Q & A 101-200

Question #101

My question is: I have been a Christian in a very conservative church of Christ for 20 years. My family is very rooted in this church, and I married a “Christian.” His family was in the same church as well, so I felt I had made a good choice of a mate. We were married for eight years, and all eight of those years he was extremely controlling and verbally abusive to me. He has some extreme beliefs regarding women’s roles and the issue of obedience and submission. After eight years, I left with the understanding until he went to counseling with me, we could not live there for the sake of my two young daughters, ages 13 months and 3 1/2. In less than six weeks, he had filed for divorce, and our divorce was final. He wanted out if I would not “obey” and apologize to his family for leaving. At the time, I believed neither of us could ever remarry, because our divorce was not for adultery, as he publicly stated this at our home congregation.

Five months later, he started dating someone that was not a Christian, and two years after our divorce, he married her. He has changed his position completely, and has abandoned me and the girls, with the exception of paying court-ordered child support. My question is: since we were both “Christians” where does this leave me? If you are already divorced by man’s law does it constitute adultery? How do I deal with my family believing I am going to hell if I remarry or date anyone? I am 31 years old and my daughters are only 5 and 7, and desperately want a “dad”… and I can’t imagine living the rest of my life alone, but I want to do what is right, whatever that may be. Please help me with this issue. Please give me some scriptures to deal with my family.

Leon’s Response

Divorce is a difficult situation to deal with under all circumstances. It has always been God’s desire that marriages be good, stable, happy, fulfilling and that they offer for children a safe environment to grow up in to learn about the Lord. When you go back to the beginning of God’s plan of making two people for each other, His first words were, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” That’s still true. When he brought the woman to the man, Adam’s response was, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She will be called woman. For this cause will a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:22-25). The very wording of this indicates partnership. The idea of anyone mistreating another violates everything involved in this whole concept.

Also, when Peter wrote I Peter 3:1-7 he told wives to submit to husbands. But he said the wife was not to be afraid with an terror. The point is wives were not to be terrorized by their husbands. Husbands were to dwell with wives according to understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel, being heirs together of the grace of life.

In Malachi 2:13-16 When God told the people of Israel of their covenant in marriage he said it was a covenant of companionship. It was to raise up a godly seed. The reason He hated divorce was because it was breaking the hearts of the wives and children and it was dealing treacherously with the wife.

What about what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage? Matthew 19:1-12 – The religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus. They questioned Him about Marriage and divorce because there were disagreements on that subject then just as there are now and they thought if He took one side it would make the other side go against Him. He instead declared, “What God has joined together let no one separate.” Then they said, Why did Moses command us to give a writing of divorcement and put out wives away?” Jesus said it was because of the hardness of your hearts he allowed it. Then Jesus said, “I say, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

What does this mean? He was forbidding them from divorcing their wives or husbands for every cause they could think of. Only unfaithfulness to the marriage vows was a good reason for divorce. Then He said, if you marry another you commit adultery. The point Jesus was making was that when one divorces his innocent wife to go and marry the one with whom he has been unfaithful they commit adultery. But what is the point of the one put away committing adultery if they marry? Notice the fact the person was told that they could not divorce anyone except one guilty of sexual immorality. Thus when it says that the one who marries one put away, it is referring to the one put away because of their immorality. Jesus is not referring to the one who was put away who is an innocent wife. She is not considered in this text. He is considering the guilty one put away. Our Lord has never punished the innocent one who is put away for the actions of the guilty. If your former partner has already remarried, what could you possibly be bound to at this point? The marriage bond has been broken. The only other text which talks about marriage and divorce in the New Testament is in I Corinthians 7 where Paul is answering questions on the subject. None of them specifically deal with your situation. But the tenor of them would fit. Notice when in verses 13-16 if the unbelieving mate abandons the Christian the believer is no longer bound in such cases. Then in verses 25-28 when he talks about someone becoming a Christian who had been divorced and now wants to get married. He recommends that they remain unmarried. But he says if you do marry you do not sin (Verse 28). Even the recommendation not to marry was based on the fact there was some present distress they were under at that time in which he was recommending everyone not to marry.

None of this helps very much in answering how to deal with family. That may be the hardest part. God is much more graceful and forgiving usually than family. He loves us and helps us when family is ready to not accept what we do no matter what. All I can do is to say that you must remember some basic things. While family is important, you and your girls are your own family now and you must think of what is best for you and them from this point forward. Will you bring them up with the same mentality or will you start in a different direction? Study how Jesus dealt with the woman at the well in John 4 who had been married 5 times and was now just living with a man she had never married. If we can’t fit the actions of Jesus into the actions of the church, then something is wrong with the church, not Jesus. He came into the world to show us what God is like. God loves you. He didn’t give His Son to die for you to give you a new set of rules but to offer you the way of salvation and life. He said, “I’ve come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Question #102

Mr. Barnes, I’ve just noted your answer to the question about instrumental music in the worship service. While you are correct in that the Bible does not tell us to use instruments of music, it does not say we cannot use them, does it? I would appreciate your explanation.

Leon’s Response

No you are right. The New Testament is completely silent about the use of mechanical instruments of music. That is the real question in Bible interpretation. Is a thing alright if the Bible doesn’t say not to do it in our worship? Or do we have to have Bible authority for what we do for our worship to be acceptable?

To put the whole thing into some context, look back at Old Testament history for a moment. When God commanded Noah to build an ark and build out of gopher wood. Since He didn’t say not to use other kinds of wood would it have been alright for Noah to have added some pine and oak to the ark along with the gopher wood since God didn’t tell him not to do so? In Leviticus 10:1,2 Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron offered their fire on the altar and God sent fire out of heaven and destroyed them because it was not the fire He had commanded. He had never said not to offer the fire they offered. He only told them what to do.

I would simply ask that you consider the point of what God has told us to do and think about following the principle of willingly obeying Him. If we follow the concept in every aspect of worship of doing anything that He has not said not to do, think of what all that would mean would be alright.

Question #103

Please comment on I Cor.3:12-15. Does this scripture say that there are levels of reward in Heaven? Please reply as soon as possible.

Leon’s Response

Notice this is a Scripture about the work Paul is doing. Back in verse 9 of I Corinthians 3, Paul had said of the people they were God’s field and God’s building and pictured himself and those with him as fellow workers. In verse ten he says, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. But no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ our Lord. Now if anyone build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each ones word will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has build on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

Now what is this talking about? The point Paul is making is this. When we work in the kingdom and convert people to Christ some are like gold, silver and precious stone in that they will stay true to God and when the test comes they will last. Some of those who are converted or reached for the Lord are like wood, hay and stubble in that they will be burned up and be lost. They will drift away with the cares and troubles of the world. When the judgment comes we will suffer loss, but it will not affect the salvation of the one who taught them. This isn’t about degrees of heaven. It is simply talking about the fact that when we work and labor to reach people some will remain and that will be a reward to us and some will not last and that will cause a loss.

Question #104

I have been attending a Baptist church for the last six to seven months, and I have been wondering if I’m going against God, for I live with a man which I consider to be my husband and he considers me his wife. We have been with each other for 11 years, we are best friends, and share in each others lives fully. I have searched the Bible for an answer, and have read in several places where it says that a man takes a woman and she becomes his wife. We have made a vow to each other to share our lives, there is just him and I our children are adult age. Is there anywhere in the Bible that states that we have to have a marriage on paper? I feel totally committed to my mate.

Leon’s Response

It is a very good and relevant question for our time. The fact you have been together for eleven years means your relationship is very important to you. I wonder why you have avoided marriage? The truth is God in His Word calls all sexual relations outside of marriage immorality and says the marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled but the sexually immoral God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4). I would strongly encourage you to get married and stop just living together in such a relationship. Then I would remind you that anyone can be forgiven of such sin. Read I Corinthians 6:9-11. The people there had been guilty of sins like sexual immorality yet they were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of God. You can be too. There is no reason to go on in such sin just because you have been doing so in the past.

Question #105

The question I have deals with attending other churches while remaining a strong member of the church of Christ. On Mother’s Day my mother asked me and my family to attend worship service with her. She belongs to an A.M.E. church. I still want to think that she and all other people who truly believe in God are saved. And although the worship service is a bit different, they include musical instruments, they commune on the 1st Sunday, and many different other things. We received a wonderful message. Still, keeping in mind that, no we aren’t changing churches, and no we don’t agree with the way they choose to conduct their services, the message was great. Boy, did we get strange looks when we told our youth minister why we and our children were not at church. My husband and I were even called in to discuss this and why it’s wrong. We discussed it, but not in detail. We are going back Friday, I guess for counseling. Is it wrong to visit other denominations? Boy, we are already thought of as the occult! Thanks.

Leon’s Response

I appreciate your honesty and your interest in doing the right thing. First, the Biblical concept of the church is that it is completely non-denominational and every one who becomes a Christian is a member of the church you read about in the Bible (Acts 2:47: Hebrews 12:23-25). The only head over the church is Christ who has all the authority (Colossians 1:18; Matthew 28:18). Every Christian is a priest and therefore has equal authority in the church (I Peter 2:5,9; Matthew 23:8-11). The whole idea of denominational-ism is out of kilter with what is presented in the New Testament. At the same time you and your husband have authority over your family and have the right to make the decisions about what is best for your family on any given occasion. Paul went into the Jewish Synagogues on the Sabbath Day to worship after the church had been established. I would think that you have the right to make your own judgment in such matters since it involves your family. If the preacher feels you have done something wrong he certainly has the right to talk with you about it and express his feelings but that should be the end of the matter. The very fact the church is nondenominational demands that we have no creed nor rules which dominate a persons life beyond the teaching of the Bible itself. Paul often went where others were in hopes of reaching them. If we ever expect to reach our friends and family who believer differently than we do then we must be like Paul and willing to go with them to their places of worship and then point out the places where they differ from Scripture as the opportunity arises.

Question #106

When the Bible talks about blaspheming the Holy Spirit, does that mean any type of speaking against the Holy Spirit or just a certain type? I keep remembering a time long before I was saved when I cursed the Holy Spirit once when I got very angry because of some things going on in my life. Does this mean that I am not really saved!?

Leon’s Response

In Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus spoke of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and said those who committed this sin would never be forgiven. The situation here was that Jesus had just cast out demons by the Spirit of God and the Pharisees He had done it by the power of Beelzebub the ruler of the demons. (Verses 22-24). It was out of that context that Jesus made the declaration He did. The word blaspheme means to speak against. Why was it a sin which could not be forgiven a person? It was by the miracles Jesus performed that he convinced men that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. (John 20:30-31). Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that believing you might have life through His name.

The reason this sin was unforgivable was that it took away the very evidence by which one could be convinced that Jesus was the Christ. If you see the evidence and declare it to be from the demons, then you have blasphemed the Spirit and put yourself in an unforgivable situation as long as you continue to make such foolish claims.

What if they changed and stopped saying such things? Could they be forgiven? Yes. Many of them were. Paul, who was Saul, before, a blasphemer and a persecutor, was forgiven when he repented of that life and became a Christian, (I Timothy 1:12-17). What you did years ago was not a sin which cannot be forgiven. It was wrong. But you were foolish like many others and have now changed.

Question #107

I have a couple of questions for you:

  1. What is your view on Paradise? Do you think this is just another word for Heaven or a different place? Does it still exist today?
  2. Do you believe in pre-tribulation rapture or post-tribulation rapture? What scripture do you base your beliefs on?
  3. What are a few good Bible verses to use when witnessing to a Mormon?

Leon’s Response

1. With regard to paradise. The word paradise means “Beautiful garden” and when you look at it’s use in the New Testament it is only found three times. Those times are Luke 23:43 when Jesus said to the thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”, 2 Corinthians 12:4 when Paul talks about being caught up into the third heaven, into paradise, whether in the body or out of the body he couldn’t tell, only God knew and heard unspeakable words, unlawful for a man to utter. Notice here that the third heaven is simply another way of referring to heaven itself. Thus paradise and heaven were used interchangeably. The other time is in Revelation 2:7 Where the Lord promised those who overcame of the church at Ephesus to eat of the tree of life which was in the midst of the paradise of God. But if you turn over to chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation and look at the description of heaven you will quickly note that when Jesus showed John heaven the tree of life was in heaven. It therefore seems obvious that the word paradise is simply another way of describing heaven itself.

2. With regard to whether I believe in the pre-tribulation of post-tribulation rapture, please note that it doesn’t make any difference at all what any of us believe, but only what God says. Frankly, I don’t think the Bible teaches anything about the tribulation and the rapture. It teaches that Jesus is coming again at an hour we don’t know (Matthew 24:36). When He comes He will bring with Him the righteous dead (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). Also, He will bring all the holy angels (Matthew 25:31). When He comes every eye will see Him (Revelation 1:7). At His coming the dead will be raised and will meet Him in the air along with those who are still alive at that time (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). The 1000 year reign is about souls who have been beheaded for the witness of Jesus (Revelations 20:4-6) and not about a physical reign at all.

3. Concerning verses to use when witnessing to Mormons. I would think the greatest need would be to talk to them about the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, since both of these are denied by them. Verses which could be used are John 1:1-3, 14-16; Colossians 1:13-18; 2:9; Then about the Holy Spirit. Acts 5:3-5; Matthew 28:18-20. There are multitudes of teachings on which they are in error. The whole thing about the book of Mormon and it being a divine revelation is wrong. The Bible claims to be the complete revelation and all that we need (2 Timothy 3:15-17). When Jude wrote his letter he said the faith had been “once for all delivered to the saints” (Verse 3). It is not continuing to be delivered all along.

Question #108

I’m always hearing people speak about God calling them to do something or saying something in the way of, “this is what God wants me to do,” or even being told to “listen to the voice of God.” I’m beginning to be afraid because I don’t understand this voice. I was baptized into the church 2 years ago and I’m still not sure of my purpose. Am I just not listening close enough? Can you give me some advice on what approach I should take? I sure would hate to not hear or understand. This is really resting heavy on my mind and I’m thinking it is also the reason I have not totally committed myself, I truly want to recognize His voice. Thank you.

Leon’s Response

I suspect that not only you but multitudes of honest Christians struggle with the same thing.

First, let me assure you that nothing is wrong with you or your spirituality in that you aren’t hearing some voice from the Lord. It is true that we are led by the Holy Spirit as Christians (Romans 8:14). The question is how does the Holy Spirit lead us? The answer is in the following ways. He leads us through the Word of God that He led the writers in writing. Every time we read and study the Bible and find answers on how to live for the Lord we are being led by God and His Spirit for today. We are being called by Him into whatever it says for us to do. Read the books of I and 2 Peter and see how many things in those books alone all Christians are said to be called to do.

Secondly, the Spirit leads us by means of the opportunities He puts in front of us. Notice how many times in Scripture God will say things to the effect, I have set before you an open door. It was telling them they had opportunities to serve. We are led by the opportunities God set’s before us.

Thirdly we are led by the spiritual abilities God gives us. Look at Romans 12:1-9. After the points on completely committing oneself to God and not being conformed to the world, the plea is if our ability is to prophesy then we should prophesy. If our ability is to teach we should teach. If our ability is to minister we should minister and so on. God leads us by the ability we have. The simple fact is we should look at the abilities we have and use them to the fullest in our spiritual lives for to this God has called us in our service to Him.

Finally, let me suggest to you, if you relax and simply determine you are ready to serve the Lord anyway you can be used for Him in His church and to help those who need your help it will literally amaze you how many opportunities will come your way to grow. Pray to Him for guidance and for a right heart. But mainly “Present your body a living sacrifice unto God.”.

Question #109

I am beginning to counsel a friend who has a great deal of analytical questions concerning the Bible. The first comes from Jesus in Matt. 12:40. Here, He states that He will be in the ground for three days and three nights. My friend correctly adds the time from Friday to Sunday. He says that if he can’t believe this, he will have a hard time believing the rest. I know we need to walk by faith and not by answers. However, if you could offer me some insight, I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

Leon’s Response

Thanks for your question. It’s a good one and your friend is right in his math. The answer is that Jesus wasn’t crucified on Friday but on Thursday. The reason it has always been argued that it was on Friday was that it was the day before the Sabbath. But John 19:31 makes note of the fact that Sabbath was a “High Sabbath” meaning it could have fallen on any day. A high Sabbath was a Sabbath because of the purpose and things accomplished on that day not because of the time of the week. The answer therefore to the problem is in the text itself. Jesus was actually crucified on Thursday. He was in the tomb three days and three nights just as He said He would be.

Question #110

I know the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but what about those who are born with attractions for that type of life style? Is there anyway for them to live a happy heterosexual life and have a solid Christian home? What do they pray for? Who do they turn to in the church when everyone will condemn it? What do they do when they just want to be like the majority of Christians, but just can’t change they way they have always felt?

Leon’s Response

I’m sure you realize there has always been a great amount of questioning about whether or not there are people born with an attraction for the same sex or if it is altogether an acquired attraction. But granting the thought that one is born with such tendencies as to long for someone of their own sex what is their situation before God? Notice that the Bible condemns homosexual activity, not the desire for someone of that same sex (Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 9-11). When it talks about the lust for each other the word is far more than just a desire. The word means a illegal, strong desire. It is the longing which one would fulfill were it not for the fear of being caught. The Bible does not condemn one having a tendency in the direction toward others of their same sex. It is the fulfillment of the desires which is sin.

If you think about it, this is exactly the same as with anyone who is unmarried. If one with heterosexual desires is unable to be married or not able to find a partner or not old enough they still have the desires, but it doesn’t give them any right to lust for anyone else or to commit fornication or sexual immorality. The person with homosexual tendencies is in the same place.

Can they change their desires? There is a great deal of evidence that a person who wants to change and is committed to the Lord to the degree they will seek the help needed can make such a change. But they can be a Christian and go to heaven without the change as long as they don’t live out the homosexual lifestyle.

Question #111

Our minister, in his sermon on conscience, said he tells people he councils with if they are erring that they are bad. I understand sin separates us from God and when we sin we have to repent and ask for forgiveness, but to tell someone they are bad could make someone feel hopeless. Am I wrong to feel this way? I also have struggled in my lifetime, and if someone had said this to me before I was stronger in my faith I’m unsure what I would have done.

Leon’s Response

I tend to agree with you. If someone is in sin they need to repent of that sin. But God has made the way for anyone to come back to Him for forgiveness. Certainly we are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23). Everyone who hasn’t come to the Lord yet is said by Paul to be “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1-3). In helping someone realize the need for God’s forgiveness I will often lead them to those kinds of Scripture to show that we are all sinners before the Lord and that is the reason Christ paid the price for our sins by becoming our atonement. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). But to say to someone they are bad in a way that might set them apart from others as uniquely bad would, I believe, be a mistake in judgment. We all need to feel the guilt of our sins so we see the need of coming to God for forgiveness.

Question #112

If I have a fish symbol on my car and then I go to a place that serves alcohol and has a live band, in other words a bar, Is it hypocritical to keep the fish sign on my car? Or, is that between me and God?

Leon’s Response

It would certainly send out lots of questions that one would need to think about. Yet we should always remember that the fact a car is there doesn’t always mean something wrong is going on inside with the driver. He could be inside to get someone in trouble who has called and needs help. He could actually be there to talk to someone about their souls. Jesus was often judged wrongly for being in places they thought He shouldn’t be such as in the home of tax collectors having a party with them. But He was there to teach them a better way.

But if one is going there as a Christian to participate in the things of this world they are in grave danger of going far astray themselves and leading others with them. Every Christian must remember they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Question #113

Can a person go to heaven after being married three times? My first marriage was with an unfaithful spouse many times. After going to my minister for help ,he said unless I could prove at that moment adultery I was stuck. So I left the church divorced and found myself in another abuse marriage but not for thirty something years like my first. since then I have come back to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and do so everyday. I have married a good husband and feel he will become a Christian. I am faithful now but in many sermons I am hearing I am living in sin and am lost. What must I do?

