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Question #15

I know you don’t know me but I know you’ll pray for my family. My four-year-old niece, (name), will be undergoing brain surgery on January (date). She has a disease called tuberous sclerosis which, in the short-hand version, causes hard tumors to form on the brain and possibly other organs. This has caused her to have continuous brain seizures since she was born. She also has many physical seizures. The nature and frequency of the seizures have changed as she has grown. Medication no longer can control them. She has 10-15 (on bad days even more) very hard seizures each day. This is very frightening and painful for her as well as life threatening. The doctors feel that the only thing left is to try surgery. On January 6 they will perform surgery to insert probes into her brain. She will remain tethered to the probes for 5-10 days until they get sufficient information to determine the site on the brain that is causing the seizures. Depending on what they find, if the location is safe, they will remove the probes and perform the operation to try to alleviate the seizures. If the location is too close to a site that controls a major function (such as vision), they will only remove the probes. In any case, the insertion and removal of the probes are major surgery unto themselves as they must remove the top of the skull. Please pray for her healing, wisdom and guidance for the surgeons and her caretakers. Also, for strength and comfort for my brother and sister-in-law. Thank you for your prayers. Thank God for (name); she is a beautiful and loving little girl.

 

Answer #15

The above is not strictly a question, but it did require an answer, and the answer given to her leads us to consider an important question of the need for affliction and trial, which we will treat in my answer to the sister that sought my prayer in behalf of this little child, and a follow up question.

Many times God’s people must be placed in trial, for God will prepare us through the trials to stand ever in faith, prepares us for the heavenly dwelling place that we shall have for ever with our Lord. We are led to see through these trials that because of God’s eternal covenant of grace with His chosen, and because of His faithfulness to His covenant that all things shall work together for our good. He has sent His Son to come into our flesh to bear our guilt so that now all penalty for sin is taken away, thus we understand that the afflictions of this present time serve our eternal welfare. The text I quoted in part above is from Romans 8:28-30 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to {his} purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate {to be} conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” May God be with (name) and her family during this time of trial, and if it be His will we do pray that He may deliver this little one from some of her suffering. But we do know that if it is not His will that with the trials He will give the way of escape. It will work out as does all things for the true blessings of God’s children. May God grant (name) and her family the grace to wait upon Jehovah, knowing that He careth for you.

 

Question # 16

The former request leads us to many questions concerning trial, which my readers may want to follow up with in questions to this page. However, we will at this time treat one such question that is from time to time confronted in the church of Christ. The question arises because of the young age of the little one that is suffering such severe trial. There are quite a few times when little ones in the church of Christ are afflicted with very serious diseases or disorders, and other occasions when there is a full term still birth, and many godly parents face the sorrow of miscarriages. The question arises why does this have to be? Why must these little ones so suffer? Why do parents have to see this suffering, or even why do they have their hopes raised to expect that they shall be given one of the covenant seed to care for, only to have that life taken away in the womb, or soon after?

 

Answer #16

The answer to these questions must come from the Scripture, there is no human reasoning that can answer such questions. In the first place we must understand that it is necessary for God’s children to be passed through trials to be prepared for the eternal glory that shall be our portion. This is why James can say in James 1:2ff “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing {this}, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” Jesus is pleased to work patience in the lives of His children through the way of their trial. This patience is the attribute of the child of God whereby He waits and trusts upon the God of His salvation for all things.

Understand we must learn and confess that salvation is impossible in our own strength, and learn and confess that we cannot rely upon ourselves at all to serve God and glorify Him. Trial reminds us of our own helplessness, and as it were, God by trial forces us to rest only in His grace to save. When we read the Psalms we are struck with this fruit of trial whenever the Psalmists reflect upon the trials that they must face. For example in Psalm 4 we read the words which the Psalmist speaks to his own soul, when facing sever trial at the hand of his enemies and he says, “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” God loves His children and brings them near unto His throne of grace by removing all possibility of trust in self or man. And He works then, all things together for the good, the salvation of His children. And if you do not understand James says, if you have questions, then in faith let us ask God. God shall give us grace to bear the affliction, and grace to trust in Him. The apostle states it in a blessed way in I Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God {is} faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear {it}.” By the trial God leads us to rest in His Son for comfort and strength, for principally the way of escape is Christ. He entered our flesh, He took upon Himself our guilt, He suffered the penalty of our sin, and He satisfied the judgment of God, bore our curse to its end, so that there remains no more penalty for sin for His elect. Therefore we have the assurance that the trials He sends us now are the means to draws us near unto the God of our salvation, and to prepare us for the eternal life that is reserved for us in glory. And by the grace of God we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:31ff). ❖

Question

I have been trying to find out more about the Protestant Reformed Church, in particular, what the difference is between the CRC and the PRC. Is the fundamental difference the idea of grace, common or elect? At one time I remember hearing something about how the CRC to the PRC are the unbelievers? Is that too harsh or not? Or am I way wrong, and miss-heard something? I guess I have lots of friends in the PRC from Dordt and am wondering where we differ and where we stand together?

