QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 55
Did Jesus have a name before his birth as a human? If so what was it? Is there scripture to support?
The only clear reference to Christ's preincarnation IDENTITY is John 1:1,14 -- "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . "
Whether or not the term "Word" can be construed as a "name," in the ordinary sense of the term, is open to question. The Scripture poignantly refers to Christ's preexistence (John 1:1-3; John 6:62; 8:58; 17:5; 1 Cor 8:6; Phil 2:5-7; Col 1:15,16,17; Heb 1:2-12; 10:5-10), but never dwells upon it, or provides an extensive exposition of His identity at that time. God apparently desires for us to consider His only begotten Son within the context of salvation.
How does a believer, from the written word balance tolerance and compassion, how does God do it?
Perhaps "balance" is the wrong word. God can never rejoice in iniquity, and can never be angry with good. This is best illustrated in Christ's reaction to some of the seven churches to whom the book of Revelation was written. The Lord took pleasure in the good He saw, and was repulsed by the evil He saw--sometimes in the same church. Consider the following.
1. THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS. Jesus recognized their works, labor, patience, and how they could not bear those who were evil. He commended them for testing those who said they were apostles, yet were not. He also commended them for patiently enduring under stress, and not fainting. They also hated the deeds of the Nicolaitins, which He also hated., However, He did have something against them. They had left their first love, and would be removed if they did not repent and return to it (Rev 2:2-6).
2. THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS was also commended by Jesus for not denying His name, even though they were in one of Satan's strongholds. They even had a martyr who was slain for Jesus there. However, they also had some there who had embraced serious false doctrine that led to idolatry and fornication. Some also held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitins. If they did not repent, Jesus would actually fight against them. (Rev 2:13-15).
3. The Lord commended THE CHURCH AT THYATIRA for their works, charity, service, faith, and patience. They had also improved in their works, with the latter being greater than the former. However, he had something against them. They were tolerating a false prophetess among them who was teaching His servants to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit fornication. He was going to judge those people harshly. However, those in Thyatira who had not participated in those things would be honored by Him (Rev 2:19-25).
As Jesus' brethren, we must avoid being hypercritical, always ready to fulfill the word concerning love: never rejoicing in iniquity, but always rejoicing in the truth (1 Cor 13:7). Even in dead churches like Sardis, there are some who "have not defiled their garments" (Rev 3:4). We should be swift to recognize and encourage them. They are no doubt discouraged with many of the conditions that also effect us. Too, when something good and worthy is done, we should commend them like Jesus did.
I seems relatively simplistic, but it really is not. It boils down to being thankful for the good, and being against what is evil. By commending the good things, and encouraging those who are keeping themselves pure, we are not condoning the rest of the nonsense that goes on in these churches Conversely, when we stand against the lukewarmness and other unseemly things, we are not condemning those who have kept themselves unspotted from the world.
STATEMENT: The passage on which the opinion is sought must be taken with all its context. As this of the "prophecy" of the alleged "virgin birth of Jesus Christ" is the keystone of the whole scheme of Christianity, it is of the highest importance to clearly understand, from the context, what Isaiah is recorded as so oracularly delivering himself about. The whole of chapter vii, or at least the verses bearing upon the subject-matter of his "prophecy," must be presented to the reader.
REPLY: The strictly "literary context" approach to understanding Scripture is flawed to the core. It removes the unanimity, or oneness, of Scripture, which it integral to inspiration. There is a higher context of Scripture that brings it all into one harmonious whole. Jesus said of the Scriptures, "these are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39). John was told by a heavenly messenger, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev 19:10). Jesus Christ is to Scripture what the spirit is to the body. Remove Him, and there is not even a purpose for Scripture, let alone a message.
In your zeal, Mr. Templar, you are reading Isaiah as though the revelation of Christ was not even in God's mind, for even you admit Isaiah is "the inspired text." To justify your view, you must first prove that God has ever spoken without Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, in mind. You must substantiate with infallible proofs that Jesus is not the heart and core of Scripture, and particularly of prophecy. John reminds us that the failure of the Jews to believe on Jesus fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 29:10. He then adds, "These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him" (John 12:41). Will you discard this inspired comment by probing what you conceive to be Isaiah's context?
