Questions & Answers

We have done our best to answer all the questions that came in and during the Bible from 30,000 series, our answers are posted below. We are no longer taking new questions.

Question: I would like to know the difference between the spirit and the soul. Is it even relevant to know the difference? John in Revelation was caught up in the spirit, and Jesus on the cross gave up His spirit to the Father. What is our soul? Is it our earthly connection to our God? It's mentioned together a few times and I just want confirmation. As long as we love our Lord Jesus I know that's all that matters, but I just wanted to know the difference.

Answer: With the exception of those people who believe that there is nothing after death, most people agree that the body is distinct from the soul and/or spirit. After that, the problems begin.

When speaking about the differences between soul and spirit in reference to man, we are speaking about the nature of man. This brings up three terms, trichotomy, dichotomy, and monism. The view that man is made up of three parts is called trichotomy—body, soul and spirit.  The idea that man is only body and soul (or spirit) is called dichotomy. The view that man is only one element is called monism.

The Bible clearly teaches that there is an immaterial part of man. The Bible sometimes refers to it as soul, and sometimes as Spirit. Many times the two words are used interchangeably. The only difference that seems to be consistent is that soul is used in reference to the immaterial part of man and man’s physical body. Let’s look at examples of each.

References to the immaterial as soul:

But if from there you seek the Lord your God you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29)

The River Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the River Kishon. March on, my soul; be strong! (Judges 5:21)

Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 7:11)

References to the immaterial as spirit:

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. (Psalm 77:3)

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?” (Mark 2:8)

Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:55)

References to spirit and soul used interchangeably:

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” (Luke 1:46-48)

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. (John 12:27 KJV)

When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. (John 13:21 KJV)

Instances when the word nephesh (the Hebrew word for soul) is used for body (to actually see this for yourself you have to buy a Hebrew Bible. Most translations do not say “soul,” they simply write the word “body” in its place. But the word “body” was translated from the word nephesh.):

I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies (nephesh) on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. (Leviticus 26:30)

Throughout the period of his separation to the LORD he must not go near a dead body (nephesh). (Numbers 6:6)

In his book Basic Theology, Charles C. Ryrie states:

“In its most basic sense, the Hebrew word, nephesh, means ‘life.’ It designates man originally created as a living being (soul) (Genesis 2:7) as well as other forms of life (1:20-21, 24, 30; Leviticus 17:11).”

In summary, the word body is used interchangeably in Hebrew with the word soul. Sometimes the word soul seems to be used interchangeably with the word spirit. It does not seem the word spirit is ever used interchangeably with the word body.

Despite this, people still hold to a strict view of dichotomy, and some hold to a strict view of trichotomy. Neither view can be considered an essential of the Christian faith. Therefore either view can be accepted or rejected according to each individual’s conscience. A hard-line stance, in my opinion, on either view is difficult to defend.

Question: I was wondering what happened to the people before Jesus died, since the only way to God is through Jesus. Did they go to heaven or hell when they died?

Answer: Before Jesus Christ, people were subject to the Law of Moses, or the old covenant. But what about the people who did not know about the Law of Moses, the people who were not Hebrews? The apostle Paul gives us two points to consider in the book of Romans.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. (Romans 2:14-15)

Even without a knowledge of the Law of Moses, man is held accountable because nature lets man know that there is something higher than himself.

The second verse above seems to say that nature places on the hearts of men a moral standard--a type of law. Consider that in some of the most primitive tribes in existence today, taking another man’s wife, stealing his private property, and the taking of an innocent life are considered wrong. This is true in every primitive culture that comes to mind, past and present.

Two scriptures lead me to believe that God provides some way that all men can spend eternity with him.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Question: Why do the NKJV and NIV Bibles not include some of the books in the Catholic Bible, including Tobit, First and Second Maccabees, and Sirach? What does Calvary Church believe about these books? Should they be read or studied? Not that I ever read my Catholic Bible, but now that I am studying the NKJV I am curious to read these additional books.

Answer: The list of books included in the Bible is known as “the Canon.” How those books were chosen is referred to as “canonization.” F.F. Bruce has written a book called The Canon of Scripture, which can be found in our bookstore. The process by which the Old and New Testament books were chosen is lengthy, and just a little complicated to completely describe in this format. However, I believe I can give you a good start here.

First, the Hebrew Bible contained all the books we presently have, except the order is different. When Jesus was on earth, the Hebrew Bible was from Genesis to second Chronicles. This is significant because in Matthew 23:35 Jesus states:

And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barakiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Jesus is commenting on events that happened between the beginning and the end of the Hebrew Bible, from Genesis to Second Chronicles.  Christians therefore consider all of these books which we have in our possession today to be the Old Testament.

The New Testament books were revealed to the early church fathers by considering the following rules (these rules are found in the Charles Ryrie study Bible):

Apostolicity: Was the book written or backed by an apostle? For example, Peter was the backer of Mark, and Paul was the backer of Luke.
Content: Was the book of sufficient spiritual character?
Universality: Was the book widely accepted at the time?
Inspiration: Does the book give internal evidence of inspiration?

Those books you mentioned, as well as books the history Channel likes to deem “books banned from the Bible,” etc., simply don’t meet the criteria above.

I see no harm in reading these books because they often give insight into the culture and events of the time.

Question: I have listened to all lessons on the Bible From 30,000 Feet. My question is, will the people that have already died and did not receive Jesus Christ as their savior have another chance during the Great Tribulation period, or is it already too late for them?

Answer: Once a person dies it is too late to accept Jesus Christ. Ecclesiastes 9:5 states:

Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing

Ecclesiastes 9:10 states:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

John 9:1-5 states:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no-one can work.  While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus is teaching that the work of God must be done during the day--during life. “Night is coming” is a reference to death. Jesus emphasized that this work had to be done during the man’s life.

Finally, the Scripture that is used most often in reference to your question is Hebrews 9:27-28 which states:

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once...”

This scripture is clearly teaching that after death a person will be judged. There is no mention of purgatory or the opportunity to be prayed for so as to obtain salvation.

Question: You teach that God is the same God today, yesterday and tomorrow. How then do you reconcile the Old Testament God, full of wrath and judgment (think Noah, the wandering Israelites, Aaron's sons, even Moses), with the New Testament God, full of mercy and grace? The Israelites were his chosen people...and they were not spared from his wrath. How can we be sure He doesn't still judge us as He did in O.T. times?

Answer: The Bible teaches in Hebrews 13:8 that:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

I invite you to read through the Old Testament and recognize the great acts of love God showed His people and anyone else who was willing to believe. There was no mandate that God create an earth.  But He created a perfect planet and two perfect people to inhabit and rule over it. He did this purely out of love (see 1 John 4:19).

Another great story of the Old Testament is how God removed thousands of Hebrews out of Egypt in the face of great danger, and not one Hebrew suffered an injury. There are many stories of people who were faithful to God and He protected them from great danger. Daniel in the lion’s den comes to mind. And there were three teenagers who were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to submit to an evil king, and they came out of the furnace unharmed!

Right beside the stories where God demonstrates “wrath and judgment” are many accounts of God showing great love for all of those who were faithful to him.

You may be surprised to read in the book of Acts that a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira were killed by God for showing off! (Acts 5:1-10). Herod the King was struck down by an angel for not giving praise to God (Acts 12:19-23). The book of Revelation tells us how the enemies of God will be defeated and suffer everlasting torment in the pits of hell.

