Group Number 102

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The birth father of my daughter I had to give up 38 yrs ago when I ws only 16 contacted me last
week and wants to see me.  He said he has never stopped loving me.  All of my old feelings for him I find are coming back and I am seeing him today. We are going over to see our daughter and 3 grandchildren together for him it will be the first time he has seem any of them. He wants to resume our relationship and I am willing to do that. He has been single since 29.  The only thing I am afraid of is being intimate before we are comitted to one another.  I don't want to do anything that is against God but know it can be very difficult when the attraction is there so strongly.  I ask for you prayers and advice.

Proceed with godly caution on this matter. Arm yourself with a determination to keep yourself pure, and do not get into any circumstance that gives an opportunity for the devil to gain the upper hand. God has spoken on this matter to us all. "and do not give the devil an opportunity" (Eph 4:27). and "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Rom 13:14).
There must be no intimacy outside of marriage, as you already know. God is clear about this: "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb 13:4). Being intimate outside of marriage would make you both fornicators, and God affirms He will judge such souls. Among other things, that means He will give grace to maintain the purity that He requires.
Both of you must be sure that you are being drawn to each other by a pure love, and not by base lusts. God can give you grace to see each other as you really are, and to keep yourselves pure. I suggest both of you pray together about this, doing so in a place that is more public than private.

If a Christian does not sin, than I am a walking contradiction too. I do not like to sin, but I would be lying if I said I never did. Have I missed something? I know He is helping me move upwards away from earthly things.

Indeed, you did miss something. I said, "That is why a sinning Christian is a  walking contradiction." This does not suggest that no Christian sins. It does mean that sin is not the manner of their life. Nothing about salvation causes or encourages sin. The Holy Spirit lends no assistance in the matter of sinning. The Word of God does not encourage sin. No part of Christ's intercession contributes to sin. That is why sin is so painful to the sensitive of heart. That is why God has provided an Advocate for us. That is why the Lord not only forgives us of sin, but cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7,9; 2:1). This is why John says, "He who sins is of the devil" (1 John 3:8) -- to draw a clear and concise line. When we sin -- and if any man says he does not sin, he has lied (1 John 1:8) -- it is because we have succumbed to the devil, made a place for him, and yielded to him. Thank God, there is forgiveness and cleansing from it. Notwithstanding, in that sin, we have contradicted everything God has said about salvation. Thank God for the prospect of deliverance from this vile body, where no element of weakness will ever again be found in us.
These are rather elementary observations. There is no need for a man of your tenure in Jesus to have questions about these things. You can have confidence in your standing before God as well as sorrow over coming short of His glory.

What about people who do not want to go to church?

God has placed us in Christ's body, precisely placing us where "it hath pleased Him" (1 Cor 12:18). That body is interdependent, with every spiritual enablement is given "for the common good" (1 Cor 12:7). Paul reminded the Ephesians that the way in which Jesus builds up His people is "according to the effective working by which  every part does its share," thereby causing the "growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Eph 4:16). The Colossians were told that nourishment is "ministered" from Jesus through the "joints and ligaments" of the body -- the points at which they touch each other -- and that this is the means by which "the increase of God" is realized (Col 2:19).
All of this postulates that the saints "come together," and that they are to do so "for the better" (1 Cor 11:17). When they gather at the Lord's table, it is said to be when they "come together in one place" (1 Cor 11:20). The "whole church" is also said to "come together into one place" (1 Cor 14:23). Under ordinary circumstances, there is no real people of God who do not meet together. Even those who are under harsh persecution find a way to gather, even if it is underground and in the caves of the earth.
People who "stay at home" are not like Christ, and He is not living in them. We know this is true, because Jesus said He was with those who came together (Matt 18:20). How can such a Christ be alive in those who have no such inclination? Paul spoke of the Corinthians being gathered together "with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 5:4). He even said the angels were cognizant of their gatherings (1 Cor 11:10). An apathetic view toward holy assemblies is wrong, and can in no way be justified. Such a view is to be contrasted with that of the Savior and the holy angels -- before whom these neglecters will eventually stand.
During a decadent period in Israel's history, those who feared the Lord "spake often one to another." It is written that "the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord and thought upon His name." He affirmed of those precious souls, "And they shall be Mine 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).
When people do not want to meet with kindred spirits, a serious problem exists. They do not want to be with people God has chosen -- people that He sees, hears, remembers, and honors. If they do not love their brethren, John suggests that it is not even possible that they love God (1 John 4:20).

Even if come have placed all their hope & faith in Jesus and His word! Repented of their sins?? Confessed Him as Lord & savior of their life. and even if they were immersed for the remission of their sins. They still belieev in the Catholic doctrines and still attend the Catholic church? Would you please tell me then, how she could be saved??