Also, why does the PRC have their own day grammar schools, but when it comes to High School they go to schools such as Western or where ever?

I guess I am curious and I thank you for your time.

You can answer straight to me if you like, rather than posting it on the web.

Answer

I have chosen to answer you on the web, because I believe that these questions are raised with fair regularity among many, especially younger adults of other Reformed Churches.

To answer the question as to what is the difference between CRC and PRC would take a long treatise to answer completely. Something that I will not take time to do on this page, however there are many pamphlets that do explain much of the difference between the two denominations on the PRC Home Page. Especially it would be good to begin with the Introduction to the PRC. Then other pamphlets that would specifically help would be “The Three Points of Common Grace,” “Grace Uncommon,” “Our Reformed Heritage,” etc. The pamphlets on this page may be printed straight to your printer from the page, or saved to be used in your word processor for printing. To get a real understanding of our churches take time to read pamphlets from this page, then compare with your understanding of your own denomination.

The fundamental teaching on grace became the point over which our churches were forced out of the CRC. We have always held to a sovereign and particular grace, whereas in the 1920’s the Christian Reformed Churches adopted a doctrine of Common Grace, which teaches that there is some grace common to all men elect and reprobate alike, and that there is a grace common to all in the offer of the gospel. We maintain that this is a doctrinal stance that has no Scriptural foundation, in fact that is denied by the Scripture.

To teach that grace must be common to all men in any sense must necessarily lead to the teaching that God has some love towards all men-an impossibility unless we were to teach that all men are saved, or that salvation is dependent upon the will of man.

Your comment about the PRC people counting the CRC people unbelievers simply is not true. The members of our church understand or ought to understand that there are children of God yet in many other denominations. The fact that a denomination has started down the path of apostasy (that is departure from the truth) does not mean that all in the denomination are reprobate. Even in a terribly apostatizing Israel during the days of Ahab there were 7000 that had not bowed their knee to Baal. Surely in our “mother” denomination there be those true elect children of God that seek God according to His Word. However, it is necessary always and again to warn against apostasy wherever it raises its ugly head and to call God’s people to watchfulness and prayer. This is true whether it be found in the CRC, PRC, or any other denomination.

Further, the members of the PRC cannot nor ought not to maintain that all within our midst is pure. We must constantly be reforming and striving for perfection. There are always tares among the wheat says our Lord.

Hopefully you misheard something. Although by others, the PRC members have been accused of thinking that they are the only children of God. This is probably due to the fact that we as a denomination have always staunchly and ardently defended the true faith. This means that we have not been bashful to point out error, whether in our own midst or outside of our churches. The Formula of Subscription in fact binds our office bearers to this task.

Then to answer your question as to why in our denomination we have our own grammar schools, but when it comes to high school we use other schools such as Western Christian High in the NW Iowa area, is a matter of practicality and feasibility to a large extent. It is obvious that we do not view the Christian Reformed Churches as the false church, but as one that has taken a path of departure from the truth. This is the reason we are separate denominations. However, I should point out that where we have sufficient numbers to support a high school we have such, namely Grand Rapids, MI. Where we have been given greater numbers of people in our churches, we are working towards the establishment of high schools, namely in the South Holland, IL area and here in NW Iowa. As God gives us the means, we will also be blessed by having these efforts come to fruition and it shall be counted a blessing. But until such time, as covenant parents we have the calling to give to our covenant seed the best covenant education possible, and this means until we can have and maintain our own schools, we will use the next best possible and we are thankful that we may do this. This does not mean that we embrace that which is contrary to God’s word there, and with this we must continue to contend and take extra time to instruct our covenant youth in the distinctions between us.

Hope this helps, if you want to follow this up, you may do so in more private correspondence between yourself and me, or if you please on the web. ❖

Remember to write your questions to me at revmo@mtcnet.net Also feel free to write follow up questions.

Question

I was talking with one of your young people, and she told me what you people believe, and I do not agree with her. You see I go to (another denomination) and we believe that you are to ask God or Jesus into your heart. If you disagree then look to Romans 10:9.

Answer

In the first place it is good to hear that young people are discussing together the doctrines of the Word of God. The only answers to our questions concerning faith are those that are given us by God in his infallible Word. And immediately as we consider together questions that arise in our understanding of God’s Word we must understand that the Scripture has not many meanings. The Scripture sets forth the one true teaching of God given to His people. The Bible is not of any private interpretation (II Peter 1:20-21). And by the grace of God being given ears to hear and hearts of understanding we shall hear what God says to His church in the Word.

