QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 85
Here is a recent convert who is one of several wives of a Moslem man. She is asking whether she should return to him as one of his wives. I am seeking the best Bible answer for this dear woman who is so desperately wants to be a Christian and wants to raise her son as a Christian. Would you help me?
The Word of God does not precisely address this problem -- and it is, indeed, a challenging one. I can tell from the counsel given to this sister that some of her teachers do not have a grasp of the truth themselves. Here are some foundation points for addressing the situation.
1. When God says the "two" become "one flesh," He means precisely that: "two" (not three, four, etc) become "one flesh." In His reasoning on this subject, Jesus consistently viewed marriage as "two," and never any more (Matt 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-7). Apostolic doctrine also postulates one "wife," and never refers to "wives" -- 1 Cor 7:2; Eph 5:23,28,31,33; 1 Pet 3:7).
2. In marriage we have a type of Christ and the church (Eph 5:23-31). The church is Christ's "bride," not one of many brides (John 3:29; Rev 21:2,9; 22:17). Jesus has only one church, not many. Condoning multiple wives distorts that image, and is thus a sin against Christ.
3. A Christian wife is not to yield to the demands of an unbelieving husband in matters that defile her conscience or interrupt her relation to Christ -- even if she is the ONLY wife of the man. That is the point of 1 Corinthians 7:13-15. In that scenario, there is only one husband and one wife. It would loosely fit the circumstance of this sister only if her husband put away his other wives -- which is another complicating factor. But in either case, she is not to yield to his unchristian demands.
4. A person who is "in Christ" never has the option of returning to their former religion or manners. That is tantamount to forsaking Christ.
5. Strictly speaking, "divorce" applies only to a one-husband-one-wife situation. Every place it is mentioned, "man" and "wife" are in the singular (Matt 5:31-32; 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Lk 16:18; 1 Cor 7:11). In other words, God never in any way dignifies a polygamous relationship.
6. The Holy Spirit never speaks of "marriage" within the context of multiple spouses
7. In all of the New Testament Scriptures, there is not a single example of polygamy, nor is it ever recognized in any way as being valuable, practiced at the time, or in any way tolerable. This is particularly significant in view of the many references to multiple wives in the Old Covenant Scriptures. However, those ancient practices were the result of lesser light and the hardness of human hearts. Lamech was the first man to have "two wives," and the Spirit makes a special note of it (Gen 4:19). He also was a murderer, and not a suitable example for anyone.
The significance of the above is simply this: It is not proper to take Scriptural instructions concerning marriage and apply them to those involved in polygamy. Such a matter must be addressed in another way, for the Spirit consistently postulates one wife and one husband. When God was joined to Israel, she was His only wife. Jesus is joined to His church, and that is His only wife. Those situations forbid us to think of marriage in any other way, for a servant is not greater than his master John 13:16.
A most salient point is made on this subject in McClintok and Strong's Cyclopedia of the Bible. "The mind of the divine Legislator was so clearly and ineffaceably stamped on his followers that the usage (polygamy) in early and later ages of the Church was utterly unknown; there is no instance on record of a baptized polygamist for fifteen hundred years after Christ."
THE NEW COVENANT APPROACH
The New Covenant approach to this subject is not, "Is it wrong?" That is an Old Covenant approach. In Christ, the issue is, "Is it RIGHT?" Rather than searching for some word from God that condemns the practice, the child of God is to look for some word that encourages it. That is involved in doing whatever we do "in word of in deed in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him" (Col 3:17). Further, whatever is done must be done "heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men" (Col 3:23). Everything is to be done "to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31).
With this mind, the questions are: (1) Will this relationship bring glory to God? (2) Can I do this for God? (3) Can I give thanks to God for this? (4) Can I do this heartily, as unto the Lord? (5) Will this grieve the Holy Spirit or please Him? (6) Will this bring me closer to the Lord or push me further from Him? (7) Will this defile my conscience, or will I maintain peace with God? (8) Can I displease God to please a husband (even in the context of a God-ordained marriage of one woman and one man). In her heart, this woman will know the answer to every one of these questions.
She MUST follow her conscience, for the Lord makes no provision to violate it. The revealed objective is to keep a "pure conscience" (1 Tim 3:9) and a "good conscience" (1 Tim 1:5). It is her conscience -- a Spirit-trained conscience -- that is causing her difficulty. She is being asked to do something that violates her conscience, and she must not do it.
