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 I would appreciate a short note on your view of this present war situation. Much confusion with the brothers. How do you see the current crisis?

God has spoken to the issue of civil government, and with remarkable clarity. It is actually an arm of Divine judgment against evil doers, as well as a means of encouraging those who do good. It is ordained of God, and its authority in the area of that ordination is not to be resisted. These are the "higher powers," or "governing authorities" of Romans 13. Several things are said about them. Keep in mind that Nero was the emperor at the time.

1. They exist by God. (1)
2. They are ordained by God. (1b)
3. Whoever resists them resists the ordinance of God. (2a)
4. Those who resist them will bring condemnation on themselves. (2b)
5. These rulers are intended to be a terror to those who do evil. (3a)
6. Their authority is to be respected. (3b)
7. The civil ruler is a minister of God. (4a)
8. He does not bear the sword (capital punishment) in vain. (4b)
9. He is a minister of God to execute vengeance on the evil doer. (4c)

God will not allow evil to go unchecked in the world -- even among His own people. He raised up Nebuchadnezzar to punish disobedient Judah (Jer 27:6), and the Romans to sack rejecting Jerusalem (Luke 21:20). When the heathen nation Babylon crossed the line of Divine tolerance, He brought another heathen nation against it (Jer 25:12; 50:1-3). The same was true of Nineveh, years after it repented at the preaching of Jonah (Nah 1:1; 3:7), Egypt (Jer 44:13; 46:25), Tyre and Sidon (Isa 28:1-1-18), Assyria (Zeph 2:13), and countless other HEATHEN governments and cities, with whom God had no covenant -- all were punished by governmental powers.

Thus God has ordained, what we call, civil government for the "punishment of evil doers." Thank God, he has not given that work to the church, even though Christian history finds some professing Christians who took that responsibility upon themselves (i.e., the Crusades, Salem witch trials, etc.). The church is not in charge of the world -- God is. The church is "the pillar and ground of the truth," and is to expend its energies protecting and proclaiming that truth.

When it comes to government. that is another arm of Divine expression, and it also has a commission, just as surely as the church does. Its role it to encourage those who do good, and punish those who do evil. Just as some churches are disobedient to their calling, so some governments are disobedient to theirs -- but the commission of both the church and government is still in force, and both will give an account for how they discharged their office.

The only time believers are to defy government is when that government demands that they disobey God. God has not given the government the right to do this, and they are not to be obeyed in such matters. That is outside the authority God has given to them.

In matters of government, the church really has no voice, other than a call to morality, as John the Baptist with Herod. Rulers are raised up and removed by God, and God alone. That is the clear declaration of Scripture (Dan 2:21; Psa 75:5-7). In fact, this is the very lesson Nebuchadnezzar had to learn in his seven years in the field (Dan 4:17,25). When God raises rulers up, it is to execute His will. They are not told to turn the other cheek, but to use their sword for the suppression of evil doers.

The exhortation to do good those to who despitefully use you is not given to governments, to be applied to insurrectionists, murderers, rapists, and the likes. Those words are addressed to those who suffer for righteousness sake, and are not general rules for society. God not only ordained government to reward those who do good, but to punish those who do evil. It is not the means through which Divine love is
expressed, but rather Divine judgment. Love is ministered through the church.

If God ordained government, charged it with punishing evil doers, and declares it does not bear the sword in vain, then no member of Christ's church had better rise up and rebuke it for doing so. It really is just that simple. Those who have a controversy with President Bush on matters pertaining to his ordained role are out of order. God has not given the church the responsibility of directing government. Rather than barging into that area, we ought to thank God that is the way it is.

Should I go back to work in the secular world so that I can truly study the truth without fear of what will happen to my family if I were to teach the truth. Or should I continue to try and preach the truth to people who immediately reject anything they've not previously believed. While on the other hand I do seem to have some impact with a few. Sorry to pour this on you but I struggle with this daily and would just like some direction.

One of the first responsibilities of those who see the truth is to pass it along to those among whom they find themselves. God can give you wisdom to do this. I went through this precise struggle when I was in my early twenties -- nearly fifty years ago. Among the brethren with whom you are identified such men as Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett, together with a significant number of others, experienced the same things. All of us made an effort to help the people we loved, and among whom we labored. We all had both good and bad experiences. I only say this to assure you that others have passed this way before.

