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Grace Topics

Welcome to Grace Topics, a monthly column where we deal with questions relating to the grace message from a dispensational point of view. If you have a particular topic you would like to see discussed here please email your question to GraceTopics@gmail.com.
 

QUESTION: What is every good work in Titus 3:1?  Is it just anything which edifies saints or helps men of the world, and in both cases, how is a work proven to be good?
ANSWER:
Probably the best way to discover what Paul means by good work would be to compare the 12 passages in which he mentions good or works.  All but one of these references are in the Pastorals, ( I Timothy 2:10; 5:10; 5:25; 6:18; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14).  The other one is in Ephesians. 2:10 where we learn that we have been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.  It would appear from this that every action in a divinely guided life would be included in the good works.  Then 2 Timothy 3:17 tells us that the Scripture which is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness has been given so that the man of God might be fullgrown, throughly furnished unto all good works.  Here again the term seems to be all-inclusive.  The immediate context of each of the other verses will throw light upon just what aspect of life Paul is considering.  In Titus 3:1 it seems to be in our relationship with the world; for he says: “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.”  Romans 13:3 throws light upon this: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and thou shalt have the praise of the same.”  –(C.F.B.)

QUESTION: Is the sound doctrine of I Timothy 1:10 that which is written or also unwritten? If unwritten, then how can one tell if an unwritten doctrine is sound if he doesn’t compare it with the written, and if this is what one does, then in the end can we not go only by that which is written?

ANSWER: Paul has 16 references to doctrine in his pastoral epistles, (I Timothy 1:3, 10; 4:6, 13, 16; 5:17; 6:1, 3; 2 Tim 3:10, 16; 4:2, 3; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 7, 10). I believe that all of our doctrine must be built upon the revelation contained in the written Word of God. The Bereans evidently tested Paul’s doctrine by the Scriptures, searching them daily to see whether Paul’s teaching was so. I do not know exactly what is meant by “unwritten doctrine.” Do you mean something like the doctrine of the Trinity. We do not find that doctrine defined in so many words in the Bible, but the truth contained in the formulation of it is derived from the Scripture. Or do you refer to what Rome calls the oral tradition of the Church? Since Rome cannot support these traditions by the Scripture, she must claim for herself absolute authority and infallibility, and upon this basis prove the validity of her traditions. One of the basic tenets of Protestantism has been that the Bible is the only infallible source of truth (doctrine to be believed) and practice. – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: On page 15 of Real Baptism you mention that “dipping a person in water, or applying water to a person is the Scriptural picture of cleansing, but surely not a burial.” How does this fit in with the statement: “Man is never applied to an element, but the element is applied to the man in the Scripture?”  

ANSWER: Dr. Harry Bultema did make the following assertion: “We can lay it down as a safe axiom that the person was never applied to the element. But the element whether blood, oil, or water was invariably applied to man, or to a part of man. This rule is corroborated by the fact that in all the wealth of figurative language in Scripture we fine many figures of sprinkling, ablution and affusions, to picturize the methods of God’s purifications, but never any figure of immersion, neither in the Old or New Testament.”  (The Bible and Baptism, p. 17)  Dr. Bultema makes this statement to support the fact that Scriptural baptism does not necessarily mean immersion, and he is correct. My statement was made from a different angle.  The O.T. baptisms were purifications, or washings.  For example, after Naaman was told to wash seven times in the Jordan to cure his leprosy, we read in 2 Kings 5:14: “Then he went down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan . . . “  Here the Septuagint uses the word ebaptisato for dipped. When Naaman thus baptized himself it could surely be said that he dipped himself in the water, but this does not necessarily involve a complete immersion, and surely it does not mean that he buried himself.  A bath may involve a sprinkling or shower, a partial or a complete submergence in water.  From this viewpoint I think it can be said that the person may either apply water to himself or himself to the water.  In either case it is a bath and not a burial. (C.F.B.)

QUESTION: Would you please answer question 5 on P. 59 of your book. Real Baptism? 

ANSWER: The question reads: “Why do you suppose if Paul would circumcise a man like Timothy but refuse to circumcise a Gentile, he would baptize both Jews and Gentiles?

     I believe you will find the answer to this question on the bottom half of p. 56.  The message that the ascended Christ gave to Paul was called the gospel of the uncircumcision. It would have been expressly contrary to this gospel for Paul to circumcise Gentile believers.  Jews were Jews by reason of having been circumcised, and since the Twelve limited their ministry to the circumcision after the Jerusalem conference, there was no reason for them to practice circumcision.  On the other hand, Christ had commanded the Twelve to baptize both Jews and Gentiles in the Kingdom commission, and since Paul was saved under that dispensation of things it was only natural that he should have practiced baptism to begin with.  Later on, as the ministry connected with the circumcision message was more and more becoming eclipsed by Paul’s ministry, we find Paul revealing the fact that Christ had not given him any command whatsoever to practice water baptism. – (C.F.B.)

QUESTION: Who will be included in the first resurrection of Rev. 20:4?  Will it include any besides the 144,000 sealed Israelites? 

ANSWER: It is my conviction that the resurrection and rapture of the Body of Christ will have taken place before this event.  Although Rev. 20:4 mentions only those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus, we know from O.T. prophecy that there is to be a resurrection of the just at the end of the tribulation period, and since the book of Revelation speaks of no other resurrection of the just, we believe it is a valid inference to conclude that the event of Rev. 20:4 includes all the just dead also who lived before the Body of Christ began.  If this be so, then this resurrection will include any and all, Jews and Gentiles, who are saved during the tribulation period.  These are all described in Rev. 7.


QUESTION:
Does the Bible teach degrees of punishment for the unsaved at the Great White Throne judgment?

ANSWER:  Yes, I am sure it does.  The unsaved will be “judged every man according to their works,” (Rev. 20:12).  Since men’s works differ, the judgment must differ.  Surely a Hitler will be punished in a different fashion from a heathen who never heard of Christ, even though they are both lost.  – (C.F.B.)


QUESTION:
According to Eccl. 3:21 beasts have spirits.  I know the Bible speaks of the soul of the animal (Gen. 1:30), but do animals have spirit?

ANSWER: I believe that the context make plain what the wise man is talking about.  From the natural viewpoint, and that is the viewpoint of Ecclesiastes, both man and the animal have one or the same breath.  Their physical life is dependent upon breathing.  The most apparent change at death is that the breath stops.  Now the word “breath” here is the identical word which is translated “spirit”  (Hebrew “ruwach”).  Thus the translators could just as well have translated: “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts… as one dieth, so dieth the other, yea, they all have one breath… all go unto one place… Who knoweth the breath of man that goeth upward, and the breath of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”  The Hebrew, just as the Greek, has a word for spirit which means wind, or breath.  When our Lord said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” He used the same word which is universally used for the spirit of God and of man.  The context must determine whether the physical breath or the spiritual essence which remains in the body as long as the breath does is meant.  – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: Do we have grounds for saying that the new heaven and new earth of Rev. 21:1 is a renewed heaven and earth (having been purged by fire), a restoration such as occurred in Gen. 1:2? Or is it a new creation out of non-existing materials?

