpois, that is, all human beings], whereby we must be saved.”














Why did God make humankind innately sinful?

         He didn’t.  There’s another of the Devil’s strategies to pull the wool over your eyes and blind you to the truth.  It all started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  God instructed Adam not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17), warning him that on the day he dared sample any of it he would surely die.  They didn’t die physically that day, but they did die spiritually, and were cast out of Paradise as a result. 














But didn’t God, being Omniscient, know they would give in to their natural curiosity and eat the forbidden fruit?  That sounds like a case of entrapment to me.

         Another example of Satanic reasoning straight out of the Pit and intended to put you there forever.  No.  God gave our first parents the gift of free will.  He certainly suspected that, as virtual children with little life experience, they would allow temptation to get the better of them and eat the forbidden fruit, but from the beginning both had the power to say no.  We’re dealing here not only with “natural curiosity,” but doubts about God’s word, a lack of trust in their Heavenly Father’s pronouncements, along with an inner desire to test boundaries to see how far the rules could be bent in their favor, both before and after the fact.  Satan took on the form of a serpent (Revelation 12:9) and recited a litany of lies to Eve that only deepened her doubt of God’s Word, so she threw all caution to the wind and, in direct disobedience of God, formulated a rationale for tasting the forbidden fruit, then ate some.  She passed the Devil’s deceit along to Adam, who ate some too.  It is probable, though not known for certain, that they engaged in some form of illicit sexual activity at the time – possibly oral sex – to defy God even further.  Some commentators have speculated that the wicked serpent was somehow involved, even if its role was limited to imparting lewd suggestions to our first parents to kindle God’s anger against them.  Remember, Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15), that is, to cultivate and maintain it, not to frolic among the foliage.



We don’t exact exactly what the forbidden fruit looked or tasted like,

or whether it survived as any contemporary cultivar.

We only know it was enticing and potent.

It may have contained a mind-altering drug.
















It sounds like a trivial offense.

         It was no such thing.  Adam and Eve challenged Almighty God, igniting the fires of rebellion of the whole human race.  Sin spread like wildfire after that, stirring up all sorts of violence, deprivation, lust, and exploitation – which are still proliferating to this day.  “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).  Our first parents’ disobedience of a relatively simple and direct commandment upset the whole Divine order by pitting fickle human curiosity against God’s will.  God had a good reason for putting that fruit off limits in the first place.  He did it for our own good, and we defied Him.  I’d hardly call that trivial.  He even explained to Adam that the forbidden fruit was deadly.  Though perhaps not instantly fatal as a poison might be, it put them on the road to mortality.  It probably altered human brain chemistry forever on the spot.














Can’t an Omnipotent God just forgive sin?

         He has obviously chosen not to.  Though it might seem on the surface like an inconsequential violation of a minor prohibition, willful defiance of God’s orderly plans for the human race by sampling a forbidden fruit and by so doing dragging the penalty of death down on the heads of hundreds of generations creates a serious imbalance in the grand scheme of things, allowing sin to spread and corrupt human society thoroughly.  God can’t in all fairness simply write it off, much less ignore it.  “The wages of sin,” Paul clarifies in Romans 6:23, “is death.”  Death is the debt that must be paid to sinners for the sins they commit.  Do you realize that most people sin every day?  Some people even sin in their sleep by giving in to vile fantasies of sex, violence, and vengeance, which them dominate their dreams.  The Lord is having none of it.  Those who freely choose to please and serve the Devil by doing his evil bidding deserve to spend eternity with him in the torments of hellfire.  Contrary to what English poet John Milton theorized in his Paradise Lost, the Devil does not rule hell.  He suffers its great agonies the same way all rebels must.









Church of Christ






So what?  We all die anyway, don’t we?        

         For better or worse, death is not the end of the story.  As the Bible explains, “…it is appointed unto men [anthrōpois, that is, all human beings] once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  At the point of death, those who have not secured redemption from bondage to sin, that is to say, those still involved in rebellion against God and His Kingdom, will be swept away into the fires of hell.  The Bible reports, “But the fearful [deilois, that is, cowardly, possibly also irreverent], and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:10).  Remember that the Bible already taught that “all men [kāl-hā-’ādām, that is, all humanity] are liars” (Psalm 116:11), which means we’re all born destined for damnation in hell.  Jesus taught us, “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction [apōleian, that is, loss, waste, and damnation] and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13).  Those who wish to escape damnation need to navigate off this highway to hell and follow Jesus through the narrow gateway that leads to eternal life.  “Enter ye in at the strait gate,” He taught the masses, “because strait [stenē, that is, narrow and restrictive] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).  Jesus also taught us, “I am the Door: by me if any man enter in [that is, to the sheepfold, to the community of True Believers], he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture [nomēn, that is, sustenance, particularly spiritual sustenance, that leads to growth].














