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QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  I have encountered some homosexuals who say they are Christians. They even say God does miracles in their assemblies, and blesses them. What will it take for these folks, who really want to love God, but cannot free themselves from sin, or believe that God will deliver them from it?

The love of God is defined in His Word: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:3-5).

There simply is no such thing as believing, yet being overcome by sin. I understand this does not mean God's people never sin -- but they certainly abhor it when they do. They beat a path straight to the throne to obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.

Professed believers must settle it in their minds that those guilty of immorality will not inherit the Kingdom of God; i.e., they will not dwell forever in the house of the Lord (1 Cor 6:9-10). The next verse shows the effectiveness of salvation. "And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."

The sin of sodomy is especially reprehensible because it is against nature as well as against God (Rom 1:26-27). I understand those given to this sin will sometimes experience difficulty in extricating themselves from it--but it can be done. Those who deal with such individuals must do so in hope "God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (2 Tim 2:25-26).

Those given to such perversion are simply not telling the truth when they say God moves mightily in their services. God does not bless those He has pledged to curse. Those who do not seek deliverance from sin will not be delivered from it.
It is not possible to serve two masters--those who say they do are deceived. A sodomite is a servant of sin--that is what makes them what they are. They may concoct psychological explanations for their conduct (which God summarily condemns. But when they have given their explanations, it is still true, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:34).

Our role is to seek to persuade such people that it is true: "They who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Too, if they make a profession of faith, they must acknowledge their sin to the Lord. the promise is, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). If people are not willing to believe this, we have nothing more to offer.

We must take care in our dealings with people not to confuse a profession of faith with faith itself. The consistent characteristic of faith is its overcoming power. "And this is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4-5). If there is no overcoming, there is no faith.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Does scripture specify a certain time that the Lord's Supper should be served? Does it have to be served in the evening?

There are no specifications concerning when to take the Lord's Supper. We do read of believers who gathered on the first day of the week "to break bread" (Acts 20:7), but there is no commandment to do so. Their example, however, is a good one to follow. It reveals how those early believers thought–and they were taught by the Apostles of the Lamb.

There is a reason for the Lord not giving us a specified time for partaking of His table. This is a feast of remembrance for those to whom Jesus is "precious" (1 Pet 2:7). To attempt to regulate remembrance by rules and commandments is counterproductive. Jesus assumed it would be taken "often" by those who loved Him (1 Cor 11:26). We are also reminded that those who fail to take it in remembrance of Him defile the table, and will bring judgment upon themselves (1 Cor 11:29-31).

Some have concluded there is such a danger in taking the Lord's Supper, they are afraid to do so -- or to do it frequently. The Scriptures, however, make no allowance for refusing to eat at the Lord's table. We are told, "Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (1 Cor 11:28, NRSV).

The Scriptures suggest early believers partook of the Lord's supper every day (Acts 2:46). It was not a law for them to do so, but Jesus was so precious to them, and deliverance from sin so real, that it was simply what their hearts wanted to do.

I cannot conceive of any believer taking the Lord's supper with less frequency than weekly. Notwithstanding, to their own master they stand or fall.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Why is it that the gospel, or more specifically the verses needed to fully witness to someone are not found in the same book and chapter. That is, why do I have to find Romans 3:23 and then flip to Romans 6:26 and John 3:3 etc. in order to give a person all the information he needs to understand God's plan for salvation. >>
    The appropriation of salvation is never a mere procedure--a series of steps, as it were. Some have endeavored to approach salvation in this way, but they must piece Scriptures together to come up with their procedure--something the Author of salvation has not done.

    What may appear different answers to the question of how to be saved, are not different at all. The appropriation of salvation is seen from different perspectives. From the standpoint of a foundation, we are 'saved by grace through faith" (Eph 2:8-10). That is not given to those coming into Christ, but to those who are already there. It is given to assist them in understanding why God received them.

    In another place, salvation is traced back to confessing Jesus is Lord with the mouth, and believing in the heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Rom 10:9-10). This is not meant to cover all of the basis. Also, it was spoken to Christians, not sinners. The point of the text is that salvation requires a response within people. They must take hold of the Word of God with their whole heart, and acknowledge the truth of Christ before men.

