Monday, August 31, 2009

The Seal Judgment of the End Times

Observable Signs Of The Seal Judgments

Q. If known, what are the observable earthly signs associated with each of the Seals as Christ opens them? If we are still here, for example, will one be able to say, “Oops!! There went Seal Number 3.” As a different question (so as not to allow date setting) when, among the six Seals, do you believe the Rapture will occur?

A. The observable sign of the first seal of Rev. 6 is the appearance of someone who seems to be a great peace maker, the proverbial “man on the white horse.” But it soon becomes obvious that his real intent is conquest. This is the one who will later be identified as the anti-Christ. The sign of the second seal is the rapid escalation of war around the world. The third is widespread famine from which only the wealthy are exempt. The fourth is the death of 1/4 of the world’s population from war, famine and pestilence. The fifth is Christian martyrdom on a grand scale, and the sixth is giant earthquakes triggering volcanic eruptions that turn the sky black with smoke and particulates. The consensus on Earth will be that they’re being caused by the wrath of God.

Although we can see evidence of all these things developing now, I believe the Rapture will occur before they mature into their complete Biblical fulfillment. I say this partly because only the Church can sing the song from Rev. 5:9-10, and that song is sung by a group in Heaven before the seals are opened.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Water Baptism

Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation?

Q. My intention here is not to be insulting, but you are cherry-picking. Jesus established the minimum requirement when he said in Mark 16:16 that you must believe and be baptized. So what gives with your explanation? Belief is to be active; you must apply some action for faith without works is dead! I’m glad you mention John 3:16 because it flows from what Jesus said in 3:5 “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. This “water” birth Jesus speaks of is baptism. None other!

A. By saying I’m cherry picking, I assume you’re referring to my use of John 6:28-29 to support my view that belief is the only requirement for salvation. Do you realize that you’re also implying that Jesus was less than honest with the people who had asked the question “What is the work that God requires?” If ever He had an opportunity to lay out clearly everything that God needs from us, that was it. All He said was, “The work of God is this. Believe in the One He has sent.” If you’re right about the necessity for baptism to assure salvation, then Jesus didn’t tell them the full story, the thief on the cross didn’t go to paradise, and Paul was also wrong in Romans 10:9-10, 13 and in 1 Cor. 1:13-17 when he said the Lord didn’t call him to baptize people but to preach the Gospel.

You’ve misinterpreted James on the issue of faith without works being dead. He was saying that true faith will manifest itself in works, not that works must be added to faith to make it real.

I also think you’ve interpreted John 3:5 incorrectly. Remember the context is being born again. Being born of water is our first birth, the physical birth from our mother’s womb and the birth water that surrounded us. Being born again is when we’re born of the Spirit. It’s our second birth. Baptism is not in view in this passage.

Don’t get me wrong. I support baptism as the public confirmation of a private decision, but I don’t believe the Lord intended it to be essential for salvation.

Questions on 1 John?

A Question On 1 John

Q. 1 John 4:1-3 admonishes us to “not believe every spirit… but to test the spirits.” Further, “every spirit” is of God if it confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.

What are those “spirits” we are to test? Am I correct in assuming that the “spirits” we are to test are the message a speaker or writer promulgates? That a speaker/writer who denies the divinity of Jesus is not of God?

What does it mean to deny that Christ has “come in the flesh”? Surely it’s not something so simplistic as to deny the existence of the historical Jesus — a position that very few scholars espouse today. If not, however, what does it mean?

In a chance encounter, or even in a theological discussion, somehow I can’t imagine asking another person, “Has Jesus Christ come in the flesh?” What “modern” question can one use to “test a spirit” in a speaker or writer?

A. 1 John is directed specifically against a false teaching that would become known as the Gnostic Error. Their main contention was that divinity (being pure) and humanity (being sinful) could not possibly co-exist in the same body. Therefore if Jesus was human He couldn’t have been God and couldn’t have died for us.

I think the phrase “come in the flesh” is an abbreviation John used referring to the fact that God became man and dwelt among us in order to die for our sins, and whoever believes this is given the authority to become a child of God and will have eternal life. He said those who deny this are not of God, and of course the Gnostic teachers denied this (and still do).

