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The following is brother Blakely's response to an article on abortion. The article justified abortion under certain conditions, affirming life began at the point of birth, and not within the womb. An unborn infant was referred to as a "fetus," and carrying a child as "pregnancy." Thus, it was affirmed, a personhood began at birth, not within the womb.

I was troubled by the haberdashery that brother Kirby pawned off in his personal view of the genesis of life. The liberty he exhibited in sounding out his private views of life concern me, because he is speaking of a matter that pertains to God. Since God alone "makes alive" (Deut 32:39), and life itself is described as "the spirit" or "breath of God" being in our "nostrils" (Job 27:3), we are obliged to reflect the mind of the Lord in our view of life – whether of its beginning or its conclusion. Brother Kirby's reasoning was much closer to the earth than to heaven, reflecting human wisdom rather than the mind of Christ. I thought his statement concerning living things was most unique: "something can be alive without living." What a breakthrough in the field of definition! I suppose something can also be dead without dying.

I realize it conforms to the world's way of thinking to say "where pregnancy occurred because of rape, we should not make a woman feel guilty of murder who elects to terminate the pregnancy by abortion in early months." Those who imagine they have been granted the ability to make such decisions would be better off to pray to the Father, "deliver us from evil." If they are as wise and insightful as they pretend, God will surely hear their prayers. The interesting thing is that when the law approached the matter of rape, it demanded the death of the one who raped the woman (Deut 22:25-27).

The postulate that life begins at birth rather than conception does not account for the growth process. Where is growth ever attributed to something or someone that is not alive, or living? In his rudimentary wisdom, even Solomon knew that "bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child" (Eccl 11:5). How is it that Almighty God Himself formed, and knew, Jeremiah before he exited from the womb (Jer 1:5). Was He recognizing as a person something that was not alive? Why did He choose to identify Jeremiah as a person while he was still in the womb? It was Jeremiah himself that was "formed," "sanctified," and "ordained" by God almighty when he was in "the womb." Is that the way God speaks of something that is not living? And God makes a point of saying these things applied BEFORE Jeremiah was "born." God and brother Kirby speak differently of children in the womb.

Why are offspring called "the fruit of the womb" (Gen 30:2; Psa 127:3; Isa 13:18)? Does fruit come from a domain in which there is no life? Jesus spoke of the absurdity of gathering grapes from thorns or figs from thistles (Matt 7:16). But what of obtaining fruit from a domain in which life does not exist? That is like gathering fruit from rocks! Job knew that God had made and fashioned him [a person] "in the womb" (Job 31:15). How could such knowledge be withheld from someone living in the blazing glory of the Sun of righteousness? If God makes and fashions what is in the womb, who will champion the right of a person – any person – to cut God's work short, terminating it as though God had dispensed such a right to mortals? Or, does brother Kirby care to say there are sometimes when God does not begin the process of children being formed in the womb? Or, perhaps, God becomes involved in the process only after the third month, sixth month, or during the travail that leads to birth.

The law dealt with a premature birth, or miscarriage. If a woman with child was struck during a fight between two men, and it resulted in the premature birth of her child, certain directions were given. If no "serious injury" occurred, and the mother and child lived, the offender would only be fined. However, in the case of death, whether of the child or the mother, the offender was to be put to death. The interesting thing about this, is that the punishment was described in these words, "you are to take life for life" (Ex 21:23). If that was true of a child lost when a man struck the woman bearing it, why is it not true of a man who intentionally aborts the birth of the child. And what of the mother who consents to such a procedure?

How is it that Jacob and Esau contended with each other while they were in Rebekah's womb? Were they living, or were those contentions merely muscle spasms? How is it that God referred to, what brother Kirby calls "the fetus," as "the children," "two nations," and "two manner of people" (Gen 25:22-23)? That is, indeed, a strange way to speak of two "somethings" that were not living. It cannot be countered that this was merely said in prospect of what they would be, for they are called "children" while yet in the womb. Unacquainted with brother Kirby's view, Paul also spoke of what was conceived by Isaac in Rachel as "the children being not yet born" (Rom 9:10-11). He made no distinction in the personhood of Jacob and Esau before and after they were born. Their identity as individuals began in the womb, not after their birth.

When David accounted for his own life, he did not point to his birth, but to his conception (Psa 51:5). It was he who was conceived, not a "fetus." Women who were, as brother Kirby would say, "pregnant," are said by the Holy Spirit to be "with child," not "with fetus" (Gen 16:11; Gen 19:36; Ex 21:22; 2 Kgs 8:12; Matt 24:19; 1 Thess 5:3). I suppose it might be conjectured that the child was not living, but such a conjecture is nothing more than an exercise of vanity and a display of abysmal ignorance.

Where in all of nature is something born that was not living before it was born? Even a flower was a living bud before it blossomed. If you could talk to cows and elephants, they would probably laugh if you attempted to tell them their calves were not living until they were born. How much more is such a thing an absurdity when it applies to the "offspring of God" (Acts 17:29).

When John the Baptist was conceived, the Holy Spirit chose to say of Elizabeth, "she conceived A SON in her old age," not a fetus (Luke 1:36). When John was yet in the womb, a "fetus" by brother Kirby's definition, it is said, "the babe leaped in her womb" (Lk 1:41). This leaping was motivated by a spiritual rationale, for it is written the babe "leaped for joy" (Lk 1:44). By scientific definition, John was a six-month unborn vertebrae, with neither personality nor life. By God's definition, he was ‘the babe" that could be filled with the Holy Spirit and leap for joy. The word "babe" is the same word (brephos) used to describe Jesus, "the babe in swaddling clothes" (Lk 2:12). It is also used to describe what the shepherds found when they worshiped the babe Jesus (Lk 2:16). It is used to describe the "infants" women brought to Jesus to bless (Lk 18:15), and Timothy who was taught from a "child" (2 Tim 315). In fact, mighty John was "filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb" (Lk 1:15). Can you imagine someone trying to explain to John that he was not living then, but was only "alive" -- that he was only a fetus, and not a person at all. I am sure he would tell them it does take life to enable someone to "leap." It also requires personality to experience "joy." For that matter, it should be repulsive to any child of God to hear the Author of life represented as filling an impersonal mass of human tissue with His Holy Spirit.

In the case of Jesus, if brother Kirby is right, a Living Spirit overshadowing Mary, conceived a non-living fetus within her who became living only when He was born (Luke 1:31-35). The spirit is careful to tell us Jesus Himself was "conceived in the womb" (Lk 2:21). The "child" Jesus had personal identity in the womb as well as in the manger, His circumcision, and His dedication.

