Group Number 9

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  Do you have some thoughts on anger and forgiveness?

  Is God really capable of repenting? You wrote that God "repented."

  Our minister said it is always wrong to lie. Does this mean it was wrong for Corrie Ten Boom lied to the Nazis about the whereabouts of the Jews?

  Wine is reported to be healthy when consumed in moderation. Can a Christian drink alcoholic wine?

  How serious do you think this misunderstanding of the Triune God is? He feels that there is no distinction between the persons of the Godhead and that everything such as prayer and baptism should only be in the name of our Lord Jesus.

  Does God have fun? Does He have a sense of humor? Is He always serious? When I hear of God I get serious, and it makes me afraid.

  I have always felt we will see God as he really is. I know for sure we will see Jesus. But someone told me that we shall not ever see God. Can you explain this to me. I know you must be busy, but whenever you have time.

  Take two unbelievers; why would God open the heart of one and not the other?


See Questions Page #10


Do you have some thoughts on anger and forgiveness?

These subjects are contemporary hot-buttons. Because of this, there have been a variety of answers/workshops prepared on them. I have found, for the most part, that they are being addressed from a psychological point of view, rather than that of the Spirit. In your presentation, take care to give God's perspective. Here are some thoughts I have had on the subjects.

First, Christ has made no provision for a lack of resolution to do His will. When addressing these matters, "trying" and "attempting" to do what is right will not be sufficient. The grace of God comes to us when we are committed to the Lord. As soon as the individual is fully determined to do God's will in these matters, God will enable them to do it.

FORGIVENESS. The secret to forgiving others is comprehending and cherishing our own forgiveness. "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph 4:32). "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do" (Col 3:12-13).

There is no limit to forgiveness. "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven" (Matt 18:21-22). The recollection of God's faithful forgiveness of us will make this doable.

The experience of God's forgiveness depends, in part, upon our forgiveness of others. "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" Matt 6:15). When, therefore, I need to forgive, I need to ask myself if I want to be forgiven by God. A sensitive heart will always do the right things.

In these texts, and others, we see that forgiveness is really a matter of perspective. It results when our hearts are made tender in the realization that we have been forgiven "all trespasses" (Col 2:13). When people do not forgive others, the problem is not their lack of forgiveness, but the defilement of their heart. There is no acceptable excuse for such a condition.

ANGER. With dilligence, avoid approaching anger from a worldly point of view. In some instances, anger is justified. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath" (Eph 4:26). On one occasion, Jesus looked on a skeptical and unbelieving crowd "with anger" (Mark 3:5).

Under no occasion, is anger or wrath to be sustained (Eph 4:26). God simply does not allow it. There is no grace or strength given by Him to keep anger boiling. The reason for this is stated by James; "the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God: (James 1:20). At no time are God's people free to conduct themselves unlike their heavenly Father.

The word of the Lord is straightforward. "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice" (Eph 4:31). Again, it is written, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice" (Col 3:8). As you can see, "resolution" is a word that can easily dull the conscience of people. As an expression of the flesh, "ALL" anger is to be eliminated from the life of the believer. The fact that such a serious requirement is given means that serious grace is available for its accomplishment.

Is God really capable of repenting? You wrote that God "repented."

Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts. I understand where you are coming from. I do not believe I said God HAD to repent. In fact, all I did was convey what the Spirit inspired to be be written ("And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."). Nothing in the text, or sound spiritual understanding, indicates God HAD to repent.

You are correct in saying the idea is "to turn from"--that is the meaning of repentance. In the case of sinners, they turn from sin. In the text with which I was dealing, God turned from His fierce wrath. He did the same with us. We were once "by nature the children of wrath" as others, but are now the recepients of His great mercy. Jesus spoke of those who believe not on Him as having the wrath of God abiding upon them (John 3:36). That condition changes, however, when the Son is embraced (John 1:12-13).