Is there no hope then?

         Of course there is.  As Paul added the following clause to his observation that “the wages of sin is death”: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  Jesus offered Himself as offset for the great imbalance caused by our ongoing rebellion against God.  He accomplished this monumental task through his atoning passion, crucifixion, death, and resurrection.  He could expiate our sins because He, being the Incarnation or Son of God, led a completely sinless life.  Unlike all human beings blessed with free will, He resisted all temptation.  Recognizing the forbidden fruit for what it is, Satan’s snare, He resisted it.  Because His sacrifice was perfect, He could pay the price demanded for sin with His own precious blood.  As He told His Disciples at the Last Supper in advance of His crucifixion, “This is my blood of the new testament [that is, the new covenant], which is shed for many” (Mark 24:24). He fulfilled over a dozen prophecies during the three days that followed.  You’ll find the details narrated in all four gospels.  Hebrews 9:28 sums the situation up as follows: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”  Through His victory over death, Jesus finally broke the grip of sin (and of Satan) on the human race.  Christ, of course, is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew noun Messiah.














What does Jesus expect from me?

         If you truly want to free yourself from sin’s grip on your life, from a lifelong innate disposition to pile one sin on top of another, you must ask the Lord to save you from your sins.  As Paul reminds us, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).  First, acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and that He can save you.  You can say, “Jesus, I want to make you Lord of my life.”  A leper in advanced stages of the skin disease once came to Jesus and pleaded, “Lord, if thou wilt [that is, if you want to], thou canst make me clean” (Luke 5:12).  Though the leper was ritually unclean and potentially contagious, Jesus showed His love for him by touching him, and responded, “I will [that is, I want to]: be thou clean” (Luke 5:13).  The Lord Jesus saves us from our sins, which some consider a leprosy of the soul, in precisely the same way.  Paul assures us, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man [that is, everyone] believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).  Continue your prayer with a simple statement like this, “I acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of salvation.  Please forgive all my sins.  I hereby renounce the world of sin.”














What if I have doubts?

         It’s normal to have doubts, especially at the beginning of your journey.  We all stumble occasionally.  As you get to know the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior and your faith in Him grows, these will fade away.  For the time being, pray to God every day for guidance.  Listen to what He has to say to you, which He may communicate to you through others.  Most importantly, read the Bible in a version that you can easily understand.  Find a community of believers with whom you can share your commitment to Christ.  Just remember that the church that Jesus founded was and still is a sanctuary dedicated to prayer, learning, and healing – not a gallery given over to boasting, gloating, or scandal.  Avoid any congregation that’s obviously more a theater for theologians than a garden of growth for students of the Word of God.  Enroll in a Bible study class as soon as you can, and don’t be afraid to discuss your doubts with the facilitator.  Remember to respect other attendees.  You’ll quickly discover what Paul meant by his immortal words, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing [akoē, here including understanding] by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).















Which Bibles are easiest to understand?  I have trouble with thees and thous, and I understand that the meanings of a lot of words have changed since the publication of the King James Version (KJY) in 1611.

         Among the more contemporary versions we like the Good News Bible (GNB or GNT), the Contemporary English Version (CEV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the English Standard Version (ESV), the New Living Translation (NLT), and Today’s New International Version (TNIV).














Why can’t God just forgive me without obligating me to do anything?

         Because we all have a purpose in life, even it’s as simple as avoiding damnation in hell and finding redemption through Christ.  God has much more than that planned for those of us who opt not to resist His will.  As basic as it may sound, this simple formula for living far exceeds the alternative in almost every way imaginable.  We all want to accomplish more than that in life as well, earning a good reputation among our peers if we can, and if possible leaving something valuable to posterity, even if it’s little more than memories of a life well lived.  Accepting Christ as our Savior and overcoming our sinful dispositions renders those accomplishments at once more feasible and more worthwhile.  As the Apostle John wrote toward the end of his long life, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7, referring to Genesis 2:9 and 3:22).