First, you must not allow your concerns for your family to determine what you preach. This is not pleasing to the Lord, and you already know it is not satisfying to you. Second, your aim must be to please the Lord, not those to whom you preach. Third, your preaching must be driven by your heart, not your head. Like Jesus, you have a sincere desire to help the people among you labor. Fourth, you must emphasize what God has emphasized. Fifth, in your heart and mind, focus on the people who DO see something of the glory of the truth you have seen. Seek to build them up without leaving the impression they are the only ones you are speaking to. The others will need the same thing you are giving them.

Having said all of that, I know doing it is not that simplistic. From a practical point of view, I suggest that you give yourself a little more time before determining whether or not you should leave. This is not the time to make that decision. Further, your aim is not to get the church to look like the "first century church," because many of them did not look so good either (Corinth, Galatia, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicea, etc). God's aim is to conform people to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29), which means your message must be Christ-centered, not church-centered.

Right now, your first and foremost objective is to be encouraged. Find a nucleus of people with whom you and your family are comfortable, and with whom you can find encouragement and genuine fellowship. Who they are and the number of them does not matter. You need a means to get and keep yourself built up in the faith and encouraged. Only then will you be able to think clearly about the matter. Discouragement is like a robber. Encouragement in the Lord makes you both bold and strong -- like David facing Goliath.

After prayer and fellowship with good and godly people, set a time of testing, after which you will determine whether to stay with the congregation or leave. Incidentally, here are more alternatives than returning to the secular world. There may be another group of people who are just as discontent as you are, and are seeking a minister like you. There may also be some where you are who would rather go with you than remain where they are.

During this time of testing, preach about Jesus, the greatness of salvation, the glories of hope, the abundance of benefits we have in Christ, etc. The truth you preach to the people must revolve around Jesus, not the church. I think you already know this. Target things such as those for which Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17-20; 3:18-20; Col 1:9-11). Preach a series of messages on Paul's prayers for the churches -- they fully reflect what he wanted to see in them. They also shaped the messages he wrote to them. Make it your aim to have his heart as well as his message. These are matters that will reveal where the people really stand. If they have no heart for these things, or consistently oppose you in their proclamation, you can stay no longer. If they do not oppose you in these things, and are willing to listen, God has left the door open for you.


Things like the legitimacy of holidays for Christians are a by-path that cause more confusion than they do good. It is true that the word "easter" can, to some degree, be traced back to the goddess Eostre. However, that association is not as clear as some Christian zealots profess. The following is a quote from the latest Britannica Encyclopedia. No objective literary or historical document of which I am aware declares that "Easter" has to do with idolatry. That is a contrivance of overly zealous Christians.

"Latin Pascha, Greek Paschaprincipal festival of the Christian church year, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion. The origins of Easter date to the beginnings of Christianity, and it is probably the oldest Christian observance after the Sabbath (originally observed on Saturday, later on Sunday); the Sabbath subsequently came to be regarded as the weekly celebration of the Resurrection. The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre."

Those in Christ have come into a liberty that allows them to do whatever they do, in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col 3:17). It certainly is not wrong to remember and honor the resurrection of Christ -- and that is what I believe you were doing. As to looking for eggs falling into the category of sin, I do not believe such a postulate can be substantiated. As long as the activity is not billed as being the way to find Jesus, or made compulsory, there is no difference between that and playing baseball or monopoly. God has not forbidden such activities, and so no man can do so. It is really just that simple.

The fruit of an activity tells the real story, for good fruit cannot come from a bad tree. That is what Jesus said. "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Matt 7:17-18). If two people have in fact come to Christ as a result of this activity, it will be rather difficult to prove it is sinful.

Because our God has made no laws on this matter, it is in the area of conscience -- like whether or not you can eat meat, or whether certain days can be observed as to the Lord (Romans 14:1-23). It is not proper for one person to bind their personal convictions about this matter on another person. It also must not become a point of division within the church, if it is to be consciously done as to the Lord. Everyone does not have to agree on whether it is proper or not -- but everyone must refuse to be contentious about something God has not made an issue.