This means that when we turn to the Scripture for the understanding of any truth we may not use any one verse out of the context of the rest of the Scripture. The Scripture is one organic whole that teaches the one truth of God, this means further that the Scripture can have no errors. If there seems to be contradiction then we know this cannot be, the Holy God gives us a Holy (pure) Word. Thus we must understand each text in the context of that one true and Holy Word.

With respect now to salvation we must understand that repeatedly the salvation of the church is set forth in the Word as the work of God, and not of man. This is repeatedly stated in the whole of God’s Word, both in the Old and New Testaments. For the moment we take note that this is literally stated in the passage of God’s Word in Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Further, we must understand that Jesus says to us that apart from the work of God we cannot even see the things of God’s kingdom. He does this in his reply to Nicodemus in John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Again in the context it is evident that it is the Spirit of God alone that causes us to be born again. As we had nothing to do with our natural birth so we can have nothing to do with our spiritual birth. Paul points out that the fruit of the fall is that God’s word in Genesis 2:17 came to pass. When Adam ate of the tree man died, see Romans 5:12. Further, Paul points out that apart from the quickening power of God man is dead in sin and trespasses, Ephesians 2:1-3. The dead man can do nothing to make himself alive, nor can we.

The apostle Paul makes this so clear in the ninth chapter of Romans as well. It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but it is God that showeth mercy.

The Old Testament repeatedly teaches us that same truth. For example, we turn to Ezekiel 36: 21-22 and read “But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.” The only reason that true elect Israel is saved or that we are saved is God’s name sake, because of His faithfulness. He does not save us for our sake, but for His Holy name’s sake. Malachi 3:6 states this same truth emphatically.

It is in the light then of all of Scripture that we read the text that you have noted in your question. Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” In the light of all Scripture we must take this word literally that all those confessing with their mouths the Lord and believing in their heart that God hath raised him from the dead, shall be saved. This is truth and it is absolute truth. But who then believe? The answer is—those whom God has chosen in Christ, those whom He has redeemed by Christ’s blood, those whom He has quickened (Ephesians 1:3- 10), and those that He has powerfully called by the preaching of the Word by the true servants of God whom He has sent. These believe and truly confess the Lord Jesus Christ; which is the immediate context of this text- look ahead to the verses 13 and following.

Besides, there is the practical aspect of your question. What if it were true that salvation was dependent on our asking God or Jesus to come into our hearts. Then we are stronger than God, for He must wait for us to do something. Then I have a God who is no more than I let Him be. How terrible!! For I am a sinner, in fact I am dead in sin apart from God’s grace. If salvation is dependent upon me then I shall be forever lost, no hope, no comfort.

But it is not so. My God is Jehovah, the Sovereign God Who rules and governs all things, and whose work of salvation is His work alone. Then I have comfort because God has given His Only Begotten Son to take away all my sin and to make me His child. He loves me with a saving love, then I have the assurance that nothing can separate me from that love of God. Read Romans 8:28- end in this connection.

I hope this helps. I am glad that you take a sincere interest in the truth, may God grant that you may see the comfort of the true gospel of grace.

Remember to write your questions to me at revmo@mtcl.mtcnet.net. Also feel free to write follow up questions. ♦

Question

We read in Numbers about Balaam prophesying and in I Samuel about Saul prophesying also. In Matthew 7:22, apparently the non-elect are claiming they performed miracles and prophesying during their lives. It seems that Judas also performed miracles along with the other Apostles. On the other hand, I Corinthians seems to be telling us that God gives spiritual gifts for the building up of His church. My question is whether the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as prophecy and miracles, are given only to the elect. My concern is that I am not understanding what is going on with Balaam, Saul, and Judas.

Answer

As we take up the answer of this question, I believe we will begin by separation between the miracles done by those who are not elect, and the prophecy by Balaam and other reprobate. In the first place, let us consider the fact that there are miracles obviously performed by the wicked. We find that this is the case of Judas, and it is the claim of those mentioned in Matthew 7 of whom Jesus says, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” But further we already see that this was true in the old dispensation, where the magicians were able to duplicate the miracles of Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt. Howbeit with limitations in that they could not cause the plagues to cease which they helped to increase, and they could not duplicate the miracles after the third one. The testimony is clear from the Scripture that the wicked reprobate were given the ability to bring forth miracles. Further, Jesus testifies that in the last days the world of unbelief shall show signs and wonders, “For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” Matthew 24:24. In our day we see this also manifested at least in part in the wonders and signs of man, through many means and even to some extent (we know not how much) through the so called faith healers and mystics. So let us begin by saying that the reprobate at given times and in a given measure were and are able to bring forth miracles.

