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  Please send me some information about baptism in the holy spirit?

  I know it would be a really novel thought but have you ever just considered limiting things to the actual words of GOD through Jesus or as a second choice the words of the Bible as a whole that don't really need additional editorial coments.

  You do not BELIEVE in the Gifts of the Spirit?(Laying on of hands, speaking in tonges, Holy Dancing, and healing in the Name of Jesus Christ our precious Savor?) What about the Father,Son,And Holy Spirit? Can you explain that one to me?And what about the Book of Acts? and how about King David? (dancing in the holy spirit?)

  I have a friend that does not believe the Biblical account of creation, yetclaims to be a good Catholic.

  Do you mean that being "slain in the Spirit" is not of God?

  Why do you defend capital punishment? Killing is never right. God is love.

  There was question as to whether or not Eze. 28 legitimately speaks about Satan as well as to the fall of the king of Tyre. It is also questioned whether Isaiah 14 . . . I would appreciate your thoughts on these passages.

  I am looking for some information that i could use for both the meetings and my own prep and study on "why we worship" and how to make worship stronger in giving glory and Praise our Lord.

  Can you help me better understand John 10:28--I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

  I wondered if you had scripture (besides the Heb. passage) on falling away from the Lord.

  If available, would Jesus have used techology?

   I have a question for you. If a man asks Christ into his heart, why would he feel that each time there is an altar call he would have to do it again and again.

  What about prophets deceiving people, as mentioned in Deuteronomy 13?

  Isn't a genuine conversion irreversible. If an individual sees no personal involvement with the Lord Jesus, isn't their original "conversion" suspect!

  How does one know that it is God, when He is telling you to do something that is against His own Laws and Ordinances. How can one obey when the only substantial evidence I have of God's commandments can be disobeyed by abiding by them?

  Is Jesus Christ a created being?

  Can I be suffering because there is obstinance in my heart that I am not able to see?

See Questions Page #3

Please send me some information about baptism in the holy spirit?

Please send me some information about baptism in the holy spirit?The subject of "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" has been heavily colored with religious tradition. If we make the Word of God the basis of our understanding, we will not arrive at some of the currently popular conclusions. Notwithstanding that situation, because salvation, and everything related to it, belongs to the Lord, it is imperative that we embrace what He has declared about it.


The first clear word on this subject was spoken by John the Baptist. He prepared the way for Christ, alerting men to His Person and mission. He said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16). The "fire," John declared, would burn up the "chaff" of humanity with unquenchable fire (Matt 3:12).

Before His ascension into heaven, Jesus referred to John the Baptist's testimony, declaring the time was nearly at hand. "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, He said, you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:4-5).

After the first Gentiles were converted (the household of Cornelius, Acts 10), these words were recalled by Peter. "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" (Acts 11:16-17). This event occurred 10-15 years after Pentecost (Acts 2).

Nearly 10 years later, Paul confronted some disciples in Ephesus. He asked them if they had received then Holy Spirit since they believed. They said they had not even heard there was such a thing as the Holy Spirit. Paul then inquired about their baptism, and they related they had been baptized with John's baptism. When he informed them that John's baptism was not intended to be permanent, but only introduce Christ, He preached Jesus to them and baptized them. Following that, he laid hands on them, and they received the Spirit, spoke with tongues and prophesied (Acts 18:3-7). In Paul's reference to the words of John, he quoted it differently, not mentioning Christ would baptize them in the Spirit. "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus" (v 4).

There you have all of the references to being baptized "with the Holy Spirit." All three references were epochs, separated by a number of years. They were not standard experiences. The first was the opening of the door of salvation to the Jews. The second was the opening of it to the Gentiles. The third marked the end of the validity of John the Baptist's baptism. Three events during a period of approximately 25 years. None of these events are preached in the Epistles. No believer was ever told this was the standard experience for all believers. These are just the facts in the case.

It is important to also note there are no references, in any standard version of Scripture, to "the baptism OF the Holy Ghost" of "baptism OF the Holy Spirit." While this may appear a minor point, it is not. Vast segments of the Christian community have erected bodies of doctrine on this terminology ("the baptism of the Holy Ghost"). It is preached, and even tests of fellowship are founded upon the language. Followers of Christ are asked if they believe in this, and they are personally judged and classified upon the basis of their response. The Word of God speaks of "the baptism of John" and "the baptism of repentance" (Matt 21:25; Mark 1:4; 11:30; Luke 3:3; 7:29; 20:4; Acts 1:22; 13:24; 18:25; 19:4), but NEVER "the baptism OF the Holy Ghost" or, in modern versions, "the baptism OF the Holy Spirit." In fact, the words "baptism" and Spirit" are not used together in the entire Word of God--anywhere at any time. "The baptism of the Spirit" is NOT mentioned. "The baptism in the Spirit" is NOT used. "The baptism with the Spirit" cannot be found. I mention this for a very important reason. Religious folklore has taught people to think DIFFERENTLY than the Lord. When speaking of the things of God, the Holy Spirit admonishes us to use "words taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words" (1 Cor 2:13, NASB). While some devout people hesitate to receive this, we really have no alternative.

How does the Scripture refer to the subject in question? We can learn much from the manner in which the Holy Spirit speaks in Scripture. "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16). "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8). "He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit" (John 1:33). "For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit . . . " (Acts 1:5; 11:15).

To be "baptized" means to be engulfed, immersed in, surrounded by. A vivid picture of this is seen in First Corinthians 10:2. There, Israel is said to have been "baptized in the cloud and in the sea." The water was on their sides, and the cloud was over them--they were completely surrounded by, or engulfed in, the cloud and the sea. To be "baptized with the Spirit," then, is to be engulfed by the Spirit completely immersed in Him. In that experience, men begin to think like God, talk like God, see like God. They actually become an extension of the Lord, actuated by the Spirit of the living God. It is not an emotional experience, but a spiritual one.

