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What is the evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit?

First, the proper terminology is baptized "with," not "in," the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16). Second, in all of the writings to the churches, there is not a single reference to the two specific instances expressly related to this marvelous promise -- Pentecost and the household of Cornelius -- let alone teaching concerning evidences that it has taken place. That entire approach is one of human invention, not of Divine origin. The Holy Spirit never moved an inspired person to speak of being baptized with the Spirit in this manner.

While I have no difficulty with the matter of speaking in tongues, nothing in Scripture suggests this is the "evidence" that one has been baptized with the Spirit -- and Jesus is the One who does the baptizing, as you already know. Jesus told His disciples when they would be "baptized with the Holy Spirit," they would "receive power," and would become effective witnesses of Him in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:5-7). To them, I suppose that would be "evidence," even though I do not believe they even thought in this manner.

Both at Pentecost and at the house of Cornelius, the thing that impressed the listeners was not merely that the people who were baptized with the Spirit spoke with other tongues, but that the listeners understood what they said. At Pentecost, they powerfully spoke of "the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11). At the house of Cornelius. Peter and company heard them "magnify God."

I realize there are finely tuned doctrines extant in the Christian community on this subject -- doctrines that have caused divisions and fleshly judgments among the people of God. However, in all of His speaking "to the churches," the Holy Spirit never approached this subject in such a manner. No individual Christian or congregation was ever instructed to seek this baptism, or were told they did not have it, or that they could have it. In his teaching on speaking with other tongues, Paul never connected it with being baptized with the Spirit. Rather, he associated it with spiritual gifts that are dispensed by the Holy Spirit to those in Christ's body.

There is not so much as a single syllable on the subject written to the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, the Hebrew Christians, Philemon, the scattered strangers to whom Peter wrote, or the backslidden believers to whom James and Jude wrote. Jesus made no mention of it in His words to the seven churches of Asia. In all of his extensive writings to believers, Paul made no mention of the subject, nor did he refer to his own baptism with the Spirit. Those are just the facts in the case. In view of such a circumstance, I do not know how it is possible to formulate an extensive doctrine on the subject, and then evaluate other believers on the basis of that doctrine. Such activities are a gross infraction of brotherly love and the spirit of Christ.

I judge no believer's personal experience, nor do I question it. Those are prerogatives belonging to the Lord. I cannot allow any person or group to impose their understanding or experience upon me. I receive what the Spirit has said without any reservations whatsoever. However, I will not receive what men choose to believe about "evidences" of the baptism of the Spirit as though God had spoken a clear word on such a theme. I know of my own experience with and in the Holy Spirit. But that is not the touchstone of how I look at other members of Christ's body.

To answer your question specifically, it is your business to live close enough to God so that you will know whether or not a person has the Spirit of God, or operates within His power. There is no handy formula by which we can infallibly confirm what the Lord Jesus, the Baptizer, has done.

On May 18, my high school Sunday school class read about the sending of the disciples in Luke.   As we were reading, I noticed that in my KJV Bible, the only numbers referred to were 2 and 70.  In the NIV Bibles, it refers to 2 and 72.  Initially, I thought that maybe my Bible had a type-o (strangely enough, I've seen some Bibles with misspelled words: that=tht, the=th, heifer=heffer).  Then I looked at other KJV and discovered that the word truly was 70.  There was no reference to the "seventy and two," or "seventy two," just simply "seventy."  Out of curiosity, which is correct?  I just don't feel right about reading the same Holy Scriptures, with important details being different from version to version.  Do we know which number is correct?

he supposed scholars argue about this subject -- whether there were seventy-two or seventy. Here are the versions that say "seventy:" King James, New King James, New American Standard, American Standard, New Revised Standard, Revised Standard, Basic Bible English, Darby, Geneva, Webster, Revised Webster, Young's Literal Translation, Amplified New Testament, The Message -- as well as some others. So no one is a "nut" who insists there are seventy. Those translations represent well over 1,000 language scholars.

For the most part, the Greek manuscripts use a word meaning "seventy." The Vulgate Latin, Persic, and Epiphanius manuscripts read "seventy-two." The Contemporary English Version (which also reads "seventy-two") gives this footnote. "Some manuscripts have 'seventy.' According to the book of Genesis, there are seventy nations on earth. But the ancient Green translation of the Old Testament has 'seventy-two' in place of 'seventy.' Jesus probably chose this number of followers to show that His message was for everyone in the world." How is that for a bunch of jargon?

From a Scriptural perspective, Moses chose seventy judges to be associated with him in governing the people (Ex 24:1). It seems more likely to me that Jesus followed that example in selecting seventy more to assist in the spread of the Gospel. The NIV reads "seventy" in Exodus 24:1.

