Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 2 No. 66 March 25, 2012
Special Edition: Great Lent Week 6

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Great Lent
WEEK SIX

Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo;  ne in aeternum irascaris nobis

"Spare your people Lord: Be not angry Lord with your people forever."

Table of Contents
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1. Editor's Note

2. Inspiration for This Week

3. The Most Serious Sin in One's Life by LL Pope Shenouda III

A person often forgets the sins he committed, but there may be certain unforgettable sins.

4. Lenten Reflections (Week 6)

5. Daily Meditations and Bible Reading

6. What is the Unforgivable Sin? by David O. Dykes

The only sin God won't forgive is terminal unbelief. God won't forgive that sin because the person who commits it never will ask God for forgiveness. If you are someone who considers yourself to be an unbeliever, I appeal to you to trust Jesus. Every time you say, "No," makes it easier to say, "No," the next time. There is more to life than this life. One day we will face eternity. If you consider yourself an unbeliever or you know someone who is an unbeliever, I've written a parable for you. ...

7. Holy Lent Supplement in Malankara World

8. About Malankara World

Editor's Note
This is the last regular issue of the Malankara World Journal before the Passion Week. Jesus started his public ministry with the exhortation, "Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand." We will experience the God's plan for the redemption of mankind during the passion week. We will see the victory of Jesus over death and Satan. To participate in it, we need to be redeemed. We need to repent and ask for forgiveness of sins prior to Maundy Thursday so that we can become part of His body - the blood and flesh. For this, we need to understand what sin is.

We have two articles in this issue of MW Journal that cover sin from different perspectives. The LL Pope Shenouda III of Coptic Orthodox Church (who was called to his eternal home this week) talks about "unforgettable sin." Pastor David O. Dykes talks about the "unforgivable sin."

The concept of unforgivable sin is one that troubles many of us and Pastor Dykes provides clarity to that topic. Many of the feel-good tele-evangelists avoid discussing sin in their sermons because they do not want to talk about things that upset people. We need to realize that sin, Satan, eternal life, etc. are all real and are not figment of our imagination. Pastor Dykes gives a parable at the end of his article that clearly illustrates why many of us think there is no life after death and why it is a folly. I strongly recommend that you read this article several times so that the concepts discussed will sink in. This will provide us the preparation we need before the passion week.

Inspiration for This Week

Prayer

Glorious God, how we celebrate the fact that our eyes have never seen, our ears have never heard, and our mind has never conceived what You have prepared for us and all the others who truly love You. Help us to understand that this awesome plan is revealed to us by Your Spirit. As surely as You convinced the apostle Paul, convince us thoroughly that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is no God like You, God, who rides on the heavens to help us, and who rides on the clouds in Your majesty! You, the eternal God, are our refuge. And underneath us are Your everlasting arms. You will drive out our enemy before us, saying, "Destroy him!" Who is like Your children, O God, a people saved by the Lord? You are our shield and helper and our glorious sword. Cause our enemy to cower, Lord! Trample down his high places. Our whole being exclaims, "Who is like You, O Lord? You rescue the poor and needy from those who rob them". In Jesus name, Amen.

The Most Serious Sin in One's Life

by LL Pope Shenouda III

[Editor's Note: Pope Shenouda III was called to His eternal home this week. He was the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church since 1971. Pope Shenouda III held the ancient office of Pope of Alexandria and, as such, was a successor to Saint Mark the Evangelist who, according to tradition, brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to the great Mediterranean city in the first century A.D.]

A person often forgets the sins he committed, but there may be certain unforgettable sins.

David the Prophet for instance asked the Lord in his prayer to forget his many sins, saying, "If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" (Ps 130: 3) "Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is righteous." (Ps 143: 2) "Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions." (Ps 25: 7) Even concerning his errors, he says, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." (Ps 19: 12)

However, there was a certain sin which he could not forget about which he said, "My sin is always before me." (Ps 51: 3)

It left a deep impact on his emotions and memory, and shook him strongly, so he said, "I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears." (Ps 6: 6)

Samson likewise committed many sins, but the most serious sin that shook him all through and he could not forget was revealing his secret to Delilah. It made him break his vow, and his enemies conquered him, put out his eyes, and made him a grinder in prison (Judges 16).

