QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 35
Do you think this scripture (Rom 3:20-26) is talking about anything except the Law of Moses in the O.T.? Do we possibly take it too far to say if we believe we will *always* obey? And what if we don't obey? Is there a need to ask forgiveness for our sins after we are in Christ? If we fail to ask forgiveness can we be lost? Notice: "We have an advocate with the Father . . . if we ask forgiveness He will forgive . . . "
First, the text in question is a very critical one in the matter of our just acquittal before God--and that is the issue presented. The law, of course, had nothing whatsoever to do with faith. In fact, the Scripture states, "Yet the law is not of faith, but 'the man who does them shall live by them'" (Gal 3:12). It gave no requirement to believe God, only to DO what He said. That, of course, was the very point on which man was condemned. He had to keep the law perfectly, and this he could not do.
Disobedience never comes from faith, but from a lack of it. That is why it must be confessed. When Moses, the servant of God, sinned in striking the rock, God said it was because "he believed not" (Num 20:12). This is an infirmity that did not end with Moses. Faith, by it's very nature, grows and increases. As it is written, "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly . . . " (2 Thess 1:3). In fact, Apostolic prayers and labors were to the intent God would "fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power" (2 Thess 1:11).
While we are in this world, our obedience and faithfulness are in direct proportion to our faith. Faith never disobeys, but is always "the victory that overcomes the world" (1 John 5:4-5). It is the believer who fails and needs forgiveness, not faith.
It is marvelous that God has provided for our condition, and well ought we to praise Him for it. Indeed, when we sin, it is never excusable, but it is forgivable, else we all would have dropped into hell a long time ago.
As to whether we will be lost if we do not ask for forgiveness, I do not believe the subject is approached this way in Christ. While we may very well be tempted to speculate on the subject, the Lord appeals to our hearts when He says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). The people of God are approached as individuals who are reconciled to God. They are told of the exceeding great and precious promises of God, and of His unwavering commitment to bring them to Himself through Christ Jesus. There are also warnings, however, but they are necessary when an "evil heart of unbelief" enters, causing us to "depart from the living God" (Heb 3:12).
On the matter of faith, rather than possibly taking it too far, I fear we do not take it far enough. Jesus said, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mk 9:23). It is the only thing declared capable of getting hold of God's grace (Eph 2:8), and without it, it is not possible to please God (Heb 11:6). I know of no revealed inadequacy concerning faith. Even faith the size of a mustard seed is unquestionably strong (Matt 17:20). Among other things, this confirms is not mere intellectual assent to the truth, the embrace of truth with the heart--something involving persuasion and confidence.
To summarize, every place obedience is extolled, it is associated with faith, and everywhere disobedience and failure is found, it is traced back to unbelief. Remember, when the disciples were unable to cast the demon out of an oppressed boy, Jesus said their inability was because of their "unbelief" (Matt 17:20).
"Do not be anxious. . ." I have not done the Greek on this. But would this be an imperative and indicate that we are acting in doubt and sin by being such?
God is gracious in dealing with His children, and not quick to condemn them in their weakness. Sin is not so much a deed as it is a manner. Being anxious can lead to sin, for it springs from doubt. It is possible to be tempted to be anxious, yet in the energy of the Spirit cast it down. Being anxious is somewhat like fear. Fear is not right, and can lead to sin. Yet we can say with the Psalmist, "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You" (Psa 56:3).
As I understand, the word translated "anxious" mans filled with, or dominated by, care or concern. It is a form of reasoning that, by it's very nature, excludes God. It is something to be resisted in the power of the Spirit--a sort of stronghold that needs to be cast down. We must take care not to leave those who are grappling with being anxious with the notion they are in a state of rebellion. They should rather be encouraged to rise up in the Spirit and cast the care down, for it has exalted itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:3-5).
Recall that once Paul said, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead" (2 Cor 1:8-9). Under those difficult circumstances, Paul fled to the Lord for refuge--but it apparently was not without considerable difficulty. He did not bother wrestling with whether despairing (a form of care) was a sin or not, but focused his resources on casting it down.
"What does the New Testament say about restitution?"
There is no law or directive on restitution in the New testament writings. The only reference I know is a statement made by Zaccheus. "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold" (Lk 19:8). I gather from the answer of our Lord that He recognized the validity of the principle. "This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham" (Lk 19:9).
In my understanding, this law (Exodus, chapters 21 and 22), was required because of the hardness of Israel's heart. In Christ, it is assumed that the individual is personally direct able by the Lord. Matters that may require restitution will be resolved at a personal level, in fellowship with Christ.