One other thing. Those who make an issue of such things must be exemplary in their lives, and shining examples within the body of Christ. If they are not growing in Christ, participating in the activities of the fellowship, and known for their commitment, it makes little difference what their opinion may be. If, on the other hand, they are noted for being godly, active, helpers of the people of God, and productive in the work of the Lord, their words should be weighed and considered. Notwithstanding, even people of that caliber cannot make laws, with for or against a thing, that God has not made. They must have enough love for the people of God not to be disruptive about matters of conscience.

In our bible study the other night a discussion came up about Jesus statement in John 20:17 where he say I have not yet ascended. Some seem to think that Jesus, during the 40 days after the resurrection went to see and be with the Father possibly several times before the final ascension.

I am aware of the teaching that affirms Jesus ascended into heaven after He was raised from the dead, and prior to His ascension from the mount called Olivet, being parted from His disciples, and "carried up into heaven" (Lk 24:50-52; Acts 1:12).

The teaching, however, is wholly without support. The Word of God nowhere suggests multiple ascensions – nowhere. His ascension is referred to as the time when He was "received up into heaven" (Mark 16:19), "carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:50), and when He was "taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9). The language itself forbids multiple ascensions, else we would have to ask which one of His ascensions these texts applied to.

When Peter proclaimed the glorified Christ on the day of Pentecost, he spoke of Christ's "ascension" as something that occurs once (Acts 2:31-34). Multiple ascensions make as much sense as multiple resurrections. Paul spoke of our Lord's ascension as a single event in which captivity was led captive, when He "ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things" (Eph 4:9-10). To suggest He ever ascended into heaven for any other reason is wholly without Scriptural basis.

The passage in John 20:17 is not forbidding Mary to "touch" Him in the ordinary sense of the word, as though she would be free to do so after He ascended into heaven. The idea is that she was not to cling on to Him as though He was going to remain in the earth in this form. Other versions accentuate this by reading, "Do not cling to Me" (NKJV), "Stop clinging to Me" (NASB), and "Do not hold on to Me" (NIV). We know this is the case because later, when confronting the women who came to the tomb, it is written that they "held Him by the feet, and worshiped Him" (Matt 28:9). He did not rebuke those women, but told them not to be afraid.

Peter also announced that once Jesus entered into heaven, He would stay there until everything spoken by the Prophets was fulfilled. "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). The notion that Jesus ascended into heaven, then came back to meet with and instruct His disciples for forty days, is simply an absurdity. It is built upon an assumption of men regarding a single text of Scripture in which Jesus was not providing a teaching concerning His ascension. He was rather confirming to Mary Magdalene, to whom He first appeared (Mark 16:9), that He was not going to remain in this world, but was returning to the Father. When He returned was not the point of His words to Mary. The "when" of that ascension is provided in Apostolic doctrine.

Why does John McArthur in his study Bible, the NKJV study Bible, say that the church at Laodicea was hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him?

Because to say anything else would contradict his theology. Jesus addressed the church at Laodicea as one of His own -- part of those among whom He stood, and whose messenger was in His hand (Rev 1:11). He said He was about to spew them out of His mouth because of their unacceptable condition (Rev 3:14). Such language can only be applied to someone who IS part of Christ, not someone with whom He has no present identity. We also know that this church received an Epistle from Paul, which was to be read to the church at Colossae (Col 4:16). Paul said he had a great concern for them (Col 2:1), that Epaphras has a zeal for them (Col 4:12-13), and that the Colossian brethren were to salute on behalf of Paul (Col 4:15). I cannot conceive of Paul; saying such things of anyone that did not truly belong to Christ.

If the Lord Jesus recognized and sent a message to this church, and Paul wrote a letter to it, it seems to me it is stretching our imagination to say did not truly belong to them.

I would like to know your position on the Deity of Christ. Do you believe He is in fact God the Son as well as the Son of God. I very much like you're website. But this is a very important question and I do pray you will respond.

Yes, without any equivocation whatsoever, Jesus Christ is "God," as well as "the Son of God." The phrase "God the Son" is not found in Scripture. It is a theological term used to combat those who denied the Deity of Christ. The weakness of the term is that it suggests the Word was always the Son -- even before He came into the world. This is not so. The Savior was not the Son until He was begotten of God (Psa 2:7; Heb 1:5; 5:5). He was "in the form of God" prior to His entrance into the world -- a phrase that denotes Deity, not a mere likeness to God.