Again, I'd like to challenge you to read the Bible and I believe that you also will be able to reconcile the fact that Jesus Christ (God) is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Question: James says that faith without works is dead. This is what the Roman Catholics use to justify their position on how important an accumulation of good works is for salvation. Then in Romans, it is mentioned numerous times that it is faith, not works. What is a good argument to show that it is indeed faith and not works that brings us to Christ?

Answer: I think the best argument is to start from this point: Exactly when do we know for sure that a human being is saved? The book of Ephesians tells us:

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14)

The passage tells us very clearly that after "believing" we are marked in him with a seal--the Holy Spirit. All Roman Catholics will agree that once you have received the Holy Spirit you are saved. You may want to ask the Catholic if he can identify any scriptures that say once you have done a certain amount of works, or do any works, you are saved. You may also want to ask exactly how many works one has to do to be saved. Five? Ten? A hundred? Or is it that you have to continually do good works to be saved? And does that mean that at no one particular point in your life are you actually saved?

In light of what your friend believes, review the following scriptures with them.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)

"Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too." (Romans 3:27-29)

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Notice, it does not say Abraham "worked" and it was credited to him as righteousness.) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:  "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness--for us who believe in him (again, no works mentioned) who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:1-25)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

Finally let's examine the Scripture that is chiefly used by Roman Catholics to prove their point.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:14-26)

Notice that verse 14 asks a question "Can such faith save?" The apostle James never asked the question, "Does this works save?"

If one reads all of the Scripture we see it is simply saying that if one has a proper faith it will manifest itself by the willingness to do good works. Indeed verse 22 makes it clear "you see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did."

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

Question: In the New Testament, there is no evidence of any prayer being offered to anyone but God. Yet the Roman Catholic Church devotes most of their prayer and worship to Mary. What is the basis of this worship, and isn't it wrong?

Answer: The Roman Catholic Church argues that it is perfectly fine to have someone to pray for you, including the dead. This is based partly on a loose interpretation out of the book of Maccabees.

As Protestants we accept the Bible teaching of Exodus 20:4-6, which clearly teaches:

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Praying to anyone or anything outside of the Holy Trinity is wrong.

Question: Can you give a clear explanation of the freedom of choice God gives to us? I realize we all have the ability to choose right or wrong, left or right, McDonald's or Wendy's, but being that God is sovereign and omnipotent, He already has our plan written according to that choice we made. That much I grasp. The part that seems to lead me back to predestination is the aspect that God already knows the future and what choice we will make, so are we destined to make that choice? Take Judas Iscariot. I would imagine that he had the same comprehension to make the choice to either submit to Jesus or to turn Him in. Obviously we know what he chose, but in order for Jesus to die, this had to happen. In essence, was Judas' decision really his to make, or was this put there by God? God wishes that no man shall perish, but are some already "chosen to"? The only reason I can come up with is that since God already knows what we will choose, He uses those people to get His Will accomplished. Seems as though despite chosen appointment of some for the abyss, God is still able to get the last say.

Answer: As I read your question(s) I see three components:
God-given freedom of choice--what is it?
Predestination--how does it work?
Does God predestine some people to hell?

The Bible clearly teaches that we have the ability to choose to be obedient to God, follow God, and to love God. Here are some examples.

Second Thessalonians 2:9-11 states that:

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11)

Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." (John 7:16-18)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Next, there seems to be a problem with your understanding of predestination. It is a common fallacy to equate foreknowledge with predestination. In other words, because God has foreknowledge of which route you will choose, does not mean that he has pre-destined that route.

God stands outside of time. We know this because God created time. Therefore, God sees the beginning and the end all at once.

The third component of your question is the misguided belief that God predestined some people to hell. The Bible clearly teaches two things. Man chooses his path, and the faith necessary to choose that path is a gift of God. Consider these three passages.

I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. (Matthew 23:36-38)

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:7-9)

A person might ask at this point, "Is the Bible contradicting itself?" At one point it seems to be saying that man chooses. At another point it seems to be saying that the Bible says the ability to choose is a gift from God. Which is right?

I have read the writings of many intelligent men, alive and dead, that man has no free will and therefore predestination is correct. If I may speculate--it is exactly the intellect that interferes with this question. The same individuals are very hard put to simply say, "I don't know." They would rather exclude some scriptures and only concentrate on some that prove their point. Can you imagine preaching the gospel to some people who do not believe in Christ and telling them, "Yes, Christ died for some people's sin, but some of you are destined to hell, so you may not need to pay attention to the Gospel." The Bible very clearly teaches both that man has a choice, and that God gives us the ability to make that choice. One does not exist without the other in Scripture.

It is the intellect of man that seems to say God is not magnificent enough, not awesome enough to make this apparent paradox true.

Question: I have a question concerning the rapture, and the removing of the Holy Spirit as the restrainer. I'm just wondering how prepared the church is for such an event as the Holy Spirit being removed from the church. The Bible speaks about this, that the Holy Spirit will be removed, then the evil one will be revealed. But, there is no time as to when we will be called up, or raptured into heaven. By the way, I am a post-trib man myself; don't get me confused. I'm just wondering how well is the church prepared for a season that could be one day, or 30 years before the evil one is revealed? Imagine, not having the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart or spirit. My thought also ties into the fact that, God will send them strong delusion. Obviously, this is not the on-fire Christian but a backslider, so to speak. And that could be the guy sitting next to you day after day, week after week in the same congregation. I'm just wondering what effect this could have on the church? Imagine, not having the power of the Holy Spirit! It also makes me wonder about what exactly Jesus was saying in Matthew 7:21-23, that really spooky passage when He says, "I never knew you!" I feel I'm making a valid point here, or maybe it's just a warning of what could happen at any time. Maybe Skip could give me an answer I am missing somewhere in the Bible. Or maybe he could use this thought to teach on at some point. I was telling my wife the other day, "Please let me know if you feel that the Holy Spirit has left you." I'm sure those that really rely on the Holy Spirit in their ministry will know if the Spirit has left them or not.

Answer: First, I disagree with your first point: "The Bible speaks about this, that the Holy Spirit will be removed, then the evil one will be revealed. But, there is no time as to when we will be called up, or raptured into heaven."

The Bible states, "concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him we ask you brothers not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of our Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come, until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

In summation we are told, "concerning the coming of our Lord…and our being gathered (the rapture)... that day will not come, until the rebellion occurs." In short, the rapture will not occur until the lawless one is revealed.

Next, you make the statement that: "Imagine, not having the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart or spirit."

If I read your question right, I believe you are implying that the Holy Spirit will be taken off of the earth and Christians will be left to go through the tribulation. If that is what you're saying, I have to disagree. I draw your attention to this one fact: God has always removed his followers before delivering punishment. Consider the story of Noah and Lot and their families. When removal of his people was not yet the will of God, in the Passover, he protected his people by instructing them to put blood over their doors. So I think the precedent has already been set that God will either remove or protect his followers.

In Matthew 7:21-23 the Bible says:

"Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"

There are many televangelists who claimed to prophesy in the name of Jesus, cast out demons in the name of Jesus and perform other miracles (or so-called miracles). The exploits of these people have been well documented, and I am not going to take it upon myself to say which one of them will receive Jesus' rebuke. I will simply point out that all who say they do these things are not necessarily really casting out demons and performing miracles. Therefore, Jesus will tell these individuals, "I never knew you."