"What does covering mean in I Corinthians 11:1-16 and what does verse 10 mean when it refers to the woman having power on her head because of the angels?"
The comments on 'covering" in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians is strange to the Western mind. It denotes the principle of recognizing authority. The person covered is acknowledging subjection to another person on earth. Thus subjection is Divinely imposed, and not traced back to the mere custom of the times. It also pertains to the assembly of the saints in which God-ordained matters are to be acknowledged and lived out. This is the reasoning presented in verses 4-6 of that chapter.
The spirit draws from nature, showing that the woman's long hair naturally confirms her subjection to the men--in particular, her husband. The Word does not make a critical issue of this matter, but leaves it in the area of conscience. In his reasoning on the matter, Paul refuses to engage in extensive arguments about the matter. "If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God" (verse 16). He is not referring to the custom of being contentious, but to that of women not being covered. He simply states that the Apostles and the churches had no other custom, or practice, but refuses to be contentious about the matter. Neither, indeed, does he make this a test of fellowship. He appears to appeal more to nature, or a commonsense argument. At any rate, believers everywhere should make it their busy to display the God-ordained areas of subjection as specified in verse 3. In my opinion, this should not be avoided as though it made no difference at all. Nor, indeed, should it be approached as though it were a fundamental issue.
As to the reference to angels, believers have been brought into the fellowship of angels (Heb 12:22), and the angels are ministers to them (Heb 1:13-14). We have every reason to believe they are present in our assemblies (something few people think about). Paul exhorted Timothy "before the elect angels" (1 Tim 5:21), as though reminding him of their presence and interest in the affairs of the saints. It is well to remember that angels are themselves subjects of another, and function in strict recognition of that circumstance. We are told of the six-winged seraphim, who covered their faces and feet before the presence of the Lord (Isa 6:2). The four living creatures in the book of Revelation appear to do the same (Rev 4:8).
For believers to be in the presence of these impressive heavenly creatures who themselves acknowledge their subjection, and yet refuse to acknowledge their own subjection, would seem ludicrous and offensive.
"What is your opinion of the Name "Christian Church." I do not see this as a scriptural name in the Bible."
Although I have long been associated with the Christian Church (55 years), that name (or any name) is nowhere found in Scripture. It denotes a truth that can be found in the Word, namely an assembly of those who are "of Christ," but its origin is from men, not God. The most common identity of the church is "church of God,) mentioned no less than eight times (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1 Tim 3:5). Yet, even in those instances, it is not used as a name or title. It rather emphasizes the origin of the church, as well as its ultimate destiny.
The phrase "churches of Christ" is used in Romans 16:16, but is not intended to be a name there wither. The point in that passage is that a greeting is sent from the assemblies belonging to Jesus.
"When Jesus died on the cross which part of Him died? If it were only the man part where was the God part during the suffering and death? Did the God part suffer? Did It die with the body? (I know It didn't.) "
Before the Word came into the world, He divested Himself of, what I would call, the prerogatives of Deity. While His essential Person did not change, He "emptied Himself," or "made Himself of no reputation" (Phil 2:5-8). We are not capable of knowing all that was involved in this humbling of Himself--but we may rest assured it was more than are capable of discerning.
That babe in the manger was not omniscient, omnipresent, nor omnipotent--and that was a voluntary circumstance. He had to "increase in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man." That was also voluntary. Of His own will, and in obedience to the Father, He became "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Many of us have come long way to be in Christ. The sordid backgrounds from which we have come seem a great distance behind us. But we must ever remember, the greatest distance was traversed by our Lord, who came, suffered, learned obedience, and died--all of His own will, and for our sakes. Little wonder there is no hope of escaping if we neglect "so great salvation."
As to your questions, they might best be answered by asking, Which part was "made of a woman, made under the Law?" Which part did Joseph protect when he took the Holy Child down into Egypt? Which part became wearied, hungered, thirsted, and was tempted? Which part agonized in the garden, and cried out upon the cross? Which part was beaten, received stripes, and had thorns crushed upon His head? If a person chooses to use the terminology "which part," that is the part that died.
I do not, however, consider this a good way of viewing the matter. Far better to confess, "Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory" (1 Tim 3:16). Better to stand back and glory in the Lord for something transcendent to our understanding, yet that can be believed and trusted by the grace of God.
"Is _________ correct in your thinking, Given, that while on earth the Jesus that was seen by men was only a man come from God?"
