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  If miracles did not produce faith, as you say, what about these two texts. What do you think of them?

  Why should we preach or try and live godly? What difference does it make if God has already determined the outcome based on his choosing.

  What makes you think that your unproven beliefs are more valid than anybody else's unproven beliefs?

  Once you have come to Christ, isn't it impossible to fall away, or to stop believing?

  I am discouraged, and ready to quit. What is the use?

  I've heard that we need to have a positive attitude at all times, because what comes out of your mouth can cause things to happen (it invites Satan to do things or whatever). You need to focus on Scripture, etc. instead.

  What about women teachers? Aren't they forbidden in the Word of God?

  Do you believe that Jesus taught that we are all 'Sons of God' and, therefore we are to grow into, and through, our own Christhood to save the world by igniting this Christlight within everyone?

  My father abandoned me. Tell me, your from his generation ...what good can come from this, 31 years later I still would like to know my Dad but I don't...

  My question is, at what point does mediocrity become so serious as to merit using technically unqualified people to teach because of their spiritual excellence?

  How will we know when the exceptional person allows for the setting aside of the rule?

  I am wondering what you think of the Laws of God, the Ten Commandments especially the Sabbath?

  What about the text that says Jesus bore our infirmities?

  Are there levels in Heaven?

  How do you feel about the stuff that goes in some Pentecostal churches like slain in the spirit and holy laughter? Not to mention the incessant 'speaking in tongues' which so many regard as a mere concoction.

  How exactly does Christ's death atone for our sins? i.e.: why did Christ have to be killed? (And if your answer is because he was a sacrifice, then) Why do sacrifices have to be killed? What is it about the act or murder that makes it an essential ingredient in the atonement of our sins?

  A statement from one of our readers: << God does not judge .. God loves .. unconditionaly

  Isn't baptism separate from salvation?

  See our brief Questions with "very brief" specific answers.




See Questions Page #2

If miracles did not produce faith, as you say, what about these two texts. What do you think of them?

If miracles did not produce faith, as you say, what about these two texts. What do you think of them? "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN, THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." Likewise in John 2: 23, "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did."

On the first, the written record of the miracles have more moral power than the sight of them. That is one of the points I am seeking to establish in this series: namely, that moral change cannot be accomplished through the senses.

On the second, the belief in reference was of a preliminary sort, not of the New Covenant order. It was much like that of Nicodemus, I gather, who also was persuaded of the superiority of Jesus by the miracles which He did (John 3:2). In John 6:14 a similar thing took place: "Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." Also, John 7:31: "And many of the people believed on him . . . " because of the miracles they saw. There is a remarkable similarity in the above texts. In John 2:23, the people believed on Jesus when they saw His miracles. Yet Christ's response indicates this is not the sort of believing through which righteousness is reckoned--"But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men." In John 3:2, Jesus counteracted Nicodemus' conclusion by saying unless a person was born again, he could not see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). In John 6:14, Jesus withdrew from the very people that believed when He "perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king." In John 7:31, the people did not even conclude He was "the Christ" -- "When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?"

From these references, I conclude they believed genuine miracles had been wrought, and generally that God was with Him. But their faith was not like that mentioned in John that resulted in "life through His name." Theirbelieving was similar to that of the "chief rulers" who "believed on Him," yet did not confess Him openly because they loved the praises of men more than the praises of God (John 12:42-43). It is the sort of believing Thomas did when He saw for Himself the risen Christ. In his case, the blessing was not pronounced him, but upon those who "saw not," yet believed (John 20:29). Beside all of this, the faith that saves is the "evidence of things not seen," not the evidence of things that are seen.


Why should we preach or try and live godly? What difference does it make if God has already determined the outcome based on his choosing.

There are two things that are maintained in salvation: (1) The nature of God and (2) The nature of man, who is in the image of God. God will not violate His own nature to save man, nor will he violate the nature of His offspring. He must remain both the "Just and the Justifier" of the person believing in Jesus--there provision is made for both Himself and man (Rom 3:26). There have been times when God has overridden man's will -- but it has never been for a blessing. Examples are Nebuchaddezzar being driven from the throne, Herod being struck dead, etc.

The point of the text is NOT that God simply chose people, but that they are chosen "IN CHRIST." His "foreknowledge" knew the people that would be inclined to Him--the ones that would recognize their need of a Savior, who sensed they could not save themselves. He also knew that, of themselves, they were completely incapable of changing their natures or even coming to Him, making themselves acceptable. He therefore made them acceptable "in Christ," Who is the real CHOSEN ONE, and the ONLY begotten Son. His determination was WHAT they would be, NOT who they would be: i.e., "that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love . . . unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself . . . " Romans 9:29-30 also states the case, tracing God's motivation to His foreknowledge. Again, that foreknowledge was a recognition of who was tender of heart and humble of spirit, and what He would do in them. Romans 8 states He predestinated they would become like His Son. He facilitates that predetermination by CALLING, not by coercion. His calling is nothing less than an appeal to man's volitional capacity--to make a choice. It will eventually be heard by souls that sense their need of Him. Once that call is embraced, God justifies, and will eventually glorify--or make them fully in the image of His Son. The grand work of every believer is to "abide" in Christ, keep the faith, and maintain their identity with the Son. Everything God has determined is "in Christ," and no part of salvation will be accomplished apart from intimate involvement with Him.

As to our involvement in the process, in Christ we become "workers together with God" (1 Cor 3:9), joining Him in the great work of salvation. We are "ambassadors of Christ, as though God did beseech" people through us (2 Cor 5:18-20). We are also laborers in His harvest--laborers He Himself has raised up.

