QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 3
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If we are forgiven our sins, how come we are still going to be judged?
I believe I am being directed to do a special work for the Lord. However, I am afraid that I will make a mistake in going ahead with it.
Is it enough to just begin and end everyday with a prayer to the Lord, our God, that we receive Him body and soul? Or, shall we make it a ritual to sit down at table and break bread with fellow Christians and drink wine to obey the last request of our Lord Jesus Christ before He died for our sins?
Why would God punish Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar for serving His will and purpose?
Can you explain what blaspheming the Holy Spirit means?
Since there was no salvation or sanctification by the blood of animal sacrifices, is it legitimate to compare these two covenants. Don't they in fact work side by side?
I was baptized as in infant, but my conscience is not clear now. Should I be rebaptized?
Ifwe are forgiven our sins, how come we are still going to be judged?
The purpose of the judgment is not to determine whether we are saved or lost--that is done in this world. Sins that are forgiven will not be brought against us in the judgment. As it is written, "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us" (Rom 8:34-35).
The verse to which you refer is threatening if we are sloppy about our spiritual lives. However, it is comforting if we are fighting the good fight of faith. Think of appearing before His throne "faultless" -- God is able to make that happen! We are encouraged to take hold of this truth by the Holy Spirit. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever" (Jude 24-25). Do not think of the judgment as only illuminating things done against the Lord. Think of it as proclaiming what has been done for Him--often in secret. The Lord, Who sees in scret, will reward openly--at His judgment seat (Matt 6:4,6,18). He will not forget what we have done for Him--even at the judgment. It is written, "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Heb 6:10).
Rewards will be dispensed at the judgment as well as retribution. God will vindicate the faithful as well as curse the unfaithful. He will praise the ones that have believed and served Him (1 Cor 4:5).
Ibelieve I am being directed to do a special work for the Lord. However, I am afraid that I will make a mistake in going ahead with it.
Struggles with fear (the kind you mention) are not uncommon to the people of God. Paul once said of himself, "For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears" (2 Cor 7:5). This was not the consistent pattern of his life. However, there were occasions, like the one in Macedonia, when the good fight of faith involved grappling with fear. It is the same with us. This is not the type of fear that made Adam hide from God, or the kind that alienates the heart from God. It is an aspect of the faith-life, when we have to fight to "keep the faith."
Always remember that faith pleases God--and you most certainly have faith. God has made certain commitments to believers. "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame" (Romn 9:33). "For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame" (Rom 10:11). You can count on that commitment. God will not go back on His word.
When your heart is set to glorify the Lord--particularly in innovative and aggressive ways--Satan will not take a nap. He will hurl his "fiery darts," or "flaming arrows" at you (Eph 6:16). These "darts" are THOUGHTS--tempting thoughts. They are considerations that tend to neutralize the promises of God--like the thought he suggested to Eve. The "shield of faith" (or focusing upon Who God is and what He has promised) will defuse Satan's efforts, or "quench" the "fiery darts."
Feed your mind on the good word of God, draw close to Him, so He is dominant in your thinking, and the world recedes into the background. Then your faith will be stronger, and you will be directable. God will direct your steps, as He has promised (Prov 3:5-6; 16:9; Psa 23:2-3; 37:23). I have every confidence you will do the right thing, and will be blessed in the doing of it. I can say of you what Paul said to the recovering Corinthians. "Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything" (2 Cor 7:16).
Isit enough to just begin and end everyday with a prayer to the Lord, our God, that we receive Him body and soul? Or, shall we make it a ritual to sit down at table and break bread with fellow Christians and drink wine to obey the last request of our Lord Jesus Christ before He died for our sins?
Think of it this way. Would it have been all right for Naaman, the Syrian leper, to NOT dip seven times in the River Jordan for cleansing, as the prophet commanded him (2 Kings 5:1-14)? Was that a "ritual"? Or the children of Israel coming out of Egypt--could they have just prayed the evening of the exodus, not placing the blood on the door post as commanded, and still have enjoyed deliverance (Exodus 12)? Was that just a ritual? Or, what of simply refusing to gather with believers, choosing to remain alone. Could a person avoid that without displeasing the Lord and handicapping their own spiritual life (Heb 10:25).
The word "ritual" is not appropriate for the Lord's Table, and that for a reason. As you already know, it is a lifeless term, and speaks of mere routine. However, anything the Lord asks us to do is not a mere routine. When John the Baptist came baptizing people, some thought it was not necessary, and so refused to be baptized by him. After all, they might reason, it was only a routine. But that as not the case at all. The Holy Spirit says of those people--people who rejected what they thought was a routine--"But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Luke 7:30).