The day of Pentecost provides us an example of the effects of this baptism. Jesus told His disciples they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and indeed they were. Notice the remarkable transformation that took place in them when this occurred. First, they were "all filled with the Holy Spirit" (2:4). Their intellectual and expressive capabilities were empowered by the Spirit of God. Second, they spoke in other languages they had not learned. These were intelligent and understandable languages, enabling people from other countries to understand the "wonderful works of God" in their own language (2:4,8). Third, the people were ecstatic, causing some mock them, saying they were filled with "new wine" (2:13). Fourth, a remarkable understanding of Scripture was granted. Peter was able to expound Joel and Psalms, declaring what the prophets had prophesied had come to pass (2:17-18,25-29). Fifth, Peter saw the reason for Christ's death, and the fact of His exaltation into heaven, and declared it with power (2:23- 35). Sixth, when asked by the people who murdered Jesus, what they should do, Peter had the answer, and gave it without hesitation (2:37-39). Seventh, Peter continued to exhort the people to save themselves from the wicked generation in which they lived (2:40). Eighth, you will note that all of the speaking was to people.

There you have spiritual empowerment, and it is remarkable! There was nothing about that experience driven by the lower nature. The people were completely adequate for the situation. They were not caught off guard, were in full possession of their faculties, and were able to speak precisely as God intended. No hesitancy, no stammering, no vagueness.

This was not an every day occurrence--at least not this precise set of circumstances. Later, Peter and John would be placed in prison, with no such display occurring. After that, Peter and James would be imprisoned, with James being beheaded by Herod, without the events of Pentecost taking place. Not long after this event, Stephen was stoned to death by the people while he preached an insightful message to them. When Jesus baptizes people with the Spirit, He does not to do in a stereotyped manner. That way of doing things may serve the purposes of men well, but it does not serve the purposes of God.

There are some important things to remember about the events of Pentecost. First, they are never mentioned in any letter to the churches. You will find no reference to that remarkable day in any Epistle (Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Peter, James, Hebrews, Jude, or 1-2-3 John. No personal letters written by Paul mentioned those events, or "the baptism." Not 1-2 Timothy, Titus, or Philemon. In view of the stress of some of our brethren, that is a most remarkable thing. No believer was ever told to seek "the baptism." It was never held out as the answer to the challenges of spiritual life. No one was ever judged or maligned for not receiving "the baptism." No one was ever commended for having received "the baptism." These are just the facts in the case. This is not a denial of the events--they are recorded in Scripture. However, it does confirm these were not the standard experience for all believers, else they would be have preached to everyone.

What, then, is being "baptized with the Holy Spirit." First, it is something done by the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an occurrence governed by Him, and Him alone. We know from the book of Acts that it was not common then. There is no reason to suppose it is now. Jesus declared it was an empowerment, enabling His disciples to be effective witnesses throughout the world (Acts 1:8). It is associated with kingdom productivity, not an unintelligent and unconscious experience. Where no work is being done for Christ, there is no need for His baptism.

John the Baptist declared Jesus would be noted for baptizing people with the Spirit. Therefore, we conclude this is, in some sense, common to all members of the household of faith. Paul spoke of baptism in relation to the Holy Spirit in these words: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13). The phrase "made to drink of one Spirit" indicates our role in the matter. God "pours out" the Spirit, but we "drink" of that Spirit. Our wills and spiritual discipline enter into the matter. Our objective is to be filled with the Spirit of God, a condition that finds God dominating our thoughts, words, and deeds. The Scripture says it this way, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father" (Eph 5:18-20). Notice the filling is associated with beneficial activity: speaking, singing, and giving thanks. Further note that the speaking is "to one another," not to God. This parallels the events of Pentecost in this respect. Then, empowered believers spoke to people, opening the things of God to them. In this text, the people of God themselves are brought profit. All of this is the result of being "filled with the Spirit." Note, it does not say GET filled, but BE filled. That is drinking in the Spirit.

I have full confidence in Christ Jesus, the One--and only One--Who baptizes with the Spirit. He will do it with proper measures, at proper times, and in proper ways. But when He does it, it will make His people adequate to do His work. It will empower them to speak precisely and effectively to men. It will enable them to correctly declare His Word. They will be able to properly direct inquirers to the Lord.

One last word on this sensitive subject. When men take it upon themselves to develop an official doctrine of "the baptism of the Holy Spirit," they are on their own. No such doctrine is developed in Scripture. It is purely and solely a doctrine of men. They must take the responsibility for their doctrines, and give an account to God for their development of them. There is a sectarian nomenclature that is exceeding precious to many. Words like "slain in the Spirit," "fall under the power," "the evidence of speaking in tongues," "prayer language," etc. are of human origin. The Holy Spirit did not use them in Scripture. Any legitimate spiritual experience can be described in "words that the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual words." In the meantime, we will not permit anyone to judge us or classify us by their personal doctrines.

I know it would be a really novel thought but have you ever just considered limiting things to the actual words of GOD through Jesus or as a second choice the words of the Bible as a whole that don't really need additional editorial coments.

God has placed members in His body for various purposes. Preachers, teachers, and pastors are some of them (Acts 13:1; Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:28). They take the Word of God and expound it, exhort people concerning the Word, and issue correction (1 Timothy 3:16-17). All of God's people should be exposing their minds on a regular basis to the Word of God. Unless they are handicapped, they should not just rely on someone reading the Word of God to them, or copying it in a message to them. I expose my mind every day to the pure Word of God, and I expect you do the same. After reading the Word of God through more than 1,000 times (and still doing it 20 times every year) I can tell you it gives you something to say.

When Peter preached on Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), he did not just read the Bible. The same is true of Stephen's sermon in Acts 7, Paul's in Acts 17, and many other places. Peter told us to give an answer to everyone asking a reason for the hope within us (1 Pet 3:15). That is not accomplished by simply quoting a passage, but by sharing an understanding of it. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he prayed the Lord would give him understanding in all things (2 Tim 2:7). That understanding is what is communicated in teaching. Paul also prayed God would open the hearts of the Ephesians to know the great purpose of God (Ephesians 1:18-20). When a person's heart is enlightened, that is what he is able to teach.

