No Guilt, No Fear! Living by Grace not by Doubt and Fear: Guilt-Free Christianity!

Grace robbers are everywhere today!  Their faces can be seen on “Christian” television; their voices bellow from the pulpits of large churches across the land; their best-selling books are widely featured in Christian bookstores.  It seems that at every turn there surfaces another voice in the Christian world who would steal the joy and assurance away from any believer who will listen to such voices and follow their unbiblical teachings.  True Hope in Christ Jesus and in his wonderful free gift of salvation through faith alone are replaced by doubt.  Doubt increases; it shifts one’s focus from trusting in Christ and his finished work on the cross alone to a fixation on oneself—What have I done for God lately?  Am I really doing enough?  This increasing introspection quickly begins to destroy confidence in Christ Jesus alone and assurance of one’s salvation.  Decimation of assurance morphs into fear and anxiety.  Fear of what?  Fear of not being sin-free enough to please God; fear of not reading the Bible enough; fear of not attending church often enough; fear of not witnessing enough; fear of not doing enough to help the poor; fear of not being “on fire” for Christ; fear of not being good enough to please God.  Fear leads to dread, often the dread of possibly heading for hell one day.  Grace-robbing preachers fuel this dread through their incessant unbiblical judgmental rants.  Dread destroys any semblance of joy remaining in the Christian’s life.  And what is the final result?  A miserable, defeated, guilt-ridden believer.  Yes, a believer to be sure:  one who has placed her complete faith in Christ Jesus alone for salvation—by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, Ephesians 2:8-9.  But one who has allowed the joy-sucking assurance-thieving grace robbers to steal away the Grace, Hope, Joy, Assurance, Confidence and Guilt-Free existence that God would have for the true believer in Christ to experience every day.

Let’s make every effort to speak out against unbiblical grace-robbing teaching in the body of Christ.  And let us live and encourage other believers to live Guilt-Free lives of Confident Assurance through faith in Christ alone and through his wonderful gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (the death, burial and resurrection of Christ).

56 responses to “No Guilt, No Fear! Living by Grace not by Doubt and Fear: Guilt-Free Christianity!

  1. Bruce,

    Excellent. That is such an encouragement for all of us to continue contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints!! Salvation by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone. And then live by God’s Grace, not by fear. Thanks.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  2. John Gregory

    This message will be shared with my church! Thanks much for posting
    this! God bless.
    John Gregory

  3. Thanks Jack and John for the encouraging words of joy.

    Blessings brothers!

    Bruce

  4. Bruce, great article!

    Thank you for continuing to take a stand for the Gospel in its clarity, simplicity and purity. The Gospel is infinitely more powerful than all of the snake oil salesmen combined.

  5. So well-said! Focus on Christ and live truly free, focus on self, and exist in fear. Thank you Jesus!

  6. Thanks, John and David, and may God continue to grant you the joy and assurance with which you have blessed us all here.

    God’s blessings on you!

  7. I’m in! John 6:68, 1 Timothy 4:10-12, Hebrews 6:10-12. We have a lot of work to do.
    Believe in Jesus

    Levi

  8. Thanks Levi; all good verses.

  9. I’d like to add that what also can create fear is this erroneous idea that God has somehow chosen men to damnation and that I just may be one of them if my life doesn’t prove otherwise. One of the most crucial truths to make clear to people is that our initial faith in Christ and what He has done is not a fruit of regeneration. Period. All men can either believe or choose not to believe the gospel truth if it is presented to them. If you are currently trying to assure yourself of your salvation based on your works, put your gaze back on Christ. Then you will find the freedom and motivation again to serve the Lord and truly live free.

  10. Well said Jim!

    Thanks for declaring the warnings about the dark side of Calvinism and LS teaching. And thank you for your call to living free in Christ Jesus.

    God bless you.

  11. Thanks Jim F, (and Bruce for your reply)

    Too often, here at ExPreacherMan, we see people reporting the Dark Twins of Calvinism and LS wreaking havoc among their churches. It is difficult to separate the two philosophies (and it is philosophy and not theology) even though one or the other may be denied by their proponents. Look inside most LSers and you will find a Calvinist — and look inside a Calvinist and you will see the root or fruit of LS. BOTH are Grace Robbers!!

    Levi,

    Thanks for that short but sweet comment..

    That together we may “… earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3

    I am so grateful to the Lord for the fellowship of discerning believers we have here. Thanks!!

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  12. Really well said. I feel that once our Life in Christ becomes about not sinning, or not performing well, that the enemy has won a great victory. Such views are so far off the point. Everytime I would talk about grace I always felt I had to moderate it with something performance based, often saying “not that I condone sin” or “not that I’m saying sin isn’t a big deal”- but those statements to me always seem to lead back to the Law as a solution. If I truly want to be victorious over sin and perform well, it will never come by any law or character building seminar; I believe it will instead be a natural result of focusing on God’s Grace. I believe He must be willing to take that chance with us, otherwise He would have given a new set of laws. My apologies if these comments stray off the mark, I’m pretty much a whippersnapper.

    -Tim

  13. Thanks Tim,

    I think you are right on point. We should focus on our relationship with God and on walking in the Spirit. The Enemy loves it when our focus and confidence are anywhere but on God.

  14. Thanks Tim, Great comments!

    I echo Jim’s sentiments that what you said was very helpful and on point. I can certainly relate to times when I, too, used to feel a need to moderate grace teaching. After all, true grace preaching and teaching is kind of rare in churches today. But the longer that I proclaim the biblical truths of God’s incredible grace, and the more times that I witness Christian lives being freed from legalistic bondage and undeserved doubt and guilt by God’s incredible grace, the more convinced I become that living by grace is the ONLY way to go!