It would be far better for those who see abortion as approved under circumstances of their own choosing, to simply state their opinion and let the matter go. There is no need to bring "living" into the matter, for then God has become a part of the discussion. To present God as conceiving an impersonal fetus (or, as some would have it, a "potential" person), and causing it to be living and personal only at birth (as in the case of our blessed Lord) is nothing less than foolishness draped with the cloth of intellectuality. Far better to cast such imagination away as foolishness and filthy rags. Such thoughts have no place in the mind of a child of God. They have been both conceived and birthed by men, not God. Further, humanly conceived terms are used as pillars to hold up such reasoning. Of course, those who chose such to speak in such a manner will give an account for their words.

(IMMORALITY / PORN) It is everywhere, but where do we stop? Is looking at what people are portraying a sin? Is looking at their nakedness on a TV screen a sin? Can you help us to determine what we should watch in the privacy of our own home?

First, I commend you for your concern. On one occasion, Job spoke of a covenant he made with his eyes. "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl" (Job 31:1). He did not have a Bible, for he lived in the time of Abraham. However, he knew that what he saw, would effect how he lived and what he did. I cannot imagine him continuing to look at young girls, but trying to do so without lusting. The arm of lust has to be broken, not tamed. In other words, you have to withhold from the eye of lust what it feeds upon.

Jesus also spoke of the eye. He said the focus of our eye actually determined what we were. Here is how He put it. "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt 6:22-23). The latter part of this passage means that if I have really subjected myself to what is wrong, yet think I am all right in doing so, I stand little chance of recovering.

What we choose to concentrate on will enter into our thoughts, our subconscience, and eventually into our hearts.

Concerning your question, there is no set of rules that can be quickly scanned to determine what we should watch and what we should not. Even if there was, the human constitution needs more than a law, or a "do" or "don't." When there is a question about what we do, that question itself prohibits the doing of it. The Scripture states it more precisely. "Everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23). That text is speaking of doubt, or not being sure what we do is right. Something that "comes from faith" is something we do because we are persuaded it is right, and God approves of it. This is the Bible way of talking about our conscience. Does it send up red flags when we do or watch something, or does it condone what we do?

The conscience, of course, must be kept sensitive and tender. That is what the Scriptures call a "good conscience" (1 Tim 1:5,19). Because our conscience is something like a watchman, care must be taken not to ignore it. It is possible for the conscience to become "seared as with a hot iron" (1 Tim 4:2). That is, even though it warns us, if we continually reject its warnings, it finally becomes dead -- something like a murdered watchman. Such a condition is most serious.

Concerning what you watch on TV, each person must resolve to honor God in their own decision. If the other chooses to not go along with such a decision, they are responsible for their own choice. The other must stick to their decision. It is good is you can agree, and that is preferable. but if you cannot agree, the one choosing to honor God must do precisely that.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself. They will assist in awakening the conscience. They also deal with things that can really happen -- at any moment.

1. Is this what I want to be doing when Jesus comes?
2. Do I want to be watching this when I die?
3. How will I give an account for watching this when I stand before Jesus?
4. Would I be ashamed if some friends whom I considered exemplary Christians knew I watched such things?
5. Will I quench the Holy Spirit by doing this?
6. Can I pray effectively after watching this?
7. Does this stir up good or evil thoughts in me? A good tree cannot produce evil fruit.
8. Does this make the world or heaven more prominent in my thinking?

You see the nature of the inquiries, and can probably add many to the list. That is the approach I would take, doing my best avoid any attempt to justify why I watched a certain program. Do your best to think of it from heaven's point of view. You will always come up with the right answers.

Please let me know how you perceive Matthew 10 where it talks about the "unforgivable sin". Can someone who has rejected God (and "given up" his salvation) then be re-convicted and receive Jesus again, thereby entering back into a right relationship with God.

I assume you mean Matthew 12:31: "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men." Mark 13:28-30 reads as follows: "Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation, because they said, "He has an unclean spirit." Luke 12:10 also reads, "And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven."

You will note that the words "unforgivable sin" are not mentioned in any of the texts. There is a reason for this. The emphasis is not placed on the sin itself, but on the person committing it. This speaks of a person who has reached the depth of spiritual depravity, and has so hardened his heart that the working of God is actually despised and aggressively opposed. Such a person has no consciousness of God, as contrasted with Saul of Tarsus, when he was persecuting the church of God (Acts 22:3-4). It is the wickedness of the person that has made the sin so heinous. An example is the sin of Judas, as compared with the three-time denial of Peter. The heart of Judas is what made what he did so evil. The heart of Peter enabled him to recover when Jesus prayed for Him (Lk 22:31-32).

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be accidentally committed. It is not a sin from which repentance is even possible, or for which a person can eventually be sorry. It is committed when a person can no longer be renewed to repentance (Heb 6:4-6).

God knows when this sin has been committed. Men do not. Those with tender hearts have not been given the wisdom to detect this sin in others, and those who have committed it have no desire to detect it. Jesus is not telling us to look for a certain sin from which men cannot recover, but to see to it that we do not get on the path that leads to that sin -- the broad that leads to destruction. Jesus is not warning us of a particular sin we must be careful to avoid, as though there are sins for which we need not have any concern.

Sin dulls the human spirit and hardens the heart. Unless there is repentance and contrition of heart, the one choosing to sin is headed toward the sin Jesus mentioned.

No person who is convicted or repents will be turned away by Jesus. It makes no difference how far they descended, or how despicable their sin was, if they can make their way back to Jesus, He will receive them. That is precisely what our Lord meant when he said, "the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37). In that text, Jesus revealed that the very fact the individual came to Him was evidence God was working in him. However, woe to the person who thinks he can exploit this by willingly indulging in sin. Such are deceived, and are on the road to eternal ruin.

Any and every person who, in this life, comes to Christ will be received. I say "in this life," because Jesus will turn the unfaithful aside who plead for entrance in the day of judgment (Matt 7:23). In the parable of the five foolish virgins, Jesus revealed there would be a time when unbelievers will have waited too long. The door of salvation will be shut, and will not be opened to them, even if they plead for it to be opened. That, we understand, will be when Jesus comes again to conclude the affairs of earth.

