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QUESTIONS

1

Is there any Scripture explaining what the half an hour of silence is that occurs in Revelation 8? What is meant by the half hour?

2

Revelation 10 shows a flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation and Jesus setting foot on the Land and the Sea like a lion, and it refers to the voice of the 7 thunders; and what the 7 thunders spoke. Is there any reference anywhere else in the Bible as to what the 7 thunders spoke, or is this portion still unrevealed to us? Is this an unrevealed prophesy unknown to us, or a repeat of the many regarding endtime events throughout the Bible? Also, are the 7 Thunders Jesus, or are they God the Father?

3

A statement was made in a discussion of pagan practices that the "rice" thrown at the Bride and Groom at weddings came about from a pagan tradition. The person did not quote any Scripture or reference, but it stumped me because this was the first I had of its roots being pagan.

4

Was Mary, the mother of Jesus a perpetual virgin? The Catholic Church teaches that she was. Are there any Scriptures to either confirm or refute that argument?

5 In your response to parousya@aol.com, you mentioned Jesus' half brothers. Was Judas the same Judas that sold Him out? Or, is this another Judas?
6

Rev. 13:1--'And I stood upon the sea of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.' I have heard, yet I don't understand completely that our World will be narrowed to just 10 nations. Is this the beast that is being spoken about in this verse? I have a hard time fully understanding the many creatures and what they represent in Revelation.

7 Who will be here during the 1,000 year reign on Earth with Jesus? From different ministries I have heard that there will be a 'few' or 'multitudes.' Which is correct? Or, will there be two separate groups?
8

Do the Jewish feasts play an important role in endtime events?

9

Will a person who has accepted Christ..." (i.e, is saved) "...but does not follow God's teachings, go to Heaven?

10

Which 'symbols' are used in the Bible to represent the United States of America's role in Endtime events?

11 In the Seven Letters to the Churches, Christ mentions two of the Churches, Ephesus and Smyrna, about their deeds and doctrines; which Christ despised of the Nicolaitans. What is the background of the Nicolaitans to the extent of the purpose used in Revelation 2?
12 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8. Can you explain these verses, and the participants?
13 Can you tell me who you see as Gog/Magog? Are you seeing this currently unveil before our eyes in the current unrest in the Mideast? Or, at least, a precursor to it?
14 What is the distinction between the "trump" and the "trumpet" described in 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Th. 4:16?
15 My question is actually a series of questions dealing with baptism. Jesus said to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But, when I go through the Book of Acts, I see everyone baptized in the name of the Lord, or the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm familiar with the "Jesus Only" doctrine on baptism, and they are somewhat the root of my question. But I would like to go a bit deeper. The Apostles were told not to teach anything concerning that name (Jesus) [a]. That same name was used for healing, casting out demons, and praying. "At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow..." Then why not be baptized in that name [b]? If Jesus said baptize in the name of the Father..., then what is the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit [c]? Jesus said name not names. Does this imply that there is one name for all three [d]? I'm baptized, but I must admit, the Jesus Only people have a valid stand. One more part to this long question. Where did baptism originate [e]? Was it used during Old Testament days? I sincerely hope you can help me out of my confusion...[because]...this is a big one for a Baptist.
16 Under what circumstances can you divorce?
17

Using Old Testament Jewish time, how did they get 3 days out of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and if He was temporarily preped for burial, then how did He get into the final burial clothes that were folded neatly in the tomb?

18 Why would the stone be rolled away from the tomb when Jesus can walk through walls (Matthew 28:2)?
19 It's difficult when your support isn't there and your husband jokes & ridicules your faith in God, using words I can't bring myself to even repeat... So hard!
20 How do you know Jesus' body was actually put in the tomb? It appears left to the disciples and his follower with no others witnesses he was entombed.
21 How did Matthew know what the pharisses said to Pilat in 27:62? Was he awitness to the discussion, or did he make assumptions because there was a guard posted?
22 Is there a difference between the apolistic faith and Christianity, or are
they one and the same?

ANSWERS

1.

Is there any Scripture explaining what the half an hour of silence is that occurs in Revelation 8? What is meant by the half hour?

The Scripture referred to says: "When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about a half an hour." (Rev. 8:1) The Apostle was not speaking of a half hour by man's reckoning (i.e., 30 minutes). What is indicated here is that there was a long period of silence. In Scripture, silence usually precedes God's judgment. The fact that the period of silence mentioned by the Apostle John would be more than a brief moment suggests, when they came, those judgments will be very harsh and severe. (Hab. 2:20; Zech.2:1-3). The "silence," which was ominous, was preparing the people for the devastation that would be unleashed with seven trumpets judgment. (Return)

2.

Revelation 10 shows a flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation and Jesus setting foot on the Land and the Sea like a lion, and it refers to the voice of the 7 thunders; and what the 7 thunders spoke. Is there any reference anywhere else in the Bible as to what the 7 thunders spoke, or is this portion still unrevealed to us? Is this an unrevealed prophesy unknown to us, or a repeat of the many regarding endtime events throughout the Bible? Also, are the 7 Thunders Jesus, or are they God the Father?

Clearly, Jesus is the "angel" depicted coming down from Heaven in Revelation 10. What is most interesting about this prophecy is not what is viewed by the reader of the Bible but what is not observed, since it is the most telling. As Christians, we know the "Time of Jacob's Trouble" (i.e., the Tribulation) was meant for the Jews, not the Church. When Christ's feet touch the Earth, you will note that His left foot was on the Land, and His right foot was on the Sea. In Scripture, the term "Land" generally refers to Israel, and the "Sea," or the "islands in the Sea," generally refer to the Gentiles. We know also (because we all read the end of the book), that Jesus will physically return to Earth at the end of the Tribulations to judge the nations. The fact that His feet have touched Earth indicates that the picture we are viewing is not at the beginning, nor the middle, but the end of the Tribulation. It is, at that moment, the time of judgment. The rainbow that surrounds Him is a reminder to the faithful who persevered through the Tribulation of God's covenant--and it is likewise a premonition to the endtime Sodomites that they will not escape judgment. The scroll in his hand is the "title deed" to planet Earth, bought and paid for with His blood. Further, few people, when they read these verses, realize that a "lion" roars either to declare battle, or to proclaim victory. As Jesus proclaims victory, God the Father speaks, instructing him of the judgment to follow. It is the voice of God, the voice of Perfection (denoted by the number seven, the number of perfection), that speaks in the voice described as "thunder." As John, in his vision, begins to write down what God the Father says, he is instructed to seal those words. Since the "voice of thunder" deals not with the judgments that befall man during the Tribulation, but deal explicitly with the Sheeps and Goats Judgment, God has chosen not to detail the horrors which await those who have [a] accepted the mark of the beast, or [b] did not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior during the Time of Jacob's Trouble. (Return)

3.

A statement was made in a discussion of pagan practices that the "rice" thrown at the Bride and Groom at weddings came about from a pagan tradition. The person did not quote any Scripture or reference, but it stumped me because this was the first I had of its roots being pagan.

