Q & A 1-100

Question #1

“Churches of Christ generally teach that salvation occurs at the point of baptism and not a moment before. Why is it that, in the abortion debate, most in the Church of Christ would proclaim that life begins at conception, not birth, but when it comes to salvation, life doesn’t begin at conception (faith/belief) but rather at birth (baptism)? This seems inconsistent.”

Leon’s Response

First, I’m not certain what the “Church of Christ generally teaches”, since the churches of Christ are non-denominational and do not have a creed or set group of doctrines, there is seldom a uniformity of belief on anything. But I’ll gladly answer the question from the standpoint of my own understanding of the matter.

“When” life begins with regard to a child is not ever stated out right in the Bible. It does seem from many Scriptures as well as life itself that conception would be the point of beginning of life. Whether the soul enters the body at that point or at birth is a much more difficult question. But I will grant that life begins at conception when the sperm fertilizes the egg.

Concerning spiritual life or salvation, certainly the spiritual sperm for salvation begins at the point of faith. In James 1:21 we are challenged to “Receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save our souls.” In I Peter 1:22,23 God told us, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.” Both these text indicate life and even new birth begins with the receiving of the word of God. There is clear teaching in the New Testament that baptism is an act of one’s faith and the point at which one

gets into Christ and has their sins washed away. When people in Acts two came to believe the preaching of Peter about Christ and cried out “What shall we do?” Peter responded, “Repent, and let every one 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.” Ananias told Saul, “Now why do you wait? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins

calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16).

In Galatians 3:26,27 Paul writes, “For you are all the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The inception of life begins at the point one receives the implanted word. New birth takes place at the time one is born again of the water and the Spirit (John 3:1-8). This is the point at which one becomes a new creation and rises from baptism to walk in newness of life, (Romans 6:1-5). Life begins at conception. But if there is no birth the goal of life is never reached and the fullness of life is never found. At the point of birth is when the rejoicing begins and the child is named. Their person-hood is fulfilled in birth.

The real question isn’t where life begins, but will one ever come to life in Christ who refuses to allow their faith to come to reality in being baptized into Christ?

Question #2

“What is your position on tonight’s execution of three Arkansas death row inmates? (Referring to January 15, 1997 execution) What do you think Christ tells us on the subject of capital punishment? What are Christians to believe on this subject?

Leon’s Response

I appreciate very much the question about Capital punishment. Capital punishment originated with God in Genesis 9:6 when He said, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” Under the Old Testament law, even though God had said, “Do not commit murder” in the Ten commandments, He gave the right to a brother to take the life of one who murdered their brother if they could catch them before they reached one of the cities of refuge. On several occasions He commanded Israel to take the lives of those who were in sin and many times God actually struck them dead Himself. But what about the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. Jesus did say for us to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us and do good to those who despite-fully use us. He was truly the Prince of Peace. But He had Paul to write Christians in the book of Romans to not avenge themselves but rather give place to wrath for God has said, “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay says the Lord.” (Romans 12:18-21). Then he picks up in Romans 13 to tell them how God would repay. “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear for authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for IT DOES NOT BEAR THE SWORD FOR NOTHING; FOR IT IS A MINISTER OF GOD, AN AVENGER WHO BRINGS WRATH UPON THE ONE WHO PRACTICES EVIL.” (Romans 13:1-4)

Under the New Testament, church and state are separated. Under the old, the nation of Israel was a Theocracy. They were both church and state. Thus God had them as a government to fight wars against evil nations and carry out capital punishment against evil doers. In the New Testament, since church and state are separate, God has given the right to the state or government to punish evil doers and fight wars to protect it’s people or punish evil nations. Churches do not have such right. They are spiritual entities which should give themselves to trying to save human beings from the death of hell and getting them to heaven as long as there is life.

We are not to take personal vengeance. We are to allow God to do so through His ministers in civil government.

Question #3

I was wondering if you could comment on what appears to be a contradiction between two passages of scriptures:

Numbers 12:7-8 (God is speaking to Aaron and Miriam)

Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?

John 1:18

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The apparent contradiction is between the words “No one has seen God at any time” in John and God saying he speaks to Moses “face to face” and that Moses “sees the form of the Lord” in Numbers.

Leon’s Response

Concerning the apparent contradiction between Numbers 12:7,8 which declare that Moses spoke with the face to face and saw His form and John 1:18 which declares “No one has seen God at any time”, the answer is in John 4:23,24. There Jesus says of God, “God is Spirit”. Many times in the Old Testament God takes on some form to be able to talk with man as with Adam in the garden of Eden when God walked in the garden. This has been called “Anthropomorphism” in that God who is Spirit took on a human form to be able to better communicate with man. The result is, Moses saw the form God took to “See the form of the Lord”. But God is Spirit. One can no more see the Spirit of God than we can see our own spirit. By their very nature, spirits are invisible. But God did show Himself to man in forms He took.

Jesus point is, by His actually becoming a man, He is showing us God clearly instead of through a manifestation which God took.

Question #4

Is there any room for grace on doctrinal issues? I know people in my own church (of Christ) that find it easy to extend grace when someone sins morally (i.e, lying, cursing, etc.) but when it comes to those who are also honestly and sincerely seeking to follow God and have submitted their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior, but differ in interpretation of God’s Word (and go to a church by another name), grace seems to be cut off from them. They expect everyone who follows Jesus to be able to interpret the Bible correctly, which, in their eyes, means the others must interpret it the same as they do. Many are so exclusive that they would say we (in Churches of Christ) are the “only” Christians. And in many cases, they are even willing to exclude those who see issues differently than them which are not even clear in the New Testament (i.e, instrumental music, frequency of Lord’s Supper). I know of what I speak, because I have been in the same boat in the past.

Who chooses to whom grace is given: us or God?

I don’t know if I’ve worded this well, but I think I’m saying what I want to say, and I would appreciate your reply if you have time. Thanks.

Leon’s Response

First, God is always the one to decide where and how grace is to be applied. His grace is available to all (Titus 2:11-14). That grace makes salvation possible for all, but it also teaches us how we are to live. The extending of grace on the part of men may or may not parallel the actions of God. The best means for us to learn about grace and it’s reach is by looking at the life of Christ on earth and His dealings with people in sin. Notice He extended grace quickly to those with moral failures with the woman at the well in John four, the adulterous woman in John and many other such occasions.

His grace was not so open to the religious leaders who taught correctly and lived wrongly (Matthew 23). The only way we can deal with matters of grace is to teach all men that God’s grace makes forgiveness available to all, but He demands obedience from us. We must abide in the teachings of Christ to have God (2 John 9). Of course, this doesn’t man one must know and teach every teaching of the Bible correctly to be right with God. God does want all men to be saved and is not looking for ways to exclude honest seekers from heaven (2 Peter 3:9).

Some of the keys which help in this discussion are these: Does the understanding of a teaching lead to disobedience to God? Some matters can be believed in a multitude of different ways, but not cause one to disobey the Lord. For example, there are many different ideas on what happens to the soul of the righteous between death and the resurrection. The Bible certainly teaches one way. Yet if one takes another view it doesn’t cause him to disobey the Lord and would not therefore be sinful.

Second, The Lord is the one who adds people to the church (Acts 2:47; Hebrews 12:23). He knows those who are righteous. We are to teach people what they must do to be saved and enter the church, but only the Lord does the adding and He has not revealed in individual cases whether someone is in or out. Where there is no revelation from God, we must be silent.

Third, only God knows the heart of any person. Many whom we would judge to be hypocrites, may be seen by the Lord as righteous. For example, Peter says Lot was a righteous man who was tormented by the sins of the people of Sodom (2 Peter 2). Yet as we look back on Lot’s life, there is very little we can see which would cause him to be thought righteous. At the same time, there are probably many whom we have judged righteous, whom the Lord knows to by a hypocrite. Let us leave the judging to the one who has the knowledge and the heart for it.

Finally, I can’t judge how far God will go in individual cases with His grace, but I can and must be about the effort to learn God’s will and teach it to the best of my ability to others so all will be able to know as much as possible about the truth to make wise decisions. Christ, by the grace of God tasted death for all (Hebrews 2:9). He is able to save those completely who come to God by Him (Hebrews 7:25). The greatest roadblock to people being saved by God’s grace is silent Christians who fail to reach out with the good news of Him. What is certain is, all who are saved are added by the Lord to His church. I want to be one of those and help as many as I can to also be added.

Question #5

Leon, how do you encourage someone to come to church who was raised in the church, but seems to have no desire to attend anymore?

Leon’s Response

There are all kinds of reasons why someone who grew up in church may have no interest any more. It would be worth finding out why from this particular person. They may have had a bad experience. They may have come to believe things which are not correct. They may have just lost interest along the way. Different people even in the Bible left for a variety of reasons. Demas left because of his love for the present world (2 Timothy 4:10). John referred to some as going out from us because they are not of us. They had lost their interest. The writer of Hebrews warned of the need to give the more earnest heed to the things heard lest they let them slip or drift away from them (Hebrews 2:1-4).

Whatever the reason, the means of winning one back or redeveloping interest is usually time consuming. Take the time to hear them out. Strive to restore them by showing concern and bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:1,2). Show your interest in them and their eternal rewards not just in them coming to church. Be interested and devoted as an influence before them. When Peter told Christian wives how to win their non-Christian husbands he said they were to do so without nagging, but by the influence they had of right living (I Peter 3:1-5).

It is worth the effort to bring one back (James 5:19,20). You save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins. Pray for them regularly and tell them enthusiastically of the good things which happen to you in church.

These are just some ways to help in the endeavor. Remember, each person is a free moral agent and ultimately must decide for themselves. You can only be the influence to help lead them.

Question #6

An acquaintance & I were discussing the frequency of observing the Lord’s supper. He feels there are no scriptures which support observing it every Lord’s day (first day of the week – Sunday). I pointed out the examples set for us to follow by the early New Testament church in scriptures such as Acts 20:7 and also the the discussion of the Lord’s supper by Paul in 1 Cor. chapters 10 and 11. He simply does not agree. I am trying to be open minded and am restudying the scripture and really striving to look at this issue with an open heart. Can you comment?

Leon’s Response

The teaching in the Bible on the Lord’s Supper is far more pointed in the direction of it’s purpose of being a memorial of the death of Christ than to the time when it is to be taken. The points Jesus made in instituting the communion was that it is taking of His body and blood. (Matthew 26:26-29). In I Corinthians 10:16 Paul calls it the communion of the blood of Christ and the communion of the body of Christ.

In I Corinthians 11:17-20 when Paul begins the discussion of the Lord’s Supper with the Corinthian church, he starts by condemning several things they are doing. First he says their coming together wasn’t for the better but for the worse. Second, he says there are divisions among you. Third he says there are factions among you. Then in verse 20, he gives the fourth condemnation, “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” All of these things were wrong and were affecting their worship to the Lord. The very fact he condemned the action of not coming together in one place to take of the Lord’s Supper, demands that such is what should have been happening. Since he goes on in this same book to talk about their coming together on the first day of the week, that would indicate the time to partake of the Lord’s Supper is the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1,2). This is the strongest point in Scripture about the time to take of the communion.

Acts 20:7 is good corroborative evidence. It’s greatest strength lies in the fact Paul was in a rush to reach Jerusalem, yet he waited seven days in Troas to worship with the church there and take the Lord’s Supper with them. This would indicate they only took of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday. But you could not prove from this example they took of the Supper every first day. An example can only demonstrate a right way of doing a thing. It cannot prove that any other way is wrong, in and of itself. There must be back ground teaching to give it force to go beyond that.

The very purpose of the Lord’s Supper of carrying our mind back to the cross and of causing us to examine ourselves to see if we are right, and of proclaiming the Lord’s death till He comes gives good reason for taking of the Supper regularly, even every first day of the week.

But to prove beyond the shadow of doubt that one can worship God correctly without communion each Sunday is not possible.

Question #7

During the three days that Jesus was dead, did He go to Hell? Since He was guilty at that time of EVERYONE’S sins, right? Also, here’s another question. I heard a scripture (I can’t remember where it was) that said like “Two women will be making bread together, and only one will be taken…” or something like that. Does this mean that everyone is not taken at once? That confuses me! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Leon’s Response

Many have thought Jesus went to hell during the three days between death and the resurrection, since Peter quotes the the 16th Psalm in Acts 2:25-28 saying, “Because You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” The King James translation uses the word “Hell” instead of Hades. But the word in the original text is Hades and simply means the unseen realm of the dead. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43). He was therefore going to Paradise that day. His punishment for the sins taken on Him was the cross itself with all of the pains and agonies and shame which went with it.

The second question about two women grinding at the mill and one is taken while the other is left is found in Matthew 24:36-44. Jesus had been foretelling for them two major events to come. One was the destruction of Jerusalem and the other was the second coming of Christ. Concerning the second coming, He said no one knew the day nor the hour of the second coming, only the Father. In explaining the surprise which would be there when He comes, He used the illustration of two men in the field, one was taken and the other left. Two women were at the mill. One was taken and the other left. His point was, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” This was not intended to be a literal explanation of the second coming. It is to show the surprise people would have. If people could have known when He was coming, they would not have been going about the ordinary course of life. But they didn’t know. No one knows. When He does come, some will be ready and taken to heaven, while others are left to the ruin of hell.

When the second coming occurs all will be brought before the Lord at the same time (John 5:28,29). Not every text deals with all sides of the judgement. For example, I Thessalonians 4:13-18 talks about the comparison between the righteous dead and the righteous living when the Lord comes again.

Question #8

We are thinking about baptizing our son (who is now 4 months old) and we are not sure how to go about doing that. We would like to baptize him in a non-denominational church. We feel that it is our responsibility as his parents to baptize him which will allow him to decide later what religion he would like to practice. I feel that by baptizing him, God will watch over him and allow him to choose later in life what he would like to be.

Leon’s Response

It is wonderful to see your concern for your child and his spiritual life. It is also good to know you are looking for a non denominational church since denominational-ism is foreign to the Bible. Jesus prayed for His disciples to all be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:20-21). Paul condemned division and following after men ( I Corinthians 1:10-13).

But the Bible never teaches anyone to baptize a child. Baptism in the Bible had to do with adults. Jesus taught His disciples to go and make disciples of the nations baptizing them (Matthew 28:19,20) He said to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:15,16). On Pentecost, when Peter preached to the multitude about Jesus, 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” (Acts 2:37-38). Baptism is an act of one’s faith, based on their repentance from sins. It puts one into Christ who has died to sin (Romans 6:1-5, Galations 3:27). Since a baby can’t believe, and has nothing to repent of even if they could do so, baptism would be meaningless.

Further, a child has no need for being baptized since it is not lost. Jesus said, “Except you are converted and become as a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-5). In chapter nineteen He said: “Suffer the little children to come to Me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Children do not inherit sin from their fathers or anyone else (Ezekial 18:20). Children are neither saved nor lost, but are safe in the Lord. He does not count the sins of one who cannot understand right from wrong against them. In Romans 7:9 Paul wrote: “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” There was never a time in Paul’s life when there wasn’t a law bound on mankind. But in his early life when he could not comprehend the law he was alive. But when the commandment came, in that he could understand it. Then he died spiritually and was in need of salvation.

The very best thing you can do in giving your son the best prospects with the Lord is to train him in the way he should go all of his life (Proverbs 22:6). Bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4). Why not find a church which is both nondenominational and committed to following the Lord and His teaching, for your whole family to be involved in, then he would be able to make the right choice as an adult

Question #9

Is there any authority in God’s book, the Bible, for more than one collection upon the first day of the week?

Leon’s Response

With regard to the regular contribution of the local church there is only mention of it being taken on the first day of the week which would seem to be only one time on that day (I Corinthians 16:1,2). There were special contributions taken in the first century church when special needs arose about which we have no mention of the time of their being taken (Acts 11:27-30). Most of the emphasis in the New Testament on giving had to do with the need and the attitude with which we are to give instead of the time it was to be given.

Question #10

Do you have to come forward, to the front of the church to repent your sins?

Leon’s Response

No, one does not have to come forward to the front of the church to repent of their sins. Repentance is a change of heart or mind about the sin. It takes place inside the mind or heart of the individual. It is that decision to turn things around. In the story of the prodigal son, he repented when he came to himself and said, “This will I do. I will arise and go to my father and say to my father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I’m no more worthy to be called your son. Make me a hired servant.” The result of the repentance was, “He arose and went to His father’s house.”

Coming to the front of the church building for prayer is a matter of convenience or expediency. In James 5:16 we are told to “Confess our faults one to another and pray one for another that we may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” For the church to know you want their prayers requires your confession. It is a way of asking for prayers and letting everyone know your decision to change. It is not demanded anywhere in Scripture.

