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A coworker (non-christian) asked me to explain how God populated the earth without involving incest. Have to admit that he stumped me. At first I told him that at some point, it must have been that God allowed brother and sister (Adam and Eve's kids) to procreate. He responded by saying, "Well, wouldn't that by hypocritical of God to go back on that and say that incest was wrong." 

Adam and Eve had the same father, but were certainly not guilty of incest. Incest is set within the context of other availabilities. The Scriptures are very careful to provide appropriate genealogies that show procreation quickly moved beyond the confines of the early family. Marriage between close relatives obvious took place, but is never accentuated in Scripture, because it was a necessity, not a preference. That is one of the reasons mankind was commissioned to "be fruitful and multiply" in the beginning (Adam and Eve), and after the Flood (Noah and family)--Gen 1:28; 9:1). Things quickly moved away from intra-family marriages.

As for God being hypocritical, the charge deserves no answer. Inform this brash person that he will answer to God for what he has said, and we will all hear what God says to him. His question betrays a disrespect for God, an ignorance of the facts, and a hard heart--and none of them are excusable.

A group from the Church of Christ, "With the Elijah Message" is having a presentation in town next weekend. 

I believe this is related to Malachi's prophecy about the return of Elijah prior to the coming of the Messiah (Mal 4:5). You may recall the disciples asked Jesus about this prophecy (Matt 17:10-11). Even though this question was asked after John had died, Jesus responded Elijah would come and restore all things, just as Malachi said. When He said John the Baptist was Elijah, I gather He meant He was an introduction to the prophecy of a most influential prophet, and not the fulfillment of it. This is seen in His words about John the Baptist. "But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands" (Matt 17:12). This, of course, if not what Malachi said would happen. John did NOT restore all things, but was himself victimized by the people, as Jesus said. That is why He preceded His remarks by saying, "But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands."

While I am not familiar with the particular group you mentioned, I imagine they are emphasizing some aspect of Elijah's return. They could also be emphasizing the necessity of making a decision, as Elijah demanded on Mount Carmel.

What about baptism for the dead? (1 Cor 15:29)

Baptism is not always used in regard to baptism into Christ. Christ mentioned He had a special baptism to be baptized with, and was straightened, or held in, until it was accomplished (Luke 12:50). That was the baptism of suffering, or being overwhelmed with suffering to the point of death. That is the baptism referred to in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians. The argument is that if the death are not raised, it would be absurd to submit to martyrdom. Baptism for the dead is submitting to death in the hope of the resurrection.

What do the Jews (orthodox) think about the soul? Specifically, what do they think happens to the soul at death? Please give Bible references in your answer if possible.

I am not an expert on Jewish orthodoxy on this point. Neither, indeed, do I feel their orthodoxy carries much weight. Prior to Jesus, the Lord did not reveal much on this subject. Solomon said the human spirit, upon death, returns to God who gave it (Eccl 12:7). Moses said the patriarch's upon death, were "gathered unto their people" (Gen 25:8). When the child David had through Bathsheba died, he said, " (2 Sam 12:23). John the Apostle saw the "souls of them that were slain for the Word of God" (Rev 6:9). Paul said to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). He also said he had a desire to "depart and be with Christ" (Phil 1:23). 

We do not know precisely where departed souls go. We do know they are conscious and even learn, for Peter James and John saw Moses and Elijah in glory talking with Jesus about His death, concerning which neither one of them uttered one word while on the earth (Lk 9:30-31). Jesus also taught of an occasion when Abraham, in an unseen realm, talked with another departed spirit about Moses and the Prophets, who did not appear until hundreds of years after Abraham lived (Lk 16:29-31).

If Jesus' sacrifice for sins is once and for all, then why does God Himself reinstate animal sacrifices in the millennial reign for the forgiveness of sins? (See Ezekiel 43 on)

First, God has spoken concerning the sacrifice of Jesus, and the singularity and effectiveness of it. Concerning Christ's sacrifice, it is written, "this He did ONCE FOR ALL when He offered up Himself" (Heb 7:27). "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place ONCE FOR ALL, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12). " . . . but now, ONCE AT THE END OF THE AGES, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb 9:26). " . . . so Christ was OFFERED ONCE to bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:28). "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL" (Heb 10:10). "For by ONE OFFERING He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified" (Heb 10:14).

