Group Number 15

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QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  Moses made an image of snake for the Israelites to look up. My question is: Why can't people of today look up at the Image of Jesus Christ made by men to show that they worship Jesus through His image. somebody asked me this question but I can't answer it.

There are several reasons.

1. God commanded Moses to make this image.

2. The image Moses created was not to stimulate remembrance, or to show people worshiped God. It was a means through which God healed the disobedient people who had been bitten by poisonous serpents, sent among the people because they murmured (Num 21:6).

3. The image was for only a single occasion, and was not intended to become a relic. Years later, when Israel had made an idol out of the brazen serpent (like people who maintain statutes of Jesus), Hezekiah took the image and destroyed it, for Israel had been burning incense to it (2 Kings 18:4).

4. The image Moses made by the commandment of the Lord was like the serpents that bit the Israelites. We have no authentic likeness of Jesus, either in Scripture, art, or other forms of antiquity. This is because God did not want us to remember Him in that way.

5. Jesus is not to be known or remembered "according to the flesh," or as a Man (2 Corinthians 5:16).

6. Jesus instituted a Supper to be used as a remembrance of Him, not an image of Himself (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

7. God has not commanded us to make an image of Christ -- He did command Moses to make one, and that is the ONLY reason Moses did make one. Apart from that special commandment, the Word of the Lord is, "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:4-5).

8. We worship God "in the Spirit," not through an image (Phil 3:3).

9. It is faith in Christ that honors God and reveals our worship of Jesus, not an external action (Rom 1:17; Rom 5:1-2).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  In keeping with the soul-sleeping doctrine, a friend of mine said Enoch died, and is in the grave awaiting the resurrection in the last day. He says Enoch did not go bodily to heaven, and he did suffer death, believing that would violate Scriptures like  1Co 15:22 ("in Adam all die"); Heb 9:27 ("it is appointed unto men once to die"); etc. What do you think?

When it comes to pronouncements concerning truth, it is best to let God make them. The Holy Spirit said Enoch "did not see death" – Your friend says "Enoch suffered death." The Holy Spirit said Enoch was "taken away" and "was not found" – your friend said "Enoch is in the grave awaiting the resurrection of the last day." This is a most peculiar way to, as your friend would say, "interpret the phrase." What is there about "did NOT see death" that would lead one to conclude Enoch died? And what is there in the expression "God took him away" that would provoke us to say Enoch was in the grave?
There is nothing in the grammar of this text that remotely suggests Enoch died, or that he is "in the grave." If those things are assumed, it seems to me something in the text should at least suggest that possibility. The phrase "see death" is a very vivid one. Of the 38 times the word translated "see" (idein) is used, human experience is the point. The word carries the meaning of experientially coming to realize something. The word rendered "taken away" (NKJV), "translated" (KJV, ASV, RWB, Darbys, YLT), "taken up" (RSV, NASB), "taken from" (NRSV), and "taken up to heaven" (BBE) is metetetha, the first aorist passive indicative of met-at-ith'-ay-mee, which means to transpose, transfer, or change. Of all the times this word is used in its varied forms, it always indicates a change, and is never used to describe the experience of death (Heb 7:12; Jude 4; Gal 1:6). It simply is not possible to take this Divine affirmation concerning Enoch and conclude he died and is in the grave.

Is it true, there are no exceptions to the general rule "in Adam all die," and "it is appointed unto men once to die?" Do not the Scriptures teach there will be an entire generation that will not die? "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (1 Cor 15:51). These people will not be raised from the dead, but will be "changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," to join "the dead," who will be "raised incorruptible" (1 Cor 15:51). Do not the Scriptures speak of those who are "alive and remain until the coming of the Lord" who will be "caught up together" with "the dead in Christ" who will be ‘raised?" (1 Thess 4:4:15-17). The Apostle affirms this teaching to be "by the word of the Lord" (1 Thess 4:15). It makes little difference whether or not these expressions can be stuffed into a preconceived view of death and resurrection. And what of those graves that were "opened" when our blessed Lord died? Of them it is written, "the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (Matt 27:52-53). How does that fit into your friend's view?