As to Isaiah 7:14 being "the keystone of the whole scheme of Christianity," nothing could be further from the truth. It is a prophecy, but certainly not the keystone of the whole scheme of Christianity. The original Messianic prophecy was made by God in the Garden (Gen 3:15), and elaborated on to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). But these are not the "keystone of the whole scheme of Christianity." From the standpoint of a Person, Jesus Himself is the Keystone, or more precisely "Foundation" of Christianity. He is the "Foundation" put in place by God Himself (1 Cor 3:11). From the standpoint of a message, the Gospel, which is the proclamation of the Person and accomplishments of Jesus, "is the power of God to salvation" (Rom 1:16). That Gospel affirms Isaiah's prophecies to have been related to Christ.
Without controversy, the understanding of the context of Scripture is necessary. But that context is not the historical setting or circumstances of the various texts of Scripture. Rather. the true context is the eternal purpose of God, particularly as it regards His great salvation in Christ Jesus. For this reason, Scripture is said to have been written "for our (Christian's) learning" (Rom 15:4). Even the events that occurred among the Israelites are said to have "happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition" (1 Cor 10:11). Jesus Himself affirmed He was the subject of Scripture (John 5:39). John said Isaiah spoke of Christ (John 12:41). Peter affirmed the Prophets, including Isaiah, "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow" (1 Pet 1:11). Matthew, whom you do not accept as inspired, also declares Jesus to be the subject of Isaiah's 7:14 prophecy (Matt 1:22-23).
Mr. Templar, you cannot remove Jesus from Isaiah's prophecy, for God has put Him into the prophecy, affirming Him to the heart and core of it. The context of Isaiah is NOT the immediate historical circumstances. They were incidental to the prophecy, and secondary in significance.
STATEMENT: In a word, Isaiah in his seventh chapter was speaking of a then pending war waged against Ahaz, King of Judah, by the kings of Israel and Syria, who were besieging Jerusalem; Isaiah volunteered his "sign of virgin birth" in proof of his "prophecy," -- shown false by the sequel -- that the siege and the war would fail by the defeat of the allied kings.
REPLY:This seemingly scholarly approach to the understanding of Isaiah 7:14 omits one key factor: GOD HIMSELF. The understanding of Scripture does not come through etymological research. Were that the case, the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day would have had the edge in understanding Scripture.
The words of First Peter 1:20-21 are clear, even from a linguistic viewpoint. "First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Scripture is Divinely intentional. No part of it was originated by men, but they were moved along through the Holy Spirit to record matters relevant to the great working of God. This means what Matthew said was not his interpretation, as you suggest. Rather, the superfluous interpretation is the one you have chosen, as well as other unbelieving colleagues. If a person does not believe this, he should withdraw his efforts to speak of Scripture, for they have no relevance whatsoever apart from God Himself, and particularly without Jesus Christ as the locus of thought.
Prophecy often has a dual significance, having a preliminary fulfillment and an ultimate one as well. Isaiah's prophecy can refer to a young woman giving birth in his time, as well as one giving birth some 700-800 years later. A similar type of prophecy is made by Hosea. 'When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt" (Hos 11:1). Hosea was referencing the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Matthew, whom you appear to view as uninspired, states the prophecy was fulfilled by Joseph taking Mary and the young child Jesus out of Egypt after the death of Herod (Matt 2:14). Both deliverances were real, and a single text spoke of them. No law of interpretation or language forbids such a conclusion.
If you are suggesting that an ominous sign cannot be fulfilled in two different circumstances, how can you substantiate such a claim? On one occasion, Caiaphas the High Priest said to those who suggested they allow Jesus to live, "You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish" (John 11:50). "It is clear," as you would say, that he was speaking of the death of Jesus as removing the pressure of the Roman government from them. Yet, even though he spoke these words with one intent, God meant them for another. As it is written, "He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" (John 11:51-52).
