QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 32
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' is it appropriate to use them as witnessing tools even if they are not in the Bible?
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 In each of these cases, the "tradition" in question actually superceded the Word of God.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.
Why is there evil?
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?–or 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.
"You said that 'We will have a new body which will be incapable of sinning, together with the total absence of a will to sin.' Why didn't God create us like that in the first place?"
The Lord has not provided extensive information on this matter. However, He has said enough for us to get a larger picture than is common. First, salvation is not a Divine reaction to sin. It is the implementation of an "eternal purpose" (Eph 3:11). Adam was not the consummate man. Although he was in the image of God, he was not the "express image of God," as was our Lord Jesus Christ. Further, Jesus did not come to restore what Adam lost, but to bring in an entirely new order--a "new creation." He was the "Second man" and the "Last Adam." In other words He inducted a new king of mankind, and brought an end to the Adamic order (1 Cor 15:45-47).
In salvation, Gods is showing heavenly personalities the manifold, or diverse, nature of His wisdom (Eph 3:10). He is unveiling His grace in particular, something that was never before known as it is in Christ Jesus. That is expressly affirmed in Ephesians 2:6-10.
In Christ God remakes man. The end result is not the real intention, but the WAY that result was accomplished. God takes fallen personalities, retrieves them from the fall through a vicarious, or substitionary, atonement. He then perfects them right in an evil and cursed realm. In the midst of fierce warfare, the saints are kept from falling through their faith, and changed from one stage of glory to another (Jude 24-25; 2 Cor 3:18).
The truth of the matter is that God could not simply create someone like this. If He could, the holy angels who did not fall should have sufficed. Just as Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered (Heb 5:8), and advanced in wisdom and favor with God and man (Lk 2:52), so do those who are in Him. They too learn to love righteousness and hate iniquity (Heb 1:9), an advantage Adam did not apparently have.
In all of this, great care must be taken not to oversimplify or over complicate this great salvation. Suffice it to say, the goal, or objective, God had in salvation is what required that it be accomplished as it is in Christ Jesus.
Do you believe that we can be lost, after we have accepted Christ? I thought once you have been saved you can never be lost again. We are not perfect yet and sin every day, please help me to understand.
We might also ask, Can Adam and Eve be cast out of the garden in which God Himself placed them? Or could Israel be cast out of the land of Canaan, into which God placed them? Or could Judas lose his Apostleship after Jesus had put him into it. I am sure you know the answers to all of these questions.
Yes, a person can be lost after they have been saved. It is like Israel after they were delivered from Egypt. All of them were saved out of Egypt, but all of them did not get into the land of promise. The Holy Spirit makes a point of this in First Corinthians 10:1-10, applying to those in Jesus Christ. He declares we should learn form their example.
But there is actually more to it than that. A person cannot be lost accidentally, or by making a mistake, or acting against their own will. God is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24-25), but will not do so against our will.
No one who is believing will be lost. But that is the catch--IS believing. Salvation ids by grace THROUGH faith (Eph 2:7-10), and that is where the work comes in. We are to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold of eternal life (1 Tim 6:12). Do not let this be confusing to you. Think of it this way -- you are not in heaven yet, and you are not yet completely saved. Take your body for an example--it is not saved. But it will be at the resurrection. Then you will get a new body, just like you have received a new heart and a new spirit when you were born again. The Spirit makes a point of this in Romans 8:23. "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
Until that time, we are in a war zone. Satan is hurling his flaming arrows at us, and our own sinful nature wants to dominate over us. Salvation includes protection from all of this, but it is according to our faith. If you keep believing, you will enter heaven with a shout. Jesus will see to it that you do.
Although I am a Christian, I have committed a serious sin that has held me captive for many years. Because of it, I may lose mt family. I desparately need help.
There is forgiveness for you, and you must believe that. With forgiveness comes the power of recovery. You must also believe this. While God in no way condones sin, or allows us to feel comfortable in sin, He is anxious to forgive. The Scriptures say it this way, "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee" (Psa 86:5). That, dear friend, is for you.