There can be no legitimate questioning concerning the Divinity of Jesus. We are categorically told that prior to coming into the world, He was "with God and was God" (John 1:1). Isaiah also proclaimed that, as the Savior of the world, His name would be "the Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6-7). These terms cannot be applied to a created being, who is not Divine by nature.

Speaking of Himself, Jesus told Nicodemus, "He that cometh from above is above all" (John 3:31). That can be said of no one who is not God. In Isaiah, the Prophet told how He "saw the Lord, high and lifted up," with His train filling the Temple (Isa 6:1-3). John applies the text to the Lord Jesus (John 12:37-41). Jesus is called "the Lord of glory" (1 Cor 2:8; James 2:1) -- a term never applied to a created being. Paul says that prior to coming into the world, Jesus was "in the form of God" (Phil 2:6). He also says "all things were created by Him and for Him" (Col 1:16). It is inconceivably that such could be said of anyone who was not God.

David spoke of God's throne: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre" (Psa 45:6). Hebrews 1:8 affirms this was said by the Father to the Son: "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Heb 1:8). Following His resurrection, when He appeared the second time to His disciples, He confronted Thomas with his unbelief. At that time Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). Jesus did not rebuke Thomas, because he had confessed the truth.

When referring to the return of the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). Peter uses the same terminology: "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 1:1).

When Jesus entered into this world, He laid aside His rights as God, humbling Himself, becoming a servant, and being "obedient unto death" (Phil 2:7-8). He was still God, but sheathed His power in order that He might die for the sins of the world. If He had not done this, He would not have been able to die.

Where did the word "luck" come from? Does it have a Greek origin Please accept my apologies for this belated reply.

The word "luck" is said to have been originated in the fifteenth century. It has no Greek origin. The word was, and continues to be used, as a synonym for chance happenings. However, the earth belongs to God, and the fullness thereof (Psa 24:1). He is the Governor among the nations (Psa 22:28), and "all things are of Him, and through Him, and to Him" (Rom 11:36). God Himself says, "If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? (Amos 3:6). Even when whirlwinds and storms come, God has His way in them (Nahum 1:3). If things are seen properly, there really is no such thing as "luck" or "chance." For such to be possible, God would have to cease being God.

In your devotional series on What Can You Know? What is it that Paul had entrusted to God to keep until the day of Christ's return? You said Paul was persuaded He could keep what he gave to Him . . . what did Paul give to God?

Paul refers to HIS LIFE -- particularly in the matter of persecutions and difficulties. The first part of the verse reads, "For this reason I also SUFFER these things" -- a reference to what he mentioned in verse eight: "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." Paul is confessing his persuasion that his labor is not vain in the Lord, that He will be duly protected until his work is completed, and that God will recognize and reward what grace had enabled him to do.

Peter also refers to this kind of commitment in regard to sufferings, calling it "the keeping of their souls." "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (1 Pet 4:19).

<< Do you think God indicates anywhere in Hs Word that He will erase our memories of unsaved loved ones. As you can see I am still struggling with this due to my brother George being unsaved. Thank you again for your prayers for me and him. >>

In the world to come, we will be conformed to the image of Jesus, and will have His view of all things. All purely human views will be forever behind us. This is involved in Isaiah's words, "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (Isa 65:17). If, in this world, we are to "know no man after the flesh" (2 Cor 5:16), you may be sure such recollections will not be in glory.

There is no need for you to struggle about what you will remember, and how you will respond in glory to things experienced in the earth. There, you will not have the weaknesses or the views that you have had here. Also, therefore you will not experience what weakens, saddens, or causes regret. Even in the case of the lost, for example, there was no sadness where Lazarus was, about the rich man and where he was. In fact, the only real concern for the lost was found in the place of torment, not the place of blessing (Luke 16:22-31).

Settle it in your mind, in heaven there will be no remembrance of associations that no longer exist. When the relationship is finally severed, the remembrance of it will go away also. If this is not the case, then Abel will remember Cain, Moses will be remembering the disobedient Israelites, Abraham the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra, and Jesus the betrayal of Judas. You can trust the Lord in this matter. Such things will not exist.