The Ethiopian eunuch that Philip encountered in the desert was reading the Bible, but he did not know what it meant. Philip explained it to him (Acts 8:35-40). That is what teaching is all about. He showed him the relationship of Scripture to Scripture, and how Jesus had fulfilled the promises of God. The Ethiopian eunuch did not get that by reading. It is through the foolishness of preaching that God has chosen to save those that believe (1 Cor 1:21).

When people are not able to open the Word of God and teach it--particularly after they have been in Christ for some time--it is not good. Hebrews 5:12-14 deals with this situation, and does so with great strength. Mind you, all spiritual understanding is based upon the raw Word of God itself. But when men see what it means, and see the interrelationships of Scripture, and their bearing upon life, they are able to teach others.

There is a ministry of grouping passages together and sharing them with others, even though there is no passage of Scripure recommending such a procedure. That does not mean it is wrong. It does means it takes some understanding to put the texts together. That is good, and it is right--but it is not the only way God has ordained to communicate His truth.

Let's put it this way, my work is preaching and teaching, and that is what I will do. I cannot do the work of reading the Bible for those who are able to do it for themselves. But I can say some things that will assist them in their reading, and perhaps point them in some areas of spiritual thought that are profitable. After nearly 50 years of teaching and preaching, I can tell you God blesses such activities.

You do not BELIEVE in the Gifts of the Spirit?(Laying on of hands, speaking in tonges, Holy Dancing, and healing in the Name of Jesus Christ our precious Savor?) What about the Father,Son,And Holy Spirit? Can you explain that one to me?And what about the Book of Acts? and how about King David? (dancing in the holy spirit?)

We believe in God and Christ, not the gifts of the Spirit. God gives these gifts, at His discretion, and to whomever He desires. But that is His business, not ours. Whatever God gives, I accept as good and right--whatever it is. Our work is to earnestly seek "THE BEST GIFTS," which are those that edify and strengthen our brothers and sisters. There is, the Spirit witnesses, even a better way than that is we are able to receive it (1 Cor 12:31-13:13).

All of the things you have mentioned are real, and are in the hands of the Lord. He distributes according to His own will (1 Cor 12:4-11). Our goal is not to determine whether or not these things are experienced today, but to be available to receive what God wants to give us--not what men say we ought to have. Most of the people that say they believe in these realities actually experience very little, if any, of them. The time they spend arguing about it would be better spent getting their hearts ready to receive from God. That is what the early church did.

The book of Acts is an account of the beginning of the church--how it overcame the oppositions of Satan, and was extended into even heathen cultures. It reveals to us how God works through the faith of His people. It is not intended to set forth a stereotyped pattern, but something that is living and vibrant, spontaneous and effective.

The phrase "dancing in the Spirit" is not found in the Bible--anywhere. Many have used this term to describe the exhilerartion experienced when we are in rich fellowship with God--at least that is what I suppose they mean. It is a human term. The Bible does not say David "danced in the Spirit." It does say he was seen "leaping and dancing before the Lord" (2 Sam 6:16). 1 Chronicles 15:29 says he was seen "dancing and playing (celebrating)." That is how God talked about David's dancing, and that is how I will speak about it.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different personalities, but perfectly united in every aspect of their persons. They are "one" like husband and wife are "one flesh" (Gen 2:24), except to a higher degree. Scripture makes a big point of this, reminding us that the Father "sent the Son" (1 John 4:14), the Son "sent" the Holy Spirit (John 15:26), the Son brings us to God (1 Pet 3:28), etc. "One," in this case as not numerical. It speaks of perfect unity and harmony, with no variance. "One" is used in this way a number of times in Scripture. Jesus prayed believers would be "one" like Him and the Father were "one" (John 17:11). He also said believers become "one" with the Father and the Son (John 17:21-22). Early believers were of "one heart" (Acts 4:32). The body of Christ is "many members," yet "one body" (Rom 12:5). There are many other references which you will be able to find yourself.

I have a friend that does not believe the Biblical account of creation, yetclaims to be a good Catholic.

Your friend is not taking a sound Catholic view of creation. The orthodox Catholic theology takes the traditional view of creation--that it was seven 24 hour days. We are reminded in the inspired record of creation that a day consisted of "the evening and the morning" (Gen 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). I know of no place in Scripture where an evening and morning are called 1,000 years. Too, the fourth commandment was based upon God's rest on the seventh day (Ex 20:11), which would make no sense if those days were lengthy periods, and not seven 24-hour days. Hebrews 4:4 also refers to God resting on the seventh day, not the seventh period.

Your friend is not the first one to say the Genesis account of creation was metaphorical and allegorical. The position is wholly erroneous. Jesus referred to Moses' account of the creation of Adam and Eve, saying it was the standard for marriage (Matthew 19:4-5). Paul refers to Adam as the progenitor of our race (Acts 17:26), saying he was "the first man" (1 Cor 15:45). Eve is called "the mother of all living" (Gen 3:20). Paul speaks of the fall of Adam and Eve in very precise terms (1 Tim 2:13-14). He also says sin entered the world through Adam (Rom 5:15-16). He identifies the period of time from creation until the giving of the law as "from Adam to Moses" (Rom 5:14). Luke says Adam was "the son of God" (Luke 3:38). Enoch, who was translated into heaven without dying, is identified as the "seventh (generation) from Adam" (Jude 14).

All of these things are utter absurdities if Adam and Eve are metaphors, and the sin in Eden's garden is not an historical account. the metaphorical position cannot be defended in any sense or by any one.

Do you mean that being "slain in the Spirit" is not of God?

