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To my mind, God established the family as the first and most fundamental of all human relationships, the very basic element of society.

In a sense this is true, but human relationships are subordinate to spiritual ones. In Christ we "are come" to higher and eternal relationships (Heb 12:22-24).

I know of no place where Jesus or the Apostles presented the view that the family unit was the basis human relationship. In fact, Jesus spoke quite to the contrary. "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple" (Lk 14:33). "For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matt 10:36-38). Again, He said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30).

I understand this by no means allows for the neglect or abuse of one's family. In fact, those who do not provide for their own have denied the faith and are "worse than an infidel" (1 Tim 5:8).

One thing it does confirm, however, that the family is not the most fundamental of all human relationships. Nor, indeed, was it when the first one was established. The first relationship was between Adam and God. The second was between Adam and Eve. The fundamental relationship is the one for which all competing interests must be forfeited if required. It is the one that must not be abandoned, upon which the destiny of men depends.

Even when young, Jesus practiced correct priorities. He had to "be about" His father's business. This did not make Him insensitive to family relationships. He did provide for His blessed mother while in the process of being cursed for humanity. On another occasion, when His mother and brothers sought to draw him away from His ministry, He claimed the superior relationship was with those hearing His Word. "And He answered them, saying, Who is My mother, or My brethren? And He looked round about on them which sat about Him, and said, Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and Mother" (Mark 3:33-35).

The church is by no means dependent upon the solidity of families. That is something men have concocted, and it is wholly without a single word of support from God's Word. If that were the case, Timothy could not have been the giant of the faith that he was, having no believing father. As for that, right among Jesus' disciples was a twin, Thomas. I have often wondered where the other twin was.

The New Testament was written during a time when the familles were anything but solid. The church at Corinth, as you will recall, had questions about marriage that were carefully addressed. Understanding there was some impending test before them ("the present crisis," 1 Cor 7:26), the Apostle even spoke of marriage as a handicap under certain conditions (7:32-34). I understand the reference being to the stress brought upon those under persecution when they thought of their mates, even to the neglect of their faith. However, such things could not have been said were the family the fundamental relationship.

The approach of the Lord to the family is always within the context of redemption--redemption is never within the context of the family. Even in the well known Ephesian passage concerning husbands and wives, the Spirit adds, "This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church" (Eph 5:32). Believers were to be acutely sensitive about marring the representation of Christ and His church that has been Divinely woven into the fabric of marriage. Neither, indeed, are husbands to fail to "love their wives," and wives to "reverence their husbands." Peter also spoke of husbands being considerate of their wives so that "their prayers may not be hindered" (1 Pet 3:7). There is no question which relationship was fundamental--husbands were to see their wives primarily as "heirs together of the grace of life."

To my knowledge, there is no special commendation given to any congregation for having tightly knit and loving families. There are, however, frequent commendations for the love they had "to all saints" (Eph 1;15; Col 1;4; Phile 5,7; Heb 6:10). In fact, the indication of being Christ's disciple is not having love for our family, but that believers "have love one for another" (John 13;35).

There is never a departure from this perspective. Superior human relationships are between those who are related in Christ Jesus. That relationship transcends all others, and is to be maintained at all cost.

Satan has, indeed, attacked the fabric of the home, and I am against that. Infidelity, incest, abuse, abandonment, inconsideration, etc., are wrong and intolerable. They reveal a wicked heart and alienation from God. There is to be absolutely no tolerance of such things, and repentance from, and abandonment of, these things, is mandatory.

A person who fellowships with God, living by faith and walking in the Spirit, will be the very best husband, wife, and child. Conversely, being a good husband, wife, or child does not move the individual one millimeter closer to God. It does not purify the heart, tune the conscience, or make one more productive toward God. Multitudes of believers have their faith eroded in their homes, where unity in Christ does not exist. They find refuge among the saints, kindred spirits who are fighting the good fight of faith and laying hold on eternal life. If the family is the most basic and fundamental coalition of personalities, these things simply could not be true.

I hope I have not rambled on this, or led you to believe I am insensitive toward my blessed family. I am, however, strongly against emphases foisted upon the church that are wholly without Divine commendation or revelation. The churches primary role is to be "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15). As it nurtures the saints, they will become competent in addressing the difficulties or challenges they face on the home front.