I'm not at all sure of how to express exactly what I think Jesus may have meant ... which is the reason I'm interested in a little serious discussion about the Lord's Table.

There are two sides to the table of the Lord: the form and the substance, or reality, which is of Christ (Col 2:17) -- just as there is in baptism. Romans six, for example, is a delineation of the substance of baptism -- what really takes place at that time. Without the substance, the form has no value, and without the form, the substance is pushed too far from us. Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:53-56), which I understand to mean we are to ingest His person, or be partakers of Him, as stated in Hebrews 3:14. Words like "metaphysical" only cloud the issue, for they are philosophical terms, and have nothing whatsoever to do with faith.

The substance of this table is declared in the tenth chapter of First Corinthians. We are told that the cup we bless is a sharing in the blood of Christ, and the bread we break is a sharing in the body of Christ (1 Cor 10:16). A very real participation takes place there that extends beyond the form, yet is not independent from it.

There is also an aspect of the table that parallels a table set by demons. Thus we are solemnly told, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons" (1 Cor 10:21). There is, then, something more to this table than mere routine, or the cup and the bread. Brother Paul is correct in assuming there is much more to this table than meets the eye

Frequently, I hear sermons about how we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven when we die and our bodies are resurrected. Yet our Lords view on this subject was markedly different.

It is true that relationships in the glory will not exactly parallel those we experienced upon earth. There will be no marriage, as you well point out, and consequently no husband, wives, and children as such. However, all earthly associations will not be obliterated. There will be a recognition of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt 8:11) -- identities that were developed on earth. I think it would be gong a bit far to assume they are unrelated in the heavenly domain.

David also said some poignant words when the son he conceived through 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" (2 Sam 12:23).

Also, the extent of the expression "gathered unto his people" (Gen 15:17; 35:29; 49:33; Num 20:24,26; Deut 32:50), in my judgment, goes further than being identified with the grave.

When John saw certain "souls" under the altar, they were identified as "them that were slain for the Word of God" (Rev 6:9) -- something occurring on the earth. For that matter, there will be some kind association of those in glory with the nations out of which they were gathered (Rev 5:9; 21:24).

In my understanding, spiritual associations that were developed upon the earth will be perfected and greatly enhanced in glory. Strictly fleshly associations will forever be gone. The Apostles, for example, who were close to Jesus in the earth, will also have an exalted position in the world to come (Rev 21:14).

There is, therefore, a very real gathering to kindred spirits. There also is not a projection of relationships confined to the flesh. It is sure that the unity in heaven will not be less than the unity the saved experienced upon the earth.

Brother Blakely, Having wrestled with some of these things myself, I know they are more the result of human positions, interpretations, and applications, than they are of subjection to God's unvarnished word. There is, as you know, such a thing as teaching that produces questions instead of answers. Such teachings are to be avoided. As it is written, "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do." (1 Timothy 1:4). And again, "But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain." (Titus 3:9). Here is the question I received.

You state (and I have been teaching) that the church name should be Christian.  However, when I looked this up I could not find one reference to the “Christian Church”.   I did find the terms “Church of God” used thirteen times and “Church of Christ” used twice.  “The Church” and “Church” were used over 80 times.  These terms seem to be a shorten form of “The Church of God in Christ” (1 Thess. 2:14)  Is this true?  What was the name of the N.T. church?  Why do we use “Christian Church”?

The church was never named in the sense of an appellation. In addition to the expressions our good brother mentioned, there are "churches of the Gentiles" (Rom 16:4), "churches of the saints" (1 Cor 14:33), "churches of Galatia" (1 Cor 16:1), "churches of Asia" (1 Cor 16:19), "churches of Macedonia" (2 Cor 8:1), "churches of Judea" (Gal 1:22), "church of the Laodiceans" (Col 4:16), "church of the Thessalonians" (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1), "church of the living God" (1 Tim 3:15), "church of the Firstborn" (Heb 12:23), and "the church of Ephesus" (Rev 2:1). Six of the seven churches in Revelation are referred to as "the church in . . . " Other descriptive expressions include "the body of Christ" (Eph 4:12), "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim 1:15), "the Bride, the Lamb's wife" (Rev 21:9), "family in heaven and earth" (Eph 3:15), "flock of God" (1 Pet 5:2), "general assembly" (Heb 12:L23), "God's husbandry" (1 Cor 3:9), "God's building" (1 Cor 3:9), "God's heritage" (1 Pet 5:3), "house of God" (1 Tim 3:15; Heb 10:21), "the temple of God" (1 Tim 3:16-17), and "the temple of the living God" (2 Cor 6:16).