ANSWER: I do not believe that this question can be answered with certainty, although I believe that most Bible commentators would agree that this new creation is a reconstruction from the old, after it is purged with fire. Apparently much different conditions will prevail in that day, for it will be a universe fitted for the habitation of those who dwell in resurrection bodies. I can hardly see that the truth would be affected either way, whether it be a creation ex nihilo or one out of existing materials.  – (C.F.B.)


QUESTION: Does the Bible teach degrees of punishment for the unsaved at the Great White Throne judgment?

ANSWER: Yes, I am sure it does. The unsaved will be “judged every man according to their works,” (Rev. 20:12). Since men’s works differ, the judgment must differ. Surely a Hitler will be punished in a different fashion from a heathen who never heard of Christ, even though they are both lost. – (C.F.B.)


QUESTION:
Who will be included in the first resurrection of Rev. 20:4? Will it include any besides the 144,000 sealed Israelites?

ANSWER: It is my conviction that the resurrection and rapture of the Body of Christ will have taken place before this event. Although Rev. 20:4 mentions only those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus, we know from O.T. prophecy that there is to be a resurrection of the just at the end of the tribulation period, and since the book of Revelation speaks of no other resurrection of the just, we believe it is a valid inference to conclude that the event of Rev. 20:4 includes all of the just dead also who lived before the Body of Christ began. If this be so, then this resurrection will include any and all, Jews and Gentiles, who are saved during the tribulation period. These are all described in Rev. 7.   – (C.F.B.)


QUESTION: In the Davidic Covenant God promised David that his kingdom would last forever, but from the Revelation it appears that it will last only 1000 years. In what sense is it an everlasting kingdom?

ANSWER: The Millennial form of the kingdom will last only 1000 years. It will not be until the end of that time that Satan and his host are over-thrown for good. After the final judgment and the destruction of the old and the creation of the new heavens and earth, the kingdom will continue, but under a much different form. Since every enemy will have been subdued there will be no need of Christ ruling in the sense of Rev. 19:15: “he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” This form of the kingdom is described by Paul in
I Cor. 15:25-28. He must reign (in the sense that He will during the Millennium) until he hath put all enemies under his feet.” After he has done this God’s kingdom will continue on in the eternal state.
– (C.F.B.)


QUESTION:
How do we reconcile the sovereignty of God in election with the free will of man?

ANSWER: We don’t. We accept both truths by faith. We will never be able to reconcile these truths because God has not been pleased to reveal the information we need for this task. We can only say that apparently whatever free will man has, God has ordained it in His eternal decree along with the truth of election. You will discover the same problem in the area of prayer. If God works everything according to the counsel of His will, what use in praying? Many people thus rationalize about prayer and so they stop asking. But is it not apparent that God has ordained prayer, just as much as He has ordained other things?
In answer to a further question, there is no doubt that God has predestinated some to be conformed to the image of His Son, but Scripture never states that God has chosen or predestinated some to be lost.  – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: Many Scriptures attest that God is changeless, Will you explain Gen. 66,7 in this light, especially the words “repented” and “repenteth.”

ANSWER: We may ask which changes, the wind or the weather-vane? In the truest sense of the word the weather-vane is unchangeable. It always points in the same direction – the direction in which the wind is blowing. God’s character and attitude towards sin never change, but as man changes, God’s attitude toward him must change, just as the vane changes with the wind. This principle is clearly set forth in Jer. 18:8-10, where God promises that if a nation turns from its evil then God will repent of the evil that He had thought to do unto them, but if a nation does evil then God would repent of the good wherewith He said He would benefit them. See also Ex. 32:12; Deut. 32:36; Jer. 26:3, 13; 42:10; Joel 2:13, 14; Jonah 3:9. There are some things which God has sworn He will do. In these He will never repent (Ps. 110:4). There are other things which He has left conditional. In these He may change. Such change, however, does not involve any change in the character or over-all plan and purpose of God. He abides the same, yesterday, today and for ever. – (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: There have been some recent questions on the Kingdom being presented but not offered before the Cross.  Would you say that the “present” in Rom. 12:1 is the same kind of present in the above statement?  In other words, we should “present” our bodies, but we don’t by all means “offer” our bodies to the Lord (Phil. 2:17). 

ANSWER:  No, I don’t think the analogy would hold.  The idea behind the Kingdom being presented but not offered before the Cross is simply that the Kingdom had come near in the Person of the King.  It is as though one in his journey came within sight of a city and his guide should say: “We are near to this city.  You may enter it by taking this particular highway.”  The guide, in other words, is presenting to you the way into the city, but there is still a journey ahead before you may arrive.  After the death and resurrection of Christ, Israel was at the very gates of the city in our illustration, but they refused to enter.  On the other hand, when Paul is talking about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, he surely means nothing short of an actual placing of ourselves as a sacrifice, not simply coming near to doing it.
– (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: What does it mean to be delivered from this present evil world, Gal. 1:4?  Does it mean deliverance from hell, from the worldly system, from trials, or from something else?

ANSWER:  The verse reads: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil age…”  The deliverance is very closely related to Christ’s death for our sins.  The present evil age is under the dominion of Satan who is the god of this age, and it is under the condemnation of God.  When we are saved we are “delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” (Col. 1:13).  I believe that the deliverance in these two passages is the same.  It is not something that we shall be delivered from in the future merely: it is a present tense deliverance.  It means that we have been freed from the powers of darkness and evil.  Eph. 2:2 puts it this way: “in time past ye walked according to the course (age or eon) of this cosmos, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”  Now, of course, we have been made nigh by the blood of Christ and have been delivered from the eon of this world.  – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: Did the Holy Spirit actually speak out loud in Acts 13:2 or did He speak inwardly to each one?

 ANSWER:  Conybeare and Howson have this comment in The Life and Epistles of St. Paul on the statement, “the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”

“How this revelation was made, whether by the mouth of some of the prophets who were present, or by the impulse of a simultaneous and general inspiration,-- whether the route to be taken by Barnabas and Saul was at this time precisely indicated,--and whether they had previously received a conscious personal call, of which this was but the public ratification,--it is useless to enquire.”

Since it was customary for the Holy Spirit to speak through those who had the prophetic gift, I take it that it was not a voice uttered apart from human vocal chords, but through the prophets.  – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: How does it happen that we don’t have bishops in our Grace churches?  Paul surely mentions bishops several times in his epistles for the Body of Christ.

ANSWER:  The word bishop is translated from the Greek episkopos, from which we get the word Episcopal.  Skopos (cf scope, telescope) means a watcher or looker, so that episkopos means one who watches over or oversees.  Another word used to describe this same office is presbyter (cf 1 Tim. 4:14).  In all other occurrences of the word it is translated elders.  Bishop denotes the duties and elder the rank of the office.  A comparison of Acts 20:17 and 28 makes clear that bishop and elder are one and the same office.  Paul called the elders of the church together in vs. 17 and in vs. 28 tells them that God had made them bishops or overseers of the church.