The "tradition" of throwing rice (and other grains) began during early Roman times, thus is of pagan origin. Grain is a symbol of both fertility and prosperity. Symbolically, throwing rice (or other grains) at the newly wed couple is a means of wishing them a lifetime of those blessings ... many children and wealth. However, in early Roman times, the grain thrown was not rice, but wheat, which was a symbol of fertility. In fact, in the pagan wedding ceremony, the bride (who had to be a virgin) wore a garland of wheat in her hair. Instead of the bride "tossing her bouquet," the guests at the wedding tossed grains of wheat at her. The young, unmarried girls in the wedding party would scamper to gather the grain that bounced off the bride, believing those who gathered a sufficient amount of the "wedding grain" would be assured of a quick trip down the bridal path themselves. During the reign Queen Elizabeth I of England, the practice of throwing wheat grains changed. Rice was much cheaper. From that point forward, rice became the "grain of choice." It should be noted, however, that in many pagan societies, the marriage "ceremony" consisted of the bride and groom sitting down and eating a bowl of rice together. In other societies, the use of grain was not to fete the newly weds, but to ward off evil spirits. The thinking was that if you fed the evil spirits, they would bring no harm to the newly weds. (Return)

4.

Was Mary, the mother of Jesus a perpetual virgin? The Catholic Church teaches that she was. Are there any Scriptures to either confirm or refute that argument?

Although the question appears to be clearly answered in Matt. 13:35 and Mk. 6:3, this is a question that is much harder to answer than just pointing out the verses of Scripture that verify that after the birth of Jesus, Mary had other children. Centuries of Catholic dogma have created the perception, even among non-Catholics, that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life. Adherents of the "perpetual virgin state" maintain that the brethren named in Matt. 13:55 and Mk. 6:3 are not the sons of Mary but, rather, that they are the sons of Joseph by a previous marriage although no verses in the Bible even remotely suggest that might be true. The argument falters when the word "brethren" is examined in the Greek text. Brethren, as used in Matt. 13:55 is adelphos. Adelphos quite literally means male children of the same mother--not father. The argument collapses under the weight of one word. Others suggest that the word "brethren" does not imply "blood relatives" at all, but rather speaks of the "brotherhood" of Jesus Christ. Again, this is an argument advanced by those who have studied the Scriptures only in English. If those verses meant the "brotherhood of Jesus Christ," the word adelophotes not adelphos would have been used since adelophotes specifically means "brotherhood." The brethren referred to in Matt. 13:55 and Mk. 6:3 (James, Joseph, Simon and Judas) were the half-brothers of Jesus, born after the birth of Jesus to Mary. James, the half-brother of Jesus, (and not Peter) became the leader of the Christian movement after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. James, who witnessed much of Jesus' earthly ministry, was a skeptic of his half-brother's Divine role on Earth until he saw the risen Savior (1 Cor. 15:7) in Galilee. From that moment, he believed. Because of his kinship to the Lord, he became the recognized leader of the Church until he was stoned to death in Jerusalem in 62 AD--at about the same time that Peter was being martyred in Rome. (Return)

5.

In your response to parousya@aol.com, you mentioned Jesus' half brothers. Was Judas the same Judas that sold Him out? Or, is this another Judas?

This was a different Judas. The man who sold Christ out was Judas Iscariot, a member of the Zealots. The Zealots were a group of Jewish nationalists who, like the Macabeeans, were attempting to promote a Civil War in order to throw the conquerors out of the Holy Land. Remember, the name "Judas," like "Jude" or "Joshua" were common Hebrew names. For that matter, Jesus' name in Hebrew is Joshua. (Return)

6.

Rev. 13:1--'And I stood upon the sea of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.' I have heard, yet I don't understand completely that our World will be narrowed to just 10 nations. Is this the beast that is being spoken about in this verse? I have a hard time fully understanding the many creatures and what they represent in Revelation.

This prophecy replicates Daniel's fourth beast [Dan. 7:24]. Depicted there, as well as in Rev. 17:12, are ten kings. (Notice I said KINGS and not NATIONS.) This vision reveals the last form of Gentile government. You will note that it is a consolidated government. Also described in this chapter is the political biography of the soon-coming world ruler. The beast described, rising out of the sea, is Antichrist. If you recall a statement I made earlier, the sea represents the Gentiles. You know from that statement that Antichrist will not be a Jew.

In point of fact, we know from the Scriptures that Antichrist will be an "Assyrian," a Syrian (or at least, an Arab). (Isa. 30:31, 31:8; Dan. 8-9-25, 11:21-25), and while he will make strong inroads into the European Union, he will remain apart from it (Dan. 7:24). The world, although in process of becoming ONE global nation through the globalization of the economies, currencies, and political systems through the United Nations, is comprised of many nation-states...and will continue thus (although they will control only their INTERNAL sovereignty (much like any of the 50 States within the United States). The man described in Rev. 13:1 will (a) assume political jurisdiction of the whole world [Rev. 13:1]; (b) he will be empowered by Satan [Rev. 13:2-3]; (c) he will demand that mankind worship him [Dan. 9:27; Rev. 13:4-8, 12, 15]; (d) he will control the military forces of the world [Dan. 8:23-25; Rev. 13:4]; (e) he will exercise the power of a dictator; and (f) he will persecute those who profess to be Christians [Rev. 13:6-7].

The ten crowns denote ten heads of state, suggesting a ten-nation confederation. (Interestingly, throughout the history of Judaism, the enemies which have come against Israel have generally come in clusters of ten.) (Gen. 14:19-21; Jer. 46-51.) In this case, the lands referred are those of which the European Union is now comprised (which actually numbers more than 10). It must be remembered that the visions seen by John were based on the geographic locations, and boundaries, of the "kingdoms" which consumed the land areas at that time, and are noted merely as a point of reference to the areas involved in the latter days. Many of those kingdoms now consist of more than one nation. It is important, therefore, to think not of the ten "crowns" as ten NATIONS, but rather ten of the leaders of those nations. It is safe to say, however, that the ten crowns are representative of the European Union states where global power is currently vested. We can see from the ensuing verses that the seven heads of the beast refer to the seven previous world empires, and Satan's dominion over them. The only other beast described in this chapter (Rev. 13:11-17) is the False Prophet. This beast, you will note in Rev. 13:11 rises from the Land. From that verse, we know the False Prophet will be a Jew. (Isa. 9:14-15; Hos. 9:7-9, 9:13.) Unlike the horns of the first beast, the horns of the second beast do not represent "nations" in the modern-day sense. They represent two of the 12 tribes of Israel. It was an Ephraimite, Micah, who created the first golden calf to worship when the Jews reached the Holy Land after the Exodus (Judges 17:4-13). Danites stole the idol, and Micah the priest (a Levite) and led the Jews back to idolatry (Judges 18:17-21). (See also 1 Kings 11:26, 12:26-29 and Hosea 9:17-13.) The two horns of the false prophet represent Dan and Ephraim who, once again, will play the role of "scapegoat, leading the Jews to Antichrist--the false Messiah. You will note also, in Rev. 7:4-8, when the 12 spiritual tribes of Israel and named, Dan and Ephraim are missing. In their places we find Joseph and Levi. (Return)

7.

Who will be here during the 1,000 year reign on Earth with Jesus? From different ministries I have heard that there will be a 'few' or 'multitudes.' Which is correct? Or, will there be two separate groups?