         At the turning point in His brief ministry on earth, after Peter finally recognized Him as the prophesied Messiah, Jesus once asked the crowds who followed Him, “For what shall it profit a man [anthrōpon, here referring to any human being] if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).   We all know about many who have tried to conquer the world – perhaps Nimrod, Pharaoh Thutmose III, Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, Attila the Hun, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Napoléon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, and possibly Joseph Stalin.  Perhaps some of them probably sold their souls to the Devil to gain the power they wielded over their subject peoples.  They all ended their lives the same way – in death.  “What shall a man give,” Jesus asked, “in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:37).  He taught furthermore, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).   







Roman Catholic







Does Jesus love me just as I am?  I’ve heard believers tell me that before.

         He does, but mostly because He sees great potential in you, just as all but the most negligent parents see potential in their newborn (and sometimes even unborn) children.  What parent is going to let a perfectly healthy baby lie in its crib day and night.  “God commendeth [synistēsin, that is, demonstrates] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Because God loves you, He wants the best for you.  His long-term plans for your life, however, may differ from yours, sometimes considerably, especially if your ambitions are in any way rooted in sin.  As Paul pointed out, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior means putting God first in your life, not anyone or anything else.  Jesus said in His famous Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘Wherewithal shall we be clothed?’  (For after all these things do the Gentiles [ethnē, here meaning pagans] seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33).  God won’t allow you to continue in sin, for example, or to enable others to sin, whether or not you benefit from their transgression.  God declared war on sin millennia ago.  Now you know whose side you’re fighting on.  You must resist sin, and in so doing set the proper example for others.  “As sin hath reigned unto death,” Paul states, “even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).

         “Just As I Am” is a beautiful hymn written by Charlotte Elliott in 1835.  It speaks of complete surrender to God, Who now reigns in your heart.


                                  Just as I am – without one plea,

                                  But that Thy blood was shed for me,

                                  And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,

                                                   – O Lamb of God, I come!


                                  Just as I am – and waiting not

                                  To rid my soul of one dark blot,

                                  To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,

                                                   – O Lamb of God, I come!


                                  Just as I am – though toss’d about

                                  With many a conflict, many a doubt,

                                  Fightings and fears within, without,

                                                   – O Lamb of God, I come!


                                  Just as I am – poor, wretched, blind;

                                  Sight, riches, healing of the mind,

                                  Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,

                                                   – O Lamb of God, I come!

















I think I’m righteous enough already.  Religious people are often hypocrites, preaching one thing and practicing another.

         Many so-called Christians are indeed hypocrites, we’re sorry to say.  The Lord Jesus warned us – and them – about their hypocrisy: “Ye hypocrites,” He preached, “well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments [entalmata, precepts] of men [anthrōpōn, people in general]’” (Matthew 15:7-9, referring to Isaiah 29:13).  These so-called “commandments of men” are the values that govern secular society.  They may protect ordinary citizens from crime – though they don’t do a particularly good job with that, as anyone can see – because they can’t subdue the innately sinful disposition of the unsaved.  In fact, they barely address it.  Instead they teach that personal satisfaction, typically in the form of sense gratification, is the key to happiness.  More often than not these “values” actually promote sin.  Just look at contemporary advertising.  It tells you you can never spend enough or have enough to be satisfied.  Eat more, drink more, travel more, see more, sleep more, love more, buy more.  You always need more.        

         The bottom line is this: no matter what you do, you can’t save yourself.  The prophet Isaiah also cautioned us, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags [ū-khe-bheged ‘iddīm, that is, like used toilet tissue]; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities [va-‘avonēnū, our acts of injustice, our immorality] like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). 

         Most people who believe they’re righteous (and who tout their virtues) are actually bigger hypocrites than most pseudo-Christians.  Like the pagans of Ancient Rome, they are “filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate [eridos, that is, quarrelsomeness] deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful [hybristas, that is, spiteful], proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding [asynetos, that is, unwilling to face facts], covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, [and] unmerciful” (Romans 1:29-31).  Don’t tell us how righteous you are.  We know better.  “Ye shall know them,” Jesus taught us, “by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:16-17).  We can do nothing to save ourselves from such widespread depravity.  We are sinners saved by God’s boundless grace.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works [ergōn, that is, good deeds], lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).  It’s God’s effort that redeems us, not our own.      















What is grace?

