QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 60
In Matthew 18:15-17 we are directed to bring one or two along to be a witnesses when confronting a Brother in sin for the second time. My question is, should the witnesses be told my side of the story before I confront the brother in sin or should they be brought just to listen to the exchange. I feel that if I tell them my interpretation, it could be the same as gossip and anyway Proverbs 18:17 say I will have the advantage.
Should the witnesses play the part of a judge or are they just to be used when you take it before the church to just verify you did approach the brother in sin a second time.
The procedure outlined by our Lord in Matthew eighteen relates to someone who has trespassed, or sinned, against you. It is not a procedure for handling disagreements, where two different views are possible. It is my understanding that this refers to open or public sins, about which there is no question. The purpose of the witnesses is not to determine whether an offense was committed or not. Rather, it is to confirm that the guilty party was faced with the issue of what was done. Opportunity is being given for the offender to repent, not to determine whether an offense had been committed.
Again, this is NOT about confronting a brother that has simply sinned, but that has sinned against YOU. There is no exchange postulated, but a confrontation with something that is very apparent. This is not an occasion for judgment, but to establish that adequate opportunity has been given to the offender to acknowledge the offense and repent. That is precisely why ultimate excommunication is mandated if the individual does not repent.
There are some offenses that can be simply borne without taking any remedial action (1 Cor 6:7). Others, small and inconsequential in nature, are covered by being "forbearing" of one another in love (Eph 4:2). Where there are serious offenses immoral in nature, such as fornication, covetousness, idolatry, defaming another, drunkenness, or extortion, immediate action is to be taken–withdrawal and a refusal to eat with such a one (1 Cor 5:11).
WHAT IS YOUR EXPLANATION OF WHY SATAN WANTED MOSES' BODY? IN JUDE VERSE 9 IT TALKS ABOUT MICHAEL FIGHTING SATAN OVER THE BODY OF
SATAN. WHY DID SATAN WANT MOSES' BODY SO BADLY?
The text in Jude does not say that Satan wanted the body of Moses, or that Michael fought with Satan over Moses' body. Rather, it says Michael "disputed [with Satan] about the body of Moses." The Scriptures reveal that God Himself buried Moses "in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day" (Deut 34:6). it is generally understand that the Lord did this to keep Israel from venerating Moses' body like they did of the brazen serpent later (2 Kings 18:4), thus making a sort of idol of it.
I concur with this judgment. If this was the case, the devil would have been promoting the display of Moses body, which would have promoted idolatry. Michael, knowing the will of the Lord, resisted that suggestion in his dispute with the devil.
All of this, of course, is purely opinion, as God has told us no more than is revealed in the ninth verse of Jude.
You must explain why we would be repudiated just because the fleshly Israel was or is repudiated by God. I do not understand how we must be a part of the physical Israel to be the new spiritual Israel.
The adoption, glory, covenants, giving of the Law, service of God, promises of God, the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and the Lord Jesus Himself are associated with Israel, Paul's kinsmen "according to the flesh" (Rom 9:2-3). Why should it be difficult for you to see yourself related to them? That relationship does not supersede, nor is it equal, to your identity with God through Christ. But neither is it eliminated by your fellowship with the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3).
"Some of he branches" were broken off, to be sure, but the tree and root remain holy (Rom 11:16-17). The benefits you are receiving are because of their tree (Rom 11:17). They were not broken off that we Gentiles might replace them, and to think that is the case is foolish indeed (Rom 11:20). It is categorically stated that their root supports us (Rom 11:18). The nourishing sap that flows through it nourishes us.
The New Covenant -- the one currently being mediated by the Lord Jesus--was promised to, and made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Heb 8:8-13). Although we Gentiles were "not a people," we have become a people by virtue of participation in that glorious covenant. That is something about which there is no controversy in Scripture. But if there really is no "house of Israel and house of Judah," we are thrust into a hopeless position, for the covenant was made with them.
Hebrews quotes Jeremiah's prophecy of the New Covenant, from Jeremiah 31:31-34. It clearly applies it to the present work of Jesus and the remission of sin which we now enjoy. Further, the Spirit makes no attempt to dissociate that covenant from "the house of Israel and the house of Judah." In Jeremiah's prophesy, the Lord adds the following words. They are spoken with the full panorama of Divine purpose in mind. An omniscient and purposeful God declares this, and appeals to His nature to confirm His words are true. "Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever. Thus says the LORD: 'If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD" (Jer 31:35-37).