Like David and Samson was Solomon.

He sank deeply in worldly pleasures with peace of mind and conscience (Eccl 2: 9, 10). Then he committed his big sin, which made God angry with him (1 Kgs 11: 9- 13), by going after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites, and built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon (1 Kgs 11: 5- 7). Solomon did not forget this sin, nor did God forget it, for God inflected punishments on him, saying, "If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men." (1 Sam 7: 14) To chastise him, God set adversaries against him, Hadad the Edomite, Rezon the son of Eliadah, Jeroboam the son of Nebat (1 Kgs 11: 14- 26).

A girl, for instance, may fall in sin with a young man and wakes up late.

With a sleeping conscience, the sin may seem simple, but she will wake up to find that she has lost her virginity or even conceived of a child. She may think of abortion and murder of the baby, but as this needs money, which she does not have, she falls in many lies! It is a big unforgettable sin implanted deep in her mind!

A fault may even destroy one's whole life.

A student who cheats in the exam will be dismissed from the university, and will be exposed to disdain and bad reputation! A person who falls in drug addiction, will have his nerves and name destroyed, even after being healed! More serious is the state of a person who contracts AIDS through sin. Seeing his health destroyed and death is nearby, he cries within blaming himself for such a fall, but very late!

The sin of Adam and Eve had its effect on all mankind, with all the serious consequences that continued for generations.

Their sin caused the corruption of the whole human nature, and needed the Incarnation and the Redemption. It was so serious that God let its effects continue until now. God said to Adam, "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return." And to Eve He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children." (Gen 3: 16- 19)

These consequences continue until now, in spite of the attempts of man to overcome them!

Some sins caused the perdition of those who committed them.

Some perished in their sins, like Judas Iscariot. Undoubtedly, he had many sins, as being a thief, and stealing from the money-box that was with him (Jn 12: 6)!

However, the biggest sin which he could not bear and made him hang himself was his dishonesty to his Master! (Mt 27: 5)

A similar sin was that of the sons of Eli the Priest, for which the Lord said, "The iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever." (1 Sam 3: 14) In anger the Lord judged Eli himself for the iniquity of his sons which he was aware of, but did not restrain them (1 Sam 3: 13).

Another similar sin was that of Ananias and Sapphira his wife, by which they deserved to die immediately without any chance for repentance (Acts 5)!

Other sins extended for long generations.

An example is the curse of Canaan by our father Noah because of disdaining his father (Gen 9: 25). It continued until the days of the Lord Christ and He used it in His talk with the Canaanite woman (Mt 15: 26). Another example is the punishment to those who, led by pride and arrogance, built the Tower of Babel. The Lord's punishment was confusing their language (Gen 11: 7), which punishment continued up to the present day.

Many sins are not recorded in the Holy Scripture, but it is generally said, "They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, no, not one." (Ps 14: 3)

On the other hand, certain sins and their punishments are recorded in the Scripture, such as:

The adultery committed by the whole creation which led to the flood (Gen 6); the homosexuality that led to the destruction of Sodom (Gen 19); the attempt to steal priesthood by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram for which the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up (Num 16); the dishonesty of Absalom to his father David (1 San 6- 18); the denial of Peter and the Lord's forgiveness to him (Mt 26; Jn 21); the desire of Ahab for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite (1 Kgs 21); the worship of idols by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Ahab, and others ( Kgs 12); and many other unforgettable sins, some of which even were committed by prophets.

Saul of Tarsus, as an example, never forgot that he had persecuted the church, although he had done this by ignorance before believing in Christ, and although he repented and became an elect apostle who did many wonders and signs and labored much for the sake of spreading the gospel message. He said about himself, "Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." (1 Tim 1: 13) He mentioned his sin again when speaking about the appearance of the Lord Christ to him after His resurrection, "Last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time, for I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Cor 15: 8, 9)

The seriousness of sins lies not in their number, but in their awfulness.

The sin of Simon the sorcerer, though not repeated, was a serious sin, because he wanted to purchase the gift of God with money! (Acts 8: 18- 30) Likewise was the sin of Herod, who accepted the words of the people 'The voice of a god and not of a man!' An angel of the Lord struck him immediately, because he did not give glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died (Acts 12: 22, 23).

