Saturday, September 5, 2015

Will Unbelieving Believers be Thrown into the Lake of Fire?

What does the Bible say about unbelieving Believers? After all from the Revelation passage below the “unbelieving” are judged in a hefty manner, ranking behind only the cowardly, and before even the sexually immoral.

REV 21:7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things,[d] and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving,[e] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone,…”

It is true that the first two groups of people to enter the lake of fire are those who have are the fearful (cowardly) and unbelieving. But I don’t think these “unbelieving” are believers (born-again) in the first place since those who “overcome(s)” are already God’s sons and are not included in this group heading into the lake of fire (hell).

(All Christians struggle with fear and unbelief  at some point or another but it doesn’t’ mean they/we are not Christians—so this verse is talking about people who do not believe in their hearts that Jesus is Lord and is their savior and have never confessed with their mouths the same. (Romans  9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation)

And Jesus’s own words in John 5
24"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Strong’s Concordance (Strong’s number 571 for the word “Unbelief” means: 571 ápistos (from 1 /A "not" and 4103 /pistós, "faithful," see there) – properly, not faithful because unpersuaded, i.e. not convinced(persuaded by God). 571 /ápistos ("faithless, unpersuaded") does not always refer to the unconverted – see Jn 20:27. 571 (ápistos) describes someone who rejects or refuses God's inbirthings of faith(note the root, faith, 4102 /pístis).

But what about unbelief for the believer—like professing Christians who suffer unbelief? Can a believer be unbelieving? Can people who claim a relationship with Christ not believe pure grace from God and still be believers? What does Christ think of these?

After all Mark 16: 16 says: Whoever believes …will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Let’s look at the word “does not believe” above. According to Strong’s the word is “Apisteo” and this sin can apply to both believers and unbelievers. (So unbelieving believers versus straight unbelievers—see below.)

Cognate: 569 apistéō (from 571 /ápistos, "unfaithful," without faith, i.e. negating 4103 /pistós, "faithful") – properly, refusing to be persuaded by God ("betray His trust," J. Thayer).

569 /apistéō ("not willing to be persuaded") means more than "disbelieve" ("not believing") because it indicates "refusing to be faithful" (honor a trust or revelation from the Lord). See 571 (apistos).

569/apisteō ("refuse to be persuaded") is sin committed by believers (Mk 16:11; Lk 24:11,41) and unbelievers (Ac 28:24; Ro 3:3; 1 Pet 2:7).569 (apistéō) reveals a person is unconvinced when they should be persuaded by what the Lord has done (offered).

Since we know that the Bible never contradicts itself, seeming contradictions must mean it’s our understanding or interpretations of the verses that needs to be re-evaluated. 

We know of the first 12 disciples Judas was not saved—
But what about the other 11(and Paul was added to this later to make 12 again)

Jesus said this to them:
(Matt 19)  "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

At least from here it appears that the 11 listening were saved—they will sit upon the throne and judging—I don’t think unbelievers will be sitting on thrones and judging—do you? 

Yet we know of at least 2 disciples who showed fear and unbelief—Peter, in denying Jesus 3 times, and Thomas in denying Jesus in the upper room (after the resurrection).

Also John 15 seems to indicate Jesus saying that his disciples are saved when He spoke to them:
3"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 

Also before that in John 13:
9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." 10 Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean."

So what does “clean” mean?
We know that the 11 disciples received the Holy Spirit only after Jesus breathed into them the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection.
John 20: 21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." 22And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

It seems like “clean” or when someone is “clean” they are sanctified, and thus saved.
Ephesians 5: 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
(Sanctify means: set apart as or declare holy)

So going back to John 13 when Jesus declared his 11 disciples as “clean”--He already knew that Judas was not “clean”. 

But what about Peter and Thomas? Both suffered from unbelief. (One because of fear—Peter; the other, Thomas, outright doubt/unbelief—like those who say they are believers today yet have doubts. 

Galatians 3: 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
But Jesus said that Peter is “clean” even though he would eventually deny Jesus 3 times. Jesus didn’t impute this action of “unbelief” against Peter even though Jesus knew Peter would display unbelief and fear. 

And Thomas? 

Thomas said:
 John 20: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

And we know Jesus appeared to Thomas 8 days later:

John 20: Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

So Thomas was an unbelieving believer—he had been in Ministry with Jesus spending 3.5 years with the Lord. And Jesus even said that Thomas will be among the twelve judging on thrones yet here is Thomas displaying unbelief. 

I feel at least from these verses believers can practice unbelief in some form or other. It doesn’t mean they are no longer believers, but that though they are “clean” some aspects of their being is “unclean” and need washing—as likened to Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet. 

It's like when the father of the child who cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” in Mark 9:24.

So for those who worry, wondering if their momentary unbelief would disqualify them from heaven, rest assured, like me and this father, we are already believers, overcomers because of Christ. 

And for those who argue as to why Rev 21:7 would even mention “unbelief” as a sin I submit this to you: because even if the person is brave (courageous, and not fearful), leads a super “good” pure life with no sexual immorality, never told a lie etc. as long as that person never believes (unbelief in Mark 16:16)  in Jesus as their Savior he/she would be thrown into the Lake of fire. 

Emma Right is an award winning young adult and children's fiction author. Her fantasy and suspense thrillers for young people have won multiple awards and have been Amazon best sellers. A homeschool mother of five she hopes her books will empower, entertain and enlighten her readers.  Find out more at and get free books for children.

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