QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 83
A DIALOG WITH CERTAIN MINISTERS CONCERNING GOD BEING KNOWN APART FROM SCRIPTURE
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.
But God revealed Himself to such men, including Job. Abraham was an idolater before God called him. Melchizedec was a priest of the Most High God, an honor no man takes to himself. among those who lived during the period from the birth of Abraham through the resurrection of our Savior, who will enjoy the grace of God on judgment day? Some Gentiles and some Jews, all Gentiles and all Jews, only Gentiles, or only Jews? That's the same kind of question Paul posed in Romans 4:5.
I concur, making the distinction that justification and believing God cannot be known apart from a Revelation from God. Creation does not speak of these things, nor does an untaught conscience. I understand that those not exposed to the Word will be judged in accordance with the truth to which they were exposed.
Well, can I *know* that God has not talked to them? I mean, He has not discussed His will with me, but I don't know that he hasn't talked to anyone else.
It is your obligation to "try the spirits," to determine if they are of God. If God has, in fact, spoken to a person, you will sin in treating it with indifference, for God gives no message for strictly personal benefit (1 Cor 12:7). Those who hear from God become laborers together with Him" (1 Cor 3:9), and thus cannot be ignored with impunity.
I suppose one could contend that we can be indifferent toward someone who has genuinely heard from God. However, such a position would be unusually difficult to support.
The promise of Acts 2:39 is for real ... The Spirit is alive and well in the 21st Century! That is what David and I have been maintaining from the very beginning of this thread.
What I have objected to is not the affirmation of the above. Rather, it has been the words that left a question mark over the Scriptures people hold in their hands. To suggest the lack of integrity in any portion of the Scriptures, or to leave the impression that there may be flaws, errors, inaccuracies, and the likes, robs the above truth of its power. Such words, as reasonable as they may seem to some, are not edifying, do not contribute to faith, and give an advantage to our adversary. Far better to speak of the Scriptures as Moses, the Prophets, David, John the Baptist, our Lord Jesus, the Apostles, Luke, James, and Jude did. With Paul pray that God will give people "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Himself" (Eph 1:17). Tell them of a God who will "reveal" things to them that they presently cannot perceive (Phil 3:15). But do not defend the practice of critiquing the Bible. It leaves questions in the minds of young believers that you will not be able to answer -- questions that will given an advantage to the devil.
I know of no one who has ever been put to a disadvantage by accepting the Scriptures as the very word of God. I do, however, know of many who have reaped a whirlwind by assuming they were not.
The Scriptures are the only source of information concerning the blessed Holy Spirit. Apart from them, talk about the Holy Spirit cannot go beyond human speculation. In fact, there would be no knowledge at all of the Holy Spirit were it not for the Scriptures. People would all have to join the Ephesian disciples in saying, "We have not heard whether there IS a Holy Spirit." You cannot champion the blessed ministry of the Holy Spirit by sitting in judgment upon the very Scriptures that make Him and His ministry known.
No one of Scriptural record ever left people wondering about the truth or accuracy of the Scriptures themselves, and neither should we. Such discussions provoke questions, not answers, and we are solemnly told to avoid such pursuits.
But it really doesn't matter whether the Biblical scriptures are 100 percent correct in every statement, or if they seem inconsistent from one passage to another. God still loves us. Jesus the Christ is still the Son of the Living God who did what God deemed necessary to redeem us in spite of our propensity to sin.
A hearty "AMEN" to that. My point is that we cannot leave the impression with anyone that the tree on which that very fruit grows is in any sense a flawed one. When proposed errors are cited in Scripture, we do well to address them, coming to the defense of Scripture. When dealing with the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus, Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles always began with the postulate that they were true. Their reasoning proceeded from that point -- in every single case, and without exception. My point is that we must begin with that premise also.
How can we appeal to the Scriptures to support the marvelous realities of Christ's person and work, and the love and purpose of God, while speaking of errors and inconsistencies in the same book? The impact of this upon thoughtful young people will produce skeptics, not believers. I personally cannot say, "So what, Jesus is still the Way, the Truth, and the Life," when the book that affirms that very reality is seen as containing inconsistencies and errors.
Christ became the "last" or Second Adam, reversing the condemnation that the first Adam brought on the entire human race. For "all men" He turned Adam's condemnation into justification, or a legal acquittal. "That News is too Good to be true," some objectors say.
As a whole, the meditation is good. I do appreciate the direction of its words, and the hope it proclaims. However, it contains some overly simplistic material, like the above quotation. Jesus did not come to reclaim Adam, but to produce a new creation. Adam is written off, as is indicated by Jesus being called "the Second Man" and the "Last Adam" (1 Cor 15:45,47). Technically, God did not turn Adam's condemnation into justification, else everyone would be saved. Also, what Jesus brings to us far exceeds what was given to Adam. The "new creation" (2 Cor 5:17) is superior to the natural one, just as surely as Jesus is vastly superior to Adam.
DIALOG WITH A MINISTER ABOUT MOSES STRIKING THE ROCK
Moses goofed at Meribah, per Numbers 20. Was his sin disobedience, arrogance, anger, or something else? My take is that Moses was arrogating credit to himself rather than proclaiming the love of God for His people demonstrated in the miraculous delivery of water.