Probably the reason we do not use the word bishop in our grace churches is it has come to have a distinctly denominational flavor.  There are three general classifications of church government: episcopalian, presbyterian, and congregational.  The Episcopal claims that the bishop is a higher office than the elder.  In this system the bishop is in charge of all of the churches in a certain district or diocese.  This form of government is known as an hierarchy, or the least democratic.  It is represented by Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, and Methodist Episcopal churches.  Next comes the Presbyterian form of government, represented by the various Presbyterian and Reformed denominations.  These churches have two kinds of elders, preaching and ruling.  Usually there is one preaching elder or pastor and a board of ruling elders.  Churches in a certain locality are ruled by a presbytery, composed of representative elders from all the churches.  This is what might be called a representative form of government.  Then there is the congregational form in which each local church is completely autonomous or self-governing.  Congregationalists, Baptists and most independent, non-denominational churches use this type of government, or a modification of it.  Some recognize only one elder in each church who is the pastor, and a board of deacons to carry on the spiritual and material business of the church.  Others have a board of elders as well as a board of deacons.

In any event, a church which has a group of men appointed to take oversight of the spiritual and material interests of the church does have bishops,  even  though they may not be called by that name.– (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: Why does our Bible use the word charity for love?  Most preachers in reading I Cor. 13 substitute love for charity?  Is this correct?

ANSWER:  Out of the 115 times the word Agape appears in the N.T. the King James translators rendered it as love 94 times and as charity 24 times.  Our word charity is derived from the Bible word for grace, charis.  Originally charity meant Christian love.  God’s love, in order to reach us undeserving sinners, could only come through the exercise of His grace, or charis.  When that same love operates in our lives it manifests the same grace.  Modern usage has removed the idea of grace from charity.  Self-respecting people today do not want to be the recipients of charity.  Charity today is the function of some civic organization which has dunned the general public for funds to help the unfortunate.  Even though the word love has degenerated through worldly usage, it probably better expresses the meaning of agape than does charity.  – (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: Does the Bible say anything about how Jerusalem became the capital city of Israel?  It almost seems from Rev. 21:10 that there was a Jerusalem in heaven before there was one on earth.

ANSWER:  Yes, the Bible has quite a bit to say on how Jerusalem was chosen.  When God first separated Israel as a nation they were a nomadic people.  The tabernacle was a portable tent which was carried where ever they went.  But this was not God’s will for them permanently.  God told Israel through Moses that when they came into their land He would choose out a place in which to place His name.  See Deut. 12: 5, 11, 14, 18, 26.  Here five times in one chapter God declares that He will choose this place, and that it shall be the one and only place where they may offer their sacrifices.  There are two other significant passages.  In 2 Chron. 6:5, 6 God told Solomon: “Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all of the tribes of Israel to build a house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel:  But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.”  And I Kings 14:21 states: “Rehoboam was forty and one years when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.”

Thus it is very evident that Jerusalem became the capital of Israel because God chose it.  And here, by the way, is a good illustration of Divine election.  God elected or chose Jerusalem before Israel ever entered in the land, just as He chose us before the foundation of the world.  But how did Jerusalem actually become the capital?  The story is told in 2 Sam. 5:6-12.  Jerusalem was a Jebusite stronghold but King David and his mighty men fought against the city and captured it.  David dwelt in the fort and so they called it the city of David.  God’s choice of the city became an actuality through man’s action.  Just so in salvation, no one is actually saved by election.  Man believes to the salvation of his soul.  But God’s choice comes first and the outcome is made sure because of God’s volition.  – (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: Will you please state as lucidly as possible the distinction between the presentation of the kingdom of Christ during His earthly ministry and the official offer of the Kingdom of Pentecost.

ANSWER:  In order to be lucid we must clearly define our terms.  The two important words here are “Kingdom” and “offer.”  It is very evident that Christ used the word Kingdom in both a spiritual sense and a literal, political sense.  Many texts could be quoted to show that the apostles were in God’s spiritual kingdom.  Old Testament saints were also in that kingdom.  But there was a kingdom which was yet future, for which Christ taught His disciples to pray: “Thy kingdom come.”  All pre-millennialists believe that this future kingdom will be established when Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.  Hence, in speaking of the Kingdom we must determine whether we are talking about the purely spiritual relationship of believers to God in any particular dispensation and the literal, earthly, Millennial Kingdom.  In this case we are dealing with the latter. 

It is our contention that this literal, earthly kingdom was presented as near at hand but actually offered at Pentecost and subsequently.  We must now distinguish between presented and offered.  An illustration might help.

Suppose that I should announce that in the near future I would give away a Bible to everyone that called at my home.  In this announcement I gave no date, and in fact specified that the Bibles would have to be printed and delivered before a date could be set.  Now this is what we mean by Christ only presenting the kingdom as at hand, but not actually offering it.  No one under these circumstances could legitimately come to my home and claim his Bible—yet.  He would have to wait for the further announcement that conditions had been fulfilled, and that now the Bibles were on hand and ready to be delivered by all who took advantage of my offer.  This is analogous to what happened at Pentecost and in Acts 3.  There was no possibility that the Kingdom could be established until after Christ had first suffered.  Christ could not have held out an offer of the Kingdom to Israel before His death in the sense that the Kingdom could have been accepted and actually have been established.  But after Christ had suffered Peter could announce in Acts 3:19 that “those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.  Repent ye THEREFORE, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, that so may come seasons of refreshing form the face of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you” (marginal reading). Now the Kingdom was being offered in a sense that it could now be delivered.

Perhaps other words besides presented and offered  would help to make the distinction more clear.  But whatever words are used the important point is to recognize that there was no possibility of that Kingdom being established until after Christ had first suffered.  – (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: Where in the Bible does it speak about testing the things that differ?  I have heard Bible teachers use this expression but I have not been able to find it in the Bible.

ANSWER: This is another translation of Phil. 1:10 which reads in the King James: “That ye may approve the things that are excellent.”  The word approve means literally to put a thing to the test in order to either approve or disapprove it.  The expression, things which are excellent, is the present participle of diaphero, to differ.  It is so translated in Gal. 4:1 and I Cor. 15:41.  The American Standard Version has a marginal reading on Phil. 1:10: “Or, distinguish the things that differ.” The literal meaning of this verse is to put to the test things that differ with a view to approving that which stands the test, and of course that which stands the test is the more excellent thing.  The King James gives us more the result of distinguishing things that differ.

This verse does not refer exclusively to dispensation truth or to rightly dividing the Word.  It surely has reference to such, but it is also a principle which needs to be applied to moral and spiritual situations.  In every area of life we should be putting things to the test and approving that which is the better. – (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION:  I read in another Question and Answer column that the apostles made a mistake in choosing Matthias to replace Judas, that the Lord corrected this mistake by choosing Paul.  What do you think of this?

ANSWER: I think that the one who answered this question manifested the fact that he does not recognize the distinctive ministry of Paul.  Paul surely does not give any hint that he thought that the Lord had chosen him to be one of the twelve.  He often puts himself in contrast with them.  See I Cor. 15:5.  In
Gal. 2:7-9 he shows how his ministry differed from that of the Twelve.  The great blunder of the church has been that of supposing that Paul merely carried on that which the Twelve started, instead of seeing the NEW dispensation which began with Paul.  – (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: What is the best Scripture to use with a Roman Catholic to answer the teaching that the mass is a resacrifice of Christ?

ANSWER: Hebrews 10 contains several good verses on this point, especially 10, 12, 14, and 26.  The last of these verses makes it plain that there remains no more sacrifice for sins, and the others make plain that Christ’s death was a once-for-all, never-to-be-repeated sacrifice.  – (C.F.B.)


QUESTION: Is there any difference between eternal and everlasting life?