Unless God's nature has changed, or He is a liar, or the sun and moon have ceased to shine, or heaven can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out, "the seed of Israel" has not been cut off. If it is countered that this refers to the supposed "spiritual Israel" (a term found nowhere in any version of Scripture), then to what does God refer when He says "for all THEY have done?" Is He referring to some unacceptable conduct within "spiritual Israel?" The very notion is utterly absurd, and unworthy of our consideration. That, of course, is precisely the point the Spirit is making in Romans 9-11, and he does so with powerful arguments. I assume you are familiar with them.
There remain three classes of people, and they are specified in Scripture: the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church of God (1 Cor 10:32). While the Jews are presently "enemies" for the sake of us Gentiles, "concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom 11:28-29). In fact, the reason for the acceptance of the Gentiles is to provoke the Jews to jealousy, as God, through both Moses and Paul, said He would do (Deut 32:21; Rom 10:19-21; 11:11). In fact, Paul affirms this to be the reason for His Apostleship to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13-14).
To affirm there cannot be a fleshly and spiritual Israel simultaneously is wholly without support, for the Spirit dogmatically affirms the present existence of both. He presents lengthy arguments based upon the postulate of their simultaneous existence. He further speaks of the Israelites being received again (Rom 11:15), of them being grafted in again if they do not remain in unbelief (Rom 11:23). He also affirms it is more reasonable for them to be grafted in again. than for us wild branches to have been grafted in (Rom 11:24). He fairly shouts to our hearts, "God is able to graft them in AGAIN" (Rom 11:23) -- not to our tree, or a new tree, but to their own tree.
Blindness in part has happened to Israel "until the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (Rom 11:25). There is no such thing as a salvation independent of the Jews. Jesus Himself affirmed "salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22). Any person who attempts to remove them from the foundational picture is faced with a gargantuan task indeed.
I do not mean to be contentious on this matter, and trust I am not coming across that way. I was troubled by the
phrase "the new Israel," and thought it best to say a few words about it. First, it is not a Scriptural phrase, nor does it represent a Scriptural concept. The Spirit makes this point in the ninth chapter of Romans. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called."
The point is that there has always been but one true Israel. From the Jewish point of view, they were found within the fleshly offspring of Abraham, not independently of them. Although such notables as Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and David were related to Abraham in the flesh, they were not ONLY related in the flesh. Nor, indeed, were they related without regard to the physical progeny of Abraham. They were part of the true Israel, which is the point of Romans 9:6-16.
In Christ, this Israel has been significantly expanded -- far beyond the number of Israel according to the flesh, yet not independently of them. This is the enlargement foretold in Isaiah 54:1-3. With the government upon His shoulder, Jesus brought the Gentiles into the house, making them "fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel" (Eph 3:6). As confirmed by Hebrews 11:40-12:1, we have been joined to that Israel -- a body that existed of old time. The point of the New Covenant is not the making of a new Israel, but the dramatic expansion of the one that has existed all along.
In a magnificent declaration of Divine intention, the Lord announced through Isaiah that the tribes of Jacob (a term that is never applied to the church) were too little for such a great Savior. God would also give Him for a light to the Gentiles. "Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth" (Isa 49:6). Note, He did not say He would create a new Israel, but would "also" include the Gentiles. Expansion was the point, not replacement.
The prophets foretold this (Isa 11:10; 42:1-6; 49:6,22; 54:3; Isa 60:3, etc.). Jesus boldly announced it (John 10:16). Peter preached it (Acts 2:39). James confessed it (Acts 15:13-17). Paul proclaimed it (Rom 3:29; 9:24; 15:16; Gal 3:14, etc).
In a vision of the glorified church, John saw the names of the "twelve tribes of the children of Israel" written on the gates of the city (Rev 21;12). I know of no place where the church is clearly described in this manner. That certainly did not mean "the twelve tribes" owned the city, or that only they were in it. There were saints redeemed "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" there (Rev 5:9; 14;6), not from the twelve tribes alone. But the names of the Gentiles were not on the gates--the place of entrance. The Gentiles were brought into this Israel, but it did not begin with them. Rather, it was brought to glorious fruition in Christ Jesus, who also lifted up His hand to them.
That being the case is their any Scripture which states that a new physical Israel, with an earthly government, must be established.
