Because my Questions and Answers page (and then my Q/W 2 page) have been getting too long, I'm continuing them here on a new page. These are my questions of the week starting from 10 November 2008.
There are several times that Jesus heals someone and the leaders try to kill him. I don't really understand what is going on there. In these instances, Jesus healed on the Sabbath. In Israel, the Sabbath is Saturday and the Ten Commandments require that absolutely no work is to be done on the Sabbath. Even today in Israel the Jews who follow the Old Testament law attempt to follow Sabbath requirements, but they take this law to unnecessary extremes such as not allowing someone to push an elevator button. Instead, elevators are set to stop at every floor automatically on the Sabbath. It is nutty things like this that Scripture condemns. Instead, God wants a right relationship in the heart. By healing on the Sabbath, Jesus was following the principle of showing “mercy over sacrifice.” The Pharisees looked only at the letter of the law, their additions to it, and the control they wielded because of their position. Instead, they should have seen that Jesus never violated the Sabbath, but set His priorities in line with those God desires.
In Isaiah 1:29 it says, For they shall be ashamed of the terebinth trees Which you have desired; And you shall be embarrassed because of the gardens Which you have chosen. Can you tell me what he is talking about? In Israel, just as in the world today, people worship the created rather than the creator. They also get nutty ideas about where they should be worshipping - thinking that God is somehow closer to them in certain special areas. This verse is condemning the worship of "sacred trees" and looking for God in a "sacred garden." The Bible says that people who do these things will be ashamed of their actions when they face the One true God at judgment. If you practice Feng Shui, believe in good-luck charms, walk in "spititual labyrinths," or think you can connect to God through rosary beads, religious icons, the bones of saints, or any other part of the created order then you have failed to understand that these only lead to condemnation and death. They are against the true worship of God which is "in spirit and in truth" as it says in John 4:24. Walk the right path of Jesus Christ!
When it is convenient, please send me your info on the rapture. I've only been a Christian for 3 years and am truly looking for truth. This nice lady asked to be added to my Daily Bible Verse email and also asked this question. I sent her my thoughts on the rapture and typed some of them up for the website. You can now go to the page "The Rapture" and see what I think about it.
I just read your page on the rapture and don’t understand why you think there would be a gap in the 70 weeks of Daniel. There are no other gaps in the other 69 weeks and the Bible doesn’t mention a gap. Actually, the Bible does mention a gap as it says “And after the sixty-two weeks…” Whatever is being discussed happens not in conjunction with the first 69 weeks, but at some point after it. Please understand that no matter which view one holds, whether it is full preterism, partial praterism, futurism, dispensationalism, or any other “ism” you devise, there is a gap in the sequence of events. Not one of the views fully comprises all of the events surrounding Daniel’s weeks in a consecutive 490-year period. Based on this, it is no leap of the imagination – and clearly in line with events as they have been unfolding concerning modern Israel – that the gap is rightfully acknowledged as the gap of dispensationalism. No other view fully answers all the questions raised by the rapture verses of Scripture.
With Christmas right around the corner, have you heard that the Bible says in Jeremiah 10 that we are not to make Christmas trees? I’ve addressed this before, but will do so again as it’s that time of year and these nutty things often come up. First, Jeremiah is not talking about Christmas trees – he’s talking about carved idols. Second, to support the first point - this is in reference to Isaiah 44:6-20. People had (and still have) the nutty idea that by carving a piece of wood, or by casting a blob of metal or plastic into a certain shape it will somehow spring to life and fill all their needs – both spiritual and physical. It is when we put our trust and hopes in idols rather than the Creator that we deviate from proper worship. Having a Christmas tree which is beautifully decorated and which smells good and gives enjoyment is not sinful. However, should we start bowing down to it, worshipping it, asking favors of it, or some other nutty thing – then it becomes a sin and a snare to us. Don’t be misled by people who are weak in their faith and can’t rise above their own failings in order to enjoy treats such as sugar cookies and Christmas trees.