Note this marvelous text again. "By faith Enoch was taken away ("translated," KJV) so that he did not see death" (NKJV). Concerning this event, two Divine observations are made. I find it most interesting to compare them with the post to which I am replying. FIRST, Enoch "was not found, BECAUSE God had taken him." SECOND, it was a line of demarcation. Of it Scripture affirms, "before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God." The event in question, therefore, is a most significant one. Of it, Genesis says, "he was not," and "God took him" (Gen 5:24). Enoch's removal from life is not here said to be by death, but because "God took him." This phrase, "God took him," is said of no other individual: it is said of Enoch alone. Yet, your friend would have us view the conclusion of Enoch's life on earth as though it were the common lot of all men. If this were the case, where did God take Enoch? According to Genesis, before Enoch "was not," he "walked with God." According to Hebrews, before he was "translated," he had this testimony, that he "pleased God." Was his walk with God terminated by death? Or did he cease walking with God for a while before he died? Did the testimony that he "pleased God" refer to Enoch's life before he died? Or did he stop pleasing God prior to experiencing death?

If Enoch's "translation" is not really a translation, then what is it? What is this singular event affirmed in Genesis and confirmed in Hebrews. I suggest there is no valid rule of reason or Divine utterance that would constrain one to conclude from these statements (Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5) that Enoch died and is in the grave.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   In regards to John the Baptist and in reference to Matthew 11:11, why did the Lord Jesus Christ say right after He complimented John (of being the greatest among those born of women) insult him by saying that John the Baptist is less than the least person in the kingdom of heaven. Also, when Jesus said that John the Baptist is the greatest among those born of women, was Jesus excluding Himself (since He was also born of woman, Mary)?

Jesus was speaking of those UP TO John the Baptist. Jesus Himself was born AFTER John. Of course, our bessed Lord is the greatest, regardless when He was born.

The phrase regarding the least in the Kingdom being greater than John the Baptist is best explained this way. Person to person (or those "born of woman"), we are nothing to compare with that mighty prophet of old. But in Christ Jesus, no matter of our level of attainment, we are "greater." The reason -- John was like a giant standing in a valley. But after Christ, we may, by comparison, be like midgets, but we are standing on a mountain. It is WHERE we are that makes us greater, not WHO we are.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  When Christ was dying on the cross why did He give his mother in the care of John? Wouldn't it have been the custom for Mary to be with her other sons, or daughters?

I understand Christ's actions to be dictated by the closeness of John the Jesus. John was there at the cross, and His brothers and sisters were not. We know that two of His brothers, James and Jude, did come around. You may recall His brothers and sisters did not believe on Him at the first (John 7:3-5). Jesus did not go by custom, as you know, but by the will of His Father.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  In Leviticus 11:20, the NIV seems to be saying that insects have only four legs. The KJV says 'fowls,' which seems to mean birds. But don't birds have only two legs? I'm confused.

The answer is found in the phrase "All fowls THAT CREEP" (KJV). Other versions read, "flying insects," or "winged insects." This section of Leviticus views "fowls" as anything that flies. It also mentions "the bat" (verse 19), which does fly, but is not classified, as a "bird."

The text is not saying that ALL insects have four legs, but speaks of a CATEGORY of insects that fly and have four legs. Verses 21-22 specify the only creatures from this category that could be eaten under the Law--locusts, beetles, and grasshoppers. Later, other creeping things that go upon their belly are mentioned, which were also forbidden. In that section, three classes of "creeping things" are mentioned: "Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth" (Verse 42). Your question concerned only the second category.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  Are we showing a lack of faith or impatience by repeating the same pray for the same people and/or requests week after week?

The Lord taught us about importunity, or continuing asking in prayer, even when an answer is not given. The parables of the importunate widow (Luke 18:1-8), and the friend seeking loaves for a visitor (Luke 11:5-10) give us a heavenly view of repeated requests. Each of these parables assumes two things: (1) The urgency of the situation, and (2) The faith of the ones asking. Given those two conditions, our Lord makes the following observations.

1. Men should always (or continually) pray, and not give up (Lk 18:1).
2. God will avenge His people, intervening in their difficult situations.
3. He may "bear long," or delay for a long time in answering the request.(Lk 18:7-8)
4. The kind of faith He desires is reflected in the continued petitions (Lk 18:8).
5. Prayers are ofen answered because of importunity, or persistence (Lk 11:8).
6. Continued asking, knocking, and seeking will be honored by God (Lk 11:9-10).

This type of prayer is what Paul referred to when he said, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17). It is the kind of supplicating Paul did when he prayed concerning his "thorn in the flesh." He prayed until he received an answer (2 Cor 12:8-9).

Having made those observations, I do realize some repititions are vain (Matt 6:7). These are prayers that are not motivated by faith, but are the mere mechanics of prayer--or a sort of simulation of the real thing.