Church history, which is not inspired, lists the seventy and where they ministered. It does not list seventy-two. Great commentators like John Calvin, A. Barnes, Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, Jamieson Fausset and Brown, John Gill -- to name a new -- all say "seventy." Puplit Commentary does also.

McClintok and Strong's Cyclopedia of Bible Knowledge is considered the foremost Bible Encyclopedia in the word (over 15 volumes). It states there were "seventy," and provides the traditional listing of them. It is listed below.

SEVENTY IS RIGHT. The "seventy-two" is the imagination of translators who were confused by the multiplicity of translations, and did not have the wisdom to sort them out.

1. Agabus the prophet.
2. Amphias of Odyssus, sometimes called Amphiatus.
3. Ananias, who baptized Paul, bishop of Damascus.
4. Andronicus of Pannonia, or Spain.
5. Apelles of Smyrna, or Heraclea.
6. Apollo of Caesarea.
7. Aristarchus of Apamea.
8. Aristobulus of Britain.
9. Artemas of Lystra.
10. Asyncritus of Hyrcania.
11. Barnabas of Milan.
12. Barnabas of Heraclea.
13. Caesar of Dyrrachium.
14. Caius of Ephesus.
15. Corpus of Berytus in Thrace.
16. Cephas, bishop of Konia.
17. Clemens of Sardinia.
18. Cleophas of Jerusalem.
19. Crescens of Chalcedon in Galatia.
20. Damus, a priest of idols.
21. Epenetus of Carthage.
22. Epaphroditus of Andriace.
23. Erastus of Paneas, or of the Philippians.
24. Evodias of Antioch.
25. Hermas of Philippi, or Philippolis.
26. Hermes of Dalmatia.
27. Hermogenes, who followed Simon Magus.
28. Hermogenes, bishop of the Megarenes.
29. Herodion of Tarsus.
30. James, the brother of our Lord, at Jerusalem.
31. Jason of Tarsus.
32. Jesus Justus, bishop of Eleutheropolis.
33. Linus of Rome.
34. Luke the Evangelist.
35. Lucius of Laodicea in Syria.
36. Mark, who is also John, of Biblopolis, or Biblus.
37. Mark the Evangelist, bishop of Alexandria.
38. Mark, the nephew of Barnabas, bishop of Apollonia.
39. Matthias, afterwards the apostle.
40. Narcissus of Athens.
41. Nicanor, who died when Stephen suffered martyrdom.
42. Nicolaus of Samaria.
43. Olympius, a martyr at Rome.
44. Onesiphorus, bishop of Corone.
45. Parmenas of the Soli.
46. Patrobulus, the same with Patrobas (<451614>Romans 16:14) of Puteoli,
or, according to others, of Naples.
48. Philemon, called in the Acts Philip, who baptized the eunuch of
Candace, of Trallium, in Asia.
49. Philologus of Sinope.
50. Phlegon, bishop of Marathon.
51. Phigellus of Ephesus, who followed Simon Magus.
52. Prochorus of Nicomedia, in Bithynia.
53. Pudens.
54. Quartus of Berytus.
55. Rhodion, a martyr at Rome.
56. Rufus of Thebes.
57. Silas of Corinth.
58. Sylvanus of Thessalonica.
59. Sosipater of Iconium.
60. Sosthenes of Colophon.
61. Stachys of Byzantium.
62. Stephen, the first martyr.
63. Tertius of Iconium.
64. Thaddaeus, who carried the epistle of Jesus to Edessa, to Abgarus.
65. Timon of Bostra of the Arabians.
66. Trophimus, who suffered martyrdom with Paul.
67. Tychicus, bishop of Chalcedon, of Bithynia.
68. Tychicus of Colophon.
69. Urbanus of Macedonia.
70. Zenas of Diospolis.

"What is the difference between the one born of God and my conscientious and respectable neighbor who is not born of God?"

Do your respectable neighbors love the children of God? (1 John 3:10). Do they know God? (1 John 4:7). Does God's seed remain in them? (1 John 3:9). Do they believe Jesus is the Christ? (1 John 5:1). Are they overcoming the world? (1 John 5:4). Those are a few of the distinctions delineated by John.

Also, I question that non-Christian neighbors struggling against what they know to be wrong in any way equates with the insights given to those who are in Christ Jesus. Such people have not yet been convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Their comprehension of wrong is limited, and thus they have not been constrained to come to Christ. It is true many of these people have better outward lives than some who bear the name of Jesus. But that is not because they have excelled, but because many who profess the name of Jesus have come miserably short.

1 John 3:6 affirms things of those who are abiding in Christ. It is precisely to the degree that a person abides in Christ that he does righteousness. Note, verse ten does not say the person who does righteousness WILL be righteous, but that he IS righteous. That is, the righteousness evidences what he is. A failure to do righteousness also evidences what a person is, and where he lives.