To me, one of the most challenging considerations along this line relates to Christ's vicarious atonement. Although He was the "only begotten Son" in Whom the Father was "well please," yet He was "made a curse" for us (Gal 3:10-13), and "was made to be sin" for us (2 Cor 5:21). While it was a temporary condition (praise the Lord), yet it did involve the Father having a different view of the Son when He bore our sins in His body on the tree.

This is not the only time this expression ("repent") is used in relation to God--Gen 6:7; 1 Sam 15:11,35; 1 Chron 21:15; Jer 26:19; Amos 7:6; Jonah 3:10. The NKJV and NIV translate this word "relent." The NASB and NIV translate it "changed His mind." There are times, of course, when the Lord affirmed He would "not repent," or change His mind--under any conditions (Psa 110:4; Jer 4:28; Heb 7:21). One such time is when Israel so incensed Him He declared He would not hear any prayers uttered for them, even if they came from a righteous man (Jer 7:16; 15:1).

It is true, from another perspective, that God "is not a man that He should repent" (Num 23:19). That is, He never thinks, speaks, or acts in a way inappropriate, and from which turning away is necessary. When He is represented as changing His mind, or turning from a declared course of acrtion, it is not because He sinned. That does not, however, mean the change was not real.

We must take care not to oversimplify our view of this matter--particularly if it causes us to stagger at Divine affirmations in Scripture. God has represented Himself as capable of changing His mind. This in no reflects upon His Soveriegnty. It does, however, challenge some notions concerning His Sovereignty. When He was about to destory the ancient people, He sought for someone to stand in the gap so He would not have to destroy them (Ezek 22:30-31). We must not allow any theology to neutralize the staggering power of those words. It is not that God was tempted to sin in destroying the people (God forbid that such a blasphemous thought should arise in our hearts). It IS that God prefers to have mercy. His anger against sinners can be averted--a change of mind. It was seen in Moses' intercession in behalf of Israel. It is seen in Christ's admonition to flawed churches. He would take them away unless they repented, and even fight against them if they did not turn from their iniquitous ways (Rev 2:5,16).

Just a thought here. If we look at God's Sovereignty from a stilted point of view, it will seem unreasonable that God would "turn from" anything. We may conceive that, because He is omnicient and unchangeable, He cannot change His mind, turn from His anger, reconcile an enemy, or cast someone out of a garden into which He Himself placed them. But that is not a fair representation of the case. His character does not change. His holiness does not change. His Person does not and cannot change. But He has represented Himself as changing His mind, being sorry, and being grieved--all of which are remarkable Divine reactions. We must be spiritually fluid enough to receive these representatoins, knowing they have in no way mitigated His Sovereignty.

Our minister said it is always wrong to lie. Does this mean it was wrong for Corrie Ten Boom lied to the Nazis about the whereabouts of the Jews?

I was interested in your observations about your pastor's remarks on lying. I am afraid it is not as simple as he seemed to indicate. In a broad sense, it is true that men are not to lie, and that it is contray to the nature of God, Who "cannot lie" (Tit 1:2), and who "is not a man that He should lie" (Num 23:19). He does hate a "lying tongue" (Prov 6:17), and "lying lips are an abomination" to Him (Prov 12:22). We are solemnly admonished, "Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another" (Eph 4:25). As children of God, we embrace those statements heartily, and find no fault with our Lord for delivering them to us.

However, there are several other factors that show us another facet of this subject. When Samel was sent by God to anoint young David king, he remonstrated, saying, "How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take a heifer with you, and say, I have come to sacrifice to the LORD" (1 Samuel 16:2). That is really NOT why Samuel went, even though he did offer a sacrifice.

Again, Rahab the Harlot hid the Israelite spies who came into Jericho. When asked by men from the King of Jericho about the spies (while they remained in her house, and she knew who they were), she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them" (Joshua 2:4-5). To confirm this was really NOT the case, the Word adds, "But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof" (Josh 2:6).

