QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 16
If a man is saved by the grace of God, and yet he commits a sin and dies. Will he spend eternity in heaven or hell? I know some people say, "well if he was truly saved he would not have committed a sin", but all men have sinned and fall short of the Glory Of God. Even people that I believe to be Christians, sin everyday, not because they want to, but because they are human. I do the same, I believe my salvation rest with Jesus Christ My Lord, but I still slip everyday. God always lets us be tested, so that when we triumph over evil, the Glory goes to him, so others may see and have a chance to come to know him. I believe that the apostles also had trials everyday, just like us and I believe some of the trials they passed and some they did not, but I believe they are in heaven. So, I guess my question is, can a person be "Once saved, Always saved"?
Going to hell is not a matter of committing A sin, but of living IN sin -- and there is a big difference. In His chastening, God has actually taken some Christian's lives. That does not necessarily mean they went to hell. In fact, Scripture tells us that in such cases, the chastening was so they would NOT be condemned. In the Corinthians church, for example, some had so defiled the Lord's table that God caused them to die, and some became sick. Here is how Scripture reads. "For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor 11:29-32).
It goes without saying that we cannot depend on such a procedure keeping us from being condemned. God makes no allowance for His people becoming loose in our living, and sinning willfully. Sin has a way of hardening the heart. We do not know the point at which God will close the door on His mercy.
That is why we are to run to the throne of grace when we sin. No conscientious believer wants to sin. However, as you state, none of us are sinless. God has made gracious provision for forgiveness, and urges us to appropriate it. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 1:9-2:1).
Being saved is not a matter of being in the Lord one day, and out of the Lord the next day. Nor, indeed, is it being forever secure without any involvement on our part. God keeps those who abide in Christ (John 15:1-7). That takes considerable effort, but the effort is guaranteed by our Advocate. God has not, however, promised salvation to anyone that becomes lukewarm, indifferent, and insensitive to sin.
What is the difference between purgatory and hell?
Purgatory is an invention of men. Hell is something revealed by God. The idea in purgatory is that the soul is purged from sin AFTER death in an area of punishment. As soon as the soul has suffered enough, it is thought that worthiness for salvation is realized. This is not true however. When the individual dies, the condition in which he died is fixed, with no change being possible. There is NO evidence that our character can be altered after we die. This is reflected in the Scripture, "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be" (Rev 22:11). Purgatory is a myth.
Hell, on the other hand, is very real. It is a place where those who remained unreconciled to God are consigned. Jesus spoke of it in Mark 9:44-48. It is a place where recovery is not possible, and is eternal. The reason for it is that the people sent there are unchangeable, and are incompatible with heaven -- they simply do not fit in. You may remember the account Jesus gave of the rich man and Lazarus. when the rich man died, he woke up in hell. He saw Lazarus with Abraham, and asked if he could be sent to touch his tongue with some water. One significant thing about the account. The rich man never did ask to be where Lazarus was. Why not? That place of comfort was just as repulsive to him as hell. He did not have a capacity to appreciate the blessing of God, and even he knew it (Luke 16:20-31).
How do you explain 9 ft. tall people in the Bible? It seems to be scientifically impossible, of course I could be wrong. I appreciate your services.
Even in the Bible such people were unusual. The very word "giant" indicates an unusual situation--not common at all. Famous giants in Scripture include the Anakims (Num 13:33; Deut 9:2), the Emims (Deut 2:10-11), Goliath (1 Sam 17:4), Ishbibenob (2 Sam 21:16), King Og of Bashan (Deut 3:11; Josh 12:4), and the Zamzummims (Deut 2:20). In each of these cases, the existence of people of great height was extraordinary, provoking special comments about them. Also, even today there are tribal people among whom people eight feet tall are still found.
The fact, of course, that God specifies the unusual height of Goliath (around nine feet tall) is sufficient not to doubt the matter. However, remember his unusual size caused great fear among the seasoned warriors of Israel. There was nothing usual about Goliath, and only a person with strong faith in God could overcome him.
People nine feet tall are possible scientifically -- but that is not the acid test of truth. Scientifically, it is not possible for a child to be born to a virgin -- yet Jesus was. It is not scientifically possible to part the Red Sea by raising a rod over it -- but Moses did. Scientifically, it is impossible to be thrown into a furnace of fire and not be harmed in any way -- yet that is what happened to three Hebrew children in Daniel. Science is not the ultimate test of what is true. Jesus coming from heaven, raising from the dead, and going back to heaven is not possible scientifically -- but it is true. Science is subordinate to the truth of God. It is just that simple.