As to contrasting the new life with the old, there are several such comparisons in Scripture -- and they are all refreshing and uplifting. Ephesians 2:1-13 compares a state of death in trespasses and sins with being made alive and blessed in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 particularizes the sins in which some of us lived, and affirms we are no longer in them or their power. Romans 6:17-18 compares servitude to sin to becoming servants of righteousness. 1 Thessalonanians 1:9-11 declares we turned from idols to serve the living God and to wait for His Son from heaven.

Morality is not the distinguishing trait of those who are born of God, nor is good citizenry, or even a Gentile building the Jews a synagogue (Luke 7:5). Civility and righteousness are not synonymous.

I do not know who you mean by "we," when referring to a lack of emphasis on release form the power of sin. There is no such thing as a salvation that does not release from the power of sin. Those who wear Christ's name and continue to be dominated by sin are either quenching the Spirit, or do not have Him at all. Either case MUST be remedied.

The real difference is seen in vivifying faith (Heb 10:38), dominating hope (Rom 8:24), and unrelenting love (John 5:24). It is seen in setting affection on things above (Col 3:1-3), being a pilgrim and stranger in this world (1 Pet 2:11), and looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (Tit 2:13). The difference is seen in living by every word of God (Luke 4:4), running the race with patience (Heb 12:2), persevering in the time of trial (James 1:12), and looking to Jesus while running the race with patience (Heb 12:2). The new life is one in which the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, living soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Tit 2:11-12).The contrast between the new and old life is seen in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). It is seen in being filled with all joy and peace in believing (Rom 15:13), and possessing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). It is seen in being strengthened with might by God's Spirit in the inner man so Christ can dwell in our hearts by faith, so that we may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and, length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ that passes all knowledge (Eph 3:15-119). The difference is found in being "washed, and sanctified, and justified" (1 Cor 6:11). Those who are in Christ participate in the Divine nature through the exceeding great and precious promises of God (2 Pet 1:4). They are being changed from one stage of glory to another by the Spirit of God (2 Cor 3:18), thus being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). They are persecuted for righteousness' sake (2 Tim 3:12). They are troubled but not distressed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed (2 Cor 4:8-9). They see their afflictions as light and momentary while they look not at the things that are seen, but at those which are not seen (2 Cor 4:17-18). They are looking for a city that has foundations (Heb 11:10), and seeking a better country, for which cause God is not ashamed to be called their God (Heb 11:16). They are the circumcision that worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3). The child of God has a new heart (Ezek 36:26), a new spirit (Ezek 11:19), a new song (Rev 5:9), and newness of life (Rom 6:4). Hallelujah! I am so thankful such things are realities, not goals.

These are not things those in Christ should possess -- they are part and parcel of salvation. A failure to exhibit such things, in the most favorable light, is because believers have simply not been apprised of what they have in Christ. In the most unfavorable light, it is because they do not possess them at all.

The prophets declared what the saints in Christ Jesus would be. They would have circumcised hearts (Deut 30:6), would be willing (Psa 110:3), would live by faith (Hab 2:4), know the Lord (Jer 31:34), and a whole lot more. The Apostles expounded our status in Christ Jesus, as indicated above.

Sorry for the length of this, but I was too happy to stop.

Can you recommend a true translation Greek/English and Hebrew/English Bible?

As you may know, there are a lot of opinions on this. If you prefer to avoid the classical language (the "thee's" and the "thou's"), The New King James Version or the New American Standard Version are the most accurate. You can also purchase Bibles that have more than one version side by side. Sometimes they are helpful for study and comparison purposes.

The New International Version, The Living Bible, New Living Translation, Living Word, and other newer translations are actually paraphrases. They follow a different philosophy of translation. These versions translate a thought or idea, versus translating the words themselves. That is fine if the translators know what the thought really is. You should avoid using such translations as your main study Bible. They are actually closer to a commentary than to a Bible.

In studying the Bible, the main thing is not to have a translation that makes everything plain, but one that is most readable. As you know, it is God Himself who opens up the text to us. That is what is meant by Peter's expression in Second Peter 1:19. It is also why David asked the Lord, "Give me understanding" (Psalm 119:34,73,125,144,169).

Along with your Bible, it is good to also have a Bible Dictionary to help explain some of ther words used in Scripture (justification, sanctification, concupiscience, lasciousness, etc). Words like these have a unique use and meaning in Scripture, and are like containers that carry a lot of spiritual thought.

A good Bible will have a center column on each page with cross-reference texts and word meanings. You will find this very useful in your study.