Secondly, let us establish also that the reprobate at times did prophecy in some real sense. Again we might have the claim of those in Matthew 7, although it is not true prophecy of which they speak for they declared not the Christ of the Scripture, or at the very least did not continue in the true doctrine of Christ. However, there are instances of a prophecy given through reprobate man that comes to pass as true. Especially, there comes to mind the prophecy of Balaam, which you mention. The whole passage teaches us that Balaam meant to honor himself and to stand against God’s people, but God caused that from his lips would come blessing upon Israel rather than cursing. Balaam could not speak other than what God caused that He speak, even though it would mean that he would not gain what he sought.

The matter with Saul is a bit more general and different. Here we have the case where Saul wanted to take David and do him harm, but when he sent messengers to take David, they ended up being overcome by the Spirit and were as it were in a trance prophesying. Thus Saul went himself. But when he came to Samuel and was about to take David, we read the following: I Samuel 19:23 -1 Samuel 20:1 “And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets? And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? what is mine iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?” Again He seems to have been overcome by the working of God’s Spirit in such a way that all that he could do was speak words that are called prophesying. We do not know much about these words, but Saul did so in a sort of trance like-state, being cast down naked all the day, while David slips away.

We have established the fact that Scripture does speak of the wicked doing miracles and prophesying. Let us now consider how this can be? In the first place, we must understand that the wicked also are absolutely in the hand of God. That is, they are sovereignly governed by God in all that they do in such a way that they remain responsible for the sin that they commit and the evil they bring forth. This means that even Satan cannot do evil to the elect except God gives him the power to do so. This is very evident from the history of Job. Job 2:6-7 is an example: “And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” Satan could not strike Job with the boils unless God gave him the power to do so. All power is in the hand of God, even the evil that the wicked bring forth is possible only if God gives them the power to do so.

The same is true of the prophesy of the wicked Balaam. Balaam would have cursed God’s people and therefore God, but could only bless God’s people as this alone did God give him the words to do. The wicked magicians could only perform the miracles in so far as God gave them the power to do this, even unto their own condemnation as they did so in defiance of God. The same is true of other examples. However with the prophesying of those of Matthew 7, we might add that the prophesying was most probably a false preaching as was the preaching of many evil prophets in the old dispensation.

Now we must understand that God always governs the reprobate in such a way as to serve the elect in Christ and His purpose to establish His kingdom with His chosen in Christ. In this the wicked serve the church as scaffolding serves the building of a house. When the house is done the scaffolding is destroyed. We must think in this manner when a wicked Balaam who hates God cannot help but prophesy of the blessing of Israel. Or when the wicked magicians serve God’s purpose in hardening of Pharaoh’s heart for the two-fold reason of saving His church through her trial with the evident teaching that there is salvation by grace alone, and the glorying of God’s name in the just judgment of Pharaoh (the wicked).

From the wicked reprobates’ point of view, they bring forth the signs and wonders that God gives into their power for the purpose of destroying the cause of God. They do their signs and wonders in order to tout a false gospel, modern day faith-healing (for the greatest part) is a very demonstrative example of this with their gospel of salvation by works of man. Even when the false preacher preaches for a time as Judas did, a right doctrine of the Scripture, it is for his own evil purposes, and the hypocrisy becomes clear as time goes on, as it did in the case of a Judas.

But for all of this God uses these wickedly motivated acts for His own purpose and while they mean it for evil, God uses it to save His people and condemn the wicked in their wickedness. Balaam for instance should have fallen down after prophesying the first time the blessing of Israel, but instead tried again to please the wicked Balak, etc. This he does unto his own condemnation.

Finally, to answer your question whether these are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the answer is no. Rather they are the working of God by the power of His Spirit to bring forth His purpose, but are not the gifts of the Holy Spirit as given to His elect as noted in I Corinthians 12. The elect use these gifts of the Holy Spirit for the edifying of the body and for the glory of God. The Scripture says that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law,” Galatians 5:21-22. Of this the wicked have no part. But the powers given to them to exercise is always done by them for evil, and it matters not if God turns it to the good of His people, as was the case with the evil work of Balaam for example. In either case God is glorified also in the just judgment of the wicked.

I trust that this will help in your consideration of these Scriptures, but if you have further questions feel free to ask, or if I missed the point, let me know.

Remember to write your questions to me at revmo@mtc.mtcnet.net. Also feel free to write follow up questions.

Question

I have a question regarding the first two chapters in Genesis. In Genesis 1:26, we read “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over ALL the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

Then in Genesis 2:7, we read, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul,” and verse 8, “,..and there he put the man whom he had formed (in Eden).” Can I be correct in saying that in the first chapter, God first made a man to have dominion over all the earth (otherwise, how can we explain when Cain was “driven out” [Genesis 4] and found a wife in Nod, there had to be other men on the earth), then in Genesis 2, God made Adam and Eve, our first parents, and placed them in the Garden of Eden?

Answer

If I understand your question, you are asking whether you can maintain that a man was created different from Adam as recorded in Genesis 1. Next, that Adam and Eve were created as our first parents as recorded for us in Genesis 2 as a different creation than is recorded in chapter 1. The basis for this contention being that when Cain was cast out of the garden he found a wife in Nod, giving evidence that other men were found there.