Another Question About 1 John

Q. Please explain 1 John 5:8 and, if you could, 1 John 5:16-18…. sin leading to death and not leading to death. Thanks for your supernatural insight.

A. 1 John 5:7-8 is a controversial passage over which bitter arguments are held. Some say the part of the passage which reads, “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” never appeared in any early manuscript and was added in the 1500’s at the insistence of the Catholic Church. Others claim the reason it can’t be found in early manuscripts is because it was removed by people opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity. To me it’s an argument that leads nowhere, because neither side can offer conclusive proof to support their position.

In my opinion there is plenty of evidence for the Trinity in the Bible without getting stuck on the authenticity of one verse. For example, you only have to read Genesis 1:1-2 and John 1:1-2 to see the three persons of the Trinity present from the moment of Creation. And a careful reading of the New Testament will confirm that all three are said to dwell within every believer.

As for 1 John 5:16-18 we’re responsible to pray for a believer we observe in the commission of a sin, asking the Lord to forgive him. The exception is a sin that leads to death. The only such sin is to deny that Jesus died for us. There’s no forgiveness for that. I believe that John was referring specifically to those who followed the Gnostic teaching of the day denying the deity of Jesus and saying that being a mere human He couldn’t have died for our sins.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How is it that Jesus is called as 'the Son of David'?

The House And Lineage Of David

Q. Since Joseph & Mary were not a married yet & God said that Jesus would come from his (Joseph) lineage, wouldn’t that mean that it had to be Mary’s lineage? or did Joseph & Mary really get together to fulfill what God said? Also I did watch a documentary that said Mary was a virgin when the two got married, but then did their wedding thing that would fulfill what God said? Thank you for this chance to ask a question.

A. The complete phrase is “house and lineage of David”. Comparing the genealogies of Matthew 1 (Joseph’s) and Luke 3 (Mary’s), you can see that both Joseph and Mary were descended from King David. Therefore both were of the House of David. But Matthew’s account shows that unlike Mary, Joseph was also in the royal line of succession through King Solomon and therefore of David’s lineage as well. (Luke 2:4) Mary was a descendant of Solomon’s brother Nathan.

Just before the Babylonian captivity God had cursed the royal line, saying that no King would ever come from them again (Jere. 22:28-30) and yet He had promised David that descendants of Solomon’s would rule over Israel forever. (1 Chron. 17:11-14)

Jesus was a blood relative of Mary’s, and therefore of the house of David. When Joseph married Mary, Jesus became his legal son and therefore entered the Royal line. Now He was of the house and lineage of David. But since He and Joseph were not biologically related, He escaped the blood curse. Thus Jesus became the only man since 600 BC qualified to become the King of Israel and sit on David’s throne, something Gabriel had promised to Mary (Luke 1:32-33) and that will be fulfilled in the Millennium.


A Contradiction Or Not?

Q. Genesis 6:6 says, “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” But in Numbers 23:19 it says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” I know and I believe in my heart that there isn’t any contradiction in the Word of God. But I would really appreciate any explanation on why there seems to be one here. The verbs in both verses are the same in Hebrew.

A. This is more of a problem in English than in Hebrew. Although the verb nacham is used in both verses, it has several meanings depending on the context in which it’s used.

In Genesis 6 the context is regret, one meaning of nacham. God regretted creating man because of the way man had become following the introduction of sin into the world. Numbers 23 says that God doesn’t change His mind after deciding something. The English word repent means to change one’s mind, and is another meaning of nacham.

So while God felt regret over creating man, He didn’t change His mind about doing it. There is no contradiction.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Double Paycheck

Work For The Lord. Get Paid Twice.

Q. Do you think there is there any chance of a future or anything? I keep thinking of Jeremiah 29:11 whenever I think about a career, but when I see the world collapsing I wonder if anything is worth it anymore. I’m basically praying for Him to return soon but remember I still have work to do and such ministry wise with my photography projects and whatever career door opens up. I am honestly running out of options and have hit one of those road signs that says either continue here and hit the same bumps again or go there and everything will fall into place since everything happens for a reason.

A. In my opinion Jeremiah 29: 11 was meant for Israel and doesn’t have general application. But even if it does, I think all those who have the option should strongly consider devoting their remaining time to serving the Lord. I don’t mean going to seminary, unless that’s where God has called you, but instead becoming missionaries of one kind or another.

