QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 46
I'm seeking for the material about the true worship, or attitude of worshipper.
Please send me that if you have.
The Bible does not speak of "true worship," but "true worshippers." Jesus affirmed the real issue is worshippers, not worship. He said God was seeking worshippers, not worship. He said the hour was coming when such people would (not ought to) worship the Father "in Spirit and in truth," or in reality and with their whole heart. According to Jesus, this is the kind of worship God is seeking (John 4:23-24). None other is acceptable.
The woman at the well (John 4) thought worship was a matter of place and time. Jesus told her that was not the case, that God was looking for "worshipers" -- not worship. Worship, as you know, is not by rote, or mechanical. It cannot be simulated--at least God will not be pleased if it is.
Because worship is a matter of the heart, it is not, nor can it be, regulated, or created by external procedures. Worship is not a response to a command, or to a Divine directive, but to an awareness of the person of God. It is the result of seeing Him as He is.
To my knowledge, there is not a syllable of Apostolic doctrine concerning procedures or acts of worship. In fact, no church was ever told to worship God, or given instructions on how to do so. Their worship is assumed. It is part of new life in Christ Jesus. As it is written, "For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil 3:3). The Greek word here translated "worship" is "latreuo," and is used 22 times in the New Testament. To my knowledge, it is never used of a commanded act or procedure.
One of the great statements concerning worship, as I have indicated, is found in Philippians 3:3. "For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." For those in Christ, worship is not something they SHOULD do, but something they simply DO. The Epistles contain no commandment to "worship God." In fact, the only reference in the entire New Testament Scriptures to the command to "worship God" occurred when Jesus quoted that requirement to the devil (Matt 4:10; Luke 3:6).
This circumstance does not mean God is no longer to be worshiped, or that men can disregard giving homage to the Lord. It DOES mean that worship is immediately addressed in the new creation, or regeneration. When a person is born again, he actually becomes "a true worshipper." That is why worship is assumed when believers are addressed (Phil 3:3).
Another arresting thought is that "worship" is not used favorably in the noun form in Scripture (i.e., "the worship"). When it is in the noun form, it always refers to idolatry (Col 2:23).
As to the "attitude of the worshipper," it is depicted in the Romans 12:1-2 text. In fact, that is the very point of the text. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
The phrase "reasonable service" refers to worship, and is so translated in other versions. "which is your spiritual worship" (RSV), "God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (NASB), this is your spiritual act of worship" (NIV). The word translated "service" in the KJV and NKJV is latreuo, which consistently has to do with the worship of God. The book of Hebrews uses this word to refer to the tabernacle activities ("Divine service," Rom 9:4; Heb 9:1,6). It is the word Jesus used when telling the devil God was to be "worshipped" (Matt 4:10). Paul used it when he confessed he worshipped God (Acts 24:14).
The attitude of the worshipper involves the following. This is based on the Romans 12:1-2 text. This is not intended to be exhaustive, but provides a broad view of real worship.
1. Being wholly surrendered to the Lord--the body being presented as a living sacrifice.
2. A refusal to be conformed to the world.
4. A renewed mind.
In other words, the person must be born again. It is understood that the new heart has an inclination toward, respect for, and love of the living God. As believers continue to live by faith and walk in the Spirit, crucifying the flesh and making no provision for it, they will be acceptable worshippers--the kind God has always sought and desired.
I realize this is simplistic, but that is how worship is presented under the New Covenant. Much of the so-called worship of our day is nothing but an emulation of Old Covenant worship. It is a routine--a heartless liturgy. Jesus upbraided the people of His generation as Isaiah did those of his age. "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt 15:8-9; Isa 29:13).
Wherever the heart of the people is far from God, real worship is impossible. Wherever the heart of the people is near to God, the people and their worship are acceptable.
Within this framework allowance is made for growth, advancement toward the Lord, and improvement in expression.
Is it required by the Lord to take communion each Lord's Day? I notice that Christian Churches do this and am wondering what the underlying reason is for it.
