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QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   I find much of the old testament so far--boring. I do not mean to be irreverent to God's holy Word but I want to be truthful. Help please!

The writings of what we call "The New Testament" are based upon the writings of Moses and the Prophets. That is where God developed the terms and meanings that are so critical to an understanding of the Gospel (Lamb, sacrifice, altar, sanctify, wash, priest, intercessor, etc.).

When you read the Old Testament, you are reading something God inspired to be written for our learning. If it appears boring, it is because you are not looking deep enough into it. As you read you will learn things about humanity and about God. You see why men need a Savior, and why God has been aggressive to send one. You will see how men cannot save themselves even if God gives them a lot of information. You will also see how God chose to prepare men to receive the Savior.

Your job is to fill your heart and mind with Scripture. The Lord will then help you to see its relevance and power. Perhaps you should try NOT reading massive sections of Genesis thru Malachi right now--but keep exposing yourself to those writings. It is God's way of making you wise unto salvation. These are the Scriptures Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Is it right to say that although Jesus did not destroy the law, He did change them? Like the one about eating unclean things/with unclean hands?

The Levitical laws concerning meats, clothing, etc., were ceremonial laws, as distinguished from moral laws. They were pictures of spiritual realities, and were not intended to define sin or introduced dietary practices that were to continue. Jesus "purged" or "cleansed" all meats, notwithstanding the opinions of dieticians. he said, "Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" (Mark 7:18-19). Paul elaborated on the matter in foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer" (1 Tim 4:3-5). He also added, "I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself" (Rom 14:14)--and he was talking about "meat." God confirmed the same to Peter in a vision (Acts 10:14-28).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   We all agree the Jesus died a physical death on the cross. Do you feel that He also suffered a spiritual death.

Death means separation -- physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of a person from God--and that is precisely what happened when Jesus died. Scripture refers to this as Jesus becoming a curse (Gal 3:13), and being made sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). In this way, sin was judged and put away by God (Heb 9:26). Yes, He did suffer spiritual death. Of course, He recovered from this death, praise the Lord, that we might be joined to Him. It was no mere oratory when Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me!" That was the penalty of our sin.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   In the book of Job 4th chapter - who was talking?

Eliaphaz is talking. He is not quoting Job, but observing what Job had done--instructed many, strengthened the weak, upheld the falling, and strengthened feeble knees. In his dialog, however, he did not assess Job properly, thinking the righteous man had some secret sin that was not apparent. Like many today, he figured that if hardship came upon someone, it was punishment for some sin he had committed. Eliaphaz was wrong, and so are they.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Does God predestine us to go to heaven or hell? Thus far I've concluded that He only has predestined us to have free will, otherwise Christianity would not make since.

God does NOT predestinate us to go to heaven or hell. Nor has He predestinated us to have free will -- that is the way we are created. Having a will is how we are created in God's image--with the ability to want and choose. If that will is not "free," it is not "will" at all. We would just be robots--and they have no will.

The Bible tells us what God has predestinated. It is that those in Christ will be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom 8:29). In other words, God has predetermined that those who receive Christ will end up being like Him. That is what 1 John 3:1-3 also says.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   How can I get my mind back and focused on Jesus and His word, I am 50 years old, and facing many distractions in my mind.

First, this is not something you can accomplish by yourself -- it requires the help of the Lord. The good news is that He is willing and able to undergird your effort and fulfill your desire. It is, as Scripture affirms, "God who works in you, both to will and to do of His own good pleasure": (Phil 2:13).

The role of Scripture is indispensable in obtaining a spiritual focus. As you may recall, the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:18). He uses Scripture to neutralize competing influences--like distracting thoughts. Filling your mind with great affirmations of Christ's person and accomplishments is a key ingredient. While the Word of God does inform us of our duties and obligations, that is not its primary role. We need to understand our Lord. That is the understanding that sheds light on what we are to do. I suggest passages like Romans 5, Philippians 2, and the book of Hebrews. Also, digest a lot of the Gospels--that exposes us to the nature of God as revealed in our blessed Lord's ministry. You will find many people Jesus helped had the same type of concerns you have. The Holy Spirit will work with the Word, bringing it to your remembrance, clarifying its meaning to you, and causing it to be powerful within you.

It is also good to ask the Lord to give you understanding. This is what David did, and he was very familiar with the Scriptures he had (Psa 119:34,73,125,144,169). Along with this, ask the Lord to fulfill Ephesians 1:17-20 to your heart. That is what was prayed for believers in past centuries, and it is still available for them.

If you feel yourself losing focus or being distracted, ask the Lord for help. It is really that simple. He will hear you, and give you the desires of your heart. Remember the time when a man asked Jesus for help for his son. Jesus told him if he could believe, all things were possible to him. the man replied, "Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). The Lord answered his petition, and He will answer yours.

You will not be able to avoid facing distractions -- that is a part of fighting the good fight of faith. However, they do not have to dominate us, but can be cast down, or dethroned with the spiritual weapons we have been given in Jesus (2 Cor 10:5-6).

