Vi the Bible Guy

It is our desire here at Southview to strengthen your faith and equip you for His service by providing an avenue for you to ask questions you might have concerning various areas of our faith.
The following are answers to questions desiring information about the Bible, theology, church beliefs, specific passages, etc. What the Bible says about…
Q1:  What kind of money did they have in the Old Testament?  Where did they get it?
A1:  Bartering was commonly used in trading.  However, gold, silver and copper were weighed and put into standard units and used as money.  In Gen. 37: 28 we find that Joseph was sold for “twenty pieces of silver,” i.e, 20 shekels of silver by weight.  Coinage appeared as early as 1500 B.C.

in Egypt.  Achan (in Joshua 7, about 1400 B.C.) stole a known amount:  200 shekels of silver (about 5 pounds) and 50 shekels of gold (about 1.25 pounds).  In the Aegean Sea area, a talent was the value of an ox and was formed into pellets or rings of gold weighing 6.3 ounces.  A copper ingot of the same value weighed 60 pounds.  At about 450 B.C., Ezra (in Ezra 8:27) mentions a coin, the “daric,” a Persian gold coin named after Darius I (521-486 B.C.) having a value a little more than a shekel.  Archaelogists have found coins dating to the 6th or 7th century B.C.

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Q2:  Where did Cain and Abel’s wives come from?
A2:Gen 1:28God blessed them [Adam and Eve] and said to them “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
Gen 3:20 “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.”
Adam lived 930 years (Gen 5:5).Jewish tradition believes that Adam and Eve had 33 sons and twenty-three daughters.Since Eve was the mother of all living, Abel and Seth must have married a sister (or perhaps a niece).And so did the other sons.The divine prohibition against incest was not given until the time of Moses (Deut 27:22).At Adam’s time the lives had rich genetic diversity and did not yet have the accumulated genetic mutations that would have existed many years later, so the marriage to a sister did not include the later dangerous physical matters.
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Q3:Will our pets be in heaven?How old will we be in heaven?
A3:How old will we be?I don’t know!But we won’t be “showing our age” with its accompanying health problems.The Bible doesn’t tell us what age we will be, but I suspect that it will be a “perfect age.”I’ll just have to trust God in this matter.Pets?Our pets die because the whole earth is under the curse because of sin (Gen 3:17-19 and Rom 8:20).However, I don’t think that we will miss those pets in heaven (if they aren’t there) for that would make us sad.And God will not let us be sad in heaven.In all of this we must just trust Him:Jn 14:1“Do not let your hearts be troubled.Trust in God; trust also in me.”
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Q4:Do the souls of children/babies go to heaven when they die?
A4:In 2 Sam 12:23, David talks about the death of his baby boy:“…I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”David seems to say the answer to the question is “Yes.”Little children had a special place in the heart of Jesus.He said about the children in Matt 19:13-15 “… of such is the kingdom of heaven.”I am comfortable in believing that the souls of children/babies go to heaven when they die.
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Q5:Does the Bible say anything about the “age of accountability”?
A5:Not quite!In Jonah 4:11, little ones are mentioned who are so young that they “can not tell their right hand from their left.”In Jer 19:4, God refers to the lives of little ones sacrificed to false gods as “the blood of innocents.”This seems to tell us that there is an age when the little ones are still “innocent.”The little ones are not guilty in the same way as those whose sins are premeditated and deliberate.Jesus’ words in Matt 19:13-15 (“… of such is the kingdom of heaven”) suggest that God’s mercy is graciously extended to these little ones.But what precisely is the “age of accountability?”The Bible does not tell us.
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Q6:Did Eve sin? How did sin start?
A6:We see in Gen 3:6 that Eve was seduced and deceived by the serpent.She ate of the forbidden fruit.Then in Gen 3:7 we see that innocence was replaced by guilt and shame.So Gen 3:7 tells us that Adam and Eve hid from God.The fact that she was hiding with guilt and shame suggests that she sinned.Could being deceived be an “excuse” so that it was not sin? No!1 Timothy 2:14 says that Eve did sin, being deceived.Adam followed in sin by choice, not being deceived.Then sin was passed on to the entire human race through Adam.
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Q7:A friend believes that Adam and Eve were clothed, that Adam was condemned to Hell and was the Devil’s angel. Where do such beliefs come from?How should such a person be approached?