Question #11

Surfing the web and came across your q&a page. Noticed that you had given an answer regarding the first day of the week as being a day to practice the Last Supper. As an honest TRUTH seeking preacher of RIGHTEOUSNESS. With utmost respect for you and your beliefs, I would ask that you answer these questions…

1. What day did our Lord Jesus worship on?

2. What day was the Apostle Paul “accustomed” to worship on?

3. Does the Word of God ever read…”Remember the First day to keep it holy…”?

4. Did Jesus ever SAY any words AGAINST keeping the Commandments Of God (Ten Commandments)?

5. Does your church believe that we should abide by the Ten Commandments (check your church constitution)??

Leon’s Response

1. What day did our Lord Jesus worship on? He worshiped on the Sabbath with other Isrealites since He lived and died under the Old Testament law. He refused to go along with the regulations of the Sabbath made by the religious leaders of the time, going ahead and healing the sick and doing good on that day, declaring “The Sabbath was made for man not man the Sabbath.” He also said, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27,28)

2. What day was the Apostle Paul “accustomed” to worshiping on? Since he grew up under the Old law he was certainly accustomed to worshiping on the Sabbath and used those times to meet with those like minded to teach them the gospel. When He met with the church to take the Lord’s Supper it was on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

3. Does the Word of God ever read…”Remember the First Day to keep it
holy..?” No!

4. Did Jesus ever say any words against keeping the commandments of God (Ten commandments)? Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one joy or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17,18). He came to fulfill the law and the prophets. Nothing was to pass until all was fulfilled. When it was fulfilled the whole of the law was to pass as a law. Did Jesus do what He came to do or not? If He did, the whole of the Old Law has passed. If He didn’t we are still under every aspect of the Old Testament law and not a jot or tittle has passed. Paul wrote in Romans 7:4-7 that we are dead to the law by the body of Christ that we might be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead. He then explained in verse seven the law he was referring to was the law which said, “Thou shalt not covet”. That is one of the ten commandments and yes we are dead to that law. In Galatians 3:19-24 he wrote the reason the law was given was to bring us to Christ, that the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ and after Christ has come we are no longer under the schoolmaster. In 2 Corinthians 3 he referred to the law written and engraved on stones as a ministry of death and said he was a minister of the New Covenant. In Hebrews 9:11-18 the writer says Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant. He even says this covenant could only become of force after He was dead. Today, we are under the New Covenant that Christ died to bring into effect. To go back and try to live under the Old is to sever ourselves from Christ and fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). In Colossians 2:14-16 Paul wrote, “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross, Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. “THEREFORE LET NO ONE JUDGE YOU IN FOOD OR IN DRINK, OR REGARDING A FESTIVAL OR A NEW MOON OR SABBATHS, WHICH ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME, BUT THE SUBSTANCE IS OF CHRIST.”

5. Does your church believe that we should abide by the Ten commandments (check your church constitution)? The church I belong to only has one constitution and that is the word of God. We are under the New Covenant and every command it has. The Ten Commandments are not the standard of the New Covenant, yet the moral and spiritual things in them are bound in the New Testament.

Question #12

The only way to salvation is through the blood of Christ. How would you explain to someone how all the people in Old Testament times will be saved since they lived and died before Christ?

Leon’s Response

The answer is found in Hebrews 9:13-15. “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

When Christ died on the cross, His blood not only flowed forward to take care of the sins of those living under the new covenant but it flowed backward to take care of the sins of those who lived and died under the old covenant. Also, according to Romans 2:11-16 people will be judged by whatever law they lived under. Jesus said, the ones who lived under Moses would be judged by the law of Moses.

Question #13

In reading your response to Question #1, from Questions and Answers, I get the impression you believe baptism is essential for salvation. Is it not faith alone that saves?

Isn’t baptism a testimony to the world that I am dying to self and the old nature, ( identifying with Christ in His death – burial ), and am being raised in newness of life as He was?

Leon’s Response

There is no question we are saved by faith. But why do you think we are saved by faith alone? Do you not believe repentance is necessary for salvation? Read Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30,31. The truth is the only time the phrase “Faith alone” appears in the New Testament is in James 2:24 where he said we are not justified by faith alone. When you read the great faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, every example of faith he gave was of someone having enough faith to do what God said do.

When you decide whether baptism is essential to salvation consider what was said in the Bible instead of just what you have heard or thought. Does the Bible ever say baptism is just a symbol? Think of these text: Mark 16:15, 16 “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” Is there a text which says, “He who believes and is saved shall be baptized”? Acts 2:38, when they asked, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” The answer was, “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.” If faith alone did it, why didn’t Peter tell them they were already saved and didn’t need to do anything? Acts 22:16, “Why do you wait? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord.” Was Ananias wrong when he said being baptized would wash away sins? Romans 6:3,4, “Do you not know that as many of you as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also should walk in newness of life.” Notice, we are baptized into Christ. Can a person be saved out of Christ? Galatians 3:26,27. “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Baptism is an act of faith. It is when our faith obeys to be baptized that we get into Christ and put on Christ.

There is not a single text in the New Testament where baptism and salvation or it’s equivalent appear together that baptism doesn’t come first and then salvation.

Just as repentance being necessary doesn’t take away from faith but is an action of faith, so baptism being essential doesn’t take away from the fact we are saved by faith, but is an action of faith. We are saved by an obedient faith. When people have faith which won’t do what the Lord says it isn’t saving faith. In John 12:42 the chief rulers believed on Him but would not confess Him because the loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Notice that the book of Romans which best describes salvation by faith both begins and ends with reference to the “Obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5;16:26).

Simply read through the book of Acts and the examples of conversion given by the Holy Spirit. Faith and baptism were tied together. The Bible doesn’t teach baptismal regeneration. Baptism without faith is useless. But real saving faith will obey the Lord’s teaching and be baptized to get into Christ.

Question #14

The issue of legalizing gambling in Arkansas as a means of generating lacking revenue was being discussed in our office the other day.

What, as a Christian, would you say when this topic comes up. What scriptural references are there concerning this subject. All the things that tend to come with gambling enter my mind as a good reason for opposition. I also think about the Christian being admonished to avoid appearances of evil, but beyond that, what are your thoughts?

Leon’s Response

The subject of gambling is difficult since it isn’t really ever mentioned in the Bible. The best points I think one can make is to point to it’s bad effects and relationships. It is often tied with drinking and organized crime. It too often takes from the ones who can least afford it and who can’t seem to stop because of the hope of some great reward.

It goes against the grain of working for what you have (Ephesians 4:28). Wherever gambling has gone, crime has increased along with it. Does it make any sense to raise money for schools by gambling when it will invariably put those same kids in greater danger?

These are, I think about the best points which can be made. Sometimes in a zeal to stop it, religious people, including those in the church, have gone further than the Bible. I oppose gambling, but I don’t want to force a Scripture to say what it really wasn’t saying.

Question #15

I have a question for you to answer please. This is my question: If you believe that our Lord Jesus Christ IS God, how can he also know all things likewise with the FATHER?

Leon’s Response

Since the Bible calls the Son, God, how could I possibly believe otherwise. Read again Philippians 2:5-11, when Jesus became a man, He emptied himself and did not hold on to equality with the Father. On this earth He willingly gave up some of the powers and privileges of deity. One of those was not to know some things He would know in heaven when He ascended back to the right hand of the Father. On this earth He often said, “My Father is greater than I” and “I came not to do my own will but to do the will of Him who sent Me.” He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.”

He was always God (John 1:1-3). He became a man for 33 years on this earth. (John 1:14). Have you reread the gospel of John as I asked to really just accept what God said on the subject? Please take the time to do so. It will answer most of your questions.

Question #16

I am a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo or (church of Christ) here in the Philippines. Are you sure that your church can be saved in coming of our Lord Jesus Christ? and consider this chapter 10:15 in Romans, And how can they preach unless they are sent. The Iglesia ni Cristo believes in only one God the Father. And my last question is in your church do you believe that Jesus is God? because in our church we believe that Jesus is Human and that is written in the Bible.

Leon’s Response

First, We aren’t saved or lost as a church. Each person must stand individually before God to receive the things done in the body whether good or bad ( 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-14).

Second, Jesus is both God and man. In John 1:1-14 He is called the Word and the word was in the beginning with God and the word was God. The word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory as the only begotten son of the Father, full of grace and truth. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Even baptism is done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). I would kindly suggest you go back and read the gospel of John and be open to the whole thing. I can’t believe anyone could really read that book and not see the deity of Christ as well as His humanity. He is both the Son of God and the Son of man.

Question #17

John 20:23 seems to give man, at least the church, the authority to decide if a person can be forgiven and imply that man can decide what is sin and what is not sin. The Bible tells us that only God has the authority to forgive sins. I have looked at several commentaries but they don’t seem to explain the verse in a straight forward manner.

Leon’s Response

Notice the context. Jesus had just been raised the dead and returned to visit the apostles. He breathed on them giving them the Holy Spirit. It was to them He said “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” These men held special place and power with the Lord. They would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 as He had promised them. Because of their inspiration and miraculous power Jesus gave them the right of forgiveness to others, because they were being guided by the Spirit in what they said and did. It does not apply to other Christians.

Question #18

Can you explain John 17:1-3.

Leon’s Response

John 17 is certainly one of the great text of the Bible on the subject of the Godhead. Jesus is praying to the Father before the time of His death on the cross. His first request is for God to glorify Him so He could glorify the Father. The purpose of His coming into the world was to offer eternal life to as many as the Father gives. Eternal life He explains is to know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. He explains in verse five the glory He is praying for is the glory they shared before the world was. The glory was to be offered because He had finished the work He was sent to do on this earth (Verses 4,5).

I’m sure the phrase you are wanting me to talk about is “The Only true God” in verse 3. Does this mean Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not God since it says of the Father that He is the only true God? If so what does He mean when He speaks of the glory they shared before the beginning of the world? What does He mean in Verses 20,21 when He says He and the Father are one? What does it mean in Hebrews one when He says in verse 8, “Your throne O God is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.”?

The word true as used in the gospel of John means real, genuine, without mixture. Jesus says of the Father You are the only true, real, genuine God. It wasn’t to say He wasn’t God, but to point to the greatness of the Father. Remember Philippians 2:5-11 says Jesus didn’t see equality with God as something to be held on to. He submitted and became a man.

Maybe it is time you explained to me what it is you really do believe about Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Do you believe He is only a man? Do you believe is deity but of lesser power and greatness than the Father? These are fundamental matters and I’m glad to discuss them with you. But please give me more information as well.

Question #19

In your Q & A Forum you make the statement, “There is not a single text in the New Testament where baptism and salvation or it’s equivalent appear together that baptism doesn’t come first and then salvation.”

And your statement leads me to this question, Do we not see God/Jesus saving a group of people in acts 10 before they were baptized? I do not think, based on the Bible, God/Jesus is going to pour out His Spirit on anyone that is not His children.

Leon’s Response

Have you checked to see if the statement I made about every time the words baptism and salvation, or it’s equivalent appear together, baptism always comes first, is true?

But what about Acts 10 and the story of Cornelius’ conversion. This was the opening of the church to Gentiles. Cornelius was a good, righteous and charitable man already when the angel told him to send for Peter. When Peter came to preach to him, he had his whole family there to hear. Peter noted that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation those who fear Him and work righteousness are accepted by Him. He then preached Jesus to Cornelius and his family. He made the statement, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.” (Acts 10:44). In Acts 11:15 when Peter is retelling this story to the Jews, he said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.”

The best way to determine the purpose of anything is to see how it is used. Watch and see how Peter by inspiration used what happened with Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit. “And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not 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.”

Peter, either in the event or the retelling of the story doesn’t conclude that they were saved when they received the Holy Spirit. Instead he concludes that they were eligible to be baptized and commanded them to do so. The point was that the Jews didn’t think the gospel was for anyone besides them. God showed them that the gospel was for all with the giving of the Holy Spirit to Cornelius’ family. This gift of the Holy Spirit was the same given to the apostles at the beginning (Acts 11:15). It was not the gift of the Spirit given to all who have their sins remitted when they repent and are baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

The Bible is consistent. Instead of looking for a way around what is obviously taught in verses like Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-5; Galatians 3:26,27; Colossians 2:12; I Peter 3:21, why not just accept it and live by it?

Question #20

I have been a member of the Church of Christ for nearly nine years. I am a strong proponent of the obedience of the word of God and the adherence thereto. I read Q# 4 and was confused as to the position which was taken by the responder. I have believed that the followers of Christ were indeed the ‘only’ Christians. Seeing as how any other church doctrine such as Baptist, Catholic, Mormon etc., did not originate with the teachings of Christ but with a man who started the organization some years later. It seemed to me that it was alluded to that there are some in all churches saved, that the location of attendance or doctrine taught was not an issue as long as God saw an individual as righteous. I have studied, albeit not as much as others, the doctrine taught in some of these churches and felt that if a church was teaching somehow or someway different than what Christ taught, that they were not actually saved according to the bible. For instance, how some churches teach that baptism is not essential to salvation, and others that allow women to preach. Of course I understand that women are an essential part of the body of Christ and that they are used to gather souls like any man. I strive to remain faithful in Christ and wish only to be as effective in spreading the gospel as I can, but is my thinking flawed and have I lost my way?

Leon’s Response

It sounds to me like you are on target. I’m not sure what the question was to which you referred. When a person is obedient to the Lord in being baptized on the basis of faith and repentance they are added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:38-46).

Even if one were not informed of the church, at that point they would be added to it by the Lord if they made the right moves in obeying Him. One can be a member of the church and still have many doctrinal errors as did the church in Corinth. But one must obey the gospel of Christ to get in to begin with.

I hope this is helpful. If I didn’t get the question just right please write again. May God bless your work in spreading His gospel to the world.

Question #21

Thank-you for your help in this matter. Although the answer wasn’t as in depth as I would have liked, it did help some. My understanding was truly flawed as I had forgotten that the Lord’s church was universal. I was stuck on the notion that the Church of Christ was the only option that we as seekers for Christ had. Now the doctrinal errors, what could be a possible error a church might teach or a person believe, yet allow one salvation according to the Lord’s word? I may seem confused and that is because I am still coming to terms with my failure to better understand Christ and his word. What should I read in order to help me in this area? A published work is fine as well as scripture. I may have more questions after this and I am certain you are willing to be patient with me, and that I greatly appreciate.

Leon’s Response

I’m glad you are thinking about all of this and working your way through it. When it comes to errors one might have and still keep fellowship with God and His people, the basic point would be this: Any error which does not cause the person to disobey God would not be a fatal error. One could have many mistaken views which wouldn’t lead to them doing something wrong in worship or service to God. For example if one believed there was nothing wrong with using an instrument in worship to God, yet never used one, it would do nothing to hinder their salvation. Also, as with the church in Corinth, many of their errors were fatal if they held on to them. But God was patient with them in giving them opportunity to change the things wrong in their lives. If they refused to turn around on the things Paul wrote to them to change, it would lead to their being lost. God was patient with the early church on leaving the Old Testament law and the observance of the Sabbath Day. But there came a time when the patience ran out. One of the clear statements of the fundamentals which must be kept is in Ephesians 4:1-6 when Paul laid out the seven ones of unity.

One of the best books on this whole theme would be The Gospel Plan of Salvation by T.W.Brents. It has been reprinted by the Gospel Advocate and is a tremendous work. IN the New Testament read Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians as a beginning point. Then I, II and III John. These were written later and dealt with different problems. I do hope you will continue to write and I trust I will be able to help.

Question #22

Are Elias and Elijah the same person? Thank you.

Leon’s Response

Yes they are. This is mainly a difference found in the King James Version and corrected in modern translations.

Question #23

I would like to know where in the Bible I can find scriptures dealing with “mothers, wives and women”.

Leon’s Response

Here is a list of some of the Scriptures dealing with wives, women, etc.: Proverbs 31:10-31; Ephesians 5:22-36; Titus 2:1-6; I Peter 3:1-7. There are many, many more. If these don’t tell you what you need to know feel free to write again.

Question #24

Can you give me an example of an individual who was brought up in the church (old or new) that strayed but came back to the path originally set in his or her youth?

Leon’s Response

In the Bible there are several examples of people who fell away and then returned to the Lord and were faithful from then on. John Mark is one example. He went with Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey but turned back. Later he returned to the Lord and was faithful to Him even writing the book we know as the gospel of Mark. Simon Peter would be another example. He fell away in denying the Lord at the time of Jesus trial and death. But he repented of that and came back to be the one who led the way in the preaching of the gospel. Later, Paul records in Galatians 2, Peter fell again becoming a hypocrite in his actions. But he repented and was faithful from then on to God.

In my own life I’ve seen hundreds of people who were faithful to Christ but became involved in sin and fell away, some getting involved in immoral living and others in drugs and alcohol or both. These went far away from God. but many have returned to serve Him with more zeal than ever, leading others to the Lord by their lives. These serve as examples of what the Bible said could happen in Galatians 6:1 and James 5:19-20.

Question #25

What would your reaction be to someone who says “If I have to be baptized, then I guess I’ll just have to go to hell”?

