QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 59
Could you share with me your understanding of I Cor. 7:14? How is the unbelieving husband sanctified by the wife? And, what is meant by "otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy."
This text is addressed to believers with unbelieving spouses--a most unfortunate circumstance. I assume the situation was created when, after they were married, they heard the Gospel, with one being converted and the not remaining unconverted.
This situation might lead the believer to suppose a separation from the unbeliever was necessary. The Spirit quickly corrects that misconception. It is possible for the unbeliever to be won by the chaste manner of life of the believer (1 Pet 3:1-2).
By saying the unbeliever is sanctified by the believer, the Lord does not mean the unbeliever is saved because of the believer. Rather, he is saying the marriage is honored by God. The marriage is acknowledged by Him, is holy, and the believer can be blessed in it. Even though the circumstance was not the best, yet God could work in it for His glory and the betterment of those involved. In other words, there is no need to separate or be divorced. The idea is that the unbeliever will not contaminate the believer who lives by faith and trusts in the Lord. The believer, in such a case, is not infected by the unbeliever. A classic example is Timothy's mother, Eunice, who was married to a Greek. He was not a Christian, but Eunice maintained her faith and also raised Timothy in the faith (Acts 16:1-3; 2 Tim 1:5).
By saying, "Otherwise your children would be unclean," the Lord is saying if the marriage was not pure, the children would not be pure. If it is pure, however, the children can advance beyond the condition of the unbelieving parent, becoming a believer like Timothy. This text does not mean the children of unbelieving parents are considered illegitimate. The passage is not meant to be a commentary on children born of unbelieving parents. Rather, it is intended to assure marriages with only one believing spouse that the marriage is sacred, and the children will be blessed.
I need an in-depth answer to the following question. Before judgment day, where do we go when we die?
There is no in-depth answer to this question -- at least details are not provided that supply all of the answers. When those in Christ die, they are "absent from the body and present with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8). The extent of that presence is not revealed. It is certainly a vast enhancement over our experience in this world. It is less than it will be following the resurrection of the dead.
A picture of closeness to the Lord is revealed in the tabernacle. There was an outer court outside of the tabernacle itself. There was a holy place, and a most holy place, that were separated by a veil. In a sense, people were near to God when they were in the outer court. The priests who ministered in the tabernacle were closer still when they were in the holy place. The High Priest was even more close when he was in the holiest of all. For those in Christ Jesus, life in this world is like living in the outer court. When we die, it is like entering into the holy place. Following the resurrection of the dead, we will enter into the holiest of all.
From Patmos, John was given to see "the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held." They are said to be "under the altar," and inquiring about the vindication of their blood. Every one of them were given white robes, and told to "rest a while" until the martyrdom of others would be fulfilled (Rev 6:9-11). We do not know the precise meaning of "under the altar," or precisely what location it describes. However, we gather that it is very close to the Lord, yet not as close as the ultimate destiny of the saved.
Jesus revealed some answers to your question in the account of the rich man and a man named Lazarus. I am sure you remember the account. It is in Luke 16:19-31. Both died, and the conditions they experienced upon the earth were dramatically reversed. The rich man was in torment, and Lazarus experienced comfort. The location of the areas in which they were found is not identified. The place in which Lazarus was found is said to be "Abraham's bosom," while the rich man lifted up his eyes "in hell."
Some have appealed to the Greek word from which the word "hell" is taken in this passage. Later versions employ the word "Hades." Hades is distinguished from the grave, which is called "death" in Revelation 20; 13-14. Both "death and hell" will eventually be cast into the lake of fire, as there will be no further need for them (Rev 20:14). We understand "Hades" to refer to a place occupied by the spirits of those who have died prior to the resurrection of the dead.
Peter referred to evil angels who sinned, and were not spared by God. He states they were "cast down to hell" (2 Pet 2:4). The Greek word used here is different from the one used elsewhere. It is not "hades," nor is it "gehenna," which refers to the lake of fire. In speaking of these fallen angels, Peter uses the word "tartaros." The generally understood meaning of this word is "the deepest abyss of hades." Some versions translate it "the lower hell" (Duoay-Rheims), "Tartarus" (Young's Literal, New American Bible), and "the underworld" (New Jerusalem Bible). Scripture informs us these fallen angels are confined to this area, being held there by "chains" (2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6). we do not know its location. Some have suggested the Scriptural phrase "under the earth" speaks of its location (Phil 2:10; Rev 5:3,13). I myself am not satisfied with that explanation.
