QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 75
What is your stand on the theory of Once Saved, Always Saved
On this subject, the religious community is divided. However, God has spoken too clearly on this matter for such divisions to be justified. First, no one who IS believing is in jeopardy of being lost. Consistently, the Word of God affirms salvation for those who ARE believing. A believer, after all, is someone who IS believing--not someone who HAS believed.
The Word of God does not take faith for granted. It challenges believers to "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3), "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim 6:12), and continue in the faith (Acts 14:22). We are also admonished to "examine" ourselves to see if we ARE "in the faith" (2 Cor 13:5). The Spirit tells us of people who have "departed from the faith" (1 Tim 4:1), made "shipwreck of the faith" (1 Tim 1:19), and believed "for a while" (Luke 8:13). On the subject of falling away, or being lost after once saved, it is not in order to cite promises that are made to those who ARE believing.
God has spoken on the subject of falling away, and His words are quite clear. Believers do not live in a moral vacuum. They are in a cursed world, hounded by a fierce adversary, and living in a frail house of clay. They are not in heaven yet, and to get there will require effort on their part. It is inconceivable that God Himself, the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and even the holy angels could involve themselves in your salvation, without you being involved yourself. Such a thought is an absurdity unworthy of consideration. God speaks of a fallen state that is worse than never having known the Lord at all (2 Peter 2:20-21). The Spirit also speaks of those who have had extensive involvement with heavenly things, yet through unbelief, have fallen into a condition from which they cannot be recovered (Hebrews 6:4-6). If a person doubts this can happen, a sober reflection on several accounts of Scripture should serve to awaken them from their self-induced stupor. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden by God Himself. They had no sin, and were in some form of fellowship with the Lord. Yet, they were expelled from the very Garden in which God placed them. Who is the person willing to affirm they were really never in the Garden at all? Also, Israel was given the land of Canaan. They entered the land, possessing it for a while. Yet, they were also expelled from it because of their unbelief. Would anyone be foolhardy enough to affirm Israel never really occupied Canaan? And what about Judas, chosen by Jesus Himself to be an Apostle. We are told he "fell by transgression," and was thus excluded from the Apostolic office. His place, according to prophecy, was taken by another. Will any one dare to affirm Judas was really never an Apostle. Yet, some would have us believe those who fall away were never really saved. To those daring to take such a view, the Holy Spirit says, "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked" (2 Peter 3:17). And again, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Can a person be lost once he is saved? As long as they are in the realm of hostility--"this present evil world"--they can again be ensnared by the devil. Ultimate safety will be experienced only when we are removed from this world. Until then, our only safety is found in our faith (1 John 5:4-5). Now, that is our sole means of connection with the eternal. If, in this world, you could not fall from the heavenly places, there would be no need for an Intercessor (Heb 7:25). The angels would not be required to minister to the saved (Heb 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit would not be required to indwell the believer (Rom 15:13). If one imagines that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the angels engage in their indispensable ministries apart from the willing involvement of the individual, Satan has surely deceived them. No such thought is ever expressed in Scripture! The reasoning is flawed that assumes heaven is involved in our salvation, but we are not. It is OUR involvement that is the weak point, so to speak. At the point we "draw back," God ceases to be pleased with us (Heb 10:38-39). It is then that we move outside of the circumference of Divine grace and protection.
While there is a danger of being lost once we are saved, it is certainly not necessary. God is "able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before His throne with exceeding joy" (Jude 24-25). As you place your faith in Him, walking in the Spirit and living by faith, you will be kept safe. But do not assume that process is automatic. It does require all of your effort. It is YOU that must "fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim 6:12). Rather than waste time speculating about the possibility of falling away, engage all of your powers to ensure you do not!
What is your stand on evolution, the big bang theory, and the earth being millions of millions years old when scripture points out it is thousands?
From beginning to end, the evolution of species and the earth itself is purely theory -- just as all honest men affirm. The theory of evolution has no substantiation in any tangible or intelligent way. That is why large intervals of time have been invented to allow for the development of species and the universe.
The phrase "the evening and the morning were the _____ day (Gen 1:5,8,13,19,23,31) describe a 24 hour period. Some may object that times and seasons were not established until the fourth day, when the various lights were created to divide the day and the night, and for days and years (Gen 1:14-19). The day and the night, however, existed from the very first day (Gen 1:4-5). The heavenly luminous bodies were created to rule the day and night, which were already in place. They only confirmed the 24 hour cycles that were already in place.
The Word of God accurately describes the origin of and cause for the earth. There is not one bit of true scientific evidence that contradicts the Scriptural account of creation. Further, documented cataclysmic changes that have occurred in the earth are accounted for by the flood.