If a person wanted to be contentious, I suppose any one of those would be an appropriate name. After all, they are terms used by the Holy Spirit of God. However, none of these were ever intended to be the official name for an assembly of the righteous. There is no such thing as a distinction name for the church, which is the body of Christ. It is His church, and He did not reveal a preferred name for it.

If a person wanted to approach the matter from Mount Sinai, the predominate reference to the church is "the church of God." But that is not the name of the church. It rather emphasis the origin of the body of Christ.

The bottom line is that men are free to use whatever name they desire, for God has given no directions in this matter. However, whatever name they choose, they are not to be contentious about it, as though it was exclusive, for there is no exclusive name to be given to a body of believers. Also, it is the solemn obligation of that assembly to live up to the name it has chosen, and to see to it that is brings glory to God and Christ.

The name "Christian Church" is used because some noble soul thought it to be a good name. It was also a way of distinguishing one group of believers from another -- in particular those who chose to call themselves "disciples" -- which is by far the most common term ascribed to clusters of believers in the book of Acts.

Many of the people that we are training are moving in new areas that do not have a church. Some of these areas are illiterate. How does a trained church planter appoint Gentile people who were just converted or converted just three months back as elders to whom he submits?  (I agree with the term first among equals, but there is a huge gap between the educational level of the church planter and newly appointed elder. So how does this practically work?

All manner of difficulties have arisen from emphases that simply are not found in the Bible. It would be good if we could just turn to some page in Scripture that tells us something about church planters -- but there is none. That does not mean such a work is wrong. It does mean there is a lot of latitude here for the conscientious soul. In Scripture, elders were never appointed until some level of maturity was reached. Nothing in God's word affirms the necessity of elders. It was when Paul and his company revisited churches, establishing them in the faith, that they ordained elders among them (Acts 14:23; 16:4).

No text of Scripture declares, or even remotely suggests, that a person who preaches the Word is to submit to the elders. I realize that this is practiced quite extensively, but there is no basis for it in Scripture. The person who handles the word is uniformly depicted as the leader. When believers were told to submit to those who had the rule over them, those rulers were described as those who "have spoken unto you the Word of God," whose faith was to be followed (Heb 13:7). Such were men who watched the souls of the people (Heb 13:17). Elders who were to be counted worthy of double honor were those who "labored in the word and in the doctrine" (1 Tim 5:17). Besides this, we are categorically told that elders are not to be novices (1 Tim 3:6). If such men cannot be found, then the church must wait until a sufficient degree of maturity is found to justify the appointment of elders.

Incidentally, the expression "first among equals" is a contradiction. God's people have the same access to God, the same promises, and the same glorious hope -- but they certainly are not equals. The disciples of Jesus were not all equals. Out of the mass of them, Jesus once chose seventy, giving them powers and a commission the others did not receive. He also chose twelve, ordaining them to be with Him at all times -- something other disciples did not enjoy. Of the twelve, there were three who enjoyed privileges the others did not have. Of the three there was one "whom the Lord loved." Those are just the facts in the case.

Many teach that the earliest creed or confession of faith known to the 1st century church is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “For ?I delivered to you ?as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died ?for our sins ?according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was ?raised on the third day ??according to the Scriptures…”  It also appears that Philippians 2:6-11 and Colossians 1:15-20 were confessions of faith or creeds in the N.T. Church that were memorized and passed on until the letters were written. How would you deal with this general perception? (If these were indeed creeds or confessions of faith it shows the general oral beliefs of the early church before they were written down, which is important when you look at the dates when the letters were written compared to then Jesus died.

Creeds -- all of them -- are purely human innovations. Many of them were written for noble reasons -- to encapsulate bodies of truth that were being obscured by false and damaging teaching. But there are no creeds, as normally understood, in the word of God. Both Philippians 2:6-11 and Colossians 1:15-20 were the exposition of Jesus' Person, not the recitation of something universally known and acknowledged at the time. Infinite multitudes of believers still do not know the things affirmed in those passages, much less have committed them to memory.