God has spoken on this. "By the waters of Meribah they angered the LORD, and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses' lips" (Psa 106:32,33). God does not say Moses conducted himself in an arrogant manner, but that he was provoked, thus acting in contraction of his basic manner. The judgment against Moses is said to be "because of them," not because of arrogance.
The whole incident foreshadowed that men cannot come to salvation by a system of Law -- thus Moses did not lead the people into the promised land, but Joshua, who bore the same name as Jesus. Also, provoked by the people, Moses struck the rock "twice" (Num 20:12), which also violated the type of Jesus, who was smitten once for sins. Jesus is identified with that "rock" (1 Cor 10:4).
The passage you quoted says they rebelled against the Spirit of God, which is a very serious offense. Verse 12 says Moses did not trust God. Moses took things into his own hands rather than trusting God. His fit of arrogance cost him dearly.
The "they" of Psalms 106:32 is Israel, not Moses. This is a line of reasoning that was developed from the beginning of this Psalm.
1. "THEY remembered not" God's mercies ( 7a).
2. They "provoked" God at the Red Sea (7b).
3. They soon forgot God's works (13a). They waited not for His counsel (13b).
4. They lusted in the wilderness (14a). They tempted God in the wilderness (14b).
5. They envied Moses and Aaron (16).
6. They made a calf in Horeb (19).
7. They changed their Glory into the image of a bull (20).
8. They forgot God their Savior (21).
9. God would have destroyed them is it was not for Moses "His chosen one" (23).
10. They despised the pleasant land (24a).
11. They believed not God's word (24b).
12. They murmured in their tents (25a).
13. They hearkened not to the voice of the Lord (25b).
14. God's hand was lifted against them in the wilderness (26).
15. They joined themselves to Baal (28a).
16. They ate the sacrifices offered to lifeless gods (28b).
17. They provoked God to anger with their wicked deeds (29).
18. They angered God at the waters of Meribah (32a).
19. Trouble came to Moses because of them (32).
20. They rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses' lips (33a).
The manner in which you have described Moses' action does not blend with this passage.
The word "rash" (NIV), "rashly" (NKJV, NASB) or "unadvisedly" (NKJV) means to speak angrily, or speak thoughtlessly. "Arrogance," on the other hand, means impudence, and is more related to pride than to anger. In this case, to be sure, the anger of Moses "did not work" the righteousness of God (James 1:20). However, that does not give us a license to speak of him and the event in question in a derisive manner. If it had not been for the provocative nature of the people, Moses would never have so spoken. An arrogant man would have spoken unadvisedly whether provoked or not.
You are wrong in speaking of Moses having a "fit of arrogance." God has spoken concerning the event, which did involve Moses not believing to sanctify Him before the people (Num 20:12). But had it not been for the people, this would not have happened -- arrogance does not depend upon the response of others, but is a prideful assertion of self. That is why the 106th Psalm states it "It went ill with Moses FOR THEIR SAKES." Other versions read, "it went ill with Moses ON ACCOUNT OF THEM" (NKJV). "So it went hard with Moses ON THEIR ACCOUNT" (NASB). "trouble came to Moses BECAUSE OF THEM" (NIV).
Arrogance is a manner -- and this was not Moses manner. He endured these people for forty years, and this is the solitary example of his spirit being so provoked by them that he spoke rashly or thoughtlessly through anger. It does not excuse his action, but it does explain it. The epitaph God has placed over Moses ministry is, "Moses also was faithful in all His house" (Heb 3:2). This could not be said of an arrogant man.
We are obliged to refer to Moses as God did. To speak against a man like Moses is not wise, as Korah, Miriam and Aaron could testify.
I know you object to the term arrogant, but the definition you gave is different from that given in the dictionary . . . From a very pragmatic view, the position of Moses was that of a leader of people who were supposed to be honoring God but committed grievous sins.
It should not be necessary to say this -- but for your sake I will. I am acutely conscious of the type of words we use, for Jesus has said, "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Mat 12:37). This is particularly true when describing people of whom God has highly favored.
I have not chosen to ignore what Moses did at the waters of Meribah, as you have suggested. What I have objected to is the manner in which you have spoken about Moses -- attributing to him traits God has not assigned to him, and spoken of him in as way that not only differs from God's assessment of this man, but contradicts it. As to the dictionary definition of "arrogant," it is this: "exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one's own worth or importance in an overbearing manner," with the synonym said to be "proud." If you choose to say that fits Moses well, I contend that this is not the case at all. Moses' rash words were not characteristic of him, who is otherwise described as "a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth" (Num 12:3). He was consistently displeased when the people sinned, being affected in a godly manner. He stood in the behalf of the people, even when God said He would make a great nation out of him -- something a proud or arrogant man would not do.
I do not deny the seriousness of Moses' sin at Meribah. I do deny that it reflected his real character. We are told he was provoked to speak in a manner that displeased God -- not that he asserted his pride to gain attention for himself. That it did not go well with him because of the people, not because of his character -- and pride and arrogance is a matter of character.
God has not given us the luxury of assessing his servants' character in a manner different from Himself. Nor, indeed, has he indicated we should ignore their failings. God judged people for speaking against Moses. Some of them thought of him precisely as you have suggested -- a man of pride who arrogated to himself undue honor. When Korah challenged Moses, he fell on his face, and committed the cause to the Lord (Num 16:5). That is not something an arrogant man would do.