One must remember that God always uses MEANS to facilitate His appointments. They are not accomplished arbitrarily. He even created the world THROUGH His word, and by His Son. His predestination is accomplished through His Son, through preaching, through calling, through believing . . . etc.


What makes you think that your unproven beliefs are more valid than anybody else's unproven beliefs?

The accounts in Scripture are even more verifiable than those of the history of our nation. They are attested by eye witnesses, history, archeology--and most of all, the consciences of those who have embraced them. They are not "unproven beliefs" by any acceptable criterion for examining historical or philosophical validity.

Any body of reality is ascertained by putting it to the test. In the case of religion, we have something different than the existence of matter, energy, or other realms of nature. True religion is a moral matter--something that impacts upon the decision-making capacity and basic constitution of humanity. The test of its reality, therefore, is found in whether or not it can produce the change in the individual that it proclaims. The essence of the Christian religion is that humanity has been infected with a sort or moral virus. Not only does death eventually overtake us all, but there is a natural tendency downward. Giving the improper environment, there is a remarkable capacity for wickedness and evil, depression and moroseness, deception and misconception within the "best" of people.

The Bible declares this condition cannot be reversed by human ingenuity or discipline. While regimentation can change the outward conduct, it cannot alter the basic person. God, because of His concern for humanity, and because He created them in His own image (that is, with a capacity to choose, purpose, create, etc.), undertook to correct the condition Himself.

This He did through Jesus Christ, Who is His only begotten Son--i.e., Deity in a human form. In Christ, Deity accommodated Himself to the human condition in order to overcome the source of trouble, and bring a redeeming God within the reach of humanity. This message is declared in what is called "The Gospel of Christ." That message can be confirmed only by believing it--i.e., being persuaded it is the truth. This persuasion is not accomplished by the human intellect alone, but God enters into the process, enabling the individual to get hold of what He has said--convincing the heart it is the truth.

When what God has provided for humanity in Jesus Christ is willingly embraced by the heart and mind--emotion, will, and intellect--a moral change takes place within. A new set of values is appropriated. Things are seen differently. Motives are revolutionized, and a new life begins. THE PRESENCE OF THAT NEW LIFE IS THE PROOF OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL. Until that takes place, men and women only philosophize about the matter. I have found, by experience, that the Gospel of Christ is true. In it I find a proper interpretation of God Himself, the world, humanity, and the human condition. However, this confirmation has no bearing whatsoever upon the reality of the Gospel. it has merely brought its benefits to me. God, Christ, and the Gospel, are all realities that exist independently of humanity or investigation.

That is a bird's eye view of the matter (and a small bird at that). You tell me whether we should talk more or not. I am not here to argue, and I am sure you understand that. You must also know that the burden of proof does not rest upon the believer, but upon the one that refuses to believe.


Once you have come to Christ, isn't it impossible to fall away, or to stop believing?

I wanted to bring it back to what God has said, not what men think He meant by what He said. It is never wise to use human terms and concepts to judge the validity of someone's faith or teaching. Adam and Eve were really in the Garden from which God expelled them. All of Israel was really delivered from Egypt, but not all of them got into Canaan. The angels that fell were actually in the presence of the Lord. Judas was really an Apostle. All of these cases are adduced in Scripture to teach people it is not enough to think they stand. We are to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). We are Christ's house if we keep the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end (Heb 3:6). Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim 6:12). That does not mean he did not have eternal life, it did mean He did not have it all.

God has never said, nor has He ever intimated that a believer can never quit believing. Hebrews 6:4-6 and 2 Pet 2:20-22 would be meaningless if that were the case. We are to fight the good fight of faith, and resist the devil steadfast in the faith. Faith is not automatic. Those that believe will win, because faith is the victory that overcomes the world. The Lord tells us about people departing from the faith, and making shipwreck of the faith.

My point is that these sayings should be taken seriously. It requires effort to continue believing, and, praise God, God will underwrite the effort. But when a person says there is no danger, he has simply gone further than God has. The five foolish virgins were invited to the wedding feast. They all had oil. Their lamps were all burning. But they went out because they had no reserve of oil. They were not pretending to be virgins, they were. They were not pretending to have lamps, they did. They were not simulating burning lamps, they were burning. They were not the only ones that slept, the five wise virgins did too.

The Lord Jesus Himself spoke of those who "for a while believed," but "fell away" (Luke 8:13-14). I want no part of any theology that neutralizes those words. Nor, indeed, do I want any part of teaching that tells me I am in and out of a salvation that depends upon my works. I feel the same about poor abused believers as you do.

Both of us are at liberty to take Christ's words and embrace them. I will tell you that your faith is never taken for granted in Scripture. It is something God has given us, and we do well to fight to keep it. All who do this have no fear of being lost--none whatsoever. But those who choose to ignore their faith have no guarantee from God that it will stay with them. Such are warned, and that solemnly.

I am not a person that majors on telling people "You can fall away." That is no Gospel, and I know it. But neither am I one to tell people, "You are locked in, no need to fight," for that does them a great disservice. Saul was a king chosen by God, with the anointing of God, and he lost it. Samson was a Judge, chosen by God with the power of God, and the Spirit left him. Lot's wife really did get out of Sodom, but she did not get into the city of safety. It does not appear to me to be on the part of wisdom to teach people as though these inspired records were not there.


I am discouraged, and ready to quit. What is the use?