The custom of taking the Lord's supper every Lord's day is based upon Acts 20:7, where the disciples "came together to break bread." In my judgment, it is a good practice, and not to be despised. There is, however, no commandment to do so. The very nature of the Lord's table forbids that it be regulated by a commandment. Scripture indicates the early disciples, enjoying the freshness of new life in Christ, did this on a daily basis, from "house to house" (Acts 2:46). Some remonstrate at this view, saying the reference is to eating common meals together. However, gathering disciples, it appears, made partaking of the Lord's table an actual part of their joint meals. Corinth was upbraided for maintaining a carnal attitude during such occasions (1 Cor 11:20-34). That particular text also confirms the centrality of the Lord's table at their gatherings.
Much of the modern teaching concerning the Lord's table is nothing more than the traditions of men. Terms like "Apostolic precedent," "inference," etc., are used to sanctify these views, but they are still traditions. Jesus did not specify a frequency, neither did the Apostles. Those are just the facts in the case. This, together with the texts that affirm early believers did partake of the table on the first day of the week, lead me to believe the heart that has been touched by the grace of God delights in this remembrance feast. Where this delight is not possessed, no amount of lawmaking can make the Lord's table a blessing to the people (and it is "the cup of blessing," 1 Cor 10:16). A heartless partaking of the table is condemned by God. In fact, many Corinthian believers were judged by God for the unworthy manner in which they partook of His table. Some of them were weakened, others were made sick, and some even died because of this (1 Cor 11:30). I should not be surprised if much of the sickness and death in modern churches is not directly owing to the same condition.
I commend churches for thinking enough of Jesus to remember Him around His table every Lord's day -- or even every day. I, and the assembly in my home, partake of the table every Lord's day morning and evening. Some of us to so daily. There is, however, no commandment to do so. All of the haggling over the issue could be instantly resolved by simply citing the reference specifying the frequency, but there is none.
I am going to wax bold here and say those who insist they do not have to partake of the table weekly, and thus choose to do so infrequently, have betrayed a condition of heart that requires much grace. On the other hand, those who do so every week, choosing to argue about it and regulate the observance by law, have also betrayed a heart that is something less than honorable.
In Gal 3:27, John McArthur comments that water baptism is not being referred to here. Do you agree or disagree? Explain.
I disagree. I believe I do understand, however, where brother McArthur is coming from. First, the term "water baptism" is not a Scriptural term. It is a theological one developed by men to justify certain views of Scripture. The reasoning is based on at least three texts. (1) When Jesus was baptized, it was in water (Matt 3:16). (2) The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" (Acts 8:36). (3) Peter said of the household of Cornelius, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized" (Acts 10:47). In view of these texts, to disassociate being baptized in water from the "one baptism" seems to be an exercise in futility. These texts are, after all, words taught by the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit does says, "There is one baptism" (Eph 4:5). Immediately, men begin to debate the matter saying, "But which one is it?" The question itself betrays a level of unacceptable ignorance. If there is only "one baptism," how can men argue about which one it is? There is only one. That is what the Spirit says. Our thinking must be brought into accord with the Spirit.
The answer to the seeming dilemma is found in the nature of that "one baptism." It involves both the outward and inward man. Our bodies are washed with pure water (Heb 10:22), and our sins are "washed away" (Acts 22:16). They both occur at the same time, not independently of one another. This is the very point being made in the sixth chapter of Romans, the most lengthy dialog on the subject of baptism in Scripture.
Jesus taught that the new birth involves "water" and "Spirit" (John 3:5). Baptism has not occurred where both are not involved. The reasoning of the sixth chapter of Romans is based on this observation. The people could put their finger on the precise time when they were baptized. They knew when that occurred. Yet, many of them lacked confidence, and did not see the scope of what occurred at that time. Therefore, the Spirit elaborated on the inward aspects of baptism, showing them they had been buried and raised with Christ. The old man had been crucified, and they had been made alive to God. That was the spiritual reality accomplished when they were baptized. In fact, baptism is called "the form of the doctrine," which the Romans "obeyed from the heart" (Rom 6:17). The doctrine was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The "form" was baptism, which portrayed a death, burial, and resurrection externally, and the accomplishment of all three inwardly.