The Scriptures do not speak of a "new physical Israel with an earthly government." They do recognize that Israel has always existed, from Abraham on. They never affirm that the "twelve tribes" will become extinct, even though they may, for a time, be scattered among the nations. All of Scripture speaks of Israel and the land of Israel as existing. No Scripture speaks of them becoming utterly removed while the world stands.
Moses confirms that the Lord divided the inheritance of the nations of the world with the children of Israel in mind. "When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel" (Deut 32:8).
The only real estate on the face of the earth with which God has identified Himself is the land given to Abraham. It is important to see this consistent thread of thought, because the land postulates the existence of a people of God's choice within it -- and that is never said to be the church. This is a land at which Europe, Asia, and Africa converge, and is the only land the Lord calls "My land" (2 Chron 7:20; Isa 14:25; Jer 2:7; 16:18; Ezek 36:5; 38:16; Joel 1:6; 3:2).
Through Jeremiah God made this promise. "Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I WILL BRING YOU BACK TO THIS PLACE, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul." (Jer 32:37-41)
While measures of this were experienced in the recovery from the Babylonian captivity, this text requires more than that return.
1. God would cause them to dwell safely in the land.
2. They would be His people, and He would be their God.
3. He would give them one heart and one way that they might fear Him forever.
4. He would make an everlasting covenant with them that He would turn away from doing them good.
5. He would rejoice over them, planting them in the land.
6. He would do all of this with all of His heart and all of His soul.
Rather than all of these things being fulfilled after the Babylonian captivity, they experienced frequent wars, were harassed by the kings of Syria and Egypt and many of their neighbors. They were finally conquered by the Romans.
Ezekiel also referred to the gathering of the people to the land of Israel. ""Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I WILL GIVE YOU THE LAND OF ISRAEL. And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God." (Ezek 11:17-20)
1. The Lord will give them a one heart.
2. He will put a new heart within them.
3. He will take the stony heart out of their flesh.
4. He will give them a heart of flesh.
5. They will walk in His statues, keep His judgments, and do them.
6. They will be His people, and he will be their God.
Amos prophesied, "I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them," Says the LORD your God" (Amos 9:14-15)
1. God will plant them in their land.
2. They will no longer be pulled up out of the land He gave them.
Zephaniah declared, "Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, And gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame In every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will bring you back, Even at the time I gather you; For I will give you fame and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I return your captives before your eyes," Says the LORD." (Zeph 3:19-20)
1. God will deal with all who have afflicted Israel.
2. He will bring them back to their land.
3. He will give them fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth.
4. This will be done before their eyes.
Hosea prophesied, "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days." Hosea 3:5)
1. The children of Israel would not only return, but seek the Lord their God.
2. They would also seek David their king, who, we understand consistently refers to the Lord Jesus Christ (Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24).
3. They will fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.
There are numerous commitments God made to bring His people again into their land.
1. "But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I WILL BRING THEM AGAIN INTO THEIR LAND that I gave unto their fathers." (Jer 16:15).
2. "For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I WILL BRING THEM AGAIN TO THIS LAND: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." (Jer 24:6)
3. "For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I WILL CAUSE THEM TO RETURN TO THE LAND that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it." (Jer 30:3)
4. "And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and WILL BRING THEM TO THEIR OWN LAND, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country." (Ezekiel 34:13)
One can choose to simply ignore these prophesies, even though Peter affirmed Jesus was not going to return from heaven until every word spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets had been fulfilled (Acts 3:20-21). If it is countered that the coming of the Lord Jesus in the flesh fulfilled all of those prophesies, the prophets spoke of the passing of the heavens and the earth (Isa 24:19-20; 51:6), the resurrection of the dead (Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2-3; Hos 13:14), and the day of judgment (Dan 7:9-10). Those have not yet been fulfilled.
The prophesies might also be referred to the church, but the church is not related to that land, and is nowhere declared to be.
Some might conjecture that God has simply revoked all of those commitments. Should that be affirmed, the task of substantiating such an absurd affirmation will prove too challenging for anyone.
God's people must be willing to leave God's commitments the way He has stated them. If God speaks of a day when "Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria; a blessing IN THE MIDST OF THE LAND, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance'" (Isa 19:24-25), then it is best to believe it and scrap in contradicting views. If one affirms such things have already occurred, they bring no honor to the Lord, and cast the mantle of confusion upon the Scriptures.