What must a person do to be saved?
That question is asked, in precisely that way, one time in the Bible. The answer given is "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts 16:31). This answer is a summation, which entails several matters. For one thing, the person asking the question had not yet heard the Gospel of Christ. The next verse, therefore, reads, "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house" (Acts 16:32). Within the very same hour, it is said,"And immediately he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:33).

Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16;16). Peter told those who asked him "What shall we do?", "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2;38). To an political official who inquired why he could not be baptized, Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:37-38).

So what must a person do? He must first and foremost believe what God has said about Christ Jesus, His only begotten Son (believe--Acts 16:31). Believing that will compel the person to do whatever the Lord requires. Specifically, He requires an abandonment of sin (repentance--Acts 2:38), confessing we believe Jesus is the Son of God (I believe--Acts 8:38,) and baptism into Christ (be baptized--Mark 16:16).

That puts a person into Christ. Then one must work out his own salvation fear and trembling, knowing God Himself is working within him (Phil 2:12-13). This involves resisting the devil (1 Pet 5:8-9; James 4:7), being faithful unto death (Rev 2:10), and striving for perfection (2 Cor 7:1-2; Heb 6:1). The reason for these requirements is that we are not in heaven yet. However, the Lord desires for us to be, and will assist us through His Holy Spirit to finish our lives triumphantly.

Something is drastically wrong, though, when - according to statistics published in the media - divorce and abortion are as common in church members as in the general public!

This is a tragic circumstance. I have very strong persuasions on the matter. The condition is certainly not owing to any deficiency in the power of the Gospel, the ineffectiveness of faith, or the insufficiency of required Divine resources. I do feel, however, that it is owing to the modern agenda that has been adopted by the contemporary church. It simply is not enabling people to be rooted and grounded in the faith. Strong confidence is almost unheard of in our churches. Scriptural illiteracy is so dominant it is staggering. There has been a shift in emphasis to meeting people's perceived "needs." Powerful preaching, the Divinely ordained means of saving those who believe, has given way to everything from counseling to specialized ministries for the young, the old, the married, the single . . . etc. It has all contributed immensely to career and academic development. Wherever I go, and whatever kind of church I am granted to speak in, I find conditions virtually the same. The saints are largely neglected.

All of this has yielded the immoral circumstances we have before us--at least it has contributed measurably to them. People living in gross immorality, and acquiescing in divorce (which God Almighty has said He hates), can sit comfortably in most services without a twinge of conscience. Such, however, was not the case with those who heard Jesus and the Apostles.

I once asked a question while preaching in college chapel. It was never answered. "If God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were suddenly to either die or totally withdraw from humanity, would our program still continue?" While I do reserve the right to be wrong, and certainly hope I am, I am persuaded it would not change very much at all. Until, by choice, life CANNOT be lived without fellowship with Jesus, into which we have been called (1 Cor 1:9), it cannot and will not be lived acceptably. God Himself does not govern His Kingdom without Jesus, having placed all things into His hand. He certainly will not honor any endeavor that does not rely implicitly and consistently upon Him.

Is it wrong for churches to address the special problems of divorced people?

This is certainly not wrong. It is HOW the problems are addressed that is the issue. The church cannot depart from the revealed agenda of God in order to meet people where they are. Its role is to lift people into the realm where spiritual power and Divine blessings are realized. That is in "the heavenly places." God does not throw us blessings, but personally gives them to us within the framework of "the knowledge of God," or our personal involvement with Him. That is the circumstance to which Peter referred when he wrote, "as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him" (2 Pet 1:3).

Sin rises when people do not walk in the Spirit--when they leave their "First love." The Lord affirms, "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Gal 5;16). That is the unwavering truth, and it is not possible for a single individual on the earth to "walk in the Spirit," and fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For those who have been caught in the wake of other's transgressions (like sister Vanita), their faith needs to be strengthened. Their hearts must be assured of their acceptance by God, and that He does not hold them responsible for the sins of others that have swept over them. Their hearts must be assured that everything God has given us in Christ still belongs to them. They must be helped back up into the "heavenly places," where "all spiritual blessings" are found (Eph 1:3,6).