If you have requests that have been listed for a long time, yet have remained substantially the same, I would do the following.
1. Ask the Lord for wisdom to discern the nature and urgency of the request.
2. Ask for wisdom to pray about the matter.
3. Plead your cause with the Lord. Among yourselves, consider WHY the pray is being offered, and what glory God will get out of the matter. Once you are convinced of the validity of the reasons, present them to the Lord. This is what Job would call laying his "cause" before the Lord (Job 5:8). It is like being a spiritual lawyer. Take Moses' prayer for Israel in Exodus 32:11-14 as an example. When the Lord threatened to destroy the Israelites, Moses pleaded the case. He did so in perfect harmony with the will and glory of God in mind. God answered His prayer, and did not destroy the people.

As you can see, offering prayer once is not always enough. Think of the Syrophonician woman who persisted in seeking the Lord's mercy, even though it seemed she was being refused (Matt 15:22-28Mark 7:26-30). Also consider Bartimaeus, who continued calling out to the Lord in spite of being at first neglected (Mark 10:46-52).

One further consideration. Make every attempt to involve your own heart in the petitions you offer. If you are married, pray as though you had just been told your wife were terminally ill. If you are a father, pray with the sort of involvement you would have if you had been told your son or daughter was stricken with a serious disease. I can tell you that when you throw yourself into the prayer, the Lord will strengthen you with His power, share His wisdom with you, and give you His ear. I have experienced both of the circumstances I have mentioned, and know this is the case.

Take heart, and be courageous as an intercessor. God can change circumstances because of your prayers.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  What is the difference between praying to the Lord and calling on the name of the Lord?

From one perspective, there is no difference. When praying is supplication, intercession, or other forms of entreaty (as compared with praise or thanksgiving), such prayer is calling upon the name of the Lord.

Calling upon the name of the Lord is asking God to do what He has promised to do, and respond as He has represented Himself as responding. In other words, calling upon the name of the Lord is asking God to be God toward us; to direct His Divine power and character toward us personally. In the matter of salvation, it is asking God to be our Savior through Jesus Christ--something He has represented Himself as doing.

In using the phrase as a description of believers, "calling upon the name of the Lord" is the depiction of a life that depends upon Divine activity rather than that of men.

The term "name of the Lord" is a Scriptural way of referring to the Person or character of the Lord. It is not meant to connote an appellation or title. When Moses asked God to show him His glory, the Lord passed before Him and declared "the name of the Lord." That declaration was simply a proclamation of His Person, Who He is, and what He is like (Exodus 34:5-7). Calling upon the name of the Lord, therefore, is asking the Lord to fulfill those revealed qualities toward us and in our behalf.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  Are there prophets today?

God has placed the gift of prophecy in the church, and there is no indication He has removed it. This is something that is in the hands of the Lord, and we must be willing to leave it there. The Spirit did elaborate on the nature of the gift of prophecy, affirming that the prophet speaks to "edification, exhortation, and comfort" (1 Cor 14:3). He further admonishes that this gift be pursued by God's people (1 Cor 14:1).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  Are there any scriptures relating to women wearing pants?

There are no direct prohibitions of women wearing pants. Some feel as though the forbidding of women to wear men's clothing, as affirmed under the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 22:5), can be taken to mean this. I do not agree with this, but do feel it is a matter of conscience. A woman who sees this scripture as meaning this, should honor her conscience, and we should honor it also. I do not believe the Word allows for that personal conclusion to be bound on a person not so persuaded. The ordinary rule for women's apparel is that it is to be "modest" (1 Tim 2:9).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  What does the perfect refer to in I Cor 13:8ff

This passage is stating a principle rather than identifying a specific event or point in time. The idea is that spiritual maturity, or perfection, is a time which childish or rudimentary things are put away (verse 11). In a firstfruit, or initial, sense, this occurs when we "grow up into Christ" in all things (Eph 4:15). Peter calls this experience the day dawning, and the day star rising in our hearts (2 Pet 1:19). At that time, a juvenile approach to spiritual life (of which Corinth was guilty) will be abandoned.

The ultimate sense in which this text is fulfilled is when the Lord comes, and the natural, or temporal, order is done away (2 Pet 3:10-12). At that time, our knowledge will no more be partial or fragmentary. The present condition of partiality requires a multiplicity of spiritual gifts, each one supplying a part, rather than the whole (verse 8). Spiritual gifts, by their very nature, address the matter of our imperfection.

