The Unpardonable Sin: Part 2

Scripture: Luke 12:10, Revelation 22:11
Date: 07/23/2005 
The second of a two part series on the unpardonable sin. Some lose hope because they feel they cannot be saved. Others think they are saved but are lost. In essence it is the persistent refusal to repent.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

“When then, as workers together with Him beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he sayeth: ‘I have heard thee in thy time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee.’ Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:1-2

Good morning. While our friends are making their ways back to their seats I just want to take a minute and thank the ASI youth for the evangelism that they’re conducting here in our church. I don’t want to embarrass them. I didn’t tell them I was going to do this, but any of you who are here in connection with the ASI youth program, you don’t even have to be youth, but if you’re here in connection with that why don’t you stand up for just a second. Let’s see where you’re at. Oh, a lot of them are backstage. There’s some of them. There’s some in the balcony. Can you say, Amen? This has infused our church with a young enthusiasm and we’re just very thankful for that. Thank you so much. And I’d like to add that if you have not been to these evangelistic meetings I’d encourage you to come. They’re I think about half way through. Maybe not quite but five, they have two meetings so one may be more convenient to you than the others but five o’clock in the chapel and then seven-thirty. Take your pick. It is a thrill. It’s encouraging to see these young people getting up and preaching the word and they’re doing a good job. I’ve been taking notes learning some things. And for our young younger people here I give you a challenge. In the message today you count (Are you listening?) how many times you hear Pastor Doug say forgive or forgiveness. Forgive or forgiveness and you let me know at the door. Okay? And your parents will give you a nickel for every time I say it so don’t add any extra. Don’t be tempted. No, they didn’t say that. I just hope that they will.

Today we actually have a serious subject. It’s part two in a message that we began last week dealing with the unpardonable sin and this is difficult for me to share. It might be difficult for you to hear because it’s a heavy subject and that’s why in my dozen years here or so this is the first time I’ve preached a series specifically or even a message specifically on the unpardonable sin. It goes against my nature a little bit because the Bible is about hope. I mean you have this planet that was kidnapped and things looked hopeless but God intervened and He redeemed and rescued this world. The whole race was under a death penalty and Jesus said, “But I’m going to buy your lives back. I’m going to give you a chance to live again. But it’s a very important message because there are two errors, two ditches that people often fall into among those who hear the gospel. One ditch is they think, “I have gone too far. I am too sinful. God can’t save me. My situation is hopeless.” And the Bible is full of evidence and promises where you can know you do have hope. There are too many examples in the Bible of how the Lord transforms hopeless situations. He works wonders. He parts seas. He moves mountains. He breaks chains. He opens prisons. You can be saved if you want to be saved. The other danger is those who are in the church that become complacent and they say, “Because God is a God of love and His mercy endures forever…” they begin to recklessly presume upon His mercy and they live lives of disobedience and sin not knowing that all the while they may be little by little grieving away the Holy Spirit. This actually worries me more than the other group because when Jesus said, “In the judgment there’ll be many who say ‘Lord! Lord!’” They think they’re saved. They say they know Him. They’ve gone to church. They go through the motions. They’ve got all the mechanics of religion, but He says, “I don’t know you.” That means they lived in a situation where they thought they were saved but they were not. We need to know. Can we know we have everlasting life? I’ll get to that before I’m done. But first let’s do a little review on what is the unpardonable sin. We read three verses last week. I’m going to repeat one of them. Luke 12:10, Jesus said, “And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” It always troubles somebody when they hear there’s a disease for which there is no cure. Hopelessness is a very troubling sense. You know some of the most disturbing images for me when after the 9/11 attack were some of the photographers that captured the pictures of workers in the World Trade Center in the higher levels who found their way to the windows to maybe escape some of the heat and they couldn’t go down and there was nowhere to go and you thought about what it must have been like to live in that kind of a hopeless situation some of them for an hour. Or like this flight instructor, believe it or not he was a parachute instructor and he spent so much time making sure that everybody was cinched in tight in his class as they jumped out of the plane that when he followed them he had forgotten, believe it or not, it’s a true story, to put on his parachute. Can you imagine what it would feel like on your way down? All the training, he didn’t have his emergency chute. He didn’t have anything. But to realize that you’ve jumped and you have no parachute. Well, that’s sort of what it’s like to have the Lord declare to a person or a family or a nation or a city or a world there’s no hope. To still be alive and know that the situation is hopeless is a dreadful thought. Well, we may still be wondering what is that point beyond which God’s mercy can reach you. What is the unpardonable sin? I didn’t share this with you last week. It’s really one of the best definitions. It’s in a book by E. G. White called That I Might Know Him, page 243. “No one needs look upon the sin against the Holy Ghost as something mysterious and indefinable. The sin against the Holy Ghost is the sin of persistent refusal to respond to the invitation to repent.” It isn’t something that happens any one time. It’s over a period of time little by little refusing to repent. It’s toying with and gambling with God’s mercy. You know many, many times I’ve taken the boys out to fly a kite or sometimes we’ve got these planes that we pump up or even the little balsa wood gliders. They’ve been around for years haven’t they? You know those little balsa wood glider planes. Can’t improve some things. And when we do that they’ll get out in the front yard I’ll say, “Wait until we get to the park, kids. Don’t do it by the trees. Don’t fly your kite by the trees because,” I said, “you know once they get stuck in these high trees we can’t always shake it loose and get it down.” But periodically they want to fly it right now, and they get it up and it’s too close to the trees and sometimes they get it up there and I’ll shake it down or we’ll even climb the trees and we’ll set them free but eventually if they don’t listen to that counsel they’ll be flying the kite too close to the trees, they’ll think the wind is going to keep it up