When it comes to an effective offering, or sacrifice, for sin, there is only one. God recognizes only one. It was accomplished when Jesus offered Himself without spot to God. That offering, and only that offering, took away the sins of the world. To ask, therefore, "If Jesus' sacrifice is once for all," is not a proper question. It is IS once for all, and it IS effective. Our understanding of all other Scripture must be brought into line with that Divine affirmation.

Secondly, the text in Ezekiel, particularly 44:11, is to be considered in view of the Lord Jesus, and not the restoration of an order God affirms NEVER pleased Him (Heb 10:4-8). Verses 2-3 of Ezekiel 44 refer to the "Prince," whom I understand to be the Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate priest. From the standpoint of the temple, I understand Ezekiel's prophecy to refer immediately to the completion of the second temple, and the reinstitution of the temple service, following the Babylonian captivity. This is the subject of extensive commentary by Ezra, Zechariah, and Hague. 

The Ezekiel text does NOT say God "reinstated animal sacrifices," or that the text is associated with "the millennial reign," or that that sacrifices were "for the forgiveness of sins." Those are conclusions men have made, and superimposed them upon the Ezekiel text. Jesus, Who knew all Scripture perfectly, never made such an allusion or statement concerning Ezekiel, the rebuilding of the temple, or the reinstitution of animal sacrifices. The Apostles, who were given to comprehend the truth in an extraordinary way, never referred to Ezekiel in such a manner. It remained for theologians, far removed from those Apostles, to come up with these explanations.

Concerning ALL sacrifices other than that of Jesus, the Scriptures testify, "In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure" (Heb 10:6). What is more, they are categorically said to have "CEASED to be offered" (Heb 10:1-4). Whatever we may think of the Ezekiel text, it cannot overturn what was plainly written nearly 700 years AFTER Ezekiel's prophecy. The Holy Spirit, who inspired all Scripture, knew about the book of Ezekiel when He inspired the statements concerning the sufficiency of Christ's death.

Suffice it to say, Ezekiel's prophecy cannot mean God will reinstitute animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins, when He has plainly declared remission is exclusively associated with Christ's ONE sacrifice for sins. When Israel returns to the Lord, they may very well reinstitute sacrifices (although even that is open to question). It will not be due to a Divine reinstatement of the sacrificial system, however, for that would involve God repudiating the sacrifice of His own Son. He has already declared He is satisfied with that sacrifice, and that it accomplished what animal sacrifices could not accomplish. Further, the acceptance of Christ's one sacrifice has moved God to highly exalt Him, sitting Him at His own right hand, to make intercession (Phil 2:9; Heb 7:25).

I suggest you read all Scripture, whether Ezekiel or the other prophets, with the Lord Jesus in mind, and not a millennial reign or the reinstitution of a sacrificial system. I know this is a proper procedure, because Jesus said of all Scripture, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ey have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me" (John 7:39).

How can we approach holiness and avoid being legalistic?

The secret to holiness is fellowship with the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3). We are, of course, "called into" that unparalleled intimacy and fellowship (1 Cor 1:9). In this arrangement, we become "participants in the Divine nature," "partakers of Christ," and even "partakers of His holiness" (2 Pet 1:4; Heb 3:14; 12:10). As you well pointed out, our blessed Lord lived this out with absoluteness and precision. He will do no differently while dwelling in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:16-17; John 14:21,23).

Holiness can be approached legalistically, as though it were an end of itself. In this approach, holiness is largely identified with what a person does NOT do. While that is surely involved in holiness, it is not the whole of it. The Father said of the Son, "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy" (Heb 1:9). Notice the order of this statement: First, "loved righteousness." Second, "hated wickedness." The latter is the result of the former. No person can be brought to love righteousness by hating wickedness. But all people will be brought to hate wickedness when they love righteousness. The reason is that wickedness conflicts with the primary love of righteousness. The result of this twofold attitude is nothing less than "holiness."