I believe you are experiencing what is explained in Romans the seventh chapter. There are thoughts intruding into your mind that you obviously do not want. They are not invited, yet force their way into your thinking processes. This is precisely the experience Paul explains in Romans 7:15-25. The things he did NOT desire to do had to do with thinking, not external, or outward sin. He was battling with thoughts he did not want--thoughts that tempted him to lose his focus. He first confessed this was really not him. He knew that was the case because the intrusions were against his will--he did not want them. Secondly, this became evidence to him that he was reconciled to God. The presence of conflict was the proof of spiritual life. That is the conclusion he reached in Romans 7:25-8:1.

Be of good cheer in your quest for a focus on Jesus. This is what God wants for you, and He is pleased with your desire. If you do not quench the desire, it will come to pass.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   I have always believed, but I am new in really trying to read and understand God's word and will for me. I was recently sent the Gospel of St. John. I kept running across a statement that has me confused. It refers to the disciple that Jesus loved. I thought he loved all the disciples? John 21:20 is just an example, it says Peter turned around and saw the disciple that Jesus loved following them-the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, "Lord, who among us will betray you?" Which disciple is this?

The disciple that Jesus loved was John the Apostle. The phrase "the disciple that Jesus loved" does not mean Jesus did not love the other disciples. Rather, it means He ESPECIALLY loved John. The reason Jesus loved John with a special love was because of John's sensitivity to Jesus. He is the one who, because of his deep love for the Lord, leaned on Jesus at the last supper (John 13:23). He was also the first to believe when he and Peter came to the empty tomb (John 20:8). He was also the first to recognize the risen Christ when He appeared to the disciples while they were fishing (John 21:7). He was more sensitive to Jesus.

John was to Jesus what David was to the Lord in the Old testament times. David is described as a man "after God's own heart" (1 Sam 13:14). It is not that no other people were close to the heart of the Lord. David, however, was especially close to the heart of God. Again, it was because of his sensitivity. The Lord could more easily direct and use both David and John.

These days there is much talk about the "unconditional love" of God. This phrase is nowhere mentioned in Scripture, and has been a source of confusion to many people. I believe the phrase is attempting to say is that God "so loved the world" in spite of its unworthiness, providing an abundant salvation for all through Jesus Christ. That does not mean, however, that God loves unconditionally. In the case of providing salvation, Jesus Himself was the condition. The love was offered through Jesus Christ, Who is the chief condition, or qualifier.

Allow me to get more to the point. Jesus has spoken clearly about Himself and the Father loving us. He speaks of some conditions--conditions that can be met by any honest and believing person. Here are His words from the Gospel of John. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him . . . "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:21 and 23).

The Lord does love all of His children, or disciples, but He does not love them all alike. He is especially close to those who seek Him more earnestly and consistently. These are individuals who refuse to forget His Word and have a strong affection for Him. Those who want a lot of what God offers in Christ will receive a lot -- those who do not will not.

By saying God specially loves some people, the Word means He pours more of Himself out upon them. Your heart, if it is honest, will confirm that this is the way it should be. It offers a strong incentive to us all to draw close to the Lord, and be sensitive toward Him.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   I go to court in  . . . this concerns child support/custody issue. I have tried to do the right thing by the biological father but has hurt my child, he doesn't do what he was told as far as visitation etc. I have prayed, but I am still confused and scared. The judge says in aug. she will grant him his rights to visitation. I know that God's will, will be done but I feel as a parent I have a duty to my child to keep her safe as possible. I would like scripture to help me get through this time. thanks!

There is no easy answer to this situation. Your approach to it is provided in Philippians 4:6-7 and 1 Peter 5:7. Here is what those verses say. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:6-7). Essentially, this means as you tell the Lord what you really desire, He will calm your heart, giving you peace. That means He will help you not to be afraid. Too, He is fully able to change the mind of the judge and your former husband. The Bible tells us God can change even the king's mind to do whatever He wants to be done (Proverbs 21:1).

1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." Casting your anxiety upon the Lord is pouring out your heart to Him--telling Him your concerns, what makes you fearful, and what you want to happen. Your faith will get hold of this truth, that God really cares for you--He really does! The judge may not care about you or your child, but God does. Your former husband may not care for you or your child, but God does. What is more, He can do something about the circumstance. Ask God to help you believe that. He will answer your prayer.

One further word. There are some circumstances for which we cannot plan like we would like. We do not know what questions may be asked of us, or what we will be required to do in such times. When Jesus sent out His disciples, He told them they would face such times. They would stand before rulers and people of authority, and it would be intimidating. Here is what He told them to in those times. "Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11). Ask the Lord to fulfill that very promise to you.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   When 1 Cor 15 states that the perishable will be raised imperishable and the corruptible incorruptible, is it that these very bodies are those which are to be glorified? hence....changed? Or, is it that we are to have totally different resurrection bodies?

The answer to both questions is "YES." Our bodies will be "changed," and the new body will be "totally different." Both truths are revealed to us. They are not intended to cause confusion, but to show us the greatness and glory of the resurrection.