One of the first things I learned in Mexico is that most missionaries don’t go around knocking on doors preaching the Gospel. They help in orphanages, build houses and churches, care for the sick, feed the hungry, teach the children, and do thousands of other jobs in the US and in other countries. Best of all, a life on the Lord’s payroll provides a double paycheck. One takes care of you here, and the other stores up treasure in Heaven.


Who Are The Gentiles?

Q. When the Bible mentions Gentiles, I believe that it is speaking specifically to a certain race of people. For example, in Genesis chapter 10, it talks about the sons of Noah and their offspring. The Bible states that one of Noah’s sons Japheth, is where the Gentiles originated. And when the gentiles are mentioned in the New Testament, I believe that they were referring to the Romans. What’s your thought on this?

A. Gentile comes from the Hebrew word that means “nations.” Before the cross, all the people on Earth who weren’t Jews were called Gentiles. (Japeth was the father of the Caucasian peoples, most of whom are Gentiles. The descendants of his brother Ham settled Africa and they are also Gentiles.) Since the cross members of the Church are no longer Gentiles, so now there are three classifications of human, Jews, Gentiles, and the Church. (1 Cor 10:32, Galatians 3:28)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sola Scriptura?

Question: "What is sola scriptura?"

Answer: The phrase sola scriptura is from the Latin: sola having the idea of “alone,” “ground,” “base,” and the word scriptura meaning “writings”—referring to the Scriptures. Sola scriptura means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Sola scriptura was the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation. For centuries the Roman Catholic Church had made its traditions superior in authority to the Bible. This resulted in many practices that were in fact contradictory to the Bible. Some examples are prayer to saints and/or Mary, the immaculate conception, transubstantiation, infant baptism, indulgences, and papal authority. Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church and father of the Protestant Reformation, was publicly rebuking the Catholic Church for its unbiblical teachings. The Catholic Church threatened Martin Luther with excommunication (and death) if he did not recant. Martin Luther's reply was, “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me! Amen!”

The primary Catholic argument against sola scriptura is that the Bible does not explicitly teach sola scriptura. Catholics argue that the Bible nowhere states that it is the only authoritative guide for faith and practice. While this is true, they fail to recognize a crucially important issue. We know that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible declares itself to be God-breathed, inerrant, and authoritative. We also know that God does not change His mind or contradict Himself. So, while the Bible itself may not explicitly argue for sola scriptura, it most definitely does not allow for traditions that contradict its message. Sola scriptura is not as much of an argument against tradition as it is an argument against unbiblical, extra-biblical and/or anti-biblical doctrines. The only way to know for sure what God expects of us is to stay true to what we know He has revealed—the Bible. We can know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that Scripture is true, authoritative, and reliable. The same cannot be said of tradition.

The Word of God is the only authority for the Christian faith. Traditions are valid only when they are based on Scripture and are in full agreement with Scripture. Traditions that contradict the Bible are not of God and are not a valid aspect of the Christian faith. Sola scriptura is the only way to avoid subjectivity and keep personal opinion from taking priority over the teachings of the Bible. The essence of sola scriptura is basing your spiritual life on the Bible alone and rejecting any tradition or teaching that is not in full agreement with the Bible. Second Timothy 2:15 declares, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Sola scriptura does not nullify the concept of church traditions. Rather, sola scriptura gives us a solid foundation on which to base church traditions. There are many practices, in both Catholic and Protestant churches, that are the result of traditions, not the explicit teaching of Scripture. It is good, and even necessary, for the church to have traditions. Traditions play an important role in clarifying and organizing Christian practice. At the same time, in order for these traditions to be valid, they must not be in disagreement with God’s Word. They must be based on the solid foundation of the teaching of Scripture. The problem with the Roman Catholic Church, and many other churches, is that they base traditions on traditions which are based on traditions which are based on traditions, often with the initial tradition not being in full harmony with the Scriptures. That is why Christians must always go back to sola scriptura, the authoritative Word of God, as the only solid basis for faith and practice.