True holiness cannot be impractical, legalistic, or inconsiderate of the needs of others. Such reactions are impossible because they contradict the Divine nature in which we have been called to participate. Any other kind of holiness is spurious and pretentious. It is not real. On this very matter, Jesus said, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:20). Were mere disciplined living the objective of holiness, it would not be possible to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees. They were punctilious in their observance of rituals, procedures, and perfunctory obedience. However, as you know, there was not a shred of goodness in them. Although outwardly they appeared "to people as righteous," they were actually "full of hypocrisy and wickedness" (Matt 23:28).

The spiritual approach to holiness helps to protect the individual against the legalism you mention. Remember the words of the Spirit, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). When that is followed, it will not be possible to be legalistic, nor will it be possible to be inconsiderate of our fellow man. 

It is our approach to holiness, and not the holiness itself, that is the issue at point. When we approach it within the framework of Divine fellowship, and with a mind to ultimately see the Lord in all of His glory, we will realize a gracious harvest of real holiness. In our pursuit of "true righteousness and holiness" (Eph 4:24), the Lord comes along by us, ensuring that the goal is reached. Through the Holy Spirit, the things God requires will be perfected in us, through our faith. That is one of the reasons the Spirit is called "the Spirit of holiness" (Rom 1:4).

No endeavor driven by faith and the compulsion to please the Lord will be in vain. All endeavors lacking these qualities are destined to futility.

What are the strongest passages declaring Christ's Deity?

The ministry of John the Baptist pointed out the Deity of Jesus, for Whom he prepared the way. "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for OUR GOD" (Isa 40:3;.Matt 3:3; Mk 1:2-3; Lk 3:3-5; John 1;23). 

Many of His titles emphasize His Deity. "The Lord of glory" (1 Cor 2:8), 'Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matt 1:23). Isaiah referred to Him as "the Everlasting Father" and the "Mighty God" (Isa 9:6). He is called "the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ" (Tit 2:13). He is "the Lord of all" (Acts 10:36). Even the Jews knew the term "Son of God" made Jesus "equal with God"--that is why they rejected Him (John 5;18). He was also "God manfest (or made known) in the flesh" (1 Tim 3:16).

Before coming in to the world, He was "with God" and "was God" (John 1:1,14). All things were "created by Him for for Him" (Col 1:16), and God is said to have created all things (Gen 1:1). The Father Himself refers to Jesus as "God" (Heb 1:8). He is "one with the Father" (John 10:30). 

In viewing our Lord as "the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:5), the Spirit makes a point of His Deity, even though he appeared to His enemies as nothing more than a man. He had the Spirit 'without measure" or limit (John 3:34). All Divine "fulness dwells in him (Col 1:19; 2:9). 

The preeminent proof of His Deity is found in His Saviorhood. He is the Savior (Lk 2:11; Acts 5:31; Phil 3:20; 2 Tim 1:10; Tit 1:4; Tit 3:6 . . . etc). That is a term exclusively applied to Deity (Isa 45:15,21; James 4;12). Only Deity can save. That is a basic tenet of Scripture, and that is the exclusive ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What is a "personal relationship with Christ." I have always believed in God, but recently heard about this, and am now confused.

The phrase "personal relationship" is not found in the Bible. It was developed by men who sought to distinguish between a mere formal association with religion and a practical one. Actually, when it comes to God and Christ, there is no such thing as an impersonal relationship, or one that is not a two-way street. In Christ, we receive from God and speak to and serve Him. The Bible refers to this as being "called into the fellowship of His (God's) Son," Jesus Christ (First Corinthians 1:9). Jesus referred to it as Himself and the Father taking up residency within us (John 14:21,23).

It is true that sin has separated humanity from God--and that is true of everyone. The Bible says "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). That means sin has made us unlike God. Outside of Christ we do not think, talk, or understand like God. The Bible also refers to this as being "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1-3). That means sin has made us insensitive to God and uncomfortable in His presence.

