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QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   I strongly disagree with your position on being "slain in the Spirit." Where did you get the idea this experience was against the will of those receiving it?

When I wrote, "Some refer to this as being "slain in the Spirit." Those embracing this view believe God forces them into subjection, and sort of pounds a blessing into them apart from their own desire," that is precisely what I meant--"SOME." This is not a mere conjecture, as I have walked in the circles that espouse this view, and still have extensive contact with many of them. I did not mean, and did not say, that everyone using the term "slain in the Spirit" considered what they received something against their will. But for many, they profess they were made willing by the experience itself, affirming they were formerly obstinate. Of course, to their own Master they stand or fall. I am not their judge, nor am I representing myself to be such. I am referring to a human view or perception that has been treated as though it were Divine.

The extent of our experience of the Lord, of course, was not the subject of my devotions on the unreasonableness of sin. Further, I do not take for granted that claims to what the Spirit "may" be doing are matters to be received as though they were equal to the Word of God. There are, indeed, people who not only believe God circumvents their wills, overpowering (as I called it) them, but actually rely on Him doing so. With them, it is not a mere matter of experience, but of teaching. It is a tenet, so to speak, of their faith. They are not content to let the matter remain a personal experience, but hold it forth as a standard for others--some even causing divisions in the body of Christ over the experience they call "slain in the Spirit," "overcome by the Spirit," "under the influence of the Spirit," "falling under the power," etc. We are simply not at liberty to develop a special spiritual nomenclature based upon our perception of personal experience, and then use it as though it were holy language. This has nothing to do with the reality of the experience. It has everything to do with the perception of the experience, and setting that experience up as a sort of Kingdom standard.

The Word of God affirms we have been "called into the fellowship" of God's "Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor 1:9). That is a very real fellowship, in which we can receive "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph 1:17) and "the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor 13:14). This involves a Divine intimacy in which liberty, power, peace, and perception are realized. It brings a clarity to God, His Son, His salvation, and His Word, that is not available apart from Divine involvement with us. Peter referred to it as "the day dawning, and the Day Star rising in our heart" (2 Pet 1:19).

This goes infinitely further than lying in the presence of the Lord, or sensing something, but not knowing what it is. Those things happen in some measure to all who are in quest of the Lord--but they are not the highest experience, and not to be presented as though they were. If this were the case, God would have affirmed their superiority, and left no doubt about the matter. But He did not, and we must not.

This by no means constitutes a denial that such things have, and do, occur. But they are beginnings, and not pinnacles. They are a stirring of the water, and not the refreshing waters. They lie at the threshold of
Divine fellowship, and not at the heart of it.

Paul articulated the objective for every believer in this matter. In my judgment, he spoke of the most lofty and consistent experience, urging all believers to have the same objective (Phil 3:8-15). His phraseology is marvelous, and portrays an experience with the Lord that is absolutely transcendent. "Knowledge of Christ," "found in Him, " having "the righteousness of God," "knowing Him, " knowing "the power if His resurrection," enjoying the "fellowship of His sufferings," and being "made conformable to his death."

It is one thing to sense the presence of the Lord in a specific place or certain assembly. That is good, but it is not the best. It is powerful, but not the most powerful. It is quite another to walk in the Lord and in the power of His Spirit. Israel was in the presence of the Lord at Sinai, but Moses was "face to face" with Him. We have been called into an even high relationship than experienced by Moses. Any pursuit that is less than that to which we have been called cannot be held forth as superior or as a Kingdom standard. That is the point of what I said on this matter.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   When we are saved, all striving to be saved should end, because the saving is done. We already have eternal life.

We ARE saved, and we DO have eternal life -- but we do not have the whole of them. We do have the "first fruits of the Spirit," with the bulk of our salvation yet to come. One evidence of this is our present vile body–it is certainly not saved, but they will be in the resurrection.

The striving which I mentioned is to obtain the whole of that for which we have been apprehended. Paul expressed it well for us all. "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead" (Phil 3:12-13).