When Israel destroyed Jericho, the deed of Rahab was remembered by Joshua. It is written, "And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho" (Josh 6:25). To further accentuate the appropriateness of what she said, Hebrews states, "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace" (Heb 11:31). What is even more remarkable, she is in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 1:5).

In both of these cases, a lie (from God's perspective) was NOT told, but wisdom was employed. It takes a heart of faith to detect the difference, but here are two examples in the Bible of what some peple would call a lie. God told Samuel what to say in the first instance, and commended what was said in the second one.

The lying that is prohibited in Scripture refers to saying things under the influence of the wicked one, and with no regard for the honor of God. It is a misrepresentation that gives an advantage to the flesh, and is a child of sinful pride.

Wine is reported to be healthy when consumed in moderation. Can a Christian drink alcoholic wine?

First, as compared to the Law of Moses, very few rules of conduct are outlined for the person in Christ. The reason for this is that believers are directed from within, by a new heart, not by laws. This is the point of Colossians 2:20-23. Laws cannot take away the appetite for sin, but a new heart can. For this reason, in Christ Jesus, God's law is written upon our heart (Heb 9:8-13), bringing us into agreement with our Lord. That means, we will want to do the right thing.

The Bible does not say believers cannot drink hard wine. Of course, it does not say they cannot shoot heroin or smoke pot either. There are believers in foreign countries who drink fermented wine as a table drink. This is largely because of the impurity of the water. Paul told Timothy to take a "little wine" for his stomach and frequent sicknesses ((1 Tim 5:23). It is interesting to note that he does not say "drink a little wine," but "USE a little wine" -- indications is was for medicinal purposes. Even then, he said a "LITTLE wine."

Concerning the influence of our conduct upon weaker believers, the Spirit says, "It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak" (Rom 14:21). The eating of meat referred to eating meat offered to idols, which was sold in the local meat markets (1 Corinthians 10:22-33). That passage says that we are not to become enslaved to any form of eating and drinking, particularly at the expense of harming our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are strictly charged not to cause offence to the Jews, the Gentiles, or the church of God. All of this, of course, requires judgment, discernment, and consideration on the part of the individual believer. A simple law saying not to do it is not given.

Drunkenness, of course, is unanimously condemned by Scripture, as you already know (Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3). A groundwork for this was set forth under the Law. There, the priest was strictly forbidden to drink any hard liquor before entering the tabernacle. If they dared to drink hard drink before they entered the tabernacle, they would die (Leviticus 10:9; Ezekiel 44:21).

A remarkable outline for a Nazarite is provided in Scripture. This was a person dedicated to God. John the Baptist was a Nazarite (Luke 1:15). Here is the prohibition for the Nazarite, who was separated to God. "'When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin" (Num 6:2-4). Because grapes and grape juice, even when fresh, ferment in the stomach, the Nazarite was forbidden to partake of grape in any form. Note--this was a law imposed upon someone dedicated to God.

There is no Bible verse that answers your question. It is a matter of conscience. Our conscience, however, is to be molded by the word of God and a desire to please Him. The word from the King is, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31). When a Christian drinks wine, for whatever reason, they must realize they are in an area of temptation, where many people have fallen. If it is countered that it is good for the health, this cannot be denied. In our time, however, there are a number of alternative medicines that will accomplish the same results. Each believer must determine for themselves what they will do in this matter. Whatever they choose is to be for the glory of God, and must not result in harmful effects upon our brethren.

How serious do you think this misunderstanding of the Triune God is? He feels that there is no distinction between the persons of the Godhead and that everything such as prayer and baptism should only be in the name of our Lord Jesus.