A7:Condemned to Hell, the Devil’s angel – I don’t know where this comes from!We do believe that if one does not come to faith in God, that person will go to hell.But we do not know what Adam’s faith stance was like when he died.He lived for 930 years.I am not sure about the value of “arguing” with such a person.But, we can let God’s Word in the Bible present some truths.In Gen 2:25, they were both naked.That is not clothed!In Gen 3:7, they were naked, and then they made coverings of fig leaves.Gen 3:10, 11 also mentioned that they had been naked.Then in Gen 3:21, God clothed them with animal skins.So, at this point, they were clothed.
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Q8:Is the Bible language to be understood literally, or sometimes figuratively? How do we tell the difference?
A8:It is true that there are many figures of speech in the Bible.(Ps 85:10; 23:1; Jn 10:11; Isa 66:1; Prov 8:1-3)A figure of speech is a comparison of two dissimilar things to show that they have something in common.For example, in John 6:48, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”Jesus was using a figure of speech to show how important He is to our lives.Bread is made from dough, baked, and is important to our lives.Now, Jesus was not saying that he was identical to a loaf of bread, but rather, that He and bread have something is common – the importance to life.So, one understands this “figuratively” rather than “literally.”But, I don’t like that last sentence!I still want to take a “literal interpretation” of the Bible.By that, I mean “take it as it was meant.”We consider the context, the history, the figures of speech, and the type of literature.When God penned His Word (through men), He meant for us to read it and understand it.God is communicating to man through His Word.Some resources might be helpful to us such as a study Bible, a concordance, a Bible dictionary, a Bible commentary, books by respected authors, and prayer.When a friend talks to us, we don’t have too much trouble understanding what they mean.We should use a “plain or normal” method of interpreting the Scriptures:The words are understood in their normal meaning just as we normally understand words in everyday conversation.So, even a “literal” interpretation recognizes that some figures of speech are to be taken “figuratively.”
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Q9:Suppose that one is married, and then divorced, and then comes to know the Lord. Then he is remarried. Is this person qualified to be an elder? (1 Tim 3:2)
A9:I think that the answer to this question revolves around the understanding that one has of the phrase, “the husband of but one wife.”There are several interpretations of this phrase.Some would say that it means:“the husband of but one wife at a time.”In this light, the above person might pass the test.Others would say that it means:“the husband of but one wife ever in his life.”With this interpretation, the above person is not qualified.So who is right?Theologians and churches differ on this subject.
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Q10:What is the anointing of the sick with oil?
A10:James 5:13-17 discusses this topic: prayer and the anointing of the sick with oil.”
“one of you” – this is a local church directive.
“sick” – severely! Without strength, beyond power to recover.
“He should call” – Not exactly what the TV healers do!
“the elders of the church” – at least two.
“to pray over him” – a command.
“and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord” – a command
(oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit – It is God who will work.)
>“…prayer…faith…well…raise him up…sinned…forgiven”
“…confess… pray…healed” – the means and the outcome.
“the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”This is a prayer of worship and devotion recognizing the plan of God, the wisdom of God, His will and His Word.Personal sin may have caused the illness (Jn 5:14), so confession is important.God may use medical skills to reach His goal.We should allow Him to do that.Elijah is given as an example of a prayer of faith from about 900 years earlier.James seems to be teaching the importance of confession and prayer in healing during the Age of Grace.
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Q11:  When Christians die, they are ushered into the presence of the Lord. But, when the unsaved die, do they know immediately that they have made the wrong choice?
A11:You are absolutely correct that upon death the saved person finds himself immediately in the presence of God.This truth is found in 2 Cor 5:8 (“… away from the body and at home with the Lord.”) and in Phil 1:23 (“… I desire to depart and be with Christ…”).Further, I believe that the answer to your question about the unsaved is “Yes, they will immediately know where they are and that their doom is sealed.”This truth can be found in reading about “The Rich Man and Lazarus” in Luke 16:19-31.Take time to read again this passage.Some translations refer to the place that the rich man goes as “hell.”This is actually the Greek word “Hades” which is the abode of the wicked prior to the final judgment and eternity in hell.Verse 24 tells us that in Hades, the horrible torment of hell has already begun.The rich man there talks about “this fire.”We see that though both men died, they were both conscious of their surroundings after death.In Hades, the rich man had both recognition and remembrance.In Hades and hell there is torment, fire, weeping, wailing, misery, anguish, and agony.In heaven we find bliss and comfort.It is clear that the decision as to where one will spend eternity should be made during ones life, for it is irreversible after death.The difference in eternal destiny is determined by ones decision to trust Jesus Christ for salvation.(John 3:16-18“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”)
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Q12:Do pets go to heaven in the Rapture?
