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QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   The thing is, I am really looking for something in my life right now, and I'm not really sure where to turn to.

First, this is what God's word calls "seeking." It is really wanting to find the Lord and His will. Seeking, or searching, is good, and is so regarded by the Lord. For example, He says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8). It is understood that you are seeking, or looking for, these answers from the Lord Himself. This is called reaching out to find Him (Acts 17:27). The idea is that God will help us in this search. It is not just doing some research, but asking the Lord to help us find the real answers. He promises that such a search will bring the answers. He means that He Himself will be sure we receive them – and you will know it when you have them. You will be convinced in your heart, and have no doubts about the matter.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   I really want to believe in God and I want to believe that Jesus died and rose for me and that I am forgiven, but it's very difficult for me to believe it.

The biggest part of believing these things is WANTING to do so. I want to emphasize this. God nowhere suggests that believing is easy – and it certainly is not. In fact, even after we believe, we have to fight to keep believing. The Bible calls this fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). This involves resisting the temptation to NOT believe. That means you insist on still making an effort to believe, even when it is hard. One time a man with a very difficult circumstance came to Jesus, asking for help–something like you are doing. He had a very sick son, and wondered if Jesus could help him. Jesus said to the man, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." The man knew he believed, but had trouble believing Jesus could really help him. How does a person respond when he feels that way. Here is what the man said. "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9;23-24). That is exactly what you must do. No amount of arguments and proofs can convince a person to believe. Faith is something God gives to us. The Bible says we "obtain" or receive it (2 Peter 1:3). What is necessary for this to happen is a strong desire to believe–really wanting to believe. You have that desire, and you must keep it. The Lord will help you to overcome the difficulty you are experiencing in believing. Be determined to believe that.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   How do I know that The Bible is telling The Truth? Have there been any things predicted in The Bible that happened that I actually probably witnessed myself (in modern times)?
This is something that comes through believing, not through convincing proofs. There are a great number of Scriptural prophecies that have been fulfilled. I have on my website a series of over 200 links that deal with this subject. It can be accessed by the following: http://givenb/wotruthcom/007.htm

Having said that, this is NOT the way to be convinced the Bible is telling the truth. The Word of God again deals with this subject. First, the Holy Spirit tells us that what is declared is really the truth. The Gospel, for example, is the message of prophecy that has been fulfilled–a Savior for the world that has done everything God wanted done. God knows people will have a difficult time seeing this, so He tells us how it can become clear to us. "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). What He means is this: What God has declared is true, whether we see it or not. But, if we will pay attention to His Word, filling our minds with it, and reading it with zeal, something will happen. The Word of God is like a large light, shining into the heart. That is another way of saying, it is what God uses to make things plain to us, so we can understand. As that Word works in our hearts the day will dawn. That is, everything will become plain, and will fall into place. The Morning Star that rises in our hearts is the Lord Jesus Himself (He calls himself the Morning Star in Revelation 22;16). He is the One who convinces us of the truth of the Bible.

Notice what He said. We are to concentrate on the Word, not what men have said about the Word. That does not mean we never read what men have said, or that we never investigate the writings of other men. It does mean that is not the main thing we do. Our main point of reference becomes the Bible itself. As we read and think upon it, the Lord Himself assists us to see its meaning and become convinced of its truth. He will do that for you also.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Someone else told me that geologists and historians and archaeologists have found proof that The Bible is telling The Truth. Do you know anything of this?

The Bible links I provided in the previous section will give you a lot of information on this. I am careful to remind you that no man can prove the Bible is true. The Bible IS true because God gave it. Honest investigation will confirm that truth. In the end, it is your faith that is the real proof (Hebrews 11:1).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   For example, it says that God is a jealous God, then it says love is not jealous, then it says God is Love.
God is, indeed, a jealous God. In fact, He says His "name is JEALOUS" (Exodus 34:14). The text that states love is "not jealous" is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4. This, however, is not the same thing God is talking about when He says He is jealous. In the case First Corinthians, the word "jealous" refers to envy, and is so translated in most versions. The idea of envy is having strong feelings AGAINST someone. Such jealousy is filled with resentment against the person. It makes a person want what the other person has.