Our ultimate destiny in Christ, however, involves a thorough knowledge--one that is complete, requiring no input from a multiplicity of sources. We will know as we are known--thoroughly and accurately. Then, we will no more see with a lack of clarity (in a glass darkly). That is, presently we see but the mere outline of ultimate reality. The reality itself is not flawed, but our vision of it is because we have this treasure in a jar of clay.

When the perfect comes, this condition will cease to exist. We will see things clearly--and that includes God, Christ, salvation, and the wise and beneficent way in which the Lord has brought us to glory.

I realize that some take the position the "perfect" is the completed Scriptural canon. In my judgment, it requires a prolific imagination to take such a view. It is one that virtually removes the necessity of Divine involvement in obtaining spiritual understanding (Eph 1:17-20; Col 1:9-11). It also leaves the church with partial knowledge of the Gospel until the fourth century. As well, it has Peter, Paul, John, and Luke presenting fragments of truth. I cannot accept such a view. It is not big enough to cover all of the aspects of the First Corinthians text.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  What do you think about the "available light theory", which states that the unevangelized may enter the kingdom of Heaven if they live up to the "light" they have. This also means that they don't have to come into contact with Jesus or the Gospel to be saved.

This principle applies to all men, even to those who are in Christ Jesus. The principle is stated by the Lord in one of His matchless parables (Luke 12:42-48). In it He said, "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more" (Lk 12:48). Paul also alludes to this principle in Romans 2:12. "For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law." Jesus also spoke of the principle when He referred to the day of judgment finding things more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah and Tyre and Sidon than for the generation that rejected Him (Lk 10:12-15).

It is not good to pursue this line of reasoning so aggressively that a whole body of theology is developed around it. As you mention, there are some difficulties associated with the view. We must be content to believe the Scriptures that address this point, realizing there is an element of ambiguity to them. In the end, God will adjudicate the matter well. He is not looking for a reason to condemn people, nor will He act in contradiction of His holy nature.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  Where in the Bible does it explicitly say that single persons should not have sexual relations?

Fornication involves single people. That is why Scripture says, "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband" (1 Cor 7:9). Also, the "bed" is undefiled, or it is proper to sleep with one, only within marriage. It is written, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb 13:4). Also, it is better to marry than to burn with passion, or a desire to have relations (1 Cor 7:9). Even younger widows were told to marry rather than "wax wanton against Christ"--or indulge their sexual appetite outside of marriage (1 Tim 5:11). In the Bible, singleness for a woman is counted as her virginity (Lev 21:13; Luke 2:36).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  Also, Paul expounded on marriage, sin, etc., but it is very evident he was biased against women Do we get much of our interpretation from him?

Paul was not biased against women. He spoke as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and not as a prejudiced person. His writings on marriage in First Corinthians were not the expression of a private opinion. Rather he wrote in view of some crisis that existed in Corinth, probably a persecution of some sort. That is why his instruction was predicated by the words, "I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress; that it is good for a man to remain as he is" (1 Cor 7:26). Even in that situation, he states that under no conditions is marriage to be considered a sin (1 Cor 7:28). His instruction about a man caring for his wife instead of the Lord (1 Cor 7:33-34) are to be understood in view of the "distress" they were facing. It would be like compromising your faith because your wife/husband was being abused by some persecutor. It is much like Jesus telling the people of His day that it would be a disadvantage for a woman to be pregnant when Jerusalem would later be destroyed (Matt 24:19). His words do not mean it was wrong to have children, but that it would be a disadvantage when Jerusalem was destroyed. So with Paul, he does not mean marriage is not good, but that it is a handicap during times of grievous persecution. But under no conditions are sexual relations sanctioned outside of marriage.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  Do you feel that foot washing is an ordinance of the church?

I do not. This is an area of conscience. Those who wash one another's feet do not sin, but it is not compulsory. In Scriptural times, the washing of feet was an act of hospitality, and not a mere ceremony or ritual. When Jesus washed His disciples feet, He performed a servile duty, showing His humility and meekness. His words to the disciples on that occasion confirm He was not establishing a ritual. He said, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE UNTO YOU? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do AS (not "what") I have done to you." (John 13:12-15).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  What is your view of having to have "authority" to perform certain "ordinances" (i.e., baptism, communion, etc.) in order to have done them correctly with God?

There is no indication in Scripture that only certain people can perform the ordinances you mention. Paul, for example, said he was NOT sent to baptize (1 Cor 1:17). Yet, he did baptize on occasions (1 Cor 1:14-16). Our involvement in the ordinances is sanctified by our faith, not the one performing them.

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