QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 97
Dissecting Thayer is a bit of an art - an art that I have not even approached mastering. He (Thayer) defines the word _paramuthian_ (3889; see I Corinthians 14:3) as being any address or spoken word delivered for the purpose of arousing, stimulating, calming or consoling the hearer. As I ruminate on that, especially in comparison to its parallel words _oikodomen_ and _paraklesin_, _paramuthian_ sounds to me like "a word fitly spoken." In other words (qb's, to be more precise), a word delivered at just the right time with just the needed effect on the
emotional or spiritual state of the hearer. I would be interested to hear how you would describe this particular aspect of (what is in the context of I Corinthians 14) a primary component of the prophetic gift.
The prophetic gift involves more than words. We are told that the kingdom of God does not consist of words, or talk, but "of power" (1 Cor 4:20). The person who prophesies speaks with an intention: TO edify, exhort, and comfort. Each of these have a certain effect upon the people of God -- and the effects are the Divine objective.
Edification strengthens the individual, making more stable and solid, and able to stand. It lends itself to spiritual maturity. Exhortation moves the individual into action, constraining those who receive it to leave the plains of idleness and slothfulness, making proper adjustments in their lives. Their feet are thus directed into proper paths.
Comfort, or consolation, is to the soul what the calming of the turbulent sea was to the disciples. It is like clearing the fog from a window, so that things be more clearly seen. The person who is comforted begins to see things from a heavenly perspective, and is no longer confused by circumstances. Elisha's servant was comforted when his eyes were opened and he saw the Syrians surrounded by a mountain full of horses and chariots of fire "all around Elisha" (2 Kgs 6:17). Comfort is to spiritual life what the focusing ring is on an SLR camera.
Comfort soothes the wounds of battle, enabling a person to get up after being knocked down (2 Cor 4:9; Prov 24:16). Thus Paul was comforted by the coming of Titus, who brought him a timely word concerning the Corinthians (2 Cor 7:6). God, after all, is said to comfort those who "are cast down" (2 Cor 7:6).
Comfort is realized when words are spoken that provide a Divine perspective of otherwise troubling circumstances. It delivers in words what is elsewhere affirmed: "He cares for you" (1 Pet 5:7). It is the heavenly elixir through which recovery is realized, whether from the weariness of battle (2 Cor 1:8), or from debilitating sin (2 Cor 2:7). It awakens that indispensable hope, by which we are saved (Rom 8:24).
There is something else to be seen in this matter. Prophecy is a gift from God, which means He has a heart to encourage His people, enabling them to gain a proper perspective of the things they confront. He moves godly men to do this by speaking in concert with heaven. God is greatly to be praised for such a precious provision!
Are people just placed into preaching positions? Do they experiment at it to see if they are supposed to preach? I have asked preachers (or at least people who called themselves preachers) how they knew that they were called to preach only to be told by all of them, " If you have been called you will know it." Well, I can tell you this, I'm sure that, by hearing their preaching, most of those who told me that, if they were called to preach, were not called to preach by God because what came out of their mouths was not the Word of God.
Preachers are "sent" by God, which is the point of Romans 10:14-15. God "sent" the deliverer Moses, the captain Joshua, the Judges, the proper kings, the Prophets, and all of the Apostles. It is the Lord who maintains the administration of the church and all of its various functions, as declared in First Corinthians 12:2-7.
There is no revealed means by which men can know they are called to preach. I also have heard men who say they were "called" to preach, who were obviously mistaken in their assessment of the situation. Their claim is something like one farmer who boasted he was "called to preach." After hearing one of his dissertations, a certain listener began to doubt he was really "called." When he asked the self-proclaimed preacher how he was called, the man replied that one day when he was plowing in the field, he saw the letters "GPC" emblazoned in the sky. "Immediately," he said, "I knew what the letters meant: "Go Preach Christ." The listener responded that after hearing him preach, he felt he had misinterpreted the "call." He suggested to the "preacher" that the letters more probably meant "Go Plow Corn."