I have been researching the origins of the midweek assemblies within the Church of Christ specifically and other religious groups as well.  I find little information on the internet.  Do you have any sources that might be helpful?  Or, do you know of the origins?

I do not know of the historical origin of midweek assemblies. I can only assume they were brought into being much like the synagogue assemblies. They probably arose originally out of a desire to keep a consciousness of the Lord alive and well.

We know a condition like this existed in the days of Malachi, when the state of the people of God had seriously deteriorated. Of that time it is written, "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.  (Mal 3:16-17).

The early church was so enlivened toward the Lord they "continued daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house" (Acts 2:46-47). They did not do this because they were commanded to do so, or out of a sense of mere duty. In my opinion, the kind of spirit that drove the early disciples also compelled later believers to come together during the week. It is unfortunate that this kind of spirit is almost extinct in the professed church of our day.

Can one who got saved while married to two wives be used of God in the church?.

That depends upon whether he continued to have two wives or not. If such a person addressed that unacceptable situation, is now the husband of one wife, and has confirmed he is walking by faith through a godly manner of life, God can use him.

Although polygamy was found among the Israelites prior to Jesus Christ, even the Law strictly forbade it (Deut 17:17). Jesus also specifies that from the very beginning, one husband and one wife was intended (Matt 19:4-5).

If God could use the woman at the well, who was in something decidedly less than an ideal marital situation, you may be sure He continues to use humble and contrite spirits who are willing to live wholly for Him (John 4:16-42).

How do we have access to the Father as it is in John 14:6?

Primarily, Jesus Himself brings us to the Father. When He says "no man comes to the Father but by Me," He means by means of Him bringing us to God -- like a father takes a child to the store, so to speak. This is expressly said in First Peter 3:18: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might BRING US TO GOD, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (1 Pet 3:18).

Secondarily, because we have been "called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor 1:9), God accepts us in His presence. The book of Hebrews deals with the practicality of this access. It is an access in which we appropriate grace and mercy for our needy situation. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4:16).

Access to the Father must not be confused with a mere procedure or form. The reality of that access is confirmed when we receive His grace and mercy. In this way, we are made adequate for the challenges of living in this present evil world.

This is an access that is accompanied by boldness, or confidence. As it is written, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace" (Heb 4:16). And again, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:19-22).

Also in John 14:6 the Word says that Jesus is truth and also the life. I would some feed back on that verse.

When Jesus said He was "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," He was speaking of man's approach to the Father. In being "the Way," He is the sole means of being able to come to God, whether in pray or after our lives conclude in this world. In the matter of coming to God, He is "the Way" in the sense of a highway being the way from Chicago to Detroit.

He is "the Truth" in the sense of being the only way of comprehending the Father, or understanding Him. He alone has provided an understanding of who God is, what He wills, what He has provided, and how He sustains us. None of these things can be properly understood apart from Christ.

He is "the Life" in the sense of making us "alive to God" (Rom 6:11). That is, in Him we become sensitive to the Father, and able to respond in faith to what He has said and requires. To be alive is to be able to survive an encounter with God, stand in His presence, receive from Him, and give to Him. Jesus is the sole means of doing these things.

Our unity with Christ enables us to come top the Father, know the truth of Him and His will, and be alive and sensitive to Him.

Was Darius a believer before Daniel was placed in the lion's den?

There is no indication that he was. He was a Mede, and they certainly were not believers. The Lord moved him to have a special respect for Daniel. That respect, in the beginning, is said to be because of Daniel's "excellent spirit" -- not his faith in God (Dan 6:3).

As you know, Darius did not want to throw Daniel in the lion's den. In fact, he diligently sought a way to avoid doing so (Dan 6:14). In his dealings with Daniel at that time, he referred to God as Daniel's God, not his own (6:16,20). Following Daniel's deliverance, Darius issued an edict to the whole world, referring to "the God of Daniel." In that edict he acknowledged God's nature, and that He was "the living God" (6:26-27). However, there is no evidence that he himself ever trusted in the Lord.

Please tell me about the beginning of the Church ,When, Who?

I assume you are referring to "the church" that Jesus built (Matthew 16:18). Actually, the Word of God does not approach the subject of Christ's church from the standpoint of its beginning. The things that are recorded do lead us to some conclusions on the matter, but its beginning is never the way the subject of "the church" is approached by the Holy Spirit.

It is generally understood that the church Jesus built had its beginning on the day of Pentecost. Then, for the first time, the door of salvation was thrown open to "whosoever" (Acts 2:21). We know the body of people who began to grow on that day was "the church," for it is said of what followed the proclamation of the Gospel, and those who obeyed it, "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). The church, therefore, consisted of those who were "saved."