In my judgment, that is the "baptism" referred in Galatians 3:27. That text perfectly correlates with the more detailed teaching of Romans 6.
What are your thoughts on Christians who claim they have experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
First, the expression "baptism of the Holy Spirit," or "baptism of the Holy Ghost," is not found in Scripture. Like many of the expressions created by men, it was developed to contain a preconceived view of Scripture. It also is used to divide believers, and to bind requirements on men that God has not inculcated upon them.
The terminology used by the Spirit is always to be honored. That is seen in the statement of First Corinthians 2:13. "These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (NKJV). The NASB reads, "which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." The NIV reads much the same way. The point is that the Spirit uses precise expressions, not general ones. With that in mind, here are the Spirit's expressions on the matter at hand.
1. "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16).
2. "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Mark 1:8).
3. "'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' (John 1:33).
4. "you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." (Acts 1:5).
5. "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 11:16).
There is no standard version of Scripture that contains the words "baptized in the Spirit."
While these texts definitely refer to an experience, it is not a stereotyped one like men are prone to say. The baptism in question is compared with baptism in water. The Holy Spirit becomes the substance, so to speak, with which men would be baptized--i.e., "baptized with."
John the Baptist indicated that just as his baptism was standard for the people, so Christ's baptism would be standard. is words were not addressed to the Apostles, but to the multitudes. He gave no indication that it would be identified by exclusive external signs as many affirm. There is good reason to believe his words were in perfect harmony with Christ's word concerning being "born of the Spirit" (John 3:6,8). In this case, "born of water and the Spirit" is the combining of the two--an inward and an outward accomplishment.
I am also inclined to believe this (baptized with the Holy Spirit) is the experience of reference in First Corinthians 12:13. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." The NIV reads, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink," with the footnote that "baptized by" actually can read "baptized with," or "baptized in."
It is my understanding that being baptized with the Holy Spirit is common to all believers, but that its impact upon the individual is not common. The external evidence commonly referred to by those stereotyping being baptized with the Spirit (namely speaking in other languages), only occurred on three occasions. All three occasions were epochs--one of a kind occurrences.
The first was Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). In this, the external accompaniments were for the benefit of the hearers.
The second took place at the household of Cornelius (Acts 11:15-16). At that time, Peter recalled John's words concerning Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit. This occasion was the opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles--an epoch (Acts 11:18), and was provided for Peter's sake.
The third was when Paul confronted certain disciples from Ephesus who had not yet heard of the Holy Spirit, yet had been baptized with the baptism of John (which was for the remission of sins, Mark 1:4). This is recorded in Acts 19:1-7. It marked the official invalidation of John's baptism, which never again was mentioned. That too was an epoch.
It is of significance that no inspired writer ever referred to any of these events when writing to the churches. The day of Pentecost, the conversion of Cornelius, and the experience of the Ephesian disciples are NEVER mentioned in any of the Epistles. If the accompaniments of their experience were standard for all disciples, it is inconceivable that it would not have been mentioned. Those who have developed a crystallized doctrine on what they call the "baptism of the Spirit" cannot teach their doctrine without referring to these incidents. Yet, the Holy Spirit consistently taught believers about the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and being filled with the Spirit, without EVER referring to them. To me, that is a very revealing situation.
As to those affirming they have been baptized in the Spirit in a unique way, we are not at liberty to question the experience of any believer. Those making such claims, however, are obliged to show by their lives and their understanding that they have received something extraordinary. They should be more adept at the work of the Lord than others. Their understanding should be more thorough than is common. If there is nothing unusual about their persons and attainment in Christ, they should make no boast of an unusual experience with the Holy Spirit.
I will wax bold and say Jesus DOES baptize with the Holy Spirit, and that there is not a shred of proof that He did this only for the Apostles. In fact, it is categorically stated that He also did it for the household of Cornelius. There is further no indication that Cornelius surfaced as an unusual leader in the body of Christ. In fact, we hear no more about him after his conversion.