         Grace is God’s favor, freely bestowed on us to cleanse us from sin and make us whole in His sight.  It is unearned and unmerited, but it is the catalyst that allows sinners to become saints.  God invites us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  Paul added that we are “justified [dikaioumenoi, that is, made righteous after being forgiven] freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [hilastērion, agent of appeasement] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:24-25).  In other words, we gain God’s gratuitous grace by believing that the Lord Jesus shed His precious blood to wash away our sins, freeing us from Satan’s evil clutches forever.  God “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).  God did this out of love for us.  “Herein is love,” the Apostle John wrote, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [hilasmon, that is, an atoning or appeasing sacrifice] for our sins” (1 John 4:10).  God’s displeasure with our lives of sin, His wrath against our rebellious nature, must be eased by the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice.  As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).














Why do I need to accept Jesus to receive grace?  Why doesn’t an all-merciful God just give it to me – especially if I’m not really “worthy” of it in the first place?

         God wants to enter into a relationship with you through the person of Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh (John 1:14).  This can’t be the kind of one-sided take-all, give-nothing relationship that so many people have with the ones they presumably love.  God won’t tolerate such abuse of his lovingkindness (Jeremiah 32:18).  As sinners saved by grace we must not only accept God’s love but also return it in kind.  When asked which was the greatest commandment of all, the Lord Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength’: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).  We must love, praise, and ultimately glorify God for the grace He offers us, acting on His love by fulfilling His will, not just by drinking in God’s grace and giving nothing in return.  “We love him,” the Apostle John wrote, “because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  The Lord answers sincere prayers – though He may not always give you the answer you were hoping for; He doesn’t grant frivolous wishes like a genie, for example.  Instead He unfurls His plan for us.  The first step in accepting salvation is to make Him Lord of our lives, not trying to lord it over Him by giving Him a list of demands.  Such a ludicrous attitude is automatically doomed to failure from the start.  We must accept God’s grace humbly (James 4:6-10), and build our lives upon it by obeying His directives (Micah 6:8). 













I’ve committed serious sins in the past that no one knows about.  Can they be forgiven?

         In the vast majority of cases, yes.  You may rest assured that God knows about your sin even if no one else does.  He sometimes insists that sins be exposed in order to be forgiven.  As a general rule, if you’re sincerely willing to renounce a sin, God will remove its burden from you.  “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1).  Just remember that Jesus saves you from your sins, not in them.  You must acknowledge each sin as a sin and make every effort possible not to commit it again.  “If we confess our sins,” the Apostle John wrote, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his Word is not in us.” (1 John 1:9). 

         Some conditions may still have to be fulfilled, however.  You may still be required to make restitution to one or more injured parties.  If you’ve stolen money, for instance, you will probably have to pay it back, sometimes with interest and sometimes anonymously.  If you’ve committed murder, even if the crime was committed under extenuating circumstances, you may still have to confess to the police.  If you have abused someone, you may have to offer a heartfelt apology, even if you are prohibited by law from contacting the victim.  The details will have to be discussed with your spiritual advisor. 

         Evangelical cartoonist Jack T. Chick was famously criticized for publishing a pamphlet that portrayed God forgiving a child molester after he and his family accepted Jesus as their Savior, apparently without involving the civil authorities.  How much this fictional scenario was based on one or more true stories we can’t say.  We can say that God can and does forgive the most egregious sins, occasionally without the need for the intervention of the police or the courts.  We take seriously the Apostle Paul’s revelation in 1 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  We also acknowledge that when the Lord Jesus cleansed lepers, He instructed them to present themselves to the Jewish priests for confirmation that the affliction had been completely healed, thus demonstrating that the former leper now posed no threat to society.  The prophet Jeremiah once posed the query, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?  Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).

         Spiritual advisors are specially trained to make this determination, and most encourage penitent criminals to make a full, public confession.  However, it must be noted that we live in a cruel, vicious, vengeful society whose authorities, however thoroughly educated or enlightened, can’t probe a sinner’s heart the same way the Lord can.  “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins [kelāyōth, literally the kidneys, figuratively, emotions, motivation], even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10). 

         The Bible mentions an unforgivable sin.  “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of [enochos, bound to suffer] eternal damnation” (Mark 3:29).  Sinners must freely choose to commit sin before they can be held accountable for it – even if they don’t understand how serious the consequences for such sin are.  Adam and Eve doubted they would die on the day they ate the forbidden fruit, not fully comprehending that they would face a spiritual death before a purely physical one.  The Apostle John also mentions “deadly” sins: “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death” (1 John 5:7).