Leon’s Response

I would be amazed if someone really thought they had rather go to hell than do something, whatever it is, that God had said do in order to be saved. The key I would suggest when anyone is objecting to baptism, lies, not in the baptism but in the faith. In Galatians 3:26,27 Paul wrote, “For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Being baptized is simply an act of faith on the part of one who believes the Lord and wants to be in a relationship with Him. It is baptism which puts one into Christ. Why would anyone who really has faith have any objection? Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Think of what would have happened to Noah if he had refused to build the ark or Abraham if he had refused to leave Ur of the Chaldees. When we refuse obedience it is always a lack of faith in Him.

Question #26

If Romans 10:9-10 states confession and belief. . . and I shall be saved, does this mean that I don’t have to be baptized?

Leon’s Response

Romans 10:9,10 is a great text about how one is saved. It is true that the only things mentioned there are faith and confession. But it is a mistake to think anything is not important because it isn’t mentioned in a single text. This verse doesn’t mention repentance either. Would that mean repentance is not essential for salvation? Think of Acts 2:38 as a comparison. Peter told those asking what to do to repent and be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Notice, neither faith or confession are mentioned in this verse. One has to take all of Scripture on any subject to have the full truth. It would certainly be a mistake to read Acts 2:38 and conclude faith or confession are not necessary for salvation.

Jesus said one had to be born again of the water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom, (John 3:5). Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8,9 that it is by grace we are saved though faith. All these verses are true. None contradict the others. We must accept and follow all of them.

Question #27

Who was Thomas Didimus and what is the theory on why he was late for the meeting?

Leon’s Response

Thomas was one of the twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 10:1-4. The word Didymus means “A twin”, so Thomas was one of twins born to his mother. As to his reason for being absent from the meeting it seems to be because he had lost his faith. He thought Jesus had died and to continue meeting was hopeless. Even though Jesus had often spoken of His resurrection from the dead, the message had never really been understood by the twelve. So Thomas doubted the usefulness of meeting. He was doubting that what he had been doing for the last three and a half years was useful. But when he came the next week and Jesus appeared to him as recording in John 20:24-29 brought his faith back and he continued until death as a faithful servant of Christ.

It should be encouraging to us when we have doubts that even one of the apostles struggled with the same thing but overcame.

Question #28

I have a question concerning the Trinity and my RELATIONSHIP to GOD.

I do believe in the Deity of Jesus. I believe that there is One God Co-Eternally existent in three “persons”, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. I know the scriptures that confirm this to me.

My question is, How do I address my prayers to God, How do I Worship Him correctly? Do I pray directly to “The Father” in “The Name of Jesus”? Or, do I pray directly to Jesus since He is God?

Do I Look at God as being separate persons or do I just worship and pray to my one GOD period. Do I address all three persons in my prayers and worship? Is my “relationship” with the “Father” through Jesus or is my relationship with Jesus?

Some believe that God is not in three persons but rather that the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit are just different “Offices ” of God. JESUS being the Name Of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. How do you fall on this?

Leon’s Response

Since there are several questions if I don’t answer all of them as fully as you like then please write again. First, God the Father, Christ the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all one but not all the same person. When the Bible speaks of God speaking to either of the different persons it is “Let us” as in “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26,27). In John 1:1 The Bible says “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.” Then in Verse 14 He said the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father full of grace and truth.

Think back to the birth of Christ. He was born of Mary. The Holy Spirit came on Mary to bring about the Birth. The Father told her what was going to happen. At Jesus baptism, He was in the water with John the baptist. The Father was in heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” and the Holy Spirit was on the way from heaven to earth in the form of a dove to light on Him. Jesus prayed on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

When He was speaking of leaving and going back to heaven to be with the Father and sit down on His right hand, He promised “I will send you ANOTHER COMFORTER who will abide with you forever”. In 2 John 9 we read “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the teachings of Christ, has not God. How who abides in the teachings of Christ has BOTH THE FATHER AND THE SON.”

You don’t use language like both, another and with to refer to one person. But the Bible does often say the there is one God. What does that mean?

In John 17:20-21 Jesus is praying to the Father. He says, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be ONE, AS YOU, FATHER, ARE IN ME, AND I IN YOU; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

The way the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one is the same way God wants Christians to be one. He doesn’t want us to all be the same person. But He wants us to have oneness in faith, in service and commitment. There are three divine personalities who are all called God. They are one “Even as” we are one.

As far as worship to each person is concerned, it is right to worship all members of the Godhead since they are all God. Jesus said, “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:16.

Question #29

I would like to know: How do we know that we are the only and true church? Also, how did the church arrive in America and give me the dates and who establish here.

Leon’s Response

Concerning how we know if we are in the church Jesus built, we only know by searching the Scriptures and comparing what God said the church should be like with what the church is we attend. There are numerous marks of the church in the New Testament. It was built by Christ (Matthew 16:18). It belongs to Him (Same Scripture). It was bought by His blood (Acts 20:28). One becomes a member of this church by being saved and thus added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:36-47). The record of who is in the church is kept by the Lord in heaven (Hebrews 12:23). The head of the church is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23). The worship of the church is in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24). If the teaching isn’t according to the word of God then the worship becomes vain or useless (Matthew 15:9). To become a member of the church one must hear the gospel of Christ, believe it, repent of their sins and be baptized into Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:46,47 and Galatians 3:26,27).

The church of the Bible is non-denominational in that Paul commanded us not to be divided and follow the names and teachings of men (I Corinthians 1:10-13). We are to endeavor for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Any time and any where anyone teaches the word of God in truth and people hear the word and through faith obey it to become Christians they are added to the church and it is therefore established in that area. I have no idea how the church first came to America as to who. I do know how. Someone preached the gospel and people became Christians by having an obedient faith in the Lord.

I hope this is helpful. It is just a short beginning of material the New Testament has on the church. If you have further questions please feel free to write back.

Question #30

I know the Lord is against homosexuality, I want to know some listings in the bible that may help people understand. Do you have any answers or sermons that may help me? I’m only 15 and I’m trying to help the Lord. I go to the church of Christ in Florida. We believe in the laws of the lord in the new test. I pray you hurry back with my answer.

Leon’s Response

The Bible does talk a great deal about sexual sins of all kinds and there are many text in the New Testament as well as the Old.

First, when the Bible condemns Fornication as in Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Galatians 5:19-21 it would include homosexual relations since this word means “Sexual intercourse with anyone outside the marriage bond”. In Hebrews 13:4 the Bible says, “Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

Second, In I Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul wrote, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Notice homosexuals were condemned. But also notice they could be converted, washed, sanctified and justified. It is not true that once a person is homosexual they cannot change.

Another text is Romans 1:26-27. “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Also read Leviticus 18:22. When God first created man and saw it wasn’t good for him to be alone he made the woman and brought her to the man saying she was a helper fit for him. He didn’t make another man and bring him to the man.

Remember God loves homosexuals, just as He does every other sinner. But He hates the sins and offers us the opportunity to change and be what He calls us to be.

Question #31

Dear sir, I would like to know: how do we know that we are the only and true church? Also how did the church arrive in America and give me the dates and who establish here.

Leon’s Response

Concerning how we know if we are in the church Jesus built, we only know by searching the Scriptures and comparing what God said the church should be like with what a church is we attend. There are numerous marks of the church in the New Testament. It was built by Christ (Matthew 16:18). It belongs to Him (Same Scripture). It was bought by His blood (Acts 20:28). One becomes a member of this church by being saved and thus added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:36-47). The record of who is in the church is kept by the Lord in heaven (Hebrews 12:23). The head of the church is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23). The worship of the church is in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24). If the teaching isn’t according to the word of God then the worship becomes vain or useless (Matthew 15:9). To become a member of the church one must hear the gospel of Christ, believe it, repent of their sins and be baptized into Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:46,47 and Galatians 3:26,27).

The church of the Bible is non-denominational in that Paul commanded us not to be divided and follow the names and teachings of men (I Corinthians 1:10-13). We are to endeavor for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Any time and any where anyone teaches the word of God in truth and people hear the word and through faith obey it to become Christians they are added to the church and it is therefore established in that area. I have no idea how the church first came to America as to who. I do know how. Someone preached the gospel and people became Christians by having an obedient faith in the Lord.

I hope this is helpful. It is just a short beginning of material the New Testament has on the church. IF you have further questions please feel free to write back.

Question #32

If God creates some men who will be saved and others who will be condemned, where does the question of accountability lie? Additionally, isn’t it God’s desire that all men be saved? Why would God create a being knowing it will be condemned but desiring it to be saved? Just so you know, I believe in Jesus, these are questions that have plagued me in the past.

Leon’s Response

Let me first acknowledge you have asked about one of the most difficult segments of New Testament Scripture. In order to rightly understand any difficult Scripture one must approach it with clear understanding of the context of the Letter being written and the subject under discussion and with a clear understanding of the overall teaching of Scripture. Before looking directly of these verses let me please lay a foundation for the answer from other Scripture.

First, God does indeed want all people to be saved. He is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He made provision for all to be saved in that Christ died for all men (Hebrews 2:9). His grace appears to all men for salvation (Titus 2:11-13). His gospel was to be preached to all men in all the world and those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mark 16:15,16).

Second, man is really accountable for his actions and choices. When we stand before God in judgment we will be judged for the deeds done in the body, according to what we have done whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). When we hear the gospel message we are given the ability to “Save ourselves from this crooked generation” (Acts 2:40).

Third the context of the book of Romans is we have the right to salvation but must respond by an obedient faith. The gospel is God’s power to salvation to all who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16). We are the servants of the one whom we choose to obey, whether sin to death or obedience to righteousness (Romans 6:16). When we obey from the heart the form of teaching delivered us we are then made free from sin to become servants of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18). The very fact he constantly pleads with them to change their actions for the Lord shows they had choices and the choice mattered.

What then about Romans 9:19,20? They say: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will? But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?” One of the purposes of the book of Romans was to bring unity in churches in Rome which were of Jewish and others of Gentile background. Those churches which were primarily of Jewish background had continued to cling to the Old Testament law and the idea that Israel was God’s chosen people. They saw Christianity as an update or addition to Judaism. Paul therefore pointed out that we are dead to the law by the body of Christ so we can be married to another, even Jesus to bring forth fruit to God (Romans 7:4). In Romans 9 Paul is dealing with the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people, not with individuals. His point is if God chooses to reject them as a nation and no longer see them as any different but to base His choice on individual faith and obedience what is that to them? He is God and creator and they have no right to criticize the one who made them to begin with. The theme of the whole chapter is set when Paul tells of his great sorrow for his kinsmen according to the flesh who are Israelites, to who pertain the adoption, the glory and the covenants (Romans 9:1-5).

Instead of this teaching man’s unaccountability, it is teaching is we aren’t going to be saved by what our race or family heritage is, but by our personal relationship with God. Now there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles, but whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:12,13.

Question #33

I just had a few questions about Jesus being the Lamb of God.

1. How is Jesus God’s lamb?

2. How is Jesus our lamb?

3. What awareness should be created in us by the understanding that Jesus was God’s lamb sacrificed for us?

Leon’s Response

John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” in John 1:29,36). The imagery intended to be created in the minds of those who heard him and those of us who read it today was that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb to be offered for our sins of which every lamb ever offered on the altar was a symbol. Jesus was the fulfillment of what God had been telling the people would come all along. In Isaiah 53 the prophet said the Messiah would come to be slaughtered like a lamb. He was coming to take our place in dying for us for our sins.

Jesus is our “Propitiation” (Romans 3:21-26) or substitute. Our sins are so great we deserve the punishment of hell. God wanted to save us. As a just and merciful God for Him to save fallen man required the price of sin to be paid. Christ the innocent one, came into this world, was tempted just like we are then was carried as the lamb of God to the cross to die on our behalf.

None of us could pay the price of our own sins, since we are guilty. But God had the price paid by His Son so we could be redeemed from all our sins. He is our lamb when we have the faith in Him to be washed in the blood of the lamb for our sins to be forgiven and live in a relationship with Him to be cleansed all along by His blood (I John 1:5-10).

The result should be that we live in constant appreciation and amazement of what God has done. We should willingly devote our lives to His service since He gave His life for us to be saved.

Those who make it to heaven will be the one who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.” (Revelation 7:14).

Question #34

Is masturbation a sin? What if you do it to stimulate your hormones to help you grow because I am short and this might help. Also is looking at pornography on the internet a sin?

Leon’s Response

There is nothing in the Bible which indicates masturbation in and of itself is wrong. To lust after someone is wrong (Matthew 5:28-32). So if in masturbation one is thinking about some girl or woman they would like to have sex with while masturbating, the lust is sinful.

Pornography, on the Internet or anywhere else is sinful for many reasons. It promotes sex outside of marriage which is fornication or immorality (Hebrews 13:5). It gives a distorted view of sex and of women in general. It makes people into objects of sex and promotes lust. It is destructive to marriage both before and after marriage. One who gets into pornography will have lots of trouble having a healthy and honorable view of sex and their partner in marriage. It dehumanizes people and abuses those who are too young to understand. Nothing about pornography is good. It should be avoided like the plague.

Question #35

In the bible it says that Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days. the church teaches that 1) Jesus was born without original sin and couldn’t and did not sin and 2) If you break a commandment it is a sin. The 3rd commandant states keep holy the lord’s Sabbath day. if Jesus was in the desert for 40 days he did not attend the temple services. isn’t this a sin?

Leon’s Response

Jesus didn’t sin (Hebrews 4:14-16). The Sabbath was to be kept holy under the old Testament. But there isn’t anything in the Old Testament which commanded one to attend temple worship every Sabbath. In the New Testament we are commanded not to forsake the assembly (Hebrews 10:25). But Jesus lived and died under the Old Testament so that would not have been a law in His time. He did keep the Sabbath holy even while being tempted.

Question #36

Do you believe that God approves of interracial marriages. Some state that the bible neither advocates nor condemns interracial marriage. Some believe that Paul’s reference to “unequally yoked” includes different races and not only unbelievers. The old testament references the disapproval of marriage of Israelites to outsiders, but is not that definitive. What is your opinion and the scriptures to support that position.

Leon’s Response

Interracial marriages are not condemned in the New Testament. In the Old it was because God wanted to keep the nation of Israel pure so Christ could come of Abraham’s seed. Even then there were many exceptions, such as Moses and his wife, Ruth being married to Boaz and others.

The unequal yoke had to do with not marrying non Christians and had nothing to do with race. In the New Testament there is no distinction. Romans 10:13-17; Galatians 3:28.

While there may be advantages or disadvantages, there is no law from the Lord.

Question #37

What are the requirements of having believing children before one meets the requirements of being appointed an elder. If you would give examples of situations where an elder might need to resign if the situation changes & lack of qualification because of one child’s behavior.

Leon’s Response

In thinking of the qualification of an elder having believing children, note these passages which deal with the topic. I Timothy 3:4,5 “One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)” Titus 1:6 “If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or in subordination.”

Some translations of Titus 1:6 use the word “Believing” instead of faithful children. Either translation would be a accurate translation of the Greek word in the text. The fact that Paul’s writing to Timothy on the topic and the explanation of the rest of the verse in Titus 1:6 relate to the behavior of the child that they are not accused of dissipation or insubordination, fits better with the idea of faithfulness than their being believing. I believe the point being made had to do with their being in submission to their father and faithful to him instead of the idea they had been baptized. Now, it is true if one is rearing their children correctly it should lead to the same result of them becoming Christians and living faithful lives to the Lord.

Why was there such emphasis on the family for one to be an elder of the church? Because that is the area most like the church. Leadership on the job is very different since people are paid to do the work and can be forced to do what they don’t want to do. In the family, one must lead in such a way that as wife and children grow they choose to follow the way they are being encouraged to follow.

All of the qualifications given are for one to be an elder. They aren’t just qualifications to become one. Certainly it should be clear that as children become adults and fall under other influences they choose their own way and what they choose isn’t a reflection on how they were trained in growing up. As for as examples are concerned the Bible doesn’t give any example of men resigning or what it takes for that to happen. Good judgment would seem to be when one’s life is such that if he were being considered for an elder again today, would he be accepted and set apart by the church? The qualifications remain the same forever. If they wouldn’t qualify now or if they aren’t able to do the work now, they would need to step aside. But this is a matter of judgment since the Bible really doesn’t address the topic of one becoming disqualified. The other rule which should be considered would be, if one’s life becomes such that the church isn’t willing to follow them anymore they should step aside. You can’t lead when people aren’t willing to follow.

Question #38

I am struggling with baptism in the context of salvation. I believe there three things are undeniably necessary for salvation: Belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and in the fact that He died for our sins; Repentance of one’s sins, evidenced outwardly by a change in lifestyle; Confession of one’s belief in Jesus.

The next “step” is where I am confused. Is a person saved after these actions or is a person lost until they are baptized? What if a person died n the way to be baptized after having believed, repented and confessed? Would that person be saved? Similar questions have been posed to my by friends and I am struggling with the answer.