  15. Excellent article Bruce! I was encouraged by this and many of the insightful comments as well. I don’t want to side track this discussion at all but since fear was a major theme of the article…Recently I was glared at by a brother in law and told that maybe we all should be afraid of God more than we are. Since I come from a troubled background with a father who was prone to angry outbursts, fearing my heavenly Father as well does not appeal to me to say the least. I know there are verses about the fear of the Lord, so I am wondering what is the Free Grace perspective on fearing the Lord? I appreciate any help with this.

  16. Excellent post and very encouraging. I could use more of THIS in my seminary classes!

  17. Matt for Grace and Truth

    “Fear the Lord” means “awe, wonder and deep reverence” rather than being afraid or in dread. God, by His grace, desires to work this reverential fear in you…

    “… I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me. Jeremiah 32:40

  18. Welcome Alex. Thanks for your comments. May the Lord bless you in your studies and fill your days with his joy and grace!

    .

  19. Hi Jon,

    I, too, was fearful of my father at a young age. In later years I worked through all of those issues. And I, like you, have never wanted to view God as being harsh, mean or vindictive (he is omnibenevolent, meaning ALL loving and ALL LOVE); I do not in away way view fear of God as being afraid of him. I sense that many who are caught up in Lordship Faith teaching are secretly afraid of God and afraid for their eternal destinies.

    I agree with Matt’s comments regarding “awe, wonder and deep reverence.” I would just add a similar thought: We should not treat God in a shallow or flippant fashion. Yes, Jesus is our Savior, our brother, our friend, but he is also the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! I have heard expressions that I think are inappropriate like, “God is my buddy,” or “Jesus is my co-pilot.” I think that some of the modern praise choruses reflect a lack of depth of understanding and representation of the nature and character of God. One that comes to mind goes, “God is so gooooood; God is so gooooood; God is so gooooood; he’s so gooooood toooo meeeeeee.

  20. Thanks Matt and Bruce for the responses. I did a google search on the subject and came up with awe,wonder and reverance as well. Though some seemed to want to define it as just out and out fear. With the idea being that if we have enough fear of God we will avoid sin and so on. Being in awe of the Creator of the universe makes more sense to me. Fear doesn’t motivate me the way Love and Grace do.
    I’m remember that chorus as well, though it’s been many years since I’ve heard it.

  21. @ Tim
    I feel the same way. I hate following up any grace talk with “But I’m not saying you should sin it up”. If people misconstrue, then good, the gospel I am presenting is true and pure. If they ask “are you saying I can sin all I want”, then they have misunderstood the power of God’s grace in freeing from sin, and are still focused on their flesh and it’s wants, not on their identity and its freedom.

    If they want to sin, and their Christian life is one of putting in effort to stop sinning, then they have missed it. The only way to overcome sin is to reckon ourselves dead to it, and not even consider its power, because it has no power over dead men.

  22. @lukasaurus
    You make overcoming sin sound pretty simple and easy. Does this mean you’re living in a sinless state of perfection? You never struggle, feel tempted, blow it?

  23. @Jon, if I may humbly offer my thoughts on what lukasaurus meant was more of a this method- grace, not that method-law and while I agree I’m not sure if either of us would say it is easy. Paul seemed to think he himself was “the chief of all sinners”, yet the key never seems to be law. We do “work” at it of course, but that labor must be directed at entering into “rest”- which in a world where we want to keep going and going is an odd state and it seems we must work all the harder. Still, the difference between working for “rest” and working for “law” is that one’s yoke is easy, the other is ultimately impossible and guilt ridden. Law slays you on the spot if you can’t fulfill it completely and perfectly (and we are assured we cannot); walking in Grace as we head towards “rest” picks you up and dusts you off when you fall. So it’s not that we don’t struggle; rather what is it we’re struggling for? Look, I suppose there are those saints who are stronger than me and are perfectly happy serving a God who seems more Self-concerned and rigid and who has a big checklist- and maybe they sin only a little, but I wonder, is there abundant life? I see God as Self-emptying and other-directed (even as He asks me to be so that the world will see I am His child), He’s not waiting to ding me on some technicality. Sure, He asks me not to sin, not because by doing so I might fulfill the law and become Holy and more acceptable in His sight; but because now that I am a new creation sin is a pointless and unrewarding way of life that has consequences here on earth that my Father would rather me avoid. He does not have some divine ruler that He measures me with; Christ is in place of the ruler. Yes, I still struggle, I still must work hard, it is not easy to realize and live in the true reality of being a Believer. Intellectual knowledge sadly does not automatically translate to practice. I can say “I am a new creation all I want”- but to actually live it- now that is something else entirely; fortunately God is very patient and kind. Sorry all for the long-winded response.

  24. I appreciate your response Tim. I was certainly not arguing that we should be under the law. I know I still sin more than I care to admit. I used to feel a lot of condemnation,guilt and lack of assurance. I want nothing more than to rest in God’s grace. I believe I’m moving in that direction. I just found lukasaurus’ comments confusing because it made it sound like to me that Grace would somehow cause an immediate cessation of sin. So I thought ‘what’s wrong with me, why do I still seem to struggle?’ I’m still learning and have never attended a Bible college so I’m probably not as learned as many others here. I’m very grateful for God’s patience and kindness as you mentioned, Amen to that! I guess I need to keep trying to remember to focus on Christ and not on myself. Thanks for your explanation Tim.

  25. Jon,

    Focusing on Christ and not yourself is to me a good way to start practicing the verse that says reckon yourself dead unto sin and alive unto God. (Romans 6:11) The idea is that we are free from the power of sin over us but this does not not mean we will live in sinless perfection. Being set apart unto God (sanctification) has both a one time starting point at conversion and and end point at of glorification when we are with God in heaven. The progressive part in the middle is where we become more like Christ but that sin nature is still present.