A12:See the answer to Q3 about pets and heaven.My answer to this question is:The Bible does not say, and I do not know!
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Q13:What is James telling us in James 5:19-20?
A13:Jas 5:19-20 says: My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
“My brothers, if one of you” – James is talking to the church, to believers.
“should wander from the truth” – The wandering suggests an apostatizing from the faith that the person once professed (Heb 10:29).“the truth” is the faith – a reference to Christ and all that He taught (Jn 14:6; Jude 3).
someone should bring him back” – One in the church appeals to the sinning brother resulting in a restoration of fellowship in the church.
Verse 20 tells us that there are two results from the sinning one turning away from his error:
1.The sinning one will be saved from death.1 Cor 11:30 shows us that sin on the part of a believer can lead to sickness and even death.The repentance and restoration of the sinning brother saves him from death.
2.“cover over a multitude of sins” – Our many sins are forgiven by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.God removes our transgressions “as far as the east is from the west.” (Ps 103:12) Our sins are “covered” as we see in Rom 4:7-8 –“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
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Q14:Tell me about the gold, frankincense, and myrrh of Matt 2:11, especially the last two items.
A14:Matt 2:11 – On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
We are pretty familiar with gold.It is said to be a gift worthy of Kings, and Jesus will be a King.Gold is a symbol of nobility and royalty.It points to His deity and majesty.
The frankincense (incense in the NIV) refers to the aromatic resin of a certain tree, a large, pink-flowering tree native to Africa, Arabia, and India, but not native to the Holy Land.Frankincense would have come to that area by caravan.The resin or gum from the tree hardens quickly and is very aromatic when burned.In the OT, it was burned with other substances in the grain offering (Lev 6:15), and it was one ingredient of holy anointing oil (Exod 30:34).This gift points to the fragrance of Christ’s life, His intercession, and His purity.
Myrrh consists of the reddish-brown aromatic resin of certain small trees, perhaps shrubs.It is the dried sap of the myrrh tree, and is often worth more than its weight in gold.Myrrh was used in the preparing of a corpse for burial.Myrrh points to Christ’s sacrifice and death.
It is interesting to see what these gifts say about the baby Jesus.It is also quite possible that God had provided these gifts through the wise men to finance the sojourn of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Egypt.
Gold – Christ’s nobility, royalty, deity, majesty.
Frankincense – Fragrance of Christ’s life, intercession, purity.
Myrrh – Christ’s sacrifice and death.
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Q15:The Bible says in Matt 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”(See also Mk 13:31 and Lk 21:33)What heaven will pass away?
A15:In 2 Peter 3:10-13 we find:“10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”We believe that this cleansing, remaking of the earth and its heavens will occur at the end of the Millennium.John tells us in Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away ….”So, God will make a new heaven and a new earth.This is new in “quality”, i.e., different from before.The earth consists of all the matter around us.The heaven that is referred to is the air and atmosphere that surrounds the earth and, quite likely, everything in the celestial heavens.This is not talking about the heaven where God dwells and where Jesus is at present.I see no reason that God would not renovate all of His creation while he is making the new heaven and the new earth. The most important aspect of the verse that we started with is not about the passing of heaven and earth.The real impact is that God’s Word is permanent and will endure forever.The prophet Isaiah told us in Isa 40:8 that “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”Jesus also talked about this in Matt 5:18 – I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.So, the heavens and the earth will be made new, but God’s Word will prevail.
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Q16:Who will live on the new earth?
A16:The quick answer:I’ll be there, and if you know Jesus as your Savior, you will also be there.Now for more detail:When we talk about eternity, we are talking about the new heaven and the new earth.What does the future hold?This is the sequence:We need to get to the end of this current “Age of Grace.”Then we who know the Lord will be taken to heaven in the Rapture or we will be raised from the dead at the time of the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18).We will be in heaven then for the 7 years of Tribulation.Then we come back to earth at the Second Coming with Christ (Rev 19:11-16).This will be followed by the Millennium, a 1000-year rule of Christ on this earth, and we will be here with him.It is at the end of the Millennium that Christ creates the new heaven and the new earth and also the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven (Rev 21:1-2).It is interesting to see in this passage that there will be no oceans in the new earth.