On a practical matter, a frequent objection to the concept of sola scriptura is the fact that the canon of the Bible was not officially agreed upon for at least 250 years after the church was founded. Further, the Scriptures were not available to the masses for over 1500 years after the church was founded. How, then, were early Christians to use sola scriptura, when they did not even have the full Scriptures? And how were Christians who lived before the invention of the printing press supposed to base their faith and practice on Scripture alone if there was no way for them to have a complete copy of the Scriptures? This issue is further compounded by the very high rates of illiteracy throughout history. How does the concept of sola scriptura handle these issues?

The problem with this argument is that it essentially says that Scripture’s authority is based on its availability. This is not the case. Scripture’s authority is universal; because it is God’s Word, it is His authority. The fact that Scripture was not readily available, or that people could not read it, does not change the fact that Scripture is God’s Word. Further, rather than this being an argument against sola scriptura, it is actually an argument for what the church should have done, instead of what it did. The early church should have made producing copies of the Scriptures a high priority. While it was unrealistic for every Christian to possess a complete copy of the Bible, it was possible that every church could have some, most, or all of the Scriptures available to it. Early church leaders should have made studying the Scriptures their highest priority so they could accurately teach it. Even if the Scriptures could not be made available to the masses, at least church leaders could be well-trained in the Word of God. Instead of building traditions upon traditions and passing them on from generation to generation, the church should have copied the Scriptures and taught the Scriptures (2 Timothy 4:2).

Again, traditions are not the problem. Unbiblical traditions are the problem. The availability of the Scriptures throughout the centuries is not the determining factor. The Scriptures themselves are the determining factor. We now have the Scriptures readily available to us. Through the careful study of God’s Word, it is clear that many church traditions which have developed over the centuries are in fact contradictory to the Word of God. This is where sola scriptura applies. Traditions that are based on, and in agreement with, God’s Word can be maintained. Traditions that are not based on, and/or disagree with, God’s Word must be rejected. Sola scriptura points us back to what God has revealed to us in His Word. Sola scriptura ultimately points us back to the God who always speaks the truth, never contradicts Himself, and always proves Himself to be dependable.

Recommended Resource: Scripture Alone by James White.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Anger, Is it right or wrong Biblically?

Question: "What does the Bible say about anger?"

Answer: Handling anger is an important topic. Christian counselors report that 50 percent of people who come in for counseling have problems dealing with anger. Anger can shatter communication and tear apart relationships, and it ruins both the joy and health of many. Sadly, people tend to justify their anger instead of accepting responsibility for it. Everyone struggles, to varying degrees, with anger. Thankfully, God’s Word contains principles regarding how to handle anger in a godly manner, and how to overcome sinful anger.

Anger is not always sin. There is a type of anger of which the Bible approves, often called “righteous indignation.” God is angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5), and believers are commanded to be angry (Ephesians 4:26). Two Greek words are used in the New Testament for our English word “anger.” One means “passion, energy” and the other means “agitated, boiling.” Biblically, anger is God-given energy intended to help us solve problems. Examples of biblical anger include Paul’s confronting Peter because of his wrong example in Galatians 2:11-14, David’s being upset over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an injustice (2 Samuel 12), and Jesus’ anger over how some of the Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-18). Notice that none of these examples of anger involved self-defense, but a defense of others or of a principle.

Anger turns to sin when it is selfishly motivated (James 1:20), when God’s goal is distorted (1 Corinthians 10:31), or when anger is allowed to linger (Ephesians 4:26-27). Instead of using the energy generated by anger to attack the problem at hand, it is the person who is attacked. Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man (Romans 3:13-14). Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Proverbs 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake, often with irreparable consequences. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside (Ephesians 4:26-27). This can cause depression and irritability over little things, often things unrelated to the underlying problem.

We can handle anger biblically by recognizing and admitting our selfish anger and/or our wrong handling of anger as sin (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9). This confession should be both to God and to those who have been hurt by our anger. We should not minimize the sin by excusing it or blame-shifting.

We can handle anger biblically by seeing God in the trial. This is especially important when people have done something to offend us. James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28-29, and Genesis 50:20 all point to the fact that God is sovereign and in complete control over every circumstance and person that enters our path. Nothing happens to us that He does not cause or allow. And as these verses share, God is a good God (Psalm 145:8, 9, 17) who allows all things in our lives for our good and the good of others. Reflecting on this truth until it moves from our heads to our hearts will alter how we react to those who hurt us.