You are not the only one who has assessed Moses. God Himself has done so. If anyone knew Moses' failings, it was God. He said:
1. "Listen to my words: "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (Num 12:6-8).
2. "The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend." (Exo 33:11).
3. "Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future" (Heb 3:5).
I am contending it is not proper to refer to such a man as arrogant, proud, and fundamentally disobedient. I am saying we ought to be afraid to speak against such men, as though transgression was their manner, and pride was dominant in them. God was serious when He said, "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm" (Psa 105:15).
God did not overlook Moses' sin, but He did not charge him with being fundamentally proud -- and neither should you. When he spoke rashly, it was in contradiction of his normal manner.
I love Moses -- not because of the time he was provoked to speak rashly with his lips, but because that was not his manner. I love him because he was faithful in all of God's house, in spite of a forty-year ministry among a stiff-necked and rebellious people. It would not take long to list every recorded transgression Moses during those forty trying years -- and he did not have the advantage of the "better covenant," a Savior, the new birth, the greater light of the Gospel. That love has provoked me to be forbearing of his weakness, for "love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet 4:8). I would do the same for you, were someone to question your character, or affirm that you were a proud and arrogant man.
You have not addressed what caused God to say Moses and Aaron did not trust in God enough to honor Him as holy in the sight of the Israelites. Please address that question.
That is the whole point of the 106th Psalm -- to explain why it did not go well with Moses. The rebellious Israelites got through to him, and he spoke in anger, which does not work the righteousness of God. His sin was caused by his tongue, which "corrupts the whole person," and "is itself set on fire of hell" (James 3:5).
The thirteenth verse of the twentieth chapter of Numbers is in perfect accord with the 106th Psalm. "These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD and where He showed Himself holy among them" (Num 20:13). God was "sanctified," or "made holy" among them in the punishment of Moses and Aaron -- and it was because THEY, not Moses and Aaron, "quarreled with the Lord." The "waters of Meribah," or the waters of "strife," were not so named, however, because of Moses and Aaron, but because of the ones who "quarreled with the Lord" and "provoked" Moses. The eyes of that great man of God were drawn toward the rebellious people, and the sight and sound of them moved him to speak rashly.
Later, the Lord called Moses into Mount Abarim to behold the land which was promised to Israel. He told Moses that after he had seen the land, he would be gathered to his people as Aaron his brother was: "for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes" (Num 27:13-14). That command was to "Speak to the rock before their eyes" (20:8). It was then that Moses "went from the Lord's presence, just as He commanded him." But when he saw that murmuring assembly who had said "there is no water to drink" (20:5), it provoked him to anger. When those people had first spoken, he and Aaron had fallen on their faces before the Lord, "and the glory of the Lord appeared to them." But the sight and sounds of this rebellious people so provoked him that instead of speaking to the rock, he spoke to the people. "He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" (Num 20:10). He then struck the rock twice, and water, in fact, "gushed out."
Later, in his valedictory address, Moses told the people, "Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, 'You shall not enter it, either' (Deut 1:37). He also recounted how he pled with the Lord to be allowed to enter the land, saying nearly the same words. "But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. 'That is enough,' the LORD said. 'Do not speak to me anymore about this matter'" (Deut 3:26). He referred to the incident again in the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy. "The LORD was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance" (Deut 4:21). I hardly see how anything could be made any more plain.
As to the lesson that can be learned from this, here is at least one: "Do not let your mouth lead you into sin" (Eccl 5:6).
Surely enough has now been said on this matter. These are all matters with which students of Scripture ought to be familiar.
I do not think Apollos had the Holy Spirit. I read about Apollos again. A question. If Apollos knew only about John's baptism for he used it on the 12 at Ephesus and they didn't have the Holy Spirit. I was wondering how he got the Holy Spirit, and If he did have why he didn't teach about Him for without Him, one is none of His.
I appreciate your commitment to Christ and the Scriptures. As you already know, today this is a rare quality indeed.
First, the Scriptures do not say Apollos did not have the Holy Spirit. That is the only reason why I hesitate to do so. Second, the disciples at Ephesus had not even heard if there was a Holy Spirit. Also, it is apparent from Paul's response to them that they knew little or nothing about Jesus Christ, for he reminded them John taught they "should believe on Him which should come after Him, that is, on Jesus Christ" (19:4). It is never said that Apollos did not believe on Jesus. Third, unlike the Ephesian disciples, Apollos was "instructed in the way of the Lord" (not merely in the way of John), and "spoke the things of the Lord" (of whom, John testified). The "Lord" of reference was, in my understanding, the Lord Jesus Himself. Some of the other versions read that way: "spake and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus" (ASV). The word used here ("Lord,") is consistently applied to Jesus in the New Testament Scriptures (over 330 references).
Because he came to Ephesus, it is assumed he taught the disciples from Ephesus that Paul later confronted in chapter nineteen. However, this is highly unlikely, because, prior to Paul's experience, Apollos had been instructed more perfectly in the way of the Lord while at Ephesus (18:26). To me, it is difficult to imagine Apollos leaving Ephesus without correcting those he had taught while yet being ignorant of baptism into Christ.