Reasoning upon this, some have conceived of hades as a realm with two compartments: one for the saved, and one for the lost. In their understanding, the dead remain there until the resurrection of the dead, when their spirits will be united with their bodies and they will, following the judgment, be consigned to either the lake of fire or the presence of the Lord. there does appear to be some truth to this. However, in my judgment, it is not sufficient to formulate an official doctrine on the subject.
As you can see, the bulk of the explanations presented have come from human analyses, not from Divine revelation. The precise places and locations occupied by the departed saved and lost simply have not been revealed. It is enough that we devote ourselves to making it safely to the grave, or to the appearing of our Lord--whichever occurs first. Between death and the resurrection, things will be better for the saved, and worse for the lost. Both will experience an introduction to their final destiny.
I was married when I was 19 and divorced at 20 (12 months later). During the entire marriage my ex-husband was running around in bars with all his single friends . . . coming home at all hours of the night drunk, becoming very violent with me (held a loaded gun to my head more than once threatening to kill me because he said he hated me), stayed drunk 6 days of out 7, etc. Anyway, one day he said he wanted a divorce, packed his bags and left. Three weeks later he called me and told me to come to his mother's house so he could serve me with the divorce papers. I tried to reconcile with him from the time he left me until the time he remarried (a Catholic). Once he remarried I decided that I had to go on without the hope of us ever getting back together again. Anyway, I met a wonderful Christian guy - member of the Church of Christ (who had never been married) and we were married about 1 1/2 years later. We have been married for 8 years and have two beautiful children. My question is, do I have to break-up my present marriage in order to set things right with God? About 6 months ago I was speaking with a guy I work with (whose father teaches at Freed Hardeman in TN) and he told me that I was living in adultery because my divorce was not scriptural (for fornication) and that I had to leave my husband in order not to be an adulterer. I was totally shocked to hear this. He also said that if two people divorce unscripturally neither is ever allowed to remarry and that even if one remarries first, the other cannot act upon this "adultery" and marry again. Please let me know what you think.
Stay with your husband. You have not sinned in marrying him, and you would be sinning in divorcing him. Do not allow those captured by lifeless theology to strike fear into your heart.
Your husband divorced you and was joined to someone else. Whether he was married before or after he divorced you is of no consequence. He was unfaithful to you, and did break the marriage bond. Even if he did not, his conduct toward you, coupled with the fact that he did not want to remain with you, freed you. That is taught in First Corinthians 7:15. "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace." Among certain people, not the least of which are some from the Church of Christ, there is a denial that this passage frees the believer to be married. However, the "bondage" is the marital bond. It is not the unbeliever that is no longer under bondage, but the 'brother or sister" -- the one who is in Christ. You have been freed, therefore, on two counts. First, unfaithfulness in your spouse, and second, an unwillingness to stay with you. The meaning of this passage is that believers are to do all that is possible to maintain the marriage. However, when there is a refusal on the other's part (which is emphatically what happened to you) the believer is free from the bond. God freed you, and you are answerable to no man for the manner in which you used your freedom.
As to the notion that those who are divorced cannot remarry under any conditions, that is a heartless absurdity. Christ spoke of divorce within the context of remarriage (Matt 19:9; Mk 10:11-12).
Perhaps your friend is unaware that God Himself is divorced. He provided a record of it in the book of Jeremiah. "Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also" (Jer 3:8). This is also mentioned in Isaiah 50:1). The Lord then joined Himself to the Gentiles, who were formerly "not a people," becoming identified with them (1 Pet 2:10). While this cannot be used to develop a finely spun doctrine, it does show there is a legitimate reason for divorce, and that reason justifies a remarriage.
While care must be taken in this matter, the law did prohibit the very thing your friend recommended -- being rejoined to the one that had been divorced, or put away. The passage is a little lengthy, but provides an index as to how our Lord thinks on these things. ""When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man's wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance" (Deut 24:1-4).
I would certainly be interested in the type of advice these legalists would have given to the woman at the well. Jesus told her, "for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband" (John 4:18). That certainly was a complicated situation. Yet, to that very woman Jesus said, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:10).
It is good to remember that God is not looking for a reason to condemn people, but for a reason to save them. It is not that he condones sin, as you already know. But you have not sinned. Go on your way rejoicing! Enjoy your husband and your children, and be at peace.
