Q & A 201-300

Question #201

Our congregation owns a building that is home to 3 small businesses. Their rental payments provide approximately 1/3 of our total church income. The rental money pays all of our expenses except the preacher’s salary. Is there any scriptural example or justification for this practice? Is it wrong to depend on income from this outside source to support our church? Or should the actual membership contributions be the sum total of a self-supporting congregation? Any advice from the scriptures would be appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help.

Leon’s Response

It is true that the church is to support itself by means of the contributions of its members (I Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8 & 9). It would be wrong for the church to go into business to support it’s work. At the same time, if a church owns property that isn’t needed for other use, to simply allow it to lie dormant until it is needed wouldn’t be good use of our stewardship. Remember Jesus attitude toward to one talent man in Matthew 25. We are to use what is in our hand or ability. If one has property they are planning to use for other purposes in the future, but aren’t needing it now, there is the principle of stewardship which would demand we make good use of it now.

So the answer has to do with purpose and whether this is a temporary plan or has the congregation gone into business to support it’s work? I would need more information to say in such matters.

Question #202

This is a follow up question. Here is the original question.

Our congregation owns a building that is home to 3 small businesses. Their rental payments provide approximately 1/3 of our total church income. The rental money pays all of our expenses except the preacher’s salary. Is there any scriptural example or justification for this practice? Is it wrong to depend on income from this outside source to support our church? Or should the actual membership contributions be the sum total of a self-supporting congregation? Any advice from the scriptures would be appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help.

You indicated more information would be needed to provide a more precise answer. I hope this helps. Now for the follow up question.

We recently rented to our 3rd tenant. That space was used by the church for fellowship dinners and a small Spanish congregation prior to renting the space to the 3rd tenant. We have also raised the rent to an existing tenant from $475/mo to $800/mo. The increase was passed to come more in line with market value for the property. The building is free and clear of any loans. All 3 units as of the first of the year are yielding $2425 per month plus taxes and electric. Prior to the first of the year only 2 units were rented and yielded $1275 per month plus taxes and electric. We do not have an elder-ship at our congregation. The question is the same as before, Is there scriptural justification for this practice or should the congregation’s contributions be the means of support for the church? Thank you again in advance for your response.

Leon’s Response

Thanks for your additional information. The question that I think has to be answered to decide is, is this a temporary arrangement to get in better shape to carry out the work or is this a permanent plan to support the church? There isn’t any doubt that God’s plan for the support of the church is for it to be done through the freewill offerings of the members of that church. (I Corinthians 16:1,2). When there are special needs in a congregation it is right for them to ask of members to dig deeper even to the point of selling possessions to give to the needs of the people as was done in Acts 2:44-46 and Acts 4. It is also right when he needs reach beyond a congregations ability to get help from other churches as was done in Acts 11:27-30 and with Paul’s raising money for the poor saints in Jerusalem in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 and Romans 15:25-27.

It was right for members of the church like Paul and Aquilla and Priscilla to get jobs to help with the support of the Lord’s work as with their making of tents. Paul even says in I Corinthians 9 that he took care of his support and those with him so the church wouldn’t be charged in the matter.

We have absolutely no teaching in the Bible to indicate a church should go into business to support it’s work. What is true is that we are stewards of what is in our hands. We aren’t to be like ones Jesus referred to who in the parable of the unjust steward of whom he said the children of this generation are wiser than the children of light. We are to use the things in our hands instead of allowing them to be dormant as the one talent man did.

An example of the difference I believe is this. If a church looking forward to expanding, purchased houses adjacent to their property that they didn’t need at the moment but knew they would in the near future, it would be poor stewardship not to rent those out while you wait to the time they are needed. But when the time comes to use them for the work the renting would stop and you would have the property for church use. But that is entirely different from purchasing property for the purpose of renting it out so that you don’t need to give as much. One is using good stewardship. The other has the church going into business.

So, I come back to the question, what are the plans for the use of the property in the long haul? Is this a temporary situation to allow you time to grow so that you can make use of the property? Or has the church found a way to make money so that the making of the money has become of greater significance than the ministry that needs to be done? The truth is, only you and the congregation there can answer that question. Purpose matters. The plan for the use matters.

The overriding principle must be there that we are to be wise stewards, but our mission is to reach the world for the Lord through the giving and working of the members of the body.

Question #203

Regarding question 200, how do I get back and how do I make things right?.

Leon’s Response

I appreciate your concern. First, let me answer the part of how to get back to God and make things right with Him and the church. Remember in Acts 8 when Phillip had gone to Samaria to preach Christ to the people, among those converted to Christ was Simon the Sorcerer who had fooled the people with his magic. He believed and was baptized. But when Peter and John came down and laid their hands on people to give them miraculous powers, Simon tried to buy that gift to lay his hands on people and give them the Holy Spirit. Peter said, “Your money perish with you. You have neither part nor lot in this matter. Your heart is not right with God. Repent therefore and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. You are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.” He asked Peter to pray for him that none of these things might come upon him. In Peter’s answer we see God had a plan for folks to come back to Him who had been right and went astray.

This was vital since people do become overwhelmed in a fault and need to be restored to the Lord (Galatians 6:1,2). Christians err from the truth and need to be converted to the Lord again (James 5:19-20). John told the Christians that if they said they didn’t sin they were simply fooling themselves. But if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-10).

You come back to God by turning from the sin in repentance. To repent simply means you change your mind, heart and will toward sin and turn to the Lord. You confess the sins to God. You ask Him to forgive you. God is a loving, graceful God who is ready and anxious to forgive any sin. Remember the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. When the boy came home the Father, who represents God saw him while he was still a long way off and ran to meet him. When the boy began to say, “I not worthy to be called your son. Make me a hired servant.” The Father ignored him and said to a servant, “Get the best robe for his back. Get shoes for his feet. Get a ring for his finger and kill the fatted calf so we can rejoice because My Son was lost and now he is found. He was dead and now he is alive again.” God doesn’t want anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). When you come back to start to live for Him as a part of His family, the church and serve God daily as a Christian. You get involved in the work and help others who are struggling to live for God. Remember when Peter fell from God and denied the Lord three times. He repented of that sin in bitter tears. God both forgave and had him back up preaching His word on the day of Pentecost less than two months later.

Don’t stay away from God or His church another day. Get back right with the Lord and get involved in the service immediately.

But how do you make things right? I don’t know whether you mean to get things right with God, or with your former family or whom. If it is God the answer given will cover that. If it is with the church, simply go back and confess your sins and ask for their prayers for God’s forgiveness and help. If it is with other people, then go to them and tell them you want to make things right and ask for their forgiveness. Some may not forgive or accept your repentance, but it then becomes their problem rather than yours. You, at this point need to forgive yourself and go from here to live the life God calls upon you to live. In Philippians 3:12-16 Paul talks about his life and says he had not yet laid hold of what God had laid hold of him to do. But this one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind and reaching forth to the things that are before, I Press toward the mark of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Note, he had messed up royally in his past life. But he was forgetting the past so he could live for the Lord now. We all have things in our past we want to forget. God readily forgives and those who love Him and follow Him are ready to forgive (Luke 17:3-5). But whether men forgive or not we must forgive ourselves when the Lord forgives and get on with our lives for Him. Everyone in the church of the Lord must come with a broken and contrite heart. We have all sinned and need God’s forgiveness and mercy. The only perfect servant is the Lord Himself.

I hope and pray you will today make that choice to really give your whole life to God and get things right with Him to live for Him every day.

Question #204

Could you please explain 2Corinthians 6:14.

Leon’s Response

This verse has often been confusing to people. It has so often been applied to marriage especially to a Christian being married to a non-Christian. But it won’t fit that application since Paul himself in I Corinthians 7:12-16 told the Christian married to a non-Christian to not depart but remain in the marriage to bring a sanctifying influence on the unbeliever and on the children. In verse 17 here in 2 Corinthians 6 Paul’s challenge is to “Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord.” IN I Peter 3;1-7 the Christian woman married to a non-Christian man was told to live in such a way before him so that she might win him to the Lord. So obviously that application to marriage is not correct.

The point has to do with any kind of partnership or relationship with non-believers which will have the affect of pulling us away from God or away from the standards God teaches us to live by. One example of what this verse is talking about is when a Christian goes into business with a non-Christian, they often face the challenge of integrity. How do they handle situation in which the unbeliever wants to cheat or lie or shade the truth from others? It puts the Christian into a difficult situation. IN such a situation the Christian must get out of that yoke or bond. IT will destroy their influence and have the effect of pulling them into situations which are wrong.

This could also apply to friendships. If my friendship with a non-believer causes me to sin or destroys my influence for good, then I can’t continue in that friendship. It isn’t wrong to have sinners as friends. Jesus was the friend of tax collectors and sinners. But He didn’t let it pull Him into sin. This is the standard we must use in all such relationships. Remember Paul’s statement, “Evil companions corrupt good morals.” The truth is in any such relationship we are either pulling the other person up are they are pulling us down. If we are being pull down we need to sever the relationship.

Question #205

I’ve been working for this company for two years now. At first, I was told during my job interview, that the owner and his wife are strong Christians, and try to live a good and decent life. As well as running their company the same way.

Lately, I’ve notice the deceitfulness on lying to the customers that they do not have any fabrics or materials left from their jobs that we had completed, when in fact they had lots of yardage left. They (the owners) have a locked office, which contains lots and lots of stolen goods from previous customers.  They owners would bring their personal feelings and problems into the shop and it has interfered with the shop and us, personally, to the point of fowl language towards coworkers and also his wife.

Now, I found out he and another co worker, have fraudulently scammed the insurance company of lots of money, falsely claiming water damaged goods, when in fact, it was probably a maximum amount of no more then four hundred dollars.

I don’t feel right anymore, working for dishonest people who say and preach one thing and then do another. Please, Leon, tell me the right thing for me to do. In my heart, I need to quit, just to feel okay with myself.

Leon’s Response

You are facing a real dilemma. The fact you need to quit to feel right about yourself and your integrity is by far the most telling thing you said. Based on that I would encourage you to begin immediately the search for a new job and new place to work. I’ve often found it to be the case that when folks talk most about their being Christians on the job it usually means they aren’t. Real Christians don’t need to tell everyone that they are Christians for them to see the difference in the way they live. Until you find a job be honest yourself in all endeavors, no matter what they do. You can only control one person and that is you.

It is also true that the only way to be certain you find a job where folks conduct themselves honestly and above board is to start one yourself and make it one of integrity. But do remember that even among folks living the wrong way, you can do and be right yourself. Jesus was the friend to tax collectors and sinners, yet He never became involved in the wrong actions they did.

Until you leave this company and when you move to another, see yourself as a missionary to the people who work there to let them see how Christians really act and give them an example worth following. Read Philippians 2:12-16. Notice Paul’s charge to be blameless and harmless as God’s children, IN THE MIDDLE OF A CROOKED AND PERVERSE GENERATION. Instead of letting someone else set the standard for you, you set the standard by your own conduct. Good people are looking for folks they can trust to work for them.

Question #206

Well, I actually have a number of questions.

1. Could you please explain the unpardonable sin in simple terms for me because I’m only 17. When it says blaspheming the Holy Spirit, does this mean using the Holy Spirit’s name in vain?

2. Do you believe that you have to be baptized to be saved, because I haven’t been baptized yet but I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. And he is the Lord of my life. I am going to be baptized soon though.

3. In question #100, someone asked if there are different levels of heaven and I think you said that some people will be able to appreciate heaven more than others. Does this mean that some people will be happier there than others. I thought that everyone would be perfect in heaven and everyone would be equal.

4. I’ve read that birth control pills can kill unborn babies. If so, do you think it’s a sin to use birth control pills?

5. I’ve read that God paid for our illness on the cross and that it is His will for us to get healed if we suffer from an illness like cancer. And if we have faith he will he heal us. Is this true? Is it God’s will for all Christians that are suffering from an illness to be healed?

Well those are all the questions I can think of. Thanks a million for taking the time to help me.

Leon’s Response

1. About the unpardonable sin. The situation described in Matthew 12 is that Jesus had healed a man, casting demons from him. The religious leaders couldn’t deny the miracle. It was obvious to everyone. So they said He did it by the power of Beelzebud, the price of demons. Jesus then warned them that all kinds of sins and blaspheming would be forgiven but if one blasphemed the Holy Spirit it would not be forgiven either then or in the age following which would be the Christian age we are living in now. The reason this sin was unpardonable is because it is the Holy Spirit that provides the signs which should lead a person to faith. If they denied the Holy Spirit by saying that which He did was really from the devil they were putting themselves into a place where all the evidence couldn’t reach them. Read John 20:30-31. Jesus did the signs so people would believe. They were saying the signs were really from the devil. So they were rejecting all the evidence. Today if we reject God’s word and refuse to either read the Bible or listen to anyone else tell of it we are putting ourselves beyond the reach of the gospel thus doing what they did then. As long as one continues such rejection there is no hope for them.

2. About baptism and salvation. Look at every Scripture which talks about baptism and salvation or anything like it in the verse and se which comes first, salvation or baptism. Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved. Acts 2:38, Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 22:16: “Now why do you wait, arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.” Romans 6:3-5: We are baptized into Christ. Galatians 3:26, 27 Through faith we are baptized into Christ and put on Christ. Colossians 2:12 explains how we have the circumcision made without hands when we are baptized by being buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him in which God operates on us. I Peter 3:21 Baptism is the like figure of Noah’s being saved by water. Baptism saves us, not by washing our body, but by giving us a good conscience.

In the Bible everyone baptized was baptized immediately upon coming to faith in Jesus. The jailer at midnight was baptized. The Eunuch was baptized in the desert with just him and the preacher. Baptism is necessary because it demonstrates our faith putting us into Christ were salvation is to be found. (2 Timothy 2:10; I John 5:11).

3. In heaven everyone will be very, very happy. In heaven we remain the same people we were on earth. Thus one who lived a full life for God would have a greater capacity for joy in heaven than one who died early in their lives, but both would be happy to the fullest of their ability. It will be wonderful beyond all our imagination, no matter who we are or how small our capacity.

4. The Bible doesn’t say anything about birth control. It does teach that it is wrong to kill the innocent. So if it is a kind of product which kills the child after conception then it would be wrong. But just taking birth control pills which prevent pregnancy would not be wrong.

5. There is not any teaching of the Bible which indicates that God wants all His people to be healed. Think of Paul one of God’s greatest servants, but he had a thorn in the flesh which God refused to remove saying His strength was made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:5-16). Paul wrote to Timothy about his being sick a lot of the time and told him to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his often infirmities. Paul said he left Trophamus in Miletum sick. Healings are from God. They sometimes comes as a result of prayer (James 5:15-16). But there are times when God wants us to have the sickness or weakness because He uses them as a way to reach others. Read 2 Corinthians 4:14-ff. “Our light and momentary afflictions work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory so that we don’t focus on the things on this earth but the things which are in heaven the eternal ones. This keeps us from losing heart. The entire book of 2 Corinthians deals with affliction. In 1:3 God is the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our tribulations so that we may be able to comfort others in their troubles. Notice He doesn’t always take us from the tribulation or it from us. But He comforts us in them so we can comfort others in their troubles.

Question #207

Please explain 1 Corinthians 7:39. And what if you have married and (your spouse) isn’t a Christian? Are you living in sin, and what must you do?

Leon’s Response

In I Corinthians 7, Paul is answering questions that have been submitted to him by the church in Corinth. We don’t know what the questions are. We only have the answers that he gave. It is important to notice that several times in this chapter Paul makes it clear the things he is talking about are not matters of law that one sins by not following, but matters of judgment to help in the present distress. For example, in verse 25 he says, “Now concerning virgins I have no command from the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.” In verses 26,27 he advises both the single person and the divorced ones to stay single. But in verse 28 he says “But if you marry you have not sinned.”

Verse 39 is, I believe in that same category. Paul is giving advise on what he believes by God’s guidance is the best thing for one to do. It is better for a widow to marry another Christian. But even if it had been wrong to marry out of the Lord, it doesn’t mean you are living in sin. It only means you did something wrong that you need to be forgiven of and now that you are married you need to live before him in such a way to try to lead him to Christ (I Peter 3:1-9). The fact is many are married in less than ideal situations. But they are still married and God doesn’t want us to end marriages, but make them last a life time. He hates divorce (Malachi 2:13-16). It would be comparable to any Christian marrying a non-Christian. It isn’t what God wants but once it happens we need to make them work for the very best.

Question #208

There are some that say that Acts 20:11 shows that observing the LS on Sunday is not binding. They say that Paul waited until Monday to break bread. What are your thoughts?

Leon’s Response

The phrase “breaking bread” is used in two very different ways in the Bible. Sometimes it refers to the taking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42) and sometimes to eating meals together (Acts 2:46). Notice in verse 46 Luke defines what he means by their breaking bread together from house to house by using a Hebrew parallelism in which second phrase defines the first. “Breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” It is always the context which determines the meaning of the phrase. In Acts 20:7 it is obvious he is talking about the Lord’s Supper by virtue of him arriving in Troas on Monday and staying to Sunday to break bread with them. He didn’t wait to eat until Sunday (Verse 6). Note in verse 16 “For he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.” In Acts 20:11 the breaking bread wasn’t taking the Lord’s Supper but eating together. “When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left.” Note the breaking bread and eating tied to each other. He was thus showing the distinction between the two uses.

Besides this, to say this was Monday is assuming they were following the Roman Calendar at the time instead of the Jewish calendar. Remember the Jewish calendar went from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. We live and operate under the 12:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. system as did the Romans. If they were using the Jewish calendar, their taking the bread after midnight would still be a part of the first day of the week.

The huge point we should get is that they came together on the first day of the week to break bread. It is obvious by their waiting there from Monday to Sunday when they were in a hurry to get on to Jerusalem that Sunday was the only day on which they took of the Communion. Surely if he waited that long to partake with them on Sunday they wouldn’t have allowed the day to pass without partaking of the supper.

Question #209

Hi there. I have a question that is a little different than most on here. I’ve been curious and researching some of the ancient texts that aren’t included in the Bible, like the Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Nicodemus, etc. Some of them are very intriguing, especially the Gospel of Nicodemus because I can’t find too much in there that would go against traditional beliefs.

Is there really anything that can be gained from studying/reading things like this, other than just to cure boredom? Do you believe that there is much to be gained from these texts?

Leon’s Response

Books such as the ones you mention do have value, just as any writing from a particular era gives insights into that era. They are somewhat like reading the writings of Josephus about the same basic time period. Everyone understands that Josephus often adds to the history things that were not accurate. Yet it is a valuable resource for the time. As long as one keeps in mind there are good reasons why these books were not made a part of the accepted Biblical Text and were not in that time considered as inspired works of God’s people.

Suppose 2,000 years from now someone discovered access to this website and began reading it to see what religion was like in this era. The reading would be valuable. But it would be a grave error to think that this was the way everyone religious thought in this time.

Such books as the Gospel of Thomas, or the Gospel of Nicodemus seem to be books written by men who were interested in promoting Christian values. They chose the names of men who would be recognized so that their writings might have some acceptance. But few in that time ever thought of these books as being inspired of God like the books contained in the Old and New Testament.

Question #210

I am a [member of the church]. Recently I came across a lady who was of Mormon faith. I tried encouraging her and she did the same to me. I welcomed the chance to sit down and talk with her about my faith in the church of Christ, we talked for a short time but not enough for me to feel like anything was accomplished. I’m trying to prepare for the next time we meet, so I wonder could give me some information on how to go about this without insulting her belief and costing her to shy away? Eventually I hope to persuade her to obey the gospel. Also Mormons are not considered to have a man made doctrine, from talking with her I learned their belief is some what close to [Biblical] doctrine but they have this book of Mormon that states on the front of it that it is an addition to the Bible. I think I am correct by feeling that this is the beginning of their misconception of the truth, (there shall be no additions or subtractions from the Bible). There seems to be some man named Smith who’s great, great, etc. grandfather was a Levite and was a prophet. Anyway I just need some good scripture reference with this one! Can you help? Thanks.

Leon’s Response

The Mormon church and it’s beliefs are very, very different from the Bible. It isn’t just a way of reinterpreting the Bible, the book of Mormon and the writings of Joseph Smith are placed on equal with the Bible, if not above. Their views about God are extremely confused. Jehovah is one of many Gods in their view. He is simply the one who is over this universe, but there are many others that other gods are over. In their view any of us can live well enough to become a god ourselves. Jehovah was once a man like us in their view. They do not accept the deity of Christ or the Holy Spirit. Text to be considered on God (John 1:1-14; 2 John 9; Colossians 2:9; 1:13-18; John 17:20-21). There are many others. If you pursue this study, I would highly recommend you go to a website sponsored by the Mormon church and read what they believe for yourself. There are many websites that deal with their many errors. Any perceived likeness to the church of the Bible is simply surface. Mormonism is a cult that denies the very fundamentals of the faith. You can’t be further wrong than to teach wrong about the nature of God. Remember Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” (John 14:6). In John 8:24 it is declared by Jesus, “If you do not believe that I am He you will die in your sins.” There is salvation in no other except Christ (Acts 4:12).

Question #211

My question is about money, I know everything is God’s and from God, so is it wrong to try to make money in order to live a comfortable life and give back to God and others as they need, or are we just suppose to be satisfied with what we have and trust God to help us? I know money can be a bad thing if you allow it to control you. I guess I just don’t know what to do. It seems that there is so much talent God has given us and we shouldn’t waste it. Am I being materialistic and un-Christ like?

Leon’s Response

There is nothing wrong with one wanting to do better in making money. It is the attitude that matters. If money becomes a god to us it is wrong. (Colossians 3:5). The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (I Timothy 6:10). Our attitude toward work is to be, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord, rather than for men.” (Colossians 3:23). If one fails to do a good job and work hard, giving the employer the best they can do, they leave a poor influence for a Christian. Remember Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” One of the reasons God teaches us to give liberally of what we have and make, is to keep away covetousness from our hearts. So earn the most you can so you can give the most you can and live the best you can for the Lord.