Absolutely not. John the Baptist was "a man sent from God" (John 1:6), and Jesus was superior to John. Jesus, by His own confession, was ""The one who comes from above is above all" (John 3:31), and was "from above" (John 8:23). He was man, but not mere man, for He was conceived by the Holy spirit, and thus is called "the ONLY begotten of the Father FULL of grace and truth" (John 1:14). If, as Micah prophesied, Christ's "goings forth are of , from everlasting" (Micah 5:2), He certainly was not "only a man come from God." Jesus said He was the Bread that "comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:33). That certainly does not sound like "only a man." Categorically He said, "For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent me" (John 6:38). Paul writes "He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe" (Eph 4:10). And that is only a sampling. there simply is too much revelation on this to philosophize about Jesus being "only a man sent from God."
"Did the "God part" of Jesus stay with the Father during His earthly life?"
Jesus emptied Himself, He did not divide Himself. He voluntarily refused to use His powers. When commenting on His eternality, He said "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58), showing that His Person had not changed, only His appearance and ministry. This is why His incarnation is called a "humbling" (Phil 2:8).
When Jesus came into the world, the Father said "Let all the angels of God worship Him" (Heb 1:6). In fact, it was "the Word" that was in the beginning and was God that became flesh (John 1:1,14). Hebrews further comments that it was the preincarnate Word that came into the world. "I have come to do your will O God" (Heb 10:7-9).
Jesus received worship when upon earth, and never rebuked any person for doing so. Even demons worshipped Him. They knew the "God-part," as you have said, was not in heaven. They certainly did not worship any other "man" (Mark 5:6-7).
Further, when Jesus was transfigured, that certainly was not manhood being displayed, but His Deity. we know this is the case because Peter later wrote, "For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (2 Pet 1:17).
"One more, if it is true that Jesus' "God part" remained in heaven while He was upon earth, did the man/God reunite at His accession and is the two part now at the right hand of God?"
The first part is not true. God did not reunite the Divine with the human, but "highly exalted Christ." The two natures were never separated. That is why God manifest in the flesh" is called a great mystery. When He was upon earth, Jesus was "God manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim 3:16). The "fullness of the Godhead" dwelt in Him bodily, and that according to God's good pleasure (Col 1:19; 2:9).
"When did men begin to use Chapters and Verses in the Bible? Why do we embrace a system that was not part of the original writing of scriptures?"
It is my understanding, according to translation experts, that the consistent division of the text into chapters had its origin in the Vulgate version, (which was translated by Jerome in the 3rd-4th century) and became a consistent manner around the tenth century. This subject is also to be considered in view of the Holy Spirit's reference to "the second Psalm" in Acts 13:33.
Early in the third century, Ammonius of Alexander constructed a harmony of the Gospels. He used, as I understand, chapter and verse divisions.
The obvious reason for the division of the text was to facilitate more ready reference to the text. This became more popular as the text actually came into the hands of the people. Early in church history, the Bible was not in the hands of the people as it was in later centuries. The canon itself, or the sixty-six books, was not finalized until nearly the fifth century. It is my persuasion that God governed that whole process.
The Word of God ascribes no unusual value to the original text--that is something left for the purported scholars to do. The original ten commandments, as you know, were "written with the finger of God" (Ex 31:18). The original tablets were called "the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables" (Ex 32:16). Moses broke those tables at the foot of the mount (Ex 32:19). When the second set of tables were given, God wrote them also (Ex 34:1,4,28; Deut 4:13; 10:1-4). Those original tables were then placed within the ark of the covenant, making them completely inaccessible to any mortal. If the notion that the original was to be maintained is true, it certainly would have applied to something written by God Himself. The truth of the matter, however, is that it is not true.
While this not something to be made into an issue, it is my persuasion that God superintended the maintenance of the text as well as the origin of it. Were this not the case, the Word would have been destroyed long ago, as Satan desired. I believe this included placing the accumulated text in its present form. That, of course, is only my opinion. To me, there are three incontrovertible proofs of the activity of God among men. One is the continued presence of His word, the second is the existence of the Jews, and the third is the presence of the church. Satan has energetically sought to destroy all three, and has been able to do so.
In my opinion, thankfulness to God is in order for the convenient manner in which the Scriptures are now provided to us. I would not think it advantageous in any manner to revert to a text in a foreign language that did not have sentences clearly marked, to say nothing of chapters and verses. God raised up men expert in this form of writing to bring His Word more within the range of those He came to save. He does not ask us to retrieve an original manuscript, for no such thing even exists. The very fact that only "copies" are available to us confirms that God has placed no inherent value on that approach to His Word.