ANSWER: The same Greek word, aionios is translated both eternal and everlasting, so there is actually no difference in the meaning.  There is, however, another Greek word, aidios, translated eternal in Rom. 1:20 and 2:7, and everlasting in Jude 6, which has a different shade of meaning. Cremer says: “While aionios . . . negatives the end either of a space of time or of unmeasured time, and is used chiefly where something future is spoken of, aidios excludes interruption and lays stress upon permanence and unchangeableness.”  – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: Who are the twenty-four elders in Rev. 4:4?  A commentary states that 12 are the 12 Patriarchs of Israel and 12 are the 12 apostles representing the Body of Christ.  These elders must be redeemed sinners because in 5:9 they sang how God had redeemed them.

ANSWER: Please refer to the Revised text in reading 5:9.  You will notice that not only the twenty-four elders sang this song but also the four beasts.  Does this mean that the four beasts are also redeemed sinners?  Verse 9 should read: “And they (the twenty-four elders and the four beasts) sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed to God by thy blood men of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made them unto our God kings and priests; and they shall reign upon the earth.”

     Thus read, the twenty-four elders appear to be a separate group from the redeemed.  In I Chron. 24:3-5 and 28:11, 13, 19 we learn that there were twenty-four orders of the priesthood in Israel, and that this was a copy of the pattern of things in heaven.  There must have been a heavenly company of twenty-four ministers in existence for David to pattern the priesthood after.

     John saw these twenty-four elders in heaven before the tribulation began.  We know from O.T. passages (cf. Dan. 12:1, 2) and from Rev. 20:4, 5 that the first resurrection of prophecy takes place at the end of the tribulation.  Therefore it is not likely that we would find redeemed Israel in heaven before the tribulation.  Besides, the twelve apostles represent Israel and not the Body of Christ.  It seems to me that the four beasts and the twenty-four elders must b a heavenly order of beings and not redeemed mankind .  – (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: Is it true that no one from the time the Bible was completed until John Darby believed in a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church?

ANSWER: I have not personally done any research along this line.  Thiessen in his Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 476, quotes a paragraph from the Shepherd of Hermas in which Hermas seems to indicate that he believed that some would escape the great tribulation.  The passage is not too clear, however.  It seems that this truth was one of the first ones lost to the church and one of the last to be recovered.  

     If any of our readers can give us quotations from the early church fathers showing they believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, we will be happy to pass the information along to our questioner in Arizona.  – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: Do you think that the apostle Peter knew anything about the Mystery?

ANSWER:  He surely knew nothing about the mystery until after it had been revealed through the apostle Paul.  The mystery was made known directly by Christ to Paul by revelation.  Others learned this truth as we learn it today.

There are those who assume from 2 Peter 3:16 that Peter is confessing that he couldn’t understand the things that Paul had written in his epistles.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Peter says that “the unlearned and unstable” wrest these writings of Paul, as they do the other scriptures, to their own destruction.  He is surely not saying that he is unlearned and unstable and is wresting the scripture.  Peter shows in this verse that he was very familiar with all of Paul’s epistles.  Besides, Paul makes it plain in Eph. 3:5 that after the mystery had been given to him by revelation, the Holy Spirit then revealed it to the holy apostles and prophets.  Peter was surely one of these apostles.  But that does not mean that all of these other apostles wrote about the mystery.  That particular task was reserved for Paul alone.

Therefore Peter’s familiarity with Paul’s epistles and Paul’s statement in Eph. 3:5 lead me to believe that Peter must have understood the truth about the mystery.  – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: Is the command still in effect to preach the gospel to the Jew first?

ANSWER:  There is no command to preach the gospel to the Jew first.  Paul states in Rom. 1:16 that the gospel was to the Jew first.  There was a time when the Jew had the priority over the Gentile, when the message went to the Jews only.  The one epistle in the New Testament which most clearly shows that the Jews have fallen from that place of priority is the book of Romans.  It would therefore be very strange to find in that epistle Jewish priority reestablished in a command that the gospel is to be preached to the Jew first.

 At the beginning of Paul’s ministry he told the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” It is true that Paul usually went to the Jewish synagogue when he entered a new city, but that was not because the Jews had spiritual priority over the Gentiles.  Paul had been given a special ministry of witnessing to the dispersion of Israel among the Gentiles, which resulted in their blinding and fall.  Besides it was only natural for him to go to his own people, where he had prepared for him a ready audience.  During the Gospels and the early part of Acts Israel did have the priority, but any ministry to Israel after Paul’s separation in Acts 13 was not because of any special favor that they had over the Gentiles.  – (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: Are members of the Body of Christ mystics or mystical?

 ANSWER: To answer this question we must define mystic.  It is not a Bible word so we must turn elsewhere for a definition.  Dr. Charles Hodge gives us a very good answer in Vol. I, p. 61 and 63. Sytematic Theology.

 “Few words indeed have been used in such a vague, indefinite sense as Mysticism… hence in the wide sense of the word, a Mystic is one who claims to see or know what is hidden from other men, whether this knowledge by attained by immediate intuition, or by inward revelation . . . Mystics are those who claim to be under the immediate guidance of God or His Spirit. “Hence Mysticism, is this sense, includes all those systems of philosophy, which teach either the identity of God with the soul, or the immediate intuition of the infinite.

 “As all Evangelical Christians admit a supernatural influence of the Spirit of God upon the soul, and recognize a higher form of knowledge, holiness, and fellowship with God, as the effects of that influence, they are stigmatized as Mystics, by those who discard everything supernatural from Christianity.  The definitions of Mysticism given by Rationalists are designedly so framed as to include what all evangelical Christians hold to be true concerning the illumination, teaching, and guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

 I believe that in the generally accepted definition of the word a Mystic is a person who denies the need of an objective revelation from God, such as the Bible, claiming to have direct intercourse with God.  True Christians are mystics only in the sense that they believe that the Spirit of God can and does indwell the believer and makes understandable to him the things contained in the Word of God, I Cor. 2:10-12. (C.F.B)


QUESTION:
P.B. disagrees with our statement in July TRUTH that God has more love and concern for our unsaved loved ones than we could ever have.  He asks where do we read any such thing in Scripture?

ANSWER: I based my statement upon such a passage as John 3:16, that God so loved the WORLD that He gave his only begotten Son.  Our brother seems to be of the opinion that God loves only the elect.  God does, of course, love the elect with a special love, but the Bible also says that He loved the WORLD, which in my vocabulary cannot be limited to just the elect.  It is quite evident that the rich young ruler of Mark 10:17-22 was not one of the elect, but we read, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him.”

 We might ask, Is God less loving than we are?  Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said: “ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Matt. 5:43-46, Luke 6:32 has it, “For if ye love them which love you, what THANK have ye?” This literally means, Where is there any grace in that?  This passage is sufficient to convince me that the God of all grace loves the ungodly as well as His own.  How else could Jesus have convinced His disciples that they should love their enemies?

 Since God is infinite, and since he loves the world—those that hate Him, His love for these unsaved ones must be greater than my puny interest which perhaps I mistakenly call love.  If God is not willing that any should perish, 2 Peter 3:9, He must have a concern for them.  If God loves only the elect, we could not tell men that God loves them; for we do not know who the elect are.  If God never had loving concern for those who will be finally lost, if He never made any provision for them to be saved, it is hard to see how God could judge them according to the gospel. Romans 2:16.  - (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: What do you mean by faith?  I would like to have your definition.