The first item on your agenda must be forgiveness–more specifically, a persuasion that you have been forgiven. Candidly., that takes the precedence over counseling. I am assuming you are in Christ Jesus, and will speak to you with that perspective. Jesus has brought forgiveness within our reach–even when it seems like we have put ourselves beyond it. That forgiveness is realized through the simple, yet heartbreaking confession of sin. I am sure you know this text, but I urge you to get a good grip on it, as you have never had before. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Notice that two Divine qualities promised to you. In the forgiveness itself, God is "faithful AND just." He is faithful to His word, and faithful to those who rely on it. He is "just" or right in forgiving you, because Jesus has met the legal demands required for your forgiveness. Thus the promise is held out that God will surely forgive, and that He will be right in doing so. That means no one will be able to effectively question the forgiveness, or condemn the one forgiven.
There is something else of vital importance to be seen here. Not only does the Lord forgive the sin, but He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. That means He purges our conscience (Heb 9:14), removing the condemning guilt that weighs us down. It is another way of saying we are convinced we are forgiven. In this awareness, we receive strength to resist sin. This happens because forgiveness and cleansing make sin more distasteful to us–we become more sensitive to it.
It is also imperative that you understand the inclinations you have been experiencing. These are not simply feelings that have been resident in you for many years. That is a psychological view that is wholly unsupported by the Word of God. There is more to you than psychology acknowledges. First, you possess two natures, not just one. They are called "the old man" and "the new man" (Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10). The dual nature is discussed extensively in Romans 7:15-25 in Paul’s personal testimony. As you read that passage, you will recognize the warfare you have been experiencing.
The desires you mention really do not belong to you. They are intrusive thoughts, hurled at you by the devil. This is a common experience to all believers. However, if we do not know the truth about it, Satan will get the best of us. These thoughts are the "flaming arrows" or "fiery darts" mentioned in Ephesians 6:16. Satan’s aim is at the "old man," or the part of you that is knit to your body rather than to the Lord. He wants to get you to take credit for them and receive them as your own.
You are not equal to this battle by yourself. Just like the rest of us, you need help. Praise the Lord, there is help to be had. The grace of God effectively teaches us to reject these thoughts, or lusts. Here is how is it stated in Scripture. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Tit 2:11-12). Do not hesitate to ask God for grace – seek it fervently and consistently. It is there for you to have. Again, here is how the Scriptures say it. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Heb 4:15-16).
One further thing. It is imperative that you attend a church where the grace of God is emphasized, and where you are made uncomfortable with sin and challenged to be pleasing to the Lord. If this is not occurring, your church experience is a handicap rather than a help.
Now, be up and obtaining the forgiveness of your Lord, and the persuasion that it has taken place. When you are tempted, regardless of the strength of the temptation, view it as the intrusion of the devil and not as something that has lay festering in your soul for years. Then ask the Lord for grace to say "NO!" to the impulse. It will not be easy, but it will be possible, and you will be the happier for it. Hell is not worth welcoming forbidden thoughts. On the other hand, heaven is surely worth saying "NO" to every single one of them. Be strong and courageous. You can do it with Jesus–and keep your family too!
Why did Satan attack the Jews with such ferocity in this century? What is he trying to prevent?
In my opinion, it is because the "times of the Gentiles" is drawing to a conclusion, and the Lord's favor will again rest upon Israel. That favor will be through Christ Jesus and by the Gospel, but it will occur, according to His promise (Rom 11:25; Isa 12:11-16; 45:17; 54:7-14, etc.). Jesus spoke of Jerusalem being trodden down "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Lk 21:24). In an extended teaching about God's dealings with the Jews, Paul also said "Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (ROM 11:25). Because of this, Satan is aggressively opposing the ancient people, toward whom God will yet turn.
This tactic of the devil has been made known throughout history. When Moses was about to be born, Pharaoh mandated that all of the male babies be killed. About the time Israel was going to be delivered from Egypt, according to God's promise to Abraham (Gen 15:13), Satan stirred up Pharaoh to make their lives grievous. When Jesus was born, the devil moved Herod to decree the slaying of all Jewish children under two years of age. In my opinion, this same type of tactic is being employed by our adversary today. He knows something of significance is on the horizon concerning the Jews.
What does this mean for the Gentiles? What will happen to the church then, if the favor of the Lord is no longer towards the Gentiles? Who will we preach to?
This does not mean there will be nothing for the Gentiles to do, or no more hope for them, when the Jews turn to Christ--any more than the Gentiles turning to Christ meant that nothing more was left for the Jews, or no preaching was done to them. The LEADERSHIP in the work of the Lord will be accomplished by the Jews, and the whole world, Gentiles included, will be affected by it. I understanding this to be what is alluded to in Revelation 7:1-10,14:1-4, and 21;12. This is also what is referred to in Romans 11:12 and 15. "Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! . . . For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?"