Jesus said Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles until "the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Lk 21:24). I believe you suggested this could refer to the second coming of the Lord. Were that the case, the "day of salvation" equates to "the times of the Gentiles," which negates the fact that "salvation is of the Jews." Gentiles are certainly participating in the "day,' but it does not belong to them, and I consider it to be unsound thinking at its apex to postulate such a absurdity. The Gospel is not primarily for the Gentiles, but "also" for them (Rom 1:16). To this very day, condemnation and glory are "to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile" (Rom 2:9-10).
This is my last posting on this matter. God has simply said too much on this subject. What He has said is open to all, and God Himself can be asked for wisdom.
Why is homosexuality permitted in America, but the posting of the Ten Commandments isn't? I mean, wasn't the Constitution based upon the Ten Commandments? If the excuse the government gives for Separation of Church/State, then why do churches and Christians have to pay taxes? It seems almost European history all over again. Like when the king of France wanted to have more control over the country than the pope, he 'kidnapped' the pope and said, "I'm in control. Not you." He made the church pay taxes. That was before Separation of Church/State though. So why should churches and other gatherings of churches pay taxes? Is it because of "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's?"
Careful there young men! Thinking can get you in a lot of trouble. The Devil likes to keep Christians dumb and quiet -- I am afraid some churches do too. I am glad you refuse to be that way.
Churches really do not have to pay taxes in America. They are supposed to be "not-for-profit" organizations, and thus are not subject to taxes. Of course, a lot of churches ARE operating for profit, making some people downright rich. That circumstance could very well cause the laws to be changed so churches have to pay taxes. The people themselves pay taxes, of course. That is because Jesus said to give Caesar what belongs to him -- which is anything with his image on it. Our Lord's real point was that we have God's image upon us, and are therefore to give ourselves to him.
Homosexuality is tolerated and the Ten Commandments opposed because the people allow it to happen. Some years ago, the majority of Americans believed the Bible, even if they were not Christians themselves. But that time is long behind us now. Those who believe the Bible are in the decided minority. That is why these laws can be passed and enforced without any real opposition from the people. We can even have a president who is immoral, and the majority of the people do not care.
This is certainly a time to stand for God. I am thankful you are among those who are not afraid to do so.
Can you shed any light on what would seem to be a rather serious contradictory statement by our Lord in John 3:13 when weighed against 2 Kings 2:11. This came up at our apologetic small group which is aimed at non believers, so I'd like to have something to refute the thought that our Lord spoke in error. I trust in the scriptures, and thank you for your help.
Let's include Enoch in this also. He was translated without having to experience death (Gen 5:22-24; Heb 11:5). However, neither Enoch nor Elijah are said to have "ascended" into heaven. God "took" Enoch, and Elijah "went up by a whirlwind." In other words, both of them were TAKEN up by the Lord. Jesus, under His own power, "ascended up" into heaven--to the place from which He came. That was not true of Enoch and Elijah. For them, it was a first-time experience.
In the case of Jesus, He "ascended" through His own power, just as surely as he came down from heaven because He wanted to (Heb 10:5-10). Note Jesus also said He not only "came down from heaven," and "ascended up to heaven," but was "in heaven" (KJV, NKJV). Christ's point is that He Himself did this (ascending into heaven), not that it happened to Him, as with Enoch and Elijah. He was confirming His Deity. Remember, every child of God will eventually go up to heaven, being gathered unto the Lord (1 Thess 4:16-17). But that will not be like the ascension of Christ. That is something that will be done TO us, not BY us.
Scripture makes a point of Jesus' ascension -- that the One who went up was the same One who came down. "He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things" (Ephesians 4:9-10). That is precisely the point Jesus is making.
made the following statement to some people I am teaching, and they disagreed. "We will always act on what WE BELIEVE will benefit us the most."
You are precisely correct. Some Scriptural examples will serve to confirm what you have said to your listeners. Eve took of the forbidden fruit because she thought it was an advantage to her (Gen 3:6). She was deceived into thinking this. David sinned with Bathsheba because she was "very beautiful to look upon," and he sought to satisfy his own desire (2 Sam 11:2-4). He also had been deceived, for she was another man's wife. Even though Aachan had been strictly charged to NOT take anything from Jericho, yet he coveted and took a garment, a wedge of gold, and fifty shekels of silver (Josh 7:21). He thought it was to his advantage to do so. He too was deceived.
