Question and Answers

Question and Answers
    I Peter 2:11-12 (Living for Christ) 05/11/2014
  • 1. In verse 12, when mishandled, could this be where we fall into a testimony evangelism error. Where people want others to see their Christian lives as a form of evangelism being the only way they evangelize without the proclamation of the gospel itself. Is this method valid?

    As Christians, we should live in such a way that our lives point to the person and work of Jesus. For many today, wordless ministry is a compelling approach. “Words are cheap,” many say, and “Actions speak louder than words.”

    Yet all throughout the New Testament, the message of Christ is proclaimed, and no substitute for the proclamation of the gospel is given when evangelizing. The gospel is not habit, but history. The gospel is the declaration of something that actually happened. And since the gospel is the saving work of Jesus, it isn’t something we can do, but it is something we must announce. We do live out its implications, but if we are to make the gospel known, we will do so through words.

    A godly life should serve as a witness for the message we proclaim. But without words, what can our actions point to but ourselves? A godly life cannot communicate the incarnation, Jesus’ substitution for sinners, or the hope of redemption by grace alone through faith alone. We can’t be good news, but we can herald it, sing it, speak it, and preach it to all who listen.

    2. How does one balance keeping your testimony pure and non-offensive before the world without being so paralyzed by the fear of offending anyone, or being accused of hypocrisy that you can't do anything? For example, approaching alcohol or R-rated movies, etc.

    As believers keep a pure testimony and live as unto Christ, unbelievers will not desire friendship, but will be hostile to believers (James 4:4).  Believers are only commanded to obey and fear God, not avoid offending those who do not know Christ. 

    I Peter 2:1-3 (Longing for Life) 04/06/2014
  • 1. Do you think it is wise to require teens to read the Scriptures on their own?

    It is better to encourage Bible reading than to require it. Young people cannot be forced to genuinely live off the religion of their parents.They must    experience it for themselves. In order to best encourage Bible reading, the best question is probably not, “What can we do to get teenagers reading the Bible more?”  The right question may be, “What can we do to help teenagers value God more?” God must be important to our teenagers, specifically the idea of knowing God. When knowing God is important, when being close to Him matters to teenagers, the act of reading the Bible simply becomes the means by which they come to know Him. If they value God, they’ll value reading the Bible. It should also be noted that young people will pick up on whether or not parents or authorities value the Bible. If young people can see a model of passion as one meets God in His Word, young people will pick up on it. Reading the Bible is “caught” WAY more than it is “taught.”

    2. If it's our choice to grow or not grow in the Word, is that a matter of freewill?

    Scripture clearly affirms that God works all things after the counsel of His will, not man’s will (Eph. 1:11). At the same time and because God is sovereign, men are responsible to obey Him and submit to His sovereignty. So a proper understanding of God’s sovereignty is essential for proper obedience to Him. There is a mystery by which our wills are 100 percent involved in our sanctification. At the same time, apart from Christ we can do nothing. His Spirit alone gives us the will, the ability, and the circumstances to do what He requires.
    Scripture affirms human responsibility: Hebrews 12:4,In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
    Yet Scripture affirms divine enabling as well: Acts 17:28, “In him we live and move and have our being. … ” And John 15:5, “… apart from me you can do nothing.”

    3. Can i read the "putting off" in verse 2:1 as repentance or a life of repentance

    In the context, it is clear that these relational sins (2:1) will hinder your motivation for the Word (2:2). To “put off” means to cast aside like you take off dirty clothes. Peter says that our sins are opposed to spiritual growth and they must be discarded and eliminated from our lives in order for a person to have an appetite for God’s Word. This verse presents the “putting off” as a necessary life of repentance for every believer, not just a one time act.

    4. In John 15, people would say this supports non-Lordship salvation because there are branches in Christ that bear fruit and don't bear fruit. How should we respond to that and what does this passage mean?

