QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 57
What are your thoughts on Jehovah Witnesses? I have family members that are JW and How can I better educate myself about them?
Jehovah's Witnesses fall into the "cult" category. By that I mean they hold to teachings that do not emphasize Jesus Christ, and are a departure from the Apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42). They do not hold the Gospel of Christ as the center point of their teaching. Many of their doctrines represent a significant departure from the thrust of Gospel teaching. Their views of God Himself, the kingdom of God, heaven, hell, Jesus Christ, and death are based upon human analysis rather than Divine affirmation.
While I do not question that there are some Jehovah's Witnesses who are really children of God, they have not come to that condition because of JW teaching, but in spite of it. The emphasis of the Jehovah's Witnesses will not leave one depending solely upon Christ Jesus for Divine acceptance. With them, the name of Jesus does not carry weight it does in Scripture (Acts 4:12; Phil 2:10). That fact alone signifies they are not a God-blessed institution.
There are two ways to educate yourself on these matters. First and foremost, it is important to have the Scriptural view of Christ and the main things in life. That is obtained through your own reliance upon the Word of God. As you obtain this (if you do not already have it), your will find the EMPHASIS of the Jehovah's Witnesses clashing with the emphasis of Scripture.
Second, you need to look for the EMPHASIS of JW doctrine--the pillars of thought upon which everything else is suspended. The fatal flaw of the JW'S is not their individual views, but their EMPHASIS.
As you research their material, discipline yourself not to get bogged down in the details of their teaching. Much of that will fall into the realm of opinion. Tune your heart to see what they emphasize -- what is their main point. That will tell you the truth about them.
Here is an informative site, developed by a former Jehovah's witness. Through it, you will also find links to numerous sites on the same subject. http://caic.org.au/zjws.htm
Do u.f.o.'s or aliens exist?
Not in the conventional sense of the word. The meaning of UFO is "Unidentified Flying Object." There certainly have been a lot of those--things flying through the air that men have not been able to identify. I reject the notion that there is life on other planets, and that such forms of life occasionally appear to men. Throughout history, angels have appeared to men, but they have never taken strange and alien forms. The Word of God records angelic appearance to Abraham (Gen 22:11), Hagar (Gen 16:7), Lot (Gen 19:1), Jacob (Gen 28:12), Moses (Ex 3:2), the Israelites (Judges 2:1-4), Balaam (Num 22:31), Joshua (Josh 5:15), Gideon (Judges 6:11), Manoah (Judges 13:15-16), David (2 Sam 24:16-17), Elijah (1 Kings 19:5), Elisha (2 Kings 6:16-17), Daniel (Dan 6:22), Shadrach Meschach and Abednigo (Dan 3:25-28), Zechariah (Zech 2:3), Joseph (Matt 1:20), Mary (Luke 1:26), Zacharias (Luke 1:11), the shepherds (Luke 2:9), Jesus (Matt 4:11; Luke 22:43), at Jesus' tomb (Matt 28:2-5), at Jesus' ascension (Acts 1:10-11), Peter and John (Acts 5:19), Philip (Acts 8:26), Cornelius (Acts 10:3), Peter in prison (Acts 12:7), Paul (Acts 27:23), John on Patmos (Rev 1:1).
There are holy and evil angels, and different levels of them. So far as we know, there are no other forms of created life. Everything we know about life, the source of life, and the purpose of life, has been revealed by God in the Bible. That must direct our thinking about these things.
Some have thought that Christ's reference to various "signs" could include UFO's. Here are His words: "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26). The prophet Joel also said, "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD" (Joel 2:30). These signs, however, do not speak of things flying about in the air. UFO's have not been seen in the heavens, but in the firmament between the heavens and the earth. The "signs" to which Jesus and Joel referred appear to refer to the disruption of heavenly bodies (sun, moon, stars, etc.). It will cause great distress upon the earth, not curiosity and interest.
There is a lot of material on UFO's, and considerable research on strange and intriguing sightings. But it is not on the part of wisdom to be unduly attracted by them. They only produce questions, and provide no answers. Because they are so intriguing, they tend to turn men's minds away from what God has revealed about Himself and His great salvation.