I have pondered this matter much, and offer the following as my own persuasion concerning being "called to preach." There are, in my judgment, three requisites that must be found within the perimeter of such a call.
1. The man must have something to say.
2. He must perceive a need for this to be said, and have a burning desire to declare it.
3. There must be an opportunity for him to declare the message, or "preach."
If these three do not come together, I doubt that a genuine "call" has been experienced. If, for example, the person has something to say, yet does not want to say it, and is provided with no opportunity to say it, then he has not been called. On the other hand, if he has a desire to say something, but really has nothing to say, and even an opportunity to speak, a call has not been realized.
One might cite the case of Jonah, who was given a message, had the opportunity, yet did not want to speak. It ought to be noted that until he did want to speak the message, he did not come into the city. Those three factors had to come together.
I do not believe it is proper for any person to spend a lot of time wondering if he has been called to preach. He ought to get up close to Christ, ingest the truth of God, walk in the Spirit, and live by faith. In that posture, if a call is issued from the Throne for him to preach, he will have something to say, will want to say it, and an open door will be realized.
What is the meaning of the 7 churches of Revelation?
The seven churches in Revelation were very real churches in Asia Minor. It is my understanding that in these churches nearly every possible condition of the churches is found. Some have felt they also represent successive ages. That view, however, is not supported by the text.
The manner in which Jesus speaks to these churches is an index on the way in which He assesses the churches. To each of them Jesus revealed as aspect of His own nature (2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14). He gave a personal diagnosis of each church (2:2-4,6, 2:9; 2:13; 2:19-23; 3:1,4a; 3:8-10; 3:14-17). Each church was exhorted to do something (2:5; 2:10; 2:16; 2:24-25; 3:3; 3:11; 3:18-19). Jesus gave a blessed promise to each one of them (2:7; 2:10-11; 2:18; 2:24,26-28; 3:4-5; 3:9,12; 3:20-21). Anyone with a capacity to hear the things of God is admonished to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (2:7; 2:11; 1:17; 2:29; 3:6;3:13; 3:22).
You will find enough in those views to keep you busy, keep you on your spiritual toes, and expand your own understanding of life in Christ Jesus.
What is our purpose on this earth?
It depends upon how you view the matter. From one perspective, God has made some to serve honorable purposes (like Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:5), and some for dishonorable purposes (like Pharaoh, Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17) -- Rom 9:22-23. God raised some up to be prophets (Amos 2:11). He raised up Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean to punish wayward Israel (Jeremiah 21:7; 25:9). He raised up Cyrus the Persian to lead Israel in the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 1:2-4). He raised up Paul to deliver the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21; Galatians 1:15-16). To summarize this view, God made man to serve Him, and bring Him glory -- either willingly or unwillingly.
From a more general view, God made man to be the head over His creation (Genesis 1:26). Even though that purpose was tragically effected by man's sin, it is still the objective of God, and will be realized by those who are in Christ Jesus. They will "inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). At this present time, and in a guarantee for all those who are in Christ Jesus, "the Man Christ Jesus" is presently governing the world (Hebrews 2:5-9). Those who are joined to the Lord here, and suffer with Him, are promised they will reign with Him (2 Tim 2:12).
For those in Christ Jesus, the true purpose of God is beginning to be realized. It is stated in this way, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should BRING FORTH FRUIT UNTO GOD" (Romans 7:4).
Stated succinctly, God made man for Himself and for His glory. In this world, and through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, He is preparing them for the time when the present heavens and earth will pass away (2 Peter 3:10-12). It is then that the real purpose will be realized, and we will be with the Lord forever. From God's viewpoint, our purpose on this earth is to prepare us for that time. From our viewpoint, our purpose is to prepare ourselves for that time by living by faith and walking in the Spirit.
When an individual needs to repent of something and they are well aware of this need, but are just absolutely unwilling to do so, how do they initiate repentance?