 ANSWER: The Bible word for faith is pistis.  It is derived from the root peitho, which means to convince by argument, or in the passive to rely upon.  It is translated in the N.T. agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be confident, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.  Pistis is translated assurance, believe, belief, faith, fidelity.  This catalog of words shows that faith is more than mere mental assent that a thing is true.  W.E. Vine says: “The main elements in faith in its relation to the invisible God, as distinct from faith in man, are especially brought out in the use of this noun and the corresponding verb, pisteuo; they are (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation of truth, e.g., 2 Thess. 2:11, 12; (2) a personal surrender to Him, John 1:12; (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender, 2 Cor. 5:7… All this stands in contrast to belief in its purely natural exercise, which consists of an opinion held in good faith without necessary reference to its proof.”

 While faith, if it is real, produces various works in our lives as Christians, it is not these works that save us.  Paul says that we are justified by faith APART FROM works, Rom. 3:28; 4:5.  This faith is not a mere mental assent to a certain fact, but an entrusting of one’s soul to God for eternal salvation on the belief that Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification. This faith causes a person who has become convinced from God’s Word of his lost condition and of the all sufficiency of Christ’s work, to call upon the name of the Lord for salvation, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Rom. 10:13.  - (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: I.S.L. in Korea asks several questions.  What principle can I use to tell what is UN, HYPER, and TRUE Dispensationalism?

 ANSWER: I believe that the basic principle in dispensational study is that of recognizing every distinction which the Word of God makes.  Since people may make distinctions in one realm of doctrine and not in another, they may be UNdispensational in one thing, and truly dispensational in another.  Christians without exception are dispensational regarding the offering of animal sacrifices, but some are undispensational in that they observe the Jewish Sabbath or water baptism.  HYPERdispensationalism is any teaching that makes more distinctions than the Word of God makes.  I believe that the teaching which claims that a new Body of Christ began after Acts 28 is HYPER.  - (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: Since Paul apparently ordained bishops in his churches, why do we not have them today in our Grace churches?

ANSWER: The title of bishop does occur in I Tim. 3:1, 2; Tit. 1:7; and Phil. 1:1.  It appears also as a subscript in 2 Tim. and Titus.  Peter calls Christ the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, I Pet. 2:25.

 The word bishop in the Greek is ‘espiskopos’.  We get the word ‘episcopal’ from this.  The Episcopal Church believes in a hierarchical form of government in which bishops are a distinct order in authority over a large number of churches forming a diocese.

 Bishop means literally an overseer.  It is translated this way in Acts 20:28.  It will be seen from Acts 20:17 that these overseers or bishops were elders in the church at Ephesus.  Also Tit. 1:5 and 7 make it plain that an elder is a bishop.  The word “elder” is “presbuteros” or “presbyter” in the Greek, of I Tim. 4:14.

 We believe that in Scripture the term Bishop denotes the duties and the term Elder denotes the rank of one and the same office.  We have every right to call our elders bishops or overseers.  We probably don’t use this title in our churches due to the current usage and meaning which the world now places upon this word.  If we called our elders “presbyters” we would be confused with the Presbyterian denomination, and if we called them “bishops” people would think we were some form of Episcopalians.  (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: Where do the Seventh Day Adventists get their teaching that it is wrong to eat meat?

 ANSWER: While it is true that many Seventh Day Adventists are strict vegetarians, I do not believe that they have any positive commands against eating what would have been considered clean animals under the Mosaic system: see Lev. 11.  They do consider the eating of pork to be sinful, and they base this upon such O.T. Scriptures as Lev. 11:7, Isa. 65:4; 66:3, 17.  They might also refer to the fact that Christ commanded the demons to enter into the herd of swine.

 We believe that I Tim. 4:3-5 is a sufficient answer to this question.  Paul tells us that the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, Rom. 14:17, cf. Col. 2:20-22; Heb. 13:9, hence every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.

 It would take us too far afield to try to give all of the reasons people have for being strict vegetarians.  It seems that man in the beginning was a vegetarian, Gen. 1:29, but God gave him permission to eat all animals in Gen. 9:3.  In this dispensation food has nothing to do with God’s spiritual program.  Certain diets for health reasons are an entirely different matter.  Pork is the host of the dreaded Trincinosis larvae, which can infect man if the meat is not thoroughly cooked.  Pork, beef and fish are hosts to various kinds of tapeworms and other parasites which can be very injurious to health if not killed by cooking.  But of course, similar and even worse diseases may be transmitted by raw vegetables and drinking water if they are infected.  Hence anything can be clean or unclean hygienically.  -- (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: After reading your study on the Resurrections there remain a few unanswered questions.  Did it never strike you that just as the resurrection in Matt. 27: 52, 53 was utterly unannounced in the O.T. prophecies, this opens up the possibility for more surprise resurrections in the future:  Thus, do the O.T. and Tribulations saints arise in the same resurrection?  May there not also be a resurrection for saints who die during the Kingdom?

ANSWER: I take it that the raising of these saints in Matt. 27 was a purely local phenomena, such as occurred in 2 Kgs. 13:21. If the dead man revived when his body touched the bones of Elisha, how much more would the dead in the environs of our Savior’s tomb revive at His mighty demonstration of resurrection power?  Whether these saints were given their glorified, resurrection bodies, I do not know, but I am sure that only a few of the entire number of O.T. saints were raised at that time.  I perfectly agree that God in His sovereignty could have any number of special surprise resurrections about which He has told us nothing in Scripture, but of course, if He has, we don’t know anything about them, and until such an event happens we could neither say that there will be or that there won’t be such an occurrence.  The reason I am quite certain that the O.T. saints will be in the same resurrection as the Tribulation saints is that the Scripture plainly shows that both of these groups will be raised at the end of the Great Tribulation at the time of the Second Coming.  I believe that Dan. 12:1, 2 and Rev. 20: make this point clear.  It seems logical to infer that if both groups are raised at the same time they will be in the same resurrection. 

 Our questioner apparently received the impression that by our saying that only unsaved people will die in the Kingdom, we meant that no one would be saved during that time.  No, we believe that children will be born all during the thousand years and that many of them will be saved.  It is apparent that not all will be saved, for at the end there will be a great multitude who will follow Satan.  Rev. 20:8.  Christ in His Kingdom rule will doubtless execute swift judgment upon offenders, but that does not mean that all unsaved people will be put to death.  Children will mature; some will be saved, some will not.  The unsaved will apparently continue to live as long as they subject themselves to the laws of the Kingdom.  If they rebel there will doubtless be punishments as set forth in Zech. 14:17-19   -- (C.F.B.)

 
QUESTION: Will just the Body of Christ rise at the coming of Christ, or will all believers of all ages? Are there several resurrections?

ANSWER: We believe that the resurrection that takes place in connection with the Rapture is for only the members of the Body of Christ. The other saved dead will rise in the resurrection which occurs at the second coming of Christ back to earth. -- (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: Will we recognize our unsaved loved ones when they are judged and condemned to eternal punishment?

ANSWER: Scripture is silent on this point.  It is possible that we who are saved will not even be present at this scene.  Behind this question is the old problem, “How can we be happy in heaven knowing that a loved one is forever lost in hell?”  This problem still exists whether or not we are actually present at the judgment scene.  Perhaps God has left this problem unsolved in order that we might better see our responsibility to so live and to so testify that no one will be lost because of our failure.