In the meantime, this is "the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2), and men and women are to avail themselves of it. They are never to assume they can indulge in sin and quickly recover from it -- or come to the Lord at a more convenient time in the future. They are to understand that Jesus will receive them if they but come to Him. it is to be understood that coming TO Jesus involves coming AWAY FROM sin,

I believe and understand how important baptism is but what about a deathbed profession where a person is really able to place their belief and trust in the Lord Jesus at the last minute and would be baptized if they had lived?

There are some things to consider that will assist us in thinking of this matter more correctly. The secret is being able to put these things together in a believing heart.

FIRST, God is not looking for some technicality that necessitates the condemnation of a person. He IS seeking to save men, not condemn them. Jesus confirmed this very strongly. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17), and "for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world" (John 12:47).

SECOND, under ordinary conditions, those with a heart to receive the salvation of God will be led by Him into satisfactory and full obedience. It might very well be a political official from Ethiopia (Acts 8:27-39), or a Gentile military official who feared God and gave alms, but knew nothing of Jesus (Acts 10). In both cases, it was highly unlikely that their hearts could be so satisfied -- but they were. The Lord so directed their paths that they could both believe on Christ and be baptized. God has not ceased to work in this manner.

THIRD, no person of sound mind and honest heart questions the role of baptism in salvation. God has spoken with such remarkable clarity on this matter that it is difficult for me to understand how anyone could speak against it or question it. I believe I have shared these with you already, but allow me to mention them again. These are things with which the Holy Spirit has associated baptism.

1. Repentance (Acts 2:38).
2. The remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
3. The gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
4. Believing (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12; 18:8).
5. Salvation (mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
6. Being buried with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12).
7. Being raised with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12).
8. Being identified with Christ's death (Rom 6:3).
9. Becoming dead to sin (Rom 6:2-3).
10. Becoming alive to God (Rom 6:3-11).
11. The circumcision of Christ, in which the whole body of sin is cut away (Col 2:11-12).
12. Faith in the operation, or working, of God (Col 2:12).
13. Coming into Christ (Gal 3:27).
14. Putting on Christ (Gal 3:27).
15. A commandment (Acts 10:48).
16. The confession of Christ (Acts 8:36-37).
17. Gladly receiving the Word of God (Acts 2:41).
18. Washing away our sins (Acts 22:16).
19. Coming into one body through the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13).

FOURTH, it is the manner of the Spirit to emphasize the norm, or the standard, not the exceptions. Things like deathbed repentance (which, incidentally, is a term invented by men) are the exception, not the rule. God alone has charge of the exceptions. They are an area in which men have no right to intrude. We know from the thief on the cross, who himself was an exception to the rule, that Jesus can save a person who, on the surface, has not met the ordinary conditions. The thief was surely saved, but he is not the standard to which men are to conform. He was saved without hearing preaching, without publicly acknowledging that Jesus was the Son of God, and with no declaration of repentance. So far as we know, he did not know WHY Jesus died, that God had laid the sins of the world upon Him, or that He had come to be the Savior of the world. It would be absurd for someone to teach that was the normal condition in which men were saved. It would be equally absurd to say Jesus could not save a person in that condition.

Our theology must be formed by the rule, not the exception. Thus, where the individual has the opportunity and the choice, there is no question about whether or not they should be baptized. Such people cannot point to a dying thief to justify their failure to be baptized. Jesus Himself was baptized, even after John tried to talk Him out of it. If that is all we knew about baptism, it is enough to utterly demolish any reason for willfully withholding that obedience.

If, on the other hand, we are faced with a penitent sinner who longs for the salvation, yet is standing at death's door, we may still confidently give them into the hands of an aggressive Savior. Such a person will be a trophy of God's magnificent grace. However, he will not be an example for those who are in robust health and able to do what the Lord commands.

A person becomes a Christian when he is baptized in to Christ. What happens if the person is rebaptized due to doubts?

This is a matter of conscience. By that, I mean no person outside of the one who is being re-baptized is able to decipher the heart of the individual when he was first baptized. There is an instance of people who were re-baptized in Acts nineteen. These people were "disciples," but had not heard about the Holy Spirit, or that their faith was to be in the One John preached.

If baptism is, in fact, "an appeal to God for a good conscience" (1 Pet 3:21, NASB), then a person legitimately standing in doubt of their first baptism is in order being baptized again.

In my judgment, a person seeking to be re-baptized should first of all be instructed concerning the validity of believing and being baptized -- and that such validity cannot be negated with time, or because the individual has in some way retrogressed from that faith. If there is withdrawal from God, or involvement in sin, the baptized person must be assured that the confession of that sin to God will surely procure forgiveness and the cleansing from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-9). If the person remains convinced he was baptized for the wrong reasons, or did not have a believing heart, he should not be discouraged from being re-baptized. That decision, however, is up to the individual. This is not a matter regulated by Law. I know of nothing in Scripture that suggests the Lord does not look with pity and grace upon a soul who is eager to have a good conscience, and the persuasion he is accepted by God.

In Genesis 18 who are the 3 men who appear before Abraham.

These were apparently angelic messengers from God. Although this chapter begins by saying "the LORD appeared unto him (Abraham)," it was not unusual for such appearances to be accomplished through angels. Thus, the account of Moses and the burning bush says the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and also that God called unto him (Ex 3:2-4). In recounting this incident, Stephen says the Lord spoke to Moses. he also says it was an angel that appeared to him in the bush (Acts 7:30-35). A similar account is provided of the giving of the Law. On the one hand, it is written that the people heard "the voice of God" (Deut 4:33). On the other hand, it is also declared "the Law was given by the disposition of angels" (Acts 7:53). The law, it is written, was "spoken by angels" (Heb 2:2).

Thus, I conclude the three men were angels, sent by God, and bearing the message of God. Their word carried all of the weight of God speaking directly out of heaven. We also know these men went down to Sodom to destroy it -- something men could not do. The Scriptures doubtless refer to the experiences of both Abraham and Lot when they declare, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Heb 13:2). Manoah, Samson's father, had a similar experience (Judges 13:16).

Will there ever be a time on Earth when a person cannot find the truth? . . . I am wondering if it will ever happen that a man will not find Truth, that there will no longer be any opportunities to learn, to worship or to grow spiritually.

You probably remember that Amos prophesied of a time when there would be a famine of the hearing of God's Word. "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it" (Amos 8:11-12). Notice, the text does not say there would be a famine of the Word itself, but a famine of "HEARING the words of the Lord." Few would be speaking it, but it would still be there. This would not be owing to a single individual, but to a spiritual climate that prevailed among the people. Once, in the history of Israel, something like that occurred. The way Isaiah describes it is challenging. He describes it as truth being "fallen in the street" and actually "failing" (Isa 59:14-5). The condition was brought on because "No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies" (Isa 59:4).