Peter's sin of denial was not repeated, but its seriousness was in its weight, because sins are not counted but weighed.

If to its weight is added its repetition, the matter will be more serious. Such sins lie in the subconscious and deepen their roots turning into a source of dreams, thoughts, and lusts. They become a nature in man, and a habit sticking to man's nature as part of his personality, hard to get rid of.

It is like something one tastes and likes, so cannot dispense with!

One in such a case is ready to repent for all one's sins except for this one sin! It is flowing in his blood, deep in his emotions and desires. However, some do not forget their sins because they trouble their conscience when repenting, therefore they groan with much pain exclaiming how they reached such a state and dropped to such a level. Others remember their big sin while still captive to it, unable to resist, which is harder!

Such a person needs a great push from outside that may rescue him from the pit in which he has fallen, and that may tear up the ties binding him.

He needs the work of the grace and of God's Holy Spirit in order to hate such a sin and be no more attracted to it.

Other sins may trouble a person and shake his conscience when he wakes up.

Examples of such a sin are the sin of apostasy, blasphemy, and doubt. Yea, for doubt easily enters man's mind and hardly comes out. It makes a person lose the simplicity of faith that he had before and get lost in endless intellectual matters. If doubts concern somebody, a person will lose forever trust in him.

Some other sins are unforgettable because of their consequences.

If a husband, for instance, abused his wife and she could not bear it, she might leave him and go to her parents' home. Any reconciliation attempts may be for no avail because the insult was deep. She may lose her love for him and form a bad idea about his character and way of dealing. He will remember that fault with regret, considering it the biggest sin in his marital life. The matter may develop more seriously to reach courts.

A sin may become the biggest sin in one's life if it is irremediable.

If a monk, for instance, got married breaking his vow, and lost his virginity and his good reputation, and his priesthood if he was a priest, he would not be able to restore all this. Imagine if this monk lost his wife or differed with her, he will find himself in complete loss spiritually, bodily, socially, and dogmatically!

Sometimes a person's biggest sin is due to a defect in him, like the love of getting news about the others, which thing may cause him to lose his friends and the others. Such a person craves for news, searches for them, asks others and listens stealthily, then makes conclusions. He may even address embarrassing questions to get some news out of the answer. He may exchange news with others like him. Finally, he finds himself bearing a big and heavy burden of news, so he turns into a news conductor!

Such a person makes of the others news the talk of everybody, to appear as if he knows all secrets and is an object of trust.

People may hear such secrets, but some may avoid him lest they hear something spiritually harmful, or become themselves an object of his news. He will find nobody around him, and troubled by his thoughts, he will lose trust in everybody.

Again, he may turn from a news conductor to a news inventor!

The hardest sin indeed is that which sticks to a person more than skin to flesh. It becomes like part of his nature and character. It may turn into a psychic disease within him causing other perhaps incurable diseases, whether ethical or social.

Source: Copts United, Coptic Church

Lenten Reflections (Week 6)
Daily Meditations and Bible Reading:
What is the Unforgivable Sin?

by David O. Dykes

Read: Matthew 12:22-32

When I served as pastor of a church in North Alabama during the early 1980s, there was an usher in our church named John. He was a sweet man who was always present in his regular spot to greet people and hand out bulletins, but John was a very troubled man. On several occasions, I met with him, and he began to weep as he told me that during World War II he had done something he thought was so evil that he was certain he had committed the unforgivable sin.

I tried to help him by telling Him God could forgive every sin except the sin of unbelief, but that didn't change his mind. John never told me what he had done, but he was convinced he never would go to heaven. He attended church and served the Lord faithfully. His family was active in the church, and his children were talented singers; but he was tormented with the belief that he had committed the unpardonable sin and never would make it to heaven.

I haven't heard from John for many years; and based on his age, chances are he already has died. From everything I knew about John and his life, I think he's in heaven; but he missed out on so much peace and joy in this life because he was tormented by the belief that his sin was unforgivable.