In explaining the resurrection, the Spirit points out that it is OUR own body that will be changed: i.e., "The body is sown in corruption, IT is raised in incorruption. IT is sown in dishonor, IT is raised in glory. IT is sown in weakness, IT is raised in power. IT is sown a natural body, IT is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" (1 Cor 15:42-43).

In another place, the fact that the resurrection body is totally different is accentuated. "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor 5:1-6).

These texts are not intended to be a technical explanation of the resurrection--one that conforms to the world's way of viewing things. In saying that our bodies will be changed, the Spirit is confirming the personal nature of the resurrection body. Our bodies are a part of our persons. Remember, we are composed of "spirit, soul, and body" (1 Thess 5:23). All three of them are involved in our salvation--the body being the last. It is not that there is an impersonal body involved in the resurrection that is not tied to our spirit and soul. Rather, it is one which is really a part of us. It will not be like living in an impersonal house, but having our whole person eternal, with nothing about us being temporal.

The resurrection body is "totally different" in the sense of being of a different order, or kind. The picture is much like that of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, or a frog emerging from a tadpole. Both of these examples are pictures of the new life that God has placed in nature. They really defy human explanation. The butterfly came out of a cocoon in which a larva was wrapped. There is no apparent similarity between the two, yet they are, in a sense, the same life--only in another form.

The truth of the resurrection is something our faith is to grasp. Faith is higher than intellectual understanding, and brings confidence and assurance. It cannot be explained satisfactorily on an earthly level--but faith comprehends the resurrection, embraces it, and looks forward to it.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Is it wrong for me to participate in these when there are such differences in our views of Scripture? By participating in these, do I compromise my stand on Scripture? How do you feel about a denominational preacher preaching in "your" pulpit?

The gauge of a person's acceptance is not the accuracy of everything he believes or teaches. Were that to be the case, there are few, if any, that could measure up--including mighty Apollos (Acts 18:25). The objective of the Divine commandment, we are apprised is "love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5). It is possible to have these and still be in the state of growth--with even only a little progress having been made (as with novices).

All of these indispensable traits have to do with character, and the real nature of the person: (1) A pure heart, (2) A good conscience, and (3) Sincere (or unpretentious) faith. The only way these things can be detected in others, is for the individual to have them himself.

I am sure you already know that it is completely unjustified to assume that everyone associated with a denomination lacks these qualities. It is also unwarranted to imagine everyone in what we call a New Testament church possesses them. The church at Ephesus was precise in its teaching, and faithfully sought and detected false teachers. All of this was commendable, yet Jesus had something against them--something that threatened their acceptance and existence. They had abandoned their "first love" (Rev 2:4). That "first love" can be described as having a "pure heart," "good conscience," and "sincere faith."

After nearly 50 years of preaching the Gospel, I can tell you that the closest affiliations I have enjoyed have been with people from other groups. These people did not sanction all of the teachings of their particular sect, and had risen higher than their associates. They were like Nicodemus was to the Pharisees--from one point, he was one of them. Yet from another point of view, he was not (John 7:50-51).

I have followed this principle in life without disappointment. As I have lived honestly before the Lord, I did not shun associations with anyone who shared than emphasis in life. I have found that a fervent and earnest quest for the Lord has excluded me from many within the very movement with which I am identified. I have also found it brought me into fellowship with others totally unfamiliar with it.

There are two things that must be kept in tact by any associations you have--and you are at liberty to operate wherever you can keep a good conscience in these matters. (1) The association must not erode your faith, mitigate your love, or defile your conscience. (2) Your association must not require you to subdue expressing your faith.

It is not wrong to have any person minister from "your pulpit" who profits the people, clarifies the things of God, makes heaven more real, and provokes people to love and good works. It is always wrong to have anyone in "your pulpit" who obscures the things of God, causes people to forget their salvation, or settle down in this world--even if it is a brotherhood dignitary. Edification is never wrong, and a lack of it is never right. It is really just that simple.

You never compromise your stand on Scripture by coming into a realm where that stand is questioned. You know this because Jesus went regularly to the synagogue (Lk 4:16). The early Christians continued meeting in the temple (Acts 2:46). Paul sought out synagogues in which to teach (Acts 13;14; 14:1; 17;1, etc.). However, at the point the people flatly rejected the message of the Gospel, or asked that it no longer be spoken, the association was abruptly terminated (Acts 13:46).

There are no set rules on this matter. You must be directed by each circumstance. Do not deprive yourself of rich fellowship from those who have not embraced the Restoration Movement, yet have embraced Christ. Nor are you to countenance those who are identified with the movement, yet are shallow in their view and questionable in their commitment. God only recognizes one association as valid and commentatory--only one. He calls us into that association--"the fellowship of His Son" (1 Cor 1:9). That is the only association we are to honor. Wherever it is found, treasure it.

I can say of you what Paul said of the Corinthians. "I am glad I can have complete confidence in you" (1 Cor 7:16). Your deep desire to please the Lord is what will protect you.

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