    The genius of this is that the believer is thereby brought within the circumference of Divine influence. There, together with their Lord, they can address their problems without the partial knowledge of a so-called professional. In the last analysis, every individual must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. No one else can do that for us--and we cannot do it unless we are brought within the realm where God can work in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure. The Gospel is still "the power of God." Faith is still "the victory that overcomes the world." The Holy Spirit still "helps our infirmities, making intercession for us in unutterable groanings. The holy angels are still our ministers. The Lord Jesus still lives to make intercession for us. The Father's eyes are still upon the righteous, and His ears are still open to their cries. But all of this is of no avail if we are not made conscience of it. That is the job of the church. It simply is not possible to live in union with God and be dominated by sin or sorrow at the same time.

Can you lose salvation? This is one I struggle with.

    Salvation cannot be "lost." Nor, indeed, can anyone take it from us. That does not mean, however, that we are locked into salvation when we enter Christ. Salvation is obtained and maintained by faith, and faith must be fed and maintained. At the point a person ceases to believe, he ceases to possess salvation, for we are saved "by grace through faith" (Eph 2:8-10). A person can make "shipwreck of their faith," dashing it upon the rocks of neglect and indifference (1 Tim 1:19). The faith must be "kept" until the end (2 Tim 4:7).

    Jesus spoke of some who believed "for a while" (Lk 8:13). They got off to a good start, but did not "go on to perfection" (Heb 6:1). That is why God says, "Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul" (Heb 10:38-39).

    All of this does not mean we are in and out of salvation. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world, although it sometimes grows faint and even weary (1 John 5:4-5). As long as the individual IS believing, there is nothing in heaven, earth, or under the earth that can separate the individual from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:36-39). If, however, faith is neglected, and one ceases to believe and trust in the Lord, ones grip on salvation becomes loose. Every one who IS believing is safe. Everyone who is NOT now believing is in danger of rejection by the Lord. Eternal life, it must be remembered, is knowing god and the Lord Jesus Christ--knowing them intimately and personally (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20). Salvation is as secure as our knowledge of, or involvement with, the Lord by faith.

What is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

The text certainly confirms that all sin is not the same, as some imagine. Our Lord does not precisely define this sin--or state that it is a specific action or deed. It is not something that can be done inadvertently, accidently, or ignorantly. It is a condition that is deliberate, driven by a hardened heart and a hatred for truth and the Lord.

Our Lord's words were occasioned by the charge that He cast our demons by the power of Beelzebub, a term applied to Satan (Matt 12:24). The Scriptures do not say Jesus heard what the opponents (the Pharisees) SAID, although He may well have done so. Rather, we are told, "And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them . . . " (Matt 12:25-32). He then unveiled the absurdity of thinking Satan would fight against himself by empowering anyone to cast out demons.

Demons are not the only spirit with which men must contend. There is also the Holy Spirit, who strives with men (Gen 6:3), convicts them (John 16:8-11), and opens the words of Jesus (John 16:13-15). Those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit repudiate His influences and degrade His Person. They are so calloused to His Presence that they deride Him like Pharaoh did God (Ex 5:2).

There is a line man can cross that makes his situation utterly hopeless, God has not identified that line, and we are out or line trying to identify it. However, He knows where it is. Once crossed, the person's state becomes "worse" that it ever was before (2 Pet 2:20). It is a condition from which recovery is not possible (Heb 6:4-6). This state is reached by refusing to give heed to the Spirit, choosing rather to quench and grieve Him (1 Thess 5:19; Eph 4:30). Eventually, the point comes where the person becomes so hard and so calloused that even the Spirit of God cannot convict them. Such people are pictured as blaspheming against God even when He pours terrible judgments upon them (Rev 9:20; 16:9,11).

Those who "draw back," refusing to yield to the convincing power of the Spirit, are moving into a dreadful condition. Unless their backward movement and hard hearts are corrected, they will move into the realm where they willingly blaspheme against the Spirit, repudiating everything holy. Such people are said to be "reprobate" (Jer 6:30; 2 Tim 3:8; 2 Cor 13:5), with no hope of recovery. Judas was such a man.

If Jesus had identified the point at which this sin takes place, unthoughtful men would have lived as close to it as they could, thinking they could avoid it through sheer will power. However, when we take Jesus' word seriously, we will not tamper with our souls, refuse His Word, or wander aimlessly in forbidden territories.

Any transgression has the potential of leading into the sin which never has forgiveness. No child of God is promised they can dabble in transgression without becoming insensitive to God and placing themselves in danger.

