||Click the A to view the Answer|
1. Why does Jesus have two
genealogies? A (More questions below)
(More questions below)
18. Our minister doesn’t believe in the Resurrection. Where to from
19. Why do Christians believe that Jesus died on Friday afternoon? Didn’t he say he’d be in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights? Something doesn’t add up. A
20. You indicate in one of your books (Indecent Disciple) that we aren’t born sinners. Is this an important issue? A
21. What do I need to study the Bible effectively? A
22. My girlfriend isn’t a Christian, and we’d like to get married someday. Do I have a problem? A
23. Why does the book of Revelation cause so much controversy? A
24. If I drink and smoke will I go to hell? A
25. I’ve heard so many weird explanations about Adam and me. Can you explain? A
26. N.P.R. aired a program recently about teenagers pledging sexual abstinence until marriage. What if they fail? A
27. I’ve just heard a sermon about imputed righteousness, but doesn’t this mean I can do anything I want to? A
28. What’s a Messianic Jew? A
29. Is Israel God’s timepiece? A
30. If we’re born again, do we still have to bother with the Old Testament? A
31. If I become a Christian, would God expect me to give my money away? A
32. Do you have any trick to help remember scriptures? A
33. Is AIDS God’s way of punishing the wicked? A
34. Can the devil read my mind? A
35. On the Middle East crisis, is God on Israel’s side, since it’s their land after all? A
36. Are there things God will not forgive (like if I keep on making the same mistake)? A
37. Is going to church necessary, if I read the Bible and listen to preaching tapes instead? A
38. Do I have to be baptized, or is it a matter of preference? A
39. I knew I had to forgive one of my relatives for what she did to me, but she died before I could speak to her. Where do I go from here? A
40. What about gay-bashing in the Church? A
41. I have been a Christian for 14 years, but still sin occasionally. Someone suggested I’m not really born again. I am confused. A
42. There are always rumors that the Temple is going to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Are there scriptures to prove it? A
43. I work in a casino, as a croupier. I’ve just become a Christian, and people tell me I should quit my job, but I don’t have any other qualifications. What should I do? A
44. Is man a soul or a spirit? I can’t get a straight answer from anyone. A
45. Are our bodies sinful? A
46. Is the Church in the Laodicean age? A
47. What does the Bible mean when it talks about visiting the iniquities of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation? A
48. The Bible says that in Adam we all die. Many passages in your books contradict this statement. Please explain. A
49. Is it true that Jesus was born on December 25th? A
50. Can people who commit suicide go to heaven? A
Answers to FAQ
1. Why does Jesus have
Most scholars agree that while Luke traces Mary’s line back to Adam, Matthew’s genealogy handles Joseph’s descent from Abraham. However, a careful examination of Matthew’s list of names is well worth the effort, since it clearly isn’t ‘just’ a genealogy. Five names are omitted (King Ahaziah, Queen Athaliah, Kings Joash, Amaziah and Jehoiakim), while the inclusion of Jechoniah (verse 11) eliminates the possibility of any descendant of this lineage ever ruling in Israel (including the Messiah). What Matthew is really saying in this passage is that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, but was conceived by the Holy Spirit, since no real son of Joseph could ever be the Messiah. He then takes the rest of the chapter to explain how Jesus’ birth really happened. Thus Matthew’s first chapter is a beautifully coordinated proof of the divine origin of Jesus, handled in a way that his mainly Jewish readers would both appreciate and understand. Attention should also be paid to the arithmetic here, since Matthew only has 41 generations. Refer back to Daniel 7:25. A fuller explanation can be found in ‘Where Do The Prophets End?' Back
2. Which Bible translation should I use?
Translations are, in the main, paraphrases, since there can’t be fifty perfect ways of stating the same thing. But be careful: translators have as much doctrinal bias as anyone else, which often comes out in the text, so use whichever ‘translation’ reads easiest for you without ever relying on just one. Have a number of them in your bookshelf, and always compare. K.J.V., Amplified and N.A.S. are a good start. Avoid Scofield and Dakes, since most Christians end up reading the margin notes rather than the text itself. Back