In Isaiah's text, the people were not even in quest of the truth, and truth is withheld when it is not sought. In the Amos text it became extremely sparse. The people actually settled for other gods -- false gods (Amos 8:14). There is a sense in which those of the Western world are living in just such times.

However, all of this does not mean those who really want the Word will not be able to find it. In direct answer to your question, there will never come a time when the person who loves the truth and seeks it will not be able to find it. That is what the thirty-third Psalm means: "Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine" (verses. 19-20).

There is a Kingdom secret that is not generally known, and is expounded very little. The secret is this: the Lord's teaching is not found in answering our questions. That does not mean He never provides answers. It does mean that is not His focus. Paul summarized his personal quest as wanting to obtain the excellence of the knowledge of Christ, gaining Christ, being found in Him with the righteousness that comes from God, knowing Him, knowing the power of His resurrection, participating in the fellowship of His sufferings, and being like Him in His death (Phil 3:8-10). That is the effort that is guaranteed to be blessed by God. It is to be the focus of our attention, with everything else being made subordinate to it.

It is in this very area that God instructed suffering Job in His own matchless ways. Job had been seeking for answers, although He never sinned in the process. There were mysteries he wanted to understand -- chiefly why he had experienced so much suffering for no reason that was apparent to him. The Lord challenged him, "Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me." He then asked him a series of questions that simply could be answered -- they were all mysteries (Job 38). The point is that God does not come to open up all of the mysteries of life. There are simply too many of them. Further, such things tend to diminish a quest for the Lord Himself. Rather, He desires for men to have an understanding of Him, which is the greatest of all knowledge (Jer 9:23-24).

It is in the realization of these benefits that questions that trouble us will be answered in a satisfying way. Divine direction is also realized when we are in hot pursuit of these things. No one so engaged will be disappointed. Jesus put it this way. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matt 7:8). That is a guarantee, even in a time when there is a famine of hearing the Word of God.

I am having trouble teaching that when we die we our souls go to be with God. Some believe we are asleep until God raises our bodies. I Thess. 4 indicates when Jesus comes back he'll bring them back w/ him the souls. Could you please give me some scriptures and help on teaching this subject.

It is our bodies that sleep in death, not our souls. That is the point of First Corinthians 15:51 and First Thessalonians 5:6-7. Those who believe the whole person sleeps in the grave until the resurrection of the dead get their theology from Solomon, who knew little or nothing about eternity. The word of God declares that the Gospel brings life and immortality to light, not the writings of Solomon and Job (2 Tim 1:10).

Jesus said the person who lived and believed in Him would "never die" (John 11:26). He did not mean the person would never die in the ordinary sense of the word, for the preceding verse says, "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." What Jesus means in verse 26 is that eternal life (which is knowing God, John 17:3) is not interrupted when we die. Our unseen part lives on with the Lord Jesus. Paul once said he preferred death to life (Phil 1:23-24). If our whole person falls asleep when we die, then Paul was looking forward to the interruption of his fellowship with Christ. That is nothing but a very ignorant view.

When Jesus was transfigured, both Moses and Elijah came back to speak with Him. Luke tells us they spoke with Christ about the decease, or death, THEY spoke with Him about His death, and not He to them. The interesting thing about this is that neither Moses nor Elijah ever spoke or wrote about the death of Christ. Moses only gave one prophecy about Christ, and it was not attended with much clarity (Deut 18:15,18). We have no record of Elijah ever saying anything about the Messiah. How, then, were they able to speak with Jesus on this matter? Simply put, they had learned some things AFTER they left this world. They were NOT asleep.

A similar observation can be made concerning Abraham, cited by Jesus in the account of Lazarus and a certain rich man. After drying, you may recall, the rich man engaged in some conversation with Abraham. After Abraham rejected his request for Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch his tongue, the rich man asked for something else. He wanted Lazarus to be sent back to his brothers, to warn them of the awful place in which he now found himself. Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (Luke 16:29). How did Abraham know that? He lived over five hundred years before Moses, and a thousand years before many of the prophets? See, he had also learned some things after he died. He was not asleep.

Death is a separation -- a separation of the unseen part of man from the body. The body sleeps -- not in the ordinary sense of the word, but in the sense of being scheduled for resurrection. Believers then go to be "present with the Lord," and the wicked are consigned to a place of punishment, like the angels who sinned (Jude 6). When Jesus comes again, He will raise all the bodies from the graves (John 5:28-29). The spirits of those with Him will be brought back to inhabit their new bodies. The abode of the dead (Hades) will yield up the dead in them (Rev 20:13), and new bodies will given to the damned as well (John 5:29).

When we die we go to Hades, Right?

The word of God speaks in a general way about this subject, not with meticulous details. It is categorically stated that when believers are "absent from the body," they are "present with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8). We do not know all that is entailed in being "present with the Lord." It will not be in the fullest sense until we see Him in all of His glory -- which sight will transform us into His likeness (1 John 3:1-2).

The book of Revelation contains a reference to those who were beheaded for the cause of Christ. They are said to be "under the altar" (Rev 6:9). That is in the same area where Jesus resides, yet not in the fulness that will be experience following the resurrection of the dead.

The subject of Hades is not expounded in Scripture, only mentioned briefly. The location of Hades is never a point in Scripture, only its reality. It is temporary, for it will finally be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:13-14). Christ's account of Lazarus and the rich man gives us some insight into this realm also. It does not contradict being "present with the Lord," but confirms we do not receive the fulness of our inheritance upon death. That fulness will be experienced only when the Lord comes again (1 Pet 1:4-5).

When Jesus comes back we then go to the Judgment day, Right? If this is correct wouldn't we already know by being on one side of the chasm or the other, as to which place we end up (Heaven or Hell) so why the judgment. And we will be judge on matters that we have failed to ask forgiveness for, Right?

First, the purpose of the judgment is NOT to determine who is saved and who is lost. That is determined in this world. In the judgment God is vindicated, or proved to be true, and every man a liar (Rom 3:4). The rich man in hell will be no more damned when he stands before the judgment seat than he was before. However, God will be publicly shown to be true and righteous before an assembled universe -- even in the condemning of the rich man.