The following additional information was forwarded to me. Chapters and verses as we know them were a fairly late development. There were some earlier division systems made for cross-referencing purposes, but our modern chapters/verses were first used in a Latin translation printed by Robert Stephanus in 1555. These markings were followed in the Geneva Bible in 1560, an English translation.
If you would like to know more information about this subject, I suggest "A General Introduction to the Bible, Revised and Expanded", by Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, pp. 338-342 and 553-554.
"Romans 6:9b--what is meant by ".....death no longer has power over Him." (speaking of Jesus?)"
The meaning is that when Jesus was raised from the dead, He passed beyond the domain of death, having conquered it. Death did have power over Him, but only because He submitted to is. As it is written, "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil 2:8). It was "through death" that Jesus "destroyed him that had the power of death" (Heb 2:14). Having taken away the sin of the world and conquered the devil, Jesus was raise and exalted where neither death nor the devil had access to Him.
The point of the Romans passage relates to our own identity with Christ in baptism. Just as He was raised to die no more, so we are raised to a state where sin no longer has dominion over us. That is the reasoning of verses 10-15.
Unlike our Lord, however, we have not yet been exalted into heaven. Thus we must arm ourselves to resist the devil and say "NO!" to his temptations, for we remain in the domain in which he operates.
"Why is the Jehovah's Witnesses considered a cult?"
Because Christ Jesus and His reconciling death are not at the heart of their doctrine. They have chosen to place their doctrinal accent where God has not placed it: i.e., the name of God, or more precisely, their interpretation of the name of God.
"I know two women who are living together in a lesbian lifestyle but they deny the sexual aspect of their lives together so don't consider it as sinful; what can I tell them concerning this?"
I am not sure what you mean by "lesbian lifestyle." There is nothing wrong of itself for two women to live together, any more than it is for two men to do so. If that co-occupancy is driven by a fleshly attraction for each other, or the lust of the flesh, it emphatically is wrong, and will incur the judgment of God.
The Scriptures are clear on this matter. "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion" (Romans 1:25-27).
If the ladies in question fit into the above category, they are in sin and condemned by God. Their perception of the matter is of no relevance whatsoever.
The following is a dialogue that took place between brother Blakely (Given) and a member of a Bible List from Texas. The first section is brother Blakely's posting. Following it is a reply, then brother Blakely's reply.
"Jesus was superior to John the Baptist."
Yes, because John was only a prophet, but Jesus was the Anointed One.
"Jesus, by His own confession, was "The one who comes from above is above all" (John 3:31), and was "from above" (John 8:23)."
Being "from above" signifies having experienced a "spiritual birth." It
indicates any person who follows God's will. That includes Jesus and all of his followers.
"He was man, but not mere man, for He was conceived by the Holy spirit, and thus is called "the ONLY begotten of the Father FULL of grace and truth" (John 1:14)."
The term monogenHs indicates uniqueness or specialty of relationship. As the Messiah, Jesus had a special relationship with God. Still, he was human. I agree that he was conceived through a miracle, but so were Adam and Eve -- and they were human.
Micah 5:2 indicates that the Anointed One (Messiah) was part of God's
plan since the beginning -- "whose origin is of old -- from ancient times."
"Jesus said He was the Bread ... "
Yes, that was a metaphor. The Jew who accepted Jesus' internalization
of the Torah would receive spiritual life, not like the physical life that
the manna gave the Israelites in the desert.
Paul writes "He who
descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe" (Eph 4:10).
Or Paul wrote...
"...that he might fill all men with his gifts." (NAB)
Or he wrote...
"...that he might fill all things." (RSV)
Or he wrote...
"The one who went down, he is also the one who "rose up" over and above all
of the things of the heavens, so that he would fill all things." (NET)
Jesus made everything complete...i.e., all of God's teachings. I agree with
the Catholic Church that this resulted in his giving gifts to people, which
is what the passage which Paul is exegeting says.
"Jesus emptied Himself, He did not divide Himself. He voluntarily refused to use His powers.
The passage he alludes to (Phi 2:1ff.) says nothing whatsoever about
using "powers." Jesus' emptying himself represents his attitude of humility. Rather than deciding (as Adam had) to try to become like God, Jesus made himself a slave. The passage is about attitudes, and in particular, his is the attitude which should be present in all Christian relationships.
"He said "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58).
This signified only that the Messiah was part of God's plan even before
Abraham's time. Thus, when he said that Abraham SAW his day, he
meant that Abraham knew that the Messiah was going to come.