In faith, you must rely upon Jesus Christ. You are not capable of repentance "intellectually" -- at least not the repentance that is "unto life" (Acts 11:18). Christ has been exalted "to give repentance" (Acts 5:31). He can turn the heart away from one's iniquities (Acts 3:26). God grants, or gives, repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim 2:25). Those are the facts in the case. At some point, you must turn your reasoning from the necessity of repentance to the glorious possibility of repentance -- else you will despair.
While Paul was possibly describing another situation -- the unwilling entrance of evil thoughts -- he did precisely describe your situation in the words: "For I have the desire to do what is good, but cannot carry it out" (Rom 7:18).
Your desire to repent is an honorable one -- honorable before God. You must not regard it as though it was of nominal value. Your desire to repent is like the desire of the lame man by the pool of Bethesda. Jesus walked past multitudes of impotent people and addressed him face-to-face. "Do you WANT to be made well?" The man replied that he did not have anyone to assist him. To him becoming "well" appeared nearly hopeless. Jesus said to him, "Take up your bed and walk." This man had nothing to recommend him but a desire, and when that desire came to its zenith at the words of Jesus, "immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked" (John 5:7-9). In other words, when he exerted his will at the word of Jesus, he received the power to do what Jesus said. Had he asked someone to take him home to think about the matter, he would have remained impotent.
Capitalize upon your desire, not what you think of that desire. The Lord has already revealed His desire that you repent. Jesus has been already exalted to ensure that you can repent. If you can see it, Jesus has stacked the circumstances, so to speak, in favor of your repentance. Taking that desire, you can let your request be made known to God, as specified in Philippians 4:6. There are words in Scripture that precisely state what you desire: "turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the LORD my God" (Jer 31:18). Other versions read, "Restore me, and I will return." David cried out, "renew a right spirit within me" (Psa 51:10).
Do not think for one moment that God will ignore the desires of your heart. He has given His Son to ensure the road to Himself is cleared of any obstacles.
Someone asked me, "If God presides over nature, just what are "natural events." Are these some aspects of "nature" that are not governed by God?" I guess it depends on your view of how God works in the world. The Bible points out many times how God intervene's on Man's behalf in ways that surprise people. I see this as a miracle. It certainly can be considered a miracle that the universe exists, but with the precision that God gave it, the universe runs very well without constant prodding. Natural events would be those that happen without the direct intervening of God. Most storms, for instance.
God not only intervenes, He maintains and governs -- particularly through Jesus: "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Heb 1:3), and "in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:17). The universe is not running on automatic pilot, or by independent "laws of nature." That is a wholly erroneous postulate, and we do well to throw it in the theological garbage can where it belongs.
The Psalmist knew "the voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve" (Psa 29:9), and that all the brute creation is waiting on the Lord to feed them (Psa 104:27-28). Jesus said the fowls of the air were fed by the Father (Matt 6:26), and that He "clothes the grass of the field" (Matt 6:30). Our Lord also said a single sparrow "will not fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father" (Matt 10:29). The notion that anything in the creation occurs independently of God could not possibly be more wrong. If that is really how you view God's "works in the world," then you need to quickly abandon that idea. It borders on blasphemy, and sharply contrasts with particular revelation.
It is generally accepted by most if not by all scientists and informed laypersons that weather is a function of nature. Using the laws of nature, weather patterns, including storms, can be forecast with significant short-term accuracy.
There are at least nine references in Job to the Lord's involvement with "nature."
1. He Wraps waters in the clouds -- Job 26:8
2. He Imparts weight to wind, and metes the waters by measure -- Job 28:25
3. He Sets a limit for the rain and a course for the thunderbolt -- Job 28:26
4. He Draws up drops of water which distill as rain from mist -- Job 36:27
5. He Commands lightning to strike its mark -- Job 36:32
6. He Says to the snow, the gentle rain, and the heavy rain, "Fall on the earth" -- Job 37:6
7. He Saturates thick clouds with moisture and disperses clouds -- Job 37:11
8. The clouds are swirled about and guided by Him that they may do whatever He commands on the face of the whole earth -- Job 37:12
9. He Quiets the earth by the South wind -- Job 37:17
The Psalms also speak of the Lord's association with "nature."