Leon’s Response

I’m thrilled you have come back to the Lord and are living for Him now. I’m always amazed at how often we in the church with preachers leading the way like to appoint ourselves to be judge, jury and prosecuting attorney in such cases when we have absolutely no right to be any of those. There is but one judge of any of us and that is Christ Jesus who died for us. It is extremely interesting that Jesus in John chapter four called a woman to service in His kingdom who had been married five times and was now just living with one she had never married. If He could offer the woman at the well forgiveness and send her back into the city to tell others about Him, why couldn’t he forgive others in similar situations today.

The idea that the only way you could get out of the first marriage was to catch the one who was being unfaithful is insane. There is nothing in the text of Matthew 19:9 or Matthew 5:32 from which that point is drawn, which indicates that one must be caught in the act. You aren’t required to prove it to the church. It is something you must know and that God certainly knows. The church is not the Sanhedrin.

Besides you can be forgiven of any sin (I John 1:7-10), even the sin of adultery (I Corinthians 5:9-11). Men have drawn up more ridiculous points on the subject of marriage and adultery than any other subject I know of. Why in the world have we made sins in this area different from every other sin talked about in the Bible?

Certainly you can be right with the Lord. By all means don’t allow the intimidation of anyone to keep you from the Lord and His church. Serve Him with all your power and anticipate the day when you will live with Him in heaven. Make the marriage you are in a great one for God and win the man you have for the Lord. That would be wonderful.

Question #114

My first problem is this: I am a church of Christ member that was in love with a non-Christian who had no desire in serving God. So I ended my relationship with him (I am a woman) so that my relationship with God would not suffer. It was the most painful decision I’ve ever made in my life, since he is the first-and only-man I’ve ever truly been in love with. That man married another woman last August, and needless to say, I was completely devastated. I was already in serious grief over the deaths of my only brother and grandmother (who died seven months before the wedding), plus I lost my job and I was in two car accidents during this time. However, I was still struggling to hold on to God’s will even after all of these tragedies.

At the time, the final straw was this: there was (and is) a Christian guy who has been a member of my home congregation for five years. He has told many members over the years that he is romantically interested in me. I haven’t, don’t, and (by the grace of God) will never have any romantic interest in this guy. He is nothing more to me than a fellow brother in Christ. Anyway, after explaining this to him (and praying to God), he wouldn’t leave me alone. I never led this guy to believe that I cared, I never dated him; I didn’t even give him my phone number! (He asked one of the members for my phone number.) He had the nerve to call my home for the first time-the same day that my ex-boyfriend got married! I was extremely angry-but mainly at God at the time. I thought about all of the things that I had given up to serve Him and the losses that He allowed me to suffer and became so bitter that I left the church for almost a year. I returned to the church in May and repented-realizing that the only way I could even begin to recover and cope with my losses is through Christ. Now, even though I’ve returned to His service, I have (and am currently) in so much grief that I have been unemployed for a year because I do not want to leave my house. As a result I’ve been seeking home employment for the past three months to pay my bills. The Christian guy is still a member of my congregation, but I can’t stand him. He wouldn’t leave me alone until very recently, when I spoke to him almost coldly. I hated to speak to him in such a brief manner-but I felt that I had to do so that he would finally get the message.

I can’t afford professional counseling and haven’t been able to find someone in my congregation that I could confide in completely and would empathize with my problems-which is why I am grateful that God has led me to this board today. Some members have helped me to deal with the Christian guy. The members are kind and helpful, but it would be wonderful to have one person that I can be completely open with.

Some questions: would God force me to be in a marriage with a Christian man that I don’t love, (some members told me that he was praying for me to become his wife, but I’ve been praying for God to make him leave me alone)? Can you give scriptures concerning God’s view of romantic love?

Thank you for allowing me to pour my heart out.

Leon’s Response

I’m sorry you had trouble getting through the first time. I’m also very sorry for all you’ve gone through. It certainly is devastating to go through so many loses at one time. Grief is a natural response to any loss and when they pile up on a person. With regard to your questions, The Bible talks about five different kinds of love and all of them are needed for a marriage to be successful. It speaks of Christian love when it commands a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25-27). Notice, while this is specifically commanded of husbands it would apply to wives as well. It also speaks of friendship love which has to do with liking the person and enjoying being around them. This is the love Paul tells the older women to teach the younger women to have in Titus 2:4 for their husbands and children. It speaks of family love in I Peter 3:8 when he said to “Love as brothers”. The point is that when people are married they should love one another as family. Families may have disagreements, but in the normal family they pull together to protect one another when someone from the outside attacks in any way. It speaks of romantic love in the Song of Solomon as Solomon describes poetically the romance between himself and the woman he married. Also, the Bible speaks of sexual love in Proverbs 5:15-19. Solomon told his son to rejoice with the wife of his youth and “Let her breasts satisfy you at all times, be exhilarated always with her love.”

It certainly isn’t the case that you should marry someone for whom you do not have those romantic feelings or desire to be with. It would only lead to more grief. If one is married, they have a covenant of companionship (Malachi 2:13-16) that they are to keep. Sometimes inside marriage the romance will die down and the desires for one another will become slack. This isn’t something to justify divorce but the couple should work to bring the romance back to life. Inside marriage the marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). It is wrong to with hold ourselves from one another after marriage (I Corinthians 7:1-5).

May I encourage you to read and think through the book of 2 Corinthians as you deal with your grief. This is a book in which Paul talks about the distress and depression in his life and how God helped him in his struggle. You will notice in the book all the things he went through and was even given a thorn in the flesh God refused to take away because he was made perfect in weakness. The fact we live for God doesn’t mean we are protected in this life from all kinds of difficulty and trouble in our lives. God isn’t necessarily the one who brings them on, since the devil is certainly alive and well in this world. But God does promise to be with us and help us at all times (Hebrews 13:5,6). If you will after reading and praying about 2 Corinthians three or four times, write me back and let’s talk about the things in it which can be helpful. Notice how God comforts us in all our troubles. He sometimes does so by a friend such as Titus was to Paul.

I hope and pray this helps some. Grief is a challenge to overcome. But with effort and faith you can overcome it and grow through it.

Question #115

Are there demons behind every statue or idol? Please give me the verse on the Bible.

Leon’s Response

No the Bible doesn’t say that there are demons behind every statue or idol. What it does teach is that when you worship or sacrifice to an idol you are sacrificing to or worshiping a demon. In I Corinthians 10 Paul warned against the worship of idols and used the example of how the Israelites worshiped idols and the horrible price they paid (Verses 1-13). In Verses 16,17 he pointed out that when we take the Lord’s Supper we are partaking in the body and blood of Jesus and there is but one body and bread. In Verses 19-22 he said, “What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?”

Notice, this has nothing to do with pictures of statues. It has to do with the worship to idols. If we worship anything other than the Lord it becomes idolatry. In Colossians 3:5 it is even said that “Greed is idolatry”. The point is our hearts are to be completely devoted to God and not mixed with worship to other things or other people.

Question #116

Acts tells us that Cornelius and his friends were saved and filled with the Holy Ghost, and THEN baptized, doesn’t it? If this is so, how can you say baptism is necessary to salvation?

Leon’s Response

First, Acts 10 doesn’t say Cornelius and his friends were “saved” then filled with the Holy Spirit and then baptized. It does say that Peter was preaching to them about Jesus when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Notice in Acts 11:15 when Peter is telling the Jewish Christians what had happened he said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning.” This wasn’t the gift of the Holy Spirit given after salvation as in Acts 2:38 when people repented and were baptized for the remission of sins and were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was the baptism of the Spirit which was given to the Apostles at the beginning of Acts 2 when they spoke with tongues and glorified God. Why was this gift given to Cornelius and his family at that time? Notice how Peter used the gift. In Acts 10:45-48 “All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. The Peter answered, Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he? And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Peter didn’t say they were saved already. He said no one could forbid them to be baptized since they had received the Holy Spirit.

Why do I say that baptism is necessary for salvation? Because of these text: Mark 16:16 “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 22:16 “Now why do you wait? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord.” Romans 6:3,4 – “Do you not know that as many of us as a baptized into Christ are 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 even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Galatians 3:26,27 “For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” I Peter 3:21 “Corresponding to that, baptism now save you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Baptism is an action of faith in the Lord done upon repentance from sins. It is a burial into Christ death. It puts us into Christ. Certainly it has no power of it’s own. But as an act of obedient faith God has put it between our being saved, sins being remitted, our sins being washed away and our getting into Christ where all spiritual blessings are to be found (Ephesians 1:3).

My question to you is how could anyone not believe baptism to be necessary for salvation who believes the Bible? Why would anyone who really has faith want to get around doing something that was commanded by the Lord? I certainly don’t put my faith in baptism or believe in water salvation. But I put my faith in God who commanded us to be baptized to get into Christ.

Question #117

Please let me know of your group because I was very interested to work with your ministry here in the Philippines. And please give me of your interpretation regarding the biblical way teaching.

Leon’s Response

I am a member of the churches of Christ which is a movement to simply be Christians, members of the body of Christ without any man made creeds or organizations. Our desire is to just follow the Bible in everything. We have no earthly headquarters or missionary societies. Each local church is completely independent of other congregations. Every Christian is a priest as taught in I Peter 2:5,9. The head of the church is Christ (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23). The local church has men who serve as overseers in that local church. These men are called elders (Acts 20:28) Bishops or overseers (I Peter 5:1-5) and pastors or shepherds (Ephesians 4:11). They are aided in their work by deacons or servants to help (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:9-13). The worship of the church is to be in spirit and truth (John 4:23,24). In Acts 2:42 those baptized into Christ continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. A person gets into the church by being saved (Acts 2:47). This happens when one hears the gospel story and believes it, repents of their sins and is baptized to have their sins forgiven. (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-5).

As to how one should teach, Paul told Timothy to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2). Probably the best instruction on teaching and how it is to be done found anywhere is in the books of I and II Timothy and Titus. One should trust that the Scriptures do give us all we need (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Then stay with what the Bible teaches, helping others to understand what God has said to us all. Notice Paul places great emphasis not only on the instruction, but how we live and act ourselves.

Question #118

I have a question regarding the qualifications for Elder and Deacon.

If a man has been married more than once but the divorce was for adultery, according to the scriptures, may he be an Elder or Deacon? Doesn’t the Bible say that you can divorce for reason of adultery, but does it say you can remarry?

Leon’s Response

In the qualifications for an elder it is said they must be the husband of one wife. Literally this means he must be devoted to one wife. One who is divorced on the ground of adultery or fornication and remarried would still be the husband of one wife. In Matthew 19:9 Jesus said, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” The exception of it being on the basis of immorality applies both to the divorce and remarriage. This would mean that when the divorce was because of immorality that the second marriage would be pleasing to God and the man would be the husband of one wife. It is the same as one’s first wife dying and the person marrying again.

Question #119

I have a question for you that I hope you will be able to answer. I have yet to find an answer for my questions.

In the ancient times laws were strict when in regards to behavior, living, morals, etc. The Judeo-view of uncleanliness and the law along with the middle eastern culture most definitely had an influence on the cultures/religion that sprang from the region.

1) How can one separate God’s word from the influential views of man? Man is fallible. God is infallible. In regards to salvation we consider the Bible to be most accurate, (there are logistical as well as biological inaccuracies in the Bible but we still believe that with matters of salvation, there can be no error).

2)How do we separate the Bible’s messages from ancient culture and apply them to modern day? (obviously, not everything in the Bible applies to our culture)

Leon’s Response

First, I do not agree that the Bible has in it inaccuracies. Certainly it is true that the events took place in a particular culture. In our study of the Bible it is vital that we look for the principles taught to apply them to present life. Many commands are specific and must be obeyed as stated. For example, we are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:15,16). This is simply a command for all time and every generation. Instead of looking for the principle there, we need simply to obey.

But when Paul talked about the conduct of women in worship to the Lord in I Corinthians 11:1-16, he said they were to wear a veil to show submission. The culture of Corinth was such that a woman in a veil showed submission. That wouldn’t be true of every culture. But the principle of submission is true. This particular text should be examined in such a way as to find out, if God were speaking directly to us today, what would this text teach? When we read we must use good judgment and find God’s will for us, with a desire to live what we learn. It is in finding the message for us from any given teaching from the Bible that we have a life changing affect. Almost everything written in the Bible was written to a particular people at a specific point in history with very definite problems to address. We may not be in the same circumstances. But principles are laid down which we can apply to our own circumstances.

Question #120

I met an unbeliever 5 years ago who was separated with kids. He is now legally divorced and is opened to God’s word. I’m in a dilemma on whether it’s right to marry him. Am I committing adultery ? Please help as this has caused me a lot of grief and anxiety. Thank you.

Leon’s Response

I would have to have more information to answer your question effectively. Whether you would commit adultery or not depends on the reason he divorced his first wife. In Matthew 5;28-32 And Matthew 19:9 Jesus taught that if one divorced his wife for any other reason than their being sexually immoral and thus unfaithful to the marriage vows, and then married another they would commit adultery.

Even if it wouldn’t be adultery one would need to be careful in marrying a person who is an unbeliever. It would be wiser to take the time to teach them the way of God now and make certain they are really going to give their life to the Lord before marriage. It isn’t adultery for a Christian to marry an unbeliever but it is often very bad judgment. Remember 2 Corinthians 6:14 says the believer must not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. This isn’t specifically about marriage, but a yoke with an unbeliever can easily become an unequal one which causes you great problems.

Question #121

What is the meaning of the Q source theory and what is the prevailing opinion of the Church of Christ regarding it?

Leon’s Response

The Q source is a theory of how the Old Testament, especially the first five books came into being. Those who subscribe to the theory think they can see the print of different writers in these books which are attributed to Moses. The thing which should be noted is that Jesus quotes these five books on many occasions and attributes them to Moses and to God. Such theories serve to undermine the inspiration of the Bible. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 that All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God. If you believe the Bible the liberal view of different human authors putting in their own thoughts must be rejected.

Question #122

I have been a believer for a long time. I also believe in a literal 6 day creation. Tonight I was reading through the beginning of Genesis and something caught my attention. (I checked both bibles I had access to, K.J. and N.L.T.)

Genesis 1:26

Then God said “Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be masters over all life-the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals, and small animals.”

1:28

God blessed them and told them, “multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.” And God said “Look! I have given you the seed bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And i have given all the grasses and other green plants to the animals and birds for their food.” (this was all on the 6th day. man was created and alive. the vegetation had been created on the 3rd day)

Genesis 2:4

When the Lord God made the heavens and the earth, there were no plants or grain growing on the earth, for the Lord God had not sent any rain. And there was no one to cultivate the soil.

Genesis 2:7

And the Lord God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And the man became a living person.

Now I am not a scholar, and I have argued vehemently that there are no contradictions in the Bible. But these 2 passages seem to be contradicting themselves. This is really causing me some problems. I was in the bed and couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get up and try to find someone to help me.) Can you help explain this to me?

Leon’s Response

The explanation of the difference between chapter one and chapter two of Genesis is that chapter one gives an overview of creation as a whole. Chapter two goes back and gives a detailed explanation of the creation of man and woman. Chapter two isn’t a continuation so that one simply goes on to day 8 and following. It goes back to the same material to give us more insight into the place of man as head of creation. The point with regard to the vegetation is that chapter one tells of their coming into being. Chapter two tells of the fact they didn’t flourish during the era when there was no rain on the earth but they were watered by the dew which arose from the earth. Notice the quotation from the New Living translation. “When the Lord God made the heavens and the earth, there were no plants or grain growing on the earth, for the Lord God had not sent any rain. And no one was there to cultivate the soil.” When was it that there was not plants or grain? When the Lord God made the heavens and the earth. This goes all the way back to Genesis 1:1 when the earth was without form and void. Then creation started which changed all that

Question #123

When and how was Mark 9:1 fulfilled?

Leon’s Response

There have been two major theories as to the fulfillment of Mark 9:1. The first is that it is a reference to the transfiguration of Jesus which is immediately discussed in the verses that follow Mark 9:1. This would mean that some of the apostles, namely Peter, James and John saw the kingdom of Christ come in the since of it coming down from God as Jesus was transfigured and God spoke from heaven saying “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”

The other major theory is that it is a reference to Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came upon them with power and the spiritual kingdom or church was established. The some who saw it would be all the apostles except Judas who had hanged himself. The coming of the Holy Spirit was referred to as the receiving of power in Acts 1:6-8. It is to be noted that the kingdom is generally spoken of as being in existence after this time. Examples are Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 1:9. If the prophesy of Jesus related to the establishment of the kingdom on earth it must refer to Acts 2.

But the phrase “Kingdom of God” doesn’t always refer to the establishment of the kingdom and often refers simply to the rule of Christ or God in our lives as king. Thus it is possible that the transfiguration is what was being talked about. The fact that every account of this prophesy is immediately followed by the story of the transfiguration lends credence to this interpretation. But it is true that every detail of the prophesy would fit Acts 2 with the kingdom coming with power while some of them were still alive. The point that some of them would not taste death until the kingdom came, would only fit perfectly with Acts 2 since none had died before the transfiguration.

I would therefore lean heavily toward it being fulfilled in the establishment of the church in Acts 2, which is also referred to as the kingdom of the Lord (Matthew 16:18,19).

Question #124

Can you please explain living in adultery to me and what one must do.

Leon’s Response

The phrase “Living in Adultery” is never found in the Bible. Instead the Bible speaks of committing adultery. This phrase has been applied to people who have divorced for some reason other than sexual immorality and married again. In Matthew 19:9 Jesus said, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” This was in response to questions ask Him by religious leaders from the Jews. They wanted to know if one could divorce his wife for every cause. Jesus first said, “So the are no longer two but one flesh, What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” (Verse 6). They proceeded to ask about why Moses had allowed divorce if this is right. Jesus answered with the words of verse 9. It should be noted that the disciples went aside with Him after this and responded by saying if this was true then it would be better not to marry. (Verse 10) Jesus answered, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it was given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

What is meant by the committing adultery in verse 9? Marriage is a covenant in which God joins two people as one. When we divorce for frivolous reasons we break the covenant of God. When we turn and marry someone else, we commit adultery. Many have thought the adultery here is committed each time a couple has sex thus the idea of living in adultery. The problem with that theory is that it isn’t what the text says. It says, when the one who divorced for some other reason than adultery marries another they commit adultery. It clearly is the act of marrying another that is the committing of adultery. If it were just the sexual relations one could marry another and not have sex and not commit adultery. But Jesus said, those who marry another commit adultery. It is argued that since commit adultery is in the present tense in the Greek Text it demands that it be the sexual bond. But the present tense doesn’t always mean continued action. It is wiser simply to take the text as it is written.

How does one correct this problem if they divorced and remarried in the past but now want to make things right with God? As with any sin it means one must repent of the sin, turning from it to live for God. If a person has never obeyed the primary things to become a Christian they must believe in Christ, repent of their sins and be baptized to have their sins washed away (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). If one has done that and now wants to turn from sin committed afterwards they must repent and confess the sin, praying to God that it might be forgiven. Does it mean they must break up the marriage they are in to repent? There is not a single example in the New Testament that being required even though there were thousands of people converted who had been divorced. It would seem to me to break up another marriage is the very opposite of what repentance would involve.

Remember I Corinthians 6:7-9. Adulterers, homosexuals and other horrible sinners were among those converted to Christ. But they were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God. You can’t undo every wrong done in your life, but you can repent of them and turn to the Lord.

Question #125

I am a member of the church , I have friends of other faiths.  My question is, “How will they be judged when the Lord returns?” They have such strong faiths and pray from their hearts wonderful prayers.  It troubles me.

Leon’s Response

Thank God we aren’t the ones who do the judging. The Bible teaches that Christ will judge according to His Gospel (Romans 2:16). The standard will be the Word of God (John 12:48). There will be mercy and grace at the time of judgment (2 Timothy 1:16-17). Many will be surprised in that day since they thought the were right with God and were not (Matthew 7:21-23). God will judge us both for our deeds and for the things we haven’t done that we should have done. (Matthew 25:1-46).

It would be a mistake for us to say what God will do in any particular situation, since we never know what mercy He might show in a given situation. There are times in the Bible when I’m overwhelmed by God’s justice such as with Ananias and his wife in Acts 5:1-10. But there are other times when I’m overwhelmed by His graciousness as with Lot in 2 Peter 2:4-8. When you go back and read the life of Lot it hardly sounds righteous, yet God saw him as a righteous man.