    One of the hardest things for me was to get over was beating myself up over my sin. I would feel conviction and repent often but there is a point where we need to leave it with God under the blood of the cross. Beating ourselves up really actually is counter productive and can send a person right back into a cycle of sin. Remember that Satan can’t take away our salvation but he is happy when believers live self focused frustrated lives.

  26. Jon,

    You said in response to Tim:

    “I’m still learning and have never attended a Bible college so I’m probably not as learned as many others here.”

    Your discernment is above average.. and please remember, a Bible College or seminary education does not necessarily render Biblical discernment. Only a few who comment here are Bile College or seminary educated. And I know many “educated” Christians who don’t have half the discernment and desire to learn that you display.

    You further said:

    “I’m very grateful for God’s patience and kindness as you [Tim] mentioned, Amen to that! I guess I need to keep trying to remember to focus on Christ and not on myself.”

    Jon, my friend, to be grateful for God’s blessings and keep our focus on Christ are two of the keys to Christian victory. Keep it up!!

    Until we arrive in Heaven, we are ALL learning as we grow in God’s Grace through His Word.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  27. Although I agree with your view of grace robbers, the apostle Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…. (Philippians 2:12).” Is the apostle Paul guilty of being a grace robber? If not, then how do you explain the words of Paul who wrote by the inspiration of Jesus?

  28. Hello Jim,

    Thanks for joining our discussion today.

    Yes, Paul spoke in great detail about the first century grace robbers; he especially did so when he spoke out in Galatians against the Judaizers who were stealing away the grace of God from the believers’ lives through foisting upon them the old Jewish legalist chains of bondage. In your quotation of Philippians 2:12, you should have continued on to quote its companion verse 2:13: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The term in both verses from the Greek for “work” is ergon , from which we get the English word “ergonomics,” or the study of work methods. Please note that verse 12 says to “work OUT” your own salvation, NOT to “work FOR” your salvation. And verse 13 explains that it is, in actuality, GOD who is working IN and THROUGH believers to bring about his will in their lives. A parallel text, also through the pen of Paul, is Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, 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.” Jack, I and others have pointed out many times on this site the word “should” from verse 10. Yes, of course the loving grateful response of one who has been saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone is to desire to love and serve God. It is the proper, right thing to do—it is what we SHOULD do.

    So, back to your original question, “Is the apostle Paul guilty of being a grace robber?” MOST CERTAINLY NOT! He is simply instructing the believers that, in view of the wonderful gift of salvation that they received in Christ given by God’s grace and embraced by faith, they should serve the Lord; it is the right thing to do; it is what they SHOULD do.

  29. @Jon,

    Tim expressed what I was saying. Life shouldn’t be a struggle to perform for God, nor should it be a struggle to not sin. When we struggle with the flesh, it is because we are walking in the flesh. We may not neccesarily be sinning, but we are law minded, flesh focused, trying to improve on something God has said He has already put to death.

    It is very easy for me to struggle. It is very easy for me to walk in the flesh, because it is what most of us have done most of our lives – live by performance based measures to impress God and others. So when we hear the Gospel that says “it is done, make every effort to rest”, it is hard to believe that.

    While I may have made it sound easy above, it is actually very difficult to let go of our law based mentality and let God work in us, without our own effort, because it is contrary to everything we have known and will know. It requires us to let go of our safety nets and just free fall into His arms of grace.

    The goal isn’t sinless perfection, sinning less or even sinning more (as some people accuse us of). The goal is to not be sin conscious at all. The book of Hebrews says that if the Jews had a sacrifice that, once offered, would cleanse and take away sin, they would no longer be conscious of sin. (Hebrews 10:2). Instead, they had a sacrifice that was an annual reminder of sins. Jesus is a once for all sacrifice, a one time offer, that did cleanse, and we, as cleansed people, have that better blessing that the Jews never had and should be as they would have been – having no consciousness of sins. That is, not thinking about whether or not we have sinned today or will sin, or putting effort into not sinning (or, put effort into sinning), but rather, think on who we are in Christ, and let our lives flow from that.

    If Jesus really did take away the sin of the world, including my sin, why should I constantly worry about it.

  30. Lukasaurus, I agree with your comment. If we are focused on sin, we are not focused on Grace. Jesus took away our sin and gave us His righteousness. We do not need to constantly worry about it.

    When I discuss Grace with people, particularly people caught up in LS, I like it when they say something like: “But, it’s not a get out of jail free card.” My response is, “yes, it is.”

    I know Grace is not a license to sin. But, to caveat the Grace message with anything regarding sinless perfection or sinning less is to change the focus of the message from Grace by faith in Christ alone to Grace by faith plus works.

    Jesus paid it all. There is nothing left for us to pay, earn, or do.

    By the way, my sister-in-law joined my family for vacation last week. She is a substance abuse counselor. She said that some of her clients are worried that their behavior is going to keep them out of heaven. She quotes them Ephesians 2:8, because she knows that true Christianity is salvation by Grace, through faith in Christ, and is not dependent on behavior. But get this: she understands the Grace message but does not believe it! She is an atheist. Please join me in praying for her.

  31. John,

    Welcome back.. we will certainly pray for your sister-in-law that she will come to believe what she tells her clients..

    Being a former atheist, I wish I had a simple formula to get her to understand and believe the Gospel. But we know the only answer is —– The Gospel. …. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;…. Romans 1:16 [Even for an atheist]

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  32. Lukasaurus and John,

    I agree with you both.

    My question to all is this: What should I do if I find myself in a church with many who are, may be, or tolerate grace robbers? How much is too much? Thoughts? The closest church to me that I would consider other than my current church is 35 mins away and that may make it hard for me to get involved beyond the Sunday morning service. It’s decision time for me.