This is one of those things where one man's guess is as good as another as to how many people will enter the Millennial Kingdom. It should be noted, however, that there will be two very distinct groups on Earth at that time. First, there will be those who escaped the wrath of God at the Sheeps and Goats Judgment which will take place at the East Gate of Jerusalem. Second, there will be the saints (those raptured) who return with Christ as His army. The Sheeps and Goats Judgment will take place over 45 days (the period between the end of the Battle of Armageddon and the ushering in of the Millennial Kingdom). (Dan. 12:11-13.) Hell will open its doors to receive the damned in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom just below the East Gate (Isa. 30:33; Jer. 19:2). Whether the majority of humanity or just a portion of it accepts the mark of beast remains to be evidenced. Thus, no preacher can tell you with any degree of honesty or certainty that there will be "many" or "few" humans entering the Millennial Kingdom. However, those living will at that time who escape the horror of the Sheeps and Goats Judgment will enter the Millennium as the "governed," not the governors. Those who will rule with Christ will be the saints who were martyred for their faith, and those who were raptured (harpazio, or in Greek, parousia). (1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Th. 4:15-17)--which is not to be confused with the "judgment resurrection (Rev. 20:4-5, 11:15). (Return)

8.

Do the Jewish feasts play an important role in endtime events?

The Jewish feasts (specifically those ordained as such by God) play an important role not only in the endtime, but they record a theological chronology of Christianity itself since each is prophetic of some developing facet of Christianity--in chronological order of their happening.

The Jews celebrate 10 feasts each year. Seven of them (eight, if you count the Sabbath) were ordained by God. The remaining three: Hanukkah, Purim, and Tisha b' Av came into practice after the Pentateuch was written. Although Hanukkah (which most non-Jewish Americans think of as the "Jewish Christmas"), the Feast of Dedication (or the Feast of Lights) is the best known of these feast days, we will not cover it here. Nor we will cover Purim or Tisha b' Av. Each of these are feast days that were established by the Arabian.

We will only discuss the Levitical feasts (excluding the Sabbath). The first feast day is Pesach (Passover, Lev. 23:5). The second is Hag Hamatozot (Unleavened Bread, Lev. 23: 6). The third is Omer (First Fruits, Lev. 23:10-11). The fourth is Sheuvout (Pentecost, Lev. 23:15-17). The fifth is Rosh Hashana (Trumpets, Lev. 23:24-25.) The sixth feast is Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, Lev. 23:27-28.) Most students of the Mideast are familiar with the term"Yom Kippur" only because of the Yom Kippur War in June, 1967 (also known as the Six Day War) when the Israelis took the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and large portion of Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanese land and defeated their Arab enemies in victory that startled the entire world. The final feast is Succoth (Tabernacles, Lev. 23:34-36).

Far too few Christians (or those who call themselves Christians) realize that there is a close relationship, or kinsman bond, between Christianity and Judaism. Our Messiah is Jewish. We are children of the Lord only through adoption.

Most Christians somewhat relate the Jewish Passover with Easter even though the early church disassociated Easter from Passover in order to [a] distance themselves from the Jews (whom they viewed as pagans), and [b] "attach" it to several Euro-pagan spring rituals in order to attract the pagans of Europe to Catholicism which, under Constantine, became the "mandated" religion of the Roman Empire. The early church attempted to 'gentilize" Jesus with blonde hair and blue eyes.

The first feast, Passover, was celebrated on the 14th day of Nisan. Christianity began with the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it should not come as any surprise to the Christian that Passover is anticipatory of that event (Ex.12:8/Jn. 12:12; Ex. 12:46/Jn.19:36; Ex. 12:13/Heb. 10:10-14, 1 Jn. 1:7, Rev. 13:8). Just as the death angel passed over the houses of the Hebrews in Goshen the night the first born of Egypt died, so will judgment and damnation pass over those who are covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents the sinless, holy walk of our Lord. It is our communion with Him. Combined with Passover, we have the body and blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:24-25). The Feast of First Fruits represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day (Jn. 2:19; 1 Cor. 15:4). Christ was the first to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20-46), the first to ascend into Heaven, and the first to possess a glorified body (Mk. 16:19; Lk. 24:37-43, 49-53; Jn. 20:17, 19-29; Acts 1:6-11). Many Christians ignore the prophetic significance of the first three Levitical feasts to the birth of Christianity, and other than to recognize a vague connection between Passover and Easter, they tend to dismiss them as unimportant. Nothing in God's Word is unimportant. Since each Word was uttered by the Spirit of God to the "writer" of those words, they have a significance which is important to us today because God does not have time for idle chatter.

Most Christians recognize, through Pentecost, the birth of the Christian church (Acts 2:1-47). Two wave loaves containing leaven are used in the Pentecostal offering. The loaves represent spiritual Israel, the saved Jews and Gentiles (Gal. 3:28), which is the true church of Jesus Christ. We need to pay attention to the fact that God commanded the Jews to use leavening (yeast) in this offering. Leavening represents sin (Mt. 16:6-12; 1 Cor. 5:5-8; Gal. 5:7-9). God is warning the believers that the church will not be free of sin. (Grain farmers in Israel call Pentecost Hag Hakatzin, the festival of the harvest. Fruit farmers call it Yom HaBikkurim, which means "the day of the First Fruit." Pentecost marks the beginning of both the spring grain and fruit harvest.) In Christianity, Pentecost produced "an early harvest," because on that day 3,000 converts to Christianity found eternal salvation (Acts 2:41).

If you are a student of the Old Testament (which regretfully, most Christians are not), you cannot help but notice the first three feasts take place over a period of 4 days, but Pentecost is separated from them by 49 days (Lev. 23:15-16).

The remaining three feasts have endtime significance. The period between the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets represents the entire Church Age--the Times of the Gentiles. And, up until the Feast of Trumpets, Scripture clearly and specifically details the precise day when the event would occur; and in each case, fulfillment occurred at that time. For example, Lev. 23:5 tells us that the 14th day of Nisan would be the Passover. History confirms that on Monday, April 6, 32 AD, Jesus of Nazareth entered Jerusalem by way of the East Gate for the last time. For three days, Jesus' life comes under the microscope as He is scrutinized, like the Passover Lamb, for blemishes. None are found. On the 14th of Nisan, He became our Passover. On the first day of the week (Lev. 23:7) following the Passover, the believer is instructed to bring a sheaf of the "first fruit" to the Temple (Lev. 23:10). On Sunday, April 12, 32 AD, Christ became our "First Fruit" offering when He rose from the dead. Forty-nine days from First Fruits, the Feast of Pentecost would be celebrated. These celebrations are all "date specific."

When we examine the Scriptures that deal the Feast of Trumpets, we will discover, first, that there has been no specific fulfillment of this event. Second, while the Jews celebrate Rosh Hashana at a specific time each year, it is done so on the first day of the 7th month as a memorial to the event it prefigures. But, that should not come as a surprise to the Christian since Rosh Hashana prefigures the Rapture of the Church--and only God knows the specific date and time it will occur.

The sixth feast is the Day of Atonement. As its name implies, this will be a day of judgment and of payment for debts due. Yom Kippur prefigures the Sheeps and Goats Judgment which will take place at the end of the Tribulation and should not be confused with the Rewards Judgment (1 Cor. 1:8, 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; Phil. 1:6, 2:16; 2 Tim. 4:8) in which the believer's works, and not the believer, will be judged. (Since I mentioned what happens at the Sheeps and Goats Judgment in an earlier question, I will not re-address it here.)

The final feast, Tabernacles, prefigures the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ on Earth (Amos 9:11; Rev. 20:11-15). At the conclusion of this era (1,000 years), the Great White Throne Judgment will take place. This is the judgment of the damned. It will be tisha b' av on that day for all who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. (Return)

9.

Will a person who has accepted Christ..." (i.e, is saved) "...but does not follow God's teachings, go to Heaven?