3. We got past the millennium. What happened to the antichrist in Revelation?
He was never there to start with. In the Bible, ‘antichrist’ is only referred to in the letters of John (1 Jn.2:18-22; 4;1-3; 2 Jn.7), and never in Revelation. John’s quite clear about it: antichrist isn’t an individual person, but applies to all who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh and is the Christ. In 2 Jn.7 they’re also called deceivers. Teaching anything other than this means we’re out of line with scripture. Not a good place to be. Back
4. Is there a practical Bible-reading plan on the market? (It’s such a long book)
Do the math: the Bible has 1189 chapters, so if you read three a day, it would take a year to complete. Many people like to read two Old Testament chapters in the morning, one New Testament in the evening, but when this doesn’t always work out, don’t get legalistic about it. Above all, don’t be in a hurry: dawdle over this love letter. Back
5. Which church is the right one?
I think the real question is: ‘Which is the right one for you?’ Where do you feel God wants you, where can you be the most useful, and where are you being adequately fed? All these factors and more must be taken into consideration. Ultimately, there’s no perfect church, and if there was and we joined it, we’d ruin it. If you’re still unsure, ask someone whose judgment you can trust for advice. Back
6. What about the rapture?
Let’s grow up enough not to debate words that aren’t in the Bible text. The concept surrounding this word comes from a mis-reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, where the subject under discussion is the resurrection of the dead, not the catching up of the living. This second point is only incidental in the passage, purely to indicate priority. As Paul says, we are to comfort one another with these words (verse 18), not confuse. It’s incredible how much light the Bible can throw on ‘end-time’ writing and preaching, and this is a case in point. Remember, a text without a context is a pretext. Back
7. Did the Apostle Paul write Hebrews?
Probably not. Most scholars agree that differences in style between Hebrews and other letters we know Paul wrote are too great to reconcile. But not everyone’s convinced, and it’s not really worth arguing over. The bottom line is that Hebrews is a part of the New Testament, and should be read as much as any other book of the Bible. It’s the one piece of New Testament literature that contains the terms of the New Covenant (Heb.10:16,17), quoted from Jeremiah. That alone makes it incredibly important. Back
8. Why do children sin if they’re not born that way?
If kids never got anything right, we’d have to ask that question, but the truth is, most children also do a lot of stuff well. Does that mean they’re born ‘good’? Try thinking along the lines that we’re all born with a free will allowing us to choose either good or bad each time. The very fact that God blames us for being sinners means we chose that path. That’s why He can tell us to repent – because we’re personally responsible for our condition. (If we weren’t, we could blame God for allowing it in the first place. Oops.) Back
9. As a new Christian, is evolution something I should worry about?
No, don’t worry about it: just remember that Darwin himself called it a theory, and later admitted that ‘not one change of species is on record. We cannot prove that a single species has changed.’ (Life and Letters, Vol.1, p.210). He also wrote: ‘The absence of transitional forms…between the species…presses hard on my theory’, and ‘Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic chain: this is the most obvious and gravest objection against my theory.’ (Origin of Species, Vol.2, Chap.9, 6th Ed.) Back
10. You say there’s no such thing as generational curses. Why do so many preachers talk about it?
Good question. The concept is an offshoot of another devious doctrine called ‘original sin’. For a full discussion of this subject see ‘Concerning the Nature of Man’, but meantime, remember Galatians 3:13, which says that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. This makes it very difficult to justify ‘releasing’ Christians from ‘generational curses’, since even if they did exist, ought to have been dealt with at the New Birth. Even the most ardent fans of this doctrine find it difficult to explain, because there’s not one example in the New Testament of anyone being either affected by or delivered from this mysterious malady. Bottom line, if the term isn’t in the Bible, don’t waste breath arguing about it. Back
11. Which Old Testament prophecies are still unfulfilled?
None. Check out the New Testament: you won’t find one reference after the Day of Pentecost to any unfulfilled Old Testament prophecies. For a thorough discussion, see ‘Where Do The Prophets End?’ Meantime, if anyone tells you there are prophecies still awaiting fulfillment, get them to show you which ones, from the New Testament. If Paul, Peter, James and John didn’t know about them, chances are they don’t exist. Back
12. As a Christian, should I visit Jerusalem?
Jerusalem has no more significance for a Christian than New York or Paris, because the Church, both individually and collectively, is now God’s dwelling place and Holy of Holies (1 Cor.3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor.6:16). The New Testament says that God doesn’t dwell in man-made temples (Acts 7:48), something Isaiah knew as well (Is.66:1,2). So if your only reason for such a visit is to ‘get closer’ to God, stay where you are – He’s never left you. Back