Rather than a question of the week, I got an unfriendly email from a woman who implored me to return to the "roots" of Christianity by living by the Torah - the Old Testament law. She claimed that I'm somehow anti-semitic because I state (as the Bible clearly states) that we are free from the constraints of the law. Please know that if you feel you must observe the Sabbath, restrain from eating certain foods, or adhere to any other such requirement in order to be saved, you have fallen from grace and are adhering to "another gospel" than the one laid out in Scripture. This brings condemnation, not life. Please don't be led astray by those who attempt to teach and yet are either weak in or entirely devoid of saving faith through Christ alone. Additionally, watch for fallacies in your thinking when arguing your point. Emotions are the shallowest part of our reasoning and when allowed to take control, they lead us into certain error.
Can you tell me, is it true that Jesus was talking about a gate called the “Needle Gate” in Mark 10:25? Here’s the verse – It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. No, this isn’t true. Jesus was talking about a real needle. Over the years, people have used the idea of a narrow gate in order to lessen the impact of the statement, but there is no doubt what Jesus is talking about. The Greek word used in this verse is “raphis” and means a needle. There is no reason to think He was speaking allegorically. Further, the same account in Luke uses the Greek word “belones” in some reliable manuscripts. This is actually a surgeon’s needle. Because two different words are used to indicate “needle” it is certain that a real needle and not a narrow gate is mentioned.
How exactly do you determine a “generation” in the Bible? This is a difficult question to answer and actually gets some folks upset when they have a calculation they hope will point to the rapture or some other prophetic event. A generation can be defined as 40 years based on the many passages dealing with this time frame in the wilderness wanderings. If you're to take this literally, it would be even less - about 38.5 years (deducting the 1 1/2 years at Sinai). A generation can be defined as 70 years -
The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10
Others have taken the genealogy in Matthew or in Luke and divided it to come up with their own lengths. I've seen 60 years being considered a generation also although I don't remember the logic. And so it goes... People will tend to use the length they feel is best to fit the case they are arguing and there are so many possibilities in Scripture that it's really hard to say one is totally wrong or surely correct.
I know a person attending the United Church of God. He says Jesus isn’t God and had all kinds of verses to support this. How can I refute this? These people are similar in their doctrine to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They deny the Trinity and it is extremely difficult to convince them otherwise due to the brainwashing they are indoctrinated into. They also observe a Saturday Sabbath like the 7th Day Adventists and dietary restrictions as well. In addition, they observe the Leviticus 23 Feasts of the LORD, mandate OT tithing, won't fight for their country, etc. They have some of the worst doctrine I’ve seen and are heretical in their teachings. Here is a link to their fundamental beliefs: http://www.ucg.org/about/fundamentalbeliefs.htm. Probably the best thing you can do is pray that the Lord will open their eyes while ensuring you are well versed in a defense of the Trinity. This will take a lot of study, but it may be of value if this person is going to listen at all.
One of my friends says he’s sure Obama is the antichrist. How do you feel? I don’t. When Clinton was president, the same people said it was him. When Bush became president, the said the same about him as well. Every generation points their fingers and makes this same claim. It’s nonsense. Hold on to Jesus, fix your eyes on Him, and don’t worry about the identity of someone who you won’t even be under if you’re a Christian. When the rapture occurs, then he will be revealed, not before.
The Bible tells us we are to be filled with the Spirit, but you say there’s no such thing as a baptism of the Holy Spirit. How do you get this? Actually, I never said there’s not a baptism of the Holy Spirit, I have only said that it is simultaneous with belief in Christ Jesus as Lord – just the way the Bible says. No person who believes in Jesus is ever commanded to be indwelt with the Spirit. Also no person is ever commanded to be baptized with the Spirit. Both of these are immediate, upon acceptance of Jesus Christ. This is what Scripture teaches.