As I understand it, the objective of Satan tempting us is to make us think there is an advantage to sinning--something to be personally gained. All of his ploys, of course, are deceptions. The only REAL advantages are realized in Christ Jesus, through the Spirit, and by faith. The ONLY reason a person would not avail himself of those things is because he did not think he could benefit from them. That could be for one of two reasons. Either he simply did not want them because they were not appealing, or because he thought they were too good to be true, and beyond his reach. In each case, deception constrained their choice.
Do you know any bible verses that have to do with survival?
It depends on what you mean by "survival." The Bible approach to "survival" is being able to stand against the subtle attacks of the devil and the various deceptions of the world. In order to do this, we are to put on "the whole armor of God," all of which protects the inner man, where our thoughts, motives, and desires are found (Ephesians 6:10-18). We also "overcome" (another word for ultimate survival) by believing that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 4:4-5). As we trust in Jesus, depending on Him, he will see to it that we survive.
Apart from this, the Word of God does not focus upon survival, like being able to endure life in the wilderness, or during a famine, or some other similar circumstance. In those kind of difficulties, when there is no real resources available to us, we will have to trust the Lord like Elijah (1 Kings 17:3-6), or the children of Israel in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:1-4).
My wife and I are having church at home. What do we do with our tithe? We plan to send most of it to an evangelical ministry we both trust. The rest we haven't decided yet.
There is no set answer for this. You should target a meaningful work that you feel brings glory to God and assists His people. If you have some other people with you, set yourselves to do something specific for the Lord in your area. Literature, a radio ministry, etc. -- something that will engage your persons as well as your resources.
We have been accused of being arrogant: 1) for disagreements we have with the teaching in a church 2) and separating ourselves from that church plant due to that teaching. What is a house church in relation to what God said to the churches in the book of Revelation?
We have endured much of the same kind of opposition. They do not know what they are saying, and you must not allow it to infect your own spirit. The nurture of your soul takes the precedence.
The Bible does not distinguish house churches from other gatherings of believers. Jesus is present where two or three are gathered in His name (Matt 18:20). Priscilla and Aquilla had a church in their house (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19). The same is said of Apphia and Archippus (Philemon 2). They are not said to be inferior larger gatherings like that in Corinth (1 Cor 14:26). Do not allow people with small thoughts to intimidate you.
If slavery is wrong, why does it talk about slavery in Exodus as though there is nothing wrong with it?
The Bible does not say slavery is wrong. That is not the approach the Lord took to it. The Israelites were to release all of their Hebrew slaves in the seventh year of their slavery (Ex 21:2). If, however, the slave preferred to stay with his master because he loved his wife and children, he was bound to be a slave the rest of his life (Ex 21:3-6). Slaves were to be treated considerately, and not exploited (Deut 15:12-14).
It is not that slavery was commendable. That was the custom of the whole world -- and remains so in many places to this very day. The purpose of the Law was to protect men, and cause masters to treat their slaves with respect. Until Christ came, men were not born again, and hard hearts prevailed in the human race. Exodus, or the Law of God, spoke with that in mind.
Now that Christ has come, the approach to slavery is even more exalted. Slaves are told to serve their masters as unto the Lord, knowing that God will reward them for doing their jobs well and for Him (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:18-19). If their master was a believer, they were to serve him even more zealously and thoughtfully, because they were brothers in Christ (1 Timothy 6:1-2). Masters were told to treat their slaves considerately, not taking advantage of them (Ephesians 6:9).
There was a Divine reason for this kind of instruction, and it has been fulfilled in all generations of believers. When masters treat their servants with high regard, and servants obey their masters as service to the Lord, slavery disappears. That, in my understanding, is precisely the way in which God addressed and eliminated slavery. It is not eliminated by law, but by love and godly concern.
In Exodus, the Bible seems to be making a case for capital punishment. Do you see it this way?
Capital punishment was put into force by God prior to the giving of the Law. Immediately after the flood, God instituted it, telling Noah why it was put into place. "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man" (Genesis 9:6). God has never rescinded that law. It is mentioned by Paul in the thirteenth chapter of Romans. There he says of the head of state, or political power, "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Romans 13:3-4).
I understand that this is difficult for many professing Christians to receive, but that is the word of God on the matter, and He has told us why He has instituted it. In order to avoid capital punishment, one only has to refrain from doing what God has said is punishable by death.
A person with a background of deep sin has asked that I take him into our home. He says he has changed. I said I could not do so, yet feel it is not right to send him to unbelievers for help. Do you have any experiences in this area?
