QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 24
What is the difference between the doctrines of trinity and oneness? I have talked with both and the oneness person says the trinity people believe in three Gods and the trinity person say the oneness people are legalistic. This seems to be separating the 2 largest groups of Spirit filled churches and I was wondering why?
First of all, understand that the terms "trinity" and "oneness" are strictly human terms. They have been developed by men to attempt to explain God--which task is not possible. The Scriptures teach there is "one God" -- but nowhere affirm there is "one Person." All of Scripture, particularly the sayings of Jesus and the writings of the Apostles, speak of three distinct Divine Persons. The Father sent the Son (1 John 4:14). The Son listened to and obeyed the Father (John 15:15). The Son reconciled us to God (2 Cor 5:18-20). The Son sent the Spirit (John 15:26). The Spirit strengthens us so Christ can dwell in our heart by faith (Eph 3:16-17). We are blessed by all three--the Father, Son, and Spirit (Gal 4:6; 2 Cor 13:14).
At Christ's baptism, all three were revealed (Matt 3:16-17). Jesus prayed to God (Matt 26:42). The Spirit led Jesus (Matt 4:1). The Father heard the Son (Heb 5:7). The Son sits at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33) . . . etc. These are affirmed by Scripture. This is HOW the Lord wants us to know Him, and how He has revealed Himself. These things simply do not fit into the words "trinity" and "oneness." They are to be embraced as they have been stated.
The differences in the doctrines is that "oneness" group believes God is One Person (which Scriptures do not say). Thus, father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are one Person acting in three different ways (like John he carpenter, auto mechanic, and plumber). In such a case, the Father could not sustain the Son, nor could the Son be led by the Spirit. The "Trinity" group believes there are three Divine Persons, with three different functions. In this, they are correct. However, there is a great temptation for men to have a mere theological view of this matter, without having the life of God--and that is never right.
Embrace the view that allows you to pray to the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit.
I believe that the salvation of the Christian cannot be canceled. But below scriptures (Heb 6:4-6) makes me confused. It seems that the Christian's salvation can be canceled. Is it right?
Whenever a Scripture conflicts with or contradicts what we believe, the Scriptures are always to be embraced. God cannot lie or misrepresent the case, and His Word is never wrong.
The text you mentioned (Heb 6:4-6) is true, and is stated precisely. It represents how we are to think, and no other form of thinking is acceptable. It DOES mean that someone who has "once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come" can "fall away" to such an extent they cannot repent. That, of course, is what the text says--and God says what is true.
This does not mean that salvation has been "canceled," but that the individual has drifted away from it. Remember, we are "saved by grace THROUGH FAITH" (Eph 2:8). Our salvation is only as secure as our faith. As long as we are believing and trusting, we are safe. But we must not take for granted that believing God is automatic, or that it can never be abandoned. Jesus spoke of some who only "believed for a while" (Matt 13:21). Paul spoke of some who "denied the faith" (1 Tim 5:8), "strayed from the faith" (1 Tim 6:10), and even made "shipwreck of the faith" (1 Tim 1:19).
Faith is something that must be "KEPT" 2 Tim 4:7). Keeping the faith involves "fighting the good fight of faith," and laying holy on eternal life (1 Tim 6:12).
While we are saved now, we are not yet totally saved. The bulk of our salvation is yet to come (1 Pet 1:5). Our bodies, for example, are not yet saved--but they will be (Rom 8:23; Phil 3:20-21). Paul said he had not yet apprehended that for which he was apprehended, and neither have we (Phil 3:12-13). As long as we are in that state, we must battle to keep our faith, resisting the devil, and pressing toward the prize held before us.
What we now possess in Christ is referred to as "the firstfruits of the Spirit" (Rom 8:23). It is also called "the earnest (or down payment) of the Spirit" (Eph 1:13-14). That simply means we do not have everything yet, and must not adopt a theological view that says we have.
This does not mean we are in and out of salvation every day. It does mean God will "keep us from falling" as we keep on believing (Jude 24).
Our situation is much like that of Israel. They were delivered from bondage in Egypt so they could be brought into Canaan, the promised land. Every single one of them came out of Egypt, but not all of them entered into Canaan. Some fell along the way because of their unbelief. That is the way it is with those in Christ Jesus. When they begin, every single one of them is delivered from bondage to sin. However, only those who keep on believing will enter into heaven. That is the precise point made in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12.
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.
When you mentioned the old covenant in connection with wine skins. Does that really go together? Was Jesus saying it was not the THING to do [fasting] when the bride groom was there? It was not the THING to do, to put new wine in old skins. The reason I bring it up is in Luke.5: 39 Jesus says the new aren't desired for--, the old are better. I think the New Covenant is better.
