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I am curious if there are any actions or conditions which "seal your fate" so to speak, such that should you do them—no matter how much you repent or accept Jesus or pray—that you are doomed forever to Hell.

For example, Richard Dawkins wrote several anti-God books and has long been critical of religion; is it possible that he's "passed the threshold" of "saveableness"? Or are we all always saveable? Or someone who is born gay, and while I understand not all Christians think gays will go to Hell, there are certainly some major groups that do. Are these people then, genetically determined to go to Hell? A better example might be someone who is born blind and deaf, or extremely mentally ill, such that with no amount of instruction would they be able to understand the Bible, let alone the concept of "book" or "savior". These people would never embrace Jesus; are they damned from birth without any hope?

In other words, is it possible that the conditions of your existence could doom you to Hell inevitably, despite any efforts or willingness on your part?

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I think the question needs to be rewritten for better focus. You start out asking if there are actions (such as Dawkins') which can "seal a person's fate" and cause them to be beyond redemption, but end the question asking if conditions beyond a person's control could make it impossible for them to accept Christ, thus dooming them to Hell. I think these are two distinct topics which require separate answers. –  Jas 3.1 May 8 '12 at 17:23
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@Jas There may be distinct causes of ones "fate being sealed", but the fate is the same either way, which is why it's appropriate to group them. It's clear I'm looking for either or, from the very first sentence: I am curious if there are any actions or conditions which "seal your fate"... –  stoicfury May 8 '12 at 22:33
    

7 Answers 7

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Short Answer: Absolutely not. There are no conditions under which a person is doomed to Hell despite having a sincere desire and willingness to return to God.

This will be tricky to explain, so for the sake of space, I will link passages rather than quoting them. I will address the common counterarguments to my answer at the end.

Nature of God

This topic cannot be understood outside of an understanding of God's nature.

In other words, He is perfectly willing and able to help anyone return to Him - this was just as true for a sinner like Hitler as it was for a sinner like Saul. But there is another important variable.

  • We know that God desires all men to return to Him and be saved, and Satan desires all men to reject God and perish, but we know neither of these desires will come to pass. This proves there is another variable - us.

  • God is omniscient; He knows everything - even our hearts - even before we are born. That is to say, God knew whether we would ultimately embrace Him or reject Him before we even existed! It is according to this foreknowledge that He "chose" us, deciding who He would draw to repentance.

"Doomed Forever to Hell"

The key thing to understand about Heaven & Hell is that ultimately, most people don't want to return to God. We will all "live" forever, but if we ultimately decide to reject God, our eternal "life" will be eternal separation from God (also known as "Hell"). I think it's less about God damning and dooming people, and more about people rejecting Him and God giving them what they wanted, leaving them alone.

Born Sinful

Everyone is born sinful - this isn't a problem unique to homosexuals. Homosexuality is a sin, and believers are called to reject and overcome such carnal impulses. As far as the idea that they can't overcome it because of genetics, all I can say is be careful who you learn from - the world may say that homosexuality is genetically predetermined, but they also say water can't be miraculously turned to wine, there is no God, Jesus is a liar, etc.

Unable to Understand

Everyone is born in a state where they are unable to understand God's ways. In terms of physical inhibitions, I think you would enjoy reading up a bit on Helen Keller - before the age of 2 she became deaf and blind, but was still able to come to God in a beautiful way (as I understand it.) Regardless, there are two important points to make here:

  1. God doesn't ultimately even need a person to be born to know their heart, what (if anything) would bring them to repentance, and in which eternal dwelling to prepare a place for them!

  2. Despite Point #1, God will never condemn a person who is legitimately ignorant and hasn't had an opportunity to respond. Remember - He is perfectly just.

Ultimately, we have to recognize that it would be ridiculous to think our God would send someone to Hell for eternity who was unable to choose Him. It is simply inconsistent with His nature as revealed in scripture.

Answering the Objections

There are some popular "counterarguments" to this teaching, which can be summarized as:

  1. Willful rejection of God: For example, "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" results in not being forgiven, and denying Jesus before men results in being rejected by Jesus before God.

  2. Willful rejection of God's ways: For example, refusing to forgive others results in not being forgiven by God, and continuing to willfully practice sin results in there no longer being a sacrifice available to you.

Let me emphasize once again, that I am using the term "willful rejection" to refer to an "informed desire and decision to ultimately reject". This is the only point important to salvation in scripture - at no point are mistakes, ignorance, etc. met with unmerciful condemnation despite repentance!