While we cannot answer this question, perhaps the following points may help our understanding of the problem.  Apparently in heaven we will not experience the same family and social life as we do in this world.  The Sadducees thought that they had an argument against a future life in the case of the man who had had seven wives in this life.  Which one would be his wife in the resurrection?  The Lord informed them that neither this man nor anyone else would even have a wife, because in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage.  Are we prone to suppose that we could be happy in heaven, even though millions of others are lost, just so our own loved ones are saved?  I don’t mean to say that our loved ones will be less precious to us in heaven, but perhaps all of the saved will become equally precious. After all, our present ideas of happiness are based largely upon selfishness and material things.  Happiness in heaven will have a different basis.

We know that Jesus Christ will be eternally happy in the highest sense of the word.  We know that He has more love and concern for our unsaved loved ones than we could ever have.  And yet, He will be the One who will judge and condemn the unsaved.  Is it not a greater problem to understand how He can be happy under these circumstances than how we can be happy?  -- (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: How do you reconcile the fact that God is love with the statement in Rom. 9:13: “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated?”

ANSWER: Paul quoted this statement from Mal. 1:2,3 which was written many centuries after these two men lived.  Although God foreknew what kind of men Jacob and Esau would be, He did not pronounce His judgment on their lives until after they had lived.  If God perfectly loves the good, He must perfectly hate the evil.  Esau was a profane and evil person.  Not only so, but doubtless there is an allusion to the peoples which sprang from these two men, and not simply to them personally.-- (C.F.B.)

 

QUESTION: What practical difference does it make whether we begin the present dispensation with Peter at Pentecost or with Paul at some later time?

ANSWER: The practical difference, I would say, has to do with commission and with message.  The commission which was in effect at Pentecost included speaking with tongues, healing the sick, raising the dead, etc.  Pentecostalists try to carry out this commission but they can’t, because God is not working that way today.  The message preached at Pentecost was the Kingdom Gospel, a message of national repentance to Israel, based upon water baptism for the remission of sins.  In all respects mentioned, and in many more, Paul’s commission and message differ greatly.-- (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: We know that God does not condone sin, but what does I Cor. 7:36 mean?

ANSWER: Most commentators think that Paul is talking about a father and his virgin daughter in I Cor. 7:36-38, although the meaning of the language is not clear.  What Paul is saying is that if a father feels that he is either placing undue temptation in his daughter’s path by making her remain unmarried or is exposing her to the disgrace that was associated with the unmarried state in that day, he would not be sinning in allowing her to get married.  Paul was not against marriage.  He taught that it was holy and was of God.  He advised people of that day to remain unmarried if they could live a life of continency, for by so doing they would save themselves a lot of trouble in the flesh and would be able to serve God to better advantage.  But if one felt that he could not live a chaste life in the unmarried state, he advised such to get married to avoid fornication.  Therefore there is nothing in this passage which intimates that God condones sin. -- (C.F.B.)
 

QUESTION: What has happened to the churches which Paul organized? Why are only some of them mentioned in the Revelation? Is there any connection between Paul’s churches and those in Revelation?

ANSWER: It would require much research and would take many volumes to trace the history of all of the churches which Paul founded.  Some of them have disappeared and in other cases Christian churches still exist in cities where Paul labored. One simple answer we can give is that all of these churches very soon departed from the doctrine of the grace of God which Paul committed to them.  This apostasy from Pauline truth was evident even in Paul’s day and apparently in very short order after his decease the turning away became universal. We search in vain among the anti-Nicean fathers to find any remnants left of distinctive grace truth.  As one student who made a very thorough study of the writings of these early church fathers said, “The anti-Nicean fathers out-campbelled Campbell.” Campbell of the modern Campbellites taught baptismal regeneration.  So did all of these fathers.  Tertullian taught that the Christian is like a fish: he is born in the water, he lives in the water, and if removed from the water he dies.

The seven Jewish assemblies or synagogues mentioned in Revelation were all in very close proximity to one another in Asia Minor.  Paul founded churches in only one of these cities, as far as we know from the Bible, and that is Ephesus.  He does mention Laodicea in Col. 4:16, but he makes it plain in Col. 2:1 that he himself had never been in either Colosse or Laodicea.  It is very difficult to see any connection between the seven golden candlesticks of Revelation and the churches which Paul founded.  - C.F.B.

QUESTION: Who is man and the son of man referred to in Heb. 2:6-8?ANSWER: I believe that this quotation from Ps. 8 refers back to the purpose of God expressed in Gen. 4:26 to give man dominion over everything on the earth. The word for man is Enos, which refers to man in his frailty and depravity. Adam, to whom this dominion was promised, failed to realize it when he fell, and of course none of the sons of Adam have been able even yet to subdue nature. And yet it is still in God’s purpose for a man to rule this earth. We know, of course, that there is only one man who can ever do this, and that is our Lord Jesus Christ.

The writer of Hebrews does not mention the name of Jesus until after he has said, “But now we see not yet all things put under him (man).” And then he goes on to say, “But we see Jesus, who was made for a little lower that the angels, for the suffering of death…” Before He could take the dominion and reign, He had to first come and taste death for every man. And that is the distinctive message of the Hebrew letter: the once for all sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Other scriptures tell us plainly that this Son of Man will come back, and as a man fulfill God’s original purpose of completely subduing creation and having dominion over it. Of course, the many sons of vs. 10, whom He is bringing unto glory, will share this dominion with Him. - C.F.B.

QUESTION: Who are the 24 elders in Rev 4 and 5? If they are redeemed sinners as Rev. 5:9, 10 seems to indicate, does this not prove that they are church saints who have been taken up in the rapture?

ANSWER: I do not believe that the 24 elders are either church saints, or, as some believe, that 12 represent the O.T. and 12 the N.T. saints. At this stage of events in the Book of Revelation, the first resurrection has not taken place. The whole problem becomes simple when this passage is read in the revised text. The A.S.V. renders these verses as follows: “Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth.” The King James has the elders saying all this about themselves. The Revised gives the correct reading, showing that the elders are not the redeemed, but are talking about the redeemed.

Who then are these elders? I Chron. 28:19 makes it plain that David’s plans for the temple which Solomon built were given to him by God, even as Moses had a pattern shown to him in the mount. See Heb. 8:1-5 and 9:23, 24. The 24 orders in the priesthood, as described in I Chron. 14:1-19, were doubtless part of the pattern of heavenly things. Therefore it is not strange to find in heaven these 24 elders, orders of angelic beings, of whom Israel’s priesthood was but an earthly counterpart. Now while it is true that the rapture of the Body of Christ has taken place by this time Rev. 4 and 5 transpire, the rapture itself is not mentioned in Revelation. It is not the purpose of this book to relate matters concerning the dispensation of the grace of God. It is specifically stated that it is a prophecy concerning the revelation of Jesus Christ; that is, concerning His second coming back to earth as King of kings.  - C.F.B.

QUESTION: Christendom has just gone through another celebration of Lent. Can you tell us where and how this practice originated?