The idea of Jesus being a "Bridge to life" is also not found in the Bible. I think I know what people are trying to say, but they have not said it correctly. Jesus is the "Way" to God, as He said in John 14:6. By that, He does not mean He is a mere Bridge, but that he personally BRINGS us to God. That is expressly taught in 1 Peter 3:18 and Hebrews 2:10. When we come into Christ Jesus, He leads us like a Shepherd leads and cares for sheep--and it is all personal.

You said you have always believed in God. By this, I assume you mean you have never really questioned the existence of God, or your need of Him. That, however, is not what "believe" means in the Bible. Believing is trusting in and depending on God through Jesus Christ. I certainly do not question that you are doing this. In fact, I would be happy to know that you are--personally depending upon the death and life of Jesus to bring you all the way to heaven.

If any Scripture makes you unsure or doubtful that you are saved, you should take the matter seriously. The thing to do, however, is not to despair, but to share with God Himself that you want to be sure you are His child. This will not be accomplished by repeating a canned prayer. There is also nothing like this in the Bible, that is, repeating a prayer smeone else made up. 

I commend you for wanting to know you are saved, and desiring to learn more. God Himself is pleased with such an attitude, and will help you be satisfied in these matters.

You have already made clear that you really do want the Lord, really want to know you are saved, and desire confidence. Those are all things the Lord wants for you also. Be sure that you have done what those coming to Christ are asked to do. There is the matter of resolutely turning away from a life that does not require God. That is called repentance, and Jesus will help you do that if you have not done so already (Acts 5:31; Acts 2:38; 3:19). You should also publically confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, confirming you wish to be known as His follower (Matt 10:32-33). You should also be baptized, buried in water for the remission of your sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16). In this, you become identified with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. This is taught in Romans 6:1-11 and Colossians 2:11-12). These are things the Lord tells us to do. He will also assist us to do them in a manner that is acceptable to God.

You do need to identify yourself with other Christians. The Bible says we are not to forsake gathering together with others who are in Christ (Hebrews 10:25). In our day, this is a difficult thing to do because of the many divisions in Christendom. It is easy to become confused, and even irritated, with all of the different approaches to Christianity. If you make up your mind on this, however, the Lord will also help you in this matter.

Once again, a "personal relationship" is really the only kind there is with Jesus Christ. It is accomplished through believing and trusting in Him, and living in strict harmony with that faith.

What about being rebaptized?

As you probably know already, all of the teaching concerning baptism is addressed to people who have already been baptized (Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 3:26-28; Colossians 2:11-12; 1 Peter 3:21 . . . etc. That simply means no person grasped all that occurred when he was baptized into Christ. Not even the reality of being baptized "into Christ" is known to any measurable degree by the person being baptized. That knowledge comes later. The preeminent qualification for being baptized is believing that Jesus Christ is the son of God. It was on the strength of this acknowledgment that Philip baptized the eunuch (Acts 8:37-38). That is what must be known--and even then, it is known only in an introductory way. 

The only valid reason for being rebaptized is that the first baptism was not a valid one (like John's baptism in the case of the Ephesians (Acts 19:3-5). In that instance, it was the understanding rather than the act itself that invalidated their baptism. They knew of neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit. If a person was not honest in being baptized, I suppose that also would justify being rebaptized. That, of course, is something to be determined by the individual. In both of these cases, baptism would be the appeal to God for a good conscience, as taught in 1 Peter 3:21. In such instances, no real baptism had occurred at all--only an outward activity.

Can you give me a step by step track of the last days, rapture, jesus' return, the end of this word, resurrection of the body etc!!!!???? 

This approach is not taken in Scripture. Any such listing is strictly a human interpretation. That situation means the Lord does not want us to view the end of all things in this way. It is too academic, and does not promote a strong faith. 

In general, there is a falling away that will occur before Jesus returns (2 Thess 2:3). In my judgment, we are in the midst of that right now. Peter describes the end of all things as occurring suddenly, when Jesus comes as a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10-13). Paul says it will all take place "in a moment, in thew twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor 15:51-52). 