Having said all of that, there is no question that Apollos did not have the "gift of the Holy Spirit" that is conferred upon one when baptized into Christ. That is, the indwelling Spirit, where he takes up residence in those who are in Jesus. Yet, the power of his teaching, together with his exposition of Christ, indicates that the Spirit of Christ was in him in a limited way -- as with the Prophets of old (1 Pet 1:11), or with the disciples when Jesus breathed on them and told them to "receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22). That was not to be equated with the indwelling Spirit, but was only introductory, allowing for the transition from the Old Covenant to the New.
Before He died, Jesus spoke of people receiving the Holy Spirit : "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13). Again, this was some introductory (for lack of a better word) receiving of the Spirit which is not what is promised in Acts 2:38. Of old time, David also pled with God, "take not Thy Holy Spirit from me" (Psa 51:11). This also was not the presence of the Spirit as promised after Jesus was "glorified" (John 7:37-39). Also, when the tabernacle was constructed, Bezaleel was "filled with the Spirit of God" (Ex 30:3; 35:31). God described Joshua as "a man in whom is the Spirit" (Num 27:18). These men had the Spirit, but NOT as He is received in Christ Jesus. This is the limited sense in which Apollos could have had the Spirit.
That is how I see Apollos -- with some introductory measure of the Spirit that differed vastly from the Spirit being sent into our hearts (Gal 4:6). His condition was not a standard for our times, but one which was associated with the beginning of the Gospel. There is no question that he did not have the Spirit in the Gospel sense. But there were other introductory and preparatory senses in which men had the Spirit. Those senses were related to their ministry, not to salvation that is in Christ Jesus.
I understand the presence of the Spirit within people prior to Christ's glorification to have been inconsistent -- having more to do with seasons, or special missions, etc. The "gift" of Acts 2:38 is not after that order. It is a genuine indwelling where the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the one who is baptized into Christ, enabling that person to "walk in the Spirit" (Gal 5:16-17), "live in the Spirit" (Gal 5:25), "abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom 5:13), and "mortify the deeds of the body" (Rom 8:13).
My apologies for such a lengthy explanation. I did want you to know that I in way contest what you are saying. I am merely sharing my persuasion that the situation with Apollos includes some complicating factors. Thus I prefer to say just what Luke said about him: he "knew only the baptism of John."
Brother Blakely, do you believe that the bodies of these saints returned to the grave, or that the Lord dealt with them in way similar to the cases of Enoch and Elijah?
I do not know. Whatever their circumstance, however, they are not like Enoch and Elijah who did not taste of death. Those in the graves had actually died. In the Scriptural sense, as you must know, believing cannot extend beyond what God has revealed. Views regarding things unrevealed are mere human opinions. On this matter, I do not have an opinion. It is one of those things God has preferred to remain a "secret thing" (Deut 29:29). It is the peculiar prerogative of faith to be willing to leave such things in the closet of Divine obscurement. There are a number of things that fall into this category. 1. Noah's ark. 2. The ark of the covenant, with the tables of the covenant. 3. The body of Moses, concerning when Michael and Satan disputed, etc.
<< A woman whose husband left her, is presently living with another man's wife, and attending church with his lover, writes: "Help us to forgive and pray for them Brother Given. Will God ever open their eyes to their sinful ways?? How Brother Given can I ever forgive them for what they have done to all of us? >>
You ask, "How Brother Given can I ever forgive them for what they have done to all of us?" For your husband and his lover to be forgiven by God, or anyone else, requires that they repent. Forgiveness is not possible where there is no repentance -- not even God forgives if people do not repent. When one person sins against another, as your husband is doing against you, Jesus said, "if he repent, forgive him" (Luke 17:3).
You must not rebuke yourself for not recognizing the treachery of this man (he is not worthy to be called your "husband"). You are not the one who sinned. You "thought no evil" against him, which is a trait of love (1 Cor 13:5). You are under no obligation to forgive your former husband unless he repents. Of course, your heart, like that of God, must be "ready to forgive" (Psa 86:5) -- but you cannot forgive a person who chooses to remain in sin.
What I will now say is my personal opinion, and I say it for your good. It is best for you to no longer think of this man as your husband. He has severed the marital bond with his unfaithfulness. He has then compounded his sin by remaining in it. He is further complicating the transgression by attending church -- and God will not allow His church to receive fornicators or adulterers (1 Cor 5:1-11). The man in the Corinthian church was living with his father's wife, which was a despicable sin. But it is in the same class as your husband's sin who is also living with another man's wife. He is committing the same sin wicked Herod committed. John the Baptist rebuked him for living with another man's wife (Mark 6:18). John did not pray for him or forgive him. Under the Law of Moses, if a man committed adultery with "another man's wife," both of them were killed (Leviticus 20:10). In Christ, we do not take this action -- but that by no means indicates the sin is no longer a serious one. Now, it is God Himself who will deal with such people. As it is written, "but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Heb 13:4).
You have been faithful, and God will honor you for that. Now, live the rest of your life, asking the Lord to help you forget this man. The remembrance of him only brings you sorrow and hurt. God is able to supply your need without the involvement of your former husband. We will join you in prayer that this will happen. We love you, and stand with you in this sorrowful matter.
What do you believe the "Pride of Life" referred to in 1 John 2:16 means ?
The "pride of life" involves a person taking personal credit for their accomplishments, and glorying in their possessions, just as though there was no God. Some versions accent this by reading, "the boastful pride of life" (NASB), "boasting of what he has and does" (NIV). It also includes the effort to justify what is done -- like glorying in their shame (Phil 3:19). In other words, they delight in and promote the very things God hates, and for which He will condemn men. The "pride of life" also involves a haughty spirit, as compared with humility.