God originally wanted man to dwell on the earth, and that is where he created man.It seems reasonable to believe that after Christ had judged sin and all the earth, creating a new one, that he would have man to dwell there.The new earth is the Eternal Kingdom of God.Read about it in Rev 21:1 – 22:5.The new earth will be the eternal dwelling place of God and God’s people.The church will be there.Believing Israel will be there to see the fulfillment of the covenant promises made to them thousands of years earlier.They will see there an eternal dynasty, kingdom, throne and blessing.We see in Rev 21:3-4 that redeemed people will see God’s glory and begin to know the Lord as never before.There will be a quality of fellowship with the Lord that we cannot presently imagine.I think that we could call it “heaven.”
Maybe you are one who thought that we would be some other place for eternity.Let me remind you of what Paul taught near the end of that Rapture passage:(1 Thess 4:19)“…And so we will be with the Lord forever.”We will spend eternity with Him.So where will He be?The following passages tell us that He will be in the new earth and the new Jerusalem:Rev 21:3 – And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”Rev 21:22 – I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.Rev 22:3 – No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
So, our God and the Lamb (Jesus) will be in the new earth and the new Jerusalem, and we will be there with Him.
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Q17:What was Jesus saying on the cross when He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matt 27:46 and Mark 15:34)
A17:It is certainly the case that God approved of the work of Jesus.Jesus had led a sinless, perfect, pure life.He was innocent of sin.He had done nothing to forfeit the favor of God.Yet God had laid on him the sin of the entire human race.2 Cor 5:21 says “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”Gal 3:13 tells us:Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”So, Jesus felt the curse, the weight of our sin as he hung on the cross.He felt the loneliness and abandonment that sin always produces, except that in His case, it was not His sin – it was ours.Previously, He had experienced unbroken, intimate fellowship with God, His Father.But, on the cross, He experienced the result of sin laid on Him – separation from God.He experienced the separation from God for which we were eternally destined.In Isaiah 53:4-6 we read:“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”In Habakkuk we learn that God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil.This is what Jesus was feeling as He hung on the cross:rejection, abandoned, loneliness.Yet He did it for you and me.Jesus loves us – John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
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Q18:What does the Bible say about gambling?
(The following was copied from
A18:(Many comments are extracted from here.)The Bible does not specifically condemn gambling, betting, or the lottery. The Bible does warn us, however, to stay away from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5). Scripture also encourages us to stay away from attempts to “get rich quick” (Proverbs 13:11; 23:5; Ecclesiastes 5:10). Gambling most definitely is focused on the love of money and undeniably tempts people with the promise of quick and easy riches.
What is wrong with gambling? People waste money on all sorts of activities. Gambling is no more or less of a waste of money than seeing a movie (in many cases), eating an unnecessarily expensive meal, or purchasing a worthless item. At the same time, the fact that money is wasted on other things does not justify gambling. Money should not be wasted. Excess money should be saved for future needs or given to the Lord’s work, not gambled away.
What would the Bible say about casinos and lotteries? Casinos use all sorts of marketing schemes to entice gamblers to risk as much money as possible. They often offer inexpensive or even free alcohol, which encourages drunkenness, and thereby a decreased ability to make wise decisions. Everything in a casino is perfectly rigged for taking money in large sums and giving nothing in return, except for fleeting and empty pleasures. Lotteries attempt to portray themselves as a way to fund education and/or social programs. However, studies show that lottery participants are usually those who can least afford to be spending money on lottery tickets. The allure of “getting rich quick” is too great a temptation to resist for those who are desperate. The chances of winning are infinitesimal, which results in many peoples’ lives being ruined.
Can lotto/lottery proceeds please God? Many people claim to be playing the lottery or gambling so that they can give the money to the church or to some other good cause. While this may be a good motive, reality is that few use gambling winnings for godly purposes. Studies show that the vast majority of lottery winners are in an even worse financial situation a few years after winning a jackpot than they were before. Few, if any, truly give the money to a good cause. Further, God does not need our money to fund His mission in the world. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” God is sovereign and will provide for the needs of the church through honest means. Would God be honored by receiving donated drug money or money stolen in a bank robbery? Of course not. Neither does God need or want money that was “stolen” from the poor in the temptation for riches.
First Timothy 6:10 tells us, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Cor 10:23 – “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial.“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive.I would think that this applies to gambling.
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Question 19: “What is replacement theology / supersessionism?”