There are some people whom Jesus receives even though they are in a church that believes and does things He does not approve. Sardis was a church with whom Jesus found fault. He said to that church, "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you"  (Rev 3:2-3). Yet, in that church there were some who had not been contaminated with its ways. He also said, "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy"  (Rev 3:4). I trust you would not find fault with those people. Jesus did not.
The church at Thyatira had a woman among them who said she was a prophetess, and had seduced Christ's servants into committing fornication and eating things offered to idols. Jesus said He was going to "kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works" (Rev 2:23). Yet, even in that miserable situation He also said, "But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden" (Rev 2:24). I hope you would not condemn those people. Jesus did not.
The church in Laodicea was in such a terrible state that Jesus could not find a single good thing about it. He described the whole church as being "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev 3:17). Yet He said to them, "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev 3:18-19). This is the very church to whom He said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me"  (Rev 3:20). I hope you would not write all of them off. Jesus did not.
The church in Pergamum had some among them who held to false doctrines -- "the doctrine of Balaam," who taught others how to make God's people stumble, and "the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes,' which doctrine said He Himself hated. They were like the Catholic church, holding to false doctrines. Yet Jesus said to them, "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it" (Rev 2:16-17). Would you have offered such a promise to these people? Jesus did.
In all of these cases, the people were in a place that was not approved by Jesus -- yet in responding to Christ, they were saved in spite of those uncomely environments. Also, in the book of the Revelation, there is a depiction of the false church -- a church Satan has raised up to seduce people and lead them away from Christ. It is called "Babylon the Great," and is portrayed as a "great whore" -- or one who is unfaithful. Jesus cries out to His people, "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities" (Rev 18:4-5). They were His people when they were in that environment, but were summoned to "come out." Would you have addressed some people that environment as being God's people? God did.
You do not want to assume that no one can find the Lord unless they are in an ideal environment. That is not the case. Some people found and obeyed Christ while they in a synagogue that hated both Jesus the Gospel (Acts 18:5-8). Also, it is not right to assume that because people are in a church that teaches false doctrines, that they all believe those doctrines, and have embraced them. Some people Sardis had not given in to their prideful ways. Some people in Pergamum had not believed the false doctrines that some held there.
By the same token, the church in Ephesus was very precise about what they taught -- and Jesus commended them for it. They even tested those who said they were apostles, and found that they were not. Yet, Jesus rejected them because they had left their first love, and called upon them to repent or else be removed from His presence (Rev 2:2-5).
You need to be careful how you speak about people who have heard the Lord, believed on Him, and obeyed Him. Do not be so hasty to write them off. Jesus is not, and neither should you. There is simply too much in God's word about this matter for you to speak as you did.

That is why I disagree with your answers you sent me. I do not know how a practicing Catholic could be saved! They have not been baptized with the gospel baptism! So they are never truly been born again! However I do believe they can come out from among them and be saved, as I have immersed several Catholics into Christ.

The answers I sent you were texts providing the words of Jesus Himself. Do not be hasty to disagree with them. He knows more about such things than you do. You are, by your very profession of faith, obliged to bow your knee to the word of the King.
You are reading more into what I said that I intended. Catholic baptism is not baptism at all. When I say "baptism," I mean the baptism taught in Scripture -- going down into the water and coming up out of it -- a burial and a resurrection. I also was not speaking of a "practicing Catholic" as ordinarily conceived, but of someone who was in that environment. but did not agree with it -- just like some of the members in Sardis and Thyatira. Jesus Himself has spoken about such circumstances, and I provided the information about what He said, who He said it to, and where it is written.
The Scripture nowhere suggests that loving and obeying the truth is only possible in a certain environment. Where the environment is not proper, the people must eventually come out. God calls His people out of such environments (2 Cor 6:17; Rev 18:4). It is not wise to say such people do not belong to God, or that they have not obeyed the Gospel. If you are suggesting that all Catholics are baptized by sprinkling water upon them, you are simply wrong. There are increasing numbers Catholics who are being immersed because of their personal knowledge of the Scriptures. Leave room in your thinking for the "remnant" of genuine believers who are in bad environments -- scattered among false churches. Just as surely as everyone in Restoration churches are not true Christians, so everyone in sectarian churches are not necessarily lost. How can God call His people out of these environments if none of them exist there.
You must widen your thinking on this subject to agree with what God has said on it, and with very real circumstances. I deal with these people -- even with priests and bishops. They are not all slaves to the false church. Some of them are seeing the truth, obeying it, and preparing to leave the domain of delusion. This has been the way God has always worked. It should not surprise you that He is still doing so.

Of course the apostle Paul tells us some were called to be apostles, while others were called to fill other roles.  And of course the apostles were equipped to fulfill their apostolic role.  Does that mean every word that came from them was directly from the Spirit of God?  If for whatever reason you think every word recorded in the Scripture was the voice of God, you need to read the Scriptures themselves.  Surely they include words directly inspired by the Holy Spirit, but in contexts that included words of others.  The apostle Paul told us very clearly that he expressed his own opinion as one approved of God.  I, for one, believe Paul was honest when he acknowledged some things he wrote weren't directly from God, though he believed they were approved by God.  That sound very much like you, like Given, and like others who participate in these discussions.