Where do churches, or denominations get the authority to decide who should be ministers, thereby performing marriage ceremonies etc?.
Authority to perform marriages is granted by the State. The State insists the person performing the ceremony be officially recognized by some church as their representative. The Word of God does not deal with this issue. We must employ wisdom, coupled with an understanding of Scripture in the matter. So far as believers are concerned, the one performing the wedding ceremony should be a person of God, who can sanction the marriage in the name of the Lord, and give the could godly counsel.
Who may perform a Christian baptism?
Again, the Word of God does not approach baptism in this manner. It is my understanding that any child of God can baptism disciple. Jesus did not Himself baptize, but had His disciples baptize the people (John 4:1-2). Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, and he was a deacon (Acts 6:5; 8:38). Paul referred not to baptize most of his converts (1 Cor 1:14-17). We have no idea who baptized the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41).
If every person in Christ is a "king and a priest unto God" (Rev 1:6), then surely they are qualified to baptize those who have believed, repented, and confessed Jesus to be the Son of God.
Why doesn't the church of Christ allow the playing of musical instrument?
They are persuaded you can only offer God what He has commanded to be offered to Him. They say He has not commanded the church to use musical instruments in worship, and therefore they conclude they are sinful.
In Christ, our approach to God (or worship) is not based upon some outward procedure. Rather, it is a spiritual approach, as described in Hebrews 10:22; "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
The Bible speaks of "the musical instruments of God" (1 Chron 16:42) and "the harps of God" (Rev 15:2). It is inconceivable that God would associate His holy name with something that was sinful. The Church of Christ is wrong in declaring the use of musical instruments in worship is sinful. They are, however, sincere in their objection. God will receive their songs without the instrument, just as He will receive songs with an instrument from those with pure hearts. I am persuaded He does not, however, accept their position on musical instruments.
Shouldn't our assemblies be open for everyone to speak?
The mutual edification of kindred spirits is one of the strengths of the body of Christ. We regularly provide for the input of the saints in our own assemblies, and have found it a source of great benefit and growth. There are also times when we all listen to an extended thought, with provision for comments and input following. This is one of the reasons it is "good and pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psa 133).
There is a human tendency to become stereotyped. Some assemblies that have seen the necessity of mutual edification have structured their assembly for joint-participation only. As a result, they have degenerated into informal and casual gatherings that allowed too many fleshly and unedifying remarks. When God's people gather in the Spirit with an emphasis upon edification, they will be able to receive all manner of expressions for God's glory and their good. There are assemblies that would turn into tragic mistakes if everyone was able to speak at will. Whoever can edify can speak. The others must confine themselves to listening -- unless it be to ask some occasional honest and beneficial question.
What are your thoughts on the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday) ?
As Jesus said, the Sabbath day was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath day (Mark 2:27). That is, it was never intended to be a permanent day for everyone to keep. Rather, it was provided to teach man to remember the One who created him. Under the first covenant, its purpose was to enforce the recollection of and service to God among a people whose hearts were actually far from Him. In Christ, believers do every day what the Jews did only on the Sabbath day -- hold God in reverence, and cease to seek only their own interests. That is the precise point that is made in the fourth chapter of Hebrews.
Solemnly, those in Jesus are told not to allow anyone to judge them in the matter of the Sabbath, as though they were under obligation to keep it (Col 2:16).
We are taught to pray to God the Father in the Name of Jesus Christ, His Son. Is there Scriptural basis for addressing prayers directly to Jesus Christ?
Speaking of the time when He would return to sit at the right hand of God, Jesus told His disciples, "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you" (John 16:23). He taught us to pray to the Father, not to Himself (Matt 6:9). We have access to the Father through Jesus and by the Spirit (Eph 2:16).
Notwithstanding, I would not say it is sinful to address words to Jesus, although that is not our normal practice. Stephen did ask Jesus to receive his spirit, as he was dying from being stoned (Acts 7:59). That is the only place such a pray was uttered -- but it is there, and we should consider it in the matter of praying.
WHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT.SAY THAT IT IS BETTER TO CAST YOUR SEEDS ON THE GROUND THAN IN THE BELLY OF A WHORE OR DO I HAVE IT BACKWARDS.
That is another one of those sayings of men -- it is not found in the Bible, or anything like it. The words "belly of a whore" are not in the Bible.
There is a Scriptural incident that probably provoked some imaginative person to come up with the saying you mentioned. It related to a man named Onan, a son of Judah. Another one of Judah's sons, his firstborn, was named Er. Because he was "wicked in the sight of the Lord," the Lord killed him (Gen 38:7). As a result, Judah told Er's brother to go in to his brother's wife, "marry her, and raise up seed to his brother" (Gen 38:8). Later, God spelled out the law for this -- it was in order that the family inheritance might be passed to the son of the man who died (Deut 25:5-10). Thus, by going in to his brother's wife, Onan would produce a son that could receive Er's inheritance and maintain the family name.