Up! Up! Up! You are a son of God, an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ (1 John 3:1; Rom 8:17; Gal 4:7)! Remember, you have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11)! Wrap you mind around the statements of the Spirit concerning you. You are a citizen of heaven--your name is written there (Luke 10:20; Phil 3:20; Heb 12:23) . God is your Father, Jesus is your Savior, Brother, and Intercessor (Rom 1:7; Heb 2:11; 7:25). The Holy Spirit has been sent by God into your heart (Gal 4:6). The holy angels are your ministers (Heb 1:13-14). He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). You know these things, but there is strength in hearing them again--because they are the truth of God.

God has shed His Holy Spirit upon you abundantly (Tit 3:5-6), has given you access to Himself through Jesus Christ (Rom 5:2; Eph 2:18; 3:12). You can come as to Him as often as you want, stay as long as you want, and get as much as you want. The Lord Jesus, Who has the key of David can both open and close doors, and none can reverse His action (Rev 3:7). God Himself is working everything together for your ultimate good (Rom 8:28). Everything belongs to you, including Paul, Cephas, Apollos, the world, life, death, things present, and things to come (1 Cor 3:20-23). God has an inheritance reserved for you in heaven, it is not fading away, and you are being kept by the power of God through faith (1 Pet 1:3-5). Think of it. This is all the truth. The Scriptures affirm these things to be true. Your faith and hope are in God, not in a movement.

You have been delivered form the power of darkness, and translated into then kingdom of God's dear Son (Col 1:13). You are among those of whom it is said, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Rom 4:4-8) You ARE the light of the world, and you ARE the salt of the earth (Matt 5:13-14). You have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and have been raised up and made to sit together with Christ in those heavenly places (Eph 1:3; 2:6). The eye of the Lord is upon you, and His ear is open to your cry (Psa 34:15). Think of it, this is your heritage in Christ Jesus the Lord--whether it seems clear right now or not.

The Lord did not call you according to your own works, but according to His open purpose and grace which was given to us before the world began. That is a matter of Divine statement, not human interpretation (2 Tim 1:9). He has placed you in the body (1 Cor 12:18), written His Law upon your heart, and placed it in your mind (Heb 8:10). You are His son, and He is your Father. Listen, God Himself put you in Christ, then made Him to be your righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1:30). That was not, nor can it be, accomplished by a movement or earthly heritage, regardless of how necessary they may appear to some.

Independently of the ....... Movement, you can be filled with all joy and peace in believing (Rom 15:13). God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all you ask or think according to the power that is working in you now (Eph 3:20)! He is even able to make you stand (Rom 14:4). That is the kind of God that has saved you, and Whom you serve.

Maybe men do not honor tender hearts, but your Father does. The humble and contrite heart is the one to which He looks (Isa 66:2). That is what is of great price before Him. Movements be hanged! God will not bring them into heaven--He is, through Christ, bringing many sons to glory! Hallelujah! And you are among them!

I have been in the work of the Lord for nearly 50 years. I have known personally and intimately a number of what they call "legalists." They are talking about EXACTLY the same things they were 40-45 years ago. They have not grown one millimeter -- same views, same talk, same arguments, same issues. They may suppose this is being faithful, I call it being stagnant. The things they discuss are not yielding Kingdom fruit. They strive about words to no profit--an action strictly forbidden by our Lord. Still, I know that they do this because they simply have never been challenged to do anything else. They have limited their fellowship to the circle that is characterized by relatively fruitless discussions. I do not think they are not God's people, but that they need to come higher.

Join me in this quest to obtain the fulness of eternal life. We have a pledge from our Savior, "All who seek, find . . . " Remember, God is looking for a man--someone whose heart is perfect, whose cause he can undergird (2 Chron 16:9). There is no reason--no reason at all--why that cannot be us!


I've heard that we need to have a positive attitude at all times, because what comes out of your mouth can cause things to happen (it invites Satan to do things or whatever). You need to focus on Scripture, etc. instead.

That is one of the doctrines that sounds good (from a very limited point of view), but is not at all a reflection of the truth. There is such a thing as saying "peace, peace, when there is not peace" (Jer 6:14; 8:11). When a person is genuinely in distress, it is the truth to acknowledge it, and is so represented in Scripture. Focusing on the Scripture includes appropriating statements of truth that deal with the sort of situation we are in, whether it blessing or trial, happiness or sadness, uplifting or being cast down.

The following are expressions of godly men--men that did not know of the doctrine which is espoused by some. David -- "My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love" (Psa 6:3,4).

David and Jesus -- "Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels" (Psa 22:12-14). David - "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psa 63:1).

Paul -- "Indeed he (Epaphroditus) was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow" (Phil 2:27). Paul - "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me" (2 Tim 4:16). Paul - "Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger" (2 Cor 6:4).

Jesus - "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" (Luke 12:50). When Paul had a thorn in the flesh, he did not pretend it was not there. Instead, he asked the Lord to remove it -- and the Lord did not (2 Cor 12:7-12). He did receive grace, but only because he acknowledged his condition.

How could a person confess their sin to God if this doctrine was true (1 John 1:9)--particularly someone in Christ, which is who this text addresses. The publican let the truth come out of his mouth when he said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13).

Repeatedly, the people of God are pictured as crying out to Go in the day of trouble (Psa 18:6; 22:5). Bartimaeus cried out because he was blind (Mark 10:46-50). The woman with an issue of blood acknowledged her infirmity (Matt 9:20-22).

When are in trouble, we are to acknowledge it--with our mouth. After all, it may be the chastening of the Lord, that is not pleasant for the moment (Heb 12:11). Paul spoke of both sides of human experience--not only the good. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body" (2 Cor 4:7-12).

Enough said. There is a thread of this through Scripture in virtually every book. It is foolishness to claim the promise without acknowledging our need of it; to seek a blessing without admitting we stand in need of one.