ANSWER: The observance of Lent originated in the Roman Catholic Church, although as Alexander Hislop points out in his book, The Two Babylons, its roots go all the way back to ancient Babylon (see pages 104 to 106). In an official Roman Catholic book, Externals of the Catholic Church, by Rev. John F. Sullivan, there is a chapter on Lent and Holy Week which sates the following:

“The duration of this penitential season has not always been the same in different ages of the Church’s history. We cannot assert positively that Lent can be traced back to the Apostles, but we know that some sort of fasting time has been observed before Easter festival from very early days. It is mentioned by Tertullian and St. Iranaeus, and especially by St. Athanasius bishop of Alexandria, who defined that it was to be a fast of forty days; and rules concerning it were made by early Councils, prescribing fasting as a strict obligation. From about the fourth century it became a fast of forty days in many parts of the world, although the Greeks began it earlier that we do, ruling that there should be no fasting on the Saturdays of Lent (except Holy Saturday) and on the fest of the Annunciation…”

Thus by admission of the Roman Church, the Apostles knew nothing about the practice and of course anyone who knows anything about the Bible knows that the whole idea of Lent is completely foreign to the spirit of the New Testament epistles. Of course, Roman Catholics believe the in the infallibility of the traditions of the Church which came into practice hundreds of years after the times of the Apostles, and so they hold that these traditions are on a par with the Scriptures and of equal authority. What they fail to see is that these traditions are contradictory to the plain teaching of the New Testament Scripture.

The strangest thing, perhaps, is that the Reformation church carried along with it many of these traditional practices of Rome. The true meaning of Lent observance is stated in the book referred above on page 141: “The Church has instituted it as a remembrance of the forty days’ fat of our Blessed Lord in the desert, and as a means of sanctification for her children—FOR SHE HAS ALWAYS TAUGHT THE NECESSITY OF PENANCE FOR JUSTIFICATION. In other words, Catholics keep Lent as a means of procuring justification. Truly Rome has always taught justification by works, and just as truly the Pauline epistles teach justification by faith apart from works, Rom. 3:21, 28; 4:1-5; 5:1. Since Lent observance as instituted by the Roman Catholic Church for the purpose of supplying another system of human works by which sinners are to try to justify themselves before God, it is most difficult to understand how or why any Protestant would observe it, unless indeed he too believes in justification by works. And of course it is doubtless true that many so-called Protestants really believe in justification by works just as much as the Roman Church does. Justification by works is just a natural part of the natural man’s religion. How else could one be justified, but by his works? It is only God’s revelation that can give us the answer, and it is this answer which the Roman church and even many Protestants deny. The answer is that Christ has done a sufficient and perfect work, so that God can now be absolutely just and at the same time justify the ungodly sinner who does nothing more that to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Is it true, as I read recently, that Paul was associated with seven other apostles (separate from the Twelve) during the Book of Acts in a ministry of the prophesied mysteries of the new covenant, and that after Acts he had a unique ministry by himself of the Mystery of the Church?

ANSWER: The Scripture does refer to some of Paul’s associates as apostles, but there is surely no basis for saying that they had this relationship only for the duration of the Acts period. Nor is there any basis for saying that Paul ministered the mystery of the Body of Christ only after the Acts period. He plainly mentions the Body of Christ, composed of Jews and gentiles, in both Romans and I Corinthians. Such a body cannot be found in any O.T. prophecy concerning the New Covenant. If the Body of Christ is an unprophesied mystery, then surely the rapture of that Body is also an unprophesied mystery. Therefore the mystery of I Cor. 15:51 is unprophesied.

As mentioned elsewhere in this issue, in order to be an apostle in the strict sense in which the Twelve and Paul were apostles, one must have been a witness of the resurrected Christ. Some of Paul’s associates would not have thus qualified. They were apostles in a more general sense, in which we can all say that we are ambassadors, missionaries, or sent ones of God. No one today could meet the requirements of being an apostle, in the sense that Paul was. Cf. I Cor. 9:1.

If you will read Eph. 3:5, you will see the fallacy of the claim that Paul alone ministered the Mystery; for there we read: “as it is now revealed unto his holy APOSTLES and prophets by the Spirit.” The original revelation of the Mystery was made know directly to Paul by Jesus Christ Himself, but then it was revealed to the other Apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This seems to me to be proof that the other Apostles knew about the mystery.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: You say you follow Paul as a pattern, but I read in TRUTH where you had a team of women out this summer. How do you reconcile women preachers with Paul’s teaching? (T.O.F.)

ANSWER: Our team of young women was not out on a preaching tour. We, of course, do not believe in women preachers, nor in women usurping authority over men. Our girls’ team was assisting various churches during the summer in conducting their Vacation Bible schools for children. We believe that Paul taught that women have a ministry of teaching other women, Titus 2:4, and that they have a special responsibility in this respect toward children. We could hardly imagine a Bible school for the Beginner, Primary and Junior departments where all the teachers were men. Even those men who are most rabid against women preachers would be glad to turn the Primary department over to the women after trying it for a Sunday or two.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: I have a friend who has a question which I have not satisfactorily answered for him. He feels that Paul offers salvation by works in Rom. 2:6, 7 in contradiction with the salvation by grace through faith in Rom. 4:5 and Eph. 2:8, 9. Perhaps you can overcome this difficulty for him by publishing an answer in Truth. – (R.H.L.)

ANSWER: I believe that the Bible presents two possible ways for God to deal with mankind, one by justice and the other by grace. By justice I mean that God will take man for just what he is worth, and give him just exactly what he deserves. In such a process no mercy or grace would enter in. By grace, of course, I mean that God imputes all of the demerit of the sinner to Christ and that He imputes the righteousness of God to the sinner, so that He can account the sinner now to be just as acceptable as His own Son. These two ways of dealing are referred to in Rom. 4:4, 5. In the first case the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt, that is, God giving to the sinner just what he deserves. In the second case it is just the opposite, that is, God giving to the sinner that which he does not deserve.

In Romans 2 Paul has not yet come to the place in his exposition of salvation where he is ready to unfold the work of Christ in our behalf, but is concerned with establishing first of all the righteousness of God. He has told us in Rom. 1:16 that the righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel. The expression found in Ch. 3:4 might be written over this whole section: “Yea, let God be true.”

I suppose that every personal worker has often been confronted with the person who appeals to his own goodness and works, and he seems to feel that if God is true and righteous He must of necessity reward him with eternal life. Now I believe that Paul is saying in Rom. 2:6, 7 that that is exactly what God will do to one who meets the conditions of “well doing.” God is righteous; He is no respecter of persons; He will render to every man according to his deeds. If a man does all of the good that God requires, he will be rewarded with eternal life.

But Paul does not stop at this point. He shines the searchlight of God’s Word upon all mankind, both Jew and Gentile, and he proves conclusively, “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Now if God is righteous so that He will give eternal life to those who persevere in well doing, what shall we say if we discover, as a matter of fact, that there has not been even one of Adam’s race who has continued in doing good? Surely we must conclude, not only that no one can be saved by doing good, but that God is absolutely righteous in judging and condemning the whole world, see Ch. 3:5, 6.

Therefore it is evident that the door is closed to salvation by the justice or works way. God has not closed it, so that man might accuse God of unrighteousness, but man himself has closed it by his own wrong doing. Thus if any man is ever to be saved, it must be by the grace way apart from works. And that is, of course, the way that is expounded in the remainder of the epistle.