BREAKING A FAMILY
The lady's professed husband asked her if her religion taught her to "break a family." There is an answer to that question. Breaking the family is not the objective of any person in Jesus. However, Jesus did say these words, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). He also said, "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Mat 19:29). It is possible for a person's "foes" to become those of their own house (Matt 10:36).
The family, however sacred it may appear, is second to God. It is never allowed to upstage the Lord -- never. Further, there are circumstances when following Jesus causes a disruption in the family.
IS THE MARRIAGE LEGAL?
The sister mentioned that some pastors told her since the marriage was administered by a judge, it was legal, and thus honored by God. This is not true. Does that include the marriage of sodomites? May the Lord deliver us from such pastors. I suppose the marriage of Herod was legal from his point of view, but John the Baptist told him, "It is NOT lawful for you to have her" (Matt 14:4). The government of Egypt also condoned the oppression of Israel, but God told Pharaoh, "Let my people go!" The government of the Medes condoned throwing Daniel in the lion's den, and the Babylonian government sanctioned throwing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace of fire. The laws of men are never accepted by God when they contradict His character or His law. God honors "government officials" ONLY when they are carrying out His will. That is one of the points of Romans 13.
When Jesus commented on marriage, He said, "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore GOD hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mat 19:6). He did not say "What the government has joined together."
WHAT SHOULD SHE DO?
This dear lady has no obligation to anyone who seeks to drive a wedge between her and the Lord. It is not possible for her to be right in doing something that dishonors God and violates what He has said about marriage -- or anything else. This is a case where she is being called by God to "forsake" a relationship that interferes with her quest to please Him. Jesus declared a blessing would be given to those who forsook otherwise legitimate relationships for His name's sake and the Gospel. Those technically legitimate relationships included a household, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, and children (Matt 19:29). You may be sure that they also include unlawful associations, such as a polygamous relationship.
The Lord will help her do what is right He will strengthen her to make a God-honoring decision, and to carry it out. He is also able to subdue the man who calls himself her husband. If the mighty God of heaven can turn a king's heart to do whatever He wants (Prov 21:1), He is surely able to deal effectively with this man. The relationship is wrong, and must not be continued.
How many verses can I find in the bible that says, "The Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don't know what words to pray"???
There is one verse that speaks about this. It does not have to do with us speaking words, but with us not knowing what to ask for. The verse is Romans 8:26. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." The New International Version reads, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
The Spirit's intercessions cannot be expressed in human words -- tongues or any other words. They involve things we need, but do not even know we need. Some have said the Spirit interprets our feelings. But that is not what the verse says. There are things for which we should pray, but we do not even know what they are. These are not things we know about, but simply do not know how to express them. They are needs about which we are not even aware. These are the matters for which the Spirit makes intercession. That is, He sees to it that we get what is needed, even when we do not know we need it. Our lack of knowledge about these things is not owing to neglect, but "weakness." It is associated with the frailty of being human. This is a most marvelous aspect of our salvation.
I wish I understood this better. If something is cut away, why is it still there? I believe by faith but could not the Holy Spirit expressed this in a clearer way? I mean no disrespect. I know that our old sin nature is resident in our flesh and I believe that is why the flesh must die figuratively and literally. However, to me it is confusing to say something is cut away but still there to be contended with even though I know it is true.
The flesh has been circumcised from our essential nature. However, it is still tied to the body in which we live.
There are all manner of things with which we contend that are really not part of us: the devil, principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places, the wicked, and Satan's flaming arrows. When the "body of the sins of the flesh" was circumcised from us, it was added to that category. It is, so to speak, in the house, but is not really part of us. That is the reason we can continue to crucify it and by faith refuse to be led by it.
May I ask your opinion on another subject entirely? Some, in fact many, insist that when a person is baptized he needs to understand that his baptism is for the remission of sins or he is not "properly" baptized. However, it seems to me that if the person is baptized in obedience to the command of Christ, the baptism is valid even though his understanding of all the ramifications is faulty. I would think that obeying the will of God is basic to all the rest.