    This passage only supports non-Lordship salvation if one believes all the branches represent genuine believers. In this passage, Jesus seems to be alluding to that reality of "wheat and tares." Often wheat and tares grow together from the same ground, yet both are completely different from each other. Jesus is predicting that He will separate the saved and unsaved in the future. Jesus in this passage is simply showing that abiding is not an option, but an essential requirement for eternal life. To not abide is to face the inevitable consequence which is death and judgment. “If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned” (John 15:6).  On the positive side, to abide in Christ results in conformity to the Word of God. The one in whom the Word abides can be confident of receiving the answers to his prayers for he will pray according to the will of God. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). The Lordship Salvation position is strengthened in this passage, because as believers abide in Christ, we are caused to bear fruit which brings glory to the Father and thereby demonstrates our genuine conversion.  

    I Peter 1:13 (The Hope of Salvation) 02/16/2014
  • 1. We are all entangled with things like painting our house... How do we stay focused on things above in light of this?

    The reality of heaven ought to motivate believers in their homeward journey, as they navigate through this world doing the mundane "entanglements" of life. To do that effectively, we must set our eyes on Him and the glorious future He has promised (Col. 3:1-2; Heb. 12:1-2).  Focusing on God's kingdom in eternity is not a hindrance or an addition to our busy lives and entanglements; it is the essence of it (Heb. 11:16).  

    Author Randy Alcorn gives us a great perspective on this topic:
     "Understanding Heaven doesn’t just tell us what to do, but why. What God tells us about our future lives enables us to interpret our past and serve him in our present. . . . We need to stop acting as if Heaven were a myth, an impossible dream, a relentlessly dull meeting, or an unimportant distraction from real life. We need to see Heaven for what it is: the realm we’re made for. if we do, we’ll embrace it with contagious joy, excitement, and anticipation.  (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, 443)
    I Peter 1:10-12 (Salvation's Privilege) 2/09/2014
  • 1. When Jesus said Abraham saw Jesus' day in John 8:24, what did he see?

    To “see” in this verse means to have a view or distinct conception of. It does not imply that Abraham expected that the Messiah would appear during his life, but that he might have a representation of, or a clear description of the times of the Messiah. Messiah’s day was a reality to Abraham through the eyes of faith. Hebrews 11:13 states: "These all died in faith, not having received (obtained the fulfillment of) the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them.” Though Abraham was not permitted to live to see the times of the Messiah, yet he was permitted to have a prophetic view of him, and also of the design of his coming. One way Abraham was permitted to have a view of the death of the Messiah as a sacrifice for sin was by the command to offer his Son Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-13). 
    I Peter 1:6-9 (A Survival Guide for Trials: Part II) 02/02/2014
  • How do you know if something is a trial or a hardship brought on by your sin? For instance, if you are longing to be married, Is that a trial as it is something God has chosen not to give you or is it your sin that you are discontent?

    In both situations, there is pain, so the presence of pain does not necessarily mean one is under God's discipline, although it could. The key thing is to examine one's life to see if there is any unconfessed sin and to ask God to reveal that. One could also discuss it with a close friend or pastor to see if there is anything that other people have noticed. If one is honest and there is nothing that God reveals, then it may be that the issue is purely one of growth.

    How do you know if you are going through a trial?
    A trail could be defined as a great affliction, distress and/or suffering, making it hard to bear physically or emotionally. It could be described as an experience or set of events that tests one's resiliency, character, endurance, patience, and faith in God.

    Can a Christian commit suicide due to difficulty?  

    The issue of salvation and suicide coming together is not directly answered in Scripture.  In gray issues, it is wise to make much of what IS clearly stated in Scripture (salvation), and not about what God has said very little (suicide). 