I desire for you to be blessed by the Lord, and to have a good conscience about your relationship to the Lord. First, you DO have a right to eat at the Lord's Table because He has invited you to do so. This is the LORD'S TABLE (1 Corinthians 10:21), not the church's table, or man's table.
Second, this act is invested with life because Christ is in it. Remember these words, about taking the Lord's Supper. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16). To "commune" is to "participate in" (NIV) or "share in" (NASB). It is to enjoy the benefits that are realized from the sacrifice of Christ in our behalf. It is a fellowship with Christ. See, we are not the only ones involved in the Lord's Table -- Jesus is there also. His presence is what puts life into the matter. It is what makes communion a fellowship or participation. That is anything but a ritual.
"In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:25-26). This is a special way of remembering Jesus--something He asked us to do at this table. Look at the Lord's Table like a photograph. It lost one of my daughters in January of 1996. She died of Lou Gherig's disease. I remember her often, for she was a lovely young mother of two. I also carry a photograph of her. Frequently I look at it, recalling what a blessing she was, and how thankful I am she is now with the Lord. Now the Lord's Table is the same way. We think of Jesus often, and remember Him in a variety of ways. But when we come to His table, it is something special, not to be compared with anything else. It is so vital, the Spirit adds we "proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" when we take the Lord's Supper. Proclaim it to who? We openly declare our faith in Christ, and our acceptance of His death, to one another, to the Lord Jesus Himself, to God the Father, to holy angels, and to the world! As you already know, that is anything but a ritual.
It is tragic that many churches choose to neglect the table of the Lord. Sometimes when we travel, we can find no group of believers that break bread together in rememberance of Jesus. So we do it ourselves. As a family, we prepare some bread and fruit of the vine, and recall the sacrifice of Christ in our behalf. That is what I would do it I were you. I would then inquire among my friends to see if others felt the same way you do. What a blessing it would be to open your home for taking the Lord's Supper on the Lord's day. The disciples at Troaz came together on the first day of the week to "break bread" (Acts 20:7), something the early church continued stedfastly in doing (Acts 2:42). What a ministry you could have to people by doing the same.
Some people refrain from regular participation in the Lord's Supper because they do not want to offend friends or relatives that do not participate. You also do not want to offend the Lord Jesus--and He is the one that invites you to examine yourself, and then eat and drink.
Whywould God punish Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar for serving His will and purpose?
God did not punish Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar because served him. In fact, He even gave them Egypt for their wages (Ezek 19:19). What God DID punish them for was (1) For their iniquity, Jer 25:12, (2) Because they strove against the Lord, Jer 50:24, (3) For being proud against the Lord, Jer 50:29, (4) They refused to let Israel go, Jer 50:33, (5) For their graven images and idols, Jer 50:38; 51:47, (6) She refused to be healed of her wickedness and idolatries, Jer 51:8-9, (7) Because they went further in destroying nations than they should have gone, Jer 51:25, 34 (8) Greatest of all--because Babylon rejoiced and took pleasure in destroying the people of God, Jer 50:10-11. God does not delight, even in the death of the wicked (Ezek 18:23), and He would not allow the Chaldeans to rejoice in the chastenbing of His people.
Canyou explain what blaspheming the Holy Spirit means?
The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not specifically described. The texts that tell us it cannot be forgiven are found in Matt 12:31, Mark 3:28-29, and Luke 12:10. Jesus does not precisely define the sin, because it would not serve His purpose. If people knew exactly what this sin was, they would get as close to it as they could without committing it. The point Jesus is making is this: The Holy Spirit is the one who works with our hearts--convicting, illuminating, comforting, etc. If we steal ourselves against Him to the point we scoff at Him, and deride Him, there will be no means of recovery--i.e., we will no longer have sensitivity to the Lord. There is a moral line we can cross, where we become hardened against the Lord, and derisive of the Holy Spirit. All sin leads in this direction, and we have no guarantee that dabbling in iniquity will not end up like this. Hebrews 6:4-6 speaks of a similar condition, as well as Hebrews 10:26-30. No person can afford to live in a state where they are backing away from God. Unless that condition is averted, condemnation is sure. That is the purpose of these warnings--to help people wake up to the seriousness of being hard against the Spirit of God.
Sincethere was no salvation or sanctification by the blood of animal sacrifices, is it legitimate to compare these two covenants. Don't they in fact work side by side?
The Spirit is the One Who makes the comparisons between the Old and New Covenants. He does this to accentuate the superiority of the New Covenant to the Old. This is not done to make a theological statement, but to correct those with an inclination to the Old Covenant and its manners--to empty ceremonies and the works of man as a basis for righteousness.