I believe that baptism is an outward expression of our obedience to Christ (“answer to a good conscience toward God” I Peter 3:21) and is symbolic of His death and resurrection. I have my doubts that baptism itself remits sin (again I Peter 3:21 – “Not the removal of the filthy of the flesh”). I do believe that we are commanded to be baptized and should therefore do so out of obedience. If we intentionally fore-go or delay baptism, we are being disobedient and sinful, therefore we have probably not truly repented. Could you please comment?

Leon’s Response

Think about these Scriptures. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said, “All authority is given to Me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Notice the fact Jesus wanted His disciples to make disciples. The means of doing so was to baptize them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then those baptized disciples were to be taught to observe all He commanded.

In Mark 16:15,16 Jesus said, “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.” Baptism is an action of faith. We are saved by faith. But He makes the point at which we receive salvation after our faith leads us to be baptized.

In Acts 2:38 the people had heard Peter preach the gospel and been cut to their heart. They cried out, “Men and brethren what shall we do? Peter answered, ‘Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Notice the tying together of repentance and baptism. Both were done in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. The “for remission of sins” goes in the same direction for both repentance and baptism. If you must repent before having remission of sins, you must also be baptized before having remission of sins. If baptism comes after remission as a sign, then so must repentance.

Acts 22:16 Ananias said to Saul, “And now, why to you wait, arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord?”

According to Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26,27 and Colossians 2:12 we are baptized we are buried with Christ into His death and raised with Him to live a new life. We are baptized into Christ. IF one can be saved before baptism, they would be saved outside Christ. Yet Ephesians 1:3 says “All spiritual blessings are in Christ”. 2 Timothy 2:12 says “Salvation is in Christ”.

I Peter 3:21 Peter tells how eight souls were saved by water in the flood and declares that to be the “Like figure where unto baptism also saves us, not the removal of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” The eight souls were saved by water by being lifted up from the earth being destroyed because of sin and carried to a new world washed clean by the flood. Baptism saves us in the same way. It isn’t about cleaning the body. It is what the Lord does with His blood on the inside when we out of faith and repentance obey Him in baptism.

As far as what would happen if someone was intended to be baptized and died on the way, I don’t know. Only the Lord can make such judgements. But we must strive to do what the Lord wants from us at all times.

Question #39

To my dear brothers and sisters in the Church of Christ, I have this question: By what authority do you break the Sabbath and teach others to do so?

Leon’s Response

I would never presume to speak for all my brothers and sisters in the churches of Christ. Let me speak for just myself, please. The Sabbath was given as a sign between God and the children of Israel according to Exodus 31. It was a part of the Old Testament law to which I am now dead by the body of Christ so I can be married to another, even Him who was raised from the dead (Romans 7:4-6). The law to which we have become dead is the one which says, “Thou shalt not covet” according to Romans 7:7. That includes the whole ten commandment law and for that matter the whole Old Testament law. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3 the law written and engraved on stones was a ministry of death. Thank God we are now under the New Covenant. This Covenant became bound when Christ died on the Cross (Hebrews 9:14-17). I do not observe the Sabbath because it is not bound in the New Covenant.

How much do you observe the Sabbath? Do you really follow it as taught in the Old Testament? Do you stone people to death who pick up sticks on the Sabbath? What kind of observing are you talking about?

In Colossians 2:14-16 Paul declared that Christ death one the cross was what blotted out the handwriting of ordinance which was against us, nailing it to the cross. His conclusion was, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of a new moon or of a Sabbath Day.” I’m trying to follow what the New Testament teaches about the Sabbath and everything else. I’m certain I fail in many things. But it is certainly my intent to follow what the Lord says.

Question #40

“In Revelation 5:6-9; 14:2-3 it indicates there will be musical instruments in heaven. How could there be instrumental music in heaven but then still be wrong in church today?”

Leon’s Response

There does indeed seem to be musical instruments in heaven. Specifically, there is the mention of the playing of the harp in both text you refer to along with singing praise to God. I would point out this is in very symbolic text where the companion statement is there was the burning of incense which was the prayers of the saints. It is possible the instruments also were symbolic. But that really doesn’t matter one way or the other.

The fact is, a thing being in heaven doesn’t give authority for it being a part of worship in the church. It is definite that instrumental music was an accepted part of Old Testament worship with those like David playing the harp and many other instruments to God.

But for a thing to be acceptable in the New Testament church worship, it must be authorized for that purpose. Every text which deals with music in the worship of the New Testament church commands or teaches singing. In the text which use the Greek word which can be translated, “Make Music” the instrument to be planned is named. In Ephesians 5:19 – “Speaking to yourselves in Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody (Making music) in your heart to the Lord.” The parallel text is, Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Notice the instrument on which we are to make music is our heart and that is to be played to the Lord. So far as what we are to do toward one another, it is to Sing.

While instrumental music is never condemned in the New Testament, it is never authorized either. Why not simply go as far as the Lord does on the matter and stop?

Question #41

While growing up in the church I was always taught to end my prayers “in Jesus name” or something similar to that. Do we have any Biblical instructions on this or is this a tradition we have instituted? I know that Christ intercedes for us but is it necessary to “say” the phrase or not. Could you please give me some scriptures to follow up on.

Leon’s Response

One certainly would assume from what we hear from each other that there is some clear command for us to always conclude our prayers with such a phrase as “In Christ name”. It is based on such statements as John 14:13,14 where Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” Later in Colossians 3:17 Paul wrote, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father in His name.” There is certainly not a question that we are to pray in the name of the Lord as well as do every other thing we do in His service.

The reality is, this probably had nothing to do with our saying it at the conclusion of every prayer except that it is a good reminder to us and a good teaching tool to others. Our prayers must be in the name of Lord. But a Pray doesn’t have to have those words said in order to be in His name. Since all things are to be done in His name if doing something in His name required saying it every time we would be in quite an area of stress wouldn’t we?

Is it a good idea to say “In the name of the Lord” or some such phrase at the conclusion of our prayers? I think so. Just as it is a good idea to say, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins” one’s baptism. But it isn’t the words which make it reality. It is what is done. The phrase in the name of mean by the authority of so if we pray in the Lord’s name we are going to God in His authority. No wonder then we can go to Him with all boldness (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Question #42

If a body of believers is following the Bible in their worship, but feels instrumental music is acceptable and they choose to use it. Are these believers lost based on an area that at best is vague in scripture? I have really struggled with this of late and have heard all my life about making music in our hearts and I fully believe that to be true, but I am struggling with issue. Let me get to the point: Is God, in your opinion, going to send someone to hell for a musical instrument in their assembly?

Leon’s Response

This is one I’ve been asked several times in the last several days so I’m going to answer it a little less personally if you don’t mind and just cover the whole group at once.

The entire worship question and what is right is worship is on the minds of people today. We are searching for answers and the fact others have searched in the past isn’t sufficient. If the Bible were absolutely clear on the whole theme in instrumental music in the worship assembly it would not continue to be such a boiling topic of discussion among honest believers who love the Lord and want to be pleasing to Him.

But we must be extremely careful that we are not like the Israelites simply wanting to be like the nations about us an searching for the latest new thing because we think we aren’t growing with what we have. If the message of God won’t save folks then they won’t be convinced though one rise from the dead. So, let’s look honestly at what the Bible says for a moment.

It is true the instrument was common in the Old Testament worship. It is true it is talked about in heaven. It is also true the New Testament is silent as the tomb about the use of an instrument in worship to God as it relates to the church and it’s worship, even though it was talked about all around that oasis of the church. Do you really think that was just an accident?

The second thing which is significant is that The Holy Spirit took the very word He had led the Holy Prophets of Old to use in the Old Testament to apply to them playing the instruments such as harps and applied it to each person who sings making melody or playing their own heart to the Lord as they sing. Can’t you do that and use an instrument also? Maybe? But it is powerful to me that God to His normal word and used it to apply to the instrument we all are to play today as we sing.

The third thing which stands out is the Holy Spirit was very specific about the kinds of songs we are to sing. He said Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are the songs to sing as you praise the Lord. Now some would challenge my thinking and say, Leon these verses you are referring to in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 don’t even apply to the assemblies but are simply having to do with the actions of an individual in daily life. If such is the case, you are limited to these kinds of songs all the time. Also, note the fact the singing of these test are pointed in two directions, to “One another” as for as the voice is concerned and “unto God” as for as the heart is concerned. If that doesn’t sound like worship then I’m missing something somewhere.

Is this so air tight that I’m ready to consign someone to hell for disagreeing with me? Not on your life. The truth is, I’m not ready to consign anyone to hell for disagreeing with me period. Each of us will stand before the Lord all too soon.

I hope and pray we will not allow something else to drive another wedge between us as brothers and sisters in the Lord. The mission of reaching the lost and helping those who hurt is simply far too great to get sidetracked with such things.

Question #43

I was reading through your Q & A page and had a question about one of your answers. It is about the capital punishment question. While Romans tells us that God gives the authority to the government, that does not mean that everything the government does is according to God’s will. Abortion is a perfect example. The government says it’s ok, but God does not. If your could answer these two questions honestly, the question of whether capital punishment is right or wrong is simple. #1. Are we to follow the example of Christ’s life while he was on earth? #2 In what situation would Christ take another man’s life?

If you look at the New Testament and it’s overall message, it is not a testament of condemnation, but of righteousness (II Cor. 7:9). What did Jesus do to the woman at the well? (John 8:3-11).

We are all accountable for our own sins and will face the ultimate judgment from God (Romans 14:11-12). How can one man know another’s heart? If a man were not killed by the government and kept in prison until his death, how do you know he could not become a Christian while in prison and save someone else’s soul? Does not the scripture and the church support prison ministry? This seems very contradictory to me. Did not Moses, David, and Paul take another man’s life? Were they put to death? Was not David a an after God’s own heart?

We should protect other humans from those who commit crimes, but it is jot up to us to decide when they should die. “Every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” (Romans 14:11)

Take your time answering. Thanks!

Leon’s Response

I appreciate your questions and thoughts about capital punishment. Your questions are good. 1. Are we to follow Christ’s example while he was on earth? Yes.

In what situation would Christ take another man’s life? I don’t know. But I do know that to use Christ example to set aside any teaching from other inspired teachers of the New Testament is a mistake. Christ said to His Apostles there were many other things He wished He could tell them at that time, but they weren’t ready for them at that time. The Holy Spirit would come upon them and guide them into all truth. The remainder of the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise in that matter, including Paul’s teaching in Romans 13.

While it is certainly true that the government does many things which are wrong, what God ordained the government to do in Romans 13 is not wrong. He declared the government to be His ministers to execute wrath on the children of disobedience and that they bear not the sword in vain. While I might agree with you on a personal basis that capital punishment is not good because a man can be converted and might be reached for heaven, it doesn’t change the fact Scripture ordained it to begin with.

Personally I favor every opportunity for one to repent. You might think of the times God had the very men you mention, that is Moses and David, to carry out capital punishment against others. When something is ordained of God I must not try to make Scripture fit what I would like for it to say to fit my ideas. That is true not only of this topic but of all others. I want always to go to God’s word to learn what to believe, not to prove what I’m already convinced is right.

Question #44

While growing up in the church I was always taught to end my prayers “in Jesus name” or something similar to that. Do we have any Biblical instructions on this or is this a tradition we have instituted? I know that Christ intercedes for us but is it necessary to “say” the phrase or not. Could you please give me some scriptures to follow up on.

Leon’s Response

One certainly would assume from what we hear from each other that there is some clear command for us to always conclude our prayers with such a phrase as “In Christ name”. It is based on such statements as John 14:13,14 where Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” Later in Colossians 3:17 Paul wrote, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father in His name.” There is certainly not a question that we are to pray in the name of the Lord as well as do every other thing we do in His service.

The reality is, this probably had nothing to do with our saying it at the conclusion of every prayer except that it is a good reminder to us and a good teaching tool to others. Our prayers must be in the name of Lord. But a Pray doesn’t have to have those words said in order to be in His name. Since all things are to be done in His name if doing something in His name required saying it every time we would be in quite an area of stress wouldn’t we?

Is it a good idea to say “In the name of the Lord” or some such phrase at the conclusion of our prayers? I think so. Just as it is a good idea to say, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins” one’s baptism. But it isn’t the words which make it reality. It is what is done. The phrase in the name of mean by the authority of so if we pray in the Lord’s name we are going to God in His authority. No wonder then we can go to Him with all boldness (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Question #45

If a body of believers is following the Bible in their worship, but feels instrumental music is acceptable and they choose to use it. Are these believers lost based on an area that at best is vague in scripture? I have really struggled with this of late and have heard all my life about making music in our hearts and I fully believe that to be true, but I am struggling with issue. Let me get to the point: Is God, in your opinion, going to send someone to hell for a musical instrument in their assembly?

Leon’s Response

This is one I’ve been asked several times in the last several days so I’m going to answer it a little less personally if you don’t mind and just cover the whole group at once.

The entire worship question and what is right is worship is on the minds of people today. We are searching for answers and the fact others have searched in the past isn’t sufficient. If the Bible were absolutely clear on the whole theme in instrumental music in the worship assembly it would not continue to be such a boiling topic of discussion among honest believers who love the Lord and want to be pleasing to Him.

But we must be extremely careful that we are not like the Israelites simply wanting to be like the nations about us an searching for the latest new thing because we think we aren’t growing with what we have. If the message of God won’t save folks then they won’t be convinced though one rise from the dead. So, let’s look honestly at what the Bible says for a moment.

It is true the instrument was common in the Old Testament worship. It is true it is talked about in heaven. It is also true the New Testament is silent as the tomb about the use of an instrument in worship to God as it relates to the church and it’s worship, even though it was talked about all around that oasis of the church. Do you really think that was just an accident?

The second thing which is significant is that The Holy Spirit took the very word He had led the Holy Prophets of Old to use in the Old Testament to apply to them playing the instruments such as harps and applied it to each person who sings making melody or playing their own heart to the Lord as they sing. Can’t you do that and use an instrument also? Maybe? But it is powerful to me that God to His normal word and used it to apply to the instrument we all are to play today as we sing.

The third thing which stands out is the Holy Spirit was very specific about the kinds of songs we are to sing. He said Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are the songs to sing as you praise the Lord. Now some would challenge my thinking and say, Leon these verses you are referring to in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 don’t even apply to the assemblies but are simply having to do with the actions of an individual in daily life. If such is the case, you are limited to these kinds of songs all the time. Also, note the fact the singing of these test are pointed in two directions, to “One another” as for as the voice is concerned and “unto God” as for as the heart is concerned. If that doesn’t sound like worship then I’m missing something somewhere.

Is this so air tight that I’m ready to consign someone to hell for disagreeing with me? Not on your life. The truth is, I’m not ready to consign anyone to hell for disagreeing with me period. Each of us will stand before the Lord all too soon.

I hope and pray we will not allow something else to drive another wedge between us as brothers and sisters in the Lord. The mission of reaching the lost and helping those who hurt is simply far too great to get sidetracked with such things.

Question #46

One point has bothered me for a long time. I have never been able to get a straight answer to this question. In the beginning God created one man and one woman and they had children. This would lead me to believe that all humans on the face of the earth are in fact related to each other. The bible does not mention any other human creatures that were created. The fact remains that regardless of your race or color we are in fact genetically related.

Leon’s Response

Your assumption is correct. We are all related. As a matter of fact in the New Testament in Acts 17:26 Paul preaching to the people in Athens said, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” When you go back in reading Genesis not only did all people come from Adam and Eve but as the creation continued they came again from Noah and his family when the world was destroy by the flood. The different races and generations are to be traced from the sons of Noah and from the separation which took place at the tower of Babel as described in Genesis chapters 9- 11.

I hope this is helpful to you and if you have further questions please feel free to ask.

Question #47

How could Lucifer sin in Heaven when Heaven is perfect?

Leon’s Response

Your question on “How could Lucifer sin in Heaven when Heaven is perfect?” is an excellent question. Thanks for sending it in.

The reference in the Bible to Lucifer is found in Isaiah 14:12 which says, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your hear: I will ascent into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depth of the Pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, Who did not open the house of his prisoners?” (Isaiah 14:12-17)

While this has been said by numerous books to be about the fall of the devil or Satan, if you read the context of Isaiah 14 it becomes obvious that Isaiah was talking about the fall of the king of Babylon. He used some symbolic language about how strong and mighty the king thought he was. He thought his kingdom was so great he could exalt it up to heaven itself but when his pride became so great, it was brought down to the pit itself. God used the nation of Babylon to punish Israel for the sinfulness they were going through. But they should never have become proud over their place in God’s use of them.

Lucifer is not the devil.

Now, if we come back to the question of how could the devil or Satan fall from heaven when heaven is perfect it is still a good question. For he still fell. What we know is that He fell because of pride (I Timothy 3:6).

We also know that not only did the devil himself fall but others of the angels have fallen with him (Matthew 25:41). Both 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude Verse 6 mention the angels who sinned. The point evidently is that as perfect as heaven is there is still a choice for those angels who dwell there as to whether they will stay with God or go with the way of evil. How perfect is any way if there is no choice for one to make?

