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Should the church recognize church holidays such as advent and epiphany? 

The Scriptures do not condemn people for recognizing special days. They do not allow, however, for them to make such days a test of fellowship, or bind their views on other people. The personal test that is to be applied by every individual is twofold. First, what is done must be done as unto the Lord (Romans 14:6). Second, the person must be "fully persuaded" in his own mind about the propriety of the matter (Romans 14:5). That does not mean people may simply flounder about in personal opinion. There are matters, however, on which there are no specific directives of the Lord. In those matters, the Lord allows for the dictates of a person's conscience. If, of course, the observance is not done unto the Lord with the whole heart, it is not right, even if God commanded it to be observed.

Should we be involved in Bible Studies made up of many Christians such as Catholics, Baptists, Nazarenes and Disciples of Christ? 

The question is not WHO made up the Bible studies, but what they teach. There are some very good bible studies that have been written by people associated with churches known for false teachings. These people, however, have risen higher than the sect with which they are associated. On the other hand, there are writers who are associated with churches who have basically sound doctrine, yet these men have written theological garbage.

Every teaching must be tested for itself, and the spirits tried to see whether they are of God (1 John 4:1). We are not allowed the luxury of receiving or rejecting writings simply because of the church-affiliation of the writer.

How can I explain to my boyfriend that our sexual relationship is pulling me away for the type of relationship I want with the Lord??????? 

If you are having a sexual relationship with your boyfriend, you are sinning against your own body, breaking the commandments of God, and are committing fornication. The point of God's word on this matter is that your body does not belong to you. but to the Lord who made it. It is not for sexual involvement outside of marriage. Not only does such a sin pull us away from Jesus, if it is not stopped, it will keep us from entering into heaven. Here is how the Bible says it. "The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body . . . Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (First Corinthians 6:13-20). "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,
not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God" (First Thessalonians 4:3-5). "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (First Corinthians 6:9-10).

King David once had sexual relations with someone who was not his wife--Bathsheba. If you are familiar at all with the Bible, you know what the outcome of that occasion. First, what David did "displeased the Lord" (2 Samuel 11:27). Second, David paid for it the rest of his life. If you want to read about it, the record of David's sin is found in eleventh chapter of Second Samuel.

You tell your boyfriend you cannot go to heaven and have sexual relation with him. Also tell him he is not worth paying that big a price.

I am looking for a poem called "Footsteps" It is about god carrying you through hard times. If you have any idea how I can find this poem please respond. I will greatly appreciate it because it is a really nice poem.


One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. 
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. 
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. 
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints. 
Other times there were one set of footprints. 
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life 
When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat, 
I could see only one set of footprints. 
So I said to the Lord, "You promised me, Lord, 
That if I followed you, you would walk with me always. 
But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life 
There have only been one set of prints in the sand. 
Why, When I have needed you most, you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied, 
"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints 
Is when I carried you." 

By Mary Stevenson

What should the role of the deacon be in comparison to the Elders. I know the phrase in Acts keeps them taking care of the widows? 

The text in Acts six is not intended to be a strict definition of the work of a deacon. It is where this ministry of service was first introduced. As is indicated by the passage, the work to which the first deacons were appointed allowed the Apostles to give themselves "continually to prayer, and the ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:4). We infer from this, together with the outline of their work, that it was of an administrative nature. That is not demeaning of the work, for it required men "of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3). 

I assume this ministry, in some respects, parallels the gift of "administrations," or "governments: (KJV) mentioned in First Corinthians 12:28. One meaning of the word translated "administrations" is "the ability to administer"--which is what the deacons of Acts 6 did.

The office of a deacon is an introductory one, and is designed to prepare one for more extensive use by the Lord. The Spirit put it this way, "For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 3:13). The NIV reads, "Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus." The office, then, is not an incidental one as is ordinarily perceived.

We have an example of two deacons who went on to very significant ministries--Stephen and Philip (Acts 6:5,8-10; 8:5-13; 26-31). In fact, Philip is later referred to as "Philip the evangelist" (Acts 21:8).

The practice of having deacons serve the Lord's Supper is purely of human origin, and has not the slightest precedent or commendation in Scripture. That does not mean it is wrong--just that it has little bearing on the "office of a deacon." 