What about women teachers? Aren't they forbidden in the Word of God?

I suggest that a purely academic approach to the First Timothy text (1 Tim 2:12) will not yield the Spirit's intended meaning. Paul's words are sufficiently clear. His proscription is clear, and the reasons for it are equally marked by clarity. In my understanding, this is the standard, or norm, for our sister's involvement in the assembly of the righteous. That by no means indicates there cannot be Divinely approved exceptions, or ladies that excel before the Lord.

David was not qualified by the Law to engage in military conflict. The rule was "from twenty years and upward" (Num 1:3). Yet he was used of God to spearhead one of the greatest of all conquests in the slaying of Goliath. David was exceptional in the eyes of the Lord. It is good thing for Israel someone was not there to enforce the standard.

In the giving of the Law, God provided for men to be judges among His people (Ex 18:21-22; Deut 1:13). Throughout the book of Judges, this standard was followed, with but one exception, Deborah, a prophetess (Judges 4). She also was exceptional in the eyes of the Lord. Again, it is fortunate a blind guide was not there to enforce the standard.

There were some exceptional women in Scripture who were prophetesses. Among them: Miriam (Ex 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (who instructed men, 2 Kgs 22:14-20), Isaiah's wife (Isa 8:3), Anna (who testified to all that were waiting for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38), and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9). All of these women were exceptional, and were so regarded by the Lord. They did not represent the norm of the Kingdom, nor did they set a precedent.

Paul allows for some women to prophesy in the assembly, as long as they evidenced due submission to God's order, i.e., the Head of the woman is the man, the Head of the man is Christ, and the Head of Christ is God (1 Cor 11:3, 5-6). He does not say that the woman prophesying without her head covered has broken the Divine Law, but that she has dishonored her head. A woman can speak in an assembly, therefore, without dishonoring her duly appointed head, or breaking the Law of God. But even then, she should be an exceptional woman. Her participation is not to be disruptive, or in the area of interrogation. It must yield edifying results, or it is out of order, no matter what she says. Of course, neither are men to speak without edifying the assembly.

Our rules must allow for the rise of exceptional people. It was not normal for a twelve year old boy to sit in the midst of the teachers of the Law (Luke 2:49). Even though Paul was "born out of due time," Jesus still qualified him to be an Apostle (1 Cor 15:8). If God raises up an insightful woman in the midst of ignorant and powerless men, it would not seem on the part of wisdom for them to measure her by the First Timothy passage. God used women to testify to the Apostles of the risen Christ (Luke 24:10-11). When appearing to the Apostles, Jesus later upbraided them for not believing the women (Mark 16:14). That certainly was not a normal occurrence. However, the nature of God allowed for this exception.

Another unusual admonition, concerning a specific woman teacher, is provided by the Lord Jesus Himself. He addressed the church at Thyatira concerning a false prophetess they were tolerating (Rev 2:18-23). Jesus did not rebuke them because they allowed her to teach, but because they allowed her to teach His servants to commit fornication, and eat things offered to idols (v 20). What is more, He even gave this false prophetess "space to repent" -- not for teaching, but "of her fornication" (v 21). Would this not have been an ideal time to rebuke her for teaching at all -- yet Jesus did not. It is obvious He does not embrace the human interpretation of 2 Timothy 2:12ff.

Teach the standards, but preach a Gospel that will allow for people to excel above their peers. The Lord knows we are living in a time when the blight of mediocrity is suffocating the professed church. God has used technically unqualified people in the past because of their spiritual excellence. There is no indication that this practice has ceased.

If miracles did not produce faith, as you say, what about these two texts. What do you think of them? "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN, THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." Likewise in John 2: 23, "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did."

On the first, the written record of the miracles have more moral power than the sight of them. That is one of the points I am seeking to establish in this series: namely, that moral change cannot be accomplished through the senses.

On the second, the belief in reference was of a preliminary sort, not of the New Covenant order. It was much like that of Nicodemus, I gather, who also was persuaded of the superiority of Jesus by the miracles which He did (John 3:2). In John 6:14 a similar thing took place: "Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." Also, John 7:31: "And many of the people believed on him . . . " because of the miracles they saw. There is a remarkable similarity in the above texts. In John 2:23, the people believed on Jesus when they saw His miracles. Yet Christ's response indicates this is not the sort of believing through which righteousness is reckoned--"But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men." In John 3:2, Jesus counteracted Nicodemus' conclusion by saying unless a person was born again, he could not see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). In John 6:14, Jesus withdrew from the very people that believed when He "perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king." In John 7:31, the people did not even conclude He was "the Christ" -- "When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?"

>From these references, I conclude they believed genuine miracles had been wrought, and generally that God was with Him. But their faith was not like that mentioned in John that resulted in "life through His name." Their believing was similar to that of the "chief rulers" who "believed on Him," yet did not confess Him openly because they loved the praises of men more than the praises of God (John 12:42-43). It is the sort of believing Thomas did when He saw for Himself the risen Christ. In his case, the blessing was not pronounced him, but upon those who "saw not," yet believed (John 20:29). Beside all of this, the faith that saves is the "evidence of things not seen," not the evidence of things that are seen.


Do you believe that Jesus taught that we are all 'Sons of God' and, therefore we are to grow into, and through, our own Christhood to save the world by igniting this Christlight within everyone?

The purpose of salvation is to join us to the Lord, making us "one spirit" with Him (1 Cor 6:17). In that capacity, we become "workers together with God" (1 Cor 3:9) in the fulfillment of His "eternal purpose" (Eph 3:11). Learning how to live in this world is only introductory--sort of a bootcamp to the world to come. We are being oriented for glory, where we will reign with Christ and inherit all things (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 21:7).

