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"What if a Christian commits suicide? Would a loving Father reject one of His children who preferred going to be with Him?."

"How does one know if he has blasphemed against the Holy Ghost and if he has what is left for that person?"

"Please explain the Trinity. I know the word is not found in Scripture, but am confused about Jesus being called "God" and the "Son of God."

"It appears that just as all men will be dying in Adam, so all will be raised unconditionally because of Christ. Is this correct?

  How can the dead be baptized? or what is the meaning of being baptized for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15?

  What about these verses concerning reigning with Jesus?

   What about future rewards? Is it really right to think one believer can receive more rewards than another?

   Do you know why God forgives only after the shedding of blood? And why was the offering burnt?

   What is so "good" about the Good News if I have to hold on? I thought God held on to me.

What if a Christian commits suicide? Would a loving Father reject one of His children who preferred going to be with Him?

Life is a stewardship -- and therefore does not belong to us. Remember, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's"
(1 Cor 6:19-20).

We are often tempted to reason about these things from an earthly point of view--and none of us are exempt from this temptation. How is one to know they
are no longer able to bring glory to God? or is it necessary that we think in such a manner? Our times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15). We must encourage one
another to believe this--it is the truth. If this assessment is true ('My times are in Your hands"), suicide is not an option open to us. Death is an appointment best left in our lord's hands.

God is to glorified in our death as well as in our life. Peter, for instance, was told by the Lord Himself of the death through which he would glorify God
(John 21:19). It seems to me that it would be most difficult for God to be glorified by means of suicide. Suicide is driven by human perception. It is
surrunded with discouragement, and is not noted as resulting from strong faith and hope. Unless the Lord leads a person to commit suicide, which I think is
highly unlikely, it is the resuly of someone taking matters into their own hands.

There is no need for any of us to sit in judgment upon poor souls who have been bludgeoned by pain and sorrow -- but neither are we within a Divinely
appointed role when we attempt to justify such a deed.


How does one know if he has blasphemed against the Holy Ghost and if he has what is left for that person?

The sin of which Jesus spoke is one from which recovery is NOT possible--either in this world, or the world to come (Matt 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:10). Such a person has so steeled his heart against God that all sensitivity is lost. The conscience becomes so hard and calloused that the Holy Spirit Himself cannot convict such a person of sin.

For this reason, the person committing this sin is not concerned about it. The person wondering if he has committed this sin has NOT committed it. The very presence of concern proves this to be the case. Such a person would never have a thought about how God would treat him, what would happen in the judgment, or if there is any hope after death. All of those reactions are evidence sin can still be forgiven. As a matter of interest, the Word of God does not define the point at which such insensitivity is reached. There would be no point to identifying that point, as you can see.



"Please explain the Trinity. I know the word is not found in Scripture, but am confused about Jesus being called "God" and the "Son of God."

The phrase "Jesus is God" is never found in Scripture. God the Father is, however, declared to have said to the Son, "But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom" (Heb 1:8). the doctrine of Scripture is that when Jesus entered into the world, He "emptied Himself" (Phil 2:5-8). Stated simply, that means the emphasis was placed upon His humanity, not His Deity--although He remained Divine.

Scripture also affirms, "For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one" (1 John 5:7). John defines "the Word" as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (John 1:1,14; 1 John 1:1). While the word "trinity" is not in Scripture, the fact of three distinct Divine Persons is. Often they are all mentioned in the same verse--each doing something different (1 Pet 1:2; Matt 28:19; Gal 4:6; Matt 3:16-17; 2 Cor 13:14).

The term "Son of God" declares equality with the Father--it is not a term that makes Jesus less than God. Even His enemies knew this was the case. In fact, that is the official reason why they crucified Him (John 5:18). When you proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, you are declaring Him as He should be presented. This is how the Father revealed Jesus to Peter--as the Son of God (Matt 16:16-18).

This is the very thing Satan challenged in his temptation of Christ (Matt 4:3,6). This is what the demons recognized Him to be (Mark 3:11). The angel told Mary this is what Jesus would be called (Lk 1:35). You are always on safe ground, so to speak, declaring Him in this manner. Also know, He is "the Great God and Savior" also (Tit 2;13).