While this question sounds simple enough and straight forward on the surface, it is a very complex question because it goes much deeper than the words which are spoken to a question which is not voiced. But, let's take the question as it was asked, make the assumption that the person asking it is really saying: "Can I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, not give up any of the carnal things I do, and still go to Heaven?" and answer it first. The very straight forward answer to that question is NO. Making a commitment to Christ is not like casting a vote for a new mayor, Congressman or even the President of the United States. It is an agreement being you and your Maker to completely surrender your carnal life, your carnal mind, your carnal heart and your carnal soul to Him in exchange for a new spiritual entity that will dwell within you--the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cannot reside within an unclean vessel (i.e., an unregenerate spirit). Thus, the experience known as being "born again." Simply stated, if you have not surrendered your carnal nature, you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you have not done that, then you are not "saved." If, on the other hand the question poised here is: "Can you be saved and not do the 'outward' things--like going to church, and still go to Heaven?" the answer is a reluctant, qualified YES. Going to "church" does not, in itself, get you saved, nor does it keep you in a sanctified state once you take that step of faith. While there are millions of saved, sanctified Christians in America's churches, our churches are still, nevertheless, filled to overflowing with hypocrites who are on their way to Hell. If, on the other hand, if you mean by not doing the "outward things," a sanctified walk, you once again have a problem. No one needs to be in church to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Nor do they have to be a church attendee to remain saved. Fellowship with like-minded Christians is important because by associating with those who believe in Jesus Christ makes the new believer's walk of faith easier. We are not "saved" by our works. We are saved only by the grace of God, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ who atoned for our sins on Calvary. Just as He walked the walk to Calvary, we are required to walk the sanctified walk of Christianity. If we are not following Jesus Christ, we will even have a clue "what" or "where" the "Christian walk" is, let alone how to "walk" it.

The Spirit of God cannot, nor will not, abide the carnal believer. Without the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) there can be no indwelling (1 Cor. 6:19) because, as I said earlier, the Holy Spirit cannot reside in an unclean vessel. Since the Spirit cannot abide with those who merely utter a profession of faith with no desire to be regenerated, He cannot instruct them. Since a spiritual knowledge of God cannot be achieved in a carnal state, those who make only a superficial commitment to the Lord (usually to please a family member), never become rooted and their faith quickly withers and dies.

If you are a recent convert to Jesus Christ, you need to understand the born again experience is not merely the act of reforming one's own human nature to conform to the precepts of Scripture. It is a real, physical transformation, performed by the Holy Spirit within you. Your carnal spirit is regenerated into a new tabernacle of flesh as you become a "new creation" in Jesus Christ.

You cannot be "educated" to Jesus Christ. Many have tried. You cannot be baptized into Christianity, either. Baptism is a rite performed after the regeneration, as an outward admission of your submission to Christ. Nor can we hide our carnal nature in a closet and hope it goes away with time; and strive to achieve the kingdom of God through good works. So you see, not even following God's teachings, if we are not truly saved, will earn us admission into the kingdom of Heaven. It is not the works we do, it is the walk we walk that determines if we are on the path to glory or the path to damnation. And, since the road map to that path is found only in God's teachings, we cannot find the path if we fail to follow the Word. (Return)

10.

Which 'symbols' are used in the Bible to represent the United States of America's role in Endtime events?

The United States plays no significant role in the endtime events and is, thus, referred to only indirectly as the "islands of the sea" (Isa. 59:18; Jer. 25:22, 31:19; Ezek. 39:6; Dan. 11:18; Zep. 2:11), and then we are viewed collectively with the other Gentile nations. I realize that it is difficult for the people of the most powerful nation--and the most Christian nation--on Earth to accept the notion that the Word of God addresses them only superficially and, in most instances, indirectly. It should not be so, however, because God has made no secret of the fact that the Bible records both a chronology of His chosen people, the Jews, and a set of instructions for them to follow throughout their history. The primary theme of the Bible concerns God's redemptive relationship with the Jews first and the Church second.

Although we are Israel's primary advocate--and political defender--in the world arena, the United States, as a geographic area, does not exist anywhere in the Scriptures. This, again, should not come as a surprise to the Christian. During the endtime, the Church--of which we are representative--is not present, either, since it will be raptured to avoid the time of Jacob's trouble, which will be God's judgment on His people, the Jews--and the Gentiles who have chosen not to be protected by the blood of the Lamb of God.

Interestingly, while the geographic area we know as the United States is ignored by Scripture, much of the land which encompasses the "former" Soviet Union is clearly described (Ezek. 38:1-39:12) since it will be directly involved in the final days of contemporary Israel--as will Egypt, Syria, and the balance of the Arab and Islamic world. So will many of the European nations...and, most of all China, which is mentioned by character (Rev. 9:14-18). It should be obvious to anyone who studies the headlines of the local newspapers in conjunction the endtime prophesies that, unless Armageddon happens more quickly than any of us wants, the greatest economic and military power in the world will be drained of its strength, like Sampson at the hands of Delilah, before the final phase begins. The last appearance of America appears to be found in Ezekiel 38:4; 38:11-15 when Russia comes down against Israel and launches what appears to be a nuclear strike against the United States. America will retaliate, destroying a large portion of Russia and those troops sent against Israel. From that point, neither the United States or Russia seems to play a role in the endtime. (Return)

11.

In the Seven Letters to the Churches, Christ mentions two of the Churches, Ephesus and Smyrna, about their deeds and doctrines; which Christ despised of the Nicolaitans. What is the background of the Nicolaitans to the extent of the purpose used in Revelation 2?

First, it is important to note that an example is drawn between the church at Ephesus and the church at Smyrna. Smyrna was the church of the persecuted. The members of that congregation were poor in worldly possessions, yet they were rich in spiritual things. They are contrasted to the church at Ephesus, which was rich in worldly possessions, yet they were spiritually bankrupt. Ephesus was an early Greek settlement whose name means "emporium," or "the way in." Ephesus, a port city, was the gateway to trade in the early empires. By the time the New Testament was penned, it's glory days had passed, but it was still an important community. To the Romans, Ephesus became the center of "Emperor worship," and contained many temples devoted to worshipping the pagan idols not only of Rome, but Greece and Egypt as well.

This should give you a picture of the cultural problems faced by the Christians in Ephesus, and the doctrinal problems they faced. Ephesus was, you might say, the most "politically correct" city Paul evangelized. The "pope of political correctness" in that era was Nicolaus of Antioch (Acts 6:5), one of seven men chosen to serve the Jerusalem Christian community. Nicolaus departed Christ's doctrine while maintaining the "trappings of Christianity." He believed that men, as long as they acknowledged that Christ died for their sins, could live their lives as they pleased and still get to Heaven (does that sound familiar?) Interestingly, the name Nicolaus contains the root of two Greek words within it: nikan (which means "to conquer") and laos (which means "people.") Taking that thought one step farther, the named Balaam (which is synonymous with apostasy means (in Hebrew) the same thing. Bela means "to conquer" and ha'am means "people."

More on the Nicolaitans

In the letter to Pergamos, Christ accuses the Nicolaitans of seducing the people into eating meat offered to idols, and into acts of fornication--two things forbidden to the Gentiles who were admitted into the brotherhood of Christianity (Acts 15:28-29). Paralleling the Nicolaitans to our contemporary society we have the "social" church of today. This is the "church" that, through the societal mandates of "political correctness," now sanction the marital union between homosexuals and lesbians and endorses the right of women to kill their unborn children as a means of population control. It is this same church that is attempting to "merge" Christianity into the New Age. In other words, the Nicolaitans, feeling the societal pressure of the political power of the day, sought to establish a compromise that would allow them to exist without persecution. (Return)

12. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8. Can you explain these verses, and the participants?