There is one distinction in Jesus baptizing with the Spirit, as compared to John baptizing with water. When men were baptized with water, they came "OUT of the water" (Matt 3:16; Acts 8:39). However, those in Christ are described as being "IN the Spirit" (Rom 8:9; Gal 3:3; 5:16,25). I gather, therefore, that being baptized with the Spirit refers to being placed in the heavenly realms--an environment conducive to growth and spiritual advance.
It should not surprise us if being "in the Spirit" produces unusual phenomenon in believers. But when men hunger for the phenomenon, it seems to me they have gone astray. Further, I see this as pressing God to do something He has not promised. Jesus would call that "tempting God." As for me, I will not question the experience of any believer. However, the fruit of that experience must be honoring to God and Christ, and edifying to the saints. Further, no believer is at liberty to bind their experience on other believers, or to represent it as being the standard of the heavenly Kingdom.
While reading a sermon by Smith Wigglesworth he made a statement- I have never seen a man keep the unction of the baptism of the Holy Spirit who took intoxicating liquors: I have never seen a man manifest and carry forth the order of the baptism of the Holy Ghost that smoked. I do not smoke or drink but there are members of the church where my membership is who smoke but claim to have the baptism with the gift of speaking in tongues. I personally don't think Christians should smoke and wonder if Smith W. is correct or not. What do you think?
Notice, brother Wigglesworth said he had not SEEN such a thing. I have not either. However, not seeing it, and it never having existed are two different things. I DO know that God strictly forbade anything from a vine for the Nazarite--at any time--, who was devoted to the Lord. Not only could the Nazarite not drink strong drink, he could not eat grapes or even raisins--ever (Numbers 6:3-4). Priests were also forbidden any form of strong drink while they were executing their office (Lev 10:9).
To me, the question is not whether or not a person can keep the unction of the Spirit and drink or smoke. Such a thought is never developed in Scripture. The real question is whether either activity can be done in the name of the Lord and for His glory. We are admonished, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Col 3:17). If that cannot be done in any activity, the activity cannot be right.
Bro. Given, does it make any difference in what a building (church) calls itself? We formally attended the Church of God (Anderson) and we heard preaching that was the only name that should be used.
What men call buildings is strictly up to them, for God has not instructed us on such matters. Whatever name is chosen should be honoring to God, and provide some kind of index to what occurs within the building. The various names God uses are intended to identify the people, not the building. The Word of God ascribes several terms to those in Christ Jesus. Any of them are proper, none of them are exclusive. By that I mean none of them are intended to be official titles, to the exclusion of all others.
1. The church of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1 Tim 3:5.
2. Sometimes referred to as the "church of" the city or place where they gathered (Laodiceans, Thessalonians, Ephesus, Galatia, Asia, Macedonia, Judea, Jerusalem, Antioch, Cenchrea, in someone's house, Babylon, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia--Col 4:16; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; Rev 2:1; 3;14; 1 Cor 16:1; 1 Cor 16:19; 2 Cor 8:1; Gal 1:22; Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rom 16:1,5; Col 4:15; Phile 2; 1 Pet 5:13; Rev 2:8,12,18; 3:1,7).
3. The church of the Living God (1 Tim 3:15).
4. The church of the Firstborn (Heb 12:23).
5. Churches of the Gentiles (Rom 16:4).
6. Churches of Christ (Rom 16:16).
7. Churches of the saints (1 Cor 11:16).
More frequently, it is simply called "the church" (Acts 2:47; 5:11; 8:3; 11:26; 12:1,5; 14:27; 15:3-4; 18:22; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 1:22; 3:10,21; 5:23;24;25;29;32 . . . etc.)
Specific words are said about "the church." " . . . the church, which is His body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph 1:23). " . . . the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15).
I have taken the time to provide these texts to confirm to your heart the manner in which the Holy Spirit refers to "the church." As you can see, it is quite different than the way men have chosen to speak. There is not a single word in all of Scripture about the naming of a building where Christians meet. There is not a syllable of Scripture that makes an issue out of what the church is to be called, or what the official God-given name of a group of believers should be.