Question #212

It is out of a sense of almost desperation that I am writing this letter to you. Over the years I have posed this question to many people of faith and otherwise and I have never received much in the way of concrete answers or help. I think that it is due to some reluctance to believe my story or at least my interpretations of it. First off I am 27 years old. I am graduate student of clinical psychology with background rooted in hard science. I’m an inherently skeptical person when it comes to aspects of reality that do not overtly fit with known logic. What I have been experiencing though forms a logical pattern that does not conform to a logical explanation.

For over 10 years I have been seeking a suitable mate. It seems however that no matter how hard I try or how close I get to accomplish this, something always happens to derail my efforts. It sounds like a simple enough issue but the devil is the details so to speak. The past 10 years have been a repetitive pattern of occurrences that are always similar in nature. In other words each effort and subsequent failure, follow a pattern that suggests more than coincidence or simple bad luck. For instance one of three things ALWAYS occurs. Many times I meet girls whom I think are suitable at first who turn out not to be or sometimes they simply reject me. Other times however a lot extraordinary circumstances do occur. When I do finally meet someone that I like and who likes me, some seemingly random circumstance intervenes. Injuries, family crisis and any number of other occurrences are commonplace. Keep in mind this has been going on for over 10 years. It hasn’t happened once or twice but dozens upon dozens of times. Eventually after years of seemingly bizarre repetitions, I started to feel that something other than random chance might be at work. I didn’t really believe it until I began to lie out all the possibilities and then weigh them against all the instances of failure. I considered my looks as a factor in spite of assurances of close female friends that such was not the case. I considered character issues such as shyness, or bad disposition. I do tend to be shy and uneasy around attractive girls but this explanation did not fit with all instances either. I also knew in my heart that I am a good-natured and caring person and I have lots of friends of both genders who will attest to this fact. These friends also insist that given my looks and character that they are simply stumped by my run of bad luck as well. I even began considering highly unorthodox possibilities such as some sort of transference, psychic and normal, of my own doubts and insecurities. This however did not explain the instances of external ha I prayed many times for God’s help but I never saw any results from my prayers. I ask others to pray and still nothing happened. I ask others to set me up with friends but when they tried they too often suffered misfortunes. Eventually I convinced a close friend of mine and highly religious lady, who participated in a prayer group once a week to establish a Christian think tank of sorts to ponder my issue. The group consisted of 7 members, which was exactly the number that I wanted in the group. There were ministers among its membership. We dubbed it the “Fellowship of Seven” and they prayed and pondered the issue. As soon as the group was established I began seeing real change. I did meet potentials mates and began dating attractive girls. During this same time however my friend and her family began experiencing extreme misfortune and illness and she at least soon died. For app. A year after words my fortunes changed only to relapse about 1 ½ ago. Since then the repetitive pattern of strange coincidences has began anew. Amidst all of this the strange thing is that over app. the same 10 years, ever other prayer request that I have asked of my friends and associates has been answered in full, even when I was sure that all hope was lost.

For the life of me I cannot understand why this is happening to me, why  I have been singled out. I also cannot understand the nature of this Entity phenomenon. Without going into a lot of prolonged detail when I was very young, maybe 5 or 6 I had a very frightening and very demonic dream that some bad luck or misfortune would plague my life. I often wonder if this might not be it. I have written you this E-Mail in the hopes that you might provide me with some answers at the very least or at best direct help. I simply do not know where to turn or what to do. In addition to anything else your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Leon’s Response

It is easy to see why you have had a difficult time getting a good answer to your question, in that there is no Bible verse to which one might turn to find an easy explanation. There are several things which the Bible teaches that I believe might be helpful to you in discovering answers.

1. Consider the possibility that marriage isn’t something which is

for you personally. God has on different occasions, because of some calling He had for a person, told them not to ever marry. Jeremiah the prophet was a great servant of God, yet God told Jeremiah to stay single all his life because of what he would be going through in his work as a prophet to Israel. The apostle Paul, even though he had the right to marry (I Corinthians 9:1-5), realized that marriage wasn’t best for him. He wrote in I Corinthians 7 in answering questions they raised about marriage and encouraged others to remain single like him due to the “Present distress” they were facing. He said being single and pure was a gift from the Lord and if one couldn’t be pure and single “It is better to marry than burn with passion.” Every time God called on one to stay single it was due to a plan He had for the individual that would have made it more difficult for him to do if married.

2. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-8. God comforts us in all our tribulations

so that we can comfort others in their struggles. Whatever affliction might be in our lives, God can use that affliction as a way for us to be better servants of His and help others in their struggles. Paul talks in 2 Corinthians 12:5-15 about his thorn in the flesh, given by God. He also says it is a minister of the devil. It was there to keep him from pride. Even though Paul prayed for it to be removed, and probably had others to do the same, God’s answer was “No” God said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul therefore stopped praying for the thorn to be removed and gloried in his weakness. Knowing that when he was weak was when he was strong.

3. Consider the fact God’s timetable is never in sync with ours. Remember when He promised Abraham a son. Years past and no son was born. Both Abraham and his wife gave up and came up with a plan of their own to give Abraham a son. But God waited until Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was 90 to fulfill His promise of a son. You are still very young. What if God’s answer is further down the road and He wants you to grow in some ways before He brings the right person into your life? We tend to rush everything. But God brings things about in the fullness of His time.

4. Finally, is your life in harmony with God’s will? God hears the

prayers of the righteous (James 5:16; I Peter 3:12). John said God hears our prayers when they are according to His will (I John 5:14). James said God didn’t hear some prayers because they were selfish prayers (James 4:3-5). I would suggest you refocus and ask God what He wants from you and your life. Pray like Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” If there are things in your life that you know are wrong, repent of them and get your own life right so you are on praying ground with God. Then seek His will for your life with the heart that is ready to follow Him wherever He leads. When we open ourselves to God and seek to follow Him rather than getting Him to give everything to us, it is amazing how things change in our lives.

Question #213

Verses like John 6:44 and 1 Cor. 3:6 seem to indicate that a person can come to salvation only if God draws him to it. How does one reconcile this with the freewill and predestination arguments?

Leon’s Response

The concepts of God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill are difficult to reconcile, yet both are affirmed over and over in Scripture. There is no question that God is active, that He draws people to Him and that He does give the increase to what we sow and water. A good illustration of this is found in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas went out by the river to teach a group of women the gospel. As Paul preached, God opened Lydia’s heart and she gave her life in obedience to the Lord.

Notice God’s power to salvation is the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16). God’s drawing of Lydia was tied to the teaching of the gospel. Even in John 6:44 when Jesus declares “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Then the next verse explains how God does the drawing. “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God. Everyone who has heard and learned of the Father comes to Me.” God draws through the teaching, through the sowing and watering of the seed of His Word. Just as in physical life we must plant the grass seed in order to grow grass in our yard. If we don’t sow and water, there will not be a harvest of grass to turn green and beautify our yard. But we aren’t able to make it grow. That is an action of God. We can plant, fertilize and water, but the life is in the seed. God causes it to grow. Were it not for the blessings of God the seed couldn’t produce.

Spiritually you have the same thing going on. God does work on our hearts. But it is our decision whether we will believe what the Word teaches and apply it to our lives. God will bless the word in my heart. But I must get it there. If the seed lies around the edges too long the devil will come and steal it away so I won’t be brought to faith.

Think of Acts 2:36-42 as an illustration. Peter preached to them on Pentecost. They were cut to the heart and cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter answered, “Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is unto you and your children and all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words Peter did testify and exhort them saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” See the challenge to save themselves. Yet he says it is those whom the Lord our God calls that will be saved. God opened the door for them through the actions of Jesus on the cross and the revelation of His will. But man had to decide whether or not he would obey the Lord and be baptized to have his sins forgiven.

Exactly where God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill meet, it is almost impossible to say. Yet there is no question that we must submit to God’s will to be saved. But to think for a moment that we do all the saving ourselves would be foolish.

Our place is to trust and believe in God’s gracious mercy and promises to us and then obey every command He gives in order for us to have life. God does save us from our sins. Yet it is also true that we SAVE ourselves by doing what He said do to have the salvation.

Question #214

My question involves moving to a different congregation. Recently I found personal spiritual difficulties for worshiping at my home town congregation (not comfortable inviting others, not sure of the intent of the message, spoke with the minister and was told that my interpretation wasn’t the intended message) (even though I wasn’t supposed to, I spoke with another sister of the congregation…and she got the same interpretation as I). The minister later (prior to our talk) rendered a sermon on spiritual waters of which the intent was to encourage according to him. The summary of the sermon was that if the waters at the congregational well were dry for you, you should go somewhere else where your thirst for Christ would be quenched. I’m unsure of the exact scripture right now but, it was taken from the scriptures concerning Jesus and the woman at the well. After hearing the sermon, I found my soul convicted of a need to move because of a lack of growth at the current congregation. I realize that different forms of teaching promote growth, yet I “felt/feel” as if the word is the word and if taught from the bible the effect would be the same. Will you please send me some encouraging/corrective words of God concerning this. I have searched the word looking for wrong on my part as for my being so disgruntled about the preaching. I also read in one of the sermons (the book of James) about equivocation. When I looked up the root word equivocal, its meaning was stated as being subject to two or more interpretations and used to mislead or confuse. (taken from one of your sites listed sermons…The Book of James, under Idolatry and Its Shame) I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Leon’s Response

I feel for you in the situation you are in. The Bible doesn’t say anything about changing congregations. The reason is that the whole set up of churches was different then in that congregations usually were all connected in a given city. For example, if you were a member of the church in Rome, you might meet most or even all the time with some group that met in individual homes. (See Romans 16:3-5). These churches were joined together typically under a single eldership, but they didn’t own buildings or generally meet in large places. They might come together as a whole group occasionally as the church in Troas did in Acts 20:7. Think of Acts 2:42-47. The church was meeting daily from house to house enjoying their worship and fellowship with each other. They were taking care of one another’s needs.

The similarity to our day would be that if you had met in one home in the city and things changed, you might begin to meet with another group of Christians in another home. But you were still a member of the church in that city.

As time has gone by, churches have bought and built buildings. Now there are many congregations of the Lord’s people in different cities. These congregations have largely taken the place of the house groups meeting in the cities. The churches in the first century often faced problems. It was common for them to get off the beaten path in their teachings and in their lives for the Lord. God’s plea was always for one to try to do what they could to change the wrongs in the congregations. When Paul wrote letters to these individual churches, or to cities and areas as with the letter to the Galatians, written to the churches of Galatia, it was to a whole area and all the churches in it. That would be like writing a letter today to the churches in Little Rock or the churches in Dallas. In each case there were strong pleas to correct the errors.

But what if you don’t have the control and the congregation is going in the wrong direction? Or equally as bad, what if you are dying on the spiritual vine as a part of a church, that in spite of your best efforts continues in a direction with which you strongly disagree? In such cases, it is right to either try to start a new congregation in an area that will stay with the Bible and build a church God can bless. If there are other congregations in the area that are growing and reaching the lost, why not go there and help them fulfill the mission of bringing people to Christ. The church isn’t about just keeping a few members happy nor doing what we have always done. It is about saving the lost (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16). If I were a member of a church that I didn’t feel good about inviting a friend to go with me to, I would get out of there and find a church where I would be excited about the Lord’s work and would gladly invite my friends to go with me. I do not want to face God in judgment without being the soul winner He calls us all to be. (John 15:1-8; Acts 8:4; I Corinthians 9:19-23).

I hope this is helpful. If you have other questions, please write back. In searching the Bible on this theme, look for principles that can apply to your present situation. Read 2 Corinthians 6; I Timothy 4; and Titus 3. There are many principles that apply, but the situation has changed so much there are not exact verses that say, this is what you should do in such a situation.

Question #215

Can you please explain Matthew 5:31-32 concerning marriage and divorce and all that you can tell me about marriage, divorce and remarriage. I don’t want to miss heaven and know I may learn things that will be hard. Please explain from the Christian and non-Christian lives. Thank you.

Leon’s Response

I would suggest you look through the many questions that have been submitted on this same subject. In doing so I’m sure you will find many things that I will not think to mention today. In Matthew 5-7 Jesus is delivering the great sermon on the mount. In verse 20 He made the statement “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He then explained a number of areas in which we must surpass their righteousness, by saying, “You have heard that the ancients were told…..but I say to you.” Each time He would lay out what they thought was the teaching of the law and then show what He taught as the truth. One of those areas had to do with Marriage and divorce. It started in verse 27 discussion of adultery and Jesus saying that it wasn’t enough to just not commit the act of adultery. It is wrong to look on a woman to lust after her. When we look with lust we commit adultery in our heart. His challenge was when we had such temptations to pluck out the eye, to cut off the hand or foot for it is better to go through life with such disability than having our whole body and go to hell. His point is simply this. When we find ourselves in situations where feelings are developing for someone other than our married partner, we are to break off that friendship or relationship even if it means changing jobs, moving or breaking off old friendships to avoid adultery.

If we don’t do so, the next thing that will happen is that we will end up divorcing an innocent partner in order to marry the one we lusted for. When we do so we commit adultery against the innocent wife or husband that is divorced. We commit adultery with the one for whom we lusted. And we commit adultery against the one our wife or husband later marries.

It should be noted that the only one that is shown as active in the committing of adultery is the one who lusted, divorced the innocent partner and then married the one for whom he lusted. The innocent wife and the one she married are said to have adultery committed against them. Their adultery is in passive voice in the original text indicating it is something done to them, not something they did.

The question that usually arises from this is what should I do now, if I committed adultery in the past in lusting for someone other than my wife or husband, divorcing my mate and marrying the one I lusted for? Should I not try to repent of the sin of divorce by getting another divorce? That doesn’t make much sense. Wouldn’t it make more sense to repent of the lust, the adultery in the heart and in the actions and resolve to be true and faithful to the partner I now have instead of starting on another road of tearing lives apart?

But shouldn’t I just divorce and remain single for the rest of my life? First, I’ve met many who thought on the front end they could live single for the rest of their lives. But most found it to be extremely difficult. After all Paul said not everyone had that gift to remain single. and that it was better to marry than to burn with passion (I Corinthians 7:7-9). Second, I’ve never found a single time in the New Testament when an inspired teacher ever told someone to leave their mate and remain single or to go back to their old mate.

Some point to the case of Herod having his brother Philip’s wife and John telling him he had no right to her. Several things are wrong with assuming that is authority for telling someone to leave their mate. First the Bible says nothing about her being divorced from Philip. Second, The Old Testament forbade a man marrying his brother’s wife except in cases where the brother had died childless and you were raising up seed to his name. How do we know this wasn’t the law John was referring to?

Any sin can be forgiven including adultery (I Corinthians 6:9-11). If you have been guilty of committing adultery, repent of it. Get out of that way of life and become a faithful husband or wife to the partner you have, living a devoted life for the Lord. Adultery isn’t an unforgivable sin.

Question #216

I know that the Bible does not contradict itself. I am studying Judges Chapter 20 and have some questions. The men of Benjamin and the inhabitant of Gibeah total 26,700 (verse 15). In the end (verse 47) 600 Benjamites were left. Verse 35 says that on the third day 25,100 Benjamites were killed and verse 46 says that on the third day 25,000 Benjamites were killed.

Question #1: Why the discrepancy between verses 35 and 46? Is this just a rounded number that is mentioned in verse 46?

Question #2: When did the remaining unmentioned 1,000 Benjamites die? In the first two days of battle or in verse 48?

Thank you in advance for your wisdom in this matter.

Leon’s Response

I do think you have the right answer already to some of it. The difference between verse 35 and 46 was simply that in verse 46 he was rounding off the amount of people killed.

2. Some of the distinction does relate to at times discussing the men of war who were killed and at other times referring to the people of Benjamin as a whole. I don’t think there is any discrepancy. It isn’t as clear as we would like for it to be. The very fact it is in the same few verses and the numbers are being thrown out indicates that these aren’t intended to be used in contrast to each other but to give us a mental picture of what was going on.

Question #217

Could you read this lesson and comment please?

One of Landover’s platinum tithers recently expressed a concern I’ve heard frequently of late: “Brother Harry, given all the people who say they’ve accepted Christ, will Heaven be overcrowded?” The answer, friends, is absolutely not. Granted, we have no idea how large Heaven actually is, but it doesn’t matter, because there will be far fewer people in Heaven than you might think. In fact, the vast majority of people you know will roast in Hell instead.

We know the first plunged into the smelly, hot bowels of Satan’s abode will be the members of the liberal cult. A cult is a group of individuals who share a common, outlandish belief they are not willing to subject to rational discourse. I am, of course, referring to those sacrilegious, blasphemous liberals who think the Bible is a tiny pamphlet containing nothing more than the verse, John 3:16. The liberal cultists say what you do wrong doesn’t make one iota of difference – as long as you say, “I accept Jesus,” you’re going to Heaven. Can you believe that? According to this cult, once you say, “I accept Jesus,” you can murder, rape, rob, plunger, pillage, blow up churches and molest babies, and you’re still going to Heaven as though nothing happened, just ’cause you uttered the magic words. Needless to say, the liberal cultists won’t debate you on this, because they know it makes no sense, hence making them cultists. But they have to hold this belief, because they know it’s the only hope they have to go to Heaven despite their depraved, decadent, deviant, debauched, degenerate lifestyles.

True Christians know that the Bible, Old and New Testaments combined, promises Hell for countless sinners. And when you review the Bible in context, just about everyone is going to Hell. Through the apostle, Paul, Jesus told us the majority of so-called Christians cannot enter Heaven because of their sins (and if you don’t go to Heaven, the only place left is Hell). “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).” I don’t know where the liberal cultists get off suggesting otherwise. I haven’t read any verse saying John trumps Paul. Just because John’s verse appears on more banners at college football games doesn’t make it preeminent. And under the long accepted legal doctrine that the specific controls over the general, Paul’s pronouncement that these particular people are going to Hell is clearly an exception to the general rule vaguely enunciated by John.

When you consider Paul’s words with the rest of the Bible, rest assured, there’ll be plenty of room for driving ranges in Heaven. Studies show the majority of people have had premarital sex. They’re condemned as fornicators. All those other than Christians are going to Hell as idolaters (and that includes the Catholics who worship that harlot, Mary, and the so-called “saints”). Studies show most people get drunk at times, so they’re out. And, of course, the sodomites are out (but we knew that anyway, without Paul’s words).

But the Hell-bound group is even larger. Of the few people remaining, most of them will go to Hell as adulterers. Matthew told us that anyone who lusts after (has sexual thoughts about) someone to whom he is not married is an adulterer (Matthew 5:28). Matthew also told us that anyone who divorces, then remarries is committing adultery (as is the person the individual marries) (Matthew 5:32). The majority of those who get married wind up divorcing and remarrying at a later date. And the vast majority of people have sexual thoughts about people other than their mates. We’re now down to very few people, indeed.

But even if you think you’re somehow in the clear, guess again. Not only are individuals who marry a second time condemned, but so are their children, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, etc. Because their second marriage is a nullity, any children of that marriage are illegitimate and are thus condemned to the 10th generation (Deuteronomy 23:2). In other words, not only must you make sure you do not engage in any of the sins Paul said would ensure eternity aflame, you must hope none of your distant ancestors ever divorced and conceived one of your great, great, great grandparents out-of-wedlock or during the second (and unrecognized) marriage.

You see, friends, Heaven is going to be a very select place, indeed — more exclusive than even the best of country clubs. Now, I know some of you may find these condemnations a bit disheartening, but you really shouldn’t. After all, God told us centuries ago that children would be slaughtered for the sins of their parents (Isaiah 14:21-22). Plus, these condemned people will be joined in Hell by individuals who did nothing wrong in their lives because they had no lives. God said not only that we are all born in sin, but that we are conceived in sin as well (Genesis 5:3; Job 15:14; 25:4; Psalms 51:5). In light of that sin, we have no hope of reaching Heaven unless and until we accept Jesus. Unfortunately, many never have that opportunity. I am, of course, speaking of all the unborn children who die in the womb or during delivery, the SIDS children, all the children who die before they reach the age at which they can understand Jesus, the mentally retarded who don’t have the capacity to know Jesus, and all those third world residents the missionaries never reached with the good news of our Lord. What a shame that all of these individuals must spend forever in flames. Let us pray that Satan takes it easy on them in the hereafter. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Do babies and people who never hear the gospel really go to hell?

Leon’s Response

The chapter you referred to has more error in it than almost any piece of religious material I’ve run across in years. I certainly agree that John 3:16 has been abused and taken completely out of it’s context. It is worth noting that John 3:16 is part of the same sermon as John 3:3-8 which says one must be born again of water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom.

Some of the errors that are obvious are these:

I Corinthians 6:9-11 does say the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom and list such things as fornication, adultery, homosexuality, drunkenness, etc. But the last verse of the quotation says, “And such were some of you. But you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God.” One can’t simply go on in sin and be saved. But Christ is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for the saints. (Hebrews 7:25). All have sinned (Romans 3:23). But Christ tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11-14). John even wrote to Christians to say, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sins. If we say we do not sin we deceive ourselves and the word is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we do not sin, we make God a liar and His word is not in us.” When we become a Christian our sins are forgiven and washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16). If we then live in a relationship with Him He keeps us cleansed.

What about children being born in sin and those whose parents or grandparents messed up condemning them through the tenth generation? First, the quotation is from the Old Testament a law we are now dead to by the body of Christ so we can be married to Christ (Romans 7:4-7). To justify ourselves by the Law today is to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). The whole matter of children bearing the sins of parents through the tenth generation had to do with them entering the temple, not with their going to heaven. Read the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1. See how many guilty sinners were in His blood line. Yet that didn’t make Him a sinner.

Read Ezekiel 18;19-29. Among the things said are these: The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The soul that sins, it shall die. The righteousness of the righteous will be upon him and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon him. Jesus told His disciples, “Except a man is converted and becomes like this little child he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 18:1-4) In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come to be and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of God.” When David said, “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me.” in Psalms 51 he wasn’t talking about inheriting anyone’s sin. He was pointing out the nature of the world he was born into. When David’s baby died, he wasn’t concerned that the baby was in hell. He said, “I can’t bring the baby back but I can go to be with the child.” (2 Samuel 12:21-23). He wasn’t thinking of the child being in hell, but in heaven where he planned to go. Nothing the Bible ever says indicates one who is a child or mentally incapable of understanding God’s will is lost. To picture God in such a light is blasphemous.