The short answer is no, this cannot be. Now the explanation must follow. In the first place we must understand that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are two accounts of the same creation, the latter being given to further explain the former. That they indeed speak of the one creation of God is plain from several things. The first thing we may say is the fact that at the end of the sixth day God ceased His creation work. Genesis 1:31-2:2 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” This makes clear that all was created, made during the six days of this creation. This includes Adam and Eve. This is clear also from the fact that Genesis 2 continues what was told us in Genesis 1. The heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them, and God ended his work which he had made.

Next, verses three and four of the second chapter make it clear that now the Scripture speaks of that which was done and recorded for us during the creation week. It explains that God placed the plants and creatures in the earth, and that there was no man to till the ground. The Scripture now shows how God created Adam and Eve on the sixth day. This is further definition of that which God did, and explains further how Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, that they may walk as His covenant servants in the creation that He had made, serving God in the dominion that He gave to them over the creation. Further, that it was in the sixth day that Adam and Eve were created is evident from the fifth chapter where we read, “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created,” verse 2.

Now with respect to Cain and his wife. It is not true that Cain found his wife in Nod, the Scripture does not say this, nor does it imply it. What the Scripture does say is the following found in Genesis 4:17 “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” The Scripture uses the term “knew” to indicate the coming in of husband to wife that she might conceive and bear a child. It was undoubtedly the case that Cain took with him his wife and children, and others of his household when he was forced of God to be a vagabond and sent out from the people of God. He and his wife bear other children namely those named in this chapter, as well as others.

All of mankind came out of Adam and Eve. There would be a two-fold seed, one the seed of the woman with whom God established His covenant in Christ. The other would be the seed of the serpent of which was Cain and much of his offspring. Cf. Genesis 3:15.

I trust that this will help.

Remember to write your questions to me at revmo@mtc.mtcnet.net. Also feel free to write follow up questions.

There were several that responded to my answer on the topic of suicide. The gist of the remarks were questions about, the one who may have a serious mental, chemical, etc. imbalance, or the one that may have been under the influence of drugs or some such. Further there was the implication that we are judging the heart when we make any kind of statement about suicide. That such a matter really cannot be answered. And finally several mentioned Samson. I will answer these responses briefly as follows.

In the first place when I speak of suicide I define it as the murder of oneself in defiance of God’s law, “Thou shalt not kill.” Further, suicide in this narrow definition is to die in sin. And then God’s Word teaches us that in I John 3:15 “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” To willfully commit suicide and to kill oneself in defiance of God is to go lost. This in the first place.

Secondly, the only unforgivable sin is that against the Holy Ghost which is the sin of impenitence. Most willful suicides in transgression of God’s law are by the nature of the case impenitent sin and leads one swiftly to hell.

Thirdly, as was also stated in the original answer, it is not for you or me to judge whether there was repentance or not in specific cases. This God will judge. We can never judge the heart, and have no right to. This has nothing to do with the matter of whether suicide is a sin unto death. If it is committed as defined above, and there is not repentance, it is a sin unto death, thus saith the Word. If there is repentance, then there is salvation.

The so called exceptions are no exceptions at all. The one who has brain damage that is not in control of his will may do a thing that will cause him to lose his life, but does not willfully walk in disobedience to God’s law. This may be. Again even this would be difficult for us to judge, nor are we called to. We leave the judgment to God. The example of Samson is not an example of suicide, but is rather the fruit of Samson’s fighting the battles of the Lord. And by pulling down the coliseum he killed more of the enemies of God than in all of his other battles. Many a soldier goes to battle and loses his life in performing their duty before God. So did Samson walk. The book of Hebrews, chapter 11, makes it clear that he so walked in faith. Thus his life and death really have nothing to do with the question.

Perhaps the reason that this subject draws so much attention and usually causes many to object to speaking of suicide as a judgmental death is the reason that so many of us have in our families or in our close acquaintances someone who has seemingly committed suicide. The natural reaction is to try to excuse the particular walk, or to attempt to judge the heart and to say that the individual is saved. The truth of the matter is that our comfort cannot be found in this way. In the first place, we do not need to and cannot judge the heart one way or the other. God shall in perfection judge. He accomplishes His purpose in the saving of His elect and in the condemnation of the wicked. Our comfort rests in His sovereignty and His good pleasure. God is always good, righteous and holy in His ways. Rest in this, and be at peace with the will of God. Let us always call upon our God for the grace to rest in Him. ♦

Question

I was just wondering if there is any place for a Christmas tree, Christmas lights, and all the other things that we see at Christmas time in the Christian home?