By nature, we are NOT the "sons of God" but "the children of wrath" (Eph 2:1-2). The Divine image within man was marred when sin entered the world, although it was not totally effaced. In Christ Jesus, that image is renewed (Col 3:10), because Christ, through the Spirit, dwells in our hearts by fath (Eph 3:16-17).

I would be cautious about saying we grow into our own "Christhood." While we are being conformed to His image (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18), there is only one Christ--"THE Christ" (Matt 16:16-18). Jesus is called "the Lord's Christ" (Luke 2:26; Acts 4:26; Rev 11:15; 12:10), a title never afforded by God to any other person.

We are now "the sons of God," praise the Lord (1 John 3:1-3), and it does not yet appear what we shall be--that is, we have not yet reached the appointed goal. As sons, you well state, we grow up into Him (Eph 4:15). We are being changed from one stage of glory to another by the Spirit of God (2 Cor 3:18). That, however, is not something everyone experiences, but only those in Christ Jesus. This is why a new birth is required. What is found in Adam, the natural man, cannot be reformed or changed (Rom 8:6-10). But when we become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17), we also become capable of growing into the fulness of what God has purposed in His Son.

I would add one further thing. The words of Jesus are the center of all sound teaching. We must remember that He sent His Holy Spirit to His Apostles to recall and expound those words to humanity (John 14:26). Jesus said we believe on Him through their (the Apostles') words (John 17:20). The early church continued "stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:42). They opened up the things Jesus declared when among us. It is incumbent, therefore, that we expose our minds to their words.


My father abandoned me. Tell me, your from his generation ...what good can come from this, 31 years later I still would like to know my Dad but I don't...

Good does not come from transgression. God can, however, work everything together for your personal benefit or good (Rom 8:28). You have an example in Joseph. His brothers hated him--that was not good. They threw him in a pit--that was not good. They sold him to a group of Ishmaelites--that was not good. Potipher's wife lied about him in Egypt--that was not good. He was sent to prison--that was not good. Two of his cell-mates forgot about him when they were released--that was not good. But God took all of those things, and brought some good out of it. Joseph's comments on this are found in Genesis 50:20).

I do not know your father, but what he did was wrong. However, his action does not have to spill over on you. You can be pleasing to the Lord and productive in His kingdom. He will have to account for his own sin . If he has not done so already, he can even repent and begin afresh. But that is his responsibility. Your work is to make some progress toward heaven, knowing that God is able to do more within you than you dare to imagine (Eph 3:20). Hang in there, my friend. It is not over yet!


My question is, at what point does mediocrity become so serious as to merit using technically unqualified people to teach because of their spiritual excellence?

At what point could people break the rules of the Sabbath day? Could they allow a sheep to perish because it fell in the ditch on the Sabbath day? Were I to argue the case from an academic viewpoint, I would have to either let the sheep die, or ask for a special revelation to save it. In the case of people, a man is much better than a sheep, meaning the attention is given to helping them (Matt 12:11-12). Will God allow people to remain spiritually malnourished because there is not a qualified man to teach them? Is that the spirit of the law? the intent of the commandment? There is a spirit to the text as well as a letter, and God's people do well to make it their business to know what they are. If they cannot tell, they are obliged to ask God to give them wisdom. They can join David in praying for the ability to understand the Scriptures he had. He did not ask for more Scripture -- he asked for God to help him understand what he had (Psa 119:34,73,125,144, 169). Why not join the man of God in praying, "Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Thy law" (Psa 119:18). As for myself, I refuse--and obstinately so--to depend upon the well of human wisdom or self-learning when I have been encouraged to seek it from my Father in heaven.


How will we know when the exceptional person allows for the setting aside of the rule?

First of all, we have to know the thrust of Scripture. There is a Divine objective that has determined every Word of God. It is not a group of random rules, unrelated to His "eternal purpose." Those that have a working grasp of that purpose, and are contributing to the maturity of God's people do not have restraints placed upon them. Those that are not advancing the people of God, assisting in their orientation for the world to come, are inhibitors to their faith, and do have restraints upon them.

ONE FINAL WORD on this not-so-momentous subject. There is a certain futility that characterizes such discussions. I do not say this to demean anyone, nor am I standing in judgment their motives. Paul did say, "Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers" (2 Tim 2:14). I have heard, and have been extensively involved myself in, this very discussion for over 45 years. I can tell you that you can place in an extremely small container every speck of good that has come from it. That alone has taught me it is not worthy of our emphasis or prolonged discussion. No amount of scholastic bantering can make it right to "wrangle about words." We are solemnly charged not to do it.

What is more, I know of no godly woman who walks in the light that insists on imposing herself upon men. I say, feed and nourish the women, and they will become a spiritual resource to us, without infringing upon the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. If they knew more of what God has provided for them in Christ, there would be far less trouble on this issue. To fellowship with Christ (1 Cor 1:9, I assume they are included), they do not have to violate the Word of God. Nor, indeed, does God have to abandon His purpose because the men have withered and died.


I am wondering what you think of the Laws of God, the Ten Commandments especially the Sabbath?