Jesus wept in John 11:35. Can you give some insight the reason he wept. Was it because of loss of Lazarus or maybe because Mary was weeping and that troubled him. I know David wept for his son, but when his son passed on he rejoiced. Do we know the reason Jesus was weeping?
Jesus did not weep because Lazarus died, for He was there to raise him from the dead. He wept because of the unbelief that pervaded that place. That is why the Scriptures say, "Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He GROANED IN THE SPIRIT and was TROUBLED (John 11:33). It was those unbelieving Jews who said, "'See how He loved him!' And some of them said, 'Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?'" (v 34). They completely misjudged the situation. That is what moved our Lord to weep. They simply did not see Him for who He really was.
Do you "go to church?". I don't want to go to church anymore. I want to learn the Word of God, act in Faith. If that was happening "at church" then I would be very happy to be there. For some reason, I have come to be frustrated with church. My wife and I are having church at home now. I hope I am not disobeying God. I want to fellowship with the brethren, but who is the brethren? I'm upset with what is going on in the churches that I've visited. I hope I'm not doing something wrong. I don't want to hurt people either. I hope God can hear my distress and give me guidance.
You are among a host of people who feel exactly the same way. We have a house church in our home, and know of several others in the area. One of my sons meets with his wife at home because they have not been able to find a satisfactory "church" with whom they can fellowship. You must, however, avoid the conclusion that there are no real believers around you, or that all churches are unacceptable. Faithful people are there. They are not in clusters, and you must look for them. You are not doing wrong in meeting in the home, but you must avoid a root of bitterness developing in you. Ask the Lord to help you and your wife--to direct you to some kindred spirits. God is in the directing business. He says the steps of a good man are ordered, or established, by Him (Psa 37:23). The Lord is said to "direct" man's steps (Prov 16:9). He promises, "In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Prov 3:6). Once the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you" (1 Thess 3:11). Ask Him to do the same for you -- to direct you to some people who are in fellowship with Him. He will hear you.
I have some questions about Jesus being created or eternal. What would cause someone (who is supposed to be a "Bible - Believing Christian" - not that there is any other kind of Christian - understand) to believe that Jesus was (is) a "created being"?
One of two things. Either they have read texts like Colossians 1:16-18 and John 1:3, and viewed them with carnal understanding, or they have heard someone teach this heresy.
Would believing Jesus is a "created being" be a violation - or denial of John 1:1-4?
In my judgment, that is exactly what it is. Jesus declared Himself the "I AM" (John 8:58), a term limited to Deity, or the eternal God (John 8:58; Exodus 3:14). That expression is never used in reference to someone who was created or had a beginning.
Would believing Jesus is a "created being" be a denial of His Divinity - or that He is God?
Yes! Anything created cannot be Divine. Eternality is integral to Deity.
Do the passages that teach that Christ is Creator - automatically exclude the idea that He is a "created being"?
Yes. The creator and the created are contrasted in Scripture--they cannot be the same (Rom 9:20). Someone that is himself created cannot create. The term "Creator" is exclusively applied to God (Eccl 12:1; Isa 40:28; 43:15; Rom 1:25; 1 Pet 4:19). In addition, it is categorically stated that God's "dear Son" created "all things" (Col 1:16).
Does "He is before all things" mean - or teach that He is The Creator - rather than the created? (Colossians 1:15-18).
That is precisely the point of this passage. Scripture affirms nothing was made without Jesus, which makes Him unquestionably eternal (John 1:3). If men imagine this means Christ Jesus is less than God, the Spirit refutes such reasoning in Colossians 1:19 and 2:9, where the fulness of God is said to dwell in the Son. Believers are said to receive "OF His fulness" (John 1:16). Jesus had it all.
Does "He is before all things" automatically affirm that He is the Creator - rather than the created?
Yes--emphatically so! That is the point of the expression. Only One who is eternal could exist "before all things." It is another way of saying the Lord had no beginning.
What is the meaning of "He is the firstborn of all creation"? (Colossians 1:15) N I V says "over all creation"?
It means He is the One that is the Source of all creation. It had no genesis (beginning) without Him. The specific point being made is that Jesus has the preeminence. Besides this, the purveyors of this dogma conveniently overlook the first part of this verse, "Who is the Image of the invisible God." That is an assertion of His Deity (eternality), for Divinity cannot exist where there is no eternality.
Was the doctrine that Jesus is a "created being" ever considered (called) a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church?
I do not know the answer to this. Officially, Catholic doctrine states "Christ, being eternal, is supreme." Whatever deficiencies may be conceived to be held by them, they are sound in their view of the Lord Jesus, His eternality, and consequent Godhood.