John isn't the only person who has expressed fear to me of having committed the unforgivable sin. Dozens of people have told me the same thing. Maybe you've wondered if you've committed the unforgivable sin. Let me start by saying what I tried to tell John: If you are concerned that you have committed the unforgivable sin, the fact that you are burdened about it means you probably haven't!

I often say there is a parable in every miracle and a miracle in every parable, so let's look first at the message we can glean from the miracle. Then we'll talk about the implications of the parable.

The Miracle: Jesus Can Deliver the Most Hopeless Person!

The Bible says, "They brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could talk and see." The phrase "demon-possessed" is actually a mistranslation. The literal term is demonized, so a better translation would be "under a demonic influence."

There are many levels of demonic influence. The blind and mute man in this passage was the victim of demonic influence, which makes us wonder, "Is every blindness or sickness the result of demonic activity?" The answer is, "No." This is one of the few times in the gospels that demonic affliction is associated with physical impairment. There were many times Jesus healed sickness that wasn't related to demonic activity, and there were many times Jesus delivered people from demonic influence when there weren't any symptoms of sickness.

There isn't any elaboration about this miracle, it simply says Jesus healed the blind and mute man so he could talk and see. How tragic it must have been for this man living in darkness and unable to talk! His family and friends must have thought his case was hopeless, but no person is beyond hope when Jesus is present.

This miracle reminds me of Helen Keller. As a young girl, Helen contracted scarlet fever; the illness left her blind, deaf and mute. She grew up frustrated by her inability to communicate and often flew into uncontrollable rages. Her parents were ready to give up on her, but before they packed her off to an insane asylum, they made one final attempt. They hired a half-blind teacher named Anne Sullivan to see if she could do anything with this helpless, hopeless child.

In 1962, The Miracle Worker was filmed with Anne Bancroft playing Anne Sullivan and Patty Duke playing Helen Keller. They both won Academy Awards for those roles. If you saw the movie, you probably recall how frustrated and angry Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller were about their inability to communicate.

The climax of the story is when Helen feels water on her hand and Anne repeatedly spells water using sign language into Helen's hand. Suddenly the light comes on and Helen understands. From that point Helen Keller quickly learned to communicate. Almost overnight she changed from a frantic, frustrated girl into a composed, eager student.

Helen Keller went on to become the first deaf and blind person to earn a college degree. Before she died in 1968, she had written a dozen books and traveled the world. In her own words, she described this turning point in her life: "Once I knew only darkness and stillness...my life was without past or future...but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living."

That sounds like my testimony, as well. Once I was living in spiritual darkness and a miracle worker came into my life. With His nail-pierced hand He put His Word into my heart and replaced my emptiness with a kind of life beyond description.

You may feel that your life seems hopeless right now. Jesus is the real miracle worker; if you cry out to Him today, He can bring light where there was once darkness. Perhaps you have someone in your family or circle of friends whose life is out of control, hopeless. Don't stop praying for and sharing with him or her; remember Jesus can deliver the most hopeless person.

When Jesus performed the miracle of healing the demon-possessed man, some witnesses wondered if He was the "Son of David," a title for the Messiah. His enemies, the Pharisees, accused Him of using the power of Beelzebub to cast out demons. (Beelzebub means "lord of the flies." People observed swarms of flies around dead animals and equated them with death and demons.)

In Jewish literature, Beelzebub was a chief demon and sometimes identified as Lucifer, but the point they were making was: "Sure this guy has some powers, but he gets his power from Satan, not God." That was a very dangerous accusation, and Jesus used it as an opportunity to give a short but powerful parable.

The Parable: Jesus Came to Destroy the Works of the Devil

Jesus probably almost laughed in the faces of His accusers and said, "If I'm working for Satan, then it doesn't make sense for Me to repair the damage he caused to this man." Then He said, "If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."

It's a dangerous thing for religious people to say God's activities are from Satan. When I was in college, I traveled around leading weekend youth revivals. I would play my 12-string guitar and lead songs before I preached. The songs I sang were pretty radical—they weren't in the hymnal. They were heavy metal songs such as, "Get all excited, go tell everybody that Jesus Christ is Lord."