The Garden of Eden was a perfect place for Adam and Eve but they had a choice as to whom they would serve. They chose to follow the devil. It led to dire circumstances.

The ultimate difference in heaven in the last days for those who go there is that Satan and temptation will no longer be there because they have already made the choice to be with God. Time will have passed away.

Eternity is always in the present.

Question #48

Is predestination true?

Leon’s Response

Predestination is talked about many times in the Bible and is certainly true in the sense described in the Word of God. The interpretations placed on the concept by men are not always true. But any concept taught in the Bible is true. The word means to be determined before hand. Look at some of the things said in the Bible on the subject to see what is taught on the theme.

In Ephesians 1:3-6 Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”

Notice some key things in this text. All spiritual blessings are in Christ. This is just as God has chosen before the foundation of the world.

God didn’t choose who would be in Christ before the foundation of the world. He did choose that those who would be saved would be saved in Christ. It is up to us to decide if we will have the faith in the Lord to repent of our sins on hearing the gospel to repent and be baptized into Christ to get into Christ (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:37-40; Romans 6:3-4). But God has already predetermined that if we are saved it will be in Christ. If we refuse to do what it takes to get into Christ we will not be saved.

Also, God has predestined that those who are saved in Christ are to live holy and blameless lives before Him. I can choose not to live that life. But if I do, I am choosing not to be one of God’s chosen ones in the process.

God has predetermined that those who are in Christ will be adopted into the very family of God as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself. We become family. God is our Father. Christ is our older Brother.

He has predetermined that those who are saved in the Lord will be accepted in the beloved.

Another text on predestination is found in Romans 8:29 which says, “Moreover whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

Notice the predestination was that those redeemed would be conformed to the image of His Son that we might be the firstborn among many brethren.

So, the answer to your question is, Yes, the Bible teaches predestination. But it also teaches that you are the one who must choose whether or not you will be saved or lost. Your salvation is not something God decided before the foundation of the earth. He is not willing that any should perish but wants all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9) Christ tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). He sent His disciples to preach the gospel to every creature and said “He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15,16).

Question #49

If I follow the your very own “C-of-C” “5 step plan” for salvation, but go to a Baptist church, am I saved? Is it really necessary that I understand the purpose of baptism (as you define it) or is obedience enough. It is easily proved that God has never demanded that we understand the purposes of His commandments but only that we obey them. If I am obedient in baptism, confession, repentance, and have faith and a love for God, but attend a Baptist church whose main differences are in worship style, am I saved? Direction for public worship in the NT is sketchy at best. Isn’t what you are really saying that you must be in the “church of Christ” to be saved? Do you not understand that the church of Jesus, His Body, is bigger than just the “church of Christ”. God called for unity not uniformity.

Leon’s Response

Thanks for your question. It is a great question that keys in on several vital points.

First of all a person is saved at the point at which they are obedient to the faith in Christ. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved and he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). In Acts 2:38 after they heard Peter preach Jesus to them and were cut to their heart they cried out “What shall we do?” Peter answered, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall received the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Those who gladly received the word were baptized and there were added to their number about 3,000 souls that day. As you read through the book of Acts those people who heard the gospel message over and over again came to faith in Jesus, turned from their old life of sin and were baptized to have their sins washed away. Did they understand the full import of what was implied by their baptism? Certainly not, since the cases of conversion recorded in the book of Acts generally involved people who had heard only one sermon on being baptized. But they did understand enough to know that this was the time when they could rejoice because their sins had been taken away and they now had a right relationship with God. They understood that baptism was an action of their faith which stood between them and being what God wanted them to be. It is certainly true that most of what the Bible teaches on the details of baptism and what it meant was written to people who had already been baptized.

Can one be a Christian and worship in the Baptist Church? First of all, I’m not in the judging business and I thank God I’m not. There is only one judge and I’m certainly not qualified for the task. Jesus will serve as the judge for all. We will each stand before Him in the last day and that will be personally, not as a church or family or any other group. When it comes to the differences between the churches of Christ and any other group, here is what we are trying to make those differences always be. We are striving to be the ones who are calling folks to come out of denominational-ism altogether and just be Christians. We are not trying to say we have a better denomination than you do. The point is, Jesus prayed for unity, that we might all be one as He and the Father are one. (John 17:20-21) Paul pleaded for us to work for unity in the body (I Corinthians 1:10-13; Ephesians 4:1-6). Instead we have become so used to the divisions of our time we strive to justify them. Denominational-ism is wrong if it is inside the churches of Christ or the Baptist church or anywhere else.

Also, what we do and teach in worship does affect our relationship with God. In Matthew 15:9 Jesus said, “In vain they worship Me teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Maybe I read something into your letter you didn’t mean, but it sounded to me like you were saying since there wasn’t much wrong there shouldn’t be any problem. Consider what the problem was when Jesus made the statement above. Some were demanding folks wash their hands in just the right way before they ate. A little error, like a little poison can do tremendous harm. Again, let me emphasize whether someone is saved or not is a judgement only the Lord and an individual can make. All anyone of the rest of us can do is study what the Bible says and strive to understand it to the best of our abilities with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Question #50

Ok, thank you for answering that question. Is there any way you mind answering some more for me? Is the notion “once saved always saved” correct?  It has been a big discussion among a lot of people.

Leon’s Response

I appreciate your interest in God’s Word. It is certainly true that God wants every person who is saved to remain true to Him forever. He promises that if we are saved Satan cannot take us from the hand of God. (John 10:25-30). But notice even in this text it is for those who are the sheep who hear the Lord’s voice and follow Him. What happens if one stops hearing the Lord’s voice and following Him? Do you remember Jesus telling His disciples He was sending them to the Lost sheep of the house of Israel?

Think of some of the text in the Bible which show the possibility one can fall after being saved. In John 15:1-8 Jesus described Himself as the vine and His disciples as the branches. Every branch which did not bear fruit is cut off and cast into the fire and burned. If we continue in His word then are we His disciple and bring forth much fruit.

In Galatians 5:4 Paul warned if one justified himself by the law he would fall from grace and sever himself from Christ. IN Galatians 6:1 He told Christians to restore those who had been overtaken in a fault. IN James 5:19,20 We are told Brethren if any of you do err from the faith and one convert him let him know that he who converts a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. In 2 Peter 2:20-22 we are told if after one as escaped the pollution in the world they are again entangled therein and overcome the later state is worse than the beginning and it had been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than to have known the holy commandment and turned back. IN 2 Peter 1:5-10 He told us how to keep from falling by adding the Christian graces in our lives and then we would never fall but would have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom.

The very fact he would say “If you do these things you will never fall.” should shout to anyone if you don’t do them you will fall.

So yes there is a possibility one can fall from grace. Now please understand if we remain faithful to the Lord and grow in His grace there is never a need for anyone to fall from the Lord. In I John 1:7 we are told “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all our sins.” Even as a devoted and faithful child of God we sin, but the blood of Christ keeps us clean if we stay in fellowship with Him. It is only when we leave the Lord and stop growing in the right way that we fall from grace.

Question #51
Can a person pray for the love and salvation of a loved one and know that God will answer that prayer because He said that if we pray anything according to His will He will do it? Or does this fall under the category of God not forcing His will on anyone?

Leon’s Response

First, we have the right to pray for those we love to be saved. Paul prayed for those he loved in Romans 10:1-3 saying his hearts desire and prayer to God was that they might be saved. But you are right that God never over rules the free moral agency of any person. Each individual has their own choice about what they will do for the Lord. What God will do in response to our prayers is offer the person opportunities to hear the gospel story. He will send His Spirit to convict the person of their need for salvation. But ultimately they must decide for themselves what they will do with that decision.

Remember in Acts chapter two when Peter was preaching to the people and they were cut to the heart by the gospel message. They 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 to you and to your children and to all who are a far off even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words he did testify and exhort them, saying ‘save yourselves from this crooked generation.'” He certainly wasn’t saying they could save themselves on their own. But he was teaching them the choice was theirs as to whether or not they would accept the salvation God offered by His grace to them. Let’s keep praying for our loved ones. The more opportunities God gives them the more likely they are to make the right choice for Him. Thanks for your question. I hope the answer is helpful.

Question #52

Why do people sometimes find it difficult to believe there will be a final judgment? Why did God give David three choices in 1 Chronicles 21:8-20 and what had David done that was so sinful?

Leon’s Response

In answer to the first question about why people don’t believe there will be a final judgement, Peter said in 2 Peter 3:3,4 it was because all things continue as they were from the beginning. The result is Scoffers arise walking after their own lusts saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” Peter said they were willingly ignorant of some things when they scoffed at such. They were ignorant that with God one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. His point is simply that God is not bound up in time as we are.

We live our little lives and they seem like a long time. But God is eternal. He also reminded us of the judgment which came upon the world in the days of the flood when God became tired of the sin in the days of Noah. He waits now because He is not willing that any should perish but wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Will everyone ever be convinced there will be a final judgement? Yes, they will. When? The day we all stand before God in that judgement.

The second question about David’s sin in I Chronicles 21 and why it was so bad. The sin was counting the number of the children of Israel that were under his rule at the time. Why was it so bad? Because it was something Satan had moved him to do out of pride? Remember Satan himself fell because of pride. Pride is one of the seven sins God says He hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). Instead of David leaning on God and realizing whatever number of people there were in Israel they were all under God’s rule, he took pride and wanted to know how many he ruled. God hated the pride. He brought a horrible distress on Israel as a result and gave David three choices, as you mentioned as to what kind of punishment he would take as to how it would be stopped. The reason for giving him the three choices was to test David to see if he was ready to humble himself again and lean completely on God again or continue in his way of pride. David had learned his lesson. He humbled himself and threw himself on the mercy of the Lord. His punishment was in God’s hand. His sacrifice would not be one which cost him nothing.

The powerful lesson we should learn is pride is a horrible thing in anyone’s life. If we are to remain in God’s favor we must keep a humble spirit realizing always the power is the Lord’s and we are but His servants. Thanks for your questions.

Question #53

Is Psalms 150 a command authorizing the use of instruments in worshiping and praising God? It seems so.

Leon’s Response

Yes, I believe Psalms 150 is commanding the use of instruments of music in worship and praise to God in worship. This was a part of the Old Testament law written one thousand years before the birth of Christ and before the New Testament Law became effective. Under the Old Testament law it was the case the instrumental music was a vital part of the worship in the temple.

But that Law is no longer bound on man. To justify oneself by the old law today is to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). The law was our school master to bring us to Christ but after Christ is come we are no longer under the school master (Galatians 3:24,25). In order to learn what to do in worship in the New Testament era one would need to look at the New Testament law. Every New Testament Passage which refers to what we are to do with regard to music in worship simply says sing. (Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; I Corinthians 14:15; I Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12; James 5:13.) From the time the Old Testament law was done away and the New Testament law became in effect these are the only New Testament passages mentioning music and some of them really aren’t talking about worship in an assembly but rather about private singing. Think about the fact that from the time the church was established in about 30A.D. until 800A.D. there were no instruments of music used in worship even though it had been a part of worship in the Old Testament all along.

Why do you suppose there was such a sudden change?

Question #54

Was Jesus just a prophet, or a philosopher?

Leon’s Response

Jesus was indeed a prophet and a philosopher. But He was far more than just that. He came into the world as the God in the flesh. According to Colossians 2:9 “In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” The word “Immanuel,” that Isaiah the prophet said he would be given, in Isaiah 7:14, means “God with us” (Matthew 1:21-23). He is the one through whom we can have our sins forgiven and a new start in life (Colossians 1:13-18). In reality there is not any single word you could use about Jesus which would be accurate in saying He was “just” anything. It is so vital that one know and understand the nature and believe correctly about Him that Peter said, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which you can be saved.” Acts 4:12

Question #55

Rule of elders (opinion), how far can an elder go in giving his opinion?

Leon’s Response

There are three levels on which I want to answer this question since it is a brief question and I have no knowledge of the background on which it is given.

First, while the elders are said to “Rule” in I Timothy 5:17 in the KJV, the word literally means to lead. He is also said to “Rule his own house” in I Timothy 3:4. Elders have the oversight in the congregation. But Peter said, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, SERVING as overseers, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. Elders are leaders and not Lords. We only have one Lord and that is Jesus.

Second, it is only in matters of judgment or opinion that elders do make decisions or rule. In matters of Law God has spoken in His Word and no man has a right to say anything but, “Amen”. For an eldership to try to make decisions in areas of authority would be for them to act like a pope. Their place to work is in the area of judgment where God has told us to do things but has not told us exactly how to do them. For example, God has commanded for us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, but each local congregation must decide what part of that they can fulfill. We are told what to do in worship. The elders decide how to carry it out in each local church. They don’t have the right to decide whether to have the Lord’s Supper or not. God’s already decided that. They don’t have the right to decide what the preacher will preach. God has already told him to preach the Word.

Third, elders don’t have the right to make laws where God hasn’t made any laws. They can have policies for the congregation. But they must not become confused and think they rule like the Lord and they have authority to make rules for peoples lives. When people tried to make rules for God and bind them on people, God called it a doctrine of the devil. Notice in I Timothy 4:1-5 people begin to forbid to marry and command to abstain from meats which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. Paul called this speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron. They were departing from the faith.

Do elders have the right to make decisions in matters of judgment? Yes they do. Do they have the right to make laws where God hasn’t made any laws and bind them on people? No they don’t. So the question is, which are you talking about?

Question #56

I am currently in a study with my younger brother. He does not believe that there is a waiting place for those who die, I believe there is. I believe there is a place called Paradise and a place called Hades for those who await judgment. If I am correct, where can I find proof of this to back my belief? I remember reading up on this, however, I can’t remember where. Also, he doesn’t look at the story of the rich man and poor man being an example. He says that it is a parable, so you can’t take it like it says. Thanks so much.

Leon’s Response

Concerning whether we go to a waiting place or directly to heaven or hell, I personally am of the opinion one goes directly to heaven or hell. What is certain in the Bible is that one goes immediately to punishment or reward whether or not that is the final place seems to be of minor concern. You mentioned the story in Luke 16:19-31 of the rich man and Lazarus. This isn’t a parable for these reasons. Parables don’t name the characters in them. Parables are of the future concerning the kingdom to come. This was about something in the past. When the rich man wanted Lazarus to go back to his brothers on the earth Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets, Let them hear them.” If it had been of the future, Jesus would have said, they have the New Testament. Abraham’s bosom doesn’t represent anything. It was simply the fact Abraham was the one who greeted Lazarus in his death and held him in his bosom.

But notice the fact when they died both went immediately to punishment or reward. When Jesus was dying on the cross He said to the thief, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit” in Acts 7. In Philippian 1:21-23 Paul is hard pressed on either staying in the body or departing from the body and being with Christ, which is very far better. Notice Christ is at the right hand of God in heaven. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 when Paul talks about heaven he says if one departs from the body he departs to be with the Lord. As long as we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. When we leave the body we are present with the Lord. In I Thessalonians 4:13-18 when Paul describes the second coming of the Lord to receive the saints he says in verse 14 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” Notice, when Jesus comes He will bring with Him those asleep in Jesus, that is their souls or spirits. This fits with Jude 14 which says he will come with ten thousand of His saints. Then when he comes the body will be raised to meet Him in the air. At that time soul and body will be joined to spend eternity with the Lord.

The lost will likewise be raised to have soul and body joined to spend eternity in hell. Again, whether that time in between is in heaven or some other place makes little difference. But my own understanding of the Bible is that it is in heaven or hell, but without the body.

Question #57

Is it appropriate to worship Christ? Can we sing the songs of praises to Jesus Christ in our worship?

Leon’s Response

The answer is absolutely yes, we can. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. He is Immanuel, (God with us). He is described by John as God in John 1:1, 2. In Colossians 2:9, Paul said in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. In Colossians 1:13-18 he described how He is the preeminent one who created all things and upholds all things. In Hebrews 1:8 it says, “But to the Son He says” ‘Your throne, O God is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” In verse 6 of Hebrews one God the Father is pictured as commanding, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” with reference to the Son. If you read the gospel accounts, there are numerous accounts of people worship Jesus as in Matthew 28:9 when He had been raised from the dead and the disciples fell at his feet to worship Him. Or in Matthew 28:17, “And when they saw they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” It was common after Jesus healed people for them to worship Him.

He never told them worship was inappropriate for Him. Because it wasn’t, since He was, and is, God. Believing the deity of Jesus is fundamental to Christianity, and if He is God, He deserves our worship the same as the Father.

Question #58

Kindly explain about the infant baptism and its wrong teachings and practices and also about the Psalm 51 especially about the words of David about the sin.

Leon’s Response

First, with regard to infant baptism there is absolutely no Biblical authority for it at all. When you read the examples of baptism in the Bible it is always with regard adults. But far more than that, the things which are involved in baptism do not fit an infant.