Too, we have eternal life, and yet are admonished to "lay hold" of it (1 Tim 6:12). This does involve our awareness of what we already possess, as referred to in Ephesians 1:17-20 and 3:16-20. It also involves something that awaits us--something even greater than what we personally possess. Jesus referred to it when He said, "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30). That is the fulness of the which we currently possess in Jesus.

What we now have is great, and there is also a salvation "ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet 1:5)--that is the fulness of what we now have. "Now," bless God, "we are the sons of God' -- and "it does not yet appear what we SHALL be" (1 John 3:1-3). What we have is an "earnest" or down payment, and not the whole of what is reserved for us. There is an "eternal inheritance" that has our name on it, but which we have not yet received (Eph 1:14; Heb 9:15). Peter reminds us it is "reserved in heaven" for us, and that God's power keeps us through our faith until the time we receive its fulness (1 Pet 1:4-5).

What we have now is like the grapes of Eschol to Israel. Those grapes were very real, and could be eaten. But the vine was in the promised land. So it is with our salvation. It is very real, but is a pledge of the fulness to be experienced when we are gathered to the Lord.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   The flesh cannot be the old man in a Christian because that old man has been crucified and we have a new nature-an entirely new nature.

The "flesh" IS the old man. He has been crucified, but has not ceased to exist, any more than the impenitent thief ceased to exist though crucified. That part of our nature has ceased to be an integral part of our persons, having been circumcised from us in the circumcision of Christ (Col 2:11-12). We still deal with him, however, much like the Canaanites that remained in the land after Israel entered it.

The "flesh," or "old man" has access to our minds through our bodies, which have not yet been redeemed. As we keep him on the cross, however, he can have no dominance over us.

The Spirit leads us in mortifying the deeds of the body--which is living after the flesh (Rom 8:13-14). It would be pointless to warn believers about living after the flesh, if their flesh ceased to exist (Rom 8:5-10). It would also be pointless to admonish them to "put off the old man" if he did not exist (Eph 4:22).

The presence of this condition is the subject of Romans 7:15-25. There the struggle with the 'flesh" is the subject. Though separated from us, and no longer considered a part of our persons, it remains in our temporal parts ("members"), warring against the law of our mind. Legally, it is not part of us, but experientially it is, until we leave this world or Jesus comes again.

We DO have a new nature, praise the Lord--but NOT an "entirely new nature." Your body is certainly not new--but it will be. You have the "firstfruits of the Spirit," and not the whole of it. In this "new nature," old things have passed away and everything has become new. There is, however, another part of you in which this is not true. That is precisely what Paul meant when he wrote, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (Rom 7:21-23). The glory of this is that we are not condemned because of this part of us, which we do not want, and against which we struggle. That is precisely the point of Romans 8:1.

If we were entirely new, we would not be capable of a wicked thought. There would be no imaginations to cast down, nothing to be "put off," and no temptation. While that it is not the case now, it will be when we are ever with the Lord.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Doesn't reigning in life connote walking in dominion, it means enjoying affluence, and having control over the issues of life?

This is not at all the case. "Reigning" is not synonymous with "control." In citing the glories of our salvation, the Spirit reminds us, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, IN all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Rom 8:35-37).

Being more than conquerors does not obviate grievous circumstances--it does mean they cannot separate us or divert us from the goal. In sharing some of his own experiences, Paul described reigning quite differently than some. "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor 4:8).

Again, he wrote "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labour more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches" (2 Cor 11:23-28). I suppose some would say Paul was not reigning in these "issues of life."

Keep in mind, this (Paul) is a heavenly prince speaking, and yet he acknowledged he did NOT have control over the issues of life. Those issues, however, did NOT have control over him--and thus became the evidence he was reigning in the very midst of them.

The notion that Jesus restored dominion to man in salvation is altogether false. Such WILL be the case in glory, but it emphatically is NOT the case now. This is precisely the point of Hebrews 2:8-9. "You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But NOW we do NOT yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone." The pledge of our coming dominion is the reigning Christ, NOT our present dominion. We will sit with Him in his throne AFTER we have overcome -- just as He sat down AFTER He had overcome. That is not a matter of conjecture, but is a promise from Jesus Himself. "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev 3:21).

