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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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clear.gif - 808 Bytes I am really hurting in my soul today and pray you can help me with my Biblical problem. In 1988 I repented of sin and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior ( I thought I did). I experienced a new life. I walked with the Lord and put His Word in my life. I studied hard and witnessed hard. I was taught eternal security (once saved always saved was not true). I felt the call to preach in my life and I joined a Baptist church in 1992. In 1995 I fell away from the Lord after feeling my call to full time ministry would never be attained in the local church. I went back to a life worse then prior to my "conversion". I hit the bars and lived very ungodly. However, with my step dad dying (who I dearly loved), I began to cry out to God. I repented by reading the 51st Psalm a great deal. I left the bars and began to read the Word of God again but I was very troubled because I do believe the Bible teaches eternal security and I know some men in the Bible (David, Peter, Jonah) did have some temporary lapses but they didn't walk away from God like I did (In longevity and in depth of prolonged sin). I have a pretty good knowledge of the Bible but I am deeply concerned about my situation as it applies to scripture. I believe the Bible teaches eternal security for sure but there are passages that make me wonder if A. I was truly saved in the first place and if I was how could I fall so deep into sin again. B. If I was enlightened and turned from the Lord can I ever be restored to repentance again. The passage haunting me in the OT is in Ezekiel 18:24,26 I know the content of the chapter but this passage sheds light on NT teachings about those who knew the right way and then left it and those people CANNOT be restored. I feel so very sick to my soul. I feel there is absolutely NO HOPE for me now that I confessed Christ for 7 years of my life and honestly lived by faith in Christ and then walked away and went to the bottom of the barrel in sin and now I read this passage in Ezekiel and then think of II Peter 2:20-22 and Hebrews 2:3 I can't lie: I am feeling very horrible (mentally and emotionally) in my heart and mind today. I know within the teaching of eternal security is the teaching a truly saved person would not walk away like I did, but my question is how can I come back? I have REPENTED and turned from my sin and I a member of a Baptist church. I am a mess (mentally and emotionally today) and I need the answer to this question. In Ezekiel and in the NT there are warnings for those who know the truth and turn like I did (Hebrews 10:26 included). I feel what I did puts me in this group Ezekiel speaks of in 18:24,26 and I am very frightened, as I well should be. Do you have any insights or comments?
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I can see why you would be an emotional wreck. Sin does take a toll on us. However, I believe that you can take comfort in several things.

First of all, you are basing much of your concern on Ezekiel 18: 24,26. However, you are ignoring the rest of the passage. If those verses apply to you because you turned your back on Christian living, then verses 21-23 and 27-28 should apply to you because you have repented of your sin, and returned to the Lord. They read:

"But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die."
Therefore, the fact that you have returned means that God has forgiven you. I John 1:9 states, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That would certainly include you!

You also reference II Peter 2:20-22. I think the context indicates that the people mentioned there are not the same as you. Verse 1 of that passage indicates who is being referred to:

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
I don't believe, from what you have written, that you are a false prophet who intentionally was setting out to deceive people and seduce them away from Christ. Concerning verse 20, Matthew Henry wrote, "Some men are, for a time, kept from the pollutions of the world, by the knowledge of Christ, who are not savingly renewed in the spirit of their mind. A religious education has restrained many whom the grace of God has not renewed: if we receive the light of the truth, and have a notional knowledge of Christ in our heads, it may be of some present service to us; but we must receive the love of the truth, and hide God's word in our heart, or it will not sanctify and save us." Albert Barnes made a similar comment, "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world." This does not necessarily mean that they had been true Christians, and had fallen from grace. Men may outwardly reform, and escape from the open corruptions which prevail around them, or which they had themselves practiced, and still have no true grace at heart. Through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Neither does this imply that they were true Christians, or that they had ever had any saving knowledge of the Redeemer. There is a knowledge of the doctrines and duties of religion which may lead sinners to abandon their outward vices, which has no connection with saving grace. They may profess religion, and may know enough of religion to understand that it requires them to abandon their vicious habits, and still never be true Christians."

Concerning Hebrew 2, Adam Clarke (who,by the way, did not believe in eternal security) had these comments: "If they who had fewer privileges than we have, to whom God spoke in divers manners by angels and prophets, fell under the displeasure of their Maker, and were often punished with a sore destruction; how shall we escape wrath to the uttermost if we neglect the salvation provided for us, and proclaimed to us by the Son of God? Their offence was high; ours, indescribably higher. The salvation mentioned here is the whole system of Christianity, with all the privileges it confers; properly called a salvation, because, by bringing such an abundance of heavenly light into the world, it saves or delivers men from the kingdom of darkness, ignorance, error, superstition, and idolatry; and provides all the requisite means to free them from the power, guilt, and contamination of sin.

Those who neglect it, amelhsantev, are not only they who oppose or persecute it, but they who pay no regard to it; who do not meddle with it, do not concern themselves about it, do not lay it to heart, and consequently do not get their hearts changed by it. Now these cannot escape the coming judgments of God; not merely because they oppose his will and commandment, but because they sin against the very cause and means of their deliverance. As there is but one remedy by which their diseased souls can be saved, so by refusing to apply that one remedy they must necessarily perish." Even Clarke acknowledges that this passage is dealing with those who have NEVER been saved.

Heb. 7:25 states,

"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
"Uttermost" in the Greek language combines two Greek words, pan, which means "entire" and telos, which means "the end". Therefore, those who come to God through Jesus Christ are saved "entirely to the end". In 1988 you received Christ as your Savior. At that moment He gave to you eternal life, and it can never be taken from you (John 10:28). It is not your responsibility to keep yourself saved; that responsibility belongs to God (John 10:29; I Peter 1:5)

One last thought: it sounds to me like you were pretty miserable during your return to the sinful lifestyle. The fact that you were miserable is an indication of your salvation. Hebrews 12: 5-8 states:

"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
Had you been able to continue on your merry way without conviction or punishment, your relationship with God could have been questioned. However, God disciplines His own children, and His work in you and on you shows your salvation.

I hope this is a help to you. May the Lord bless you and use you in your return to Him.
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Dr Mark Montgomery
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209

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