Finally, in answer to your question "has the Holy Spirit left me?" The Scriptures say:

"Having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Question: Did the bloodline go through the male in Biblical times? If so, how does Jesus' bloodline through his mother Mary legitimize him to inherit the throne? Also, is there any proof, either Biblical or extant, that qualifies an "adopted son" (Jesus, the son of Joseph) for inheritance to a royal throne?

Answer: The bloodline, as you put it, in Biblical times and today goes through the mother. If the mother is Jewish then the child is Jewish, despite who the father is.

In an article I found online, Tracy R. Rich explains:

"The Torah does not specifically state anywhere that matrilineal descent should be used; however, there are several passages in the Torah where it is understood that the child of a Jewish woman and a non-Jewish man is a Jew, and several other passages where it is understood that the child of a non-Jewish woman and a Jewish man is not a Jew.
"In Deuteronomy 7:1-5, in expressing the prohibition against intermarriage, G-d says "he [i.e., the non-Jewish male spouse] will cause your child to turn away from Me and they will worship the gods of others." No such concern is expressed about the child of a non-Jewish female spouse. From this, we infer that the child of a non-Jewish male spouse is Jewish (and can therefore be turned away from Judaism), but the child of a non-Jewish female spouse is not Jewish (and therefore turning away is not an issue).
"Leviticus 24:10 speaks of the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man as being "among the community of Israel" (i.e., a Jew).
"On the other hand, in Ezra 10:2-3, the Jews returning to Israel vowed to put aside their non-Jewish wives and the children born to those wives. They could not have put aside those children if those children were Jews."

Although a point of contention amongst scholars, the genealogy of Luke traces Jesus' heritage through his mother Mary. According to the genealogy, Mary is a descendent of David; therefore there is no need to be concerned with Jesus being the adopted son of Joseph.

This fulfills several messianic prophecies:

The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: one of your own descendents I will place on your throne. (Psalms 132:11)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Question: I have been with you through most of the Bible from 30,000 Feet. I am so new to Bible study, so this may seem like a question that should be common sense but... I always believed that Jesus was God's Son, but I can't understand that God and Jesus are one. Can you clear this up for me so I and others who can't quite get it will understand? And does this mean the Holy Spirit is also God?

Answer: Your question has to do with what is called the doctrine of the Trinity. Doctrine simply means teaching. The doctrine of the Trinity is important because it describes who and what God is. (I have already written about this in another question so I will be brief.)

The doctrine of the Trinity simply says that in the being or essence that is God, there are three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  They are coequal, coeternal, and eternally distinct. This definition is based on scripture. Since you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, I will only illustrate from Scripture that Jesus and God are one.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  (John 1:1)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  (John 1:14)

I recommend reading The Forgotten Trinity by James White, which can be found in our bookstore.

Understanding the doctrine of the Trinity will lead to you being a better student of the Bible and ultimately enhance your understanding of our precious Lord.

Question: I have heard of a term called the "Bible Code." Is it real? This is extra messages hidden in the Bible that add emphasis to the message of the Bible. Specifically, I've listened to Chuck Missler on The Connection radio, and he mentions it a lot. Does the Bible admit to having hidden messages in it?

Answer: For several years, the existence of a "Bible code," and by that I mean hidden messages or prophecies embedded within the Scriptures, has been debated amongst Christians. I disagree with the Bible code for the following reasons:

1. What reason would God have for hiding messages within the Scriptures?
2. If there are hidden messages within the Scriptures, are we to be held responsible if we could not find them or did not know of them?
3. When you study the methodology of those who believe in the Bible code, you will find that there is no set formula. Hence, people have used similar strategies in the reading of Moby Dick and also found hidden messages!

Chuck Missler is a fine man, a great Christian, and very, very intelligent. None of the things he says about the Bible code affect one's salvation, nor would Missler teach that anything that the Bible code has reportedly revealed changes any aspect of the essentials of the Christian faith.

I say all that to say that Chuck Missler and I simply disagree (as do many Christians) on this point.

Finally, the Bible does not say that there are any hidden messages or instruct us to look for them within Scripture.

Question: You say the book of John was written in 135 A.D. How is that possible if John was an apostle in 33 A.D.?

Answer: The oldest extant (currently in existence) piece of scripture from the book of John is called Ryland's P. 52--meaning papyrus number 52. This is a fragment from a codex quoting John 18:31-32 on one side and John 18:37-38 on the other side. Scholars date the fragment--based on the style of writing, spaces between letters, and spaces between lines--back to 135 A.D.

The dating of the book of John, meaning the original autograph (original writing), is 85-90 A.D. Thereafter, copies were made, of which the oldest extant piece is the Ryland's papyrus 52.

Here is a great site that I hope will be helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus_52

Question: My question is kind of hard. Why, or for what purpose, did God create man?

Answer: The Bible clearly teaches us the reason for the creation of man.

I will say to the north, give them up! And to the south, do not hold them back. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-everyone who was called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (Isaiah 43: 6-7)

The Bible also says:

In him we are also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians:11-12)

The purpose for our existence on the planet Earth is to bring glory to God.

Question: Last Wednesday night Pastor Skip touched on life starting at conception. My husband and I are in our early 20s and want to wait to have children until I am done with my college degree. As Christians, is it okay to use birth control?

Answer:This is a question that is obviously been around the church for quite some time. I can think of no scripture that directly condemns the use of contraception. However, let's be sure of what we are talking about. There is a difference between preventing conception and terminating conception (abortion). Life starts at conception. A word on why I say that: Scientists and biologists all over the world would declare that life existed on another planet if they find so much as a bacteria. Yet the powers that be seek to debate whether or not a fetus with a heartbeat is actually a human or absolute proof of life! At the point of conception the fertilized ovum is far more complicated than any bacteria.

Inevitably, someone will say that God commanded Adam and Eve to "go forth and multiply." I would point out that you are not disobeying that command, if it is a command; you are simply delaying it until a better time.

It could also be argued that it is not a good thing to have a child if you and your husband are unprepared. This most certainly will have ill effects on the child, you, your husband, and your relationship.

Ultimately, I would encourage you and your husband to pray together about this, and if necessary seek counseling.

Question: I have recently recommitted myself to Christ and God. I fell away from Jesus Christ and God for quite a while, and now I am on unwed mother. I started studying the Bible and praying for forgiveness of my sins but am still afraid that I will not be forgiven. I guess my question is that even though I am an unwed mother, can I still be forgiven for my sins?

Answer:I have spoken to gangbangers, soldiers who have had to do things that their conscience has difficulty accepting, and various other people who have done things a great deal worse than having a baby out of wedlock. The Bible clearly teaches that:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

Now please pay close attention: We cannot forgive ourselves of sin. But people often feel or state that they just can't come to forgive themselves for what they've done. Most often I take this to mean that people have a problem accepting God's forgiveness. If you did not know of the Scripture above, then confess to God whatever sins you've done, accept His forgiveness and move on with your life. If you knew about the Scripture above, then read it again, and pray about it until it finally sinks in that God is faithful and just, even when we are not!

Also, let me make it clear that having a baby was not a sin, the baby is not at fault. I encourage you to enroll in the new believers class and perhaps come under the tutelage of a mentor. This will be a woman, mature in Christ.

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

Question: I've just watched the flight over the book of Numbers on which Pastor Skip says that we have to get ready to go to the tabernacle's feast in Israel during the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. I could not understand that, because as far as I know all of it will happen after the second coming of Jesus. Am I right?