13. Are chapter divisions in the Bible part of the original text?
No. This subject is a study all on its own, but sufficient to say here that chapters and verses were inserted later for reference purposes, and aren’t divinely inspired. It’s also good to be aware that some headings get in the way of a good understanding of the text. For instance, Jn.7:53-8:1 interrupts a flow of narrative, while Rev.13:18 really leads right into 14:1, and makes more sense if read that way. These are just two examples, so keep your eyes open. Back
14. The study group we attend talk about our Adamic Nature. What do they mean?
Many people have been told they’re born ‘bad’, or born sinners, but the Bible doesn’t support this theory. For a full discussion, see ‘Concerning the Nature of Man’, and also read Charles Finney’s Systematic Theology (Eerdmans Press). He’s the greatest modern-day writer on this subject. Remember, if anyone else is responsible for our sins, repentance is impossible, and it’s this shifting of blame that is at the heart of the ‘Adamic Nature’ theory. Back
15. Our pastor says the ‘last days’ started on the Day of Pentecost. Is this right?
Yes. Peter said so (Acts 2:16,17). On a broader view, we’re still in the ‘last days’, and will be until this present age is wrapped up. In that sense, the Church Age is ‘the last days’, or, if you like, the ‘end times’. The error occurs when we try to predict when they’re going to end: this is where so many teachers and pastors lose their credibility. The fact that everyone’s guessing means no one knows for sure. Apparently God likes it that way. Back
16. My friends keep asking me whether the Old Testament is factual. What do I tell them?
Buy them a copy of ‘The Bible as History’, by Werner Keller. It’s a classic in this area, with plenty of information, and details about many Old Testament events. That should get them reading the Bible for themselves, if they’re really interested in knowing the truth about it. They might also have a particular blockage – maybe they’re disillusioned about God, and this is how they express it. Not everyone has an easy ride in this area, so be patient. Back
17. Does the Bible teach that Adam allowed sin into the human race?
No! Romans 5:12 says that Adam allowed sin into the world (not the race), and that this resulted in everyone dying (spiritually), because everyone followed his example and sinned. But we each chose our own way in this matter. Sin is as available as righteousness to a free will being, and that’s what we are. As Isaiah says, we have each chosen our own way, and the Lord laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. Back
18. Our minister doesn’t believe in the Resurrection. Where to from here?
Out the door. Paul is quite clear about this: if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we are yet in our sins (See 1 Cor.15). There can be no New Birth without forgiveness, and the message from Pentecost on was simple. He is risen. Without this there is no Good News. You should be aware that many ministers throw out the Resurrection because it opens the door to questions about the miraculous, an area many find difficult to deal with. But in New Testament terms, you can’t get around this one: it’s at the core of the Christian faith. Back
19. Why do Christians believe that Jesus died on Friday afternoon? Didn’t he say he’d be in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights? Something doesn’t add up.
You’re right, it doesn’t add up, and never did, because even a brief study of the New Testament reveals that Jesus died on Wednesday, not Friday. He was dead just before sundown, and spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the tomb. When the disciples came to the grave early Sunday morning, he’d already risen. Back
20. You indicate in one of your books (Indecent Disciple) that we aren’t born sinners. Is this an important issue?
Yes, because if we were born sinners, we couldn’t be sorry for our sins, and repentance would therefore be impossible. This makes nonsense of the Gospel, because God requires all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Christ died for the ungodly (Rom.5:6), not the unfortunate. Anyway, the ‘sinful nature’ doctrine opposes a basic biblical principle, that ‘fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.’ (Deut.24:16). Since this principle is repeated in much greater detail in Ezekiel 18, it looks like Israel also struggled with the problem. We are not alone. Back
21. What do I need to study the Bible effectively?
For starters, get a Bible with a decent cross-reference system. The New American Standard has the best we’ve found so far. Then, make notes in your Bible margins as you read, writing out larger ideas and questions on a notepad, where you can find them later. Underline or highlight your Bible when anything strikes you as particularly interesting (If your Bible’s too good to be written in, buy another one). Back
22. My girlfriend isn’t a Christian, and we’d like to get married someday. Do I have a problem?
You both do, because the principle of being unequally yoked applies as much to her as to you, and while this isn’t a legal issue, the plain truth is that sometimes it’s difficult enough just being yoked, even when you’re both Christians. The root problem is a conflict of interest (a problem that seems unlikely when you’re courting), because it’s hard on both parties when one desires greater involvement in something the other deems unimportant. Counsel from someone you both trust might be advisable here. Back