God alone knows the hearts of people. He will judge in the correct way every time.

Question #126

How does one find scriptural information on marriage and divorce and remarriage?

Leon’s Response

There are worlds of information on the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage in books and studies of all kinds. As for as Scriptural information is concerned you would need to look at the following passages of Scripture. Genesis 2:24-26; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew 5:28-27-32; Matthew 19:1-12; John 4:1-26; I Corinthians 7:10-28. This is a subject which has had many interpretations from people who believe and try to follow the Scriptures.

Question #127

I have a question concerning Creation. I’ll start by saying I am a believer. How does one explain the dinosaurs and other scientific “theories” that the earth is million of years old? I have seen/read many different theories (both theological and scientific) from both sides of the coin. I saw on your site an advertisement of a speaker who has spoken at your church on the subject, and was wondering if you could give some info on this subject (or site/books I could read about it). Thanks for your time.

Leon’s Response

As you say there are many theories on the subject of the age of the earth and dinosaurs. The first thing to notice is that the Bible says nothing about the age of the earth. It simply declares, “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). When men have said that the earth and creation is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old it is based on the dating done by Bishop Usher who added together the ages from the genealogies of the Old Testament. This is a flaw in the thinking, because not everyone was included in the genealogies. Another thing is that there is no clue in the Bible of how much time past between the creation of the heavens and the earth and the creation of all of the things which occupy it. It is entirely possible that there is a lengthy span between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. As far as the dinosaurs are concerned one likely theory is that they existed between the creation and the flood of Genesis six. Many scholars believe that the flood so changed the environment that many animals died out after the flood. There are many books on this subject.

Some of the best material on all of this is from John Clayton. He has written many books on the whole theme and has a monthly magazine which deals with such issues. His book, THE SOURCE is great. John has written extensively on all of your questions. He believes the earth is old and that it fits with the teachings of Scripture. I would highly recommend his material.

Question #128

I need some help, I have a friend a member of the church dating a man also a member . The problem is about playing music with a band in night clubs. He feels there is nothing wrong with this even though he is approached by women. She feels this could be a serious problem for them and was raised that this isn’t where you need to be. Please give me some advice I know everyone feels differently about this kind of situation but as a Christian what is the right thing to do?

Leon’s Response

This is not a question on which there is clear teaching specific to the subject in the Bible. One thing to consider is that if any activity I’m involved in violates the conscience of one I want a permanent and close relationship with I need to give it up based on heir conscience until such time as it doesn’t violate their conscience any more. Read passages like I Corinthians 8:13; Romans 14. When you think of activity which has the potential of leading us astray consider I Corinthians 15:33; I Thessalonians 5:21,22. We must remember as Christians our body is the temple of God’s Spirit and keep out of things which would bring on lust ( I Corinthians 6:18-20. Let me encourage you both to pray for God’s guidance and be willing to do what you believe God wants you to do. Sometimes the best question isn’t, “Is this wrong?” but “Is this what God wants from me?”

Question #129

What is the meaning of Philippians 3:7-8?

Leon’s Response

In Philippians three Paul has been describing the things of the flesh or this life over which he might have confidence and boast (Verses 4-6. Among those were his family heritage as a Jew born of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, circumcision, and being a Pharisee so zealous of the law that he persecuted the church. When he says he counts all things loss for the sake of Christ he is pointing to these things he might have boasted about. He says, he has moved all those things from the gain side of his ledger to the loss side.

He proceeds to say that he is going beyond even the giving up of those things to count “All things loss for the excellence of knowing Christ.” He even declares that he counts everything else as refuge to gain Christ. His point is simply that there isn’t any thing that he isn’t ready to give up if need be to win Christ as His Lord. Compared to having Christ everything else in the world is worthless. Jesus said that if a man is to come after Him he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him. Paul is declaring that he did just that.

Think of what is most important to you in this life. Do you love the Lord enough that you would even give up the most important thing to you to have Christ as your Lord and Savior? Nothing is valuable enough to stand between us and Jesus our Lord.

Question #130

An elder was recently chosen to serve at my home congregation. He has been married to his wife for 30+ years and they have grown children together and he has been a servant in the church for most of his life now. He is a great elder. but I know that when he was younger in his early 20’s he was married and got a divorce for reasons other than biblical. Is it right for him to remain an elder and if not then what should be done?

Leon’s Response

When you look at the qualifications for an elder in I Timothy 3 and Titus one it is required that one be the husband of one wife. This would indicate one has to be married. It also forbids one to be a polygamist. Having multiple wives was common in the 1st century both among the Jews and Greeks. There is never a time in Scripture when a person is said to have more than one wife because they were divorced and remarried.

The only way this could be a problem is if it so hinders a man’s reputation before the church or community that he would no longer be blameless or above reproach. The text wasn’t talking about divorce and remarriage at all. If the congregation doesn’t feel comfortable with the man based on this in his past he would not be able to lead them.

Question #131

This is in reference to Question #130. The bible says that to divorce and put away your wife except for fornication and to marry another is adultery. If the man divorced his wife for reasons other than biblical then does he really qualify to be an elder. Wouldn’t he be living in adultery? I’m asking you because now I’m really confused.

Leon’s Response

If the divorce was for some reason other than sexual immorality or fornication then he would have committed adultery in marrying someone else. In order for one to be forgiven of that sin, just as with any other sin they would need to repent of the sin, confess it to God and pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22, I John 1:7-10). If there has been no repentance, then the individual needs to be confronted for the sin to bring him to repentance (Matthew 18:15-18; Luke 17:1-4). Adultery isn’t an unpardonable sin ( I Corinthians 6:9:11). But if an individual won’t repent of that sin or any other, then of course they wouldn’t qualify as an elder or leader of any kind in the church. In such a case the individual isn’t blameless or above reproach. But that still doesn’t mean that the phrase “Husband of one wife” refers to one divorced and remarried. When an individual divorces another, they are no longer their husband or wife. Even if it was sinful, it doesn’t make them have more than one wife. The phrase “Husband of one wife” referred to one who was monogamous. It could just as well be translated, “A one woman man” or “One devoted to one wife.” This forbids anyone who is a polygamist from being an elder or deacon. There may be many things in the qualifications that would keep a man from being set apart as an elder other than this phrase if they won’t repent of their sins. But we still need to use this phrase as it was intended instead of making it fit something we want it to condemn.

Question #132

Is it OK for women to become ordained ministers or to become deacons in the church?

Leon’s Response

The place of women in the church is very important. Paul declared there was no difference between male and female in Galatians 3:28. They can each reach God on an equal basis, since Christ died for all. But when it comes to the roles they play in the church there is a difference. When it comes to one serving as a deacon or elder, the qualifications include their being the husband of one wife, (I Tim. 3). It also includes the statement “If a man does not know how to lead his own family how will he take care of the church of God?” It would seem obvious that a woman can’t fulfill these qualifications.

When it comes to being ministers of the gospel, let me point out that in the church we are all priests of God (I Peter 2:5,9). We all have obligation to teach the gospel and try to reach people for the Lord as Aquilla and Priscilla did with Apollos in Acts 18. Phillip had four virgin daughters who prophesied. (Acts 21:8,9). In I Corinthians 11:1-16 Paul speaks of women praying and prophesying in the church. He warned them to show their submission by having a sign of authority on their heads.

Women are limited in their work as a servant or minister of God. According to I Corinthians 14:34,35 women are to keep silent in the church or worship assembly when all come together. It is a shame for a woman to speak in the church. She can do worlds of teaching, but the proclamation of the gospel before the assembly of God’s people is not something God’s woman can do without violating Scripture. Also, I Timothy 2:11-16 women aren’t allowed to teach or have authority OVER A MAN. They can teach men. Priscilla did for Apollos. But they can not teach OVER a man or have authority OVER a man. Since we are to preach and rebuke with all authority this would limit a woman’s ability to preach the gospel in the assembly (Titus 2:15). Every person should long to be what God wants us to be in His church. When we discard Scripture to do what we want we are moving in opposition to God.

Question #133

In our Wednesday night bible class we are talking about giving. Our minister said giving was an individual thing and that money should not be taken out of the Church treasury to give to people. He said that if a member sees another in need and wants to help them then that is okay. But it is not scriptural to take money out of the treasury to help people. Is he correct and if so could you give me scripture.

Leon’s Response

In truth almost every Scripture in the New Testament about giving was in order to help people in need. In Acts 11:27-30 when the disciples heard that a drought was coming in Judea every man according to his ability sent money to the apostles that they might distribute it among the people. In Acts 4:32-35 it tells us there were not any in need in the church at Jerusalem because the people who owned land sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet so they could distribute it to each as any had need. In both these cases the money was given to the treasury so the apostles could deliver it.

In I Corinthians 16:1,2 When Paul spoke “Concerning the collection for the saints” he gave orders to them as he had to the churches of Galatia that on the first day of every week they were to lay by in store as God had prospered them so there would be no need to gather the contribution after Paul got there. This is the most often quoted text on giving in the Bible. It was about a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. In Romans 15:25,26 Paul says the churches of Macedonia and Achaia have made a contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem and he is going to deliver it. Read 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. They are about the collection for the saints (8:4). The church in Corinth had made a pledge a year earlier and Paul now pleads with them to do what they had promised (8:10-12). In 9:13 it is pointed out that the contribution went to “the saints and all”, thus pointing out that the contribution was primarily for the poor among the saints but it helped non-Christians as well.

Question #134

Regarding Women’s role, I know in I Cor. 14 and in I Tim 2 it makes very clear guidelines in regards to woman teaching over a man and in the worship setting. But my question is what defines a worship setting? Does that include a Bible class or devotional? Secondly please define “teaching over a man” ? This is any instruction where a man might learn anything. I have really been studying this and would like more insight.

Leon’s Response

In I Corinthians 14 the answer is easy with regard to the assembly. It is when the “Whole church is come together in one place.” Note verse 23. Also in verse 19 “in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Verse 26, “When you assemble”. Remember this was long before anything similar to Bible classes had ever been thought of. His point was when the church came together as a whole, these things were to prevail.

I don’t believe a Bible class fits the description of the church coming together and thus the restrictions would not apply. We even now make a distinction between the meeting in classes and the coming together for an assembly.

It seems to me that the context of I Timothy 2 indicates the same thing. They were to take care of the dress that it be modest. Men could pray everywhere. Women were to be quiet and were not allowed to teach or have authority over a man. This doesn’t mean that she couldn’t teach a man. She does so every time she sings (Colossians 3:16). In the story of Priscilla and Aquilla teaching Apollos her name was mentioned first to indicate she led the way (Acts 18:24-28). Notice in I Corinthians 11:1-16 women were praying and prophesying. Paul didn’t command them to stop such. He told them to show submission and a sign of authority to the man when they did so. I hope this is helpful

Question #135

Maybe you can help me answer a question.

I am familiar with the different beliefs of many different churches including what the church of Christ believes. I believe that each individual member of any given church sincerely believes that their interpretation of the Bible is correct. Obviously everyone can’t be correct because many beliefs of different churches are contradictory. Some say you have to be baptized (as you believe) others say it’s not necessary. Some say once saved always saved while others say (as you do) that isn’t the case.

My question isn’t who is right and who is wrong but why did God allow the Bible to be written in such a way as to lead to so many sincere (Baptists are just as sincere in their belief as you are) interpretations? God is omniscient so he had to know the Bible as it was written was going to cause many to interpret it in different ways, each believing their way is correct.

Consider the plan of salvation as you believe it (hear, believe, repent, confess, baptism). Why didn’t he just have one of the writers of the Bible list those steps in order in one book and one chapter. You have to admit to show someone the plan of salvation you have to jump from book to book. One little verse here out of the entire Bible and then another little verse there. Is it any wonder there are so many different interpretations?

So again, God having known there was going to be a lot of sincere misinterpretations, why didn’t He do something about it? And knowing that He knew there were going to be so many misinterpretations (he had to or he wouldn’t be omniscient) and He didn’t do anything about it can you blame those that misinterpret the Bible?

Leon’s Response

I like your question. Of course there can’t be a simple, authoritative answer or I would be able to turn to one text where God would explain His actions. I don’t believe there is a single answer to your question. But some of the reasons are as follows:

1. Some of the division and misunderstanding is there because people tend to go to the Bible to prove what they already believe. When such is the case they tend to find verses to support their preconceived ideas. They might not fit the overall teaching of the Bible, but they find enough to back up what they wanted to believe anyway.

2. The Bible wasn’t written as a law book. It is a collections of letters and epistles written to specific people to deal with specific issues. I must use the common sense to look for the principles in those letters which apply to our own time and situations. Some points were obviously temporary and had to do with situations they were in at that time which we aren’t in today. But there is usually some principle that fits our time and needs if we search for it. If God had put the entire plan of salvation in a single verse it would have turned the text into something it wasn’t meant to be. Think about the different times the question, “What must I do to be saved?” or something equivalent is asked. Different answers were given because people were at different points in their search for salvation. When the people on Pentecost asked the question, they were already believers in the Lord so Peter’s answer was “Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:36-38). When the jailer asked the same question the answer was, “Believe on the Lord and you will be saved with your house.” He wasn’t even a believer at that point. There was no need to go further until he believed. When Saul of Tarsus asked what he should do he was told to “Go into Damascus and it will be told you what you must do.” God wanted him to take time to think of his actions and turn in repentance. When Ananias came he wanted to know why he was waiting and commanded him to be baptized in the name of Christ.

Certainly we could take some one illustration and make a point. But God was dealing with real people and their situation. If we are to use the Bible correctly we must look at what they were dealing with and find the principles which apply to us.

3. Certainly sincere and honest people disagree. They even disagreed in the New Testament. Paul and Barnabas both felt strongly they were right on the issue of taking Timothy with them on the next missionary journey at the end of Acts 15. But the disagreement became so strong they had to part ways and keep on preaching the gospel of Christ in their disagreement. Not everything over which we disagree is a matter of such importance that it affects our salvation. Yes the Bible is right and when we disagree one must be wrong. But if it isn’t a wrong which leads me to disobey God it won’t affect my salvation. It may even result in more people hearing the gospel as in the case of Paul and Barnabas.

4. As we grow in our study and pray for God’s guidance and wisdom we will find more and more of the walls between those who sincerely want to do God’s will disappearing. Remember we are all at different stages of growth in our own study. As I look back over my years of studying the Bible, I realize I have changed my thinking on what the Bible says on many points. The Bible didn’t change. I just grew in my understanding of it.

5. As to why God did it the way He did, we will just have to wait until we see Him and ask Him. Perhaps then it really won’t matter to us.

Question #136

Does the soul have mass?

Leon’s Response

Since the Bible doesn’t ever mention anything about mass yours is a difficult question to answer. If it is something like taking the Lord’s Supper or communion then the soul is very much involved. The soul is the same as the inward man. Everything we do in worship to the Lord involves the soul. In John 4:23,24 Jesus said our worship to God was to be in spirit and in truth. To worship in spirit has to do with the right heart. It is having the soul or spirit in line with God. Other text which might be helpful are I Corinthians 14:15; Philippians 3:3.

Question #137

When Seth, Adam and Eve’s third son, went to find a wife in Nod, where did the people of Nod come from?

Leon’s Response

Besides Cain, Abel, and Seth, Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4). The people of Nod were descendants of Adam and Eve either through Cain or through some of their other sons and daughters. Remember, Adam lived 930 years. There was a lot of time for children, grandchildren, etc., to be born. At that time marrying one’s own family was not sinful. Remember, even Abraham, hundreds of years later, married his half sister.

Question #138

I have really enjoyed reading your Q&A. My question may step on some toes but I have to ask. Let me give you a little background. I was raised in the church and attended a conservative congregation, now that I am a grown woman my husband and I have moved and attend another conservative congregation. I am not happy here. Things have changed. The church is not close, although very small. They seem to be going through the motions just to get from one service to the next. I am not blaming the members of this congregation for my feelings, however I do feel that it has lead me to feel the way I do. These members do not seem to have compassion for one another. There is very little fellowship outside of the Sunday/Wednesday services. My dilemma.  I have considered changing my membership to a liberal congregation. What exactly is the difference? I have never been taught, just told the liberal are different. Why? Is is sinfully different, or a matter of opinion that is not based on the scripture? Due to my recent feelings toward the congregation I attend as a whole my family has neglected to attend church services as we should. In fact I find it to be trying to make myself get ready and drive 5 minutes down the road. I know this is wrong but in my heart I feel if I am not happy with the congregation and that it is time to move on. Sorry to ramble so much. Thanks in advance for your response.

Leon’s Response

I really need more information to give you a good answer. The words conservative and liberal are used in so many different ways that I’m not sure which you may be referring to. Many call themselves conservative because they reject things like supporting anyone who is not a Christian or reject eating in the building. Others simply mean they believe the Bible is to be taken literally in what it says. The word liberal is often used to simply refer to anyone who doesn’t agree with what a person believes. The word actually means someone who rejects the authority of the Bible and simply goes in their own directions. I have met very few real liberals in the churches of Christ. One thing is certain, if where you are attending is killing your spiritual growth you need to get out of that and begin worshiping somewhere that will build you up and encourage you in growth. If you visit a place and they obviously reject the Bible as the standard of faith and practice, go somewhere else. But most likely you will find people who believe the Bible and are trying their best to follow it. They will simply see some matters differently than the others who call themselves conservative. Read Romans 14. People can disagree on matters and both be good Christians. But don’t allow your family to be lost to God by staying in a dead church.

Question #139

I have yet another question to ask.

Me and my wife are Christians, and members of the church. I’ve been married for seven years, and have one daughter. My wife, who was previously married, just brought up the notion that we may be living in sin because of our marriage.

Her husband left her after a few months of marriage, and did not return. I met her before her legal divorce, we were together, and I married her within a month or so of her legal divorce. Are we living in sin by being married? Is her first marriage still ongoing and is our marriage non-existent in the sight of God? Thank you for your time, and God bless.

Leon’s Response

From what you described it sounds like your wife was deserted in light of I Corinthians 7:15. Notice Paul said, “If the unbelieving one departs, let him depart. The brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.” If he forsook her she is released from the bond of that marriage. If you go on reading in I Corinthians 7 you will note that he tells Christians to remain in the circumstance in which they are called. He used two illustrations, one of circumcision and the other of slavery. But the point was about marriage. His application is that he recommends under the present distress for folks to stay single. But if a virgin marries she doesn’t sin and if one who is released from a marriage, gets married they have not sinned. Those who are released from a marriage are folks who have been divorced before becoming Christians. He recommends they stay single but declares there is no sin for them to remarry.

The truth is the Bible no where talks about people living in adultery. That is a man-made phrase to back up a man-made doctrine. People commit adultery when they marry another after divorcing their mates for non-scriptural reasons (Matthew 19:6-11). But there is not a place in the Bible where he refers to people who have gotten married committing adultery in their sexual relations.

It makes no sense at all to think that repenting of one sin regarding divorce would involve getting another divorce. Make the marriage you are in a godly one where you live for the Lord and bring up your children to do the same. Don’t make those mistakes again.

Question #140

I have several questions, none of them are directly related, just as I study I write them down. I hope you can help!

1. On communion, we are to do this with a clean heart that we may not bring damnation to our souls, but then it states that we are all sinners who fall short and are not worthy. Doesn’t that seem confusing?

2. My husband and I are members of church. We visit other churches (churches of Christ) quite often. We are constantly being ragged about this from what is called the “home congregation”, I don’t see the problem! The good books never states anything about a home church, in fact just paraphrasing it talks of them going out to teach and preach the gospel all over the world, It said the Son of man had no where to lay his head. We feel very comfortable visiting different churches of Christ! Who thought of this home congregation stuff?

3. Is there a remembrance in heaven? Will I recognize my love ones?

4. In the beginning, and even hundreds of years later, it was not sinful to marry ones own family. When did this change and become incest?