The day of judgment is also a time when rewards and differing degrees of punishment will be meted out. Jesus spoke of different people and cities rising up in the judgment and condemning those who had more opportunities then them, yet did not do anything with them (Matt 12:41-42). It is also a time when the saints will judge the world and angels, showing how competent salvation made them (1 Cor 6:2-3).

As to whether we will be judged on matters for which we never asked forgiveness, that is an untaught question. First, the question assumes we know all of our sins, and that condition cannot be established by Scripture or conscience. We will give an account for all of our words, our deeds, and our stewardship. That fact is not intended to produce cringing fear in us, but to motivate us to live by faith and walk in the Spirit. That is what will prepare us for that day.

Rest assured, the Lord is not looking for some technical point on which to condemn us. If He was, there would be no hope for any of us.

I suggest that it is not a wise course of action to try and explain everything that happens when we die. You already know that it raises a lot of questions. The emphasis of Scripture is on preparing for death by availing ourselves of the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (1 Tim 2:10). Those who are believing are to be reminded they will be present with the Lord when they are absent from the body. They are to be told the coming of the Lord will mean their transformation into His likeness, the end of all difficulties, and the fulness of all blessings. If people are not living by faith, it is wholly inappropriate to introduce them to speculations about what happens after death. What they must know is that nothing good will be experienced after death for anyone who is not believing.

Does God hear the prays of the unsaved? and, When does God hear the prayer of the unsaved, so that they can be

The answer is not as simplistic, as one might suppose.

1. Cain, who was not only unsaved, but was "of the wicked one" (1 John 3:12), spoke with God, and God responded, outlining the miserable life that awaited him (Gen 4:13-14).

2. Hagar, who is never said to have been in right relation to God, prayed to God, and God spoke to her (Gen 16:7-13).

3. Abimilech, heathen king of Gerar talked to God, and God answered him, instructing him what to do (Gen 20:2-7).

4. Manasseh, the most wicked king Judah ever had, prayed to God in his affliction, was heard, and his kingdom restored to him (2 Chron 33:13).

5. A Syrophonecian woman who was an unsaved Gentile, besought Jesus for her daughter, persisted in her request, and received it (Matt 15:22-28).

6. A Gentile Centurion made a request of Jesus, and exhibited such faith Jesus said He had not seen that kind of faith in all of Israel (Matt 8:5-10).

7. Cornelius, who needed to be told words whereby he could be saved, prayed before he was given such words, and his prayers were honored by God (Acts 10:1-4).

The blind man who was healed by Jesus told his critics, "Now we know that God does not hear sinners" (John 9:31). He was speaking in view of numerous references that stated God refused to hear the prayers of those whose hearts were corrupt, and whose motives were impure (Deut 1:45; 3:26; 2 Sam 22:42; Psa 18:41; 66:18: Prov 1:24; Isa 1:15; Isa 59:2).

God hears prayers when they come from a humble and contrite heart -- even if they come from people like wicked Manasseh, who repented of his evil ways. When it comes to the matter of being saved, however, we are not saved by praying, but through hearing and believing the Gospel of Christ. That is why, when Cornelius' prayers were recognized by God, He sent him to Peter, who told him "words" by which he could be saved (Acts 11:14). It is fashionable for people to be told to pray and ask Jesus into their heart, but no such procedure is ever prescribed in Scripture. When a jailor asked Paul and Silas what he should do to be saved, they did not say he should pray, or repeat the mythical "sinner's prayer" after them. Instead, they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Then they preached Christ to him, he believed, and was baptized into Christ the same hour of the night (Acts 16:31-334). We have no record that he ever prayed.

What does the Father want from me? I don't want any work I've done to burn in the day of judgment. I don't know of anything I have done in the likeness of the work you explained in this message. My sister became a Christian, but she has not followed through as far as I know. What does God want me to do now?

In a nutshell, the Lord wants you to keep what He has given you. Jesus said "Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Rev 3:11).
That is done by living by faith and walking in the Spirit -- keeping in close proximity to the Lord, where you are sensitive to Him. All of this has to do with living within hearing distance of the Lord, and avoiding getting too close to the world. As you do this, the Lord will direct your path. As to the details of that path, they will become apparent to you as you trust in Him. it is really just that simple. The Psalmist put it this way, "Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart" (Psa 37:4). You can spend your time trying to figure out what God wants you to do, or you can develop a delight in the Lord Himself. In the latter case, your will find satisfaction. The absolute rarity of this emphasis among the churches accounts for most of their problems.

So far as spreading the Word of God, you do that out of a persuasion of the truth and benefits of the Gospel. When it comes to people you have influenced for Christ, you do exactly what men in Scripture did. You tell them you do not want your labor to be in vain, and admonish them to move on in the faith. You pray for them like Paul did, then cast your burden upon the Lord.

In regard to husband and wife responsibilities: If one partner is a believer who is intensely drawn to the things of the Lord and desires to be obedient to Him, and the other partner is a believer but more drawn to the things of the world and riches, what would God desire for the first spouse to do? Is it better to stay in a marriage, to keep the family in tact, no matter what, even when Godly principles are compromised?

First, every child of God is to take the same attitude toward a believer that God takes -- whether the believer is "weak" or "strong" in the faith. Jesus will not break a bruised reed, or quench a smoking flax (Isa 42:3; Matt 12:20). That applies to husbands and wives as well as anyone else. I understand it is not always easy to determine whether a person believes or not -- and a believer is a person who IS believing. If a person has not denied the faith, we should not consider the case hopeless.

In the particular matter of husbands and wives, and where the issue involves one pressing toward he Lord and the other not, the emphasis is being peaceable. God deals with the marriage of a believer and unbeliever, allowing for the departure of the unbeliever if they cannot dwell together in peace (1 Cor 7:15-16). He reminds us we have been called to peace. That whole scenario presumes the believer is living unto the Lord, never compromising their faith, or displeasing God in order to please their spouse. Nothing must be allowed to rupture one's relationship to the Lord. Also, in that relationship, it is possible the Lord will resolve the difficulties between the spouses. To assist us in thinking soundly about the possibilities of living for God in a challenging environment, we can remember Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon.

If one spouse has a love for money (and that is something a person does not want to assume about someone else), that does not effect the spouse who is trusting the Lord. In Scripture, Joanna was the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward. I assume he was a man of means, but nothing indicates he was remotely interested in Jesus. However, Joanna was, and regularly ministered to Jesus out of her substance (Luke 8:3). I do not know all of the ramifications of that account, but it seems to me Joanna must have been a wise wife, who depended upon the Lord. That is the same way you must approach your own situation.