Can you tell me what the Bible says about dancing? Yes, it acknowledges it as a great way to honor the Lord. Dancing is mentioned 19 times in the New King James Version and never in a negative light. A couple times, it was in a parable, but in the others dancing is looked on as a super way to honor Him –
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Psalm 150:4
Whatever you do, do it to the Lord! I recently heard about Theistic Evolution. What do you think about it? Theistic evolution basically says there’s a God and he created everything with the intent and purpose to develop life in an evolutionary manner. Think of this as God preparing all that’s necessary for the universe, the stars, the earth, and life to develop and then allowing it to happen as Darwinian evolution teaches. Me – I think it’s wrong and is simply is a way of accommodating evolutionary doctrine in an attempt to not look “stupid” by those who appear wise in modern science. It came about because the Bible teaches Special Creation which somehow doesn’t appear to square with the “facts” of modern science. In the end, there is no biblical evidence for this theory and it is opposed to the account given in Scripture. Those who hold to this theory are either lacking faith in the written account or, worse, are trying to destroy the faith of those who hold fast to the biblical account.
Can adultery be forgiven? Yes, were it not so then there would be two unpardonable sins. But Jesus was very clear that there is only one – the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This is not to minimize adultery or any other sin, but when these things happen, the blood of Jesus will cover any sin no matter how heinous.
I’m wondering about going to doctors. It seems like we should be living by faith in God’s healing. Isn’t this right? No – there’s nothing wrong with living in the faith that God will heal you, but there is also nothing wrong with going to a doctor when you’re sick or injured. God gave us brains to use - “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD… Isaiah 1:18. God has given us the ability to reason, invent, deduce, etc. and it is no sin to seek cures from within God’s creation for our ills. In fact, I believe that it is against reason entirely when someone puts all their hopes in God’s healing when there is a known cure for whatever his ill is.
What do you think about the death penalty? I’m all for it. The Bible, before the introduction of the Law of Moses, mandated that when one sheds another’s blood, he forfeits his own life. This has never been set aside and people who stand outside and hold up “Thou shalt not kill” signs at executions are misusing that verse. The verse intends “kill” as meaning murder. To execute a criminal is not murder and a murderer has brought his judgment on himself. I find it most interesting that the people who are normally against the death penalty are the same people who are pro-abortion. This seems more like mental retardation than using one’s common sense. When society has deemed someone unfit for life based on criminal deeds, then that society has a right to go ahead and terminate that life.
Can you explain this part of Zechariah 3:2 for me? “Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” We have all have sinned and we all fall short of the glory of God. Satan (meaning the Accuser) was trying to show how Joshua the High Priest was made unclean because of his many sins. But the LORD “plucked” him from condemnation and gave him clean garments (imputed righteousness) in place of his filthy rags (a picture of his sin). This is what happens when we trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation. In place of our sin leading to condemnation, we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness and saved from the torments of hell which we otherwise deserve. If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ for your salvation, don’t let Satan trick you into believing that you are no longer effective or useful to the Lord if you’ve sinned. Instead, confess your sins and move on, trusting that Jesus Christ’s righteousness is far more effective at cleansing you than Satan is at accusing you.
I hear that the Bible the Jewish people use is all the same books, but not in the same order. Is that true? If it is, why? This is true only for what we call the Old Testament. The Jewish Bible of today does not include the New Testament. Their books contain all the same information but go from Genesis to 2 Chronicles whereas the Christian canon goes from Genesis to Malachi. Although there is some dispute, no one truly knows why things were changed as they are, but the Christian canon shows a symmetry which is certainly divinely inspired. To see this pattern, I recommend you visit www.biblewheel.com.
What do you think about getting tattoos? Well, let's look at this verse first - Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:28. This was under the Old Testament and it would be dishonest for me to say, "The Bible says right here don't do this." and then turn around and say it's ok to eat pork. Either the law is set aside in Christ or it's not... and it is. Therefore, using this verse is comparable to using Old Testament tithing verses and telling people if they don't tithe, they're stealing from God. It's simply wrong. However, I will say that man is created in God's image and my (me personally) choice is to leave my body in the condition I was created. Others will disagree with me and there is nothing in the New Testament forbididing tattoos. Therefore, I say don't - but if you do I cannot biblically point at and acccuse you. Save your money and buy a nice dinner for your wife, eh!