The interrogation concerning fasting was the occasion that prompted our Lord's remark -- but the remark is not confined to the subject of fasting. As the Pharisees practiced fasting, it was a mere routine. It did not allow for the presence of the Lord, or the invigorating effects of spiritual life. That, of course, was a depiction of the entire structure of the Law "was symbolic for the present time," and was "concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation" (Heb 10:9-10).
Christ's entire earthly ministry was an introduction to glory of the New Covenant age. He was injecting into society life with which it was not accustomed, and which sharply conflicted with their views. That contrast is seen in the conduct of the disciples, which differed radically from that practiced and taught by the Pharisees. That is what gave rise to their question.
Our Lord's words concerning old wine being "better" were not words of commendation, but of a common perception. They stated a misconception of the case, and not an accurate one. This was a view limited to the "now," and does not take the future into consideration. Only the individual imbibing the "old" thought this--a practice not recommended or sanctioned in Scripture. In fact, "old" wine would eventually distort the both the mind and conduct of those consuming it. "New wine" was offered to the Lord, not "old wine" (Neh 10:39; 13:5,12). The blessing of the Lord is pictured by vats overflowing with "new wine" (Prov 3:10). Divine benefits are related to "new wine" being found in the cluster of grapes (Isa 65:8). "Old wine" is really not better. Even on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles were thought to be full of "new wine," not "old wine" (Acts 2:13). The "old" must eventually give way to the "new" because it is obviously temporary. In other words, what Jesus was bringing would result in significant change--and that is what His critics objected to. By saying "the old is better," they were saying "Why should we change?" That is the mind set Jesus is refuting.
The New Covenant, together with the benefits related to it, are, indeed, "better" -- but that is not what Jesus is saying here. He is saying it is not perceived as "better." It is similar to what took place when the Temple was rebuilt. Some of the older Jews observed it did not measure up to the old temple, and thus were disappointed (Ezra 3:12; Hag 2:3). They thought the old was better. That is how it was with those asking Jesus the question.
Jesus was stating a principle that addressed the immediate situation, but was not confined to it. He was saying you cannot confine life, or put it into a container. It expands the environment into which it is placed, and therefore the environment must be made new. That is why the new birth is essential--there must be a new container for the new life. That is why we are strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man--that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:16-17).
Since the old man can not be changed, what is the process of sanctification? Is that the putting off the old man daily and putting on the new man??
Sanctification DOES involve putting off the old man and putting on the new. It also includes "learning." As it is written, "that each of you should know [learn] how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (1 Thess 4:4). From a higher view, this "change" is accomplished by the Holy Spirit, who moves us from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). On a practical basis, this involves unplugging from the cursed order, and plugging into the eternal one. This is required because we are really two people in one frail frame. Paul alluded to this condition in Romans 7:15-25 and Galatians 5:17.
Our role in sanctification is twofold. To "deny" ungodliness and worldly lusts, and "live" soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. The grace of God instructs us in this procedure. Sanctification, then, has two sides. Refusing what God has cursed, and embracing what God has blessed--putting off the old and putting on the new.
God has rejected the entire Adamic order. He has done so because it cannot be changed or corrected. A person must be born again, as you know. Our Lord Jesus came from an earthly lineage. Luke traces it all the way back to Adam (Lk 3:23-38). Matthew takes it back to Abraham (Matt 1:1-16). But there is no earthly lineage after Jesus. From an earthly perspective, He died without children. But from a heavenly view, He is an "everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6). His offspring are spiritual. Sanctification is the process through which we are brought into total harmony with Christ Jesus and the spiritual blessings to which He has raised us (Eph 1:3; 2:6).
Is it the soul that goes thru the process of sanctification? or the whole man?
The whole man is involved in sanctification. "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 5:23). This text identifies our parts in order of their priority. The "spirit" is our essential person. That is where we are "born again," and receive a new heart. There is where the "new creation" occurs (2 Cor 5:17). The "soul" is the rational and emotional part of our persons. It is not yet saved, but must be governed by our spirits. The soul is capable of having "imaginations" and "thoughts" that must be "cast down" (2 Cor 10:5-6). There is where temptation occurs. Often believers are cast down because of their circumstances, and must admonish their soul to hope in God (Psa 42:5-6,11; 43;5). Sanctification involves bringing our souls into accord with the revealed purpose of God--not allowing the lure of this world to distract us. Our bodies are obviously not yet saved--but they will be. Believers are looking forward to the Lord changing their bodies, making their sanctification complete (Phil 3:20-21). Until that time, we must master our bodies, bringing them into subjection to the will of God (1 Cor 9:27). That is also a part of sanctification.
Since we can only cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this process, is it an act of faith and surrender to the will of God and then "act" as if we are whole???