I am working with man who is a drunk. When he is sober, he is very helpful and polite. However, he does not seem to be able to quit drinking. Any counsel you may have regarding my view of him would be helpful.
My early ministry was spent working with people of the street who were immersed in sin -- particularly drunkenness. It was a very difficult ministry, and rarely did I confront one of these people who would admit they were enslaved to strong drink -- but they were. This appears to be what you are confronting. The man does not see that he is as vassal of Satan, and that the devil is working in him at will. There may very well be occasions when this thought comes to him, but it is not a sustained consideration.
In dealing with the man, gentleness is essential. This will open the door for the Lord to work, giving him repentance -- and that is what is needed. We have a text that counsels servants of the Lord in dealing with such people. "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2 Tim 2:24-26).
I personally prefer the King James Version on this: "oppose themselves." Other versions read "are in opposition" (NKJV), "in opposition" (NASB) and "those who oppose him" (NIV). However, this is not how the Lord tells us to instruct people who actually oppose the truth itself and those who declare it. Those people are to be "rebuked sharply" (Tit 1:13) and "before all" (1 Tim 5:20). The sinners of 1 Timothy 2 are not speaking against the truth itself, but captivated Satan in a personal way. They are living in opposition to themselves, being wounded and set back by their own sin. The aim is for God to give them repentance so they can "recover themselves from the snare of the devil" who has captivated them.
This is the case with people enslaved to strong drink -- a condition they are nearly always hesitant to acknowledge. Your ministry to this man must be of such a nature that God can, through it, give the man repentance. That is what he lacks -- repentance. It is something he cannot do on his own. God will have to give him repentance. What is more, Jesus has been exalted to "give repentance" (Acts 5:31), so we are not talking about mere possibilities. The Lord will not, in my judgment, do it because of the man's effort, but because of yours. When the man repents, he will recover himself from this snare. Work with him with these things always before you.
Let me make two statements and you decide which of the two is closer to the truth: (1) justification is by faith, or (2) justification is by grace.
Perhaps you should include the following texts on justification by grace, in addition to the ones you already chose.
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom 3:24)
"That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7)
Also, on the matter of forgiveness and its association with justification, or being made righteous, include this text. "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Rom 4:8).
Always anchor your point solidly in Scripture rather than in reason.
Faith is something I want very badly. I believe in God yet don't feel it is enough. I would love to be able to turn everything over to God and have a relationship with him. Where do I start?
Faith feeds upon the Word of God -- that is what causes faith to grow and be strong. Both Moses and Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God" (Luke 4:4; Deut 8:3). Faith particularly becomes robust when the promises of God are believed. We are reminded that God's promises are the means through which we become partakers of the Divine nature. As it is written, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet 1:4).
Believing IN God is a starting point, but our believing must extend beyond that. You already see this, as you stated: "I believe in God yet don't feel it is enough." You are precisely correct. That is why we are told, "he who comes to God must believe that He is, AND that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb 11:6). That is where His promises come in, for they confirm how He is intent on blessing those who "diligently seek Him."
To "diligently seek" God does not mean groping about for Him, not sure whether He exists or not, for faith believes "that He IS," or that He exists. To "diligently seek" the Lord is to pursue what He has promised. As you do this, God will see to it that you are satisfied, and that your relationship with Him is productive. That is why Jesus said, "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Mat 7:8).
Thus you "start" by becoming acquainted with what the Lord has promised those who are in Christ Jesus. The things are so wonderful, they will whet your appetite for them, and move you to seek them earnestly and expectantly.
In order to assist you in beginning this quest, here are some prayers Paul prayed for the churches. They all involve what God had promised, and what He has for everyone who are in His Son. Ephesians 1:15-20; 3:15-30; Colossians 1:9-11; Philippians 1:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; Hebrews 13:20-21
Why doesn't the NT address the issue of multiple wives more fully? Other than the characteristics given for the elders, I don't see the issue dealt with directly.
In the very beginning, God declared, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen 2:24). That set the tone for marriage -- a wife, not wives, and "one flesh." Jesus appealed to this when questioned about marital matters (Matt 19:4-6). There is no way that "his wife" and "one flesh" can be said of multiple wives. Paul affirmed the same in Ephesians 5:31. There he declared a picture of Christ and the church is seen in the husband-wife relationship. Such a picture cannot be seen in a man having multiple wives. That condition contradicts everything about Christ and the church.
Under the Law, even though the heart of the people was hard, God still warned them not to "multiply wives," for such an action would turn their hearts from Him (Deut 17:17). In fact, that is exactly what multiple wives did for Solomon -- "his wives turned away his heart" (1 Kgs 11:3).
Even under the Old Covenant God spoke of "the wife (not wives) of your youth," which was "your companion (not one of your companions) and your wife (not wives) by covenant" -- all in the singular (Mal 2:14-15).
Under the Law, before people had new hearts and were reconciled to God, He tolerated polygamy (Ex 21:10; 1 Sam 1:2; 2 Chron 24:3). But that was owing to the condition of the people, not the nature of His will, which was stated in the beginning, when man was yet in the Garden of Eden.