In the case of God, He is not envying people. Rather He strongly desires their affection, their heart, and their allegiance. For anyone else to desire this is wrong, because we are not deserving of such attention. God, however, IS deserving of it. The reason is because He made us. He also purchased us in Christ Jesus. It is simply wrong for those God made and bought to give their hearts to anyone else. God really does want us. He really desires to have our hearts and to bless us. That is what He means by being jealous. With Him, it is something righteous. For us, it is unrighteous, because we have no right to want all of the attention.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Also, how do we know that someone didn't just add parts to the Bible that aren't real? For example, the New do we know that's not just an addition on to the Old Testament that isn't really True? Or what about the extra books in Catholic Bibles? How do we know if those really belong there or not? Is there any evidence of what is True and what is not?

Again, the final evidence is your faith. There are a variety of materials that deal with this question. The website reference I gave you also contains things on this matter. There is, however, a higher and more effective way to approach the subject.

During the early days of the church, believers faced the same sort of dilemma. With them, it was a little different, but substantially the same. They were confronted with preachers and who were not telling the truth. Yet, some of these people claimed to have walked with the Lord's own Apostles. They were not Apostles themselves, but had actually companied with them. How were the people to know what was right? How could they tell the difference between true Apostolic doctrine (Acts 2:42), and the false teachings of men.

The Apostle of John dealt with this very situation. First, he told the people these false prophets did, in fact, once walk among the Apostles, but had left their company. "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us" (1 John 2:18-19). Now comes the real test. How will people be able to tell what part, if any, of their message was true?

John reminds them this is something the Holy Spirit will help them with. "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth . . . As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him" (1 John 2:20,27). When he says, "you know the truth," he means they are able to detect or sense the truth. It is something like knowing how to swim. You may not be able to fully explain it, but you know how to swim anyway. Down deep in the heart of every person who is born again, they know the truth. That is, they are able to recognize it. It is like having an appetite for the truth, and being able to tell you have it when it comes you way–even if you never heard it before.

The real test of the truth is not what it says, but how it works! Here is a most wonderful thing. John says we do not need any man to teach us. He does not mean we need no teaching at all, for John himself is teaching us. He is speaking about applying the truth–how to adapt it to life. When we hear the real truth, the Holy Spirit shows us how to adapt it to life–how to apply it. In that case, we are able to do what is right without having a list of rules in front of us.

The truth of Scripture can be converted into right and effective living. That is your ultimate proof that it is true.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)The Bible seems to totally contradict itself. It says that He will never leave or forsake Believers, but then it says that if they disown Him, He will disown them.

I am glad you said "SEEMS to totally contradict itself." That shows you suspect this is not the case–and it certainly is NOT the case. The promises of the Bible are ALWAYS made to believers–and believers are people who ARE believing, not who at one time believed. Such are told, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). It is God's nature to do this, and He cannot act contrary to His nature.

However, God also speaks to those who do NOT believe–who do NOT hold on to Him. ‘If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself" (2 Tim 2:12-13). God has NEVER promised to save someone who is not trusting in Him, or does not want to be saved. God's nature will not allow Him to save those who no longer trust in Him. That is why this passage reads as it does. He is saying, Men are fickle. They can change – in fact some of them begin believing, and then quit believing. Some start out being faithful, then become unfaithful. But God is not like that. He does not change! He cannot act contrary to His nature, or "disown" Himself. Therefore, when someone becomes faithless–even though they were once faithful–God must disown them. He must do so because that is the way He is. He has said over and over the unbeliever will be condemned. It makes little difference that the person may once have believed.