I am persuaded that insisting on knowing baptism is for the remission of sins prior to being baptized is more necessary for the maintenance of the institution than for the salvation of the soul. Peter said four words on the subject on the day of Pentecost (with no elaboration) -- and, so far as the record is concerned, that is the only time baptism was addressed in that manner to those who were to be baptized. I am not sure such a circumstance was conducive to great understanding among those being baptized.
I have noted that all of the doctrine concerning baptism is presented to those who have already been baptized (Rom 6:1-17; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27-28; Eph 4:5; Col 2:11-15; 1 Pet 3:21; Tit 3:5). This indicates that much more occurred at our baptism than we knew at the time. I realize you know these things already, but I love to rehearse them.
1. SIns were remitted, or washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
2. The gift of the Holy Spirit was received (Acts 2:38).
3. We were baptized into Christ (Rom 6:3).
4. We were baptized into His death (Rom 6:3).
5. We were buried with Him by baptism into death (Rom 6:4).
6. We were raised by the glory of the Father to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4).
7. Our old man was crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6).
8. We were freed from sin (Rom 6:7).
9. We obeyed from the heart the form of the doctrine (Rom 6:17).
10. We were baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Cor 12:13).
11. We put on Christ (Gal 3:27).
12. We were circumcised by Christ, in putting of the whole body of the flesh (Col 2:11).
13. We were raised with Christ through faith in the operation of God (Col 2:12).
14. We were quickened together with Christ (Col 2:13).
15. We experienced regeneration (Tit 3:5).
16. We obtained a good conscience (1 Pet 3:21).
There is no doubt more than this, but these will do for starters. How many of these things did we know when we were baptized -- really know? And what would compel anyone to single out the remission of sin to the neglect of the others? Is the initial experience of any of these marvelous benefits contingent upon our understanding of them? If so, when is that understanding appropriated, and to what extent must it be present before the experiences become valid?
The fact that these blessings are proclaimed to those who are in Christ confirms our knowledge of them was imperfect at the first. For many of us, it was imperfect for years. But that did not nullify their reality -- which, of course, is why they are declared to the church. The Apostles were declaring what had, in reality, taken place, even though the people may not have been aware of it. In some ways, our baptism is like Peter's deliverance from prison. We did not see the reality of our deliverance until we were outside the gate, so to speak.
Some years ago I was persuaded these things had to be declared to the body of Christ. I prepared a series of thirteen videos at Good News called "Looking Back On Your Baptism. To this day, it is said to be one of their most popular series. Following the same line of reasoning -- namely that the children of God often are unaware of their blessed status -- I also prepared several other video series for Good News, each having 13 30-minute lessons: The Uniqueness of the New Covenant, Christ Out Great High Priest, The Second Appearing of Christ, and Inner Conflict and Its Remedy (from Romans 7).
The only instance in Scripture of an invalid baptism was that of the Ephesian disciples who had never heard of the Holy Spirit, and apparently were unaware of the Christ Himself. They were asked, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" -- NOT, "Did you know baptism is for the remission of sins?"
Whoever originated the "you-must-know-baptism-is-for-the-remission-of-sins-before-your-baptism-is-valid" view simply did not know what he was talking about. It is unfortunate that so many have picked up the false postulate and are keeping it alive.
Tell me something, is it reasonable to do follow through on such things as when individuals from different fellowships press or pressure other individuals to place membership in these places, just because this is what such individuals are wanting one to do?
First, we must assume a charitable attitude toward those who are asking someone to place membership with a particular congregation. Love, after all, "thinks no evil" 1 Cor 13:5). It is possible that such people sense the need for believers to be identified with a particular group, and not be mere "church visitors."
When Saul of Tarsus was converted, he made every effort to join himself with the disciples. That is, he sought a sort of formal identity with them. The disciples did not receive him, for they were not yet persuaded he had actually been converted. It was then that Barnabas spoke up and defended Saul. The brethren then received him, and sent him to Tarsus, to be received by the brethren there where he lived (Acts 9:26-27).
In joining ourselves to any group of believers, we cannot be driven by the desire of others. We should, however, see the nobility of being part of a group of believers that is doing the work of the Lord. It is true that believers as a whole are "the body of Christ" (Eph 1:12-23). It is also true that a local congregation is the "body of Christ" (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 4:12). In the case of a local congregation, God places the members where He wants them in that group, with gifts and abilities that profit His people (1 Cor 12:18). He considers it as a whole -- a group of believers working together for His glory. Onesimus and Epaphras, for example, were members of the church in Colossae (Col 4:9). Epaphroditus was a member of the church in Philippi (Phil 4:18).