A number of men are said to have had multiple wives. The list includes Lamech, Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Ashur, Gideon, Elkanah, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jehoiachin, and Belshazzar. But after Christ was enthroned in glory, no such condition was ever mentioned among the saints.
The most telling argument, however, is found in God and the Lord Jesus Themselves. Neither of them ever had multiple wives. When God chose a people, it was Israel, of whom He said, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth" (Amos 3:2). Jesus also has only bride, who is called "the Lamb's wife" (Rev 21:9).
There is nothing about the Gospel itself, or life in Christ Jesus, that would lead one to the conclusion that multiple wives are condoned by God, or that such a condition is righteous. Furthermore, everything about the redemption that is in Christ Jesus encourages the fulfillment of God's initial statement about marriage (Gen 2:24). It also contradicts the and distorts the representation of Christ and the church. There is no extensive teaching on the subject, because the matter is so evident in Christ Jesus that such teaching is not required.
I need some praying scriptures on how to pray when one is sick also for the land.
PRAYING FOR THE SICK
There is a word to the sick on what they themselves should do. "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14-15). He also added, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). In this passage, there is an association made between sin and sickness. This does not mean that all sickness is immediately related to personal sin, but sometimes it is -- as in the case of Corinth, where sin had taken place at the Lord's table (1 Cor 11:29-30). In such cases, there is not only a responsibility to pray, but for the one who has sinned to confess their sin.
In all of the letters written to the churches, this is the only teaching that deals with praying for the sick. Paul mentioned that Epaphroditus was "full of heaviness" when he learned that the Philippians heard he had been sick. Paul said he nearly died from that sickness while in prison with the Apostle, yet God had mercy on him, restoring him to health (Phil 2:26-27). Paul also said he left Trophimus "sick at Miletus" as he proceeded on in his ministry (2 Tim 4:20). Paul told Timothy to "use a little wine" because of his "stomach" and "frequent illnesses" (1 Tim 5:23).
As for specific instruction on how to pray for the sick, nothing is said in Scripture. Jesus once said the world would be judged on the basis of how they treated His people, stating that whatever they did to his brethren, they were really doing to Him. In His words He said, "I was sick, and ye visited Me," and "sick and in prison, and ye visited Me not" (Matt 25:36,43). It is possible that, under some conditions, praying for the sick is not the primary responsibility, but ministering to them.
John once wrote to Gaius saying, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 1:2). Of course, for some people, that would mean instant death.
Now, that is the sum of what the Spirit inspired to be written to the churches concerning dealing with the sick. In my judgment, "how" to pray for the sick under ordinary circumstances, where sin is not the issue, is covered in the following promise. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:6-7). As you see, there is no guarantee that the request will be granted -- but neither is there an affirmation that it will not. Pray your heart's desire on the matter. Plead you case with the Lord, being sure that your own life is pleasing to the Lord. God has been known to answer the prayers of people because of who they were, as well as what they prayed.
PRAYING FOR THE LAND
I am assuming you mean praying for one's country. Again, very little is said about this in Scripture. A well known passage of Scripture on this is 2 Chronicles 7:14. "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." In this case, "their land" was one that God had given to them, and with which He had chosen to identify Himself. Yet, a principle is seen in this text that confirms judgment often comes upon a land because of the sin of the people. The issue then, is not the land, but the sin of the people. The people did not pray for the land, but sought God's face and turned from their wicked ways. God responded by healing their land.
The Jews, when in captivity, were admonished, "And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace" (Jer 29:7). Those in Christ are admonished, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Tim 2:1-2). Such prayers are offered in order that God's people may live godly without undue distractions.
Once again, the Lord has given you liberty here. Pray your heart's desire, and do so while you yourself are living unto the Lord. Pray in accord with the nature of God, and with eternity in view. If you are in the will of the Lord, He will hear your prayer (1 John 5:14-15).
I have confronted a brother who says the word of God teaches that the disciples were following Jesus not as the Messiah, but as a future King that would set up an earthly reign.
There is no question that during his earthly ministry the disciples viewed Jesus as the one who would deliver them and restore the kingdom to Israel. This is indicated by James' and John's request to sit on His right and left hand in His glory (Mark 10:37). Cleopas and his friend also indicated this was how they thought when he said, "we trusted He was the One which should have redeemed Israel" (Luke 24:18). That mindset was also made known just before Jesus ascended into glory, when the disciples asked Him, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel" (Acts 1:6).
However, I am not sure it is correct to say they were "PREDOMINATELY interested in being co-regents in an earthly kingdom," or that they had no idea about Christ's kingdom being more than a mere political power. I think that view would be rather difficult to support. As to why they thought as they did, there was a reason. First, Jesus gave them to understand there was an appointed time when they would, in fact, be prominent in His kingdom. "And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me; That ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29-30). And again, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Lk 12:32). When Peter said, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?" Jesus replied, "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Mat 19:27-28).
Their desires, therefore, were not based upon mere carnal ambitions, even though they did not fully understand the import of Jesus' words.
The disciples did not limit their thoughts to such views, even though they wrestled with them. On one occasion, when they sensed Jesus was in danger, Thomas said to the other disciples, "Let us go also, that we may die with Him" (John 11:16). On another occasion, and prior to Christ's death, when Jesus said He was going where they could not come, Peter replied, "Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake" (John 13:37). Those words were certainly not the expression of a predominate thought of reigning in an earthly kingdom. Then there is the occasion to which you referred when Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). And again, who can forget the request of Philip, "Lord, show us the Father" (John 14:8).