After I’m saved, am I supposed to give up all the things I love?

         In general, no, but you may find entirely new pursuits to enjoy.  Those fond of cursing, smoking, drinking, overeating, overspending, lying, partying, and gossiping in particular will want to fund more rewarding pastimes, such as prayer, Bible study, devotional reading, music making (for those so inclined), and quiet meditation.  You should also do as much volunteer work as you can fit into your daily schedule to help those less fortunate, including animals and trees.  You should try to keep your body, mind, and soul in tip-top condition as you perform wholesome, productive, humanitarian work that serves the Lord’s purposes.  As a general rule, that means not being employed by Amway, Big Booze, Big Tobacco, or Big Porn.  Even “little porn” (in the form of tawdry webcam encounters) is to be avoided.  Note, however, that not all the subsidiary companies owned by supersinners like Larry Flynt, who published a number of non-pornographic magazines, promote sin, as the more mainstream National Enquirer certainly does with its filthy scandalmongering.  Limit your use of social media, which is dominated by the Devil and mostly used to mine your personal data for the money makers, most of whom work under the control of the Devil to commodify wickedness.  “The love of money,” the Apostle Paul cautioned, “is the root of all evil.”  Celebrities aren’t worth of a tenth of the attention (or the salaries) we pay to them thanks to public media.  Whenever possible, you should be allowed time off from work on Sundays to attend worship services – and to volunteer for worthy charities, such as the American National Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, the United States Fund for UNICEF, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (which is not affiliated with any church or religious body).

         As a Christian saved by grace, you should set the best possible example for others, avoiding the sins of pride, envy, spite, vanity, excess, and hypocrisy – no matter how much popular media may extol such examples of wickedness.  Limit your associations with those who derive pleasure from depravity.  Don’t judge them.  That’s God’s responsibility, not yours.  But don’t encourage them in their immorality “Let your light so shine before men [that is, others],” the Lord Jesus preached, “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).









Promise Keeper

Prosperity Gospel






Will I have to find new friends to hang out with?

         Depending on whom you spend most of your free time with now, probably.  If the friends you have now spend most of their valuable time binging, gambling, carousing, hooking up, watching TV, attending violent and salacious movies, and keeping up with the latest incarnation of Star Quest or Sex Wars or Tech Tyranny while so much serious work remains to be done in the world, you will no doubt want to find friends with more pressing priorities.  As Paul summarized, “Our Lord Jesus Christ…gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:3-4).  We may – and indeed must – continue to interact with people in order to “let [our] light shine before [others],” that is, to set the right example for them and encourage them to repent and turn away from sin.  Yet we must also seek fellowship within the community of believers that make up the larger Church. 

         “Love not the world,” the Apostle John instructed, “neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  We must be careful not to get caught up in the drama, superstition, subterfuge, and utter nonsense that the world’s leaders use to distract ordinary citizens from the real moral dilemmas that face them every day.  The popular media diverts their attention from their own sins to the latest scandal in Hollywood, New York, or Washington, DC.  More attention is paid to the Queen of England and her filthy jewels than to Our Father in Heaven and the incorruptible crown He offers to those who succeed in overcoming temptation (1 Corinthians 9:25).  The worldly care more about time shares in Hawai‘i than about mansions in heaven (John 14:2).  They have their priorities in the wrong order, and most will suffer in one form or another for such indiscretion. 

         As Paul wrote, “God forbid that I should glory [kauchasthai, that is, boast, as in Ephesians 2:9], save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).  In short, never push the world away completely, but keep its seedier elements at arm’s length so you won’t be contaminated by them.  The world’s evil influence shouldn’t be underestimated.  "Pure religion,” the Apostle James taught, “and [the sort that remains] undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).  It follows that most new Christians seek out a community of like-minded individuals with whom they may enjoy spiritual fellowship.  Worldliness, that is, conformity to the world and its materialistic “values,” inevitably leads back to sin, so it should be avoided.  As the Apostle John revealed, “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).        







Church of Christ







Is it necessary to be baptized?