Think of the judgment the Bible says we will have. Each of us will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things DONE IN OUR BODY ACCORDING TO WHAT WE HAVE DONE, WHETHER GOOD OR BAD. We aren’t judged by what our parents did, or what Adam did or anyone else. We stand before God to be judged by our deeds.

Read Matthew 11:28-30 and think of the Savior’s heart. “Come unto Me all who are laboring or heaven laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for I am gentle and lowly of heart and you will find rest unto your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Compare that with the rambling, condemning, judgmental ravings of the chapter you sent me to read. When our reading the Bible makes of us better Pharisees than Christians, we are misreading.

Question #218

We have a member of our congregation that is capable of preaching sermons to our congregation. Recently the elders asked if he would mind substituting for our regular preacher one Sunday while he was on vacation. The man accepted and did a fine job of preaching. After the fact, he demanded to the elders that he be paid.  I realize that regular, full-time preachers should be paid. That is how they make a living. This man was not in need of money in the least (he has a well-paying job), but felt it was a scriptural fact that if a person preaches, he must get paid – no matter what.

My contention is this: This man has a talent and he used it in his own congregation. Just like other people in our congregation that use their talents and spend countless hours of their time for the benefit of the church. If this was a man from outside our congregation and we asked him to fill-in, I would absolutely agree that we should offer him pay – but this is his OWN congregation. If it is scripturally correct to always “pay for a sermon” no matter what, why is the use of that talent more important than the many other things that people do freely for the sake of the church?

Leon’s Response

I agree completely with your reasoning. I have preached full time for almost 40 years. Many, many times I’ve gone to places to preach knowing they would not be able to pay. I do make my living from the congregation here. But it isn’t Scriptural at all that one should be paid for every sermon. If one has that attitude you don’t need him preaching no matter what his ability might be.

Question #219

I have studied your answer to question #213, which was pointed out by a mutual friend, and believe that scripture speaks of God’s involvement in our salvation in a much stronger way than you seem to indicate.

I am positive that we would both agree that the God of Abraham is our creator (Gen 1), who created us from nothing, and that as such He has absolute authority and control over our lives as is illustrated by the potter and clay imagery in Isaiah 29:16, 45:9 and Romans 9:20,21.

We agree that man has a free will and in no way am I denying mans free will to choose for himself his eternal destiny. The problem is that all men (Romans 3:9-20), apart from the working of the Father will choose death. This is because scripture is clear in abundance that all men are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5) as a result of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21) and hate God (John 15:18). As a result of this sin, we are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1) and cannot choose life apart from the grace of Christ’s atoning work (vs. 5). (As a side note, it is interesting to notice that the language used in Eph. 2:10 dovetails with the imagery referenced above.)

Throughout scripture we see that obedience accompanies faith (Hebrews 11) and that faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:9) and not a result of our works.

In John 6:44 we see Jesus say to the Jews, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” So, a man certainly has free will, but without the drawing of the Father, his choice will always be death. At the same time, if he is called by God, he will always choose life, and we see by this verse that Jesus is quite sure that those His Father have drawn to Him will be raised on the last day. I suppose it is logical to say that if we assign to a spiritually dead man the ability to choose life he could later reverse that choice. That ability would make it tough to reconcile with Jesus’ statements both here and in John 6:37 and 10:25-30 that He will save His people (Matt. 1:21) from their sins.

I feel that it is very important foundation-ally to understand God and man’s relation to one another in a biblical manner. Hopefully I have put forth my arguments clearly and accurately. I am very interested in your thoughts.

Leon’s Response

Certainly man can’t be saved on his own. We are all guilty of sin, not Adam’s, our own. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way.” According to Romans 3:24-26 we are “Justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration , I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

There is certainly no contradiction between the drawing of God and the freewill of man. You referred to John 6:44 where Jesus said, no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him and I will raise him up in the last day. The next verse explains how God draws us to Him. “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God. Everyone who has heard and learned of the Father comes unto Me.” God draws people to Him through the teaching of His word. That is the reason He tells us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, He who believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mark 16:15, 16)

If salvation were all the work of God, everyone would be saved; since He isn’t willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus died for all (Hebrews 2:9). The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. (Titus 2:11).

While it is true that people are dead in sins, according to Ephesians 2:1 look at that whole passage. They are dead in trespasses and sins. Whose sins are they dead in? Who did the trespassing? “In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Ephesians 2:2-3). This isn’t about inherited sin. It is the sins an individual commits as they are led by the devil. God makes us alive by His grace from our transgressions (Verse 5).

I do not buy the idea that we are born in sin or that Adams sin was passed down to us. Look at the proof text you used. In Psalms 51 David is crying out to God for forgiveness of the sin with Bathsheba after being confronted by Nathan the prophet. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Psalms 51:4-6) Notice he had sinned and transgressed God’s law. The statements about being conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity weren’t talking about inherited sin. It was David’s plea about his own sinfulness. He came into a world filled with sin and he had taken it into his life as well.

Notice, Ezekiel 18:19-20 which specifically says a son will not bear the iniquity of the father; neither will the father bear the iniquity of the son. The Soul that sins will die. In verses 21-29 he points out that if a wicked man is condemned for his wickedness and he turns God will forgive him and not remember all the sin he had done. But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness to go back into sin, all his righteousness would be forgotten and he would die in his sins.

What then of Romans 5:15-17? The comparison is being made between how the one act of Jesus Christ dying for us brings many to righteousness and how the one act of Adam brought death upon man. This doesn’t teach we inherit Adams or anyone else’s sins. It does teach that Adam’s sin brought consequences on the whole world in that death passed upon all men, even those who had not sinned like Adam. We were all faced with physical death since Adam and his posterity were driven from the Garden of Eden. In Romans 9 Paul is discussing the nation of Israel and the Jews as to their place in God’s plan. They could only see themselves as the chosen of God and couldn’t imagine how God could now want all people to be saved, not just them. It is leading up to the point that “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:11-13).

Children aren’t born in sin. Instead Jesus declared “Unless you are converted and become like this little child you cannot enter the kingdom” (Matthew 18:1-3) He said, “Suffer the little children to come to me and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:13-15). Look at every judgment picture in the Bible. In every case people are judged by their deeds done in their bodies according to what they have done. There isn’t a single statement about judgment that pictures the Lord sending anyone to hell for someone else’s sins (2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 25: 1-46; Revelation 20:11-16; etc).

Jesus made the way for anyone to be saved. He gave the message of salvation and challenged us to go and preach it to people everywhere. He had Paul to write, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Man not only has a choice, he is capable of making the right choice when taught God’s will. (Acts 2:40) How could Peter have told them to “Save yourselves from this crooked generation” if there were no ability on the part of man to make a choice for good and God?

This whole doctrine of inherited sin and man only being able to respond to God when the Holy Spirit works upon him to give him the power to make the choice removes responsibility for man’s lost condition from him and puts it on God and His Spirit. We are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8). Notice the gift could either be our faith or the salvation we receive by God’s grace, through our faith. It is a gift because we can’t earn it or do anything to deserve it. It is a gift because God paid the price with His own Son’s blood. That isn’t in any way to remove our responsibility to hear God’s word and obey it.

Question #220

Thank you for your response to question #219. I have been closely studying the points that you have made and have some more questions. Rather than trying to address your entire response, I would like to focus on one point so that the issue will not be confused.

You made the statement that, “Children aren’t born in sin.” To support this you use Matthew 18:1-3 as a proof text: “.Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (KJV) I am assuming by your usage that you quote this verse with the understanding that little children are without sin and therefore are not separated from God by their sin. By this definition, we would have to conclude that the Soul of any deceased infant would be welcomed into heaven.

My problem with this interpretation is that scripture repeatedly says the following about mankind: Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 5:12 .and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. (also Psalms 14:3) Psalms 53:1-3 .there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Eccl. 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. 1 John 1:8-10 .If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Each one of these verses is conclusive in the fact that ALL men are separated from God by their sin. There is no age distinction.

Maybe the answer rests in the definition of what it means to become “as little children.” Could it be that little children are known for their faith and simplistic trust that they place in others? We could take a look at the next verse in Matthew 18 to see if this idea is supported: vs. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Your interpretation of this passage leaves me with some questions that need to be reconciled with scripture.

Would it be correct for me to logically assume that, because of your view of the spiritual state of children, your congregation brings its children to the Lord’s Table?

How do you apply Proverbs 13:24 to your children if their disobedience is not yet considered sinful?

If your belief is that all infants that die will go to heaven, due to their innocence, then how can we be active in our stand against the practice of abortion, when, by this assumption, a certain portion of people who are allowed to grow into adulthood will reject Christ and be doomed to destruction. Is their physical condition more important than their spiritual state?

At what point do you consider your children to be in need of a Savior?

I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your graciousness in your responses.

Leon’s Response

You’ve ask some good questions worth consideration. Look at the text you used to prove that “All have sinned” means children are guilty of sin. First in Psalms 14:1-3, note “They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds.” “They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt.” Do either of those fit babies? How could they have turned aside when they aren’t old enough to know right from wrong? What abominable deeds could a little child commit? It is obvious when you read this whole context that David is talking about the heathen nations and their corruption against God. Second, look at Romans 3. “Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood.” It is obvious this isn’t talking about little children but those who have reached a maturity significant enough that they are practicing horrible sins. It is a description of the gentile world, and then he brings the Jewish world into it as he described their departure from the Lord as well.

Does that mean that children do no wrong? Certainly not. As in many text in Proverbs and other places children need direction and correction. Parents are there to train them and bring them up in God’s will (Ephesians 6:1-4). But remember that God doesn’t hold every sin anyone commits against them. In Romans 4:7-8 Paul quotes David from Psalms 32. “Blessed are those who lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” IN Romans 7:9 Paul writes, “I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died.” There was never a time in Paul’s life that the law wasn’t there. But it didn’t come to him so that he died spiritual until he reached the time of life he could comprehend what the commandments were. God doesn’t hold folks responsible who have no ability to understand His will.

It is true that all sin. But it isn’t true that all sin all the time or in every part of their lives. I certainly do believe that a child that dies goes on to heaven. Remember the story of David and Bathsheba and the death of their child. David’s response was, “I can’t bring the child back. But I can go to be with the child.” He had no doubt as to the destiny of his child. Think of the great commission. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” Are children among the “Every Creature” group spoken of? Can they learn the gospel and believe and obey it by being baptized? Certainly not before they reach an age of maturity. There is a reason why when you read the book of Acts, all who are converted were adults.

As to why object to abortion since children go on to heaven, it is for the same reason I object to someone going into a home for the mentally retarded and slaughtering them. They would go to heaven but it doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. I want everyone to grow up and have the opportunity to hear the gospel, and obey it to serve the Lord faithfully down here and enjoy the abundant life now. Being saved is more than just going to heaven. It is about living for Him now and reaching others for Him.

Look closely at Ephesians 1:3-7. Note all spiritual blessings are in Christ. We are chosen “In Him” before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame. God’s choice is where we are saved and how we are to live. Romans 8:28-30 we are predetermined to conform to the image of His Son.

Question #221

Thank you for the time you have obviously spent in preparing responses to my questions. We know that God’s truth is absolute and our labor to understand it will be praised as the Bereans efforts were praised.

Your recent response to question #220 has left me with more questions. In maintaining the position that children are not guilty of sin you made the statement, “How could they have turned aside when they aren’t old enough to know right from wrong?” Is it necessary that we have full knowledge of our sin in order to bear the consequences of that action? Ephesians 4:18 shows that sin in ignorance is treated no differently. “…being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;”

In order to make sure we are on the same page, let me explain my understanding of the definition of sin. 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” Galatians 3:10 says, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, to perform them.” So I would summarize my understanding of sin, in a borrowed definition from earlier Christians, as “Any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”

With this understanding in mind, let’s examine the next statement that you made. “What abominable deeds could a little child commit?” Well, in my experience, I’ve witnessed children not honoring their father and mother, stealing, bearing false witness against their neighbor, coveting their neighbors’ toy, etc. And if we look even more closely at Jesus’ teaching, we see that they are even murderers (Matt. 5:21,22). All of these sins are abominable and all of these sins separate one from eternal life. You go on to make the statement, “Does that mean that children do no wrong?

“Certainly not.” Now you and I are agreeing. But you go on to say, “But remember that God doesn’t hold every sin anyone commits against them” using Romans 4:7-8 as a support text. Read the text again. Is there any forgiveness apart from Christ’s atonement at the cross? Christ’s work is the covering that is referred to in this passage. The danger here is that we define sin by our own standards rather than God’s. God is holy and requires that we be holy and blameless. Can we do that perfectly? We can strive for obedience and can work toward sanctification with the help of the Holy Spirit. But apart from Christ’s finished work, no one, because of their sin, from Abraham to Paul, comes to the Father except through the Son.

Finally, you say that, “God doesn’t hold folks responsible who have no ability to understand His will.” I am unable to make sense out of this. We have all seen super-intelligent scientists who publicly reject God. Surely this is because they do not understand. So, therefore, anybody who understands will accept Christ. Anybody who doesn’t understand doesn’t need Christ.

I am anxious to hear your response and hope that you will also address my earlier question regarding innocent children being invited to partake in the Lord’s Supper.

Leon’s Response

It seems obvious to me that we are somehow running on different tracks and not meeting each other. Let me try to back up and see if I can help the whole situation with a different approach. Look back at the text you used to justify the idea of children being born in sin for a moment. Psalms 51 we looked at to some degree. Psalms 58:3 says, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.” It is obvious this has some degree of hyperbole in it from the very statement that they go astray, speaking lies from birth. Compare with these text Psalms 22:10 where David said, “Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” Verse nine said, “Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breast.” Also look at Psalms 71:6 where David declared, “By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You.” Think also of Jeremiah’s statement in Jeremiah 1:5-6 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations. Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Behold I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” It was said of John the Baptist that he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb in Luke 1:15.

Was David both shaped in iniquity and trusting God from his mother’s womb? If he was consecrated before he was born, how did he come forth as one born in sin? If Jeremiah and John the Baptist were born in sin, how were they God’s from that time, even chosen before birth for their work as prophets? Is there some contradiction between these text? No! They are being used to plead a point and each time the use of hyperbole is there to make the point stronger. When David was confronted for his sin with Bethsheba and the murder of Uriah he felt the sin so deeply that it seemed he was completely sinful and had been all his life, even from birth. When he was filled with job and peace in his relationship with God, it was so wonderful it seemed he had been God’s from the womb. It shows the depth of his feeling both about sin and about his salvation.

With regard to the point on Romans 4, the only point I was making was that there are occasions when God doesn’t hold us responsible for sins committed. Certainly it was about them being covered by the blood of Christ. But Romans 7:9 is dealing with a time in Paul’s own life when he was alive without the law. When the law came to him, he died spiritually. He hadn’t been dead in sin all along. It was when the law came in the sense that he was able to comprehend what that law was all about that he was held as guilty. I certainly do not believe that mere ignorance makes one guiltless. Even in our own laws we don’t excuse ignorance, but we do refuse to punish people for violations when they didn’t have mental capability of understanding. For example if a little child gets hold of a gun and shoots a friend, he isn’t punished for the crime even though it is a terrible crime. We recognize his inability to comprehend what he did. So it is with one who is insane or mentally deficient. There is a great difference between ignorance and inability to understand.

One of the most difficult things for us is to comprehend both the sovereignty of God and the free moral agency of man or man’s ability to choose for himself who he will live for. Yet both are taught in the Bible freely. In some such situations our job is to believe what God says even though it is beyond our ability to understand. For one to run to either side of this huge concept and plant their feet only on that side is to make a grave error. Man cannot save himself. God offers His salvation by grace. But it isn’t grace alone. God requires of man an obedient faith that submits to His will and lives by it. If we put all the emphasis on man’s side we are terribly wrong. We need grace and help. Yet it is true that Peter would plead with the crowd on Pentecost, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (Acts 2:40).

I hope this may shed some light on this whole thing. I enjoy the discussion, but do want it to be of value and not to fall into arguments for the sake of winning a point.

Question #222

I have enjoyed reading the posts and your responses related to the sovereignty of God. Referencing these posts, is it your view that the innocence of children is equitable with righteousness? If so, then please elaborate on the source of this righteousness. If not, then please elaborate on how innocence, apart from righteousness, fits them for Heaven. Thank you.

Leon’s Response

No I don’t equate a child’s innocence with righteousness. As I understand the Bible children are neither lost nor saved, but are in a state of safety. It isn’t that they do no wrong as children. It is the case that God doesn’t hold people guilty of sin when they do not have the capability of understanding right from wrong. This, I believe is what Paul was talking about in Romans 7:9 when he said he was alive once without the law, but then the law came, sin revived, and he died. The law was always in existence in Paul’s life, but he was without the law in that he wasn’t capable of understanding it. When he was capable of understanding it, the law came, sin revived and he died spiritually.

I do not believe that children inherit sin from Adam or anyone else. Ezekiel 18 is simply too clear that a son does not bear the iniquity of the father nor the father the iniquity of the son, but the soul that sins will die.

This does not in any way indicate any doubt concerning the Sovereignty of God. But our all powerful and loving God has decreed that man would have a choice about his eternal home with Him. That is the reason He sends us out with the gospel to help people have the choice about salvation. Think of Romans 10:9-14. If we believe with all our hearts and confess Jesus as Lord we are saved. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him.” Then verses 14-15: “How, then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed How will they believe on Him in whom they have not heard and how shall they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?” God’s plan of preaching the gospel to every nation and every creature in every nation so that all who believe and are baptized will be saved isn’t a useless endeavor. It is that God wants all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9) and He made the way for them to have that salvation by His grace, (Hebrews 2:9; Titus 2:11-12). But man must choose to believe and obey Him for that salvation. If our salvation were only up to God then all would be saved. But He makes it possible for man to choose right and come to Him. Certainly we can’t come without being drawn by His word, yet it is possible for one to resist the drawing of the Lord and be lost.

Question #223

Where in the bible does it say that the husband should work and the wife should stay home and keep the house?

Leon’s Response

The Bible doesn’t say that. It says if a man doesn’t provide for his own, especially those in his own household he has denied the faith and become worse than an unbeliever (I Timothy 5:8). But in Proverbs 31 in the description of the worthy woman she not only took care of her family, she bought a field, she sold materials and garments she had made. She obviously was involved in business. When the Bible describes Aquilla and Priscilla they are both working to make tents (Acts 18:1-6). It may be wise for the husband to work and the wife stay home to take care of the kids, but Scripture doesn’t demand it.

Question #224

Say you’re a stay at home mom or a disabled woman who’s not working. How do you have a better attitude towards staying at home doing house work? Especially if you’ve worked before and now that you’re at home, housework isn’t your cup of tea for an everyday job. To do it day in and day out it tends to get boring. What attitude should a person take on this? How can a person make a better adjustment to it?

Leon’s Response

Read Ecclesiastes 9:10; Paul said whatever we do we are to work heartily as to the Lord. His point is that what ever job we may have we should think of it as working for the Lord and not some person. If we know we are working for God it helps our attitude. In every job there are both good and bad. Look for the good things about the job and focus on those. You have a job that allows you time to read and study the Bible, time to talk to other people and you can see the good results of your work every time you clean. You can sing praise to God while you work. You don’t have to go anywhere to do your work. Just write down all the good things you can think of about your job and thank God everyday that you have this job. Pray for Him to help you have a great attitude about it and read Philippians 4:4-13. Take every verse very literally and try to practice it. It will help your attitude tremendously.

Question #225

My youngest child will have her baby dedication at church this Sunday. My husband and I have finally found a church home and are coming to know the Lord truly for the first time. Our minister has asked us to pick a Life Verse to share with the congregation at our daughter’s dedication. Do you have any suggestions that would be appropriate? I am just beginning to read the Bible and to really understand and learn it’s meaning in my life, and want this verse to be something appropriate and special. If you could include a few verses that I could chose from, I would so appreciate your time and consideration.

Leon’s Response

I’m glad for your concern for your child and your interest in the Lord and bringing up a child for Him. There are many great verses in the Bible relating to bringing children up correctly. Among them would be: Psalms 127:1-5; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:3-7.

I would encourage you to think about the whole process of the child’s dedication. Certainly as parents you want to dedicate your child to the Lord. Remember children are a heritage from God. Jesus said unless we are converted and become as little children we can’t enter the kingdom. (Matthew 18:1-4) Also, He said “Allow the little children to come to me and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew

19:14) The Bible never mentions children being baptized. Baptism was for those who believed on the Lord and repented of their sins (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38). It’s purpose is to wash away sins and a child doesn’t have any sins to wash away (Acts 22:16). Baptism is a burial in water with the Lord to enter His death (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:1-5). If the dedication is a time of prayer for you as parents and the child, that is wonderful. But if it is baptizing a baby, it violates the teachings of the Bible in several ways.

I wish for you and your family the very best and hope that your child will grow up to serve the Lord with all their hearts. Thank God for your interest in His word. May I encourage you to study your Bible as a whole and follow it. The Scriptures are inspired by God and useful for us (2 Timothy 3:15-17). It is vital that we follow the teachings of God’s word for our worship to please Him (Matthew 15:9). Pray for wisdom and keep reading and thinking about what is in the Bible. If I can help, let me know.

Question #226

Do you think that if your virtues overcome your vices, you will get into heaven?

Leon’s Response

We are saved by the grace of God not by our works (Ephesians 2:8,9). Since we are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:21-23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), we all deserve to be lost. But God made a way for us to be redeemed through the blood of Christ. Jesus, as the only sinless one, became sin for us so we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Through Him we can be forgiven and have new life. The answer is for us to have enough faith in Christ to submit our will to His will in obedience. (Hebrews 5:8,9). This saving faith leads one to be baptized into Christ, (Galatians 3:26,27). Then it leads one to live for Him. You can be forgiven of any sin to be right with God, (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Think of all the people in the Bible who had all kinds of problems yet they came to the Lord through faith and started new lives in Him. You can be one like them as well. God doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He so loves us that He willingly paid the price so all of us can be forgiven and live for Him.