The point in scripture is not the sequence of events, but whether or not we are ready when it comes. That is where the Spirit leaves it, and that is where we must leave it.

Are the two 1000 years in Revelation 20 literal years? Thank you for answering my previous question. 

In my judgment, they denote a sigjnificant period, yet not an eternal one. It is possible they can mean a literal period of time, although that would seem to diffuse the significance of the passage, making it understandable to those not having the Spirit. 

This is the only place in Scripture such a period is mentioned. Jesus nor the other Apostles made any direct reference to it. That leads me to two conclusions. First, it must fit into what has been more clearly believed. Second, we dare not found a doctrine on the Revelation passage.

Rather than focusing on the expression itself, I consider it should be viewed in connection with the other periods of time mentioned in Revelation. 1,260 days (11:3; 12;6), 3-1/2 years (time, times, and half a time--12:14), and forty two months. (11:2; 13;5). All of these have to do wth trial, testing, and suffering. The thousand years (20:2,3,4,5,6,7) have to do with triumph and victory in Jesus. I consider the message to mean the latter end of the saints will be more glorious than the beginning, their blessing more significant than their testing, and their reward greater than their suffering.

I believe this is a book of perspective, not the outlining of a detailed plan.

Would Jesus have been righteous, if He had not been baptized? 

No. Of course, He was righteous, and that is why He was baptized--to fulfill it, or confirm that to be the case. There were some who refused to be baptized by John, so we do not need to speculate on this subject. The Spirit said of them, "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Luke 7:29-30).

As I am sure you already know, the servant is not greater than his Master. Those who refuse to be baptized into Christ (which is superior to John's baptism) also reject the counsel of God against themselves. They will also have to give an account to Jesus why they refused to be baptized, when he insisted on it--and He was without sin.

I'm struggling with some questions on Revelation 3:14-22. Is this directed to a Pastor? Or is it right to simply say messenger, in the introduction. Is says to the angel in verse 14. Also the strong language in the rebuke from Jesus can be taken as directed towards professing Christians, who have not entered into salvation, or very carnal Christians who are not zealous for God. Please advise. It's covered in verses 17-18.

The message is addressed to the entire church at Laodicea, but was to be delivered by the messenger of that congregation. Repeatedly, all of the seven messages are said to be "to the churches," even though they are immediately addressed to the "angel," or messenger of each church (2:7,11,17,23,29; 3:6,13,22). 

The fact that Jesus was seen as standing in the midst of these churches, holding their messengers in His hand, indicates they were genuine churches (1:13; 2:1). The church at Laodicea is also mentioned in the bok of Colossians (Col 2:1; 4:13-16). 

These were believers that had become lukewarm--they were not hat way in the beginning, as indicated by the book of Colossians. The fact that He would "spew them out of His mouth" shows their identity with Him had really taken place at some time, but had not deteriorated. His summons to them was to come back--that is why he mentions chastening. He does not speak in this manner to those who have never known Him.

The idea of "carnal Christians" has been developed by men. The Word of God uses no such language. The people at Corinth, because of their lapse back into the flesh, were called "carnal," not carnal Christians (1 Cor 3:3-4). A "carnal Christian" would be like having an angelic demon--the two things simply do not merge.

That a condition that began legitimately, but fell back into an unacceptable state is clear from the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, the removal of Israel from Canaan, and the fall of Judas--among others. Who would dare to say Adam and Eve were never in the Garden, or that Israel was never in Canaan, or that Judas was never really an Apostle? The case of Israel was written, we are told, for our learning and admonition, lest we fall into the same snare as them (1 Cor 10:1-10). They were really delivered from Egypt, but never got into Canaan.

Although the Scriptures give no clear indication that the seven churches are typical of seven church ages, history seems to confirm a definite likeness between them and church periods--although it is not exact. As believers, we should be able to see and accept any apparent likenesses, but that cannot be presented as though it was the intention of Jesus' message. It is a parallel, but not the heart, of what our Lord said to those seven very real churches with very real situations.

We have tithed faithfully for a couple of years now and although we have been tight for money at times, we have managed. Recently some financial concerns have come up that need immediate attention. Let me get right to the point--would it show a lack of faith and hurtful to God if we skipped a week or two? 