         To be saved, no, though some otherwise True Christians may teach to the contrary.  Baptism is one of the “works” or acts of obedience that follows salvation, but not essential to the process of salvation itself, which is accomplished strictly by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5).  Based on Acts 13:37-39, we are justified by our faith, specifically in Christ’s Resurrection from the Dead, and not through any act or rite that acts as a testament to that faith.  We view baptism as the public profession of our death to sin in Christ.  If you’re attending a church that places primacy on the ritual, by all means undergo it as promptly as possible once you meet all the necessary requirements.  It serves as your induction into the Christian community, which is certainly important to every believer, but it is not a requirement for salvation.  Primarily a symbolic gesture of surrender and obedience, it does not in and of itself wash away sin. 














Is it necessary to join a church?

         Eventually, yes.  As a new Christian, you are part of the Body of Christ described in detail in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.  As such have a role to play in the greater Christian community, though what form it will ultimately take may not become clear for some time.  You represent the Kingdom of God on earth (Matthew 6:33), so you must commune with other Christians so the Gospel can be spread uniformly and consistently as it was in the days of the Apostles.  As Paul preached, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow[-]citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).  Perhaps unwittingly (because she was Jewish), advice columnist Abigail Van Buren was paraphrasing Jesus (in Mark 2:17) when she wrote, “A church is not a museum for saints – it’s a hospital for sinners.”  Some have argued that those who are saved are no longer “sick” and in need of a hospital, and that saints aren’t “relics” whose examples are never subject to criticism.  It follows nonetheless that regular – that is, weekly, if not twice-weekly – church attendance not only keeps Christians in touch and involved with the community at large but also keeps them interactively connected to the Body of Christ.  His Blood flows in our veins, and we mustn’t risk being cut from that supply.  We gather with other True Believers to worship the Lord, to hear the Word, to fraternize with others, to celebrate God’s blessings, to partake of the Lord’s Supper, and to seek help when we need it most.  That’s why we also encourage interdenominational dialogue.

         It’s important to separate yourself from worldly cares at least once a week to glorify God.  “Remember the sabbath day,” the Lord instructed Moses, “to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).  We do that in part through regular church attendance and involvement in the charitable programs our church sponsors.  We also gather throughout the year to celebrate Easter, Pentecost, Christmas, perhaps among others, as well as the baptisms, confirmations, funerals, and weddings of members.















How can I find the right church?

         It can be difficult to find the right church to serve your personal spiritual needs.  Be prepared to attend a lot of services in different congregations and ask the Lord to guide you to the one that works best for you and your family.  You’ll want to be part of a community that makes you feel comfortable while maintaining high Christian standards.  Similarly, you’ll want to find a church whose leadership team is there when you need them but who don’t interfere with your personal decisions – unless they are overtly sinful and might set the wrong example for the larger community.  Church leaders should espouse core Christian values – the “fruit of the Spirit” described in Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering [makrothymia, that is, patience], gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance [enkrateia, that is, self-control]” – without being judgmental (Matthew 7:1-5).  Pastors should offer spiritual advice when asked but shouldn’t tell you how to vote, for example.  If possible they should appoint specially trained spiritual advisers for each major demographic group in the church – typically including men, women, children, the elderly, and those with medical issues such as addiction – in whom they may confide.

         Always familiarize yourself with the history of any church you’re considering joining.

         The actual services may be formal or informal, structured or freeform, lengthy or short, and may or may not include music.  Most churches offer special programs and discussion forums for their members in addition to the traditional Sunday school.  Always look into those so you can keep the different elements within the congregation connected.  Above all the church should not be a theater.  The gospel is not high drama.  Instead it’s the Good News that leads to life eternal.  The church should operate within the sinful world, addressing the temptations that it hurls at people every day, while remaining aloof from its mundane concerns.  As Jesus taught, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).  That said, certain aspects of social justice are in fact rooted in the Gospel, and as such should not be ignored.  Jesus instructed us to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). 

         This means it is our obligation as Christians to lift up the downtrodden, not to dismiss them – to restore them, not to reject them even further from the human family.  Luke reported in his gospel how “all the publicans [telōnai, that is, tax collectors, usurers, the loan sharks of their day] and sinners…drew near unto [Jesus]…for to hear him.  And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, ‘This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them’” (Luke 15:1-2).  If the Lord Jesus extended hospitality, kindness, and indeed God’s grace to the dregs of society during His time on earth, we can be expected to do no less during ours.  Every bona fide church should therefore offer some sort of outreach ministry to the lost, and you should play a part in it, however small that may be at first.







Reformed Baptist








Don’t some otherwise True Believers remain unchurched?

