First off, bravo on the creation of this very pertinent topical discussion.
I am a charismatic bible school grad, and husband to an OSAS believing wife. I myself do not believe OSAS, although I desperately wish I did. After bible school, I fell away. It has been three years. I never verbally rejected Jesus, yet I lost all zeal, all passion and obedience to Jesus. Emotionally, I longed for Him, I still long for him. Yet in my time of transgression (in which I may still be living) I lost confidence in my salvation, I lost the emotional bond with my savior, I lost the feeling that I was pleasing in God's sight, I lost the ability to "enter in" and receive healing, or maybe I just lost the willingness to be with Him. Now I find myself at a place where I want to read my bible again, I want to pray and walk with God again, I want Him and to experience His love and His salvation.
During this time of personal apostacy, my best friend (also a bible school grad) totally rejected Jesus, and I could do nothing to stop him. If fact, I may have unknowingly helped him. We smoked pot together (I don't believe there is anything wrong with it, in moderation), cussed (which, again is relative, yet I know is not in any way beneficial, or conducive to serving God) drank (which Jesus did) and crudely joked together (which I know is wrong, and sickens me). And we still do. It is the only level of friendship we now have, yet I can't break it off, because I think that somehow, my love for him will sway him back, and if I reject him, I will be confirming for him the "hypocrisy of Christianity". I constantly assert his need for God to him (not in a forceful, bible thumping way, but in a gentle, nudging way). For example, here's a recent chat between us, actually as I was reviewing your site for the first time, this morning:
my friend: OSAS
my friend: LOL
me: decent site
my friend: i used to know all the scripture assiciated with the topic
my friend: hahahahaha
me: it's all about jesus and you. period
(my friend)'s status is now "Idle" (10/16/02 at 12:33 PM)
One time, he called me and told me he had gotten a hold of some hallucinogenic mushrooms. I had done them several times in "the old days", and he wanted to know whether or not he should do them, what was my opinion. I had had very positive experiences with them when seeking God, and, since he was going through such a tough time with his Christian walk and attitude toward Jesus, I counseled him to try them. "Absolutely", I responded. It was during one such subsequent mushroom trip, when (he later told me) he cemented in his mind what he really believed about Christianity. He "discovered" that he really believed the Bible to be a book of lies, and that, although Jesus may be whom he claimed to be, the Bible was no adequate source for truth. He said Christianity failed him when he needed it most.
Now, I know that I, (before my falling away) experienced Jesus: I felt His love for me, I walked in grace and peace beyond my ability to create, and every area of my life was blessed, observably. My question for you, or for your readership, is (and I know that I am opening myself up to a World of wrath on this one, so please be as gentle as possible)...
am I still saved, and/or will God receive me again?
I have always "believed" in Jesus, and I have always wanted him, yet at some point, I stopped serving Him and seeking His will, and I intensely desire to walk with Him again.
Do you think I caused "one of His little one's to stumble?"
How badly did I damage my relationship with God, do you think?
Thanks for your response,
My response is in Green:
I will try to answer your questions. I am a very blunt person so you won't have to try to figure out what I am saying. I don't claim to speak for God, but having said that I try my best to represent Him and His word. I want to start by addressing you, not your friend, then I will address that too.
I am not sure where to start, so I will start with a couple of the questions you asked last. You asked if you are still saved. No I don't think you are. You also asked if God would receive you back. That answer to that is yes. Let me show you why I am so sure of that.
(John 6:44 NIV)  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Notice that Jesus says no one can come to Him on their own, so the very fact that you say you want to walk with the Lord shows that He has not given up on you. If He had you would not even entertain the thought of coming back.
You then asked how badly you damaged your relationship with God, I would say you destroyed it. I would also say that you are certainly not the first to totally destroy their relationship with the Lord. Look at David, his adultery and the murder of Uriah destroyed his relationship with God too, but as soon as he confessed and repented of his sins that relationship was back on track. So that brings us to how you can get that relationship back on track and repaired.
I believe there is only one way and that is doing exactly what David did, confess your sins and repent of them. Sounds easy, but this is where it gets hard. You told me some things which show me you are not yet at the point where you are willing to do what needs to be done.
You mentioned that you smoke pot and see nothing wrong with it in moderation. My question to you is this; is it legal to buy and use pot? This is not a discussion on whether you think it is harmless or not, it is a discussion on what it right and what is wrong. Buying and using pot is illegal and that makes you a law breaker. Is it okay for a follower of Christ to be a law breaker? Let's look and see what God has to say about it:
(Romans 13:1-2 NIV)  Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
You know Paul is the one whom the Holy Spirit used to write that passage. Since you were a Bible school grad, I should not have to tell you that Paul spend many years in harsh conditions in prisons because the civil authorities put him there, yet he wrote that we are to be subject to them and not rebel against them. We are not talking about a speeding ticket or a parking ticket, we are talking about criminal activity. The same goes for the mushrooms, they are illegal and no Christian has any business using them. Until you are ready to admit that this is something that is unacceptable for a Christian, whether you like it or not, you are not ready to come back to the Lord.
You mentioned drinking also, and justified it by saying even Jesus drank. Yes He did, but did He do it the same way you are? Or should I say are you doing it the same way He did? He lived in a very different society than we do. I am not trying to say that having an occasional drink is wrong, I am saying that they way you justified it makes me think it is much more than an occasional drink. The Bible is pretty clear that we are not to be drunks, nor are we to allow ourselves to become drunk.