5. I understand the Christians man’s authority and a woman not being permitted to preach, but what I don’t understand is why are women in the church not allowed to even work in the worship service ? All work doesn’t require a man to preach. You can usher, read scripture, and even lead singing. My question >on this, I guess, is, is it just tradition or is this point biblical?

6. Does giving necessarily always mean giving money? Can you give in serving for instance?

7. You answered a question about women serving earlier, (as deacons etc.). You used 1 Tim. 3, a reference (qualifications) you stated wasn’t intended for a woman because it said being husband of one wife, but I just wonder sometimes if this to often gets misinterpreted. The bible has referred time and time again about mankind thus referring to all, men and woman, Ex., Mark 16:16 He who believes Etc, here he is used in reference to all who believe. So it is possible that it means whoever being with one or the other?

Leon’s Response

1. With regard to taking communion he didn’t say that you were to be worthy but that you were to take in a worthy manner (Or as the KJV has it “Worthily”). They were abusing the communion by mixing it with their love feast and showing no care for each other or their needs. To take in a worthy manner had to do with discerning the Lord’s body, that is giving careful thought to it. None are worthy, as you point out, but we can take in a worthy manner. (I Corinthians 11:23-32)

2. The home church concept comes from the fact that each congregation is overseen by it’s elders and deacons among the congregation. If one doesn’t make one place home, they tend not to ever really get involved in the work, but become ones who are spectators. There is certainly nothing wrong with visiting other congregations. But it is important to be a part of the work of the church (Ephesians 4:11-16)

3. Yes there is a remembrance in heaven and you will know your loved ones. Remember Lazarus and Abraham in Luke 16:19-31. Lazarus still knew who he was and who Abraham was and what had happened in his lifetime. When Moses and Elijah came back on the mount of transfiguration they were still the same people. In Revelation 6 those who had been killed for their faith were crying out “How long O Lord, holy and true do You not avenge our blood on those on the earth?” They had all their memory and even knew what was happening to some degree on earth. When we die, the body dies but the soul or spirit goes on to God. Even in the resurrection it is only the body that is changed. The spirit or soul is the same as on earth.

4. Incest wasn’t wrong until the giving of the Mosaical law. It is recorded in Leviticus 18:6-18.

5. There are only basic principles with regard to women in worship which must be applied to our present situation. In Corinthians 11:1-16 the principle was that women praying or prophesying had to show their subjection to the man. In I Corinthians 14:34,35 women were not allowed to speak in the assembly in the sense of preaching, such would have been a shame. In I Timothy 2:9-16 women were to be quiet and were not allowed to have authority over a man. He said, “I do not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man.” The key phrase is, “Over a man”. She could teach but not in such a way as to be over a man. It is certainly a matter of judgment concerning many of the things you bring up since they aren’t mentioned in the text. It wouldn’t be wrong for a woman to do anything in worship which didn’t violate the principles in the verses already mentioned. Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8,9) Pheobe was a servant of the church in Cencrea (Romans 16:1). Priscilla helped in teaching Apollos the way of God more correctly (Acts 18:24-28).

6. We are to be givers of all sorts. Some text definitely have to do with money (I Corinthians 16:1,2; 2 Corinthians 8 and 9). But Dorcas was a giver of charitable deeds that she did in Acts 9. It isn’t a matter of either, or, but of both.

7. While in the English language it is true that the word man often means humanity, in the Greek language there are different words for such. In text like Mark 16:16 the he comes from a Greek word meaning mankind. But in I Timothy 2:8 when it says men are to pray everywhere lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting the word is for the male sex and doesn’t apply to all mankind any more than the word “women” does to both. Notice that the New Testament teaches that we are all on the same plane with regard to salvation. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free or male or female. We are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). But we do have different functions to perform in God’s service. Notice in Titus 2 he gave duties for older women, younger women, older men, younger men, the evangelist and the slaves. Difference in work doesn’t mean difference in importance. I have no doubt that we have limited the work of women in the church in ways God never intended. But let’s not take away the limitations He did put there in the process of seeking change.

Question #141

I first have a statement I wish you to comment on then a question. As with many churches we have become slack in many areas, Lately our class topic has been on how we as [Christians] can do better. This has led some of us to think that part of becoming complacent is due to not knowing the truth. It seems that some who have come from the denominational world (as I did) and were added to the church are more on fire than the ones who were born into [the church], meaning those who have just traditionally followed their families seem to become the ones who are just there. And those who have been added to the church by their choice from other beliefs need the word to be proven to them and they go after the truth with a burning desire. This could be the root of our problem of complacency .Maybe more time should be spent into knowing that our kids at some point need to be sat down point blank and find out what they know. Not always assuming that because they have grown up in [the church] they know. I know when I was a child going to church was just a ritual, something to do! Now the question I had is this, we take pride in being the church that wears Christ’s name (church of Christ) but it seems that Christ is not his name, Christ is a title, it is the description of Jesus, He is the anointed One. Jesus is His name. We are the blood-bought church that wears His name. I believe this. But shouldn’t it be the church of Jesus or church of Jesus Christ. It’s kind of a scary thought but Satan is called the anti-Christ. Leaving out Jesus could also be a part of the Church’s breakdown.

Leon’s Response

I do believe that it is often the case that those converted out of the world or out of denominational-ism have greater zeal for Christ than those who grew up in the church. Complacency is a long time problem as evidenced by the fact that both the church at Ephesus had lost it’s first love (Revelation 2:1-7) and the church at Laodicea had grown lukewarm and neither cold or hot. The need for them was to repent of the sin of lukewarmness and lack of love and go back to do the first works of service for God. With regard to the name, the Bible says nothing about a particular name for the church at all. There are many descriptive phrases used for the church. It is called most of the time, simply “The church” (Acts 2:47). Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build My church.” (Matthew 16:18), but He didn’t say what to call it. It is called the church of God many times (I Corinthians 1:1,2). It is called the church of the living God (I Timothy 3:15). It is called the church of the firstborn (Hebrews 12:23). It is called the church of the saints (I Corinthians 14:34,35). It is called the churches of Christ in Romans 16:16.

The point is that none of these were intended to be the name for the church. They are descriptions of it’s nature and relationship both to each other and to the Lord. It is wrong to reject all the other descriptions given in the Bible and simply use the phrase “church of Christ” as our name. If we really want to be Biblical we should learn to use all the scriptural phrases. The use of church of Christ on a sign or in a phone book to help people identify who we are isn’t wrong, but it does hold the danger of making this the name for the church. If we are to speak where the Bible speaks, let’s do so on this matter and forget the whole thing of a right name. The very naming of the church in an exclusive way makes it denominational in nature. If we use the phrase church of Christ it ought to be with the word church starting with a small “c” to show that we are simply declaring that this church belongs to Christ and that we don’t have a name other than it being the church in a particular place.

Question #142

Can you define the word discern for me as it is used in Hebrews 4:12? And what is, if there is one, the Greek word for it?

What does pricked to the heart mean to you in Acts 2:37?

Leon’s Response

The word “Discern” just means to examine carefully. When God says the Word is a discern-er of the thoughts and intents of the heart the point is the Word of God reaches into our very soul. It isn’t just a book but the living word of God that is powerful enough to change us from the inside out.

The phrase pricked in the hearts is translated in other translations, to “Cut to the heart” The same word is used again in Acts 7:54 in that those listening to Stephen were cut to the heart but their reaction wasn’t to repent but stone him to death. When we preach and teach the Word it cuts to the heart when we aren’t living what God teachings. If we are honest when we are cut to the heart we will repent and change our lives.

Question #143

Can you give some scriptural references as to a person being able to fall from grace? Is it possible or not?

Leon’s Response

There are many Scripture on the point of falling from grace. Galatians 5:4 warns of falling from grace. Hebrews 6:4-6 tells of the danger of falling so far you can’t come back. 2 Peter 2:20-22 speaks of escaping the corruption in the world and then being overcome by sin to the degree that it would be worse than ever having known the truth. John 15:1-8 calls Christians branches in the vine and if a branch doesn’t bear fruit it will be cut off and cast into the fire. Both Galatians 6:1,2 and James 5:19-20 challenge us to win back those who have fallen. Every text that puts a condition on our being right with God indicates that if we don’t meet the condition we will fall. For example, I John 1:7-10 if we walk in the light we are continually cleansed from sin. 2 Peter 1:5-10 tells us to add the graces to our lives but if we don’t, we are blind and can’t see afar off. We are to make our calling and election sure. If we do these things we will never fall. The simple question would be, what if we don’t do them?

Please understand while the Bible teaches that we can fall from grace it doesn’t teach that our salvation is insecure. We are kept by the power of God through faith (I Peter 1:4,5). In John 10:25-30 Jesus pictures Himself as the good shepherd and us as the sheep. He says no one can pluck us out of the Father’s hand. He is greater than all and no one is able to pluck us from Him. But also note that “My sheep hear My voice and follow Me.” As long as we keep on believing and following the Lord we can’t be pulled away from God. But if we leave our faith and go back into the world of sin as Demas did (2 Timothy 4:10) then we will be lost.

Question #144

I recently ran across a new argument (at least new to me) attempting to justify mechanical instruments of music in our worship of God today. It is taken from Psalm 45, specifically verse 8 — “All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad” (NIV). This argument basically says that since this Psalm is Messianic, dealing with the Christ and His kingdom, then it proves that Jesus delights in stringed instruments in His kingdom as praise to Him. I would appreciate your comments.

Leon’s Response

The problem with this argument is that it is obviously figurative language about the coming age. If you take the stringed instruments literally, you would have to take the palaces of ivory and the fragrances literally as well. If this were indicating that such instruments are in the church then why do we find no record of them being there? Even church history indicates the first instruments used in the church came some eight hundred years after the establishment of the church and even then it brought a division between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox church.

Question #145

In question #143, you mention Hebrews 6:4-6, please explain impossible to come back, I thought the Lord would always allow you to come back. How does this happen?

Leon’s Response

You are right in that God is always ready to forgive. Notice what is impossible in this text. It is impossible to renew them to repentance. The problem isn’t with God. It is that a person can go so far into sin that they find no way out. Remember in Hebrews 12 the point made about Esau that he sought occasion for repentance with tears but didn’t find it. Our hearts can become so hardened by sin that even the gospel can’t get inside to save us.

Question #146

According to the Bible, when we die we either go to Paradise (Abraham’s Bosom) or Tartarus (Torments). Paradise references are Luke 16:25, Luke 28:43, and Acts 2:27,28. Tartarus references are Jude 6, Luke 16:23-25, II Peter 2:4, and Luke 10:15. The great gulf fixed between reference is Luke 16:26.  I understand and believe all of the above. My question to you is, “At that point, have we not already been judged?” There is an obvious separation when death occurs. That separation must involve some kind of judgment. The final judgment will come when Christ returns and the earth ends.

Could that “final judgment” change the outcome of the previous judgment of Paradise or Tartarus? If so, does that mean there are souls waiting in Paradise that will end up in Hell (and vice-versa)?  I obviously know that once we die, there is no repentance of our sins. So, I know that we can’t change our destiny once we die. It will be up to the grace and mercy of our Lord.

Leon’s Response

You are right that our destiny is determined the moment of death (Hebrews 9:27). When you think of the judgment remember that much of what the Bible teaches on the subject is either in parables or figurative language in which a point was being made but it was not to be taken as a literal picture of judgment. For example, in Matthew 25 Jesus told three parables of judgment. In one He described judgment as being like a wedding feast in which five wisely made the preparation needed and entered in and five foolishly didn’t bring the extra oil and wanted to borrow from the preparation of the wise. These were not allowed to come in.

The second parable of the judgment was that it was like a man going on a journey and giving his servants large sums of money (talents) for them to use while He was away. When He returned He called them to give an account. The 5 and 2 talent man had doubled theirs and were blessed by the Master. The one talent man had hidden his and made excuses. His talent was taken and given to the ten talent man and he was cast into outer darkness. The third parable was that judgment would be like a shepherd dividing the sheep from the goats. Those who served their fellow brothers were told to come on in and those who didn’t serve their brethren were sent into everlasting punishment.

The fact is, a judgment day is coming. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body, according to what we have done, whether good or bad. Notice judgment wasn’t just to determine one’s eternal destiny, but to give them rewards for their deeds done in the body.

Also, remember when we leave this world to go to the realm of God, we are no longer blocked in by time. Time is something of this realm. God is timeless. One day with Him is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.

When one dies lost they are lost forevermore (Matthew 25:46). Remember they couldn’t cross the great gulf in Luke 16. When one dies right with God they are partakers of God’s glory forever more (Matthew 25:46). I question whether our whole theory on an intermediate state between death and the resurrection is real or just something we have creatively taken from some verses. What I’m certain of is that when one dies they go immediately to punishment or reward and whether that is the final reward or some intermediate state makes no difference. I hope this is helpful.

Question #147

Are homosexuals born gay? If not, could you give scripture and verse to prove that?

Leon’s Response

The Bible doesn’t say whether or not people are born with homosexual tendencies. What it does do is condemn the practice of homosexual activity. (Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-11).

It may or may not be the case that one is born with a desire for those of the same sex. But even if they are born with those desires it doesn’t make it right to practice the sinful relationship. Most people are born with a desire for those of the opposite sex, but sexual relations outside of marriage are still immoral (Hebrews 13:4). If a person has great longing for the one of the opposite sex but can’t find one willing to marry them they are still required by God to remain pure and not have sex outside the marriage. The homosexual would be in the same situation. They don’t sin by desiring the same sex, but they do if the desire leads to lust and then to immoral relationships.

Question #148

How would you respond to someone who says they don’t believe in “organized” religion?

Leon’s Response

I would ask first what they meant by the statement. If they are talking about organization in the sense of man-made organization for churches, such as denominational ruling bodies, conventions, synods and the like, I would say, I don’t believe in it either. If they are saying they don’t believe in church as built by Christ (Matthew 16:18-19), and that one is added to when saved (Acts 2:38-47) then I would point out the religion which pleases God is one with organization and community. I would remind them you can have religion and still be completely wrong with God (Matthew 15:9; 7:21-23). If a person reads the New Testament they will find that churches have always been both good and bad. Even the congregations established by the inspired apostles had great problems in them. But God still commanded them not to forsake the assembling of themselves together (Hebrews 10:25). If my religion is to have any value to it then God must be pleased with it.

The truth is many don’t want to be Christians or follow the teaching of the Bible, but to have their own thing and expect God to accept whatever they offer. They create a God to their own liking. But, when the end comes, it will be the Lord who does the judging. It won’t matter then how much I liked my own way. It will only matter if I have really submitted to the reign and rule of the Lord in our lives.

Question #149

Will we have specific jobs in heaven and will we be doing any of things that we love to do here on earth?

Leon’s Response

The Bible doesn’t reveal specific jobs we will have. It says we will serve Him day and night in His temple. The promise of the Lord is it will be a place of joy and peace for all. We will certainly be busy and we will rest from our labors. (Revelation 7:7-ff.; 14:13). We must live in faith that heaven will be greater than anything imaginable by us and trust the Lord to make it a place we will want to be for eternity.

Question #150

Am I following the teachings of the New Testament if I attend a Church of Christ that has no elders or deacons but has men qualified to serve?

Leon’s Response

It is clear that the New Testament teaches that every congregation should set apart elders and deacons for the local church. (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5-ff.; I Timothy 3) If a church simply refuses to follow the Biblical plan they are rejecting the authority of the Lord. Christ is the head of the church and should have first place in everything (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23). Thus we should follow His teaching about any matter including how the church should be organized. We have no more right to refuse His organization for the church than we do His plan of salvation.

Instead of just leaving I would try to get the church to see what the Bible teaches and follow it. If they continue to refuse the Biblical pattern I think you would be forced to go somewhere else where they were more intent on being Christians and following Christ.

Question #151

I know that our lives are fulfilled “according to God’s purpose”; however, I am wondering does the Bible speak of ways to insure longevity? I know that you should honor your mother and father such that your days should be long. Is it, however, appropriate to ask God for longevity? Do we have a predetermined number of days to live and there is nothing that we can do to change them?

Leon’s Response

There have been times when God definitely numbered someone’s days as with Hezekiah when God told him to set his house in order since he was about to die. When Hezekiah prayed God gave him fifteen more years to live. In the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 6: Jesus said the very hairs of our head are numbered and that a sparrow doesn’t fall to the earth without the Father’s knowledge. This would seem to indicate some set amount of days. When John wrote 3rd John he prayed that he might prosper and be in health even as his soul prospered, which would seem to involve long life. The Bible doesn’t indicate an exact set amount of time but does indicate our life is in God’s control and that our living by His will lengthens our days. That is the point with obeying father and mother. It doesn’t mean everyone who is obedient to parents will live long, but that such living tends to bring longer life.

Question #152

I have been in a study on prayer. This has helped me grow, my question is can we pray for God to heal ,I know we ask for his hand to be with the doctors etc., but is wrong to ask for healing? One other question I was told we each have been given a gift to use, how do we know what our gift is? Why do we not use fasting and prayer today?

Leon’s Response

Yes it is perfectly right to ask for healing. In James 5:13-16 we are told to pray for healing and the effective prayer of the righteous man avails much. We should understand that not every time we ask God to heal someone, will it take place. If it did no one would ever die. Sometimes God answers “No” to our request. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul asked for healing for his thorn in the flesh. God told him “NO”. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you and My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

With regard to spiritual gifts, Peter said in I Peter 4:10, “As each one of you has received a gift use it to serve one another.” In Romans 12:1-9 Paul describes many of the spiritual gifts and again declares we each have at least one. Some have the gift of prophesy, some teaching, some ministering, some exhorting, some giving, some leading and some showing mercy.” Also in Ephesians 4:9-16 he discussed gifts. As to how we know our gifts, we have to try some things to see if we are gifted in given areas, we should pray about it and ask for God’s guidance. We should ask spiritual people who know us what they think our gift is.

With regard to prayer and fasting, these do remain a part of the work of a Christian. The early church fasted when sending out missionaries (Acts 13:1-4), when ordaining elders (Acts 14:23). Paul even said he fasted more than all the rest. The difference is that Jesus told us in Matthew 6 that when we fast it should not be something we tell the world about. We should fast with it being between us and God, as with prayer and giving. Remember fasting involves doing without anything for the purpose of focusing on God Completely. It doesn’t just have to do with food. I hope this is helpful.

Question #153

I have a question concerning the interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6. It seems to say that if you fall away, that you cannot “come back”. I do not think that is what it exactly means, because of the numerous places in the New Testament where it says to repent/that you can repent. My friend recently went through a period of time where his spiritual life was down. He is scared that this verse means that you literally cannot repent and come back. He wanted me to email you and get your interpretation of the passage.

Leon’s Response

You are right that this text doesn’t mean one can’t come back or that God won’t forgive. Text such as Galatians 6:1; James 5:19,20 show you can come back. The point of Hebrews 6:4-6 is that one can fall so far away from God that it is impossible for them to repent. If they would repent God would forgive. (I John 1:7-10). But one can become so hardened in sin that nothing can change them. That is the reason it is dangerous for one to keep on in sin. If one’s conscience is still bothering them, it indicates they have not gone too far and need to repent before sin doesn’t bother them anymore.

Question #154

Is masturbation a sin?

Leon’s Response

The Bible doesn’t mention masturbation as one of the sexual sins referred to often. The mere act of masturbating would not be a sin. The problem is that most of the time when people masturbate they fantasize about someone of the opposite sex and lust is sinful. Remember Jesus said, “Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart.” So the question one would have to answer for themselves is, can I carry on the action of masturbation without lusting after someone with whom I want to have sexual relations?

Question #155

I have some questions about the ten tribes of the northern kingdom.

Jacob had twelve sons, but Levi got scattered cities rather than a defined territory. Joseph also received no single territory, but rather a double portion through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh. Thus there were twelve landed tribes. However, Simeon’s possession was a scattered one within the confines of Judah (Genesis 49:5-7 and Joshua 19:1, 9). Thus, isn’t there really only a practical total of eleven defined territories to the united kingdoms of Saul, David, and Solomon?