Think of it this way. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden by God. As long as they did what the Lord said, they were free to remain there. But when they sinned, they left God no recourse but to cast them out. He told them when they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would die. For God to have allowed them to remain in the garden would have required Him to change His nature–and God cannot do that.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   The Church I go to says that you can't lose your Salvation, even if you completely turn away from God and became backslidden, but this verse seems to me to be saying something else.

Nowhere does the Bible say you cannot lose your salvation. That might be comforting to a wayward Christian, but it is foolish to someone trusting in the Lord. It is like saying Satan could never be cast out of heaven, even though he really was (Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:9). It is like saying Judas could not lose his apostleship, even though he did (Acts 1:25). It is like saying disobedient angels could not lose what they once had, even though they did (Jude 6).

God has already spoken to this issue, so we really do not need the opinions of men. Hebrews 10:38-19b reads, "But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed." He goes on to speak of those who continue believing, and are therefore not destroyed. A person who thinks a believer cannot quit believing has not thought the matter out. Jesus clearly spoke of those who only believed "for a while" (Luke 8:13). He did not promise salvation to such people, and woe be to the person who represents Him as saying that.

We are solemnly told, "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Tim 6:12). Such people will surely be saved. God will underwrite their efforts. But those who choose to quit fighting, and no longer make a heart effort to take hold of eternal life are not promised salvation–any where or in any sense.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Another example of this is when it says that all you need to be Saved is to believer and confess and have faith, but then somewhere else is says "Faith without works is dead".

Faith is the foundation of our salvation. By that I mean believing and resting in what Jesus has done is the basis for us being saved. We can contribute nothing to that foundation. God saves us because of what Jesus has done, and because we are trusting in that.

The text that states "faith without works is dead, being alone" is found in James 2:17 and 26. James is not speaking of the REASON for being saved, but of the EVIDENCE of being saved. When he says "faith without works is dead," he means such a faith is only pretension–it is not faith at all. It is like a dead body–that body is not a person, because the spirit of the person has left it. So a person who lacks the "works" faith produces, really has no faith at all. He only says he does. The acid test of real faith is being able to do what God commands. It is like Israel passing through the Red Sea (Hebrews 11:29), Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:29), and Abraham offering up Isaac (Hebrews 11:17-19; James 2:21; Genesis 22:1-13).

Being saved without any activity on our part would be like Israel coming out of Egypt without observing the Passover, putting the blood over their doors, eating the Passover meal, putting on their clothes, and being ready to move out (Exodus 12).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)Also, I thought that God forgave all sins. But I read that there is an unforgivable or unpardonable sin (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit - Mark 3:20-30). First of all, why does the Bible say that all sins are forgiven in some places, and then in other places it says that a sin is not forgivable?

The forgiveness of "all sins" is offered only to believers, or those responding to the Gospel of Christ (Colossians 2:13). That does not mean every kind of sin will be forgiven, but all the sins of the individual will be forgiven. Forgiveness presumes repentance and faith. Where those are not found, forgiveness is not possible.

In the text you mentioned, our Lord tells of one sin that cannot and will not be forgiven. It is not a single act, but a KIND of sin. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit occurs when a person becomes so hard and calloused that all tenderness of heart is gone. The Lord does not tell us when this occurs, but that it CAN occur. The idea is that when we resist the Holy Spirit, or grieve Him, or quench Him, we gradually become hardened against Him. Just as we can become more sensitive to the Lord by believing, so we become more insensitive to Him when we do not believe. Unless unbelief is stopped, we finally reach a point where the Holy Spirit's influence is ridiculous to us. Again, we do not know at what point that condition is reached–and it really would be pointless for God to tell us. The point is that we are to work on being sensitive, not insensitive.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes) Also, what exactly is blasphemy? I think that I may have committed that sin, although I sure hope not . . . They say that to go to hell for it, it has to be repeated over and over again and intentional, but according to the way the verse reads, it seems like you only have to do it once.