    Scripture does state that man is totally depraved (Rom. 3:10-18; Isa. 64:6), meaning that every part of man is tainted by sin, including intellect, heart, emotions, and will.  Salvation does not guarantee a Christian from committing any sin, illustrated in the case of King David in the OT.  He premeditatedly murdered Uriah and did not forfeit his salvation. Indeed, every believer in Christ in Scripture is exceedingly sinful and in need of a Savior. 
    It is also essential to recognize Christ's sacrifice at the cross has forgiven all of our sin—past, present, and future (Col. 2:13-14; Heb. 10:11-18). The believer is positioned and legally declared righteous as a result of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Any sin that believers commit tomorrow was justified at the cross when Jesus died for our sins and rose again (Rom. 3:23-26; 8:29-30). Scripture declares with full assurance that believers cannot lose their salvation (Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 1:6; John 10:27-29). With those Scriptures in mind, believers are capable of committing any sin (except the outright rejection of the Holy Spirit in conversion; Mark 3:25-32). If Jesus forgives us of all sin, that would have to include suicide as well.  Jesus’ death has made Christians perfect forever (Heb. 7:28-10:14), so surely no sin could taint that.  And if men like Moses and Elijah asked God to take their lives, then surely a Christian without the faith of a Moses or Elijah could make suicide a realization. 

    However, on the basis of Scripture, history and the fruit of a genuine believer, suicide should be very rare for believers.  Someone considering suicide should be challenged above all to examine himself to see whether he is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
    I Peter 1:6-7 (A Survival Guide for Trials: Part I) - 01/26/2014
  • Regarding, 'if necessary' (in 1 Peter 1), when would it NOT be necessary?

    Because God is ultimately in control over all circumstances, He ultimately decides if a trial or trouble is “necessary” in the life of one of His children. We must keep in mind that God uses trials in life to serve a purpose, which is to draw us closer to our God and Savior and make us more like Him (Job 5:6-7; Acts 14:22; I Thess. 3:3). Therefore, all believers on this earth are eligible for trials when God deems it necessary to discipline, humble, teach, strengthen and point us to heaven. Trials will always be necessary until we are glorified with Christ.  Paul echoes this glorious, bedrock truth at the end of the book:  “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm strengthen and establish you” (5:10).   

    Is the Christian's daily battle against sin part of the "various trials" that Peter refers to in verse 6 or are the trials mainly when more unusual things happen (like major sickness, etc.)?

    From the context of this passage we can detect that the “various trials” speak more to trials and tribulations that come with a purpose and a reward.  So Peter probably has more in mind things in our lives that we cannot control.  However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our "trials and tribulations" if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. "By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler" (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But the amazing news is that God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.

    In Ephesians 2:8-9, why does the footnote in the NASB say that the word "that" in v. 8 refers to salvation, and not faith?

    To conclude the word "that" in verse 8 refers only to "faith" makes the words "not from yourselves" almost meaningless, whereas in fact they form part of Paul's main point: the antithesis of grace versus human performance. The entire process of salvation--"salvation by grace through faith" is not of human origin but comes as a gracious gift from God.  The great majority of modern commentators correctly support this option because the grammar of the sentence supports it as well.  God's provision of salvation is his gracous gift.  What the spiritually dead could never do, God did for them when they placed their trust in him.   
    I Peter 1:1-2 (Elect Exiles) - 01/12/2014
  • Is it wrong for Christians to try to fit in with our society?  For example, is it wrong to make money illegally in order to serve Christ and be a Christian influence among sinners?  And how would you guide us on gray areas like tattoos or making unbelieving friends?

    As Christians in a pagan world, we do not have the option to “opt out” of societal contract. Instead, we live under a mandate to be the most involved, missional societal participants that we can be. We are on a mission to make disciples of all nations and to share the gospel of Christ. 

    Concerning the issue of making money illegally, Scripture makes it clear that Christians are to follow the governing authorities that God has placed over them (Rom. 13:1-8).  Because making money illegally is always contrary to Scriptures command to submit to authorities, it would always be sinful.  
    Pertaining to friends, there is nothing in itself wrong with being friends with an unbeliever. But if the Christian finds himself or herself being brought into places that do not reflect the believer’s life, then the friendship is not in their best interests (II Cor. 6:14-18).
    The question for tattoos is not necessarily “is getting a tattoo a sin?” The question is more “is getting a tattoo a good and necessary thing to do?” First Corinthians 10:23 declares, “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive.” Christian tattoos may be “permissible,” but are they beneficial and constructive? The biblically based conclusion would seem to be that Christian tattoos are permissible, but it is highly questionable whether they can be considered beneficial and constructive. A Christian considering getting a tattoo should pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and ask the Lord to provide pure motives and discernment.