Can someone believe that Jesus is a "created being" & still be a Christian - or to use the modern religious parlance - still "be saved"?
Understanding the final determination will be made by God, I do not think this is possible. The confession upon which the church is built, and which is the ground of Divine acceptance, is that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Matt 16:16). There is no salvation apart from the hearty embrace of this truth (1 John 4:15; 5:5,10-11). Jesus cannot be "the Son of God" and a "created being" at the same time. Even the hard-hearted Pharisees knew that "Son of God" was a term denoting equality with God (John 5:18).
YOU - don't believe that Jesus is a "created being" - DO YOU???
Most emphatically, I DO not! More importantly, He IS not!!
To what extent does the Holy Spirit play a part in my life as a Christian? Are there still gifts of the Spirit imparted to believers today? Should I pray for it? Thank you.
The Holy Spirit is the life-factor in spiritual life. He is what makes life "life." That is why Scripture refers to "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:2). It is why Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life" (John 6:63). He pours out the love of God into your heart (Rom 5:5), enables you to abound in hope (Rom 15:13), and brings righteous, peace, and joy (Rom 14:17). It is the Spirit who strengthens you with might in the inner man so Christ can dwell in your heart by faith (Eph 3:16-17). He is the One who helps your weaknesses, making effective intercession for you when you do not know what to pray for (Rom 8:26). The Holy Spirit leads you in the holy work of subduing the flesh (Rom 8:13). He brings the ability to patiently wait for the hope of full and unhindered righteousness (Gal 5:5). It is the Spirit who gives the ability to "obey the truth" (1 Pet 1:22). He is the One who changes us from one stage of glory to another, conforming us to the image of the Son of God (2 Cor 3:18; Rom 8:29). It is because of His leading that we are not under the condemning Law (Gal 5:18). Technically speaking, the Holy Spirit does not play a role in your life, He IS your life.
As long as the Spirit is here, He is represented as giving gifts. The difficulty comes when men choose to limit these gifts, speaking of them as though there was only a handful of them, and all of them were highly visible. Thus men foolishly speak of "the nine spiritual gifts," or some other fictitious number. The Word of God informs us that gifts are given by Divine discretion, and by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:4). They are not all the same, but differ in their ministry, which is determined by the Lord (1 Cor 12:5). There are also differences in the activities and effects of these gifts, but it is the Lord who is working them all (1 Cor 12:6). All of these gifts have a single purpose: the common good and upbuilding of the saints of God (1 Cor 12:7).
The vast variety of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit can been seen in the various churches addressed in the Epistles. Gifts are never approached doctrinally so as to precisely define them all, or set the goal for every believer to seek after them. For example, Corinth's gifts included (1) the word of wisdom, (2) the word of knowledge, (3) extraordinary faith, (4) gifts of healing, (5) working of miracles, (6) prophecy, (7) discernment of spirits (8) speaking in different languages, and (9) interpreting messages in different languages (1 Cor 12:8-10). In addition, (10) Apostles, (11) teachers, (12) helps, and (13) governments or administrations are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28.
Gifts are also mentioned in the book of Romans, with a different listing that reflected what they had been given. This includes prophecy, (14) ministry, or serving, (15) exhorting, (16) giving, (17) ruling, of leading, and (18) showing mercy (Rom 12:6-8).
The book of Ephesians also enumerates some gifts given to the church. They included Apostles, prophets, (19) evangelists, and (20) pastor/teachers (Eph 4:11).
First Peter addresses the use of gifts in a unique manner. "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11).
As you can see, at least twenty different gifts are mentioned. Nothing in Scripture suggests that is an exhaustive list. The gifts are the means God uses to edify and build up His people. If they were to disappear, that edification could not occur. Men have nothing whatsoever to say about the giving or the maintenance of these gifts. They are all given and managed the Lord.
After telling the Corinthians these gifts were not the same in everyone, and that there were differing ministries accomplished by them, the Spirit admonished, "But earnestly desire the best gifts" (1 Cor 12:31). He identifies the "best gifts" as those ministering edification to the people--things that could be understood (1 Cor 14:3-4). Nothing in Scripture remotely suggests that this procedure was to become obsolete--i.e., seeking the "best gifts" that yielded advantages to the people of God.