         Some no doubt do, but if they resist attending church at least semiregularly and participating in a few church events, they are sinning by cutting themselves off from the People of God.  We fully understand that some of the most faithful churchgoers – often children but not exclusively so – are mistreated and even abused by clergypersons – physically, psychologically, financially, and sexually.  The Lord warned us about “false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).  The Devil uses these agents of chaos and conduits of confusion to keep doubters away from church, away from the Gospel, and ultimately away from God.   We mustn’t be impeded by their tactics.  Rest assured that the Lord holds the fate of these miscreants in His hands.  “Whoso shall offend [skandalisē, that is, cause to stumble or sin] one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).  Don’t let them dissuade you from seeking the right church and attending services regularly.








Promise Keeper








No matter what I do I can’t stop sinning.

         First, seek counseling from your spiritual adviser.  He or she may be able to help you overcome bad habits that persist in your life despite your new commitment to Christ.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to solicit a second opinion, especially if you have trouble confiding in someone you know (or in someone you don’t).  Depending on the nature of your sin – substance abuse, kleptomania, addiction to pornography, chronic infidelity, weird sexual fetishes – you may have to consult a psychiatrist (preferably a True Christian one), who may help you uncover hidden complexes, compulsions, and medical issues that can be treated by science.  Though it rarely happens, some men undergo chemical castration to prevent themselves from acting on wanton desires.  Victims of abuse may have to enroll in some sort of group therapy to learn to trust even their families again. 

         If all else fails, you might have to seek out the services of a trained exorcist.  Demons can possess both people and things and often wreak havoc in the lives of anyone with whom they come into direct contact.  The good news is that the Lord Jesus can cast out the demons that afflict those who have succumbed to their wicked wiles.  The process is never as dramatic as it is in movies whose plots are crafted by demons to exaggerate the influence of the powers of darkness.  The exorcist rebukes the demons in Jesus’ Holy Name, and they quickly depart.  His Name is effective against any number of evil spirits that take up residence in homes, vehicles, furniture, carpets, statues, jewelry, computers, computer programs, games, books, and audiovisual materials such as records, tapes, CDs, and DVDs.  These objects must sometimes be destroyed to free a demoniac from Satanic possession. 













Does your church really teach that observant Jews don’t have to accept Jesus as their personal Savior to be saved?

            That’s fundamentally true – and here’s why.  The Lord established a covenant with Abraham, ancestor of the Jews, and, as He promised Abraham “thy seed [that is, offspring] after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Genesis 17:7).  God affirmed, “I will establish my covenant with [your son Isaac] for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Genesis 17:19).  Abraham’s descendants often strayed from the Covenant, and were just as often punished by the Lord for violating the agreement they had made with Him, usually by exile into a foreign land: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). 

         And yet a remnant always remained faithful and either they or their descendants were ultimately allowed to return: “The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.  For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea [a reference to Genesis 22:17], yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness” (Isaiah 10:21-22).  God has always been faithful to His people.  Jews must remain faithful to all the terms of this Covenant if they are going to be saved within the framework of Judaism – resting on the Sabbath, keeping kosher, gathering to pray and worship in the Holy Hebrew tongue, avoiding intermarriage, and so on.  They need not necessarily be Orthodox Jews, but they must make as few compromises with secular thought and practice as possible.  That means no sailing on Saturday and no shrimp scampi on Sunday.  So-called Reform Jews typically make many such compromises with the world, and God is paying particular attention to their practices.  Just being ethnically or nominally Jewish won’t save them, not will membership in the most prominent synagogues.  It’s their observance of the Lord’s Covenant that matters.  The Lord Jesus’ teaching about the Two Ways, the narrow and the broad, in Matthew 7:13-14, draw on earlier revelations made to the Hebrew people in Deuteronomy 28.  These precepts are still binding on faithful Jews to this day. 

         Yes, it’s true that the Lord Jesus revealed, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6), yet this same Jesus had by then already disclosed, “I and my Father are One” (John 10:30).  As the Apostle Paul discussed, “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of [that is, in] circumcision [that is, in Judaism, circumcision being the traditional sign of the Covenant]?  Much [in] every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles [logia, that is, revelations, scriptures] of God” (Romans 3:1-2).  Judaism provided the seedbed in which Christianity grew and is indeed still growing.  God is not about to abolish it: “I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot [that is, the smallest letter] or one tittle [that is, the smallest part of a letter] shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled”) Matthew 5:18.



Repenthouse Publications

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Antioch, CA 94509-9991




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