To properly examine those verses, we need to start at verse one. It begins: "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work, but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming." Speaking in 2 Thessalonians is the Apostle Paul. As Paul continued on his journey thorough Asia Minor, other missionary converts came through Thessalonica, preaching the Gospel. However, in far too many cases (just as it is today), many of these "evangelists" were self-appointed and self-ordained. Unfortunately, at least one of those false evangelists told the Thessalonians that he was sent from Paul and had a "letter" from him, proclaiming that the Day of the Lord was upon them. (We have those same "doomsday" prophets among us now. They predicted the rapture of the church would happen several times during this century--collecting the accrued wealth of their followers as they went, since when the Rapture happened, they would no longer need it.) Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians was sent to correct that falsehood, and to alleviate the apprehensions of those Christians by revealing what events would transpire first.

Paul explained that the first thing which would happen (2 Th. 2:1) would be the "gathering" (i.e., the "rapture). At that instant in time, the "man of lawlessness" (i.e., Antichrist) would be revealed to the world. (That does not mean that Antichrist is not operative in the world prior to the Rapture; it means what it said, at that time he would be revealed by the "rebellion" which occurs that will identify this charismatic world leader as Antichrist will happen when he exerts power over the world government, and three nations rebel against his sovereign authority over them--and they are defeated. While this period is discussed extensively in the Book of Daniel, the developmental role of Antichrist is actually found in the first book of the Macabees (in the Catholic Bible). It presents the dual view of Antiochus IV Ephiphanes (god manifest), the Seleucid ruler who overthrew the Jews in 171 BC, and, through him, Antichrist. Antiochus IV is the "fierce king" depicted in Dan. 8:23-25). In reading 1 Macabees 1:1-62, you will see that Antiochus IV overwhelmed the Jews, made a 7 year covenant with them, which he broke in 3 1/2 years. On Dec. 15, 168 B.C., Antiochus IV installed an idol of the god Jupiter Olympus on the altar in the Holy of Holies. Ten days later, he sacrificed a pig on the altar and declared himself to be God. He died of distemper in 163 BC--professing that the God of the Jews was the one and only real God and that he was dying because he defiled their sanctuary. That which Antiochus IV did, Antichrist will repeat in the endtime, thus the significance of Paul's remarks.

To properly examine those verses, we need to start at verse one. It begins: "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work, but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming." Speaking in 2 Thessalonians is the Apostle Paul. As Paul continued on his journey thorough Asia Minor, other missionary converts came through Thessalonica, preaching the Gospel. However, in far too many cases (just as it is today), many of these "evangelists" were self-appointed and self-ordained. Unfortunately, at least one of those false evangelists told the Thessalonians that he was sent from Paul and had a "letter" from him, proclaiming that the Day of the Lord was upon them. (We have those same "doomsday" prophets among us now. They predicted the rapture of the church would happen several times during this century--collecting the accrued wealth of their followers as they went, since when the Rapture happened, they would no longer need it.) Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians was sent to correct that falsehood, and to alleviate the apprehensions of those Christians by revealing what events would transpire first.

Paul explained that the first thing which would happen (2 Th. 2:1) would be the "gathering" (i.e., the "rapture). At that instant in time, the "man of lawlessness" (i.e., Antichrist) would be revealed to the world. (That does not mean that Antichrist is not operative in the world prior to the Rapture; it means what it said, at that time he would be revealed by the "rebellion" which occurs that will identify this charismatic world leader as Antichrist will happen when he exerts power over the world government, and three nations rebel against his sovereign authority over them--and they are defeated. While this period is discussed extensively in the Book of Daniel, the developmental role of Antichrist is actually found in the first book of the Macabees (in the Catholic Bible). It presents the dual view of Antiochus IV Ephiphanes (god manifest), the Seleucid ruler who overthrew the Jews in 171 BC, and, through him, Antichrist. Antiochus IV is the "fierce king" depicted in Dan. 8:23-25). In reading 1 Macabees 1:1-62, you will see that Antiochus IV overwhelmed the Jews, made a 7 year covenant with them, which he broke in 3 1/2 years. On Dec. 15, 168 BC, Antiochus IV installed an idol of the god Jupiter Olympus on the altar in the Holy of Holies. Ten days later, he sacrificed a pig on the altar and declared himself to be God. He died of distemper in 163 BC--professing that the God of the Jews was the one and only real God and that he was dying because he defiled their sanctuary. That which Antiochus IV did, Antichrist will repeat in the endtime, thus the significance of Paul's remarks.

Paul advised the Thessalonicans of the sequence of events that would happen. The Rapture would happen first. The "restrainer" (i.e., the Holy Spirit) would be removed (but will still be "operative"), allowing Antichrist to reign for seven years. After 3 1/2 years of prosperity, the world's economy will collapse, destroying all wealth. At that time, all of the horrors of the Tribulation would be unleashed on mankind. Man will suffer the holocaust predicted by God for 3 1/2 years, ultimately driving all of the nations of the world to the Valley of Megiddo to battle the forces of Antichrist (protecting his stronghold). China, at that time, will cross into the deserts of Sinai and the Battle of Armageddon will then occur. Four days before Christ returns with his army of saints, the two tribulation witnesses will be slain on the streets of Jerusalem. Their corpses will be left to rot "for all the world to see." After 3 1/2 days, both will rise from the dead, and before witnesses, will ascend bodily into heaven. That event will trigger the return of Jesus with his army of saints and the Battle of Armageddon will commence. (Return)

13.

Can you tell me who you see as Gog/Magog? Are you seeing this currently unveil before our eyes in the current unrest in the Mideast? Or, at least, a precursor to it?

Gog is the ruler of the nation, Magog. Gog clearly represents the land we would call Russia today (although it encompasses far more area--all of what was the former Soviet Union plus all of the land around the Black Sea, which includes Turkey. Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews, describes the Magogites as the Scythians (Ant. 1:6:1). Historically, the Scythians were a warring tribe known also as the tochari, who had spread out through central Europe. Periodically, the Scythians launched raids into Israel, but no concerted was ever made by them to establish themselves in that area. In 150 BC the Scythians were invading eastern Europe and Asia Minor. Under a chieftain named Moga, the Scythians attacked the Greeks at Bactria (135 BC), but the Greeks successfully repelled the invasion. Scythians fought at least two battles with the Seleucids: one in 129 BC and the other in 124 BC shortly after the Seleucids were defeated by Artabanus I. The Scythians reached as far south as India. Archaeological digs in Chir Tope record a Scythan chieftain named Azes fought the Yueh-chihs there. The date of the battle is unknown. This history is included because there are such varying opinions today as to who or what Gog and Magog actually represent.

In Ezekiel 38: 2-13 we see the building of a ten-nation confederation that will come down against Israel either in conjunction with, shortly before or immediately after, the Rapture (Ezek. 39:9). They will likely be coming down to steal the riches of the Dead Sea...in all likelihood those riches will be oil. It is very likely that the mother-lode of all oil reserves in the world is located beneath the Dead Sea and that those reserves, which could very well shift the economic balance of power, will prove to dwarf any found anywhere else on Earth to date--making the Dead Sea the most valuable piece of real estate in the world. The ten nation confederation, headed by Russia, will include Turkey (Meschech). Ethiopia (Cush), Libya (Put), Armenia (Tubal), Iraq (Togarmah), Iran (Persia), the as yet undefined eastern Russian confederation (Gomer), Yemen, Kuwait and South Yemen (Sheba) and Saudi Arabia (Dedan).