Since this is not the first time such a reference has been made to statements Paul said were from him, and not directly from the Lord, all of the facts -- at the very least, more of them -- ought to be placed on the table. There are three such references.
1 - "But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.  (1 Cor 7:6-11). Here Paul is not saying his advice is mere human opinion, but that he is not laying out a set of rigid guidelines for the married. There was to be an avoidance of fornication (7:2). Due consideration was to characterize the married life (7:3-6). The advice is conditioned by a "proper gift" that had been dispensed by God to each individual (1 Cor 7:7), and the aptitude of the individuals (1 Cor 7:9).
2 - "But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her" (1 Cor 7:12-24). In this matter Paul is not competing with the Lord, but speaking with a grasp of what God is doing in Christ, and the objective of spiritual life. He is "handling" the Word of God as one whom the Lord "counted faithful, putting him into the ministry" (1 Tim 1:12). If the Lord considered him faithful, what possible reason could you have for thinking of him in any other way? It is similar to a qualified engineer (or weatherman) speaking about matters related to his area of learning and expertise, yet which had not been spelled out in official manuals.
3 - "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful" (1 Cor 7:25-40). God had not given marriage directives to "virgins" -- other then maintaining moral purity. The judgment Paul provided was not considered to be a Divine mandate -- but it was a "judgment" given from a man who had received mercy "to be faithful." His word, therefore, in no way conflicted with the truth. It was conditioned upon the individuals addressed, their aptitude, and the circumstances in which they found themselves. It was not intended to be a strict procedure, but was given in view "the present distress" that was being experienced by the readers (7:26).
        Who could address such matters better than a person Jesus had considered "faithful," putting him into the ministry? Who would be better qualified than a person who had obtained mercy to be faithful? How could it be possible for any person to better assess a situation than one to whom God had made known His own purpose, which had been hidden from all prior ages (Eph 3:2-11), giving him a superior understanding of it.
    Would you have us believe that you are in a position co-chair a discussion of such things with Paul?
    Second, these passages do not represent a trend in Paul's writings. His epistles are not filled with expressions of this sort. Paul did not speak in this manner about God, Christ,. the Spirit, the grace of God, justification, sanctification, the church, our inheritance . . . . etc. Further, when he did speak of these practical matters, he did so within the context of the salvation of God, which God had given him to understand. If we cannot depend on a man like that, no one among us should object if we reject their assessment of that man.
    Third, the statements to which you have referred were delivered to one of the most troubled churches of Scriptural record, who had asked Paul about complexities in marriage. He gave his "advice," and rendered his "judgment," not because they were merely his opinion, but because there was a certain liberty in those areas that was not to be found in things having to do with eternal matters.
    Fourth, Paul had "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16) so that he was able speak in concert with Christ's will. This mind was given to him directly from Christ, and specifically related to his ordained ministry -- one which Jesus associated with Paul being "faithful."
    Fifth, what is "written" -- "Scripture" --  is said to have been written  by God's inspiration (2 Tim 3:16-17). Whatever your personal views may be, you do not do well to cast aspersions on what is "written." No one of Scriptural record ever questioned the integrity of the Scriptural writings that were before them. Whether it was lost Scriptures found in the rubble of a neglected temple (2 Kgs 22-23), the writings of Jeremiah that Daniel had in Babylon (Dan 9:2), the writings of Moses in Jesus day (John 5:46), or Paul's writings as read by Peter (2 Pet 3:16), they were always taken as from God. No section of them was "tagged" as being inferior, or possibly wrong -- even though, for some, they had been written over 1,000 before.
    What kind of mind-set moves a person to put a question mark upon some section of Scripture, as though they actually were empowered to make such a judgment? How can a person enter into an arena that is presented as being initiated and governed by God Himself, and flag this or that as being spurious, or nothing more than an opinion? Can this really be called "Handling the Word of God aright?" (2 Tim 2:15) -- or can that admonition be tossed to the side with a simple affirmation that, by some gift or superior knowledge, certain words are really not from God at all.
    If men are actually going to judged by the Word (John 12:48), and if God is going to be vindicated in "all of His sayings," overcoming His critics soundly and openly, and to their utter consternation, (Psa 51:4; Rom 3:4), then I suggest a bit more sobriety and caution in your assessment of that word. I for one, refuse to put my soul in your hands. But, if you are really right in your assessment, I would have to do just that, for you would have taken from me the one word in which I have been brought to trust.


This somewhat lengthy discussion was originally set in motion by Paul's following remark, which was addressed to me:
The passage you cite tells us these Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit. Where does the Holy Spirit dwell? If we idolize Peter as infallible, we might understand his order in the way our Baptist friends do and follow the example of physical immersion in water after
one has been immersed into Christ. But if we see Peter as a devout Jewish servant still in the process of being transformed by the renewing of his mind, we might understand his order as consistent with his own Jewish traditions ... his baggage. What the passage reveals is
that God had accepted the pleas of these Gentiles before Peter accepted them. Which is more important? Acceptance by God or by our erring siblings?"


At least the way that you think is being made known, and it is a miserable way, indeed. Now you state I have denied the superiority of Christ, and have equated the Scriptures with the Son of God -- neither of which was affirmed, nor is believed, by myself. What I did say was that the Gospel and the accomplishments of Christ have been joined together. That does not make the two equal. The Gospel is the exclusive means of informing us of what God has wrought in Christ Jesus. I did not say that the Gospel was made known without words. That is what you implied when you said the following:

Your conclusion that the death, burial and resurrection of the risen Lord would be worthless without words describing the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior is, frankly, ridiculous. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross rather than words about that sacrifice is what covers our sins." (5/28/2005)

You sound as though you are denying that "The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation" when you write,

"The Good News is that God is using His power to save. The power behind the Good News is God. Without the power of God, words are useless. The Good News is about the power of God to save everyone who is believing (per literal translation of what the apostle really wrote)." (5/28/2005).

