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Has the gift of the spirit (the ability to speak in tongues) ceased for the church under the new covenant? If it hasn't, is it the ultimate sign of being saved? Is it true that its the only way to communicate to GOD to replenish us?

All spiritual gifts, whether speaking in tongues or other manifestations, are given at the discretion and will of God. He has revealed no point in time when they have or will cease. When the perfect comes, then they will pass away (1 Cor 13:10). That will occur when Jesus comes again, and the heavens and the earth pass away.

Tongues are not the ultimate sign of being saved--or any sign of it at all. Paul said you could speak with the tongues of men and angels, and be nothing more than a noisemaker (1 Cor 13:1). There are numerous indications, or signs, of being saved mentioned in Scripture. Tongues are not among them. 
(1) Loving the brethren (1 John 3:14). 
(2) Holding the beginning of our confidence to the end (Hebrews 3;14). (3) Walking in the light as Jesus is in the light (1 John 1:7). 
(4) Doing righteousness (1 John 3:10). 
(5) Worshiping God, rejoicing in Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3). 
(6) Having the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-25).

You can see there is nothing mentioned that is even like speaking in tongues. The whole idea that this is a sign of being saved is foolish. God never said this--anywhere.

As to this being the only way of communicating to God, such a thought is not only foolish, it is dangerous. Most all of the Psalms are communications with God--and none of them are in tongues. Jesus communicated with God, and it is never said He spoke in tongues. Paul wrote of communicating with God, and did not say it was through tongues. The answer to your question is a real loud "NO!"

I'm not saying that this is how I want to live but to have scripture for discussion with my "Sanctified" friend-What is the minimum requirement for salvation? What steps to know that you are saved without a doubt? 

There is no "minimum requirement" to be saved. Either a person believes with "ALL" his heart, or he cannot be saved (Acts 8:37). The first and great commandment is to love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt 22:37). That is the "minimum requirement." There are no shortcuts, or bare minimums. It is everything or nothing. It means the person will do anything and everything the Lord asks him to do. If that does not take place, there will be no experience of salvation.

Some of the things people were told to do to be saved are mentioned in Scripture. We have no record of anyone refusing to do them.
1. Believe and be baptized (M ark 16:16).
2. Repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38).
3. Repent and turn to God (Acts 26:20).
4. Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).
5. Confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead (Rom 10:9-10).
6. Calling upon the name of the Lord (Asking what He wants us to do--Acts 2:21).

All of these things assume the person is willing to do anything and everything the Lord requires.

I also see the point that people make about doing it out of the context of a relationship, in other words, beating around the bush. you kind of develop a friendship with the person and someday when the time in your conversation is right, you tell them.

This is all a human imagination. It assumes the person will live--which we do not know. If assumes the person doing the witnessing will live--which we also do not know. It assumes the Lord will not come--which we also do not know. Beside this, none of the conversions in the book of Acts were on this imaginary basis--none of them. If you review them again, you will find all of them occurred after the first exposure of the people to the Gospel. 

There is another text of Scripture that touches on this. it is 2 Corinthians 5:16: "Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh." That is, we do not approach men as our friends, or associates, or some other earthly relationship. They are people for whom Jesus dies, and whom God will eventually judge.

This "relationship" thing, I am afraid, is something cooked up by a religious marketeer.

How can we dress Scripturally?

I know there is a lot of talk on this subject today, with a strong emphasis on God not caring what we wear. You will recall, I am sure, that the very first thing God did with Adam and Eve was to provide them with a change of clothing (Gen 3:21). He does care what we wear.

The subject of how we are clothed is addressed in Scripture, but details are not spelled out. Women are told to dress modestly, without drawing attention to themselves by their attire. The NIV reads, "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes" (1 Tim 2:9). "Modestly" means with clothing that does not provoke lust. "Decently" means their clothing is in harmony with their profession of faith, and does not make people wonder if they are Christian or not. "Propriety" means clothing suitable for the occasion. When a farmer goes into the field, he wears clothing appropriate for that work. I was an executive for 34 years, and had to dress appropriately for board meetings, etc.

Anyone who thinks seriously about this will be able to arrive at a good conclusion for themselves. If we remember God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the holy angels are at church, it will help us to dress accordingly. if a person does not think highly enough of Jesus to dress differently, it will be impossible think and live differently for him.

It is true, we are to give our best to Jesus--whether it is our mind, our words, or our clothes. That is what is involved in the commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matt 22:37). The way we dress when we are among God's people should reflect how much we love Jesus.