You have NOT committed this sin. The very fact that you are concerned about it proves that. This is a sin that CANNOT be committed accidentally, or by those who really do not want to commit it. Again, this is not a particular act, but a KIND of sin that is committed. It is a state that is reached rather than a deed that is done–like going over the edge.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   How do we know if we are interpreting the Bible correctly? . . . How do we find out what it really means, instead of just giving it our own interpretation?

You must think of this in a different manner. The Bible is not to be interpreted, but believed. When we believe it, God will help us understand it. That is another way of saying we are convinced it is the truth, even if we do not yet understand it. David believed the Bible, then asked for God to help him understand it (Psa 119:34,73,125,144,169). The Ephesians believed the Gospel (Eph 1:13), then Paul prayed God would give them understanding (Ephesians 1:17-20; 3:18-20). Timothy believed what Paul wrote to him, then Paul prayed the Lord would give Timothy understanding in all things (2 Tim 2:7). Ask the Lord for understanding. He will give it to you. It is really just that simple.

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Can we expect suffering to be something we experience throughout life ? and if so, what is 1 Peter 5:10 referring to when it says: And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. Does "a little while" refer to our entire lives ?

The suffering of question is a detailed in the verses following the Romans 8:17 affirmation (8:19-25). It is the suffering of travail, or the expectancy of being delivered from the bondage corruption. It comes because our faith has put us at variance with the whole world. Our inward man is advancing, while our outward man is deteriorating (2 Cor 4:16). Because we are "strangers and pilgrims" in this world, the desires it fosters "war against" our soul, creating suffering (1 Pet 2:11). We are also misfits in this world, because God has taken us "out of the world" for His own Self (Acts 15:14). Now we are taken out of the in our hearts. This produces opposition and persecution. Soon, we will be removed from the world altogether. Until then, our sufferings -- all of them -- are caused because we are no longer citizens here, but our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20-21). This creates friction between ourselves and nature, as well as those who are not born again, and the entire world order.

Peter's reference to suffering for a "little while" applies generally to life, but more specifically to particular difficulties through which we are being conformed to the image of God's Son. The term "little while" emphasizes the temporary nature of suffering. In First Peter it refers primarily to persecutions, and the oppositions of men (2:21; 4:1,13,14). He begins the book by referring to these sufferings. There Peter says thry are not always present, but are special occasions through which God is perfecting us. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, IF NEED BE, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations" (1:6). The NIV reads, "for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."

In this suffering, our faith is being refined and strengthened -- put to the test -- so it will glorify God when the Lord Jesus comes to receive us unto Himself (1 Pet 1:7).

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How do you feel about all the interest that is being placed on the Prayer of Jabez ? Have you read Bruce Wilkinson's book ?

In my opinion, he has made some good remarks, but has adapted it too much for the person of the world. The prayer of Jabez was superior in his time, but is not to be compared with the insightful prayers one in Christ Jesus. Jabez prayer did not extend one millimeter beyond this present world. Compare it the prayers of Paul (Eph 1:15-20; 3:15-20; Col 1:9-11, etc).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)With all of the things going on in the world today, many speak of the rapture of the church but indicate that the unsaved will be left on earth and go through great tribulation. Although I have heard teachings on this all of my life, I have never thought that life would continue on earth after Christ's return.

You are absolutely correct. We are not left to the finely spun theologies of men in determining this. The Spirit has spoken with such precision, that one wonders how there can be any confusion on the subject. Peter says that when the Lord comes "as a thief," the entire universe will go up in flames. "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" (2 Pet 3:10-12, NASB).

Paul; affirms that the wicked will be destroyed by the Lord "when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed" (2 Thess 1:10, NASB).

Jesus said He would return in all of His glory, the glory of the Father, and the glory of the holy angels -- something no flesh will be able to survive (Luke 9:26).