To which "literal translation" of Romans 1:16 do you refer? "Gospel" is the antecedent of "power," and that perfectly corresponds with other Scriptural statements. The "message of the cross" is declared to be "the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18). This does not suggest Christ is not "the power of God" (1 Cor 1:24). The Gospel is the MEANS through which God brings that power to the individual. That is why it is "living and powerful" (Heb 4:12), is the "seed" of the kingdom through which valid growth is realized (Luke 8:11).

Solemnly, the Apostle John hinges our salvation to the belief of a “RECORD” or “testimony” – “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:10-11). And what is it that is to be believed? Some private word or secret intuition that is given to the individual? Is it not the Gospel. And is not the ONLY form of that Gospel available to us found in Scriptures? If that is not true, precisely what other source to we have available to us? Tell us!

Throwing theological dust into the air you ask, "Is the Word made of ink printed on paper? No! The Word became flesh ... and we call Him Savior."

Of course not. But now that you mention it, I will again ask you for what you do not seem to be able to offer. Exactly what do you know about Christ that is not "printed on paper?" Please share that with us. Precisely what do you know about Christ, the Gospel, salvation, and all of their involvements, that is not written on paper? Tell us, brother Paul! Tell us!
Tell us why God said, "Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and MADE KNOWN THROUGH THE PROPHETIC WRITINGS by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him-- (Rom 16:25-26)? Why does it say of Jesus: "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said IN ALL THE SCRIPTURES concerning himself" (Luke 24:27)? Why didn't Jesus have the same view of the Scriptures that you do?

First some rather elementary observations about the Scriptures and the Word of God. On one occasion, Jesus spoke of God’s word, then referred to “the Scripture.” “If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came--and THE SCRIPTURE CANNOT BE BROKEN.” (John 10:35). Of course, you have been espousing a position that suggests it can – at least by human intervention.

Second, God is said to have magnified His Word and His name above all things: “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for YOU HAVE EXALTED ABOVE ALL THINGS YOUR NAME AND YOUR WORD” (Psa 138:2). Some versions read, “You have magnified Your word above all Your name” (Psa 138:2). That is, God has joined His word to His own Person -- and here we have you making an attempt to separate them. God has suspended our hopes upon what He has SAID. That is also a point made in Hebrews. “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged” (Heb 6:18). Two things – His promise and His oath, and both are articulated in Scripture, which is the whole appeal of the Hebrews text.

Add to this that Jesus said of His words, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63). Further, His words were spoken through His appointed messengers, and lost no power owing to that circumstance. As Paul wrote, "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as IT ACTUALLY IS, the word of God, WHICH IS AT WORK in you who believe" (1 Thess 2:13).

A REQUIREMENT FOR YOU. Now, what we need from you is one word – a single word – a solitary expression of God – upon which we can hope that is not articulated in Scripture. And when you provide this – which is indispensable to your position – we will also have to put it to the test to see if it is true.

Why is it said of Paul that he "vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving FROM THE SCRIPTURES that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 18:28)? Why did he say of his own preaching, "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, SAYING NONE OTHER THINGS than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles" (Acts 26:22-23).

It is apparent that you are not acquainted with the Lord's use of writing. When He had given the Law and its attending ordinances, He told Moses to "WRITE THIS on a scroll as something to be remembered" (Ex 17:14). When He told Moses of Israel eventually having a king, He commanded, "HE IS TO WRITE FOR HIMSELF he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites" (Deut 17:18). When He revealed certain things to Isaiah, He told him, "Go now, WRITE IT on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness" (Isa 30:8). When He revealed things to Jeremiah He said, "WRITE IN A BOOK all the words I have spoken to you" (Jer 30:2).

When Jehudi took his scribe's knife, cutting Jeremiah's scroll into pieces and burning "the entire scroll" with fire, the Lord told Jeremiah to have rewrite the words on another scroll, thus maintaining them (Jeremiah 36:22-28). Could it be true that God would have less interest in preserving His Word today than He did then? And if it is said that He did, in fact, preserve the Gospel, but allowed the other sayings to be removed or corrupted, how can such a thought be substantiated? Men men can really distort the Word of God, why have not the enemies of God been able to destroy the Scriptures altogether -- they certainly have set out many times to do so. Is it that God will allow just a little corruption to be found in the Scriptures, which He has revealed is the ordained means of making us "wise unto salvation" (2 Tim 3:15), and "thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:17)? Is this the one area where a "little yeast" does not "work "through the whole batch of dough?" (1 Cor 5:6). Is Scripture the one place where good and evil can actually be joined? Or is the Gospel of Christ in the Scriptures like "a gold ring in a pig's snout" (Prov 11:22). If the position you are suggesting is true, these all must be true.

When Jesus revealed Himself to John on the Isle of Patmos He said, "WRITE ON A SCROLL what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea" (Rev 1:11). I can only imagine what these men would have said if anyone suggested they were making an idol of what was written.
Like a spiritual toddler you say,

"Yes we should respect what God's servants ... then and now ... have to say, but without confusing their words with the very words of God. Remember neither Peter nor Paul would allow men to worship them. We ought to stop short of worshipping them too."

Then Paul turns around and says of presence and message, "And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, EVEN AS CHRIST JESUS” (Gal 4:14). That certainly was not worship – either of the word or of Paul, and if you are suggesting that relying upon the words of Scripture is idolatry, you have only revealed how wrong a person can be. Jesus said of those He sent, “"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me” (Mat 10:40).