"It would appear that just as in Adam all "will be dying", "in Christ" all (ALL MANKIND) will be made alive at the Second Coming! Christ bought resurrection life for ALL MEN at his return. Is this so?"

You are precisely correct--and that is the point of the passage in Romans 5. In this regard, the purpose of salvation is to make us compatible with the resurrection body, thereby orienting us for glory. The unsaved, on the other hand, will not be compatible with the resurrection body. They will still possess all of the lusts they have preferred and cultured, yet have no means to gratify them. The unspeakable torment of this circumstance is involved in our Lord's stirring words about the condition of the damned: "where THEIR (not the) worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44,46,48).

Believers experience incompatibility with the body now. This is described in Paul's words in Romans 7:14-25, and Galatians 5:16-17. For us, the resurrection will be a glorious liberation. For the lost, it will begin a time of dreadful confinement and frustration.

Good to hear form you, and to learn of your labors in the Kingdom. be strong and of good courage.

How can the dead be baptized? Is he refering to those who are dead because they do not have Christ in their hearts? If not who is he referring to and what is the difference between this "baptism of the dead" and "baptism of repentance".

The "baptism" of 1 Corinthians is the baptism of suffering--or being overcome by suffering: dying for Jesus'. It is the same baptism to which Jesus alluded in Luke 12:50. Mark 10:38-39, and Matthew 20:22-23. The question of the passage is, Why would we submit to be overcome by suffering, dying for Jesus sake, if there were no resurrection of the dead? The subject of 1 Corinthians 15 is the bodily resurrection, not our initial entrance into Christ. The baptism referred to in this passage relates to jeopardy, and such things as fighting with beasts after the manner of men (verses 30-32). Voluntary submission to such dangers makes no sense at all if the dead are not raised. I do not believe baptism in water is ever related to suffering, jeopardy, or other imminent dangers. The baptism of First Corinthians 15 is.

What do you think about these verses concerning reigning with Jesus?

Salvation is infinitely larger than the small circumference of systematic theology. What we have in Christ Jesus is very real, but it is only the "firstfruits of the Spirit" (Rom 8:23), a pledge of the full harvest, which is to come. Our present experience is much like the grapes of Eschol to Israel. Those were very real grapes, from a very real vine. But they were not the whole of it, and neither is our present affiliation with Jesus the whole of what God has prepared for those who love Him. Like Paul, we have not yet apprehended that for which we have been apprehended. The following observations are made within this context of thought.

1 Cor. 4:8. Does not Paul indicate that he was not yet reigning with Christ?
This is a bit of Apostolic sarcasm, yet it is said with the whole of truth in mind. Paul had been granted authority to "open" men eyes, turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18), yet had difficulty with the carnal Corinthians. They were a contradiction to his experiential reign, like the beatings, shipwrecks, and perils he mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Paul was reigning then with Jesus, but only to the extent of his immediate involvement in Divine purpose. Like Jesus, he could only do what he saw the Father doing (John 8:38). Too, like Jesus, he was "straitened" by the body (Lk 12:50).

2 Tim. 2:12. Does not the statement, “If we suffer with him we will also reign with him,” indicate that reigning with Christ was still future?
This "present evil world" is not the ultimate place in which we are "with Christ." There is, as you know, a sense in which, while we are present in the body, we are absent from the Lord. The suffering to which he refers is a "present in the body" view, while the "reign with Him" is an "absent from the body" one. The reign in "the world to come" will be an elaboration of the one to which we were introduced here. Biut while we are in the world, the suffering is the most apparent thing.

Zech. 14:4, 16-17. Will not the feet of Jesus stand on the mount of Olives and will he not reign over all the earth from Jerusalem?
Zechariah's prophecy is certainly to be taken seriousy. It is also to be considered within the context of the Gospel, which makes known the purpose of God as realized in Christ Jesus. The dividing of the Mount of Olives appears to be speaking more of a Divinely created way of escape than a topograpohical phenomenon. I base this upon verse five, which mentions a valley through which escape is realized. If this referred to an actual dividing of Mount Olivet, I find it difficult to understand why Christ or the Apostles made no reference to it.

Verses 16-17 refer to a quest of the nations for the knowledge of the Lord, a remarkable occurrence mentioned frequently by the prophets (Isa 2:3; 52:10; 61:11; Jer 3;17; 33:9; Zech 8:23, etc.). This does not appear to be the result of evangelistic efforts, which makes it so remarkable. It seems to be an awakening much like that which occurred in the ministry of John the Baptist. The people came to him.