As to "aliens," or nonhuman life, that are possibly aligned against us, our thoughts must be directed by God, not the imaginations of men and the representations of Hollywood. There are three Scriptural views of nonhuman life that is threatening to men. First, God Himself is against all who do not receive His Son (John 3:36). Those who believe on Christ and follow Him have nothing to fear from God. Second, the devil is our enemy, stalking through the earth seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8-9). Third, those who are in Christ Jesus are engaged in a battle "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). When we take these personalities seriously, we will not have time to be distracted with the imaginations of men concerning "aliens."
What if the Spirit registers something on my heart that contradicts what HE registers on your heart? (Obviously the SPIRIT does not contradict himself) But I have heard MANY say, "The Lord told me..." I and KNOW it is in opposition to God's written word. MAN (and his
fallible opinion) is the exact thing which sound principles of hermeneutics weeds out. How do we know WHO has the correct meaning, YOU or me?
You have raised a question that men cannot answer. That, of course, is the source of the contention that exists among many professed believers. They seek to use a humanly-devised hermeneutic to decipher the truth. The impact of the explosion of these hermeneutics in the religious world is commentary enough on their effectiveness. Almost without exception, those who emphasize this approach to the truth of God are the most divided and disjoined of all. God does address this subject, and quite candidly at that. The answer He provides does not comport with conventional human wisdom, and contradicts much purported religious wisdom.
First, the fundamental objective is not to decide who is right and who is wrong. Rather, it is to abide in Christ. The distracting teachings of men do impact upon this fundamental aim, and is therefore addressed in Scripture. But let it be clear, God has not called us to be policemen, but to abide in the Son. Men can, like Ephesus, become self-professed experts in delineating what is false, yet leave their first love and incur the consequent indignation of Jesus (Rev 2:1-4).
John revealed a most distressing circumstance existing during the last quarter of the first century. It directly has to do with your question. There was a body of teachers John referred to as "many antichrists." They represented themselves as being for Christ, yet were actually against Him–engaged in a war against Him. The complicating factor was that they had companied for some time with God-ordained teachers and preachers. John said, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us" (1 John 2:19). You can imagine the kind of credentials they would have presented. Many churches with whom I have been identified would have readily received these antichrists upon the basis of their lengthy affiliation with men approved by God.
John is not writing to Apostles, all of whom had been martyred long before this Epistle. The purpose of his writing is to bring his readers into fellowship with both the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3)–something with which we surely are identified. The provisions he chronicles are common for all believers for all time (1:7,9; 2:1-2, etc.). It is arresting to note how he addresses the proliferation of these "many antichrists." He boldly announces, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things" (2:20). He obviously does not mean they are omniscient, for that would have obviated the need for the Epistle. Rather, he is referring to a Divinely provided means of deciphering the "things" to which they were being exposed. He clarifies this in the twenty-seventh verse, after affirming the fundamental flaw of these false teachers was their proclamation concerning Jesus Christ (2:21-26). Here are his arresting words. "But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him."
It is my understanding that he is referring to the "how to" part of spiritual life. Long ago I marveled at the remarkable absence of a "how to" approach in the Apostolic writings. Procedures were never their focus. In fact, they warned against such an approach as being unable to neutralize the power of sinful inclinations (Col 2:20-23). The "teaching" to which the above text refers is not a substitute for a knowledge of the Word. Rather, it is the ability to handle it correctly, particularly as it applies to abiding in the Son. Trusting in academic procedures is never promoted in Scripture. That is a pit into which the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Lawyers stumbled.
Those in Christ are privileged to have an inner witness: "He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself" (1 John 5:10). This is the provision to which John referred. It is very real, and is God's marvelous contingency for the complexities of living in this world. It requires living by faith, not quenching the Spirit, and the maintenance of a good conscience.
In keeping with the point being made, the marvelous teaching he announces relates to being able to distinguish the true from the false, and the right from the wrong. The point is not to simply identify what is true and false, but to ABIDE IN THE SON. That is the critical objective that must be realized. As John later affirms, this anointing is the Holy Spirit who is given to all believers (3:24; 4:6; 5:6). Working in concert with the Scripture, the Holy Spirit enables us to recognize the truth. This is not something that can be finely packaged in a lifeless hermeneutic. Nor is the secret found in a regimented form of logic. Logic cannot produce confidence, as any person who cannot swim can tell you. Yet, abiding in Christ DOES require confidence (Heb 3:6,14; 10:35). That confidence involves the acceptance of truth and the rejection of lies.