    I would appreciate any prayers for wisdom in my decision.

  33. Jim F, after listening to a few of Tom Cucuzza’s sermons online, I am convinced that the Grace message can be delivered in a clear, concise, non-garbled manner. If I contrast this with the hundreds of sermons I have heard elsewhere (several SBC-affiliated churches and one EFCA church), the difference is very distinct.

    That leads me to conjecture as to why so many people distort the Grace message. I can think of several reasons:
    1. They don’t understand it
    2. They don’t believe it
    3. They believe it, but don’t want to be “soft on sin”
    4. They believe it, but want to see more committed Christians
    5. They believe it, but have some Calvinist/LS tendencies
    6. They want to appeal to, or be part of, a broader group

    I don’t know how many grace robbers in a church is too many to consider making a change. If grace-robbers include pastors or church leaders, I would leave.

    Some thoughts from Clear Gospel Campaign on this question:

    “If you want to know the doctrine that a church teaches, don’t ask to read the doctrinal statement. It may be gathering dust! Meet several members of the congregation who have been there for at least three years. Ask them what they believe about certain topics of theology. These men and women are the real fruit of the pastor’s labors! And by them, you will know what he really believes. Their emphasis will be that which he has emphasized. Their ignorance on certain topics is simply a reflection of their pastor’s failure to address those topics with clarity and accuracy. Trees beget fruit after their own kind!”

    “Scripture teaches the unity of the church as one of the highest goals toward which the church should aspire (Ephesians 4:3). We believe, therefore, that not every theological dispute merits separation. For example, whether the church of Galatia was located in North Galatia or South Galatia is a valid question, and one that has been explored and debated by theologians, but it is certainly not a question over which fellowship should be broken.

    We believe, however, that any area of doctrine even remotely affecting the integrity of the gospel is inherently serious (Galatians 2:11-14), that Scripture calls us to draw the line at the earliest point, and to yield not one inch on matters that jeopardize the integrity of the gospel, a compromise that jeopardizes the eternal life of every man, woman and child on this planet who has not yet heard the gospel message (Galatians 1:6-9, 2:5).”

  34. Thanks John, that puts some things in focus for me. I believe that some in leadership there would fall into points 5 and 6. Some of them like the idea that I am there with a slightly different perspective but they just want a big tent and I feel that it is likely time to find a place where they are willing to take things as far as the gospel more seriously. There are some that believe that everyone can just get along as long as you are not an extreme Calvinist or an Arminian that believes that one can renounce their salvation. I keep saying, what about the gospel? What about keeping things Biblical because the Bible says so not because it seems to fit with some kind of man made system. People’s eternal destinies can be in the balance. Maybe that is the real dagger behind the error of thinking that, well since all of the elect will be saved – we’re not going to worry too much about how the gospel is presented. It seems that when some do start to care you get the old turn from sin for salvation.

    I’m just longing for a place with a more consistent understanding of the gospel across the board.

  35. Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who replied. I’ve been encouraged and enlightened by all the comments. I think John summed it up well with his comment: “If we are focused on sin, we are not focused on Grace. Jesus took away our sin and gave us His righteousness. We do not need to constantly worry about it.” That is a very good reminder for me!

  36. Great news! Dr. James Scudder’s church and college near Chicago have just purchased a large new site for the college. The proclamation of the message of God’s wonderful grace will continue to spread. Our good friend, Dr. Tom Cucuzza, is an adjunct professor at Dayspring Bible College and Seminary. See the link for pictures:

    http://www.dbc.edu/campus/index.html

  37. Bruce,

    Exciting. Great news indeed!!! Dayspring Bible College and Seminary is very likely the only remaining clear Free Grace Bible college around.

    We need to continue to pray for all those who are now and will be involved with DBC.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  38. Praise the Lord! He has certainly provided a beautiful campus from which to teach the grace of God in Christ. May their tribe increase.

  39. This is a true story………………………………………….two years ago, a believer attending our church went to the Lordship Salvation preacher to beg for counseling and empathy, heading into a third divorce. At the time, I did not know what Lordship Salvation was, but I knew something in the sermons was very wrong. After receiving counseling from this pastor, within 12 hours, this man committed suicide. I’m guessing it may very well have been because he realized he could not “live up” to the conditional love of Lordship Salvation. The week after the suicide, the pastor publicly bragged in his sermon about how he led this man to the Lord, renouncing the man’s previous understanding of “Cheap Grace.” These Lordship people are monstrous bullies, and are damaging the assurance of Free Grace, so as to incessantly monitor the lives of other people.

  40. Hello Sam,

    Thank you for sharing that poignant yet oh-so-sad story. We have heard others share similar stories of the terrible fallout of Lordship Salvation teaching in Christian lives (none quite so severe as yours). One person, for example, shared that after her brother read Francis Chan’s caustic lordship book “Crazy Love,” he foolishly and hastily quit his job and moved his family to the other end of the country with no real goals, no contacts and no prospects for employment in sight. Quickly his family became destitute. Yet, after he read the book, he thought that he had to do something extreme, something over the top, to prove his commitment to Christ and to somehow guarantee that he wasn’t a part of the dreaded “lukewarm” churchgoing masses that Chan declares to be all headed for hell.

  41. “The week after the suicide, the pastor publicly bragged in his sermon about how he led this man to the Lord, renouncing the man’s previous understanding of “Cheap Grace.”

    Stunning. I’m surprised he had the audacity to say anything given the tragic outcome of his counsel. Add to that the sad belief by many that suicide is an unforgivable sin, of which I’d think LSers would be the most vocal. Surely multitudes picked up and went after that???…(unfortunately, I think I can guess the answer).