there and all of a sudden there’s a lull in the wind and you might pull the string in as fast as you can but it just spirals down into the top of the tree and there’s just no way to get it out. The string breaks. What are you going to do? And that’s sort of what it’s like. God’s Spirit moves upon us and we presume on it. We think, “I’ve got control. I can repent later.” Repentance is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Few things are more tragic than somebody who has been raised in a Christian environment and they know what the truth is and they believe the truth and they think, “I’ll repent at the end of my life before I die in the eleventh hour. I’m going to live for the devil in world and God’s so graceful I’m going to wait till the end and then I’ll repent.” And they point to the story of the thief on the cross and they say, “After all, he repented. All he said was Lord, remember me, and he was saved. That’s what I’ll do. I’ve got it figured out now. I’ll get all the gusto and pleasure of sin and then I’ll give the leftovers to God just before I die and I’ll…” It’s like those who live for the devil all day long and they think if they pray before they go to sleep they’ve got it covered. If I should die before I wake, got it covered. I do think it’s important to pray and ask for forgiveness before you close your eyes not because you’re afraid you’re going to die in your sleep but because you’re sorry for your sins. Those people who put it off until the eleventh hour my theory is those people almost never have things work out the way they plan. They may die without advance notice. Does that happen sometimes? I’ve also observed sometimes a person gets some terminal illness and they hurt so much they can’t even think about spiritual things. All they can think about is, “Put me out of my pain. Give me something for my pain.” And then they’re so grogged up with drugs that they can’t ever cogitate what it means to really have a change of heart. Or you cannot tell the Holy Spirit when to give you the gift of repentance. It may be on your schedule but it may not be on His. What’s the best time to repent? The last day of your life. Who knows when that is? If you don’t know then you’d better do it now, right? When God is speaking to you is the best time to listen. When you know God’s will is the best time to do God’s will. One of the wonderful things about God is that He is merciful and He gives us freedom. You do have a right to choose. There are some even in the Christian church who think you have no choice. They believe that predestination and election means that God arbitrarily goes through humanity and says, “Eenie, meenie, miney, moe! I will elect you. I’ll save you. Eenie, meenie, miney, moe! I think I’ll save you.” And that He’s using this serendipity method to decide who He wants to save and He’s just going to leave the others because we’re all condemned. I don’t go for that. I think that everybody, God wants everyone to be saved. The Bible is very clear. “Who would have all men to be saved.” II Peter, “He is not willing that any should perish.” Not that any… John 3:16, “Whosoever believes in Him…” Revelation, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life.” God wants everyone to be saved, but you have a choice. Now don’t miss this. Some people think once you choose to be saved you can’t be lost. That would mean your choice is taken away. You can choose to be saved and you can choose to be lost. One of the most incredible gifts that God has given us is the freewill. We cannot love without a free will and He’s given us the choice to love Him or to not love Him, to live for Him or not live for Him. Please turn in your Bibles to the book of Ezekiel and I want you to go to Ezekiel chapter 18. I’m going to read verses 20 through, oh maybe 20 through 28. And there’s some very important theology in this verse. You might mark this in your Bible if you’ve not done this before. Verse 20, Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked… upon him.” Now we first get our righteousness by coming to the Lord. He gives it to us as a gift, covers you just the way you are, justification. Then you through sanctification become a righteous person through following the Lord’s example. Takes both aspects, okay? “The wickedness of the wicked will be upon him.” Verse 21, “But,” Oh, this is good news! “…if the wicked man turns from his sins which he has committed, and keeps My statutes, and does what is lawful and right,” he can change teams. That’s a paraphrase. Wonderful thing about salvation is you can change teams. You can be on the losing team and the Lord says, “I will draft you to the winning team if you accept.” And you’re elected then, “but if that wicked man turns…” But if he what? He’s got to repent and turn. That’s what repentance is. It’s a U-turn and it means you turn. “…if he turns from all his sins which he has committed and keeps My statutes and does what is lawful and right he will surely live.” Now that’s assurance. “He will surely live; he will not die. None of his transgressions he has committed will be remembered...” You notice it doesn’t say how wicked he has been. It doesn’t matter how wicked he has been. If he turns God says he will surely live. None of his sins will be remembered. Is that good news? That’s wonderful news! “‘…because of the righteousness which he has done, he’ll live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord God, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?’” Doesn’t it sound like we’ve got a choice? If you’re lost it will not be because God didn’t want to save you. It’ll be because you refused to be saved. “But,” verse 24, “when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live?” Oh, but, Doug, I came to the Lord when I was twelve years old and I gave my heart to Jesus and that means I’m going to be saved. Doesn’t matter how I live. What kind of crazy, convoluted thinking is this that Christians think that you go through some ritual that you get a deed of some sort when you make a decision to serve the Lord and irrespective of how you live your life you are saved? That’s not what the Bible teaches. Tell me what does this mean? “When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live?” It doesn’t matter if he went to the altar when he was nine, ten, eleven, twelve, twenty years old. If he turns away from following the Lord, shall he live? “All the righteousness that he has done shall not be remembered; because of this unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. You say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way fair, and your ways which are not fair? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, because of the iniquity that he has done, in it he will die. Again, when the wicked man turns away from the wickedness that he has committed,” here’s the good news “and does what is lawful and right, he will preserve himself alive. Because he considers…” (The fan keeps turning my pages before I’m ready.) “Because he considers and turns away from the transgression which he has committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.” That’s very clear. If that’s clear say amen. You know what that means is, right now people can change teams. And you say, “Doug, does that mean I’m saved one day and lost the next and saved one day and lost the next?” It doesn’t work that way. Those who are walking with the Lord are generally more consistent and those who are struggling to find the way to God they’re more consistent. And repentance is something that can be a process and sanctification can be a process. A lot of us have this idea that God is up there like one of these ancient Greek gods and He’s you’re going through this saved/lost roller coaster every day. That’s not how it works. And God is saying, “I’m going to wait until they’re down and I’m going to zap them then!” And people say, “But what if you die before you say your prayer of repentance?” That’s not how it works. We’ve got this very immature idea of how salvation is. It’s a relationship. It’s a walk. In the book Steps to Christ I agree with this, it says, “It’s not the occasional misdeed or the occasional good deed that determines whose side we’re on. It’s the habitual words and acts.” You can tell where a person’s heart is by the habitual words and acts. What is the trend of their life? Which direction are they going? That determines whether they’re saved or lost. Does that make sense? It’s not this up and down, “Oh, did I say this prayer? I didn’t say this prayer!” No, don’t misunderstand. If, like the thief on the cross, you should die right after you turn to the Lord you’re saved because we are saved based on justification not on works. But if you are justified the works will be different. You’ll then see a different trend. People who say, “Well, I was justified when I was ten years old, but the rest of my life has been wicked.” It doesn’t work that way. You weren’t justified if you’re living for the devil. You don’t understand what it means to believe. See, in our culture the word believe means mental assent. In the Hebrew mind, and they’re the writers of the Bible, believe means following. See what the difference is? It means to be live. When you say I believe in Jesus in the Jewish mind it means to be live in Him. It’s living, it’s a life, it’s not just a thought and we have this very cheap concept of what it means to believe in Jesus. It means surrender to Him, following Him. Those who say, “I believe in You, Lord,” and they don’t listen to what He says, what does He say? Jesus said, “Why do you say, ‘Lord! Lord!’ and do not the things I say? Not everyone that says Lord, Lord… If you believe in Me then follow Me.” Does that make sense? Now why am I going down this road? Right now we can change teams. The day is coming, Revelation 22:11, before Jesus comes back there is going to be a time when the saved are saved. They’re sealed. They can’t be lost. And the lost are lost, and they can’t be saved. There is no changing teams. Revelation 22:11, the Lord will ultimately declare, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still.” That’d be terrible to… It’s like when you’re all lathered up with your dirt and then someone turns off the water and you don’t get to rinse to be left not only dirty but dirty with soap. Maybe that’s not the best illustration. Some of these come to me while I’m talking so be patient. He who is righteous let him to be righteous still and he who is holy let him be holy still. Not only will our world come to the place where the lost are lost and they can’t be saved, but the saved are saved, they’re sealed and they can’t be lost. Let’s face it, those who are in heaven when we enter eternity they’re never going to be tempted to sin again. Sin will not rise up the second time, but that point of not changing teams begins in this life before Jesus returns. When is probation going to close? Well, we’ll talk about that in a minute. Number… not number. I’m so used to doing my lessons. John 12:35, we’re going to talk about walking in the light. In order to be saved it is a walk. It’s not just a ritual. “Then Jesus said to them, ‘A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going.’” There are many people who are walking in spiritual darkness. They don’t know where they’re going. A lot of false religions in the world, people are walking in darkness. And again you heard me quote to you last week, II Thessalonians 2:10, “…with all deceivableness and unrighteousness in them that perish, because they receive not the love of the truth… And for this reason God sends them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie… because they have pleasure in unrighteousness.” Those who don’t love the truth, the light turns to darkness. Psalms 81:11 same principal, “But My people who would not heed My voice…” This is grieving away the Spirit. What does the Lord do? “…and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.” God will withdraw the Holy Spirit and they’ll walk in their own councils. They’ll say, “Oh, but the Holy Spirit is leading me.” No, it’s not. It’s another spirit. I’ve seen this happen so many times. People… The most prominent example of this is when someone raised in the church becomes enamored with somebody who is a pagan. Like Samson said to his parents, “Get that Philistine girl for me. She pleaseth me well.” And they said, “Are there no daughters of the Israelites that you have to go to the Philistines?” “Oh, but get her for me!” Was he glad? It brought nothing but heartache and so often I’ve talked to young people and they start to date somebody who is a pagan and they say, “I’m going to convert them. They won’t convert me.” And “I prayed about it and the Lord led me to this person.” They’re not being led by the Spirit. They’re being led by hormones usually. Or some illusion that they’re infatuated but they think it’s Spirit led and when God pleads with them if you reject the teaching of His word then He’ll leave you over to your own idols. Hosea 4:17, the Lord said, “Ephraim” that was Israel “is joined to idols, let him alone.” Ooh, aren’t those frightening words to have God say, “let him go”? They’re married to their idols. There comes a time when God says He’s not going to force us. Now sometimes we think that the Lord has this revolving door policy when it comes to salvation and there’s the two extremes. You’ve got this one group who says, “Once you’re saved, you’re saved. You can’t be lost.” Then you’ve got the other group who thinks it’s like a revolving door. I’m with the Lord. We had this in St. Louis. Our hotel had a revolving door. You don’t have them as many in California, but in cold climates in order to keep the influx of the cold and the hot air from going out of the building they’ve got revolving doors to limit how much they lose. Our kids would have fun there at the hotel they’d go in, “I’m in the hotel. No, I’m not. I’m not in the hotel. I’m in the hotel. I’m not.” And what’s really funny, they’d like to stop it when someone got to the halfway point and they’re trapped in limbo because it’s the halfway point. Abraham’s bosom, I don’t know what you call it, where you can’t get out. You know, you’re stuck. God doesn’t operate that way. There is a door and it’s open. Jesus said, “I’ve opened a door that no man can shut.” But there is a day when the door shuts. Genesis 6:3, “The Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not always strive with man.’” You remember when Noah preached a hundred and twenty years and finally we read in chapter seven of