Answer: According to Zechariah 14:16, during the millennial kingdom (Christ's 1000-year reign on earth) God, in Christ, will be living among mankind. Gentiles as well as Jews will be going up to Jerusalem to worship for this annual feast. This probably refers to a believing remnant (delegation) from these different nations. It will be a Feast of Commemoration--celebrating the historical truth that God "tabernacled" with His people and dwells among them now. Ezekiel, chapters 40-48, details the localized worship in Israel with the Millennial Temple during that time. These Feasts are not efficacious (that is, they didn't free anyone from sin), any more than they were during the time of Moses. During Old Testament times the feasts were anticipatory (looking forward the Christ's sacrifice). In The Kingdom Age (Millennium), they will be retrospective and celebratory of the finished work of Christ.

Question: For a while now I've been feeling scared of the thought of Christ coming back. For the past couple of years there is always something on the news that opens my eyes that Christ's return is very near, and I'm scared. I know I should be happy that He has given us flags to look for, warning us His return is near, but why am I scared? I gave my life to him and I was baptized about five years ago, but I still feel very new at being a follower of Christ. When I watch the news and hear about Russia, Syria and Lebanon, I get scared. I don't like this feeling. What am I to do to not feel this way, and why do I feel this way?

Answer: No doubt you have heard Christians proclaim, "Won't it be such a great day when Jesus returns?" Because we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we can be assured that we will be "taken up" with other believers in Christ. You are also obviously aware that those who have not accepted Jesus Christ at that time face very difficult and horrible times.

Many people suffer from phobias--unrealistic, unnecessary fears, for example, the fear of going outdoors, agoraphobia. There are realistic fears. For example, a rattlesnake immediately in front of you, rattling its tail; that would be cause for a realistic fear.  The fear of God is also a realistic fear.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise (Psalm 111:9-10).

Realistic fears prompt us to do something. In the case of the rattlesnake, it may be wise to step backwards or perhaps attack it with a walking stick. The point is perhaps there is something this fear is prompting you to do. Perhaps it is your calling to warn those who don't believe that Christ's return is imminent. This is something that you will have to pray on.

"The act of cowardice is all that matters; the emotion of fear is, in itself, no sin." --C.S. Lewis

Question: 1) Do you think Satan went to God and asked permission to kill 6 million Jews in the Holocaust? 2) Every word of the Bible is true, correct? How do we process the remarks of Job's friends, which are in some cases heretical? Do we dismiss all of them as error? Or do we read them as partially true or having some truth? How do we handle the remarks of his friends?

Answer: The Bible of course does not talk about the Holocaust. And to my knowledge there is no specific scripture that discusses whether God always uses Satan for things such as a Holocaust or a natural catastrophe. Yes, the Bible does teach us that Satan did in fact ask God for permission to harm Job. But we should not infer from that, that it is necessary that God uses Satan for such events. Consider this instance where God killed two men who approached him inappropriately:

Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Moses then said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: 'Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.'" Aaron remained silent (Leviticus 10 1-3).

Consider also that God ordered the killing of all those unrepentant of their behavior at Mount Sinai:

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Whoever is for the LORD, come to me." And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.'" The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, "You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day" (Exodus 32:25-30).

In the New Testament a man was killed for lying to the Holy Spirit:

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. (Acts 5:1-5).

Your premise that every word of the Bible is true is incorrect. A lie is a lie. The Bible simply records that people told lies or falsehoods, or that they made misleading statements. That the event actually happened is true. For example:

So the prophet said to him, "Come home with me and eat." The man of God said, "I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. I have been told by the word of the LORD : 'You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.'" The old prophet answered, "I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD : 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'" (But he was lying to him.) So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house. While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, "This is what the LORD says: 'You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.'"  When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it (I Kings 13:15-24).

In this story a prophet was lied to by another man who said he was a prophet. Because he believed the lie and disobeyed God, he forfeited his life. This is a perfect example of a man telling a lie, and the Bible accurately recording it.

When Job's friends told him things that were not true, we should simply regard them as just that--not true--and the Bible accurately reporting what was said.

Question: In I Kings 11:13, God tells Solomon, "Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen." When the kingdom splits, Rehoboam gets one tribe and Jeroboam gets ten to rule over. What happens to the other tribe? Later it talks about Judah and Benjamin. I am a little lost on how all this fits together.

Answer: If you surf the Internet and read articles by Christian scholars and rabbis, you'll see there are several different opinions. Because the Bible is not 100% clear on exactly what tribes Jeremiah is talking about in the book of Kings, no one can be exactly sure. So we pray for an answer from the Holy Spirit, and hopefully this is what He and the Bible teach.

The original twelve tribes of Israel are: Asher, Benjamin, Dan, Gad, Issachar, Joseph, Judah, Levi, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon and Zebulun. In addition to these twelve, Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh were given the right to have their own tribes.

First, we know from Scripture that the Levites were not allowed to have their own area in the Promised Land.

The priests, the Levites--all the tribe of Levi--shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and His portion. Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the LORD is their inheritance, as He said to them (Deuteronomy 18:1-2).

This seems reasonable because the Levites would have been dispersed amongst all of the tribes to perform as priests.

Rehoboam was a descendent of David, and therefore from the tribe of Judah. It also seems reasonable to conclude that the tribe of Judah would stay with Rehoboam. This is backed up by Scripture:

When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin--180,000 fighting men--to make war against the house of Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon (1 Kings 12:21).

In 1 Kings 11, we see that the tribe of Benjamin is the tribe most likely spoken about:

Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes. But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe'" (1 Kings 11:31-32).

When we look at a map of the distribution of land between the 12 tribes of Israel, we find that the name Joseph is not among them. This is because his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh were allowed to have their own tribes.

Putting it all together I believe the breakdown of the tribes is as follows: The Levites performed priestly duties for all tribes and therefore are not counted as one of the ten tribes. The tribe of Benjamin is the tribe assigned to Rehoboam, and the house of Judah naturally stayed with him. The tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, Asher, Dan, Gad, Issachar, Napthali, Reuben, Simeon and Zebulun all went to Jeroboam.

Question: I was baptized once and gave my life to Christ when I was young. I turned completely away from our Savior Jesus Christ but came back after 30 years and asked Him for forgiveness and repented of my sins. I still sometimes disobey Him, and still read His word every day. Do you think I will still enter heaven if I still have strongholds in my life which I've prayed for Him to help me with them? I know I'm saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ; and that He died for my sins past, present and future; and that He rose three days later and went to heaven and sits at the right hand of God Almighty and serves as our advocate. I know we are to turn away from our sins as we repent of them.  The ones he has taken from me are fine, but some of the strongholds are still there.

Answer: First, I hope you understand that baptism does not save a person. Baptism is an outward expression of an inward conversion of the heart. Baptism is done, by Protestants, to demonstrate to others that the individual has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

The Bible teaches us that if we are saved we do not continue to sin:

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:8-10).

However, the Bible also teaches that he who says he is without sin, is a liar:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).

We all have those certain things in our lives that we struggle with. The operative word is "struggle." The apostle Paul teaches in the book of Romans about an inner struggle:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin (Romans 7:15-25).

Finally, nowhere in Scripture are we promised that once we become Christians we won't sin, or that we won't be tempted to sin. The apostle Paul sums it up best:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:1-14).