With the turmoil going on in the Mideast today, and the efforts being made by every American President since Jimmy Carter to create their own legacy in history by forging a peace treaty between Israel and the Arab world, it is clear that we have reached the end of the road. Peace has not been established yet only because Antichrist has not yet been revealed. The man who signs the treaty on behalf of the Arab world (not just one Arab nation) will be Antichrist. It will not be Yassar Arafat, who speaks for the Palestinians (former Semites, and not Arabs) although they are Islamic. What we are witnessing in the Mideast today is a precursor of the final conflicts that will make the "community of nations" pressure Israel to seek peace "at any cost" with her neighbors. When it appears as though it will happen, Russia and those nine nations will come against Israel. It is likely, from Scripture that, at that precise moment, a nuclear strike will be launched against the United States (Ezek. 39: 1-6). The United States will retaliate. Five-sixths of those who participate in the attack will be destroyed. Verse six presents a view which clearly suggests both a first strike and a retaliatory strike take place, although there is nothing there that indicates which side fires first. But in this theological view, we see fire not only in Magog but the coastlands as well. (The term "coastlands" is a transliteration of the term "islands of the sea," and represent the Gentile nations outside the sphere of the known world of that time.) The sequence of events, including the nuclear destruction of many of the major population centers in the United States is not only scripturally logical--it is almost mandated for an orderly fulfillment of the remaining endtime prophecies since it is probably the only thing which would create enough chaos throughout the world to conceal the theological significance of millions of people suddenly vanishing without a trace...but leaving all of their personal affects behind--including their identification. (Return)

14.

What is the distinction between the "trump" and the "trumpet" described in 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Th. 4:16?

You cited both scriptures. 1 Cor 15:52 says: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed..." 1 Th. 4:16 says: "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first..." You continue, asking: "In the KJV of the Bible the term "trump" is used in these two verses above and no where else that I could find in the Bible. All other times the word "trumpet" was used--and often. Is there any significance to this?" There is a major significance since there is only one Rapture of the Church and these are the only two verses in the entire word of God which describe the event from the personal perspective of God calling His people. When we see either word, "trump" or "trumpet" we tend to associate both with the musical instrument (i.e., a trumpet). When we "trump," we are blowing a horn. Linguistically, we know a trumpet is a musical instrument. In this instance, the "trumpet of God" is a ram's horn (a shofar), not a brass instrument like those in a band. The "trump of God," however, is not; nor is it the blowing of the horn. The "trump" is the voice of God, or in this case, the voice of Jesus Christ. His shout is the warning that the bridegroom is about to take his bride. The blowing of the trumpet is the victory call, bringing the bride home.

Surprising as it may seem, the ritual that will take place is a ritual that Jews practiced for well over 2,000 years. When a Jewish male wanted to take a bride, he was required to pay the bride's father a "dowery." The marriage contract, which was oral until the dowery was paid, became a written covenant. Before the bridegroom could claim his bride he was obligated to return to his father's home to prepare a place for her (Jn. 14:2). The "place" was usually an apartment that was added to his father's house. Because the bridegroom was usually anxious to claim his bride, the decision when the wedding apartment was "ready" to be occupied by the bride was made by the groom's father (Mt. 24:36). Not even the groom knew the date. During the betrothal period, it was the responsibility of the bride to be ready for the unexpected appearance of the bridegroom (Mt. 25:1-13). As custom would have it, the bridegroom might even arrive in the middle of the night (1 Th. 5:2; 2 Pe. 3:10). Because of this, the bride was charged with the responsibility of keeping a filled oil lamp beside her bed (Mt. 25:6-7) in the event the bridegroom came in the dark of night. When the bridegroom came for his bride, he would bring the best man along who was to alert the bride moments before the bridegroom appeared. In the case of the Rapture, when Jesus trumps "the bridegroom cometh!" the archangel will blow the shofar and the elect will join Jesus in the air. The dead will rise first, followed by those who are alive. And, on Earth, in the twinkling of an eye, they will be gone. Left behind will be piles of clothing that only of a 1/1000th of a second before contained a person. And, in the pockets and purses of those departed will be credit and debit cards...and all of the ID needed for anyone to use. It is this fact that creates the dilemma that mandates the imprinting of the "mark of the beast." Not understanding what happened to the "missing," there is a fear on the part of the utopian money barons that what happened once can happen again. Only now, if it does, if the debit or credit cards will be imprinted in the flesh of those who vanish. They cannot be misused by those who find their belongings. And, while the disappearances will cause widespread panic, Scripture tells us that Antichrist will offer a explanation that the people of the world will believe (2 Th. 2:11). (Return)

15.

My question is actually a series of questions dealing with baptism. Jesus said to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But, when I go through the Book of Acts, I see everyone baptized in the name of the Lord, or the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm familiar with the "Jesus Only" doctrine on baptism, and they are somewhat the root of my question. But I would like to go a bit deeper. The Apostles were told not to teach anything concerning that name (Jesus) [a]. That same name was used for healing, casting out demons, and praying. "At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow..." Then why not be baptized in that name [b]? If Jesus said baptize in the name of the Father..., then what is the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit [c]? Jesus said name not names. Does this imply that there is one name for all three [d]? I'm baptized, but I must admit, the Jesus Only people have a valid stand. One more part to this long question. Where did baptism originate [e]? Was it used during Old Testament days? I sincerely hope you can help me out of my confusion...[because]...this is a big one for a Baptist.

This is a very complex question not so much for the difficulty in answering it theologically, but because it is a "denominational sacred cow" for the Apostolic faith. First, like most dogmas that separate rather than unite Christians, the "Jesus only" teaching is rooted in one verse of Scripture, Acts 2:38 when "...Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Peter's response to the Jews who asked what they should do has, admittedly, presented Bible expositors with a grist of problems since more than a few Bible commentators have argued that Peter's command supersedes the command of John The Baptist to be baptized unto God for repentance, or Mark who, in Mark 1:8 (or Jesus in Acts 1:5), issues a command to be baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit; or for that matter, that is supersedes the command of Jesus in Matt. 28:19-20 that the Apostles should go forth "baptizing...in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Those who argue that Peter's command supersedes the previous baptismal models largely base their argument on two thesis: first, that Peter was the head of the Church. He was not. James, the half-brother of Jesus, was. (See Acts 14:26-15:20, Gal. 2:11-14). Second, it is based in part on the mistaken belief that the sequence of the Books of the Bible are chronological. They are not. Acts, the testimony of the resurrection of Jesus, was the first New Testament book written. Mark's gospel is believed by Biblical archeologists to have been the last gospel penned (with only the epistles following...and of course, the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John on the Isle of Patmos, concluding the work in 90 A.D.)