1. "The voice of the Lord" is connected with the waters, trees, animals, fire, the wilderness, reproduction in the brute creation, and the flood -- Psa 29:3-10.
2. The Lord is also depicted as visiting the earth, and watering it -- Psa 65:9-12
3. The clouds are His chariot and He walks on the wind -- Psa 104:3
4. Thunder belongs to Him -- Psa 104:7
5. The hills are watered from His chambers -- Psa 104:13
6. Animals seek their food from God -- Psa 104:21
7. He prepares rain for the earth and makes grass to grow on the mountains -- Psa 147:8
8. Fire, hail, snow, clouds, and the stormy wind fulfill His word -- Psa 148:7
The Prophets join in the testimony.
1. God commands the clouds not to rain on certain places -- Isa 5:6
2. His voice produces a multitude of waters in the heavens, He causes vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth, He makes lightning for the rain, and brings the wind out of His treasuries -- Jer 10:13; 51:16.
3. He withholds rain, causes it to rain and one city and not on another, and on one piece of ground and not upon another -- Amos 4:7
4. He calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the earth -- Amos 9:6
5. He has His way in the whirlwind and the storm -- Nah 1:3
God's book does have some statements on meteorology. It not only makes for good reading, it helps to adjust the focus of our thinking so we can speak correctly and unto edifying on these more mundane subjects.
"I'm glad to see that in response to this quoted comment Dan points out that it makes no sense to capitalize the word spirit every time it appears in the inspired Word. In John 3 Jesus contrasts flesh and spirit. He's not contrasting our flesh and God's Spirit but rather is contrasting our human flesh and our human spirit. In Romans 8 the same contrast is being made, this time by the apostle Paul. The spirit of life and the law of the spirit may not be a reference to God's Spirit, as is implied when the word is capitalized. Humans are not only physical. We also are spiritual beings. Spiritual teachings such as are found in the Bible often refer to human spirituality as contrasted to the physical nature of humans. We'll not rightly understand the Word if we assume each Bible reference to spirit is a reference to God's spirit."
You answered a question about which is the most accurate version of the Bible. Neither of the King James' versions are. They are exactly that - versions (copies). The most accurate, and true to form, is the Catholic Bible."
Are you saying "the Catholic Bible" is not a version, or copy? It is a translation of the the CODEX VATICANUS Greek manuscript, which is one of the oldest and most valuable manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. It is, however, a copy, and not the original manuscript. It is generally understood that it was written during the forth century. It was a copy also.
The word "spirit" is mentioned twenty-one times in the eighth chapter of Romans.
1. Walking after the "Spirit" (verse 1).
2. "The law of the Spirit of life" (verses 2).
3. "The law of the Spirit of life" (verse 4).
4 Those who "live according to the Spirit" (verse 5).
5 The "things of the Spirit" (verse 5).
6. We are "not in the flesh but in the Spirit" (verse 9)
7. "The Spirit of God" (verse 9).
8. The Spirit of Christ" (verse 9).
9. "The Spirit is life" (verse 10).
10. "The Spirit of Him" (verse 11).
11. "His Spirit that dwells in you" (verse 11).
12. By "the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body" (verse 13).
13. "Led by the Spirit of God" (verse 14).
14. "The spirit of bondage" (verse 15).
15. "The Spirit of adoption" (verse 15).
16. "The Spirit Himself bears witness" (verse 16).
17. "our spirit" (verse 16).
18. The "firstfruits of the Spirit" (verse 23).
19. "The Spirit helps our weaknesses" (verse 26).
20. "The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us" (verse 26).
21. God knows "the mind of the Spirit" (verse 27).
Of all of these references, only "the spirit of bondage" and "our spirit" unquestionably are not references to the Holy Spirit. The phrase "spirit of adoption" is said by some to NOT refer to the Holy Spirit. However, they offer a miserable explanation for the view, robbing the text of its power. This is particularly evident since God is said to have given us His Holy Spirit because we are sons, and that Spirit cries out from within us, "Abba Father" (Gal 4:6). There is no version of Scripture that represents this Galatians text is referring to anyone other than the Holy Spirit. This confirms that our adoption, or sonship, is associated with the Holy Spirit, not our own human spirit.