In Genesis 15:13 the Lord tells Abraham that his people will be in captivity for 400 years. In Exodus 12:40-41 it speaks of 430 years

This passage has been much disputed among Bible students, and has been the occasion for various challenges from skeptics and doubters. The matter is not simplistic, but can be comprehended.

First, the word to Abraham was a general word. The word "afflict" not only applied to the harsh bondage the Israelites experienced, but to the city-building they did, and the fact they were not in their own land. It also included the persecution of Isaac by Ishmael, who was the son of an Egyptian. The harsh affliction did not last 400 years, but began only after a Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph (Ex 1:8; Acts 7:18). Further, it was not until after Joseph was thirty years of age that his brothers and father came to dwell with him in Egypt. The whole group comprised seventy souls (Gen 46:27) – well over 200 years after the original promise to Abraham. Thus, the mentioning of the four hundred and four hundred and thirty years, however, did not begin with that group coming into Canaan.

In Genesis, the four hundred years begins after Isaac was born, Ishmael mocked him, and Ishmael and Hagar cast out of the home – which was thirty years after the original promise (Gen 12:3). First, the people were strangers in the land that was not theirs for 190 years. Then they were servants in Egypt for 210 years. The first of that period they were favored, in the later period they were severely persecuted.

In Galatians Paul clarifies the period in question by tracing the "four hundred and thirty years" from the promise given to Abraham, to the giving of the law, which occurred shortly after Israel's deliverance from Egypt (Gal 3:17). That is the same period mentioned in Exodus 12:40. It included Abraham sojourning in the land (Gen 12:5). The dwelling of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Canaan is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:9.

Briefly stated, therefore, the 430 years marks the period from the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. The 400 years marks it from Isaac.

Brother Given. I see a gospel that is full of the evidence of Jesus the physician yet many argue for medicine. I see this as abominable and as returning to Egypt. How can we overlook or neglect such a testimony?  . . . I seek to grow up in the faith that the Father might impart unto me full sonship. That I might be able to lay hands on the sick, prophecy, tell of the wonders of the Father and no longer have a will that is of my flesh.

I do not know why you are choosing to raise issues the Lord and inspired men did not raise. But I am disappointed that such is the case. I will say a few words about your remarks, but will not dwell on such things. The discussion of them brings no lasting profit to the children of God.

Paul referred to Luke as "the beloved physician" (Col 4:14). If physicians were themselves sinful, that would be like saying "beloved thief."

Jesus would never have said "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick" (Matt 9:12), if physicians were unlawful. That would be like saying that a drunk has need of drink.

The good Samaritan attended to a wounded man by pouring "oil and wine" into his wounds and "caring" for him (Lk 10:34). Our Lord did not give the slightest indication such an action was going down to Egypt for help, or that it indicated a lack of faith. In fact, the man was commended, not condemned. If you choose to believe the use of medicine is a renunciation of trusting God, that is your business. However it cannot be supported by God's Word, and I will have no part of such a view.

Paul indicated that Timothy suffered from frequent illnesses, or "oft infirmities." He told him to "No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (1 Tim 5:23, NASB). He did not think as you do on this matter.

When Hezekiah was dying of a grievous boil, Isaiah said, "Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaster upon the boil, and he shall recover" – and he did (Isa 38:21). I understand the Lord worked through that poultice of figs, but that is the whole point. The Lord used a means that you are suggesting is not allowed.

God never refers to sinful conduct as an example of what He can do among His people. In describing His people, God compares their spiritual condition, and His work with them, with certain aspects of life in this world. Passages using such parallels, and referring to medicines, include Isaiah 1:65, Jeremiah 8:22; 30:13; 46:11; 51:8; Ezekiel 47:12. Solomon also said, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (Prov 17:22). None of these suggest medicine takes the place of God, is to be the object of our faith, or is to be our first resort. All of these references, however, suggest the legitimacy of medicine, else the language has no meaning. If medicine is of itself sinful as you suggest, then comparing the healing of the soul to the use of medicine would be like comparing the working of God to idols, fornication, or witchcraft.

This is a theological bypath. There is not a word in Scripture that suggests medicine is itself unlawful. No person was ever admonished to stay away from medicine, nor was anyone condemned for using it. There are no warnings against it. The only time God judged people in this regard is when they sought to physicians and ignored Him, as in the case of Asa (2 Chron 16:12). Neither Moses, the Prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, nor the Apostles tell people to stop using medicine. I understand that trusting in medicine is not right, anymore than trusting in horses and chariots is right. However, the fact that men are not to trust in horses and chariots does not suggest it is sinful to ride on a horse, and be carried in a chariot (Psa 20:7).

I am glad you are seeking to grow, but growth is not evidenced by being able to lay your hands on the sick, and they recover. If you are suggesting that our Lord's words in Mark 16:18 mean we are to seek to do that, then you are simply wrong. The Holy Spirit brought the words of Jesus to the Apostles' memory (John 14:26). They, in turn, passed those words along to the brethren. None of them ever suggested early believers were somehow inferior, or had not grown, because they did not lay hands on the sick and they recover. None of them ever took those words of Jesus and bound them upon others. The reason why they did not is because that is something God and Christ do in the saints. You may seek to do it, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I suggest, however, that it is not wise to boast of Christ teaching you about this until you actually do it. Of course, God has spoken about gifts with remarkable clarity. "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church" (1 Cor 14:12). When telling the church to "covet earnestly the best gifts," the Spirit added there was "a more excellent way" (1 Cor 12:31). The 13th chapter of First Corinthians outlines that way. It would be good for you to seek that more excellent way. Then, you will be in a position for God to bless you in special ways.

As to testing you in this matter, I have no desire to do so. Nor, indeed, will I engage in arguments about things like this. They are unprofitable, because they do not focus on Christ. Instead, they pit brother against brother, and I will have no part of it.

About holding grudges or sulking, I will not even dignify that with a response. It is unbecoming of you to suggest such a thing, and nothing could be further from the truth. Concerning seeking spiritual gifts, I will work with the ones the Lord has given me. I know what they are and will not reproach the Lord by ignoring them, or failing to stir them up. In the meantime, I can say with Paul, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self" (1 Cor 4:3). Embrace what you will. I condemn you not. But I will not embrace the view you are advocating.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE ONE AND ONLY NAME ON THIS EARTH PEOPLE TAKE IN VAIN IS JESUS CHRIST? You never hear your name or anyone's else's name taken in vain.