I have waited to respond to your inquiry because of my reluctance to site personal experience in matters like this. Experience carries no authority with it, and its value to others is highly modified by both circumstance and individual insight. A purely academic approach to such matters also leaves one a bit further from personal reliance upon the Lord than is possible. There is a liberty in Christ Jesus that allows for highly individualized decisions in certain areas. Care must be taken not to diminish that liberty, or infringe upon it.
Having said that, I have had both bitter and pleasant experiences in helping the needy. On one occasion, I took a young boy into my family whom I found in the woods. He was a little over ten years old, and had been, as I later found, thrown out by his parents. I already had six children--all of them under 10. That young lad became my son, and a great blessing to our household. He remained with us until he was twenty. Today he is 45 years old, and continues to be a blessing to both God and man.
On another occasion I took in a 24-year-old former heroin user. I was apprized by people who worked with her that she had recovered, and would be fine with a minimal amount of supervision. I overestimated my strength and underestimated the girl's creativity for evil. She attempted suicide ten times in our home. Although we made every attempt to conceal these tragic events from our children some of them being witnessed by our children. Eventually we saw our ministry was not in this area. God had equipped us for other works. Some of His people, however, were able to help this young woman.
We learned much about ourselves in this experience, and my family has no regrets that we made ourselves vulnerable to one who hurt us. Our intentions were noble, and we meant to do good, bring God glory, and assist a needy soul. God looks on the heart, and rewards the individual according to his intentions--even when they are not able to be carried out as desired (2 Cor 8:11-12).
Much of the difficulties associated with making decisions in this area have been spawned by a fundamentally flawed view of the work of the Lord. God has not made the church the custodian of the world's poor and afflicted. By that, I mean that is not its primary work. While we are to "do good unto all men," we are to do it "especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Gal 6:10). Most all of the emphasis on relieving the afflicted is to be directed toward the people of God. This is not a hard and fast law, but is a perspective to be embraced. It would be wrong to purposely neglect someone who is needy because they are not a Christian. It would be equally out of place to impose laws upon God's people to do so in an indiscriminate manner.
On one occasion, a young man asked Jesus to speak to his brother about the equitable dividing of the family inheritance. In the mega-churches of our day, a counselor would be promptly sent to be an arbiter over the matter. However, the Master said, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" He then went on to warn his listeners, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:13-15). I have found that those who insist on being helped, pressing their desires upon us, do not always have the most noble motives.
There is another word on this matter that should be considered. "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels" (Heb 13:2). There is a gentle tone in that word that leaves the matter in the hand of the one faced with the opportunity. "Be not forgetful to entertain" is not to be equated with, "You had better make sure you do entertain . . . " Men like Abraham and Lot did entertain angels unawares, but they did not come in the form of a recovering drunk or a person who had fallen on hard times. That does not mean such occasions cannot arise. It does mean such times must be addressed with wisdom and insight.
In the last analysis, your question cannot be answered with a tone of finality. It is something that involves the conscience, and requires faith and insight. None of those things can be acquired by simply transmitting them from one person to another. They flow out of a walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light. It is possible to be so motivated by faith that you know what you did was right. It is further becoming to seek such a faith.
Does sin contain both eternal and temporal consequences? If so don't we go to Purgatory after death if our soul is stained by the consequences of sin?
Do you believe in purgatory until Christ's second coming and the world is destroyed? What do you believe are the consequences of sin?
Temporal consequences for sin apply exclusively to those who remain in this world. They do exist, as is illustrated in the results of the sin of Adam and Eve. They are also seen in the case of David, whose child resulting from the sin with Bathsheba died, and from whose house the sword did not disappear (2 Sam 12:10-11). Jesus also told Paul that he would suffer great things for His name's sake. I gather that also was a consequence of his persecution of the church (Acts 9:16). Further, such consequences are not consistent, and are nowhere said to be imperative. They occur at the discretion of God, and are for our learning and discipline.
However, the concept of the souls of those in Christ Jesus remaining stained with sin is an erroneous one. Such a condition does not exist. That is precisely why those in Christ Jesus are said to be "washed" (1 Cor 6:11; Acts 22:16). Cleansing does not come from suffering, as in the mythical purgatory, but by forgiveness and remission (Eph 5:26; 1 John 1:9). Only Jesus effectively "suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God" (1 Pet 3:18). He does not bring us to God with stains upon our soul, but "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph 5:27). Those who believe on Christ receive "remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). That has to do with the contamination of the soul and conscience, and is associated with faith, not a post-death purging (1 Pet 1:9). Only "the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin" (1 john 1:7). It is not possible for them to be cleansed any other way.