Thus, while their understanding was imperfect prior to Christ's enthronement, their interest was not solely in reigning with Jesus upon the earth.
As to the disciples not following Jesus because He was the Messiah, nothing could possibly be further from the truth. From the very beginning they followed Him because they had found Him "of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets did write: (John 1:45). Peter's confession on "the coasts of Caesarea Philippi" (Mat 16:13-17), also confirms he had received a glimpse of whom Jesus really was. True, he did not maintain a grasp of that, but it was surely a dominant one when he had it. While they did not yet grasp the full import of Him being the Messiah, they knew that is whom he was.
Do you best to encourage people to state the case like the Holy Spirit does, and not to embellish it with their own opinions. Such views always give the Apostles less credit than they deserve, and assign more value to human opinion than men deserve.
I had an elder I have been
studying with write the following to me. what do you think? "I find it
interesting in the context of Matthew 11:25-27, John the Baptist sends some of
his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One or are they looking for someone
else? It's interesting that John, being filled with the Holy Spirit from his
mother's womb (Luke 1:15) and who witnessed the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus
at His baptism and testifies that that made Him the "Holy One" and the "Lamb of
God" (John 1:29-34) is later confused about who Jesus is."
First, I am not sure John was "confused" about who Jesus was. In response to the inquiry of his disciples, Jesus immediately testified to his stability -- not to any weakness or confusion on his part: "And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Mat 11:7-11). To me, that does not comport with your friend's assessment at all.
I do not believe John sent his disciples to get information for himself. He did not ask them to bring word back to him about the matter -- at least the text does not say he did. His commission to them was prompted by the report of Jesus' great miracles (Luke 7:16-18). It appears to me as though they were concerned about John being upstaged by Jesus, for they were still his disciples, and had not yet chosen to follow Christ. Thus, in sending them, he was doing so for their sakes, that they might be convinced of something he had already seen -- Christ must increase, and he must decrease (John 3:30). In my judgment Jesus knew that when they reported what they had seen to John, they themselves would be impacted by their own testimony. In addition, if they were not yet convinced, John would no doubt have spoken to them about Christ, ensuring that they would become His disciples, and no longer be known as his disciples. You may recall that Andrew was the first disciple of John who followed Jesus, which was some time before this event (John 1:37-41).
that Jesus commends Peter for recognizing Him as the Christ, then later rebukes
him "Get behind me, Satan..." when Peter doesn't understand why the Christ must
die (Matthew 16)."
Something has been missed in this observation. Jesus did not commend Peter for recognizing Him as Christ, but told him he had been blessed -- that flesh and blood had not revealed this to him, but the Father in heaven (Matt 16:17). At the moment, Peter saw this truth, and thus confessed it. But he was not yet able to handle that truth and reason upon it. Working through his lack of understanding, Satan later convinced him that Jesus being "the Christ, the Son of the Living God" was not compatible with Him dying. Thus he took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him when Jesus said He was going to die (Matt 16:21-22).
Nothing in the text suggests this event occurred immediately after Peter confessed Jesus was the Christ. Rather, the Scriptures read, "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day." Somewhere in that period of time, the freshness of the revelation that had been given to Peter wore off, so to speak. That is why he spoke rashly. However, after Pentecost, we never read of Peter ever again questioning whether or not it was proper for Jesus to die.
What Scriptures have you
used in counseling people concerning suicide. Particularly how have you helped
those people that are dealing with people that have said that they were going to
After all is said and done, the contemplation of suicide is a temptation -- a flaming arrow hurled at the individual by the prince of the power of the air. That temptation, like all temptations, is managed by the Lord, coming with a "way of escape," that the suffering soul may be able to bear it (1 Cor 10:13). The Lord also guarantees the temptation will not be greater than the individual is able to bear. Our thinking on the subject must begin with that postulate.
In my judgment, it is not proper for men and women of God to view any temptation from psychological points of view, or in an attempt to get at the root of the matter. There some assaults of the wicked one that do not have their root in the character or experience of the one being tempted -- as in the case of Job. In fact, if God had not told us of the root of Job's experience, it would forever have remained unknown.
A person who seriously contemplates taking their own life is under the grip of delusion and imagination. Without exception, they are not thinking about the Author of life, the gift of life, the promise of life, the Sustainer of life, or the stewardship of life. In order to entertain supposedly self-destructive thoughts, the individual must quench the Spirit, thrust faith into the background of thought, move away from the consideration of facing the Lord and giving an account of himself, and place human experience in an unduly high position. They must become spiritually unreasonable in their thinking, and self-centered in their assessment of life. All of these are wrapped in the covering of temptation.
The thought of suicide is an imagination to be cast down with spiritual weaponry, which, we are told, is thoroughly adequate for the assignment, being "mighty through God" (2 Cor 10:3-6). In order to minister to such a person, faith must be fortified and unbelief thrown down. The hope of glory must be lifted above the sufferings of this world. The promises of God must be shined like precious jewels and made accessible to the sufferer.