A Christian who is not joined to a particular congregation is like a hand, eye, or ear that is not attached to a particular body. The thought of a hand, eye, or ear that is available to be attached to any body for a brief period of time is obviously very foolish. It is equally as foolish for any believer to remain unattached to a particular assembly (if one is available), thinking to be of profit to all assemblies in general. The body of Christ is not represented in such a manner.
I think people who press for a believer to be part of a particular assembly are probably thinking along these lines.
If the soul goes to heaven or hell when we die what happens to it on the Judgement Day. Does it come back to earth to be resentenced by God.
The purpose for the judgment day is not to determine who is saved or lost. That is actually determined while men remain in this world. The day of judgment is intended to announce the verdict before an assembled universe, and thus to vindicate God, showing Him to be just and righteous in all of His ways. During that time, He will be proved true in all of His sayings, as stated in Romans 3:4. The saints will be exonerated and honored before an assembled universe, and the devil and those who followed him will be shown to have been utterly wrong. There will be no dispute about the outcome of things. It will be abundantly apparent to all that God was righteous in everything He said and did.
Part of the day of judgment will involve those with lesser advantages rising to judge those who had greater advantages and privileges, yet were less eager to obtain them that those who lived with far less being available to them. Jesus spoke of this when He said the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba would rise in the judgment to condemn those who had neglected the great advantages that were brought by Him to the world (Matt 12:41-42; Luke 11:31-32).
All of this is involved in this word concerning the judgment: "Because He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world IN RIGHTEOUSNESS by that Man whom he hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
Sin is utterly unreasonable, and righteousness is totally reasonable. All of this will be made clear on the day of judgment.
In the resurrection of the dead, the souls of all men will be reunited with their resurrection bodies. What follows the day of judgment will be a fuller measure of both punishment of reward than was realized upon death.
In Luke 16:19-31 we have our Lord's account of two men that died. The rich man was tormented in flame, and Lazarus was comforted in Abraham's bosom. But after the day of judgment, both conditions will be enhanced. The rich man thought there was some hope of relief (Lk 16:24), but after the day of judgment, there will be no illusions about such things. Lazarus was comforted, but after the day of judgment, he will be reigning with Jesus (2 Tim 2:12), and even judging the world and angels with the rest of the godly (1 Cor 6:2-3).
For God to receive proper glory, what He has done must be made known to the assembled universe, and show to be true. There will not be a soul in eternity, whether saved or lost, that will not have been convinced of the righteousness of God.
What is "flesh" in Biblical meaning?
What was "flesh" before the fall of man and what would have become of it if man had not sinned? Did Eve also walk with the Lord in the garden of Eden? Would Adam have eaten of the fruit? >>
The "flesh" refers to the natural part of mankind -- "that which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). Ultimately, it is traced back to Adam, who is the progenitor of all who are born naturally (Acts 17:26).
Doctrinally, "the flesh" has been totally rejected by God -- the natural part of our beings. That is why we must be "born again" (John 3:3,5). The "natural man" cannot receive or know the things of God (1 Cor 2:14), and in our "flesh" dwells no good thing (Rom 7:18).
There is a certain mind-set, or way of thinking, in the flesh -- "the fleshly mind" (Col 2:18). To be dominated by such a mind is to be "carnally minded," and thus inimical to God Himself (Rom 8:6). Such a mind, limited to this world and natural resources, "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom 8:6).
In regeneration, Jesus circumcises this fleshly nature from us. This sinful part of our being is called "the body of the sins of the flesh" (Col 2:11), and constitutes the part of us that cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is the part that must be crucified (Gal 5:24; Rom 8:13; Col 3:5), put off (Eph 4:22; Col 3:8-8), and denied (Tit 2:12).
The "flesh" is an integral part of our bodies, even though it has been severed from our persons. We have to live with it, like having an enemy in the house. When we leave the body, we will be done with our warfare with the flesh. But until then, there remains a contrary law within us (Rom 7:23), lusting against the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:17).