In 1 Kings, chapters 11-12, (especially 11:31, 12:21-23), we see the united monarchy being broken into the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the resulting two tribes (Judah & Benjamin) comprising the southern kingdom called Judah.

Question: Since Benjamin and Judah (including Simeon) were in the southern kingdom, aren’t there really only nine tribes in the northern kingdom? I count Asher, Zebulun, Naphtali, Issachar, Dan, Manasseh, Gad, Ephraim, and Reuben. Could the two half-tribes of Manasseh be considered two physical territories?

What do you make of this?

Leon’s Response

First, while it is true that Simeon’s inheritance was within the area given to Judah there were prescribed boundaries for Simeon given in Joshua 19:1-9. When the division took place the area which stayed with the Southern kingdom included the total area of Judah including what had been set aside for Simeon. Evidently, by that time they had been absorbed into Judah. Benjamin was so close to Judah and such a small area it also was included in the Southern kingdom. Most of the time the Bible simply speaks of Judah as the kingdom of the South, but at times does mention Benjamin. With regard to how you count them to come up with the ten instead of nine, the Bible never gives a specific answer. I think that when it speaks of the ten tribes it isn’t referring to the specific number but to the group that had been made up of ten tribes. It is like the use of the twelve with reference to the apostles. They are constantly referred to as the Twelve, yet if you count them after Judas killed himself, Mathias was added to make twelve again, then Paul was added to the group of apostles later by the Lord. Yet they are never referred to as the thirteen. It is simply a way of referring to the overall group instead of being a declaration of the exact number that we must figure a way to make the numbers fit.

Question #156

I am a believer who has been struggling recently with a difficult addiction to pornography. It seems no matter how hard I try to stay away from it, I fail every time. I have asked many times for help from God to take this temptation from my life and it is a constant struggle. How much I wish I had never given in to this temptation to begin with.

My question is this: Can I be forgiven of this addiction when I continue to fail? I don’t want to use his gift of forgiveness as an excuse to continue living in sin, but so far, I have been unable to free myself of this problem. Also, if you have any advice on how to seek counseling or a better way to beat an addiction? I am sure this will apply to other addictive behaviors; i.e. alcoholism or drug addiction.

I know God loves me, despite my sinful nature; but can he continue to forgive me?

Leon’s Response

Yours is a problem shared by thousands. As you said, it is far easier if one never crosses that fence of pornography. First, you can be forgiven of any sin you repent of. Read I John 1:5-10; I Corinthians 6:7-9. But how do you quit? As with any addiction it is very difficult to quit and it is quite possible it will be a long time struggle. But first remember that when you pray for God to help you in the matter, it is the wrong prayer. Ask God to take away this addiction by whatever means necessary. When you reach the stage in your prayers where you stop asking for help and start asking God simply to get you out of this sin, and demonstrating that you want to be different, then you will really be submitting to God. Remember James 4:7. Submit to God and resist the devil. Too often we simply try to resist the devil without the submission to God for Him to change us. There is no sin bigger than God’s power to forgive or get you out of, (I Corinthians 10:12,13). Let me warn you when you begin to pray for God to get you out of this sin it may lead to new realities for you, which you haven’t imagined. Read again Romans 8:28 and believe it. God really does make all work together for our good if we love Him and are called. Verse 29 explains the good as to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Also, consider James 5:13-16. Find someone whom you can trust who is righteous and confess your sin to ask them to pray with you. Read and think long about Romans 6:1-23. If we obey Romans 6 we can have the blessings of Romans 8. Romans 7 explains what it is like when we try to solve our problems by our own power. We have great plans and ambitions but poor results. We need the power of the Holy Spirit living within us which only happens when we submit obediently to God.

Question #157

I am interested in tips on how to tell my minister and religious family members that I am converting to Judaism. There is no need to try to convince me not to convert. That decision is finial and I have already started the conversion process with a rabbi. I am happier now than ever and closer to God. I’m only interested in how to discuss my conversion with others.

Leon’s Response

I’m afraid I can’t talk to you about how to tell your family of your conversion plans. The fact is by converting to Judaism you are rejecting Christ and His Gospel. You are rejecting the New Testament and are going back to a system of beliefs which have been set aside. We are now dead the to Law, by the body of Christ so we can be married to Christ and bring forth fruit to His name (Romans 7:4) Paul goes on to identify the law we are dead to as the one which says, “Thou shalt not covet.” Obviously that would be the ten commandments. In 2 Corinthians 3 he called the Old law a ministry of death written and engraved on stone. The purpose of the law was to bring us to Christ and after Christ has come we are no longer under the law (Galatians 3:19-24). Today for a person to justify themselves by the Law is to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). Also, salvation is in Christ (Acts 4:12). The only way to God is through Christ, the Way (John 14:6). Paul told Timothy, “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”

If you are determined to follow a path that is outdated, not Christ’s, and hopeless, then go ahead and simply tell your folks the truth. But if they are Christians, don’t expect them to rejoice with you. The question you need to answer isn’t whether or not it makes you happy, satisfied and fulfilled, but is this pleasing to God? In Matthew 15:9 Jesus said, “In vain they worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Remember Jesus saying in Matthew 5, “Think not that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy but to fulfill and I say to you that not one jot or tittle of the Law shall in any wise pass until all is fulfilled.” Notice, Christ said the law is either all still bound or none of it. Are you really ready to try to keep the entirety of the Old Testament? Think about what some of those laws are you would need to obey if you really went back under that law instead of the New Covenant. Even Jeremiah prophesied the Old Testament covenant wasn’t to last. He said God would give a new covenant with the law written on hearts instead of stone. Under this New Covenant God would be our father and us His children. Our sins once forgiven will never be remembered again. Do you plan to offer the animal sacrifices of the Old Law to atone for your sins? Do you plan to really observe the Sabbath and stone folks who don’t follow the Sabbath law? What about all the regulations about food, contact with people who are sick or observing the feast days?

I know you say you are convinced. Will you be honest enough to read the New Testament before you make such a move? Why in the world would anyone leave the covenant of grace to go back to a system of laws no one except Christ has ever been able to live by?

Question #158

Recently a large church in my area began a Saturday night worship service. They currently have 5 services on Sunday. What does scripture say in this regard? Is it acceptable in light of scripture? The explanation I have heard says that according the Jewish time table, Saturday at 6p became the first day of the week. Is this correct? Obviously the example of the disciples was they met on the first day of the week, but they also met for days at a time in worship didn’t they? Any help you can provide would be appreciated.

Leon’s Response

As far as meeting it is certainly right to meet on any day at any time to worship the Lord and praise Him. The first church in Acts 2:42-47 met daily from house to house. With regard to Saturday night being Sunday in the Jewish calendar, that is correct that the first day of the week began at 6:00 P.M.. But that isn’t the calendar we live under and the taking of the Lord’s Supper was on the first day of the week. (Acts 20:7) The calendar is different in different parts of the world. I would suspect that the reason God specified as He did the first day of the week is that no matter what calendar you use there is still a first day of the week and we can identify it.

With regard to the calendar, if one uses the Jewish calendar to prove Saturday night is all right for worship he would also have to accept the fact that under the Jewish calendar the first day of the week ended at 6:00 P.M. and it would therefore be wrong for us to take of the Lord’s Supper after 6:00 on Sunday evening.

Question #159

In reference to Acts 20:28, “….which he has purchased w/his blood.” and Eph. 1:14 “…which is the earnest of inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession…” Does the Ephesians scripture say that Christ will redeem the church or that Christ will return for his church (the Church of Christ)? If not, what is Eph. 1:14 saying? If not, what New Testament scripture informs me, (a member of the church), that Christ will return for the saints in the Church as opposed returning for denominational churches?

Leon’s Response

I do think that Ephesians 1:14 is talking about the inheritance that Christians will have when this life is over. The church which the Bible talks about is non-denominational. It is the body which a person becomes a member of by virtue of being saved and the Lord adds them to His church (Acts 2:47; Hebrews 12:23). Only the Lord knows who all is a member of His church.

Question #160

How does the Bible define the role of Christian women, in the home, as well as in society? How is a Christian woman supposed to behave, dress, adorn herself, etc… according to Bible verses? Also, what does the Bible say about women, marriage, and divorce? (Please include Biblical references only, not personal opinions.)

Leon’s Response

First with regard to Christian women at home and in society, read I Timothy 2:9-16; Titus 2:1-4; Ephesians 5:22-36; I Corinthians 11:1-16; Colossians 3:18; Proverbs 31:10-31 Second, with regard to marriage and divorce read Matthew 5:28-32; Matthew 19:1-11; I Corinthians 7:10-28; Mark 10:1-12; Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

Question #161

This may sound silly, but what would be a practical application of “a soft answer turneth away wrath”?

Leon’s Response

The word soft is also translated “Quiet”. The point Solomon is making is that when we raise our voices in anger it tends to bring an angry response. When we keep the voice down or soft it tends to keep the anger under control on both sides.

Question #162

My friend and I came across some literature the other day. The guy says that not keeping the Sabbath is a sin still today. Usually I don’t pay much attention to that argument, because I always believed that since the old law was done away with Jesus, that it was not necessary to keep the Sabbath anymore. BUT one of the pamphlet’s points was that IF the old law was done away with (and Jesus would have known about this), why did Jesus in Matthew 24:20(I assume he is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem that took place after his death) say “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” Why is he still saying that the Sabbath is still a holy day, one in which you cannot “work”? I really didn’t know what to think when it pointed that out. I’ve read that verse dozens of times but never thought about it in that way. Also, I’d like to know all of the grounds that we believe that Sunday is the Lord’s day. The pamphlet claims that the churches still worshiped on the Sabbath until the Catholic church moved the worship day to Sunday. Any information you could give us would be helpful.

Leon’s Response

First, with regard to Jesus statement in Matthew 24 to pray that your flight won’t be on the Sabbath or in the winter was a practical matter. In Jerusalem the gates of the city were closed on the Sabbath and it would have been more difficult for them to escape. When Christians were not observing the Sabbath in A.D. 70 the Jews were and the Jews were still in power in Jerusalem.

With regard to worship on the Sabbath notice Romans 7:4-7. We are dead to the law by the body of Christ to be married to another, Jesus Christ. Then in verse seven he specifies which law by saying it was the law which said, “Thou shalt not covet.” While those who preach the observance of the Sabbath claim that the law done away with was the ceremonial law and not the ten commandments this says the law done away with was the ten commandment law. Also, read 2 Corinthians 3. The law written and engraved on stones was a ministry of death. The only part of the law written and engraved on stones was the ten commandments. He says that law is done away and we have a new covenant. Add to that Colossians 2:14-16. The law is nailed to the cross. We are therefore told not to be judged in respect of the Sabbath day.

As to the day the Christians worshiped being the Lord’s Day note the following. Christ was raised on the first day of the week (Mark 16:1-5). The church started on the day of Pentecost which always fell on the first day of the week. Pentecost was fifty days after Passover. They were to count seven Sabbaths and the next day was Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-4). Disciples came together to take the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Paul told Christians to give on the first day of every week (I Corinthians 16:1,2). The only time the phrase “The Lord’s Day” is used is in Revelation 1:10 when John says he was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. It isn’t specifically stated what day that is. In light of the above text I would say the evidence is strong that it is the first day of the week.

Remember the Sabbath was a sign between God and the children of Israel (Exodus 31:15-17). It was never given to the church nor to Gentiles for observance.

Question #163

My question is concerning sin and asking for forgiveness. Can you ask God personally or must you go before the church before you are forgiven? Also the scripture about women and long hair and men and long hair, please explain.

Leon’s Response

There is nothing in the text which teaches us that we must go before the church before we can be forgiven of sin. Read Acts 8:14-24 with Simon who sinned after becoming a Christian. Peter told him to “Repent and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven.” Nothing about the church is mentioned. In I John 1:7-10 we are told to confess our sins and He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is a confession to God. In James 5:15,16 we are told to confess our faults to one another and pray for one another that our sins might be forgiven. This does involve confession and pray for each other but it doesn’t specify and assembly. It simply involves having others pray for you for your sins to be forgiven.

In I Corinthians 11 Paul was discussing the proper conduct during an assembly when people were praying and prophesying. Women were told to pray and prophecy with their head veiled to show submission. Men were told to pray and prophecy unveiled to honor their head, Jesus Christ. The problem was women being converted and finding freedom in Christ were wanting to take away all restraints and in so doing were hurting the influence of the church in that women were conducting themselves like the prostitutes in Corinth. The illustration he used was that long hair was a glory to the woman and it was a shame for a man. Both these had to do with the culture of the time and place. The principle being taught is that we ought to conduct ourselves in a way to build up the cause of Christ rather than acting in a way that would cause people to lose respect for the church and Christians. In different times and places there are different attitudes about long hair and both men and women. Paul wasn’t setting a single attitude about such but was recognizing the attitude in Corinth at that time and telling Christians to make certain they acted properly.

Question #164

I know someone who is dying.  I have prayed for him as others do, but he has not lived a Christian life, but he has been baptized.   I have prayed with him and explained to him that he must ask for forgiveness, and he did, and I pray he understands.  Do you think God forgives under this situation?

Leon’s Response

According to I John 1:7-10 if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When Simon sinned as a new Christian in Acts 8, Peter told him to “Repent and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart will be forgiven.” The very fact that God is so anxious to save He would give His Son to die so we can be forgiven indicates that He will forgive when there is movement toward Him. Remember the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. When the son came to himself and started on his journey to the father, the Father saw him while he was still a long way off and ran to meet him. When the boy began to tell of his sins and failures the Father sent for the best robe, shoes and a ring. He told the servants to kill the fatted calf so they could rejoice since His son was dead and was now alive, He was lost and now was found. If your friend has his faculties to the degree he can repent and ask, God is ready and anxious to forgive.

Question #165

Will Christ return before, during, or after the Great Tribulation, and will the church go through it?  What about the Antichrist?  Will he be a false religious prophet, not unlike the false religions we see today?

Leon’s Response

When you talk about “The tribulation” it should be understood that the Bible speaks of many different times of tribulation. In Matthew 24:29-31 the tribulation of those days had to do with the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in A.D. 70. This was to happen during the life time of some who were there. (Matthew 24:34,35). But as to the second coming it was not known when it would happen. Even the Lord said He didn’t know but the Father only (Verse 36).

In Revelation 7:13-17 those clothed in white robes had come out of great tribulation and had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. God wiped away the tears from their eyes and led them by everlasting fountains of water. Nothing is said of the second coming in this text. It was the souls of men who had died that were being comforted by God.

The word “Tribulation” simply means “Undue pressure” We may face many times of tribulation in all generations. God comforts us in all of our tribulation (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). The church does go through times of tribulation. Both 2 Corinthians 1 and Revelation 7 had to do with Christians.

The Anti-Christ are simply those who are against Christ and there are always Anti-Christ around. Read I John 4:1-3. There were Anti-Christ there already. They denied that Jesus came in the flesh. Instead of this referring to any single person or group or time, it is simply a reference to the fact people are against the Lord and we are to take care how we treat them (2 John 7-10). Certainly some of the Anti-Christ are religious leaders and there are many of them today as they were in the first century and every century since then.

Question #166

Sometimes it seems hard to reconcile the New Testament with the Old Testament. Christ stated that He is the Son of God and that no one will see the Father but through him. He also said that he did not come to abolish the Law but fulfill it and that anyone relaxing any of the commandments would be held accountable. So, many Christians or would-be Christians stumble here. We are to cheer on Christ when he admonishes the corrupt Jewish leaders, calling them a brood of vipers, and we are to look to Christ and his sacrifice as the beginning of a new covenant with the Lord and an ushering in of an era of Grace. But, we still have to behave like observant Jews? Sorry, I don’t get it. But if that’s the case, then could you please answer the questions for a good old Gentile like me. Why did God initiate burnt animal offerings in the first place and why were they so meticulous? How can a sacrificed animal atone for sin really? Do I have to give up pork chops and shrimp salad now for fear I’m not observing the laws? What’s wrong with wearing blends? What does God mean by commanding the firstborns be reserved for him. And lastly, what’s with the cherubim? Thanks, J.E.

Leon’s Response

Look a little more closely at Matthew 5:17-19. “When Christ says He didn’t come to abolish the law of the prophets but to fulfill” the word abolished is translated from a word that means to destroy. The point Jesus was making was the law was from God and He wasn’t going to destroy it, but would fulfill every prophesy, type and promise of the law. When He says, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass until all is fulfilled, notice that He puts the time frame on when it would pass. When all was fulfilled. He came to fulfill. It would pass as the law we are bound by when all was fulfilled. When Jesus was dying on the cross one of His statements was “It is finished” indicating He had fulfilled all He planned to do. When He said Whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments and teaches others the same shall be least in the kingdom it was pointing you couldn’t simply ignore the law. It had a divine purpose that had to be fulfilled.

What about our relation to the law today? According to Romans 7:4-7 we are dead to the law by the body of Christ so we can be married to another, Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:17-24 says the law was added because of transgression until the seed should come, who is Christ. The law was our school master to get us to Christ but after Christ has come we are no longer under the schoolmaster. Galatians 5:4 says that if we justify ourselves by the law we are fallen from grace. Read 2 Corinthians 3. The law written and engraved on stones was a ministry of death. We are under the new covenant given by Christ.

The sacrifices were valid in that they pointed to the real sacrificial lamb who would be offered for our sins. When Jesus died on the cross He ended all these things which are but a shadow of the true (Colossians 2:16-17). The firstborn being offered special place went back to the Passover when God delivered the firstborn of all who had obeyed His commands about the Passover sacrifice. Today everyone who becomes a Christian become a part of the church of the firstborn one (Hebrews 12:23). In our time there is no difference between Jew and Gentile but the same Lord is over all, (Romans 10:12).

Question #167

I happened upon your web-site question and answer page and have really appreciated your answers and your willingness to address tough questions. I have grown up in the church of Christ, and attended a Christian university, but still struggle with the role of the holy spirit in the church and the individual Christian. I would love to hear your understanding of 1 Corinthians 12 (gifts of holy spirit) and 1 Corinthians 14 (orderly worship including speaking in tongues, revelations, etc.). I have heard the interpretation that the gifts died along with the apostles, but I can’t really find the scriptural basis for that explanation. I have been seeking truth on these issues about a year and a half now, and still haven’t reached total peace with it yet. I just want to know if the holy spirit still empowers people today to experience miraculous things. I would appreciate a response from you. Thank you for your time.

Leon’s Response

Thanks for your question. Even more thanks for your interest in the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

One thing stands out in all the discussions of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit and that is that both the miraculous and non-miraculous are treated equally as gifts of the Holy Spirit. Notice in I Corinthians 12, there were not only gifts of healing, tongues and interpretation of tongues, miracles, but also gifts of administration. In verses 4-6 he says there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are varieties of ministries but the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. Verse 11 says “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” Compare this with Romans 12:4-9. There are different gifts but one body and we are to use whatever gift we have be given by the Lord. Some of these were miraculous such as prophesy. But many were not such as teaching, edifying, ministering and giving. In Ephesians 4:11-16 Christ ascended on high and gave gifts to men, to some He gave to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelist and some pastors and teachers. Note apostles and prophets were miraculous but evangelist, pastors and teachers were not. In I Peter 4:7-11 “As each one of you has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” One who had speaking gifts was to speak as the oracles of God. One who had ministering gifts was to use them to God’s glory.

In I Corinthians 13 he names the best gift as love and says without it no other gift is worth anything. He says such gifts as tongues, prophesy and understanding were to cease when the perfect comes. What is the perfect? Notice, “Now we know in part and we prophesy in part but when that which is perfect is come that which is in part will be done away.” What was to be perfect was then partial. What was in part then? What they knew! Some received revelations on some matters, and others on other things. But no one had the full revelation of God’s will. When the revelation was complete, or perfect the partial such as tongues and prophesy and miraculous understanding would be done away. Would this affect the over all work of the Holy Spirit in our lives? NO! The Spirit lives in the Christian as His holy temple (I Corinthians 6:18-20). He works in the Christian to lead him, fill him and bear the fruit of the Spirit in his life (Galatians 5:16-25). The point is that He doesn’t use some tools any more since they have fulfilled their purpose.

