ONE ASKED>> What about the unforgivable sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Matthew 12:30-32, Mark 3:28-29, and Luke 12:8-10?
ME>> That is an excellent question. First read these verses in the WEB translation,
30) He who is not with me is against me, and he who doesn’t gather with me, scatters. 31) Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32) Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is to come.
Matthew 12:30-32 (WEB)
28) Most certainly I tell you, all sins of the descendants of man will be forgiven, including their blasphemies with which they may blaspheme; 29) but whoever may blaspheme against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.
Mark 3:28-29 (WEB)
8) I tell you, everyone who confesses me before men, the Son of Man will also confess before the angels of God; 9) but he who denies me in the presence of men will be denied in the presence of the angels of God. 10) Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Luke 12:8-10 (WEB)
These verses certainly communicate that there is a sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, that is unforgivable. So it would seem that regardless of what someone believes about Hades being temporary or not, if this sin is not forgiven, then certainly you will not be saved from eternal damnation to the Lake of Fire if you commit the unforgivable sin.
So what is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? One traditional answer can be found here, http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/blasphemy-against-the-holy-spirit.html.
Since blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not explicitly defined, most theologies work backwards from their conclusions about salvation. They use deductive reasoning to define blasphemy of the Holy Spirit as not satisfying their salvation formula. For example, since Calvinists understand that the elect are guaranteed final salvation, they conclude that whatever blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is, the elect of God can never commit this sin. This is a great hope for Calvinists, but only if you are also able to join them persuading yourself that you are elect while the majority of mankind is not elect.
Alternatively, Arminians conclude that since people are saved through their free will choice of "faith" in Christ, then the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit must be to resist the Spirit and not choose Christ with your free will. This is also a great hope for Arminians, but only if you are able to join them and have "faith" that your "faith" is truly authentic. So both Calvinist and Arminian thinkers have slightly different understandings of the blasphemy of the Spirit, but with the agreement that it is whatever does not satisfy their salvation formula.
Those holding to the Victorious Gospel view as I do could also use the same deductive reasoning as the Arminian and the Calvinist and conclude that the blasphemy of the Spirit is to be non-elect or to finally resist the Spirit and never place faith in Christ. Satan and his angels fit that description very well. So in fact I agree with both the Arminian and the Calvinist above! However, I also believe that all mankind is elect and that all mankind, thanks to the grace of God, will be transformed either sooner or later. So I could conclude in this way and at least match the reasoning of both the Arminian and the Calvinist above.
However, Young's Literal Translation of these verses offers further important insight. Young's work reveals that the proper translation of the Greek word "aion" is essential to understand the blasphemy of the Spirit and the resulting punishment for committing this sin. Read Young's translation...
He who is not with me is against me, and he who is not gathering with me, doth scatter. Because of this I say to you, all sin and evil speaking shall be forgiven to men, but the evil speaking of the Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whoever may speak a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven to him, but whoever may speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is coming.
Matthew 12:30-32 (YLT)
Verily I say to you, that all the sins shall be forgiven to the sons of men, and evil speakings with which they might speak evil, but whoever may speak evil in regard to the Holy Spirit hath not forgiveness -- to the age, but is in danger of age-during judgment;
Mark 3:28-29 (YLT)
And I say to you, Every one -- whoever may confess with me before men, the Son of Man also shall confess with him before the messengers of God, and he who hath denied me before men, shall be denied before the messengers of God, and every one whoever shall say a word to the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven to him, but to him who to the Holy Spirit did speak evil, it shall not be forgiven.
Luke 12:8-10 (YLT)
Consider these important observations:
1. The blasphemy of the Spirit is not explicitly defined which is why most salvation theologies work backwards from their own viewpoint to conclude that blasphemy of the Spirit is to miss their particular salvation recipe. This is not necessarily a wrong method of interpretation, but it is certainly biased.
2. The punishment for the blasphemy of the Spirit is not explained either, but only that this sin will not be forgiven. There is no explicit mention of Hades or the Lake of Fire. Many automatically think of these destinies when "eternal sin" is mentioned because it matches their viewpoint. However, could anything else be in view?
3. The WEB translation speaks of "never" being forgiven and "eternal" sin, while Young's translation does not! This is a very important difference that should inspire you and me to Greek study. Is blasphemy of the Spirit an eternal sin or not? Sadly we all have biases and preconceived ideas, even Bible translators. Further study of the Greek word "aion" may help. Please check out my article, Forever is Not Forever? You Gotta Be Kidding Me! The http://www.blueletterbible.org can also be used to examine each Greek word.
4. Jesus is teaching the same thing in all three passages, but the accounts in Matthew and Mark are the most complete, explaining that the blasphemy of the Spirit will not be forgiven in "this age" or the "age to come." When Jesus said those words what was "this age" and the "age to come?" Are there just two ages: now and eternity? If so, then blasphemy of the Spirit will land you in the Lake of Fire. However, there are not just two ages in the future when Jesus said those words. Jesus spoke during the Jewish law age ("this age" during his life), the church / Kingdom age follows, and eternity follows last of all.
Could it be that the popular idea that the blasphemy of the Spirit is an eternal sin is wrong? My conclusion based on the grace of Christ and a proper understanding of the Greek word "aion" as properly translated in Young's Literal Translation of the Bible is that, YES, this popular understanding is way wrong!
These verses teach that those who refuse to trust and obey Christ will not be forgiven for their unbelief in this present age, nor the age to come, meaning the Church / Kingdom Age. Their unrepentant unbelief will not be overlooked, but will be punished in the fires of Hades until the commencement of eternity at the Great White Throne Judgment. This also fits well with Revelation 20:5 (WEB), "The rest of the dead didn't live until the thousand years were finished." However, since there is an age even after the "age to come," namely the New Heavens and the New Earth, forgiveness still can and will be realized at that time for everyone whose sins are paid for by the work of Christ. The good news is that Jesus has already paid for the sins of ALL mankind.
Hey this is awesome news because it is final salvation for you, me, and our neighbor!