Genesis “those that entered the ark, male and female of all flesh, went in” Noah and his family “as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.” Now what was the condition in relation to the flood and survival at that point? When God shut the door of the ark did life go on outside the ark for a while? Did they continue to eat and drink, to build, to marry, to give in marriage? They went on with their pursuits and their plans and their pleasures and the birds were still singing (the ones that weren’t in the ark) and the butterflies were flitting from flower to flower and from outward appearances the sky was clear and they were oblivious to the truth that the saved were shut inside the ark and the lost were shut outside and there was no changing teams. Probation had closed. Not only do you find it there in the days of Noah but what about the time of Lot for Sodom and Gomorrah? The Bible says in Genesis 19:10-11, “But the men,” remember when Lot went out to labor with the people in Sodom it was the last time they were going to hear his appeal. “…the men” the angels “reached out their hand (they) pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, small and great, and they wearied themselves to find the door,” but they never got in, did they? The angel shut the door. Right now the door of mercy is open and it is an insanely reckless thing to play with the grace of God, to toy with salvation. You know the Bible tells us that there is a time when probation closes. You can read in Daniel 12:1, “At that time Michael will stand up,” and when Michael stands up there is this great “time of trouble.” Luke 13:25, “When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door…” Did you get that connection? When Michael stands up the plagues fall; when the plagues are falling in Revelation chapter 15 and 16 probation is closed. The saved are saved and the lost are lost. When Michael stands up there’s this great time of trouble such as there never has been, resurrection the end of the world. And here it says when “the Master has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He’ll answer and say, ‘I don’t know where you’re from.’” Doesn’t mean God doesn’t know about us. He knows about everybody. It means, “I don’t know you.” Matthew 25 in the parable of the ten virgins. Now those ten virgins, do they represent the lost pagans and the saved Christians or do they all represent churches? All ten represent the churches. They all go to sleep but finally some of them are aroused, there’s a revival, they trim their lamps, begin to do evangelism and they go into the wedding feast. “…and those who were ready went in… to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, and they said, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’” Did they get to go in? And there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. I know these are hard things, but I would be failing you as a pastor if I didn’t deal with these passages of scripture as well. You want it all, right? You not only want the honey. There’s sometimes bitter herbs in the Bible. Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah” door was shut “as it was in the days of Lot” the door was shut “so will it be when the Son of man returns.” There’s going to come a time, a point of no return. We’ve got to make sure we’re on the inside when that point comes. And especially since we don’t know exactly when that is, now is the best time. Now please don’t read too much into this, but Mrs. Batchelor and I have a different philosophy about catching planes. I always want to get there early and I want to get there, I want to get to the gate and I will hover around the gate because I have experienced missing the plane. I have experience. I got to an airport one time I thought my ticket said the plane left at one o’clock and I missed the zero. It was ten o’clock! And I drove all the way to San Francisco. And I have spent the night walking around airports because I missed the plane. And Karen has this gift for deciding to shop just as they announce boarding and I always want to be the first one on the plane and you know now the board you by… And I’m also it’s ‘cause I’m a man and men are territorial. I like to get in and pitch my tent. I like to get in there and I get my blanket and my pillow and I stuff my stuff in the pockets and I take their magazines out and I look around and say, “This is my spot. Stay out of here.” And for Karen, she’s just, all the relationships and she’s visiting people. I’m saying, “They’re boarding! Come on, dear, we’re going to… we might not be any pillows left!” So pray for us. Now I’m going to go back to the idea. We’ve talked about when probation closes, but I want to go back to the idea of once saved, always saved. Is it true that once a person is saved they can’t be lost? I’ll submit to you that a lot of those who will be in the category of committing the unpardonable sin will be in a group that thought they were saved. Didn’t Jesus just say that? Jude chapter 1 verse 5, of course there’s only one chapter in Jude, “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though you once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those that did not believe.” Be live. Saved from slavery but they didn’t make it to the Promised Land. Could that happen to people? Yes, some people come to Jesus and they are saved under justification but they reject sanctification. A lot of people in the Christian churches are in that category and Jude goes on here. “And the angels that kept not their first estate.” Now did God create any angels as demons or were they all created saved? All the angels started out saved, but some of them did not stay saved. “The angels which kept not their first estate, but they left their own habitation.” He didn’t throw them out. They left. “He has reserved them in everlasting chains under darkness unto judgment of the great day; even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them…” Now a lot of people miss this one. Do you know that before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed they were saved? They had been carried away captive by these kings from Damascus and Abraham went and saved them. Do you remember that? How many of you remember that story? They’d been saved, a great deliverance. They got everything back. They were completely saved then they went right back to their wicked ways. That’s why Jude is mentioning Sodom and Gomorrah. After they were saved they turned right back to their wickedness and then they were destroyed. II Peter 2:20, “For if, after they have escaped…” Speaking of someone who has “escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It’s a relationship. You know Him. After they have escaped, they’ve been saved, they are then entangled again and overcome. We must be overcomers. We must not be overcome by sin, right? They’re entangled and overcome. “…the latter end of them is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness.” They knew it! They were in it, but after “having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it’s happened to them according to the true proverb,” and I always kind of cringe when I read this, “The pig that was washed has returned to wallowing in the mire, and the dogs returned to his vomit.” Now here’s the