If there is such a thing as predestination, it seems almost impossible to go out of God's will, that is to sin against Him. Is there such a thing as predestination?
There is such a thing as predestination -- but only with God Almighty. To predestinate something is to predetermine it will be accomplished, with nothing able to stop it from occurring. The Word of God declares God has predestinated those in Christ will become like Christ (Rom 8:29-30). He also predestinated that we would become adopted, or become His sons, through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5). Additionally, God has predetermined those in Christ will receive an eternal inheritance (Eph 1:11).
Elsewhere God is said to have determined things "before the foundation of the world," or before the world was planned and brought into existence (Matt 25:34; Eph 1:4; 1 Pet 1:20). Thus, the fact of predestination cannot be questioned. It is a matter of revelation.
In the Lord's presentation of His predestination, or predetermination, He never suggests it is impossible to get out of His will. Some men have concluded that, but that is their conclusion, not God's declaration. His predetermination is always within the context of Jesus Christ. It is only as we are "in Christ" that nothing is able to sever us from God's purpose. Anywhere and everywhere the Lord comments on predestination, it is always to those who ARE believing, and always centers in the Lord Jesus Christ. No person who is slothful about his relationship to God is ever told they are predestinated to eternal life never.
In view of this, those who are trusting in Jesus have every reason to be confident. But when their faith wavers, or they cease to live for Christ, they are outside of God's will. God has never determined people who did not want to go to heaven would go anyway, or those who started the race would finish it even if they quit running.
Why did God "send" an evil Spirit on Saul in the Old Testament, rather than allowing an evil Spirit to descend On Saul?
It was an act of judgment. The verse that reveals this judgment first says the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul. This occurred after God had rejected Saul as king due to his disobedience (1 Sam 16:13-14). God "sent" the evil spirit because that is the only way the evil spirit could go. Theologians have used the word "allow," or the phrase "permissive will" to describe such actions. However, that kind of terminology is not used in Scripture to describe the sending of evil spirits.
God is over all, and nothing occurs without His word. You may remember that Satan confessed this to be the case when he sought to attack righteous Job. He said to God, "But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person. So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD . . . "But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face! And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life" (Job 1:11-12; 2:5-6). In fact, Satan did not initiate the conversation about Job -- God did. Behind that occasion, of course, God had gracious designs to comfort succeeding generations with the recollection of how a person can remain faithful under oppression (James 5:11).
The sending of an evil spirit by God is simply a way of affirming the government belongs to the Lord. In the case of Saul, it was Divine judgment.
Why did God harden Pharaoh's heart, rather than allowing Pharaoh's heart to be hardened?
God has access to men's hearts to harden them or "open" them (Acts 16:14). He can give men a new heart (Ezek 36:26), purify their hearts (Acts 15:9), or harden them, as He did with Pharaoh (Ex 7;13; 9:12; 10:20,27; 11:10; 14:8). The Lord also hardened the spirit of king Sihon, and made his heart obstinate (Deut 2:30). In all of these cases, the hardening was a judgment from God because of their obstinance. In Pharaoh's case, Pharaoh himself first hardened his heart (Ex 8:15,32; 9:34). Because of this, God ratified Pharaoh's decision, making the hardening irreversible.
As you can see, it is best to yield to the Lord, allowing Him to open the eyes of our heart, open our hearts, and make them new. To resist the Lord puts people in a most precarious situation.
Let me ask you the question that was asked of me: Is God a male?
God is a spirit, and a spirit is not defined by gender (John 4:24). Angels, who are also "spirits" are not comprised as male and female. In glory, when we are divested of the flesh we, like them, will no longer be male or female (Matt 22:30).
God is our "Father," yet that does not mean He is a "male," as ordinarily perceived. His fatherhood cannot be thoroughly defined within the term "male." Nor, for that matter, can the Lord Jesus, Who is a glorified Man (2 Tim 2:5). Isaiah referred to the Christ as "Everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6-7). Yet, who would dare to define the glorified Christ, Who has fathered an entire spiritual generation, as a "male." The term simply is not broad enough to contain God or Christ Jesus. Both male and female bear the Divine likeness, but God does not have human likeness. In fact, He rebukes people for thinking so (Psa 50:21).
