Friday, May 21, 2010

Principles and Exceptions

Moses, Satan, And Jude

Q. I have a question about Jude’s comments on Satan arguing about the burial place of the body of Moses with an angel and the fact that Moses might be one of the witnesses in Revelation.

If God buried Moses and kept the burial place a secret – the thought occurred to me the other day that it was so the Israelites wouldn’t “worship” the burial site and make an idol of it – but why would Satan be so concerned? Since it is appointed once for man to die, do you think God knowing His plans for Moses during the tribulation would take Moses to heaven like He did Enoch?

I enjoy the Truth and insight the Lord gives you in your studies and writings. May God continue to bless your obedience to His Truth. Jesus is the Truth, and I am so grateful He has made me into a lover of Truth.

A. You’re referring to Jude 1:9. I remain convinced that Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses of Rev. 11:3. As far as the body of Moses is concerned, all we know is that God buried it in Moab (Deut. 34:6) and no one knows where. There’s no reason to believe that he was actually taken live into heaven like Enoch was.

The passage from Hebrews 9:27 about dying only once is a general principle, but there have been several exceptions (such as Lazarus) so bringing Moses back to life would pose no problem for God.

Do I Have To Share The Gospel To Be Saved?

Q. I have a nagging feeling all the time about my salvation.  I read that salvation is from faith in Jesus Christ alone not works.  But I get conflicting answers when I read things people say on different Bible sites.  For example, some say when you’re saved you should spread the gospel to everyone you meet.  I sometimes talk to people about what I believe but not everyone I meet.  I am afraid people will think I am weird and won’t like me.  Is that normal to a believer? And if I don’t share the gospel am I still saved?
A. Having the key to eternal life is like having a cure for cancer.  It makes sense to share it with everyone who needs it.  But although the Lord commanded us to do this (Matt. 28:19-20), He didn’t make our salvation contingent upon it. In John 6:28-29 when the people asked Him what work God requires of us, Jesus said, “The work of God is this, to believe in the one He has sent.”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

When did the times of the Gentiles begin?

The Times Of The Gentiles

Q. Why do you and many others refer to the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles as starting with Nebuchadnezzar instead of earlier when the Assyrians conquered northern Israel? Why isn’t that part of the reigning and trampling of Gentiles?

A. When the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom, it was meant by God to be a warning to the South. Ezekiel explained this in his story of the two adulterous sisters (Ezekiel 23). Earlier, all the believers had moved to the southern Kingdom in protest against the North’s apostasy ( 2 Chron. 11:16), and Judah, as the south was called, was still a powerful representative of God’s Kingdom on Earth. But when God sent Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Judah for failing to heed the warning, the Kingdom ceased to exist.

Later Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a giant statue. Daniel said that it represented four earthly kingdoms, and that as King of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold. Daniel said as far as God was concerned, Nebuchadnezzar was king of the whole Earth, the first gentile to be so designated (Daniel 2:37-38). Then Daniel spoke of three other earthly kingdoms that would follow his. We know them as Persia, Greece and Rome. Based on this dream, scholars have begun the times of the Gentiles with Babylon. From that time on the world’s powers have all been gentile kingdoms, and will continue to be until the 2nd Coming.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Who was there before all?

Who Created God?

Q. A Mormon friend at work asked me who created God. In Genesis 1:1 it say’s, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” I believe that with my whole mind, heart and soul. Our question is who created God, where did He come from, or how did He come into being?

A. Mormons believe God was created. Some even believe he used to be a man and that might be what prompted the question. But no one created God because God is the Creator of everything. When you translate the Hebrew name for God, it means the One who always was and always will be. In Isaiah 43:10 God said, “Before me no God was formed, nor will there be one after me.” In Isaiah 44:6 God said “I am the first and the last. Apart from me there is no God.” Between Isaiah 43 and Isaiah 50 that thought is repeated 7 times. Our God is called The Eternal One for that reason. He had no beginning and will have no end.

The Timelessness Of God

Q. I praise God for the wisdom that He gifted to you. Thank you for sharing it. I have a question about the timelessness of God. However, in Isaiah 43:10 He states: “…before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” How can this be if He has no beginning or end? Can “eternal” have a “before” or “end”?

A. It’s figurative language. It’s like He was saying, “I always was and I always will be” which is what His name (I am) implies. To help us understand what that means He said there was no god before Him and there won’t be one after Him. He’s the One and Only. Forever.

When Did God Begin?

Q. On (another website) I saw a statement that troubled me greatly. In the never-ending debate of evolution vs. creationism, (the author) makes very good points. However, regarding the “beginning” of God he says “It is possible that the Lord may have existed for so long even He has lost track of His own beginning.”

Is this really possible? I have always believed that God “always was” but now, although I still believe our God is eternal and un-created I was wondering if you could point out some scripture that confirms the fact that Our God did not simply “lose track” of his existence and that he has in fact, although it is is incomprehensible to the human mind, existed forever.

A. Deut. 22:27 says that God is eternal. In Micah 5:2 we’re told about the origins of the Messiah. The literal Hebrew reads that they were from “the days of eternity”. The same Hebrew word us used in both passages.

Rabbinical scholars state that the way the very first letter of the Bible was formed in ancient manuscripts indicates that it’s impossible to know exactly what went on beforeGenesis 1:1. The Bible neither explains nor justifies God’s presence but from the very beginning man’s understanding has been that He’s an eternal being, without beginning or end. It puzzles me as to why any believer would want to question that.