Answer

We will keep our answer to this question rather brief. In the first place it appears that the use of the Christmas tree in the home came into being sometime early in the 17th century. The practice started in France or Germany. Later in the 1800’s it seems as though a consort of the Queen Victoria introduced its use in Great Britain and from there, came to the United States. There is a least one or two sources that attribute the introduction of the Christmas tree to the Reformer Martin Luther, who is said to have brought an evergreen tree into his home for this use.

It really matters not exactly how it was introduced as a holiday tradition for us today. It is a tradition, which brings a festive atmosphere to the house during the holiday season. With respect to your question I would answer that the use of the Christmas tree belongs to the area of Christian liberty. Many of God’s children in good conscience use the tree during this time of the year and it serves the homey feeling of the home much in the same manner as a fire in the fireplace during a winter eve. Certainly the season in which we remember with much thanksgiving the birth of Jesus as the gift of God, given us to deliver us from our sin is a time of joy and festive rejoicing for the church of Christ. And if we attribute no special spiritual significance to the tree, do not use it to teach about Christ, etc., we may use the tree in the home much as we also use plants to decorate our home normally or on special occasions.

On the other hand, there are those who in good conscience, cannot have the tree in their homes because in their opinion and minds it detracts from the proper remembrance of the birth of Christ and the thanksgiving they would render on God. These children of God usually attribute the tree with the present day materialism associated with Christmas, and thus in good conscience cannot use the tree. This is in harmony with the whole concept of Christian liberty.

The one thing in this connection as with so many others, we must not make precepts where God has not. We must not be legalistic as the Pharisees. And there is the danger of this as one would consider such a question as the above. Another thing to remember is that we ought not to judge one as to his use of such a thing, or his lack of use of such a thing. Our judge as to why we do such and such that is not directed literally by the Scripture is the living God, in these things we are to judge not. Paul teaches in I Corinthians 4:3-6 “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” ♦

Question #33

I would like to ask you a question. I am having a dispute with class members with the following
question. What will happen at the end of the world, and can Christ come back any second, or do signs still have to happen?

Answer #33

When you ask about what will happen at the end of the world with the related question, I understand that you are talking about what will come to pass before Jesus returns upon the clouds of heaven in judgment to bring all his saints into the new heavens and new earth. There are many things that take place leading to the coming of Christ. These things are outlined for us in the Scripture. It is necessary to turn to the various Scripture passages that speak of those things that must come to pass in order to have a complete picture of that which takes place. I will not take the time in this question to expound all those Scriptures to you, but will direct you to study the prophecy of Daniel, the book of Revelation, the record of Jesus’ own words as to what must come to pass as recorded in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, and also to the apostle’s explanations in the epistles of the Thessalonians.

The signs given us by Christ of His coming in Matthew 24 must be taken quite literally. That which he teaches us speaks not only of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but as is obvious from His own words have their fulfillment at the end of this age. Jesus answers the specific question of his disciples, in Matthew 24:3-4 we read, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Then we have the rather long and detailed answer as to what must first come to pass before the final judgment.

Basically we have the signs that are seen in the working out of the history of this world with wars and rumors of wars, with the strife caused by the differences among men, between those that have and those that have not, etc. There shall be many and increasing signs of the coming judgment as seen in the earthquakes, and other great storms, the famine and pestilence’s that shall continue to increase in the midst of this earth, etc. As is evident from the book of Revelation, these increase in the history of the new dispensation until final they are means for the final destruction of man in this world. We find this in the increasing measure of these judgments as the seals are opened into the trumpets, and the trumpets finally bring forth the final vials of God’s wrath upon man. And then there are the specific main events that yet are unfolding and must be unfolded that Jesus speaks of which immediately precede the final destruction of this world and the coming of Christ to usher in the new heavens and new earth.

There is the sign of the great apostasy that Jesus speaks of when He teaches us that the love of many shall wax cold. We read in Matthew 24:11-14 “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Understand these two things happen together: 1) the true gospel of Christ is preached to all the world for a witness unto all nations, and 2) there is a growing number of false prophets who preach a false gospel that leads to great deception and falling away so that the true church becomes smaller and smaller while the apostasy or departure from the Scripture increases.

Now we ought to understand that as far as the scope is concerned, the gospel has been preached to all nations. What remains for the faithful church in its missions is not the conversion of nations any more, the white horse of the book of Revelation has finished its course as to scope, the gospel has been brought to all nations. But in its missions the true church in its preaching is used of Christ to gather together the remaining elect remnant from those nations. We live in the day of the final gathering of the elect remnant and when the last child of God is born and gathered into the church under the Word Jesus will come.

But at the same time apostasy grows and develops until Antichrist in all his evil deceit as the servant of Satan takes his place in the temple. That is he represents himself as the Savior of this world, and all men shall walk in obedience to him. That is, all except the true elect remnant. This work of Antichrist is outlined in various chapters of the book of Revelation, namely the 13th and 17th as well as in the other passages of the Scriptures that we mentioned before.