What was " flesh" before the fall of man and what would have become of it if man had not sinned?
Before the fall of man, flesh did not have the attributes it does now. It was defiled by the fall. If man had not sinned -- which is a mere human conjecture -- man would have continued eating from the tree of life, and lived on. Even after he sinned, God drove them out of the garden "lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" (Gen 3:22). Man was not, even in his original state, immortal.
Did Eve also walk with the Lord in the garden of Eden?
The Scriptures do not say. For that matter, they do not say Adam walked with God either. Men have assumed this because both he and Eve ("they") heard the voice of Lord God walking in the cool of the day, and calling out, "Adam where art thou?" Prior to this, the only record we have of God speaking to Adam and Eve is, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth . . . Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so" (Gen 1:30).
The fall may very well have occurred immediately. There is nothing in the record that suggests it was not.
Would Adam have eaten of the fruit?
The Scriptures suggest he never would have eaten of the fruit were it not for Eve, for "Adam was not deceived." Of course, all of this is only human surmising. We do have a picture in Adam of Jesus being made sin for us, having the sins of the world laid upon Him because of us. But the Spirit never makes a point of this, and we should not carry the matter too far.
I love the Lord with my whole heart and soul and really want to "hear" Him speak to me. But I've really been struggling to know if it's Him or my mind or...I don't know! I just want to know Him and hear Him!
You have done the right thing in acknowledging the difficulty that is associated with knowing if it is really God who is speaking to you. There are other voices that call to us, including the devil himself (1 Cor 11:14), his ministers (2 Cor 11:15), and our own "flesh," or fallen nature (Rom 7:18,21). I also commend you for really wanting to know the Lord and hear Him. That is the first ninety percent of receiving your desire.
Isaiah spoke to people who were hearing voices -- even voices of demonic spirits. It was difficult for the people to determine whether they were legitimate, and thus to be followed. They were even being told by some false prophets to consult with those who had familiar, or demonic, spirits. Isaiah, moved by the Spirit of God, told them what to do. "And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? TO THE LAW AND TO THE TESTIMONY: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:19-20).
The people were to compare what they were hearing with the Word of God -- the Scriptures. God always speaks in full harmony with His written Word says. If a person will fill their mind with the Scriptures, they will possess the resources needed to decipher what is from God, and what is not.
Of course, in this they do not depend upon their own intellectual abilities. The Holy Spirit will work with Scripture to assist the individual in determining what is from God and what is not. This is what is taught in First John 2:26-28. The Spirit has access to both your heart and mind. He can enable you to recall what God has written, and correlate it with what it appears He is saying to you personally. That is what Jesus told His disciples before He returned to heaven. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).
Is it okay, for someone to partake in communion even if they have not been baptized? (Let's say an adult, who has a good understanding of the word, but has yet to make that first obedient step of proclaiming faith and the good confession).
Nothing in Scripture limits who can remember Jesus at His table. To many, it makes a lot of sense that only those who have obeyed the Gospel should actually partake of it. I am inclined in that direction myself -- but the Scriptures do not say this, and therefore I question the wisdom of us saying so.
I would say that if a person who has not yet obeyed the Gospel, and is of sound mind, legitimately remembers Jesus at His table, that person will be led to obey the Gospel, and make any other adjustments that are necessary in their life. In this, I acknowledge this is only my opinion.
When saints gather around this table, there should be sufficient instruction given, so those who have questions about this will be helped. We are told, for example, that we cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils (1 Cor 10:21. That is, we cannot sit at Christ's table, and the one that is offered by our adversary the devil. An emphasis should also be placed upon conducting ourselves properly at this table, lest the judgment of God come upon people (1 Cor 11:29-30). Also, none are excused from this table. All are to examine themselves and partake of it (1 Cor 11:28). None are excluded from that exhortation.
I recently received your publication (The word of truth magazine) and notice an article on Women speaking in church. (Real good, and love all the scriptures). Are you saying it's okay for them to preach?
That is something that is determined by the Lord, not men. If God gives Philip four daughters with the gift of prophesying, they can speak (Acts 21:9). If any woman has something to say that profits the saints and builds them up, she is free to say it in an orderly and humble manner. Of course, the same is true for men. If any woman preaches (or as the Word of God says, "prophesies"), she must have something profitable to say, and do so humbly (1 Cor 11:5).