That much settled, we can now seek the reason why Mark--and Jesus (in Acts 1:5)--commanded baptism in the name of the Holy Spirit, and why Peter commanded baptism in the name of Jesus in Acts 2:38. In Mark's case, he was not offering guidelines. He clarified a chronology of the baptism of John the Baptist in which John baptized with water; and the Messiah who followed him baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Jesus further amplified that thought, telling His disciples and Apostles that shortly they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (i.e, an indwelling). The two forms of baptism were entirely different things. Water baptism, the "cleansing," has its roots in the Great Flood when God cleansed the Earth of sin. (Baptism [e], both immersion and sprinkling as a sign of "cleansing", was practiced by both Isaiah and Ezekiel and perhaps some of the Minor Prophets as well.)

Did Jesus' command to His Apostles not to teach that He was the Messiah [a], serve to negate His baptismal instructions in Matt. 28:19-20? No, for two reasons. First, prior to Jesus' return to Jerusalem for the last Lord's Passover (thereafter Scripture refers to the Passover as the "Jew's Passover"), He was still doing His work on Earth, and His "time to die" for the sins of mankind was prescribed scripturally to verify for all mankind that He was, indeed, the Messiah. Since the Sanhedrin was trying to get Jesus to make some claim to deity so they could legally stone Him to death, He instructed His disciples not to make such claims, or to heal the sick in His name. That, He knew, would come later.

When Peter told spoke to the crowd of Jesus' resurrection. God, Peter informed the crowd, had raised Jesus back to life as a witness to His deity. Upon hearing, the crowd was "cut to the heart." Fearful that the Lord would seek retribution, they asked Peter, "Brother, what shall we do?"

Peter's reply was simple: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." Forgiveness, not retribution, would come if they did. They were part of the nation which had rejected the Messiah. Peter told them, quite simply, that if they truly repented--and if they were baptized in the name of the One they had rejected, they would be forgiven and would no longer stand in condemnation for their sins. Peter emphasized Jesus Christ not because he, as the "leader" of the Christian movement (which he was not), had changed the baptism formula given by Jesus in Matt. 28:19-20, but only to stress that it is through Christ Jesus, our mediator with the Father, that we are saved.

It is important for the modern day Christian to understand that the Jews in the first century knew God in a personal sense, and knew that Elohim [c,d] implied a triune Godhead. In other words, they knew who God was; and those who had accepted Jesus Christ previous to that day, knew who the Holy Spirit was. Peter, in Acts 2:38 was reiterating precisely who the Son was--Jesus Christ, the man whom they had crucified.

Mark 1:8 and Acts 1:5, when coupled with Acts 2:38 create a new problem for the Christian. Just as our Supreme Court today couples various Amendments to the Constitution with case law to create entirely distinct laws which are judiciated rather than legislated, church denominations have been very successful at creating entirely knew denominations by using the same coupling techniques with separate and distinct Scriptures. Those noted above caused the split in the Pentecostal movement, breaking the Apostolic faith from the more traditional Pentecostal faiths like the Assemblies of God and the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee.

By coupling Acts 1:5 with 2:38, we take two separate and distinct forms of baptism and make them into one. Those who belong to denominations which have coupled those Scriptures, believe that a special "infilling" (not indwelling) of the Holy Spirit occurs when the believer is saved and baptized, and salvation is evidenced by speaking in tongues (based entirely on the salvation experience of Cornelius in Acts 10). However, that is a fallacy of man. While the gifts of the Spirit are as operative today as they were in the first century, those gifts may or may not be realized by the new creation in Christ at that time--or, unfortunately, ever. Why? Because only a handful of Christians seek them--or, for that matter, want them.

The Catholic Church recognized the distinction between the first grace and the second, and in the rituals of Catholicism, identified them distinctly. The act of water baptism is baptism. The act of seeking the "indwelling" is called Confirmation.

But, even more important, the Christian who does not, needs to understand the significance of both. Water baptism, the symbol of the washing away of our sins is a commandment from God. Baptism is the first work of grace. At our conversion to Christianity, we are admonished by Jesus to be baptized. Baptism does not save us. Our repentance of our sins, and our asking forgiveness of the Father through His Son, our propitiation, Christ Jesus is what blots those sins from the memory of God. The act of baptism is symbolic of the washing away of those sins.

The baptism of fire, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the second work of grace. (Only water and fire can cleanse sin.) The baptism of the Holy Spirit holds a richer significance because it is preparatory for a role in ministry, or it prepares the new believer for the warfare he or she will encounter in his or her Christian walk.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit was necessary in the first century because the disciples had to carry forth the message of Jesus Christ to the unsaved. They would require signs and miracles to believe. There are those who, while agreeing with this statement, would then admonish me saying, "those gifts all died with John, at the end of the Apostolic Age. Those gifts are no longer in operation because this is the Christian Era, and everyone in the world knows who Jesus is."

I would remind those detractors of another verse in Acts--2:16-18 when Peter said: "...This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel [see Joel 2:28-29]: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens, I will our out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."

Peter, only days after Christ's resurrection, was looking forward to the "end of days," when the Son of perdition would be revealed--our time.

We, those of us entering the new millennium, have entered the Post-Christian phase of the Church Age. We have built the Church of Laodecia, and we, as the "Christian Body" are actively seeking members to fill the pews and fill the coffers as the New Age ministers of political-correctness fill us with a societally-acceptable gospel that offends no one except God. It would be this period, Peter told us, when God would pour out His Spirit on all mankind with the second baptism. (Return)Well

16

Under what circumstances can you divorce?

That is a very interesting question because it is extremely hard to answer
scripturally. First, it isn't so much the divorce but whether or not you can
remarry after the divorce. Most people believe that if you divorce a spouse who has committed adultery you can remarry. Ministers who believe that cite Christ as the authority. In Matthew 19:9 Christ said: "Whosoever shall put away his wife except it be for fornication [porneia], and shall marry another committeth adultery [moichao]; and whosoever marrieth her who is put away doth commit adultery." It is important to note that the "except" clause in verse nine was not a divine precept. It was inserted by Christ because of the hardness of man's heart, and because of his unforgiving nature. Divorce is not, nor ever was, part of God's grand plan for mankind.

Further it is important to note that the "divorce" Christ would allow to
be granted is not "divorce" as we understand it today. He spoke in terms of
the marriage customs of the first century. The first century Jew was deemed to be married from the moment of the signing of the marriage contract (what we call the 'engagement'). It was during the betrothal period [Lk. 2:5] that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was found to be with child [Mt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:26-35]. Had he wanted to, Joseph could legally have put Mary away, or publicly accused her of adultery. If he had accused her before a court of the Sanhedrin, she would have been stoned to death [Dt. 22:12-20]. If he divorced her without providing her with a writ of divorce, she would have been disgraced for life. No reputable Jew could ever have married her.

What we have just learned is that the only divorce granted under the laws established by God was that during the "engagement." Once the couple was joined together in matrimony by a vow taken before God, the union is viewed by God as permanent.

The reason for this is important. The marriage covenant typifies Christ and the Church. It is a permanent union. As we examine the spiritual nature of the marriage between Christ and the Church, we see the attributes of human marriage as well.

Because Christ's apostles recognized the pitfalls in this, and because they realized that once the marriage ceremony took place, they would be stuck with the wife even if she was unfaithful, they thought it better for a man not to marry.

It appears, however, that in Scripture there are two "loopholes" through which a man or woman might divorce and be allowed to remarry. The first of these in the case of an unequally yoked couple. (2 Cor. 6:14) Paul begins his narrative in 2 Corinthians by affirming that a marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian was no different, in the eyes of God, than the marriage of two Christians. The Christian, Paul said, could not leave the non-Christian (1 Cor. 7:13-14) because the non-Christian is sanctified through the Christian. In the event the believer leaves the non-believer, the believer may not remarry. However, (vs. 15) if the non-believer leaves, the spouse is not under bondage to the marriage vow. He or she can remarry.