Was God Formed?

Q. This question deals with Is.43:10. If you do a quick read of Is.43:10 it almost sounds as if God himself was formed. This can’t be, can it? Wouldn’t that negate his being eternal ,past and present? Appreciate your thoughts.

A. The last sentence of Isaiah 43:10 reads, “Before me no god was formed nor will there be one after me”, which sounds to us like he’s saying he was the first one first formed. But He really means there weren’t any gods that preceded Him and there won’t be any that follow Him. It’s another way of saying He’s the first and the last, the One True God.

Jesus the only acceptable eternal sacrifice

More On Conditional Hell

Q. I always thought Hell was forever, but I recently read another view called the conditional view. It teaches that the unrighteous will be resurrected, judged, punished in Hell for a period of time proportional to their sins, and then suffer destruction (both body and soul). The author mentions several points against eternal punishment but he states “the most convincing of all arguments against the traditional viewpoint relates to what Jesus Himself suffered on the cross. What was that punishment? It was extreme punishment followed by death. If Jesus did not suffer the full penalty for our sin, our debt has not been paid. But the Scriptures say that He paid the full debt and it was not eternal torment.” What do you think of that argument?

A. One of the main lessons the Old testament teaches us is that the shedding of innocent blood is required for the remission of sin. The animals sacrificed as sin offerings were innocent but even their blood wasn’t sufficient for us. It has to be like for like, a man for mankind. Those innocent animals only allowed man’s sin to be set aside until the world’s only innocent man could die for them. Just like the innocent animals didn’t have to suffer eternally, neither did the innocent man. His suffering and death were sufficient because He didn’t have any sins of His own to pay for.

So His punishment can’t be used as a model for ours. No amount of suffering on our part can redeem us, because we’re not innocent. That’s why Jesus had to die in our place. Please understand that people don’t go to hell because of their sins. They go to hell because they rejected God’s sole remedy for their sins. That means they have only themselves to offer as payment and not even eternal punishment can redeem them.

The so-called conditional view of hell is actually the mirror image of works based salvation in that it supposes the absence of bad works merits lighter punishment. But the only work God requires of us is to believe in the one He sent. (John 6:28-29) If that’s all He requires, then that’s all He can judge us on. And there are no degrees of belief. Either we do or we don’t. So the choices are eternal bliss or eternal punishment and both are based on belief.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Glory of Jesus

Q. I was reading John 17 and two questions came to mind. Verses 1-5 describes the Father restoring Jesus’ glory. While Jesus was on this earth was his glory hid or taken away so man would not recognize him as God? And my other question is, do you think he was referred to as the “Son” before he came to earth as a man? Or do you believe he might have been known as another name in heaven before that? Thanks for all that you do.

A. All the time Jesus spent on Earth was in the form of a human. Once, on the Mt. of Transfiguration, He momentarily assumed His glorified body. Matt. 17:2 tells us His face shone like the Sun and His clothes became as white as the light. Mark 9:3 described Him as appearing in clothes brighter than any one in the world could bleach them. Luke 9:29 says His face changed and His clothes were as bright as lightning.

This was obviously not His normal appearance while He was here, and after a few minutes He changed back to look just like other men again. Isaiah 53:2 said the messiah would have no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, and nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by looking like an ordinary man. But His glory was not taken from Him. He set it aside to become a man, so He could save mankind.

As for His pre incarnate position, in Psalm 2:7, written 1000 years before His birth, The Father said to Him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” And in at least one encounter a demon addressed Him as the Son of the Most High God (Mark 5:7). This seems to indicate that in the spirit world He was known as the Son of God even before people on Earth recognized Him as such.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our Gender Identity in Heaven?

Will We Still Be The Same Gender In Heaven?

Q. When we are in Heaven, will we still be the gender we were here on earth? I understand that there will be no need for procreation in Heaven, therefore, no sexual relations and no need for elimination of waste products, but will we still be man or woman? I assume that Jesus arose as a man and He said we would have bodies like His but what does that mean, will we ALL be men? My wife is already there and I wonder if she will still be a woman as she was here on earth?

A. The Bible doesn’t give us any clear information on this, but there are some clues. For example, when John wrote that what we’ll be has not been made known, but when He appears we’ll be like Him (1 John 3:2) I believe he meant we’ll retain our human form, just as He has. Since there are two types of human form, I think it makes sense to assume we’ll also retain our gender identity.

In 1 Cor. 15:49, Paul wrote that just as we’ve born the likeness of the earthly man (Adam) so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (Jesus). When he said we’ve born the likeness of Adam, he didn’t mean all humans are male, so there’s no reason to believe he was saying we’ll all be males in heaven.

Resurrection Evidence?

Evidence Of A Resurrection

Q. Do you believe that when the bodies from the graves are resurrected at the rapture it will be evident to those left behind? Will there be disturbed ground at the cemeteries and empty urns? Or will there be no physical evidence indicating that the rapture has taken place?

A. All we know about the physical evidence of a resurrection of the dead is what Matthew 27:52-53 says.

“The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

According to this description, it appears there was evidence at the grave sites that the people buried there had left the premises. If it happened then, it should happen now.