I mean the TERM is not a Scriptural term. The experience should be stated in Scriptural words. The word "slain" is no where associated with redemption. God can make a man eat grass like an ox--He can strike Saul of Tarsus to the ground--and the soldiers that came to arrest Jesus--and the soldiers guarding the tomb--and king Saul--and........etc. I question that the term "slain in the Spirit" appropriately describes these experiences. It is not the term God used. Why should we use it, or defend its use. Say it like God said it. That is what I am advocating. Ananias and Sapphira were literally killed by the Spirit (Acts 5).

God has given us a nomenclature that will describe every spiritual experience. I am advocating TALKING like God does--particularly when talking about something God does. I am not questioning the experience. Please do not assume I am. God tells us to speak "in words that the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual words" (1 Cor 2:13-14). I am question the way of saying it, and said I was.

As to being "overpowered" -- yes, God can overpower the individual, and has on many occasions. But overpowering was not used to bring the person into intimacy with God--that was my point. Neither Nebuchadnezzar nor Saul of Tarsus were brought into intimacy with God by overpowerment--they were thus only prepared for it. The soldiers that arrested Jesus and those that guarded his tomb were neither changed nor brought to Christ when they were overpowered. Saul of Tarsus responded in bewilderment, "Who art Thou Lord?", and was directed later what to do.

My statement was, and I stand by it: "Here, the individual is overpowered, thereby being forced into a state of involvement with God." This is not the manner of salvation. Fellowship with Christ is not coerced (1 Cor 1:9). The remission of sin is not forced upon us (1 John 1:9). I am talking about participation with God, not an experience of conflict with Him. In every case where people were struck down by God, they were enemies, hard-hearted, and opposed to Him--in EVERY case. Those are cases of being overpowered by God. They were in conflict with Him. But there is not a single example of someone committed to the Lord, living by faith, and being used by Him, that was "struck down" or "slain" by God. It is nowhere depicted as a blessing--nowhere. Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days" (Dan 8:27) when he received a revelation from God. I would not call that being "slain by the Spirit." I prefer calling it what the Spirit called it, "fainting and being sick many days." Another time Daniel received a revelation so mighty he said "there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength" (Dan 10:10). Again, I would not use the term "slain in the Spirit" to describe that awesome experience. I choose to say it like the Spirit said it in the Scriptures.

I have taken some extra time on this because of my personal sensitivity to saying things like God said them. If we choose to develop our own way of saying things, we will promote confusion. People whose minds are steeped in the Word of God will not know what we are talking about if we use our own words to describe spiritual experiences. The best among us have difficulty with this. That is why we shoujld assist one another in clearing up our language, so it is more like God's, and less like that of man. God has provided a way in His Word for us to articulate spiritual experience. That is the proper way to describe it.

Why do you defend capital punishment? Killing is never right. God is love.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter of capital punishment. Any sin that is repented of will be forgiven, including murder. There is no question about that. Scripture does deal with the matter of civil authority in these matters, although it does not dwell upon it. Paul reminded the Romans of the the governor being "the power of God" in the matter of punishing evil doers. In his inspired remarks, he said "For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer" (Rom 13:4). Personal vindictiveness is not right--but that is not to be confused with the power God has given civil government. This is a matter of revelation, not of opinion. Capital punishment is not the emphasis of Scripture, but it is there. This has nothing whatsoever to do with God forgiving the individual. Paul told civil authorities who had arrested him, "If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die" (Acts 25:11). That would have been an excellent opportunity to affirm the inappropriateness of capital punishment, but the man of God did not do so.

The matter is not as simple as some have said. I do not advocate insensitivity, nor complacency where God has spoken. Nowhere in Scripture is "murder" related to punishment--nowhere.

There was question as to whether or not Eze. 28 legitimately speaks about Satan as well as to the fall of the king of Tyre. It is also questioned whether Isaiah 14 . . . I would appreciate your thoughts on these passages.

These passages do refer to Satan, and they do have a double meaning. In both passages, the SOURCE of the corrupt individuals is mentioned--they both obtained their characteristics from the devil.

Isaiah took up a proverb against the King of Babylon (Isa 14:4). The vivid description of "Lucifer" could not possibly be limited to an earthly king (vs 12-14). The indictment is too lofty for a sn of Adam. It is something like Jesus saying to Peter, "Get thee behind me SATAN . . . " (Matt 16:23). Satan was tempting Jesus through Peter. So Satan was working through the king of Babylon, who therefore had devilish traits.

Ezekiel spoke against the king of Tyrus. He also was under the influence of the devil. The King of Tyrus was not in the garden olf Eden, nor was he createed in perfection (Ezek 18:12-15). Those were characteristics of Satan, who was working in the king of Tyrus.

Such lofty language as is employed in these two passages is never attributed to men alone. However, when men are under the domination of Satan, they are addressed as though they were Satan himself. In those addresses, references to origins are to Satan's origin, not the one being used by him.

I am looking for some information that i could use for both the meetings and my own prep and study on "why we worship" and how to make worship stronger in giving glory and Praise our Lord.

First, I would acquaint myself with Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well (John 4). She thought worship was a matter of place and time. Jesus told her that was not the case, that God was looking for "worshipers" -- not worship. I would develop how those in Christ provide the kind of worship God wants--worship "in spirit and in truth" (Phil 3:3)--that is, worship that is real and directed by the Holy Spirit. Worship proceeds from perception, or spiritual understanding. A text that will assist in developing this perspective is found in Ephesians 1:17-20--it is a prayer offered for the church at Ephesus.

In preparing for worship, you want to strive to see God clearer--see Jesus with greater clarity--comprehend the "great salvation" that is in Christ Jesus more precisely. Divine attributes like love, grace, mercy, etc., will assist in developing this perception.

Worship, as you know, is not by rote, or mechanical. It cannot be simulated--at least God will not be pleased if it is. Ask God to help you impress upon the people not to do as the Jews, who honored the Lord with their mouth, but whose heart was far from Him (Jer 12:2; Matt 15:8).

One last suggestion. Seek to praise Him with acceptable words. Avoid songs and choruses that are vague, ambiguous, or out of harmony with the Word of God. Remember, it is no more right to sing a falsehood than to preach one.