Answer 19:
Replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. All the different views of the relationship between the church and Israel can be divided into two camps: either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the church is completely different and distinct from Israel (dispensationalism/premillennialism). Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God’s blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1,900 years? The view that Israel and the church are different is clearly taught in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two are never to be confused or used interchangeably. We are taught from Scripture that the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost and will continue until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Ephesians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The church has no relationship to the curses and blessings for Israel. The covenants, promises, and warnings are valid only for Israel. Israel has been temporarily set aside in God’s program during these past 2000 years of dispersion. After the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan. The first event at this time is the tribulation (Revelation chapters 6-19). The world will be judged for rejecting Christ, while Israel is prepared through the trials of the great tribulation for the second coming of the Messiah. Then, when Christ does return to the earth, at the end of the tribulation, Israel will be ready to receive Him. The remnant of Israel which survives the tribulation will be saved, and the Lord will establish His kingdom on this earth with Jerusalem as its capital. With Christ reigning as King, Israel will be the leading nation, and representatives from all nations will come to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King—Jesus Christ. The church will return with Christ and will reign with Him for a literal thousand years (Revelation 20:1-5).
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament support a premillennial/dispensational understanding of God’s plan for Israel. Even so, the strongest support for premillennialism is found in the clear teaching of Revelation 20:1-7, where it says six times that Christ’s kingdom will last 1,000 years. After the tribulation the Lord will return and establish His kingdom with the nation of Israel, Christ will reign over the whole earth, and Israel will be the leader of the nations. The church will reign with Him for a literal thousand years. The church has not replaced Israel in God’s plan. While God may be focusing His attention primarily on the church in this dispensation of grace, God has not forgotten Israel and will one day restore Israel to His intended role as the nation He has chosen (Romans 11).
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Q20:What is dispensationalism?
A20:We will define a dispensation with a very simple statement. “A dispensation is a period of time in which God deals with a particular people in a particular way.” This is a rather simple definition, but it adequately covers the concept. Another definition might be stated as a particular arrangement God has with His people.Just as a book has chapters, God has dealt with man in different ways through time.The characteristics of each dispensation are …
1. A covenant between God and man.
2. Man’s failure in relation to that covenant.
3. God’s punishment for failure.
4. Salvation by faith.
Using this system as a basis, dispensationalists understand the Bible to be organized into seven dispensations: Innocence (Genesis 1:1–3:7), conscience (Genesis 3:8–8:22), human government (Genesis 9:1–11:32), promise (Genesis 12:1–Exodus 19:25), law (Exodus 20:1–Acts 2:4), grace (Acts 2:4–Revelation 20:3), and the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6). Again, these dispensations are not paths to salvation, but manners in which God relates to man. Dispensationalism, as a system, results in a premillennial interpretation of Christ’s second coming and usually a pretribulational interpretation of the rapture. Dispensationalism is a theological system that emphasizes the literal interpretation of Bible prophecy, recognizes a clear distinction between Israel and the church, and organizes the Bible into the different dispensations it presents.
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Q21: How can I remember the seven churches in the book of Revelation?
A21:It was a Revelation preacher named Charles Woodbridge that taught me how to do it.You need to memorize the following:Everybody Sing Please – That Sounds Pretty Lovely.The first letter of every word is the first letter in the name of one of the seven churches, in order, as follows:
Everybody    Ephesus
Sing               Smyrna
Please            Pergamum
That               Thyatira
Sound            Sardis
Pretty             Philadelphia
Lovely            Laodicea
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Q22 What is a generation in Matt 24:32-35?
A22 Let us first quote Matt 24:32-35 – “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
This is a part of the Olivet Discourse that Jesus taught to his followers.It occurs also in Mk 13:28-31 and Lk 21:29-33.He was speaking about end-times events.A generation varies from about 30-100 years.I think that the best interpretation of this passage is that Jesus was saying that “this generation” would be the generation that would witness the occurrence of the end-times events about which he had been speaking.That generation would see all of those things happen that Jesus had been talking about in this time of teaching.(A different interpretation holds that the word “generation” means “nation or race” in this context.If that is the case, Jesus may be saying that Israel – the nation or race – will continue to exist until all these things are fulfilled.)
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Q23 Did the soldier who nailed the sign on the cross at Christ’s crucifixion become a Christian?
A23 It is probably true that one of the soldiers did nail the sign to the cross.  What else did the soldiers do?  John 19:23-24 says that they divided most of Jesus’ clothing among four soldiers, but then they cast lots (perhaps threw the dice ?) to see which one would get the one-piece tunic.  Luke 23:36 tells us that the soldiers joined with others in mocking Jesus.  This was a pretty routine event for these soldiers who were probably responsible for putting others to death by this method in previous days.  Their attention seemed to be on what material things they could get for themselves rather than on the One on the center cross.  What a contrast exists between the 4 soldiers and the several women at the foot of the cross.  These women were followers of Jesus – perhaps one of them had made with great care and love the one-piece tunic over which the soldiers gambled.  Then when Jesus died things started to happen.  Matt 27:51-54 says, At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.  The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.  When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”’  It would appear that the soldiers at this point do recognize who Jesus was, but the Devil also knows who Jesus is.  Were the soldiers saved?  Did they become Christians?  The Bible does not tell us.  So we do not know.