"Flesh" and "spirit" are contrasted four times in Romans 8: verses 1,4,5,9, and 13.
1. Not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (verses 1 and 4).
2. Those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit (verse 5).
3. We are not in the flesh but in the Spirit (verse 9).
4. If we live after the flesh we will die. If we live after the Spirit we will live (verse 13).
I do not know what law of reason would move one to affirm any of these comparisons are speaking of the human spirit. The contrast is between two classes of people, not two aspects of the human nature of a single individual. The Holy Spirit is the one who is changing us from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). The human spirit is not the origin of that change, but is rather the subject of it.
Are you suggesting there is a law or principle within the human spirit that can free us from the law of sin and death? Precisely what power does the human spirit have over sin and death? What kind of liberation has it wrought? Men certainly do have a human spirit, but what redeeming or liberating power is ascribed to it. We are categorically told that God strengthens us with might by His Spirit (Eph 3:16). This would not be necessary if, in fact, the human spirit has the power to free us from the law of sin and death.
If the seventh chapter of Romans confirms anything, it is that the human spirit is not the origin of spiritual power -- even in the one who is redeemed. From verse fourteen through the conclusion of the chapter, there is not a single past tense verb, and no reference in any sense to the past. The whole passage speaks of an inward struggle that requires Divine assistance, and the hope of deliverance. Romans eight introduces both the assistance and the ultimate deliverance (8:21-25).
Because of the nature of spiritual life, and the need for spiritual understanding, those who post remarks on such critical subjects are obligated to think out what they say, taking the time to correlate their thoughts with the Word of God. Those in Christ Jesus have enough to overcome without having to overcome the words and views of their brethren.
"I had a long discussion with ___________ on the phone last pm about the subject of baptism. I gave him all the scriptures Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, John 1:12-13, 1 Peter 3:21, Romans 6:3-4, Gal 3:27. Baptism is a means through which we are saved; baptism unites us with Christ, we are changed through Christ.
He thinks we are "saved" when we believe. He doesn't think baptism is essential for salvation. These are his thoughts: He referred to Act 10 that says the Genitles were filled with the Holy Spirt before they were baptized. Jesus saved the thief on the cross without water baptism (I told him that was a one time event). HE said baptism is an outward sign of the inward conversion experience. He also referred me to a site (from a respected author he says) that reflects what he says.
I told him I was only using Scripture. What else can I say to him?"
___________ is just spouting to you what he is receiving from someone else. You did good to remind him of the Scriptures.
The case with Cornelius was a sort of epoch -- the opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27). It was by no means a standard to be realized by everyone coming into Christ. The Scriptures do not say Cornelius was "filled with the Spirit" prior to his baptism. Rather, it is written that the Spirit "fell upon those who heard the word" (Acts 10:44), and that the Spirit was "poured out upon the Gentiles also" (Acts 10:45). They also spoke with tongues and magnified God (Acts 10:46). All of this was largely for Peter's benefit, to confirm God was, in fact, receiving the Gentiles (Acts 10:46-47). It is the only time in Scripture that anyone was said to receive the Spirit (Acts 10:47) prior to their baptism. This was no more a standard than the thief on the cross was a standard. No Apostle ever referred to the conversion of Cornelius' household as a kind of pattern for all time. Rather, it represented a significant event in the history of the church -- the acceptance of the Gentiles. It took place more than ten years after Pentecost, which accentuates how significant the occasion was.
The thief on the cross was saved before Jesus died, was raised, or ascended into heaven. Neither had the Holy Spirit been given. Jesus said that would not happen until He had been glorified (John 7:38-39). _______ might as well conjecture that a person could be saved without Jesus dying, being raised the dead, and being seated at the right hand of God. None of that had happened when the promised the thief he would be with Him in paradise. The thief was saved because of his faith in what was coming -- just like Abraham and those who believed in previous times. There is no question concerning Christ's ability to save people, even today, in unusual circumstances. Those are things we must leave in His hands. However, there is no doubt about the norm, and that is what we are to preach.