The whole matter of salvation, with all of its intricate details, depends upon the inter-relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father sent the Son (1 John 4:14). The Son did the will of the Father (John 5:30). Jesus sends the Spirit (John 15:26; 16:7). The Spirit enables Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:16-17) . . . etc. We have access to the Father through the Son and by he Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18). The Father raised the Son, and exalted Him (Acts 2:24; 4:10; Rom 6:4; Gal 1:1). Presently, Jesus is on the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33;). After "the end," the Son will deliver the Kingdom back to God, and He Himself will be subject to God (1 Cor 15:25-28)--an absurdity if they are both the same Person. I know there are many who hold to the view you mentioned. It is not only wrong, it is utterly absurd. There simply is too much about this in Scripture to justify any one concluding there is one Person in the Godhead with a multiplicity of names. Abraham had two names, as well as Sarah, Peter, and others. But they never talked with themselves using these different names--and when they received a new name, the old one ceased to be used (Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sarah, Simon/Peter....etc. But when it comes to the Father, Son, and Spirit, they are all three mentioned as working simultaneously. These terms were not designations applied to a particular time in which only one was active. For instance, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba Father" (Gal 4:6). Other Scriptures mentioning the simultaneous and complementary work of the Father, Son, and Spirit, include Rom 1:4; 1 Cor 6:11; 12:3; 2 Cor 13:14; Eph 1:17; Phil 3:3; Heb 10:29; 1 Pet 1:2.

I personally consider this to be a very grievous error, striking at the root of our salvation. The good confession, after all, is that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16-18; 1 John 4:4-5). The atonement of Christ was the result of Him humbling Himself, and becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:5-8). He certainly was not obedient to Himself, but to God, as He repeatedly asserted (Matt 26:39; Lk 10:22). For that matter, Jesus cried out "Abba, Father" Himself--a cry of absolute dependency upon God.

Jesus once said, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Luke 10:22). Remember, the Father told Peter Who the Son was (Matt 16:18)--now the Son reveals who the Father is. Of course, that would be foolish if He and the Father were the same. When He said "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father," He did not mean they were the same Person, but the Father was being made known through Him.

Does God have fun? Does He have a sense of humor? Is He always serious? When I hear of God I get serious, and it makes me afraid.

The Bible never speaks of God "having fun" or "laughing," or "having a sense of humor." But there is a reason for that. God does not want us to think of Him like we think of ourselves or other people, because He is not like that. He is God! With us, having fun is a form of distraction, to keep life from being so boring. God is never bored, so does not need that form of distraction like we do. Pleasure, or having fun, is good, but it is not the best thing. If I go in for brain surgery, I sure do not want my doctor to "have fun" while he operates. The reason is quite simple, when we are "having fun," we are not fully involved in what we are doing. We are just touching the surface of life, so to speak.

God expresses what you have called "fun" in a higher and better way. The Bible word would be "joy," or "rejoice" "glad," or "happy" (Acts 2:28; Luke 15:10; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4; Matthew 5:12; rOM 14:22; 1 pET 3:14). Another good word is "blessed," when means joyful and with a real benefit (1 Timothy 1:11).

God rejoices over His people, taking great pleasure in them. Zephaniah 3:17 reads, "The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." That is much more than fun, and it is more satisfying, and beneficial. God enjoys His people, their faith in Him, and the fact that they trust Him.

Serious, in the true sense, does not mean morose, or not pleasant and enjoyable. It means alert--wide awake in our souls, so that we will not be fooled. To be serious means we will not miss God's blessing because we do not know it is available, or that we will not be brought down by the devil because we are not aware he is around. A person can be serious and laugh, cry, consider, and enjoy.

The reason you become serious when you hear about God is because that is the time to be serious. Being serious means you can then receve the good things He has for you. It also means you can avoid being judged by Him. This does not mean you have to be afraid -- you can be glad when you hear about Him. When, for instance, you are in a serious situation and need help from God, it is good to think of Him--good to pray to Him--pleasant to consider He wants to help you.