In addition, if neither spouse is a believer--and no vow to God is made--neither is bound by those vows which were made only to each other, and can divorce. (Return)

17

Using Old Testament Jewish time, how did they get 3 days out of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and if He was temporarily preped for burial, then how did He get into the final burial clothes that were folded neatly in the tomb?

First question: In the Semitic world (as well as the Greek world) of that
day, when a person referred to a period of time, say three days and three nights, only a portion of the first and third days and/or nights might be involved. An example of this type of analogy is found in 1 Sam. 30:12 where David, in the heat of battle, complained to his captains that he had not eaten in three days and nights. The Hebrew text renders his statement (as well as verse 13 of the same chapter) as hayyom u'e losah, which literally means the day before yesterday. The same analogy appears in Jonah 1:17 where the Scriptures say: "And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights." Again, hayyom u'e losah is used to describe the period of time which, once again, meant the day before yesterday. These transliterations substantiate both Matthew 12:40 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. History confirms that Jesus "gave up the ghost" around 3 p.m., Friday, April 10, 32 A.D. Before the sun set that day He was placed in the borrowed sepulcher (Mt. 27:60). The period of time (between 3 p.m. and sunset) constituted the first day and the first night. Saturday, April 11 was the second day. Sundown on the 11th until Jesus stepped forth from the tomb on the morning of Sunday, April 12 constituted the third day and night. So while Jesus rose on the third day, He was also in the grave for three days and three nights.

Second question: You asked: "If He was temporarily prepped for burial, how did he get into the final burial clothes that were folded neatly in the tomb. In point of fact, Jesus was never wrapped in the burial gauze, which is wrapped tightly around the body like a large bandage. The wrapping occurs after the body is washed in spices, etc. to prepare the corpse for burial.

In the case of Jesus, because the Sabbath (Friday at sundown) was rapidly
approaching, a linen covering (about 12' long) was laid out. The body of Jesus was laid on it (near the bottom, with about 6' of the wrap above His head.) That portion was then drawn over the top of His body as a blanket. That is all that was done at that time. The gauze wrappings were not used. The photo above is an actual photo of the top half of the Shroud of Turin showing a frontal view of Jesus as He lay in the tomb.

Kinetic heat cause the burns that created the perfect photo-negative image of Christ as He rose from the dead (through the linen shroud), leaving a perfect and unduplicatible three dimensional negative image of Himself as He rose from the dead. The gauze remained in the sepulcher, neatly folded. The linen shroud also remained, untouched and unopened, where Christ lay in the tomb. (Return)

18 Why would the stone be rolled away from the tomb when Jesus can walk through walls (Matthew 28:2)?

When Jesus rose from the dead (Mt. 28:1-15; Mk. 16:1-14; Lk. 21:1-32; Jn. 20:1-9) he rose bodily as a man, not as God. Until he ascended later that day, Jesus did not yet have His glorified body. You will recall that when He met Mary Magdalene ourside the tomb (John 20:17) He cautioned her not to touch Him since He had not yet returned to the Father. Encumbered with his human body, Jesus could not more walk through walls than we can. (Return)

19

It's difficult when your support isn't there and your husband jokes & ridicules your faith in God, using words I can't bring myself to even repeat... So hard!

Actually, the hard part is coming. One day soon those who are not saved will kneel before the Risen Lord. They will ask for mercy, but will receive
Justice instead. At the base of the Hill just outside the East Gate of Jerusalem where mankind will assemble for the Sheeps & Goats Judgment, there will be a horrific rumble, and the face of the Earth will crack open. The smell of sulfur and acid will reach the nostrils of those waiting to be judged from the Book of Deeds because their names are not written in the Book of Life. Through the eerie glow from the pit, fear will show on the faces of those who are about to be condemned to Hell--not because they were necessarily bad, but because they refused to be covered by the atoning blood of the Savior who paid for their sins long, long ago, they must pay for the sins in their lives with their own flesh. At that time, through tears of anguish, they will beg for a chance to repent and be saved--but at that time, just outside the gates of Hell, it will be too late. Now that is hard. What we endure here trying to lead those we love to salvation is easy compared what those loved ones will experience on that day.
(Return)

20

How do you know Jesus' body was actually put in the tomb? It appears left to the disciples and his follower with no others witnesses he was entombed.

We know the body of Jesus was placed in the tomb because Jewish law demanded it. Unlike the world of today in which conspiracy politics looms large in our lives, that was not the case in the simpler times. Jewish law was rigid in its expectation that a body must be placed within the tomb before sundown. Unlike the world today where bodies are generally not interned for three or four days so that friends and relatives can pay their last respect, in Biblical days (with the exception of the Egyptian society) the blood was not drained from the cadaver. And, for that reason, decay (and the odor of death) commenced almost immediately. Because the execution of Jesus was on the day before the Sabbath, at sundown the Jews could not touch the body of a dead person until the first day of the week. For that reason, the spices and herbs that are used to perserve the body of the deceased were not applied to the body of Jesus. He was laid in the tomb and the burial cloth, which was normally wrapped around the body, was simply draped over the body. (This burial cloth has been
preserved and is now known as the Shroud of Turin [Pictured in #17 above].)

The Shroud contains a negative photographic 3-dimensional image of Christ. The image shows puncture wounds along the forehead (caused by the crown of thorns). It shows the nail wounds in His wrists and ankles. It shows the spear wound in his side. And interesting, when it was scientifically studied in the early 1970s, the coins placed over the eyes of the were coins from the early 1st century. (Return)

21

How did Matthew know what the pharisses said to Pilat in 27:62? Was he awitness to the discussion, or did he make assumptions because there was a guard posted?

It is important to understand that although Matthew is the human author of
his gospel, and Mark, Luke and John were the authors of theirs, the real author of the entire Bible are not the men whose names are linked to them, but the Holy Spirit Who provided the words. (Return)

22

Is there a difference between the apolistic faith and Christianity, or are
they one and the same?

There are many who claim because the Apostolics "deny" the Trinity that they are not true Christians, just as those same people claim that Catholics are doomed to Hell because of their belief that a priest is a necessary intercessor between the believer and Jesus, or that the Pope is the infallible agent of God. Clearly, apostolic teaching is based on one verse, Acts 2:38 without consideration of what Luke is saying in Acts 2:22-31. In other words, Acts 2:38 is not a "stand alone" verse. It is firmly attached to Acts 2:22-37.

What those verses are saying is that the Jews rejected their Savior, Jesus, and crucified Him not realizing that Jesus was the God incarnate, the Son of the Living God. Rather than denying the Trinity, this collective piece of Scripture is correcting a perception by telling the Jews that for them to be saved, they needed to be baptized in the name of the Person they had recently rejected and crucified, not that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus exclusively. After all, we see in Matthew 28:19, Christ's own command that the saved be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thus, since Scripture is not contradictory, we can rightly assume that Luke is explaining that salvation comes through the Person the Jews rejected and crucified, not that he had the authority to change a command given specifically by Jesus before His ascension. Apostolic teaching is wrong, but it is not an error that takes them out of God's grace. They believe in every tenet needed to be saved, and thus, they are.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has some dogmas that can cause
serious problems--and serious consequences--for Catholic believers. (Return)

 

 

Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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