"When Jesus came into the world, the Father said, "Let all the angels of God worship Him" (Heb 1:6).
The "him" that the messengers are to bow down to is God, not Jesus. Read Dt 32:43; Psa 97:7 in the LXX, which the author quotes. In creating such a marvelous plan, God deserved worship. For he made the Anointed One a son and heir -- more than merely a prophetic servant.
"In fact, it was "the Word" that was in the beginning and was God that became flesh (John 1:1,14)."
"The word" = "the message" = "the gospel." Jesus was the personification of the gospel.
"Hebrews further comments that it was the preincarnate Word that came into the world. "I have come to do your will O God" (Heb 10:7-9)."
When it says of the Anointed One," Then I said, 'Look I am coming, God, to do what you want. In a heading of a scroll it has been written about me.'"
...it passage only indicates that the Messiah would be God's obedient
servant, just as it had been predicted about him. The author implies that
his obedience to God included replacing the first covenant with a second.
"Further, when Jesus was transfigured, that certainly was not manhood being displayed, but His Deity. we know this is the case because Peter later wrote, "For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
That refers to Jesus' anointing at the time of his baptism (Mt 3:11f.).
"That is why God manifest in the flesh" is called a great mystery. When He was upon earth, Jesus was "God manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim 3:16).
Me (quoting from my 1 Timothy commentary): The group of people who belong to God are those who adhere to the basic teachings about Jesus. It is Jesus who came to earth as Messiah, was righteous before God, was seen (to have resurrected) by messengers (human and divine), who ascended, and whom Paulus himself and others "proclaim among nations." Once again, Paulus subtly argues in favor of the gentile mission
and against the points made by the Judaizing opponents. But this gentile
mission is part of the "pillar and basis of truth." Learning such things is
"the secret of piety"--you cannot be devout without it.
"The "fullness of the Godhead" dwelt in Him bodily, and that according to God's good pleasure (Col 1:19; 2:9).
The fullness of God's nature dwelling in him merely signifies that he was an
obedient servant who always did what God wanted him to do. Thus, people could observe the character of Jesus and see nothing ungodly.
Brother Blakely's Reply to the above
Well, you have certainly let us know where you stand on the matter. God too has spoken extensively concerning His Son. I do not recall where He ever compared Him to just another man -- not even the devil did that. I also know of no place where God charged anyone with thinking too highly of His Son or entertaining, or promoting, a view of His Son that was too lofty.
Your statement that Hebrews 1:6 refers to the angels worshiping God and not Jesus is the epitome of absurdity. The entire point of the passage is the superiority of the Lord Jesus to angels. In His humanity, He was made "so much better" than they. No angel was ever told, "Today I have begotten You," or "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son." The dialog concerning the Son continues to the end of the chapter. Angels worshiping God at the entrance of the Son into the world does not accent the superiority of the Son. They are in continual worship before God (Rev 7:11).
Peter's reference to the voice out of the most excellent glory was not a reference to Jesus' baptism. It came, Peter said, when "we were with Him in the holy mountain" -- not the River Jordan (2 Pet 1:18).
Adam and Eve were not conceived--they were created. Jesus was "conceived by the Holy Spirit." You are in great error likening Jesus to Adam. The Lord makes a sharp distinction between Adam and Jesus in Romans 5:14-19 and First Corinthians 15:45-47. It does not appear wise to attempt to put them on the same level, in any sense, when the Spirit labors to show the difference between them.
As to "the fullness of God's nature dwelling in Him merely signifying he was an obedient servant . . . ," that certainly is not the point the Spirit makes in Colossians, or in John 1:6, where we are said to have "received of His fullness." Colossians one associates that statement with Jesus having preeminence in all things, and reconciling all things to God. Colossians two relates it to our completeness in Christ. In both cases, the results of Christ's obedience are the point, and not the obedience itself. This is something that could be said of no other man's obedience. Noah, Abraham, Moses, nor any of the prophets could alter the condition of their peers or those after them by their obedience. Jesus, however, does.
I am alarmed that you argue so extensively to reduce our perception of Jesus, when God through the Spirit urges us so strongly to raise our view of Him. I will take my stand in promoting a more exalted view of Him. If the half had never been told of Solomon's wisdom, how much more can be said, and perceived, of the Son of God.
Now we must be patient until the day when God is justified in all of His sayings. Both of us, of course, will give an account to Him for what we have said here. As for myself, I want to be found emphasizing and exalting Christ, since my eternal destiny depends on what I think of Him. Yours does also.
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