    But like you said, Sam, deep down you knew something was wrong with those sermons. Were they “Washeresque“? So glad you’re outta there.

  42. Hello Fellow Free Gracers,
    I would like some clarification, something thats been on my mind alot since talking with my friend. I have a friend that is also a fellow free gracer. I have been discussing with him the doctrine about paradise being Abraham’s bossom, a place under the Earth where it has been said saved people went before Christ’s resurrection. This is a doctrine my friend rejects and he personally believes that Jesus went to suffer in Hell for three days, Whilst I see problems with saying Jesus suffered in Hell (since His crucifixion was sufficient payment for all our sins) I also see problems in saying that Paradise is/was located under the earth in a compartment of Hades. If you look up each mention of the word ‘Paradise’ it only occurs 3 times in the KJV. Apart from the time its used when Jesus uses the word paradise to the theif on the cross (Luke 23:43) the other two occurrences of the word paradise seem clear that it’s talking about a place where God dwells which I would have to say is Heaven. Have a look at the only other two uses of the word paradise in II Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation of John 2:7. I believe that whatever we believe as doctrine should be easily found with clear verses of the Bible. Every true Bible doctrine that is foundational can be supported with CLEAR and EXPLICIT Bible verses wether that be the Deity of Christ, His Virgin birth,the Trinity, the freeness of salvation by grace through faith, eternal security, His resurrection etc etc. My friend says that Paradise is Heaven and I can see some clear scriptures on that. He says that ‘Abrhams Boosom’ is also Heaven, reasoning that in Luke 16:23 it’s clear that Lazarus was simply resting upon Abraham’s chest and that Christ, speaking to the Pharisees (as clearly seen in vs 14 of Luke chapter 16) who believed in a literal Heaven (unlike the Sadducees) would have undoubtedly believed that Abraham was in Heaven and when Jesus uses the term Abraham’s Bosom, he is simply referring to the place that Abraham was, Heaven. He says that this ‘great gulf fixed’ is simply an un-passable void between Hell and Heaven. He rejects that Abraham’s Bosom is under the Earth and I have to say that there is no clear scripture to come to that conclusion. If Abraham’s Bosom was a SEPARATE COMPARTMENT under the Earth, then how was the rich man in Hell about to see through thousands of kilometers of rock to see Lazarus in Abraham’s Bosom? Clealy this was a spiritual vision that the rich man was having. My friend also says that when Jesus said to the thief that he would be with Him that very day in Paradise in Luke 23:43 is not a contradiction to Jesus going to Hell after His death because Jesus being God, was still present in Heaven even when He walked the Earth as indicated by John 3:13 which says:
    And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

    Apart from my friend saying that Jesus suffered in Hell to further pay our sin debt (which I find very problematic) I think what he is saying could have some merit. My only concern then is, what was Jesus doing in the suffering side of Hell for three days? Was it simply to proclaim His victory and the future judgement on the damned? Maybe this is not such a thing I should concern myself with since there is not that much Bible on it though there are references to Jesus going to Hell and the lower parts of the Earth in Ephesians 4:9, Psalms 16:10, Acts 2:27-31 and others. Not sure how to put all this together but as I said, I cant see any strong Biblical evidence that Abraham’s Bosom is a separate underworld compartment even though many people accept this teaching it does not seem to be clearly taught in scripture. Your thoughts…

  43. Hi Daniel,

    The idea of Jesus suffering in hell is heresy. You were right to question it. It is a view held by cults and other groups. Likewise the idea that Jesus died spiritually is false. For more on that see my blog post on the topic. http://standforthefaith.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/beware-of-the-jesus-died-spiritually-heresy/

    There are also conversation here at ExP about the issue.

    Also, “free grace” does not mean much if you get the nature of the atonement incorrect.

    Jim F

  44. Daniel, you bring up some really good questions.

    First, regarding Jesus ever having gone to Hell – I don’t think so. Jesus is God. Hell is separation from God. So, Jesus would have had to quit being God, for some interval, in order to have ever been separated from God. If Jesus could have ever quit being God, then He would be less than God – not fully God. It doesn’t make sense to me that Jesus would have ever gone into hell.

    Second, even if Jesus spoke to lost decedents between the crucifixion and resurrection, it does not mean that he descended into hell. We know from scripture that it is possible for someone to speak to lost souls awaiting judgment, without going in among them. Abraham did, so Jesus could have also.

    Luke 16: 25: “But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”

    Now, regarding Paradise – like you said, the word is only used three times in the New Testament. It is not obvious whether each time it is used it means the exact same thing.

    I believe that Jesus went to be with Old Testament saints in Paradise (not Heaven) between the crucifixion and resurrection. Here is why:

    John 20:17: “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

    Matthew 27:52-53: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

  45. Regarding Hell being separation from God. I used to say that too but I have not found that in the Bible and since changed my mind about that, that seems to be a man made doctrine. Where does it say that Hell is separation from God in the Bible? I can’t find that anywhere. What I do find about Hell is that it is a place that of fire and torment (Matt. 25:41, Luke 16:24 and many other and I think most people agree with that being the case). Actually calling Hell ‘a Christ-less eternity’ as some do or by calling it ‘separation from God’ as many do actually waters down how bad Hell really is. An atheist with a hatred of God would be happy to be separated from God. We need to tell them Hell (and also the lake of fire in the future) is a place of torment with fire which is very clear from alot of scriptures. Actually, Psalm 139:8 makes it clear that God’s presence is still present in Hell which makes sense since God is omni-present so why would we say Hell is separation from God?

    Psalms 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there .

    Revelation 14:10 also says that those who go to everlasting Judgement will be “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:”.