At this noble beginning the people were together in one accord (2:1), the Holy Spirit was present (2:2-4), the Gospel was declared with insight (2:11-36), the people were pricked in their hearts (2:37), what the people needed to do was announced (2:38), those who gladly received the word were baptized (2:41), the people continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine, the breaking of bread, fellowship, and prayers (2:42), the people were of one accord having gladness and singleness of heart (2:46), and the Lord added to the church (2:47).

Today, the church is still present where such qualities are found.

What "allowed" Jesus, as a human (not the fact that He was God) to not sin? As a man, did Jesus have a sinful nature like we do? I think I understand that it is this sinful nature of ours that allows us to slip into sin even once we have been saved. If, as a man, Jesus gave up His Godly power, how is it that He did not fall into sin? Was it His reliance/trust/faith in the Father, just like it's supposed to be reliance/trust/faith in Jesus for us? I am so confused and hope you can help me

As you already know, the subject that concerns you is not a simplistic one. Anything that is related to the Word becoming flesh, the Savior emptying Himself, and taking upon Himself the form of a servant, will not be easy to comprehend. If it is challenging to consider fallen man being conformed to the image of God's Son (Rom 8:29), it will be exceedingly challenging to consider the Word taking upon Himself the name of man, and becoming a servant -- even to the death. At this point, your faith and willingness to believe God will bring you more satisfaction than mere intellectual comprehension.

In the matter of Jesus being tempted, the temptation was genuine, for He "suffered being tempted" (Heb 2:18), and was "tempted in all points like as we are" (Heb 4:15). The factor that kept Jesus from sinning was the same factor that will keep us from sinning -- He lived by faith. It is said of Him in Hebrews 2:13, "I will put my trust in Him." There is, however, a difference between our Savior's trust and ours. With us, faith is required because of our sinful condition. With Jesus it was required because He had to be like us to save us. Also, He volunteered to place Himself under this restriction. That is involved in Him humbling Himself (Phil 2:6-8). Think of it like this: His Deity was like a sword, and He put in a sheath, refusing to depend upon it to deliver Him. Instead, He relied upon God to deliver Him, which itself is a most marvelous condescension.

Jesus did not have a sinful nature, even though He had a human nature. The sinful nature was passed along through Adam, as delineated in Romans 5:12-19. Jesus was the "Second Man," and the "Last Adam" (1 Cor 15:45-47). Technically speaking, none of Adam was in Jesus. he was the "Seed" of the woman, not the man (Gen 3:15). There are only two places in Scripture where "seed" is traced to a woman. One is the Genesis 3:15 text, the other is Revelation 12:17, where the people of God are the reference. Ordinarily, children are the "seed" of the man ("his seed" -- Gen 17:19; Josh 24:3; Gal 3:16, etc., "the seed of ____ "(a man's name -- Gen 19:32; Lev 21:21; 1 Kgs 11:39; 2 Chron 20:7, etc.).

There are only two men who started WITHOUT a sinful nature -- Adam and Jesus. Adam fell, and thus became sinful, and through him sin "entered" into the world, together with death (Rom 5:12). Jesus, while dwelling in a human body, did not begin with a sinful nature, passed along through Adam. However, He felt the pull of temptation because He was voluntarily made like to us, and entered the domain of temptation, thereby becoming accessible to Satan in some degree.

As I understand it, although He was "tempted in all points like as we are" (Heb 4:15), He was not tempted with every temptation we confront. When Satan tempted Jesus, it was in all "points," as defined by Scripture. Those "points" are identified in First John 2:16, and are three in number: "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." Although our Lord was tempted in all of these "points," or areas, the temptations themselves were not a lure into immorality, like drunkenness, fornication, theft, murder, and the likes. They were of a higher order than that.

Satan attacked Christ's sonship. His first temptation was an appeal to "the lust of the flesh." But note its manner: "And when the tempter came to him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread" (Mat 4:3). The second was an appeal to the "pride of life." Again, note how Satan tempted Him. "And saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone" (Mat 4:6). The third was an appeal to the "lust of the eye." "Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Mat 4:8-9). In all three temptations, Jesus responded in faith, using the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" -- "It is written" . . . "It is written" . . . "It is written" (Matt 4:4,7,10).

These were the same three points in which Satan tempted Eve, successfully "beguiling" her (2 Cor 11:3). First he tempted her with "the lust of the flesh" -- "good for food." Second, he appealed to the "lust of the eye" -- "pleasant to the eyes." Third, he appealed to "the pride of life" -- "desired to make one wise" (Gen 3:6). Eve failed on all three points -- the very points on which Jesus overcame.

Jesus overcame as "the Man" relying upon God, not as God who was impervious to temptation. He put Himself at this disadvantage in order that He might be a "merciful and faithful high priest," assisting us through temptation (Heb 4:15-16).