I see the vast majority of what we call Christianity eventually collapsing. Most of it is not even for real, but is bogus--pure institutionalism and characterized by lifelessness in the extreme. The modern Gentile church is divided even more than the ancient Israelites were, and has, for the large part, substituted lifeless liturgy for the pulsating life of the Spirit.
All of this deterioration is surely what the Spirit was talking about when He spoke expressly about the latter days (1 Tim 4:1-5; 2 Pet 2:1-2; 3:3; Jude 17-18). Second Timothy identifies it most precisely. You are no doubt familiar with the text. It speaks about perilous times that will come, then outlines a number of the characteristics that will be prevalent. All of them are of a spiritual nature, as compared with violence and indulgence. "Lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Tim 3:1-4). The Spirit then identifies this as a religious, versus a moral, departure. "HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS BUT DENYING ITS POWER" (verse 5).
If ever there was something that identified the contemporary church, it is powerlessness. That is proof of a gigantic departure from God.
There are, praise the Lord, exceptions to all of this. God does have a remnant of people among the Gentiles churches. They are largely dispersed, and are certainly not collected together in one place, the profession of some bigots notwithstanding. They will rally to a real cause when it appears.
As you draw near to the lord, cleansing yourself of defiling men and doctrines (as 2 Tim 2:16-21 teaches), you will be used of God in any legitimate Kingdom work. The coming conversion of the Jews will prove to be no exception to that rule. Just as there are believing Jews while the Gentiles are dominant, so there will be believing Gentiles when the Jews are dominant.
How do you deal with the spirit of legalism in a person?
That is an exceedingly difficult question to answer. The reason is because this spirit is the most difficult to deal with. The person dominated by this form of thinking believes he is serving God. However, just as the Pharisees, this way of thinking actually has put them against God, for they have not seen Him correctly. As Jesus would say, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God" Matt 22:29).
How you deal with such people depends on how thoroughly they are dominated by that way of thinking. There are people who are champions, not victims, of this perverted way of thinking. Concerning a prime example of such people, the Pharisees, Jesus said, "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matt 15:14). Paul said of such individuals, "From such withdraw yourself" (1 Tim 6:3-5).
If, however, it is a matter of the person simply seeing things wrong, who remains sensitive to the Lord (which, in my opinion, accounts for most cases), quite another approach is to be taken. Remember, the reason for a legalistic spirit is a failure to comprehend God, Christ, the New Covenant, and salvation. They perceive the Lord working with us precisely in the same manner as He did the Israelites at Mount Sinai. This being the case, an extended effort must be made to clarify the nature of God's dealings with us in Christ Jesus.
I would deal with the nature of the New Covenant itself. It is spelled out in remarkable detail in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Hebrews 8:8-13 and 10:16-17, confirm this is the covenant currently being ministered by Jesus Christ. It is not like the covenant God made with Israel--the First, or Old, Covenant. It is of a different order. In it, God puts His Laws in our minds, and writes them in our hearts. That means the individual himself is changed in the New Covenant. He is born again, raised from death in trespasses and sins, and made a new creation in Christ Jesus. He actually loves the Law of God, and really wants to please Him. He takes delight in doing what the Lord commands. That is quite different from the Israelites of old.
Under an arrangement like this, God appeals to the heart of His people, seeking to guide them with His eye (Psa 32:8). A legalistic view assumes the person really does not want what the Lord offers. But this is not the case with the redeemed at all. Peter tells us that the appointed means of bringing us to "participate in the Divine nature" is God's "exceeding great and precious promises" (2 Pet 1:4). A legalistic mindset believes the commandments are the way to become like the Lord. Thus, such a person speaks of what we SHOULD do and HOW we should do it. But the Lord holds out what HE will do, and how SURE the doing of it is to those who believe Him, acting upon that faith. This is His consistent approach to His people. Reading Christ's message to the seven churches of Asia will confirm this to you (second and third chapters of Revelation). Even to wayward and unacceptable churches, Jesus held out great promises to enable them to recover and find favor with Him. That, as you know, is not the legalistic approach.