Question: My wife's grandfather recently passed away; he was a devout Catholic. In fact, my wife's entire family was brought up Catholic. My wife and I have very recently become Christian, and some things are different between the two religions, despite the focus being God and Jesus. They have a rosary and a lot of praying goes to Mary. My understanding is the amount of prayers are thought to help the deceased into heaven. I also don't understand the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. I thought we were all equal in the eyes of the Lord. Why are there no Bibles in a Catholic church? My real question is, are they wrong in what they do, or is it a way of doing things differently? Thanks.

Answer: One of the major differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism is that Protestants have come to believe in the Bible as our sole reference for all things spiritual--how we are to pray, whom we should pray to, how we are to conduct ourselves as Christians, what we are to believe and not to believe. The Bible is the Christian reference point and the final point of arbitration. This doctrine (teaching) is called Sola Scriptura. It means "scripture alone."

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (1 Tim.3:16).

Roman Catholicism teaches that the Bible and the teachings of the church, and especially the teachings of the Pope, are to be used as guidance for the Roman Catholic Church, despite what the scripture clearly teaches.

Let me respond to your questions in order.

First you ask: "They have a rosary and a lot of praying goes to Mary. My understanding is the amount of prayers are thought to help the deceased into heaven."

Your observation is right. It is a direct violation of the third commandment:
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:4).

Therefore praying to anyone other than the members of the Trinity is wrong!

The Bible teaches that once a person is dead there is no more opportunity for salvation.
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

And:
This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten(Ecclesiastes 9: 3-5).

History teaches us that the Roman Catholic Church used the doctrine of praying for the dead as a way of raising money for the church. From this despicable practice one Roman Catholic priest named Tetzel promised, "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs."

The Bible does speak of offices and positions such as deacons, pastors, and teachers. (See 1 Timothy.) However, those of us who have been called to leadership must remember these verses:
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5: 1-3).
Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:24-27).

Finally the Roman Catholic Church believes in the essentials of the Christian faith just as Protestants do. The doctrine of the Trinity, the Virgin birth, and the deity of Jesus Christ are all held to be truth by both Churches.

But the Roman Catholic Church will deny or bend scripture to fit its nonbiblical teachings. For example, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary was always a virgin even after she gave birth to Jesus. But the Bible teaches:
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus (Matthew 1:22-24).

The Bible also clearly teaches that Jesus had brothers and sisters:
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him (Matthew 12:46).

And:
"Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? (Matthew 13:55-56)

In my mind I have to consider Roman Catholics Christians because of their adherence to the essentials of the Christian faith. However, their adherence to obvious false teachings, and their belief that the Bible is not the final authority, are the reasons I believe people should stay clear of the Roman Catholic Church.

Question: Does Satan have power over humans to affect the body internally, for example, making a man sterile, or a woman barren?

Answer: Demons and Satan have the power to cause disease and physical problems in humans by demonic possession.

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath." The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" (Luke 13:10-16)

"Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face." The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life." (Job 2:4-6)

Question: In Job 39:5, what is an "oneger"?

Answer: An onager, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is "an animal of a race of the Asian wild ass native to northern Iran." In other words, it is another name for the "wild donkey" in the same verse (NKJV).

Other Bible versions leave the word out:

"Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? (Job 39:5, NIV)

Who hat sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? (Job 39:5, KJV)

Question: Please explain Isaiah 65:17. Will we not remember any of our lives here on earth?

Answer: Let's Look at the verse:
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will thye come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy." (Isaiah 65:17-18)

The text does not say we will lose our personal memories. It says we will not remember the old earth and the old heaven. God is speaking about his "creations"--earth and heaven. There is no need to believe he is talking about our personal memories in between the verses.

Also, note King David speaking about his dead son:

He answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:22-23)

The clear implication here is that King David would know who his son was when he rejoined him in heaven.

Question: This is with regard to last Sunday's teaching: In Matthew 2:3 it states that when Herod heard about the birth of the King of the Jews he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. I can understand Herod being troubled, but why the people? Were they not anticipating the coming of their Messiah?

Answer: Your question seems to imply "Why wouldn't the Jews have been happy at the announcement of the coming King?" To answer the question we employ what is known as the Socio-historical method of biblical interpretation. It is a fancy way of saying we need to consider what was going on socially and historically at the time of a particular scripture.

The Jewish people, at the time of the annunciation, were under the rule of the Roman Empire. The Jews had also been under the rule of several other different countries prior to the Roman Empire.

Second, the Jews were well acquainted with past leaders through the scriptures, leaders like Moses, Joshua and David. All of these men were anointed by God, which is what "messiah" means.  Moses, Joshua and David were great military leaders. The Jews were expecting a military leader who would free them from Roman rule. According to the historian John Bower:

"For Jews the word messiah became almost synonymous with the notion of a king and was eventually applied to the idea a future King, whose reign would be characterized by everlasting justice, peace and security. It included the expectation that the Roman oppressors of the Jews would then be driven from Israel and that the kingdom of God would be fully reestablished by military means."

Third, Herod the Great was a vicious monster. History teaches us that he killed any and all that he feared might want to take his throne, including his wives, his own children, in-laws, and of course anyone perceived as being an enemy, especially a prophesied king.

Many Jewish leaders had become hypocrites and enjoyed position and wealth from compromising with the Romans. If war were coming, sides would have to be chosen--stand with Herod and the Romans or with this new king and the pious Jews.

The common man in nearly every culture in history is greatly affected by war. Fathers and sons may be forced into service, families severed, livelihoods lost.

Considering these things, it is understandable why "Herod and all of Jerusalem" might have been troubled.

Question: Do you think we'll meet Solomon in heaven? He started out so well but finished in a questionable way, having multiplied horses, wives and gold. The last verses of Ecclesiastes add to the mystery. What do you think?

Answer: The great thing about the book of the Ecclesiastes is that it shows us the futility of certain lifestyles. From time to time I have wished that I had done something in my life differently, particularly before I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I can only imagine how my life might have been different if I had used the Bible as a guide, rather than doing what I thought was right with my life. The book of Ecclesiastes teaches the viewpoint of the man who abandoned the ways of God, but came to recognize the meaningless of living a life apart from God.

King Solomon tried everything to find happiness--women, accumulating wealth, materialism, etc. Because of the many women he had married from different cultures, he was influenced to allow different religions to be practiced and followed in Israel.

"As Solomon grew old his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been" (1 Kings 11:4).

Thus, Solomon violated the first commandment.

The second great thing about the book of Ecclesiastes is that it demonstrates that no matter how far astray we go from God, while we are still alive we can repent. The Bible teaches us:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1: 9).

King Solomon tells us in no uncertain terms that running after women, wealth, and possessions is simply a waste of time. Most importantly, Solomon warns us to remember our creator (Eccles. 12:1), that each man goes to his eternal home (vs. 5) and that a man's Spirit returns to God (vs. 7).

Of course, I am not God and I do not know any man's heart. But Solomon seemed to be apologetic and repentant. I have every expectation that we will see Solomon in heaven.

Question: The other day I e-mailed a devotional in English to my students and they thought it was very beautiful, but they said that the Bible was too complex and too difficult for people to understand. They are very successful young lawyers who are college professors, but in a Catholic country they have been brought up under the impression that it is impossible to understand the Bible as it is full of words with double meaning. How can I tell them that God will enlighten them? I do not want to offend them, nor do I want them to think I am conceited. Of course I do not understand everything. Can you help me?