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Below are some of the questions and answers from our Doctrines of David series.

    Psalm 139 (Is God a Cause of Comfort or Concern?) - 12/15/2013
  • You said that we should hate sin because God hates sin.  Does God also hate the sinner as well?  If so, should we do the same?  

    The sobering fact is that God, being perfectly holy and righteous, hates not only sin, but also the sinner (Psalm 5:5; Lev. 20:23; Prov. 6:16-19; Hos. 9:15).

    However, Scripture commands those who under grace to love and reach the lost with the gospel.  Though there are many passages detailing how we are to interact with unbelievers (Col 4:5-6), there are a few basic principles to keep in mind as we interact with the lost.

    1st: We must remember the gospel and the sacrifice of Christ that has cleansed us from our sins, forgiven us our trespasses, and enabled us to be gracious and kind by changing us. As we were once against God in our unbelief (I John 4:10; Rom. 5:8), God was gracious and kind to us. We are to reflect the love of Christ (John 13:34).  

    2nd: Though we are called to love lost sinners, we must secondly not approve of their sin/lifestyle. In our culture it is not even the sin itself that is the issue, as much as it is the push for affirmation of the sin (Romans 1:32). We want to love them because of their iminant peril, but not to accept or admire their sinful choices. 

    3rd: Believers are called to actively demonstrate love to sinners—the same love that God showed us when we were separated from Him. Develop relationships with sinners. Get to know them, pray for them, and don’t shrink back from sharing the gospel with them. 

    Psalm 16 (Refuge for Refugees) - 11/10/2013
  • When David says do not take your Holy Spirit from me, was the Spirit not residing in Him as He does in us?

    Sometimes it can be confusing to think about the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling Old Testament believers because David spoke of the possibility of God taking away his Holy Spirit (Ps. 51:11), but David was not speaking of the indwelling presence of God. Rather, he was speaking of God's anointing him as king. David did not want God to punish him for his sin by taking away the throne of Israel, as God had previously done to Saul.

    You mentioned that David didn't have the Holy Spirit residing in him as believers now have.  Does that mean that OT saints did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling in them since Christ had not send the Helper?  

    In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was given selectively and temporarily to indwell certain individuals for special ministries. It was not universal nor was it permanent.

    How did the Holy Spirit use the OT writers to pen Scripture?

    The Holy Spirit used the OT writers to pen Scripture in the same way He used the NT writers. God used men to reveal His will and His word (e.g. the prophets), but these men were inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit so that the words they spoke were clearly the “Word of the Lord.” When men spoke in the Spirit, they spoke for God. When men disobeyed the Word of God, they were regarded as having not only resisted God, but His Spirit as well (Nehemiah 9:20, 30; Psalm 106:33; Isaiah 30:1-2; 63:10-14; Zechariah 7:11-12

    How do we keep from being bitter when we know we might not see deliverance from a trial and we know there is more sorrow to look forward to in the Christian life?

    Hebrews 11 is a familiar passage which speaks of faith despite rough circumstances.  In Hebrews 11 we are told that many of these people of faith died before they received the promises from God.  None of the believers in Hebrews 11 had a perfect life, void of persecution and hardship of some kind. Yet God used tough circumstances to bring about salvation and/or sanctification.  Despite the difficult situations of life and the temptation to be bitter, we must remember that God uses all things, good or bad, for His glory and for our good. 

    What is a "micktam" or whatever that word was?

    “Miktam” is a Hebrew word which introduces six special Psalms in the Psalter.  The six Psalms which the “miktam” introduces are all recounts of David’s most harrowing experiences as a follower of God, situations where his life was in immediate danger and where only a miracle from God could save him.  