The Ten Commandments are a reflection of the image of God. They are good, and holy, and just, as Romans 7 declares. But they are not the basis for determining whether a person is righteous or not. That is determined by personal faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 4:13; Phil 3:9). As for the Sabbath day, Israel, who received the commandment, never really entered into God's rest, or sabbath. There is a greater rest that was typlified by the Law's Sabbath day, but never fulfilled by it. That is the rest of faith, and is discussed at length in the fourth chapter of Hebrews. A parallel is made between the fourth commandment Sabbath and the rest of faith. The Sabbath day was bound upon Israel because their hearts were hard. They would have forgotten God altogether if He did not demand they remember Him on that day, dedicating it exclusively to Him. In Christ, however, our nature is changed, so that we actually know and delight in knowing the Lord. Now every day becomes a Sabbath so far as sanctifying the Lord in our memory. This does not mean keeping the Sabbath is wrong. Nor, indeed, does it mean we are to demand that everyone keep it. Colossians 2:16 forbids us to judge one another on this matter. The recollection of God as the Creator of the universe is wonderful. Intimate fellowship with Him by faith is more wonderful. That is why Scripture affirms, "We which believe do enter into rest" (Heb 4:3). The word used in that text is sabbaton, or sabbath. It is a higher and more extensive rest which overshadows, but does not obliterate, the former Sabbath.


What about the text that says Jesus bore our infirmities?

The text quoted is taken from Matthew 8:16-17: "When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." This was before Christ died. Matthew applies Christ's earthly ministry to the passage quoted from Isaiah 53:4.

Peter quotes the same passage in relation to Christ's death, and applies it to the remission of our sins, which was our largest infirmity. "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (1 Pet 2:24-25). The passage, therefore, has a twofold meaning. First, it was fulfilled in the healings of Jesus, whereby He took upon Himself the sicknesses borne by people, thereby relieving them of the oppression. This was a type of the even greater removal of the contamination and power of sin which would be accomplished by His vicarious atonement. In both instances, the malady removed was borne by Jesus. A most remarkable text, and conducive for much productive contemplation.


Are there levels in Heaven?

Rewards in heaven are proportionate to our stewardship, faithfulness, etc. In the parable of the talents, one steward received ten cities, another five -- not the same. This is the positive side of being rewarding "according to our works" (Matt 16:27; Rev 22:12). There is such a thing as a "prophet's reward" and a "righteous man's reward" -- all rewards are not the same (Matt 10:41). There is also such a thing as a "full reward" (2 John 8), which implies differing measures. The highest position in glory, of course, belongs to our blessed Lord Jesus. Under Him, the Apostles of the Lamb have exalted positions, being foundations in the glorified church (Rev 21:14). They will not be on the same "level" as those whom they taught.

The church is a reflection of the glorified state. There are levels in it, which are reflective of the differing degrees in glory, "first, second, etc." (1 Cor 12:28). When "every man" receives "praise from God" (1 Cor 4:5), it will be proportionate to their involvement in His Kingdom. Jesus hinted at this when He told James and John places at His right hand and left hand were reserved for certain ones by His Father (Matt 20;23).

If it is true that "God is not unrighteous to forget our work of faith and labor of love" (Heb 6:10), then great faithfulness here will be matched by great reward in heaven. Jesus did speak of "great rewards" -- rewards that excelled (Matt 5:12; Lk 6:35). In every case, a great reward was preceeded by unusual effort for Christ.

The Spirit also informs us that laborers in the vineyard can "suffer loss" by their "works" not passing the test of divine judgment (1 Cor 3:10-17). An examination of that text will confirm converts were the "work" of the laborer--people that were brought into association with the "church." Some were good quality and some were bad. The Spirit solemnly warns us in that passage to take care how we build on the foundation.

Those who have invested much for Christ will reap much. The Word of the King is, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Cor 9:6).

There is a day coming when those who are "first" in the world will be "last," and those who are "last" will be "first" (Mark 10:31).

These, and similar, texts confirm the world to come will not yield the same rewards for everyone. I see "rewards" as reflective of what you have called differing levels. Hope these things provide some food for thought.


How do you feel about the stuff that goes in some Pentecostal churches like slain in the spirit and holy laughter? Not to mention the incessant 'speaking in tongues' which so many regard as a mere concoction.

The Word of God makes no mention anywhere of being "slain in the Spirit," nor is there an example of such a thing. This is a term men have created, not God. Everyplace in Scripture (and there are no exceptions) a person was filled with the Spirit, they became more productive than they had ever been before. There also is no example or reference to "holy laughter." Again, that is something men have created, not God. I do not question the sincerity of those involved in such thing, but they are operating in the flesh, not in the Holy Spirit. In all of these cases, people become unconscious about their surroundings, unproductive, inarticulate, and out of a sound mind. This is not a state to be coveted. To me, it is an environment in which Satan can be more productive. As to speaking in tongues, Scripture informs us language that cannot be understood is barbaric and pointless (1 Corinthians 14:7-11). Speaking publicly in a language the people cannot understand is like having a Bible you cannot read. Nowhere in God's Word is such a thing presented. Everyplace people spoke in tongues (which means other languages) in the Bible, people understood what was being said. Men from every nation under heaven understood when Peter and the Apostles preached on Pentecost (Acts 2:4-6). Peter and the men with him understood and his house when they spoke in tongues (Acts 10:46--the word "heard" hear means "understand"--they knew they were magnifying God). When Paul laid his hands on the believers in Ephesus, there is no evidence they said something unintelligible (Acts 19:6). People have equated "tongues" with unintelligible--but that is not an association made by the Holy Spirit. The thought that God can be glorified and man edified by unintelligible speech is a tradition of man, pure and simple.


How exactly does Christ's death atone for our sins? i.e.: why did Christ have to be killed? (And if your answer is because he was a sacrifice, then) Why do sacrifices have to be killed? What is it about the act or murder that makes it an essential ingredient in the atonement of our sins?