I suggest emphasizing the nature of God, how His grace is the means of saving us, and faith the way of appropriating His grace. Hold out the promises of God: they are good, and tug at the cords of the heart. If the person is in Christ, they already know they need help--Divine help--to get to heaven. They need to be assured that help is largely contingent upon believing it is available, and asking for it (Heb 4:15-16). Their work is to draw near to God, becoming more conscious of Him than anything else (Heb 10:22). When this takes place, they will WANT to do what is right, which liberates them from the dominion of legalism. As Jesus said, they will "know the truth," and the truth will make them free (John 8:32,36).
The book of Galatians is the Holy Spirit's approach to the spirit of legalism. It is strong in some respects, yet tender. Read that book and digest it. Ask the Lord to help you see the flow of its message, and the way in which the Spirit reasons. He will help you to deal specifically and effectively with the dreadful spirit of legalism--an approach to religion that allows the person to profess they know God, yet remain far from Him in their hearts (Isa 29:13; Matt 15:7-9).
was told the following: Authority over the world was given to Satan by Adam and his descendants;
God gave Adam the earth as a stewardship, and Adam willingly turned it over
to Satan. Is this true?
It is true to a point -- but the point is not relevant in the real scheme of things. The statement is used to buttress a growing doctrine found largely among the Charismatics. The bottom line teaching is that Jesus came to restore what Adam lost. Thus, they teach, we take back from Satan what he gained from Adam. That is the root of the statement in question.
The glitch in the teaching is that Adam and the entire natural order has been written off by God. There is no way for it to be salvaged. Thus, all men must be born again, thereby rising above Adam. Too, there will be a new heavens and a new earth, as the Lord has pledged to "make all things new" (Rev 21:5). Those in Christ are looking for this new heavens and new earth, and are reconciled to being strangers and pilgrims in this one (1 Pet 2:11; Heb 11:13). In addition to this, the whole creation is travailing in expectation of its liberation from the bondage of corruption (Rom 8:19-22)
The truth is that Satan is the god and prince of this world, and will be as long as it stands. Those in Christ, on the other hand, are awaiting their inheritance, which will be eternal, and is so identified (Heb 9;15).
Jesus is called "the Last Adam" and "the Second Man." This is so because He is the last of the Adamic order, and the beginning of a new order of mankind. His progeny are not of the sort Adam had (and Jesus is the "Everlasting Father"). He was "cut off" without earthly seed, and moved back to the eternal realm when He finished His work here.
With this in mind, the statement you quoted is something like a puff of smoke. Our inheritance is not here. Our heart is not here. In fact, we have been taken out of the world in a very real sense, and are being oriented for the new realm, wherein dwells righteousness.
How am I to discern people that speak in tongues.....if you have time can you tell me all that you know about them....use... translation...
Speaking in other languages, interpreting them, and the discerning of spirits are all gifts from God (1 Cor 12:8-12). That means there are no methods devised by men that can accomplish the discernment of which you speak. There are, however, several ways revealed in Scripture that help us identify what is from God and what is not. These are not to be used like a manual, or list of rules, but require personal faith in God and fellowship with Christ Jesus.
1. No person is ever commanded to speak in tongues, nor is anyone ever commended in the Bible because they did. Speaking in tongues is never presented as being superior, or as making the believer superior.
2. Whatever is spoken in the name of the Lord, whether in an unknown tongue, or one that is understood, MUST result in edification. Edification is the strengthening of the individual through spiritual understanding. In this, the child of God becomes stronger, more able to resist the devil and to draw closer to God. He also sees the things of God clearer, and they become more precious to him. All of this is involved in edification. First Corinthians 14:1-16 instructs us on this matter. Anything that results in confusion, or does not accomplish edification is not from God.
3. Whatever is declared in the name of the Lord must be understood to profit or benefit us. That is taught in the above section also. If it cannot be understood, it cannot be of benefit. That is the point of verses 6-11 of the above chapter.
There is not a lot about speaking in tongues in the Bible. We have a few instances where it occurred, and a single chapter in the whole Bible that deals with problems that resulted where people were speaking in them. The word "tongues" actually means "languages," and is best understood when we consider them that way. The examples we have in the Bible of people actually speaking in tongues all find what was said being understood by those who heard it (Acts 2:4; 10:16; 19:6).
The Bible tells us that the person who speaks the things of God so they can be understood is "greater" than the person who speaks in unknown tongues, or languages (1 Cor 14;5). Believers must insist on believing that, not giving more credit to those who speak in other languages than God does.