Yet, even that admonition is followed by a most enlightening word: "And yet I show you a more excellent way" (1 Cor 12:31b). That "more excellent way" is delineated in the well known 13th chapter of First Corinthians. There love is seen as absolutely unselfish, always seeking the betterment of others, and never seeking its own.
The meaning of all of this should be apparent to us. If we are dominated by love, seeking the advancement of our brothers and sisters, God will see to it that we are equipped by His Spirit to minister to His people. That is precisely what spiritual gifts are all about. To seek them, however, for personal benefit, confidence, or other selfish purposes is not in order. God has other means through which He ministers to us personally.
How do I distinguish in Matt 24 teaching of Jesus concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Judgment?
When Jesus speaks of "the coming of the Son of man," a change in emphasis occurs (verse 27). At that point the shaking of heavenly powers and natural phenomenon is addressed (verse 29). The Son of man is depicted as coming in the clouds of glory, with all the tribes of the earth mourning (verse 30). The holy angels are then sent forth to gather together the elect "from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (verse 31). This expression denotes the gathering of all of the saved, not only those who are upon the earth at that time.
The preceding verses emphasized the destruction of Jerusalem (verses 4-26). Yet, our Lord's words in that passage cannot be confined to Jerusalem's destruction. That judgment was a miniature of the final judgment. Such things as deception, wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, famines, prestilences, and earthquakes in divers places, were certainly not confined to the time of Jerusalem's destruction. In fact, I am not sure they were even prominent at that time. Nor, indeed, does it appear proper to ascribe the rise of false prophets, the waxing cold of the love of many, and the preaching of the Gospel in the entire world, as limited to the time Jerusalem was destroyed.
In all of these things Christ was answering three questions posed by His disciples. (1) When shall these things be? (the destruction of the Temple, verse 2), (2) the sign of His coming, and (3) the end of the world (24:3). In His answer, the Lord so spoke that every generation would profit from His words. He did not answer the questions in an academic manner, but in a spiritual way. In His words, He placed the accent on readiness for His return and the end of the world. There are things that were common to both the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. Delusion, false prophets, fear, etc.
Luke also provides some details on these things. "And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven" (Lk 21:11). He also speaks of global disturbance, "men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth" (not Jerusalem), and "redemption drawing near" (25-28). These are clearly larger than what occurred the destruction of Jerusalem.
There are thus things unique to the destruction of Jerusalem, like (1) Jerusalem surrounded by armies (Lk 21:20), (2) one stone not being left upon another in the temple (Matt 24:2), (3) Jerusalem being trodden by the Gentiles (Lk 21:24), fleeing to the mountains (Matt 24:16), and making a successful and convenient escape from the judgment (Matt 24:16-20). There are other things that are common to both the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, like (1) tribulation (Matt 24:21), (2) delusion (Matt 24:23-24), and fear (Lk 21:26). There are also things unique to the end of the world, like (1) the coming of the Son of man (Matt 24:27), (2) The Son coming in the clouds of glory (Matt 24:30), (3) The sending of the angels to gather the elect (Matt 24:31), (4) signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars (Lk 21:25a) (5) distress of nations with perplexity (Lk 21:25b), (6) the powers of heaven shaken (Lk 21:26), (7) the Son of man coming in power and great glory (Lk 21:27), and (8) redemption drawing near (Lk 21:28). Mark 5:13-27 also declares these things.
It is my understanding that Jesus answered the disciples questions in this manner to quench carnal curiosity, move men to prepare for the ultimate conclusion, and enable them to prepare for the temporal judgment of Jerusalem as well (for it will be trodden under foot only "until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Lk 21:24). Our own generation also profits from His words far beyond mere historical expertise.
Is the hadean realm my destiny at death if Christ has yet to return?
Our destiny is to be "absent from the body and present with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8). We do not know all that is entailed in that condition, but it is certainly more than is ordinarily conceived. When Stephen died, he besought the glorified Christ, "receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59). It is certainly in order for our thinking to be in line with his, for he was full of the Spirit, faith, and wisdom.
As to the hadean realm, you can put everything we know about it in an extremely small receptacle. We know of certain martyred souls who are presently "under the altar" (Rev 6:9). If asked to describe that place, we must decline to make such an attempt.
As to your destiny should you die before Jesus comes, think of being "present with the Lord." That is more personal, and the Spirit has spoken on the subject. That it is some form of interim state, I do not deny. But I prefer to think of it in association with the Lord Jesus instead of a realm. It will certainly yield more comfort to our spirit to think of it in this manner.
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