God will honor your effort to please Him. He will help you see pertinent things in Scripture, and guide you in the selection of songs, etc. He is looking for a person whose heart is right, so He can undergird that person's cause (2 Chronicles 16:9). That person can be you. If your heart is right (and I believe it is), God will underwrite what you are doing.

ICan you help me better understand John 10:28--I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

This is a hallmark text of Divine protection. There is no external force, regardless of the power it boasts, that can wrest us from the hand of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:37-39). And, Jesus declared, God is greater than all, and no one can remove us from His hand. Those in His hand are there by choice, not coercion. It is another way of saying, if you choose Christ, no one can make that choice ineffective. Satan knows this also, and that is why he tempts us to want out. Jesus put it this way, "the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:37).

Jesus defined His sheep (the ones considered in this text). "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." These are people who have a preference for Christ. He is not secondary to them, and they refuse to follow competing influences. As our Lord said elsewhere, "When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers" (John 10:4-5).

Our role is to culture an appetite for Jesus, live by faith, and walk in the Spirit. God is fully able to keep us from falling while we are in that posture (Jude 24-25). The Good Shepherd wards off the enemy, protecting His own. He will NOT forsake them. As we "cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart" (Acts 11:23), He will keep us.

People cannot fall into sin inadvertently, or accidently--any more than Eve could have accidently eaten the forbidden fruit. Isaiah prophesied of the way to God through Christ when he wrote, "A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, Shall not go astray" (Isa 35:8, NKJV). Satan tempts people to WANT out of Jesus hand--to do their own thing, so to speak. But, if we say "NO" to his devices (Tit 2:11-13), he is impotent to remove us. Praise the Lord for His keeping power!

I wondered if you had scripture (besides the Heb. passage) on falling away from the Lord.

Sister Karen,
Your heart is in tune with the Lord--that is why you have trouble with the "once saved always saved philosophy." Actually, the whole Bible is a warning to us about this matter. Adam and Eve were created by God, placed in a garden by God, and given authority and free access to everything but one tree. They were also expelled from the garden, and cursed, by the God that placed them there. What is more, they were morally perfect, with no blemish of any sort BEFORE they fell.

Israel was chosen by God, placed by God in a choice land, then expelled for their disobedience. God's own testimony of this is found in Isaiah 5:1-6. "Let me sing now for my well-beloved A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. And He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it, And hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. And I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it." Israel is a Divine refutation of the dogma that affirms when God blesses a people, they cannot revert to a decadent state.

There are angels that left their first habitation, and fell, with no hope of recovery--not to mention Satan himself (Isa 14:12-14; Ezek 18:11-20). Those are just a few historical examples that contradict the doctrine.

One of Christ's sternest warnings is found in the parable of the ten virgins. You will recall five of them were wise, and five were foolish (Matt 25:1-13). Notice that all ten virgins went to meet the Bridgegroom (25:1). All of them had lamps (25:3-4). The wise had an extra supply of oil (25:4). While the Bridegroom tarried, all ten of them got drowsy and slept (25:5). All ten arose at the alert that the Bridegroom was coming (25:7). All ten trimmed their lamps (25:8). The lamps of the foolish virgins were lit, but were "going out". They therefore sought for extra oil (25:8-9). The foolish virgins went to buy oil (25:10). While they were away, the Bridegroom came. Upon their return, they sought to enter, and were rejected (25:11-12). Christ's conclusion: "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour" (25:13). If there were no danger of those coming to the feast, with burning lamps, being shut out of the feast, this parable is an absurdity.

Paul gives a vivid portrayal of this danger in his example of the Israelites. Here is an historical example, designed by God to teach us not to take salvation for granted, or suppose that getting out of sin locks one into going to heaven. This teaching is found in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12. He reminds us that ALL of the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, and were baptized into Moses (10:1-2). They ALL ate the same spiritual food (manna), 10:3. They ALL drank the same spiritual drink from a spiritual rock, which was Christ (10:4). Nothwithstanding, God was not pleased with most of them, and overthrew them in the wilderness--BEFORE they got to Canaan (10:5). These were examples for us, showing the necessity of avoiding things that bring God's wrath upon us (10:6-11). The Spirit's conclusion, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (10:12). Suffice it to say, it is possible to get ot of Egypt, yet never make it to Canaan. Just as Lot's wife got out of Sodom, but never made it to the place of safety (Gen 19:26).

Here are some Scriptural warnings about the matter. The quotations are taken from the NASB, but read the same in all major translations.

Luke 8:13--- They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. Note: The Holy Spirit says they believed for a while, but could not stand the test of time and temptation. This could not happen, according to the doctrine in question.

John 15:6--- If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. Note: The branch was IN Christ--and that is something God alone can do (1 Cor 1:20).

Acts 1:16-20--- Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO MAN DWELL IN IT'; and, 'HIS OFFICE LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE.' Note: Judas was a real Apostle, with a real ministry, that had to be replaced.

1 Cor 9:27--- But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. Note: A "castaway" is a "reject," which is what the word means. Paul was concerned enough about not becoming one that he kept his fleshly nature under control. It is evident he knew nothing of the "Once saved, always saved" doctrine.

1 Tim 1:19-20--- Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. Note: Faith and a good conscience can be shipwrecked, or dashed upon the rocks of futility. Paul even gives us the names of individuals to which this occurred.

1 Tim 4:1-2--- Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Note: Departing from the faith CAN occur. People that once believed CAN give heed to seducing spirits, and have their conscience so dulled they cannot recover. If this could not happen,this warning would be absurd.

Heb 3:12--- Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. Note: The Spirit thought enough about us to warn of this danger. Those embracing the "Once saved-always saved" doctrine, give no such warnings. They do not have the mind of Christ on this matter.

Heb 10:26-27--- For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. Note: Receiving a knowledge of the truth is equated with salvation in 1 Timothy 2:4. Those who never appropriate Christ are said to have "come to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 3:7). In this test, the Spirit says AFTER that occurs, one can willingly return to sin and expect to be devoured by the fiery indignation of God.