The closest thing to a creed, as normally conceived, is Peter's confession, which was revealed to him by God. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16). This is what the Ethiopian eunuch confessed (Acts 8:27). John said he wrote His Gospel that men might believe this (John 20:31). He also said whoever believed this was "born of God" (1 John 5:1). Still, it was not intended to be a creed.

Creeds belong to lifeless religion. They are a way of clarifying things that are not evident in the believers themselves. They have also been used historically to maintain divisions that men have made among God's people.

If creeds were an issue, the Spirit would have told us. There is one thing that a creedal emphasis overlooks. That is the vitality of faith itself. Through it, the eyes of the understanding are opened to know the hope of His calling, the riches of His inheritance in us, and the greatness of the power that is toward us (Eph 1:15-20). Also, the Spirit is changing us from one stage of glory to another, conforming us to the image of God's Son (2 Cor 3:18; Rom 8:29). These things, as well as others that fall into the same category, are what legitimatize our profession.

A Christian coworker is pleased that I have made the decision to be baptized,  but insists I must not be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, but only in the name of Jesus. She is Pentecostal. I am Lutheran. What is your thought, based on the Bible as to whose name baptism should be in?

There is no verbal formula to be said at baptism -- no revealed cluster of words that are to be spoken when a person is baptized. The only words we have in Scripture that were spoken when anyone was baptized are those of the Father in heaven. He said at Jesus' baptism, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt 3:17).

Whatever a person may think of "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," those are words the Lord Jesus Himself said (Matt 28:19). It is true that Peter told people to be baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38). The people in Samaria were "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 8:16). In Acts, the household of Cornelius was "baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:48). The Ephesians were "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:5).

There are four different expressions: (1) name of the Father, Son, and of the Holy Spirit, (2) name of Jesus Christ, (3) name of the Lord Jesus, and (4) name of the Lord. None of them are a formula, and all of them are true. We have no record of anyone saying any of these words when anyone was baptized.

When referred to Deity, the word "name" does not refer to an appellation like "John," "Mary," or the likes. The "name" stands for the person of God, not one of his titles. When Moses asked God to show him His glory, the Lord said He would hide him in a rock that was by Him, then pass before Him and declare His name. When He declared that name, He simply declared who He was. It is written, "Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and PROCLAIMED THE NAME of the LORD. And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:5-6).

When we are baptized in the name . . . , we are baptized into the Person. In the case of Matthew 28:19, we are baptized into the Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- being made one with them. In the other texts, the emphasis is placed upon being baptized into Christ Himself, who is our only access to the Father and the Spirit. If what is said when you are baptized depicts what the Word of God says in regard to baptism, it is proper. Ignore what your friend has said on this matter.

Can you help us with developing a Senior Minister's re-evaluation form? Thank You and God bless you and
your ministry.

I assume a "Re-evaluation Form" is one through which your current minister is being evaluated. If that is the case, here are some suggestions. Your approach should be to view your minister in strict accord with the God-ordained role he plays before the saints. Administrative duties, educational credentials, and personality traits must come behind that.

1. Is his faith followable? (Heb 13:7).
2. Is personal spiritual growth evident in him? (Eph 4:15).
3. Are the people of God being matured and edified through his ministry, thus making them able to participate in the ministry? (Eph 4:12).
4. Are the people being brought into the unity of the faith, becoming more and more acquainted with the Person, nature, and ministry of Jesus Christ? (Eph 4:13-14).
5. Does he handle the Word of God well? Is he expert in the handling of it (2 Tim 2:15).
6. Is his life a pattern and example of good works, and is his doctrine without corruption? (Tit 2:7).
7. Is his speech pure, and is his life above reproach? (Tit 2:8).
8. Does he feed the sheep? (John 21:16-17).
9. Is he gentle, not striving with men? (2 Tim 2:24-26).
10. Is he faithful to his calling? (1 Cor 4:2).
11. Is he training up leaders, giving the truth to faithful men who will be able to teach others also? (2 Tim 2:2).
12. Is his quest for Jesus evident? (Phil 3:7-15).
13. After hearing him and being around him, what are you left thinking about? (Acts 4:13)

There are a host of other considerations, but they all have the same direction as the above. A senior minister, in my judgment, must be accomplishing three things -- and they are in this order.