There is a valid point made by this brother. Most believers are not aware of the greatness of the power that is toward them, and available to them (Eph 1:20; 3:20). In this, his urging that we reach higher and grow into maturity are certainly in order. But we are not there yet, nor will we fully be until we are forever with the Lord--out of the body, and removed from the arena of conflict.

The position that is being espoused is peculiar to the Western world. There are precious saints throughout the world who are oppressed, persecuted, and enduring great hardship. Yet, IN their circumstances they are reigning with Jesus. They will rise in the judgment, together with great numbers of believers who have suffered through the centuries, and will denounce this teaching.

We are being oriented for "the world to come." Consequently, we are not of this world, but have been chosen out of it (John 15:19; Acts 15:18). Here we suffer with Christ, but the fulness of our reign is yet to time. That is rather elementary, yet has eluded many.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Is suicide a sin? If so, do you go to Hell for it?

Suicide is a sin--it is self murder, or the taking of life that God had given. The Word of God reminds that our bodies do not belong to us, but the Lord. In fact, they are even called "the members of Christ" (1 Cor 6:13-15). There is not a lot said in Scripture about suicide -- just enough to cause us to recoil from it. Paul stopped a Philippian jailor from committing suicide--and the man was saved that very night (Acts 16:27-33). Our lives are to be given to the Lord, not to despair.

As to whether a person committing suicide goes to hell, we have no word from God on the matter. That very condition indicates we are not to dwell long on such morose thoughts as taking our own life. It thrusts us into an unknown area. It is "appointed" to men to die once, and that appointment comes from God (Heb 9:27). We must be willing to leave the length of our life to Him, and not take matters into our own hands.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Does the bible say anything about how a Christian father should punish his daughter?

There are no specific instructions in the Bible on this matter. The disciplining of children is approached in a broad manner, allowing for discretion on the part of the parents.

When Solomon spoke of disciplining a "son," he did not exclude daughters. He mentioned the "rod" (Prov 13:24; 22:15; 23:14; 29:15). The point os discipline, or punishment, is always "correction" (Prov 23:13; 29:13). It must never be done to vent anger, or to inflict harm on the child. However, it should be harsh enough that the child realizes he has done wrong.

The commandment to all children is, "Children, obey your parents, for this is right" (Eph 6:1; Ex 20:12). When this does not occur, measures must be taken to arrest disobedience and inconsideration. The best policy is to ask the Lord to assist you in this matter. Be stern enough to make the point, but gentle enough to encourage repentance and a clean heart.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   How do we know if what we have said or are saying is directed by God and not on our own? Can this be determined by asking ourselves after we say something if what we said brought honor to God?

Anything that brings honor to God cannot be directed by Satan or ourselves--it has to come from. Of course, determining this can be a matter of human interpretation, and is therefore often difficult to determine.

Of pre-eminent importance is whether our speaking is in harmony with God's Word--and was it prompted by what God said. Secondly, our hearts are a sanctifying element. If, in our hearts, we want to please the Lord (as you surely do), that is a key ingredient in determining if what we said was directed by Him. Third, if we are living with a primary sensitivity toward the Lord, He is more apt to direct us. If the world, circumstances, or social considerations are our focus, we are probably not being directed by God. He directs us to the degree we are sensitive to Him and His Word.

A good verse to remember is this: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Prov 3:5-6). God will not fail to direct how we walk and what we say if we live totally for Him--trusting Him with all of our heart. You will become sensitive enough to recognize whether you have been motivated by yourself or by God. It is all according to your faith.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Is the law different from a commandment?

The "Law" and "a commandment" are not synonymous. A commandment is a facet of Law, and not the Law itself. The Law is a principle. It was first embodied in the Ten Commandments -- a moral code that placed ALL of the responsibility upon men. It offered no grace, no power, and no recovery. When Paul referred to "the commandment" that "came" (Rom 7:8-10), he was referring to the portion of the law that convicted him of sin.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   I thoroughly believe that I am saved by God's grace through Jesus' completed work here on earth. However, I do talk with others who add our works into this equation, especially in the areas of baptism, not having music in their services and taking communion every Sunday because they feel they are following a "commandment" to do this. Could you please help me through God's word find an answer for them on these areas?