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Q24 If a Christian commits suicide, will that person go to heaven?
A24 The short  answer is:  Yes.  If an unsaved person commits suicide, he has done nothing but quicken his journey to hell.  However, that person will ultimately be in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ, not because he committed suicide.  Now for the Christian.  The Bible teaches that from the moment we truly believe in Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life (John 3:16).  The Bible teaches that the Christian can know beyond any doubt that they possess eternal lift (1 John 5:13).  Nothing can separate the Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).  If nothing can separate us from God’s love, then not even suicide can separate us from God’s love.  Jesus died for all of our sins, and if a true Christian, in a time of spiritual attack and weakness, commits suicide, that would still be a sin covered by the blood of Christ.  Suicide is a serious sin.  We are forbidden to murder, and suicide is murder, thus a sin, and a sin that Jesus paid for on the cross.
Why would one commit suicide?  It might come from feelings of hopeless, rejection, abandonment, self-pity, anger, bitterness, feeling like you are in the deepest pit and there is no way out.  Remember Lk 1:37 – “For nothing is impossible with God.”  Jesus is sympathetic with your troubles.  Isa. 53:3 tells us that “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”  Psa 50:15 tells us when we are in difficult situations to “call upon me [God] in the day of trouble; I will deliver you”.  Nothing that you have ever done is too bad for Jesus to forgive.  Some of His choicest servants committed gross sins like murder (Moses, David, Paul).  Yet they found forgiveness and a new abundant life in the Lord.  So when the temptation comes to commit suicide, look to the Lord instead.
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Q25 Is it true that the time when we are born and when we die is pre-determined?
A25 Eccl 3: 1-2 tell us:  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, ….”  We know that “Timing is everything!”  For example, a hamburger on the grill is raw meat if cooked for too little time and a clump of charcoal if it is cooked too long.  When Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and told us that there is “a time to be born and a time to die,” I believe that he was saying that God appoints both our birthday and our death day.  There are no surprises with God.  He is so sovereign that there is nothing and no one who can take your life before your God-ordained days are finished.  He has ordained the times for the various events of life (opportunities, responsibilities, trials, etc.)  Believing that God is absolutely sovereign makes us conclude that there are really no premature babies and no “accidental” deaths.  I believe that God has not only planned the time of our death but also the place and circumstances of that death.   Here are some verses that add insight to this matter:
Eph 1:11 – He “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will”
Psa 33:11 – “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart  through all generations.”
Psa 39:4-5 – “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.  You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.  Each man’s life is but a breath.”
Psa 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
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Q26 Do our bodies go to heaven?
A26  Paul talked about going to heaven in Phil 1:21-23 – “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far ….”  But when we die, our bodies go to the grave.  It is our spirit that goes to be with Christ.  John wrote in Rev 6:9 – “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.”  It appears that John was shown the spirit beings of those who died as martyrs.  We now live in a physical body, and to talk about the spirit raises many questions.  We just do not know much about the spirit world.  But the Bible does answer some of the questions.
1 Cor 15:40-44 – “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.  So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”  Paul tells us here that there is definitely a difference between our current earthly physical body and the one that we will have after we are resurrected.
1 Cor 15:20-23 – “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”  To say that Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection tells us that our resurrection (coming after His) will give us a body like his.  He is the pattern of what is to follow.  In John 20:26-27 (“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”) we see that Jesus’ resurrected body was a real body.  In Luke 24 He ate with His disciples.
1 Cor 15:50-53 – “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”  These verses emphasis the fact that we will be different when we are raised from the grave.  Phil 3:20-21 – “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  Our bodies will be perfect, sinless, and flawless.
Will we recognize our saved family members in heaven?  I think that we will.  In 1 Samuel 28:8-17, King Saul was able to recognize Samuel (brought up from the dead).  In Luke 16:19-31, Lazarus and the rich man were recognized in their after-life.  In Matthew 17:3-4, Moses and Elijah were recognized at the Transfiguration.  And many recognized Jesus after His resurrection (1 Cor 15:4-8).  However, some things will be different for the family.  For example, the marriage relationship will not continue (Matthew 22:23-30).