Question #227

I don’t like talking to people about the Bible if they haven’t studied it or understood what it says. One of my friends keeps calling the Bible hypocritical. What would you say to this person? Do you think its a sin to say this?

Leon’s Response

It is wrong to speak evil of anything associated with the Lord. God’s word is sacred and to call it hypocritical is to accuse God of being a hypocrite. The Bible is inspired from God, (2 Timothy 3:16,17). More than likely when anyone says something like that, it is because they have never read the Bible and know little about it.

I would simply encourage them to read the Bible for themselves, beginning with the Gospel account of Luke, and read from one of the newer translations that are easier to understand. It is always best for one to learn better than to make such statements by engaging in their own study. There are many good books about the Bible that one might give a person to help them get started.

Question #228

Is it wrong for a man to marry a divorced woman? We love each other very much and his minister told him not to marry me because he would be committing adultery. Is this true? I thought our God was a forgiving God, just because I married young and got a divorce because my first husband was abusive, now am I to remain alone for the rest of my life because of this mishap? Can you help find the answer to my question?

Leon’s Response

The Bible does teach that divorce is something God doesn’t want us to get (Malachi 2:13-16). In the New Testament Jesus taught that immorality was the only legitimate reason for one to divorce and remarry (Matthew 5:32; 19:1-9). But in your case these things are past. You can’t undo the fact you got a divorce. It is true that God doesn’t want one to be abused in marriage. He taught us to love each other and give ourselves for each other (Ephesians 5:23-27). The Bible talks about marriage in many other ways than simply telling us not to divorce. In I Corinthians 7 Paul answered a series of questions about divorce from people who were Christians. They were certainly aware of the things Jesus had said on the subject. But they sought answers to specific questions. The shame is that we don’t know what many of the questions were. We have the answers given by Paul and have to surmise the questions. It seems they asked him about two Christians married to each other and whether they could divorce each others. In verses 10-11 he answered to stay with each other, and if you couldn’t remain unmarried or be reconciled to your mate. Then in verse 12 beginning he talks about when a Christian is married to a non-Christian. In this case he told the Christian to stay in the marriage and be true to the non-Christian if they were willing to remain married. But if the non-Christian left them they were not under bondage anymore. I think this means that the Christian in such a case is free to remarry. There have been great discussions over that point.

It seems that the next question dealt with is one is to do who has been divorced and becomes a Christian beginning in verse 17. His first answer is that everyone should remain in the situation in which they become Christians. He used two illustrations. First he compared the principle to circumcision. If one had circumcised and became a Christian they weren’t to be concerned about it but remain in the state they were called. The same was true if they were called as uncircumcised. It wasn’t something to worry about. He then used the illustration of slavery. If one was called as a slave they were God’s free man and were not to be concerned about it. If they could get their freedom that was great. But if they didn’t it was also great. If one was called free they weren’t to become slaves. He concludes with “Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.” (Verse 24). Then he applies this to marriage. If one becomes a Christian single they were to remain single. If one became a Christian married they were to remain married. If one became a Christian divorced they were to stay single. Then verse 28 offers this conclusion. “But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such shall have trouble in the flesh.”

Certainly God is a forgiving God. In I Corinthians 6:9-11Paul discusses this very point. The unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom. Then he describes the unrighteous as immoral, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, and a list of other things. Then he says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God.” This would include those who had divorced for unscriptural reasons. God completely forgives them.

May I encourage you to read these passages together and pray for God’s wisdom to be upon you as you do? If you have further questions feel free to write about them.

Question #229

I read this or heard it several years back and as I was reading in Revelation about John being exiled to the isle of Patmos, it came back to to me – that the Romans boiled John in oil before they exiled him to the isle of Patmos. I’ve asked a couple of ministers this and they could not give me an answer for sure. I thought maybe you can, or tell me where to find out, or if there

are any books on it.

Leon’s Response

Tradition has given that about John, but there is not anything from that era of time that actually made the claim. It was said from the second century on that John didn’t suffer a martyr’s death as did the other apostles. But there isn’t any authoritative book that I’m aware of on what happened to John before his exile.

The most thorough book on such is Foxes Book of Martyrs. According to tradition John was released from the exile and went back to his home church in Ephesus and spent the remainder of his life there.

Question #230

My question is about monogamy.

Why is it that in the Bible multiple partner relationships are allowed, never spoken against and even counted as a blessing (2 Samuel 12:8), but today it would be regarded as adultery? If I have a relationship with a woman outside of my marriage, with my wife’s consent, most of the Christian community would call it sin…David was never charged with adultery until he stole another man’s wife…why?

Leon’s Response

It’s true that God allowed polygamy in the Old Testament. But Jesus told the Pharisees who asked Him questions about the Old Testament actions on this subject that such was God’s plan from the beginning. In the beginning God made them male and female and declared “What God has joined together let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-10; Genesis 2:22-25)

Polygamy was still common among the people when Jesus lived on earth. Yet He demanded a different standard from the beginning. (Matthew

5:28-32) Even in this early sermon He said His will was to stay true to one wife or husband. It was adultery for one to leave his wife and marry another. He said the lust for someone else was adultery in the heart.

In I Corinthians 7:1-5 Paul is following up on the teaching to avoid fornication (which is sexual relations with someone or something other than our married partner). He said to avoid such fornication, “Let every man have his own wife and every woman have her own husband.” The man wasn’t to say his body was his own but his wife’s and the woman wasn’t to say her body was her own but her husbands.

While polygamy wasn’t adultery in the Old Testament, Jesus redefined it for the New Covenant. He demanded that we go back to the original plan of one man for one woman for life.

As to why this would be the case, the truth is one can never have the partnership, the love and devotion for another in marriage that the New Testament teaches while sex is shared with someone outside that bond. Read Ephesians 5:22-36. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it to sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word. Read I Peter 3:1-8. Wives were to be submissive to their husbands and live pure before them so that even if one wasn’t a Christian they might be won by their lives. The husband was to dwell with his wife according to understanding giving honor to his wife as the weaker vessel and as heirs together of the grace of life so his prayers might not be hindered. In Romans 7:3-4 Paul clearly laid out the plan that a man or woman is bound to their mate as long as they live. Only then can one marry another without adultery. One who tries to split his love with many, ends up not loving anyone other than himself. He doesn’t really give himself to anyone. Instead he substitutes sex for love and gratification for grace. If you really love your wife as God teaches, not only will polygamy be wrong, it will be something you never desire because you are fulfilled with your marriage. You would never want to hurt the one you love as your own self.

Question #231

I am a 25 yr old man that has been a Christian for the last six years, having come to the decision with the help of several others in college. However, ever since then, I have had a problem associating or relating at all to the older male Christians around me. I either avoid them completely or have great difficulty in behaving normally around them. I have trouble letting them touch me at all, usually barring all but a handshake. I can see this is frustrating to the ones that want to get to know me and love me, and its increasingly frustrating to me. Are there any passages that relate to this, and what can I do, including prayer? Is discussion with one of those I fear a good option or a bad option?

Leon’s Response

If there is a Christian counselor near you I would suggest you visit with him, at least once to see what may be behind your fears. Usually such fears are grounded in something that has happened to you or someone you know well, or something you have been taught from childhood.

Whether you are able to see a counselor or not realize that we all come to God with weaknesses and problems. He longs to help us in that weakness. In Romans 7:14-25 Paul describes the struggle that goes on inside all of us. We have the will to do right but still find ourselves doing the wrong things. Verse 15 says, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” The result of that struggle is found in verses 24 and 25, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” Chapter 8 of Romans then describes how God helps us overcome such weakness and difficulty in our lives. He starts with verse one, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” He goes on to tell how Christ paid the price for our sins so we can be saved and how He gives us His Spirit to empower us and help us overcome. In verse 26 he concludes, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” He talks about how all these trials can work together for our good so we may be conformed to the image of Jesus. Then he describes how we can conquer even in the tribulations and that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ in Christ Jesus.

Please take the time today to read Romans 7 and 8 several times. Ask God for wisdom to understand it better. Ask Him to help you with your weakness. Ask Him to help you over come and mold you into the image of Christ. Know that God is the God of all comfort who comforts us in every tribulation so we can comfort others in any trial they have (2 Corinthians 1:3). Also remember that God sometimes says “No” when we pray because His strength is made perfect in weakness and when we are weak we are strong for Him. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)

I would encourage you to read and think about the Book of Philippians. It only has four chapters so it won’t take you long to read it. Paul describes in chapter one how God has used the troubles that came upon him for good in his life. In chapter 2 he challenges us to have the attitude of Christ who emptied Himself to become a man and die for us. In chapter 3 he tells how he hadn’t arrived and that he is forgetting the things behind and reaching out to the things ahead pressing toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God. In chapter 4 he tells us not to worry about anything but to pray about everything and God’s peace will be upon us. In verse 8 he tells us what to focus our thoughts on. We are to think or meditate on things pure, holy, just and good. We are to think about the things that are beautiful and worthy of praise. Then he says he had learned to be content in whatever situation he found himself. Verse 13 is the conclusion of that segment when it says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Your problem may seem insurmountable now. Instead of just focusing on the problem, focus on what God can do in your life. Look closely at Jesus and allow the Spirit of God to transform you into His image as you read the Word of God (2 Corinthians 3:18). If you continue with the study and prayer focusing on Jesus as your model, you will be changed and made into what God wants you to be. It doesn’t happen over night. God may take a life time to transform you.

Question #232

I live in an area where the closest non-instrumental congregation is 45 minutes away. I know that isn’t an extreme distance but I’m a paranoid driver and I have two small children that I have to wrangle by myself to get there. I love the people there but I don’t get to fellowship much because of the distance and my two small children. Also there isn’t much growth in the congregation. It seems like they are merely going through the motions sometimes. Most Sunday’s I end up staying at home. I know this is wrong. My question: Should I attend one of the six churches of Christ here in the county that uses musical instruments in worship rather than go somewhere that I’m not growing spiritually or stay home? Also would it be inappropriate for me, as a woman, to ask one of the instrumental congregations to perhaps have a separate non-instrumental service on Sundays. Thank you.

Leon’s Response

Yours is a dilemma that many face. The options are to try to start a congregation in your home by inviting friends whom you might know or people who might have an interest to come and have a worship service there each week.

The other option would be to visit the different instrumental congregations to find the one closest to the truth and worship there until a better situation arises. It would certainly be better to worship with a church that has that mistaken idea than to not worship at all. It wouldn’t be wrong to ask them to have a non-instrumental church and to explain you are not condemning them, but for conscience sake, you would be better satisfied with such a service. If they do that, it would be wonderful. But if they don’t, because they see the instrument as a matter of conscience or judgment, then go on worshiping with them anyway. If it bothers you to sing with the instrument, just don’t sing during that time. I think it would be better to focus your own singing on what is being sung, instead of on the instrument, and to gain from the singing of praise to God.

In many situations we can’t change things about congregations we would like to. Read and think about the letters to the church in Corinth. It had many problems and many wrong teachings. Yet the church there is addressed as the church of God in Corinth, those sanctified and called to be saints. This demonstrates that God accepts worship in churches that aren’t doing everything right. By your influence over time you might make a difference. But if you don’t, you are far closer to God by worshiping the best you can instead of being hindered to not worship at all.

Question #233

I am confused about questions 130& 131. If a divorce isn’t for biblical reasons (cheating) then is it really a divorce in God’s eyes? If it isn’t valid then if they merry someone else wouldn’t God consider them to have two spouses? And If a person marries and divorces  for non-biblical reasons and then marries someone else but repents later, wouldn’t that person still be sinning every time he/she has sexual relations with their new spouse?

Leon’s Response

I’ve heard people talk about marriages and divorces not being recognized in God’s eyes for all my Christian life, yet I’ve never read anything that mentions such in the Bible. Even in cases of polygamy in the Old Testament God recognized their marriage as a marriage. Many marriages fail to live up to God’s standards yet they are still marriages. Notice in Matthew 19:9 again. It says “Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except immorality and marries another commits adultery.” Notice it doesn’t say he that marries another and has sex with her commits adultery. Think of the elderly couple who have divorced for unscriptural reasons and marry for companionship where there is no sex involved. Do they still commit adultery by the marriage? If they don’t then Jesus was wrong in what He said. It is in the marrying of another that adultery is committed. Is that a sin? Of course. Does repentance of that sin demand they divorce again? There isn’t anything in the Bible that indicates such. They would repent by being faithful in this marriage and staying true to each other. To get another divorce would be going back to the same sin that got them into trouble to begin with.

Read I Corinthians 7 in it’s entirety. Notice he gave advise about marriage which included the need for them to stay together when married. Even the couple who got married and one becomes a Christian while the other stays in rebellion to the Lord are told to stay together if the unbeliever is willing. If the unbeliever departs, let them depart the brother of sister is not under bondage in such cases. He then goes on to make the point that one is to stay in the situation in which they were called. He used two illustrations. One of circumcision and the other of slavery. In both cases he teaches that one is to remain in the state called. But if a slave can be made free they were to do so. Then he makes application of the point to marriage. If one is called to be married they are to stay married. If one is called who is released from marriage, or divorced, they are to stay single. But notice the next statement, “Yet if they do marry they do not sin and if a virgin marries she doesn’t not sin.”

God’s ideal is for one man to marry one woman and stay together for life. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t recognize marriages which are less than ideal. Think of the command to submit to one another and specifically for wives to submit to their husbands. Then Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Does this mean that marriages where wives don’t submit and rule the house are not recognized by God? Does it mean when a marriage is there and husbands don’t love their wives as they should that it isn’t a marriage in God’s sight? Most marriages don’t live up to the ideal but are still marriages.

Think of the story of David in the Old Testament. He first lusted for Bathsheba, then committed adultery with her. Then to hide his sin had her husband murdered. Then married her and had children with her. God not only recognized that marriage but had Solomon who was born from the marriage to become the king. I’m afraid that we might be ready to forgive the murder but not the adultery. But God forgave both and accepted the people. They truly repented as evidenced in Psalms 51. But they didn’t abolish the marriage.

In the New Testament time divorce was so prevalent that the divorce rate among the Romans was about 80%. Among the Jews it was over 50%. Yet there is not a single time when God had the inspired teachers to demand a couple divorce or separate. Are we to really think that no one was converted in a less than ideal marriage?

Question #234

My sister had this “Romantic” party. Its basically like a Tupperware party only they sell lingerie and “sex toys”. Is a party like that sinful if you are married and would go and buy something for you and your spouse to use in marriage?

Leon’s Response

I was not aware that such parties take place. Something that would be important to consider in deciding if it is right or wrong would be, “Is it only for married women?” “What happens if one comes who isn’t married and plans to use them for immoral purposes?” Is it carried out in such a way to degrade the sexual relationship from the love shared between a husband and wife to pornography concepts that simply use the other person for one’s own satisfaction? In sexual relations between a man and wife they aren’t to selfishly take care of their own needs without thinking of the other person. Three texts which would have bearing on the topic are these:

1. Genesis 2:22-25. When God made the woman and brought her to the man, Adam said “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Notice when they are married they are naked and unashamed. The sexual relationship is to be such that a couple open themselves completely to their partners.

2. I Corinthians 7:2-5 – When married the man’s body belongs to his wife, not himself. The wife’s body belongs to her husband and not to her self. They are not to withhold themselves from each other. To do so would be to defraud one another.

3. Hebrews 13:5 – “Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. Fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Notice this passage teaches that noting done sexually between a husband and wife are wrong as long as it is agreeable to both. The marriage bed is undefiled. If what was done violated other principles such as do unto others as we would have them do to us or love for wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, then it would be wrong. But God does give a whole lot of lee way for married couples.

I think you personally and your sister would need to think about these Scripture and come to an honest understanding about whether such parties are right. It would seem to me that they open lots of doors for things that wouldn’t be right and that a Christian could quickly loose their influence for good.

Question #235

I have a friend that believes that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all the same person. He believes that God is Jesus in the human flesh. I am somewhat confused on the whole issue of what most call “The Trinity.” Could you please share your views?

Leon’s Response

There is certainly a sense in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all one. But not in the sense of being the same person. In the very beginning, When it says, “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form and void” the word for “God” is the Hebrew word “Elohim” which is plural. It goes ahead to say the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

When it came to man, the Father said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26, 27). In John 1:1-3 God said, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was WITH GOD AND THE WORD WAS GOD. The same was in the beginning with God and without Him there was not anything made that was made.” Later in verse 14 it says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, glory as the only begotten son of the Father full of grace and truth. He goes on to say that He came into the world to explain or give exegesis of God.

There are multitudes of text that prove there are three different personalities in the Godhead. Let me point to a few and if you want more information feel free to write again.

1. The Father and Son are called “Both” – 2 John 9

2. When Jesus was about to die and go back to the Father He

promised to send ANOTHER COMFORTER, WHOM THE FATHER WOULD SEND.

John 14:16-18.

3. The Helper the Father sends is the Holy Spirit who is sent in the name of Christ. John 14:25-26

4. When the Helper comes He won’t speak of Himself but of Christ – John 15:26

5. Picture the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:13-17. Jesus was in the water being baptized by John, the Holy Spirit was descending in the form of a dove to light on Him and the Father was speaking from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” It they are all one person this is the greatest act of trickery you can imagine.

6. Picture the cross. Jesus was dying on the cross and He cried out to the Father in heaven asking for the forgiveness of the crucifiers, and saying, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?”

In John 17 Jesus is praying to the Father, because the hour had come for Him to pay the price for our sins. IN verses 20-21 He said, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone (That is the apostles), but for those who believe in Me through their word; THAT THEY MAY ALL BE ONE; EVEN AS YOU, FATHER, ARE IN ME AND I IN YOU, THAT THEY ALSO MAY BE IN US, SO THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT YOU SENT ME.” Notice Jesus wanted His followers to be one in the same way He and the Father are one. If they are one person what would this be saying?

Think of text like Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14; and I Peter 1:2-3. All these text talk about each of the personalities as unique beings.

I realize the point has been made that we may be a father and a son and a husband all at the same time and still be one person. But we can’t be our own father or our own son or our own husband. God is one in the same way husbands and wives are one flesh, but two distinct beings.

Question #236

I am currently studying the book of Revelation and am somewhat confused with two verses. Could you please explain your views on Revelation 2:10-11? I am not sure what it is referring to.

Leon’s Response

The Book of Revelation was written during a time when Christians were going through tremendous persecution from the Roman Empire under Domitian. He required worship of Himself, calling himself “Lord God Domitian”. Christians who worshiped only God and could only have Jesus as Lord refused to bow to worship the ruler. The result was that thousands of Christians were martyred during that time. The specifics of chapter 2:10-11 are not known beyond the fact that those Christians in Ephesus were about to undergo some major trial of persecution. The ten days aren’t necessarily literal but would refer to any complete period of time. The numbers 10, 7, 12 and any multiples of them all refer to completeness, rather than exact amounts of time or whatever is being referred to. For example, the seven spirits of God is the Holy Spirit. The 144,000 redeemed are simply the redeemed. The 1,000 years is the full amount of time that the souls of the beheaded would reign.

The plea for them to be faithful during that time of imprisonment was to stay true to the Lord and only worship Him even if it meant dying for Him. The “Until death” is more literally, “Unto death”. He wasn’t saying, so much that you should stay faithful until you die, as stay faithful even if it means death. The crown of life is the blessings of being in heaven or glory with the Lord. The second death is hell. All go through the first death but only the lost go through a second death in being separated from God for all eternity. (Revelation 20:11-15). To overcome was to conquer the devil by staying true to the Lord even in the midst of great persecution. We overcome in that the devil may be able to take our life, but we then go on to be with the Lord in heaven which is far better than anything we could have known here anyway. Thus we overcome the devil even in his worst attacks.

Question #237

Is it a sin to be overweight, know you should do something about it, but just can’t seem to motivate yourself to do it? I don’t have any health problems, but I know that it could lead to it. I’ve tried several times in the past to begin a healthy lifestyle; but never saw any real results, got bored, and ended up quitting. At this point, I’m afraid of trying again because I’m afraid of failing again. This seems to be a real weakness in my life. Could this hinder my salvation?

Leon’s Response

There is nothing in the Bible that indicates one will be lost for being overweight. In the Old Testament, mention was made of Eli being very overweight, but nothing is said about that being one of his spiritual problems. When Paul listed the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, being overweight didn’t make the list.

Let me suggest a few things that might be helpful. We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, (Romans 12:1, 2). We are to set our minds on spiritual things to be good servants of the Lord, (Romans 8:1-10). It’s not our size that matters as much as that being obsessed with the body and physical things is not where our emphasis should be. Our body is perishing. But the inward man is what can be renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Paul’s thorn in the flesh didn’t keep him from being spiritually attuned to the Lord. We live in a world far too focused on looks and size.

Why not today, begin thinking on the right things as described by Paul in Philippians 4:8. Instead of worrying about weight, begin to pray regularly and gratefully for God’s blessings (Philippians 4:6, 7). Put the Lord and His kingdom first in your life, (Matthew 6:19-34). Remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Devote your body and soul to the Lord and His work and stop focusing on physical appearance. Think of the fact that we are citizens of heaven and that Jesus is coming again. When He comes our lowly bodies will be transformed into the image of the Lord. Don’t you think He can transform one size body as well as another?

Question #238

As Christians, is it okay to maintain a sexual relationship with my ex-husband since neither one of us has remarried?

Leon’s Response

If you aren’t married to each other any more, then sexual relations would be fornication as with any other person to whom you aren’t married. (Hebrews 13:4) One of the purposes of marriage is to avoid sexual immorality according to I Corinthians 7:1-5. In that same chapter of I Corinthians 7, in verses 10-11 he talks about people who are married to each other and are having trouble getting along. He first challenged them not to separate. But if they did separate he told them to remain unmarried or be reconciled to each other. Once the divorce happens you are no longer married to the person. Continuing to have sex is to give the privileges of marriage without the responsibility. IF you still love each other enough that you want to have sex with each other, wouldn’t it be better to get help on the problems and get married to each other again as Paul said in this text?