One thing I know about you. You could never have written the 119th Psalm -- a spiritual ode to the Word of God. Yet, the man who wrote it was endeared to the Lord, and excelled his peers.
When Isaiah spoke of the day of salvation he wrote, "In that day the deaf will hear THE WORDS OF THE SCROLL, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see" (Isa 29:18).

Your comments on Jesus' words (which you say were John's words) leave a little to be desired:

"Heed John: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." You've surely come to the Scriptures; now come to Christ." (John 5:39).

The Scriptures were the testimony intended to point them to Christ. He is what they had not seen IN THE SCRIPTURES . Jesus was not calling on them to ignore the Scriptures, but to perceive them correctly. Jesus said they were THE SCRIPTURES that testified about Him. I am declaring that Jesus IS seen in Scripture, and that they are the means through which we are made aware of Christ. It ought to be obvious that we can allow you no leniency in tampering with “the Scriptures” which testify of Christ. If you imagine that you are qualified to do so, then present us with your credentials that have qualified you to approach the Scriptures as though they contained misrepresentations, fabrications, and the interpolations of men. These views, of course, have been borrowed from other doubters, and are not even your own. You have chosen to value the unsubstantiated analyses of other men, rather than to defaulting to a view of the Scriptures that is consistently, and without a single deviation, espoused by men of Scriptural record. Yet on this list, it is not at all unusual to hear men actually balk at something that is stated in Scripture by a man of God.

In the Scriptural record, when godly men were confronted with a statement of Scripture it was an end of all controversy. They would except the word without hesitation – whether it was king Josiah in a time of spiritual decline (2 Kgs 22:1-13), the Israelites of Nehemiah’s day after the Babylonian captivity (Neh 8:14-16), or the Bereans who heard Paul preach things they had not heard before (Acts 17:11).

When you said –

"They did not discount the truth, the value, the relevance of the Law, the Prophets, or the Writings ... yet they still proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah to those who refused to believe our Savior is superior to the sacred writings He fulfilled,"

– your utter confusion spilled out. Rather than showing some relevance in the writings of Scripture, they were the message they expounded and opened up. Paul said "nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen" (Acts 26:22). He persuaded people in Italy concerning Jesus "both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets" (Acts 28:23). Earlier Apollos was noted for "proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 18:28).

A REQUIREMENT FOR YOU – Now, you still have not told me what you know about Christ that is not in the Bible -- written, as you are wont to say, with ink on paper. Precisely what "word" are you clinging to that was not made known to you through the Scriptures?

ANOTHER REQUIREMENT FOR YOU -- Until you come to the point where you actually "live by every word of God," you will continue to have this accommodating view of the Scriptures. And, if you continue to affirm that the word of God is actually separate from the Scriptures, then give us a single word of God that you know that is not in the Scriptures. Come forward with it, and do not be ashamed.
You have attempted to take from us some of the words of God. You have sought to do so with fanciful explanations and various philosophizings, drawing up your resources from the well of human wisdom. You have spoken of "Jewish baggage," which you affirmed is reflected in what Scriptures says was preached by the Apostles. You have declared that some of the writings were really nothing more than opinions, or perhaps interpolations. And, this is not the first time you have done this. This is an intellectual wart that you have had for some time, and it seems to be getting larger. Do you imagine that some of us will sit by and pretend this is intelligent, or feign ourselves to be unsure of the Word of God ourselves?

One of my objections is that you have given us nothing in the place of what you have tried to take. You acknowledge you need a Savior, but speak with a tone of doubt concerning the very message that informs us of Him – yes, informs us of every single thing we know of Him, or can know of Him. If that is not so, then be up and showing us what you know of Jesus that is not in the Bible. And if you cannot show it to us, then what kind of reasoning leads you to believe you can trust the Scriptures on what they say about Jesus, but NOT on what they say of other related subjects.

Now, I wait to see what else will come out of you, for the more you are pressed on this subject, the more the thoughts and intents of your heart are being made known.

A quesgion concerning the hiring of a new minister -- Do *you* believe without any doubt that God has this man already "picked out," and that our only job is to find him?  If so, what reasoning leads you to that conclusion?