Answer: First, understand that many Catholics around the world believe that only a priest can truly understand the Bible. This is why there is reluctance on the part of many Roman Catholics to really study the Bible. Reading the Bible is extremely important. Scripture teaches us:

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).

The latter scripture demonstrates that we should not just take someone's word for what the scripture teaches--we should study the scriptures for ourselves.

Second, please understand that faith is a gift of God, not something we can produce within ourselves.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

Third, the Bible teaches that only those who have received the Holy Spirit can understand the Bible.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1Cor.2:14).

Finally, let me remind you, as I'm sure that you already know, that nothing you say or do actually saves any individual. After we have taught the people by showing them what the scripture says, our next task is to remember to pray. It is the job of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit alone, to save individuals.

Question: Why did the servants of King David have to look for a young virgin girl (and a beautiful one) to take care of him? I know David was old and he needed to be kept warm, but what about his wife Bathsheba? You see, there are things people used to do in the Old Testament that don't make any sense. Anybody could take care of him. What about Abigail? Can you image that being done in the time we are living now? That would be a sin against the Almighty God, and I see that happens over and over in the Old Testament with men; I don't see that happens with the women in those times. I would like you to clarify that for me.

Answer: Yes, you are right; this type of behavior would not go over well today. But time and cultures change many things. Recall that David had several wives. One wife, Michal, was taken from him by her father Saul and given to another man--Paltiel.

"But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David's wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.1Samuel 25:44

That said, careful reading of the text teaches that David had no sexual relations with the young woman.

"The girl was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no intimate relations with her."1 King: 1:4

I think we can safely interpret from this that she was David's personal nurse. The young woman more than likely fed David, made sure that he was clean, and yes, made sure he stayed warm at night.

Could Abigail, Bathsheba or Ahinoam have done these tasks? I'm sure these women were capable of doing so, but let's remember they were royalty. It would not have been proper for a member of the royal family to attend to such duties. Even today, people who are financially well-off hire nurses to take care of family members who need long-term care at home.

Why a virgin? It would have been improper for a married woman to take care of the king. A virgin would have been the only person suitable to perform such a task (a virgin being synonymous with someone unmarried). The fact that she was very beautiful, of course, was purely aesthetically pleasing to the king. And let's face it; making the king happy would have been a good career choice.

Question: I was born a Christian (I am 66 years old) who lives in Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I am flying with you guys through the Bible. I have a question: I have just watched the sermon "Numbers Part 1" and I want to know if I too am allowed to partake of holy communion. I would like that so much. I also want to thank Pastor Skip and all of you for sharing this study with the world. May God bless you.

Answer: First, let's define what is Holy Communion, which is also known as the Lord's Supper.  According to Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, it is:

"The ritualistic practice usually during a worship service, in which Christians partake of bread and wine (or grape juice) with the purpose of remembering Christ, receiving strength from him, and rededicating themselves to his cause. It is one of two sacraments or ordinances instituted by Christ to be observed by his church until he returns."

Next, it will help to understand the history of the Lord's Supper. The apostle Paul writes:

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:26-30)

It must be understood that the Lord's Supper is an extension of the Passover meal.  In this ritual, certain things are eaten in representation of the Israelites' escape from Egypt.  For example, unleavened bread is eaten during the ritual, representing the haste in which Israelites had to leave Egypt.  Bitter herbs are eaten to represent the bitterness of slavery.

Clearly, the disciples would have understood Him to mean the bread and wine symbolically, just as they understood the Passover symbolisms.

Another view of the Lord's Supper:

Another popular belief is held by the Roman Catholic Church, and is called transubstantiation.  This is a belief that the bread and wine become, respectively, the physical body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Calvary Chapel, as well as many other protestant churches, rejects this view because we believe Jesus was speaking symbolically. We don't believe the bread and wine actually become the physical body and blood of Jesus.

Who can administer Lord's Supper?

Most of the time, the Lord's Supper is performed amongst the gathering of believers during church or during some type of fellowship gathering.  Jesus commanded us:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22: 19)

Jesus' instructions were to believers to "do this in remembrance" of him. He nowhere instructs us that a priest, bishop or pastor is necessary to administer the sacrament.

Who can receive the Lord's Supper?

The Bible teaches that the Lord's Supper is to be administered to believers with a clear conscience, and that taking the sacrament in an "unworthy manner" could have dire consequences.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. (I Corinthians 11:27-30)

Finally, my answer to your question is that if you're a believer in Jesus Christ--and by that I mean that you have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and trust in him for your salvation--then yes, you can partake of the Lord's Supper.

If you don't have a church that you can attend, I suggest gathering some of your fellow Christians over to your home, and during Bible study or fellowship administer the Lord's Supper amongst yourselves.

Question: In Deuteronomy 18:9-14, it says not to call up the dead. What does this really mean? I know it's wrong to pray to anyone other than Jesus, but is it wrong to talk to a loved one who has already passed? I believe there is also another passage in the Bible concerning this, but I can't find it.

Answer: Here is the passage you are referring to:

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. (Deut. 19:9-13)

Calling up the dead means to consult with or talk to the dead. It is wrong for the children of God to talk to dead people for the purposes of gaining insight or information. Many people claim to speak to dead relatives (ghosts) that give them advice on who they should marry, what home to buy, etc. What exactly is wrong with this, especially if the advice turns out to be correct?

First, whom should we ask when we have questions about life and which direction to follow? The clear answer to that, of course, is God. Praying or talking to God about everything--what car or house to buy, should we marry a particular individual or anyone at all, family problems--teaches us patience and obedience. Do you recall a sermon on this particular passage only a few weeks ago?

"You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3)

Keeping this in mind, anytime a person consults the dead rather than God, they have just violated the First Commandment.

An example of someone calling up the dead is in a story dealing with King Saul.

So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, "Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you." Then the woman said to him, "Look, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?" And Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, "As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing." Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" And he said, "Bring up Samuel for me." When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, "Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!" And the king said to her, "Do not be afraid. What did you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I saw a spirit[ascending out of the earth." So he said to her, "What is his form?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle." And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down. Now Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" And Saul answered, "I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do." Then Samuel said: "So why do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy? And the LORD has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines." (1 Samuel 28:8-18)

It is clear King Saul was in violation of the Law.

Are there other reasons that we should not try to contact the dead? First, the Bible clearly forbids contact, via a medium or any other resource, with the dead.

'Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:31)

Second, it is possible to be deceived by spirits that are actually demons.

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (1 Timothy 4:1)

This is why we are encouraged to rely on God for all of our needs--to take all our worries and concerns to him and him alone. In this we recognize God as our sovereign lord.

Let me make something clear. I was recently watching a movie called "An Unfinished Life." In it, Robert Redford's character talks to his son's gravestone and tells him he misses him, and how pleased he is with his granddaughter. The Bible is not addressing this type of behavior.

Question:  I have a question about the Holy Trinity. How is it that the Holy Trinity is one person, one entity, one being? Also could you give me the verses that follow with this? Thank you very much.

Answer: First, I think we need to understand what the doctrine of the Trinity teaches. The doctrine of the Trinity states:

In the Being or Essence that is God there are three persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. They are coequal, coeternal and eternally distinct.

Let's address your question about persons. The members of the Trinity are referred to as persons because they demonstrate characteristics of "personhood." For example, the members can be said to love, anger, move from one place to another, and make decisions. These are things that persons do. Here are just a few scriptures to demonstrate:

God angers: But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him (Num. 22:22).