23. Why does the book of Revelation cause so much controversy?
There’s no quick answer to this one, but if more people took the first verse of Revelation seriously, there’d certainly be less controversy. Most translators gloss over the word ‘communicated’, which means ‘to make known by signs and symbols’. In other words, Revelation is a symbolic book, using Old Testament events to make clear a New Testament reality. So when we read, for example, about two witnesses, or the mark of the beast, or the New Jerusalem, we have to go back to the Old Testament to find out what John understood by these terms. Malcolm Smith has a great tape series on this subject, and ‘Unveiling Revelation’ would also shed some light here. Back
24. If I drink and smoke will I go to hell?
Fortunately, that’s not the criteria. The real question is ‘Do I love God and my neighbor?’ (Luke 10:25-28). All else hangs on these two central issues. Of course behavior’s important, but that mostly falls under the ‘loving my neighbor’ part. The trouble with focusing too much on what we do or don’t do is that it encourages legalism, something Jesus opposed with a vengeance. Read in the Gospels what He said about these issues, and see in particular how He dealt with repentant sinners. No one was too bad for Him, but none left unchanged. Back
25. I’ve heard so many weird explanations about Adam and me. Can you explain?
The problem is a lack of definition about ‘guilt’. Look up any dictionary: to say someone is guilty means that they did the deed. Christians have been taught that they’re guilty for something done by a man most of the world’s population has never heard of (Adam), and that they therefore deserve to go to hell. Unfortunately, this lowers God’s level of justice far beneath that which any court of law in this country would stoop to, and slanders His character (Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Gen.18:25). Try ‘Concerning the Nature of Man’, and do read Finney’s Systematic Theology. It’s a complex subject, but one that’s well worth understanding. Back
26. N.P.R. aired a program recently about teenagers pledging sexual abstinence until marriage. What if they fail?
It’s never easy to be different. These teenagers you mention obviously possess a degree of commitment far beyond their years, and to make this caliber of choice in spite of all the temptation our society throws at them clearly requires elements of great character training. Obviously not all will come through unscathed, but many will. In the final analysis, is it better to try and not succeed, or not to try? Today only happens once – it’s refreshing to know that some people intend making the most of it, so perhaps the question should really be: What if they succeed? Back
27. I’ve just heard a sermon about imputed righteousness, but doesn’t this mean I can do anything I want to?
If the statement were true, then yes, that’s exactly what it could mean, but fortunately, this doctrine isn’t anywhere in the Bible. In fact, scripture says exactly the opposite: that neither sin nor righteousness are transferable. It’s right in the middle of Ezekiel’s statement about the New Covenant. ‘The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself…Behold, all souls are Mine, the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son. The soul who sins will die.’ (Ezekiel 18:20,4.) The prophet actually spends the whole of Chapter 18 hammering out this unpopular truth, which people still hate today, mainly because it means that God gives us no opportunity for excuse when it comes to sin, and no easy ride on the back of someone else’s good behavior (When the Bible talks about repentance and subsequent godly living, it means just that.). However, this doctrine isn’t an isolated issue, because it stems from yet another erroneous belief, that of ‘original sin’. Indeed, were it true that Adam’s sin was imputed to all his descendants, then obviously Jesus’ righteousness must be imputed to all His descendants, but any reading of scripture indicates that it isn’t Jesus’ righteousness that’s imputed to the Christian, but rather His death. ‘Christ died for the ungodly.’ (Rom.5:6). The Old Covenant sacrificial system, of which Jesus was the final and complete fulfillment, tells the same story. It was never thought that the righteousness of the animal was imputed to the offerer (it had none to give), but only the death of the animal. We must interpret the Atonement of Jesus through the understanding of the New Covenant writers: they never talk about imputed righteousness, but are always referring to the death of Jesus as being effective on behalf of mankind. ‘Concerning the Nature of Man’ deals more fully with this issue. Back
28. What’s a Messianic Jew?
Not a Biblical term. It’s used sometimes by Jewish Christians who want to retain their cultural identity, but the scripture makes no distinction between believers. In fact, Paul tells us that any dividing walls between Jew and Gentile have been done away with in Christ (Eph.2:11-18), and since, if anyone is in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation (2 Cor.5:17), it’s difficult to see how anyone can hang on to this concept. Back