Rev. 5:10. Will not the place we are to reign be "upon the earth”?
This was written after considerable progress had been made in the spread of the Gospel. Paul, you will recall, said the Gospel had already been "proclaimed in all creation under heaven" (Col 1:23, NASB). If the rapid and effective spread of the Gospel is what is meant by reigning with Jesus (in this text), then it would say "are reigning" instead of "shall reign." There are at least two ways in which this ("shall reign") is true. First, the prophets did speak of a time when "the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea" (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14). Paul alludes to this extensive awakening in his reasoning about Israel being grafted back into its own tree (Rom 11:12,15). Secondly, our ultimate reign will be in the new heavens and the new earth -- "the world to come." Scripture indicates the saints are being presently groomed for that rule (Heb 2:5-12). That, of course, will be a renovated earth. It has already been baptized with water in the flood. It will yet be purified by fire, which will utterly consume it as it presently exists.

Dan. 7:27. Will not the kingdoms under the whole heaven to be given to the saints?
Three times in this chapter, Daniel states the kingdom will be given to the saints (18, 22, and 27). The manner in which it is stated is arresting. "the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One." This is to be equated with being given "the world to come.' -- being co-regents, as it were, with the Lord Jesus. This is the promise Jesus made to those who overcome. "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev 3:21).

Rev. 11:15; 17. Will the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our Lord?
This is another way of saying the Lord's enemies will become His footstool. Lest we adopt a simplustic view of the text, the "last enemy" that shall be destroyed is said to be death. After that, the Kingdom revert back to the Father, and Jesus Himself will be subject tpo Him--a most remarkable considerartion (1 Cor 15:25-28). It is not that Christ's enemies are not under Him now -- all power and authority has already been placed under Him (1 Pet 3:22). However, He is presently ruling "in the midst of His enemies" (Psa 110:2), orchestrating the affairs of the world in the favor of His people. His present reign, however, is only apparent to faith. The texts in reference speak of the grand consummation of God's eternal purpose, when the King and His reign will become apparent. This is what Pau;l referred to when he wrote, "the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Tim 6:14-15).

Rev. 20:4-6. Will not the faithful be resurrected to sit on thrones, reigning with Christ for a thousand years?
The personalities mentioned are not merely the faithful, but "the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God." I gather these are the same ones mentioned previously as being "under the altar," asking about the avenging of their blood (Rev 6:9-11). These left the world appearing as though they were defeated. But their cause will live again, much like the spirit and power of Elijah was found in John the the Baptist (Lk 1:17). In this regard, it may very well be that James, the brother of John, reigned in this sense when the Gospel spread rapidly and effectively in those early days. You will recall he was martyred early in the course of things. Just a thought.

One final thought. One of the initial aspects of our coming reign will be the judgment of the world and angels (1 Cor 6:1-2). At that time, we will be well suited for the occasion. Until then, we exercise judgment in the lesser things related to this world. However, in those preliminary judgments, we are tuned up for something far greater.

What about future rewards? Is it really right to think one believer can receive more rewards than another?

Rewards are, indeed, being accrued for the saints. This is because men have actually entered into the labor and work of the Lord. In fact, we are called "workers together with God" (1 Cor 3:9). This is significantly different than working "for God," which is the institutional emphasis. The distribution of the spoils of victory, in this case, will be according to our degree of participation. This differs from the distribution of the spoils administered by David, who gave the same portion to those who stayed by 'the stuff" as those who went down to battle (2 Sam 20:34). That, in my judgment, was a prefigurement of salvation by grace and the full access to God experienced by all believers -- much like the distribution of the pounds, where every person received the same measure -- or the laborers in the vineyard, where the workers all received the same wage.

There is, however, another dimension to the Kingdom where rewards are proportionate to labor. As it is written, "but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor" (1 Cor 3:8). What a marvelous consideration--the extent of our labor, as well as the results of it, will be a basis upon which rewards are distributed! A talented and influential, but slothful, laborer will not receive more than the hearty laborer who lacked these things. This is the personal aspect of the Kingdom, allowing for the first to be last, and the last to be first. I do not know how that could be fulfilled if there were no difference in reward and position in the world to come.