Your present circumstances are a test of your faith. God is able to resolve this dilemma, but He will do so through your faith. The purpose for the tithe is not merely to fulfill a requirement, but to have the blessing of the Lord on what remains. Because of that, we honor the Lord with the "firstfruits" of our resources, or off of the top, so to speak. As it is written, "Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase"
(Prov 3:9). All believers will be tempted to ignore this word because of circumstances. How we respond is, of course, a very personal matter. God does not govern this situation by law, but by our faith. Because of this, no person can dictate to you what to do, for that is not how this subject is addressed in Scripture--particularly in the Apostles' doctrine. 

If you stretch your faith, God will stretch, so to speak, His blessing to you. There are examples of this in God's Word. One of the more notable ones is the widow who fed herself, her son, and the prophet Elijah during a famine, with a little oil and a small measure of meal (1 Kings 17:12-16). Reading such accounts, and praying about the matter, will help your faith to grow. God can cause what you have to be adequate, and to handle untimely expenses without diminishing your giving to Him.

There is a word from God that addresses this practical aspect of life. It will build our faith to ponder it, and let it shape our prayers before the Lord. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: 'He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.' Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God" (2 Cor 9:8-11).

Be strong now, and of good courage. I speak as one who has passed through this test many times. Having raised ten children, and experienced numerous occasions when things appeared imnpossible, I can tell you God does honor faith. Ask the Lord to fulfill in you the work of faith with power, according to 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Do not bludgeon yourself over this, but simply tell the Lord your heart, just like the father who brought a sick child to Jesus. When told all things were possible to him who believed he responded, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24). The Lord will do for what what He did for that needy man. You have good reason to trust the Lord to do so. 

In the Jewish celebration of the Passover there is the seder. One of the items on the plate is a hard-boiled egg that represents "new birth" Where did this practice come from. I can't find it in the bible.

It is not in the Bible. That means the custom itself is of human origin, and is not part of God's preparation of the people for the coming of the Messiah, as well as their deliverance from Egypt. 

The "egg" used in the "seder" feast does not represent the new birth, but is "symbolic of life's cycle of birth and death," according to Gollier's encyclopedia. The following gives the significance of the other items placed on the table. I do not know the origin of all of the customs related to the "seder" meal.

"The seder (from the Hebrew word for "order") is the festal meal eaten on the first two nights of Passover, the Jewish celebration of the Exodus from Egypt. The main seder meal does not begin until the story of the Exodus has been retold through the reading of the Haggadah and, more important, reexperienced by the celebrants. This recreation of the circumstances of bondage, together with the minutiae of the deliverance, form the heart and spirit of the seder and of the Passover festival itself.

Certain foods are eaten in set order during the ceremony, including matzoth, the unleavened bread of bondage; maror, bitter herbs (grated horseradish), commemorating the bitterness of slavery; baitzah, a hard-cooked egg, symbolic of life's cycle of birth and death; zaroah, a roasted lamb bone representing the paschal lamb; haroseth, chopped nuts, apples, and wine, symbolic of the clay used by Pharaoh's Hebrew slaves to make bricks; and karpas, parsley, lettuce or other greens, as a reminder that the new growth during this spring festival brings renewed hope of universal peace. Four cups of wine are drunk at various moments in the ceremony. A goblet of wine for Elijah is placed on the seder table in the symbolic hope that the prophet, whose appearance will presage the coming of the Messiah, may enter and partake of the wine that awaits him."

Are we not made alive by God's Spirit rebirthing our spirit when we are first saved? Are we not, thereafter a life unto God because our spirits have been made eternally perfect by our sincere, humble profession of faith in Christ? I do believe that we're freed through faith in Christ from the judgments of sin and death, but we still die, and we still sin, much as we hate it. How can it be that if we are rebirthed that we are "free from transgressing?" 

Our regeneration is not yet complete. We have only the "firstfruits of the Spirit," and not the whole of it (Romans 8:23). The most obvious part of us that is yet unregenerate is our body. By faith, we are anticipating its redemption, which will occur at the resurrection. Thus it is written, "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom 8:23). 