Believers do not live by logic, but by faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 2:20; 3:11; Heb 10:38). As you know, faith relies implicitly upon the Lord Himself. Often what God declares defies human logic, and all rules of human thought (like an old man and a barren and aged women having offspring, a virgin having a child, the dead being raised, sin being eradicated, or the devil destroyed). Faith has a logic of its own that can confidently embrace the truth of God with confidence, and boldly reject the temptations of the wicked one. Such ability comes from Divine teaching, not earthly logic (Tit 2:11-12). Those who rely implicitly upon the Lord, living by "every word of God" and leaning not to their own understanding (Prov 3:5-6) WILL abide in Christ. They will be able to reject what is false and cleave to what is true.
I understand that this does not comport with an academic approach to Scripture and the improvisations of men. Yet, the Divine affirmation is "he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame" (1 Pet 2:6). That applies to every aspect of spiritual life. There is no way it can be contradicted or made of none effect.
What are your thoughts on being rebaptized as required by Church of Christ, Southern Baptist, and other denominations?
Most of the contemporary requirements for rebaptism are driven by denominational agendas, not Divine requirements. There is one example, and only one, of a rebaptism in Scripture. The details of it are very specific. It is found in the nineteenth chapter of Acts.
While passing through Ephesus, Paul found some disciples--people who were obviously devoted to God. He asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed. They responded, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." Because the receiving of the Holy Spirit is common to everyone who is in Christ (Rom 8:9; Gal 4:6), Paul asked them about their baptism (at which point believers are given the Holy Spirit--Acts 2:38). The disciples said they had been baptized "into John's baptism," referring to John the Baptist. John's baptism was a valid baptism for a time, and was "for the remission of sins" (Mark 1:4).
Paul then explained that John's baptism was only preparatory for the coming of Jesus Christ, and was not sufficient now that Jesus had come. "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus," The disciples were then baptized "into the name of the Lord Jesus," becoming His disciples, and not merely those of John the Baptist (Acts 19:1-5). Keep in mind, the baptism of John was a valid baptism, but had been superseded by baptism into Christ Jesus. John's was a baptism that prepared people to believe on Jesus.
Rebaptism can only be justified if the individual was not baptized "into Christ" -- that is, if they were ignorant of the Lord Jesus, and were not obeying Him. That determination must be made by the individual after they have been apprised of the purpose of baptism. The preeminent criteria for being baptized is believing "that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37). That was the point at which the Ephesian disciples were deficient.
If a person wholeheartedly believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and obediently is baptized into Him, their baptism will be honored by God. That baptism is the "one baptism" (Eph 4:4), and there will never be a need for such a person to be rebaptized,
Some believe that if the person was not knowingly baptized "for the remission of sins" the baptism was invalid. The Scriptures do not affirm this is the case, although they do declare baptism is for "the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). There are many things that occur in baptism, and no one who has ever been baptized was aware of all of them at the time of their baptism. This is confirmed by the extensive teaching on baptism in Scripture--every word of which was addressed to people who had already been baptized (Romans 6:1-17; Col 2:11-13; 1 Pet 3:20-21).
Why do you think children go through abuse? Why does God allow such things to happen?
This is one of the many questions for which God has provided no answer. Further, it is not wise to ask "Why does God allow . . . " It is true that God is over all, and that nothing occurs without going through Him. It is also true that He will allow none of His children to be tempted above their ability (1 Cor 10:13). Carefully we must avoid a speculative approach to the hardships of life. That places too much emphasis on our own times, as though they were unique.
One might as well ask why Pharaoh was allowed to kill Hebrews babies (Ex 1:22), or Herod all of the children under two years of age (Matt 2:16). Ahaz sacrificed his own sons to false gods in the fire (2 Kgs 16:3). Israel burned their sons and daughters in sacrifice to Molech (Jer 32:35). Some children were sold (Neh 5:5). Job's children were killed by a strong wind raised by Satan (Job 1:19). Some children were even eaten by their own parents (Lev 26:29; 2 Kgs 6:28-29). Jeremiah even said God caused this to happen (Jer 19:9).
The sensitive soul cannot read of these things without being repulsed. Some of the abuse happened as a judgment from God. Other was allowed by God so He could bring judgment upon the abusers, as with Pharaoh (Ex 9:16; Rom 9:17). In Job's case, God used the occasion to show how faith could sustain the soul in the midst of severe suffering. We know these things only because God revealed it. Human reason could never have discovered these things.