question. Is it possible for a person to be saved and then later be lost because they turn away? Was Saul the king once Spirit filled? Was Judas appointed by Jesus? Was Balaam once a prophet of God? And you could just go on through a litany of people in the Bible who walked and turned away. Revelation 2:5 Jesus speaking to the church. These are saved people. “Remember therefore from whence you have fallen...” They were saved and they fell. “…repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent.” How does a person commit the unpardonable sin? They refuse to respond to the Holy Spirit and repent. Chapter 3, Revelation, same book, verse 5, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name from the Book of Life…” Wait a second now. How does a person get their name in the Book of Life? Is anyone born with their name in the Book of Life? No. Having our name put in the Book is because we accept Jesus, we are justified, our names are entered into the Book of Life not because of our works, but because of His blood. All our sins are forgotten, but then Jesus said there are some names that will be blotted out. That means they were put in and they’re taken out again. That’s… have you ever been to an airport where they overbook the flight? And they start asking for volunteers to give up their seats and they keep raising the ante. And very few times have I taken it because I always want to get where I’m going. Usually I’ve got to speak or something. Or I’m tired of where I’ve been and I want to get home. And so I’ll hear them say, “If anyone is willing to wait for the next flight which is two hours or tomorrow morning we’ll give you a free ticket plus we’ll put you on that plane.” And sometimes they’ll say, “We’ll give you two free tickets.” No takers. You know what they ultimately do? They bump people and you’ll see some very irate folks who say, “Wait a second! I had a reservation! I was on the roster and you bumped me!” People wonder, my name is in the Book of Life, I could get bumped? No, the Lord won’t bump you because of a lack of space, but a lack of surrender. Jesus said, “He who overcomes will be clothed in light, and I’ll not blot his name from the Book of Life.” Now what is one of the greatest dangers that leads to the unpardonable sin? I touched on it last week and I asked you to wait. In a word, procrastination. Generally among Christians the problem is not that we don’t know what God wants us to do, the problem is we don’t ever get around to doing it. We put it off. We presume on God’s mercy. It is the devil’s most successful ploy. I’ll repent tomorrow. I’ll reform tomorrow. I’ll completely surrender, make a total commitment later. You know the rich young ruler came to Jesus. The Lord said, “Follow me. You’ll have treasure in heaven.” He went away sad. It never tells us what he said. I’m going to guess that what he said was, “I’ve got to think about this.” Nothing troubles me more than after an evangelistic meeting and you make an appeal and you meet people at the door and they say, “Pastor, that was very interesting. I’m going to think about this.” So often if they don’t do anything about it that hour they won’t do it that day or that week or that month or their life. If you can postpone the Lord a minute it gets easier to do it for an hour and a day and a week and a month and a year and year by year people keep putting Him off. And we get very good at putting it off. Procrastination. Paul was preaching to Felix the leader and Felix loved to hear him. Some people come to church and year after year they like to hear it. And he heard Paul preach concerning faith in Christ and he reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come, that’s part of the message, isn’t it? And Felix trembled, and he answered. He said, “That’s enough for now, Paul. You go your way. When I have a convenient season I’ll call for you again.” Did he ever have a convenient season? I’ve got news for you. The devil will make sure it is never convenient for you to make a surrender to Jesus. He’ll always make sure it’s not a convenient season. Jeremiah chapter 8, verse 20, sad words many will hear, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” How many of you have worked on or maybe even grew up on a farm? We all know that there are seasons for different crops and you can plant some crops in the very same soil but if it’s the wrong season it won’t sprout. Those of you who have front yards in your suburban homes have learned that even grass has seasons. You don’t go out there now and plant your grass. How many of you know that? When it’s 115° your seed is going to get eaten by the birds or it’ll rot under the sprinklers. You need to do it February, November. There’s certain times. There are seasons for salvation. There are times when our hearts are fertile. Youth is the best time. That’s why I’m so excited about these ASI Youth. Those young people that get involved in soul winning now, that start working for Christ now, much, much higher probability their lives will be committed to Christ. They don’t get involved when they’re young… Now I’m not saying the Lord can’t reach you when you’re eighty-five or ninety years old. We’ve baptized some ancient members here. It’s a thrill. But percentage wise it’s a little harder when the concrete sets, amen? For people to make those changes so you want to give Him your heart when you’re young. When it comes to fighting cancer early detection goes a long way. Have we heard this before? If they detect it early you’ve got a much better chance. It’s like this story that was illustrated as these two friends went to church. One was a dermatologist, the other was a music teacher this lady, very elegant lady, and he saw her greeting at the door every week and as they were shaking hands one day he looked at this mole on her cheek and being a dermatologist he said, “You better come in and let me check that. That looks like it could be cancerous.” And she said, “Oh, no this? It’s a beauty mark.” He said, “You better come on in.” The next week there she is, he says, “You need to come in.” She says, “Oh, I’ve had this all my life. It’s a beauty mark.” He said, “But I think I see a halo in it. You better…” “No, no, no, no. I think, you know, it’s just I put some lotion.” Week after week. And finally it begins to turn red and hurt and she comes in. And he said, “Why didn’t you listen to me?” He said, “It’s melanoma now and it’s spread through your whole body. If when I first told you, you had come, we could have removed the whole thing. Might have even looked better, but you waited.” Early detection. It is easier to quit smoking after your first cigarette than after twenty years. How many know that? Early detection goes a long way. Now I want to quickly take you through a panorama in the Bible and this is sort of a slide show that may not be pleasant but it will give you some pictures on how people are induced by the devil into committing the unpardonable sin. These stories are written in the Bible for our admonition on whom the ends of the age would come. God would have us look at these living examples. What I mean by that is they’re mostly dead now, but these examples of people who really lived and we can learn. One thing I want you to notice is grieving away the Holy Spirit is