Ask Your Preacher

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NEW TESTAMENT

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Up In The Air Part 2

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

(This is a follow-up to “Up In The Air”)

I've actually never heard this idea that THE great tribulation has already happened.  I've considered this idea with an open mind and have only gained a deep concern for those who support this theory… mostly because the temple was, of course, destroyed in 70 AD, and we know John recorded his vision around 90 AD.  What good would it have been for John to prophesy on things which already took place (Rev 10:11)?  Also, if you were to believe this idea, the answer to the question asked in Matt 24:3 would have been 70 AD, but since we humans are still in existence, either Jesus was lying (which He was not) or the tribulation was not fulfilled in 70 AD.  Furthermore, if you carefully study the context surrounding the statement in Matt 24:34, you see Jesus was still speaking on this age of false prophets and messiahs to come.  He said (in context), "This generation of false prophets and messiahs will not pass until the work of the tribulation is complete." He was not referring to the generation that was currently alive when He said these things.  Also, we all know when God says things are to happen soon (Rev 1:1), God's judgment of time is supremely different than ours.  I do not claim to be in full understanding of Revelation, but I would greatly suggest to those who support the idea you hold to prayerfully and logically reconsider their interpretation of the  book of Revelation.  Please reply; I am still open-minded to what you have to say.  Thank for all you do.

Sincerely,
Looking Ahead

Dear Looking Ahead,

Thanks for your reply.  I think we got our wires crossed somewhere.  The book of Revelation doesn't discuss the fall of Jerusalem ­– it discusses the persecution of christians under the Roman Empire.  We agree that it is most likely that John wrote Revelation after 70 AD.  However, Matt. 24 does refer to 70 AD, and Jesus even clarifies that is what He is talking about in Matt. 24:2 when He mentions the stones of the temple would be torn down (something that happened in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD).  You referenced Matt 24:3; it is important to note that the words "end of the world" found in some translations are not technically correct.  The word 'world' is literally 'age'.  It isn't the word 'kosmos' which is what is normally used for 'world' throughout the Bible.  Jesus was telling them that the end of the Jewish age was about to occur and that there would be certain signs they should watch for.  As for your reference to Matt 24:34, the words 'false prophets and messiahs' aren't in that verse.  All it says is "this generation shall not pass away until all these things are accomplished" – we don't know what translation you are using, but those words that prove your point simply aren't in the text of the major translations of the Bible.  Matthew 24 is dealing with 70 AD (and Jesus said those things before 70 AD); Revelation is a separate topic.

One other thing, you mentioned that you don't have a full understanding of Revelation.  Here is our challenge to you.  Listen to the series of classes we linked to you on that book (for our readers, that link is here).  After listening to the classes, feel free to write in with any objections you have to the logic used in the teaching.  We would happily welcome your criticism.  If we are wrong, we want to change.

The Sin Unto Death

Monday, October 30, 2017
The scripture 1 Jhn 5:16-17: what sins are we not forgiven for?  If you are a christian and use the Lord's name in vain, can you be forgiven?  The way I read it in the Bible, you can't be; please help me understand all this.

Sincerely,
Looking For The Line

Dear Looking For The Line,

John says that there is a sin that leads to death – that sin is the sin against the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:29).  Any sin can be repented of and forgiven (1 Jn 1:9)… except for the sin against the Holy Spirit.  Now, let’s explain what that sin is.

When Jesus says that any sin will be forgiven except for someone blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:28-30), He said it to the crowd that accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan (Mk 3:23).  That crowd could have been forgiven of any sin, but instead they rejected the miracles that testified that Jesus was from God.  Contrast that crowd’s attitude with Nicodemus’ attitude.  Nicodemus understood that the only way that someone could perform a miracle was if God was with him (Jhn 3:2).  When that crowd rejected the evidence that the Holy Spirit provided (in this case, the miracles), they rejected any chance to receive the forgiveness found in Jesus’ teachings.  When we reject the truth of God (the Bible), we reject the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s primary job is to bring the truth of the gospel to mankind (see the post “What the Holy Spirit Does” for more details).  Someone blasphemes the Holy Spirit by rejecting the truth that the Holy Spirit sent us in the Bible.  Any sin can be forgiven if we will turn to God’s Word and obey it (Rom 10:17, Heb 5:9), but there is absolutely no hope for someone if he or she will not accept the Holy Spirit’s Bible.

Up In The Air

Friday, October 20, 2017
At what point in The Great Tribulation are we, the church, raptured?  I struggle to understand who this "multitude" mentioned in Revelation chapter 7 is and at what time they arrived.  Is there any information from the Bible that gives us any idea of when we will be raptured?  Do we suffer through the tribulation with the unsaved?  Do we all die as martyrs?  Do we get "caught up" before the Tribulation begins?

Sincerely,
Looking Ahead

Dear Looking Ahead,

The word ‘rapture’ means ‘caught up’ in Latin.  The term ‘rapture’ is used to describe an event that many think will take place right before the days of tribulation in Revelation.  The problem with this theory is that it is wrong.  There will be a time when all christians will be caught up into the air to be with Christ – the end of time (1 Thess 4:14-18).  The book of Revelation doesn’t describe events in the future; it describes events in the past.  The book of Revelation deals with problems that the church was to “shortly” see come to pass (Rev 1:1).