29. Is Israel God’s timepiece?
No. This teaching stems from dispensationalism, and is typically ‘end-time’. Israel is no more important than any other country in the world today. Remember Jesus’ words to the leaders of Israel: ‘The kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a nation bearing the fruit of it.” (Matthew 21:43). That nation is the Church – let’s not lose our heritage. Back
30. If we’re born again, do we still have to bother with the Old Testament?
Not in the sense of obeying all the rules and regulations, but if you mean, should we know and understand the Old Testament, then definitely ‘yes!’ Bear in mind that the whole of the New Testament is written with the Old as a backdrop, and every writer knew the scripture well. In fact, our understanding of the New Covenant and all it means can never be complete without the input of men like Isaiah, David and Moses. Back
31. If I become a Christian, would God expect me to give my money away?
I doubt it, and beware anyone who tries to take it from you. God wants His people to be generous, but He also wants us to be selective as to where our tithes and offerings go. After all, it’s His money: we’re simply stewards of someone else’s wealth. Get good counsel before you write your next check. Back
32. Do you have any trick to help remember scriptures?
A good way is to write them out on small pieces of paper, with the reference on the other side. Carry the papers with you, and check your memory when you have a spare moment. The second way is to highlight your Bible. This helps to visualize where the verse is on the page. Back
33. Is AIDS God’s way of punishing the wicked?
No more than walking in front of a truck is His way of punishing the careless, or jumping in the deep end is His way of drowning non-swimmers. Why did we ever think otherwise? According to Jesus, satan is the one who tries to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). God is not the author of evil, but the Giver of every good gift. Back
34. Can the devil read my mind?
No, but he’s smart at interpreting our actions. However, what’s more important is that God knows what we’re thinking. Now that’s worth worrying about. Back
35. On the Middle East crisis, is God on Israel’s side, since it’s their land after all?
Is it really their land after all? Read Gerald Chapman’s book, ‘Whose Promised Land?’ for a decent discussion on this topic. Biblically, God is for His people, the Church, comprising all who trust in Jesus. Therefore, land isn’t important, because His people live everywhere. Making land ‘holy’ takes us back into bondage, and also encourages one party to kill the other. It’s interesting that not one New Testament writer ever mentions ‘the land’. Ever wondered why? (For more info, read the last chapter of ‘Where Do The Prophets End?’) Back
36. Are there things God will not forgive (like if I keep on making the same mistake)?
There is nothing God cannot forgive, if we bring it to Him. Jesus told his disciples to forgive, even up to ‘seven times seven’ in one day. If we can do that, how much more can God? Besides, doesn’t the Gospel revolve around God’s forgiveness? Making the same mistake over and over again may not be wise, but neither is it fatal. Perhaps you should question whether you really want to stop doing whatever it is. This might help settle the matter once for all. Back
37. Is going to church necessary, if I read the Bible and listen to preaching tapes instead?
Living in isolation isn’t clever. Find out why you want to avoid other believers, then correct the problem. Church life is part of a healthy Christian program designed by God to make us whole people. Don’t neglect it. Back
38. Do I have to be baptized, or is it a matter of preference?
It’s as much a choice as anything else in the Christian life, but since Jesus commanded us to ‘believe and be baptized’, we ought to get on with it. The issue here isn’t heaven or hell, but obedience based on love for God. Just do it. Back
39. I knew I had to forgive one of my relatives for what she did to me, but she died before I could speak to her. Where do I go from here?
It doesn’t take the other party to forgive: forgiveness is a unilateral act, and can be extended to anyone, alive or dead, with or without their knowledge, at any time, anywhere. (Reconciliation is different, because it requires both parties.) On this basis, if all else has failed, go to the graveside, and speak your heart out to God and your relative right there. Sometimes that’s the only way. Occasionally people get it right by simply praying where they are, but for others, it’s not that easy. But do whatever it takes to forgive; otherwise it’ll live with you for the rest of your life. Back
40. What about gay-bashing in the Church?
We should be extending hope to people, not hitting them over the head. It’s amazing that some Christians think they know more than God does about right and wrong. Christ died for the ungodly, and never once excluded anyone from His love. Those who categorize sin in this way should make sure their own isn’t on someone else’s hit list. Our words make us or break us, because we are defined most clearly by our attitude towards others. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were more interested in sin than sinners – Jesus, on the other hand, was more interested in sinners than sin. Spot the difference. God hates sin, but loves sinners. That’s who Jesus died for, but when Christians become exclusive rather than inclusive, they divert from their original mandate: to preach the Gospel to everyone. We were never instructed to point fingers, but rather to extend a helping hand wherever possible as we share Jesus with the world. Let’s not deviate. Back
41. I have been a Christian for 14 years, but still sin occasionally. Someone suggested I’m not really born again. I am confused.