I know what you are saying, but it must be stated more strongly. We are doing more than simply cooperating with the Spirit. We have been brought into the process to a much greater extent than commonly perceived. We are really wrestling against spiritual powers (Eph 6:12). We are really fighting the good fight of faith and laying hold on eternal life (1 Tim 6:12). All of our effort is involved in placing our affection on things above, and not on things on the earth (Col 3:1-3). The Holy Spirit underwrites our effort, enabling us to do what is otherwise impossible. Without Him, it simply could not be done. Without our involvement, it will not be done.
When Israel was delivered from Egypt, it was unquestionably the Lord who brought them out with a mighty hand. But they were involved in a remarkable amount of activity. They had to gather their goods, kill the passover lamb, sprinkle blood as directed, eat the lamb, keep their clothes on, and simultaneously come out of Egypt at the midnight hour. All of that could not have been done without the Lord. That was a picture of sanctication.
Living the new life is not something that is acted out--although I realize that is not what you meant. We have really been made new--yet a part of us remains old. We have really received salvation--but not the whole of it. Faith proceeds upon the basis of what has been done already, looking forward to the completion of the process. The Spirit addresses this matter in the sixth chapter of Romans. "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Rom 6:11-14).
There you have sanctification. Something has really happened to us, and we are proceeding to live in view of it. As our faith takes hold of what the Lord has already done, He will ensure that we arrive safely at the goal. In the meantime, we do not pretend. We acknowledge there is "another law" within us that wars against the law of our mind (Rom 7:23). But that is not the only law we have. With our minds, we ourselves are serving the Law of God (Rom 7:25). We admit we have failings, but do not want them, nor do we welcome them. They are evidence the sanctification process is not yet complete--but it will be, praise the Lord!
How is it that the Church of The Nazarene Believes that women can be ordained as a pastor of a church? What is the scriptural position they use?
There is no Scriptural basis for this position. There were several prophetesses mentioned in Scripture (Miriam-Ex 15:20, Deborah-Judges 4:4, Huldah-2 Kgs 22:14, Noadiah-Neh 6:14, Isaiah's wife-Isa 8:3, Anna-Lk 2:36, and Philips four daughters-Acts 21:9). Deborah was a Judge of God's people. In fact she was the only woman Judge they had. She was, however, a most unusual woman, and gifted of God. Miriam was noted for leading the woman (Ex 15:20). Huldah was consulted by several men (2 Kgs 22:14).
In each of these cases there was a departure from the normal practice of men leaders. The only example we have of a prominent woman leader in the church is found a reference to the church at Thyatira, where a false prophetess taught Christ's servants to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols.
There you have everything on the matter--at least most of it. It is apparent that the only thing that would justify a woman pastor is the absence of qualified men, or the presence of a most unusual woman with keen spiritual insight.
Would you consider it a divisive issue in regard to the church ordaining women pastors. Is it a Nonessential in regards to the historic Christian church?
Those insisting on following this practice over the objection of other brethren would be forcing something that cannot be justified by Scripture on the people of God. That is something divisive, and would not be right.
Those who teach in the body of Christ are not determined by theological or ecclesiastical positions, but by God Himself. He has placed pastors in the church (Eph 4:11), and we have no record of any pastor that was a woman. Notwithstanding those observations, if God raises up a Deborah or Huldah among us, we all do well to give heed to her. If she does not contribute to our faith, however, or offer unusual spiritual insights to us, she probably is not acting within the will of God.
I would not venture to pass any hard and fast rules on this matter. The fruit of the division to ordain a woman to be a pastor will confirm whether it was from God or not.
Does the Bible regulate worship and confine true worship to specific acts, or is all that the Christian does in life worship?
Because worship is a matter of the heart, it is not, nor can it be, regulated. Worship is not a response to a command, or to a Divine directive, but to an awareness of the person of God. It is the result of seeing Him as He is.
Romans 12:1-2 deals with the presentation of our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, affirming this to be our "reasonable service" (KJV). Other versions correctly translate this phrase "your spiritual worship" (RSV), "spiritual service of worship" (NASB), and "spiritual act of worship" (NIV). Other places this form of the word "latreuo" is used are John 16:2, Romans 9:4; Hebrews 9:1,6.
To my knowledge, there is not a syllable of Apostolic doctrine concerning procedures or acts of worship. In fact, no church was ever told to worship God, or given instructions on how to do so. Their worship is assumed. It is part of new life in Christ Jesus. As it is written, "For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil 3:3). The word used here is "latreuo," which is used 22 times in the New Testament. To my knowledge, it is never used of a commanded act or procedure.
Jesus affirmed the real issue is worshippers, not worship. He said God was seeking worshippers, not worship. He said the hour was coming when such people would (not ought to) worship the Father "in Spirit and in truth," or in reality and their whole heart. According to Jesus, this is the kind of worship God is seeking (John 4:23-24). None other is acceptable.