The Word of God never puts a question mark over the word "baptism" -- never! It is never demeaned, and is never put forth as something that occurs after we are "saved." It is never set forth as being optional or unnecessary. All of the arguments of men cannot make the Scriptures read in such a manner as to lead to such erroneous conclusions. Such views are strictly from men, and they are fundamentally dishonest men.
_________ needs to tell you what the Scriptures say about baptism. It is of no consequence what he thinks they mean. What do they say? Not one person of Scripture pointed to the thief on the cross or the household of Cornelius as an example of how men are saved. They knew these were unusual circumstances. They offer hope for those in our time who are in unusual circumstances, but they are never preached to the masses -- never. _______ has to answer why he speaks differently about baptism than the Holy Spirit, and those who were inspired by Him. He needs to tell you what text of Scripture says baptism is a "sign of an inward conversion." He does not need to give you a website, but a text of Scripture that says this.
Here are twenty things with which baptism is associated. Every one of them have to do with salvation, and they are all associations made by the Holy Spirit. No honest person can accept these as the Word of God and take the position Mike is taking. Instead of giving you a lot of vain reasoning, he needs to provide some text of Scripture that says about baptism precisely what he is saying -- exactly like he is saying it.
Here the associations the Holy Spirit made with baptism.
1. Repentance (Acts 2:38).
2. The remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
3. The gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
4. Believing (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12; 18:8).
5. Salvation, or being "saved" (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
6. Being buried with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12).
7. In baptism we were raised with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12).
8. Being identified with Christ's death (Rom 6:3).
9. Becoming dead to sin (Rom 6:2-3).
10. Becoming alive to God (Rom 6:3-11).
11. The circumcision of Christ, in which the whole body of sin is cut away (Col 2:11-12).
12. Faith in the operation, or working, of God (Col 2:12).
13. Coming into Christ (Gal 3:27).
14. Putting on Christ (Gal 3:27).
15. A commandment (Acts 10:48).
16. The confession of Christ (Acts 8:36-37).
17. Gladly receiving the Word of God (Acts 2:41).
18. Washing away our sins (Acts 22:16).
19. Coming into one body through the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13).
20. Something that is done "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Matt 28:19).
"Once saved, can a person go back to being lost and, in effect, unsaved? Any input on this would be appreciated. Thanks and God bless!"
Indeed they can. This is because salvation is obtained and maintained by faith. A person can "depart from the faith" (1 Tim 4;1), make "shipwreck of the faith" (1 Tim 1:19), and believe only "for a while" (Luke 8:13). An "evil heart of unbelief" can enter a person, causing him to depart from the living God (Heb 3:12). There is a state that is "worse" than before a person came to Christ -- a state that occurs AFTER the individual has escaped from the pollutions of the world (2 Pet 2:20).
The words of our blessed Lord (John 10:27-29) are intended to be a great consolation to those who are depending upon Him, ands resting their souls upon Him. They refer to Jesus' sheep -- those who "hear" His voice and "follow" Him (verse 27). They really apply to no one else, regardless of their profession.
It is not possible to have faith in Christ and be lost, or fail to be saved. It is not possible to trust in Christ and be rejected by Him. However, that faith and trust is not to be taken for granted. The faith must be kept (2 Tim 4:7), and we must believe "unto the saving of the soul," and not "draw back to perdition" (Heb 10:39).
A person who is believing on Christ is never threatened with condemnation. Conversely, the person who is not believing on Him is never promised salvation. This is precisely why believers are told, "fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim 6:12). Faith, and only faith, "is the victory that overcomes the world" (1 John 5:4-5). No person is in danger of being lost who keeps that faith.
"He said one that he (Paul) spoke in tongues did so with unfruitfulness to his mind."
This is not what Paul said. He posed a hypothetical case to show the unreasonableness of any message that is not understood -- which circumstance violates the whole purpose for any message: "For IF I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful (1 Cor 14:14). A message that cannot be understood is no message at all -- much less a word from God.