It is because His is the ONLY name by which men are saved (Acts 4:12). People really do not realize what they are doing when they blurt His name out in all manner of curses and oaths. This is something prompted by the devil. If he can get people to disrespect the name of the Lord, they will be less apt to hear the Gospel about him. That is Satan's strategy -- first, make the name of Jesus mean little or nothing to the person, then the Gospel about Him will be unimportant to them. All of this is done without the individual really knowing what is happening. Such a person has been deceived by the devil.

Someone was telling me we don't need to ask for forgiveness for anything after salvation, that is a slap in the face to Jesus to do so since we've been forgiven past, present & future sins. Says we should confess, yet do not need to be specific about our sins.

First, there is a slight tint of truth in the position you mention. The believing person who sins must believe God is "ready to forgive" (Psalm 86:5). Once sin has been confessed, the burden of it must not be carried about as though the person was still guilty, and remained unforgiven. However, that is quite different from the suggestion "someone" offered to you.

This kind of teaching is a lot of nonsense, and confuses the people of God. First, if this foolish doctrine was true, what is the purpose of coming to Jesus for forgiveness in the first place. Why did Jesus Himself ask God to "forgive" some of the very people for whom He was dying -- when He was dying (Luke 23:34).

The very text that admonishes believers to "confess" their sins declares God WILL forgive them because we confessed their sins -- NOT that He had already forgiven them. "If we confess our sins, He IS faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

There are two sides to the forgiveness of sins. First, there must be a basis for forgiveness, or a reason why God forgives us. This is necessary because God cannot simple overlook sin. He is righteous, and forgiveness must be right. Christ taking away our sins makes it right for God to forgive us. The Bible says it this way. "that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). That is side one.

Side two is the receiving of that forgiveness. By faith it is received, and our conscience is "purged from dead works," or the guilt caused by sin (Hebrews 9:14). A person who is forgiven has both sides of the coin of forgiveness. God has not simply forgiven sin "past, present, and future," as the person to whom you alluded suggested. That is theological jargon, and is not how Scripture states the case. We are not forgiven in advance, and nothing in all of the word of God suggests such a thing. In one single act, all of our past is forgiven. It is the basis, foundation, or reason for forgiveness that remains. If we sin, we appeal to God for that forgiveness, asking that He fulfill what He has promised. But there is not a syllable in Scripture that suggests forgiveness takes place before the sin is committed.

The fact that we "ask" for forgiveness indicates that we believe, not that we do not believe. It does not reproach Christ's death, but honors it. That, of course, is precisely what faith does -- it asks God to do what He has promised, persuaded He is able to do so. That brings honor to God. But to treat personal sin as though it was forgiven in advance, and required no asking, is foolish.

I cannot conceive of a person who has sinned not being forward to ask the Lord to forgive him like David asked: "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me" (Psalm 51:2-3). One might argue that Jesus was the Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8), or "was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Pet 1:20). Therefore, all David had to do was confess his sin, for God had already determined Jesus would take it away. David, of course, would rebuke such a foolish notion. His sin hurt him, defiled his conscience, and caused him shame before the Lord. He was not hesitant to ask the Lord to cleanse him. Neither will any one in our day, who is convicted of sin.

Throw that bit of teaching in the theological garbage can. It is not true. That is why you had trouble receiving it.

This man tried to back this up by pointing out that Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man 80 times in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. However, he only referred to himself as the Son of God only 7 times (some of them were responses to those who asked Are you the Son of God ?). Why did he so often refer to himself as the Son of Man instead of the Son of God ?

Jesus was both Divine and human -- Son of God and Son of Man. He was Divine in that He had no earthly Father, and He came from eternity (Micah 5:2), in which He was "in the form of God" (Phil 2:6) and "was God" (John 1:1). He is "Son of Man" because He also was the offspring of the human race -- "made of a woman and made under the Law" (Gal 4:4).

In the matter of salvation, it is the humanity of Christ that saves us -- His identity with our race as a Person. The Bible makes much of this. Jesus did not come in the form of an angel, for example, because He was not sent to save angels. He had to become like the ones He was to save (Heb 2:9-17). As a Man, Jesus suffered, was tempted, died, was buried, and was raised again. Those are the accomplishments that are connected with our salvation from sin. He even overcome and defeated the devil as a Man, doing so in His death (Heb 2:14).

Jesus referred to Himself as "the Son of Man" to accent His Saviorhood. He was pointing to Himself as the chief, or primary, Man. He did not say He was "A Son of Man," but "THE Son of Man." So far as God is concerned, Jesus is the main Man -- more than that, the ONLY man. The Bible refers to Him as "the Second Man" (1 Cor 15:47), and the "Last Adam" (1 Cor 15;45). By that, the Spirit means Jesus is the Second KIND of man -- like a new race of man. By "Last Adam," He means Jesus brought an end to the curse incurred by Adam. He did this by beginning a new order of humanity. That new order is made up of people who are born again. The saved person is called a "new man" (Eph 2:15; 4:24; Col 2:10). That is true because they have come from Jesus, who "THE Son of Man."

The title "THE Son of Man" also refers to Jesus being the ONE person who was foretold by the Prophets -- One who would save the people from their sins and deliver them from servitude to Satan. An example of such a prophecy is Isaiah 9:6-7.

2nd question from my Muslim friend. Luke 18:18: And a certain ruler asked him saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life: Luke 18:19 And Jesus said unto him: Why callest thou me good ?? None is good, save one, that is, God ? Why did Jesus say to the man that he wasn't good ?

Jesus replied according to the man's perception. Like your Muslim friend, the rich young ruler did not see Jesus as the Son of God, or the Savior of the world. He simply saw Him as a good teacher (which is the meaning of "Master"). The Lord was showing the man that if He was not Divine, He could not be good. If Jesus was not who He said He was, He could not possibly have been "good." That being the case, He would have been a liar and an impostor. Jesus did not say, and did not mean, He Himself was not "good," for He referred to Himself as "the GOOD Shepherd" (John 10:11,14). If the rich man had seen Jesus as He really was, he would have replied "But you are good, Master, for you have come from God." But he did not see Jesus right. that is why our Lord responded as He did.

Do you agree that absolute truth is God and if so, what does that mean to you ?

The answer is not simplistic, as you have obviously concluded. One of the great difficulties with systematic theology is that it has to eventually depart from Scriptural nomenclature, and that causes all manner of confusion.