For example, Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe shall be condemned.” Without belief baptism would have no validity. But an infant can’t believe. Also, before a person can rightly be baptized they are to repent of their sins. In Acts 2:38 those who cried out, “What shall we do?” were told to “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins in the name of Jesus Christ and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The word repent means to change one’s mind. But an infant can’t change their mind. Besides they have no sin to repent of. Repentance starts with godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10) but they are incapable of the sin or the godly sorrow bringing repentance.

When Jesus talked about children He said of them, “Except you are converted and become like little children you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Question #59

Of whom does the Paul speak in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 when he refers to the “lawless one?”

I have heard numerous answers from “The Pope” to someone who was apostatizing the church at that time. Please include in your response how this does or does not fit in with the second coming of Christ as mentioned at the beginning of the chapter.

Leon’s Response


Notice some things about verses 8-10 in answer to your question. “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

According to verse 7 the mystery of lawlessness was already at work at the time Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians. But exactly who He is the Bible never reveals. The reason there has been so much speculation through the years is due to the fact the Bible never says exactly who he is. What we know is, He will work under the power of Satan. He will, at least, seem to work all kinds of miraculous deeds. He will deceive many. He will not be fully destroyed until the Lord comes again to destroy Him. Those believers who are sold on the truth will be led astray by his works also. More than this is not revealed by God anywhere in His word and would be mere speculation. It is no wonder men have come up with such identifications as the pope in Rome. But the only safe place to be is to remain with what the Bible clearly says.

Question #60

My question is in regards to prayer, as I am seeking to pray in the right manner. The short of it is the things I pray that are spiritual in nature seem to have doors fall down and open with such ease that it is borderline scary. Now, I have prayed diligently for answers regarding my health and personal life that seem to be sealed shut. Any thoughts or guidance is appreciated.

Leon’s Response

I think Paul often felt the same way you do. His prayers about spiritual matters had the same kind of response of being heard with amazing results. But when he prayed about his physical problems to the Lord in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 asking the Lord to remove the thorn in the flesh, the Lord’s answer was “No”. God’s word was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response was, Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Throughout the centuries of time if you read and study the histories of great servants of God you will find the same kind of struggles. I don’t know that I can answer the why of God’s actions on the matter. But He has been consistent throughout most of Bible history with His servants.

In my own life I’ve struggled with physical problems for which I have prayed for many years and God’s answer has been “no”. From my point of view it would seem to me that I could serve Him so much better without the physical problems. But God knows best. The best answer is to learn from your physical problems and grow through them before God. In that way you may be able to use them to be of greater spiritual strength. One of these days you may be able to say with Paul, “I have learned in whatever state I’m in to be content.”

Question #61

Does God still hear my prayers and will he answer them even though I’ve not yet been baptized?

Leon’s Response

First, I would have to say, that only God can say for sure what prayers He will answer and what prayers He won’t answer. He hasn’t given the right for me or anyone else to speak for Him. the only thing I can do is answer based on what understanding I have of His Word.

Second, there are times when He answered prayers of those who were not baptized when they were praying for someone to teach them the way of God as with Saul of Tarsus who was praying when God told Ananias to go to him in Acts 9, and Cornelius when God sent the angel to him to tell him to send for a man named Peter who would tell him words by which he and his house might be saved, as recorded in Acts 10. But it should be noted that prayer is never a substitute for doing what God said do in order to have our sins forgiven. If one is praying for God to forgive sins when the Bible says they should believe and be baptized to be saved, then prayer will not be a good substitute for obedience to the Lord (Mark 16:15,16).

Third, if one is too young to be baptized then God hears the prayers of children all the time. They are in a constant right relationship with Him. Jesus said of all of us we need to be converted and become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven, (Matthew 18:3-5).

Fourth, if you know you need to be baptized but have not been, why not go ahead and be baptized and continue to pray so that you won’t have the worries about your prayers being answered?

Fifth, God says, He answers the prayers of the righteous (James 5:16; I Peter 3:12). In order to be righteous we must be trying to live right with the Lord. That certainly doesn’t mean we are perfect people. But it does mean we are trying to do and be right with the Lord on a regular basis.

Finally, prayer is such a wonderful privilege, there are all kinds of great blessings tied to it. May I suggest two things for you to read and think about from the Bible to help you decide for yourself about your understanding of prayer. First read the Lord’s prayer recorded in Luke 11:1-4. Then read the book of James which has so many different instructions on the subject of prayer. I believe you will come away with your own answers and be more satisfied for yourself.

Question #62

I have always believed when a young man becomes a Christian, he should then be taught by a man instead of a woman in bible study classes. Is this just traditional or is it scriptural?

Leon’s Response

Your feelings are shared by many and are based on the idea that when Paul said in I Timothy 2:12-14 that a woman was not to teach or have authority over a man that it meant that she couldn’t teach a person who was of the male sex after they became a Christian. The interpretation was given that becoming a Christian somehow made them into a man in the sight of God. Of course we didn’t think that made them into men in any other sense in the world. It was simply an interpretation of this text. It probably went back to the Jewish idea that boys were ushered into manhood at the age of twelve.

While I would certainly not object of boys at this age having men teachers and if it bothers your conscience I would certainly tell you not to teach boys when they become Christians since to violate ones conscience is a sin ( Romans 14:23). I would point out that becoming a Christian doesn’t make one a man. If he was a boy before baptism he is still a boy afterward. Paul is not teaching that it is wrong for women to have authority over children or young boys, but over men.

There is no other text in the New Testament which addresses this point at all. I Corinthians 14:34-35 have to do with women speaking in the assembly.

Question #63

Is anal sex a sin and also is oral sex a sin between a man and woman who are married? I would also like to know if oral sex between two people who are not married is a sin.

Leon’s Response

In Hebrews 13:4 the Bible says “Marriage is honorable in and the bed undefiled but fornicators and adulterers, God will judge.” Therefore, any sexual relation between a man and his wife which is pleasing to both of them is acceptable to the Lord. This would include oral sex and anal sex. But any sexual relation outside of the marriage bond is fornication and thus under the judgment of God.

Question #64

I want to know if I can get married again if I am divorced. I was married to my first husband and he was killed in an automobile accident. I married my second husband and we had a lot of problems. He used me for my money and would not help me with anything. He had 2 children of his own that I tried to take care of. He would not make them mind. He would not help me pay the bills. When we married, I really wanted a family. I got pregnant and had a little girl. He didn’t want any more children but I did. I wanted a family and children. Things just got worse. I developed medical problems from the stress of worrying about how to take care of the bills and children. I begged him to help me out. I prayed and prayed. I asked my husband if he would go with me to a marriage counselor, but he said no. I had to do something to save what little I had left and I had a daughter to think about, so we divorced. I have been divorced for 6 years now. I have met a man who I really care a lot about. I did not attend church as I should have done. I never did understand the bible and its true meaning during my life. I went to church at a Methodist church growing up with my parents. After I was grown, I steered away from church. I started going to a church down the road from my house. It is Church of Christ. I am trying to learn more about the Bible. It is hard. Since I did get divorced, what must I do to be able to marry again. Will God ever forgive me for getting a divorce or is all lost?? I really need to know what to do. This man I have met was raised up in the Church of Christ. I am just learning about some of this. I know that we are not supposed to get divorced, but I had to take care of my child and home. Will God hold this against me for the rest of my life?? Please let me know!

Leon’s Response

I appreciate your struggle for answers and your interest in God’s Word. First of all, please understand that a person is saved by the grace of God and there is no sin God can’t or won’t forgive when we turn from that sin. He gave His Son to die for us so we could have the forgiveness of our sins (John 3:16). He doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). In I Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul wrote “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Notice, these people had committed adultery, fornication and all kinds of other sins but they had been washed sanctified and justified by the Lord. You can have the same thing before the Lord when you through faith in the Lord, repent of your sins are are baptized into Christ to have your sins washed away in the Lord.

What then about the old life and about the subject of your old divorce before you were baptized into the Lord? In I Corinthians 7 Paul addresses many questions about the whole theme of marriage. Later in the chapter they evidently asked about someone who had been divorced becoming a Christian and then wanting to get married. In verses 17-24 he lays down a principle “Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.” In verses 27,28 he makes this application. “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.”

The point Paul makes is when one becomes a Christian they have the freedom to marry if they have been divorced. But what about Matthew 19:9? Doesn’t it say that the one who marries the one divorced commits adultery? Look more closely at Matthew 19:9 “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Jesus whole point was to preserve the sanctity of marriage. He had said in verse 6 “What God has joined together let no man separate.” His point was to hold marriages together. He was trying to get these hard hearted religious teachers to see that divorcing their wives for every cause and every excuse was wrong. God’s plan was for marriages to last a life time. The one thing which breaks the bond of marriage completely is to be unfaithful to the sexual vows of marriage. He therefore said, that was the only reason one could rightly, without sin, divorce a mate and marry another.

The picture here is of a man divorcing an adulterous wife and then having freedom to remarry. Jesus says the one who marries her, commits adultery as well. He was talking about the wife put away for adultery. He was not talking about an innocent wife put away.

What does any of this have to do with your situation? Very little. Because you didn’t know these things at the time. You were doing what was best for you and your child at the time. Jesus was dealing with a whole different situation. The text in I Corinthians 7 deals with your situation. If you haven’t yet become a Christian, do so as quickly as possible. I hope this will help you in your study of this subject of and of matters as well.

Question #65

Does the bible speak on birth control?

Leon’s Response

No, the Bible doesn’t speak about birth control. It does indicate that sex is for more than just reproduction in I Corinthians 7:1-6. That would imply that birth control is not sinful.

Question #66

Hello there, and thanks for listening to my question. First off I’d like to say that you have a good way of explaining these kind of matters, and I totally respect that. I am in agreement with you on almost every scriptural matter (I’m still not so sure about instrumental music or not taking the Lord’s Supper every week being wrong), and I’d like your input on a question that I don’t guess anyone but God can answer. What is your take on people (such as tribes in Africa for instance) who have never heard the gospel of Jesus? Do you think God will punish them? I along with my friends have been wondering about this for some time now, and that maybe God would consider them as children–not knowing what sin was since they had no knowledge of God’s law. Also for another example, the people in the middle ages–they had no ability to read, nor was there anyone to teach them. They had to go off of what other people told them about Christianity, so they had no way of knowing if they were doing the right things or not. Also please apply this to people in denominational churches. Do you think God will punish them for worshiping contrary to His word if they are truly seeking to serve God, and just don’t know any better? Thanks for your time.

Leon’s Response

You are certainly right that only God knows for certain what He will do in the judgment. We are given these hints. Acts 17:30 says “The times of this ignorance God once overlooked but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” Romans 1:20 says “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” In this he was referring to those who had not had the opportunity to be taught the Word of God. They had the opportunity to see the evidence of nature that God is there. In Romans 2:14-16 it says, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by our gospel according to Jesus Christ.”

It would seem from this that God judges according to what one does have the ability to know. No one escapes judgment altogether. God’s judgment will always be fair as only the Lord could make it.

Question #67

I appreciate your willingness to research and answer the questions on this forum as I have learned and gained more insight to specific Biblical matters.
My question is, did Jesus know specifically that Judas would be his betrayer upon his selection of the Apostles, or, did he know that one of them had a devil and it was not revealed to him which one it was until just prior to the event that was to take place? Also, if sin is sin before God, then why would Jesus not pray for the forgiveness of Judas vs. those who crucified him?

Leon’s Response

Since Jesus became a man giving up many of the powers of Deity at birth He did not have the privilege of knowing everything when He was upon the earth. At exactly what point He knew Judas was the one who would betray Him, we can only guess, since the Bible does not say. Many statements have been attributed to the Bible about Judas which aren’t there, such as, that he was a devil from the beginning. What it does say is that “Satan entered Judas” (Luke 22:3). Jesus foreknew that Satan was going to attack Peter and He foreknew that Judas was going to betray Him in John 13 but this was a matter of hours before the event. This could well have been read by the signs of his behavior or by a revelation from God at the time. So we have no way of knowing if He knew when He chose him. My own thoughts are that not only did Jesus not know, but that Judas did not have to be the one. While there was going to be someone who would betray the Lord, it could have been another. Judas chose to be the one who would be the betrayer.

Are all sins the same? Yes in the since that all can be forgiven. But all sins aren’t equal. In John 19:11 Jesus said those who have delivered Me over to you have committed the greater sin. Also, the fact He would say the greatest commandment is Love shows some commands are more important than others. (Mark 12:30-31; I Corinthians 13:13).

Why didn’t Jesus pray for Judas sins to be forgiven as He did those who crucified Him? Two things at least are involved. First, His prayer for those who crucified Him was based on the fact they didn’t know what they were doing. “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Their ignorance was that He was the Son of God. Judas had been with Him three and a half years, had seen all the miracles, heard all the sermons, and had no such ignorance. The other thing to keep in mind is even with Jesus prayer, God’s forgiveness only took place when the people 50 days later heard the message of salvation and repented of their sins to obey God. In Acts 2 Peter preached to the crowd again. They heard him and were cut to their heart as they heard him say you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain the Son of God. They cried out, “What shall we do?” He told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which was for them and for their children and for all who were afar off as many as the Lord would Call. 3,000 were obedient that day. Judas couldn’t have done that since he had already gone out and hanged himself. Prayer for another’s sins to be forgiven is never valuable unless that person is willing to turn from their sins in repentance to submit to God and His will.

While the King James Version of the Bible says that Judas repented of his sin the word used is not the normal word for repentance meaning to change your mind about sin. Instead it is the word meaning to have remorse. He was sorry for what he had done. But instead of going back to make things right, he chose to destroy himself. Please understand it was not his suicide which caused him to be lost or as Peter said in Acts on to “Go to his own place” or as Jesus called him the Son of perdition, it was the fact he chose not to submit to God and turn from his sin.

Any sin can be forgiven. Even betrayal could have been. Judas chose they wrong path back. If he had taken the same path back after betrayal as Peter did from denial or Thomas did from doubting he too could have been forgiven. He didn’t.

Question #68

Is it Scriptural to have entertainment at fellowships, such as bands?

Leon’s Response

As long as the entertainment is moral and in good order there wouldn’t be anything wrong with it since it is not a matter of worship. The Bible doesn’t say anything about what we do in times of fellowship together except that they are times of sharing. It is simply the definition of the word fellowship which gives us insight into what is involved in the action.

People have often worried because of the fact that fellowships were conducted at the church building. But the building is simply a meeting place. It can be used for anything which is moral and right. The question has often been raised where is the Scripture for having such? The answer is, there is none. The building itself is an expediency for which there is no Scripture. How could you possibly find a Scripture for every item you propose to do in such a building?

Question #69

Who is YAHWEH?

Leon’s Response

YAHWEH is the Hebrew word used by God when He answered Moses question in Exodus 3:13 as to what His name was and what he shall say to the people. In verse 14 God answered to Moses, “YAHWEH” or as translated, ” I AM WHO I AM.” Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” YAHWEH has the meaning of I AM thus declaring that God is always here. He is the ever-present one. He has no beginning or ending. Please understand this is not to say this is the name for God. The word YAHWEH is a Hebrew word and thus only found in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, when is written in Greek, we have the Greek word for God which is “THEOS”. Both would rightly be translated into whatever language one is speaking at any given time.

Question #70

I would like to know how do you witness to a person that says they do not believe in God, at all; and they think that the Bible is fictional. Can you please help? If possible, can you give me scriptural references.

Leon’s Response

It is certainly more difficult to witness to someone who is a complete unbeliever. When Paul went down to Athens as recorded in Acts 17 he was preaching to complete unbelievers, you will notice his message changed to them from the standard lessons he usually gave. He didn’t go back and quote Scriptures. He appealed to their own poets. He reasoned with them about the common heritage of all mankind that we are all of one blood. He appealed to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But, even with the great lesson of Paul, he had few converts among the atheist of Athens. Romans 1:20-21 argues that the world is without excuse since the very creation shows God to man, the things He has made declares Him to the world.

There are all kinds of books which have been written to prove the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible. Many who began their search of the Bible to prove just how contradictory and wrong it is came away with a strong belief of it’s validity. If one is honest in their atheism, I would ask to visit with them about their unbelief, not to argue, but to examine what they believe in comparison to what I believe. In doing so I would stay away from the emotional appeals and appeal to reasoning and truth. God can stand the examination. The Bible is inspired and doesn’t need protection. Plead with them to just begin an honest and fair reading of the Bible from a translation that is clear and understandable. If they will actually do such a study or search with you, and they raise you can’t answer, admit it and begin to search for answers, and seek for help in finding them.

If they aren’t interested in the study, just keep up a friendship and live right before them. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify the Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16). In I Peter 3:1-4 Peter was giving instruction to Christian wives on how to win their non Christian husbands to the Lord and he said if they couldn’t be won by words do it without a word by your chaste behavior accompanied by respect. Godly living is a powerful thing. Stay in contact and live right with folks. Don’t stop being around someone because they are unbelievers. Show them the power of a godly life. Read Philippians 2:12-16 as Paul told Christians how to work out their salvation. They were to be blameless and harmless as the sons of God in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life. We never know if we will win another. All we can do is sow the seed of the word of God and if their heart is honest God will bring about the harvest of a conversion. Our part is to live the life and sow the seed. I trust you will do your part and God will do His. Let’s hope the person has the heart to come to the Lord.