The part of us that is born of God is incapable of sin (1 John 3:9). But there is a part of us that remains unregenerate. As you know, this is referred to as "the flesh" (Rom 8:1-13), the "natural man" (1 Cor 2:14), or the "old man" (Eph 4:22-24). What is more, everything we presently hold we hold by faith. Our salvation is as secure our faith, and only so.

Our spirits have been renewed, but not our souls, which are the expressive part of our persons. We are required to possess our souls in "patience" (Lk 21:19), bringing them under the dominion of the new creation, else we will lose them (Matt 16:26).

As long we "another law" is resident in our members (Rom 7:23), a need for vigilance remains. While it is true Jesus has "perfected forever" those who are sanctified, there is a part of us that is not in that category. That part must be crucified and mortified in the power of the Spirit, else it will cause our fall (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5). We are not obligated to the flesh, having been liberated from its dominion. However, that freedom is only possessed by faith. That is why so many exhortations are found relative to subduing the flesh, resisting the devil, seeking the things that are above, putting off the old man, putting on the new man, looking to Jesus, running the race with patience, etc.

The "spirits of just men made perfect" does not refer to those upon the earth, but those who have completed their race. While we remain in the body, we must confess with Paul, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:12). That is why believers are admonished to "lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim 6:12), "make their calling and election sure" (2 Pet 1:10), and "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12-13). In these required activities, the Lord joins with us, ensuring we will not fail. However, should we choose to ignore those warnings, we forfeit Divine assistance in the process. Salvation from beginning to end is "by grace through faith," and faith must be kept to be effective (2 Tim 4:7).

This by no means makes salvation doubtful, or an in and out affair. It does confirm that, like Israel, we are not only being brought OUT of something, but INTO something--and we are neither completely out nor completely in while remain in the body. That we why Israel is held out as an example to us. They all came out of Egypt, but they did not all get into Canaan. The Spirit holds them out as an example to us, even affirming what happened to them was for our sakes, lest we should become complacent in our walk (1 Cor 10:1-12; Heb 3:19; 4:6).

As you well know, no soul who cleaves to the Lord with purpose of heart (Acts 11:23) will be disappointed. Faith overcomes the world, and that because of the support it receives from our blessed Lord. However, faith is not to be taken for granted. We are in a war zone, and are not allowed to forget it.

I've been wondering about a few things of the modern world . . . that is, about all that stuff that science has been bringing about. That is, they for example say that the scientists just found the deluge really happened, but it was in a small area and not the whole world, and some archeologists found the origins of the old testament stuff, he says Adam wasn't the first man he belonged to some tribe, and says the stuff it says there comes from old Babylonian myths(???), and there's also the big bang and evolution stuff that go against the geneses . . . so, that's making me think things about science and religion . . . that is the scientists sure use logic and a reasonable method to find out things, but they go against the bible. So who's right? Isn't it the time to think again? About all that religion stuff. Or is science wrong? But then . . . they made all this technology stuff and it works . . . it can't be tidally wrong . . . aaah I'm full of doubts! 

A person has to decide whom they are going to believe -- a man who FOUND something, or God who MADE everything. The Word of God was here thousands of years before these supposed findings, which are all based human reasoning and conclusion. Jesus said one of the prerequisites for believing Him was believing what Moses had to say--about the creation, and the beginning of all things. Here is what He said, "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?" (John 5:46-47). If we find it difficult to believe that Adam was the first man as God said, or that there was a flood that really covered the entire world, how will we be able to believe Jesus took away our sin, defeated the devil, and made it possible for us to go to heaven? That is what Jesus was saying.

Scientists may say they use sure logic and reasonable methods to find things out, but that certainly does not make it so. If it did, they would never have to change their minds or update their books--something they are doing all of the time. The Word of God has never been changed or updated. It has withstood all of the attacks of the supposed experts, while the garbage dumps are filled with obsolete and out-od-date books about science and logic. Decide to believe God, and He will help you sort everything out.


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