The overall reason for all injustices is sin. Sin has calloused men so they do unreasonable and harmful things. Abuse is the fruit of sinfulness. It confirms how evil it is.
Keep in mind that this is not the only world, and now is not the only time. God will right all wrongs, and duly compensate all who have suffered unjustly in this world. Speaking of the infants that were heartlessly slaughtered in old time, the Lord said, "And they shall come back from the land of the enemy" (Jer 31:15-16). The abusers will yet face those they have abused, and God will have His day. None of them will go unpunished.
As you well state, we must take care that we do not offend one of these little ones. The reason is obvious, God will personally deal with such people. Some of those dealings may be in this world, but they will surely face the consequences for their actions on the day of judgment. Until that time, we must admit we do not have the answers. When people press us for such answers, we must tell them the truth -- that there are some things for which God has not provided answers. We have seek grace to trust Him in them matter, all the while doing all that is in our power to protect the children.
How do you explain why parents have children who are disabled?
Again, there is no satisfactory explanation. In a day when people want answers to everything, they must frequently be told there everything simply cannot be given a satisfactory explanation. In my understanding, there are some reasons for this. First, if everything could be conveniently explained, we would view such things as abused or disabled everything could be explained. Second, there are higher purposes being served that we are not even capable of understanding.
Ponder how Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth, became crippled when accidentally dropped (2 Sam 4:4). Or the man "born blind" (John 9:2), or the man "crippled from his mother's womb" (Acts 14:8). The disciples did ask about the man born blind, whether it was brought on by sin or not. Jesus told them his disability was not brought on by sin, but was so God could receive glory (John 9:3).
Your explanation was a superb one: "Myself I believe that they are the special one (special parents) I say this because God is entrusting them not only with this child, and giving them the strength to do so, to raise and deal with all that comes along. But also for there important testimony of Faith, Trust, and keeping God first! Showing by example, living out what God intended for them. Taking up thier cross."
The bottom line is that where God has not given explanations, we are to put our trust in Him. He will direct us to handle the situation in a manner that will glorify Him and edify His people. He may also choose to use our faith to relieve the situation. But whatever He does, it will be through our faith.
I know that the basic "Restoration" doctrine is right but which of the churches in the New York/New Jersey tri-state area should I join?
I once adopted the "right church" mentality, which is highly oppressive. This is largely because every honest heart knows there is no known church without defects. The objective is to associate yourself with people who are in fellowship with both the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3). They may have a strong faith like the brethren in Thessalonica, but also have a flawed view of Christ's return like they did (1 Thess 4). Like all true believers, the Thessalonians were able to grow out of their defects. That is why the answer to your question cannot be resolved by simply reviewing the official teaching of the congregation. Are the people followers of Christ? Do they need a lot of rules, or can they live by faith? Is Christ Jesus Himself exalted above the institution? Or is the institution the main thing? Is Scripture central? Or are views of the Scripture most prominent?
There are God fearing congregations whose name is associated with erroneous movements and doctrines--yet they have risen above such things. There are also congregations who have seemingly the right name, and hold to what is conceived to be true, yet are at a distance from God. They have no spiritual appetite and are not zealous to follow Jesus. That is why you cannot go by the name on the door, or the movement with which a congregation is formerly identified.
You just find a fellowship where your spirit is fed and nourished--one where you are at liberty to share the truth you have seen. It should be an environment in which personal growth in grace and truth can be realized, and where you are not bound with the fetters of tradition. There is no easy way to find such a place, for they are not common. After over 55 years of affiliation with Restoration churches, I can tell you they are nearly the deadest of all. They are not noted for being godly, spiritual, or eager about going to heaven. They hold no monopoly on this circumstance. I have hosts of friends who are Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Mennonite, etc., who say exactly the same thing about their churches.
In fact, I believe you will find that most churches are pretty much the same. It grieves me to say this, but it is the truth. I have held meetings in a great variety of churches from many different theological backgrounds. I have found nearly all of them to be sadly lacking in the things God has freely provided in Christ Jesus. I have also found an underlying hunger in people within all of those churches. They seemed glad to hear the Gospel and be encouraged in Christ. The good news of a Savior, Intercessor, and Captain of salvation was generally well received. In fact, I found that most of these people had simply been deprived of the good things of God.