When we bear the consequences of sin, it is not in order to purification, but for chastening and instruction.
Seeing that our Lord said and I if I be lifted up will draw all men unto myself, do you see this as a truth or do you say that some will go into eternal damnation as the general body of believers says?
Your question has presented Christ's words as opposing the concept of, as your call it, "eternal damnation." However, it is the Lord Himself who spoke of being "cast into hell into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44-48). The Holy Spirit also refers to those who will be "punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when He shall come to be glorified" (2 Thess 1:9). Jesus also referred to those who, in the resurrection, will come forth from their graves to "the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29).
The Spirit affirms the meaning of Christ's words, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." We are not left to conjecture they mean all men will, in the end, be saved, and it is improper to do so. This is the Divine explanation for Christ's words. "This he said, signifying what death He should die" (John 12:32-33). He did NOT say, "This He said signifying that all men will be saved." That is a conclusion superimposed upon the text because of the acceptance of a man-made teaching.
The expression "all men" is to be taken to refer the grand gathering of all the people of God, not all the offspring of Adam. They are the people who constitute "one fold" under "one shepherd" (John 10:16). There are people who are called "the son of perdition" (John 17:12; 2 Thess 2:3), "the child hell" (Matt 23:15), and "children of the wicked one" (Matt 13:38). There are also people who "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev 21:8).
Christ's words (John 12:32) signify the means through which anyone who is saved comes to Him--all of them, or "all men." They are drawn by their faith in His blood (Rom 3:25), and His effective sacrifice for sin. That is the application consistently made by the Apostles of Christ, whom He commissioned to expound these things. If His words were intended to connote that, in the end, all men would be saved, and that no one would be everlastingly excluded from the Lord's presence, that is how it would have been preached by the Apostles in their doctrine. However, that is NOT how they preached it. A teaching that affirms no one will be finally severed from God, should be abandoned quickly.
Having discovered this, how do we reconcile this concept (which I agree with), with the obvious importance of coming together on Sundays (Lord's Day. It is something I have not found the answer to yet. Is this day of more importance than the other days of the week?
Think of the "first day of the week" like God does. He raised His Son on that day, and makes a point of saying so (Mark 18:9). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples on that day (John 20:19; 20:26). It is generally understood that the day of Pentecost also occurred on that day, 50 days after the Passover. The Apostles spoke to people, taking for granted they did gather on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:2), and the disciples at Troaz met on that day, and Paul met with them and preached to them on that day (Acts 20:7).
The reason for the saints gathering together is not declared to be worship, but edification, or building up (1 Cor 14:26). As it was in the days of Malachi, such gatherings are duly noted by the Lord, for they bring advantages to the believers (Mal 3;16-17). We meet together because none us can say we have no need of the other, but are rather dependent upon the other members of the body for upbuilding and encouragement (1 Cor 12:20-27).
"Where two or three are gathered in my name..." Please tell me if Christ is in our midst as we offer our bodies as living sacrifices individually, or only when we come together to fellowship. Or does this refer to worship on a particular day?
On an individual basis, and as we are strengthened by God's Spirit in the inner man, Christ does dwell in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:15-17). He also comes with the Father to reside in those who love Him and keep His words (John 14:23). Gatherings are not the only time the Lord Jesus is with us. In a special way, however, He is "in the midst" of a group who meet together because of Him. When Christ made the statement concerning being in the midst of multiple disciples, it was an explanation for answer to prayers of agreement. "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt 18:19-20). In such cases, the hearts of believers join together in agreed and fervent supplication (as in Acts 4:24-32). There is a special power in such prayers.
No believer is added to Christ in isolation of other members of His body. By one spirit we have been "baptized into one body" just as surely was we have been "baptized into Christ" (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27). The various members of the body minister to one another. In fact, that is one of the chief means Jesus uses to build up His people. As the Head, each member is connected to Him. then, through them, the Lord ministers to the other members of the body (Col 2:19; Eph 4;16).
This is why we come together -- why "worshipers" come together": to "edify one another" (1 Thess 5:11). Real believers do not come together out of a sense of mere obligation, but of personal need. This is precisely why the admonition to not forsake assembling together is given. "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb 10:24-25).
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