Speaking to the assembly is not a matter of procedure, but one of edification. The point, therefore, is not whether or not a woman can preach, but whether or not she has something to say that will build up the saints of God. Again, the same is true of men. I must add that the worst preachers I have ever heard, whether in the pulpit, or at the table, have been men.
I easily get discouraged when Satan comes against me, and I find it hard to "rebuke" him... what is some good advice to help me?
The Word of God does not say "Rebuke the devil," but "Resist the devil" (James 4:7). Even Michael the mighty archangel said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke thee" (Jude 1:9).
You resist the devil by saying "NO" to his temptations. That is what is involved in lifting up the shield of faith, which quenches the fiery darts of the wicked one (Eph 6:16). Those darts are his temptations. When you say "NO" to them, God gives you strength to not be overcome by them. In such a case, there may be times when you are discouraged. But when you do not yield to the devil, you have won the battle, and he has lost it.
"I will ENTER His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will ENTER His courts with praise." Sometimes i do NOT "feel" like praising, but I do anyway. Sometimes I do NOT "feel" His presence, but I worship Him anyway, knowing His Word IS truth that He IS here, never to ever leave me nor forsake me.
The text does not say "I will enter," but is an exhortation to do so: "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful and bless His name" (Psa 100:4). The words you quoted are from a chorus, not the Scripture.
The point of the text, as the next verse declares, is that an awareness of the Lord is essential to being in His presence: "FOR the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations" (100:5). As the heart ponders those realities, praise will invariably erupt. If praise does not come from such an awareness (which is by faith), there is no way that it can be praise, for praise is with "the whole heart" (Psa 86:12; 111:1; 138:1).
There is also a vast difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant -- praise is one aspect of that difference. Under the Old Covenant, praise was largely a formality. It was not driven by the degree of insight that is realized in Christ Jesus. Fear was very prominent in that praise as well. Because of his sensitive heart, David rose higher in praise than his peers. Yet, he coveted what believers now have in the Son.
The word "praise" is used differently in the Epistles. The one place it is related to our words is Hebrews 13:15, which admonishes, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." Most of the other times, believers themselves are said to be to the praise of God (Eph 1:6,12,14; Phil 1:11; 1 Pet 1:7).
I am not sure we CAN praise the Lord while NOT feeling like doing it. That suggests a cold formality, and I see nothing in Christ that suggests such a possibility. I suggest the "feeling" of reference is not in the "new man," but in the "old man." I believe I know the experience you are speaking of, but I would not refer to it as "not feeling" like praising, or "not feeling" His presence. Faith is greater than such a feeling, or sense. It is the "substance" and the "evidence" than compels you to praise God even when your soul is cast down (Psa 42:5). Your praise has sprung from your faith, which is deeper than your feeling. It is also characterized by sensitivity and awareness. The feelings of which you speak are more on the surface of your being than in its depths.
Can you help me with some words of wisdom? How do I answer their questions? How do I convince them that the Mormon Bible is not truth? What other kind of words should I be expecting to hear from them?
You should not put yourself in the position of answering their questions. They should answer your questions. They believe Jesus was only one of many prophets, and that Joseph Smith received a more recent revelation. That is why they need the book of Mormon. The core of their doctrine cannot be taken from the Bible. God has, however, spoken to us through His own Son -- period (Heb 1:1-2).
Jesus Christ is not the heart of Mormon theology or doctrine. For that reason, and because they are aggressive, you should not receive them into your house. That is what John meant by his admonition, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed" (2 John 1:10).
When you meet with people like this, it is something like letting a rattlesnake into your house. They bring poison with them, and they say things that you will not easily forget. Their words are like those of false teachers Hymenaeus and Philetus. The counsel of the Lord is, "But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort" (2 Tim 2:16-17).
It is highly unlikely that you will change their minds. There are teachers who are equipped to deal with these people, but they are few and far between. I suggest you waste no further time with them. Do with them what Jesus said to do with with the deceived religious leaders of His day. "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matt 15:14).
In Romans 12:2, what does the word "prove" mean?
The word "prove" means test and approve. That is, the individual who is not conformed to this world, and is renewed in the spirit of his mind, will be able to recognize the will of God and agree with it.