It is possible to be pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed -- even though we have this treasure in weak earthen vessels (2 Cor 4:7-8). The aim of the servant of God must be to bring such glorious realities into prominence in the thinking of the sufferer. God will help us to do this, but I do not know that he offers much assistance in the form of psychological analysis. That circumstance is what makes it difficult to assess personal weaknesses on that level.
does the scripture say about divorce - is it for or against?
The Scriptures tell us that God "hates" divorce (Malachi 2:16). They also affirm that God intended for the man and his wife to remain together (Matthew 19:8). Yet, there are circumstances where divorce is even right. For example, God himself divorced Israel Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8). Jesus said divorce was proper when fornication had been committed against the innocent party (Matt 19:9). Divorce is never to be taken lightly, and is to be avoided at all cost. The first choice of believers is to remain with their mate, being reconciled, if at all possible (1 Corinthians 7:11). Yet, there are circumstances in which it is justified.
<< Does a woman have to have long hair and how long is long hair? >>
The Bible does not say a woman has to have long hair. It does say her hair was given to her for a covering, and that long hair is a glory to her (1 Corinthians 11:15). It also says it is a shame (not a sin) for a woman to have her hair cut off, or to have her head shaved (1 Corinthians 11:6). God does not specify how long the woman's hair should be. He does not even say it SHOULD be long. I realize that some have made laws on this matter, but God has not. This is something that is a matter of conscience. Whatever a person decides, it should be to please God, not merely to please self.
What happens when you die?
If a person is in Christ, "to be absent from the
body is to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). Dying is referred to
as the soul "departing" from the body (Genesis 35:18; Phil 1:23). When ancient
believers died, they were said to be "gathered unto their people" (Gen 25:8,17).
John saw "the souls" of some who had been martyred for Jesus. They were
described as conscious, and "under the altar," requesting when God would avenge
their blood (Revelation 6:9-10). Jesus spoke of a rich man who died, and
afterward was found in torments in hell (Luke 16:23). He also spoke of Lazarus,
who died and was afterward "comforted" (Luke 16:25). Moses "died," appeared in
glory with, and talked to, Jesus over 1,500 years later on the mount of
transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31).
We are not provided a lot of information on this subject. However, enough is there to ensure everything does not conclude with death. Nor, indeed, to we lapse into a state of unconsciousness.
Is the law of God still relevant to the New Testament Christian?
The Law is "good if a man use it lawfully" (1 Timothy 1:8). It is not binding on the Christian as a covenant, or a means to salvation. However, the Law does contain a "form of knowledge and of the truth" (Rom 2:20) -- a sort of introductory knowledge. Because the Law of God is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good (Rom 7:12), the Christian does not despise it. But it has been ended "for righteousness," and is consequently no longer the means through which we are accepted by God. It is relevant because it leads to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25). It is relevant because it contains examples, types, and shadows of Christ (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1). It is relevant because "sin is the transgression of the Law" (1 John 3:4).
the excerpt on Job, as I have read Job many times, suddenly realized that God
was not helping Job through this trial. The only help God gave Job was that
Satan could only torment him to a certain degree. Now the Question: How did Job
survive Satan on his own when all through the scriptures we are told we can't
stand against Satan on our own.
First, the Scriptures do not say God did not help Job through His trial. I do believe His patience (i.e., "the patience of Job" -- James 5:11) can be credited to mere self effort. As "the God of patience," I am sure He strengthened Job during His trial, even though we are not provided the details of how He did it on it. This should not surprise us, for we experience the same thing. It is ever true that God is "working all things together for the good" of those who love Him (Rom 8:28). The fact that this working is not readily perceived by no means indicates it is not there, or ceases during Satan's assaults.
Job continued to trust God, affirming that he would trust Him even if He slew him (Job 13:15). Such faith cannot be possessed independently of the work of God (Philippians 1:29). Using "the shield of faith," Job thwarted the attacks of the evil one. As with us, that shield was provided by God, not self (Eph 6:16). Job confessed that God had visited and preserved his spirit (Job 10:9,12). God surely did not abandon this preserving work during Job's trial. That is why Satan could not do him end. It is why Gob survived. Job did not preserve himself, for no man is capable of doing that. Only God can "keep us from falling" (Jude 14-15), and that is what He did in Job, keeping him from falling. Job also survived Satan's attack because God restrained Satan from doing what he really desired. Thus God did not allow Job to be tempted above what he was able to bear, but provided a way of escape with his temptation, just as He has affirmed He always does (1 Cor 10:13).
Job could not see God at work, and thus earnestly sought to speak with Him, so he might know what was happening to him (Job 23:3-4). However, Job's inability to see the Lord at work by no means indicated He was not there, working for and in the patriarch. We must take care that, after reading the book of Job, we do not come up with the same conclusion Job did before God spoke to him.
read this quotable from Mr. Fudge's graceEmail. I believe I understand what you
are saying but can you explain what you mean by "It will, however, require a
dramatic and zealous departure from the kind of Christianity made popular in our
I meant that we (in America) are living in a time of spiritual fabrication and pretense -- what the Word of God calls a "form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2 Tim 3:5). This form of religion has been popularized, upstaging Jesus and pushing godliness (which grace teaches--Tit 2:11-12) to the back burner. It will not be possible to "shine as lights in the world" unless the life of Christ is prominent in us. I am saying that the American flavor of "Christianity" is lacking that life -- and most evidently so. I say this realizing there are exceptions to the rule -- but they are exceptions.
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