I have a friend that says we shouldn’t marry between races. I know this isn’t right, but can you give me a verse or two to dispute this? Sure – here’s two: From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. Acts 17:26 This verse is pretty clear that every man on earth descended from one man and so we are all of one race. Color has zilch to do with who we are. A second verse: So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. This verse simply supports the other verse. We’re all descendents of Adam, the first man. Being black, white, or yellows has about as much bearing on the matter of marriage as having blue or green eyes. It’s simply nonsense and your friend knows this.
My pastor mentions the Bema seat occasionally, but I don’t know what that means. Do you know? The Bema seat is an elevated place of judgment in the ancient Greek empire. The actual Bema seat that is reference in the book of Acts can be seen in this photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hornkl/2120796773/ In the future, there will be a Bema judgment for all Christians when we face our Lord concerning our deeds after salvation. This is what your pastor is referring to. Make sure your deeds are good ones so that when you face Christ you will be rewarded and not suffer loss. God bless you in your walk with this wonderful Savior!
Can you explain what the "seed of David means? In the Bible, the term "seed" simply means "descended from." The term for "sperm" is translated seed as well so it means you're descended from David genetically.
To be of the "seed of Abraham" would apply to both Isaac and Ishmael as both were born genetically from him, even though only one received the blessing.
To make this abundantly clearer as points to our redemption - look at Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.
This is called the protoevangelicum - the first Gospel. Notice that it says the "Seed" of the woman. The translators of this version always capitalize deity. Notice "Seed" is capitalized. This is most unusual - the Seed of the woman? It must be referring to Jesus, born of a woman (virgin) and born of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it points to a Man - fully God and fully Man - who would crush the serpent, the devil.
The mysteries of the Bible are so glorious! Everything is just perfect. Mary came from David, therefore Jesus is of the "seed of David" but He is also the See of the woman - with only God as His father.
It's incomprehensible and yet we see it and believe it by faith. I love Jesus!
Do we need to say the Lord's prayer or is it just a guide? This is actually a super question. Thanks! After looking at the two places where it's recorded, here's the answer I'll give. First the two verses:
In this manner, therefore, pray: Matthew 6:9
So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Luke 11:2
One says to pary "In this manner..." the other "pray." Therefore, I'd recommend times when you pray the Lord's prayer verbatim, but at others to follow it's form and style in prayers. In other words, do both. Thanks again for getting me to look into this!
Can you tell me the best way to determine what my spiritual gift is? Paul lists them in Romans 12:6-8 - prophesying (this would be "preaching" in today's lingo), serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, leadership, and showing mercy.These are gifts that non-Christians have as well and you already know which you do best so do it now as a Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit and to the glory and honor of God. Your spiritual gift is a gift given by God as a human. Making it spiritual then is allowing the Holy Spirit to guide it to His glory instead of your own.
Who were Jannes and Jambres that are mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:8? I don’t see them mentioned anywhere else. These were two magicians in Pharaoh’s courts who stood opposed to Moses. There is an ancient Jewish scroll entitled the Book of Jannes and Jambres that tells of these two. Although the book is not considered canon, it is still a valuable tool to understanding ancient Jewish writings and to give insights into the tradition which Paul quotes.
Can you tell me what happens to people who never heard of Jesus? The Bible says that all men are condemned through Adam. Here are Jesus' words: He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18. You see, people don't need Jesus to be condemned, they already are. It's salvation that comes through Him. This is why missionaries give their lives away. To bring fallen men to salvation. Those who haven't heard of Jesus will be lost forever. Get to work now, while you can!
I'm not sure how to ask this correctly, but in the Bible there are times when people lie - like Rahab when she hid the spies. From the way I read it, it seems like it's ok, but the 10 Commandments tell us not to lie. Can you help me with this? This isn't easy to understand, but even though it is never ok to lie (or commit any other sin) God can still use our failings to achieve His goals. Rahab was wrong to lie, but a good result came from it. It's the same with many sins noted in the Bible. Despite the fact that they are wrong in and of themselves, God uses these moral failings which we have demonstrated to bring about repentance, salvation, restoration, etc. God is never the author of evil, but evil exists and can be used to bring about a good end.