The subject considered in verses 13-14 has to do with edifying the church (verse 12), not personal or private utterances. The "Wherefore" of verse 13 means "For this reason," or "Therefore." The interpretation to the church, not to himself, was the point -- "the edifying of the church."
The context of chapter fourteen is the edifying of the body of Christ (verses 3,5,12,26). He establishes that this cannot be accomplished independently of understanding (verses 2,14,15,16,19.20). He further establishes that in every strata of life, a failure to understand genders confusion -- when "uncertain" sounds are uttered (verses 7-8). He adds if words easy to be understood are not uttered by the tongue, men "shall speak into the air" (verse 9). He also states that there are many kinds of "voices," or "languages" (NKJV/NASB/NIV) in the world, and all of them have a meaning, or are "not without signification" (verse 10). If, therefore, I hear a language I do not understand, the one speaking to me "shall be a barbarian unto me" (verse 11). That circumstance nullifies any hope of edification.
To affirm that God Himself would so speak to men seems to me to be a most dangerous position, and one that can in no wise be supported by any clear teaching of Scripture.
Paul also sites the prophesy of Isaiah to confirm that words that cannot be understood are not a sign to the believer (verses 21-22). Isaiah's prophesy pronounced a judgment upon Israel because they had not listened to God, even when He had spoken plainly to them (Isa 28:9-12). The "stammering lips" of which he spoke was the speech of their captors in the Babylonian captivity -- just as Moses prophesied (Deut 28:49). Jeremiah also foretold this circumstance (Jer 5:15). There is no possible way to turn such "sign" into a blessing.
As to a person edifying himself by means of something he does not understand, this contradicts the whole thrust of this chapter, as well as the instruction Paul gave concerning spiritual gifts. We know that the purpose of the gifts -- all of them -- is to edify (1 Cor 14:12). Further, they are not given for personal benefit, but to "profit withal," or "for the common good" (1 Cor 12:7). The notion of a legitimate spiritual gift that yields benefit only to its possessor, or of a gift that does not bring edification to the body of Christ is wholly erroneous. It contradicts the whole reason for gifts in the first place.
"Dear brother Blakely, I have just read the article below. I noted that you wrote that Jesus' work consisted of 2 parts: his death and current intercession. In 1 Cor. 2:4 Paul said he preached Christ and him crucified. Thru the centuries, others who have considered Jesus carefully have said that it was first his sinless life lived (in the days of his flesh) and then that life offered up in sacrifice. To mention this does not deny his current intercession for us."
I believe I said the salvation Jesus came to effect consisted of His atoning death and intercessory work, with the resurrection being the ratifying link between them.
Technically, the Savior's sinless life was in order to qualify Him as a spotless Lamb. That righteous life, culminating when Jesus yielded Himself to the will of God in the garden, was an offering that was foreshadowed in the offering the high priests of old presented for themselves (Heb 7:27).
When the Scriptures affirm we are saved "by His life," it is Christ's resurrected life that is meant. Our salvation absolutely required that Jesus live a sinless life. That life, however, did not atone for sin, nor is it the basis for our justification. I believe the Spirit is consistent in representing this to be the case. This is the perspective of Paul's remarkable synopsis of our justificafion. "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom 8:34).
"I know that before a person is baptized into Christ, they must believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. When I was baptized I didn't know what the word Christ meant but I did believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and that He died for the sins of the world. Would my baptism be valid?"
Knowing Jesus is the Christ is not a matter of academics, word definitions, and the likes. You may not have known the etymological definition of "Christ," but you did know He was the One God had sent. You did know He was the One who died and rose again. He was the focus of your attention, not the preacher or some other man. In your heart you did know "what the word Christ meant." Your knew He was, so to speak, the main Man -- the One whom you believed -- or you would not have wanted to obey Him. That is what Him being "the Christ" means -- the anointed or chosen one. Later, your mind caught up with your heart. It is, after all, "with the heart" that man believes, not the mind (Rom 10:10).
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