The book of Hebrews compares these two covenants repeatedly, showing the absurdity of gravitating to a system of works as a means to Divine acceptance. The New is a "better covenant established upon better promises" (8:6). The "first covenant" was not "faultless," while second is (8:7). Jeremiah's promise is reiterated concerning a "new covenant" that would not be after then "manner" of the one made with Israel (8:8-10). A comparison is made between the "ordinances" of the first covenant and the effective mijnistry of Christ in the New Covenant (9:1-14). A powerful comparison is made between the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, and the single offering of the body of Christ once for all. The blood of the animal sacrifices could not take away sin--the blood of Christ does (Heb 9:13-14; Heb 10:4-14). Another comparison is made between punishment under the Old Covenant, and the more severe punishment that shall be exacted upon those who reject the Lord's Christ (10:18-29).
An extensive comparison of these two covenants us is made in 2 Corinthians 3. There the accent is on the glory of the covenants. The first was written on tables of stone, the second upon fleshly tables of the heart (3:3). The First was in "letter," the Second is in "spirit" (3:6). The First ministered death, the Second ministers life (3:6-8). The First ministered condemnation, the Second ministered righteousness (3:9). The glory of the First Covenant faded, or deteriorated, while the glory of the New Covenant excels, increasing in glory, never fading (2 Cor 3:10-18).
The fourth chapter of Galatians also draws a comparison between the two covenants. The First is associated with bondage, while the hallmark of the Second is liberty (4:22-5:1).
Rather than the Two Covenants "working side-by-side," the First prepared the way for the Second. As it is written, the Law was our Schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ (Gal 3:24). It also prepared the way for the Second in convincing men of their sinnerhood, so to speak. As it is written, "The Law was given that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God" (Rom 3:19).
It must be remembered that the Law, or the Ten Commandments, was called "the words of the covenant" (Ex 34:28). The tables upon which they were written were called "the tables of the covenant" (Deut 9:9,11,15; Heb 9:4). This does not mean the Ten Commandments have been obviated as a moral law. They are still there "for the lawless" (1 Tim 1:9). They no longer exist, however, as a means to righteousness, or a basis of Divine acceptance. While the First Covenant declared "That the man which doeth those things shall live by them," the New Covenant promises "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom 10:5-11)--another comparison.
In a conclusion of His powerful proclamation of the superiority of the New Covenant, the Spirit testifies, "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away" (Heb 8:13). That accentuates the covenants do not, in fact, work "side-by-side" in the matter of our acceptance with God. As soon as "the New" was inaugurated, the "old" began to fade and pass away as a covenant. The place of the Law remains that of defining sin (Rom 3:20). But it is no longer a Covenant, having been obviated by the achievements of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has "ended" the Law as a means to righteousness (Rom 10:4)--or as a Covenant.
Iwas baptized as in infant, but my conscience is not clear now. Should I be rebaptized?
Baptism is a response, not something imposed upon us apart from our conscious involvement. Peter "commanded" the people at the house of Cornelius house to be baptized (Acts 10:48)--he did not command someone to baptize them. There is a big difference. After the Ethiopian eunuch heard the Gospel of Christ, he asked why he could not be baptized in water. Philip answered if he believed, he could (Acts 8:36-38). Saul of Tarsus was told by Ananias to himself "arise and be baptized, washing away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). It was something HE did, not something merely done to him.
In infant baptism, the forgiveness of sins to which they refer is "original sin," or the sin past on by Adam. In Christian baptism, the forgiveness is of our personal sins (Col 2:11-13). Also, baptism must be preceded by believing the Gospel (Mark 16:16), which an infant is not capable of doing. Peter states that baptism is an appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Pert 3:21), something of which an infant is not capable.
Baptism is also preceded by repentance, or a renunciation of sin and an embrace of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:38) -- again, something of which an infant is not capable. We emerge from the waters of bsaptism to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4), something an infant cannot do. Those who are baptized, are then taught to observe the things Jesus has commanded us (Matt 28:19), hardly an appropriate procedure for infants. People who were baptized in Scripture "gladly received the Word" (Acts 2:41), which infants cannot do. Those who are baptized "put on Christ," gaining His qualities in their lives (Gal 3:28), hardly available to infants.
All of this is to say, sister Bernie, that it is most appropriate for you to be baptized--not rebaptized, but baptized once for all. Your own conscience affirms the need of this. You need answer to no one but God on this matter. It is personal, and it is a matter clearly taught in God's Word. Incidently, you are not baptized to become part of a local congregation. You are baptized into Christ's death (Rom 6:3-5), and into Christ Himself (Gal 3:28).
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