The sin that can never be forgiven is the result of hardening the heart, resisting the Spirit, and repeatedly refusing Christ Jesus. No man knows when it occurs, but God does.

One further thing. No person who is concerned about having committed this sin has committed it. Their concern reveals they are still sensitive to God, and their conscience is not "seared" (1 Tim 4:2).

Is smoking a sin? Bible referewnces would be helpful.

The Word of God does not say smoking is a sin. That is one of those things each person must decide for himself. It does say some things that assist the individual in making a choice that will honor God.

(1) Whatever we do it to be done in the name of the LORD, giving thanks to God (Col 3:17). Smoking, then, must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to Him.

(2) Whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23). This particular text deals with the conscience. It teaches that no person can do unto the Lord what they doubt is right. The persuasion of faith must accompany what they do. The person who smokes must do so with a good conscience, determined to honor God by it.

(3) Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, God is to be honored in our bodies (1 Cor 6:19-20). Although the particular sin of this passage is fornication, it does state a principle of spiritual life. Because our bodies were purchased by Jesus, He is to be honored by them. If a person would not mind a picture of Jesus with a cigaret or cigar in his mouth, then he probably could see nothing wrong with smoking.

(4) Whatever overcomes a person makes him a slave to it (2 Pet 2:19). Enslavement takes various forms. One can be a slave to false teaching, sin in general, or even a particular sin, like drunkenness. If a person can be overcome by smoking, becoming enslaved to it, it would be wrong.

The answers to most of these things are quite obvious to some of us. Others, however, have difficulty seeing any correlation between these texts and smoking. There is, however, a solemn obligation laid upon every individual to see to it they honor God in whatever they say or do, keep their bodies undefiled, and do nothing that does not easily blend with their walk with the Lord. That puts the matter squarely in the lap of every person. The decision to smoke of not to smoke is not one to be imposed by one person upon another. Rather, it is another area where we "work out our OWN salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12-13).

I have a great love for the truth ... there is still so much where I am surely still offensive to God How can one have a love of the truth, and still be in bondage to sinning?

You must remember you are two people in one body--a new man and an old man (Eph 4:22-24). Jesus has circumcised that old part from you (Col 2:11-12). It is really not you, but like a squirming corpse is clinging to you. It is something every child of God contends with as long as they are in this world.

You have the "Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," but you also have "another law in your members, warring against the law of your mind and bringing you into captivity of sin and death" (Rom 7:23). This other law, or old man, is really not you. You know it is not because you are offended by its desires. That is what Paul meant when he said, "If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom 7:16-17).

You are under no obligation to obey this "old" part of you--even though it often seems extremely strong. Lift up your head now and rejoice. The existence of this "old man" only proves you have a "new man"--that is why he is exerting himself. The presence of conflict proves you have been justified. That is precisely why Romans 8:1 begins, "There is THEREFORE (in view of the conflict in 7:14-25) now NO condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus."

Your sensitivity is proof you belong to Jesus.

When people say becoming a true Christian what do they mean?

The term "true Christian" has been concocted by men. That is the reason it is difficult to understand. There is only one kind of Christian, just as there is only one Christ. I suppose people mean the opposite of a "true Christian" is a one who is a Christian in name only--another way of saying pretender.

Those in Christ do increase in their understanding of God and the Scriptures. The Word refers to this as the day dawning--when the light comes on, so to speak, and what God has said makes sense. Here is how it is stated in 2 Peter 1:19. "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." Prior to this, the person was in Christ, or a Christian, but did not see clearly.

    There are people who claim to be in Christ who are not really in Him. But they are not really Christians any more than a false christ is really Christ.

I do not understand how God can make someone just to be a puppet and then be doomed to eternal separation (as in the ninth chapter of Romans).

God did not make certain individuals merely to be puppets, then destroy him. When, however, they choose to rebel against Him, becoming obstinate, as did Pharaoh, God ratifies their choice by hardening their heart. You will remember that Pharaoh hardened his heart first, then God confirmed it (Ex 8;15,32; 9;12).

The argument in Romans 9 confirms that men cannot circumvent God. When they attempt to overturn His counsels, He dashes them to the ground. Rather than them using Him, he uses them.