not just something a person can do. Individuals can do it, couples can do it, families can do it, tribes and clans can do it, cities can do it, nations can do it, and an entire planet can do it. Let’s start with individuals. Saul is a good example. King Saul, first king chosen, all the promise in the world outwardly, head and shoulders taller than anyone else, Spirit filled when he first began to follow the Lord. But as with so many he began to trust in himself with position and popularity there are problems with pride and he became proud. He was more interested about what the people thought of him than what God thought of him and even when Samuel the prophet said, “You’re at risk of losing the kingdom because of your disobedience,” Saul said, “Yeah, well, but honor me in front of the people. I don’t care what God thinks, I want you to honor me in front of the people.” Finally it came to the place where, I Samuel 28:6, “when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.” He didn’t answer him. He had grieved away the Holy Spirit and to prove that he then went to a witch. He didn’t care, he just wanted some guidance. God, witch, what’s the difference? I Samuel 31:4 “Then Saul took his sword and he fell upon it,” and he killed himself. Grieved away the Holy Spirit. By the way, in case you haven’t figured this out, whenever someone dies lost they’ve committed the unpardonable sin. There is no repentance in the next life. This is the life. “It’s appointed unto men once to die, then the judgment.” I’ve actually met people who think, “But after I die someone will burn a candle, say a prayer, get baptized for me and then I’ll be saved.” That’s paganism. That doesn’t happen. This life is the time to make the decision. The devil wants people to think that they can waste this life and some are even confused into thinking “I’ll do it after I’m dead.” I talked to someone two weeks ago who said, “You mean I can’t pray after I die and be forgiven.” You’d be surprised. There’s people out there. And this whole “Left Behind” scenario that, “Whoa! After everybody gets raptured then I’ll probably get serious.” There’ll still be people left behind who can make a decision. Bible doesn’t teach that. See how the devil, how cunning he is to get people to procrastinate. We all know about Judas. How many opportunities did he have? How many miracles did he see? How many sermons from the best preacher in the world did Judas hear? And he kept resisting. He wanted to confess. The Holy Spirit worked with him to say, “Jesus, I’ve been stealing from the poverty bag. I’ve been taking from the poor. Forgive me. I’m sorry.” He could have repented. He could have wept bitterly like Peter did, but he kept resisting. He tried to retain his pride. He was offended that Jesus would seem to show preference for Mary Magdalene to him. and the Bible says that even after Jesus washed his feet, John chapter 13, after Jesus washed all their feet, “Jesus said, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but he’s completely clean; and you’re clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew who would betray Him; and that’s why He said, ‘You’re not all clean.’” While Jesus was washing Judas’ feet, there he was going through the ritual of cleansing, but he wouldn’t let Jesus cleanse his heart. He wanted to repent and confess, but he wouldn’t do it. And because he postponed he betrayed Christ. I think it’s interesting in chapter 13 verse 30 it says, “Having received the piece of bread, he went out… And it was night.” Satan having entered him, he went out and it was night. Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple. Did his sin ever satisfy him? Did he ever spend the money? So often the devil says, “Aw, don’t repent now because you won’t be able to enjoy your sin.” You don’t enjoy your sin anyway if you really think about it. It’s an illusion. He threw down the silver, he went out and he hung himself. Sin brings about self-destruction not only with individuals but even couples. I think you know the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They were concerned about what the church thought of them but they were covetous. And so when they sold some property they made a big pretense of having given a hundred percent but they only gave half. And you know there’s a lesson there; God will not accept half of your heart. And a lot of us make a pretense of being totally surrendered, but we’re really not. And so they came in and they lied to Peter and they said, “Here, we’re giving a hundred percent.” The church was watching as they made these gifts and that’s why it’s recorded and the Bible says, “Peter said, ‘Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?’” It was a heart problem. “‘You’ve not lied to men, but to God.’ Then Ananias, hearing these words, he fell down and breathed his last.” A loose translation is he dropped dead. A little while later his wife came, repeated. They had conspired together and she dropped dead. Would you say they committed the unpardonable sin? And they had seen the working of the Holy Spirit. They had been surrounded with it, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, people being healed, tongues of fire; they were witnesses of all that and in spite of all that evidence they lied to the Holy Spirit. It can happen with families. That’s a scary thought, but you know families can become entrenched in defying the Lord. You know the story of Aachen? Joshua 7:21 when they conquered Jericho they were clearly told, don’t take any of the spoils of Jericho. You’ll be cursed if you do. It belongs to the Lord, but Aachen, he was covetous. The Bible says in Acts 5, I’m sorry in Joshua 7:21, “When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment…” He wanted the righteousness of Babylon. That’s what clothing represents. “…and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them.” It was covetousness. “And they are hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” His whole family were privy to when he dug a hole in the tent and he hid it and he told them to all keep quiet. Even after there was evidence that they were looking for somebody he wouldn’t repent, wouldn’t come forward. Finally all of Israel gathered together. He and his family and all of his possessions that he coveted so much they were thrown in this big pit in Accor. They stoned them to death and burned them with fire. He grieved away the Spirit. The whole family, whole nation suffered because they had disobeyed. King Herod, now this is not Herod the Great who killed all the babies in Bethlehem. This is the Herod who used to enjoy listening to John the Baptist preach. Matter of fact, he’d call him out of prison every now and then. What a hypocrisy! He imprisons John for his preaching but he says, “Come, preach to me.” And he was moved and he knew he was a man of God, knew he was a prophet of God. The Bible says, “For Herod feared John, knowing he was a just and holy man, and he protected him and when he heard him he did many things and he heard him gladly.” He did many things. He made some changes and he tried to accommodate but Herod had an idol. It was called Herodias his wife and he allowed his wife to lure him away. He put somebody, his spouse ahead of God so she has this birthday party and she