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Brother Blakely why do people that do not walk with the Lord prosper and many of us children of God suffer?

In salvation, the Lord separates us from the world, uniting us with heaven. From that point on, we are strangers and pilgrims in the world, as stated in Hebrews 11:13 and 1 Peter 2:11. As Jesus said, His people are not of the world, for He has chosen them out of the world (John 15:19). This places us at variance, or at war with, the world, for it cannot love those who are belong to it (John 15:19). This condition is one thing that causes the people of God to suffer. They are not at home in the world, and do not fit into it. 

But there is more to it than that. God is preparing us for heaven, and that is a large work. Part of it involves uprooting us from this world, and that entails or involves suffering. This is not suffering like punishment, but suffering like removal of something in surgery. In the suffering, we lose any attachment we may have had to the world, and we also long more for heaven, where we really belong. The Bible puts it this way, "and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:17). 

Jesus suffered when He was in the world. In fact, His was the ultimate and greatest suffering. Jesus said to His disciples, "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). Think of the people of God who suffered: Abel was killed by his brother (Genesis 4:8). Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:28). John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod (Matthew 14:10-11). Stephen was stoned by fellow Jews (Acts 7:58-59). Paul lists a lot of sufferings he endured in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Once again, the reason for all of these sufferings is that these people did not fit into this world. Also, they were being prepared for another world--heaven. In the case of our Lord Jesus, He also suffered because of our sins, setting Him apart from all others.

The fact that the ungodly often do not suffer has often been a source of confusion to many people. Of course, lest we forget, sinners also suffer. The floods, famines, disease, hurricanes, tornados, droughts, and wars do not come only upon Christians, as you already know. Nevertheless, there are some ungodly people who seem to have it made. Everything appears to be going for them. But that is only the way it seems. There is a chapter of the Bible that deals with this very thing. It is found in Psalm 73. This is a Psalm written by a musician named Asaph. In it, he said he was envious of the foolish, because they seemed to be prospering in everything they did (verse 3). They did not appear to be restrained by anything, were not in trouble, and were not plagued (verses 4-5). Because of this, they became boastful and proud, which Asaph knew was wrong (verse 6-7). They even became so brash as to speak against God and heaven, opposing what was righteous (verses 9-11). In spite of their sin, their riches increased, and things seemed to get better for them (verse 12).

Asaph compared himself with these sinners, saying it looked like he had labored to be good and godly for nothing. He had trouble every day, and was plagued every morning (verses 13-14). As he thought upon these things he said, "When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me" (verse 16). But his thinking did not end there, praise the Lord!

God came to his rescue, and showed him the truth of the matter. Here is what Asaph saw when the Lord helped him. "Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction" (verses 17-18). The truth of the matter is that the wicked were not as prosperous as it seemed. They were like people laughing and having fun on a slippery mountain slope, not knowing their destruction was right around the corner. Their seeming good fortune had put them to sleep in their souls, and they did not realize they were on the very brink of hell. That is what their real situation was, and once Asaph saw it, he stopped wondering why they were so prosperous.

See, the ONLY good things sinners will ever receive is in this world. After that, they will be condemned to the lake of fire. On the other hand, those who live for the Lord will ONLY experience bad things in this world. Once they leave it, they will never again suffer in any sense.

In the meantime, the Lord draws close to us in our sufferings. He brings comfort and encouragement to us in those times, even though the devil tries to stop it. He also manages our temptations and sufferings so they are never too heavy for us (1 Corinthians 10:13), and makes us better through them.

Could you help me with this? I speak French and English. I speak in two "tongues" or languages right? What does this mean? "For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God" - 1 Corinthians 14:2 

The word "tongues" does mean "languages," and the Corinthian text is speaking of spiritual gifts, or abilities acquired from God, not developed by men. God has endowed some people with the ability to speak in another language without ever learning it through human disciplines. The premier example of this occurred, as you already know, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4-8). The purpose for those differing languages did not relate to prayer (speaking to God), but to preaching the Gospel (speaking to men ). While men have spoken freely of a "prayer language," no such language is ever found in Scripture.