We need to add the passage from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.”  This passage connects wonderfully with the 1 Corinthians 15 passages in describing what happens at our resurrection.  We see here that Jesus brings down with him our departed spirit to join with our resurrected body to let it go to heaven as a body like Jesus had after His resurrection.  Why must it be that way?  Answer:  Because that is the way God has planned it.
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Q27 What is the “sin that leads to death” in 1 John 5:16?
A27 1 John 5:16-17 reads:  “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.”  We should note that the sinning one is a brother – a saved person.  So the sin that leads to death is not the ultimate rejection of Christ as Savior.  That sin on the part of a person will lead to eternal spiritual death in hell, but this person has not committed that sin for he is a part of the assembly of believers – a brother.  So this is a brother who has been seen sinning.  This is probably not a specific sin like murder, homosexuality, stealing or lying.  Rather it is for this person the final sin in the tolerance of God after which the Lord is determined to end the person’s physical life.  Failure to repent and forsake sin may eventually lead to death as we see in Acts 5:1-11, 1 Corinthians 5:5; 11:30.  God does not judge all sin this severely, but the sin in 1 John 5:16 may have been affecting the entire church, and God’s longsuffering was coming to an end for this person.  In the Old Testament, in 2 Chronicles 36:16 we read:  “But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.”  This was the situation in Judah before God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to come as God’s judgment tool.  How much better to repent and turn from the wicked way.  I would remind you that the sin that leads to death is leading to the sinner’s physical death not his spiritual death.  A believer has eternal spiritual life that can not be taken from him (Romans 8).
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Q28: What can be said about the “lost tribes” of Israel?
A28: Around 926 B.C., the kingdom of Israel was split in two:  the northern 10 tribes called Israel, and the southern 2 tribes called Judah.  At about 722 B.C., The Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom, Israel, and deported most of the people to the Assyrian kingdom and settled them near the current Iran-Iraq border.  Many of these deported people were replaced in the Promised Land by Assyrians.  These Assyrian settlers intermarried with the remaining Israelites and became the Samaritans that we read about in the New Testament.  The pure race of Jews was mixed with the people from Assyria, and the Assyrians brought their false religion with its false gods to result in a mixed religion for the Samaritans.  The deported Israelites also intermarried with the people where they were taken.  They eventually lost their distinct identity, disappeared, and their culture was lost to history.  Some refer to them as the “lost tribes of Israel.” However, they have never been “lost” to God.  James writes to “the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (James 1:1).  God knows where they are.  During the Tribulation, 12,000 will come to Christ and be sealed from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (see Rev 7).  God knows into which tribe each of the descendants of Abraham should be classified.
When the Assyrians were threatening the Northern Kingdom, many from there fled to the Southern Kingdom.  2 Chronicles 35:18 records Israel celebrating the Passover with Judah approximately 90 years after the Assyrian deportation.  Even before that invasion, people from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon were settled in Judah (2 Chronicles 15:9).  So we can not say that the 10 tribes were lost.
Assyria was conquered by Babylon who then went on to conquer (722 B.C.) and deport the two remaining tribes of the Southern Kingdom, Judah and Benjamin.  When King Cyrus allowed the Israelites to return to Israel (Ezra, Chapter 1), many from the ten northern tribes and two southern tribes returned to Israel.  In the New Testament, the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36) was from the tribe of Asher (one of the 10 supposed lost tribes).  In Jesus’ day, Israel was a mix of those from the former Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
But, there is a cult that claims that these 10 tribes were lost.  This cult is known as British Israelism or Anglo-Israelism, and was made popular by Herbert W. Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God (founded in 1933).  He claims that these 10 “lost tribes” of Israel migrated to Europe and then to England and became the primary ancestors of the British people, and thereby, the United States.  Could some of those deported Israelites have immigrated to Europe, or even England?  Yes.  Is it likely?  No.  Such a journey in that day would have been extremely difficult, so it is highly unlikely that this occurred.  The primary goal of this cult is to claim that England and the United States have inherited the covenant promises that God made to Israel.  While England and the United States have been blessed by God in many ways, it is not because God’s promises to Israel have been transferred to those two nations.  God’s covenants with Israel always involved the specific land of Israel.  The covenant promises cannot apply to England or the United States, as those two nations do not posses the Promised Land.  The Worldwide Church of God believes in Saturday worship rather that Sunday, and most seriously, they reject the doctrine of the Trinity and claim that individual humans can be added to the Godhead.