When John saw a vast multitude in the glory, an angel asked him who they were. He did not know, so passed the question back to the angel He was told, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 7:14, NASB). In fact, early believers were told, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

The "rapture" doctrine is a myth created by men. The word "rapture" is not even found in the Word of God. Therefore, to found a large body of teaching upon it is something less than wise. The basic tenets of the doctrine -- a seven year tribulation, a fleshly reign of Jesus in Jerusalem, and a bloody war between the forces of heaven and those of earth, have no clear basis in Scripture. They are based upon human analysis, and the putting together of an array of Scriptural texts that were never joined by an inspired man.

When Jesus comes, the very text upon which this doctrine is founded, explodes the notion of a secret rapture of the church. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thess 4:16). Anyone who imagines all of that can go undetected not only needs to pray for wisdom, they need to confess to foolishness.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)Have you researched any other details around the date and historical circumstances of the record of the "star" over Bethlehem that winter evening of 5ad?

I am familiar with some of the writings of men on this, but it has been many years since I read them. As Paul would say, "they added nothing to me." If all Scripture has come through the inspiration of God, and holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, then this is an inspired view of things. That also means there is very much to be seen in this record -- much of which you are beholding.

When I lived near Chicago, the Planetarium had a special program every Christmas in which they tracked the star of reference. It was a fascinating program to see. They still hold it every year.

It is generally conceded that the wise men had some affiliation with astronomy. The term "wise men" comes from the word "magi," which is thought to mean Oriental scientists, or those familiar with the heavens. We are not told precisely how they knew about this star. It is my opinion that they received a special revelation about it. They had some familiarity with God, being warned by Him later in a dream not to return to Herod.

I have often pondered what you mentioned about these scientists being among the first to know of the Holy Child who was born King. In them, the wisdom of this world properly bowed to Jesus -- and that when He was under two years of age. Lowly shepherds in Israel, wise men in the East. Both received a revelation, although the shepherds had a fuller one. Thus the first became last, and the last first. There is surely more in this account than most have been given to see.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)Amen, brother Blakely. And on that note, I wonder if you'd have any comment (short and/or general is fine) on "post-millenialism"?

Christ's return will definitely be "post" to anything transpiring on the earth. There are several Scriptures that indicate the truth will pervade the world in an unusual way, thereby vindicating the God of all truth. The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14). All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God (Isa 52:10). The Lord shall be king over all the earth, and there will be one Lord, and His name one (Zech 14:9). Paul relates an explosion of the knowledge of the Lord with the turning of Israel to the Lord (Rom 11:12,15). If these things were said by mere men, I would not consider them weighty. However, they are the mind of the Lord.

I do not presume to limit the holy one of Israel, or to assign a lifeless meaning to these words. Whatever is involved in their fulfillment, they are not meant to induce sleep among the saints, as though Christ's coming was a long way off. Stereotyped theology, like post-millennialism, can lead to that erroneous conclusion, even though it contradicts the spirit and content of Apostolic doctrine. God can get a lot done in a short time, like a nation being born in a single day (Isa 66:8).

There are some remnants of truth in all three of the traditional views of Christ's return (pre-post-A). But there is one thing they all three have in common. The return of Jesus is not the fundamental thing in any of them. The pre-millennialists emphasize the mythical rapture, and specifically the great tribulation -- so much so that their adherents are more afraid of a mark in their head than of being cast into hell. The Post-millennialists emphasis the reign of the truth upon the earth. The A-millennialists emphasize the here and the now, as well as do the Preterists. However, the emphasis of Scripture is the Lord's return itself. Those who believe are said to have turned from idols to serve the living God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (1 Thess 1:9-10).

Any teaching, therefore, that does not lead to that posture cannot be right, whatever it is.

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2 Peter 3:10 As I understand it the Day of the Lord is when Jesus sets his feet on this earth again. If at this time all is burned up, what about the 1000 year reign and then evil again being loosed upon the earth? Or is the Day of the Lord referring to Revelation 20:7 thru chapter 21?