If Abraham met Melchizedek does this mean there was a priesthood of God before the Levites? Was there another "people" of God before the Israelites? Hebrews seems to imply that God recognized another high priest who was not a Levite--indeed who was before the Levitical priesthood was even established. (In Melchizedek) If so, who were these people and why were they not God's chosen people? Why do we never hear anything more about them in the bible?
Melchizedec did not represent a pre-Abrahamic chosen people, but was an individual raised up of God to confirm the nature of Christ's priesthood. That is why we know nothing more of him, his genealogy, or any people with whom he was associated. He appeared more than 500 years before there was such a thing as a Levite. He is a direct counterpart of Jesus Himself, not the Aaronic High Priesthood. We know nothing more of him than this.
Do you not believe that, with the Lord's leading through His Spirit, Christians should be unified and work together to fulfill God's plan in using His people to accomplish His purposes such as helping the needy even though we may not be in total agreement on doctrinal issues?
If the doctrinal issues directly relate to the Lord Jesus, we can have no affinity with the people. God does not allow people to be wrong about Christ Jesus. That is the "doctrine" to which John refers, and which he will not allow among the saints (2 John 1:10). Doctrines that divide churches are not always doctrines that separate from God.
The helping of the needy is a good work, but there are no specific guidelines for it in Scripture. The early church cared for its own, such as its widows, but there is no record of a general ministry to the poor of the community. Paul took up a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, but he did not take up one for the paupers on Roman streets. In my opinion, there certainly is nothing wrong with this work, but we are pretty much on our own in deciphering its required details. As a general rule, I would say you ought to honor your conscience. It falls under the word, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom 14:5).
What do you think divine healing?
I do not like the term -- it is too sectarian, and is nowhere said or suggested in the Word of God. It leaves the impression that there is some other kind of healing, and there is not.
God heals all of our diseases (Psa 103:3). He also gives gifts of healing (1 Cor 12:9). He also asks us to pray for the sick, and promises the prayer of faith will raise them up (James 5:13-15). That is what the Lord has said, and I believe Him.
IS IT RIGHT TO LEAVE A HUSBAND THAT WAS MEAN TO YOU?
God has called us to peace, not to confusion, disruption, and conflict. The Word of God instructs the married that if the unbelieving spouse is not pleased to dwell with the believing one, the believer can let them depart. They are not in bondage to them anymore. Here is what God says. "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace" (1 Cor 7:15).
God does not place an obligation upon you to remain with a husband who harms you. You are to do your best to save him, and to be peaceable. But if that does not resolve the problem, the Lord says you are not under bondage to the man.
Whatever decision you make in this matter must be done before the Lord, with much prayer and supplication. Another person cannot make your decision for you, and your decision must be pleasing to the Lord.
IS IT RIGHT FOR A HUSBAND TO BE CONSUMED WITH FINANCIAL STABILITY OVER THE GROWTH AND EDUCATIONAL DREAMS OF HIS WIFE, WHEN HE HIMSELF HAS ACHIEVED COUNTLESS DEGREES WHILE GIVING HIS WIFE AN ALLOWANCE OF $60 A MONTH - EVEN THOUGH SHE WORKED FULL TIME AND RAISED A CHILD WITH HIM?
This is too personal of a matter for it to be settled by myself or anyone else. I do not know what is involved in the "growth and educational dreams of his wife," but I do not like the sound of it. The aim of the wife (as well as the husband) must be to please the Lord, and obtain the "eternal inheritance" that belongs to her in Christ Jesus.
An allowance of $60 a month does not appear adequate for this day, and, in my judgment, is even unjust.
I suggest in this case that you reset your priorities. If your dreams pertain to life in this world, they will ultimately all pass away. Make your ambitions eternal ones -- to dwell with and serve the Lord forever. When that is settled in your mind, it will help you make right decisions about what you want in this world. Your status in this world will look differently to you when heaven is in your eye.
What is the proper response for Christians wanting to tatoo their bodies? What does the Bible teach?
Under the Law God said, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD" (Lev 19:28). These were considered customs of the heathen. I believe they still are. Some feel this is no longer applicable because we are not under the Law (Rom 6:14). I do not concur with that judgment, but realize this is a personal matter. I think it best to see the above text as an expression of God's nature, and not a cold and lifeless statute.