The Corinthian text was a very practical one. In it the Spirit confirms the priority of edification, or strengthening the people of God. He also establishes this cannot be done independently of the understanding. Regardless of the contradictions of the doctrines of men, the human spirit cannot be edified by a message it does not comprehend or understand. That is the point of the extended teaching of 1 Corinthians 14:7-11.

In the particular verse to which you referred (2 Cor 14:2), here is the point being made. First, the language is not unknown to the speaker, but to the hearer--it is assumed the speaker knows what he is saying. But the hearer is not advantaged by what he says because he does not understand it. Therefore, because men do not understand his words, he is really not speaking to them at all. Only God, so to speak, knows what he is saying. Notice, he is not referring to praying, but to speaking--unprofitable speaking. 

When the text says the person speaks mysteries "in the spirit," it is the spirit of the speaker that is intended, not the Spirit of God. It is the "spirit in man" that knows what the person is saying, as confirmed in 1 Corinthians 2:11. The person, therefore, knows what he is saying, but it is mysterious and unknown to the hearers--which makes the speaking pointless. The Spirit of God does not inspire men to speak so people CANNOT understand, but rather so the things of God may be comprehended--as demonstrated at Pentecost.

As to your own case, whether the French you speak was learned or given as a gift from God to you, it is always in order to speak to God in that language. However, whether it is English or French, it is never in order to speak to men unless they can understand what is said--particularly the household of faith. They cannot be edified by a word they cannot understand.

I find myself rejecting the "once saved always saved" doctrine. I seem to be in a doctrinal no man's land. On the one hand I know a sin does not cause me to lose my salvation but on the other I know that I can choose not to repent of revealed sin and thus have my eyes gradually blinded and my ears gradually deafened.

There is a tendency in men to oversimplify salvation. A little thought should confirm to our hearts that it is anything but simplistic. God Himself is devoted to our salvation, purposing it before the world began (2 Tim 1:9). Jesus is working full time for us at the right hand of God, making intercession for us (Heb 7:25). The Holy Spirit has been given to us to transform us into Christ's image (Gal 4:6; 2 Cor 3:18). The holy angels, vast in number, are all devoted to ministering to the saints (Heb 1:13-14). The word of God, energized and used by the Holy Spirit, is given for our nourishment and stability (Matt 4:4; Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12). God has placed a host of people in the body of Christ to edify and strengthen one another (1 Cor 12:6-7; Eph 4:11-16). As you can see, that is an enormous amount of activity. It is inconceivable that God would do anything unnecessary, or that we could be saved without any of those revealed involvements. Further, it is an utter absurdity to imagine that all of it could be accomplished without our own involvement. That would be something like Jesus healing a lame man without him having to pick up his bed and walk.

Everything we have from God we have by faith--not merely by Divine decree. Salvation is ever "by grace through faith" (Eph 2:7-10). The Scriptures make a point that faith must be maintained. Men can "depart from the faith" (1 Tim 4:1), and believe only "for a while" (Luke 8:13). It is possible for "an evil heart of unbelief" to enter those who presently are believing (Heb 3:12). It cannot enter inadvertently or against our will, praise the Lord. But sleeping professed believers are in serious jeopardy of an unbelieving heart entering and dominating them.

Our protection is found in handling "the shield of faith" (Eph 6:17)--and that will require all of our effort. That is why we are admonished, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called" (1 Tim 6:12). We fight to keep the faith, and that fight is undergirded by Divine power. It is best stated in the words of the Holy Spirit. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil 2:12-13).