Onan, however, chose to ignore the word, because he knew the son that was conceived would not be his own. That is, the son would not inherit Onan's estate, but that of his brother Er. Thus the Word of God described what Onan did. "And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother" (Genesis 38:9). The thing he did displeased the Lord, and the Lord slew him also.
That is everything on the subject. As you can see, it does not remotely resemble the trite saying that has made its rounds among people.
I have a question: why is it that two people can hear the gospel message and one will come to have faith that God is the Rewarder of those who seek Him and another one will not come to faith. Faith does come by hearing; but where does the faith come from?
Faith comes from God and Christ (Eph 6:23), and we "believe through grace" (Acts 18:27). God looks upon the heart, and not the outward appearance. We know by revelation the kind of heart toward which He is kindly disposed (Psa 34:18; Isa 66:2). The Lord does not provide all of the details on how such a heart is developed. We know enough to know the Lord is working in the process.
Faith is the ability to see Him who is invisible (Heb 11:27), be fully persuaded He is able to do what He has promised (Rom 4:21), have the substance, or assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence, or conviction, of things not seen. That ability is granted to those possessing the inclinations in which God delights. The inclinations themselves have no power. However, through them, God graciously sends faith to those possessing them. In a sense, this is a mystery, but God has told us enough for us to see the rough outline of His manners.
The truth is revealed in such a manner as to bring confidence to those who have believed.
In light of all this hoopla over the Wilknson's book, "The Prayer of Jabez" what are your thoughts regarding such fascination of this one little prayer? If one were to teach about prayer, would one pick this prayer as a starter? I am wondering what would Jesus do and I am reminded of what He told His disciples on how to pray in Matthew 6 more than what to pray for in 1Chronicals 4.
The prayer of Jabez was a good one, but very elementary in the blazing light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6). It has obtained great popularity because people are largely ignorant of Scripture. Also, it tends to make people think they can have a lot of this world -- even though that is not the full import of the prayer. Jabez asked to be blessed, that his coast would be enlarged, that God's hand would be with him, and that he would be kept from evil. We can take that prayer and shine the light of the Gospel upon it. It will become larger and more meaningful in that light. There are coasts to be enlarged that had not yet been revealed in Jabez' time. There are blessings to be had of which he had not the smallest understanding. There is evil from which to be kept that was basically unknown to him.
Jabez prayed during spiritually primitive times. The prayers of Jesus (Matt 11:25-26; John 11:41-42; 17), and Paul (Eph 1:15-20; 3:15-20; Col 1:9-11) are from a higher vantage point. They should carry greater weight with us, for they speak of more lofty benefits, and shed greater light upon the soul.
I have a friend who objects toi wearing modest clothing. She also said that God doesn't care what you wear, as long you're good.
So, being "good" does not have anything to do with what we wear? That is surely an intrerestinjg postulate. What she really means is she does not THINK God cares what you wear. If this is really true, then why no go about naked? If she cannot do this, what is her reasoning? You may remember that nakedness was not acceptable to Adam and Eve after they sinned.
What about Adam and Eve? They made "aprons," or "coverings" (NIV). The word "aprons" speaks of a covering primarily from the waste down. They appeared very sensitive about what they wore when they confronted God. God did care a great deal about what they wore, making them "coats" instead, which emphasizes the covering of the whole body (Gen 3:7,21).
God cared what the High Priest wore. When he went up the altar, there was a sloping path that led up to the alter. The priest wore a rob that extended quite low. In spite of that, God told the priest to also wear linen trousers that covered his thighs, which God did not want to see, or have anyone else see (Ex 20:26; 28:40; Lev 6:10). Aaron would surely disagree with anyone who said God didn't care what people wore.
Under the Law, God forbade men to wear women's clothes, and women to wear men's clothes (Deut 22:5). He added, "for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this." Do you suppose Moses and the Israelites would agree with someone who said God did not care what they wore?
One might choose to dismiss the proscriptions of Scripture, saying they were not necessary, but only "as want." However, the text to which the young lady referred associates dressing "modestly" with things "appropriate for women who profess to worship God." That makes the matter very relevant.
It is true, there is a sense in which the matter is left up to the individual. God does not precisely define modesty, but that does not mean His words are to be ignored, as though they did not exist. The problem is that those who take such a stand are simply not living with an acute awareness of God. I do not know how long Adam and Eve strolled about the garden in fig leaves, but as soon as they were conscious of the presence of the Lord, they felt so uncomfortable, they hid from God.