So all of these counterarguments are really the same, and could be summarized as "if you ultimately choose to reject God you can't be saved." Of course that is true! But it is irrelevant to your question. You are asking if it is possible for a person to "willingly" desire to follow God, but be unable to do so because of a past mistake. The answer is definitely no.

To say it a different way, of course a willful rejection of God and/or His ways precludes you from salvation! But then again, such a person would not be seeking repentance... if they did, it would be evidence that the so-called "unforgivable sin" they committed was not "willful" in the manner I've been describing, and was thus not "unforgivable"!

God will give every opportunity necessary to a person in order to draw them to Himself if they would ultimately be willing to chose Him. To argue otherwise would be to undermine God's just predestination according to foreknowledge. (I hope that is clear.)

Since the blasphemy argument got some attention here already, I'll quickly speak on it. This article covers the topic pretty well, but briefly, this is not a slip of the tongue or mistake which precludes you from true repentance, but rather, it is evidence of a heart in willful rejection of the very presence of God. Of course, if a person "blasphemes" out of ignorance, that can be overlooked upon repentance;

"even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief" - Paul

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it's always very nice and encouraging to read answers or anything that emphasizes the love and compassion of God winning over any other factor. we live in a world where resources are so scarce, everyone is stretched thin and being criticized is the norm. if only, all sinners would know the infinite, unfathomable love of God, would they not repent? –  user1539 May 9 '12 at 1:08
    
somebody told me before, regarding sinners, who might hold to a sinful philosophy: this is their crutch, because they know not the love of God. should one as a Christian attempt to forcibly remove the sinner's crutch before telling him of the love of God, that passes all understanding? wouldn't such an action only force the sinner to cling to his crutch more tightly, as it is his only means of mobility? but first let a sinner know of the infinite love of God, that he might walk, and he may yet be willing to discard the crutch. –  user1539 May 9 '12 at 1:16
    
Hallelujah! Let all the earth know, that God could save ANYONE! –  user1539 May 9 '12 at 1:30
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@user1539 You see, this is why I asked the question: What does it mean to worship God in truth? I could not get any answer suitable answer but now I do have something in mind. On doubt God wants us to see him as a loving Father, but most often we close our eyes on how He reveals Himself to us and only dwell on the part that suits us, that fits our reason for doing the wrong things on purpose. We forget that He is a fearful God who has helped people kill before. –  Nok May 9 '12 at 10:04
    
@Nok: I don't know what you mean about wrong things, but as for me, I am a sinner from my mother's womb, have never done a single right thing before God in my life, and would be worse than nothing apart from the grace of God. –  user1539 May 10 '12 at 2:30

Jesus said the only sin that will not be forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. So what is it?

Pride, the type that tells you that you own yourself, that you are your own master, your own God. This kind of pride shuts the Holy Spirit out and makes itself king. When your ego declares itself God over you, that is a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

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I realize there is some speculation in my answer, but to answer the question by saying, yes, Jesus said x, but we are not sure what x means - that doesn't really answer the question, so I offer mine –  Hammer May 13 '12 at 8:42
    
-1 (for now) I would like to see some references / justifications for this interpretation. –  Jas 3.1 May 13 '12 at 21:28

The Judas case is one that should be watched closely though it still remains a controversy. Why the word "perdition" in:

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. " (John 17:12).

Others claim he is not forgiven because he committed suicide, but we both know that "all manner of sin" in Matthew 12:31 covers this as the only exception is mentioned.

It also appears to me that Jesus gives no hope for the betrayer like he did here:

"So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her... ...And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one..." (John 8:7-9).

He convicts Judas rather

"Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve." (John 6:70-71).

"The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said." (Matthew 26:24-25).

Jesus, knowing what was about to happen according to the prophecy did not restrain the betrayer.

"And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. " (John 13:27).

We also know that Judas confessed of betraying an innocent man, though he did not repent that particular way where we turn to God. He regrets, returns the money, and exiles himself. The emphasis is placed on whether he was rebuked for committing the sins of stealing money, Satan entrying into him and committing suicide or something else.

If Judas' personality were to be replaced by somebody else, would his fate be different as Jesus seem to paint Judas'? I see a condition of prophecy as a partial answer to your question because it is a single instance to use. Also I'm not fully sure what sinning against the Holy Ghost means but definitely, Judas' case cannot be overlooked at.

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From passages like 2 Cor 10:5 and 2 Tim 2:23, we learn an important principle - stick to what you know about God, and resist speculations which (A) come from ignorance, or (B) contradict what you know. While you have quoted some thought-provoking passages, I do not believe you have provided an answer. Rather, you seem to present passages which you believe to be unclear in regards to the answer. –  Jas 3.1 May 10 '12 at 18:56

As Mason Wheeler points out, Jesus explicitly said that there is only one unforgivable sin.