Do you suggest that God could not use the words of Isaiah, a holy prophet, to fulfill two purposes? One for the encouragement and illumination of the prophet's generation, and one to speak to a coming generation? Will you apply the same rules of interpretation to the promise of an offspring to Abraham, which applied to both Isaac and Jesus (Gen 22:17-18; Gal 3:16)? Or, to David, which applied to both Solomon and Jesus (2 Sam 7:12-13; Acts 2:30)?
STATEMENT: Notice the positive tone of the prophet," says the Biblical Encyclopedia (Vol. III, p. 116), commenting on verse 7.
REPLY:What form of scholarship would constrain a person to ascribe validity to an analysis ("positive tone of the prophesy") of the Biblical Encyclopedia, and the words "pretense .. clearly unfounded and false" to the writings of Matthew," which are the subject of Encyclopedias?
STATEMENT: Isaiah carries his peculiar line of "prophecy" over into chapter viii, and after several utterly unintelligible verses, strikes the trail of his war prophecy again . . .
REPLY:Perhaps, as with Israel, God has poured a "spirit of deep sleep" upon you, so you cannot understand the words of Isaiah (Isa 29;10). It is quite possible that they seem "unintelligible" to you because you read them with a "veil over your mind" (2 Cor 3:15). Your analysis is the product of spiritual ignorance, not scholarship. You are obviously a thoughtful individual. I suggest that faith will cause your thoughts to be more productive and beneficial.
STATEMENT: No clearer proof could be that Isaiah, whatever he was trying to say, was not speaking of Jesus . . . Such a post-mortem "sign" would be of no use to Ahaz anyhow. This pretense by Matthew is clearly unfounded and false . . . So the "prophecy" is seen to be false, though the history is contradictorily recorded in 2 Kings vi, 1-9.
REPLY:Thus, with a casual sweep of the scholastic hand, you sweep aside the word of Matthew, whose sole purpose was to extol, clarify, and expound, the Lord Jesus Christ. With emphasis, and seeming confidence, you say Isaiah was NOT speaking of Jesus. And what do you offer us to justify this conclusion? It is a human critique of the text--a critique by one or more who themselves need a Savior. You tell us that Isaiah's view of things was preeminent, even though the Word of God, by which we will all be judged, speaks to the contrary. "Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into" (1 Pet 1:10-12).
Thus, the holy prophets, Isaiah included, were primarily foretelling the coming of the Messiah. They sensed it, and probed the matter with deliberation and zeal, trying to understand who the Savior was, and when He would appear. God revealed to them their words were not primarily for them or their generation, but for those who are in Christ Jesus. They were really speaking to believers in Christ, not merely their own generation.
Jesus is the "Immanuel," "Sanctuary," "Child, " "Ensign" "Foundation," "Servant," and "Redeemer" of Isaiah (Isa 7:14; 8;14: 9:6; 11:10; 28:16; 42:1; 59:20. He is the "David," and "the Righteous Branch" of Jeremiah (Jer 23:5). He is the "Plant of Renown" of Ezekiel (Ezek 34:29), the "Messiah" of Daniel (Dan 9:25), "the Branch" of Zechariah (Zech 3:8), and "the Messenger" and "Sun of Righteousness" of Malachi (Mal 3:1; 4:2). He is not this because of context, but because of Divine intention. He is the "spirit of prophecy" by proclamation, not pedantic analysis.
What is your understanding on 1 Thess. 4:3 and 5:23? At times it appears that Sanctification is something we work towards and at others that it is something that God does.
There is no facet of salvation in which God is not involved. That is one reason it is called "the salvation of God" (Psa 50:23; Luke 3:6; Acts 28:28). Sanctification is both provisional and participative on our part. From the provisional viewpoint "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb 10:10). Thus, Jesus is said to have died 'that He might sanctify the people with His own blood" (Heb 13:12).