Does a person have to publicly confess Christ before he is baptized in order for his baptism to be valid? If that is true then a mute person who can't speak can't be saved.

Even a mute person can communicate the fact he believes Jesus is the Son of God. It is not the formality of confession that is demanded, but the acknowledgment that the individual does believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. As you already know, this subject is not approached in Scripture as though it were a ritual, or that a series of steps are involved in appropriating Christ. Faith will constrain a person to communicate they believe the truth of the Gospel. That is why Philip responded to the eunuch's inquiry about what hindered him from being baptized, "If you believe with all your heart, you may" (Acts 8:37). The eunuch instantly responded, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." That is the kind of confession recognized in Scripture. Too, we must remember Jesus Himself said His confession of us was contingent upon us confessing Him before men (Matt 10:32).

My dilemma is all the different views concerning the first chapter, with specific in-depth emphasis in Genesis chapter one on verse 2, 6, 8, and even perhaps the whole chapter. 

I appreciate your interest in the things of God, and know the Lord will bless you for your tenderness of heart.

In your struggles concerning the various views of Genesis One, remember that these views are those of men. Not only are the views themselves from men, they reflect a human perspective, as distinguished from a Divine one. They also highlight human values rather than heavenly ones. 

The first chapter of the Bible is intended to help us get our bearings about things. The realm in which we presently live had a genesis, or beginning. It was produced from nothing, or "things that do not appear" (Heb 11:3). In the beginning, things were not orderly, but God made them orderly, framing the "worlds" with His Word (Heb 11:3).

The verses concerning the creation of the heavens and the earth are not intended to be a scientific explanation of things. Rather, they draw our attention to the mighty power of God. I understand verse one to be a summation of the creation of the worlds, and the remainder to be a declaration of how it was done. 

When the Word says the earth was "without form and void," the emphasis is not placed upon what the world was, but what it would be. Elsewhere we are told "God himself . . . formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited" (Isa 45:18). The universe, if I may call it that, was not an end of itself. It was created as an environment in which the drama of redemption would be wrought out. Thus, without the surroundings in which men would live, the earth was like a giant wasteland--the objective for its existence was not yet realized.

The rest of the creation was actually the formation of an environment in which man could live, and through which he could be reminded of the Creator. 

The "firmament" is the vast area that separates the waters above from the waters beneath. While God called it "Heaven," it was not the "heaven of heavens" in which God Himself resides (1 Kgs 8:27; Psa 68:33). The word "heavens" means "heights," and refers to those high and lofty natural realms that can be seen with the human eye. They are a part of the natural creation that has been blighted by sin and will eventually pass away.

As to there being a former earth, as some conjecture, laid desolate by sin, there is absolutely no evidence of such a thing. The very fact that this creation is called "the beginning," informs us that our perceptions about this world begin here. Jesus referred to this "beginning" (Matt 19:4,8; 24:21), as well as the Apostles (Eph 3:9; Heb 1:10; 2 Pet 3:4).

If you confine yourself to the text of Scripture, the Lord will direct you. As soon as men drift into speculation or philosophy, they immediately leave the presence of the Lord and are on their own. The truth of the matter is that God has given to us "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Pet 1:3). You can reason just this simply: If it is not revealed, it does not have anything to do with life or godliness.

I hope I have understood your inquiry correctly. If not, please let me know. May the Lord bless you as you communicate His Word in His power.

What exactly does the term 'Son of Man' mean.

The term "Son of Man" is used no less than 84 times in the Gospels. It is the expression through which Jesus referred to Himself most frequently. It does accentuate His humanity, for we are saved by His humanity, not His Deity. In His redemptive capacity, Jesus' lineage is traced back to Abraham (Matt 1:1-16) and to Adam (Luke 3:23-38). In being called "the Son of Man," God provides for great confidence to be experienced by the believer. Because it was necessary for our Savior to be like us, Jesus volunteered to be "made flesh" and dwell among us (John 1:14; Heb 10:4-6). Highlighting this aspect of the Savior, the Spirit says the following in the second chapter of Hebrews. "For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted" (Verses 16-18). His identity as a Man enabled Him to assist us in our struggles.

There is another sense in which this term is significant. Jesus is called "the Second Man" (1 Cor 15:47). He is also called "the Last Adam" (1 Cor 15:45). He was the last of the Adam-type of man, and the first of a new order of man. You will recall Jesus had no progeny, but was "cut off" before having any children according to the flesh (Isa 53:8). However, in the Spirit, He became the "everlasting Father" of a whole new generation of men (Isa 9:6-7). These are the "new creation," born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-5; 2 Cor 5:17).