Be patient with me as I reason out loud for a moment.
First, when God sent a message to the seven churches of Asia, He did so in this fashion: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which GOD GAVE HIM to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by SENDING HIS ANGEL to his servant JOHN" (Rev 1:1). From God, through Jesus Christ, through an angel, through John. Then, John was told to send the message to "the angel," or messenger, of each of the churches: "the angel of the church in Ephesus" (2:1), "the angel of the church in Smyrna" (2:8), "the angel of the church in Pergamum" (2:12), "the angel of the church in Thyatira" (2:18), "the angel of the church in Sardis" (3:1), "the angel of the church in Philadelphia" (3:7), and "the angel of the church in Laodicea" (3:14). The letter was not sent to the churches, but to the "angel" of each of the churches. It was not sent to the elders of the churches, but to the "angel" of each of the churches. If this was not a person, but an "angel" as ordinarily conceived, then we have an angel from heaven telling John to deliver seven messages to seven other angels from heaven - which would indicate that heavenly angels have some form of supervisory role in the churches -- or that they in some way communicate critical messages to them. I do not know that this postulate can be supported. All of this may seem unrelated to the subject, but it does indicate that a single personality existed in each of those churches to whom the message John received from an angel (who received the message from Jesus, who received the message from God) was delivered.
Second, if there is such as thing as God's "eternal purpose" (Eph 3:11), and if there is a predetermined objective that will be realized in God's people (Rom 8:29-30), and if it is Jesus who is building His church (Matt 16:18), it is inconceivable that God is not involved in the details related to those things. Even elders are described as men whom the Holy Spirit has made "overseers" (Acts 20:28). The exalted Christ is the One who has given "gifts" to the church -- "apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers" (Eph 4:8-11). I do not know that any person can support the notion that these are mere offices that are unrelated to specific people, or that the Lord of heaven is uninvolved in their selection.
Third, we do know that God makes choices concerning those who do His work. When Matthias was chosen to fill the place vacated by Judas, and the early church found two men who were technically qualified for the position, they prayed to God: "Show us which of these two You have chosen" (Acts 1:24). When the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles, the Peter described the incident in these words, "God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe" (Acts 15:7). We also know that whether in planting or watering, there are men who are described as "Only servants, through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task" (1 Cor 3:5). Add to this that God is represented as Himself involved in all of the intricacies of the execution of His will: "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen"  (Rom 11:36). Who could possibly be so acquainted with God and His workings as to affirm He has no will, no choice, no involvement in the matter you have mentioned? What could possibly be wrong with seeking His will in this matter?
Fourth, those who have been or are selected by God are appointed to do HIS work -- not the work of men. I assume you are acquainted with your "home congregation," and with the perceived role of the individual you seek. How do those things mesh with what God is doing? If the congregation  seeks to benefit from the "gifts" Christ has given to the church (Eph 4:11), what is their feeling about the revealed objectives of those gifts? "To prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up . . . reach  unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God . . . become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ . . . no longer infants . . . speaking the truth in love we will grow up into Him in all things . . . grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Eph 4:12-16).
If you are asking if God has people He raises up for such works, the answer is an unqualified "YES" -- we have His word on the matter. If it is for any other work, the answer is an unqualified "NO!"

Sundry babblings from a Bible discussion group: While our dear Brother Given would urge use of Biblical definitions, it's difficult if not impossible to convey truth to an atheist or agnostic using language such a person does not understand.  How does one understand a proclamation of salvation by faith alone?  While speaking with Christians who share faith in the Scriptures, as well as
in Christ, it may be appropriate to point them to Hebrews 11:1 as a shared understanding of the meaning of faith.  But to others, citing Scriptures as proof is akin to speaking in a foreign language ... isn't it?  With whom are we attempting to communicate?

If the faith of Scriptural reference is not unique -- absolutely unique -- then the multitude of benefits promised to those who possess it cannot be unique. If faith is something men naturally possess or develop, then how is it that eternal advantages could be connected with it? Where has it there ever been a purely human quality that could access eternal verity?
There is sufficient revealed about this "faith" to enable an intelligent communication of its nature and benefits. It is clear that, while faith is found in men, they themselves do not originate it. That is why they have suich difficulty explaining it.
1. It is being sure and certain, and is associated with substance and evidence of things etfgernal -- exclusively having to do with God and/or Christ (Heb 11:1).
2. It is "obtained" or "received" (2 Pet 1:1).
3. It "comes" (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:25).
4. It is "given" or "granted" to men to believe (Phil 1:29).
5. The grace of God, which is poured out upon us, is abundant with faith (1 Tim 1:14).
6. Faith, together with love, comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 6:23).
7. Faith is persuaded that what God has promised, He is able to perform (Rom 4:21).
So far as what God has promised, there is not so much as a particle that can be substantiated by the human senses. It wholly rests on what He has said -- the "faith" of Scriptural reference works with that. Man has no natural aptitude that can confirm or substantiate something external to the human constitution and senses, and the domain of time. Yet, while the promises of God can be experienced by men in this world, they exist independently of the created realm, having their origin before the genesis of the creation (2 Tim 1:9). If one chooses to explain all of that by mere human reasoning, I believe the task will become wholly impossible.
There is something else to be noted here. Citing Scripture may very well be viewed as akin to speaking in a foreign language to some. However, there is more to this than that. Unlike the reasoning of men, the word of God itself has power, distinguishing the inner part of man, and uncovering the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12). The Word of God itself is the "Seed" of the kingdom -- the means God used to produce both life and growth (Luke 8:11). It is the Word of God, not the reasoning and explanations of men, that works effectively in those who believe (1 Thess 2:13). There can neither be conversion nor spiritual growth independently of God's kingdom -- and the seed of that kingdom is "the word of God."
If there is a person who seeks to point an individual Godward by means of some purely human aptitude or ability, we concede it to be a noble ambition. However, it is a wholly powerless one -- an mere exercise in vanity.

From a discussion concerning whether sin proceeds from thought, or thought proceeds from sin. The interpretation presented by __________  (with which I agree) seems to fit the nature of things better. Does not "thought" always precede "action"? Can someone, at whatever age you may say it begins, behave in an evil manner unless he/she first has had an evil thought? Jesus said "For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Matt. 12:34); "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart...For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries..." (Matt. 15:18-19).