The qualifying traits of a deacon tell us something of the nature of that ministry. (1) Grave, or reverent and serious. (2) Not doubletongued., (3) Not indulging in much wine. (4) Not greedy for money. (5) Holding the mystery of the faith in pure conscience. (6) Before assuming the office, they are to be tested, examined, or proved. (7) Only then are they to serve as deacons. (8) Devoted to one wife. (9) Managing their children and their households well (1 Tim 3:8-13). Any work that does not require such character is not deacon-work.

That deacons are significant in the body of Christ is indicated by Paul's salutation to the most unusual church at Philippi: "to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons" (Phil 1:1). 

It is apparent from these texts that the view of deacons entertained by the average congregation with which we are familiar is far removed from any Scriptural representation. While there is not an abundance of information in the Word on this office, there is enough for us to determine it is an office of "helps"--a gift also mentioned in First Corinthians 12:28. By that, it is understood their work is not the primary work of the church. It is, however, in harmony with the primary work.

The word "deacon" comes from a Greek word (diakonos) meaning "one who renders a helpful service, a servant, or a helper." It is interesting that this word is used by Paul in reference to the Apostles themselves in 2 Corinthians 3:6: "Who also hath made us able ministers (servants/deacons) of the new testament . . . " It is also the same word Jesus used in Matthew 20:26 when He said the greatest among us is to be a servant. It is even applied to Jesus Himself in Romans 15:8, where He is called "a Servant to the circumcision (Jews) for the truth of God." Phebe is called a "servant (same word) of the church in Cenchrea" (Romans 16:1). Epaphras was a "servant" (same word) of the church at Philippi (Col 1:7). 

The concept of a "servant," therefore, is inherent in the very nature of salvation. Such an individual carries out the practical matters of the Kingdom of God. With Jesus, that involved laying down His life for us and ministering to us as a Good Shepherd. For the Apostles, it involved feeding the souls of men. When it comes to the "office of a deacon," we are speaking about serving the needs of a local congregation. In the early church, having charge of the daily administration to the widows was their responsibility. It was something that required wisdom, faith, and the possession of the Spirit of God.

There is no need for the office of a deacon unless the church is involved in some kind of service--service that requires faith, wisdom, and the Spirit of God. It is the kind of service that relieves those laboring in prayer and ministering the Word of administrative duties. It is also a ministry that sensitizes the servant, enabling him to acquire great boldness in the faith. That indicates the blessing of God upon such a work.

In the gospels Jesus healed many people that had demons. Why don't people have demons today? 
I know of nothing in Scripture or human experience that suggests people are no longer inhabited by demons. I have personally traveled in third-world countries where there was little doubt that such a condition existed. However, wherever such a circumstance is found, unbelief is dominant and the Gospel has not been preached in power.

When Jesus died, the Scriptures tell us He plundered ("spoiled") principalities and powers, triumphing over them in His cross (Col 2:15). People and nations that had been held captive by Satanic powers were loosed, and came to Jesus. From that day until now, Satan's kingdom has suffered loss wherever Jesus has been embraced--but ONLY where that is the case. 

Jesus told of an "unclean spirit" being expelled from a man, then returning to find that nothing of spiritual substance had replaced his presence. In awesome words, our Lord affirmed, "Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first" (Matt 12:44-45). I know of nothing in God's Word that remotely suggests such a condition--either the former or the latter--is no longer possible.

In Eph. 5:19 Paul talks about psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. What is the difference between the three? 

This text underscores the versatility of praise to God, and the edification of the saints. 

A "psalm" is a song accompanied by a music instrument. The fervor of the singer is skillfully and zealously expressed in playing as well as singing. Thus the Psalmist said, "I will open my dark saying upon the harp" (Psa 49:4), and "Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise" (Psa 33:3).

A "hymn" is a song of praise that accents thanksgiving. It is an expression of insight in which the working of the Lord has been recognized, and the expression of thankful praise results.

A "spiritual song" is understood to be one of a more general nature, and is often meditative in character and instructive in effect. They are also songs resulting from the fellowship of, or communion of, the Holy Spirit (Phil 2:1; 2 Cor 13:14).

These are general observations. I do not know that the text is intended to give us a strict outline of the kind of songs to be sung. In my judgment, it addresses the matter of loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength--using all of our persons in singing. Above all, these various types of songs are to be sung with grace in the heart to the Lord, all the while treaching and admonishing the saints.