Heb 10:39--- But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. Note: You cannot "draw back" from where you have not been. Believing must be "unto the saving of the soul," or all the way to the end .

2 Pet 2:20-22--- For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Note: To be worse off means recovery is not possible. A foolish warning, indeed, if one cannot fall away.

Jude 1:5-6--- I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Note: It is as though God extended Himself to show us the possibility of falling away. Israel and the fallen angels provide incontrovtible proofs of this.

We are not in heaven yet. We remain in an alienated world, hounded by a fierce adversary, and clothed with a tent of clay. Beside that, our old nature still tries to dominate us. God be praised there is grace, the Spirit, and all things pertaining to life and godliness, together with a faithful Intercessor in heaven. Certainly, there is nothing automatic about our great salvation.

IIf available, would Jesus have used techology?

I suggest this is the wrong question, conducive to a lot of pointless philosophizing. The question should be phrased DOES CHRIST USE A MODEM? Does the Lord of glory, in this day, accomplish any of His purpose via technology? Is His Word spread this way? Are men and women brought into the knowledge of God by this means? Has the printed page been used by Christ? The radio? The television? The plane? Typewriters? Computers? If there is one among us that says He does not, a parade of believers from around the world will rise up to contradict him. From every quadrant of the world, the harvest is being reaped with the use of technology. Believers in China, Africa, Mexico, [and other sections of the world not open to the Gospel] are being spiritually nourished and comforted by means of the "modem." When the sun goes down in these oppressed sections of the world, creative believers find ways to tap into the Internet to receive the good things of God. Jesus IS using the modem.

I have a question for you. If a man asks Christ into his heart, why would he feel that each time there is an altar call he would have to do it again and again.

First, we are in an area of interpretation here. By that I mean we are trying to figure out what people mean by what they say. The language "ask Christ into his heart" is not found in Scripture--that is the reason why it is difficult to understand what people mean by that expression. The Holy Spirit refers to receiving Christ in John 1:13, where it reads, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Notice that the Lord equates "receiving Him" with "believing on His name," or believing what He is declared of Him in the Gospel. That may be quite different from what some believe is receiving Him into their heart.

Second, Christ dwelling in the heart is mentioned to believers whose sins had been remitted, and who had received the seal of the Holy Spirit (the Ephesians, as described in Eph 1:13). For these people, who were in Jesus, the Apostle prayed "That He [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Eph 3:16-19). This was not speaking of our initial salvation, but of its maturity. Christ dwelling within is here associated with the expansion of our spiritual understanding. Under His tutelage, we begin to see more fully the extent of His love, and the glory of personal involvement with Him. It is in this powerful insight that we can resist the devil, appropriate spiritual blessings, and glorify God in our lives.

I am going to put a favorable color on, frequent trips "to the altar." Mind you, I am only voicing an opinion. See, the idea of an "altar" in a public assembly, where people come to plead, is not in the Bible either. I am not condemning such a practice, for it provides an opportunity for sensitive souls to approach the Lord openly and without shame. What I am saying is that we cannot precisely identify what is occurring there, because such a view is not provided in Scripture.

In my opinion, some people have genuinely received Christ, and have been accepted into the family of God. However, they sense their personal deficiencies, and long for Christ to be more dominant and consistent within them--for Him to "dwell in their hearts by faith," as Ephesians 3:16 puts it. So, they seek this profound fellowship by going an "altar." They have a good desire, but are using the wrong means. First, Christ dwells in our hearts BY FAITH, as the above text states. The proper course of action is to seek an increase of ones faith. This comes by extensive exposure to the Gospel of Christ, for "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Rom 10:17). In the continued exposure of our hearts and minds to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit begins to strengthen us within, so Christ can, in fact, reside within us. He then begins to reveal the magnitude of the Father and Himself, and their absolute commitment to our salvation (John 14:21,23).

In due respect for such souls. they can frequent an "altar" a thousand times, and miss the blessing. That is neither how or where it is obtained. But I do give them credit for their desire--they simply need to be taught more perfectly in the word of the Lord.

I know it is also possible that a person continually asking Jesus into their heart may be dominated by unbelief. They simply have never believed the Gospel, supposing that everything depeneds upon them, with nothing really depending upon Jesus. That condition also is only remedied by hearing and believing the good news of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. In their case, believing is what is necessary. not praying.

What about prophets deceiving people, as mentioned in Deuteronomy 13?

<< What does this word "prophet" mean here.....false prophet? one who dabbles into the unknown via evil spirits? or a dreamer of dreams normally known to be used by God?>> It is not necessary to know the derivation of the word "prophet," although there certainly is no harm done in knowing it. The word comes from the Hebrew nabiy', naw-bee', and means "a prophet or (general) inspired man:--prophecy, that prophesy, prophet." The word is used in Genesis 20:7 in reference to Abraham. Moses used it to identify the coming Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:15,18. Moses himself is described by this word in Deuteronomy 34:10, as well as Samuel (1 Sam 3:20), Gad (1 Sam 22:5), and Nathan (2 Sam 7:2). The same word is used by Jeremiah to describe Hananiah, who taught the nation to trust in lies (Jer 28:15), while Micah used it to describe prophets who lied so they could obtain strong drink (Micah 2:11). Using the same word, Ezekiel spoke of a prophet deceived by God Himself (Ezek 14:9). This is only a brief sampling of the use of the word. It confirms, however, that the anaswer to your question is not found in the area of etymology.

The "prophet" in this text was one that came as a representative of deity. He was not, however, sent from God. The prognostications he gave did not unveil his falsehood, however, for what he said came to pass. It was his message that identified him as false--he told the people to follow other gods. The message may have been self-conceived, but it is more probable it was received from the dark world of Satan and his hosts.