There is not a syllable of promise to anyone who is not presently believing. Neither, indeed, is there any jot or tittle of promise given to wicked, slothful, or unfaithful servants. Not a word of encouragement is given to one quenching, grieving, or resisting the Spirit of God. Nor, indeed, is any child of God led to believe they have been excluded from such dangers apart from keeping the faith.

It is not our works that save us, but our faith. Grace does not come to us because of what we have done, but because we believe. That faith, obtained from God (2 Pet 1:1) is like a stewardship that is to be kept and nourished. It was "given" to us to believe in the first place (Phil 1:29), and it is our business to "continue in the faith" (Acts 14:22; Col 1:23). 

You mentioned "simply trusting the Lord," and I do know what you mean. From another perspective, and as your heart will confirm to you, trusting the Lord is not a simple matter. It requires your heart, soul, mind, and strength to do so. The Holy Spirit is involved in the matter, as well as an interceding Christ. Faith is something that can grow "exceedingly" (2 Thess 1:3). It is also something that can be "shipwrecked" through neglect and insensitivity to God--but only so.

My husband has left me, and I am angry and hurting. I love him, and try to show him love, but he thinks I am inconsiderate, even though he tries to hide things from me. Can you help me?

My heart does go out to you, even though I must acknowledge I certainly do not have all of the answers. The fact that your husband continues to come to the home does show he is not as hard as he could be. The resolution of your delimma will not only require a lot of faith on your part, but a lot of effort as well. In my opinion, the devil is tempting you both to be suspicious of one another. As an unbeliever, your husband is not able to detect this, so easily falls into the trap. But it is different with you. You are a daughter of God, and have access to Him. 

You may remember some of the things the Spirit says about love. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV). I always read those verses replacing "love" with my own name. As you might know, it is always very convicting, showing me that I have not yet arrived. Of course, that is true of all of us--but that must not keep us from seeking the perfection described in love.

The Word of God tells us that God can give us love. It does, after all, come from Him. Do you remember these verses? "Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 6:23). "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 1:14). When we are lacking in this marvelous quality, it is in order to ask the Lord to help us to love--to give us that ability by His grace.

This does not mean everything will instantly change. Of course, it does not mean it will not either. Speaking to wives who did not have believing husbands, Peter wrote the following. "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives" (1 Peter 3:1-2). The words "in the same way" refer to the last part of the second chapter, where our salvation is described. "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (2:25). The idea is this: "When we were helpless in sin, we came to Christ to help us, for there was no other way to obtain help. Now, if any wife has an unbelieving husband, she must not rely on her own strength, any more than she did when she came to Jesus. She must go to the 'Shepherd and Bishop' of her soul again, seeking help for this situation."

This puts the Lord on your side, working with you in the situation. As you concentrate on your own relationship to God through Christ, seeking to maintain peace in your heart, and a strong faith, He will help you conduct yourself to His glory in the circumstance, even though it is a grievous one. He is also able to work on the heart of your husband. He is surely worth saving, and I know you realize this. In fact, you yourself can be the one who saves him. Here is what the Bible says. "How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?" (1 Cor 7:16).

The Lord can help you to NOT be angry, and can comfort you in your hurting--but only He can do this. You cannot work this situation out yourself, as you already know--but you can do with your Lord.

Be encouraged now. You have a battle to fight, and you are well able to do it in the Lord Jesus Christ.

My problem comes when I read of God killing His enemies and even innocent "little ones" among the peoples of the Old Testament times. His anger burned so hot so quickly. 

Many people have struggled with the matter of God's destruction and punishment of the wicked. There are several things that will help us think correctly, and in a God-honoring manner about this subject.

1. First, we must have an unwavering faith in God, believing that what He does is always right, whether we can comprehend it or not.
2. Secondly, we must be careful not to view His temporal judgments as though this world was the only place, and this time was the only time.
3. Third, God never changes -- there is not a God of Moses and a God of today.