The power of antichrist shall be a political power, which will be concentrated in one ruler in the midst of this world. He shall have at his side another powerful leader the second beast of antichrist that shall lead all the religions of the world to promote the kingdom of antichrist. And it shall be a world power that shall stand opposed to the Christ of the Scripture, but shall present himself as savior of the world and as the one that should be served and worshipped.

This power of antichrist is being developed with exceeding rapidity in the days in which we live, but still has not obtained his throne. The common economic drive, the policing of the whole world by the powers that be, the striving for world environmental reforms, the continuing cry for ecumenical unity among religions, etc. are all very present and declare the final manifestation of antichrist is drawing near.

Then finally when antichrist has come to his full power and the whole world is united to serve him, then shall a great persecution come against the elect remnant that will not bow down and serve this antichrist. Jesus says that persecution will be greater than any ever before seen. So this must yet come to pass in all of its fullness. We should remember however Jesus words that those days then shall be shortened. They will not last long so that the elect may be kept safe. Matthew 24:22 “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall
be shortened.”

Finally there shall be the battle of Armageddon when the pagan world nations shall arise against the nations of antichrist, the so called christian nations, and the universe shall break up. Then Christ will come in judgment to take His saints to the new heavens and new earth that comes forth from the present heavens and earth that perishes with fire, see II Peter 3.

To answer then your second part of your question, No! Jesus will not come in the next few seconds!!

Not even in the next few days or month’s for these signs must be fully revealed before He returns. This is His own word to us. But also we see from the above and a study of the Scripture and the observance of the history that is unfolding before us, He comes quickly. The signs are being rapidly revealed, and it would be foolish for us to think that Christ’s return is afar off, is many years or hundreds of years away. Christ is coming and He is coming quickly, and we pray, yea Lord Jesus, come
quickly. For then we shall be delivered from this earth of sin and this body of death and will dwell with our Lord in the new heavens and the new earth forever.

Question

Lately I have heard so much about the “Bible Code.” I have read the book also by the same title, and it is quite believable. If you haven’t heard about it, a computer program was developed that takes the original Hebrew text of the Bible and develops a sequence (every tenth letter, every 1456 letter) which then spells out current happenings, current leaders, for example Bill Clinton. It accurately predicted the Oklahoma City bombing and other events. The hidden code also tells of future events. The author, Michael Drosnin, states that this “secret code” in the Bible is the book the angel told Daniel to “shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the End” (the book of Daniel). Please shed some light on this subject.

Answer

This is another attempt by Satan and the powers of antichrist to bring man away from the Scripture so that they can foist upon man their own goals, namely to destroy the faith of the elect if it were possible.

The man, Michael Drosnin, that wrote the book Bible Code, is himself an unbeliever. That is, he does not believe in the God of the Scriptures, in fact he maintains that aliens from outer space have written the Bible. On the other hand, he presents the so called Bible code as another means in the hands of man whereby he can save himself. This in itself ought to warn us that this supposed hidden Bible code is no more than another attempt to draw one away from the obedience to the Word of God.

Also, this book has become a best seller, and the movie rights have been sold to the book. The personal profit is tremendous and again leads one to see the true nature of this hoax.

The writer of this book and his supporters are not interested in truth; in fact the book itself is designed to take you away from the truth of the Scriptures. It is striking that in all the so-called hidden code in the Bible the author and others find the names of all the rabbis of the Jewish faith of any importance, even names of political leaders, as you mention, even Clinton, but the name of Jesus is absent in this so-called code.

There are several important truths that we must ever keep in mind. God has given us the infallibly inspired Scripture as a complete whole which reveals all that we need to know for faith and life. This is our confession and this is the testimony of the Scripture itself. The Word of God is given unto us clearly and plainly that we may be led in such a way to be made perfect, that is to be prepared to dwell with our God forever. II Timothy 3:16- 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” We do not need more than this. In fact Paul warns us “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:8-12. In this passage we learn that the gospel that is preached is the gospel received by the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is this revelation that we now have in the Holy Scriptures. No man may add or subtract from that gospel. To do so is to bring a false gospel. Who must interpret the so-called code? Mathematicians or other highly learned men that can explain not only how the so called code works, but that it reveals things that God did not reveal in His revealed Word. This is foolishness. God has said that He hides the Word from the wise and prudent, they cannot even know what Jesus taught plainly in the parables; but He reveals His Word and the things of His kingdom to babes. How different from all the technical knowledge needed to read and to interpret this so-called code. Jesus Himself says “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19. It is a matter of life and death, eternal life and eternal death to attempt to add or subtract anything to the Scriptures. Already in the Old Testament we hear the warning of God, in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 “When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” Basically this is that which is attempted through holding that there is a secret code that needs to have special divination to determine its meaning. Especially is this true when those that hold to the special code would say that the future things, even in their details, can be foretold by this code. It is an abomination unto the Lord.