    Psalm 85 (The Intersection of Mercy and Justice) - 9/8/2013
  • The ESV in vs. 10 uses the word "faithfulness" instead of "truth." Is there a difference and if so what are the implications?
    The Hebrew word under consideration refers to a person, not the impersonal concept of truth. The word translated as “truth” or “faithfulness” in this passage refers more specifically to God’s fidelity to His promises, His actions and His own character. Both words can be used to refer to God’s wonderful character.
    Can you explain the scapegoat a little further.  One goat was slaughtered as a sin offering (Lev.16:15), and Aaron was then to place his hands on the scapegoat, confess the sins of the people, and send it away (v.21).  So what's the significance of sending the live goat away?

    Symbolically, the scapegoat is a foreshadowing of Christ. After the scapegoat was laden with the sins of men, the goat was then considered unclean and driven into the wilderness.  The goat was cast out, despised  and rejected. In essence, the same happened to Jesus. Jesus was taken outside the city and crucified. We read in Scripture that Jesus “was despised and forsaken by men,” that He “poured out Himself to death, was numbered with the transgressors, bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”  Jesus literally became what the scapegoat represents – the removal of sins from the perpetrator.
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Below are some of the questions and answers from our series on the parables of Christ.
    Matthew 20:1-16 (The Workers in the Vineyard) - 8/11/2013
  • So will all receive an equal reward when entering into heaven?
    Every believer will receive the greatest reward in heaven, namely seeing God face to face. We will enter into His glory and we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2; Rev 22:4). This is the same for every Christian and it will be our highest joy.  

    At the same time, even though the NT is less clear on specific degrees of reward, it does seem to be implied (1 Cor 3:10-15). The nature of the reward is less clear, but it will be in accordance with our works here on earth. On this topic Jonathan Edwards helpfully writes “There are different degrees of happiness and glory in heaven… The glory of the saints above will be in some proportion to their eminency in holiness and good works here… Christ will reward all according to their works… It will be no damp to the happiness of those who have lower degrees of happiness and glory, that there are others advanced in glory above them. For all shall be perfectly happy, every one shall be perfectly satisfied. Every vessel that is cast into this ocean of happiness is full, though there are some vessels far larger than others. And there shall be no such thing as envy in heaven, but perfect love shall reign through the whole society.”

    With regards to motivation, the consensus of the NT seems to suggest that we should be firmly fixed on the common reward of all believers, namely being with God, and not on the individual reward we might receive for our works. Thus Peter exhorts fellow shepherds to work, but not for some degree of gain (1 Pet 5:2). And Paul writes that he presses on to obtain the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14). From the context it is evident that the apostle does not have a specific reward in mind, for his particular ministry, but the prize which is common to all believers.

    Regarding this reward, it is grounded in the cross – it has only been made possible by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  Our motivation then is derived from both a gratefulness for what has been done, and a sure steady hope in what is to come. We must fix our minds on what has the cross and its eternal implications.
    Will there be varying levels of reward in the kingdom? If so, based on what? How does this affect our motivation to serve?
    See above.
    I understand that Jesus' parable exposed the wrong motives the disciples had for desiring greater reward, but is there any legitimate motive we could have for desiring and faithfully working for greater heavenly reward?
    See above.
    Matthew 25:1-13 (Parable of the Ten Virgins) - 8/25/2013
  • How does the daily lifestyle of a believer look? How do you distinguish actual from intellectual?
    An unconverted person can have an intellectual lifestyle that closely mirrors the life of a true believer, including a response to an invitation, activity in church, believing in Jesus’ second coming, and even calling Jesus Lord.  Though these things should be evident in a believer’s life, there must be evidence of internal fruit. Believers are called to be constantly comparing their lives to Scripture to see if they be in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Perhaps the clearest passage revealing what a believer’s lifestyle should emulate would be the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. As true believers rely solely on God’s grace daily, the characteristics of the blessed found in Matthew should be evident at some level in the believer’s heart and lifestyle.
    What is the oil directly? Grace? The Holy Spirit?
    The five virgins who carry the extra oil represent genuine believers who are born again and who are eagerly awaiting the coming of Christ.  The oil refers to the light of the grace of God. Only those truly born again by the Spirit of God will be with Christ in the end.  Absence of oil shows a lack of salvation, profession without possession. The bridegroom’s verdict of “I don’t know you,” which, as in Matthew 7:21-23, reminds us that the oil is more than just merely good works or moral uprightness. The oil represents God’s grace which is available to all those who come to God through Christ.
    Matthew 18:21-35 (Forgiving the Unforgivable) - 07/28/2013
  • When would be the proper time to forgive or how do you protect yourself or your family as well as having forgiveness?