    Everything I see about Hell says that it’s a place of fire. According to what I see in the Bible, Hell is a place of God’s burning anger and wrath and people that go there will be very aware of God and His wrath. I see nowhere that it is a place of ‘separation from God’. I just want to believe what the bible teaches so if you can show me otherwise then I would accept it but I have not found that doctrine in the Bible.

    John 20:17 does prove that Jesus had not ascended BODILY to Heaven till after the resurrection, but does not prove that He was in a separate compartment under the Earth called Abraham’s Bosom with the Old Testament saints. When Jesus said to the theif on the cross that He would be with Him that day in ‘paradise’ could not that mean that since Jesus was omnipresent, that Jesus’ spirit was still in Heaven cause John 3:13 says that Jesus was still in Heaven even when He walked the Earth. Jesus also said in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” So it’s clear that Jesus is omni-present.

    Whilst Matthew 27:52-53 shows us that ‘MANY’ (not all) of the Old Testament saint’s rose from the dead, it does not prove that they were in a separate compartment under the Earth called Abraham’s Bosom and were not permitted in Heaven. Why would they not be permitted into Heaven since the nature of Jesus atonment was such that He is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. (Revelation 13:8).

    Acts 2:29 also makes clear that ‘the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day’ which was said after the resurection in the book of Acts and proves that not all the OT saints rose from the dead. I personally don’t think those OT saints that did rise were given their new glorified bodies but that they died again and will later receive their new glorified bodies with all the other OT saints and those NT saints not alive at the rapture when ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’ but that is for another discussion.

    When you said:
    “Now, regarding Paradise – like you said, the word is only used three times in the New Testament. It is not obvious whether each time it is used it means the exact same thing.” I think in the other two mentions of the word Paradise it is VERY CLEAR that it is A PLACE WHERE GOD DWELLS. Read 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 2:7. In 2 Corinthians 12:4 Paul also says that he was “caught up into paradise” not caught DOWN to paradise. Read the passage, clear that it is in Heaven, Paul calls it the ‘third heaven’ in vs 2.

    When you said John that “It doesn’t make sense to me that Jesus would have ever gone into hell.” It does not make sense to me either John which is why I have resisted it for about a year and a half now. Over the last several months I have been looking into the claims of this doctrine that Jesus went to the burning side of Hell and no-one has convinced me, I actually argued against it with these people but I have started to begin to change my mind since examining thier claims against what the Bible says. They did not convince me but only after when I examine the Bible have I been convinced of this from the Bible itself. Its clear that Jesus went to Hell cause it says so in Psalms 16:10, Acts 2:27-31 and in Ephesians 4:9-10 it says Jesus ‘descended first into the lower parts of the earth’. So it’s not a question in my mind that Jesus went to Hell, question is, what was He doing there?

    Jim, you said regarding this doctrine that “You were right to question it. It is a view held by cults and other groups.” From what I can see, the early church believed this, see the Apostles creed, it’s also been debated for centuries and evidently, the KJV Bible translators also believed this.

    Jim, you also said:
    “Also, “free grace” does not mean much if you get the nature of the atonement incorrect.” Several months ago I actually asked a question regarding my friend and this doctrine (of Jesus suffering for 3 days in Hell) and asked whether believing this doctrine was a salvation issue or not and wether it was a denial of the Gospel. I was NOT given a direct answer. I was also told (possibly in another conversation) that people don’t need to understand the nature of the atonement and how the details of Jesus made payment for us as long as they believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. I have been on the fense with this issue for a while now but the more I look into my Bible, the more I see undeniably that Jesus did in fact go to Hell during those 3 days, why He went, I am not fully sure sure but after spending about 30 minutes on the phone with my friend yesterday but rejecting much of what he said yesterday and later reading my Bible to examine his claims and reading Psalm 88 (have a read of it) and also speaking with him again today and looking at Jonah 2, I have almost fully changed my mind that Jesus did in fact suffer in Hell for 3 days. Are you saying that if I subscribe to this doctrine that it is a salvation issue or denial of the Gospel?

    By the way, please explain to me who Psalm 88 is talking about? It seems to be evidently talking about suffering in Hell and the prophesy seems to be refering to Jesus, have a read.

    Also I found these comparisons rather convincing….
    Matthew 12:40 where it says “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” and compairing that with Jonah Chapter 2 especially vs 2 where it says “And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction uNTO THE LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

    Also compairing Jonah 2:6 with Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:31.

    Jonah 2:6
    I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

    Acts 2:31
    He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

    Again I ask, Are you saying that if I subscribe to this doctrine that it is a salvation issue or denial of the Gospel?

  46. Also, just want to say that I even still feel rather uncomfortable with this conclusion but cant get away fro what I am seeing in the Bible, if the Bible says it, I am going to believe it even if I have been told it’s heresy and have that echoing uncomfortably in my head. If it’s false and can be proven wrong from the Bible then I would be very happy to disregard this belief as I have said, I am not that comfortable with it and have resisted it for over a year and a half now since becoming more aware of this view.

    Also, you may say that my friend convinced me of this, not so, true that he has shown me a few things in the Bible (also discussing this with a few other believers on another forum who held this view) but I actually sharply disagreed with him and others on this for quite a while now, I have only been convinced of this because of what I have read and examined in the Bible. While keeping their claims in the back of my head I have been examining this in the light of scripture over the last few months, especially recently in last few weeks and alot over the last 24 hour re-examining this and the new scriptures my friend showed me, the conclusion seems inescapable for me. It concerns me that people would call me a ‘heretic’ because I believe this now and that some would say that I am denying the gospel. I hope you here at ex-preacherman would not say I am an unbeliever because of this or that I am in denial of the gospel, though that might happen and I would move on if that be the case. I don’t think I am going to change anyones mind here and honestly and I am ok with that, people are free to disagree. If people dont agree and believe in the common view that Jesus went to Abraham’s Bosom as a separate compartment of the underworld, I would disagree but not discount them as brothers if they are a free grace believer cause it’s not a salvation issue if they believe in the death burial and resurrection, hope you at least agree with that.