    Those inquiring about salvation were told by Peter, "repent and be baptized . . . for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). He made no mention of believing, because they already evidenced belief. He did not tell to confess Christ, because he knew their obedience would constrain them to do so. Peter's emphasis was that their terrible sin of killing Christ could be completely remitted by turning away from that renunciation, repudiating it, and being baptized into Christ.

    The Philippian jailor, when asking what to do to be saved, was told "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). Here there was not mention of repentance, confession, or baptism--yet all three followed. The jailor evidenced repentance and contrition, and later was baptized the same hour of the night without any argument.

    In a nutshell, salvation is not a procedure. You must take people from where they are to where they should be. In that ministry, all of the things required for salvation will be gladly obeyed by the recipient.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   . . . why is it that in scripture "He" speaking of God is sometimes capitalized where sometimes it is not.

    It depends on what translation you are using. Some of them consistently capitalize the pronouns referring to Deity, and some do not. The ones which do not consistently capitalize them, as I understand, are not attempting to deny the Deity of Jesus. They seem to capitalize the pronouns when Deity is the express subject of the statement.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   In Matthew 3:11,12, does fire refer to hell, or the holy spirit or something else?

The "fire" of Matthew 3:11-12 refers to the destruction of the wicked. This vivid description portrays the world as God's threshing floor. In it, there are people denoted as "chaff," or waste material, and those aptly termed "wheat." In "thoroughly," or completely, purging His floor, the Lord will elimninate the need for the world as we know it. The wicked will be burned up with "unquenchable fire."

    Such can only be said of hell, and never of a blessing. The Holy Spirit does not consume, but makes alive, strengthens, and fills. Such language (burned up with unquenchable fire) is never used of His work within the believer.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Are there any instances in the N.T were a non ordainded person or an apostle baptized someone. If not there is not an instance then who can baptize another person and why?

    There are not a lot of examples in Scripture that precisely state who did the actual baptizing. John he Baptist baptized people (Mark 1:5). Although Jesus is said to have baptized more people than John, it is also said He did not personally do the baptizing (John 4:1-2). Philip was not an Apostle, but a deacon. He baptized the treasurer of the Queen of Candace (John 8:38). Paul baptized a few people, but did not make a common practice of personally baptizing the people converted under his preaching (1 Cor 1:14-17).

    In the Word of God, WHO did the baptizing is not the point, but the person or persons being baptized. I understand that any believer can baptize another person.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Is it wrong to pray to the Holy spirit like we do the Father and Jesus? If so why and what scripture. This question of course includes the problem of inviting the holy spirit to come and baptize oneself.

Jesus Himself taught us to pray. He said our prayers were to be addressed to the Father: "Our Father, who are in heaven . . . " (Matt 6:9). Praying to Jesus, strictly speaking, is not the ordinary way of praying. Jesus said, "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you" (John 16:23). That does not mean it is a sin to pray to Jesus. Stephen did say as he was being stoned to death, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59). That is the only such reference in Scripture, which confirms it was not a normal situation. The Word of God teaches us we have access to the Father through Christ and by the Spirit (Eph 2:18). What is more, the Spirit moves us to cry "Abba Father" (Gal 4;6), a term referring to heartfelt prayer.

As to praying to the Holy Spirit, or asking the Holy Spirit to do something for or in us, we have no such example in Scripture. The Holy Spirit operates under the direction of the Father and the Son, both of Whom are said to send Him to us (John 15:2616:7; Gal 4;6). He is never pictured as being the object of our prayers.

We are said to pray "by the Spirit" (Eph 2:18), and in the Spirit (Eph 6:18; Jude 20), but NEVER to the Spirit. That is an idea originated by men, not God. The notion of inviting the Spirit into our persons or presence may sound good and holy, but no such language is found in the Word of God. Those expressions are of human origin.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   What does I John 5:16 mean "sin that leads to death" that is this sin?