Something vital to consider is how serious sin really is, and how it puts man in a most dangerous position--being unlike God and incompatible with Him. For just eating a piece of fruit, death was passed on the entire human race, the entire universe was condemned to be destroyed, and the death of Jesus Christ became necessary. That is how serious sin is. The nature of sin is what makes it so wicked.

God's anger did NOT burn "quickly," else all of humanity would be have removed. He was always unusually patient with the wicked, giving time to show how wicked they really were. An example is His dealings with the Amorites. They were an especially wicked people, and God gave their land to the Israelites. However, He told Abraham He would not do this until Israel had come out of Egypt after four generations. The reason He said was this: "the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete" (Genesis 15:16). By this, He meant it had not yet run its full course, or been brought to its fulness.

The same thing happened in the flood, which was the greatest judgment against men. He allowed 120 years for Noah to build an ark. Prior to this, he was unusually patient with sinners, allowing them to get worse and worse, proving their destruction would be righteous (Gen 6-8). Over 2,000 years passed before God sent the flood--that was real patience.

As to the destruction of children, we must not allow this to become a stumblingblock to us. There were doubtless many children that died in the flood as well the judgments of God carried out by the Israelites. When seen correctly, the children were actually delivered from a worse fate. Remember, this world is not the only world, and this time is not the only time. Little children that have died, whether in Divine judgments, by abortion, accidents, or other means, will be duly compensated on the other side--in the world that will never end. Think of the children slaughtered by Pharaoh when Moses was born, and Herod when Jesus was born. God promised the mothers of those little children they (the slaughtered children) would "come again from the land of the enemy" (Jeremiah 31:15-16). There is an eternity in which all of these things will be made plain, every injustice of man corrected, and every judgment of God clarified.

As to us taking vengeance, it is something strictly forbidden--and has always been. We are not to take matters into our own hands as though we were God. Here is what God has said about it. "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord" (Romans 12:19). God told the people this even in Moses' day (Deuteronomy 32:35). In the Psalms, David also confessed this to be true (Psalm 94:1). 

Prior to Jesus, God proved over a period of 4,000 years that people could not change themselves. They only became more sinful, and more rebellious against God. When the Lord Jesus came, we found out that God loved the human race with a great love--from the very beginning. If it were not for this love, He would have destroyed the entire race. But He did not. Instead Jesus came, proclaimling He did not come to "destroy men's lives, but to save them" (Luke 9:56). By this, He did not mean He thought differently than God. Rather, He was showing us that without Him, there was really no hope--for any one

God has not told us of the eternal destiny of all the people who died before Jesus, including adults as well as children. But we may rest assured, they will all be judged righteously and with mercy. Every consideration possible will be given to them. The Scriptures tell us the Gospel was even preached to those who died in the flood--and it was preached to them AFTER they died (1 Pet 3:19-20; 4;6). We know very little about the details of that occasion, but are told it took place in order that they might live according to according to God in the Spirit. We must, therefore, let the matter rest with God, knowing He is absolutely righteous in all that He has done and will do.

It is true Jesus did not show great wrath among men. But He IS going to go it when He comes again. In fact, the end of time is called "the day of His wrath" and "the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev 6:16,17). In it, He will take "vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes . . . " (2 Thess 1:7-10). All of the judgments recorded in he Old Testament will be mild compared to the judgment of that day. Then men will be punished eternally--and it will be righteous for Jesus to do so.

Some claim that the New Covenant makes literal Israel obsolete as God's chosen people. I personally don't believe this, could you give me scripture to support they always will be? 

You are correct -- Israel has not been forgotten by God. When God promised a new covenant to them through Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34--fulfilled in Christ as taught in Heb 8:8-13; 10:16-17), He added these words" If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD" (Jer 31:36-37). God said that being fully aware of the future.

Jesus said Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). Paul said that "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (Rom 11:25).

The most extensive reasoning concerning Israel is found in the ninth through eleventh chapter of Romans--particularly the eleventh chaper. I recommend those for your study. 