<< Regarding the religions of today...those who claim the gift of prophecy, or one who foretells by dreams and visions...they are not claiming that we worship another god>> "Another god" may not be an idol with another name. It may be a fabrication of the devil or human imagination that bears the name of Jehovah or Jesus, yet is a complete misrepresentation. Paul warned the Corinthians of the existence of such gods and lords. "For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (1 Cor 8:5-6). A representation of a god, for example, who saves by works, or does not require the intercession of Christ, or has no grace for the sinner, is not the true God. Such an one may be presented as "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," but is only a devilish fabrication, created to distract men from the true God.

As to those who claim to have the gift of prophecy, nothing in Scripture indicates their words are simply to be brushed aside because no such thing exists. We are to "try the spirits, whether they be of God. For many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1-2). Elsewhere we are admonished to "prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good" (1 Thess 5:21). Theological lies cannot hold up under spiritual scrutiny. They will always prove inconsistent with some aspect of the truth of God.

<< Do you consider this to be a part of that powerful delusion?>> In some cases, but not necessarily in all. It is possible to be tested by false prophets, as in Deuteronomy 13:1-3. The powerful delusion mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:11, is one from which men cannot recover. It is sent in order to justify their condemnation. I would not presume to identify when such delusion occurs. The purpose of that Scripture is to warn men of the possibility of such delusion, not to identify when it occurs. The point is, by a love of the truth, to avoid such Divinely-sent delusion.

<< They firmly believe that the gift of prophecy (given guidance in I Corinthians) has ceased. I do not, but I'm having a difficult time knowing how far to go.>> Those who make such affirmations build their case on a paper foundation, namely a human interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. In my judgment, however, that is not the point being made by the Spirit in that text. Later in Paul's discourse on the subject of prophecy, he identifies what he means by prophesy. "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (14:3). There is no indication he was speaking of inspired direction, or some form of Divine, yet temporary, tutelage. That view is a concoction of men, not a revelation from God. Paul prayed the Ephesians (who were certainly not apostles) to be given "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph 1:17). Such allows for the gift of prophecy as described in 1 Corinthians 14:3.

Much of the theology to which both of us have been subjected is a reaction to false prophets and misrepresentations of God. However, it is never in order to formulate a view of God or truth in reaction to an abuse of doctrine. In my judgment, that is just as wrong as perpetrating a false doctrine. Truth has a value of its own, and stands on its own. It is not affirmed as the divinely appointed opposite to error. Truth will remain truth in the world to come, where there will be no lie.

Isn't a genuine conversion irreversible. If an individual sees no personal involvement with the Lord Jesus, isn't their original "conversion" suspect!

It all depends on the term "genuine conversion." We are in the realm of philosophy when we so speak. I do not believe the Scriptures ever speak of a spurious or, conversely speaking, genuine conversion. They do mention people that made a claim to knowing Christ, when in fact, they did not. Jesus will tell such people He "never knew them" (Matt 7:23).

Israel was really delivered, but did not get into Canaan (1 Cor 10:1-10). Judas was really an apostle, but "fell by transgression." Adam and Eve were really placed in the garden, but were expelled. This is, of course, the lower side of the coin. Viewed from God's perspective, "the Lord knows them that are His," and nothing, indeed, can reverse that. The other side of the coin, and the conclousion of that very verse, is "And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim 2:19).

Jesus spoke of those "which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13). He also spoke of branches IN Him the Father would remove bevcause of their unfruitfulness (John 15:2). Also, God did give Israel a bill of divorce, indicating they were really His people, yet were "cut off" because of their unbelief (Jer 3:8). The Spirit warns us to avoid similar judgment (Rom 11:22).

In my judgment, care must be taken in saying things are irreversible. This view of the Lord and His work can be disarming. God has represented Himself as repenting that He made man at the time of the flood (Gen 6:7). We should zealously avoid any attempts to systematize these expressions, because God has not done so.

It must ever be remembered that our relationship to Christ is maintained by grace THROUGH faith. Salvation is no more sure than our faith. We are continually admonished to maintain that faith, fight to keep it, and walk in it. It is not to be taken for granted. Believers are warned about an "evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" rising in them, just like it did in Israel (Heb 3:12). I take those warnings quite seriously. and have exercised mysely to avoid theological terms that neutralize them.

God, of course, knows the end from the beginning, and will bring all the children home. That is an area in which we are not licensed to operate, making judgments an d formulating theological expressions. In the meantime, we are not to take salvation for granted. Rather, we are to "examine ourselves, to see if we be in the faith" (2 Cor 13:5). Then we are to "give diligence to make our calling and election sure" (2 Pet 2:10), believing no outside influence can take us from His hand. In my opinion, any view that makes such texts inconsequential, or robs them of their motivating power, is dangerous, and is to be abandoned. It will mean men cannot classify you as they would like, but it will result in a sensitivity that will be used of God to strengthen, guide, and nourish us.

One other observation: A considerable amount of Scripture is addressed to people that are in a spiritually deteriorating situation. Consistently these people are warned of the outcome of their backward stance, and of God's displeasure with it. They are addressed as "saints," told they passed from death to life, were translated into the kingdom of God's Son, called into the fellowship of God's Son . . . . etc. Yet, they are warned that the outcome of their waywardness will be that they "cannot inherit the kingdom of God." Whatever our view of salvation, conversion, etc., we want to maintain a heart and spirit that will allow the Holy Spirit to minister those warnings to us in power.

How does one know that it is God, when He is telling you to do something that is against His own Laws and Ordinances. How can one obey when the only substantial evidence I have of God's commandments can be disobeyed by abiding by them?

While I am not able to chart the precise manner in which God works, I can give you some word on this matter. (This question was prompted by my reference to Samson's choice of a heathen woman as a wife. Scripture declares the matter was "of the Lord" (Judges 14:1-3).

First, the case adduced was true, yet was under the First Covenant, which was true, yet inferior to the one over which Jesus presides. We have "a better covenant, established upon better promises" (Heb 8:6). People were not regenerate in those times, because sin had not yet been removed by Christ Jesus (Heb 9:24). In Christ, we can expect the thrust of God's activity to be blessing, not judgment (Acts 3:26).