1. First, the people of God must be built up, their faith made strong, their joy in the Lord enhanced, and their hope made firm.
2. Second, capable men within the congregation must be matured and opportunities provided for them to labor profitably among God's people.
3. His concern for the lost must be evident.

The minister may have many personal defects that are neither immoral nor of themselves wrong. But he cannot be deficient in the above areas.

I trust God, not the Bible.  Now, I will say that the Bible is the best revelation of God's words that I know of.  If it's not perfect, however, it does not destroy my faith in God.  God communicates to us in spite of our writers, and in spite of our poor interpretations, don't you think?

Please share with us what you know about God or from God that is independent of Scripture. A single Divine trait, facet of His will, inclination, purpose, or insight will suffice. If you have more, that is all the better. Faith does come by hearing, so please share what faith-producing word you have heard that is not in Scripture. goes.
I know that our God is one who believes in rebirth.  Just look at Spring-time, and how the "dead" plants come to life again.  I know that our God is a powerful one.  Look at the majesty of the earth and the universe.  No "small" god could make such a place.  I know that our God is an ordered God.  Look at how things work so well together throughout our world (the "natural" things, anyway...not governments!).  I know that our God works despite my efforts to deny his will.  Look at how plants grow in the midst of concrete and superstructures of downtowns.  I know that God wants his creation to survive.  Look at how well the food chain works in supporting life. 

 I believe in God.  I don't need scripture to believe that there is a God.

And did you arrive at these conclusions before you were aware of the Scriptures? The first chapter of Romans affirms that no one really received the resounding testimony of creation. The only valid insight expressed concerning God has been by those to whom God spoke. I am affirming that no one has ever known God as a result of human reasoning and conclusions. That goes back to Adam, Eve, Abel, Noah, Abraham, and Job.

I maintain you would not have the faintest conception that God has a will, or that people could be born again, independently of Scripture. In fact, there is not a valid concept or notion of God that is not expressed in Scripture.

You are filtering your answer through what you have learned from Scripture. Now that6 God has revealed His power and Divinity are seen in creation, and we have received that Word, we can see it. But who has ever seen it by studying nature?

Tell us something you have seen of God that is NOT affirmed in Scripture -- something about God that can be proved to be valid. Then you will have a case.

It would be far better just to acknowledge you know nothing about God -- not one small thing -- that is not expressed in His Word. And, if you affirm you do have some valid knowledge of God, how do you know it is valid?

Right on, brutha'.  But please recognize, as qb is sure you do, that to say "faith comes by hearing" is to accept _a_priori_ that Hebrews 10:17 is a reliable record of divine truth.

Whatever, good brother -- but it still "comes" by hearing. I tend to think of where it comes from, rather than whether the testimony is reliable. If it really "comes," it can only be because the testimony was valid. After all, faith comes to us from both the Father and the Son (Eph 6:23). Grace is abundant with it (1 Tim 1:14), and it is "obtained" (2 Pet 1:1). Surely that kind of faith cannot come by means of a spurious message.

I gather that the reference you had in mind was Hebrews 10:16, where God writes His laws upon minds, and (as Hebrews 8:10 says, upon hearts as well. In my opinion, that writing is more intuitive and cognitive. It enables one to recognize the truth of Scripture.

Surely you agree God has made some things plain independent of Scripture. On the other hand, the Scriptures are our source of Good News from God.

This is true, brother Paul. But the point made in Romans 1 is that NO ONE got the message. Men did not like to retain God in their knowledge, ands came short of drawing any valid conclusions about Him.

The point Paul is making in the first three chapters of Romans is that all men, whether the Jews with revealed words, or the Gentiles surrounded by a speaking universe and in possession of a conscience, had to have God, His purpose, and His righteousness revealed to them.

I will ask you what I asked the other brother. Precisely what do you know about God that has not been revealed in Scripture. And, do we have a record of anyone in Scripture who arrived at such a knowledge.

My point (if there is one) is that there doesn't have to be an objective standard, and if there was too much objectivity, faith might become obsolete.

Faith requires an objective standard. In this case, it is a testimony: "the record God has given of His Son" (1 John 5:10-11). Men cannot believe on Him of whom they have not heard.







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