In all of this, Jesus remained a "Man," but of a higher order than Adam. Although He had no earthly father, He was the "Son of man" because He came from the seed of David and Abraham--the promised Savior (2 Tim 2:8; Heb 2:16).

Please explain to me...or give me scripture...where, when our Lord was tempted, He suffered, coming to the point where He had to be sustained from heaven. I don't make that connection from Hebrew 2:18. 

Hebrews 5:7 elaborates on the suffering Jesus endured when He was tempted, and His dependence upon his Father. "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission" (NIV). 

The fact that He "suffered" is what required Him to be sustained. This was not His suffering FOR sin, but is distinguished as associated with His personal temptation. He did not sin because of His revulsion at the thought of sin, His effective resistance of it, and the strength He received from God. His agony in Gethsemane is also an elaboration of this truth (Matt 26:28-44). Isaiah prophesied that the Savior would be upheld by God (Isa 42:1). Jesus condescending to become a servant and be obedient also involved this (Phil 2:7-8). That obedience was something He "learned" through suffering (Heb 5:8).

The entire 22nd Psalm is a prophetic one, speaking of the sufferings of Christ. As you read through it, you see His cry for help. It reaches its crescendo in verses 19-21. "But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen" (NIV).

When Jesus dwelt among men, He lived in reliance upon His Father, paving the way for that type of life for us. That is why He is able to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Heb 4:15).

Was John's baptism something radically new or did they anticipate it? Was it something anyone else had previously practiced? 

John's baptism was, indeed, something fresh and new. We know this because it was the means through which God revealed the Messiah to John the Baptist (John 1:31). Also, in his baptism, John prepared the people for the coming of Christ, making them acutely aware of sin, and doing so with great power (Matt 3:3). His baptism was for the remission of sins, accompanied by a command to believe on the One who was coming (Mark 1:4; Acts 19:4). You may recall that John did not go to the people, but the people came out to John (Matt 3:5-6). His ministry was powerful, accomplishing more than all of the prophets before him. No wonder Jesus said, until that time (and excluding Himself), there had not been a greater person born of women than John (Matt 11:11). 

John and his baptism were an inspired interlude between the Old and New Covenants. Jesus said "all the Law and the Prophets prophesied until John" (Matt 11:13). Beginning with him, a new era began--one in which the kingdom of heaven forcefully advanced, and men eagerly pursued it (Matt 11:12).

Even though some students of Jewish history tell us proselytes were baptized prior to John, the Word of God makes no mention of such a practice. So far as Scripture is concerned, baptism started with John the Baptist. There were various washings under the Law that prefigured the baptism John introduced, but no ceremony that paralleled it.

What happens to our free will when we go to heaven. 

First, being forever with the Lord involves reigning with Him and serving Him--both are engaging activities (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 7:15). We will certainly have a will then, for it is written, "and his servants WILL serve Him (Rev 22:3). The difference between then and now is that we will be fully "conformed to the image of His (God's Son)," being "like Him" (Rom 8:29; 1 John 3:1-3). We will have no sinful nature, for that will have been completely removed from us. We will have a new body which will be incapable of sinning, together with the total absence of a will to sin. We have not yet been completed, that is why we have struggles now. But that will not be the case in glory.

When lucifer was cast out of Heaven, he took a third of the angels with him. Why in the world do you think they would have gone. 

We do not know all of the particulars involved in the fall of these angels. Gopd has simply not revealed all of the details. We DO know it was a matter of preference with them. We also assume they were deceived. Scripture says of these angels, they "did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home" (Jude 6, NIV), and that they "sinned" (2 Pet 2:4). This their fall was clearly a matter of choice. Because of the lofty realms they occupied, they were cast down into darkness, with no hope of recovery. There they remain, "bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day" (Jude 6). Those who imagine they are competent to face the devil in their own strength do well to remember that mighty host of angels that were influenced by him.

'Why is there evil? The atheistic answer is that evil exists essentially because it can exist, and is even likely once a certain level of evolution is reached. The game of Prisoner's Dilemma shows how evil can evolve, as well as at least the lower levels of morality (Kolberg's second and third levels). What is the Christian answer?