says, “You give me what I want if my daughter dances?” And she asks for the head of John the Baptist and he could have said, “I’m not doing that!” But he was more concerned with what the people thought and the influence of his wife. Now notice what happened to Herod. This is interesting. When Jesus was tried Pilate, Herod both Romans Jesus talked to Pilate because the Holy Spirit was working on Pilate. He had not had those advantages that Herod had, but when Jesus was brought before Herod the Bible says, “They questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.” He had not a word for Herod. Why? Because the best preacher in the world John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets had preached to him on a daily basis and he did not listen then and Jesus is saying, “Look, if you’re not going to listen to My messengers you’re not listening to Me.” That’s something to consider. The book Desire of Ages, 730, “Herod had rejected the truth spoken to him by the greatest of the prophets. No other message was he to receive. Not a word had the majesty of heaven for him. That ear that had ever been open to human row had no room for Herod’s commands. Those eyes that have ever rested upon the penitent sinner in pity and forgiving love had no look to bestow upon Herod. Those lips that had uttered the most impressive truths that in tones of tenderest entreaty had pleaded with the most sinful and the most degraded were closed to the haughty king who felt no need of the Savior.” I don’t know what you think but I think that Herod grieved away the Holy Spirit because he had so many opportunities to repent at the preaching of John but he would not. And then the world. Can it happen where the whole world can be lost? You know the Bible tells us that there will be a day again when God says, “My Spirit will not always strive. As it was in the days of Noah so will it be when the Son of man returns.” Back then the world was purged with water, next time with fire. Prior to Jesus’ coming there’ll be a time when probation closes. That’s why it’s so important, friends, that we listen now. Now can a person have… I don’t want you to live in perpetual fear. Can a person have assurance of salvation? Let’s go back to the airport illustration. In my years of flying you can almost always tell those at the gate who are waiting for their flight that have confirmed tickets and those who are on standby. Now I already talked about being bumped. That’s pretty rare, but there’s a lot more security among those who have confirmed tickets than those who are on standby. Do you know what standby means? It means there’s a good chance you’re going to stand by and watch the plane take off. I found out what it means. I like to be confirmed when I travel. How about you? The people that are confirmed are usually sitting in the chairs or they might be shopping with my wife, but the people on standby they are hovering around the ticket counter at the gate there hoping that something will open up. They’re insecure. As a Christian you can have confirmation. Now if you choose to leave the gate even though your ticket is confirmed there can be a problem. Matter of fact, things have gotten very convoluted now because if a person is confirmed and the plane is boarded and they do a head count and that confirmed person is not on the plane they will find their bags and take them off. Any of you know what I’m talking about because of the terrorism now? Some people check in, they check their bags and they never get on the plane and so they become… the airlines are very suspicious of someone who has checked their bags, they’re confirmed, and they’re not on the plane. And I was on a plane once in France they waited an hour to find out where that person went and they took their bags off. You’re always free to walk away but you can have assurance. Notice here, I John 5, this is the best verse in the Bible. I could read more but we’re running out of time. I John 5:10, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself…” You can know. “…he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life…” Can you say, Amen? “…and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life.” Can you know that you have the Son? You can. If you accept Jesus through justification you receive Him now and then allow Him to sanctify you. “He who has the Son has life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have life.” It doesn’t matter if you’re in church, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been raised in the church or gone to all the Christian institutions. Do you have the Son abiding in you? “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you might know that you have eternal life, and that you might continue to believe.” What does that mean? Be live in Him. You can have a confirmed ticket. You’ll always be free. God will never let go of you. You could always turn away from Him, but you can have assurance. It’s something like marriage is the best illustration I can give you. I have assurance regarding my relationship with Karen. I don’t worry because there is faith, trust, love. She is free and I am free if we wanted to philander and find somebody else, it’s America. You can make a fool of yourself. But I don’t fret from day to day about Karen and I trust she feels the same way about me. When there’s faith and there’s love you don’t worry, but it doesn’t mean that you lose your freedom. Do you understand the difference? When you love the Lord and you trust the Lord and you know that He loves you and your life is in His hands you can have assurance, but you’re always free if you want to to go embrace the devil. Matter of fact, the Lord uses that very illustration. He says when we turn away with him it is in effect committing adultery. He calls it a love relationship. That’s why Jesus says that we know each other. These are the terms of marriage in Genesis. So since it’s a gift and since it’s something that should not be presumed upon when is the best time to accept that gift and to come? Now, today. When Jesus called Zaccheus He said, “Come down quickly!” Whenever Jesus called anybody He never said, “Go check your schedule and when it’s convenient come and follow Me.” Peter, James, and John got up and walked away from their nets, Matthew from his tax booth. They got up then and they followed. Christ calls us now. Hebrews chapter 4, “again he limits a certain day, saying in David,” meaning in the psalms, “‘Today,’ after so long a time, as it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.’” Allow me to adjust that; don’t commit the unpardonable sin. Little by little people grieve away the Holy Spirit and they tell the Lord to wait. I would like to invite you to reach for your hymnal. We’re going to sing “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior”. That’s number 569. “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” and as they come out don’t tell them to stand. I want you to sit because I’m going to have you respond by standing. Let’s sing the first verse together and I want to have a special prayer for you. If there are any of you here who do not know that you have this saved relationship with Jesus you can know that today before you leave. Is that good news? Let’s sing together. Remain seated, please.