  47. Daniel,

    Glad you were finally able to comment.

    But, Please… We ask all of our friends to consider this excerpt from our “Guest Rules –“ posted on the Header:

    We appreciate your participation at ExPreacherMan.com and we welcome your comments. However, we suggest that you limit each comment to one subject, question or observation; digested into a couple of short paragraphs for each comment. That way we will not miss a question or observation you have posted.

    Daniel, Please don’t be offended if your every point of every question is not answered. Neither our commenters nor Administrators are obligated to do so.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  48. Daniel, i love your thirst for the truth!

    Like you, i am trying to read and understand scripture and grow in the knowledge of grace. I will admit to not having all of the answers. Dear brother, If I give you an answer that is less than satisfactory to you, it is not because I am trying to withhold anything from you. It’s simply the best I can do! You are so often a couple of steps ahead of me.

    Following are some attempts at clarification:

    1. REGARDING THE NATURE OF HELL:

    I believe it is a place of eternal torment. I was not trying to “soften it up” by referring to it as “eternal separation from God.” The following quote from Clear Gospel Campaign lines up with my thinking:

    “The souls of unbelievers remain after death in conscious misery until the final judgment of the Great White Throne, after the close of the Millennium. Then, with soul and body reunited, they shall be cast into the lake of fire, not to be annihilated, but to be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.”

    The concept of hell being “eternal separation from God” does have some scriptural support:

    2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: ” In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power”

    Since God is omnipresent, perhaps “eternal separation from God” could best be described as being relational, rather than spacial.

    2. DID JESUS GO TO HELL BETWEEN HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION?

    I believe that references to “hell”, in the verses you cited, may refer to “the place of the dead”, which I interpret to be compartmentalized between OT saints (Paradise) and a place of torment.

    Psalm 16:10: ” For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

    My comment: I believe the first part of this verse refers to both the Psalmist and Christ. Since he says “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell”, that seems to indicate that the Psalmist and Christ will be somewhere besides heaven (maybe Paradise) for a time.

    If the first clause of this verse refers to both the Psalmist and Christ, then it cannot mean hell as a place of torment. Otherwise, we have a saved OT saint being made to suffer for sins which were atoned for by Christ. Not consistent with the Gospel

    I believe the second part of this verse refers to Jesus exclusively. I believe it means that Jesus’ body will not experience any decomposition – that is that Jesus’ earthly body and glorified body are one and the same. Acts 13:35-37 seems to expand upon this: ” For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.”

    3. WHY DOES IT MATTER?

    The Bible repeatedly says that we are justified by the physical death of Christ. It does not CLEARLY ever say that we are justified by the blood of Christ PLUS His spiritual death, three days of torment, or anything else.

    4. ARE YOU SAYING THAT IF I SUBSCRIBE TO THIS DOCTRINE THAT IT IS A SALVATION ISSUE OR DENIAL OF THE GOSPEL?

    Of course not!

  49. Hi Daniel,

    The main thing that I would hope that you remember is that Jesus never actually became a sinner that needed to be sent to hell to burn there in punishment. He was the sinless spotless lamb who became sin – that is -took upon Himself the sin of the world. He could only legitimately do so if he was spotless. No other sacrifice would have been acceptable in God’s sight. Therefore why would He need to go to hell to be punished? The gospel is about Jesus Christ the perfect Son of God laying down his physical life that we might be saved by grace through faith in Him.

    John has also given you some good answers.

    Jim F

  50. Thanks John and Jim for replies,
    Sorry Jack, shall try to break up my responses into shorter more easy to read paragraphs.

    Regarding the scripture in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: You may be right but then that scripture has to be looked at what the Bible teaches about Hell as a whole. I’m just thinking that you might be right that while that punishment in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 could be translated as ‘away from’ or ‘separate from’ the Lord but it could also possibly be translated that the everlasting destruction of Hell comes FROM the presence of God and that the flaming fire comes FROM the glory of his power. In the KJV it just says ‘from’ not ‘away from’. Unless the KJV translators got it wrong?

    I agree that people in Hell are ‘relationally separate from God’ but so are unbelievers on Earth and all that needs to be read in the wider context of the Bible and especially Psalms 139:8 and Revelation 14:10.

    All in all, weather Hell is separation from God or if it’s experiencing God’s wrath in the very presence of God is a worthwhile thing to look into but it’s not that big an issue as you would probably agree.

    I will say Jim that some people have mistakenly said that Jesus became a sinner and needed to be born again and connect that to the 3 days in Hell doctrine. That doctrine that ‘Jesus became a sinner and needed to be born again’ is false and complete man made doctrine and I do not subscribe to that at all. I agree 100% percent that Jesus was our sinless sacrifice and that he took on our sins yet He himself always remained God and always remained sinless. Isaiah 53:6 says that “THE LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” I have still not fully made up my mind (almost) but am 90% leaning to the interpretation that the sins that were laid on Jesus meant that Jesus still suffered in Hell for 3 days. between his death resurrection. I’m glad you don’t regard this as a denial of the gospel John but can see why people are uncomfortable with the idea being concerned that it takes away from the cross.

    I agree that we are justified by His blood and reconciled to God by His death on the cross. I also agree with the Bible that we are ‘saved by His life’ (Romans 5:10) and that without the resurrection of Christ we could not be saved from Hell cause it says in the Bible:
    I Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

    Was not the whole work of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ required for our salvation, not just the death of Christ?