Whether men or women, young or old, whatever we do is to be for the glory of God: ""And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col 3:17). Clothing is not excluded from that requirement.
As to this matter being a "want," and therefore something that is not necessary, are we to follow that same reasoning in the following verses?
1. "I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil" (Rom 16:19).
2. "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," (Phil 3:10)
3. "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." (1 Tim 2:8)
4. "I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles." (2 Pet 3:2)
5. "Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe." (Jude 1:5)
6. "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;" (1 Pet 5:2)
These, and other "wants" are not simply personal preferences. These men of God were speaking for the Lord. Their expression confirmed they were in agreement with God, not that they were binding their personal views upon others.
Apparently, there is an unmarried couple who have a young child and live together who wanted to be baptized. The pastor of our church has decided he is going to baptize this couple without repentance. George and I think the couple was baptized during the middle of the week. Since scripture has plenty to say about repentance, baptism, and the result of living in fornication, the "wrongness" of this situation is obvious. I would, however, like very much to hear what you have to say about addressing this type of situation to a pastor who should know better.
It is alarming that the times have anesthetized many, so that they no longer have a tender conscience about sin -- particularly the sin of fornication. It is one thing for the offending couple to be in this state. It is quite another for the preacher to allow the condition to remain. Scripture reminds us this sin is in a category by itself -- and it is serious. "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor 6:18-20). This is a transgression you cannot commit accidentally. It is to morality what idolatry is to religion. It can only be done deliberately and with aggression.
If the hearts of this couple are right, it is good that they want to be baptized, but they must be instructed about readiness for this obedience. You may recall that some Pharisees and Sadducees came to John's baptism (Matt 3:7). Luke tells us they came to be baptized by John (Lk 3:7). John rebuked them sharply saying they should "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance" (Lk 3:8; Matt 3:8). The NIV reads, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." Under such conditions, numbers meant nothing to John, and they should mean nothing to us.
Baptism is not en end of itself, and it does not stand alone. There are certain things that must precede it. In particular, Jesus said "He that BELIEVETH and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). Peter said, "REPENT and be baptized . . . " (Acts 2:38). A baptism that is not preceded by faith and repentance is an empty ceremony. Neither the heart nor the mind has been readied for it, and the promises that are attached to it are consequently voided.
In baptism, we are buried "into death" (Rom 6:4). That is death to sin, self, and the world, as the entire sixth chapter of Romans teaches. In valid baptism the previous life is abruptly terminated, as we become dead to sin and alive unto God (6:11). There is also the ongoing work of presenting ourselves to God, which follows our baptism (Rom 6:12-19). These are things that can only be accomplished by God Himself. Repentance is what qualifies us for the work to be done. Rest assured, where repentance is missing, there will not be remission of sin, death to sin, or life toward God. It simply cannot happen, for there has been no repudiation of the very life that thrust the person into a condemned state.
In baptizing this couple, the minister could not possibly have been more wrong. He has a mandate from the Lord to preach "repentance and remission of sins" (Luke 24:47) -- and in that order. Furthermore, Jesus has been exalted to "give repentance and the remission of sins" (Acts 5:31) -- in that order. You may rest assured that Christ will not give remission where He has not given repentance, for to do so would contradict His very nature.
It might be asked how Jesus gives repentance, and if the individual plays any role in it at all. As I understand it, repentance is given where the heart is smitten, or convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). Where such conviction is found, there is a desire to change, but the individual has no personal power to change their mind, will, desires, appetites, expressions, etc. That is where the Lord Jesus comes in, giving the ability to make an abrupt and effective change in ones life.
If this couple remains unmarried, it is because they have not repented. If they have not repented, it is because they have not been convicted. If they are not convicted, either they have never heard the Gospel in truth, or have heard it and quenched the Spirit. To baptize someone in this condition is to hurt them -- it is like pounding them into spiritual unconsciousness. It will actually cause they to trust in their baptism rather than in the Lord Jesus, and thus serve to further alienate them from God.
People of this sort should not be allowed to be numbered with God's people. They have committed a sin worse than that of Ananias and Sapphira -- and you know what the Lord did in that case.
Someone needs to go to this couple and expound the mind of the Lord on their condition. God is able give His servants wisdom and power in bringing such people to repentance. He will receive the glory, and they will receive salvation.
So far as the pastor is concerned, someone also needs to make am effort to restore him to a sound mind. He is baptizing people in the name of the Lord, and as His representative. he simply cannot do this when the condition of the people conflicts with the word of God rather than harmonizes with it. God has spoken quite clearly about fornicators. We are to have no company with them (1 Cor 5:9). If a brother is a fornicator, we are not even to eat with them (1 Cor 5:10). They will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9). "Whoremongers," or the "sexually immoral" (NKJV) will have their part in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8). One of the very first things Gentile believers were told to do was "abstain from fornication" (Acts 15:20). People are told to "avoid fornication" by getting married (1 Cor 7:2). We are solemnly warned not to commit fornication like some of the Israelites did, and were destroyed (1 Cor 10:8). Fornication is not to be named once within the church (Eph 5:3).