Pass me not, O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry; While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by. Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry, While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.

How many of you believe that there will be some people saved? Does everybody believe that some people are going to be saved? But be honest with me now, have you ever wondered, will I be one of those people? If Jesus provided salvation for anybody, if Jesus is going to make it possible for anybody to be saved you have just as much access and right to that salvation as anybody. It is not by His choice. He has already chosen. He wants you to be saved. He has gone to prepare a mansion for you. It is now your choice. The devil has created a lot of distractions and diversions and procrastinations to prevent us from just saying, “Yes, I believe I can be saved.” You just come like you are. He is here now. He’s calling now. Today is the day. I don’t believe probation has closed yet. God forbid it’s closed for anybody here! You’re here. That’s a good sign. If He’s speaking to your heart now and you’re feeling Him calling you then you have not closed the door. The Holy Spirit is calling you again. You may have put it off a thousand times before, but will you gamble with eternity? Isn’t that reckless? Now if you’re hearing Him call you can leave here justified. How many of you believe that He wants you to be saved? Do you believe that? Do you believe He’ll save you now if you ask Him? If He’ll save anybody, He’ll save you because you’re a whosoever. “Whosoever will…” If you believe that stand now and accept that salvation. Let’s sing verse two together.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy, Find a sweet relief; Kneeling there in deep contrition, Help my unbelief. Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry, While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.

Now I believe that everybody here and even those who may be watching or listening if you are coming to Jesus just like you are and you are trusting in His provision to forgive you, you are forgiven. That’s called justification. You can come just as if you had never sinned. He will look at you that way. But we all know we’re going to leave church in a minute and that’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s real easy to be a Christian in church, huh? Well, for most of us. You want to ask the Lord to help you live a new life, to really be live in Him. Would you like to ask Him, Lord, help my unbelief? Help me to live a new life. Help me to follow You now and be a consistent Christian. Can you do that without the Lord? It’s the Holy Spirit that convicts you and helps you with justification. It’s the same Holy Spirit that will help you live a new life. If you’re making this decision I’m going to invite you when you go home to get on your knees because I want you to take some time with God and to say, “Lord, give me the gift of repentance. I maybe have taken advantage, I presumed on Your mercy. Help me to have a new heart. Help me to surrender any sins where I’m being inconsistent as a Christian. Lay it on the altar, take it away. Help me, Lord, be an overcomer.” To really mean business with God, this is what repentance is, friends, it’s confessing and forsaking our sins. Would you like to ask Him to help you with that? Would you spend some time with God today asking for a complete hundred percent new heart? Let’s sing verse four.

Thou the spring of all my comfort, More than life for me; Whom have I on earth beside Thee? Whom in heaven but Thee? Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry, While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.

Lord, our Lord, today we have talked about some serious matters. We’re so thankful for the gift You have given us. In being able to choose for the news that You have chosen us. Help us now, Lord, choose to invite You into our hearts. We’ve already experienced that without You we can’t do anything, Lord. We know how to fail. We pray now through the power of Christ You can teach us how to succeed. Give us the gift of the Holy Spirit. If there’s any area in our lives, any dark corners where we are failing you, Lord, then we would pray right now. Help us to lay those things on the altar. And, Lord, I pray that we will not become discouraged if we fall, but to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus laying aside every wait. Help us to experience sanctification, that transformation that renewing of our minds. We know there’s a process, Lord, but I pray that You’ll help us keep our eyes on Jesus. We invite you to reign in our hearts. Don’t let sin reign anymore. I pray, dear Lord, for each of these people that they might truly experience the assurance that You are in them, that they believe in You, that they can know they’ve got a seat on the plane and they’re not going to be bumped as long as they keep their eyes on Christ and walk with Him. Bless us, Lord, as a people, our church family, our families, our couples that are represented here and as individuals. Forgive us for the times when we have taken advantage of Your never ending mercy. Please maximize the moving of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and now for us who are living on the very edges of eternity we know someday that door will close. I pray we’ll do all we can to bring others through that gate of salvation. Bless us, Lord, that we might be faithful. In Jesus’ name we pray and we thank You. Amen.

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