Christ's death allowed God to punish sin. Scripture tells us our sins were carried by Christ "in His body on the tree (cross)" (1 Pet 2:24). God placed the iniquities of the world upon His Son (Isaiah 53:6). By doing this, Jesus "became sin for us" in order that God might judge sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). God then "cursed" Jesus, a staggering thought--yet that is what God's Word says (Galatians 3:10-13). The "murder," as you put it, of Jesus is not what atoned for our sin, but the fact that Jesus volunteered to do this. He became a container, as it were, for the sins of the world, in order that God might condemn sin once and for all (Hebrews 10:4-10; Romans 8:3). God chose this way because Jesus could come back from the dead--come back from the curse of God--and we could not. Also, this allowed God to remain righteous, and at the same time justify, or completely free from sin, those that were guilty (Romans 3:24-26). By doing this, Jesus "put sin away" (Hebrew 9:26) from the face of God. That means sin has no power over the person that is in Christ Jesus. That is why a Christian can confess their sins and be forgiven (1 John 1:9), because God has already punished sin in the Person of His Son. This truth is the heart and core of the Bible. In the sacrifices commanded under the Law, God was introducing people to the idea of an innocent victim being held responsible for the sins of people. The bulls and goats that were sacrificed did not actually take away sin (Hebrews 10:4). They did introduce the idea of atonement to humanity, which is a Divine concept, not a human one. When Jesus came, He became the innocent One that took sin upon Himself, and allowed God to curse it once and for all. This is only an introductory answer to your question. When you read the Scriptures with this in mind, God will help you understand it more fully. It is something we grow in all of our life.


A statement from one of our readers: << God does not judge .. God loves .. unconditionaly

Concerning God judging, how do you account for these representations God has given of Himself. "The LORD judges the peoples" (Psa 7:8)."The Lord shall judge His people"(Heb 10:30)."The Lord, the righteous judge" (2 Tim 4:8). Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face" (Psa 89:14). Jesus has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead" (Acts 10:42). In salvation, Scripture reminds us that we have come "to God the Judge of all" (Heb 12:23). These could be multiplied many times. Concerning God loving unconditionally, Scripture declares. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him . . . If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him" (John 14:21,23). Here, Jesus declares the Father's love is conditional. God's love is unconditional in the matter of providing salvation for every person--God so loved the world. But that love is only experienced by those who are in Christ Jesus--that is a condition. Jesus said to His disciples, "the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father" (John 16:27). That is a condition. The Spirit also says,"God loves a cheerful giver (1 Cor 9:7)--another condition. To say"God does not judge .. God loves .. unconditionally" may sound good, but it simply is not true. That is not what God has said--it is something man has said. God's primary purpose is not to judge, but to save. God does not desire to despise anyone, but to love them. If that is what you meant, that is true. But God does, and will, judge all people. His love will not be experienced by anyone rejecting His Son, or choosing to live in sin.


Isn't baptism separate from salvation?

I offer the following corrections to some technical points in your letter. "Believeth" comes from pisteusaj, which is the verb form of pisteuo. It is an aorist participle, but is in the active voice. In modern English it would read, "is believing." Believing at some point in the past is represented by the word evpisteusaj, as used in Matthew 8:13. Active faith is required to be saved, not historical faith. You are correct about the word baptisqei.j representing a past action. That, of course, is devastating to your view of baptism, for it has Jesus saying, "He who is believing and has been baptized shall be saved."

It is interesting to observe that nothing derogatory is every said about baptism in Scripture. There was never any question concerning its necessity, appropriateness, or position in human response. The only people on record who objected to it were the Pharisees and Lawyers, who did not submit to John's baptism (which was for the remission of sins, Mark 1:4). Of their refusal to submit to it, the Spirit said, "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Luke 7:30). If John's baptism was related to "the counsel of God," how do the words of Jesus relate to God's counsel? You frequently mention baptism is a testimony to others, and indeed it is. In this case, it was also a testimony to God. I suggest that looking at it from this view will radically change the way we think about it.

Think of the things with which the Holy Spirit has associated baptism. (1. Believing and being saved (Mark 16:16). (2. Repentance, remission of sins, and receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). (3. Gladly receiving the Word of God (Acts 2:41). (4. Believing the preaching of God's Kingdom (Acts 8:12). (5. A command in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48). (6. Washing away sins (Acts 22:16). (7. Being brought into Christ's death (Rom 6:3). (8. Being put into Christ (Gal 3:27). (9. Putting on Christ (Gal 3:27b). (10. Being buried with Christ and raised by faith in the operation of God (Col 2:12). (11. Being saved and obtaining a good conscience (1 Pet 3:21). (12. Participating in the circumcision of Christ (Col 2:11-12). It is inconceivable that such language would be employed concerning an optional action. It is also inappropriate to make such an action the subject of disagreement. It seems to me that a clearer association with salvation would be most difficult to make.

Jesus Himself was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt 3:16-17). He refused to allow John to dissuade Him from being baptized. If we had nothing more in the Bible than this, there should be no question about this matter. If the King submitted to it as One without sin, who is the individual that will dare to refuse it, declaring it to be disassociated from salvation. What is more, Jesus is the appointed Judge of the world. How will anyone stand before Him and explain why they were not baptized. For that matter, has God declared anything through Christ that is disassociated from salvation?

Your observations concerning Noah were excellent. You well stated that the ark "represented deliverance from the waters of the flood." But if Noah had not built the ark, he would not have been saved from the flood. He might have affirmed he was saved already because of God's promise. But the ark had to be built. Scripture affirms Noah "built the ark to the saving of his house" (Heb 11:7). It was the appointed means of effecting his salvation. Peter states this is precisely the position our baptism occupies.