The pastor must be told by someone that he is required to do the will of the Lord -- particularly in his conduct toward fornicators. He should be asked to give a reason for what he is doing. He simply cannot move about as though God had said nothing on this matter. To do so is to become a "partaker in other men's sins" (1 Tim 5:22). His actions are giving the advantage to the devil, which we are commanded NOT to do (Eph 4:27).
If these people do not marry and turn their back on their sin -- and if the pastor has baptized them and they are a part of your congregation, now they must be put out of it (1 Cor 5:1-5). That is a Divine requirement, not a human opinion. Someone must remind the pastor of this -- then hold him to it.
Are there scriptures that tell us we will recognize our Christian family members and Christian friends, when Jesus returns and takes us to our new home?
There are no texts that specifically say this. There are passages that suggest we will recognize everyone on the other side. When Peter, James, and John saw Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration, they knew who they were (Matt 17:3-4). When the rich man, even in hell, saw Abraham and Lazarus, he knew who they were (Lk 16:24). We are also told the time is coming when we shall know even as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). I understand that marvelous expansion of knowledge to take place when we put on immortality, and see it as applicable to the recognition of others. David also said this when the infant conceived by Bathsheba died: "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (1 Sam 12:23). While this does not categorically speak of recognition, it is implied.
It is inconceivable that any disadvantage or step backward can exist when we put on immortality -- and a failure to recognize anyone would be a step backward. If that condition existed, we would actually, in that matter, know less on the other side than we do here. I find that inconceivable. Notwithstanding, that is only my conclusion, even though I feel it is based upon sound reasoning.
How do I balance all this? Maybe I am off in my thinking. Also, the church gives probably 25% of my tithe to Kenneth Hagin, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, and Kenneth Copeland. Now that I am moving away from this, I dont want to support these ministries. Actually, I have stopped tithing all together. I have tithed faithfully for the last five years, and I feel very funny about what to do. I would appreciate any advice, theres really not many I can talk to about this.
First, the Lord is working with you, bringing you into a more substantial relationship with Himself. Your discontent with mere outward manners of what is called "worship" is right. Outwardly vibrant expressions can really be the expressions of a tender and sensitive heart, but they cannot produce one. I fear that many gatherings are trying to manufacture praise rather than express something already in the heart. Their seasons of praise (if, indeed, it is praise) are much like a spider walking on water. It is only on the surface, and does not go deep into the heart. Too, a religion that is based upon bodily and external expression is more Old Testament in nature than New Testament.
When you yourself have advanced beyond the brethren with whom you meet, it does introduce some challenges. It must not, however, move us to despise our brethren, or to withhold from them the things that have moved us forward. Your expression of love for the people with whom you are meeting confirm you have responded in a godly manner. Think of the conduct of Jesus with His disciples prior to Pentecost. Ponder how far beyond them He was in His perception, devotion, and understanding. Yet, He labored to open their eyes to what He was seeing, always mindful of their limitations. Of course, the disciples maintained their interest in and commitment to the Savior, and that is why He remained with them until the end. Often they did not understand what He said, but they did not leave Him. You just seek wisdom to discern how the people react to your quest for solid truths.
If the people are receptive to your perceptions, that is your indication from the Lord to remain with. If they fight against it, you will have to seek wisdom from the Lord in how to handle it, but I suspect under such conditions He will eventually move you somewhere else.
In all of this, you cannot allow your own love for the truth to diminish. It is imperative that you find some person or persons who knows what you are talking about, and will fellowship with you in the truth. Your association with them will keep you encouraged and able to maintain your faith and encourage others.
You must not support ministries with which you are in fundamental disagreement, and you have done wisely in refusing to do so. That does not, however, mean you are to cease giving your tithes to the Lord. You must find a work you can support -- a ministry for and to Christ with which you can heartily identify. If you do not presently know of one, then ask the Lord to help you find one. Engage in an earnest pursuit to find one, and honor the Lord with your substance.
As a matter of personal advice, I suggest that you seek grace to be very alert to kindred spirits that may be in your area. Ask the Lord to cross your path with them. There may be a work for God close to you in which you can heartily participate. If you do not want to immediately cut the cords with your present fellowship, find a group you can meet with sometime during the week -- someone who ministers the solid truths you are seeking.