    Ideally forgiveness is immediate; we should not delay.  That is to say we should not store up enmity in our hearts against the offender.  A separate issue to consider is whether there are consequences from their sin.  It may be appropriate to acknowledge the implications of their actions (e.g. for the future safety of your family).  However, this should not prevent genuine forgiveness, such that you maintain bitterness towards the offender.
    In a situation where you need to forgive someone who has hurt you, I know we that we are to “not hold it against them.”  Is it unforgiveness to protect yourself from future hurt by not putting yourself in a similar position?   
    (Example- family relationship, repeated situation conflicts, harsh words regularly spoken, avoid prolonged conflict by limiting contact.)

    See above
    How would you instruct kids to defend/”stick up for themselves” if someone tries to hurt them in light of the instruction to forgive and turn the other cheek?

    Similar to the answer above, we should instruct our children to forgive.  We should encourage them to be gracious towards others, not holding grudges.  However, it might be appropriate to acknowledge the consequences of the situation.  This is a separate issue from forgiveness.  In may be necessary to remove our children from a particular situation such that there is no further risk to them, whilst also instructing them to forgive the aggressor.
    If the forgiven slave is a believer, why does he think he can pay back his debt? or receive punishment, not discipline?

    Each parable typically teaches one main point.  We should not aim to map every detail of the parable across to the Christian life, but rather seek to apply the primary truth, in this case the need to forgive.
    Did first slave lose his salvation?

    See Above
    If Gods discipline can be called torture, how does this relate to a parents discipline of their children?

    See Above
    Does this parable only apply to fellow Christians?  What about to non-believers?

    Jesus is Lord of all.  Christians acknowledge Him as such, non-believers do not.  Thus whilst it is correct to say that everyone should take heed to these words, we can only expect true Christians to obey.  Whilst someone is unregenerate they are neither willing nor able to obey God.
    Does true forgiveness necessarily entail forgetting offenses?

    A helpful way to think about forgiveness is in a three-fold way:  When you say you forgive someone that means:
    1) you will not bring it up to yourself again (if you begin to think about their transgression against you, take control of your thoughts and stop),
    2) you will not bring it up to the offender again (you will not use it against them in the future) and
    3) you will not bring it up with others again.
    It has been said that forgiveness is the oil of human relationships.  We will offend each other – we’re sinners, but successful forgiveness allows us to continue in our relationships together.
    What does forgiveness look like when the person doesn't ask forgiveness or even acknowledge an offense has happened, and the behavior continues ongoing?

    Whilst they may not be fulfilling their duty of seeking forgiveness, you must still fulfill yours.  That is to say it would be appropriate to let them you have been offended, but that you have forgiven them.  For as often as their behavior continues, you keep forgiving them, not storing up enmity in your heart against them.
    How can I help a new believer to be able to ask for forgiveness?

    If they are not convinced of the need to seek forgiveness, take them to Scripture and show that it is a biblical principal which all Christians should follow.  If they understand the need, but are struggling with the practicalities, pray with them and help them along the way.  Break down the task into achievable steps, and walk through it with them.  E.g. step 1 may be to ‘book a meeting’ with the offended. Step 2 might be to vocalize their confession of sin etc.
    Don't we forgive based on our trust in Christ?

    The parable shows that our forgiveness is based upon the forgiveness we have received from God.  As we contemplate our sin, and the mercy we have received, so we are compelled to forgive those who have sinned against us.