Herbert W. Armstrong makes us “the chosen race.”  Here is some of his “logic.”  The Hebrew word for ‘covenant’ is brit, and the word ish in Hebrew means ‘man.’  So, the British, living in the British Isles, are the covenant people!  Further, someone saying the name “Isaac” might drop the leading letter “I”, ending up with “Saac.”  His descendants, of course, might be called ”Saac’s sons” from which we get the word “Saxons.”  So, the Saxons are the descendants of Isaac.  Note that Armstrong had to make up the nickname Saac for Isaac to come to this conclusion.  No self-respecting linguist would take any of this seriously.  The word “British” is not derived from Hebrew but from the Celtic word Brettas.  And that word referred to Britons who were inhabitants of England before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons that Armstrong claims were Israelites.
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Q29: Where did Satan come from?
A29:  In Luke 10:18 Jesus said: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  Satan’s fall from heaven is described in the Old Testament in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18.  While these two passages are referring specifically to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, they also reference the spiritual power behind those kings, namely, Satan.  Job 38:4-7 tells us that the angels were created before the earth.  Satan fell before he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-14).  So, Satan’s fall must have occurred somewhere after the time the angels were created and before he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Whether Satan’s fall occurred a few minutes, hours, or days before he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden, Scripture does not specifically say.  Actually, rather than saying that Satan fell from heaven, we could say that God cast Satan out of heaven
Why did Satan fall from heaven? Satan fell because of pride. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God. Notice the many “I will…” statements in the Isaiah and Ezekiel passages.  He is described as an exceedingly beautiful angel.  Satan was likely the highest of all angels, the most beautiful of all of God’s creations, but he was not content in his position. Instead, Satan desired to be God, to essentially “kick God off His throne” and take over the rule of the universe. Satan wanted to be God.
Though extremely powerful, Satan is neither omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent. He simply cannot be everywhere at once. Angels, though spirit beings and very powerful, are not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. They cannot be everywhere at once and this is true of Satan. However, as the chief of his demons forces or as the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), he is chief of a vast host of demons who are so numerous as to make Satan’s power and presence seem to be everywhere at once (cf. Mark 5:9).  Peter warns us about Satan’s attack when he says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8,9)
Here are some of the names applied to him:  Satan (Job 1:6-9, Matt. 4:10), The Devil (Matt. 4:1, 5, 9; Eph. 4:27; Rev. 12:9; 20:2),  The Serpent (Rev. 12:9), Lucifer, Son of the Morning (Isa. 14:12), The Evil One (John 17:15; 1 John 5:9), The Dragon (Rev. 12:7); The Prince or Ruler (John 12:31), The god of This World or Age (2 Cor. 4:4), The Prince of the Power of the Air (Eph. 2:2a), The Spirit Who Works in the Sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2b), The Accuser of the Brethren (Rev. 12:10), The Tempter (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5), Belial (2 Cor 6:15), Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24; Mark 3:22), and Abaddon, Apollyon (Rev. 9:11).
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Q30:  Would God permit someone to go to hell who has never heard the message of salvation?
A30: The Bible teaches us that ALL people are accountable to God whether or not they have heard about Him.  Romans 1:20 tells us that God has clearly revealed Himself in nature: For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  The problem is that the human race is sinful, and we all reject this knowledge of God and rebel against Him.  Romans 1:21-23 puts it this way:  “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”  If it were not for God’s grace, we would be given over to the sinful desires of our hearts, allowing us to discover how useless and miserable life is apart from Him.Deuteronomy 4:29 tells us that those who want to find God, those who truly seek Him will find him.  The difficulty is that man rejects what is seen in nature, and man does not seek God.  Romans 3:11 tells us that “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”  Man knows that he needs a god, so he creates a “god” of his own instead of looking to the God of Heaven.Instead of debating the fate of those who have never heard, we, as Christians, should be doing our best to make sure they do hear. We are called to spread the gospel throughout the nations.  (Matthew 28:19-20:  Therefore go and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Knowing that people reject the knowledge of God revealed in nature, we are motivated to proclaim the good news of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.  It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone that saves people from their sins and rescues them from an eternity apart from God.If we assume that those who never hear the gospel are granted mercy from God, we will run into a terrible problem. If people who never hear the gospel are saved, it is logical that we should make sure no one ever hears the gospel. The worst thing we could do would be to share the gospel with a person and have him or her reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. People who do not hear the gospel must be condemned, or else there is no motivation for evangelism. Why run the risk of people possibly rejecting the gospel and condemning themselves when they were previously saved because they had never heard the gospel?Jesus said in John  14:6  “I am the way….”  He was saying that there is no other path to Heaven, no other way to the Father.  Acts
4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
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