I am hoping that you could help me with a problem I am having with my daughter-in law. I have been praying about this for sometime now but I feel as if God isn't listening. I know how important forgiveness is. She has not talked to me or my family for over three years now. I know that you are not a psychologist but a man of God. Perhaps you can help me. 

First, it is good if your daughter-in-law talks to you, but it is not something you can make happen. I do not know why she does not speak with you or your family, or if it is related to you being Christians. If it is, then it fulfills the word of Jesus in Matthew 10:35. "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."

If some personal offense has been committed against her, that should simply be acknowledged, accompanied by repentance, and a request made for her forgiveness. If no trespass has been committed against her, this is not to be done.

If forgiving your daughter-in-law is necessary, then it can only be done if she repents. Until that time, you must be ready and willing to forgive. But forgiveness is not possible where there is no repentance--and that is even true of God. That is why God is said to be "ready to forgive" (Psa 86:5).

Whatever the case, you must not attach too great of an importance to this circumstance. While good parents desire open communications with their children and those who marry them, that is not always possible. I speak as a father of ten and grandfather of ten. Draw as close to the Lord as you can, ask Him to give you strength, grace, and understanding, and see what He will do. Whatever the outcome, you will be able to bear it, and God will be glorified by your faith.

I have a friend who is trying to convince me "Jesus" is the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He also says that our baptism is only valid if the words "in the name of Jesus" are said when we are baptized. Can you help me on this?

I am very familiar with the "in the name of" argument your friend seeks to defend. It is one of the theological absurdities created by people who are spiritually blind. It is tragic that any one at any time accepts the dogma, for it is never taught in any place of Scripture. In fact, we have no record of any one ever saying anything when they baptized any person. Well, there is one occasion--when Jesus was baptized. Then God spoke, but He did not even mention the name Jesus, referring to "my beloved Son."

The word "name," as used in Matthew 28 and other similar places, does not refer to an appellation, like John, Paul, etc. The "name of the Lord," refers to His person, or character. For example, when Moses requested of God, "Show me Thy glory," God graciously responded. "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." After declaring that Moses could not see Him in His effulgence, or fulness, God said there was a place by Him--a rock. He would put Moses there, and pass before him. The Lord would cover Moses with His hand until He had past, then remove His hand allowing Moses to behold the afterglow of His glory (Ex 33:19-23). When the actual event took place, it is written that the Lord declared His name. "And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation" (Ex 34:5-7).

In this text we see what "the name" really means. It is God's Person, particularly as it is revealed to the sons of men.

The Matthew 28:18-20 text is not referring to titles -- and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are nowhere referred to as titles. That is purely a human imagination. Rather, the text refers to being baptized into the very persons of the Father, Son, and Holy spirit -- so that we become identified with them all. We are in the Father, and the Father is in us (1 John 2:24; 4:12,15; John 17:21). We are in the Son, and the Son is in us (Rom 6:3-5;1 Cor 1:30; Eph 3:17; Col 1:27). We are in the Spirit, and the Spirit is in us (Gal 4:6; 5:25).

The use of "name" as I have described is repeatedly employed in Scripture. For example, God's name is said to be "Jealous" (Ex 34:14), "Holy" (Isa 57:15), "Lord of hosts" (Jer 46:18), "The Lord" (Jer 16:21), and "the God of hosts" (Amos 5:27). The prophets also referred to the coming Savior's name as "Emanuel" (Isa 7:14), Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6), "The Lord Our Righteousness" (Jer 23:6), and "the Branch" (Zech 6:12). All of these describe His actual person--they revealed what He really was.

Someone has told me baptism is only valid if the words "in Jesus' name" are said. They say the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is "Jesus." Is this true? 

Those who depend on formulas and routines in their approach to God only reveal their aloofness from Him. The bottom line is that no man of God ever presented such a case in Scripture. In fact, it contradicts both the nature and words of Scripture. I am very thankful you have been delivered from this lifeless approach to Scripture and Christ. It is your faith that has gained the victory for you. To God be the glory.