Question #71

Was Bathsheba guilty of sin; could she have refused the King?

Leon’s Response

The Bible never does say anything about Bathsheba being guilty of any sin. It only refers to David as being guilty of sin when God sent Nathan to him and said “You are the man”. If she was guilty at all it was of a lesser sin than his, since he was the king and the man of authority. But I’m not convinced she was guilty at all.

Question #72

Can you explain Mathew 24:20?

Leon’s Response

The discussion here is about the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in A.D. 70. This was the great Tribulation spoken of by Daniel in which the temple of Jerusalem built by Herod was destroyed by Titus the Roman soldier and his army. There was a horrible massacre at the time. The point of verse 20 in praying that the flight would not be on the Sabbath was that the gates of the city were closed on the Sabbath and they would be trapped inside the city so that even more would be killed if the attack came on the Sabbath. If it were in the winter, to flee from the city into the mountains with one’s family would be far more difficult for survival. This was a practical prayer for the time. This whole segment has been grossly misapplied to the future when it was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem only forty years after Jesus told of what would happen. Verse 34 says, “This generation will not pass until all these things take place.”

Who are we to believe? Jesus or the writers and preachers of our time who come up with nice sounding books?

Question #73

Can you now explain Mathew 24:40-41?

Leon’s Response

Beginning in verse 36 where Jesus says no man knows the day or the hour wherein the Son of Man comes, He began to talk about the second coming and to answer the second question they asked Him, which was about His coming and the end of the world. When Jesus comes there it will be so sudden that two people will be in the field and one will be taken to go with him to glory and the other left. Two women will be at the mill and one will be taken and the other left. This doesn’t mean they are left on this earth for a thousand years. It only refers to the fact of the suddenness of the coming of the Lord and some going one to Him to their reward. Others will go on to punishment when He comes.

Question #74

What is conveyed in Zechariah 9:14-17?

Leon’s Response

Zechariah 9:14-17 is about the return of the house of Judah from their captivity. Zechariah was a prophet of his time encouraging his people to stand for God. In his prophesy are some things about the coming of the Messiah such as in Zechariah 9:6 when he foretold the riding of Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. But in the majority of the book it is about their problem with their captivity at that time. The deliverance he prophesies took place during the years between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament. It happened some three hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ of the virgin Mary.

Question #75

What do you believe concerning suicide? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not considering it or anything. I’m just curious if the Bible ever mentions whether or not it’s a sin. Could this be the unpardonable sin the New Testament talks about? (I can’t remember where). Thanks.

Leon’s Response

The Bible says a great deal about suicide in that it records several suicides. But it never specifically says anything about suicide as a sin. What it does say is “You Shall not commit Murder” which would include the taking of one’s own life.

Suicide isn’t the unpardonable sin referred to by Jesus in Matthew 12 which was the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. In that case they were saying that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub the prince of demons. Jesus warned them that the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit was an unpardonable sin. The reason this sin is unpardonable is that the miracles of Christ were the evidence by which He proved His deity as the Son of God (John 20:30-31). To attribute the evidence to the devil was to put oneself into a situation which made one unreachable by the gospel of God. Suicide would not be unpardonable because one might realize they had done the wrong thing and repent between the time they did the act to kill themselves and the time death came. Death isn’t always immediate. Also, it is questionable whether one who kills themselves is in their right mental condition at the time they commit suicide and God does not hold one responsible for actions committed when they are mentally incapable.

Question #76

What is the role of women in the church? Should culture play a part in making this decision? We usually think it should when it comes to greeting one another with a holy kiss or wearing a head covering. What about serving as preachers, elders, etc., in our culture? Thanks.

Leon’s Response

Culture does play a part in the application of Scripture always. But it doesn’t change specific requirements or specific things that the Bible forbids. For example, culture changes how we carry out the great commission to carry the gospel into the whole world. But it doesn’t change the requirement to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. It doesn’t change the fact that “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:15-16).

Culture has changed many things with regard to women in the church. But there are some specific requirements that culture can never change if we are to follow God and His word. He clearly states in I Corinthians 14:34,35 that women are to keep silent in the church in the sense of preaching. If you note the context this was about the preaching of the word, not just saying something in the service. Women are not allowed that place in the worship. It’s not a cultural matter. Paul states this is “As also says the law.” Women have all kinds of places of leadership in the church they can fill and be the servants God calls them to be. But they cannot be preachers of the word and follow God’s regulations. It’s clear as can be.

Also, with regard to elders as the qualities are given in I Timothy three and Titus one they are to be the husbands of one wife whose wives and children are to follow their leadership. Obviously a woman can’t fulfill that requirement. The passage starts, “If a man desires to be an elder”. No this was not a cultural matter. It is a matter of God’s plan. The truth is, if we change God’s plan for culture on this or any other matter where there is a clear regulation then we are rejecting the authority of God and setting up culture as the authority.

Culture should have all kinds of power when it comes to how we carry out matters of judgment and expediency. But when it relates to matters in which God has spoken and given clear statements of truth, our place is simply to listen and follow what He has said.

Question #77

I am totally positive, that masturbation is a sin? Also, the use of condoms, birth control, etc., while you’re married is too. Because children are a gift of God, not a curse. To add to that, I am confused with Leviticus chapter 15? What a strange passage of scripture.

Leon’s Response

On what do you base your being positive that masturbation is a sin since the Bible says nothing about it? Also, what are you basing your confidence that birth control and condoms are sinful during marriage on? Certainly, children are a gift from God, but does that mean every couple is meant to have a child every time they have sexual relations? Sex inside marriage has more reasons than simply reproduction. One of the reasons for sex in marriage is to prevent immorality (I Corinthians 7:1,2). Husbands and wives are to give their whole selves to each other, including sexually because their bodies belong to each other. They don’t have authority over their own bodies (I Corinthians 7:3-5). To withhold one self from the other partner would cause them to be tempted. Sex, you see has other dimensions other than just producing children, as important as that is.

There is nothing in the Bible that I can see which even hints at the idea that birth control is wrong.

Leviticus 15 was of course a part of the regulations of the Old Testament Law. This particular law related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. During the time she was having a discharge God said for the man not to have sexual relations with her under that law. She was unclean and everything which she got the bloody discharge on was unclean. For a man to have sexual relations with a woman during this time was to make him unclean. That law is now done away with and no longer bond on anyone (Romans 7:4-7; Galatians 3:24,25). Today we are bound by the New Testament law and are to follow Christ as our Savior and Lord. God speaks to us today through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Question #78

How does the Bible view Weight Loss by Hypnosis?

Leon’s Response

The Bible has nothing to say on the subject. The only application that I can imagine would be that of taking care of one’s body. We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). But I can’t imagine there being anything wrong with your losing weight by hypnosis.

Question #79

Why would God keep silent about something that would jeopardize our salvation, like playing music in church?

Leon’s Response

There are several things assumed by your question that I would like to very kindly address at the beginning.

First, it is assumed that playing music in church isn’t mentioned in the Bible. Actually, it is only the playing of instrumental music which isn’t mentioned in the New Testament. They are mentioned throughout the Old Testament. Even in the New Testament the Greek word Psallo is used which means to play, but the instrument which is named is our heart in Ephesians 5:19 when he says we are to sing and “Make melody in our heart to the Lord”.

Second, it is assumed that the playing of the instrument will affect our salvation. There isn’t any place in the New Testament which declares that and only God can know that. The reality is that we only have authority for the use of singing and playing our heart in our congregational worship, but whether that is a matter of salvation I don’t know and for any man to declare is to go beyond what the Bible says.

Third, on any matter God’s plan is for us to accept what He says and follow it as His will all the way. We are to bind what God has bound and leave loosed what God has left loosed (Matthew 16:19). Any time we make laws for the Lord or we take away laws that God has made we are in trouble.

Finally, I neither want to make the matter of music any more or less important in our worship than it was made in Scripture. I’m afraid both extremes have been followed. But it doesn’t matter a bit which side of the road a person runs off on they are still in the ditch.

Question #80

I just discovered your web site today and have read most of the questions addressed to your and your very competent answers. It seems that there is tremendous interest in subjects such as baptism, instrumental music and observance of communion on the first day of the week, as well as the 5 steps to salvation as taught by our churches of Christ.

God is omniscient and certainly would have known that these questions would arise. His intelligence is exponentially beyond our comprehension. My question is, “Knowing that these issues would arrive and be a source preventing unity, why would God not have directed that these topics be explained in such a manner that would leave absolutely no room for doubt? For example, He could have simply had the spirit to direct one or more authors of the new testament to say, “Baptism is necessary for salvation.” He could have simply commanded the all Christians partake of the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week. He could have said, “Do not sing with instrumental music.”

He went to so much trouble to let His Son die on that horrible cross.

Why would His Truths be so hard to “dig” out of the Bible?

I hope the question isn’t too confusing. I’m thanking you in advance because I know you’ll answer in a prayerful and thoughtful manner.

Leon’s Response

I appreciate your thoughtfulness in asking something I think many of us have wondered many times. But one privilege we do not have is reaching into the mind of God to figure out why God did anything the way He did, unless it is revealed in His word. In reality none of the questions you have asked are really answered in the Bible and any answer I give would simply be my thoughts and suppositions.

In such cases I keep remembering Paul’s statement “Let God be true and every man a liar.” The truth is if I had been doing the planning there are many things I would do differently than God has done it. But I’m just a weak and sinful creature trying heard to find God’s will with the help of His Spirit. I am not God. I know there are many good reasons for the Bible to be framed just as it is, just as there was good reason for God to wait for such a long time to send the redeemer after the sin of man in the Garden of Eden. Remember Isaiah 55:8-9 where God said “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth So are My ways higher your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

The Bible is understandable. But it requires study for lifetime. If it were so easy one could study it one time and know all they needed to know then one time through would be sufficient. But God did mean for this to be a book to keep us studying and growing and learning all of our lives from childhood to the day of our death.

Question #81

What does the Bible say about killing someone out of self defense? What about the defense of someone else?

Leon’s Response

From the beginning the Bible demanded that one not commit murder against one’s fellow man (Genesis 9:6). When Cain killed Abel the sin would follow him for life. In the ten commandments in Exodus 20 the command, “Thou shalt not kill” literally means “Thou shalt not commit murder.” Since God Himself went ahead and made provisions for the one who killed someone accidentally or in self defense that they could flee to one of the cities of refuge for protection. The very fact one had the right to kill the one who had murdered his brother indicates it is right to take the life of another sometimes.

In the New Testament, God says Murders is one of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:21. He also says we are not to avenge ourselves but give place to wrath that vengeance is Mine says the Lord. He points out that God has set up civil government to avenge us when there are problems in this world and they bear not the sword in vain. (Romans 12:19-13:4)

Back now to the basic questions you asked. Do you have the right of self defense? Yes, the Bible grants you that right. Do you have the right of defending someone else in need? Yes, if they are helpless and the police aren’t available. But you do not have the right to take the law into your own hands and become the avenger yourself. God is the avenger. He will right the wrongs. Some will be made right in this life. All will be made right eventually.

Question #82

I was once baptized with the International Church of Christ. I’m now attending the church of Christ of new testament church of Christ. The minister instructed me that before I can be apart of the new testament church of Christ I had to be re-baptized. Is this true according to the Bible? If so what scriptures do you use to prove this?

Leon’s Response

I am not familiar with the International Church of Christ and know nothing of their beliefs or of how or what they teach on the subject of baptism or anything else. But if you were baptized into Christ by being immersion as taught in Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:12, if it was based on faith as taught in Mark 16:16 and Galatians 3:26,27 and if it was based on repentance as taught in Acts 2:38. It makes no difference who does the baptizing. What does matter is if you were baptized as taught in the Bible.

In Acts 19:1-9 Paul found disciples in Ephesus who had been baptized with John’s baptism after the baptism of Christ became effective. They were commanded to be baptized again in the name of the Lord. The question isn’t about who baptized you or where it happened but whether or not your baptism was according to what is taught in the word of God? If it fulfills the teachings of Scripture then there is no need to repeat it since there is but one baptism and it puts you into Christ and into the one body which is the church of the Lord ( I Corinthians 12:13).

When we meet the conditions of salvation the Lord adds us to His church (Acts 2:47; Hebrews 12:23). He keeps the roll book in heaven. That is the only church that it really matters much about being a member of anyway. Any church that is harder to be a member of than the Lord’s is requiring too much and any that is easier than the Lord’s is requiring too little and must not be the Lord’s.

Question #83

My question is: are the different churches moving closely together?

Leon’s Response

I believe that such is the case. I hope it is a good thing. If we are at the same time growing closer to God and His Word and His will that is a wonderful thing. Sometimes I fear we are growing closer to each other but not getting closer to God. It won’t do any good if churches all come together in unity if we haven’t come together in the will of God. His Word is still the one authority for our lives. Too much is done in our time based on what everyone wants and thinks and feels and too little on what God says in His word.

Question #84

Regarding Question #83, could you please send a more detailed answer.

Leon’s Response

The reality that churches are moving closer together seems to be obvious in that there is more and more interdenominational programs used by all groups and Sunday School material that is used interchangeably from one group to another. Also, the fact that there are such massive movements such as Promise Keepers that has nothing to do with any particular group but attracts people from all different religious backgrounds and has them worshiping together would indicate we are drawing closer together. There are speakers who travel across this country and even out of the country such as John Maxwell who speak in every kind of church and draw preachers and church leaders of every kind to their leadership forums to learn how to be better church leaders. This indicates a drawing together. The fact is that movements and problems which churches typically face seem to be about the same in all religious groups.

For example, almost every religious group you can read about now is struggling with the whole concept of worship and how far things should go in this whole concept of change. Many seem to want to be contemporary so bad that they are willing to leave every over forty behind. Others are so bound in staying where they have been that if a song wasn’t written a hundred years ago it can’t be good. So many problems seem to invade all movements.

The point I made in the first answer was this, the real question has to come back to whether or not we are getting closer to God and His word while we are getting closer to each other. It really won’t make much difference that we have unity among ourselves if we leave God and His Word behind as the standard. After all He is still the one we worship. His word is still the standard we follow and will be judged by in the last day (John 12:48).

Christ is still the one way to God (John 14:6). And the Holy Spirit is still the guide to lead us to God and Christ.

Question #85

My grandma is not a Christian. She has Alzheimer’s and has had it for about 5 years. Does this mean that it is too late for her? Or can a person backtrack from the age of accountability?

Leon’s Response

I’m terribly sorry about the condition of your grandmother. I don’t know what her spiritual condition will be in the last day with the Lord. Our place is always to teach and preach to all who are able to hear the message of God (Mark 16:15,16). But it is never our place to start deciding about anyone’s destiny. Only the Lord has the right of Judgment (Acts 17:30-31). We never know for sure what the judgment of the Lord might be in a given case. I thank God I am not in the place of Judge since I have neither the knowledge or background to carry out such a work. But what I do know is that God has often been more lenient with people than I would have been or thought He would have been.

When I read 2 Peter 2 and it speaks of God’s view of Lot as being a righteous person and then I go back to Genesis and read the life of Lot I wouldn’t have judged him to be righteous at all. I would plead with you to leave the judgment to God and go on with trying hard to teach everyone you can the will of God. If her mind is ever clear enough to understand God’s will teach her. But don’t try to make judgments. Only God can handle that.

Question #86

The other day in Sunday School, my friend said she thinks that women should be allowed to be pastors of churches, and preach at services. But, our teacher said that they shouldn’t, because men are the ones who normally do it, and should do it. I read in the Bible that all people, including women, can preach and prophecy about God, but can women really not be pastors of churches?

Leon’s Response

Two different Scriptures should be looked at as you think about this question.

First, When the Bible talks about Pastors it is referring to elders or Shepherds in the church. Their qualifications are given in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Among the qualifications for a person to be a pastor is that they must be the husband of one wife. It would be rather difficult for a woman to do that I would think.

The other text is I Corinthians 14:34-35 where Paul was talking about the assembly of the church. 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.” If you will check the context of these verses, you’ll find that the speaking has to do with speaking before the assembly. They were not allowed to preach.

These text would seem quite clear if we really do want to follow the Bible.

Question #87

Can you please comment on the Lord’s Supper? Do we have instructions on how often we are to take it? Also does the Bible instruct us regarding taking it on a particular day of the week? Does it have to be on Sundays? Thanks.

Leon’s Response

There is no specific statement in the Bible which says to take of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. What is there is the fact the church took of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week in Acts 20:7. Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. He arrived in Troas on Monday in a hurry to get to Jerusalem and waited there until Sunday to be able to worship with them and take of the Lord’s Supper. That was obviously the only day they were taking of the communion.