Question #239

Is it a sin to eat pork or any type of unclean meat that is mentioned in the Old Testament? My neighbor is always claiming that it’s a sin to eat pork and to worship on Sunday. Should I even bother to help him understand his error in scripture?

Leon’s Response

With regard to eating pork or anything else that was considered unclean during the Old Testament, look at Mark 7:14-23. Jesus declared that nothing that goes into a person can defile him. It is what comes out of a man that can defile him. He said those things that go into him go into the stomach and are eliminated. Mark then said of Jesus statement, “As a result, He made all foods clean.” (Vs. 19). In Romans 14:17 Paul declared “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” In I Timothy 4:1-5 Paul charged some with teaching doctrines of demons and speaking lies in hypocrisy. In explaining what they did wrong he said, “They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.”

The problem with all these ideas of things being unclean to eat is the idea that the Old Testament is still bound on people. The truth is only Jews were ever under the Old Testament laws. It was a law given by God to the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 5:1-4; Exodus 31:12-17). When Jesus came He fulfilled the law. IN Matthew 5:17-19 He said the law wouldn’t pass until all of it was fulfilled and then declared He had come to fulfill it. In Romans 7:4-7 Paul said we are dead to the Law by the body of Christ that we might be married to another that we might bring forth fruit to God. He said we are delivered from the law. Then in verse 7 he explained what law he had in mind when he said, “We would not have known lust except the law had said, “You shall not covet.” The law we are dead to is the law which included the ten commandments. In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul said we are ministers of the New Covenant written in the hearts and not of the Old Covenant written and engraved on stones. He said that Old Covenant was a ministry of death and not life. In Galatians 3:19-24 Paul called that law a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ and that we are no longer under that schoolmaster. In Colossians 2:14-17 Paul declared that law was nailed to the cross and said we are not to be judged anymore in respect of new moons or Sabbath days.

Now the argument is made that Jesus worshiped on the Sabbath and the apostles went to the synagogues on the Sabbath in the book of Acts. With regard to Jesus, He lived and died under that Old Testament law He came to fulfill. The New Covenant didn’t become effective until He had died upon the cross (Hebrews 9 :14-17). The apostles went on the Sabbath to the synagogues to teach the people because that was where and when they were meeting. They used it as a way of telling people the old way was gone and the new had started. Christ was raised on the first day of the week (Mark 16:1-2). The Church started on the first day of the week since it started on Pentecost which always fell on the 50th day after Passover. It counted 7 Sabbaths and then the next day was Pentecost. It would always be on the first day of the week. IN Acts 20:7 the church assembled on the first day of the week to take the Lord’s Supper. In I Corinthians 16:1,2 Paul told them to give on the first day of the week as he had ordered the churches in Galatia.

In Galatians 5:1-5 Paul talked about people being circumcised to obey the Old Testament law. He said if one did that he was obligated to obey the whole of the Old Testament law and when he did he was severed from Christ and fallen from grace. Circumcision is of no avail but faith that works by love avails. Today if one is going to bind the laws on eating from the Old Testament and the Sabbath observance from the Old Testament they are obligated to obey the whole thing. That means if they aren’t Jews they aren’t even under it. If they are Gentiles and want to be under the Old Covenant they have to become proselytes to it. Who is the person who is really ready to try to obey all the Old Testament law today? I’ve not met such a person. I meet a few who want parts of it. You can’t pick and choose. Either every part of the Old Testament is bound on man or no part of it is. I choose to follow the New Covenant sealed with the blood of Christ that offers grace and forgiveness instead of the Old Law that was simply to pave the way for Christ.

Question #240

Please help me I am struggling with the issue of dancing. I am a member of the church and my husband isn’t. This comes with lots of problems. I try to be an example to him but anytime I give one bit, there are problems. He doesn’t see that dancing with other women a problem. I do, even though this isn’t at a bar and no drinking is allowed . I think that the very impression gives the wrong ideas and some of the women there are looking for any opportunity. What must I do? He also plays with the band. I know that Christ is my first love and I cannot be a part of the world or I will take a chance of losing my soul, I just don’t know how to handle this. Stay away and wonder, or go and be miserable?

Leon’s Response

This is an extremely difficult situation. There are several questions you didn’t answer that really need to be answered in order to give you an effective answer. What kind of dancing are you talking about? Not every kind of dancing is wrong. Remember David danced before God and God blessed him for it. When Jesus told the story of the prodigal son coming home, the Father, who is God in the story, threw a party because His son who was dead was now alive and who was lost was now found. When the older brother came in from the field, he heard music and dancing because the younger son was home.

What make dancing a problem is that it is often tied to things that are wrong, such a drinking parties and such like. Also, the kind of dancing matters. Is it the kind of dancing that involves lewd movements which produce lust on the part of the opposite sex? Or is it square dancing where nothing sexual, lustful or distasteful would be done?

There wouldn’t normally be anything wrong with a man dancing with his own wife unless there is something in the situation that would bring on a bad influence or violate your conscience. Read I Peter 3:1-9, and think of how God told the woman to conduct herself when her husband wasn’t a Christian so she might be able to win him.

Ask your husband what it is that causes him to want to dance with other women. Is it simply because you won’t dance with him? Is he willing to go with you to church? Have you tried to win him by your love and care? You can never win a person over to the Lord by beating them over the head with a Bible. They need to see the joy living for God has brought into your life. So many times we try to win others but then act like being a Christian has made us among the most miserable people in the world. Why would another person be drawn to that kind of life?

If you will, give me some more insight into the situation. Think of ways you can so fully give yourself to your husband that the very thought of another woman wouldn’t enter his head. Read the Song of Solomon, together if you can get him to and think of how you can apply those truths to your life.

Question #241

In Ezekiel 3-18 what does it mean I (you) will be accountable for his blood?

Leon’s Response

This is a figure of speech very much like our saying, “His blood will be on your hands.” The point is God will hold us responsible for someone’s failures if we didn’t warn them about not living that kind of life. We are to be Watchmen on the wall for God’s people. The duty of the Watchman was to keep a sharp eye out for any approaching enemy. If they saw the enemy’s army coming they were to sound the alarm, usually by blowing a trumpet. Now if the Watchman sounded the alarm and the people still didn’t get up and prepare to defend themselves, their blood was on their own hands. But if the Watchman fell asleep and didn’t see the enemy coming and didn’t sound the alarm, then the blood of those who were killed would be on his hands. God would hold him responsible in judgment for their loss.

The sinner will die in his sins. But if we never told them of the Savior and gave them the invitation for a new life, then we will be held responsible for their lost condition. They are still lost, but we will be punished as well. Does that mean we will be lost for failing to tell everyone? I don’t think so. But we will lose rewards and be hurt over their situation. A New Testament passage on the same point is I Corinthians 3:10-15. There Paul speaks of him being the wise master builder that has laid the foundation. We build on the foundation he laid. If we build with good material it will stand. But if we build with some who aren’t good material we will suffer loss. The different materials here are converts. His point is that some we reach for God are like gold, silver and precious stones. They will stand the test. Others we convert are like wood, hay and stubble. When the fires of trial come they are burned up. When they are burned we suffer loss, yet we will still be saved. This isn’t saying that the one who doesn’t stay true to God will still be saved. It is saying that the one who brings the person to Christ who falls away will still be saved even though they are hurt and suffer loss at the very thought of one they have converted being lost.

Our place is to plant and water. It is to build, to teach and warn. We are held responsible by God with our efforts and failures. If we do our jobs and warn people about their sins and offer them the invitation of God to come for life and they refuse, they will be lost, but we will have delivered our souls by giving the warning.

It is this same point Paul was making in Acts 20:20-27 as he talked to those elders at Ephesus and said, “I am free from the blood of all, for I have not held back from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

Question #242

Please consider the following question. Thank you. I am trying as best I can to be a Christian witness to a newly moved-in (about 10 weeks ago) neighbor. She is not working, lives on disability money, is most always depressed and sobbing, has a host of health problems, etc. I’ve talked endlessly with her, witnessed to her, and now finally she says she has accepted Christ, and will forgo many of her bad habits – one of which I recently found out is compulsive stealing/shoplifting. However, she has not changed behavior much, if at all.

I told her yesterday that I will not shop with her (as she requests) as I do not want to go to jail because of her actions. She says she will refrain from stealing around me. I told her I still do not want to go with her, and am trying to avoid her; however she calls at least two or three times a day and pounds on my door (I work at home, I’m an architect). It is not a situation I can “avoid”. I’ve gotten pretty tough on her, but now she is “gaming” the situation, asking absurd favors to see how I’ll respond, etc., (and she also wants me to do heavy work for her, I refuse). I also repeatedly tell her to talk with therapists & doctors, not me. I believe there may be no hope for her, or at least I’m not the one who can help, (she sees several mental and physical therapists). Of course, from her view she believes we are now sisters in Christ, and I have to accept her and go along with her as “leader” of our friendship, telling me what I’ll do and when. Ok she’s a control freak too.

HELP. I’ve BEEN praying…

Leon’s Response

While it certainly isn’t encouraging, I’m afraid your situation isn’t unusual. Since she has made a profession of faith in Christ, I would recommend the following action. Read closely Matthew 18:15-20. Then follow to the letter what Jesus said do. Confront her about her behavior with Scripture demonstrating what exactly she is doing that is wrong. Use text such as Ephesians 4:25-32.

When that doesn’t work, follow Jesus’ guideline and take two or three other Christians with you to make the confrontation. Deal kindly, but firmly with every one of the things she is doing that violate the principles of being a Christian. Read her I Corinthians 5:1-13. Tell her that unless there is major change you are taking this whole thing before the church, then do it. Have the church to pray for her. If none of that changes her actions, follow through with rest of the text and let her know that based on this Scripture and others like it you aren’t going to have anything to do with her and to please not contact you again.

Most of the time by the time you have followed this process to its end the problems will have been solved. If not, I would take out a restraining order against her and stop it that way.

People who have made such practice a way of life have a very difficult time changing their behavior. It has become a norm. They are so used to finding a people to use that they see nothing wrong with their actions. The fact she has mental problems and addictions makes it many times worse. But do understand that giving in and just doing what she wants won’t make things better and that it will never stop unless you make some strong moves. Paul told Titus to “Reject a divisive person after the first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self condemned.” Titus 3:10-11

Question #243

Is Jesus Christ God?

Leon’s Response

Yes Jesus Christ is God. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the word and that word was with God and the word Was God.” Verse 14 says the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son of God. In Philippians 2:5-10 Paul said Christ was equal with God but emptied himself to become a man and then to become a servant and die so we could be saved. In Colossians 2:9 he said, “In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” In John 14:1-9 Jesus was getting ready to die on the cross. He told the disciples He was going to prepare a place and would come again. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” It was then that Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough.” Jesus said, “Have I been with you so long a time and you do not know who I am. He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

The fact is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all referred to as God on different occasions. IN John 3:16 the Father is called God. IN Hebrews 1:1-8 Jesus is referred to as God. “Your throne O God is forever and ever”. In Acts 5:3-5 Peter asked Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” Then he said, “You have not lied to men but to God.” Each of these divine personalities possess the same divine nature and are thus called God. Yet they are not the same persons. The Father sent the Son. When Jesus was about to die He said he would send another comforter. IN 2 John 9 John speaks of “Both” the Father and Son. In Genesis 1:26,27 God said, “Let US make man in OUR image and OUR likeness.”

They all possess the same divine nature and are thus one. They are three personalities and thus different from each other. That is where the concept of “Trinity” comes from. “Three in one”. In John 17:20-21 Jesus was praying that all the disciples might be one “Even as” He and the Father were one. He didn’t want just one disciple. He wanted His followers to be united in purpose, plan and action.

Question #244

Almost each and every church on earth believes in life after death. But I am confused. Some say we shall receive the kingdom of God right here on earth while others believe it shall be in heaven. What are your views on this?

Leon’s Response

I suspect one of the problems on this whole thing is that there are too many opinions going around. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about the kingdom. First, focus on things Jesus said about the kingdom. He said His kingdom was “At hand” at that time. (Mark 1:14, 15). He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were then My servants would fight. (John 18:36). He said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation for the kingdom is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). He said, “Unless you are born again you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3-5). He told the disciples, “Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” It should be obvious from this that the kingdom is spiritual, not physical. That it refers to the rule of God in our lives. Jesus may have illustrated it best in the model prayer when He said, “Pray, Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In this Jesus used a parallelism. The second phrase serves to explain the first. The kingdom comes as the will of God is done on earth as in heaven.

Then notice that when one reads the letters written to Christians they speak of the kingdom as being here already. In Colossians 1:13 Paul said we are translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear son. IN Hebrews 12:28, 29 the writer said, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Peter described God’s people as “A chosen generation, a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a holy nation. God’s own special people.” The word for Royal is the same as Kingdom. The church is a kingdom of priest (Revelation 1:6).

God’s kingdom is here now. It has been here since our Lord established His kingdom and began to sat at God’s Right Hand as king to reign over it (Acts 2:29-36). Any time the New Testament speaks of the future kingdom it is the final state of the kingdom in what we refer to as heaven. In 2 Peter 1:5-11 Peter said to add the Christian graces to our lives, thus making our calling and election sure so we could have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom. It is obvious He refers here to the final state of the kingdom in heaven. The kingdom exists where ever Christ is allowed to be king. He can’t be king in your life unless you are born again and willfully submit to His Lordship over you.

Many have turned to Revelation 20:1-6 to say there is coming a thousand year reign of God on earth. But this text fails to prove the point at all. Indeed there is a thousand year reign, but it is of souls who have been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and suffering of the Lamb who did not receive the mark of the beast. “They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” This is spiritual, in heaven and has to do with those who are already dead.

Question #245

God created Adam & Eve with the purpose of looking after all the other creatures and promised them everlasting life.

Did God plan that Adam & Eve would be cheated by the snake and die? If he didn’t plan it, why did he restrict them from eating the fruits from the tree in the middle of the garden?

Leon’s Response

God’s desire and plan are often different from His ability to know what will happen. His will is that no one should be lost (2 Peter 3:9) but the reality is most will be lost (Matthew 7:13, 14).His will is that Christians stay pure and sanctified, to avoid all kinds of immorality. (I Thessalonians 4:1-8. But many fail to live up to those standards.

When God placed man and woman in the Garden of Eden it was His desire and plan that they would never sin and stay in the Garden forever. But when sin entered the world, He already had a plan in place to try to redeem man back from his fallen state. His plans were made for our redemption even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-7; 3:8-12). In Romans 3:23-27 Paul talks of God’s plan to redeem man from sin and bring him back to his faith. All are guilty of sin. But God who is rich in mercy willingly sent His Son into the world to suffer for us as a substitute so we could be saved.

It isn’t unusual in the Bible for God to have a plan and change his mind based on the actions of people. When He sent Jonah to preach to Nineveh it was to tell them that in 40 days He planned to destroy them because of their sins. When Jonah went and preached they repented in sackcloth and ashes. God forgave them and relented on His plan to destroy them.

Adam and Eve’s sin, brought sin into the world. Like a dreaded disease there is no way to stop it. But God has come up with a vaccine that will help us. It is in turning to Him obediently and doing what He teaches us to do.

Question #246

what does the bible say about killing people, like capital punishment?

Leon’s Response

But what about the New Testament? Did Jesus, the man of love change all of that kind of thing? When Jesus established the church he changed the plan of God with regard to government and religion. Israel had been both God’s church and nation. Their government had been a Theocracy. So when they acted in capital punishment they were acting as a nation or government. Isaiah 2:2-5 prophesied the change when the mountain of the Lord’s house was established in the top of the mountain and all nations would flow into it. They would beat their swords into plowing shears and their spears into pruning hooks and they wouldn’t study war anymore. This is noting that the church would be separate. They wouldn’t advance by war anymore. They would be involved in spiritual matters and not in war. But the governments are still from God. In Romans 13:1-6 Paul commands us to submit to the governmental authorities. They are ministers of God to execute wrath on the sons of disobedience. They do not bear the sword in vain. His whole point is that government is there to punish evildoers. They protect the citizens and punish those who would harm them. There is no question God gives the right of capital punishment to governments.

Does that mean it is advisable? Not necessarily. The fact one may be put to death who is innocent or that one may be mentally ill and put to death shows there are certainly weaknesses in the idea of capital punishment. But God does, without any doubt give the right to the government of any nation to carry out capital punishment on evil doers. This same principle gives government the right to go to war to protect its citizens. As Christians our place is to be good citizens, to submit to their lead (I Peter 2:13-17) and to pray for out leaders that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness (I Timothy 2:1-4).

Question #247

A co-worker was sharing with me the difficult time she just went through having to put to sleep a beloved pet who was like part of the family. The conversation led to a discussion of whether or not animals have souls. Is there any scripture in the Bible regarding this topic?

Leon’s Response

There are Old Testament passages that refer to animals having souls. But the word translated soul is the same word translated “Life”. When used of animals it is referring to their life, not an immortal soul. In Matthew 10:28 we are challenged not to fear man who can kill the body but can’t harm the soul, but fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Only man is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Animals are wonderful pets but they aren’t human and do not have eternal life or an immortal soul.

Question #248

In Exodus 32:32 God erase from the book the names of the people who sin against me. Did he after that seal the Book of Life and will stay sealed until that day when the final judgment takes place? Does he already know if my name is written in the Book of Life?

Leon’s Response

There are many references to the Book of Life in the Bible. Look at several of these uses and then lets focus on answering the question. In Malachi 3:16 it says, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.” In Luke 10:20 the disciples had returned from the limited commission and were thrilled that the demons were subject to them. Jesus told them not to rejoice because the demons were subject to them, but because their names were in the book of life. In Philippians 4:3 Paul urged his companion to help these women (Euodia and Syntyche Verse 2) who had labored with him in the gospel along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. In Revelation 3:5 Jesus was writing to the church in Sardis. He said those who overcame would be clothed in white garments and “I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” In Revelation 20:12 when we stand before the great white throne to be judged, one of the books opened will be the book of life. Anyone whose name is not found in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. (Verse 15). In Revelation 21:27 when he described heaven he said only those would enter whose names were in the Book of Life. Finally in Revelation 22:19 if anyone took from the words of God’s prophesy their names would be taken from the Book of Life.

Hebrews 12:23 it is pointed out that those who are in the church of the firstborn have their names registered in heaven. The point is our names are added to the book upon becoming Christians. They remain in the book if we stay with the Lord. God blots out the names of those who depart from Him to go back into the world and deny His name. The Book of Life is changing all the time by people having their names written in it and by those who depart from the Living God having their names blotted out. It is obvious that one doesn’t have their name taken out of the book simply because the fail or make mistakes or sin. The two women who were in an argument in Philippi were good women. But they had a problem and needed help. But their names were still in the book. The church at Sardis was a dead church. Yet there were those in that dead church who were holding on to the Lord and they names were in the book. But the very promise not to blot their names out and the warning that if one takes from the word of God his name will be blotted out of the book demonstrates one can so live as to be taken out of the book and lose their souls even though they were once right with God.

Question #249

According to 1 Cor. 14:34 and 1 Tim. 2:11-15 women should remain silent in the churches and they are not allowed to speak or even teach. According to Gal. 3:28, there is neither male or female, for we are all one in Christ. Could you explain please what looks like two passages that are in opposition to one another?

Leon’s Response

Galatians 3:28 is about our standing before God. When it comes to salvation, it is available to all on an equal standing. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, slave or free or what country you may be a citizen of. Christ sent the gospel to all people every where (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16). He died so all could have the opportunity to be saved (Hebrews 2:9).

But that doesn’t mean that everyone has the same place to serve in the body of Christ. Different people have different abilities, talents, opportunities and callings from God. In I Corinthians 14 Paul is discussing the assembly of Christians. His primary theme was that all things should be done in such a way that all are edified or built up. He pleads with the Christians to excel in edifying each other. In that context he gave several charges. One was that everything ought to be understandable by all so they could learn and apply what is said. He said if one had the gift of tongue speaking he was only to speak in the assembly if there was someone there who could interpret or translate what they said. If there were no interpreter, they tongue speaker was to “Keep Silent”. Also, if one prophesied, they were to take turns, not all speak at once. If one was speaking and another received a revelation from God he was to keep silent until the other had finished and they could take their turn.

Then he said, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive. As the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” Notice the whole context was about one speaking in the sense of preaching or leading the assembly. It wasn’t about her not saying a word. It was the very same sense in which someone might ask you today, “Who spoke where you were in church on Sunday?” You wouldn’t list everyone who said anything. You would name the one who preached. He said it wasn’t allowed for a woman to speak in that way in the church. Does that mean she is less valuable to God? Certainly not, any more than a tongue speaker is less valuable when there is no interpreter or a prophet is less valuable when someone else is all ready speaking. She is not allowed to preach to the assembly.

I Timothy 2 is more general in that it had just made the point that men are to pray everywhere (Verse 8). Women are to dress modestly (Verses 9-10). In that context Paul said, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” (Verses 11-12). The word “Silence” used here is more commonly translated “Quietness”. It isn’t the point that she can’t say anything. It is that her nature should be one of quietness. Then he gives two restrictions. She is not allowed to teach or have authority OVER THE MAN. Does this mean she can’t teach at all? No. Paul told older women to teach younger women (Titus 2:1-3). Does it mean she can’t teach a man? NO! IN Acts 18:24-28 Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila taught Apollos more correctly the gospel of Christ. Women teach every time they sing praise to God according to Colossians 3:16. But they are not allowed to teach OVER A MAN, NOR HAVE AUTHORITY OVER A MAN.

Does this some how take away from a woman in that she is to submit? All Christians are to submit to each other in the fear of the Lord (Ephesians 5:21). Younger ones are to submit to the older one in I Peter 5:4,5. We are to submit to our leaders according to Hebrews 13:7,17. We are to submit to such people as are great workers and servants in the kingdom according to I Corinthians 16:15,16. As Christians we are to submit to the governmental authorities as ministers of God (Romans 13:1-7). The fact is submission is a basic aspect of the whole Christian life. The fact we are to submit to policemen doesn’t make us inferior to them. What this does mean is that God has given some jobs to men and some to women and He wants us to do the work He calls us to do.