Join the club when it comes to sinning occasionally, but ignore those suggestions. Sin for the Christian is like a railroad accident – always a possibility, but not on the schedule. The person confusing you is the one who really needs help. Back
42. There are always rumors that the Temple is going to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Are there scriptures to prove it?
No. In fact, this isn’t a biblical issue at all, but purely a political one. Christians live in the New Covenant, in which they (the Church) are God’s Temple and Holy of Holies. Read Hebrews for a better understanding of the redundancy of much so-called ‘teaching’ on the ‘Temple’ subject. The book ‘Where Do The Prophets End?’ might also be helpful in this area. Back
43. I work in a casino, as a croupier. I’ve just become a Christian, and people tell me I should quit my job, but I don’t have any other qualifications. What should I do?
Unless these ‘advisors’ are offering to pay the mortgage, I’d stay right there. When God wants you out, He’ll show you. Just keep an open mind about His leading, and get together with people who know what being led by His Spirit is all about. Back
44. Is man a soul or a spirit? I can’t get a straight answer from anyone.
I’m not surprised: it’s a sticky wicket, and interchanging the terms ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ causes much of the confusion. Genesis 2:7 tells us that God created man a living soul, or being. A soul is a person. When we say that fifty souls went down with the ship, we really mean fifty people. It’s just another way of putting it. Paul tells us that we are comprised of spirit, soul and body (1 Thess.5:23), so it seems that we (the soul) have both a spirit and a body. The body allows us contact with earth, the spirit with heaven. Babies are born spirit, soul and body. When they sin, they lose their contact with heaven (Rom.7:9). Should they repent and become Christians, they renew that contact. When Christians ‘die’, they go to be with the Lord, so it’s their earthly body that dies, not them. They, the soul, or person, lives forever. It seems that the horror of hell is that the person, through their own choice, loses both body and spirit, thus effectively being cut off from everyone forever. Simplistic as it may sound, this explanation makes sense to many people. Read your Bible and see how well it fits. ‘Concerning The Nature Of Man’ might also help, as it lists the many dozens of scriptures pertinent to this subject. Back
45. Are our bodies sinful?
No. Our bodies can be used for either good or evil, but are themselves neither. They are merely agents, not moral entities. The tongue is a good example. With it we either bless or curse, but no one would think of their tongue itself as either good or bad. It’s what we do with it that’s important, and the same principle applies to the rest of the body. This is why Paul tells us to ‘glorify God in our body…’ Back
46. Is the Church in the Laodicean age?
Only if you believe dispensational teaching, and after the Y2K fiasco, not many still give it much credibility. Sears are probably still recovering from all the electricity generators Christians returned in January 2000. The bare facts are that John, in Revelation, penned 7 letters to 7 churches in that region of the world. The temptation to identify certain periods with these letters has always been there, however, and the turn of the last millennium was no different to the turn of the previous one, where imagination overtook common sense and biblical exegesis in an alarming fashion. Isn’t it sad that the Church has to be seen as the village idiot when it comes to these things? No wonder the world shakes its head – who can blame them? Believe the Bible, not the commentaries, and if you have a Scofield, stay away from the footnotes altogether, since he was the father of dispensationalism. Better still, buy some other edition: there are enough to choose from. God desires to speak to us personally, and His primary method is through His Word. Stick to that and a decent church and you won’t go far wrong. Back
47. What does the Bible mean when it talks about visiting the iniquities of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation?
A text without a context is a pretext, and this is a case in point, because this statement (found initially in Exodus 20:5) is almost never quoted in its entirety. The following verse (after the comma) qualifies the issue by declaring that God also shows lovingkindness to thousands of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Any clear reading of Scripture reveals that God does not blame children for the sins of their fathers any more than He blames fathers for the sins of their children. Deut.24:16 and Ezekiel 18 are clear statements of this principle. We have it from the Law and the Prophets.