I can remember being in one church in North Alabama, and as I started leading the first song of the evening, an elderly man walked out shaking his head. It wasn't hard to miss him because there were only about 60 people there that night. He didn't come back in for the service, but he was there for the fellowship that followed. He came over to me, his face red. I don't remember his exact words, but he said something to the effect of: "I don't like you coming into my church and playing the devil's rock and roll music. We don't allow guitars in our church. It's the devil's instrument." I guess I was doubly devilish because I played a 12-string guitar!

I know he meant well, but he was doing the same thing the Pharisees had done. He didn't like my music, but God was saving teenagers every weekend.

You may think that kind of accusation was limited to the 1970s, but that's not true. I didn't go, but recently in the Oil Palace, Skillit and Toby Mac gave a concert. If you had been there, you might have walked out saying it was the devil's music; but be careful, because God is using those guys to reach a younger generation for Christ.

What can we learn from this miracle and parable? Here are four take-away truths:

Satan is strong, but Jesus is stronger!

In verse 29, Jesus delivers one of the shortest parables in the New Testament. He says, "How can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house." In this mini-parable, the strong man is Satan. His house is this world. Satan is called the prince of this world. Jesus is the One who came into the world, and He binds Satan and steals his possessions.

Yet Jesus technically isn't stealing anything from Satan; He's reclaiming what Satan stole from Him. Satan is the thief. Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full."

In the Old Testament, Jacob was a deceiver who stole Esau's birthright and his blessing from their father, Isaac. That's what Satan has done for every member of the human race; he has stolen our divine birthright and blessing. Jesus came to reclaim what originally belonged to us—our right to be children of God and receive God's divine blessing.

Satan is strong, but don't have to worry because Jesus is stronger! The Bible says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 3:8, 4:4).

A few weeks ago, our church was blessed when Travis Cottrell sang "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." This hymn originally was written in 1528 by the German pastor Martin Luther. Luther had an ongoing battle with Satan. It is recorded that he once was so angry with Satan's accusations that he hurled an ink bottle at him.

Maybe you've never thought about it, but because our version rhymes in English and the original hymn was written in German, we never have sung Luther's exact words. Our English version was translated by Fredrick Hedge in 1853. Let me share two of the stanzas in a literal translation of Luther's words:

A Mighty Fortress is our God, a great shield and weapon;
He freely helps us in every adversity that now concerns us.

The old, evil enemy now means serious business,
Great power and much cunning are his cruel armor,
On earth there is none like him.

When I first sang that in English, I thought it was talking about God, but it's about Satan. Here's the literal translation of the third verse:

And though the world is full of devils,
Who want to completely devour us
We don't fear too much,
It should work out for us alright.
The prince of this world, as angry as he is,
Does nothing to us, because he is judged,
One little Word can fell him.

Luther capitalized "Word" because the Word became flesh—Jesus, who came to destroy the works of the devil. Sure the devil is strong, but Someone much stronger came to bind Him and reclaim what was stolen. So don't be afraid of Satan, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

It's impossible to be neutral about Jesus.

In verse 30 Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters." Someone said this is the most narrow-minded statement Jesus ever made. That may be true in our current pluralistic, super-tolerant American religious mindset, but that doesn't change the fact that it is true.

Jesus says you cannot straddle the fence when it comes to Him. You are either at this moment trusting Him or rejecting Him. The only thing you cannot do is ignore Him. It's also true that by our daily actions and words we either are gathering people to Christ or scattering them away from Him. There are no neutral actions when it comes to Christ. Are you attracting people to Jesus by your lifestyle and language? If you aren't then, you're pushing them away.

In his classic book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis explains why it is impossible to be neutral about Jesus: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say.

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse.

"You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."

Some nations such as Switzerland declare that when it comes to war, they are neutral; but if they ever were under attack, they would be forced to change their position. People who try to be neutral about Jesus remind me of the man in Kentucky during the Civil War who tried to be neutral. He didn't want to be identified with the Rebels, so he wore a dark blue shirt; he didn't want to be identified with the Yankees, so he wore grey trousers. As a result, he was shot at from both sides! There is no neutrality when it comes to Christ.

God graciously forgives every sin except one.

Jesus said: "I tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven" (Mark 3:29).

When some people (such as my friend John mentioned earlier) read that there is one sin that is unforgivable, they immediately tend to fear they have committed it. That fear often prevents them from accepting God's forgiveness for a multitude of forgivable sins.