I will mention to you that we have a regular cassette and literature ministry from our fellowship. It is designed for people much like yourself, who do not have the advantage of satisfactory teaching. These are sent out at no cost, and are a ministry of our fellowship. If you are interested in these, the following email address will put you in contact with the person responsible for this ministry. Do not hesitate to ask, as we are here to serve you. You will be sent samples of everything we sent out, together with samples of the literature. The lady in charge is sister Barbara Hutchcraft. She will be glad to explain this ministry to you. email@example.com
My aunt killed her son, baby daughter and herself over 30 yrs ago, she was a Christian and had mental problems. Her husband had left her for another woman, her best friend drowned and her baby daughter wasn't going to live long. My question is this, is she in heaven if she believed in Jesus? Many of our friends say no but my husband and I believe she and her children are in heaven that God says if you believe in my son and that he died for your sins you shall be saved, he didn't say you shall be saved if you don't commit suicide.
In matters like this, I must confess I do not know. To begin with, the term "mental problems" is a psychological one, and is nowhere found in Scripture. The Bible speaks of a state called "madman" (Prov 26:16). "Madness" is also mentioned, a condition God actually sent on those who were rebellious against Him (Deut 28:28; Zech 12:4). This was a judgment sent upon king Nebuchadnezzar, when his mind departed from him and he lived like a beast for seven full years (Dan 4:32-34). Jesus healed some people of such disorder, who were called "lunatic," and who could not control their minds (Matt 4:24; 17:15). When king Saul was troubled by an "evil spirit from the Lord," he actually tried to kill David with a javelin (1 Sam 16:14; 18:10).
I have given you these references to show it is not that easy to diagnose what men call "mental problems." My heart is touched by the grievous circumstances your aunt endured, but they in no wise can justify murder and self-murder. The Scriptures do say, "no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15). "Murders" are said to be a work of the flesh, not the result of being demented or depressed (Gal 5:21). Revelation 21:8 affirms that "all murderers" will "have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Rev 21:8). That is simply what God has said about the matter.
Now, dear sister, those are hard words, but they are true ones. The truth is, we do not know whether or not your aunt had a sudden change of mind, repenting of her deeds before she passed away. If she did, the Lord surely showed her mercy. In the end, her destiny is in the hands of the Lord, and we must be willing to let it rest there. I will tell you that from what you told me, things do not look good for her. However, we do not have all of the facts.
It is true that God did not say you shall be saved if you do not commit suicide. It is also true that he said a person who murders, whether their own life or another, does not have eternal life abiding in them. This is an area where we must not try and determine whether your aunt is in heaven or not. Rather, we must determine to leave the matter with God, and be perfectly willing to receive His judgment on the matter.
Why does God hate divorce? Isn't it an end to arguments and pain in people's lives? Why don't preachers talk about it?
God hates divorce because it severs a bond He Himself has created: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt 19:6). He hates it because it is often an expression of selfishness, and a refusal to love one another. Divorce may appear as though it ends arguments and pain within the people who are separated by it, but it creates much more pain and harm in the families involved.
While God hates divorce, there are occasions when it is justified. In fact, God Himself "divorced" certain generations of the Israelites (Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8). He did so because they were unfaithful to Him. Jesus said that was the single justification for divorce among men and women -- "fornication," or unfaithfulness and infidelity (Matthew 5:32).
Preachers do not preach about this because they do not think it is important to do so. As a result, divorce has escalated within the professed church to a greater percentage of marriages than those in the world (one out of three). Men have become accustomed to divorce -- but God has not. He does hate it (Mal 2:16), and those who take Him seriously are to consider that fact. It is the business of real preachers to bring this to the minds of the people. It will assist them to draw back from foolish judgments.
See if your opinion somewhat matches mine, and why it does.
What this person is saying is what the Bible calls "heady," reckless, or rash (2 Tim 3:4). When "God" is in any way opposed, or removed from the consciousness of the people, no good can come from it. God cursed the Gentile world because they "refused to retain God in their knowledge" (Rom 1:28). They did not have Bibles, and were neither Jews nor Christians. But they were living in God's universe, and were thus obliged to acknowledge Him. Whole nations were judged by God simply because they did not acknowledge Him in either conduct or profession (Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19), the seven nations in the land of promise (Deut 7:1). An angel of God killed king Herod (not a Jew) because he did not give God the glory (Acts 12:23). Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind, and ate grass like an ox for seven years because he did not give God the glory -- he was a Babylonian (Dan 4:25). God is sensitive about those who refuse to acknowledge Him -- and that is what is involved in the ruling your friend so glibly seeks to justify. This is not about forcing others to acknowledge God, but in an obstinate refusal to acknowledge God Almighty.