Romans 9:18 provides this explanation: "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Doctrines that teach this is done arbitrarily, without any consideration for the heart of the person involved, are in error. God has not kept from us those whom He wants to harden, and those upon whom He wants to show mercy. He is inclined to those with a humble and contrite heart (Psa 34:18; Isa 57:15). He is also repulsed by the prideful and hard of heart (James 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5).

When God has a work to do that is NOT for blessing, He uses the wicked (as with Neuchadnezzar in chastening Israel, Judas in betraying Jesus, and various adversaries He raised up to those of old (1 Kgs 11:14,23). This Divine tactic is even seen in the crucifixion of Jesus. Even though the Jews crucified Him through the hands of lawless men, Peter told them it was "according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). Later, believers said in one of their prayers that the enemies gathered against Christ "For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:28).

Knowing the hearts of wicked people, God can maneuver them into positions where they can be used, like Pharaoh, to get great honor for Himself. In this He shows He is Sovereign. It does not mean the people had no will. It does mean God used their wicked wills for His purpose, not allowing them to ultimately serve their purposes. This aspect of the Lord's rule is mentioned in Second Timothy 2:20-21. Some people, like vessels, are for dishonorable use. It is because they themselves are dishonorable. We know this is the case, because those used for honorable purposes are admonished in this text to contribute to becoming ready for Divine use by cleansing themselves.

I realize this is a somewhat feeble explanation of a most profound truth. If these things cause us difficulties, then we must follow the example of Paul, who saw seemingly contradicting aspects of Divine judgment. He broke out in confession and praise, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" (Rom 11:33).

When a miracle happens to somebody even though they are non believers is that from God? 

God has wrought many miracles for people who did not believe. The most obvious are the Israelites when they were delivered from Egypt. They all came out of bondage. They all passed through the Red sea. They all drank water from a rock, and were sustained by bread from heaven---but they did not all believe (1 Cor 10:1-10). Jesus also healed ten lepers, with only one returning to give thanks (Lk 17:12-17).

God's judgment will eventually be more harsh on the person who actually experienced something supernatural from God, yet continued in their unbelief.

If you are weak on a certain thing which makes you guilty because obviously that is a sin and you try your hardest not to do it but still does it and you do not want to hurt God but you repeatedly keep on asking for Gods forgiveness does he keep forgiving you? 

God forgives when we repent and ask for forgiveness. That is the promise of 1 John 1:9. There is something else, however, that you must know. The secret to overcoming sins that tend to dominate us is not trying, but believing. God speaks about this particular kind of sin in Hebrews 12:1-2: "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . "

You lay the sin and weight aside just like the lame man picked up his bed and walked--believing you can do what Jesus says. If your faith is weak, you pray like the father of an oppressed boy did to Jesus, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).

One final word. Do your best to stay away from things that appeal to the sin that easily entangles you. Cut off the source of the temptation. God will honor your obedience in these matters. That sin is surfacing because you are in the place where it can easily speak to you.

How comes some people can heal themselves even though they haven't got God in their lives? I am a born again Christian and I have so much faith and I know that when I pray to God he hears me. God has made me a better person and I am so glad he is in my life but there is one thing I don't understand, I suffered from migraines for 11 years and last year I got prayed on and for a couple of months after that my migraines completely went but started slowly slowly coming back again, even now I don't get as many as I did before I got prayed on but once in a while I do get them how comes they come back? 

No one heals themself. All healing, regardless of the means used (prayer, faith, medicine, doctreine, etc.), comes from God. That is why the Bible says of God, "Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases" (Psa 103:3). 

But healing is not the thing that proves someone is of God. Jesus healed a soldier's ear who came to arrest Him (Lk 22:50-51). That certainly did not mean that soldier was approved by God.

All people, sinners and saints, experience recovery from illness, accidents, etc. That is not the sign of whether a person is blessed or not. Paul had a sickness that he asked Jesus to take away. He asked Jesus to do it three times, but Jesus did not do it. Instead, He told Paul He would give him grace to bear up under the infirmity (1 Cor 12;7-10). Instead of wondering why it was not taken away, Paul actually rejoiced in his infirmity, realizing that at that time He was being strengthened by Jesus.

Epaphroditus, a strong Christian worker, almost died in Paul's jail cell (Phil 2:25-27). Paul left Trophimus "sick at Miletum" (2 Tim 4:20). Sickness, whether your migraines, or some other illness, comes on us because our bodies are not yet saved. They will die--it does not make any difference who we are or what we have done. The body we receive at the resurrection will never be sick--but no such promise has been made concerning our present bodies. 