To be precise, we are saved "by grace through faith," and "unto good works" (Eph 2:8-10). Our "works," in this instance, are not the cause of our salvation, but the affects, or evidence, of it. I am familiar with those who treat the things you mentioned as though they were equal with faith, which is the appointed means of appropriating salvation. They are not equal to faith, but are expressions of faith--and there is a big difference.

This is the matter with which James dealt in his book. His words have been wrested by legalists to say that works--our works--are the basis for our salvation. This is not so. James' point is that the absence of works (and he is speaking of the works of faith) are the evidence of faith. Where they are missing, there is no faith, profession or not.

There are two sides to salvation: its foundation, or basis, and its evidence. The foundation of salvation--or the reason God saves us--is traced back to Jesus, and Jesus alone. He alone took away our sins (John 1:29; Heb 9:26). He alone satisfied the demands of God (Heb 10:7-9). He alone defeated the devil (Heb 2:14). He alone reconciled us to God 2 Cor 5:18; Col 1:21). He alone made peace with God for us (Col 1:20). God saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied (Isa 53:11).

Remember--we are saved "by grace through faith." Our faith can only lay hold of what God has done. Faith simply cannot take hold of what we have done. When men trust in what they have done, their trust is misplaced, and is not received by God. When, however, our faith DOES take hold of what the Lord has done, we immediately set about to do His will. Our doing is not perfect, which every honest soul will admit. Yet, it is received by God because it is motivated by our faith. If this were not the case, our works would have to be absolutely perfect, with no flaw, retarded response, or ignorance about what we should do.

Much of the argument over works is an attempt to confirm we cannot be saved while we are disobedient and walking according to the flesh. The argument has been taken so far that men have tried to merge human works with Divine accomplishment. That cannot be done, as you already know.

Some people deride baptism, the Lord's Supper, and other similar responses to the Lord Jesus, as though they were in the same class as helping our neighbor and feeding the poor. They are not in that category. Both baptism and the Lord's Supper portray the heart of the Gospel--the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Faith will never balk at these ordinances, or treat them as though they were optional and inconsequential. Neither, indeed, will it approach them as though they were the means of obtaining the salvation of God.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Why do people associate Baptism with works? Where did this idea come from?

Because they see the necessity of baptism as impinging upon, or contradicting their view of salvation. It does not, of course, otherwise God would not have spoken of it as He does. Some say we "do nothing" in this matter of salvation -- however that would exclude anything we do, which includes believing, repenting, seeking the Lord, and even praying. Even those associating baptism with "works" do not believe that, however. They see baptism as distinct from faith, or believing. Jesus, however, said, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved" -- putting the two together (Mark 16:16).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Why do people make such a point of separating something called "works" from everything else the Bible teaches? What's the point of this?

Because they realize the that God emphatically proclaims justification apart from works. With remarkable pungency the Spirit affirms, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (Rom 3:28). "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified" (Gal 2;16). "But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith" (Gal 3:11). "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Tit 3:4-5).

In each of these expressions "works" are associated with keeping the Law--measuring up in our own strength to the commandments of God. The reason no one can be justified, or made innocent, by this means is that it is impossible. Nothing that we do can undo the sin we have committed. It must be forgiven.

These verses do not teach that believers do nothing, but that their faith is what motivated God, not what they did. This is precisely the point made by James in the second chapter of his book. He affirms that genuine works are the evidence of real faith. Faith moves the real believer to do what God says. Where the response is not found, faith is glaringly absent.

Legitimate "works," or works recognized by God, are those that have been motivated by faith. Faith has sanctified them, or made them acceptable. The "works" God does NOT accept are those that are wrought independent of Him, or without faith. Such works are actually iniquity. as confirmed by Jesus reference to those who would claim in the last day they had done "many wonderful works in His name" (Matt 7:22-23).

Simply put, works are the evidence of salvation, and the activity into which faith brings us. Where works are thought to be the foundation or reason for our salvation, serious error has been espoused.

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