We must differentiate between the guilt of sin and the effect of sin: it’s quite obvious that a child brought up by criminal parents will be badly affected by their behavior, but that doesn’t mean God holds the child responsible when the parents rob the bank. No civilized society would support a legal system that practiced this. Why do we think God will? See Concerning the Nature of Man for greater detail.
What Exodus 20:5 is saying is that bad example can make it easier for a child to go wrong, just as verse 6 is saying that good example is a powerful force for right. But in neither case are the moral attributes of the parent binding on the child: we all know of cases where a disadvantaged child has made good, or the offspring of well-to-do parents turned out badly.
The word ‘generation’ in verse 5 is assumed (i.e. not in the original), so if it is put in there, it ought also to be put into verse 6, speaking of God’s blessing on a thousand generations of those who love Him. In other words, the effect of righteousness in a family situation far exceeds that of unrighteousness. It’s also obvious that this ‘third and fourth generation’ constitute those still living who can affect a young child, i.e. grandparents and great-grandparents (not many people live to see beyond their fourth generation), and emphasizes something we all know only too well – that family, for good or bad, influences family. What could be clearer?
So while we have to face the fact that children might be badly affected by their parent’s sins, they’re not accountable, responsible or to blame for them, and neither God nor anyone else can justly hold little ones (of whom Jesus said ‘of such is the Kingdom of Heaven’) guilty for crimes committed by another. Back
48. The Bible says that in Adam we all die. Many passages in your books contradict this statement. Please explain.
The verse you are referring to is found in 1 Corinthians 15:22, and when read in context (from verse 12), it is clear that physical death, not spiritual death, is being spoken of here. In fact, the whole chapter is Paul’s refutation against those who claimed there was no such thing as physical resurrection (verse 12).
Unfortunately, many people quote verse 22 out of context, making it mean that we all die spiritually for what Adam did, but to do this only emphasizes their ignorance, because the text is self-explanatory. A reading of the first few chapters of Genesis shows that, after Adam sinned, God denied them access to the Tree of Life ‘lest they eat and live forever…therefore God sent him out from the garden…’ (Genesis 3:22-24)
In short, my books never contradict the real meaning of this verse, but always seek to correct the error mentioned above. Back
49. Is it true that Jesus was born on December 25th?
Probably not, although no one can say for sure. But the significance of December 25th (or 24th, to be exact) is that it was, from very early Old Testament times, a major heathen festival. Nearer the 3rd century AD it was incorporated into the Church’s calendar after Christianity was made the state religion. Such assimilation was a common Roman practice to keep the critics quiet. Below is a quote from Unveiling Revelation about this.
‘In various nations that came from the spreading of the race at the tower and city of Babel (Babylon - Gen.11:9), the legend of this woman (Semiramus) lived on, and from her and her son (Nimrod) came many other names, among which are Atlas (carrying the world on his shoulder - away from God), and Venus, the goddess of love, or rather, sexual desire. The day celebrated as being the birthday of her child was December 25th, giving us the origin of “christmas”, which at first celebrated the birth of a false Christ! And wherever she went, this woman and her religion left a trail of blood, because she demanded worship, and obedience to her immorality and sexual orgies, all part of the worship, were obligatory. In Acts 14:12, we can understand Paul's horror at being called Hermes (Mercury), and Barnabas, Zeus (Jupiter): both these gods were offshoots of this Babylonian religion!’
A series of calculations from information in Luke 1 and a few other relevant chapters shows that a more likely date for Jesus’ birth was sometime in October, but since we don’t know for sure, being dogmatic on this issue is counterproductive. It’s significant that the early Church never celebrated His birth, but often His death and resurrection, and perhaps the real value of the occasion is that it allows families to get together. Let’s leave it at that. Back
50. Can people who commit suicide go to heaven?
Why not? Samson was a definite suicide case, yet his final cry to God (“Let me die with the Philistines!”), was a ringing endorsement of his confidence in the Almighty to give him victory, not just in death, but also beyond it. He was a great man who, in spite of tremendous personal problems, never lost sight of God’s power on his behalf, becoming one of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 (Verse 32), with his own place among the great cloud of witnesses (Heb.12:1) who constantly view our lives.
The erroneous teaching that all suicides are automatically hell-bound is yet another of those unthinkingly appropriated clichés that afflict the Church so regularly, yet the scripture carries more censure of gluttony than suicide. The Bible certainly throws a lot of light on the commentaries. Back