Question #250

When did baptism by sprinkling water start, why, and by whom?

Leon’s Response

So far as the Bible is concerned baptism was never done by sprinkling. The word translated “Baptism” or “Baptize” means to dip, to plunge or submerge. It would be far better translated “Immersion”. Even if the word were not so clear, the evidence is there throughout the Scriptures that baptism means to immerse. It is a burial (Romans 6:3,4; Colossians 2:12). When Philip baptized the Eunuch in Acts 8 they both walked down into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch and he baptized him.

There is an entirely different Greek word, that is translated “Sprinkle”.

As far as when people began to Sprinkle for baptism according to church historians it was some 300 years after the beginning of the church. It started as something done when someone was too sick to be immersed. Initially they poured gallons of water on the person. As time went by it became less and less until it was simply sprinkling water on someone’s head.

It has been justified, for babies on the basis of the doctrine that children are born in sin, inheriting the sins of Adam and that they are sprinkled for baptism to take away that sin. The Bible doesn’t teach either of these ideas. Babies aren’t born in sin. Jesus said, unless you are converted and become like a little child you can’t enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 18:1-3). Then in Matthew 19:14 He said, allow the little children to come to me and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of God. According to Ezekiel 18:19-24 “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, nor the father of the son. The soul that sins, it shall die.”

When we start drifting away from the Bible it is amazing how far we can go and still think we are all right.

Question #251

The conversion of Cornelius demonstrates that water baptism is not necessary for salvation. In Acts 11:16, 17 Peter states that Cornelius received the “same gift” as those in Acts 2. Those in Acts 2:4 were said to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Thus since Cornelius received the “same gift” he too was “filled with the Holy Spirit” as well. Every time in the book of Acts where someone is said to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” it always refers to a saved person – never an unsaved person. 100% to 0% of the time. So the fact that Cornelius was “filled with the Holy Spirit” before he was baptized proves that he was already saved before he was baptized. How can one be “filled up” with God and yet at the very same time be lost? It’s simply not possible.

Leon’s Response

The phrase “Filled with the Holy Spirit” is used in several different ways in the Bible. Christians are commanded to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. They were already Christians, but obviously not filled at that point. In Luke 1:15 John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. Was he saved inside the womb? Both Zacharias and Elizabeth are said to be filled with the Holy Spirit in Luke 1:41; 67. The point being made is that they were under the influence of the Holy Spirit in having the son John. In Acts 9:17 Ananias said to Saul that he had come to give him sight and that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Does that mean he was saved before begin baptized? Why then did he say of his own baptism that it was to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16)? The point in Acts 10 when it was said of Cornelius and his family that they were baptized with the Holy Spirit just like the Jewish followers of the Lord were on Pentecost. Peter’s point is “Can anyone forbid water that these should be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Verse 47). Jewish Christians until this point didn’t think the gospel was for the gentiles. God demonstrated that it was. He filled them with the Holy Spirit to make the point to the Jews there that God was also accepting the Gentiles.

If you are really interested in learning whether baptism is essential for salvation look at the text that mentions baptism and see what they say. In Matthew 28:19-20 baptism was a part of one being made a disciple. In Mark 16:16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” Which comes first, baptism or salvation. In Acts 2:38 they were to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, in the name of Jesus Christ. Which came first baptism or remission of sins? When Philip preached Jesus to the Eunuch in Acts 8, why did he respond by wanting to be baptized out in the desert? Since Paul says that we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26, 27) how can you be saved before getting into Christ? According to Colossians 2:12 we are buried with Him in baptism and raised with him through faith in the operation of God. The church is sanctified and cleansed by the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:25-27). Baptism saves according to I Peter 3:21. According to Titus 3:5 we are saved not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.

Question #252

Why does John 5:4 not appear in some Bibles?

Leon’s Response

John 5:4 is omitted from most newer translations of the Bible because it isn’t found in the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of John that have been found. When the King James Translation was made it relied on the Latin Vulgate, which contained this verse. Since that time many earlier manuscripts have been located by archeologist which shed more light on the original text. This verse seems to have been added by scribes as a way of explaining why the crippled and sick people gathered around the pool. The strongest evidence is that it was not a part of the original manuscript written by the apostle John.

Question #253

In terms of being “filled with the Holy Spirit” I said it only refers to saved people in the book of Acts. Before this time the “Spirit had not yet been given” so all your examples from the gospel of Luke do not count. In terms of Paul we don’t know when he was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Before or after his baptism). The text doesn’t specifically say. My point still holds, there is not one other case in the book of Acts where someone is “filled with the Holy Spirit” and lost. Cornelius was “filled with the Holy Spirit” before he was baptized therefore Cornelius was already saved before he was baptized.

Tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28 states that it is for those “in” the body of Christ. Did Cornelius speak in tongues before he was baptized?

Leon’s Response

I’m afraid I don’t follow your reasoning on this matter. Do you really think that the Holy Spirit led Luke to use this phrase “Filled with the Spirit” in a unique way in the Book of Acts that differs from how He led the same writer to use it in His gospel account or from Paul who was Luke primary teacher and traveling companion?

But take your own parameters and look at every time Luke used the phrase in the book of Acts and see if it really equals salvation every time.

1. Acts 2:4 “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The “They” here could refer to the apostles as used in the final verse of Acts one or to the 120 gathered together.

2. Acts 4:8 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel.” Peter was certainly a Christian. But the being filled with the Spirit refers to the Spirit leading him in that moment as to what to say, not his salvation.

3. Acts 4:31 – The church was praying and the place where they gathered was shaken and “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Again they were saved, but the point was the being filled with the Holy Spirit led people already saved to speak His word boldly.

4. Acts 9:17 – Ananias laid his hands on Saul to give him sight and that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit. When you compare with Paul’s telling of his conversion in Acts 22:14,15 it was for him to become an apostle and be God’s witness to all men of what he had seen and heard. It was after that he was commanded to be baptized to have his sins washed away,(Vs. 16). His being filled with the Spirit had to do with his call, not his salvation.

5. Acts 13:9 – Saul was filled with the Spirit and looked intently at Elymas and pronounced a curse on him of blindness. Not this filling of the Spirit came over 2 years after his conversion.

6. Acts 13:52 – The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and joy. Note this isn’t about salvation. It is a blessing later given to disciples.

Finally, look at Acts 10 and 11. In Acts 10 Peter is recording as preaching to them about Jesus. In verse 44 while he was still speaking the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. The Jewish Christians were amazed that the Gentiles had been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues magnifying God. Peter then asked, “Can anyone forbid water that these should be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.

In Acts 11 Peter is charged by the Jews for what he did and began to explain “IN ORDER” from the beginning. (Verse 4). Cornelius had been told to send for Peter who would “Tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.” (Verse 14). “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” (Verses 15-17). Notice when Peter told the story “IN ORDER” when they received this baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was as Peter began to speak.

Think about this point for a moment. Since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17) and they received the Holy Spirit as Peter began to speak, if the giving of that gift meant salvation, it not only came before baptism, but before faith in Jesus and before their repentance of sins and before their confession of their faith.

The truth is, the phrase “Filled with the Spirit” through out the book of Acts had to do with God giving people abilities to do what He wanted and not with their salvation. Being filled with the Spirit made them speak boldly, it made them able to rebuke one who hindered the gospel and even make him blind. It made Peter able to preach powerfully the truth even before the Jewish Sanhedrin.

This is exactly the same way the phrase is used in Luke and Ephesians and every other part of the Bible. God didn’t have a different vocabulary in Acts than any other place.

In order to learn God’s will on any thing one must look at the whole of Scripture and not just pick out parts that fit a predetermined idea. What does the whole Bible teach about baptism and salvation? It teaches that baptism is an action of faith that leads to salvation (Galatians 3:26,27). Just as in Hebrews 11 all the examples of faith were of people who did what God said do. There is no saving faith when one does not yield his will to God’s and obey Him (Romans 6:16-18).

Question #254

I have been very uplifted and encouraged by reading the Q & A section. I strongly believe that something as simple as this can be a catalyst to our faith and zeal for God. You should be commended. My question: In reading through all of your responses, I noticed that you stated that through the years that you had somewhat changed your thoughts on certain issues because you matured as a Christian. What might be some of those things that you view differently today?

Leon’s Response

I don’t know what all I may have changed my mind about.

Mostly it has been learning more than I had noticed before. As I’ve grown older it has been much easier to see why people have arrived at different conclusions on different matters. Many things are very simple in the Bible, but some are very hard. I’ve become much more graceful in my judgments of people who reach different conclusions than I have reached. Many of the positions that we as a fellowship have been very certain about and ready to condemn those who fail in those areas, seem to me at this point in my life to be much less a matter to condemn and often something to feel compassion for those who have failed.

One example would be on the whole theme of divorce and remarriage. There was a time in my life when I felt very certain that I knew the answers on that subject. Today, I’m convinced that most divorces happen because someone has been unfaithful to their marriage vows and often both. I do not believe you can put a marriage back together like you can building blocks. People suffer great scars and often it is hard, if not impossible, to forget what has happened.

I don’t see divorce as something that can’t be forgiven by God and still live for Him even though we failed in marriage. It seems to me that too many have tried to strain the whole Bible through a couple of verses and have in the process missed the point of the verses themselves.

I suspect if I tried to list every little thing I’ve made some changes in through the years it would take more time and space than I have. Suffice it to say that Bible study has to be constant and the will to change must be there all the time. I’m not infallible and may make serious mistakes even when trying hard to be right. I try to be open with God and others to look and think and pray for wisdom so that different thoughts can at least be weighed before coming down on a text or teaching.

Question #255

In James 5:14, James speaks of the elders praying and anointing the sick with oil. My question is this: Are we to be anointed and prayed for by the elders today?

Leon’s Response

Notice this context of this statement was the handling of different situations. If we are happy we should sing praise. If we are sick we should call for the elders of the church who anoint us with oil and pray for us. The prayer of faith will heal the sick.

I believe we should do exactly what this text says. We should call for the elders when we are sick. They should come and anoint us with oil and pray for us. The oil in the Bible was symbolic of God’s blessings and presence in our lives. For example, the king was anointed with oil. Priest were anointed. It isn’t the oil that heals, but the prayer of faith. The oil is a physical thing to show our faith and to demonstrate God’s involvement. Does this mean that every time elders anoint people and pray about their sickness they will be healed? If it is a spiritual sickness, yes. He told them if one had sins they should pray and their sins would be forgiven. If it is physical sickness, sometimes they will get well and God will answer the prayer by their healing. Sometimes they won’t. If this were there to save every person, then no Christian would die. But it is something we should do.

It isn’t done instead of medicine or doctors but along with them.

Question #256

Just a thought. I don’t know if there is an answer. Maybe if I could get your opinion. We are constantly reminded about not be becoming too materialistic in the Bible. However, when we read of heaven, it seems to capture the materialistic/worldly vibe…streets of gold, mansion…etc. Just something that I have thinking about lately.

Leon’s Response

In the description of heaven in the Bible God uses accommodative language to help us understand. Whether or not streets of gold and gates of pearl are literal, I don’t know. But He often in Revelation used phrases that differed in exactness, but showed the point. The streets are also said to be like glass. It is a place of amazing beauty. But the greatest thing about heaven isn’t it’s appearance but the presence of God and all the redeemed of the ages.

Question #257

What are some passages or principles that you use to dismiss original sin?

Leon’s Response

The idea of original sin is based on a misunderstanding of Romans 5:12-21 and Psalms 51:5 and other text like that. In Romans 5 it was physical death that we had passed to us from Adam, not spiritual death. In Psalms 51 David was talking about the nature of the world in which he was born, not about him being born guilty of sin.

Passages which help in understanding the nature of man are Ezekiel 18:19-24 which says the son will not bear the guilt of the sins of the father nor the father the guilt for his sons sins. The soul that sins will die. Matthew 18:1-4 says we must be converted and become like the child to be saved. If the child was completely guilty of sin we wouldn’t need to be like them. Also, Matthew 19:14. In Hebrews 12:9 God is said to be the father of our spirits so if we are born in sin who is it that we inherit the sin from. Is it simply sins of the body or of the soul? Since God is our father of the spirit it makes the idea foolish.

Every passage that points to man’s freedom to choose which way he will go and who he will serve demonstrates that we are born in sin. If man were totally depraved he couldn’t make those right choices.

Question #258

What do the scriptures say about gambling? Also, how do you make a distinction between gambling and the stock market?

Leon’s Response

Gambling isn’t mentioned in the Bible at all. There are things around gambling that cause one to question involvement in it. For example the problem of people becoming addicted to gambling and losing everything they have should cause caution. Also, the fact that so many families have been hurt by one taking the money the family needs to necessities and wasting it gambling is another reason to think seriously about it. It is also true that gambling has often been tied to organized crime and has been a source of lots of trouble for people.

I understand people saying that when I gamble it is simply recreation and I only spend the amount of money that I have set aside for the entertainment and then I quit. If one did that every time then it very well may not be wrong. It isn’t something that you can turn to any particular Scripture and find a yes or no about.

As to how it differs from investing in the stock market, one is simply a matter of chance where the difference between winning and losing is chance. The other is investing money in a business to help the economy and to make more money by investing in something that I believe in and want to be a part of. Could investing be a gamble? Yes. But it isn’t by it’s nature a gamble. The fact that there is some chance involved in a thing doesn’t make it gambling. Everything we do would be a gamble in that sense.

Gambling is a gaming that is based solely on chance.

Question #259

I would like to know whether a Christian should serve in the Military as like special forces or spec ops? I agree with it and seem to come across Scripture that kinda speak of Soldiers, those who honor the country. Well, just wanted to know if you know in Scriptures of this. I attend the First Christian Church and do know we support our military and country.

Leon’s Response

Throughout the Old Testament God called Israel to be both His government and “Church”. As His chosen nation they were often called upon to go out and destroy enemy nations. Capital punishment was ordained of God during this era. In the New Testament, God separated church and state. The church is His spiritual institution set up to follow Him and to evangelize the world. Their duty is to help the needy and care for hurting people of all kinds. The government is also His divine institution set up to protect the citizens and punish the evil doers. Read Romans 13:1-8. Policemen and Soldiers are called ministers of God sent forth to execute wrath on the sons of disobedience. They do not bear the sword in vain. They have the right to use their weapons to carry out the mission of government. In chapter 12 of Romans he had made the point that we should not avenge ourselves but give place to wrath for “Vengeance is Mine says the Lord.” Romans 13 explains one way God does avenge the wrongs of the evil doer. Governmental authorities work as God’s ministers for wrath. So the Christian does indeed have the right to be a soldier or policemen even in the special ops areas when they are doing the work of government.

Question #260

When searching the scriptures concerning the collection of money, I find that this was for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Are there scriptures to the contrary? What percentage of your church’s annual budget goes to the poor saints? The church that I attend will be so close to zero that it is scary! Are we following the teachings of the New Testament? Your thoughts will be appreciated.

Leon’s Response

It is true that much of the specific information about giving in the New Testament centered around two collections made for the poor saints in Jerusalem. The church began with them sharing all they had in common so that no one lacked of anything they needed. Those who had possessions sold them to provide for the needs of the saints (Acts 2:44,45). Later the situation grew worse and those who had houses and land sold them and brought the money to the apostles for them to deliver (Acts 4:32-37). In Acts 6:1-7 they had a daily distribution of food for those in need. In Acts 11:27-30 when the church in Antioch had gotten underway a report came from the prophet Agabas that a famine was coming in Jerusalem and they all gave as they were able to take care of the need.

Later Paul started raising money for the poor saints in Jerusalem among the Gentile churches hoping to tear down the barrier between the Jewish and Gentile churches. Discussions of that contribution are found in Romans 15:23-29; I Corinthians 16:1,2; 2 Corinthians chapters 8 & 9.

But it would be a mistake to think that these were the only contributions the New Testament talks about. In 2 Corinthians 11:8 Paul said he robbed other churches, taking wages from them that he might minister to the church in Corinth. In Galatians 6:6 those who have received instructions are commanded to share with those who taught them.

In I Corinthians 9:14 he said that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. In Philippians 1:3 Paul praised the church for their “fellowship with him in the gospel”. In Chapter 4:14-19 he thanks them again for their very liberal gifts and says it is a sacrifice well pleasing to God. And that God will reward them for their gifts.

When it comes to the subject of giving it would be better to see what God calls upon the church to do in serving Him and to note that the money ought to be given and spent for the purpose He called us to fulfill. The work of the church is to be the body of Christ and fulfill His work. We are to carry the gospel to the world, to help the needy and to train our own members for service. Look at Jesus and His work on the earth. Did He center His work on helping the poor saints? He certainly helped them. But His mission was deeper than that. The church must do more than just minister to the needy or it will only fulfill a small segment of it’s mission.

Question #261

Do you believe that when someone dies that they immediately go to heaven or hell? If not, where are they until judgment day?

Leon’s Response

Yes, I do believe a person goes directly to heaven or hell when they die. I believe Luke 16:19ff. tells of a true story of something Jesus had seen before He came to earth as a man. A rich man died, was buried and lifted up his eyes in hell being tormented in the flames. The beggar died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom. I don’t believe that stands for anything, but that Abraham happened to be the one who comforted him in heaven when he arrived.

When you read of Stephen dying he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God and said, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” When Paul anticipated death in 2 Corinthians 5 and Philippians 1:19-23 he said one who departed this life departed to be with Christ. He talked of one being absent from the body and present with the Lord in 2 Corinthians 5.

The argument has been made that Jesus died telling the thief He would be with him that day in Paradise, but that He told Mary that He had not yet ascended to heaven so He hadn’t been there yet. The whole argument is built on poor understanding of the text. Jesus hadn’t yet ascended bodily to heaven. He was simply telling Mary there was no rush to hold on to Him that He hadn’t left yet. It doesn’t prove at all that Jesus hadn’t been to the presence of God between death and the resurrection.

It is obvious in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5 that paradise was used interchangeably with the third heaven where God is. In the book of Revelation the tree of life is spoken of as being both in paradise and heaven. It isn’t in two different places, but both words refer to the same place.

Question #262

What do you believe the role of women should be in the general assembly (reading scripture, leading prayer, leading singing, communion)? How would this differ from a Bible Study or classroom setting? I have heard the belief that it is unacceptable for a woman to read a scripture in the assembly, but perfectly fine in a Bible class. Does the Bible supply any distinction between the two? Please supply scriptures that your support your views.

Leon’s Response

The New Testament says a good bit on the subject. It is the application of the principles found in Scripture that are sometimes difficult.

First, in I Corinthians 11:1-16 women were told to wear a covering when they prayed and prophesied to show subjection to the man. Obviously this is a meeting at which men are present. But it is also clear that this is different from the assembly. Start reading in verse 17 and Paul begins to talk about the taking of the Lord’s Supper and makes note of the fact it is when the whole church comes together in one place. The strong implication is that the meeting of verses 1-16 had men there but was not the assembly, thus more like our Bible Class setting. There the women could pray and prophesy, but had to demonstrate their subjection to the man to do so.

Later in I Corinthians 14:34,35 Paul is talking about conduct in the assembly. He mentions several times about when the church comes together or when it comes together in one place. In that setting he told tongue speakers to keep silent if there were no interpreter present. He told prophets to keep silent while another prophet was speaking and take their turn. And he told women to keep silent in that assembly that it is not permitted to them to speak but to be in silence as also the law says. Notice the context of this keeping silence had to do with leading the assembly. It wasn’t about them not saying a word or even adding an amen to what was said. It was about speaking before the group or preaching. He told the women they couldn’t do that in the assembly. Philip was said back in Acts 21 to have four virgin daughters that prophesied. It is obvious from the fact Paul said for one to prophesy before the assembly was not permitted and a shame that they prophesying they did was private.

In I Timothy 2:9-16 Paul again addresses the subject of women and their teaching. He said in verse 8 for men to pray everywhere. Then in verse 9 he turns to the women and says they are to dress modestly. He said, they were not to teach or have authority OVER THE MAN, but to be in subjection. This could apply to the assembly, but seems to be wider than that. It seems to include all situations where a woman might teach or have authority. He said she couldn’t teach over the man or have authority over the man. It’s not that she couldn’t teach a man. She does that every time she sings praise to God (Colossians 3:16). Priscilla was involved with her husband in teaching Apollos the word of God more correctly in Acts 18. It isn’t that she can’t have authority. She may lead in many areas. But she can’t teach or lead in such a way as to be Over the man.

Certainly it is possible when a man is teaching a Bible class and the leader of the class for women to speak up, ask questions, answer questions and read the Bible. But she can’t take the lead of the class over the man. In the assembly she isn’t allowed to speak in the sense of preaching the word. The fact that Paul said of men they should pray everywhere and then immediately begins to talk about the woman and what she could do seems to me to indicate she wasn’t allowed to pray in settings where she would show authority over the man.

Question #263

Can a congregation have Deacons, but have no Elders? In our case, the Elders have stepped down due to personal reasons, but does that mean the Deacons must also step down even though they are still qualified Deacons? If you can have Deacons with no Elders, then would the Deacons be under the authority of the men of the congregation?

Leon’s Response

Yes a church can have deacons without elders. The first deacons described in the Bible is in Acts 6 when there were no elders. Deacons are over particular works or ministries in a congregation and they can continue to be over that aspect of the work. For example, a church still needs someone to direct the Bible School program even if there are no elders. A deacon could lead in that ministry and be effective without there being any elders. They would indeed be under the oversight of the congregation as a whole. The leadership may move to a men’s business meeting for a time. But if you keep the deacons and have them serving you will move much more quickly toward having men as elders again.

Question #264

I work with someone who is in a homosexual relationship. I love this person like a sister. She is avoiding me and has been short with me because she thinks I will judge her for her life style. What is the Christ-like way to handle this situation?