The Holy Spirit determines: All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines (1 Cor. 12:11).

Jesus moves about: "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I (John 14:28).

Next, the scripture teaches us that God is one:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deut. 6:4).

Scripture clearly teaches that each of the Godhead is God:

Jesus is God: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning (John 1:1).

The Holy Spirit is God: Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God" (Acts 5:3-4).

God the Father is God: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Consider the facts thus far:
There's only one God.
Each of the godhead is God.
Each has qualities of personhood.

It follows then that the doctrine of the Trinity best embodies these facts.

This is by no means a complete or exhaustive study of the doctrine of the Trinity. I encourage you to continue studying. Compare each segment of the definition provided with what the scripture says. I recommend studying the book of John. Our bookstore has several great books explaining the Trinity in great depth.

Finally let me say this: studying the doctrine of the Trinity will give you a better understanding of who and what our God is, and is not. It will change the way you think about God, how you interpret certain scriptures, and--ultimately and most importantly--deepen your relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

(The Early Church expressed their belief about God ever so eloquently in what is known as the Nicene Creed.)

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

Question: Why did Skip say it wasn't God's will for Saul to be king? That makes no sense to me. God told the people He would give them a king, and He told Samuel exactly who to pick. God is all-knowing and knew since before creation that Saul would be king, right? So, it WAS His will. So is Skip saying God does things against His will? No way. He's God. He doesn't have to.

Answer: There is a distinct difference between "foreknowledge" and "predestination." Just because God has knowledge of events yet to happen doesn't mean he predestined said events to happen. (What most of us fail to remember is that God created time, and therefore he stands outside of time.)

God, in his infinite wisdom and love, allows us to choose between doing what is right or what is wrong, between good and evil. Many Christians call this free will. It would be very simple for God to "program" us to do his will. Our obedience to God is our way of demonstrating our love for God. The fact that God has given us free will is his way of showing his love for us.

Next, did God want Israel to have a king? Careful consideration of the scriptures reveals that God did not want Israel to have a king.

But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."
Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day" (1 Sam. 8:6-18).

In verses 10-18, God told the Israelites exactly what would happen and they still wanted a king! My point here is that even if God preordained what would happen, he told the people what to expect. I'm sure you would agree that this is more than fair.

So, if God knew it wouldn't work out, why did he allow it, you might ask. Parents are well acquainted with this scenario. Sometimes children ask for things we know aren't going to work out. Even after a few warnings our children almost always say they know better. We acquiesce to their desires in the hope they will learn a lesson. I see God doing the same thing here. Unfortunately, the Israelites didn't learn.

 

Question: Can you give me biblical proof that we are to go to church on Sunday? If we are to keep the Sabbath, isn't that day Saturday? Would you please help me understand which day is the Sabbath?

Answer: First, we are in no way instructed in the New Testament to obey the Sabbath! Even when the topic of what rules new believers were to follow was hotly debated, the Sabbath was not mentioned.

"Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality" (Acts 15:27-29).

Notice, "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit" to mention these few rules, but not important enough to mention the Sabbath--why?

Secondly, we are no longer under the law. This means we're not required to follow the laws of the Old Testament in order to secure our salvation.

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law (Romans 3:28).

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Romans 7:6).

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14).

Consider that we can't be obedient to just one law. If you return to the law, Scripture teaches you must obey all of the law.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).

Another point worth mentioning is that many people who declared that the Sabbath must be observed on a certain day do not actually follow the Sabbath laws. For example:

This is what the LORD says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 17:21).

While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses (Numbers 15:32-36).

Starting a fire, cooking, traveling certain distances, and many other things are considered violations of the Sabbath law!

Did the Sabbath change? Is Sunday the Sabbath? In short, the answer to both questions is "no." The Sabbath law did not change days but did change in meaning. Jesus said:

For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8).

The original day God intended for the Sabbath to be recognized was Saturday. However, this was part of the Old Covenant, part of the Law, and the Bible clearly teaches:

Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (Romans10: 4).

So why do people call Sunday the Sabbath? People recognize Sunday as the Sabbath because the early church held worship on the Lord's Day. The Lord's Day was so named because it was the day the Lord was resurrected and subsequently made many appearances.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons (Mark 16:9).

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" (John 20:19).

Since Sunday is the traditional day of worship, many Christians began to call Sunday the Sabbath--a day of rest.

From a historical standpoint, the early church did not maintain the Sabbath laws. This is evident from the writings of Justin:

But if we do not admit this, we shall be liable to fall into foolish opinion, as if it were not the same God who existed in the times of Enoch and all the rest, who neither were circumcised after the flesh, nor observed Sabbaths, nor any other rites, seeing that Moses enjoined such observances... For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, page 206).

Finally, most Orthodox Christians realize that while scripturally we are not commanded to obey the letter of the law regarding the Sabbath, we should observe a day of rest from work. That day can be Monday, Wednesday, or any day of the week.

[A]nd you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day (Col 2:10-16).

 

Question: As an observation, it seems that God had instituted a form of worship in the Old Testament prior to the "formalization" of worship with the Hebrew people (Gen 4:4), and I avoid the term religion. Are there other instances outside of Genesis that show God bridging the gap with man?

Answer: The Bible is the written record of God's interaction with man and His revelation of Himself to us. There are no other known texts that are regarded as being inspired by God. We do find that there are extra-biblical texts and traditions that affirm and attest to some of the events recorded in the Bible. For instance, the flood is referenced by the Egyptians, the Chinese tradition, the Greek tradition, the Polynesians and the Peruvians, to name a few. The fall of man can also be found in the traditions of the Babylonians, Chinese, Persians, Hindu, Mongolians, and the Teutons. A good resource for this is Halley's Bible Handbook. Archaeology continues to affirm the historical events of the Bible.

 

Question: Where did Cain's wife come from if Adam and Eve were the only people on earth?

Answer: Cain's wife would have been his sister. At that time on earth, there were at least a hundred people in the human race. Because of this unique time in history, there was no prohibition against incest; for man to multiply, it was mandatory that brother marry sister for a limited time. Moral laws against incest were imposed in the Mosaic Code, when the population of earth had dramatically increased.

 

Question: If God so loved the World and gave His only begotten son Jesus, then why in another passage does it say, "Do not love the world, but if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you"?

Answer: John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." The love of the world here speaks about creation in a very specific sense. Here, God is talking about the love of His creation, just as the potter loves the clay that he molds into a beautiful piece of pottery. Remember, in Genesis God saw creation and said that it was good He was pleased with His creation. If it weren't for the fall of man, there would be no need for God to profess His love of creation, as He does in John 3:16, but because of our sin we are separated from God. That being the case, God here is professing His love for you and me and the rest of His creation.
The context on the other hand in 1 John 2:15-24 is drastically different. In John 3:16, God is referring to His love of creation, and in 1 John 2, John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is warning not to love the world system we live in or its lusts. You see, just because God loves His creation doesn't mean He loves the iniquity in the world. In Isaiah 6, scripture professes God to be "Holy, Holy, Holy." That means God is separate absolutely and totally. From what? From impurity, sin, and iniquity of any kind. And because we are called in 1 Peter 1:16 to be holy because God is holy, we are to put aside the flesh and all its lusts. The world system in which we live is driven by lust, isn't it? So then we are to put off our old way of life, take up the cross, and follow Him.
That being said, you can see how drastically different these two passages are. They are talking about completely different things. Remember: context, context, context. When all else fails, ask yourself a few simple questions: What is the idea being conveyed by the author? What do the previous words, paragraphs, and even pages have to say about the passage? When was it written? Understanding intent, context, and the balance of God's full counsel will help you to properly interpret passages like this.