If we confine our thoughts about worship to what the Lord has said concerning it, we will find there is no confusion in His words.
If it is true that "All who are confined to a state of nature cannot comprehend a message that reveals spiritual things in spiritual words!" then why preach the message to the natural man?
You must not leave God, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit out of the scenario. Jesus said the Father "draws" people to the Son (John 6:44). He also affirmed He alone can show people who the Father is (Matt 11:27). The Holy Spirit convicts men of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:7-11). All of these things are accomplished through means--particularly the preaching of the Gospel. I can tell you if God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit did nothing when we preached the Gospel, nothing would happen. It is Their influence that brings the productivity. We sow, and we water, but God gives the increase. All of this is shown in the remarkable reference to Lydia's conversion. "The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16;14).
Those who preach the Gospel are not doing something that involves only them and those who hear. The Lord is also active in the process. The impotence of the natural man, and the hostility of the carnal mind requires this circumstance. God be praised we have not been left to ourselves.
God has spoken succinctly on this matter, affirming the "natural man CANNOT receive the things of the Spirit of God," and that such things are "foolishness" to him. There is nothing in the statement to question. It is to be believed.
You cannot have salvation without the appointed means of obtaining it--and that is preaching. God has appointed that men be saved through "the foolishness of preaching." That process, as I am sure you know, does not exclude God any more than it excludes human responsibility. It takes both God and man to be saved. I am saying without God, salvation simply is not possible.
When Jesus confronted the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, He asked him, "Do you want to be made well?" The man understood what Jesus said, and acknowledged he did desire wholeness. He also admitted he was powerless to do it himself. Jesus then told him to pick up his bed and walk. There is no way that anything in that man could do what Jesus said. But he believed what Jesus said, picked up his bed, and walked. It was Jesus that made the difference--not nature.
That is a perfect parallel to what occurs in salvation. Jesus seeks us out, appealing to our will and our faith. In all of this, we ourselves are involved--but we are not the only ones involved. The Lord is also in the process. We are NOT left to nature alone. If we had no access to Divine resources, we would remain in unbelief, just as surely as the impotent man would have remained prostrate at the pool of Bethesda had Jesus not worked.
The difficulty comes when we are tempted to compare theologies--Calvinism VS Armenianism, or any of the other countless comparisons. The truth of the matter is that all human attempts to explain Divine utterances are in the same class. The Word of God is simply to be believed. It is then that the Lord will help us make more sense of it--at least to the extend we are capable and He is willing to do so.
I do not think for one moment you believe a person can be saved without Divine activity. If God, Jesus, and Spirit, died or became inactive, there would be no hope of salvation. That is simply another way of saying if we were confined to nature, we could not be saved. That is what I am saying.
I very much appreciate your spirit, and obvious desire to be pleasing to the Lord in your persuasion. God honors that, and so do I. Remember, Jesus said of those exposed to His preaching, "He who is of God hears God's words" (John 8:47). Those who are "of God" did not arrive at that status without God--i.e., they were not confined to a state of nature. It is axiomatic that any valid response to God or achievement pleasing to God requires God, Christ, and the Spirit. That is one of the reasons early Christians were referred to as "those who had believed through grace" (Acts 18:27). Whether or not this blends with any developed theology is entirely beside the point. Paul told the Philippians it was "given" to them to believe (Phil 1:29). Peter said we have "obtained like precious faith" (2 Pet 1:1). That by no means excludes our effort or our preaching.
In Deut. 7:3, the Lord clearly declares that no one from Israel should take a wife from the people they conquer. No intermarriage. But in Deut 21:10 and following, there is an option for taking a wife, if she's attractive, from the conquered. Haley's "Alleged Bible Discrep." book doesn't address this point. I'd like to know your thoughts.
The Jewish economy, or the Old Covenant, was unlike the New Covenant. The people were born into the covenant, not reborn as those in Christ are. For this reason, God forbade them to intermingle with the heathen. Not only would they be tempted to learn the idolatrous and immortal ways of the heathen, they would also contaminate their blood line.
The passage in Deuteronomy 21:10 did provide for the men to take a wife, if they judged her to be unusual. If they chose to do this, however, the woman was required to shave her head, pare her nails, and be severed completely from her people. That amounted to a renunciation of her former ways and heathen customs.
As you know, one such woman, although not taken in war, was Ruth. She was of the Moabites, who had been summarily cursed by God. Yet, she became the grandmother of David, and proved to be a women of great faith. She, together with the women described in Deuteronomy were exceptions to the general rule. They were, however, required to cut all ties to their heathen ways, and heartily embrace the God of the Jews and His Law. I take it that this was a concession God made to the weakness of the Jewish men.
In Christ, we are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Even widows are told if they marry again to only do so "in the Lord" (1 Cor 7:39).
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