Ask Your Preacher
I thought that when you die in the flesh, you enter into rest. So how is it that people are visited by spirits or deceased family members? If the dead are all raised together, and no one sees the Father until Christ’s return, how are these things possible?
The idea of ghosts cannot be found in the Bible, and they aren’t real, no matter how many stories people come up with, thinking they have been visited by dead ancestors. Ghosts are supposedly the souls or spirits of those who have died. These dead souls are presumed to be wandering the Earth, interacting with the living from time to time. The Bible tells us what happens when we die, and there is no Halloween-ish spiriting involved. Jesus told the story of a wicked, rich man and a faithful, poor man named Lazarus in Lk 16:19-31. When these two men died, the rich man immediately woke up in torment, and Lazarus was escorted to Paradise (Lk 16:22-23). This is what happens when the righteous and the wicked die. There is no wandering or ghostly haunting. In fact, the rich man was specifically told that the dead aren’t sent back to the earth to preach or affect the course of events here (Lk 16:27-31). We die, and then we wait to face the judgment (Heb 9:27).
Since the printing press wasn't invented until 1440, who was charged with hand copying the Scriptures up until that time? Do we owe these men a debt of gratitude?
Writing My Thanks
Dear Writing My Thanks,
The people who copied the New Testament were many and varied, but we know quite a lot about those who copied the Old Testament. The people who copied the Bible were so accurate and detail-oriented… they would put any OCD accountant to shame. Those who made copies of the Old Testament were called ‘scribes’. Ezra, from the book of Ezra, was a scribe (Ezra 7:6). Scribes are recorded throughout Jewish history, from the time of David (2 Sam 8:17) all the way into the time of Christ (Matt 8:19). Scribes were so proficient at copying text that they were also employed as lawyers because of their precise knowledge of all things legal.
When scribes copied a biblical text, they had some very stringent rules that they followed. Secular history tells us that these rules were universal amongst scribes, and the rules were followed very, VERY strictly. Here are some of those rules:
- Every word must be verbalized aloud while writing.
- There must be a review within thirty days, and if more than three pages required corrections, the whole document was destroyed.
- Letters, words, and paragraphs were counted, and the middle paragraph, word, and letter must correspond to the original document.
- If two letters touched, the entire manuscript had to be redone.
- Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty, lines.
As you can tell from the list, scribes were exceptionally meticulous about accuracy. The proof of this accuracy can be seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, amongst them was uncovered a copy of the Book of Isaiah that had been written by scribes. This copy of Isaiah was ONE THOUSAND years older than any other previous copy. Yet, over that thousand-year time span, there was no notable disagreement between the manuscripts. In fact, the only difference between the Dead Sea Scroll copy and the other copies were punctuation marks and spelling differences. There is no doubt that God has perfectly preserved the Bible over the centuries.
Is it biblical to raise your hand(s) during praise and worship songs? Why do people raise their hand(s) during song? Is there a right and wrong way to lift your hand(s)?
Dear Palms Up,
The practice of lifting up your hands during worship is traced to 1 Tim 2:8, but unfortunately, many people misunderstand this verse. There is nothing wrong with literally lifting up your hands to God, but Paul is telling them to “lift up holy hands, without wrath and disputing”. The context is about a certain lifestyle that people were to have. It is similar to the saying, “Put your hand to the plow” in Lk 9:62. ‘Lifting up holy hands’ refers to working, laboring, and serving in a godly way. Christians are to serve God faithfully, without arguing and disputing with each other. ‘Lifting up holy hands’ has nothing to do with how high your arms are raised when you pray; it has to do with the character of the life you live. Are we living holy lives when our hands serve God (1 Cor 4:12)? Raising your hands during worship has the impression of godliness, but living faithful lives actually fulfills God’s command to ‘lift up holy hands’ (2 Tim 3:5).
Is it bad to listen to heavy metal music?
Dear Rock On,
There is nothing wrong with listening to music of any type as long as it:
- Does not teach or profess evil ideas (such as drunkenness, promiscuity, immorality, violence, etc.)
- Is not full of foul or crass language (Eph 4:29).
Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33), and bad music is a form of bad company.
Having said that – any other type of music is perfectly permissible. Jesus even used music as an example of general happiness in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:25).
When the Bible doesn't directly condemn something, but we are left with applying principles to determine whether the thing is right or wrong, whom are we putting our trust in? Do I trust myself that I have correctly applied the principles, and how will I know?
Dear Conceptual Thinker,
When we take Bible verses and combine them together to understand larger principles, we are doing exactly what God intends for us to do (Ps 119:160). In Acts 15, we see the apostles do that very thing. When the issue came up regarding the circumcision of Gentiles, the apostles listened to the evidence (Acts 15:12), studied the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 15:15-18), and came to a conclusion (Acts 15:19).
God tells us to be wise in that which is good (Matt 10:16). The way we gain that wisdom is by studying God’s Word and applying it to the best of our abilities. When we do that, we are placing our faith in God.