 

Question: Deut. 30:11-14 states that the commandment is not too hard for you... to observe. Yet many teach that it is impossible. Isn't there a distinction between being able to observe the law and never sinning?

Answer: Let's begin in Matthew 5. Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount, and in verse 28 He says, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Jesus in this one phrase forever changed our view of the law. It let us know that it is impossible to keep the whole law, because the law is a matter of heart, not outward ordinances fulfilled by mere formality. If you break one law you are guilty of the whole law. You can keep the formality of the law but not the heart of the law. So if you are merely asking if you can separate the outward ordinances from sin; yes. Can we keep the inward ordinances or separate them from sin? No.
Let's look at James 1:13-15. It says we are tempted in two ways--inward compulsion and outward experience. That means we are drawn away by the desires of our hearts.
And one more passage: In Galatians 3:10 it says those who put themselves under the law are under a curse. Why? Because, as verse 11 says, no one shall be justified by the law before God.

 

Question: When Adam and Eve had children, who did they marry?

Answer: The most obvious and plain conclusion is that Adam's children married one another. Let's consider the facts:

1. In Genesis 1:28, God commanded Adam to "...be fruitful and multiply..."
2. There is no specific time frame given when Cain killed Abel. They could have been up to at the most 129 years old (Genesis 5:3).
3. Adam was 130 years old when Seth is born (Genesis 5.3).
4. Genesis 5:4 tells us that Adam had "...other sons and daughters..."
5. The life span of Adam's descendants was in fact very long (Genesis 5:7).
6. Cain is the first recorded descendant of Adam to be married (Genesis 4:17).

Taking these facts into account and excluding some pre-Adamic race (not mentioned in the Word), the most obvious conclusion is that Adam and Eve had sons (Cain and Abel being the first) and daughters who married and began having sons and daughters, and so on. The line of logic goes like this: Adam and Eve did as they were commanded and began being fruitful and multiplying, and as time passed their descendants did the same (yes, with one another). At the time of Abel's death there could have been a very large number of Adam's descendants on the earth, some guess as many as 32,000, giving Cain a wide variety of wives to choose from. Since the entire human race came from Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:20), then this conclusion is unavoidable. This does raise other questions for us. Does this present us with the problem of incest? The answer is no. These early intermarriages between brother and sister do not violate the commands God gave later in the book of Leviticus (18:6, 7-17), which condemn these relationships. Abraham, for example, married his half-sister Sarah (Genesis 20:12).

 

Question: Can you explain why the first thing God created was light when the first verse in Genesis says "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"?

Answer: What we find here is an emphatic statement that God created the heavens and the earth. The Holy Spirit through Moses is leaving no room for doubt or discussion. It is God who created the world, even all the universe (heavens). The air we breathe, the trees we climb, the stars we wish upon, the myriads of galaxies--all of it was created by God Almighty. What follows is the particular account of this work that was done by God (Genesis 1:3-31). If we read a little further, we find in Genesis 2:4: "This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens."

 

Question: Upon taking the first quiz for the first session of 'The Bible from 30,000 Feet' you ask, "What are the first five books of the Old Testament called?" I said Torah, and you said Pentateuch. According to my 'Complete Jewish Bible,' the answer is Torah. According to Wikipedia they're considered the same. Is one Hebrew and the other Greek?

Answer: The term "Pentateuch" comes from the Greek term 'pent teuchos', meaning "five-volumed book." We use the word Pentateuch to describe the first five books of the Bible written by Moses. The Jews also use the term "Torah" for the same five books of the Old Testament, although Torah is used interchangeably to represent the whole of the Law and the Prophets.
Your answer should have been considered correct. The quiz has been changed; thanks for catching it! The Bible in its original autograph is inerrant. We cannot say the same for anything else.

 

Question: Why were the Children of Israel made slaves in Egypt? What did they do wrong?

Answer: They didn't do anything wrong. After the Israelites settled in Egypt Joseph died, and a new Pharaoh that did not know Joseph came to power (Ex. 1:6, 8). Due to their large and rapid population growth, the next Pharaoh became uneasy and decided to put them into forced labor (Ex. 1:9-11). The more that Pharaoh oppressed the people, the more the Israelites abounded.

 

Question: Could you explain Abraham's bosom and how it relates to how we should view heaven?

Answer: Abraham's bosom refers to the place where the righteous people went who died before the resurrection of Christ. During the time before Jesus' resurrection, all people went to Sheol or Hades (Luke 16:19-31). This scripture records a historical event and reveals that Sheol was divided into two parts: a place for the saved or righteous, called Abraham's bosom or paradise, and a place for the wicked, separated by an impassable gulf. At the time of Jesus' ascension, Jesus took the inhabitants of Abraham's bosom with Him to heaven (Eph. 4:8). Today when gospel believers die, they do not go to Hades but go directly to heaven to be with Jesus (Phil. 1:23, 2 Cor. 5:8). This should encourage us because we are saved through faith in Christ and we are assured of the fact that we are going straight to be with the Lord in heaven. Therefore, Abraham's bosom does not pertain to us but to Old Testament believers.

 

Question: Why does Skip often quote Martin Luther?

Answer: Skip often quotes Martin Luther because he is one of the great reformers of the Church who stood up for a return to the literal view of interpreting the Bible. He believed that the Bible should be interpreted with the simplest possible meaning, and understood in its grammatical and historical context (2 Tim. 3:16).

 

Question: Does someone have to publicly accept Christ in order to be fully forgiven?

Answer: It is not necessary that a person make a public profession of faith in order to be fully forgiven. We are saved by grace through faith, and not by works or anything that we do outwardly (Eph. 2:8-9). It is God's desire that His people know that they are saved (1 John 5 13a). On the other hand, we should not take our salvation for granted without valid evidence of it in our lives (2 Cor. 13:5). The assurance of salvation rests upon two lines of evidence. These are the witness of the Holy Spirit and the signs of new life.

Question: Boaz was a near relative to Elimelech. The stipulations of levirate law in Deut. 25 state, "when brothers dwell together." Why did he feel obligated to marry Ruth? Does the term brother extend to mean near relative? Wasn't a near relative only obligated to redeem property? (Leviticus 25:25)

Answer: You are right about the levirate law, which is based on Deuteronomy 25:5:

If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her.

However, Boaz was not marrying Ruth in obligation to the levirate law. Boaz married Ruth first because he was impressed with her:

"The LORD bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it." (Ruth 3:10-13)

The law that allowed Boaz to marry Ruth is called the law of the kinsman-redeemer. The basis of this law is found in Leviticus 25:25:

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what his countryman has sold.

This law, unlike the levirate law, did not obligate Boaz, but gave him the opportunity to marry Ruth. This opportunity only came about after the unnamed relative, to whom Boaz spoke, refused to take advantage of being the nearest kinsmen redeemer (Ruth 4:2-6):

Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, "Sit here," and they did so. Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, "Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line."
"I will redeem it," he said.
Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property."
At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, "Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it."

This no doubt will bring up the question, "Was Ruth considered property in Old Testament times?" Consider the following scripture Exodus 20:17:

You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Also notice that Boaz says, "you acquire the dead man's widow." It seems women were indeed considered a type of property.

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