In seeking for a fellowship, I would do my seeking on Sunday evening or Wednesday evening. Anyone whose spiritual appetite cannot be sustained from the morning until the evening, or that can go for long periods without fellowship with kindred spirits, will probably not have much to offer to you. Also, while what is declared from the pulpit is important, so is the spirit and attitude of those who listen. One of the fundamental things to be seen is the love of the brethren. Where that is lacking, a most serious deficiency exists.
I do not personally know of a commendable congregation in your area. That certainly does not mean there is none. I am simply not that acquainted with your area. Voice what you are looking for among your acquaintances. Do your best to pick up on expressions of faith that warm your heart and challenge your spirit. When you hear someone speak in a spiritually refreshing manner, ask them about their fellowship, then check it out.
Can a person go to a church that the Lord Jesus has removed (a state that most Restoration churches seem to be in) and get saved (i.e., have the baptism recognized by God and receive the Holy Spirit)? I only ask this because I know that I am unsaved now since the "Boston Movement" is not of God. Or is it??
First, I do not know how you would know that a church has been removed if it is still meeting. When Jesus removes the candlestick, the church ceases to exist. I think what you mean is a church in which Jesus is not apparent, or dominant. Sardis was a church like that. Jesus said they had a name that they were alive, but were actually dead. The situation was so bad that surviving in that church was nearly a miracle--if it was not one indeed. Jesus said, "You have a few names EVEN IN SARDIS who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy" (Rev 3:4). Another church in a terrible state was Thyatira. They allowed a wicked woman who called herself a prophetess to teach Christ's servants to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication. Jesus said He would "kill her children with death." You can't get more serious than that. Yet, Jesus said to some in that very church, ""Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden" (Rev 2:24).
That precisely answers your question. A person CAN be saved in a spiritually unsavory environment--one with which Jesus Himself is not pleased. You could also throw in the churches at Pergamos (Rev 2:14) and Laodicea, a church that made Jesus sick (Rev 3:16). Those who are saved in such an environment have overcome their surroundings. They are not saved because of them. You must remember that Moses was raised in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon, but God used them in spite of their surroundings. Some godly preachers can be found in ungodly surroundings, as well as some faithful people.
Throw yourself open to the direction of the Lord. He is not only powerful to save, but also to direct.
I do not believe the Boston Movement is of God. It relies too much upon the wisdom of men and routine. There is too much human supervision for it to be of God. But that does not mean you are "unsaved" because you were part of it -- any more than believers in Sardis were unsaved because of the wretchedness of their church. Men are not saved because of where they attend, but because of whom they trust. Salvation is in the name of a Person, not a church (Acts 4:12).
I can tell from your expressions that you have a tender heart and want to be right with God. There is not a syllable in Scripture that speaks against such a condition. Everything God says is in favor of those possessing such traits, and you are no different. You thought enough of Jesus to obey Him, and God honors that obedience. Your love His son, and God loves you. It is really just that simple. Now, be of good cheer, and look for the blessing of God. It is there for you to have.
In 1 kings 15:2 it identifies Abijam's mother as Maachah the daughter of Abishalom. In verse 10 of the same chapter it mentions her again as the mother of Asa. Is this the same woman did Abijam have relations with his mother, which seems a possibility reading later about her character or is this just coincidence?
It is my understanding that Maachah did not give birth to Asa, but raised him up, actually being his grandmother. Later we read that Asa removed Maachah from being queen (1 Kings 15:13), a position she is thought to have retained since she was the favored wife of Rehoboam, Asa's grandfather (2 Chron 11:21). Also, there is no indication that Asa made her queen, or that he was particularly endeared to her as was Rehoboam. Some versions use the word "grandmother" in 1 Kings 15:10 (NKJV, NIV, NIB). Conservative scholars generally concur the reference is to Asa's grandmother. In the last analysis, we cannot prove that to be the case. In my judgment, this position is more consistent with what we know about Asa, who was generally noted for being godly. It is inconceivable to me that he would have placed such a wicked woman in the position of queen, only to depose her later. It makes more sense that she was put into that position by Rehoboam, tenaciously maintaining it until Asa boldly dethroned her because of her idolatry. Also, being as Asa began his reign only three years after Abijam began his reign (1 Kings 15:2,8), it is not possible he was Abijam's son.
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