Continue praying, and do not be discouraged when your body is not perfectly whole. That will not happen until we are raised from the dead. Until then, our bodies are our weakest part.

Looking at 1 Cor 15 and 1 Thess 4 concerning the resurrection of the dead. When a person dies, are they immediately with the Lord? If so, what about the dead in Christ raised first? Can you guide me to some of you studies that will help?

For the believer, to be "absent from the body" IS to be "present with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8). We will not be with Him, however, in the fullest sense of the word. Remember, there are three parts to our constitution: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess 5:23). At this time, only the spirit has been regenerated. Our bodies and soul will be renewed in the resurrection. I understand the soul to be the expressive part of our persons, which includes our emotion, feeling, and intellect. All of those can be dominated by sin if we do not manage them in the power of the Spirit.

In the resurrection, we will receive a glorious body, like Christ's (Phil 3:20-21). Then we will enjoy Him in the fullest sense. Until that time, departed saints are with the Lord, but not in the fullest degree God has appointed. We have not received a lot of information about that status. John saw the souls of martyrs under the altar. They were restless and longing for their blood to be avenged (Rev 6:9-11). They were in the same place as the Lord, but not in the ultimate position they would enjoy.

I cover some of these things in my series on "Our House From Heaven." You can access it by the following link:

Somewhat related, what about the "New heaven and the New earth? If a person dies and is in heaven, will the be moved somehow to the "New heaven?" This question came up in a Bible study.

John saw the glorified church "coming down out of heaven from God." He described it as a holy city, the New Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev 21:1-2). At that time, God will bring together everything in heaven and earth, something He determined before the foundation of the world to do (Eph 1:10). 

Yes, the glorified church, or the redeemed from all ages, will occupy and rule the new heaven and earth. That is the "earth" Jesus promised the meek would inherit. God Himself will then join them in this renewed realm (Rev 21:3).

There is much about this that has not been made perfectly clear. But enough has been revealed for us to know those with Christ now, will be brought with Him when He returns (1 Thess 4;14). They will then be united with their resurrected bodies, and will finally occupy the new heaven and earth.

Why be involved in church? isn't our relatrionship to the Lord a personal thing? 

God places us in Christ's body, through whom Jesus ministers to us. That is the focus of Ephesians 4:11-16 and Colossians 2:19. While being in Christ is a personal thing, it is more than that. We ourselves are not the bride of Christ, but a part of that bride. We have not been given everything God has to offer, but rather a "measure of faith"--a part of the whole that is beneficial to the rest of the members of His body (Rom 12:3ff). 

A saved person trying to make it on their own, unless circumstance has placed them in such a condition (like those imprisoned, or John on Patmos, etc.), is like trying to keep a live coal burning apart from the rest of the coals. We are being built up together as a habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph 20-22). Scripture affirms no part of Christ's body can say they have no need of the other parts (1 Cor 12:21-22).

Following our study last week, we have more questions concerning the differences between body, soul, and spirit, especially the soul and spirit. Where in the Scriptures do we find the distinction made between the two?

The distinction is not given in an academic way. First Thessaonians 5:23 identifies them as separate, and Hebrews 4:12 declares the Word of God can distinguish between the two. The two words are used together in the following texts. 1 Sam 1:15; Job 7:11; Isa 26:9. The most definitive verse, in my judgment, is found in 1 Corinthians 15:45 in which Christ is compared with Adam. "The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit." Christ brings transformation at a deeper level--the spirit, which we understand is the essential person, created in the image of God. There is where stability and solidity in the faith is realized.

The soul fluctuates, moving between despair and rejoicing. Often David would admonish his soul, which was cast down (Psa 42:5,11; 43:5). Jesus taught us we could lose our own soul (Matt 16:26). No such thing is said of our spirit, or essential person. Jesus also taught us to possess, or manage, our soul (Lk 21:19). In this latter verse, some of contemporary versions translate the word psuche as "lives." It is my understanding that "psuche" refers to our abilities of expression, where spirit (pneuma) refers to the part of us that is in the image of God. That word (pneuma), as you probably know, is the same used for the Holy Spirit, who is never called "psuche."


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