The "day of the Lord" is when He will be revealed from heaven (2 Thess 1:7). It is when the Father will make His Son known to all (1 Tim 6:15). It is His day because all will bow before Him and confess His name. His glory will overshadow everything else. As Peter affirmed, when He comes as a thief, the whole universe will have to go, for there will be no further need of it in its present form. I understand this to be the time to which Revelation 20:11 refers. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them."

The thousand year reign, as you probably know already, is one of the most controversial subjects within the church -- even though it is only mentioned six times in the entire Bible, and that in the most figurative book of the Bible -- a book in which John wrote what he "saw," a vision. The only texts we have on this subject say the following. (1 Satan is to be bound a thousand years (Rev 20:2). (2 During these thousand years, Satan will deceive the nations no more (Rev 20:3). (3 The saints who were beheaded because of their testimony reigned a thousand years with Christ (Rev 20:4). (4 The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished (Rev 20:5). (5 Those who have part in the first resurrection will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 20:6). (6 when the thousand years are expired, Satan will be loosed for a little season (Rev 20:7). That is the sum total of what the Holy Spirit has said about "the thousand years." Of course, books without number have been written on the subject -- but that is all God said about it.

You will note the text has to do with people reigning with Christ, not the initiation of a new reign by Christ. I gather this means they will join Him in a reign He has had all along. It is my understanding that this refers to a period of time when the truth, for which the martyrs died, will gloriously triumph throughout the world. Romans 11:12,15 relate it to the conversion of Israel, not the return of the Lord. I do not know if this will be a thousand years as men reckon time. It is possible for something normally requiring generations to happen in a single day -- like a nation being born in a day (Isa 66:8). At any rate, something very large is ahead, and it will all conclude with the appearing of the Lord.

Some choose to view the rest of the Bible through the text in Revelation. I think it is wiser to read this apocalyptic book in view of what Jesus and His said. Whatever our view of these things, it must leave us longing for the return of our Lord, and preparing to meet Him. I know you are in that number, and thankfully rejoice because of it.

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... Just wondering where the Thousand Years Reign comes into picture:

The Scriptures nowhere use the phrase "the Thousand Year reign." The single passage that deals with a specific "thousand years" is Revelation 20:2-7. It is a passage that is not conducive to the development of a finely tuned theology. In my understanding, it does refer to a period when the truth, for which the martyrs were slain, will gloriously triumph in the earth. Then, the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14) -- not because of a coercive rule, but because of the truth. Romans 11:12 and 15 relate the kind of global awakening to the conversion of Israel.

The prominence of the truth, or, as some call it, "the thousand year reign," must precede the return of the Lord. We know this is the case because Peter affirmed Jesus must remain in heaven until everything promised by the prophets has been fulfilled (Acts 3:20-21) -- and they promised a time when the knowledge of the Lord would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

When Jesus comes "as a thief," there will be no further use for this world. It will go up in flames. That is a matter of revelation (2 Pet 3:10-12).

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In studying the Shunnamite Woman....Was it culture that keeps her at arms length from Elisha? She is found to speak thru Gehazi the slave in most of scripture and Elisha as well does not speak directly to her. I can only guess that being a Holy man...she did not approach him face to face but I cant find anything on the culture of that time to lead me either way.

First, our introduction to this woman confirms she was a "great," or prominent woman. Seeing the prophet Elisha pass by her home., she personally constrained him to come in and eat bread in her home (2 Kings 4:8). Although she was married, she personally urged to eat in her home. She did not make the request og Gehazi. Later, when she perceived Elisha was a "holy man of God." she told her husband she felt they should make a special room for him with a bed, table, chair, and lampstand (2 Kings 4:10).