(Ephesians 5:15-18 NIV)  Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
You can replace the word wine with any alcoholic drink in that verse. You mentioned cussing, which you say is relative. No it is not relative it is wrong:
(Ephesians 4:29 NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
My point to all of this is the same, until you are willing to admit these behaviors are wrong and turn from them, you are not ready to come back to the Lord. I often tell people who are first thinking about making a commitment to Jesus that they don't have to change their lives to come to Him, they just have to believe in Him and make Him the Lord and Savior of their life, He will help them change after that. You will notice that I am not taking the same road with you. See I think there is a difference. You know Christ, so to speak, you know what He requires, and you know that He will help you with it if you are willing, but you have to make that decision before coming to Him or He will not be of any value to you. That does not mean that you have to totally clean up your life before you can come back to Him, but it means that you have to be willing to admit that these things are not part of a believer's life and be willing to lay them at the foot of His cross and walk away from them.
I want to address one other thing you said. You said that the reason you told your friend to go ahead and use the mushrooms was that you had done so and it helped you in seeking God. I am going to be very blunt here, but any god that you got closer to while doing hallucinogenic mushrooms was the god of this world not the God of the Bible.
This brings up the question of why God does not want us to get drunk. One reason of course is given to us in the passage that I quoted; it leads to debauchery, but there is more. When we get drunk or use mind altering drugs we are giving up control of our minds and opening up ourselves to the demonic world. This is the same reason that emptying the mind in meditation is dangerous. We are to remain self-controlled.
(1 Peter 5:8 NIV) Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
There is no way around it, if we want to be followers of Christ and partakers of His kingdom then we must live the right kind of lives.
(1 John 2:3-6 NIV)  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
If you are willing to walk as Jesus did and give up the world then you are ready to come back to God. He is right there waiting for you like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, He will even run to meet you, but you have to be headed toward Him first. Once you repair your relationship with God, then you will be able to address your friends problems.
You said you find it hard to refuse to not do the things your friend does because it is the only level of friendship you have now. You said that if you reject him, you would be confirming the hypocrisy of Christianity. You have it all wrong. The hypocrisy comes when you claim to want to follow God and yet live like the world, no matter what the rationalized reason you give for it. I am not trying to say you should reject your friend, that would be dead wrong, but you can't afford to engage in his lifestyle either. You must choose between your friend and God. If you choose God, then you are also choosing your friend in a way, because what he really needs is someone who will represent God to him. You can't do that if you are sinning just like he is.
That does not mean that you refuse to be around him, but it may mean that you sit there sober while he gets wasted. Not condoning his actions but remaining a friend who witnesses by his own actions. A friend who refuses to use the same filthy language but who does not leave or turn red when he uses it. Before you can help pull someone out of quicksand you have to make sure you are on solid ground, otherwise you will get pulled in with them.
Did you make one of Jesus' little ones stumble? I don't think so, from what you told me he was not one of Jesus' little ones at the time. But even if you had, it is not the unforgivable sin, it is just one more on the list of ones to confess and repent of. Let me show you another passage:
(James 5:16 NIV) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Notice it says the prayer of a 'righteous' man; that is who you need to be to help your friend. Will your friend reject you when you go back to Christ? Quite possibly. There are a number of reasons for this. One you will remind him of what he wants to deny; the truth. Second you will be condemning him by your witness. People don't like that. He may very well claim you are a hypocrite or that you are the one who has rejected him, or that you are no longer fun to be around. I am here to tell you that it can be quite hurtful for a friend to turn from you because you have decided to follow the Lord, but it is part of the price of following Christ. I will also tell you that if you compromise you will do more damage to your friend then if you let him go. If he wants nothing to do with you, you just continue to show him love in small ways that present themselves and you pray for him unceasingly. Remember if he rejects you, he is not really rejecting you, he is rejecting Christ whom he sees in you.
I want to talk about one more thing. Many times people like you and me, who have walked away from the Lord and then come back, live defeated lives because they are never able to put their sin behind them. That is the wrong attitude. I felt that way, how could I represent Christ when I had not even continued in my walk... Well one day while doing my devotions I realized why I love Jesus so much. Let me show you:
(Luke 7:36-50 NIV)  Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.  When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,  and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner."
 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
I am that woman, I love Christ much because I realize how very much He has forgiven me for. I cannot keep quiet, nor can I let even the best of friends stand between me and my Lord. I tell people that Jesus has to be number one in their lives and I find it easy to follow that advise because He has loved me much and forgiven me much. He will forgive you much too.
I hope you will sit down and take stock of your life. I hope you will admit that the things you have done are sinful and that the only way back to Christ is to turn from them completely with no excuses. Your friend needs a real Christian friend and I hope you are willing, once you have come back to Christ, to be that friend. I hope you are willing to risk the very friendship you are trying to save to be the witness you need to be. You may very well be the last lifeline his soul has. Without going into details I will tell you I failed to throw the last lifeline to one of my friends and I am afraid I lost him for eternity. I won't let that happen again and I pray you won't let it happen. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any man, don't forget that, you have no idea how many times you will have to witness to your friend. Make the most of them, but first get your relationship right with Jesus Christ.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)