The confession of God is not intended to justify everything this nation has ever done, and only a fool would postulate such an absurdity. It is intended to trace every real benefit and blessing back to the Lord. Should your friend choose to trace those benefits back to a nation, constitution, self-will . . . etc., he will only incur the indignation of God. If "every good gift and every perfect gift" is from above, who will dare to affirm man is under no obligation to confess it (James 1:17). If He "gives us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Tim 6:17), who will set themselves to oppose even the most minute acknowledgment of that fact? Admittedly, "under God" is not the most profound enunciation of that knowledge, but it is certainly not something to be despised.
As to the remarks your friend made on violence and terrorism, they reflect an intolerable level of ignorance. God destroyed the entire world, except for eight souls, because of "violence" (Gen 6:11-13). Violence has not always maintained the same level -- it did not in Noah's day, nor the rest of history. Since your friend is such a history buff, he should know that when the knowledge of God was diminished, together with acknowledging Him, all manner of barbarism and violence broke out. The consciousness of God is not unrelated to outbreaks of violence.
The writer say, "Having God removed from the pledge of allegiance will not make this country any worse than it is now." Unless your friend is omniscient, I hardly see how he can support such a statement. Is he suggesting that rebellion against the name of God, being ashamed of speaking it, and reducing the amount of consciousness of it has no bearing on being better or worse? How, then can the state of the Gentile world according to Romans one be explained -- for their lack of consciousness of God is the revealed reason for their plummet into immorality (Rom 1:20-32). Is it that America is freed from acknowledging the God declared in creation? What sort of supposed freedom champions such ignorance.
The terrorism which your friend glibly explains away was done in the name of another god. That puts the whole matter in another court. It places such men in the same category as Sennacrib who boasted about his god, and defamed the God of the Hebrews (who themselves were not paragons of virtue) -- 2 Chron 32:14-15).
No one of understanding denies there have been injustices and sins committed by this nation. Notwithstanding, it has generally been associated with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God will deal harshly with this nation for their denial of His name, just as He chastened Israel. He will also be against that nation or person who chooses to demean His name by coming in the name of another God, or refusing to recognize Him before men -- just as He did with the unfaithful leaders of Israel, and the inimical nations that came against them.
Your friend is spouting political poison. He boasts of being a believer in God, yet has not championed His name, or came to the defense of those who would to do so. When he has heard of a court saying the name of God should not be acknowledged, he has come to the aid of the court, not the name of God. His conduct is reprehensible, godless, and indefensible. You can give him my message. I am quite willing to deal with him personally. He is a fool, and I am candidly eager to pull his feeble academic rug from under him.
What and how do you understand 1 Corinthians 11? Why is so many Christians saying that it is for Corinthians culture? If that chapter is only for that culture, why is it in the Bible? If that part of the Bible is not for us, how can we know which other parts of the Bible is not for us?
The point of First Corinthians eleven (verses 1-16) is the recognition of Divine order, not the mere enforcement procedure or outward apparel. Visible appearances must not reflect a disdain for the Divine order specified: "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (verse 3). A man who in any way or appearance conducts himself as though Christ was not his head, is wrong. A woman who in any way conducts herself as though her husband was not her head, is wrong. Any representation of Christ that does not show Him to be doing the will of God, is wrong. That is the point of the passage, and the Corintians were to honor it in the society in which they lived. We are to do the same.
The due subordination of women is to their husbands. Nowhere in all of God's Word are all women said to be under all men. That is a myth perpetrated by those with no understanding.
It is interesting how Paul concluded this passage of Scripture. It is not in an authoritarian way, as when he deals with certain sins, crucifying the flesh, seeking things that are above, etc. "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God" (verse 16). That is not the language of law. The implication is that departure from this "custom" would cause offense in other churches. He does not suggest it would drive a wedge between men and God, or cause one to cease to be a Christian. It is not at all in the same category as "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom 8:9). It seems to me that due consideration must be given to the manner in which Paul concluded this section.
If one chooses to shape his theology around verses 1-16 of the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians, he has not acted wisely. On the other hand, if someone wants to ignore that passage, they have also acted unwisely. It is the responsibility of every person to learn what that text means, not simply look for a procedure to be bound upon the people of God.
Also...according to Barnes Notes commentary, 1 Timothy 2:9 in original Greek mentioned that women are to wear a second piece of clothing over their body. That was what Mennonites have been wearing..what they call cape dresses. Why do many Christian women don't realize that? How can we call Christians who don't do what they understand the Bible to actually mean "Christians"?
Let it be clear, the Bible does not say women were to wear a second piece of material. Furthermore, I cannot find where Barnes said the women were to wear a second piece of clothing over their body. Additionally, no Greek word in this text indicates such an obligation. Adam Clarke is the commentator who refers to this possibility. Still, he does not speak with any note of finality on this. Here is what he wrote.