Those who haggle about what we are to call the church are simply wrong (and I was once a person who contended strongly for what we should call 'the church"). There came a day, however, when I had to bow to the word of the Lord, admitting He had not made an issue out of what to call the church. The church belongs to Jesus. He referred it as "MY church" (Matthew 16:18). Men are simply not at liberty to assign official names to God's people to the exclusion of all others.
This does not mean it is necessarily sinful to choose a name for a certain assembly. As long as that choice is not made to exclude other believers, or insinuate that the group is the only valid assembly, it is not wrong. If it honors God, glorifies Jesus, and appropriately identifies the people of God, it is lawful. But it must not be made a test of fellowship, or be presented as though the name was commanded by the living God.
How do you justify the following statement from OT? "You may see among them a beautiful woman you like and want to marry. Take her to your home, where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails, and change her clothes. She is to stay in your home and mourn for her parents for a month; after that, you may marry her. Later, if you no longer want her, you are to let her go free. Since you forced her to have intercourse with you, you cannot treat her as slave and sell her” Deuteronomy 21.10-14. How justified is it to give authority to have sexual relationship with enemy's women?
First, it seems a bit presumptuous to me to attempt to "justify" something God has said. That is sitting in judgment upon the Lord. It is better to believe, and seek to understand what God said, not determine whether it is right or not.
This text was a directive given under the Old Covenant, when people were not reconciled to God, justified, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, or at peace with God. It was before men were given new hearts and spirits, something that was promised to come, but not realized by those under the Old Covenant (Ezek 36:26). Such laws are not to be viewed as though they pertained to those who are in Christ Jesus, washed from their sins, and made joint-heirs with Christ. Of the very best of people living under the Old Covenant it is said, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect" (Heb 11:39-40).
The law you cited was not given to authorize the men of Israel to have relations with heathen women. Rather, because of the hardness of the men's hearts, it was given to protect the heathen women, lest they be unduly abused or even killed by their captors. By no means did it describe an ideal situation.
The various laws, similar to the one you referenced, were given because of the hardness of people's heart. That is why Jesus said what He did about marriage in Matthew 19:8. Prior to the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus, those under the Old Covenant were actually at variance with God. He told them, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways your ways," declares the LORD" (Isaiah 55:8). Jesus also confirmed the words of Isaiah, "You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8). There were, of course, people who rose higher than this, living by faith, and seeking the Lord fervently. Such people were, however, proportionately few in number, and were generally mentioned by name (Moses, Aaron, David, the prophets, etc). For the most part, the people were at variance with God. The Laws He gave them were, among other things, designed to keep them restrained. The Law is, after all, "or the lawless" (First Timothy 1:9).
However, when Jesus "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb 9:26) and reconciled us to God (Col 1:20), the door of salvation was opened, a way made for men to become like the Lord. Now men can be "born again," something that never occurred prior to the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus. Now men can receive the Holy Spirit to strengthen and teach them. We are told the Holy Spirit was not "given" in this indwelling sense until Jesus was glorified (John 7:37-39
In Jesus men are told, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" (2 Cor 6:14-15). Further, any kind of intimate relationships outside of marriage, whether with a believer or an unbeliever, are strictly forbidden. Such relations are called "fornication," are to be zealously avoided (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
What do you think of the possibility of repentance and salvation after one's physical death?
There is no indication in all of Scripture that repentance can be realized after death. There is indication, however, that some who were not afforded the opportunity to hear the Gospel, yet had tender hearts, were granted to hear the Gospel after they died. The texts are not exhaustive, and do not provide lengthy explanations. They are First Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6. Students of Scripture are not in agreement on these verses, and care must be taken not to make them a source of division among believers. Enough is said, however, to assure our hearts that God will not require more of men than they had opportunity to hear. Also, those who died without ever hearing the good news of salvation, yet who longed for such a thing, will, doubtless be granted the honor of hearing the message their hearts desired. In both cases, repentance is not the issue. It is assumed such souls were discontent with sin, but had not been given the privilege of hearing the Gospel.
Although that is not much information, it is enough to satisfy my heart.
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