I am persuaded there is much more to the matter than this, but this is something of what I can see at this time. Notwithstanding, it has proved satisfying to me, and given me encouragement to look forward to the Lord Jesus responding to my need, just as He promised.

"If men do not "draw back" (Heb 10:38-39), they will not be removed from the hand of Jesus or the hand of God." Just wondering if you would expound a little more on this statement.

The affirmation of Hebrews 10:38-39 is quite clear. "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb 10:38-39).

Presently, we are in the Lord's hand by means of our faith. In fact, the entire experience of salvation is "by grace THROUGH faith" (Eph 2:8). There are those, Jesus said, who "believe for a while" (Luke 8:13). The promise of being kept in the hand of Jesus and the hand of the Father is not given to such.

Jesus defined his "sheep" as those who could not be plucked from His hand or the hand of the Father. Those "sheep," He said, follow Him and know His voice (John 10:4). They refuse to follow a stranger, but will run from such, for they do not recognize a stranger's voice (John 10:5).

The "drawing back" of Hebrews 10:38-39 is moving away from the states of knowing, hearing, and following, for no one can withdraw from the Lord, and continue to know, hear, and follow Him. That is the point of the Hebrews text.

If God made us do good works or made us choose the proper choice, what credit would that be to us? We would have exercised no choice at all. It is always a matter of choice.

Realizing this is a guest devotional, there is an element of truth to the above statement, but it is too simplistic to be included in your devotionals. There comes a point where men really have no choice at all. When, for example, men do not receive the love of the truth, God sends them a "strong delusion," bringing them to believe a lie. "So God will send great deception upon them, and they will believe all these lies" (2 Thess 2:11, NLT). There were also those hardhearted souls in Bethsaida who "could not believe" because God had "blinded their hearts and hardened their hearts" (John 12:39-40).

There is not a syllable in Scripture that suggests sin did not affect, and even enslave, the human will. That is why God opens hearts (Acts 16:14), gives repentance (Acts 5:31; 2 Tim 2:25), and gives us ears to hear (Deut 29:4; Matt 13:9).

There comes a time when not choosing life is lethal to the soul, provoking the Lord to pour out a spirit of deep sleep upon the people (Isa 29:10). An over statement of the human will is out of order. The Holy Spirit never inspired any extended dialog about the human will or its imagined capacities.

I am teaching in a Jr. High camp next month and want your text on two subjects--Heaven and Hell. Would that be difficult to access and e-mail to me? I appriciate your ministry very much.

Your quest for the truth is a great delight to my soul, and I am grateful to the Lord for the hearty appetite He has given you. Here are considerations.

1. Heaven is not a mere place, but is where God and Jesus are. (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:11; Eccl 5:2; Heb 9:24). Jesus described our presence there as being where He is (John 14:3), and beholding His unveiled glory (John 17:24).

2. Our resurrection bodies are a "building of God," and are presently "in heaven." Following our death, or the Lord's return, we will put them on. This is something for which salvation prepares us (2 Cor 5:1-5).

3. Presently, those in Christ are citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20), and their names are recorded there (Luke 10:20; Heb 12:23). Therefore their affection is placed on things that are there (Col 3:1-2). We are also admonished to hear Him who is speaking from heaven (Heb 12:25).

4. When we are "present with the Lord," there will be an absence of all competing and debilitating influences. They will be "no more" (Rev 21:4; 22:3-5).

5. When we are with the Lord, where He is, we will be "like Him" (1 John 3:2), fully with Him, beholding His face without a veil, and possessing His own nature (Rev 22:4; Rom 8:29). We will be stable, like pillars (Rev 3:12), and will reign with Jesus (2 Tim 2:12).

6. The saints will be rewarded "in heaven" -- which rewards are presently there to be distributed at the appropriate time (Matt 5:12; Luke 6:23; Heb 10:34).

7. Our inheritance is presently reserved for us in heaven (1 Pet 1:4).

8. Much of what the saints will receive in heaven is presently now being "laid up" there by themselves (Matt 6:20). This is done largely by the development of an appetite for heavenly things.

9. In heaven the righteous will "shine as the sun" (Matt 13:43).

10. In heaven there will be no decline of any sort -- nothing will ever diminish, fade, or lose its luster. That is involved in the words "Neither can they die any more" (Luke 20:36).

11. Our hope, or more specifically, the Object of our hope, is laid up for us "in heaven" (Col 1:5).

12. Heaven is why we were saved in the first place, for He "called us to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess 2:14).