I have reviewed your position on eternal security and it fits in with what I have always believed but if we can in fact fall away from the faith, how does God's election and us being "chosen by God" fit in. I tried to retrieve your previous lessons on this subject but they evidently are not available. Thank you again for your help.

There are two perspectives of salvation presented in Scripture: a higher view and a lower view. In the end, the two will perfectly coincide. 

The first is the higher perspective, and is viewed as God's "eternal purpose" (Eph 3:11). From this view, "the works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb 4:13). The Lamb was slain "from before the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8). The Kingdom has been prepared for the saved "from the foundation of the world" (Matt 25:34). The saved were chosen in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4). The saved are called "according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim 1:9). We are not to tamper with these affirmations, but receive them as they are stated. All of these have a strong appeal to faith, and will keep it alive and flourishing. However, should a lethargic soul choose to use them as an occasion for slothfulness or a lack of involvement, the person has become guilty of presumption, and is in danger of condemnation. Such a response is one of unbelief. Further, these are not to be the subject of contention or speculation. They are affirmations, not possibilities or theories.

The second view confirms that God's purpose is carried out by means, not mere arbitrary decision. By "means," I refer to the implementation of Divine determination through appointed requirements. This great salvation, for example, could not be implemented without Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession. It requires the convicting and directing power of the Holy Spirit, the ministry of holy angels, and the Word of God which lives and abides forever. These, and other considerations, are employed in fulfilling Divine determination.

Thus, Jesus represents His Father as drawing men to Himself--in fact they cannot come to Jesus unless the Father does draw them (John 6:44,65). Those who are chosen "from the beginning" are set apart, or sanctified, by the Holy Spirit. The belief of the truth comes into play as men are called by the Gospel (2 Thess 2:14). Salvation is also presented as God implementing His election through the "sanctification of the Spirit" for our obedience, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus (1 Pet 1:2). A new birth is necessary, and is accomplished by God (1 Pet 1:3,23).

A concise way of declaring this view is "By grace are you saved through faith" (Eph 2:5,8). Salvation is never presented as remotely possible apart from faith. Faith is the hand of the soul that takes hold of grace, and the eye of the soul that perceives the truth of the Gospel.

Those who are in Christ Jesus are consistently told their salvation is traced back to God, Who will not allow any flesh to boast ion His presence. Even though they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, they are to understand it is God working in them both to do and to will of His own good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13) -- but he is doing so through their faith. This same truth is affirmed in Hebrews 13:20-21. Every child of God is bound to acknowledge, "I am what I am by the grace of God" (1 Cor 15:10).

To the flesh, these two views do not blend together. But that is not true. Those who affirm God's election excludes human response, and those who say it is driven by human response, are both in error. These two views are an oversimplification of the matter. In salvation the wisdom of God is being displayed to principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph 3:10). Part of this display involves God saving people without violating His own nature or contradicting their volition (which is the Divine imagery in them). That is a process that allows God to be both "just and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus" (Rom 3:26). At this point, the whole matter is "past finding out" -- it is beyond man's ability to reason. It is a higher form of logic, or reason, belonging to God.

In the end, there will not be a single person take one jot or tittle of credit for their salvation. It will be universally acknowledged "Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God" (Rev 19:1), and "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" (Rev 7:10). 

When our salvation is seen in its entirety, and we are forever with the Lord, the full scope of this affirmation will also be perceived: "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom 11:36). I like to think of it this way. When we come into Christ, we enter a door over which we read, "the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev 22:17). From the inside, when we look back to the door through which we entered, we see these words over it, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (Eph 1:4-6).

Faith is fully capable of embracing both views, for both of them are true. It is theology that has trouble with them, because its bed is too narrow, and its covers too short.