1996 Catholic Answers, Inc. 

Sometimes it just means washing up; sometimes it means spiritual, as distinguished from bodily, cleansing; and sometimes it has nothing to do with cleansing, whether spiritual or bodily, at all.

Here Restorationists have shot themselves in the foot by appealing to etymology for their doctrine. While there is some value in such an approach, it is inferior to the Scriptural manner of expounding words doctrinally instead of etymologically.

It is true that the word baptidzo means washing (NOT "washing up")--but it is always washing by plunging under the water. I noticed the article failed to mention the rich man who asked Abraham to let Lazarus baptize (dip) his finger in water in order to cool his burning tongue (Lk 16:24). 

Many of our number have chosen the word "immerse," not realizing it does not thoroughly describe the word baptidzo. The idea is more that of being completely covered than of being immersed--and that can be accomplished by pouring. When God got ready to baptize, He did it by pouring (Acts 2:17-18). But the pouring was copious and lavish, as indicated in Tit 3:6). It amounted to the same thing as being submerged in the Spirit.

Jesus referred to His death as a "baptism to be baptized with" (Lk 12:50). By this, He meant He would be overcome by suffering, which is another way of saying death.

Baptism is referred to as "the form of the doctrine" in Romans 6:17. The doctrine was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Baptism is the "form," or container of that doctrine. The word "form" refers to something that can be seen (as compared with mystical baptism mentioned in the article). It is a pattern of something more profound--ijn baptism, dying, burying, and raised with Jesus. Neither sprinkling nor pouring can correctly be called 'the form of the doctrine." 

Additionally, while it is very simplistic, there is something to be noted in who is baptized--it is the individual. In both sprinkling and pouring, it is the water that is the subject of action--not the individual.

Fundamentalists readily acknowledge that there is an event in the Christian's life where he is baptized with the Holy Spirit and "born again." But contrary to the teaching of the Bible, they wrongly separate this event from water baptism.

There are some who do, indeed, teach this--but the Scriptures do not support such a view. They are correct in saying both are tied together. When Jesus said "born of the water and the Spirit, He was speaking of a single act in which both the unseen and seen part of man was involved. Further, to refer to this as being baptized in the Spirit is not a proper use of Scripture. I do not question there is an element of truth to this--but it is only an element. Doctrinally, when the Apostles instructed believers about their reception of the Holy Spirit, they traced it back to their faith and their sonship (Gal 3:14; 4:6; 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; 1 Thess 4:8). The issue with them was not the point at which the Spirit was received, but whether or not He was abiding in them (1 John 2:20-27).

But something instructive can be learned about the mode of baptism and the meaning of the word baptizo even if they insist on separating Spirit baptism from water baptism.

Baptism is itself the mode -- there is no mode of baptism, as though a number of options were open to us. It is the "form" of the doctrine, and therefore is itself the mode. That is why words such as "buried," "died," and "risen" are associated with it.

This shows us that the mode of Spirit baptism is depicted as pouring, meaning that the term baptizo is broad enough to include pouring.

It is not the mode of baptism, but baptism itself that is depicted as pouring. The Spirit was "poured forth." It was copious enough that the individual was engulfed. You cannot teach Romans six and Colossians two with "pouring," as ordinarily perceived, in mind.

Does First Corinthians 14:33b-35  mean that women are to keep quiet in the churches of today? That question kept coming up in this past meet we had, and it kept bugging me. So I'm asking, why doesn't it apply in our modern churches? Or is that why it doesn't apply, because we have modern churches? 

Dear Paulzer (or, in the more grown up approach, Brother Paul),
The text you asked about does not teach that women are never to speak in the assembly--either for Paul's day or our day. Some people, of course, teach that it is always out of order for women to speak in the assembly of the saints for any reason. Yet, in very same book, the Spirit refers to woman praying or prophesying in the assembly, saying that is must be done with her head "covered" (1 Cor 11:5). By this, he means that the woman must speak as a subordinate to her husband--which is signified by her head being covered. He later says that her hair was given her for a covering (1 Cor 11:15). 