There also is the participative work in which we ourselves engage. In this, we come to "know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (1 Thess 4:3). This involves mortifying the deeds of the body (Col 3:5), which work is done through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:13). This is a sort of joint effort in which we join with the Lord in meeting the appointed objective. From one standpoint, we are working out own salvation with fear and trembling. Still, it is also God who is working in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13). Without this Divine involvement, our efforts, however consistent and ardent, would all be futile. Or, to put as our blessed Lord did, "without Me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5). It is the grace of God that "teaches us" to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly lusts, living righteously and godly in this present world (Tit 2:11-12).
In sanctification, we are stretching out our withered hand, as it were. Our effort is involved, but the power comes from the Lord. We are like the lame man by the pool of Bethesda. He was told to pick up his bed and walk. Without that word from Christ and His Divine enablement, such a word could not have been fulfilled. However, the word was accompanied by the power required to accomplish it. That is the view of First Thessalonians 4:3.
There is one other matter to consider. First Thessalonians 4:3 is not as extensive as 5:23. Like Romans 8:13 and Colossians 3:5, it has to do with the subduing of the inclinations of the flesh, which are resident in our bodies. In a word, we are stewards of our bodies, and are to exert ourselves to keep them pure, for they belong to Christ (1 Cor 6:15). First Thessalonians 5:23 is must broader, involving the spirit and the soul. It also extends further, involving being "preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." This process involves empowering us for the work we are given to do. It also includes the process of transformation through which the Spirit is changing us from one stage of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18).
The work of salvation is not complete until we stand faultless before His presence with exceeding joy (Jude 24-25). God Himself is active in every part of that process. To the fullest extent possible, we are also involved.
In its totality, salvation is not something God does independently of our involvement. It is foreshadowed in Israel's deliverance from Egypt. that deliverance was of God. Without Him, there is no way they could have come out of Egypt, particularly with great spoil and a host of the Egyptians also. However, as you well remember, they were intensely active on the eve of their exodus. God did not translate them out of Egypt, but led them out. They were extensively involved in the process, but the power was all of God. That is precisely how it is with sanctification.
Are you saying that after paul became a christian, he never sinned? the thought is not the sin, it is what we do with the thought that is the sin.
I am not saying Paul did not sin after he became a Christian. I have gone to great lengths to confirm the nature of Paul's words in Romans 7:15-25: namely, that it is a description of the warfare that exists between the Spirit and the flesh. The subject is not sinning, but the sin principle, or "law of sin" (verse 7:23).
I don't understand how you can get away biblically with saying the word do in this passage does not mean the execution of the thought. What about David? He was a man after God's own heart, yet he continually sinned, he continually gave in to what his flesh wanted, as opposed to what his spirit wanted. But God's hand was with him in the midst of the sin. It says it over and over in the bible.
1. He made no provision to do it (I allow not, verse 15).
2. It was not something he willed (what I hate . . . what i would not, verses 15-16)
3. It was not he that did it (it is not more I that do it, verses 17,20).
These cannot be said of transgression. When the thought is expressed there IS a will to do it. There has been provision to do it. And the person is guilty of transgression, which must be acknowledged.
David did NOT continually give in to what his flesh wanted, and it is a reproach to say this man after God's own heart did so. The scriptures say of him, "For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the Lord's commands all the days of his life--except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (1 Kings 15:5). He confessed that sin, and expressed great remorse over the matter, never committing it again. God is obnocted by sin, and is everywhere so declared. That is precisely why He provided a Savior from sin.
The passage in Romans seven speaks for itself. It does not have to be backed up with etymological proofs. The subject introduced in the passage was desire, not outward deeds (7:7). It clearly states that Paul did not himself do what he is saying ("It is no longer I that do it.") It was something expressed within him, against his will, and in spite of his hatred for it.
If these were outbreaks of iniquity that cannot be restrained, then we ARE debtors to the flesh, to obey its demands--something emphatically denied in the next chapter (Rom 8:12).
The conclusion to this entire warfare is stated in the first verse of the next chapter. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." That is how we know "DO" does not mean the execution of the thought in word or deed. That kind of execution is condemned by God without any qualification, and those who commit such things will not be accepted by Him (1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:19-21). That is why sin is to be confessed and forgiveness appropriated. No such confession or forgiveness is associated with Romans 7:15-25.
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