I Corinthians 14 shows how all gifts of the Spirit are to be used in the assembly to edify or build up fellow Christians. When gifts draw attention to the person instead of helping others grow they are being misused.

The primary work of the Spirit in the Christians life was never about the miraculous but about helping us in our weaknesses (Romans 8:26-28); about strengthening us (Ephesians 3:14-22) and about making spiritual people of us (Romans 8:12-16)

Question #168

What is your interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2, in reference to the anti-Christ and the hindrance being removed?

Leon’s Response

2 Thessalonians 2 doesn’t mention the anti-Christ. It talks of the man of lawlessness. The word “Anti-Christ” simply means one who is against Christ. It is used by John in I John 4:1-4 to refer to those who didn’t believe Jesus the Christ had come in the flesh. In 2 John 9-11 it is used the same way. It would have the same force if applied to one who denied the deity of Christ (Colossians 2:9; John 1:1-14). The word “Anti-Christ” doesn’t refer to any particular man but anyone who is against the Lord by denying either His deity or humanity.

The man of lawlessness who is to appear before the second coming and be destroyed by Jesus at His second coming is only referred to by Paul in this one text of 2 Thessalonians 2. He is never identified more fully than here. For anyone to apply this to a specific individual when we don’t have Scripture for it is going beyond the text. It is obvious he is very evil and sets himself up as God. He will deceive many especially those who do not believe the truth and take pleasure in unrighteousness. Has this happened already? I see no evidence that it has. It seems from the text that it is something which will be obvious to believers in general when it happens. It seems to me that it is something still to happen before the Lord returns. It is certainly a difficult text since it deals with a point you can’t go to other Scripture and find more discussion on the topic.

Question #169

I truly appreciate your time and thoughtful answer to my question concerning the holy spirit. I have some specific questions concerning 1 Corinthians 14. Again, I have been studying this passage for some time now, and have really been seeking truth in the matter. I understood your interpretation of the scriptures and it really makes sense to me. So, I’m going to throw just a few more your way in hopes that I can finally put this issue to rest in my mind. In verse 26 of Cor. 14, it states several things that must be done for the strengthening of the church. However, do they still have a role in the church today? Are we weak because we do not possess all these characteristics in our assembly time? Second, in verse 28, it states that if there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. Why would this be necessary to speak in a tongue alone with God? What is this talking about? Finally in verse 39, it says not to forbid speaking in tongues, but that everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. Are we in the churches of Christ forbidding something that shouldn’t be forbidden?

Leon’s Response

In Verse 26 of I Corinthians he is dealing with what was true in the assembly at that time in Corinth. He is neither commanding nor condemning the fact, only stating it. It was a fact when they came together there were those who had a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue and an interpretation. All of these would have been normal. The problem they were having had to do with their use. The assembly wasn’t a place to display our abilities but to edify the body. Gifts were always given for the building up of the body. Should we have each of these in the assembly now? Think of them each at a time. Having a psalm evidently referred to someone having a song they would lead the congregation in singing. The typical singing of that time was a chant where the leader sang a phrase the the congregation responded. Paul is making the point that it is fine to have different one’s leading songs but in turn so that the people can be edified. The whole thing wasn’t to be taken with any one item.

All might have a teaching they wanted to share, but they must take turns and only so many share as would be edifying to the whole. All having a revelation indicated that many were having direct revelations from the Lord to be shared with the whole, but even these had to be done in turn so as to build up the body. The tongues and interpretation had to do with the sharing of the message of God in another language. The word here translated “Interpretation” is our word to “Translate”. When one is speaking in a language not familiar to the group there had to be a translator to tell what they were saying or they were to remain silent. If I visit Russia and worship with a congregation there, I can only preach or teach scripturally if there is a translator to tell them what I’m saying.

The point wasn’t that every assembly everywhere was like this each Sunday. But that it was common in Corinth at that time. In Acts 20:7 Paul met with the church in Troas and he alone preached until midnight. The primary point of their coming together was to take the Lord’s Supper. It would be a mistake to take what was common at Corinth at that time and make it fit every assembly, everywhere for all time. According to Hebrews 10:25 the assembly is a place to edify or encourage one another. As in verse 28 here, nothing is to be done which has no ability to edify. A person speaking in a language different from the group would not edify the church. If there is no translator he is to speak to himself and to God who understands all languages. He would know what he was saying and God would know so the Lord is praised and the person is edified.

In text like this we must search for the principles which apply for all time instead of what may have been local and had only to do with their situation. The primary principle of I Corinthians 14 is that everything done in the assembly must pass the test of edification for the church or it must not be done.

What about verse 39 of desiring prophesy and not forbidding tongue speaking? Remember his main point. Prophesy edifies and is therefore good for all times. The word prophesy simply means to speak forth the revelation of God. It is just as much prophesy to speak forth God’s revelation given in His word as to speak for a direct revelation from God. Tongue speaking is not to be forbidden in that it is simply the ability to speak in other languages besides the one normally spoken. One who speaks Russian is a tongue speaker when in the United States. I am a tongue speaker when in Russia. Certainly it isn’t to be forbidden. But it is only to be used in the assembly when a translator is there.

Tongues given miraculously where there is no study to learn a new language have now ceased in that the perfect has come (I Corinthians 13:8-13).

Question #170

I am a father of two children (12 & 13). I went to Methodist church as a child, but stopped going when I reach adulthood. I didn’t stop for any particular reason, just decided that I didn’t need church in my life. I consider myself a good person, very giving and very concerned for others and always willing to help others…..bottom line, I feel that I have been a good role model for them.

I recently got re-married to a Catholic lady who attends church regularly. We are all attending church as a family, but my oldest fights me every Sunday about having to go to church, saying that he doesn’t believe in God. I hate that he feels this way, and I know now that I should have had my children in church when they were younger and maybe he would feel differently. I do not know a great deal about religion so I’m not much help to him, and I guess even sometimes I question my own belief. But I’m not writing to you about me, it’s about my children….I want them to have a relationship with God and to be active in the church, but that’s going to be tough if he doesn’t believe in God. I don’t know what I can do to help educate and convince him, so I’m looking for guidance. Anything you can do to help, I would greatly appreciate it.

Leon’s Response

I feel for you in your desire to help your son. If the two of you could study some of the material available on evidences of God it would probably be the best thing which could happen. There is a man named John Clayton who has written lots of material on “Does God Exist” and the scientific evidences of God. John was for years a biology and science teacher. He was an atheist in years past. I think you will be able to find material by him on the web. He has a Correspondence course on evidences both for young people and adults. If you have trouble finding him write me back and I will find his web address. There are other materials as well that you could find at any Christian bookstore, but I believe this to be the best thing available. I feel certain that if you can study this with your son, both of you will come away with a stronger faith in God.

I would point out that many times young people who have been through what they consider unfairness in their lives respond by saying they don’t believe in God. Usually they have heard somewhere along the way that if there was a God how could He allow all these bad things in my life?

If you have any trouble with any of this I’ll be glad to find you a list of the materials you can get. I’m at home right now instead of my office and don’t have the addresses with me.

Question #171

What is your opinion concerning a woman teaching a bible class consisting of adult men and women in a “side class room” while a man is teaching a class in the main auditorium?

Leon’s Response

The Scripture which would apply in such a situation is I Timothy 2:9-16. Paul commanded women to dress modestly. He said, he did not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man. Notice, it isn’t that woman can’t teach a man. Priscilla was involved in teaching Apollos. When women sing in worship they teach men (Colossians 3:16). But they are not allowed to teach or have authority OVER A MAN. For a woman to teach over a man or have authority over a man violates Scripture. It would be tough for a woman to teach a Bible class with men in it without exercising authority over the man. I don’t believe many could do it without violating the text.

Question #172

I was having a conversation recently about mediums and channelers. This person says that channeling spirits of the dead is wrong, but its okay to channel the spirit of God. He even said that he believes that the prophets of the Old Testament were mediums for God, and that they channeled God’s Spirit. He also believes that when you speak in tongues, that you are channeling the Holy Spirit. I told him about Deuteronomy 18:10-12, which states that those are detestable to the Lord. He still doesn’t agree because he claims that God isn’t talking about religious channeling. He says that he’s talked to religious leaders in his community, and they believe that religious channeling is okay, and Christians can use channeling to channel the Holy Spirit. And so, I was wondering what you thought about this, and why. Thank you for your time.

Leon’s Response

One immediate thing which comes to mind is I Peter 4:11 “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God.” Paul declared if we preach any other gospel than what he had preached, it brings a curse (Galatians 1:8-9). It stands out that, while God was so unhappy with the channelers and the spiritualist that he wanted them put to death, He certainly never took that language and applied it to our relationship with the Holy Spirit. John said if we go onward and do not abide in the teachings of Christ we do not have God, (2 John 9). I would just ask, where in the Bible did they find any such language in reference to the work of the Holy Spirit? John challenged us not to believe every spirit but to test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world, (I John 4:1).

We receive the Holy Spirit as a gift when we are baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; Galatians 4:6). He helps us in our weaknesses (Romans 8:26). He strengthens us (Ephesians 3:14-21). We are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:12-17). If the Holy Spirit controls our life we bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). But it is completely foreign to anything the Bible teaches to say we can channel the Holy Spirit of God.

Question #173

I appreciate very much your willingness to answer sincere questions people have regarding the Bible. In 1 Timothy 3:1-13, we are given the qualifications of elders and deacons. I’ve always wondered why the elder is instructed not to be given to wine, and the deacon is instructed not to be given to much wine. Does this not justify the argument for social drinking? Thank you in advance!

Leon’s Response

The emphasis on both these statements is on the word “Given”. Other translations have, “Not addicted to wine.” Neither elders are deacons are to be addicted to wine. The Bible doesn’t teach against drinking of every sort. It condemns drunkenness (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Since we are to be “Self-controlled” we aren’t to be addicted to any kind of drink or drug. But we push the Scripture beyond it’s real points when we say that drinking in and of itself is wrong.

Question #174

Lately, the issue of the use of a Praise Team in our public worship services has come up. Some say it would enhance our song service, while others say it would be a form of entertainment, no different than a chorus or quartet to sing during our worship service. I can see both sides of the argument. I can see where it would be easier to teach new songs to the congregation using a group that already knows all the different parts so we can follow them in our singing. However, I can see where this could easily become a form of entertainment in our assemblies. I sincerely want to do what is right in our worship to God. How would you respond to this issue? And even more importantly, does the Bible say anything that would relate to this issue?

Leon’s Response

First, the Bible says nothing about who leads or how the songs are led in our worship. It only requires that we sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that will teach one another and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Any means of having the songs presented to the congregation so they can fulfill this plan is right. According to church history the early church sang in chants where one member would sing out a phrase and the congregation would respond either repeating the same phrase or something in answer to that phrase.

Second, the fact a thing is entertainment in and of itself does not make a thing wrong. When a preacher tells a funny story to illustrate a point it is entertainment but certainly not wrong. Many of the stories Jesus told were entertaining but with a point to drive home for the hearers. For example when He said it is easier to a camel to go through the eye of needle than for a rich man to be saved it pictured a humorous idea. They would naturally visualize a camel trying to run through the eye of a needle. It was the use of hyperbole to make a point they wouldn’t forget. Everything we do in service to God ought to be quality, at least to the best of our ability. Paul said we needed to “Approve the things which are excellent:” (Philippians 1:10). If a praise team helps the singing to become better there is good reason to use them.

Please understand such is an expediency and the focus should be on the singing of praise and worship to God. It is no more right for the song leaders to take the spotlight than it is for the preacher to do so. We used to pray often for the preacher to hide himself behind the cross. The same should be true of all who lead in worship to the Lord. They are a means to an end.

Personally I don’t feel comfortable with women standing before the congregation as part of the song leading team. To me that seems to get entirely too close to violating the principle of women in subjection and silence (I Timothy 2:9-16). But if they have microphones sitting in their seats helping everyone else to sing out it doesn’t violate any principle of Scripture that I can see.

The primary thing is that we worship God in spirit and truth and do every action in such a way that God is pleased and the church is edified. Remember in I Corinthians 14 Paul talked about the assembly. The primary point made over and over again was that all things were to be to the edifying of the church as a whole. It was also to be such that when the unbeliever came in they could understand and be moved because they could see the Lord was among these people. Think of how many times you have worshiped in a cold, dead service where no one would ever have dreamed of leaving saying, “Surely God is among them.”

So the three things which must happen for the assembly to be right are for God to be glorified, the church to be edified and the unbelievers to be taught and reached for God.

Question #175

Can a New Testament disciple of Jesus Christ “defend” himself (i.e., attacker in a park), his family (home intruder) or country (military duty), by any means (i.e., weapons) if that person/country has the willful intent to do serious bodily harm or kill? Also, does one have the right to kill under one’s military obligation to defend and protect the constitution of the U.S. (government)? I have always struggle with this one, especially, about how one can destroy life if one did not create it? I understand that God creates and destroys according to his purpose and the Bible contains many examples.

Leon’s Response

Of Course the Bible never specifically deals with many of these things so we must look for principles that apply. When you look back at the Old Testament it was often the warriors who were the heroes of faith. David killed the giant Goliath and then it was said of him later that Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands. Even Abraham went to war to rescue Lot and his family and was coming back with the spoils of war when he met Melchizadec and gave him a tenth of all the spoils. The reason that was the case in the Old Testament was that with Abraham, he was the head of the family and protecting that family was the right thing for him to do. In David’s case, the nation of Israel had been established. It was a theocracy. God was over both the religious aspects of the nation and it government. Thus acting as a government they fought and destroyed enemies under God’s guidance.

What about in the New Testament? Romans 13:1-8 is a key passage. Paul declares the the governmental authorities are ministers of God to execute justice in the world. They are to punish evildoers and they do not bear their sword in vain. Notice the reference to the sword. It is an instrument of destruction. God set up government and gave to it the right to defend right from wrong. They therefore have the right to police their citizens and go to war to protect their people. We are citizens both of the kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20-21) and of the Country we are a part of. Remember Paul declaring his Roman citizenship when they were about to beat him.

As the head of the family we have the right to protect our family as did Abraham. Since we are under the law of the country we must not go beyond what is legally allowed. But every nation allows a person to defend themselves or their family when they are attacked. Remember Paul before the Priest when the High Priest began to condemn him shouting, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall.” He didn’t simply take all the punishment without trying a kind of defense.

Life is of great value before God. But remember that means our own life is valuable. We can’t take the law into our own hands and become a private police force against everyone that we think is wrong. But we must stand for what we can do as a citizen.

What about Isaiah 2:1-4 which foretold the establishment of the church and said “They will beat their swords in to plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks”? This is a reference to the church. The church as a body can’t go out to fight with any tools to beat off their spiritual enemies. Instead we must fight with the spiritual armor given by the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:1-5; Ephesians 6:10-17).

Question #176

Your Q&A # 45 discusses the subject of music during services scripturally and should be sufficient and any sincere questioner will look on the answer with sincerity. There however are so many proofs of bible truths outside the scriptures that, if known to be true, should have an added impact on the answer.  One such proof (like many gotten from the internet ) that impresses me is the fact that the church supposedly did not use instrumental music for some 600 years of its early existence but I do not know whether this is true or not. This is a biblical question with a historical answer but to your knowledge is this historically true? You may reword this anyway you desire should you want to publish it. The internet is a wonderful means of communication but can be misleading and I use this point yet don’t know that it is historically true.

Leon’s Response

It is true that according to church history instrumental music was not used at all for the first 600 years after the church was established. When it was first introduced it brought about a split between what is now the Roman Catholic church and the Greek Orthodox church. The Greek Orthodox church still doesn’t used the instrument. Along that same line it is worthy of note that Such religious reformers as Martin Luther and John Wesley were opposed to the use of the instrument in worship. Charles Spurgeon the great Baptist preacher refused to allow the use of an instrument in the worship where he preached saying he had just as soon pray with and instrument as sing with one. The fact that instrumental music was used constantly in the Old Testament all the way from when Miriam led the Israelites in the song of Moses after crossing the Red Sea and played a tambourine all the way though gives even greater emphasis to the fact they aren’t used at all in the New Testament. When we open the New Testament it is suddenly all about singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord. It has often been mentioned that the phrase “Making melody” comes from the Greek word used of playing an instrument such as a harp. It is thus argued that the use of this word authorizes instruments in our time. But note that the text in Ephesians 5:19 when it uses the phrase, “Making melody” names the instrument to be played. It says we are to make melody in our hearts to the Lord. The point was we sing to each other and play our hearts to God as we sing.

Question #177

The children of David: Does the Bible give all of their names and which ones were half brothers and sisters?  Concerning the rape of the sister, was it by a half brother? Also, what are the names of the brothers of Jesus Christ our savoir?

Leon’s Response

David’s children are listed in different spots. In I Chronicles 14:3-7 is one list. In I Chronicles 3:1-4 is another. I Chronicles 28:5 list Solomon among the many. In all probability, none of the list contain them all. It was a half brother, Amnon who raped his sister who was a full sister of Absalom (2 Samuel 13).

With regard to Jesus earthly brothers, They are listed in Matthew 13:55.

Question #178

Is it okay to have sex with a girl if your not married?

Leon’s Response

Sex was given to us by God to be used inside the marriage bond. When God said that two would become one flesh, He was referring to their sexual relations in the marriage. For married folks, sex is right and good ( I Corinthians 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4). Sex outside the marriage is called fornication or sexual immorality and is strictly forbidden by God. Read Matthew 15:18-20; I Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4. Christians are challenged to flee such sexual immorality (I Corinthians 6:15-20; Ephesians 5:3).

Christians are to realized they have been called to purity and abstain from such sin in their lives

Question #179

In question #73 you say that now Jesus is referring to the second coming. I have heard it said that “no man knows” would be better translated “no man makes known, the day or the hour but my Father” and that this is still referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. And that in fact it is made known that the destruction is getting very near in the book of Hebrews. And possibly in the book of the John.

Leon’s Response

Concerning Matthew 24:36, The NASV which is the most literal translation into English available translates it, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” The word translated “Knows” is “oiden”. Bullinger’s Greek to English concordance defines the word thusly, “Literally I have perceived, or seen, hence, to have knowledge of, to know.” No standard translation has translated it “To make known or tell”.

Since there is no punctuation in the Greek Text it is always tough to decide where a paragraph ends and the new one begins. Most translators have thought the paragraph ends in discussing the destruction of Jerusalem with verse 34 with the statement this generation won’t pass until all of this is fulfilled. Is it possible verses 35 and 36 are still talking about the destruction of Jerusalem? It is possible, but it doesn’t seem to the be case in light of what is being said. It is clear Jesus makes a transition from the topic of Jerusalem being destroyed to the second coming and judgment. The destruction of Jerusalem was so horrible a judgment on that city it typifies the second coming and judgment of the world.

Without using this text at all on the second coming, it is clear that the over all teaching about the Lord’s return is that it will be a surprise, with Him coming like a thief in the night. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:1-18. The great concern that ought to be that for everyone is that whenever Jesus comes, I want to be ready to meet Him and spend eternity with Him in the place prepared.

Question #180

Which translation do you prefer? I like the ASV of 1901.

Leon’s Response

The 1901 ASV is a very literal translation. It isn’t as readable or understandable as the NASV especially the updated edition. I use many translations, as well as doing a great deal of study from the original text. The key with any translation is to get the message presented to the people who originally received it to folks who read it by means of a translation into English or whatever language today. Since language is continually changing, there will always be a need for newer translations which put the text into the language people are speaking at any given time.

The NIV and the New Living Bible have the advantage of being easier to read and understand for people who do not have a Bible background. They are written on a fourth grade or below level. (Which is the same level as a newspaper). The NASV is on the 8th grade level. The ASV on an 11th grade level.

I believe if you read from many different translations you will see things in one you didn’t see before in another and will quite often find upon further research that what you are now seeing was in the original text God gave.