This is a sin that results in death, as a judgment from God. Examples of those sinning such a sin are Ananas and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10), Judas (Acts 1:25), some Corinthians who took the Lord's Supper in disrespect of Jesus (1 Cor 11:30), Achan (Joshua 7:1-24), and Herod (Acts 12:22-23). In each case, the judgment of death was imposed on them by God because of a particular sin. There are also numerous other examples of those dying because of sin.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Must one be baptized to be "saved" Your thought's please.

In a way, that is the wrong question. Jesus said, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). That really settles the matter. he did NOT say, "He who believes and is saved shall be baptized" -- although that is what some people teach.

In fact, everything the Bible says about baptism is related to the matter of salvation.
Here are some things with which God has associated baptism. They are all associated with salvation.

1. Repentance (Acts 2:38).
2. The remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
3. The gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
4. Believing (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12; 18:8).
5. Salvation (mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
6. Being buried with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12).
7. Being raised with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12).
8. Being identified with Christ's death (Rom 6:3).
9. Becoming dead to sin (Rom 6:2-3).
10. Becoming alive to God (Rom 6:3-11).
11. The circumcision of Christ, in which the whole body of sin is cut away (Col 2:11-12).
12. Faith in the operation, or working, of God (Col 2:12).
13. Coming into Christ (Gal 3:27).
14. Putting on Christ (Gal 3:27).
15. A commandment (Acts 10:48).
16. The confession of Christ (Acts 8:36-37).
17. Gladly receiving the Word of God (Acts 2:41).
18. Washing away our sins (Acts 22:16).
19. Coming into one body through the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13).

In exceptional cases, where the person was not able to be baptized due to some unfortunate circumstance, or because they simply did not know, God alone is the judge. But when the person knows what God has said, the question is, what is there about the Gospel that would lead one to want to be saved without being baptized.

I like to think of it this wauy. Jesus was baptized (Matt 3:16-17), and God spoke out of heaven in respnse to it. Too, Jesus will judge the world (Acts 17:31). What will be the explanation offered to Jesus by those who were NOT baptized, when Jesus was baptized even though John tried to talk Him out of it. Believe me, it will not go well with them.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   I also asked a question about aparitions. What answer can I give those that ask me about certain "visions" and "miracles" such as those at Lourdes.

Any claim to miracles is to be tested by the Word of God and by the results they produce. There are no pat answers--like assuming "Miracles never happen," or "If you say it is a miracle I believe it." First John 4:1-2 exhorts us to test the claims of people who say or do something in the name of the Lord. If a genuine miracle has been done, something great for God will be done for someone, or some great truth of God made clear to the hearts of the people.

I personally believe much of what they say happened at Lourdes has not produced the kind of results miracles in the Bible produced. That, of course, does not mean they were not supernatural.

Deuteronomy 13:1-3 also tells of those declaring something was going to come to pass--something that really did come to pass. However, if that person asks the people follow another god, he was a false prophet and is not to be heard. In the New Testament, we are also warned of those work who signs and wonders, but are not from God (Matthew 24:24; Second Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:13). All of this means there are two categories of miracles, or signs and wonders: those that are from God, and those that are from the devil. Both are real from an external point of view, but both are not to be followed.

It ought to be clear from this why we are to test those who claim to work miracles.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)I have looked in the concordance book on the definition of the word agape and I found that it means "brotherly love." What that is am not sure and was going to delve into it today, but I heard it was "unconditional love" which makes sense with the scripture verse, Rom 8:39, I am presenting on Sunday night.  Could you please help me on this word agape and its true definition. Thank you.