    I guess where we disagree is what Jesus did and where He went for those three days and three nights. I certainly don’t think it is a salvation issue. I hope you agree Jim but am aware that the suffering in Hell view is dis-settling and something other free gracers may not accept. I personally would not withdraw my fellowship from those free-gracers who disagree since I consider it a secondary issue not regarding salvation. I like what I read on the Blue Letter Bible website about the different opinions on weather Jesus went to Hell, Heaven or Abraham’s Bossom as a separate underworld compartment:

    “In the end, true saints believe along a number of different interpretive lines at this point. The Christian’s solemn and joyous duty then is to allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves. But as this is not a matter of division, every Christian should allow his brother some breadth in his interpretation, always maintaining godly fellowship borne in love and charity.”

    {Link removed By Admin}
    See links to discussion on the errors of BlueLertter and their use of the Lexicons of Thayer, Westcott and Hort:

    http://tinyurl.com/kxcxwau

  51. Daniel,

    You will note that we have removed the link to BLB.
    {Link removed By Admin}
    See links to our discussion on the errors of BlueLetter and their use of the Lexicons of Thayer, Westcott and Hort:

    http://tinyurl.com/kxcxwau

    Regarding the quote from the BLB, I would disagree: “every Christian should allow his brother some breadth in his interpretation, always maintaining godly fellowship borne in love and charity.”

    Their statement is too general and allows for the propagation of doctrinal error. We cannot allow “breadth” in the interpretation of scripture which results in doctrinal error. We must expose and denounce it. See our latest article:
    Lordship Salvationists and Calvinists: Why We Expose Them

    http://tinyurl.com/ma23ha8

    In Jesus Christ eternally,Jack

  52. Regarding the teaching that Jesus suffered in hell for three days – that doesn’t seem to fit with “it is finished” (John 19:30) or “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

  53. John,

    Great point – the issue is settled.

    Therefore to all:

    Let these two subjects be closed — Our position:

    1.) Jesus Christ did not “die a spiritual death” for our sins,
    2.) Nor did Jesus spend three days being tormented in hell.
    See John’s note above.

    Several of our commenters have discussed those topics completely, clearly and proved the points by scripture in other comments.

    Therefore, please, further discussions on those two topics serve no purpose in clarifying the Gospel to those who are unsaved or confused by Lordship “salvation”/Calvinism. Our goal is to make clear the Truth of the Gospel of our salvation, Believing in Jesus Christ alone who died on the Cross to pay for ALL our sins by His death, burial and resurrection and offers His Gift of eternal life FREE to all who choose to believe/trust in Him alone for their eternal life!! (John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 15 3-5)

    Whether you agree or disagree with our position, please let us refrain from further discussion on these two settled issues. Thank you.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  54. Hello , If you found this thread from the suicidal discussion here , Welcome you found the right place.If you are struggling with self condemning thought’s they are NOT from God. God Loves you no matter what you have done Please know that. If you have Trusted Jesus and Jesus alone for salvation and are struggling with self condemning thoughts , you are sitting under the Wrong Gospel message. Please know While we were yet sinners Christ died for us romans 5:8 our sins are paid for. unfortunately 90% of the preaching out there on the internet and probably in your area do not preach the Free Grace Gospel but a work’s based gospel. Please don’t get upset about that right now , First things first you need to take care of you.
    I myself went through a suicidal depression and found no help from churches the only help was from Jesus, turning my attention on Him and not my circumstances or my condition Jesus Loves you as you are were you are. You are Loved with an everlasting Love no matter what. Please know that.
    If you are taking Prescription Drugs and or anti depressants the drugs maybe causing these thoughts they are not from God the thoughts are not You . Please DO NOT stop taking the drugs all at once you need to wean off them very slowly very carefully there is Help for you to get off the medication that will not cost you. if you do web searches on withdrawing from Anti depressants you will find out how. Please be very careful what you read.

    Curtis

  55. Curtis,

    Thanks for your testimony.

    It is vitally important, however, that everyone who reads ExPreacherMan.com clearly understand that we are not a site for recommending or offering medical, physician, psychiatric or drug abuse advice.

    Our mission is for our readers to understand the Gospel of God’s salvation by Grace through faith in Christ alone.

    And we also want everyone who has trusted Jesus alone as their Savior to realize that they are able to and should “walk in newness of life” as they are obedient to God’s Word — not to be saved but because they are saved by His Grace. (Romans 6:4)

    Our secondary mission is to expose the lies propagated by false teachings of religions which corrupt, confuse and cannot save.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  56. Curtis,

    You said, “I myself went through a suicidal depression and found no help from churches the only help was from Jesus, turning my attention on Him and not my circumstances or my condition Jesus Loves you as you are were you are. You are Loved with an everlasting Love no matter what. Please know that.”

    I can relate. After a major failure in my life that brought me to the end of myself I could not find any help from the 90% of the preaching out there. Only condemnation. Any hope I had left was flushed down the drain because I didn’t persevere well. I was an outsider with no hope of recovery. I was utterly alone.

    This article here brought tears to my eyes. I realize that I can do nothing right on my own, but that’s ok because I am not suppose to anything on my own. Only through His saving power can I do anything. I used to try so hard in the flesh to run with the performing crowd and eventually get burned out because it just didn’t have any power to sustain a true Christian walk in Jesus. I always thought there must be something more to Christianity than just proving I was a good Christian or could serve God well. Deep inside I was always looking for a better motivation but couldn’t see through all the performance preaching.

    I want to thank you all for your commitment to have this blog to minister to a hurting world. I believe their are probably so many stuck in the performance Christianity area but are afraid there is nothing out there to validate what is missing in their life, salvation by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. I still suffer pain when I think back and struggle at times with thoughts of those days. But I am thankful to finally learn that salvation is a FREE GIFT. Without that I would be toast.

    In Christ Forever,
    Nathan

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