Question #181

I have recently begun dating a woman who I have grown to love very much. Unfortunately I have found out that she is a member of the wiccan religion. We have had heated discussions about our beliefs, and though I’m studying the Bible and searching everywhere for clues about how to approach this situation, I’m having a difficult time. I realize that the Bible warns us about associating ourselves with these people, but I also believe that we need to witness to these people. What I am looking for is insight as to how to help her find the truth without also showing myself as a Christian to be someone who argues and gets angered and points fingers, because I believe that this will only drive her farther away from the Truth. Thank you for whatever insight you can give or attention you can give to this matter.

Leon’s Response

You are in a very difficult situation. Although you mentioned the teachings of the Bible to remain separate from such like styles I would encourage you to read and think about 2 Corinthians 6 about the unequal yoke. When it comes to winning one who is so far from the truth, I Peter 3:1-7 is probably the most powerful beginning point. Peter is instructing Christian women on how to win their non-Christian husband. He points out they can’t win them by nagging them. He tells them not to put the emphasis on the outward things such as jewelry, clothing and beautiful hair, but to put the emphasis on the heart. The heart is to be with a gentle and quiet or calm spirit and that is very precious in God’s sight. He also instructed the men to dwell with your wives according to understanding giving honor to the wife as to a weaker vessel and heirs together of the grace of life.

I would strongly encourage you to not marry the one you are dating until that time comes when they actually turn from this false religion. Think of the prospects of having a wife who would be the mother of your children, teaching them ideas that would destine your own children to hell forever more. You can teach her the gospel. I would suggest beginning with her a study of the gospel of John. You should be able to see rather quickly whether or not she has any real interest in the truth and whether she is really honest before God. If she is honest and will study with you from God’s word with an open heart, she may be reached for the Lord. That would be the greatest thing that could happen (2 Peter 3:9). If she isn’t honest, and really isn’t willing to learn better and change then you need to have the wisdom, the faith and good judgment to sever the relationship immediately and seek other opportunities.

Question #182

How do you explain 1 Corinthians15:29 which states “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” Your thoughts will be appreciated on this difficult passage.

Leon’s Response

This verse has long been regarded as one of the more difficult statements in all of Paul’s writing. The reason for that is that nothing is said about baptizing on behalf of the dead anywhere else in the Bible. I believe the clue to it’s meaning is found in the word “They”. Paul had been talking about “We” for the last several verses and immediately after this he returns to “We”. But here it is, “What shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead are not raised?” I believe that among the people who were in the church in Corinth were those who were literally baptizing people on behalf of their dead friends and relatives. Paul isn’t sanctioning what they were doing. He is pointing to their inconsistency while baptizing folks on behalf of dead ones, while declaring there is no resurrection from the dead. It is simply one of the many arguments Paul made for the resurrection in this whole text.

Does that mean we can today baptize people for the dead ones we know and love who didn’t ever make their lives right with God? NO! We must “Save ourselves from this crooked generation” (Acts 2:39-41) Notice baptism only has affect in the Bible when tied to Faith (Mark 16:15,16) and repentance (Acts 2:38). One is baptized to wash away their old sins and start a new life for the Lord (Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-5). If one were baptized for another what could they do about their faith and repentance?

Also, read Luke 16:19-ff. In this story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus tells of something He had seen while still in heaven with the Father. When the rich man died he was buried and lifted up his eyes in torment. When Lazarus died he was carried by angels to a place where Abraham held him in his bosom and comforted him. By this story Jesus is describing what happens at death for any of us. When we die we go on immediately to either punishment of reward. Notice when the rich man saw Abraham with Lazarus in his bosom he cried out to him to send Lazarus to just dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue. Abraham said, “Son remember that you in your lifetime had the good things and Lazarus the evil things. But now he is comforted and you are tormented and besides all this, THERE IS A GREAT GULF BETWEEN US AND YOU SO THAT THOSE WHO WOULD PASS FROM US TO YOU CANNOT. NEITHER CAN THEY PASS FROM THERE THAT WOULD.” The very concept of eternal punishment or reward shows that one can’t transfer from one place to another after dead. When we are judged it is for the deeds done in our body, (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Question #183

In the Old Testament people lived long years. Was the reason this changed because of Eve’s sin? I have heard once that Revelation should be the beginning of the Bible, that the fall of the angels came before man was created. If this true, it helps explain where Satan came from but why would God create man to live on earth knowing that He had given Satan free rein? Can you explain to me if it is true about Revelation and maybe a little bit about the very beginning, (not mans creation)? I know God always was, but do you think the angels always were?

Leon’s Response

I don’t agree that the Book of Revelation should be at the beginning. The theme of Revelation is about what the Christians were about to face near the end of the first century when persecution was coming against them from the Roman empire. In chapter one, verse one, it is said that these are things which are “Shortly to come to pass.” They were written in symbols so that Christians could read and understand, but the Romans couldn’t understand it and wouldn’t thus bring even more persecution upon the Christians.

It is true that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are eternal beings and make up the Godhead. Deuteronomy 33:27; John 1:1-3. Every other being is a created being. Angels were created before man and probably before the heavens and the earth referred to in Genesis 1:1. Satan was evidently one of the angels at the beginning. Even though John 8:44 refers to the devil as a murderer and a liar from the beginning. Several passages speak of the fall of the devil. One clear one is in I Timothy 3 in giving the qualities of an elder in the church, Paul wrote that he was not to be a novice or new convert lest he fall after the same condemnation as the devil. There is a very figurative passage in Ezekiel 28:11-19 that has, I believe, a double meaning. It refers to the fall of Satan in the garden of Eden and also refers to the king of Tyre as the ruler who fell. Because it is written with a double meaning it isn’t an easy passage to understand and doesn’t at all points apply to the devil. But it points out he was in Eden, the garden of God. He is described as one of beauty and with the seal of perfection. In verse 17 it is said, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground.” This would fit with Paul’s statement that Satan fell because of his pride. It would also indicate that when God placed Adam and Eve in the garden Satan was there as an angel to protect them. But he by transgression fell. He fell from that place of honor and led other angels along with him in the rebellion against the Lord (Matthew 25:41). The one meant by the Lord to aid Adam and Eve actually turned from God and worked to lead both Adam and Eve away from the Lord.

God made man for the purpose of fellowship. He and the Son and the Spirit were in perfect fellowship and He wanted mankind to share in the same glorious fellowship. But man sinned. God, before He had ever made man, set in order a plan to bring His redemption when he did fall (Ephesians 1:3-7; 3:10-11). He paid the price so we can be redeemed and forgiven by giving His Son to die in our place and thus offer us that salvation through His grace.

Question #184

I am a 32 year old man that was raised in the church of Christ. I started attending the church of Christ because my mother was a member of the Baptist church and I did not understand the shouting and crying when the choir sung their songs, I was about 7 years old and I just did not understand (it scared me). While growing up and learning the bible and the 5 steps of worship, the congregation has had at least 6 ministers since and we just lost another because of the leadership and the way the members treat on another. My ministry is Song leading, I started at the age of 12 and I love it, I know that God gave me a talent to do that and when I lead I do it straight from the heart strictly for God. I don’t like it when the congregation makes a difference between song leaders and minister it’s like they try to make it a competition or something. I left the church for about 5 years, I’m married now with 5 step children, my wife came from the A.M.E. church. She and 3 of my kids are members of the church of Christ, I have rededicated my life back to the lord and back in the church, but you know, the same nonsense is still going on in that congregation same as it was when I left. It bothers me, we should all be in unity and stop arguing and power struggling. I guess this is not a question but I want to ask you and the rest of my Christian brothers and sisters to pray for me and my family to hang in there and not let the people take our focus off of God. It is hard but I am trying. I have slacked in song leading, but I am praying to God on that and I feel like I’m ready to start back again. Please pray for me and my family. Oh yeah, My mother has been a member of the Church of Christ for about 17 years now, she is a strong Christian woman that encourages me day and night. I thank God for her. I love the Lord and I know that he is my savior. Thank you Jesus!

Leon’s Response

You will be in my prayers that things will change where you are. I don’t know of anything more disheartening that division and fussing in a church. I’m sure that is the reason the New Testament talks so much about unity. Read John 17:, especially verse 20 and following to see how much Jesus wanted us to be united and what difference it makes for the whole church and even our efforts at reaching the lost. In I Corinthians 11:17-34 Paul talked about what the division in Corinth had done to their worship and particular the taking of the Lord’s Supper. Ephesians 4:1-6 pleads for unity. Philippians 2:1-5 talks about how we can be one by esteeming others better than ourselves and not seeking our own interest but that of others. He tells us to have the mind of Christ.

Thank God you have come home to the church and have brought your family with you. I would encourage you to become a leader in the group and make a difference in turning it around. Become partners with the next minister and together work to build a real church for the Lord. God will bless you and you will bring up your children to be real leaders for God. If I can ever help you, let me know and I’ll do all I can.

Question #185

While conversing with a friend (who is a Baptist) I mentioned that the “basis” (may not be the proper word to use) of the Church of Christ belief is the verse in Revelation 18:22-23. “….not taking away from or adding to the word of the Lord…..” She acknowledged that to mean that, everything written in the New Testament is to be done without question, exactly as it is written. She went on to ask me, “If this is true, why don’t women cover their heads, or why don’t you wash people’s feet when they enter your home… that is what the Bible says to do.”

Leon’s Response

Concerning the women and the covering it is only mentioned in I Corinthians 11:1-16. It had to do with customs in the city of Corinth about covering. The covering demonstrated a woman’s submission to the man. Today wearing a covering has so such meaning or point. The principle of submission is always bound. But the culture would dictate how that would be shown in different times and places. It wasn’t bound everywhere even then. It was in Corinth because of the huge population of prostitutes in the idols temple to the goddess of sex. These prostitutes who served as priestesses went without a covering and with their hair cropped. For a Christian woman to dress that way would identify her as one of them.

Concerning feet washing, it was taught by Jesus in John 13 as a matter of hospitality and reemphasized by Paul in I Timothy 5:10-16. Foot washing was a needed thing in that day when people wore sandals and walked everywhere they went. It was never a matter of just doing something when folks came in. It was meeting a real need. We do observe this teaching when we show hospitality to anyone and meet their real needs. If that need were to be to have their feet washed we would certainly need to do so. If it is to offer food or help in some other way we must do that. In some cultures today this would certainly be the need since they don’t have cars and still walk the dusty roads. In such a place hospitality would still demand the practice of feet washing. It was never a mere symbolism but an actual act of service. We must obey the humility and service that Jesus taught here and all other places.

Doing and saying what the Bible says by neither adding to or taking from it involves looking for the principles taught and applying them to our lives. It isn’t about going back and trying to do everything they did then. For example, Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Caesar was the Roman ruler at the time. Today we obey that principle by paying taxes to the country we are a part of. But you can’t actually give it to Caesar now, since his regime has long since passed from existence. But to say since he isn’t here we don’t have to obey the text would be to miss the point. Jesus teachings were for all times. But they must be applied to the age, place and situation we face at any given time. Some of the problems they faced then aren’t the same ones we now face. Drug abuse and aids are huge problems today that were not a problem at Jesus time on earth. But the principles of morality and self control always apply to every situation.

Question #186

In the book of Timothy, elders’ qualifications are given. It starts with the husband of one wife. Were there men with more wives than one in the first century? If so, the statement could apply to it. Or was the writer speaking of a man who had been divorced? It would be possible (one wife) meaning a number, to have had reference to a man having several or more than ‘one’. The reason for the question being a man was not qualified because he had been married and divorced , so many thought him not qualified. Although he had only one wife. The members found the context to be within (divorced men) and not (multiple wives). Plainly if you are divorced under God’s allowance you have only one wife.

Leon’s Response

In the first century Polygamy was still very common. As a matter of fact in the Roman Empire it wasn’t just common for men to have multiple wives, it was common for women to have multiple husbands. Without question, the point Paul had in mind was that a leader in the church wasn’t to be a polygamist or have multiple wives. There were obviously folks who had become Christians with more than one wife and were still in that situation. But they couldn’t become leaders of the church.

There is never a time in the Bible when someone had been divorced on the basis of immorality, as Jesus said in Matthew 19:1-11, that they are said to have more than one wife. When a wife is divorced for immorality they are no longer a man’s wife. When he marries another that person is his only wife. To make this text forbid a man from serving as a leader in the church because he is divorced and remarried in harmony with what Jesus taught not only violates common sense, it makes laws God never made and says that what Jesus taught on the matter isn’t really true. I know that some declare that it is just being conservative, but the truth is it isn’t conservative at all. It is making laws where God never made any and puts us in dangerous territory.

Question #187

In reference #183 you speak of Satan falling because of transgression. Does that mean that once we get to heaven we can still fall and be sent to hell?

Leon’s Response

It is true that Satan fell because of his transgressions. But when we get to heaven things will be different than they were at the time Satan fell. For the Christian in heaven there is no more temptation. Satan will be blocked from heaven and cast into outer darkness, chained with everlasting chains according to Revelation 20:1-10. In heaven it will be for those who have done the commandments of the Lord and outside will be dogs, sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” Since there will be no temptation there, there won’t be anything to lead one into sin. All Satan’s influence will be in hell at that point and all of God’s influence will be in heaven. Down here we have both influences at work all the time and thus choose between them. But in heaven there will be no darkness, because God and Christ light the place. Hell will have only darkness. The reason our world has darkness and light is because of the influence of both. Take us out of the influence of Satan and evil and there is nothing to lead one into sin.

Question #188

I am a Christian and am divorced, with small children. My ex-husband suffered with mental illness and would not agree to help. As far as I know, he was never unfaithful to me, but I reached a point when I couldn’t continue in the situation. I am striving to walk with God and to seek His will, as I have throughout my ordeal. I have met a wonderful Christian man and want to get married again. I feel like he is such a blessing to me and my children, but I can’t seem to stop worrying that I might be condemned for marrying again. Do you think God’s grace would cover my situation?

Leon’s Response

When Jesus laid out the teachings on Marriage, divorce and remarriage in Matthew 5:28-32 and Matthew 19:6-11 He was dealing with common problems and concerns of people. Some thought that divorce for any cause was right and just. Jesus declared, “What God has joined together let no man separate.” He pleaded with them to not look on another to lust after them and to stop the building of a relationship that might lead to the destruction of a marriage or immoral relationships before they got a foothold in an individuals life. That was His point when He said, “If your right hand offends you cut it off and cast it from you for it is better to go through life with one hand than having both hands and be cast into hell.”

It was out of this context that He declared, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality and marries another commits adultery.” It wasn’t dealing with problems such a mental illness, but the lack of faithfulness to the covenant made in marriage (Malachi 2:13-16). Sometimes even though we want a marriage to last and there is no immorality involved circumstances arrive that make marriage impossible. It isn’t that one is unfaithful to the other or shows a lack of concern for the marriage vows. It is that through sickness, or meanness marriage becomes unbearable. This would be the case when one partner is abusive to another and threatens even the life or health of their spouse. If there is mental illness and the partner refuses to get help or take the medicine needed to be sane, then they become incapable of marriage or being either husband or father to their children.

Would it be sinful in such a situation for the one divorced to find a Christian mate and marry again to someone who would help them live for God and bring up children for the Lord? I don’t think so. Notice in I Corinthians 7 Paul told Christians married to Christians to remain married. If they couldn’t live together they were to remain separated and not marriage another but to seek for reconciliation with their partner (Verses 10-11). When a Christian was married to a non-Christian the Christian was to be true and faithful in the marriage and try to make it work. If the non-Christian departed or left the Christian was to let them leave for they are not under bondage in such cases. What is the bondage? I think it is the bonds of marriage, since the being not under bondage was only true “In such cases”. They were bound in the marriage if the unbeliever remained. (Verse 12-16). In the following verses Paul declared that people were to remain in the situation in which they became Christians. He used the illustrations of circumcision and slavery. But the point was about marriage. If they were married they were not to seek a divorce. If they were divorced they were not to seek a wife. But if they did marry they didn’t sin (Verses 25-28).

It seems to me that this text demonstrates that in situations where a Christian is trying to do right and a marriage has failed that while remaining single might be best, it isn’t wrong to marry again. There is no sin involved. I believe this would apply to your situation.

Question #189

Will you please explain the act of living in adultery and what Christ would have us to do. Is there forgiveness?

Leon’s Response

The Bible never uses the phrase “Living in adultery”. It simply speaks of people committing adultery. The phrase came into use as a way of distinguishing between someone committing a single act of adultery by having sexual relations with someone other than their married partner, from one who divorces his wife for reasons other than sexual immorality and marries another person. IN Matthew 5:28-32 and Matthew 19:6-11 Jesus dealt with the problems of divorce. His plea to begin with was “What God has joined together let no man separate.” Also in the Matthew 5 teaching He instructed us that we should not even look at a woman to lust after her, that we commit adultery in our hearts when we do so. In both cases He went ahead to explain what happens when we don’t obey the first instructions.

It leads to divorcing an innocent partner to marry the one we have lusted for. Jesus said when this is done we commit adultery against the innocent wife (Matthew 5:32) and we commit adultery ourselves in the marrying of another woman. The word adultery can be used in different ways. Often it refers to the same thing as fornication or sexual immorality as when the woman was caught in the act of adultery in John 8:1-10. On other occasions the word is used for being unfaithful to ones vows. This is true spiritually when we are friends with the world (James 4:4). God often referred to the nation of Israel as a adulterous nation because they had been unfaithful to their vows to Him.

When a person breaks the vows or covenants of marriage by divorcing an innocent partner and marries another they commit adultery. Does that mean they commit adultery over and over again each time they have sexual relations? Some think so and for that reason refer to this marriage and those in it as living in adultery. I strongly doubt that that is what Jesus was saying. I believe Jesus was using the word adultery in this text in the sense of breaking one’s covenant or vows to their marriage partner by divorcing them and marrying someone else. Notice, if this only refers to the sexual relations then Jesus wasn’t correct in what He said. He said, “He that divorces his wife, except for fornication and marries another commits adultery.” But if it is just the sex involved then one could marry another and remain guiltless with regard to adultery if they didn’t have sex together. The only way you can take Jesus statement literally and it be true is if the adultery is in the act of marrying another and thus breaking the covenant of companionship they made at their marriage to each other (Malachi 2:13-17).

Can one be forgiven of this sin? Certainly! I Corinthians 6:9-11 says of those who had been adulterers, fornicators, homosexuals and other such sins that they had been washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God. John said that any sin we confess God will forgive (I John 1:7-10). Our Lord is able to save to the uttermost those who come to Him (Hebrews 7:25). He forgave those who murdered Jesus on Pentecost as described in Acts 2. He forgave Saul of Tarsus who had been involved in murder, blasphemy and was by his own admission the chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:12-17).

What does a person have to do to be forgiven? If they have never given themselves to the Lord in obedience to His will they must have faith in Jesus to repent of their sins, confessing Jesus as Lord and be baptized to have their sins forgiven (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9,10; Acts 22:16). When this is done the person will be washed, sanctified and justified before God. If one is already a child of God but has erred from the right way, they need to repent of their sins, confess it and pray to God for it to be forgiven (Acts 8:14-25; I John 1:7-10; James 5:16). But what does it mean to repent of our sins? Can we repent and still stay in the marriage that was wrong at the beginning? Repentance means a change of heart or will. It is the determination to leave sin and live for the Lord. If ones sins is in breaking their vow of marriage and marrying someone else, would it really make sense that repentance would mean to break up another marriage and leave another innocent person behind? There is not a single example in the New Testament of anyone who was divorced and remarried ever being told to leave their wife to be right with God. Some men have said one has to leave and go back to the first wife, but God in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 said if one divorced his wife and she married another for him to take her back again as his wife would be an abomination to God. Do we really thing that what was an abomination is now the answer before God? If one really repents they will become true to their marriage vows they have now made and live in that marriage as close to God as possible.

In I Corinthians 7 Paul discusses many questions about marriage. He tells couples to stay together in verses 10,11. He tells the Christian married to a non-Christian to remain in the marriage if the non-Christian will. But if the unbeliever departs the brother or sister isn’t under bondage anymore. (Verses 12-16). He told them to remain in the state in which they were called or became Christians. He used two illustrations to make the point. If you became a Christian as a slave remain a slave, but if you got the opportunity to become free then do it. If you became a Christian while circumcised then stay circumcised or if you became a Christian uncircumcised then don’t change it. He then applies that principle to marriage in verse 25-28. If you are called single, stay single. If you are bound to a wife when called, don’t seek to be loosed or divorced. If you are loosed from a wife or divorced, don’t seek a wife. “But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries she has not sinned.”