Earlier in chapter eleven the Lord shows that being in subjection to someone else is not demeaning, or a put down. Verse three of First Corinthians eleven says, "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." As you can see, even Christ has a Head--God the Father. And, every man also has a head, Jesus Christ. Jesus always speaks as a representative of God, subordinate to Him. Men are always to speak as subordinates of Jesus Christ. Women are always to speak as subordinates of the men.

So why does Paul speak as he does in the text you mentioned? Because the women were being disruptive--asking questions in the assembly in a disruptive sort of way. We know this is the case because they are told to ask their questions at home to their husbands. It is out of order to distract the assembly with an outburst of questions.

The reason it is hard for people to understand this text is because our assemblies are not like those of the first century. Everyone is quiet in our time. However, that is not the way it was in those times--and it is not even the way it is now in the Middle East. However, even though the custom was to speak out, ask questions, and even dispute with the speaker, the women were not allowed to so speak. Of course, there is nothing in Scripture that suggests men were allowed to speak in an interruptive way either.

God has given several women the gift of prophecy--the ability to speak His word with understanding. Some of the great women prophetesses include Moses' sister Miriam (ex 15:20), Huldah, a prophetess that taught men (2 Kgs 22:14), Deborah, one of Israel's judges (Judges 4:4), Noadiah (Neh 6:14), the prophet Isaiah's wife (Isa 8:3), Anna, who saw the infant Jesus (Lk 2:36), and the four daughters of Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:9). To me, it would be foolish to say they prophesied in a closet, or only to women--and nothing in the word of God indicates they did not prophesy publically.

To briefly sum up the matter, women are not allowed to be disruptive in the assembly. When they speak, they must do so in full recognition that they are subordinates. If God has given them something to say, the church is not to forbid them to say it. If they have nothing edifying to say, they are to keep silent--of course the same thing goes for men.

First, let me ask you a question: which words among all those recorded in the scriptures must be infallibly true in order for us to be saved? 

Wrong question. What has God ever said that suggests the Scriptures were not totally reliable? You have raised a philosophical question based on the supposition that "all Scripture" (a phrase used by the Spirit) was inspired, but somehow may have become distorted. Your first hurdle is to support that postulation. Of course, should you manage to do so (which you will not), you will have cast our hope upon the expertise of men and their wisdom. 

One other thing--precisely what has God said that is unrelated to salvation? 

You have said your faith is that "it is the power and grace of God that will effect my salvation and yours," and I say "Amen" to that. Well said! But the only place you have any notion of the grace of God is found in the Scriptures. What principle of thought leads you to believe that they are precisely correct on that, but not on other matters. What leads a person--any person--to so evaluate the Word of God? Is it anything in Scripture itself? In the nature of salvation? Is it something Jesus is reported to have said? or the Apostles? Such reasoning is wholly traceable to human judgment--the very thing that crucified Christ.

"ALL Scripture" and "THE Scriptures" were expressions used of writings copied by hand over hundreds of years. Yet nothing in all of Scripture remotely suggests that circumstance to have been in any sense a liability.

Interesting that Scripture never makes this claim for itself.

You need to do a little more homework. Throughout Scripture, the Scriptures themselves are presented as foundational, not merely supportive. Phrases like "the Scripture says," "it is written, " "in the Scripture," "the Scripture foresaw," "the Scripture declares," "according to the Scripture," "the Scriptures must be fulfilled," "all the Scriptures," and "from the Scriptures," certainly do not encourage the type of thinking you confess. The Scriptures are presented as a whole--writings given by Divine inspiration. It is simply out of order to present them in any other way.

People pray for doctors to heal them and not to the Father to prepare them in faith to persevere their trial. I remember Job when His testimony was The Lord God Gave and the Lord God hath taken away. Can we depend upon technology?

Matters of health are not as simple as they may appear--like ONLY consult doctors versus NEVER consult doctors. Faith, as you already know, cannot be turned on or off like a light switch. That is because it comes from God. The Apostle Paul, for example, once confronted a man who had "faith to be healed" (Acts 14:9). When he saw the man, and knew he had faith to be healed, he shouted out, "Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked." That incident shows us that such faith is special, and not always found in those who are children of God.