So how do we recognize when we are experiencing the joy that Christ wants us to have in our lives here on earth? Can you explain what it truly means to experience that unspeakable joy?
I am not sure the expression "have in our lives here on earth" is proper. "Joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pet 1:8) is deep within a person, and may not always show in the face or in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
We rejoice "in the Lord," not in circumstance (Phil 4:4). The "unspeakable joy" is directly related to believing and trusting in Jesus, as First Peter 1:8 states. The child of God is most joyous when Jesus is best understood and His benefits are seen and realized. The joy is so great it spills over into every aspect of life in this world. You know you are truly experiencing joy when nothing really matters but Jesus and your fellowship with Him. You know it when the remission of your sins is precious, and the hope of glory refreshing.
In light of the current "Ten Commandments" controversy in Alabama, what did the founding fathers mean by the separation of Church and state?
The founding fathers intended to avoid a State-dictated and controlled religion, from which they escaped when leaving England. They never envisioned the godless conditions that now prevail in our nation. Their laws and perspectives were dictated by their religion, and the Bible was, in a very real sense, the source of their governmental concepts. However, they diligently sought to avoid a State-controlled religion, choosing rather to believe the State itself was subject to the laws of God. To this very day, State religion has been very prominent in the history of Christianity. Roman Catholic, Anglican (England), Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Holland Reformed, German Lutheran, and others. That is precisely what the fathers of our country sought to avoid, and thus they wrote the constitution with as mind to not allow that to happen. Now, godless men are using their words to exclude religion, driving a wedge between God and government. This is a thorough corruption of what was originally intended, and is a monstrous insult to the Living God, who is Himself the author of government (Romans 13:1-7).
I always thought that the position of prophet was an Old Testament position but what about Romans 12:6 and Ephesians 4:11?
Prophets were not as prominent under the Old Covenant as they are under the New Covenant. They are among the essential ministries placed in the church as affirmed in Romans 12:6 and Ephesians 4:11. Ephesians 2:20 affirms the church is built upon the foundation of the "Apostles and Prophets." Ephesians 3:5 declares the knowledge of the "mystery of Christ," unknown in previous ages, has now been revealed to "His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." First Corinthians 12:28 states that God has set "prophets" "in the church," second only to the Apostles.
Confirming that Prophets did not end with the Old Covenant, Jesus said, "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward" (Matt 10:41). One of the persons who surfaced when Jesus was born was Anna, who was "a prophetess" (Luke 2:36).
One of the very first things Peter declared on the day of Pentecost was, "your sons and your daughters shall prophesy," and on my servants and handmaidens I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy." Peter said that was taking place as he spoke (Acts 2:17-18).
The book of Acts records a number of New Testament prophets. On one occasion, when a number of prophets came from Jerusalem, Agabus signified a great dearth was going to be throughout the world (Acts 11:27). The church in Antioch had a number of prophets (Acts 13:1). Judas (not Iscariot) and Silas are said to be "prophets" (Acts 15:32). Philip had four daughters who "did prophesy" (Acts 21:9).
When the church comes together, two or three prophets may speak while the other prophets evaluate what they say (1 Cor 14:29). In Christ, "the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets," that is, they can speak in an orderly and timely manner (1 Cor 14:32).
In this day of Christ "we prophesy in part" (1 Cor 13:9). Believers are urged to "covet to prophesy" (1 Cor 14:39). Timothy was set apart to the ministry through prophecies (1 Tim 1:18). Paul spoke of both men and women prophesying in Corinth, instructing that it should be done in a godly manner. The church at Thessalonica was told, "Despise not prophesyings" (1 Thess 5:20).
Prophesy is defined by Paul, showing that it includes more than foretelling the future. "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (1 Cor 14:3).
Prophets were not exclusively for the Old Covenant.
What religious group are associated with?
I am joyfully associated with all who are in Christ Jesus. I have chosen not have exclusive affiliation with any particular demonination, as Jesus has not done so. Since I must drop all sectarian names at the grave, and since none of them will be honored in the glory, I have chosen to drop them here. I have no reservations about receiving any person or group of persons who is truly in Christ Jesus, and living in the hope of glory. I choose to have no more, or less, requirements for receiving a person, or group of persons, than the Lord Jesus has.
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