Second, when Elisha had spent some time in this special room, he told Gehazi to call for the Shunammite woman. He did call for her, and she came and stood before the prophet Elisha. At that time, Elisha did hold a dialog with the woman through Gehazi his servant (2 Kings 4:10-14). Later, however, when Elisha promised she would have a son, he spoke directly to her as she stood before him. The woman also replkeid personally to him (2 Kings 4:15-16).

Third, following the death of her son, and when meeting the prophet again, she took hold of his feet. When the servant Gehazi sought to push her away, Elisha told him to let her alone, for the Lord had hidden what was troubling her from him. The woman then reasoned with the prophet concerning the death of her son (2 Kings 4:25-28). After elisha had raised her son from the dead, he told Gehazi to call the woman into the room where he remained with the raised boy. When she came into the room, Elisha told her to pick up the boy. The woman fell down at his feet, bowing to the ground, then arose and picked up her restored son.

Therefore, I do not see this woman as standing back from the prophet Elisha. On the occasion when Elisha spoke to her through Gehazi

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)When you say "Israel were sons collectively", do you mean that Israel is saved "en masse" and not on an individual basis?

Israel is collectively called "son," NOT "sons (Ex 4:22-23; Hos 11:1). The people were collectively called God's children, not on an individual basis (Deut 14:1). That status is NOT the same as being "saved" as declared in Christ Jesus. As a nation they were begotten and delivered by God, but none of them were "born again" as those who are in Christ Jesus. Such salvation did not exist prior to Christ's exaltation. This is a salvation in Christ Jesus that comes "with eternal glory" (2 Tim 2:10) -- something that was not even mentioned under the Law, much less promised. In Jesus, God begets us to a living hope "BY the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 1:3). That is something altogether new. There could be no such begetting in the redemptive sense prior to the resurrection of Christ Jesus. The Prophets spoke of this salvation, even inquiring and searching diligently concerning its truth. They were prophesying "of the grace that should come" to those in Christ Jesus (1 Pet 1:10). That salvation was related to the sufferings and glory of Christ. God even revealed to the prophets that their message "was not unto themselves" (1 Pet 1:12).

This condition is precisely why Jesus said the following of John the Baptist. "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt 11:11). It is certainly not that the greatness of the "least in the kingdom" is found in a person-to-person comparison to John the Baptist. It is what we have become in Christ that accounts for a "greater" condition. You might say John was a giant standing in a valley, while those in Christ are like midgets standing on a mountain.

As you well point out, those prior to Christ who were accepted by God had faith. Their faith in God, however, while of the same order as those who believe on the Son, was vastly inferior to it. Through it, they obtained a "good report" while they sojourned in this world -- but they did NOT receive the promised salvation until after Jesus took sin away and was exalted to the right hand of God (Heb 11:39; 9:15).

If Jesus had not come, removing the barrier of sin, destroying the devil, spoiling principalities and powers, and removing the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, no one would have been saved -- eternal life would never have been realized by anyone.

Faith had nothing whatsoever to do with the Old Covenant. Faith was strictly on an individual basis, and was not a covenantal issue. This is specifically stated in Galatians 3:12: "The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, 'The man who does these things will live by them.'" The Law did not require men to believe, but to "DO." There was no commandment under the Law to believe. The entire matter of life was placed in the hands of man, and was based upon strict conformity to the Law in every sense, and at all times.

If you do not have a proper understanding of the distinction between the Old and New covenants, you must set yourself to obtain it. The New Covenant is precisely that -- "new." It bears no resemblance to the Old Covenant, and is said to be "not according" to that covenant (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:8-13). It is a different kind of covenant -- of another order.

Faith has always been recognized by God, whether before the Law in Abel, Enoch, or Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Job, or after the Law in Moses, David, and the Holy Prophets. That faith, however, rested in the promise of a coming Seed, and that is precisely why it was honored by God. However, it depended upon the coming of that Seed.

We give honor to, and receive, believers who lived prior to Christ's redemption. But they "received not the promise," and could not be "made perfect apart from us" (Heb 11:39). That is a matter of record.