It is glorious to contemplate this. Right now, we are determining the extent of our reign with Jesus throughout the ages to come. Just as the land of Canaan was apportioned to Israel, so "the world to come" will be apportioned to the saints of the most high God. It will be given to them in all of its splendor and glory (Dan 8:18,22,27). But it will be according to their involvement in the work of that kingdom while they tabernacled in the flesh.

The punishment of the wicked will also be on this basis--accrued reprisals. Jesus said of the rejecting generation He faced, "in order that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation" (Lk 11:50-51). A most dreadful consideration, indeed!

I would expand the idea developed by your friend in this manner. The winning of souls is a most noble enterprise -- but the nurture of them is even greater. The thrust of Scripture is consistently placed upon growth in Christ, not our induction into Him. All of the spiritual gifts were given for the edifying of the body (Eph 4:11-16). The Apostles saw the departure of their converts as a most critical thing, voiding their labors, and causing them to lose reward (Gal 4:11; 2 John 8). This being the case, the winning of souls is not the solitary means of accruing reward (I realize your friend did not mean this. yet, that is the conclusion too often left by the institutional emphasis on recruitment). Jesus spoke of approval in the day of judgment being based on our response to His people and their need (Matt 25:32-46). A reward is promised to those receiving His disciples, and His prophets (Matt 10:41-42). That certainly opens wide the door of possibility. Overcoming the world (an intensely personal matter) is also offered a great reward (Rev 2;7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21). The faithful labor of elders is promised Divine recognition (1 Pet 5:1-5). Think of the rewards that have accrued for faithful mothers like Lois and Eunice (2 Tim 1:4). Rewards are offered for being persecuted for righteousness sake (Matt 5:12). Even in our financial sowing to the work of the Kingdom, we reap rewards (2 Cor 9:6). Prayers uttered in the secrecy of our closet will be rewarded (Matt 6;6). Even private fasting is promised public recognition by our Father (Matt 6:18). Think of such practical matters as doing good to our enemies, doing good, and lending--they are all promised a reward that is "great" (Lk 6:35). If those brought to Christ through our endeavors pass the fire of Divine judgment, we will receive a reward (1 Cor 3:14). Laboring willingly for the Lord, sometimes under great distress, will be honored with a reward (1 Cor 9:17). Even lowly slaves, subject often to harsh taskmasters, were promised a reward for heartily doing to the Lord whatever they did (Col 3:22-24).

Well, brother Ron, I have said more than I intended to say. This subject thrills my soul. It has opened for me the door of hope which was closed by the institution--even after I gave her my best. Our labor is not vain in the Lord, as you know. Does not this shed even more light on that glorious promise concerning our experience of suffering? "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor 4:17).

<< Do you know why God forgives sins only after the shedding of blood of a pure sacrificial lamb and given as a burned offering to God? >>

The burnt offerings were only under the Law, and were symbolic of something being given completely to God, with no usefulness left for anything else. It was a picture ot being totally committed--being consumed with the zeal of the Lord, as seen in Christ's total commitment to dying for the sins of the world. Christ's body, of course, was not burned, or consumed with fire. He was rather raised from the dead.

The shedding of blood is necessary because life must be given to save life. God taught this even under the Law, which was the means He used to introduce the idea to us. Leviticus 17:11 is a key text in this regard. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." God created us so our blood is what carries life to us. Requiring blood was like requiring one life for another. It had to be the blood of a spotless lamb, because a defiled person cannot be offered for another defiled person. This is the point developed in Hebrews 9:14 and 1 Peter 1:19. In other words, Jesus could take our sins upon Himself because He had none of His own. He could offer His life to God as a substitute for ours. Our lives were not acceptable as an offering for sin.

To put is another way, the offerings under the Law introduced the idea of a Substitute--of one accepting the responsibility for the sins of the world, then absorbing the punishment due because of them. The entire sacrificial system developed in Leviticus was a picture of this.

Another Bible word that shows the idea of substitution is "impute" (some more recent versions use "credit to." In the case of Christ's death (the shedding of His blood, or giving up of His life), our sins were imputed, or credited to Him. Then, His righteousness is imputed, or credited to, us. Scriptures that develop this truth are Romans 4:6-24, 1 Peter 2:24, and Isaiah 53:4-6.