Your view of Matthew 28:18-20 is novel, to say the least. To represent baptism as the way to obtain unity among denominations is foreign to everything in the text. The last thing in the mind of Jesus at that time was a divided church. The King says, "baptizing them," and some of the subjects question whether it is necessary or not? Is that appropriate? Men may haggle about whether sins are forgiven before or after their baptism--whether they are in Christ before or after baptism. Where did such questions arise? Certainly not from Scripture. Let there be obedience to the King! I am intrigued by your statement, "Baptism is a distinct act of obedience apart from salvation." Is there such a thing as an act of obedience apart from salvation? If so, why will God condemn those who have "not obeyed the Gospel?" (2 Thess 1:8; 1 Pet 4:17). If baptism is "an act of obedience," are those who refuse to be baptized disobedient? I realize there are cases where people may not be able to--extenuating circumstances, so to speak. Even that stretches our imagination, for God provided a body of water in the desert for the Ethiopian eunuch. If baptism is an "outward sign of an inward faith," as you say, does faith ever refuse to conform to that "outward sign?" And, if so, how do we know it is faith.

The thief on the cross was our Savior's first trophy. He was an glorious example of salvation by grace through faith. He is never mentioned by any inspired writer as the pattern for those who later believed. He is the exception to the rule. God can still work exceptions, but that is something entirely within His prerogative. Paul said he was a "pattern" for those that would believe--of how God's mercy was received (1 Tim 1:16). He certainly did not balk at baptism, argue about it, or develop a novel way of looking a it. By his own confession, when he was told to "arise, and be baptized, washing away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord," he did (Acts 22:16). He had already believed. He had already repented. Jesus told him to go into the city to hear what "thou must do" (Acts 9:6). And what is the one thing Ananias told him to do? I do not believe Paul would be impressed by some contemporary reasoning reasoning.

Baptism is not meant to take the place of faith: it is an expression of faith. It is the one thing we are able to do perfectly. We do not trust in our baptism, but in the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is not a substitute for grace, it is a channel through which grace is experienced. It is where the "circumcision of Christ" takes place--the cutting away of the whole body of the sins of the flesh (Col 2:11-12).

Of course, Jesus did not mention "baptism" in the latter half of Mark 16:16. It was not necessary to do so, because unbelief invalidates everything else. What is more, those who were baptized without believing have not obeyed either. Christ's point was that faith is the fountainhead of all obedience. It is always in order to speak as Jesus did. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." He could have said, He that believed and is saved should be baptized - but He did not. He could have said, He that believes does not need to be baptized--but He did not. Remember, the power of Christ's words is in what He said--not an explanation of what He said.

You well refer to baptism as a means of identifying with Christ. If I recall, your words were "We identify with Him by the act of baptism as a testimony to others." Of course, the last part of the sentence is not in the Scripture--unless the "others" would be angels. The Holy Spirit actually said, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." He did not say, As many of you as have been baptized have witnessed your faith to others. A proper question would be, Can I put on Christ without being baptized? Well, actually, that would be a foolish question. Who would want to ask such a question after God has spoken with such clarity. What if He had said, Aas many of us as make the sun stand still, have put on Christ--or as many as have raised the dead--or as many as have slain a giant . . . . . etc. Why would anyone balk at the one thing they can do perfectly and heartily?

You state, "When a person accepts Christ, he is saved; when the believer is baptized, he is identified with the One who has delivered him, Jesus the Christ." Surely you do not mean a person can be saved without being identified with Christ. The phrase "accepts Christ," is not a Scriptural phrase, so people have to explain what they mean by it. Strictly speaking, we are saved by grace through faith, as you also stated. But this does not negate a response to the Gospel, such as repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). The Bible speaks of receiving Christ (John 1:12), putting on Christ (Gal 3:27), and believing on Him (John 6:29), etc. That is the sort of language we should employ when speaking of identity with Christ. None of those phrases, however, are ever presented as a way of excluding any command related to being identified with Christ. Peter did "command" those of Cornelius house to be baptized (Acts 10:48).

Salvation is actually a process, whereby we are changed into Christ's image in stages--from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18; Rom 8:29). That process does begin when we believe--and we "believe through grace" (Acts 18:27). The overriding issue in Scripture is not whether we have begun the process, but whether we are remaining in it. It is not starting the race that is the emphasis, but finishing it (Heb 12:2; Phil 3:8-13). Baptism is associated with the beginning - with coming into Christ. It is nowhere associated with growing up in Christ. It is everywhere put at the beginning of our life in Christ. Men may haggle about what point in the beginning is appropriate, but that is all a waste of time. The point is that it is at the beginning. That is where the people at Pentecost started. That is where Cornelius started. That is where the Philippian jailor and Lydia started . . . etc. Paul says that is where we all started (Rom 6:3-11; Gal 3:26-27; Col 2:11-15). Peter also associates it with starting (1 Pet 3:18). We do well to do the same.

I know there are a lot of misrepresentations of baptism in the religious world. Some are an overemphasis of the command, and others an underemphasis of it. Far be it from either of us to included in one of those extremes. Always speak of baptism in the language of Scripture. That is not only a safe procedure, it is the only acceptable one. When addressing believers, Paul assumed they had been baptized, and reasoned with them upon the basis of their baptism (Rom 6; Col 2). I have every confidence in your integrity, and personal desire to please the Lord. Speaking in words that the Holy Spirit teaches is not an option, it is a requirement (1 Cor 2:12-14).

See Questions Page #2

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