There have been plenty of cases throughout history of some of the worst sinners turning to God and, as far as we can tell, getting saved. John Newton was a slave trader who by his own admission was responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people and the enslavement of many more. Then he repented and became a Christian. In our own time, Bernard Nathanson was a founder and the first president of the National Abortion Rights Action League and was responsible for many thousands of deaths, but then he got saved. Etc.

I don't know any Bible-believing Christian who says that homosexuals cannot be saved. If you find some number of such people, they're not the mainstream of Christian thought. Yes, we believe homosexual acts to be sin -- just like stealing, adultery, covetousness, etc. A homosexual is no better or worse off than any other sinner, which is to say, any other human being.

As to physical handicaps ... No doubt being born blind and deaf makes it difficult for a person to acquire any information, including nothing of salvation. But it's certainly not impossible. Blind and deaf people have managed to learn to read in Braille and so forth.

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I remember a story about this one guy somewhere in the Middle East who actually incited riots against Christians, causing several of them to be killed. He became rather well known for this, and so he took his show on the road for a while.

Then, he went to Damascus...

The point is that God can break through any threshhold, if He absolutely has to. If God wants a soul, it will be his. There is a point at which a person's heart can grow so hard that it becomes highly improbable - but that is because God loves his creatures too much to overwhelm them.

To force one of his creatures to love Him would be akin to a spiritual form of rape. He allows most people to choose. And, just like people who date, one can convince oneself so strongly against a person that pretty much anyone would give up on reconciliation. But highly improbable is not the same as impossible.

There are stories (like Anthony Flew) of atheists who change. But, yes, these are not common. The truth is most of the time that a good and living God will, as Romans 1:24 says "give them over to their own desires."

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While your point is valid, the turning of Saul into Paul is a great example of God's love for everyone. You are ignoring the scripture cited by @MasonWheeler which does say blaspheme against the Holy Ghost is not forgivable. –  ryan May 8 '12 at 19:21

The Bible clearly says, that God doesn't want death of a sinner, but so he repents and live. And also, that He wants all people saved. Therefore idea, that some people are condemned from birth is absurd.

I also don't know what are the monsters that believe that people that suffer from homosexual passion, but don't commit sins will be punished. Or that mental retardation can stop Christ's love.

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Hi, Zefciu. This is a good answer, in my opinion, but could you please edit your answer to add some references? (For example, where does it clearly say in the Bible the things that you claim it clearly says?) In case you're not familiar with it, you can find the complete text of multiple different Bible translations on biblegateway.com, which makes it pretty popular for references on here. –  Mason Wheeler May 8 '12 at 16:58
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I'm sorry, I thought these are well known fragments. Jas 3.1 linked them and his answer is very good and deep. –  zefciu May 9 '12 at 3:13

Jesus answers this one pretty clearly: such a sin does exist.

Mark 3:28-29

28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.

Unfortunately, nowhere in the Bible does it actually say what constitutes blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and speculation as to its meaning tends to be all over the place.

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Thanks. It's interesting how it's written as "but is in danger of eternal damnation." In modern English vernacular, to be "in danger" doesn't guarantee danger will come to you. It almost suggests as if—though you will never be forgiven—you may not quite be subject to eternal damnation. –  stoicfury May 8 '12 at 16:42
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@stoicfury agreed, but: "hath never forgiveness" is less ambiguous (assuming the translation is sound) –  Marc Gravell May 8 '12 at 20:13
    
I was going to post the same thing.. –  user1054 May 9 '12 at 2:19
    
The Bible doesn't spell out exactly what constitutes blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but the context gives us the general idea. Jesus had performed a miracle, and then certain people said that he did this, not by the power of the Holy Spirit, but by the power of Satan. Jesus then makes the above statement. The next verse is, "Because they said, 'He has an unclean spirit'". So the gist of the idea appears to be that the unforgivable sin is attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, or perhaps a little more generally, denying the work of the Holy Spirit. Details are highly debateable. –  Jay May 9 '12 at 6:46
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I struggle with this answer, because (A) you argue from a passage you don't claim to understand (2 Cor 10:5, 2 Tim 2:23) and (B) the question wasn't "is there an unforgivable sin", but rather was to the effect of "is there an unforgivable sin which would prevent a truly repentant person from being saved" (which requires quite a different answer.) –  Jas 3.1 May 10 '12 at 19:09

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