The difficulty you are confronting is found in thinking of God with humanity in view, rather than thinking of humanity with God in view. God does not have male or female attributes -- both male and female were created by Him (Gen :27), deriving their likeness from Him, and not vice versa. Stated another way, humanity bears the likeness of God, God does not bear the likeness of humanity.
When God created male and female, His likeness was projected in them both. Each one bears Divine qualities, but God bears no human qualities. This is a vital distinction. The sensitivity and tenderness of the woman, for example, are projections of Divine qualities. Strength, and leadership, and determination are traits found in men that project Divine qualities. In both cases, the attributes are but a likeness, and not the fulness of the qualities themselves. God alone possesses the fulness of them. Were God to have male or female traits, He would have fragmentary and defiled qualities, for that is how they are in humanity.
Man is to be considered in view of God, but God is never to be considered in view of man. That is too low of a consideration, and will deprive us of the lofty view of God required to love and worship Him.
If you want to peruse the qualities of God that were created in male and female, START with God. His traits are pure and holy, those found in humanity are not. If we define the quality being considered by how it is projected in humanity, we will have a flawed view of the matter. If, for example, we think of the love of Christ for the church from the viewpoint of how husbands love and care for their wives, we will come up with some very faulty conclusions. If, however, we consider men's love and care for their wives in view of Christ's love for the church, it will have a holy impact upon us. The former consideration will be interesting, but lack spiritual power.
It would be an interesting discussion to consider what Divine qualities can be found in both male and female. You will at once find they are all partial, and many of them are not found in humanity at all; i.e., omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc.
I believe the fulness of God can dwell in us--but only to the degree we fully comprehend the extent of His love. Is this what you believe.
I do understand the text in Ephesians 3 as meaning the comprehension of the largeness of salvation is a requisite to being filled with all the fulness of God. I also know this is denied in some circles--which denial is inexcusable; particularly since the Lord went out of His way to say it so clearly. I would try and state it a little more accurately, however. You said, "I mean that we FULLY COMPREHEND the EXTENT of His Love to ultimately reach and fill ALL OF HIS CREATION!" The text does not say "fully comprehend," but "comprehend with all saints." The extent of the comprehension we can realize cannot be fathomed. It extends far beyond what men imagine. As long as we are in the body, it is my understanding we will never get beyond saying, "I have not yet apprehended that for which I have been apprehended." That does not mean there are aspects of Divine love are unlawful for us to comprehend. It does mean that the frailty of the vessel in which the treasure resides limits us. I am quick to point out, no soul will ever be able to say, "I have seen all that I am capable of seeing." There is not only more to be comprehended, there is grace to enable us to comprehend more. God can enlarge our heart (Psa 119:32).
You are absolutely correct in stating the Divine nature must become our nature. Again, the way we state this is important. Peter said it this way, "by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4). Hebrews 3:14 says, "For we have become partakers of Christ." This is an aspect of salvation (in fact the fundamental aspect) that is rarely heard in our time. God's predetermined purpose is to "conform us to the image of His Son" (Rom 8:29). In the end, "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:1-2). While the resurrection will bring the realization of that in our bodies (Phil 3:20-21), the transformation of our persons into His likeness begins nowin "the day of salvation."
One other thing about this marvelous Ephesian text. In order for us to comprehend "with all saints" the largeness of "the love of Christ," we must be "rooted and grounded in love." For that to happen, Christ must "dwell in our hearts by faith." For that to happen, we must be "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." For that to happen, it must be granted to us by God "according to the riches of His glory" (Eph 3:16-18). What a wonderful affirmation of Divine objective! All of the required means are in place. God is ready. The Spirit is ready. The Lord Jesus is ready. It but remains for the people of God to be ready. That will only happen as their hearts are convinced of the truth of these things.
The people with whom I fellowship all see this, have no trouble with it, and find it a source of great delight and challenge. To me, nothing else really matters. If we are "filled with all the fulness of God," we will be adequate to do all God requires of us. We will also be able to enjoy the Divine fellowship and utility into which we have been called (1 Cor 1:9; 3:9).
Do you think the world will end in the year 2000?
I do not know. I am convinced we are near something most unusual. it may be the coming of Christ, during which the end of the world will occur. It may also be an unusual judgment from God, or even an unusual blessing. But we are nearing something. This is time to live close to the Lord.
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