Leon’s Response

Jesus gave us the perfect example in such times. He was the friend of the tax collectors and sinners. He never compromised the truth to have the friendship. But He didn’t hammer them every time they turned around either. His life showed what a godly life ought to be. The right thing to do is treat your friend with respect and just be her friend. When she asked explain to her what the Bible teaches about homosexual relationships. Refer to Romans 1:18ff and I Corinthians 6:9-11. Notice in the I Corinthians passage that one can be washed, sanctified and justified after having been in a homosexual relationship. Explain that having those tendencies or desires isn’t sinful, but the fulfillment of the desires by having sexual relations is. She is in the very same place as the man or woman who wants someone of the opposite sex but isn’t married. They have no right to fulfill the desires. They must abstain from the sin.

Question #265

Could you please explain how we are to use the Holy Spirit in our lives today and any reading material recommended? Thank you.

Leon’s Response

The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Godhead. Too often people have thought of the Holy Spirit as an influence, an “It”. But the Bible consistently refers to the Holy Spirit as “He”. A good place to start reading about the work of the Holy Spirit is in John’s gospel account. IN chapters 14, 15, 16 there are numerous references to the work of the Holy Spirit today. He has come to abide with us forever and is now in us. He serves as our comforter or counselor. In Acts 2:38 Peter told the people on Pentecost that if they repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The point was they would receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. Romans 8 describes the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians. Compare that chapter with Galatians

5 and Ephesians 3:14-20 and you will find lots of material about the Spirit’s work.

As far as good books that have been written on the Holy Spirit, there are many. One of the best I think is “Lectures on the Holy Spirit” by Gus Nichols. He both preaches some great sermons on the Spirits work in our lives and answers questions that people ask on the subject. J.D. Bales wrote a book on The work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian that was very good. The book on the Holy Spirit by Chuck Swindoll is pretty good. I don’t agree with everything in it but it is a good study.

Question #266

I am currently studying a Beth Moore series . I have enjoyed and learned so much , my question is what do you think of her ministry and her dedication to the Lord?

Leon’s Response

I know very little of her ministry. I have read some of her books and found them to have some good in them. Personally I don’t buy the pre-millennial theory concerning the second coming and the end of the world that she teaches. Nor do I accept the Calvinistic teachings.

Like most books by men, including my own, they have good and bad in them. The only book that is completely dependable is the Bible itself.

Question #267

Could you please explain the Calvinistic teachings, I’ve not heard of these. Thanks for your answers.

Leon’s Response

John Calvin was a great religious leader during the 1700’s. He held five fundamental teachings, some of which most religious groups hold to. He believed that we are born totally depraved so that we cannot think a good thought or do a good deed until we are converted to Christ. He believed in the specific election and predestination of God toward individuals. The Bible teaches that God predestined how we should live as God’s children and the kind of people to be saved. He went further and thought God chose which ones would be saved and which would be lost and that there was no way we could change God’s plan. He believed that one had to have the direct operation of the Holy Spirit of God upon them for them to even understand God’s will, much less do it.

He believed that once a person is saved there is nothing they can do that could cause them to lose that salvation. There are very few religious people who are totally Calvinistic in that they hold all his teachings. My personal belief is that Calvin was wrong on all five points. I don’t believe babies are born in sin or inherit sin from Adam or anyone else. I believe God’s election and predestination are of where we will be saved and how the saved will live. I believe the Word of God is understandable by anyone who wants to study and understand it.

I believe that anyone can be saved who is willing to believe in Christ and follow His teaching. I believe that once a person is saved they can still turn from the right way and be lost. God made us as free moral agents who have the right to choose which way we will go and pleads with us to choose to follow Him.

Question #268

As a Christian, is it wrong to be cremated?

Leon’s Response

No, the Bible doesn’t give any teaching about what is to be done with the body after death. Different people in the Bible were treated in many different ways. What ever happens with the body it will be raised in the resurrection day, immortal and incorruptible. Read I Corinthians 15.

Question #269

Is it alright to ask God for something and expect to receive it? I realize he knows our needs before we ask but doesn’t he want us to ask?

Leon’s Response

Yes He does want us to ask. Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.” He also had James to write in James 4:1-4 and say to them “You have not because you ask not.” Now he does go ahead to say, “You ask and do not receive because you ask selfishly that you might consume it on your own lust.” In James 5:16-18 James said the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much and used the illustration of how Elijah prayed for it not to rain and it didn’t raid for 31/2 years. He prayed again for it to rain and the rain came.

If we ask and God doesn’t give what we ask, we should question if we have asked for something is in violation to His will or isn’t really in our best interest. Remember Paul prayed in 2 Corinthians 12:1-8 about his thorn in the flesh asking God to take it away. God said no, that His grace was sufficient and that His strength was made perfect in weakness. I need to always remember that God is still answering my prayer if His answer is, no or wait a while or He gives us something better instead. He answered Jesus when He prayed for Him to take the cup of crucifixion away, but His answer was no.

Remember John said, “If we ask anything according to His will He hears us.” So examine the request. Perhaps it is missing something or perhaps it is something God knows isn’t best for us.

Question #270

Brother Leon, could you please explain to me about how Satan works through us and on us. I know the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and helps us feel wrong and remorse for our sins, but does Satan work on our thoughts also and does he know our weakness? Does Satan know that his time is short to do his evil deeds? Are there others working under Satan’s command and how do they work? Do you feel that Satan can use another human on earth to lead you away in sin? I need to know how to fight this evil one and explain to others. thank-you

Leon’s Response

While the Bible describes Satan as a powerful spiritual being, it does not describe him as being all powerful or all knowing like God or able like God to be everywhere at one time. In all likelihood, Satan is a fallen angel that allowed his pride to lead to his fall. When Paul was writing to those considering becoming elders in the church he said not to put in one who is a new convert for fear that they would be lifted up with pride and fall after the same manner as the devil.

From John 8:44 we know that he is our enemy who has been a murderer and liar from the beginning. He is like a roaring lion who walks about seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). The great thing is that we can resist the devil and he will flee from us (I Peter 5:9; James 4:7-9). He does have a host of demons and angels who work with him. IN Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul challenged us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. He warned us to put on the whole armor of God that we might be able to stand against the wiles or tricks of the devil. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” The power of the demons was shown during the earthly ministry of Jesus when demons caused all kinds of sickness and diseases that Jesus healed by casting out the demons. Even when demons possessed a man to the degree that he was called legion for there were so many in him and they had driven him wild, Jesus was able to cast the demons out with a single word.

The greatest power of Satan is that of trickery. He is able to make his ways look good. Paul said he transformed himself into an angel of light. He gains control by making his way look so close to God’s way. When he is in control he leads to complete ruin of a person’s life. Today, Satan is ruining lives by the millions with things like drug and alcohol abuse and by sexual abuse. By the power of God and His Spirit we can overcome any temptation Satan offers. But we must not let the guard down or he will always be there to lead us in the wrong way. Look at how Satan tempted Jesus in Matthew 4. John tells us he always tries to lead us astray through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life (I John 2:15-17).

Does he use other people to lead us astray? Certainly. He even used Simon Peter to tempt Jesus in Matthew 16:20-26. Notice Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan for you are not minding the things of God but the things of men.” He uses anyone and anything he can to hurt or destroy us.

Question #271

I have been a member of the Church of Christ for about one year now and I have a question that has really gotten to me. The question is about roles in the church. Now I have heard that pastors are the same as bishops and they are not suppose to be the ones ministering to the church doing service. I just wanted to know where do I find that in the Bible?

Leon’s Response

The word pastor is the same as the word shepherd in the original text of the Bible and is found several times in the Bible. In Acts 20:28 Paul told the elders at Ephesus that they were to “Shepherd” or “Feed” the flock of God among them. That is the same word as Pastor. In Ephesians 4:11 Pastors are mentioned along side apostles, prophets, evangelist and teachers. In I Peter 5:1-5 Peter wrote to the elders of the church as a fellow elder and said they were to shepherd the flock or pastor the flock. It isn’t that a pastor can’t be the preacher. Peter was both an elder and a preacher. In I Timothy 5:17 we are told to give double honor to the elders that also labor in teaching or preaching. So one might be both an elder and a preacher.

But being a preacher doesn’t necessarily mean I’m an elder. To be a pastor or elder one must meet the qualifications listed in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. While Peter and John are both mentioned as elders, Paul and Timothy never are mentioned. Perhaps the reason is that to be an elder or pastor one had to be the husband of one wife and neither of them were married.

The work of a Pastor is to shepherd and care for the Christians to help them grow and be involved in the work. The primary work of the preacher is to preach the word of God to both those who are already saved and those who are in need of salvation.

Think about the church in Ephesus when Timothy was commanded to stay there as their preacher. He was told to ordain elders and deacons. His work didn’t involve being either but to set apart men who would do those jobs.

Question #272

Okay, I have a question – I want to know is it right for the Catholics to have a pope as the head of their church? Also I wanted to know was the apostle Peter the first Pope? If not where does this belief originate?

Leon’s Response

The Bible says nothing about a pope of any sort. The only head of the church in the Bible is Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23; Colossians 1:18). Peter was not the first pope. He was a married man.

Remember Jesus healed his mother in law. Also Paul mentions him as leading about a wife in I Corinthians 9:5. He certainly never took to himself such a place. Remember in Acts 10 when he went to the home of Cornelius to preach Christ to them, Cornelius fell at his feet to worship him and Peter told him to stand up that he was just a man like him. Also, read Galatians 2 especially the last half where Paul rebuked Peter to his face because he was playing the hypocrite. In the Bible every Christian is a priest (I Peter 2:5, 9). Every Christian is a saint (I Corinthians 1:2). There is no elevation of men because we are all just brethren in the Lord. Jesus even said not to call anyone master, rabbi or father on this earth since we just have one master or father and that is Jesus (Matthew 23:8-12).

As to where the doctrine comes from, it seems to have arisen as the Roman church tried to imitate the set up of the Roman Government of the day. The church you read about in the Bible was warned about falling away from the truth and heading in their own direction, (Acts 20:28-35; I Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-13). That falling away has happened and the Roman church is part of the result.

Our need is to go back to the Bible and just be Christians like they were then. Let Christ be the one and only Lord for us to follow (Ephesians 4:4-6; Acts 2:36).

Question #273

Brother Leon, as the present times get more and more evil, how are we to deal with what our children are watching on television? Seems that there is nothing to watch without some form of sin in it. Will we as parents be judged according to what our children and grandchildren watch and what can we do besides just no TV? Our world is so sad and lost. Need help!

Leon’s Response

It is a very sad situation. I do think the only thing you can to is very closely monitor what your children watch and make certain they aren’t allowed to watch just whatever comes on. If you search there are still some good shows on and many of the old ones are still being played in the right places.

It is also worth noting that when we quit watching the garbage that are put on and they begin to loose money because no one will watch there will be a major change in programming. If there is one thing the producers care more about than promoting their agenda it is making money. Too many of us cry about the problem but keep watching the junk while complaining. We need to simply let the stations and the producers know we have had enough and will not watch until they change.

It is amazing what it will do for a family to have nights that you simply refuse to turn the TV on. We make it a practice as a family to fast from TV at least one night a week and do not turn it on no matter what. Too many people spend entirely too much time in front of that tube. It would be wonderful if families got back to doing things together, reading books, playing games and just talking to each other without the television hindering.

Question #274

I live with a very greedy husband, he also is not a Christian. My concern is what to do to help him. He doesn’t think he is ever wrong and this carries over to his employees whom he treats in a belittling way. He doesn’t like to be told of any of his faults and tries to turn things around where it appears it’s your problem, not his. I am a Christian and have prayed for him and myself. Life can be very hard living with this kind of person, how can I help him?

Leon’s Response

You are in a very difficult situation and there are no quick and easy answers. The clearest teaching of the Bible on the subject is found in I Peter 3:1-9. He first addressed the wives of men who were not Christians. He said that they couldn’t be won by words that you were to win them by your life. He said your behavior should be such that it has a winning affect on the unbeliever. He then pointed out that the Christian wife must not let her beauty be just the fixing of the outward person such as arranging the hair, of wearing jewelry of fine clothing. But the ornaments that should be worn are a gentle and quiet spirit that are very precious in the sight of God. When Christian wives honor their husbands they follow the example of Sarah who obeyed Abraham calling him Lord. You are her daughters if you do well and do not allow yourself to be terrorized.

He went on to tell husbands how to live with their wives. They are to dwell with the wife according to understanding, giving honor to the wife as the weaker vessels and as being heirs together of the grace of life so your prayers aren’t hindered.

He then turned to both and said love should prevail and we aren’t to answer each other with unkindness, but in a very kind and considerate way. The desire is for unity in the family.

Let me suggest that you try to relax and just show him a better way by the way you live, by being caring, considerate and helpful. It will come nearer turning him around than anything else. I would spend time in prayer for him every day that he will change and that God will open his eyes to what is going on. It is good to occasionally invite him to go to church with you, but don’t get upset with him if he doesn’t go. That just gives him another excuse not to go.

Question #275

Brother Leon, I am a Christian and believe in the great power of prayer. I realize sometimes we are answered and sometimes not. I get confused sometimes by things I read and sermons I hear about what to ask about and for. Is it wrong to ask for specific things and healing? I know God knows before we ask and our motives but how am I to pray and what extend or limit? I just don’t want to miss such a great and wonderful opportunity to allow are our lost to see our relationship with our Father and his love towards his children. This may be confusing but is something I an understanding of.

Leon’s Response

You are right that prayer is a wonderful blessing and that God does things in response to prayer that would not be done otherwise. James said the effective fervent prayer of a righteous men avails much (James 5:16). With regard to prayer for health remember that John prayed for Gaius to prosper and be in health even as his soul prospered (3rd John). In James 5:13-16 we are told that if any is sick they should call for the elders of the church and they will anoint him with oil and pray for him and the prayer of faith will heal the sick. So it is right to prayer for illnesses to be taken away.

It is also important to remember that God may answer with “No” as He did in I Corinthians 12 when Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. He prayed believing in God and His power, but God said “No”. He said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” so Paul said he now gloried in his weakness, knowing that when he was weak he was strong. The thing to remember is God knows us and our situation much better than we know ourselves. As a result He may look down the line to see that we would be better off with the sickness than to be well. Our sickness may even open doors for us to serve God in a better way. We must remember that God’s primary concern isn’t about our health but about the salvation of the world.

Also remember that all healing is divine. Sometimes God heals directly and sometimes He heals through means and methods such as a doctor and medicine. But it is still God that does the healing.

Question #276

I am unsure how to use (not sure if that’s the right word) the Holy Spirit in my life. I understand it’s a part of the Godhead and presides with us as Christians but do we pray to the Spirit for help and answers or directly to Christ. I just don’t want to waste one thing in service to the Lord or miss the power that God provides to us. Thank you.

Leon’s Response

I appreciate your interest in having all of God’s blessings in your life. Generally the Bible teaches that our prayers are addressed to the Father in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17). The Holy Spirit helps us in our prayers and intercedes for us (Romans 8:26,27). He helps us with all our weaknesses. He is there to strengthen us (Ephesians 3:14-20). He guides and witnesses to us (Romans 8:14-16). But there is no mention in the Bible of praying to the Spirit. Remember He is a divine personality and is never referred to an an IT in the Bible but always as HE. The King James translation mistaken translated a couple of passages as IT but even it most all of the time uses HE.

Question #277

What is the meaning of Proverbs 21:17?

Leon’s Response

Proverbs 21:17 says, “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”

Remember the book of Proverbs is a book of wise sayings. It gives us general principles that are most normally the case. With most proverbs there are exceptions. But as a general rule it will be the case that loving pleasure leads to poverty and loving wine and oil will cause one not to be rich. Both the pleasure and the drinking tend to be selfish acts that only deal with having a good time right now. When one thinks of the future and the influence they have on others that isn’t the right way to live. Throughout the Book of Proverbs he has challenged us to seek wisdom and to come to know God mainly.

Question #278

Brother Leon, would you please explain 1 John 2:15-17 . I guess I am confused somewhat, the Lord made so many beautiful things for us to love and enjoy while we live on this earth, are we not to find love and pleasure in them? I just don’t know where to draw the line and live accordingly to God’s word. Please help me.

Leon’s Response

The word translated world is used in several different ways in the Bible. For example, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son for it’s salvation (John 3:16). But in the text in I John the world applies to the world reigned over by the devil. It is that world that involves itself in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. When it comes to the world as used in this way, it passes away with all its lust. To love the world involves allowing the world to set our standards for us, letting them decide for us what is right and wrong. Paul warned us not to be conformed to the world with its lust in Romans 12:2.

This has nothing to do with the love and appreciation for nature. But we aren’t to live by our passions and lust, but about what God teaches us in His holy word. This is done by renewing our minds and realizing we are part of the body of Christ. Our primary citizenship is in heaven not on this earth (Philippians 3:20). Down here we are to be strangers and pilgrims. Our ultimate home and challenge is above us.

This is the sense in which this passage is to be taken.

Question #279

How do you explain to someone that still worships on the Sabbath? Please give me scriptures.

Leon’s Response

That Sabbath law was a covenant between God and the children of Israel throughout their generations (Exodus 31:12-18). When Jesus went to the cross He put to death the Old Law with all it’s requirements on men.

The result is we are dead to the law, by the body of Christ that we might be married to another, Jesus Christ (Romans 7:4). We are delivered from the law and he even tells us it is the law that contained the command “Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:5-7). According to 2 Corinthians 3:6-18 the covenant that was written and engraved on stones was a ministry of death and we are no longer under that covenant, thus no longer under the Sabbath law. In Colossians 2:16 we are specifically told not to be judged in respect of the Sabbath day. The church gathered on the first day of the week on Pentecost, which always fell on the first day of the week, in Acts 20:7; and in I Corinthians 16:1,2.

That should be our standard for today.

Question #280

Brother Leon, My concern is with my giving. I would give a lot more but my husband is not a Christian and I’m not sure he would allow it. Will this be held against me at judgment? How should I approach this?

Leon’s Response

Since you are required to be submissive to your non-Christian husband (I Peter 3:1-4), you are limited in what you can do. The best thing I can think of would be to talk with him and explain your desire to give as you should and see what he would be willing for you to do. Then do the best you can.

As you have opportunity grow in your giving, do so, but your giving shouldn’t become a bone of contention with your husband.

Question #281

I think I understand Galatians 6:7-10, but would you please explain so I can be sure?

Leon’s Response

The first part of the passage goes back to the principle laid down in Genesis one that we reap according to what we sow. If we sow to the flesh we reap corruption. If we sow according to the Spirit we reap life eternal. In this context sowing to the flesh involves doing those things that are called the works of the flesh back in chapter 5:19-21.

To sow to the Spirit is to do what is called the fruit of the Spirit in verses 22,23 of chapter 5. The last two verses contain the plea not to become discouraged in our sowing to the Spirit but to do good to all men, especially the household of faith.

Question #282

Would you please explain 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. I know certain groups use this (to say that) it is wrong for a woman to cut her hair.  And what about men having long hair?

Leon’s Response

This passage was dealing with special problems going on in the church at Corinth. It was a city given to idolatry and immorality.

There was a temple there to the goddess of sex and the priestesses were prostitutes who performed sexual acts as a part of the worship. These women were identified by their short cropped hair. This passage isn’t forbidding women to ever cut their hair or to always wear a covering. It was in a particular situation that existed in that day in Corinth.

Today it doesn’t show honor to your husband to never cut your hair or to wear a covering all the time. Nor is it normally wrong for men to wear their hair long. After all, many of the Bible characters such as Samson and John the Baptist had long hair. It is a principle that we ought to avoid things that would destroy our influence as Christians. Since the immoral women who followed the idol worship were dressing and acting in a certain way, Christian women should avoid that kind of behavior.

Notice even with them it had to do with when they prayed or prophesied as Christian women, not all the time.

Question #283

Is it wrong to pray for God’s help with directing you towards a goal that would help make you and others not struggle so hard or do we just pray for him to care for us? Just want to do the right thing.

Leon’s Response

It is right to go to God in prayer about anything that concerns you. We are told to ask for our daily bread by Jesus. James said to ask for wisdom. John prayed for Gaius to prosper and be in health as his soul prospered. You need to remember that God does want you to ask. He also wants you to understand that sometimes His answer is “No” because He can see further and knows better what the future holds. If He sees that answering your prayers wouldn’t be good for you in the long run the answer will be no. Remember Paul praying in 2 Corinthians 12. He had a thorn in the flesh that he wanted God to remove. Certainly he thought he could give better service to God without the sickness than with it. But God knew better. He said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” He offered him more grace to handle the problem rather than taking it away and Paul responds by saying that he now rejoices in his weaknesses, knowing when he is weak, he is strong.

Pray about it. Trust God to answer according to what is really best for you and your friends over the long haul.

Question #284

I was just wondering if the United Church of Christ is in association with the Church of Christ? If not, what is the difference?

Leon’s Response

No there is no relationship between the United church of Christ which is a very liberal group made up of several liberal denominations that merged to form the United church of Christ. The churches of Christ do not have any central organization and are typically very conservative with regard to the authority of the Scriptures and standing firm on what the Bible says.

We sincerely regret any association that might be made between the two since we abhor the unbiblical stands that the United church of Christ have made.

Question #285

What is a good way to explain to someone that the “keys” given to Peter in Matthew 16:19 refers to Peter preaching the first gospel sermon over in Acts and the Lord’s church being established at that point?

Leon’s Response

In the verses just before this Peter had answered the Lord’s question of who do men say that I am?” and then, “Who do you say that I am?” His answer to the second question was “You are the Christ the son of the Living God”. Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal this unto you but my father who is in heaven and upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it and I will give to you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Notice what was being built, the church of the Lord. He gave to Peter the keys or means of entry into what was being built which is the church. Those keys involved what Peter would bind and loose on this earth that would also be bound and loosed in heaven. His first use of the keys happened in Acts 2 when he preached the first full gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Peter told them how they had crucified and slain the Son of God but that God had raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand. When the people realized what they had down they were cut to the heart and cried out men and brethren what shall we do? Peter answered, “Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is to you, your children and to those who are afar off as many as the Lord our Go d shall call.” He thus used the keys of the kingdom to tell them what they had to do to be saved and added to the church that was established that day.