The first Biblical example of speaking in other tongues is found in Genesis eleven. It ook place at the tower of Babel, where people were perfectly united in building a tower that reached to heaven, and making a great name for themselves. Because they ruled God out of their thinking, He came down and confounded their speech so they could not understand each other. The result was they quit working together, the project ended, and they were scattered throughout the world (Gen 11:1-9). We learn from this that speaking so other people cannot understand is not a blessing--and was never intended to be.
On a b/b (thechristianchurch.com) the question has been raised re: apostolic precedent or command for Sunday worship.
The Word of God does not approach the gathering of those in Christ as the Law addressed the Sabbath day. The matter of Apostolic precedent is some of man's creation. Its chief weakness is that it cannot be applied consistently. We need the Scribes and Lawyers to establish which activity was precedent and which was not.
We are admonished to not forsake assembling together, and that some had already drifted into that manner (Heb 10:25). We are told the brethren at Troaz gathered together to "break bread," and that this is when Paul preached to them (Acts 20:7). Had they gathered to hear Paul, it would have read Paul preached to them, and they broke bread. We also know the Corinthians gathered together on the first day of the week. Because of this custom, Paul admonished them to lay offerings in store that there be no special "gatherings" when he came (1 Cor 16:1-2).
Apostolic doctrine assumes the saints gather together. It does not approach it as a matter of law, because that would be counterproductive. If believers do not gather together, they do not need a commandment to do so, but a sense of their dependency upon the rest of the body. Such people have said of all of the members, to say nothing of individual members, "I have no need of you" (1 Cor 12:21-22).
The first day of the week, while not bound upon believers, is a most reasonable time to gather. Throughout the centuries, believers have gravitated to that day--and not without reason. Jesus was raised from the dead on that day. He made two post-resurrection appearances to His disciples on that day. The day of Pentecost was also on the first day of the week. In view of this, it would be difficult to establish this day had no significance to God. It also parallels the nature of the New Covenant, which is a beginning, sanctifying all that follows it. Under the law, the Sabbath concluded everything, depicting rest after labor.
As I see it, it is a matter of discernment, not a commandment. The Lord could very well have commanded us to gather on the first day of the week. It certainly would have simplified things for His people. They would not have had to resort to Apostolic precedent, and extensive human reasoning to make the point. Then again, that approach would have yielded the same kind of people He had under the Old Covenant. They honored Him with the lips, but their heart was far from Him. In fact, it looks like that is what has largely happened any way.
What would you say about someone who at one point professed faith in Christ but because of continuing problems and struggles eventually committed suicide. What happens to people that have truly given their lives to Jesus but for some reason lead tragic lives. Does His grace cover this? Is it possible for a believer to take his life? Do some people continue to live tortured lives as Christians while others seemingly live victorious lives?
Suicide is a sin--it is self murder, or the taking of life that God had given. The Word of God reminds that our bodies do not belong to us, but the Lord. In fact, they are even called "the members of Christ" (1 Cor 6:13-15). There is not a lot said in Scripture about suicide -- just enough to cause us to recoil from it. Paul stopped a Philippian jailor from committing suicide--and the man was saved that very night (Acts 16:27-33). Our lives are to be given to the Lord, not to despair.
As to whether a person committing suicide goes to hell, we have no word from God on the matter. That very condition indicates we are not to dwell long on such morose thoughts as taking our own life. It thrusts us into an unknown area. It is "appointed" to men to die once, and that appointment comes from God (Heb 9:27). We must be willing to leave the length of our life to Him, and not take matters into our own hands.
The desire to commit suicide is a temptation. Temptation is like a flaming arrow hurled at us from the devil. It is like an infection the devil hurls into our thinking. The Bible talks about it in Ephesians 6:16. Such temptations can be quenched by the shield of faith (Eph 6:16). If we try and confront temptation all by ourselves, we will find it is too difficult to handle. This is why Jesus taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Satan)" (Matthew 6:13). Further, God has gone on record: he will not allow us to be tempted above our ability (1 Cor 10:13).
A person who commits suicide has done the following.
1. Refused to use the shield of faith.
2. Succumbed to the devil.
3. quenched the Spirit.
4. Refused to allow God to teach him to number his days.
5. Has taken his own life, which is a stewardship.
Such a person is in the hands of the Lord. Candidly, I do not wish to be in the position of facing God and having to acknowledge before I assembled universe I took my own life, did not finish my work, yielded to the devil, and quenched the Spirit.
