Ask Your Preacher
Many people think that after Saul was saved and regained his sight, he began his ministry without interruption. But in fact, he later says he was sent to the desert for three years. I remember reading it, but I don't know where to find it. Can you help me with that verse please?
Stuck In The Desert
Dear Stuck In The Desert,
The verses you are thinking of are Gal 1:15-18. After Saul's conversion in Damascus (Acts 9:17-19), Saul (more commonly known as Paul) left Damascus and went into Arabia for three years. It is during this three-year time period that Paul had his vision of Paradise (2 Cor 12:2-4). It is only after those three years that Paul eventually visited Jerusalem.
Why is there a New Testament if God never changes?
God never changes, but humans do, and mankind wasn’t ready for Christ’s law in the beginning. Gal 3:24 says that the Old Testament law was a tutor to lead people to Christ. Just like beginning arithmetic must be taught before you dive into calculus, the Old Law prepared people for a greater and more perfect law. The Old Testament taught people about sin (Rom 3:20), and it showed that all mankind had sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). The Old Testament law was added because of sin and as a preparation for Jesus’ entrance into the world (Gal 3:19). The Old Law could never save people because all a law can do is condemn the law-breaker – only the gift of Christ’s blood can provide forgiveness for the sinner (Gal 3:13). The New Testament combines God’s laws with a plan to provide forgiveness for those who break those laws.
In previous posts, you said that you had to be baptized to be saved. What about the thief on the cross? Wasn't he saved? And what about those that accept Jesus by grace on their deathbeds? Are they in Hell today because they never were baptized? Isn't baptism a work? Then how do you interpret Rom. 11:6 and Eph. 2:8-9?
By Grace Alone
Dear By Grace Alone,
The thief on the cross is a bit of a different issue than Rom 11:6 and Eph 2:8-9. Read our post “The Thief On The Cross” for a full answer to the baptism issue in regard to the thief. Now, let’s address the issue of baptism being a “work”.
Baptism is a work – it is a work of faith. Romans and Ephesians are addressing people who think they can be saved by working hard enough to earn salvation. Rom 3:28 says that a man isn’t saved by the works of law, but Jas 2:18-20 says that there is such a thing as works of faith, and without works of faith we can’t be saved. Works of the law are when people try and earn salvation by living perfect or “good enough” lives. We are told that this won’t work because if we stumble in even one area of live, we are now sinners and guilty as law breakers (Jas 2:10). However, when we admit that we sin and seek to live a life of faith in Christ, we still must show obedience to what the Word of God says (Rom 10:17). The difference is that we aren’t expected to be perfect anymore, instead we are told to admit our sin and move forward (1 Jn 1:9). The Bible says that we must be baptized to be saved (1 Pet 3:21, Mk 16:16, Acts 2:37-38, Rom 6:4, Gal 3:27). If the Bible says it is a requirement, then we must each faithfully accept God at His Word. We should leave the deathbed confessions to God’s judgment and make sure that we are baptized and ready before it gets to that point. Thankfully, God is the final judge of such situations, not us (2 Tim 4:1).
I have been talking to four or five theologians, and none of them know as much about the Bible as you guys do. I had one tell me something that wasn't even right. I showed him Scripture. But anyway, I thought you guys might appreciate the fact you know more about the Bible than theologians. My question is: 1 Peter 3:19, who are the spirits in prison?
Looking For The Key
Dear Looking For The Key,
Thanks for the kind words! We’re just glad we can be of help. 1 Pet 3:18-19 is a very difficult passage, and there are a number of different interpretations of what it means that Jesus “preached to the spirits in prison”. Some believe it refers to Jesus literally descending into the darkest depths of Hades to preach to those awaiting eternal punishment, but this directly contradicts other Scriptures where Jesus specifically says He was going to Paradise (Lk 23:43). Either Jesus was wrong, or that interpretation of 1 Pet 3:19 is wrong – we here at AYP will trust that Jesus knew where He was going after death.
The other options for that verse are numerous, but the two most likely are:
- That the spirits in prison were the people that Jesus preached to before or after His resurrection. Those enslaved to sin are most definitely imprisoned spirits (Jhn 8:34).
- The other likely option is that Jesus, through Noah (2 Pet 2:5), preached to the pre-Flood world and showed longsuffering to them, just as He does to us today. After all, 1 Pet 3:20 identifies the “spirits in prison” as those who were disobedient during the days of Noah. Most likely, 1 Pet 3:18-20 is making the case that Jesus has always been patient with the disobedient (even before He lived on this planet as a man), but unless we choose Christ, we will perish just like those of the pre-Flood world.
Is it correct to use the word ‘church’ in place of ‘ekklesia’?
A Little Wordy
Dear A Little Wordy,
‘Ekklesia’ is a Greek word, and ‘church’ is an English word. It isn’t wrong to translate the Bible from its original Greek into other languages. In fact, Jesus quoted from a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint (the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew). The word ‘ekklesia’ means ‘the called out’ and refers to a group that is called together for a specific purpose. In modern English, we use words like ‘church’ and ‘assembly’ to express the same definition. The church of Christ is a group of people who have heard and heeded the call of Jesus Christ.