Summation: Heaven is the appointed destiny of those who are in Christ Jesus. Their Father and Savior are in heaven. The Spirit they have received came from heaven (1 Pet 1:12). Their inheritance is there, and their affection is placed on things there. Salvation prepares us for heaven by giving us samples from the homeland, like Israel ate the grapes of Eschol from Canaan. The "heaven" of Scripture has no compelling appeal to those who are not living by faith or walking in the Spirit. However, for those who are, it is the answer to their longings. There, the Savior they long to fully behold will be so viewed. God Himself will be with them in an evident, satisfying, and invigorating manner (Matt 5:8). Everything that chaffed against their souls will be gone, together with all of their enemies, and their adversary the devil. Without heaven, what is commonly called "the Christian life" makes no sense whatsoever. Heaven is for those who are, and confess that they are, strangers and pilgrims in the earth (Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 2:11). It also should be said that a church that is not heavenly minded is a gigantic contradiction, and no church at all.

While heaven is the appointed destiny of all are in Christ Jesus, Hell is the inevitable destiny of all who are not.

1. Hell is "everlasting fire," or "lake of fire," and was not made for men, but for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41). Notwithstanding that circumstance, those who refuse the Son will be cast there (Rev 20:15). This is a fire like that of the "bush" through which the angel spoke to Moses -- it does not consume.

2. Hell is a place of ultimate cursing, where the presence of the Lord is totally withdrawn. It is "everlasting destruction (or exclusion) from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" (2 Thess 1:9).

3. It is better to mortify fleshly preferences in this world, than to nurture them and be "cast into hell" (Matt 5:29-30).

4. Hell is associated with "the worm that dieth not," which is a goading conscience, dreadful remorse, and regret in exponential measures (Mark 9:44,46,48).

5. Hell is referred to as a "furnace of fire" where there is "gnashing of teeth" (Matt 13:42). "Gnashing" denotes both unrestrained rage (Job 16:9; Lam 2:16; Acts 7:54) and unfathomable sorrow (Psa 112:10).

6. Hell is the appointed repository for "all things that offend and them which do iniquity" (Matt 13:41). Nothing good or comforting will be there in any sense -- no friendship, satisfaction, or fulfillment of any sort, or in any measure, will be realized.

7. There will be "wailing" in hell -- loud and uninterrupted lamentation (Matt 13:42).

8. Hell is associated with "outer darkness," where nothing will be seen with any clarity, but total confusion and hopelessness will envelop its inhabitants (Matt 25:30).

9. Hell is where the curse of God is realized in its fulness (Matt 25:41).

10. Hell is not merely punishment, but "everlasting punishment" (Matt 25:40).

11. There is evidence that those in hell will in some way behold those who are with the Lord (Luke 16:23; Rev 14:10). The delimma is going to be that they will have no capacity to desire the place of blessing. They will be repulsed by their own environment, as well as the dwelling of the redeemed. The rich man never did ask to go where Lazarus was.

Summation: Hell is the antithesis of heaven. Those who are consigned there will go with all of the appetites they developed in this world, yet will not be able to satisfy a single one of them. They will experience the ultimate of total frustration. For the saved, the appetites they cultured while in the body, will be thoroughly satisfied. Their new bodies will be perfectly adapted for their longings. But for the damned, it will not be so. They too will have resurrection bodies (John 5:29). However, those bodies will not be capable of carrying out the sinful lusts that were nurtured by the lost. Every single longing they have will be denied fulfillment, while all of the longings of the righteous will be satiated.

Well, sister, there are some starters. In a sense, in the end everyone will get what they wanted. Of course, those who did not want God will find that a God-less eternity is most dreadful.

A very fine brother-in-Christ is moving to this area with his good wife.  While he is a friend, those who have written in opposition to the instrument have caused a serious conscience problem for him. He's in his later 50's. Would you be pleased to consider sending some material to help me with him?

It is a great tragedy that sincere souls have had their attention turned from the Lord Himself to the traditions of men. In some ways, many of us have experienced such distraction, and know the awful weight it places upon both heart and mind.

First, there is a certain frame of mind that you must seek to acquire in dealing with this brother. The bottom line is that his conscience has been shaped by men, not by God. Because of the importance of the conscience, he must not be moved to make a choice that violates it. In my judgment, your appeal must not be based upon what men are supposed to do or not do, but on the nature of God Himself and His great salvation. These are the issues that have become blurred to the brother. You must approach him in the spirit of First John 5:16, believing the Lord can use you to clarify his vision.