One might as well ask why does night exist as well as day?--or storms as well as calm?--or disease as well as health?ľor death as well as life? Or more precisely, Why do some doubt God, whole others believe in Him? The atheist's answer concerning the reason for evil is evidence of the utter absurdity of the position of an atheist. With no God, there is no standard by which to determine there is evil. All of this is to say the integrity of the question itself is questionable, and the sincerity of those who ask it not to be taken for granted.

Ultimately, evil exists to confirm the superiority of the Living God, and the incapacity of anyone or anything to supplant or overthrow Him. Evil is only for a while--until the Lord brings an abrupt and grinding halt to it all. In due time, He will show that evil is insurrection against Him--a refusal to bow the knee to Him. But He will only allow it for a season.

Evil has a twofold fountainhead. First, the devil himself, together with his wicked hierarchy, promote iniquity, which is life apart from submission to God. Second, it flows from the corrupted human nature, which has been thrust into alienation against God. In Christ Jesus, provision has been made for men to be delivered from this dilemma.

I suggest that the question, 'Why is there evil?' is not a proper question. The one asking it may very well assign the term 'gobbledegook' to the offers of others to answer it. However, he has no right to raise such a question, for the answer to it offers no solution, no strength, and no escape from evil itself.

The supreme question concerns the Living God, and how we may be accepted by Him. God has appointed the boundaries of human investigation, and has spelled it out for us. 'From one man He made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. 'For in Him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are His offspring'' (Acts 17:26-28). It is not man's lot to find how the origin of evil, but to seek the God whose thumb print is upon the universe, and whose image man bears. Those engaged in such a quest will find answers. Those who do not will be confused--and that by Divine intent.

I'm sure that many of us have heard the stories of the horrible deaths and trials that the diciples suffered--Peter cruxified upside down-- the attempt to boil John in oil etc. Recently though, I have heard these accounts given according to 'Christian tradition.' What does that mean? Can we trust these 'traditions'?

The word 'tradition' is used in both a good and bad sense in Scripture. In a bad sense, it refers to the opinions of men that are IMPOSED upon others--particularly as regards our association with the Living God. Jesus used it in this manner when He spoke of 'the tradition of the elders' (Matt 15:2), 'the tradition of men' (Mark 7:8), and 'your own tradition' (Mark 7:9). Paul also spoke of 'the traditions of men' (Col 2:8). In each of these cases, the 'tradition' in question actually superceded the Word of God. Men gave preference to their view rather than to the Word of God, actually binding such views upon others. We have much of this sort of thing today, where the interpretations of men are actually imposed upon the people of God, and they are judged as faithful or unfaithful in view of their conformity to that 'tradition.'

'Tradition' is used in a good sense also. The Thessalonians were admonished with these words. 'But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us' (2 Thess 3:6). In this case, 'tradition' was a rule of conduct passed along by men who were inspired of God. Concerning such 'traditions' the Thessalonians were told, 'Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle' (2 Thess 2:15). In each of these cases, 'traditions' also referred to the spiritual manners that were common among those living by faith. They indicated that the Holy Spirit leads all of God's people in the same direction, even though they may have differing ministries. These 'traditions,' because they were the result of inspired teaching, were to be faithfully followed. Merely human tradition, however, does not have its foundation in inspiration, but in human opinion.

When 'tradition' is NOT imposed upon God's people, it is not to be considered faulty of itself. If we can trust history books regarding world empires, technology, and the United States of America, we can surely trust historical records written by men and women of God, even though they were not inspired as the Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles. Such writings, should we choose to call them 'traditions,' are to be considered like sermons, teaching, or other forms of human expression. They are to be weighed by the saints. Then, the good is to be retained, and the bad refused, regardless of who said or wrote it. However, at no point are such writings to become the foundation for Divine acceptance, or the fellowship of believers.

What about the "dual prophecies" view of some Scriptures. Is there such a thing?

TThe handling of prophecies written of old time was not a matter of human interpretation, but of Holy Spirit direction. ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, as holy men (not imposters) were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:15; 2 Pet 1:21). The uninformed person who spoke against the writers of the New Covenant Scriptiures really spoke against God Himself, Who is the ultimate Author of Scripture.
Prophecy has a spirit as well as an immediate objective. What some have chosen to call "dual fulfillment" is a reflection of their perception of this truth. Some prophecies were utterances of principle as well as specific events. For example, Hosea referred to Israel's deliverance from Egypt as God calling His son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1). The Holy Spirit also referred to that as being fulfilled when the infant Jesus was brought out of Egypt by Joseph (Matt 2:15).
There are other examples of this use of Scripture, but this should suffice to confirm the person who chided holy men of God will himself be judged by God for his folly.


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