Everytime I ask people who are suppose to be christian's why it is that a god who is suppose to be a loving god would make a place so terrible as hell and send people there, they always say it is because he gives us free will. If he gives us free will and we exercise it why punish us for the choices that he allowed us to make?
The matter is not as simple as you seem to make it. It is true that God made man with a will, but the matter goes much deeper than that. We are God's creation, made for an ultimate purpose. That purpose is not confined to this world. In fact, life in this world is only preparatory for eternity. Throughout history, humanity has proved itself incapable of pleasing God on its own. For 2,500 years, men lived without law--without the Ten Commandments, and with only minimal Divine direction. The outcome was heartbreaking to God, devastating to humanity, and pleasing to the Devil. Instead of coming closer to his Creator as God intended, man actually got further away from Him.
Then came the era of Law, when God precisely defined sin, and imposed upon mankind requirements that would, if taken seriously, compel them to call upon god for mercy. A few people responded in this manner, but precious few proportionate to all who received this law. It became abundantly evident that mankind needed help--Divine help.
God was quite willing to provide a means for man to rectify his situation. He provided a Savior, His own Son, who did for humanity what humanity could not do for itself. He also prepared a wonderful message that announces this provision to mankind--the Gospel of Christ.
Now, this is the dilemma. God places before mankind a blessing and a curse, life and death. He tells him what is involved in choosing death and the curse. God cannot dwell with personalities who are unlike Himself. In fact, we cannot either. We are not faced with quite a situation. The created (mankind) can try and impose its will upon God, forcing Him to live forever with those who hate Him and refuse His kindness. The very thought is preposterous, for God is the Creator, and has provided a way for man to resolve the separation that has formed between him and God. The other choice is that man will have to take the consequences of refusing clemency.
That is why there is a hell. Men will not be punished for making a choice, but for making a wrong and foolish one--one they did not have to make. They will be punished for choosing their own way over God's beneficent way. Such people will, in the end, get precisely what they wanted--a no-God eternity. It is the ABSENCE of God or any form of Divine influence that constitutes the suffering. God will give them what they wanted, honoring their free will, and they will find it was no bargain at all.
My problem is that I don't know if I'm really saved or not. I followed the plan of salvation by believing, repenting, & being baptised but I always worry if my baptism was valid or not because I might not have understood enough about Jesus and his death or I might not have really repented or I might not have understood enough about baptism etc.
Many believers struggle with this difficulty, but choose to keep silent about it. Some even ignore the problem altogether. You are one of the honest souls who acknowledge it, and I commend you for it.
First, the validity of your baptism does not depend on you understanding everything about baptism. If that was the requirement, no one's baptism would ever be valid. All of the teaching about baptism--ALL of it--is given to those who have already been baptized. It is designed to persuade them of what really occurred when they were baptized, whether they realized it or not.
The premier passage on this subject is Romans 6:1-12. I suggest that you read this passage, preceding your reading with a prayer for understanding. The prayer could be worded in the same manner as David's prayers for understanding in Psalm 119:34,73,125,144,169.
Here is what you want to see in the passage. Remember that this is not a commentary on how you felt. Neither is it a statement of what should have happened. This is God's statement on what DID happen when you were baptized. It assumes you were serious when you were baptized, which I can tell is true of you. Otherwise, you would not be concerned about the matter. Referring to our obedience in baptism, verse 17 of that chapter refers to us "obeying from the heart the form of the doctrine." It does not say we SHOULD have obeyed from the heart, but that we DID. Baptism is the "form" of the doctrine, which is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ--all of which are portrayed in baptism. The preceding verses (1-12) are the Spirit convincing us that it really DID happen.
Other shorter passages that approach your baptism in the same way are Galatians 3:26-27 and Colossians 2:10-15. Read them in the same way, as God commenting on your baptism--telling you what really happened. He will give you the faith to see this, and the assurance that it is true.
When doubts arise concerning your salvation, they do not come from your heart. These are "fiery darts," or "flaming arrows," hurled at you by the devil (Eph 6:16). These arrows are thoughts--poisonous thoughts Satan wants you to eagerly receive and ponder. This is a tactic he uses against all of God's people.
Think of the doubts as Satan's comments on your baptism. Then compare them with what God has said about your baptism. Which comment does your heart want, and even long for? I already know which ones--the ones given by God. Now this may seem very simplistic, but it is the truth. The fact that you want what God has said is your evidence that it belongs to you. Do your best to believe what God has said, and ask Him to help you do so.
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