Ask Your Preacher
In tracing the apostles’ calling, one of the gospels says Andrew was with John the Baptist and then went and found his brother Simon Peter to tell him. Another book says they both were in their boat when Jesus called them. Please explain.
Two Places At Once?
Dear Two Places At Once,
If all we do is read Matt 4:18-20, it is easy to get the impression that when Jesus told Andrew and Peter to leave their boat and follow Him that it was the very first time they had met Jesus, but that wasn’t the case. By the time Jesus called those two men to leave their fishing and become “fishers of men”, they were already well-acquainted with Jesus, and they knew exactly who they would be following.
In Jhn 1:35-42, we see the very first encounter that Andrew and Peter had with Jesus. As you said, Andrew was told about Jesus because he had been listening to John the Baptist preach, and Peter found out because Andrew told him. This happened right when Jesus first began to preach and teach… He hadn’t even performed a miracle yet (we won’t see that miracle until Jhn 2:1-11).
When we read in Matt 4:18-22, Mk 1:16-20, and Lk 5:9-11 of Peter and Andrew leaving their boats and following Christ – this was a totally different level of commitment that happened later. Peter and Andrew knew who Jesus was at this point, and now Jesus was calling them to not just listen to Him, but to help Him in His preaching.
So, I have a question about hell. A preacher at a congregation is saying that through his studies, he is starting to believe that hell is not the traditional "fire and brimstone" that Christians think, but instead, it might just be "death of the person's spirit". I haven't gotten a chance to ask him for the verses that he says support his belief (he did mention Isaiah). He believes people have been leaving out these verses over the years. I am pretty sure what I believe about hell – that there is an eternal punishment – considering I have been praying over the subject and studying; also, I thought that Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and goats was a very good answer to the question of what hell is. Anyways, I was wondering if you have heard this argument before and might know what verses he is referencing; also, I would love to hear your opinion and any other verses concerning hell that you might have.
Hesitant About Heat
Dear Hesitant About Heat,
There are several very clear texts that deal with what happens to lost souls when they die. Mk 9:47-49 says that hell is a place where “the worm never dies, and the fire is not quenched” – the exact opposite of annihilation. Jesus also told the story of a rich man that died and went to torments (Lk 16:22-23). In torments, the rich man was in constant burning anguish without relief (Lk 16:24). Abraham told the rich man that he would remain in anguish and that there was a great gulf eternally fixed between those in Paradise and those in torments (Lk 16:25-26). Four times in the book of Matthew, hell is described as a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:12, Matt 22:13, Matt 24:51, and Matt 25:30).
In order to take an annihilation point of view, you would have to take every verse that deals with the torment, suffering, and pain associated with hell and somehow explain how they are all figurative… this includes the story of the rich man and Lazarus found in Luke 16. If the rich man didn’t literally descend into torments, then we must also say that faithful Lazarus wasn’t literally escorted into Paradise. Taking that story as figurative cuts both directions.
The verses in Isaiah that are often referred to as “proof” of annihilation of the wicked are verses like Isa 26:14 and Isa 43:17. However, these verses are taken out of context and deal with physical death (in which case, the person’s body does cease to have life – our physical bodies aren’t eternal). The fact is that nobody talked about hell more than Jesus, and Jesus always talked about it as a physical place that was reserved for the wicked (Jude 1:13). Yes, the wicked will be destroyed – their souls will forever be separated from God in a place of burning and pain. Though some good brethren believe that hell is not an eternal location and that the wicked are destroyed at death, we don’t believe that this holds up to biblical scrutiny.
In Acts 1:20, Peter quotes Psalm 109:8. Can it be said that Psalm 109, especially verse eight, serves as a prophecy as well as a hymn by King David?
Pointing To Prophecy
Dear Pointing To Prophecy,
Sometimes, Old Testament verses are quoted in the New Testament because they are prophecies that are being fulfilled – like Peter did in Acts 2:16-21. However, we must also remember that the Old Testament does more than just prophecy about Christ and His kingdom. The Old Testament is full of examples and principles that are useful to us (1 Cor 10:11). In the case of Acts 1:20, Peter and the rest of the apostles had to decide what to do about Judas’ death. Should they leave his position vacant? Should they replace him with another apostle? How should they handle the void created in the apostleship by this wicked man? Peter quotes Ps 109:8 because that Psalm addresses the principle that it is a good thing when a good man replaces the office of a bad man. Peter referred to Ps 109, not because it was prophetic about their specific circumstance, but because it is a universal truth that good people should take the place of bad people in positions of authority.
God bless you, brethren. If I confront someone about their sin, am I passing judgment on them? I mean, I myself am not perfect, so how can I who am not perfect confront someone about mistakes they're making? And how does Jesus' saying about removing the speck from your brother’s eye tie into this?
Dear Avoiding Judgment,
In Jhn 12:48, Jesus said that the Word of God is what judges mankind, and in Matt 7:1-2, we are told to be very careful about what we use as our standard of judgment. If we are constantly judging people based upon our own personal opinions or arrogance, that is wrong. However, the Bible commands us to judge with righteous judgment (Jhn 7:24). When Jesus said to make sure to take the plank out of your own eye before trying to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matt 7:3-5), He was addressing the arrogant attitude that sees only other people’s faults, but not your own. We are told to be honest about our own sins, and only then can we humbly seek to help others confront theirs. If we had to be perfect before we could condemn others’ sins, we would never be able to say anything! However, we aren’t told to be perfect; we are told to be humble and use the Bible as our standard for righteous judgment.
When is Jesus’ birthday?
No one knows when Jesus was born, but it was most likely in the spring or summer because the shepherds were out – Lk 2:15. Historians have traced the date of His death to around 33 AD and His birth to somewhere in the vicinity of 4 BC… give or take a couple of years. We are just never given the specific date of His birth in the Bible, and we can’t pinpoint it using secular history either.