The closest thing to a command on taking the Supper on a particular day is found in I Corinthians 11:17-22. Paul was correcting problems in the Corinthians church. He was especially concerned about their assembly in these verses. He noted three things wrong with their coming together. He said they were coming together, “Not for the better, but for the worse.” The three things wrong were: there were divisions among them, there were factions among them, and when they came together it wasn’t to take of the Lord’s Supper. Instead, they were eating and drinking and had turned the communion into a time of feasting. Focus on the point about the Lord’s Supper. Their coming together should have been to take of the Lord’s Supper. He goes ahead immediately to describe what should happen in taking of the Lord’s Supper in verses 23 and following. When did the church at Corinth come together? On the first day of the week ( I Corinthians 16:1,2). It is well known in church history that the early church took of the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day when they came together to worship the Lord for the first several hundred years. But that is as close to a command as the Bible gets on the subject of when. The reason is likely because God’s emphasis was never so much on when as what the point of the communion was all about.

Question #88

Is it sinful to dance?

I am a member of a Church of Christ, and most everybody who is a member of a Church of Christ around here believes that dancing is sin. If it is, could you please show me where the Bible says it is? If it is not, do you know where they are getting that it is sin? I know that the Prodigal Son parable talks of the dancing at the party for the return of the son, but I have never seen where it says it is a sin. I know some types of dancing are obvious sin, but I don’t see why these people are saying that even harmless dancing is sin. Thank you.

Leon’s Response

Throughout the years there have been questions on the subject of dancing. The Bible really doesn’t say anything about dancing as we would think about it today. In the story of the prodigal son the dancing was for joy that the son was back home. In Ecclesiastes 3:4 the comparison is made that there is a time for mourning and a time for dancing. The contrast shows that this is talking about dancing for joy. When it was said that David danced before God it was a dance of joy for the blessings if God for His deliverance of His people.

For anyone to simply say dancing is wrong would be foolish since the Bible so often talks about dancing in a very positive way. The concern that people have had about dancing has been that it sometimes is done is a lewd and sexually enticing way that could lead to immorality. A person would have to consider the kind of dancing itself to decide if it is wrong and violates what is taught in Scripture. The principles laid out in Scripture have to do with being modest and pure. They teach us to avoid sexual immorality and the things which lead to it and not be conformed to the world. Read passages like Romans 12:2; Galatians 5:19-23; I Timothy 2:9,10; and I Corinthians 6:18-20. Quite often you would want to avoid the dancing simply because of all the things going on around it and where it is happening. If your heart is set on God and doing His will first, I suspect making a right decision about such things as which kind of dancing will be all right for you will be rather easy.

Question #89

1. Paul was a “businessman” as a “tent-maker,” and so were Aquila and Priscilla. Is it wrong for the leaders of the church to encourage brethren to run businesses to help and support the Lord’s work?

2. The Lord emphasized “sacrificial giving.” Would all other ways to raise funds (not gambling or any evil way of raising fund)to help build the church or finance the Lord’s work be considered evil and non-scriptural?

3. Our country is poor and many members in the Lord’s church earn at least $4 (four dollars) a day with an average of 5 children. Most of the congregations in our area are struggling with this situation. Now, two congregations met together to discuss their problem about building their church building (Which is made of coconut lumber (poor quality) and grass roof). Congregation A decided to support congregation B to help them build their meeting place for a year. After the building is finished in a year, Congregation B will start helping A also to build their church building. Some accused us and called this “money scheme.” Is this system of cooperation between two congregation non-scriptural?

Leon’s Response

1. With regard to the first, certainly it would be alright to encourage brethren to enter into business to help support the Lord’s work. Remember in Romans 12:6-8 one of the spiritual gifts was the gift of giving. It was listed along with leading, showing mercy, teaching, ministry, exhorting, prophesying and these kinds of things. The challenge was to give with liberality. Notice all are to give (I Corinthians 16:1,2). But the point of Romans 12:8 is that God gives some the spiritual gift of making money so they can give more to His cause. They are then to make certain they give liberally.

2. The church is only allowed, I believe to get it’s support through the sacrificial giving of it’s members. Even though churches in the first century were often very poor that was still the means set up by the Lord for the church to support it’s work. Churches often helped one another such as in Acts 11:27-30; 2Corinthains chapters 8 and 9. But it was still the giving of those who were members of the church who were involved.

3. The situation described of one church helping another sounds like something done by Christians who love the Lord and wanting to help one another. How could there be anything wrong with it? You didn’t go out to ask the world to fund the plan. I suspect those who looked on to see what Paul was doing in raising money from Gentile churches to give to the churches in Judea called it a scheme in the first century as well. He called it a plan to hopefully open hearts for God. Praise God you have people planning and working for the Lord. I hope this is helpful.

Question #90

What is the name of Lot’s wife who was turned into a pillar of salt?

Leon’s Response

The Bible doesn’t reveal the name of Lot’s wife in any place.

Question #91

When Jesus was on the cross during the crucifixion, did he save the two thieves? If so, is that found in the Bible in the New Testament? Where?

Also, the church of Christ is a New Testament church, meaning that we live by the New Law. If the answer to the above question is found in the New Testament, then the two thieves were not baptized so how could they have been saved?

Leon’s Response

Jesus saved one of the thieves on the cross. It is described in Luke 23:39-43. As to how this was done without him being baptized, he lived and died under the Old Testament Law. The Old Law was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14; Romans 7:4-7). The New Testament Law did not become effective until Christ was raised from the dead (Hebrews 9:14-17). Also, the thief couldn’t have possibly been baptized with the baptism of Christ since Christ baptism is into His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3,4). He wasn’t dead at the time and His baptism wasn’t given until He was raised from the dead. (Matthew 28:18-20;Mark 16:15-16).

Question #92

How do you respond to someone who says that “baptism is a work, and since we are not saved by works baptism is not necessary for salvation”? I don’t personally see it as a work but I do not know how to put into words. My thoughts on baptism is that it is a ceremony symbolizing our faith, belief, and acceptance of God’s grace…i.e. we are accepting the life and gifts He offers us. I heard a man once relate baptism to a wedding ceremony. Am I right in this thinking? Thank you.

Leon’s Response

There are two different kinds of works described in the Bible. Works of merit or earning salvation as in Ephesians 2:8-9 and works of obedience as in Galatians 5:6. Baptism is certainly not a work of earning salvation. But it is a work of faith. In Galatians 3:26-27 Paul said we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Note baptism was the means by which faith acted to put on Christ in their life. Baptism and faith are joined by Jesus in Mark 16:15-16 when He said “He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” Think of the fact every case of conversion in the Book of Acts when those people heard the gospel and believed they wanted to be baptized immediately even if it was the middle of the night or the middle of a desert. Isn’t that strange if it was some work of merit and had nothing to do with salvation?

Why not simply believe the Bible in verses like Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12; I Peter 3:21?

Question #93

What was in the ark of God?

Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy except one chapter: which chapter?

Who among the Israelite judges was left handed?

In which book is the Word of God likened to a mirror?

Which of the books was gods name not mentioned?

Who performed the first surgical operation on earth?

Mention the longest name in the Bible.

Who was the disciple that Jesus loved?

Leon’s Response

In answer to your questions the ark of the ark of God is the ark of the Covenant kept in the holy of holiest in which the ten commandments was kept. Moses wrote all but the last chapter of Deuteronomy. The left handed judge was Ehud mentioned in Judges 3:12-30. The book which calls the word of God a mirror is James in James 1:24-25. The book which doesn’t mention God’s name is Esther. The one who performed the first surgical operation is God when He took the rib from Adam’s side to make the woman. I’m not sure who the longest name belongs to. The disciple Jesus loved was John the brother of James.

Question #94

I am trying to find a verse that I have read in the Bible and I can not find it anywhere. You see, last year I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor which at times causes me to lose my memory about things I know as well as I know my own name. But as usual, Our Father in Heaven, is so wonderful. He lead me straight to your this site this morning after having lain in bed awake most of the night both searching my mind and the Bible to find this verse. Just when I thought I would absolutely lose my mind if I could not find it I thought of the internet and was lead straight to your site. So anyway, this is my question: there is a verse that says something about visiting someone when they are sick and going to them when they are in prison. Could you please tell me which verse this comes from? May God bless you and your family and ministry at this wonderful time of celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible because this is just driving me nuts not being able to remember it.

Leon’s Response

The Scripture you are looking for is in Matthew 25:31-46.

Question #95

Where in the Bible does it say that Christians no longer speak in tongues?

Leon’s Response

In I Corinthians 13:8-13 Paul explained that love with never fail but prophecies would fail, tongues would cease and miraculous knowledge would vanish away. He said that would happen when “That which is perfect has come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” The big question is, what is that which is perfect? Is it Christ coming again? Is it love? Or is it the perfect revelation of God’s will? I believe the context explains what Paul is talking about. He said in verse 9 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” The same thing which was in part then was what was going to be perfect later. What was in part then was what they knew or their revelation of God’s will. The revelation of God’s word was incomplete at that time. Paul as an inspired man was saying that he only had partial revelation. But the time was coming when the revelation would be complete or perfect. When the revelation was complete or perfect then the partial would be done away.

Notice he compares the time then when they were speaking in tongues with when they were a child. When he became a man he would put away the childish things. When God’s revelation of His word (the Bible) was complete the tongues would cease.

Question #96

We have been studying the topic on giving in church. It has been said that we should give to God first. I understand that, but for instance, if my budget only has enough for a bill to be paid and it is in a cut off situation, should I pay the bill or give my offering as commanded? If I chose to pay my bill, would it be held against me as a sin or considered as robbing God?

I’ve been a member of the church of Christ for only a year. I come from the A.M.E. and had been for over 20 years. As a young person, I had always felt uncomfortable claiming a particular religion. My husband is a church of Christ member, so thanks to him I am now converted. My only regret is most of my family members are still A.M.E. and it is very hard for me to believe they will not be saved.

Getting to my next question, are they saved? My grandfather was a very devout Christian man, as was his wife and another grandfather who have all passed on. I have one living grandmother who has been in the denominational church for over 60 years. She’s a firm believer in Christ! Will she not be saved either because she is not in the body of Christ?’ His New Testament church?

Leon’s Response

You do need to put God first in your giving as in everything else, (Matthew 6:33). He will take care of you and provide for you. But also understand that it may take you some time to be able to give as well as you should be giving. You may need to try to get rid of some bills or take on a second job for some time to pay off some things. When we have too many debts to give as God intended we are too far in debt and need to get our selves out of some of that debt. Start on a path to pay your way out of that debt with God’s help. Stop the debt cycle by not charging any more. Begin to pay off things as quickly as possible and ask God for help with the promise to Him that you will give and grow in your giving all the time. It is a sin to make obligations you can’t repay. That is part of what Paul meant when he said “Owe no man anything.”

As far as those you love who are still in the denominational world, you cannot judge their destiny. That is between them and God. You can work to teach them better and pray that God will help them learn more of His will and open their hearts to His word. (Romans 10:1-4). But we never have the right to judge any other persons destiny. We can’t know what God will do at any given time with people.

Question #97

How do you reconcile the differing attitudes regarding the violence in the Old Testament compared with the New Testament? Compare Ex.21:23 and Lev.24:20 to Matt.5:38,39. I know that God doesn’t change his mind, so this confuses me. When the Jews were going into the promised land God instructed then to kill everyone, kill women and children and show them “no pity” (Deut.7:16). I haven’t seen any instances of forgiveness or the opportunity for the people of that area to repent before they were killed. If the Lord wanted these people dead why didn’t he kill them? Why make the Jews kill everybody?

Jesus taught us to show love and kindness to all in the New Testament – yet God did not promote forgiveness in any circumstances in the Old Testament. I don’t understand why. Is he contradicting himself in regards to these two attitudes? Also, the laws and punishment for breaking those laws seem harsh. See Deut.13:8; 19:13,21; 25:11,12.

Leon’s Response

First, there are many passages in the Old Testament which teach forgiveness. Read again the book of Proverbs and the book of Psalms.

Second, the laws of the Old Testament were given as a matter of preparation to get us to Christ. They were never intended to be a permanent set of laws. (Galatians 3:19-25). One of the purposes of the Old Testament law was to show how horrible sin really is and the great need we have for God’s amazing grace.

Third, the passages you refer to have to do with God’s teaching Israel as a nation to punish the sins of other nations who were evil as they went into the foreign lands. It didn’t have to do with individuals as in Matthew 5. They are not comparative text. A comparison would would be with Romans 13:1-4 in the New Testament which talks about the right of civil government in this era to punish evil doers. Even in the New Testament God punishes evil rather harshly. Read again Acts 5. Romans 13 says of the civil authorities they bear not the sword in vain. We don’t have the right to go out personally and avenge ourselves. But God does give government the right to punish evil doers.

Question #98

Can you please tell me why Noah cursed Canaan when Shem and Japheth placed a garment to cover his nakedness after he was drunken from wine? Or is there no significance other than maybe forecasting their futures as a race, people, or nation?

When the bible says “the sons” of Noah, “the sons” of Ham, “the sons” of Cush and then it says “the children” of Shem? Is there any significance in stating “the sons of” as opposed to the “children of”?

I have a “Haley’s” Bible handbook and it doesn’t say much about it.

Leon’s Response

The difference was the Ham looked on his father’s nakedness and Shem and Japheth carried the covering for their father without looking at their father’s nakedness. They took a garment and laid it on their shoulders and went backwards and their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness (Genesis 9:23).

Question #99

I belong to the Church of Christ, but I still have a lot of questions. One is, I was married for ten years, now divorced (he was never a Christian) in fact for all ten years, I tried with all my soul to make things work. He was very abusive, used drugs and was unfaithful more times than I can count. But because of my faith in God, I struggled with this all those years. In the end, I prayed more than I ever did in my life and the only answer I seemed to get over and over was God did not want me to have to go through this pain. I got out! I remarried and we both became dedicated members of the church of Christ.

In our ladies class, we are studying on teaching the younger girls. One of our subjects has been on divorce. It is being taught that you should not divorce; stick it out. I raised the question that as a mother of three girls, I was not going to tell her to stay in a abusive marriage and it seemed to me that some did not agree with that statement. Not that they would allow their daughters to be abused, but basically that they would encourage them to stick it out.

My question is, does the Bible state somewhere, other than about the exception for adultery, you can divorce? And I’m understanding this is the only reason you may divorce, but does that make it ok to remarry? Doesn’t it seem to you that God would not want his child to endure this punishment at the hands of someone else? I believe that God has forgiven me for my sins, but am I still sinning because I have remarried?

Leon’s Response

When Jesus talked about divorce and remarriage it was for sexual immorality in passages like Matthew 19:6-9. You stated that your former husband had been unfaithful to you on numerous occasions so he was guilty of being sexually immoral. You therefore had the right to divorce him and remarry under the teaching of Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:31,32.

Other passages which deal with the subject of divorce are found in I Corinthians 7:10-17 where Paul dealt with the questions raised by the Christians in Corinth. We don’t know exactly what those questions were. What we do know is that he wanted the marriages to stay together if at all possible. But if the unbeliever departed and was unwilling to continue living with the Christian because they were living the Christian life the Christian was no longer under bondage in such cases. Did this give them freedom to remarry? That has always been a question of huge disagreement. The fact he they were not under bondage in such cases but were in others would seem to me to indicate it did mean freedom to remarry when abandoned by an unbelieving mate.

Later in verses 25-28 Paul talks about those who have been divorced and become Christians. He says in verse 27, “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed? Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.” So, Paul said it wasn’t a sin for one who had been divorced and became a Christian to get married.

Also, Peter dealt with the situation of one being abused in a marriage in I Peter 3:1-6 when he talked about the conduct of wives. He pointed out wives were to submit to husbands even if they were not Christians. But notice down in verse number 6. “As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.” Wives are to submit. But they are not meant to be afraid of their husbands. The word used in this text for “Terror” is our word for “Terrorized”. Wives were never meant to be terrorized by husbands. God never meant for a wife to be abused or terrorized by a husband. To leave the impression that a Christian woman can’t leave a husband and move on in her live when he is abusing her is not the teaching of the New Testament.

Question #100

Are there different levels of rewards in heaven? Would a mass murderer who becomes a Christian in his final days be treated the same as a Christian who has been faithful all of their life?

Leon’s Response

There are degrees at least in some sense of the word in that Jesus talked about the Apostles having twelve thrones to sit upon. But the degrees beyond that point may well be only in the sense of our ability to appreciate what heaven has to offer. Remember that when we go to heaven we will still have the same memories and spirit we have now. Certainly everything will be enhanced but we will still be the same people. One who had lived for God for years faithfully, studying and understanding His nature would likely be able to appreciate the wonder and joy of heaven better than one who had just become a Christian and then died even though they both had the same things when they arrived there. It is like two people going to a museum. We will both see the same things but it doesn’t mean we will appreciate them to the same degree. I suspect the degrees of heaven are explained in our capacity to enjoy instead of the idea that some will have a bigger mansion than others.

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