"The 'katastolh' seems to have been the same as the pallium or mantle, which, being made nearly in the form of the stola, hung down to the waist, both in back and front, was gathered on the shoulder with a band or buckle, had a hole or slit at top for the head to pass through, and hung loosely over the stola, without being confined by the zona or girdle. Representations of these dresses may be seen in LENS' Costume des Peuples de l'AntiquitÇ, fig. 11, 12, 13, and 16. A more modest and becoming dress than the Grecian was never invented; it was, in a great measure, revived in England about the year 1805, and in it, simplicity, decency, and elegance were united; but it soon gave place to another mode, in which frippery and nonsense once more prevailed. It was too rational to last long; and too much like religious simplicity to be suffered in a land of shadows, and a world of painted outsides."
The Greek does NOT mean the garment of reference, but suggests a garment that "seems to be the same" as a "pallium or mantel." That, in my judgment, is not sufficient to make a law on the matter. Adam Clarke would have been the last to bind this upon all believers. Equally true, he would never have proclaimed it foolish for those who chose to wear such apparel.
Once again, the point of the passages is not what to wear, but the impression that it leaves. There are societies in which the attire brother Clark mentioned would not remotely suggest modesty, submission to one's husband. or the likes. There are others in which that is precisely how it would be viewed.
I personally honor those sisters who are serious enough about modest apparel to adjust their appearance appropriately. The details of how they choose to do this must be in harmony with the Word of God, but cannot, in my judgment, be bound upon other sisters.
Should a person choose to determine who and who is not a Christian by their apparel, they will be standing on shaky ground, indeed. Never is such an approach taken in the Word of God. That does not suggest apparel is insignificant or of no importance. It is not, however, the basis upon which one's identity with God is established. The Spirit speaks on this wise, "every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (1 John 4:7). "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1). "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God" (1 John 4:1). "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). There is a remarkable consistency in Scripture on this matter.
Since God turns all things to good for those who love Him and seek to follow His plan, will my past sinful acts be turned to good and will the consequences (i.e., pain and suffering) I continue to endure be to His glory and my sanctification?
Your past sins cannot possibly be turned to good -- but God can cause them to be your employees, working for your personal good. Through God's grace, they have made you better by bringing a greater sensitivity to the nature of sin itself. They have bettered you by moving you to call upon the name of the Lord, and seek His grace and love. They have improved you by moving you away from a preference for sin. They have contributed to your good by producing humility and contrition of heart.
Now, you must not allow your past sins to torment you. God has cast them behind His back (Isa 38:17), remembers them no more (Heb 10:17), cast them into the depth of the sea (Micah 7:19), and blotted them out as a thick cloud (Isa 44:22). When you came into Christ you were "justified from all things" (Acts 13:39). Your trespasses were all forgiven (Col 2: 13). You were washed, justified, and sanctified in Christ by God Himself (1 Cor 6:11). The blood of Christ can purge your conscience from those dead works, giving you a deep and refreshing sense of Divine acceptance (Heb 9;14).
As to suffering the consequences of past sins, this is an experience many of us have had -- including myself. Paul showed us how to reason on this matter in order that our hearts not condemn us, or we do not suffer from discouragement. You may recall when the Lord directed Ananias to go to Paul (then Saul), He said of Saul, "I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16, NASB). It is as though Saul had caused many of God's people to suffer, and now he would do the same. However, the suffering would not be mere punishment for his past wrongs. In the very midst of them, he would realize a fellowship with Christ and an experience of Divine power that precious few believers have ever realized.
In addition to the sufferings incurred from men, he also was given a "thorn in the flesh," which at the first sorely vexed and exasperated him. After three fervent petitions for the Lord to remove this thorn, he was told, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9). That is, in the crucible of suffering it became apparent that Paul was actually being sustained from day to day by a power external to Himself in origin, yet resident within him by the grace of God. Once this was seen, Paul responded, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (1 Cor 12:9b-10).
The experiences you have described as "consequences" are included in "reproaches" and "distresses." They have come to you because of your preference for Christ -- else you would have no concern for them. However, in the midst of these "consequences," you are experiencing sustaining grace. You have not denied the Lord or been ashamed of Him. And why not? Because His power is being perfected in you inspite of these "consequences." These are like storms and hot blasts of desert heat on the way to glory. If you can see it from an angel's viewpoint, it is marvelous that you are continuing to survive.
The Lord brought Paul through, and He will bring you through. You must believe that. Right now, you are walking with a limp like Jacob. Even though Jacob "was limping on his thigh," the sun still "rose upon him" (Gen 32:31). It will rise upon you also. Be of good courage, God will not allow these "consequences" to exceed your strength. You have His word on that (1 Cor 10:13).
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