On one occasion, Paul referred to Timothy's chronic illnesses. He called them "oft infirmities." You probably remember what Paul wrote to Timothy. "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (1 Tim 5:23). The details of this are not provided. I do know from being in the East, that the water is quite often contaminated, and not good to drink, particularly for those who have weak health. It appears this was the case with Timothy. The "wine" was not for satisfaction, but for his health. Even then, it was to be taken in small quantities, lest an appetite for it develop.

Another example is Luke, the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. He was actually a doctor, and he traveled extensively with Paul. Paul called him "Luke, the beloved physician" (Col 4:12). That is all he said about the matter, but it was enough to confirm that doctors are not moved out of their occupation when they become believers. The fact that Paul called him "beloved" suggests he had helped Paul. You may remember Paul also spoke of his "infirmities," declaring he would boast in them, because when he was weak, then he was strong (2 Cor 11:30; 12:5,9-10). 

When he was ruler in Egypt, and his father died, Joseph "commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father" (Gen 50:1). Notice, the physicians were "his servants," indicating that they did not conflict with his faith.

Jesus sanctioned physicians when he said, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick" (Matt 9:12; Mk 2:17; Lk 5:31). In that particular reference, He paralleled the situation to Himself coming to save sinners. However, if physicians were wrong, He would not have made such a comparison.

In times of sickness, our FIRST resort must be to the Lord. Should it become evident that a physician is in order, we must not put our trust in the physician, or rely upon him as though he is God. An example of someone who did NOT resort first to God was Asa, a king who did some very good things in the Old Testament. Yet, in the close of his life, this is what was said of him. "And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians" (2 Chron 16:12).

In summary, God does not give us hard and fast rules about doctors. It is something that is left to the conscience of each believer. Just as we pray for our daily bread (Matt 6:11), then work to obtain it, so there are times when we pray for health, then take the means that are necessary to maintain it. It is wrong to approach our health as though there was no God. It is also wrong to pretend we have faith to be healed when we do not. You can see how personal the whole matter is.

In the last analysis God declares He is the One "who healeth all thy diseases" (Psa 103:3). Once He healed waters by having His servant cast salt in them (2 Kings 2:21). Another time, when the sons of the prophets were poisoned by a pot of wild herbs, the man of God threw some meal in the pot and the food no longer harmed the people (2 Kings 4:39-41). You will also remember that Jesus put clay on the eyes of a blind man, then told him to wash in the pool of Siloam, and he would be healed (John 9:6-7). 

I do not suggest for one moment that these were examples of what we call "medicine." They do show, however, that God sometimes employs means, or different ways, to heal His people. It is my persuasion that physicians fall into that category. They are not capable of curing us without God's influence, and God is not dependent upon them. Our Lord can heal in an instant, through the prayers of the elders (James 5:13-14), the physician Luke, or a little wine for our stomach's sake.

The Lord says to us "all things are yours" (1 Cor 3:21-23). That includes anything that is lawful. In the possession of those things, including technology, our faith must remain in God. We use technology to earn our living, travel to places of fellowship, cook our food, and protect our families. It certainly is not wrong to use it in matters of health. But should we begin to trust in technology, we have surely sinned.

You are absolutely correct in suggesting men should not rely upon knowledge as though it was God. It is not, and our faith cannot be in it. But we can use lawful knowledge while trusting in God. This is something of what is meant by First Corinthians 7:31: "And they that USE this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away." I understand technology to be in "the fashion of this world," and thus something we can "use."

I would like to know if the word " Jerusalem" the New Testament is the real "Jerusalem' from above and the one used in the Old Testament was only a shadow of the spiritual one to come, like so many things that were but a for shadowing of the real to come. I am very interested to know your understanding of this matter. 

The Jerusalem in Palestine was a type of the Jerusalem which is from above, which is spiritual. The Jerusalem which is above is referred to as "the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26)--that is, we receive our spiritual nourishment from there. The earthly Jerusalem is where Jesus was crucified (Matthew 20:18). the heavenly one is where He is received (Hebrews 12:22). The heavenly Jerusalem, or the one that is above, is where God Himself will reside with His people forever and ever. It is referred to in Revelation 3:12; 21:2; 21:10. 

The earthly Jerusalem is called "the Jerusalem that now is" (Galatians 4:25), and is associated with the Jewish people and the Law. That Jerusalem will eventually pass away. The one which is from above is eternal.


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