This is precisely the case. Jesus said that all manner of evil expressions -- including "evil thoughts" -- "come out of the heart," as you have well stated.
It is man's nature that is flawed, and that is why he sins. This is most precisely stated in Romans 5:12-19, where the whole of humanity is identified with but two men -- Adam and Christ Jesus. Sin entered the world by one man, and the result was that "all sinned." It is "through the transgression of one" that "the many died." The "judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation." "By the transgression of one, death reigned through the one. Through "one man's disobedience the many were made sinners." It is difficult to conceive of the case being stated any more clearly.
This is what necessitates the new birth -- men are flawed at the core. They need a "new heart," a "new spirit," "newness of life," and a "new man" (Ezek 36:26; Rom 6:4; Col 3:9; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10). ONLY bad trees produce bad fruit. That is why Jesus said "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit" (Matt 12:33). In Adam, the tree of humanity -- the whole tree -- became bad. That is why in Christ there is a new generation. He is the "Firstborn among many brethren -- all of whom are being conformed to Him (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). A "new creation" (2 Cor 5:17) presumes the unacceptability of the old one.

Shouldn't the plan of salvation be presented in every sermon -- like Acts 2:38?

1. Why not preach Acts 16:31? That was a response to an inquiring sinner.
2. Peter did not preach Acts 2:38. It was his response to the question "What shall we do?"
3. We have several examples of sermons, or messages, preached to those who were in a state of alienation (Acts 2:14-36; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 7:1-56; 10:34-43; 13:16-41; 13:46--47; 14:15-17; 17:22-31; 22:1-22; 24:10-21; 26:1-27). In these cases, baptism was never the theme of the preaching, but became a subject only upon inquiry, or firm evidence that the people had received the message.

 Right here, it is needful to understand the Scriptural philosophy of preaching. Preaching is not the mere conveyance of information. Nor, indeed, is the objective of preaching to outline what men are to do to be saved. Such an approach to preaching may be important to the maintenance of an institutional emphasis, but there is no such representation of preaching in the New Covenant Scriptures. That is why there is no consistent coverage of the "how to be saved" in the various Scriptural narratives. Acts 2:38 says "Repent and be baptized . . ." Acts 3:19 says "repent and be converted." Acts 16:31 says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" . . . etc. On the day of Pentecost, before Peter responded to the question "What shall we do?" he held forth the promise, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:11). The things involved in, and associated with, that "calling" were opened up only after the message itself was received. 

 It is the calculated and determined purpose of the Gospel itself to stir up holy responses. Until those responses are evident, the subject of baptism has absolutely no relevance. This does not minimize the necessity of baptism.

 It is to be acknowledged that many contemporary Christian Churches do not stress "baptism" in their preaching as they once did. I suppose it can be assumed that this is because they no longer believe baptism is necessary, or that they want to cater to the insincere. However, it can also be because some have seen this is not a proper emphasis.

 It is true that any emphasis other than Christ Himself tends to take center stage, and become the dominant subject -- even upstaging the Person of Christ and God's great salvation. To me, that is why the Spirit is very precise in speaking about preaching and teaching, emphasizing the THRUST of the message rather than its various details. Thus, we read in the book of Acts of "Jesus Christ" being preached (Acts 3:20), preaching the resurrection of the dead through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:2), teaching and preaching "Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42), preaching the word" (Acts 8:4; 11:19; 14:25 16:6; ), preaching "Christ" (Acts 8:5; 9:20), preaching "the things concerning the kingdom" (Acts 8:12), preaching "the word of the Lord" (Acts 8:25; 15:35,36), preaching "Jesus"{ (Acts 8:35), preaching "peace by Jesus Christ" (Acts 10:36), preaching and testifying that Jesus was ordained to be the "Judge of the quick and the dead" (Acts 10:42), preaching "the Lord Jesus" (Acts 11:20), preaching "the word of God" (Acts 13:5; 17:13), preaching "through this Man the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 13:38), preaching "the Gospel" (Acts 14:7,21; 16:10), preaching that men should turn from the vanity of idols "unto the living God" (Acts 14:15), preaching "Jesus and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18), and preaching "the kingdom of God" (Acts 20:25); 28:31).

 The Epistles also throw the spotlight upon the THRUST of preaching: "the Gospel" (Rom 1:15; 15:20; 1 Cor 1:17; 9:14,16,18; 15:1; 2 Cor 10:16; Gal 1:11; Gal 2:2; 4:13; 1 Pet 1:12,25), "the Gospel of Christ" (Rom 15:16; 2 Cor 10:14), "the cross" (1 Cor 1:18), "Christ crucified" (1 Cor 1:23), that "Christ" rose from the dead (1 Cor 15:12), "the Son of God, Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 1:19), "Christ's gospel" (2 Cor 2:12), "Christ Jesus the Lord" (2 Cor 4:5), "the gospel of God" (2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:9), God's "Son" (Gal 1:16), "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8), "Christ" (Phil 1:15,16,18; Col 1:28), and "the Word" (2 Tim 4:2).

 There is a distinctive meaning to be found in all of this rather academic information. Under the New Covenant, men are NOT motivated by what they are commanded to do. That was the manner of the Law, which focused upon the obligations of men. Now, owing to the extensive and effective work of Jesus, the Gospel itself motivates men to "press" into the kingdom, earnestly seeking what they are to do. This kind of approach was introduced by John the Baptist, who came preaching "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mk 1:4), the coming of one "mightier" than he (Mk 1:7), and that a "kingdom" was "at hand" (Matt 3:2). People flooded out to hear John -- he did not come to them, they came to him (Matt 3:5-6; Mk 1:5).