Second, those who live by faith will not be ashamed or confounded (disappointed) (Rom 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet 2:6). His intention for those in Christ is to bring them to glory, not to condemnation or judgment (Heb 2:10). He has appointed Jesus as our High Priest to ensure this happens. As you place your trust in the Lord, He will not respond by confusing, confounding, or disappointing you.

Third, God does not use believing people to accomplish unseemly purposes. Scripture tells us God uses two different kinds of people--honorable ones and dishonorable, or ignoble, ones. "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Tim 2:21-22). Notice, as we remove ourselves from evil influences, God will use us for honorable purposes--every "good work." You can trust Him to do this.

Fourth, God speaks to us primarily through His Word, not mere impulse. That is the point being made by Hebrews 4:12. "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." God never asks us to obey an impulse. How could we establish if it was a good one or not? That is why the above verse mentions the discerning qualities of the Word of God. It is never wrong to obey the commandments of God, and it is never right to disobey them. In the case of Abraham, he was directed in an audible manner. Remember, however, that the purpose of the test was to show an angel the strength of Abraham's faith (Gen 22:11-12). He did not kill Isaac, even though he was willing to do so, if God commanded it--KNOWING God would raise him from the dead (Heb 11:17-19).

Fifth, the point of texts such as the ones I have given (and others are to follow) is to confirm that God does what He wants to do. But that by no means is designed to make us wonder if He will bring a curse upon us, or use us to fulfill evil purposes. He has revealed His will in Christ Jesus--and it is always to bless those in the Son. He has marshalled angelic hosts to serve and protect us (Heb 1:13-14), provided a Savior to take away our sins (1 John 3:5), and appointed Him as Intercessor to ensure we make it safely to glory (Heb 7:25). His commitment to our salvation has been confirmed.

Sixth, do not think of God as "breaking His own laws." In the case of Abraham, Isaac was not killed. In the case of Samson, God used Samson's lust, not his faith. It was something like God using Pharaoh to declare His glory (Rom 9:17). Pharaoh was a vessel for dishonor, and therefore was used to display God's wrath. Samson was also used for ignoble purposes. In his case, however, the chastening of the Lord awakened him, and he died in the faith, vindicating God;'s displeasure with the idolatrous Philistines. In both cases (as well as all others), God was righteous. The day of judgment will confirm He was impeccably just in all He has done. In the meantime, He has promised to be with usm, support us, and bless us according to our faith.

God will not disappoint you, or tempt you to sin (James 1:13). If these things every seem difficult to grasp (and that will occur to the best of us), Jesus taught us to pray, "And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen" (Matt 6:13).

Is Jesus Christ a created being?

The incarnation of the Word is the source of misunderstanding among those who imagine Jesus is a "created being." They are fond of using the following texts to support their imagination. (1) "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God" (Rev 3:14). (2) "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature" (Col 1:15). (3) "For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" The following explanations are elementary. You can develop them further.

(1). Jesus is not the first One created, but the Source of all creation, as is abundantly confirmed throughout the Apostolic writings. In this particular text, His preeminence is declared. This text also views the Son of God in relation to the Father--that is, the Father considered the incarnate Christ in eternity past BEFORE he contemplated any other creation, be it men or angels. This does not deal with the BEGINNING of the Person of the Son, but of the beginning of His incarnation, when He humbled Himself and became obedient (Phil;. 2:5-10).

(2). Christ is freqently called "the Firstborn" (Colossians 1:15, "Firstborn of every creature," Colossians 1:18, "from the dead"; Romans 8:29, "among many brethren"; Hebrews 1:6, brought into the world; Revelation 1:5, "from the dead"; Luke 2:7, Mary's firstborn son; Hebrews 12:23, "church of the Firstborn"). In each of these cases, Jesus is portrayed as the first of a new order of redeemed humanity--the pattern to which we are being conformed. These are not declaring the origin of Jesus, but the declaring Him as the pattern for the sons that follow.

(3). Jesus of Nazereth had a beginning, but the Person of Jesus (or more precisely, "the Word") has neither beginning of days nor ending of days. Micah reminded us the holy child came from "everlasting," being an eternal Person (Micah 5:2).

Can I be suffering because there is obstinance in my heart that I am not able to see?

A person with a sensitive heart is NOT obstinate. Obstinance dulls our sensitivity and hardens the heart. You are not obstinate, and that is NOT why you are experiencing trials. I speak as one who has passed through an unusual number of trials myself. I will share with you a great source of comfort to me.

Chastening is not the only reason for suffering. There is another, and it is a most precious consideration. There are two worlds--one is seen, and one is not seen. The latter is called "the world to come" (Matt 12:32; Heb 2:5; 6:5). Salvation is a Divine summons to that world to come--to the participation in glory, where we shall be forever with the Lord.

Our participation in glory is determined, in part, by our sufferings in this world. We are apprized that "if we suffer with Him, as shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim 2:12). This is not a suffering for wrong doing, or suffering as in chastisement. It is a "fellowship" in Christ's sufferings (Phil 3:10). Such sufferings are like our employees, working for us, and accruing an abundance in the world to come. Scripture states it this way. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor 4:16-18).

The Apostles saw this truth, and were able to rejoice in their sufferings for Christ's sake. Remember their reaction to the beating and imprisonment? "So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41). Their sufferings became a beacon that illuminated the future.

This did not end with the Apostles, but continues to be the experience of believers of all generations. When the Thessalonians suffered opposition for their faith, the Spirit associated that suffering with being qualified for a great reward in heaven. "We ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer" (2 Thess 1:4-5).

When this world, the devil, and circumstance appear to convene against us, and oppress us, it may very well be because we have been called out of this world for a glorious inheritance. Such sufferings confirm we do not fit in here. They also confirm a great reward in heaven. Take heart, child of God. You are being readied for an unimaginably great inheritance.

See Questions Page #3

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