First, the word truth does mean reality. That being the case, in a philosophical sense, we can say God is the "ultimate reality." I suppose that would equate with "absolute truth," whatever that means. All of that philosophical jargon suggests there may be truth that is not "absolute," or "verity," or "reality." The difficulty is that Scripture never suggests such a thing. Absoluteness, unchangeableness, and consistency are inherent in the word "truth," whether a portion or the whole of it.

Strictly speaking, "truth" is a body of reality -- things as they really are. It is the opposite of the lie and delusion, which are fostered by the devil.

God declared Himself to be "abundant" in truth (Ex 34:6). By that, He meant He is inclined to open up, or reveal, all things as they really are, including Himself, His purpose, covenant, Son, etc. He is also "a God of truth," never misrepresenting, exaggerating, or distorting anything.

When Jesus said "I am the Truth," He meant He was the embodiment of things pertaining to God and His salvation. That is why He added, "No man cometh to the Father but by me." No person can really know God apart from Christ, and God will show the reality of things to men through Jesus alone. The expression of Jesus in John 14:6 could well read "Way TO God, "Truth OF God, and Life OF God."

Your statement that you "wasn't sure whether any of us would come to realize totally what it was this side of heaven," is correct from any point of view. Whether it is God Himself, the Lord Jesus, the great salvation, what is to come, etc. we only "know in part" (1 Cor 13:9,12).

Technically speaking, truth is not what WE know, or the information WE have about something. Truth is that body of reality concerning which we "know in part." All of that body of reality (truth) is absolute and unchanging, even as God Himself -- whether it is 'the part" we know, or the vast portion we do not yet know.

What causes or makes someone have a tender heart, a contrite heart - is it not first the work of the Holy Spirit otherwise I would not be able to know that I needed to be humble and contrite. I would appreciate your thoughts and Scriptures about this.

In Scripture, the cause of a tender or contrite heart is not the issue, but the possession of one. There is a reason for this. First, the Lord apprises us that He has a high regard for such qualities (Psa 34:18; 51:17; Isa 57:15; 66:2). If the individual has this sensitivity toward the Lord, these expressions assure the Lord will not turn him away. Should the person conclude they do not have such a heart, yet long for one, they will pray like David, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psa 51:10). Of course, in the latter case, the very petition reveals the kind of heart in which the Lord delights is actually possessed.

If we choose to speculate about the cause of a tender heart or contrite heart, there are several considerations. First, we do know the Lord can turn hearts (Prov 21:1), put a thing into the heart (1 Kgs 10:24), take out a stony heart, and give a heart of flesh (Ezek 11:19; 36:26), open the heart (Acts 16:14), and even harden hearts and make them obstinate (Ex 4;21; Deut 2:30). The difficulty comes when men conclude this is all done arbitrarily.

God has revealed He does nothing without a cause (Ezek 14:23). To put it another way, He always uses means to accomplish His purposes. When dealing with matters of the heart, the Lord especially uses the Gospel of Christ, which is His appointed "power unto salvation" (Rom 1:16). Ultimately, a tender and contrite heart is traced back to exposure to the Gospel of Christ. That is the means used by God to create sensitivity to Himself in the individual. More precisely, belief of the Gospel ("unto every one that believes") is what initiates the work of the Lord.

Regarding the Holy Spirit's role in this, that is what is involved in Him convincing men of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11). The areas of conviction all relate to the Gospel. Sin = "believe not on me." Righteousness = "because I go unto the Father." Judgment = "because the prince of this world is judged." When men have been convinced in those areas, they will have a tender and contrite heart. Note, it comes through convincing, or, as the KJV reads, reproving. The Spirit shows the individual he has not been trusting in or believing on Jesus, is fundamentally unrighteous, and is serving a defeated foe. Through that means, the heart becomes tender and contrite.

In the N.I.V. Jesus is quoted as saying to make disciples of all nations. It the King James there is no mention of this. This makes a problem for me. Also sometimes Matthew 28: 16-20 is referred to as " The Great Commission". I believe this was just for the disciples that Jesus appointed and not transferred on, and that the disciples did take the message to what was then known as the world, therefore doing what Jesus commanded them to do.

The words "teach all nations" mean the same think as "make disciples." A disciple is a learner, or student. I personally prefer the "teach," but good teaching will produce "disciples."

The church has overextended itself in the "great commission mentality." That commission is actually viewed as a means of beefing up the organization. It apparently has never dawned on those who do this that no church in Scripture was ever told to fulfill the "great commission." In fact, there is not a solitary reference to it in an y Epistle.

Early believers spread the Gospel without being told. You may recall that when the early church was scattered abroad, they "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). Acts 8;1 tells us, however, that the Apostles were NOT the ones scattered, and thus were not the ones doing the preaching in verse four. Thus, non-Apostles were fulfilling Christ's word.

Christ's words in Matthew 28 were not merely for the disciples, for He told them to teach the people to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (verse 20). That would include what He was telling them. He did not mean every person was to go into all the world. Rather, the world was the field, and each person was to do their part, which part was assigned by Himself.

The disciples, as well as multitudes of others who went with them, did go throughout the whole world. Their preaching was so extensive that a little past the middle of the first century the Spirit testified the Gospel had been "preached to every creature which is under heaven" (Col 1:23). In that preaching we know of countless people who were not among the disciples to whom Jesus spoke in Matthews 28. A few of them include Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Luke, Timothy, Titus, Jude, Epaphroditus, Epaphras, Rufus, Apollos etc. The book of Acts has countless lists of people who accompanied Paul in his preaching, and those he sent to the churches to strengthen them. Numerous laborers are also mentioned in the Epistles, with over twenty-eight being mentioned in the sixteenth chapter of Romans alone.

"How do we know that Satan was one of God's lead angels, much less used to be an angel at all?"

The Bible does not say Satan was the highest angel. It does suggest he was in some lofty position, and was very influential. The passages from which these conclusions are taken are as follows. Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:12-18, and Revelation 12:3-4. The Isaiah and Ezekiel passages are addressed to earthly rulers. The references to Satan's prior existence is mentioned because those rulers had come to possess Satan's qualities themselves.

Revelation 9:11 refers to Satan as the "angel of the bottomless pit." We know he is over a vast array of personalities called "angels" (Rev 12:9; Matt 25:41). They are also called "the power of the air" (Eph 2:1-2), "principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph 6:12). Both Peter and Jude refer to these hosts as fallen spirits who had a former habitation, or area of heavenly influence (2 Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6).



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