There is such an abundance of revelation on this in the Apostles' doctrine that I am alarmed by the kind of dialog that is going on over this issue. It is a fundamental issue, specifically addressed in Scripture. It is the business of every believer to know what the Scriptures say about a matter before they engage in endless discussions about it. Such discussions bring no honor to Christ, tend toward confusion, and provoke all manner of foolish talking.

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Solomon was spoken of as God's "son."

My response did not cover the Lord's word concerning Solomon being His son. I dealt largely with Israel as a nation, and how God referred to them collectively as His son, but did not do so on an individual basis. Solomon, of course, is an exception to that. However, the uniqueness that attended the Lord's reference to Solomon sets him in a category by himself.

I believe there are four references to Solomon in this regard. 2 Samuel 7:13-14, 1 Chronicles 17:12-13, 1 Chronicles 22:9-10, and 1 Chronicles 28:5-6. The language  used in these references is most unique. (1. He would build a house for God's name. (2 God would establish His throne and His kingdom forever. (3 God would not remove His mercy from him. (4 David's house and kingdom would thus be established forever. (5 God would settle him in His house and kingdom forever. and (6 He would sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord. 1 Chronicles 28:7 says God would establish His kingdom forever, conditioned upon  doing His commandments and judgments. The other texts did not make this association.

It is my understanding that in these promises, Solomon was an introduction to coming Messiah, even as Israel (as a son) was, as declared in Hosea 11:1, and confirmed in Matthew 2:15. The prophesies of David's seed sitting upon his throne forever were applied to Jesus Christ by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:31-33). Zechariah alluded to the promises in His statement about the Messiah building the temple of the Lord (Zech 6:12-13). Peter unequivocally refers the ultimate fulfillment of these prophecies of Jesus, and specifically to His resurrection (Acts 2:20-31).

I know of no prophecies to David that specifically mentioned that the Messiah would come from him. The prophecies all sounded as though Solomon was their focus. But that was only in a preliminary sense. The Spirit consistently applies those prophecies to the Lord Jesus Himself.

I know you are fully aware of all of this. I only mention it to confirm that the references to Solomon being "son" were by no means the Divine standard for referring to men prior to the Old Covenant, or under the Old Covenant. In fact all such references to Solomon are carefully put in the future tense: "he shall be my son," and "for I have chosen him to be my son" (2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chron 7:13; 1 Chron 22:10; 1 Chron 28:6). That appears to be by Divine intention.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)Wasn't the reason Joseph had his bones interred in the promised land because God had promised the land, not because there was anything special about having them buried?  In other words, his decision was based on the promise of God, not on an intrinsically valuable form of disposal.

That is precisely correct. And the burial of the body is done in hope of the resurrection, as depicted in 1 Corinthians 15:42-45. I suppose that one could imagine cremation as the "sowing" of the body, but to me it requires a fanciful imagination to do so. This is not, as some have well pointed out, a matter of salvation -- at least it is not so represented in God's Word. It does, however, serve as an occasion when"the thoughts of many hearts" are revealed.

I do not know what the philosophical language "an intrinsically valuable form of disposal" means to you. But whatever it means, we are told our bodies "are the members of Christ" (1 Cor 6:15), and will thus be redeemed (Rom 8:23). If you are suggesting that such a marvelous hope is reflected in the act of cremation, I disagree with you. I believe Joseph would have disagreed with you, as well as Abraham, those who buried John the Baptist, and those who buried Stephen. But, that is, I admit, my opinion, and I am willing to leave it at that.

I have spent time responding to this issue because of the seeming confidence that was evinced by those upholding cremation, while speaking accommodatingly to those who have no geart for it. I do not believe their position can be supported by any form of spiritual reasoning, whether it be Scriptural precedence or inference. It is groundless human opion, and ought to be so acknowledged. There is not a syllable of Scriprure that would lead an honest and good heart to justify the cremation of the body.

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