In the case of the hackneyed argument about David, the originators of that view were both ignorant and lacked honesty. His placing of instruments in "the house of the Lord" was not only according to his own commandment, but also "of Gad," his seer, and "Nathan the prophet." All three of them did this because "so was the commandment of the Lord by His prophets" (2 Chron 29:25). The whole Temple structure, together with its various courses, including the priests and their instruments, was given to David "by the Spirit." It was something the Lord made him "understand" (1 Chron 28:12-19). Additionally, those very instruments are called "the musical instruments of God" (1 Chron 16:42). At the dedication of the Temple, when these instruments were sounded, it is written, "indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: 'For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,' that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God" (2 Chron 5:13-14). All of these associations were made by the Holy Spirit of God, and were recorded for our learning. Those who demean musical instruments because they imagine David was the sole creator of them forget that he was a man after God own heart (Acts 13:22), and was "the sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Sam 23:1). There is not so much as a syllable of Scripture that suggests he transgressed in creating and placing such instruments in the service of God. In fact, we are categorically told this: "Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. (1 Kings 15:5). However, if the postulate of the opposers of musical instruments is right, then David committed a sin of great magnitude in making musical instruments. The sin, if this is true, is of such greatness that it has impacted the history of the body of Christ. In my judgment no person can possess godly sincerity and fully embrace and perpetrate such a view.

Not only do the Old Covenant Scriptures refer to the "musical instruments of God," John received a special revelation on Patmos that spoke of "the harps of God" (Rev 15:2). However one may choose to view such expressions, if "all Scripture" has been given by the inspiration of God, we have God associating Himself with musical instruments, and musical instruments with Himself. If the anti-instrumental view is correct, that would be the same as referring to harlots of God, drunkards of God, or "the idols of God" . . . etc.

There are at least two considerations that must be brought to bear upon any amiable discussion of this subject. First, God does not and cannot change. Second, Satan does not and cannot change. Neither God nor Satan are capable of acting in contradiction of their character. God has clearly said, "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal 3:6). That is why He cannot "deny Himself" (2 Tim 2:13), "cannot lie" (Tit 1:2), and abides faithful (2 Tim 2:13). Since his fall, Satan has never waffled between truth and the lie. He has consistently remained "a liar," and "there is no truth in him" (John 8:44). He and his angels are locked in a state of darkness and vileness, from which they cannot recover (2 Pet 2:4).

At some point, we must know how both God and Satan react to a righteous person playing instrumental music. We already know from Scripture that God cannot abide ungodly people playing musical instruments before Him, attempting to emulate David (Amos 6:5). But what of a godly person playing an instrument? How does God react to that? And how does the devil react to it? Fortunately we have two concrete examples that clearly reveal the answer to the questions. When an "evil spirit" came upon king Saul, David took a harp and played with his hand. This resulted in Saul being refreshed, and the evil spirit departing (1 Sam 16:23). On another occasion, when Elisha stood before Jehosaphat, he prepared himself to speak by calling for a minstrel. It is written that "when the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon him" (2 Kings 3:15).

The argument cannot be made that these things occurred during the First Covenant, for God does not change, nor does Satan. The New Covenant is not marked by a change in God, but rather by a change in men. If the Divine nature is not repulsed by the godly playing instruments of music, then we need an explanation of why any man would be so repulsed. In their own hearts and conscience, they must reason on why they have had the same reaction as an evil spirit rather than the revealed response of God Almighty.

In 1988, I had a debate with Alan Highers, an appellate judge from Tennessee and editor of "The Spiritual Sword," on the subject of instrumental music and the worship of God. It was a well attended debate. There was such a spirit of animosity and hatred at that meeting that one can scarcely imagine it. It was also made very apparent that the people in general were very unacquainted with the Divine nature as made known in Scripture. I do have a few of the books of that debate, and would be glad to send you a copy if you desire. To this day, I am derided by many of their people because I took an approach they had not considered. I denied the fundamental premise that was accepted by both sides of every debate I have ever read on the subject. It was that we can only offer to God what He has told us to offer. The debate deals with that aspect of the subject. For the most part, those attending did not know what I was talking about. However, in the twelve or thirteen years that have passed since that debate, I have received hundreds of phone calls and letters from those attending that debate who have now seen what I was saying. Not all of them changed instantly, but they did realize they were on a platform that cannot hold them up when standing before the Lord.

The brother with which you will be dealing has been victimized by the concocted theology of certain leaders. Because of this, your appeal must be to his heart, not his mind. You must appeal to the part of Him that preeminently loves God and wants to honor Him -- the new creation. The position with which he is wrestling has corrupted his view of God, Christ, salvation, worship, the New Covenant, the church, and much more. In fact, there is very little in Scripture that is not infected by this view. It is not an innocent position, and the fruit of it shows how contaminating it is. Among the Churches of Christ there are nineteen major divisions, and at least forty-two minor ones. Every single one of them use the same argument employed to discredit the use of musical instruments. If we knew nothing else, that fruit clearly declares the nature of this their position.

May the Lord bless your efforts. He can give you wisdom in approaching this man in a meek and lowly manner, yet with the firmness of faith and full persuasion.





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