Can you tell me why sometimes a quote from the Old Testament which is in the New Testament doesn't say the same thing exactly. There are quite a few reasons, but most importantly is that all Scripture is given under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Words may be changed without ever changing the intent of what is being communicated. Something in the future tense may be applied to the present tense or something that was applied within Israel may have a larger context to include outside the land or the people of Israel. Other times the quote may not be exact because it is coming from a Greek rather than a Hebrew copy of the Old Testament. There are many other reasons, but from this you can see that such changes are not contradictions or errors, but are always explainable by either the context, situation, source, etc.
I read your page "Chiasms in the Bible" and it was all jumbled up until I switched from Firefox to Internet Explorer. That's a cool page. You mention that these are in literature other than the Bible. Does that say anything to you about them in comparison to the Bible? As I said on that page, what chiasms do is to prove single authorship of the document. Therefore, if a chiasm covers more than one chapter, we know all the included chapters were written by the same person. If they cover more than one book, then we know all the books were written by the same person. They don't, in and of themselves prove divine authorship, but because some chiasms have been found that cover books written by different people at different times, and one chiasms spans the whole Bible, we can deduce that there is a unifying divine Author for the entire Bible.
I’ve attended churches that allow communion for non-believers and those that don’t. Both of them had good arguments for their stand. What do you think? There’s a lot involved in the Lord’s Supper, but what Paul says here provides more than enough information on the subject: For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26 When you take this sacraments, you’re proclaiming Jesus’ death until He comes. What would be the point of taking communion if you didn’t believe He rose again – a necessary requirement to believing He’s coming again. It would be no different than trying not to break a mirror when you didn’t believe a broken mirror was bad luck…kinda stupid. Communion isn’t for the church to lord over its congregants, it’s for the faithful as a proclamation of Christ’s lordship. Someone who doesn’t accept Christ as Lord can eat the sacraments all day long and it will do him no good.
In Titus 1:12, Paul quotes a guy named Epimenides. If he's quoting a non-biblical writer, how can you say the Bible is inspired? There is no conflict at all here. There is plenty of truth outside the Bible. Truth is what corresponds to reality; it is immutable. The Bible never makes an exclusive claim on the truth. Instead it makes the claim that it is wholly truth. There is a large differnce here. It is true that computers use electricity, but the Bible says nothing about computers. There is no problem with truth outside of the Bible and there is nothing wrong with the Bible quoting non-biblical matters when making truthful statements. Don't sweat the things that are easy to think through!
I read an article and it mentioned Fideism. Can you tell me what that is and if it's right? Fideism basically says that having faith is not compatible with using reason when it comes to the things of God. In other words, faith is pretty much all we can rely on when considering God. It says we can't prove anything about God because the very concept of God is infinite and we are using our finite intellect to try to determine things about Him. Personally, I think that's nonsense. Just because we can't know everything about God does not mean we can't make logical deductions about Him, his nature, and His character. In Isaiah 1:18, we're asked to reason together with the Lord. As we are created in His image and given an intellect, we should endeavor to use it, along with our faith to learn about and trust in this great Creator.
I've been reading a book and the guy mentions "replacement theology" again and again, but he doesn't explain it. What does it mean? Replacement theology simply says that the church replaced Israel in pretty much every relevant biblical matter. Replacement theology is not a heresy, but it is not correct either. It's simply indicates a bad misunderstanding of what's going on in history in relation to both the church and Israel. It is an extremely long process to understand why Israel and the church are separte and disctint, but it' an important matter that I hope you'll research in depth.
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Is suicide an unforgiveable sin? The answer is clearly "no." There is only one unforgiveable sin recorded in Scripture - blaspheme of the Holy Spirit. If a person is saved, they are saved eternally. Therefore, suicide is not unforgivable. However, if a person dies - whether through suicide or any other means - his fate is sealed. There is no "purgatory" and there is no forgiveness after death.
Can you tell me if it's ok to go to a palm reader? No, it's really not. This is divination which is forbidden in the Bible. Even if the person is just doing it for fun, it's still an inappropriate way to determine one's abilities or future. Please remember that the Bible asks us to keep our eyes on Jesus, not on horoscopes, diviners, seances, or any other way of contacting "other worldly" advice.
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