Later in Acts 10 Peter would use those keys again when he would open the door for the Gentiles to enter the church. He preached to them about Christ and God sent the baptism of the Holy Spirit on them to show that He was accepting Gentiles just as He had accepted Jews into the church. Peter turned to the Jewish Christians with him and said, “Can anyone forbid water that these should be baptized as well as we?” They through faith obeyed the Lord and were added to His church.

The keys would involve all that was bound by the apostles beginning with Peter in order to get into the church and live for God in the church. It would also involve leaving everything loose that the apostles left loose so that nothing is bound on the church other than what was bound by the apostles.

Question #286

Was Jesus God? How? Explain? What is the purpose of the choir in church? What is the purpose of the members of the church? Who is the head of the church? Why? What did the resurrection of Jesus prove?

Leon’s Response

First, Jesus is God. In John 1:1 it says, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” IN verse 14 He said, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” In Colossians 2:9 it says that in Christ dwelt all the fullness of the godhead bodily. There are three persons in the Bible that are called God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each of them possess the same divine nature but are three separate personalities. In John 17:20-21 Jesus prayed for the disciples to all be one “Even as he and the father are one, that they may be one in us that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus has always been God. He became a man when he was born of the virgin Mary who was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit coming upon her.

As to the purpose of a choir in church, I’m not sure since the Bible makes no mention of having choirs. It just mentions the church singing praises to God and to one another (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

The purpose of members of the church is manifold. We are members of the body of Christ and there for function as His body to fulfill His proposes and work. We are to represent Christ in the world by teaching others about Him, helping the needy and encouraging each other in living for Him. Our purpose is to fulfill the commission He gave us in Matthew 28:18-20.

The head of the church is Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23; Colossians 1:18).

What did the resurrection of Jesus prove? It proved that He was the Son of God according to Romans 1:4. It showed that he had power over death and the devil. He can therefore conquer death in our lives by raising us from the dead in the future.

Question #287

Brother Leon, may I begin by stating how much I have enjoyed reading the Q & A section! I have a couple of questions for you. First, I have been a Christian for almost 17 years and was raised in a “conservative” church (no fellowship hall, no donating treasury money to orphanages, etc.). I have recently attended a “liberal” church in my area that has a fellowship hall and donates money to orphanages. I love this congregation and would like to place membership there, however, I am struggling with the idea of attending a church with these practices. I have read I Cor. 11:17-34 numerous times trying to interpret the scriptures correctly. Could you please explain how fellowship halls are justified in spite of this passage. Also, could you please provide scriptures concerning the appropriateness of using treasury money to fund a fellowship hall and donate to orphanages.

Second, I have a question regarding public confessions. I understand that in James 5:16, we are commanded to confess our sins one to another, however, it doesn’t mention public confessions. I was taught that if a Christian committed a public sin, he/she was to come before the church and ask for forgiveness. I have yet to find a verse in the Bible that describes the difference between a public sin and private sin. I was told there was a verse in the Bible stating that if one brought reproach upon the church, he/she was commanded to ask the church’s forgiveness. However, I have not been able to find that verse even after looking through my concordance for the word “reproach.” Could you please provide some scriptures/insight into this? Thanks!

Leon’s Response

Let me start with the second one and then to the first. There is no Scriptural basis for the idea that sins which brought reproach on the church had to be confessed publicly before the church. The only passages that mention confession of sins to other people are James 5:16 to one another and Acts 8 when Simon the sorcerer fell away. Peter told him to repent and pray God if perhaps the thought of his heart might be forgiven him. He responded by asking Peter to pray for him. We don’t know whether Peter did or not. The idea that the confession should be as wide as the sin is simply human reasoning and there is no Bible basis for it.

With regard to the fellowship hall first remember the situation when Paul wrote I Corinthians 11. The churches at that time were meeting in homes (Acts 16:19). You must read this passage with that in mind. We tend to read it through modern eyes and think of them meeting in church buildings like ours. Church buildings didn’t come along for nearly 300 years. What then did he have in mind when he said “Don’t you have houses to eat and drink it?” They had corrupted the worship time by mixing the Lord’s Supper with the love feast they were having, which would have been similar to modern potlucks. Some of the wealthier members were getting there earlier and eating and drinking before the poorer members could even arrive. When he said, “Do you not have houses to eat and drink it?” he was getting on to them for turning their worship into a place to eat too much and drink too much. He wasn’t telling them it was wrong to eat or drink in any building. For them that would have meant they couldn’t eat or drink in their own home. But they couldn’t mix the eating and drinking with their worship or taking of the Lord’s Supper.

With regard to the treasury and money from it, keep in mind that even the church treasury is of modern times not of their time. In I Corinthians 16:1,2 when they were laying by in store it was for the specific purpose of saving the money for a contribution to the poor saints in Jerusalem. If you take this passage, as some have to try to prove that the money from the treasury could only be used for saints, then you must take it all. It can only be used for poor saints and those are in Jerusalem. We couldn’t take money from the treasury to build any kind of building or pay the preacher for that matter if that reasoning were correct.

The church has the right to spend money on anything it has a right to do to begin with. The church is to continue in “the apostles teaching, in fellowship, in breaking break and in prayer” (Acts 2:42). It would be right to build buildings to carry on any of those works. Most of the time such fellowship halls are used for many things, such as teaching the Bible to others. I’ve never known a church simply to take money out to build any building for just potlucks. They are looking for ways of reaching more people for God and such buildings often give you that opportunity.

Remember the church is to do good to all men, especially the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). Pure and undefiled religion is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27). The idea of visit is to meet the needs of the widows and orphans. God didn’t specify a way to meet their needs. He just told us to do it. Read 2 Corinthians 9:13 about that contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem. When it was given out it was given to the saints and all men. The saints were the ones the gifts were taken for. But they helped all who were in need.

One other thought in this regard. Jesus is our pattern in everything.

He is the head of the church which is His body (Ephesians 1:22,23). As His body we are to do the work Christ started. Think about Jesus and who he helped. It wasn’t just saints. It was people in need. Even when a gentile woman came to him because her child was sick he healed her. How can we turn anyone away when Jesus is the standard we are to follow.

Question #288

Explain in your own words,2 Peter 3:18, explain in your own words, what does it mean to be more like Christ? When should a servant disobey authority? Why did they tie a rope around the priest ankle before he went in to the holiest of holy in the tabernacle? The father, the son and the holy spirit is called the G—,G—,F—-. Is the pastor the head of the church? Did Jesus go to hell or hades to pay for his sin debt? Did Jesus washed his disciples feet, because he wanted to teach them about cleanliness? Will the sheep be on God’s left hand and the goats on his right hand? Define agape-the God kind of love which means what?

Leon’s Response

I will try to answer as much of your question as I understand.

First, 2 Peter 3:18 is a challenge to us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. The point is that we are to grow more like Jesus as we grow to know Him and about Him better. To be more like Christ is to take on His attitudes toward the lost, toward other people and His commitment to God. Peter said He left us an example that we should follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21). He taught us how to handle suffering in our lives without being overcome by it and we are to follow that example. In every part of life if we can be more like Him it will make us better people. According to Ephesians 4:32 we must forgive like Him.

When should a servant disobey authority? When the authority violates God’s will. Peter refused to obey the civil authorities when their laws violated Christ laws. He declared, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Why did they tie a rope around the High Priest leg when he was in the Most Holy Place? Because only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place once a year. If he died or became seriously ill while in there no one could go in after him so the rope was so they could pull in out under such conditions.

I don’t know what the next point is.

Is the pastor the head of the church? NO! Christ is the only head of His church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23).

Did Jesus go to hell or hades to pardon our sins? There is nothing to indicate Jesus went to hell. He told the thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise”. When Peter quoted the Psalm in Acts 2 that God would not leave his soul in hades or allow his holy one to see corruption, the word is hades in the original text. It means God would not leave him in the unseen realm of the dead. The word hades doesn’t refer to a place but the state of the dead.

When Jesus washed the disciples feet was it to show cleanliness? NO! He was showing them humility. He told them he had left them an example that they should wash one another’s feet. He was demonstrated his love for them by serving them. Their feet were dirty and needed washing so he took the place of the lowest servant and washed their feet. He was teaching us to be willing to serve no matter how low or dirty the task.

Who will be on the right and left in judgment? Matthew 25:31-46 says the sheep will be on the right and the goats on the left. Each represented people who either were doing what God wanted or were not.

Agape is unconditional love as described in I Corinthians 13:4-8. It is the love God has for us and wants us to have toward each other. It is active love, not just a feeling. It does the loving thing toward others no matter what it feels like or whether or not the other person deserves it.

Question #289

What does it mean when God said we should seek his face?

Leon’s Response

This is just a figure of speech in which He is teaching us to draw close to Him and have an intimate relationship with Him. Since God is Spirit He doesn’t literally have a face. But He puts Himself into a human picture to help us get a better picture of His command.

Question #290

In the 12th, 13th and 14th chapters of I Corinthians the Bible speaks of the different spiritual gifts. Do you think that those in the church that believe are still (capable of these gifts) today or was that just for a certain time for how long they were to last? I find that those in the church that believe they are still around – those that feel that they have the spirit of prophecies always have a feeling or know what everyone else’s gift is. From what I read I get the impression that those gifts were just for that time. In Ephesians 4:11-13 the word “until” appears and that would seem to mean there would be a time of termination. I would think that we are to be prophets because of Matthew 28:19. In Matthew 25:35-46 seems like covers all the gifts to a degree.

Leon’s Response

Spiritual gifts are talked about several different times in the New Testament. In Romans 12:1-9; I Corinthians 12, 13, and 14; Ephesians 4:11-16; and I Peter 4: 8-12 especially. In each of these passages there seems to be a mixture of things that are miraculous and things that are just gifts that we have. For example in Ephesians there were apostles and prophets but there were also evangelist, pastors and teachers. While apostles and prophets are miraculous works, the others aren’t. It seems to me that it is about the miraculous that Paul is talking in I Corinthians 13:8-13 when he said that tongues, knowledge and prophesies were going to cease, fail and pass away when that which is perfect came. He explains in the text what the perfect is when he said that now we know in part and prophesy in part but when that which is perfect has come that which is in part shall be done away. What was in part then was the knowledge of God’s will. It was given in part to different ones of the inspired teachers. But there would come a time when the fullness of God’s revelation would be given and then the part would be done away. So, I believe when the fullness of God’s revelation came the miraculous elements ceased.

Question #291

A central topic of discussion around those I consider friends is the
requirements in order to obtain salvation. By salvation, I mean
eternally saved.

Could you please point-out scriptures that discuss the requirements of
salvation? Additionally, if you could speak of scripture which answers
the question if salvation can be lost, it would be appreciated.

I have read Hebrews 6:4-6 many times; however, I’m not too for sure I have a good understanding of its meaning.

Leon’s Response

There are many Scriptures that deal with salvation. Mark 16:15,16; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46,47; Acts 2:36-39; Acts 8:26-35; Romans 6:1-5; Galatians 3:26,27. I think these will help.

As to the subject of whether or not one can lose their salvation, read John 15:1-8; John 8:31-32; 2 Peter 2:20-22; James 5:19, 20; Galatians 6:1; 5:4.

Hebrews 6:4-6 is a warning that one who does not grow and go on to maturity as taught in verses 1-3 is in danger of falling away and if they aren’t careful they can fall so far away that they can’t be renewed to repentance. The impossibility of this text isn’t with God forgiving the person, but with them coming to repentance so they can be forgiven.

Question #292

My name is Solomon, and I am pastor in guntur state ap in india about last 10 years. I got so many answers in the bible. but I having one critical doubt about AFTER DEATH and SOUL. I study this subject but exact answer not come.

In Luke 16:19-31 Lazarus and rich man story , they both are died and Lazarus is in paradise and rich man is in hades. They both see with each other and Lazarus feeling comfort at Abraham’s bosom and rich man feel very tormented in hades.

Bible says so many times dead is asleep with out dreams. It is unconscious until second coming of Jesus. Also Ecclesiastes 9:5,6 tells They do not remember Earth relations and anything.

But Lazarus and Rich man both are fully conscious and finding each other. Also rich man asks save his brothers. All things are remember him. Also rich man feels thirsty and ask for water. With out body how is physical feeling?

Lazarus is taken with angels to paradise but Who are taken rich man to hades? Why here silent about him? Who are taken him?

In Thess 5:23 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Here scripture says that spirit, soul, body are distinct each other.

In Ecclesiastes 12:7 says body return to dust and spirit will return to God who gave it. What about SOUL? Why here silent this word. Where it can return or goes? Here also silent the word righteous and unrighteous (sinners).

Above Lazarus and rich man story they both died at a very time they still exists in paradise and hades. That is their soul or spirit.

(or)

Their SOUL is in paradise and hades and their SPIRIT is return to God at a very time after death.

Leon’s Response

The words soul and spirit are most of the time used interchangeably in the Bible, to refer to the inward man. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Paul said the outward man is perishing but the inward man is being renewed day by day. Paul goes on in chapter 5 to talk about when we depart from this body that we go to heaven to be with the Lord. We are now given the Holy Spirit as a deposit on what we will receive then. While we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, but when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord.

In Luke 16 in the story of the rich man and Lazarus both of them died and their inward man, soul or spirit, went on to their eternal reward. The rich man lifted up his eyes in torment. Lazarus was carried to Abraham’s bosom which just means that Abraham was there to greet and comfort him in heaven. The word “Hades” just means the unseen realm of the dead and has no distinction as to whether it is the body in the grave, the soul in torment or the saved one in heaven. Jesus told the thief he would be with him that day in paradise, but in Acts 2 Peter said Jesus’ soul was not left in hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

There isn’t any place which says the soul sleeps between death and the resurrection. The body sleeps in the grave until the resurrection (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). But the soul or spirit never is unconscious. In Revelation 6 the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus were under the altar crying out “How long O Lord, tender and true, do you not avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” God answered them to wait a little while. They knew who they were, how they had died and that those who killed them hadn’t been punished yet. In Ecclesiastes 9 when it talks about the dead not knowing anything it is “Under the Sun”. That is they don’t know anything about what continues to happen on the earth after they have died.

The one text which makes a distinction between body, soul and spirit is the one you mentioned in I Thessalonians 5:23. When such a distinction is made the soul refers to the life of the person and the spirit to the thinking, reasoning person. But whatever you call it, there is an inward man that lives beyond the grave and if one has lived right goes on to be with God when death comes. If they have lived wrong when they die, they will lift up their eyes in torment forever more.

Question #293

In First Timothy 5-12: “Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.”  What was their first faith?

Leon’s Response

The New Living Translation makes this clearer by translating it, “Then they would be guilty of breaking their previous pledge.”

So their first faith is the faith they had at the beginning of their Christian life. They broke that commitment by losing interest and backsliding in their service to God.

Question #294

Will your church on Dec. 25 have any type of different service than norm?  If so, how come, and if not, explain.

Leon’s Response

We will have a regular service on December 25th.

Due to so many families being away and not having the teachers to fill all the classes we will have a little different class time. But our worship is pretty much the same every week.

I will preach on the birth of Christ that day simply because there will be visitors there who come only rarely and need to learn about Jesus. I’ll take the opportunity to tell of His birth and life and death for us. The Bible says nothing about Christmas or the celebration of the birth of Christ so we will not have any special Christmas service. But we will praise and worship God. I won’t use the time to criticize people for observing the day. I will rejoice that they are thinking about Christ at any time and hope that something might be said or done to lead them to the Lord and a new life in Him.

Question #295

1st time question for me. My church has a lot of members who believe in things that have been handed down over the last 100 years or so, but they do not have any (I mean none!) Bible references whatsoever. Like ‘clapping is wrong in service’ and ‘no steeple’ and the ‘sign church of Christ cannot be physically touching the building’ and my favorite ‘the annex building has to be separate from the church building’. It is driving me crazy. I know people have these little things they believe in, (so do I), but I’m afraid it is now turning into legalism. I love my little church here in the backwoods of Arkansas and do not want to leave, so I need some advice on how I can preach a message against this without having half the church in an uproar.

Leon’s Response

You describe a common and challenging problem. I think I would have a study of Romans 14 and talk about how that it is all right to have opinions on different matters that the Bible doesn’t deal with in any clear way. But it is not right for us to bind our conscience on anyone other than ourselves. We are obligated to observe our conscience. But it would be wrong for the church to allow any of our personal views to become the standard for the church. Since Christ is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18) He is the only one who can give instruction and laws about what the church should be. Since the church is His body He is the standard that we are to follow. Think of how He refused to be bound by the opinions that religious leaders tried to bind on Him with regard to washing their hands, observing the Sabbath and fasting. He even said that making those traditions the standard made worship useless (Matthew 15:9). I would move softly and slowly to help people learn and apply the truth on such areas and to encourage them to not make laws where the Lord hasn’t made any. Think of I Timothy 4:1-5.

The Spirit clearly said that some were going to depart from the faith and follow the devil. They would forbid to marry and command to abstain from meat. There is nothing wrong with anyone not marrying or not eating meat. But when they made a law in that area God said they had departed from the faith. It is never innocent to make laws for God.

Jesus said what the apostles bound was to be bound and what they loosed was to be left loose (Matthew 16:18, 19). It is just as wrong to make a law where God hasn’t made one as to loose one He has made. Our job is to stay in the road.

Question #296

What is your church stand on homosexuality?

Leon’s Response

Our only standard on anything is what the Bible says. In Leviticus 20:13 in a contest concerning sexual sins of all kinds God said, “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood is upon them.”

In the New Testament Paul talked about Homosexual acts in Romans 1:26, 27 where he said God gave them up to vile passions and described both men and women in homosexual acts. In I Corinthians 6:9-11 he listed several sins among which were homosexuals and sodomites and said that those who did such would not inherit the kingdom of God. Then he said “Such were some of you. But you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God.”

Homosexual behavior is sinful, like many other sexual sins. The Bible doesn’t ever talk about people being homosexual. It only speaks of the behavior. It is a sin that can be forgiven like any other sin.

Question #297

Is it okay for the church to have a gymnasium on its property? If it’s okay for the church to have a fellowship hall, then why not a gymnasium?

Leon’s Response

The church, as the Bible describes it, is people. Paul persecuted the church by taking both men and women and throwing them into prison. Church buildings and property of all kinds came into being almost 300 years after the close of the New Testament. It is a matter of expediency rather than command that allows a church to have property at all.

We are commanded to assemble in Hebrews 10:25. Nothing is mentioned about where we meet. But that has been used always as justification for church buildings. By the same token it would seem that any building that was used to fulfill the work of the church would be right for the church to do. If they can use a gymnasium as a means of building families and reaching out to children or adults to have a means of teaching them the gospel it would be right. I would think that anything built just for the enjoyment of the members would be out of place. The nature of the church is to be interested in others.

Question #298

A friend of mine wrote to me the other day and she said:

“I get very turned off by hypocrites in the church. I tried at this church. I like all the people individually. But then there was so much behind the back talking. And one family, a very respected family, she teaches Bible school, they drive the caddy and have the fancy clothes, and her husband sends me tons of off color e-mails. I am so disgusted. I delete most of them unless it is regarding the church. Then they will ask me if I got their e-mail. What can I say?”

What advice would you give her?

Leon’s Response

In the case of the family and the e-mails, I would encourage her to e-mail back that I find this offensive and inconsistent with Christian values. This harmonizes with what Jesus said to do when someone sins in Matthew 18:15-17. It might wake them up to what they are doing and result in a change of life. It isn’t best to just keep running from one church to another trying to find one that doesn’t have any hypocrites in it. It may be the case that the person isn’t a hypocrite at all but someone who is weak and needs help. But just deleting the message doesn’t deal with the problem. It can’t get better until someone is courageous enough to confront the person about it. Most of the time if the confrontation is done with kindness and gentleness the person is changed and everyone is better off.

Read Galatians 6:1, 2.

Question #299

A friend of mine husband passed away about four years ago. She said that she always worry and is afraid that when she gets to heaven she will not recognize her husband. My friend is almost 80 years old. I told her how the rich man had seen Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. Do you have any other reassurance that you could give her?

Leon’s Response

It is good to remember that when we go to heaven, we still have our mind. Remember in 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 when Paul talked about the man caught up into the third heaven, into paradise and heard unspeakable words unlawful for a man to utter. It is likely it was Paul himself that was being talked about and he couldn’t tell if it was in the body or not. That would be the nature of going to heaven. In Revelation 6 when the people had gone to heaven who had been murdered for the cause of Christ, they cried out, “How long, O Lord, Holy and True, do you not avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Notice, they knew who they were and knew that God hadn’t yet taken vengeance on the people who killed them. When Moses and Elijah came back from heaven to meet with Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration, they were still Moses and Elijah and they talked with Jesus about His coming death. (Matthew 17:1-5). I hope this helps.

Question #300

In James 5:13-15 it speaks of healing prayer, why do we not use this today? Is it our faith is weak or we doubt? I don’t understand.

Leon’s Response

In James 5 God had him to tell us what to do in different circumstances. If we are happy we are to sing. If we are suffering we are to pray. Then he becomes more specific and says, “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” First of all, we do still practice this verse. It isn’t uncommon for people who are sick to call for our elders who will anoint them with oil and pray for their recovery. Sometimes they are healed. Sometimes they aren’t.

If one took this passage all alone you would have the impression that every time we anoint someone and pray for their healing they would be healed. But there are other teachings that need to be brought into the equation. Paul, the apostle had a thorn in the flesh that he prayed diligently to have removed and God told him, no, that His strength was made perfect in weakness. Paul’s companion, Timothy had on-going problems with his stomach and Paul told him to take a little wine for his stomach and for his frequent ailments (I Timothy 5:22, 23). When the church at Philippi sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul in prison he became ill and almost died, and Paul sent him back home to them. (Philippians 2:25-30) In 2 Timothy 4:20 Paul said that he left Trophimus in Miletus sick. Paul and Timothy had miraculous powers, yet could not heal themselves or those who worked with them.

God still heals. He heals in response to prayer and sometimes in response to one taking the right medicine. But He doesn’t heal everyone. If He did, no one would die. Our place is always to pray and trust God with the answer.

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