Brother Isaac,
First, I commend you for your diligence in study, and your quest to know the things of God. That kind of spirit is about 90% of learning the things of God, and will be honored by Him.
In Scripture, there are two Greek words used for "love." One is "agape" (pronounced "a-gop-a), and the other "phileo" (pronounced "fil-e-o").
"Agape" love is the kind of love that DOES something beneficial for another. It involves a preference for, but accents the desire to do good -- or to EXPRESS that love toward the one loved.
"Phileo" love is a brotherly love. It also does good, but the accent is on AFFECTION, preference, or closeness of relationship. The word "Philadelphia" (city of brotherly love) comes from this word.
Love is a big concept, and it took these two words to really open up what it means. Some have said that "agape" love is God's kind of love, and "phileo" love is man's kind of love. This is NOT true. God is said to "love" (phileo) the Son (John 5:20). Jesus also said the Father loved (phileo) the disciples because they loved (phileo) Him. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him (John 21:15-17), he used "agape" the first two times (verses 15-16), and "phileo" the third time (verse 17). Jesus also said the world "loved" (phileo) its own (John 15:19), and that he who "loved" (phileo) his life would lose it (John 12:25). In all of these case, "love" referred to a personal preference for what or who was loved. The emphasis in such a love is preference, affection, a desire to be with, or wanting to be around. In some cases, such a love is good, and in some it is bad. With God and Christ, it is always good.
The same kind of use is found for the word "agape." Jesus said the Father "loved" (agape) Him, and that He "loved" His disciples (John 15:9). He said they ought to "love" (agape) one another as He "loved" (agape) them (John 15:12). The Gospels also tell us that there some who "loved" (agape) the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43). When Jesus said no man can love two masters, declaring he would "love" one and "hate" the other, he used the word "agape" (Matt 6:24). When Peter spoke of those who "loved" the wages of unrighteousness, he used the word "agape" (2 Pet 2:15). John said "LOVE not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man LOVE the world, the LOVE of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). He used "agape" all three times. In all of these cases, "love" had to do with EXPRESSING or showing itself. On the part of God and Christ, that expression is always good. On the part of man, it is sometimes wrong -- like trying to please men rather than God, or loving self more than God.
The phrase "unconditional love" has become quite popular in the past 10-15 years. However, it is nowhere found or suggested in Scripture. It is actually a term borrowed from psychology, and has been aggressively pushed by Christian psychologists. In the strict meaning of the word, God's love IS conditional, and is so declared.
"He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and HE THAT LOVETH ME shall be LOVED OF MY FATHER, and I WILL LOVE HIM, and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). All four times "love" it used, it is "agape." Notice that love is conditional: IF a person loves Jesus. If the person "loves" Jesus, the Father will love that person, and Jesus will as well.
"Jesus answered and said unto him, IF A MAN LOVE ME, he will keep my words: and MY FATHER WILL LOVE HIM, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). "Agape" is used for a man loving Jesus and God loving that man. Notice, God's love was conditional: "IF a man love me."
"IF YE KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS, ye shall ABIDE IN MY LOVE; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love"  (John 15:10). Again, "agape" is used. Again, there is a condition: "IF ye keep my commandments." To "remain" in Christ's love is to continue to have His love directed, or focused, upon you.
We can also conclude that God's love is conditional by sound doctrine. For example, the Scriptures say, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Heb 12:6). On the other hand, we are told there are some who are NOT chastened: "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Heb 12:8). In this case, the "condition" is being a son.
Also, because of Israel's sin and stubbornness, God said to them, "I will love them no more" (Hos 9:15). His love was conditional.
There is a sense in which God "love the world" (past tense) is provisional -- it did something for the world. That love was exhibited in providing salvation for the world through the Son (John 3:16). But nowhere does the Word say God "LOVES" (present tense) the world. His love is seen in His provision of salvation through Christ. That is why the word "loved" (past tense) is used (Rom 8:37; Gal 2:20; Eph 2:4; 5:2,25; 2 Thess 2:16; 1 John 4:11, 19). That is, love is seen in what He DID, not how He felt.
Romans 8:39 is confirming that no outside influence can remove those in Christ from the experience of God's love. That word is given to explain why we are "more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom 8:37).  The word applies to those who are justified and are walking in the Spirit (Rom 8:13-16). IF, however, a person chooses to walk in the flesh, he will "die" (Rom 8:13). Such a person will not be united to God's love. In that case, it was not an enemy that drove a wedge between the person and God, but a preference for the flesh, which alienates a person from God (Rom 8:6-7).

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