 Jesus spoke of this significant shift in approach, and of the impact it had upon men. "And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion]" Matt 11:12, Amplified Bible. Luke also refers to this change (Luke 16:16). In John's case, the Gospel was "of the kingdom" -- a message of a coming Messiah who was superior to all of His competitors. That message moved people to do what Moses could never get them to do -- repent and be baptized while confessing their sins (Matt 3:6; Mk 1:5).

 This continues in Christ Jesus, even intensifying. Those who receive this Gospel will not rest until they are at peace with God. That is why those who had "murdered" Jesus cried out, "What shall we do?" The real transgression is not that Acts 2:38 is not preached, but that it is not given to those who have inquired what they ought to do.

 Everyone who preaches must settle in his mind what he intends to move the people. Is it Christ, or is it the delineation of what they are to do. Is it the good news of what God has provided, or is it an outline of human obligation? If it is true that "the Gospel of Christ" is "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom 1:16), then there is no question about its motivational power. When that Gospel brings a person to call upon the name of the Lord, those who, in their response, ignore baptism have done wrong, and have blocked the door of entrance. Including Acts 2:38 in every sermon is not the answer to that situation.

Your "flawed at the core" means we are doomed to sin once we have entered the state of accountability for sin, eh? In other words, from infancy on up to that cross-over moment into accountability for sin, all are flawed at the core, but those who die before that cross-over moment into accountability for sin, (I think that is when the conscience kicks in hard, accusing.), have nothing against them to condemn them -- no sins "on record," even though they, like every person ever born since Adam, are flawed at the core.

    How do you understand "I was once alive apart from The Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died."?
    I look at that, (obviously without the aid of commentators way smarter than me <grin>), as Paul being alive before the commandment registered in his consciousness -- that period in our lives before we have crossed over into the state where we've started racking up sins God holds us accountable for. E.g., three-year-olds do some pretty naughty things, but I do not believe any of them are "on record" with God. (Never mind the precocious, highly exceptional 3-year-old.)
    Follow what I mean?

Paul's testimony about being "alive apart from the Law" did, in fact, have to do with his conscience. The true intent of the Law had not yet come home to him, as he indicates later. When the real truth of the commandment "came" home to him, "sin revived" -- sin that was there all along, although it had not been lived out in base immorality. It was the "law" or "principle" of sin that was resident in him, as well as all of Adam's offspring. In Christ, Paul found this principle, and, since he was now in Christ, referred to it as "another law" that waged relentless war against the law of his renewed mind (Rom 7:23). That "law" is inextricably tied to our bodies, the part of us that is not yet saved. We will not have done with principle until we are out of these bodies -- the "body of this death" (Rom 7:24). That is why the resurrection, or "redemption of our body," is equated with "the adoption" (Rom 8:23). In Christ Jesus, we are delivered from enslavement to this law -- a law we once served (Rom 8:2). Now, grace teaches us to say "NOI" to ungodliness and worldly lusts (Tit 2:11-12) -- an ability that is nowhere said to be resident in those who are not in Christ. You may remember when the only spiritually cultured people in the world heard the voice of the Lord, they responded (and quite sincerely), "We will hear it and do it." God, who knew the extent and ramification of Adam's sin, said "O that there were such a heart in them" (Deut 5:27-29). The absence of such a heart is why God promised He would give men a "new heart" and a "new spirit"{ (Ezek 36:26).
The fact that little children do not enter into sin willingly and deliberately is only owing to their undeveloped mind and conscience. I understand that sin is not imputed to them while in this state. The same may be said of the retarded, senile, and the likes. However, that does not mean sin is non-existent. It had to be imputed to someone, and Jesus took it all -- sins committed with conscience, and sins committed without conscience. It is the nature of sin that makes it so destestable to God. Eating a fruit may not appear all that bad to men, but it threw the entire human race into the caldron of sin, and only Jesus could deliver them.
The necessity of the new birth postulates the total unacceptability of "the flesh," or "that which is born of flesh." The truth of the matter is that nothing from Adam is acceptable. Nature has been contaminated. If this is not true, then being born again cannot be necessary -- but it is. Even in the case of a sucking child or a toddling infant, they still require a new body to enter fully into the presence of the Lord, for "flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Aside from Jesus, there has never been a solitary person who has listened to his conscience, shunned sin, successfully resisted the devil, or remained pure. Paul adduces this circumstance as irrefutable proof of the need for another federal Head, and another creation. Thus Jesusn is not only "the second Man," but the "last Adam" as well (1 Cor 15:45,47). Men may philosophize about, what they call, the age of accountability, the conscience, and so forth. But when all is said and done, no man, no human wisdom, no natural strength, has been able to stem the outbreak of sin. In Jesus' words, we have a "bad tree" on our hands, and it is not possible for it to bear good fruit. That can only come from a "good tree," and who but God can make the tree good.
If there is something within man that is fundamentally good, and can be trained or taught to do the right thing, then the new birth is not necessary. Then it is not essential for "old things" to pass away, and "all things" to become new. If God has pledged Himself to "make all things new" (Rev 21:5), including the heavens and the earth, men ought to seriously consider the remarkable ramifications of Adam's single sin, to say nothing of the miserable multiplicity of their own sins. The universe was not consigned to mortality because of our sin, but because of one single sin committed in the Garden. All of that is involved in my expression "flawed to the core."



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