It reminds me of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God said, "Eat and enjoy the fruit of all the trees except one." Instead of enjoying those thousands of other good trees, they focused on the one that was off limits.

What was the unforgivable sin? Let me tell you what it is not: It is not murder. Moses was a murderer, and he is in heaven. It is not adultery. King David committed adultery, and God forgave him. It's not divorce. The woman at the well had multiple divorces and was forgiven.

If I listed 10 sins that are forgivable, someone would think, "Well, I've got a sin not on that list." If I told you a hundred sins that weren't the unforgivable sin, someone would have one not on the list. So just know and rejoice that every sin except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is forgivable.

The only unforgivable sin is saying, 'No,' to the Holy Spirit's call to repent and be saved.

Jesus said: "When He [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8). Before you can be saved, you must experience a sense of guilt about your sinful condition. Jesus said this is the role of the Holy Spirit. It's not my job to make you feel guilty; that's the job of the Holy Spirit. Scary stories may bring fears, and sad stories may bring tears; but only the Spirit of God can bring true conviction of sin.

The word blasphemy means to "speak against." So blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is when a person says, "No," to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In that moment he or she is speaking against the Holy Spirit.

During high school, I worked at a saw mill. My job was pulling lumber off the green chain. I would take the freshly cut lumber that came directly from the saw and stack it according to size. This green lumber was rough and covered with splinters. I wore thick, canvas gloves to guard against splinters, but some of the men had worked there for years. They had developed thick calluses on their hands so they didn't need gloves. Shaking hands with them was like shaking hands with a lobster!

I believe some people have calluses on their hearts. They have heard the gospel message many times and said, "No," so many times that they have hardened their hearts. They are in a dangerous condition where they no longer can sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

In his excellent book The Holy Spirit, Billy Graham gives the best definition of this sin I've ever read. He writes: "The unpardonable sin involves the total and irrevocable rejection of Jesus Christ. It is rejecting, completely and finally, the witness of the Holy Spirit, which declares that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who alone can save us from our sins. No one has committed the unpardonable who continues to be under the disturbing, convicting and drawing power of the Holy Spirit. When a person has so resisted the Holy Spirit that he strives with him no more, then there is eternal danger" (The Holy Spirit, p. 124).

So the only sin God won't forgive is terminal unbelief. God won't forgive that sin because the person who commits it never will ask God for forgiveness. If you are someone who considers yourself to be an unbeliever, I appeal to you to trust Jesus. Every time you say, "No," makes it easier to say, "No," the next time.

There is more to life than this life. One day we will face eternity. If you consider yourself an unbeliever or you know someone who is an unbeliever, I've written a parable for you.

Once there were unborn twins, Carrie and Larry, inside their mother's womb. One day Carrie says to her twin brother, "Larry, I believe in life after birth. Do you?" Larry replies, "No, I don't believe in life after birth. This is all there is and all there will ever be." Carrie sighs and says, "Not me. I've got to believe there is another place—a place of light and colors, a place where we will have the freedom really to live." Larry says, "Well, go ahead and believe if it makes you feel better, but I don't see any evidence of any other existence than this."

Later, Carrie says, "Larry, I know you won't believe this either, but I have decided that I believe in the existence of a mother who gives us life." Larry scoffs and says, "What are you talking about? Have you ever seen a mother? No. I tell you, this place is all there is, and we've just got to make the best we can of this existence. Why do you want more? I know it's dark and tight, but we've got everything we need right here."

Carrie replies, "Don't you feel those squeezes, and can't you hear those muffled sounds? I know the squeezes are sometimes painful, but I think they're just getting us ready for another kind of living that's much more beautiful than this where we will see our mother face to face."

Finally, Larry was so fed up he didn't even answer; after all, the womb was all there was and all there would be. A few days later they were born, and Larry realized he was wrong. For Carrie, it was even better than she imagined!

Do you believe in life after death, or do you believe this is all there is? Do you not believe because you don't see God? How can you not see God? One day, we will learn there is life after death; and for those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, it will be better than we can ever imagine!

Source: Preaching Daily. David O. Dykes is the Senior Pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas.

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