Remember, Alanis, that "having fun" is not wrong, but it is shallow. It is like a one year old baby playing in a play pen. That little baby is enjoying himself--having fun. But when that child grows into a man, he doesn't like playing in the play pen anymore--just having fun. He still wants enjoyment and satisfaction, but he finds it in more important things. Also, the enjoyment brings a sense of satisfaction that "having fun" cannot bring.

The reason for Jesus is so we do not have to be afraid before God. Since we are all going to stand before Him some day, it is good to come to Him in Christ Jesus now, and learn to enjoy Him. He is, afrter all, good and gracious. You can enjoy Him!

I hope this helps. If you want to talk more, let me know. In Jesus, Brother Given

I have always felt we will see God as he really is. I know for sure we will see Jesus. But someone told me that we shall not ever see God. Can you explain this to me. I know you must be busy, but whenever you have time.

Jesus said it, and it is true, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt 5:8). That sight begins now by faith, and will be culminated when "God Himself" will be with us in the glory (Rev 21:3). Even Job, long before the Bible was written, knew this. He said, "And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God" (Job 19:26).

The particulars of this blessed sight are not provided--only that it will occur. It will be a lofty experience, unable to be fully conveyed in words to us while we are in the body. You are right in saying we will see God as He is. If Jesus said the pure in heart "shall see God," it is certainly out of order for anyone to say we will not.

Take two unbelievers; why would God open the heart of one and not the other?

Some would say God does so arbitrarily, but that is not the case, for it would violate the Divine imagery in man to do so. The Lord has told us the type of heart or spirit that will be honored by Him. It is stated in several ways in scripture. "For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a CONTRITE AND HUMBLE HEART, To revive the spirit of the HUMBLE, And to revive the heart of the CONTRITE ONES" (Isa 57:15). Another view--"But on this one will I look: On him who is POOR AND OF A CONTRITE SPIRIT, And who TREMBLES AT MY WORD" (Isa 66:2). Jesus put it this way, "But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a NOBLE AND GOOD HEART, keep it and bear fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15). The eyes of the Lord are running to and fro throughout the whole world to find such individuals. As it is written, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those WHOSE HEART IS LOYAL TO HIM" (2 Chron 16:9).

The Holy Spirit works ON the hearts of those who do not believe, to convince them of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11), and He does it through the Word of God, which is His sword.

I do not believe culture is the determining factor in believing God. Enoch, for example, lived in a decaying society, drifting rapidly from any semblance of sensitivity to God--yet he believed, and walked with God. Noah was in a culkture in which he alone stood with God. Abraham, together with his father, came from an idolatrous background, yet believed God when it was illogical from the human point of view (Rom 4:18). At Pentecost, we read of devout men from every nation under heaven--all radically differing cultures--yet receiving the Word with gladness (Acts 2:41). Lydia, from the idolatrous culture of Thyatira, believed (Acts 16:14-16), the Philippian jailor from a rather unique culture (Acts 16:25ff), and an Ethiopian eunuch from a section in Africa (Acts 8:36ff). Some from Caesar's household even believed (Phil 4:22) . . . . . .. etc. In all of these cases, the culture was AGAINST believing God, not something that aided it. Each of these people had to overcome their culture to embrace the Word. Because their hearts were tender, God enabled them to do so.

This is why Scripture speaks of believing "through grace" (Acts 18:27), being "given" by god to believe (Phil 1:29), and receiving "like precious faith" (2 Pet 1:1). From this point of view, God's grace is descriminating. It is given to those who will receive it--whose hearts are attracted to the truth.

God's Word cannot be properly understood apart from faith. That is why Scripture says, "By faith we understand that the world were framed by the Word of God . . . " (Heb 11:3). People can understand the grammar of the Bible--much like the Pharisees did, who were prodigious Bible students. Yet Jesus said to them, "Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mark 12:24).

One further thought here. There are some people who CANNOT believe because of the hardness of their hearts. Scripture speaks of some people in this category. "Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them" (Isa 12:39-40). Their hard hearts constrained God to render them incapable of perceiving the truth that could save them.

See Questions Page #10

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