One further thing that touches upon this subject. Presently, our salvation is in the process of completion, as well as demonstration. We are not fully saved yet. The immediate evidence of this is our body, which will be saved, but is obviously not yet saved (Rom 8:23). Of our three divisions (spirit, soul, and body), only our spirit has been regenerated. It is obvious that our bodies are not, and it should also be clear that our souls also remain riveted to the earth. They must be possessed, as Jesus said (Lk 21:19). I take the soul to refer to our expressive powers. These powers must be brought under the rule of the "new man," which is to be "put on" (Eph 4:22-24). Within us, there is "another law" that wars relentlessly against the real "I" (Rom 7:23). The presence of that contrary law, or principle, constitutes a liability. To be sure, it can be overcome by faith, which is "the victory" (1 John 5:4-5)--but only by faith. 

To me (and this is my personal opinion), it is absurd for those in the process of being saved to contend with one another about whether or not they can fall away, or are locked, so to speak, into salvation. At the very best, they have but the "firstfruits" of their salvation--a pledge of the greater part which is yet to come. Our role is to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5) -- that we are, in fact, in the process of believing that Jesus is the Son of God, casting all of our hope upon Him. If that is the case, we will derive comfort from the affirmations of God's election. If not, we have no right to even think of those things, for faith alone can take hold of them.

There is no way for one believing in Christ to be lost. Equally true, there is no way for a person who is not believing to be saved. Further, it is possible for someone who believes to stop believing. Jesus called it "believe for a while" (Lk 8:13).

I am planning to be married, but my husband-to-be drinks, and spends evenings with friends that drink. I tell him he should not do this, but he says Jesus drank at weddings and other occasions. Can you help me?

You do have a problem on your hands, and I am thankful that you recognize it. Matt drinking is a serious matter. It is like an open door, and Satan will be sure to enter into it. It also brings him into contact with people that will certainly not bring good influences to bear upon him. When he says Jesus drank at weddings, he is not right. The bible does not say that, nor does it suggest that the drinking of wine was like it is in our day. Jesus was, as far as we know, a Nazarite, as was John the Baptist. The Law concerning a Nazarite was very strict -- even more strict than drinking alcohol. Here is what God required of the Nazarite, who was devoted to the Lord. "He must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as he is a Nazarite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins" (Numbers 6:3-4). Aaron and the priests were also forbidden to indulge in strong drink in any measure (Lev 10:9-10). When God led the Israelites through the wilderness, they drank no strong drink for forty years (Deut 29:6). No priest could drink wine in any amount while they were one duty (Ezek 44:21). Daniel and the three Hebrew children refused to drink the king's wine, putting their lives at stake (Dan 1:5-8). Solomon declared wine was out of order for kings and princes (Prov 31:4). He also said "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise" (Prov 20:1). John the Baptist was great in the eyes of the Lord, and was forbidden to drink strong drink (Lk 1;15). 

Paul did allow Timothy to take "a little wine" for medicine--for the sake of his stomach and his frequent illnesses (1 Tim 5:23). But there is no place in all of God's where drinking is defended or commended--nowhere.

The closer one gets to God the more reprehensible drinking will become, together with the people who make a practice of drinking.

I am sure you already know that God forbids a believer to be unequally yoked with a mate (2 Cor 6:14). A "unequal yoke" is where person is living by faith, serving the Lord, and the other one is not. I believe that is the kind of situation you have on your hands. God can help you to make a decision that will be pleasing to Him -- and that is what you must do. I cannot tell you what to do, as you already understand. But what you do must be something you know will be pleasing to God and honoring to Jesus. It must be something that will bring spiritual advantage to you, not disadvantage.

I pray you will be encouraged to be bold, and do what your heart tells you is right. In my opinion, you should tell Matt you are not willing to live with a drinker, or allow it to enter your home. Let him make the decision whether he wants to marry you on the conditions you want in your heart. 


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