God clearly reveals to us all that we need to know about the future in the various prophecies of the Scriptures. Man is not satisfied, he wants more, he will not walk in faith. That is the problem and trouble. Are we satisfied with God’s Word, are we content with His ways or shall we make a god of our own understanding? Almost anyone can use a computer and with a mixture of the letters of the Scripture that is taking any one theme could produce spellings of almost all of the known words in the language of man. But this proves absolutely nothing other than the tremendous capacity that man has to do what he pleases. With statistics it is said you can prove any thing you want, so it is with such mathematical play with the words of Scripture. God gives man over to his foolishness unto destruction.

In faith we receive God’s written clear Word of the Scriptures, and receive the gospel of salvation by grace alone. Do not listen to the call of antichrist so prevalent today that would draw you aside from obedience to that Word.

Finally remember God is light and truth, He does not deceive nor does He hide for ages from His people that which they need to know. We read this very simply and wonderfully in the First epistle of John in verses four through seven, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” There is no darkness in God at all. ❖

Question

I was talking with one of your young people, and she told me what you people believe, and I do not agree with her. You see I go to (another denomination) and we believe that you are to ask God or Jesus into your heart. If you disagree then look to Romans 10:9.

Answer

In the first place it is good to hear that young people are discussing together the doctrines of the Word of God. The only answers to our questions concerning faith are those that are given us by God in His infallible Word. And immediately as we consider together questions that arise in our understanding of God’s Word we must understand that the Scripture has not many meanings. The Scripture sets forth the one true teaching of God given to His people. The Bible is not of any private interpretation. II Peter 1:20-21. And by the grace of God being given ears to hear and hearts of understanding we shall hear what God says to His church in the Word.

This means that when we turn to the Scripture for the understanding of any truth we may not use any one verse out of the context of the rest of the Scripture. The Scripture is one organic whole that teaches the one truth of God, this means further that the Scripture can have no errors. If there seems to be contradiction then we know this cannot be, the Holy God gives us a Holy (pure) Word. Thus we must understand each text in the context of that one true and Holy Word.

With respect now to salvation we must understand that repeatedly the salvation of the church is set forth in the Word as the work of God, and not of man. This is repeatedly stated in the whole of God’s Word, both in the Old and New Testaments. For the moment we take note that this is literally stated in the passage of God’s Word in Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Further, we must understand that Jesus says to us that apart from the work of God we cannot even see the things of God’s kingdom. He does this in His reply to Nicodemus in John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Again in the context it is evident that it is the Spirit of God alone that causes us to be born again. As we had nothing to do with our natural birth so we can have nothing to do with our spiritual birth. Paul points out that the fruit of the fall is that God’s Word in Genesis 2:17 came to pass. When Adam ate of the tree man died (see Romans 5:12). Further, Paul points out that apart from the quickening power of God, man is dead in sin and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3). The dead man can do nothing to make himself alive, nor can we.

The apostle Paul makes this so clear in the ninth chapter of Romans as well. It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but it is God that showeth mercy.

The Old Testament repeatedly teaches us that same truth. For example, we turn to Ezekiel 36:21-22 and read “But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.” The only reason that true elect Israel is saved or that we are saved is God’s Name sake, because of His faithfulness. He does not save us for our sake, but for His Holy Name’s sake. Malachi 3:6 states this same truth emphatically.

It is in the light then of all of Scripture that we read the text that you have noted in your question. Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” In the light of all Scripture we must take this word literally that all those confessing with their mouths the Lord and believing in their heart that God hath raised him from the dead, shall be saved. This is truth and it is absolute truth. But who then believe? The answer is—those that God has chosen in Christ, those that He has redeemed by Christ’s blood, those that He has quickened (Ephesians 1:3-10), and those that He has powerfully called by the preaching of the Word by the true servants of God that He has sent. These believe and truly confess the Lord Jesus Christ; which is the immediate context of this text—look ahead to the verses 13 and following.

Besides, there is the practical aspect of your question. What if it were true that salvation was dependent on our asking God or Jesus to come into our hearts. Then we are stronger than God, for He must wait for us to do something. Then I have a God who is no more than I let Him be. How terrible! For I am a sinner, in fact, I am dead in sin apart from God’s grace. If salvation is dependent upon me then I shall be forever lost, no hope, no comfort.

But it is not so. My God is Jehovah, the Sovereign God Who rules and governs all things, and Whose work of salvation is His work alone. Then I have comfort because God has given His Only Begotten Son to take away all my sin and to make me His child. He loves me with a saving love, then I have the assurance that nothing can separate me from that love of God. Read Romans 8:28- end in this connection.

I hope this helps. I am glad that you take a sincere interest in the truth, may God grant that you may see the comfort of the true gospel of grace. ♦

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