Our sin was put upon Jesus, and He became a curse (Gal 3:10-13), even being "made sin for us" (2 Cor 5:21). God expended His indignation with sin on Jesus, Who had no sin of His own. The nature of God demanded that sin be dealt with, but none of us could have recovered from His curse. Jesus, however, did, being raised from the dead to die no more. That is a general view of subsitution--and a wonderul view it is!


<< What is so "good" about the Good News if I have to hold on? I thought God held on to me. >>

God DOES hold on to you, but not without your involvement in the process. When He saved Noah, Noah DID have to build an ark--but God enabled him to do it, giving him wisdom and strength to complete the task. When Israel came out of Egyptian bondage, they had to DO something--and quite a bit at that. They had to kill a Passover lamb, sprinkle its blood upon their door posts, eat it, get themselves clothed and ready to travel, have their families ready, and come out of the land at midnight. In all of this, God strengthened them to do what He told them. When David killed Goliath, he took a sling and a rock, and used his skill. God empowered his efforts, causing them to be effective. Jesus told a lame man to pick up his bed and walk. He commanded a man with a withered hand to stretch it out. He told a blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam, and he would see. This type of account can be multiplied many times.

In all of them, the power was of God, not of man--yet, none of the deliverances would have been accomplished without the effort of those involved. It is absurd to think Noah would have been saved if he did not build the ark. There is no need to comment on what would have happened to Israel if they did not put the blood on their door, or chose to wait until the next day to get out of Egypt. If the man with the withered hand did not stretch it out, it would have remained withered. If the lame man did not take up his bed and walk, he would have remained lame.

The good news is that our "labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor 15:58). He underwrites our feeble efforts, making the effective. He is "able to keep us from falling" (Jude 24), and will surely do so. However, He has not promised, and He will not do it, without our involvement. Faith, after all, constrains us to do what God has required of us--and God makes sure our effort is effective. That is good news. What honest soul wants to go to heaven without doing anything? Without obeying, without fighting, without resisting the devil, or without perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord? What is there about the Gospel that would cause a person to think they could not respond to God, and do everything He commanded them, including coming out of a grave like Lazarus! Every place the Gospel was believed, people asked what they should do. "What shall we do?" "What must I do to be saved?" "Here is water, what doth hinder me from being baptized." "What wilt Thou have me to do?" On and on we could go citing similar references. Why did people respond like that? And why did the Gospel preacher give them something to do? It was because the Good News announced things that, with God, were doable. The people sensed something did have to be done, but that in Christ Jesus, they could do it.

When Jesus bid Peter to walk on the water, he did. When Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he sank. Jesus saved him, but not until he cried out for salvation. Peter would tell you it is impossible to walk on water without Jesus telling you to do so. He would also tell you it is impossible to keep on top of the water if you do not keep your eyes on Jesus. Additionally, he would tell you an earnest cry to the Lord will put you on the water again.

The very text which affirms God works in us "to will and do of His own good pleasure" presumes that we are exerting ourselves in the good fight of faith. You surely remember the text. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil 2:12-13). His point is that it is not possible to expend your energies to maintain the faith and fail.

A word of caution is in order. We must be careful not to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable with the expressions of the Holy Spirit. If He tells us to "lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim 6:12,19), we had better not try and harmonize that with some preconceived theological notion. If we are going to feel uncomfortable with anything, let it be with the expressions of men -- not those of the Lord.

The following texts speak for themselves. They all mention "holding" on to something. They are to be taken seriously. They are also to be embraced in a full persuasion that God will ensure the effectiveness of such holding.

"but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end . . . For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end . . . Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession . . . that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us . . . Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb 3:6,14; 4:14; 6:18; 10:23).

We are told the Gospel saves us if we "keep it in memory" (1 Cor 15:2). Paul, a seasoned Apostle, spoke of laying hold on that or which Christ laid hold on him (Phil 3:12). Believers are admonished to "hold fast that which is good" (1 These 5:21). If that appears to say God does not hold us, or that we will live in fear of Him letting us go, we simply have not seen the matter correctly. The good news is that we CAN hold on, and that Jesus will see to it that we stand. But He has made no commitment to bring us to heaven without us fighting, keeping seeking, running, holding, and believing.

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