We can handle anger biblically by making room for God’s wrath. This is especially important in cases of injustice, when “evil” men abuse “innocent” people. Genesis 50:19 and Romans 12:19 both tell us not play God. God is righteous and just, and we can trust Him who knows all and sees all to act justly (Genesis 18:25).

We can handle anger biblically by not returning evil for good (Genesis 50:21; Romans 12:21). This is key to converting our anger into love. As our actions flow from our hearts, so also our hearts can be altered by our actions (Matthew 5:43-48). That is, we can change our feelings toward another by changing how we choose to act toward that person.

We can handle anger biblically by communicating to solve the problem. There are four basic rules of communication shared in Ephesians 4:15, 25-32:

1) Be honest and speak (Ephesians 4:15, 25). People cannot read our minds. We must speak the truth in love.

2) Stay current (Ephesians 4:26-27). We must not allow what is bothering us to build up until we lose control. Dealing with and sharing what is bothering us before it gets to that point is important. 

3) Attack the problem, not the person (Ephesians 4:29, 31). Along this line, we must remember the importance of keeping the volume of our voices low (Proverbs 15:1).

4) Act, not react (Ephesians 4:31-32). Because of our fallen nature, our first impulse is often a sinful one (v. 31). The time spent in “counting to ten” should be used to reflect upon the godly way to respond (v. 32) and to remind ourselves how anger is to be used to solve problems and not create bigger ones.

Finally, we must act to solve our part of the problem (Acts 12:18). We cannot control how others act or respond, but we can make the changes that need to be made on our part. Overcoming a temper is not accomplished overnight. But through prayer, Bible study, and reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit, ungodly anger can be overcome. Just as we may have allowed anger to become entrenched in our lives by habitual practice, we must also practice responding correctly until it becomes a habit itself.

Recommended Resource: The Other Side of Love: Handling Anger in a Godly Way by Gary Chapman.

What's new on

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Do We Have To Make Up Past Tithes?

Q. My husband and I have been Christians for a long time. We faithfully and gratefully tithed for many years. But when severe financial problems caused partly by life-threatening ill health and the rest by poor financial choices occurred, we waivered. We started frantically trying to pay day to day living expenses that were piling up and tragically abandoned our tithing out of a misguided sense of responsibility. We put our responsibility to our earthly debtors above our responsibility to obey God. We are ashamed.

Some doctrinal confusion from various pastors’ opinions also entered in to the mix and we have remained confused about it ever since. We finally went bankrupt, lost our home and are living with relatives. The ill health in both of us is still present, but stable and we are still earning. We are elderly.

Here is our question. We intend to resume tithing. But is it acceptable to ask forgiveness for having robbed God for several years and start anew from here? Or is it more proper to pay more than 10% in an attempt to repay our tithe debt to God as best we can? Please understand that our motives aren’t intended to sound stingy. We just don’t know whether we are putting ourselves under unnecessary bondage with trying to catch up a huge debt by paying many years of unpaid tithes. Thank you for helping us discover the correct wisdom in this matter.

A. First let’s review the intent behind tithing. Right from the beginning it was designed to be an expression of gratitude for God’s blessings. Abraham was the first to pay a tithe. He paid it to Melchizedek out of gratitude for Gods blessing in defeating Kedorlaomer and freeing Lot. (Genesis 14). Later Jacob promised to pay a tithe on everything God blessed him with (Genesis 28:20-22) In Deut. 12:4-7 God instructed the Israelites to bring their tithes and offerings to the place he would designate (Jerusalem) and use them for a giant celebration in gratitude for His blessings. He expanded on this in Deut. 14:22-26.

So tithing has always been intended as an expression of gratitude. People who tithe only out of obedience do so for the wrong reason and miss the point. Of all people in history we have the most to be thankful for, so if we can’t tithe solely out of gratitude we’re better off not doing it, because tithing out of obligation only builds resentment. God does not need our money, but tithing is the way we say thanks for saving our lives.

That said, I’ve never found a single verse that requires us to make up tithes we’ve failed to pay in the past. God’s mercies are new every morning, (Lamentations 3:22-24) so confess your sin of ingratitude for the past, receive your forgiveness and move on in freedom.