Furthermore, the tribulation taught by many denominations is based off of a misinterpretation of Matthew chapter twenty-four.  Matt 24 is dealing with the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jewish temple that would happen in 70 AD.  If we carefully pay attention to the context, Jesus is talking about the Jewish temple’s destruction, not a worldwide trial thousands of years in the future (Matt 24:1-2).  Jesus specifically said that the tribulation would occur within that generation’s lifetime (Matt 24:34).

There will be a day when all the faithful are caught up to meet Christ in the heavens.  The day He returns (Acts 1:11), all mankind will be judged at the same time (Jhn 5:28-29).  In that great day (Jude 1:6), the whole world will be burned up with fire (2 Pet 3:10-12).  There will be no post-tribulation, pre-tribulation, semi-tribulation, etc.; there will only be the great Day of Judgment (2 Pet 3:7, 1 Jn 4:17). If you would like a more in-depth look at the book of Revelation, we have a series of classes on the book that can be found here.

Starting At The Beginning

Friday, October 13, 2017
I was never raised in a family who lived by the Bible; they said they were christians, but they only lived by the Bible when they wanted to.  Now that I have started a family, I want to live the right way.  I have started to read the Bible from the beginning, and I found it a little hard to understand, so I went and bought myself a child’s Bible.  That may sound silly, but it has helped me, so I can go back and understand the Holy Bible.  My question is: I know God created the world. Jesus Christ is His Son that gave His life for our sins. The thing that I want to know is: is Jesus a separate person, or is it God who lived in Jesus?  And also, who is the Holy Ghost?

Sincerely,
Putting The Pieces Together

Dear Putting The Pieces Together,

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct Beings.  The easiest way to see this is to look at the baptism of Jesus.  At Jesus’ baptism, Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and the Father spoke from heaven (Lk 3:21-22).  All three of Them are God.  Jesus is described as deity in Jhn 1:1.  The Holy Spirit is described as deity in 1 Cor 2:11 and Gen 1:2.  And last, but not least, the Father is described as deity in Gen 1:1 and numerous other locations.  They are each distinct entities, but They are one in purpose.  We will try and summarize Their responsibilities:

The Father – The Father has total authority to plan and oversee the salvation of mankind.  The Father was the one that sent Jesus at the proper time to die on the cross (Gal 4:4).  The Father answers our prayers (Lk 11:2).  The Father provides for the needs of mankind (Lk 12:30).  He is the great master builder and planner of our salvation.

The Son – Jesus made the Father’s plan happen.  Jesus emptied Himself and became a human (Php 2:4-8).  Jesus is God’s son because He was miraculously born (Matt 1:18).  His blood cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn 1:7).  He is the head of the church and its Savior (Eph 1:22, Col 1:18).  If the Father was the architect of our salvation, Jesus is the carpenter… which is ironic, since He actually was one! (Matt 13:55)

The Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood of all the Godhead.  We have answered many questions on His role.  If you want an in-depth look at the Holy Spirit, read “What The Holy Spirit Does”.  For the sake of brevity, we will simply say that the Holy Spirit’s primary job was to create the Bible and keep it preserved throughout all time.  It is the Holy Spirit that guided the minds of the apostles as they wrote down the words of the Bible (Jhn 14:26, 1 Cor 2:13).  If the Father was the architect, and Jesus was the carpenter, then the Holy Spirit is the realtor.  He made sure that everyone would know what Jesus did and how to be saved through Christ’s blood.

Hopefully, that helps give you a basic idea of how the Godhead works.

Only One Cog In The Machine Pt. 2

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

(This is a follow-up to “Only One Cog In The Machine”)

Thanks for your reply.  This is very interesting history.  How is it possible that Paul never mentions what he heard about Jesus in Jerusalem since they were both about the same age?  His story starts as a persecutor of the early Jewish followers at the behest of the Sadduccee establishment, but Paul was around for years before that when Jesus was still alive, and he never mentions having heard of Him or having known of Him when they were both in Judea.

How many of the other preachers and teachers does Christianity believe were required to have revelations like Paul? And if there were so many other apostles and preachers, why does Christianity focus almost exclusively on Paul's epistles?

I know there are also a few other epistles (Jude, John, James, Hebrews) that Paul didn't write, but presumably other preachers also had congregations they were working with, so what happened to them and their epistles, and why don't people like Polycarp get included?

Although his congregations may have known about the history, doesn't it seem unusual that Paul does not include an occasional reference to any of the historical events or sayings of Jesus (such as "Remember what we heard from our Lord on the Mount, let us recall the events as Christ was led to Calvary, do not forget the greatness of His mother Mary, let us recall what He told His followers in Galilee," etc.)?

Plus, since Acts identifies Paul as a student of Rabbi Gamaliel, why don't we find any references to anything he ever learned at the feet of the greatest Jewish sage of the day, the head of the Sanhedrin?  Presumably, there were great and valuable teachings and ethical aphorisms that he heard, not to mention relevant issues regarding the Torah; yet, Paul never mentions a single one.

Sincerely,
Passionate About Paul

Dear Passionate About Paul,

You are asking why Paul didn't say this or that – the answer is simple... he did say other things instead.  It is impossible to explain why Paul mentioned certain facts about Christ's life and left others out.  The short answer is that he mentioned what he did because that was necessary to make the point he was making at the time.  The Bible isn't a compilation of every detail and every sermon that was ever preached in the first century.  In fact, John specifically says there wouldn't be enough ink to write down all that Jesus did (Jhn 21:25).  The Bible includes what God believed was necessary for mankind to know in order to live and be godly (2 Pet. 1:3).  Polycarp, like many other later writers, was not inspired, and his works, though illuminating and insightful, are not directly from the mind of God.

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