All of us have sinned and keep on doing so. There is nothing in the Bible which sets this sin apart from all others and makes it more difficult to repent of or make right with God. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. If we make His efforts beyond reach by those in marriage problems we fail the Lord in the whole matter. I hope this is helpful to you and that you will serve the Lord with everything in you, but don’t break up another marriage.

Question #190

Do ONLY members of the church of Christ get to go to heaven? My sister used to be a member of the church of Christ but is now a very strong Methodist and she is closer to God now than she has been in her whole life. She is a true Christian and believes that you do need to be baptized to be saved. Please help me with this confusion. I find it hard to believe that only a select few will go to heaven. Some of my best friends of other churches are very good Christians and have been baptized. Could it be that anyone who believes, repents, and is baptized for the remission of their sins from any church is a part of Christ’s church? I’m very confused. I have been a member of the church of Christ for many years but have always struggled with this. Please enlighten me. Thank you for your time.

Leon’s Response

It is one that many have struggled with through the ages. When the Bible speaks of the church and that one who is saved is added to it (Acts 2:47; Hebrews 12:23-25) it isn’t referring to a denominational body of any sort. It is referring to that called out body of believers that one becomes a member of by virtue of being saved. Everyone who through faith, turns from their sins in repentance and is baptized into Christ becomes a part of the church talked about in the Bible (Galatians 3:26,27; I Corinthians 12:13). The Bible knows nothing of denominational-ism at all. All sects and divisions come from man, not the Lord. His longing is that there be no divisions among us. When we divide up, some calling themselves one name and others another, it is against His will (I Corinthians 1:10-13).

I believe that there are many who are in denominations who were added to the Lord’s church when they obeyed the Lord and through faith were baptized into Christ. There is no reason to be in a denomination of any sort. It would be far better if all of them passed out of existence and we all were simply Christians. But that doesn’t mean that every person in a denomination is lost. If we make the church of Christ into some kind of denomination it is just as wrong as any other. The reason we refer to it as the church of Christ is that it is simply the church which belongs to Christ. It doesn’t have a creed or earthly organization. It’s only head is Christ (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23). It isn’t the church which saves, but those who are saved are added to the church by the Lord and glorify God in the church (Ephesians 3:21). Let’s all determine to follow Christ and exalt His name. If we follow Him and His teachings in what we believe and do in worship to Him we will have a church of Christ. When we follow men’s rules and creeds, it is men that are glorified and the Lord’s will is left out.

Question #191

How would you explain the Nature of Sin, is it inherited or learned?

Leon’s Response

Although the idea of inherited sin is an old one that has had some great proponents, it is not a Biblical idea. In Ezekiel 18:20 God said, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” According to I John 3:4 sin is a transgression of the law. One would have to transgress the law himself to be guilty.

Jesus said about a child, that unless we are converted and become like that child we can’t enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-3). He also said, “Allow the little children to come to Me for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14).

In I Corinthians 15:22 Paul said, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” What we received from Adam was the fact that men all die. His sin drove mankind from the Garden of Eden and the tree of life so death passed upon all men. But notice the very thing that was lost in Adam is recovered in Christ. All die, through Adam. All will be raised from the dead through Christ. If this were talking about sin and spiritual death, it would mean both that all get his sin and that all would be saved in Christ. Yet Jesus declared that few would be saved (Matthew 7:13,14). In Romans 5:15-17 Paul again talked about what we received from Adam. Through one man death came upon all. But God’s grace gave the gift of Christ so that life could come to those who died in Adam. God’s abundance of Grace is greater than the sin that came from Adam. The point of this text is that through Adam sin entered the world and the affects of it have passed on all men. It doesn’t mean that all are guilty of Adam’s sin.

The father of our spirits according to Hebrews 12:9 is God. Sin is a matter of the soul, not the body. What we receive from Adam is the physical, fleshly side. We receive our spirit or soul from God. What we inherit from Adam has to do with the physical weaknesses and death. God gives us a soul that can turn to Him for life.

In Romans 7:9 Paul wrote, “I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died.” There was never a time in Paul’s life when the law wasn’t there. He was alive once in that he wasn’t able to see or comprehend the law of God. But the day came when the commandment was clear to him. Sin came alive. He died spiritually. If he had inherited sin, this would be impossible. We become guilty of our sin and have them marked up against us at the time when we can comprehend the law of God and sin then springs to life for us and we die spiritually.

Question #192

My husband has a painful rare incurable disease. He asked one of the elders after Wed. night Bible study to get the other elders and pray over him. After a period of five and one half weeks the elder called and told my husband he was having difficulty getting all the elders together “since they were only part time elders and not full time, hoping one day they could become full time elders”. My husband told him, he did not want to impose and that was alright. We have since started worshiping elsewhere. The hurt is deep. My father was an elder for a large congregation in the mid-west and I can remember him leaving the dinner table or his warm bed to minister the needs when called on. I, as his wife, see the hurt this has inflicted on both of us. Should something be said, or do we keep silent for the good of the Church?

Leon’s Response

The reaction of the elder was completely out of harmony with the Bible. James said to call for the elders in times of sickness so they can pray over you (James 5:13-16). It isn’t a matter of whether one is full time, but whether they are really shepherds at heart. Real shepherds love the people and will do whatever is necessary to be there when they are in need. The problem is that too many who are called elders only want to serve as a board to pass down their decisions on matters instead of the real job of caring for people when they hurt.

I believe it would be for the good of the church to write the elders at the former church and explain the hurt you went through and the disappointment at the elder’s reaction. I would point out that we were simply doing what the Bible said do and felt they would certainly want to follow what God said. I would also explain that is the reason we decided to worship elsewhere. When people are wrong in their attitudes, it doesn’t harm the church for one to confront the wrong in a kind and gentle manner. Jesus said “If a man sins, rebuke him. If he repents forgive him.” (Luke 17:1-5)

I hope things get better for you and that you have found more caring people at the new congregation. Always remember, that people fail us. God doesn’t.

Question #193

So, in reference to question #190, if you have been baptized for the remission of your sins, do you have to attend a congregation of the church of Christ to go to heaven?

Leon’s Response

According to Acts 2:38 for ones sins to be forgiven they must repent of their sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. That action of faith puts one into Christ (Galatians 3:26,27; Romans 6:3,4). It is the beginning of a new life for God. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As a new Christian one is to seek the things above, set their mind on things above and not on things on the earth, (Colossians 3:1-4). Their life is to become centered in Christ. They are to put away the old actions of sin and put on the new actions of righteousness.

Involved in what one is to do as a new Christian is to add the graces on a continual basis described in 2 Peter 1:5-9. Keep adding, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Doing will cause one to be fruitful. It will make their calling and election sure. It prepares them for an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom.

As a Christian, one is a part of the body of Christ which is the church (Ephesians 1:22,23). They become a part of a fellowship. As members of the church we are to help and encourage one another in living for the Lord. One way this encouraging and exhorting of one another happens is by our assembling together to worship God together and build up one another (Hebrews 10:24,25). Since the word church means among other things, a gathering of people or congregation, the two words congregation and church are interchangeable. Certainly one would want to attend a congregation of people devoted to Christ, honoring Him and striving to find His will to follow it. The church is to be a place to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21). There is no set name for the church talked about in the Bible. It is people devoted to Christ. There are many descriptions of the church in the Bible which demonstrate different aspects of the church’s nature. It is called the “church of God”, the “church of the firstborn”, the “house of God”, “the church of the living God” and the “churches of Christ”. It is even referred to as the “church of the saints” in I Corinthians 14:34-35.

Denominational-ism is unknown to the Bible. It is a creation of man. It is an outgrowth of division condemned in I Corinthians 1:10-13. When we think Biblically, we realize that the church is simply those called out for God. We become members of the Lord’s church by being saved (Acts 2:47; Hebrews 12:23). Notice in Acts 2:after those 3,000 people were baptized into Christ “They continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching, in fellowship, in breaking bread and in prayers.” (Verse 42). If I follow their example I will worship where the word of God is taught and preached as the authority. I will worship with folks who follow Christ and elevate His name rather than some man or some system. I will try to obey God in all things to the best of my ability.

I hope this is helpful. I am devoted to being just a Christian, nothing more or less. I’m not trying to promote some man’s idea. As men we all have flaws and make mistakes. The only perfect one is Jesus Christ.

Question #194

I understand baptism to be a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is also a washing away of your sins. If that is true, why was Christ himself baptized.

Leon’s Response

That baptism is indeed tied to the death burial and resurrection is Christ is stated in Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:12. Romans 6 says those who are baptized are 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, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” As to the washing away of sins, this is what Ananias stated in Acts 22:16 when he challenged Saul to stop waiting, arise and be baptized to wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. So there is no question as to the first points you made.

What about Jesus? His baptism recorded in Matthew 3:13-17, wasn’t into His death, burial and resurrection since He hadn’t died at that point. He was being baptized with John’s baptism which was a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). Even though John’s baptism was for the remission of sins, Jesus had no sins. That is the reason when Jesus came to John to be baptized, John objected saying, “I need to be baptized by You and do You come to me?” But Jesus said, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) Jesus baptism that He instituted after His resurrection is different from John’s in several ways. While they both were by immersion and for the remission of sins, they are different in that Jesus baptism was “In the name of the the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-20). It is tied to one being a disciple of Jesus. It is into Christ (Galatians 3:26,27). John’s was not. It is into His death, burial and resurrection which John’s was not. It is into the one body (I Corinthians 12:13) which John’s was not. When one is baptized into the name of Christ, after repenting of their sins they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2:38), and there is no evidence such was the case with John’s baptism. This is the reason when Paul found certain disciples in Ephesus who had been baptized with John’s baptism, he commanded them to be baptized into the name of the Lord (Acts 19:1-5). John’s baptism was effective for the time it was to meant to be. But it was in preparation of Jesus coming and lasted only until Christ’s baptism became effective.

Question #195

I just came back from an amazing youth rally that uplifted me and helped me to better my relationship with God. How can I make this relationship last with the intensity that it began?

Leon’s Response

It is wonderful to go to such events and be uplifted in our hearts. Unfortunately, it is impossible to stay on that high all the time. Jesus often went to the mountain tops to pray, but He always came down rather quickly to be where the people were who were struggling with life, by sickness, sin and family problems. Events such as the one you describe and even our worship services should build us up and get us ready to go out into the world to make a difference for the Lord.

This is one of the reasons Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” A good plan of action is to develop a time each day to read your Bible, pray for God’s blessings and presence in your life and ask Him to show you His will and help you follow it. Then meditate on things spiritual. Think about specific things you can do today to help someone else and thus be like Christ. The greatest spiritual heights are reached in serving others for God. Remember in the judgment one of the main considerations will be how we helped others and thus helped Christ (Matthew 25:31-46).

When you study the lives of great men and women in the Bible it becomes clear, that they always had ups and downs in their life for God. The key was that as when fell or stumbled they quickly got up to start again in living for Him. Mountaintop experiences are wonderful. But they are best used in the valley where people hurt. Think of Jesus in Matthew 17. He went with Peter, James and John onto the mountain and spent time in prayer. There He was transfigured and Moses and Elijah came from the other side to talk with and encourage Him. Peter wanted to build three tents so they could stay up there. But Jesus said, “Let’s go down.” When they reached the bottom His disciples had tried to heal a boy possessed by a demon, but couldn’t. Jesus healed him and said, this kind of power only comes through prayer. The mountaintop experience made a difference in His power. But He couldn’t stay there. He needed to help people who were hurting. Any time you do that some strength will drain from you as you help. It will encourage you. You will feel good about it. But it also should cause you to go back to things which constantly fill you with more power or you will be drained soon.

Question #196

If you are baptized, then commit a sin, do you have to be baptized again? Or do you just ask God for forgiveness

Leon’s Response

A person only needs to be baptized once when it is done right. There is one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). It puts you into Christ and into His body (Galatians 3:26, 27; I Corinthians 12:13). The only time people were re-baptized in the Bible was when their first baptism was wrong as in Acts 19:1-5. Read Acts 8. Philip went to Samaria to preach Christ. Among his converts was Simon who had been a magician. After he believed and was baptized he sinned by trying to buy the power from the apostles to be able to lay hands on people and give them the Holy Spirit. Peter condemned saying, “Your money perish with you. You have neither part not lot in this matter. Your heart is not right with God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart will be forgiven.”

Notice Peter didn’t tell him to be baptized again. He had done that correctly. But he sinned horribly. He needed to repent and pray that God would forgive it. In I John 1:7-10 John said if we walk in the light even when we sin as a Christian they are cleansed by the blood of Christ. If we say we don’t sin we are just deceiving ourselves. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Notice this was primarily a confession to God of our sins. In James 5:16 we are encouraged to “Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

So when you sin as a Christian, confess it to God when you know it. Be assured as you live for the Lord His blood is constantly cleansing you of your sins just like your blood cleanses your body of impurities. If you don’t realize you sin but are walking in the light of God, you will be constantly clean.

Question #197

Can you please explain lawsuits and is it wrong for Christians to be involved in a lawsuit? I have read 1 Corinthians 6 but do not understand? I’m very concerned about this matter.

Leon’s Response

Notice in I Corinthians 6 they were going to law on matters that should have been solved among brethren at church. There should be someone in the church that is wise enough to help solve matters that are conflict between brethren. There are situations which do not fit under this category at all. Some legal matters belong in the courts because even Solomon couldn’t work through every thing to solve the problem. The concern should be, will my going to court hurt the church or cause of God. If it will, then Paul’s push is, “Why not rather suffer wrong yourself than hurt the cause of God?”

Only you can really answer the question of what it will do to the church. I would suggest that it is wise to try to solve most problems with wise folks at church if they are willing to serve as a mediator and fairly come to a conclusion which will be helpful to all. If that doesn’t work, you may be forced, if the problem is severe, to go further. Paul’s concern is for the church, and that our personal problems not run people away from God. Such should be our concern as well.

Question #198

1. Does Isaiah 65:17-25 describes a millennial earth or the final eternal new earth?  In verse 20 death is mentioned, dispensationalist say this cannot be a description of the final new earth but must apply to the millennium.   Is Isaiah telling us here that there will be death on the new earth?

2. Premillennialist say that Satan is not presently bound because there is so much wickedness and death. they say Satan was judged at the cross but will be bound in the future for a thousand years.  A millennialist responds by saying that Satan is bound but limited in some activities so that he can no longer prevent the gospel from spreading to all the nations of the world. But doesn’t Satan prevent some from believing the gospel? 2 Cor. 4:4 but Premillennialist also have a problem because during the supposed future millennium when Satan is totally bound there will still be as many as the sand of the sea who where deceived while Satan was totally bound during the thousand years. I never heard a millennialist use this argument for their case. God bless!

Leon’s Response

I believe Isaiah 65 is a prophesy of the kingdom or church which is here now. Some of it is figurative and some literal. But it is about the new Jerusalem that Paul refers to in Galatians 4 as the Jerusalem which is above which is the mother of us all. This new Jerusalem, or new heaven and earth which refers to a new dwelling place is the church Jesus built. Back in Isaiah 2:1-4 he described the coming of the church which would be established in the last days in the top of them mountains and the word would go forth from Jerusalem. When Jesus told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until the received power from on high and they obeyed in Acts 2 He sent the Holy Spirit on them and Peter declared “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh.” Notice he said that time was the last days. Hebrews 1:1-3 says God in these last days has spoken to us through His Son. If this is indeed the last days, then there will not be any other age, days of dispensation after this one on this earth. Isaiah uses many of the same figures of speech throughout his prophesy of the church Jesus planned to build. It is the same as the kingdom Daniel said would come in the days of the fourth kingdom, which was the Roman empire. That empire has been gone for almost 1500 years now, but during it’s existence the Lord built the church which he also called His kingdom (Colossians 1:13-18; Hebrews 12:23-29). These illustrations about death and the wolf and the lamb being at peace describe the nature of the one devoted to God as a Christian. He came to change lives. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who lives and believes in Me will never die. He who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” (John 11:25,26). We do still die physically. But when we are right with them death simply become a passage way to glory with Him.

As to Satan’s being bound, the context of Revelation has to do with wholesale persecution of Christians that was going on in Rome near the end of the first century. Satan was to be bound from such persecution for a thousand years, which doesn’t necessarily refer to a literal space of time but to the complete time in God’s plan. But after the thousand years he will be loosed again to persecute Christians as he was doing then.

Satan is bound now by the Lord in that He is not allowed to tempt us beyond our ability to bear it. (I Corinthians 10:13). God controls how far he can go and what he can do.

Question #199

I am troubled in my heart after hearing on the TV this judge has declared the pledge “under God” is unconstitutional and will not be allowed. All this because of one man! I pray for him. But it troubles my soul that we have gone so far and allowed this to happen to a country founded on our beliefs in God. What can I do? I pray God won’t give up on America and I am ashamed at what is happening today. We must return to Biblical principals and stand fast or suffer loss. How can we get this message out and who do we let know of our thoughts?

Leon’s Response

I think you are letting a lot of people know by what you have said.

You have found the best answer: Praying for the country and for things to get better. Each of us can live right ourselves and keep our own folks whom we influence for good. As Christians we must do right and pray right no matter what happens with the country.

Question #200

I have read all of your questions and answers and while a part of my situation fits not all of it does. My question is:  I was married for a good number of years and in 1987 I started to study with a member of the Church of Christ and in 1988 I was baptized. In 1993 I left my husband who was a non believer and thought as well as his and my family, that the Church of Christ was a cult. He told me before I left that he had fooled around, the main reason I left him was because he was so abusive to me as well as the children. I got divorced in 1994. Now I am coming to my question, I met a descent guy. We talked a lot and got along well. I did everything he said over time. If he said I shouldn’t talk to so and so I didn’t, if he said I couldn’t go somewhere I didn’t, if he said I couldn’t work wherever I didn’t, you get the picture. I was with him for. He talked about marriage and even living together. At any rate, I had his child. I know it was wrong to give in to temptation. He talked about getting married again. I told him I wasn’t sure then he brought up living together. I told him that was not an option. So he stayed at his place and I stayed at mine. We continued our relationship for a number of years after. Although he was not happy that I would not sleep with him again. Finally I told him after Christmas that I no longer wanted to be with him. He did not like that I decided I had to do what was right for me and my kids. He is Catholic and thinks I am wrong. He is very selfish and self centered. He tells me that God was putting words in my head to destroy him. At any rate, I ask God to forgive me for such a terrible sin. I always felt God’s presence in my life. But after being with this guy it is like he killed my spirit and I don’t know if God hears me. I feel that He is far from me. How can I know God hears me and has forgiven me?

Leon’s Response

Read John 4 and think of Jesus meeting the woman at the well who had been married five times and was now just living with a man she had never married. Certainly her sin was great. But Jesus talked with her and offered her living water. He told her about worship and led her to salvation. She became His witness to tell others the way to the Lord. God’s offer of forgiveness is based on His grace, not on our deserving anything. We are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23). But grace is offered to all (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14). It is based on Jesus dying for all people (Hebrews 2:9). As one who has been baptized and fallen into sin, the need is for you to be restored (Galatians 6:1-2). You have erred from the truth and need to be converted again (James 5:19-20). When you confess your sins, He freely forgives your sins and gives you new life. (I John 1:7-10).

God doesn’t want anyone to be lost (2 Peter 3:9). He is ready to forgive you as you turn from your sins in repentance and come to Him. If God was willing to give His Son to die on a cross so you could be forgiven, He isn’t going to hold back because of your failures. Read again the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 and see how the father ran to meet the boy when he started home. This is a picture of God and His readiness to forgive.

If I can help you get back to the right way, please let me know. The question isn’t, will God forgive. It is will you come back to Him in repentance so He can forgive. Will you do so? I hope and pray you will.

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