We can be very certain that a man of Paul’s mental acuity, and especially one writing under inspiration of God, would not contradict himself. If we make Paul to say in these two passages that there is actually the possibility of man today obtaining eternal life by either his own works or by the grace of God, then we do have a contradiction. But if we see that salvation by works is only a conceivable way, but a way made impossible to man by his fall, his sinful nature, and his universal habit of wrong doing, then there is no contradiction and man is shut up to the grace way, through faith, where God does not reward us according to our iniquities, but engraces us in the Beloved.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Is the word, “think” correctly translated in John 5:39”—“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” Does one accepting Christianity only “think” he has eternal life?

ANSWER: Yes, the word “think” is correctly translated. The same word is used in Matt. 24:44; 17:25; 18:12; etc. The word expresses one’s subjective judgment about a matter, based on thought. The remainder of your suggestion is not correct, however. This verse is not intended to cast doubt upon the Scriptures; for John writes in his epistle: “These things are written… that ye may know,” I John 5:13. Christ was telling the Jews in John 5:39 that they supposed that they would have eternal life because they searched the Scriptures, but that these very Scriptures testified about Him, and they would not come unto Him that they might have life. Eternal life resides in Christ, and no matter how much Bible study one may do, he does not have eternal life unless he has Christ.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Would you say that Cornelius and his household were simply a type or earnest of Gentile salvation in the Millennial Kingdom?

ANSWER: Yes. I believe that primarily this is true. While Peter was the first apostle to preach to a Gentile, Paul was the first to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 14:27. Paul did not merely continue Peter’s ministry. God sent Peter to Cornelius because of Cornelius’ prayers and alms, and Peter preached to him that he that feareth God and worked righteousness is accepted with Him. This type of message is in keeping with the Kingdom Gospel and will be the basis for Gentile acceptance in the Kingdom. Up to the time of Cornelius no intimation had been given that God was ushering in the dispensation of the mystery. It is true that Saul had been saved just prior to this and that we today with all the light of subsequent Scripture can see that God had a purpose in sending Peter to Cornelius to prepare the way for Paul’s Gentile ministry, but at the time Peter went to Cornelius we may well imagine that the Jewish believers might have supposed that the Kingdom was indeed near at hand; for the ringleader of the opposition have been converted, and “then had the churches rest throughout all Judah and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified, and … were multiplied.”

It is not until some years later when Paul begins writing epistles that we learn that God is sending blindness upon Israel, and is beginning a new dispensation by forming a joint-body of Jews and Gentiles in Christ. It would seem that Peter first fully learned what Paul was preaching when he came to Jerusalem in Acts 15, cf Gal. 2:1-9. Just as Peter’s first preaching to a Gentile was a type of Gentile salvation in the Millennium, so Paul’s first Gentile preaching was symbolical of Israel’s blindness during this present dispensation while God is calling out the Body of Christ, cf Acts 13:11 and Rom. 11:25.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Could it be that we base too many things upon the last epistles of Paul? If we compare them with Romans and Corinthians they are only small epistles. I am thinking of the dispensation of the mystery, which includes the setting aside of miracles, tongues, water baptism, and covenants.

ANSWER: I do not agree with the extreme view which completely severs Paul’s earlier epistles from his prison epistles. This is what is usually called the Acts 28 position, or untra-dispensationalism. Those who hold this view claim that Paul shared the ministry of the Kingdom Gospel with the Twelve all during the book of Acts, and therefore there is nothing in Paul’s earlier epistles concerning the mystery or the Body of Christ. What we contend is that the prison epistles of Paul contain the completed revelation of truth for this dispensation. The earlier epistles were written during a period of transition, and therefore it was still in God’s program to have manifestation of the various sign gifts, Acts 28 marks the end of that transition period, when Israel nationally was completely set aside, and therefore we find in the epistles written after that time the settled order of ministry for this present dispensation, as well as more specific revelation of Body truth. In these epistles there is not only no mention of the sign gifts, cf. Eph. 4, but positive indication that miraculous healings were not being practiced and that the several baptisms of the Acts period had given place to the one baptism of Eph. 4:4, 5.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Genesis 17 speaks about circumcision and verse 7 speaks of a covenant God made with Abraham and his seed after him. My church uses Gen. 17:7 as the basis for baptism of children, claiming that baptism makes them children of the covenant. What do you think about this teaching?

ANSWER: I would like to answer this question by quoting from part of Ch. VII of my book on Real Baptism.—(C.F.B.)

Baptism, A Seal of Infant Salvation.

This is the position held by “covenant theologians” in general. Covenant theology is the teaching that the Church of this dispensation has taken the place of the Jewish nation as the children of God’s covenant, and that we are therefore the true Israel of God. From this erroneous and unscriptural premise it is argued that just as circumcision was the seal of the covenant made with Abraham (Romans 4:11), so baptism has taken the place of circumcision under the New Covenant and has become the seal of that covenant. Hence, instead of circumcising babies today, as they did under the old dispensation, we should baptize them. Being baptized, these infants become the children of the covenant. Unbaptized infants are not children of the covenant, and therefore logically if they died in that state would be lost. This is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Some Lutherans hold the same view, while others entertain the hope that unbaptized infants may be saved. Reformed theologians generally hold that while baptism of infants is necessary, they will be saved apart from it.

Authoritative Creed Statements

ROMAN CATHOLIC: “For as no other means of salvation remains for infant children except baptism, it is easy to comprehend the enormity of the guilt which they lay themselves, who suffer them to be deprived of the grace of the sacrament longer than necessity requires.” (Cat. Conc. Trident, Pt. 2, Ch. 2, Ques. 33.)

LUTHERAN: “The ninth article is approved in which we confess, that Baptism is necessary for salvation, and that children are to be baptized, and that the baptism of children is not void, but necessary and efficacious to salvation.” (Apol. Aug. Conf., p. 156).

REFORMED: “Sacraments are visible, sacred signs and seals appointed by God that in their use we may have the promise of the gospel made clearer and sealed; to wit, that God for the sake of the one oblation of Christ bestows on us forgiveness of sins and eternal life.” (Cat. Heidelb., Fr. 66.)

(The above quotations are taken from “Outlines of Theology” by A. A. Hodge. P. 629 and 601.)

Answer to This Error

There are several scriptural answers to this error of Covenant Theology. In the first place, the word “seal” is used some 42 times in the New Testament, but never once does it refer to water baptism. In so important a matter as this it is impossible to believe that the Apostles or Christ would have failed to even mention it.

Next, it is very evident that both circumcision and water baptism were practiced at the same time by the 12 Apostles, and that in their practice, at least, one had not taken the place of the other. As late as Acts 21:21, some 30 years after Pentecost, the Jerusalem apostles were still practicing circumcision. As a matter of fact, their gospel is called by Paul, “the gospel of the Circumcision,” Gal. 2:7. If baptism had taken the place of circumcision, then Paul should have called it, “the gospel of baptism.” One who knows something about the difference between Paul’s gospel of the uncircumcision and the Twelve’s gospel of the circumcision, both of which were divinely given, could never fall into the error of covenant theology.

Finally, the context of Romans 4, here circumcision is called a seal, proves the very opposite.

“Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned.. when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision” Not in circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised: that righteousness might be imputed unto them also,” Rom. 4:9-12.

Now if baptism has the same function that circumcision used to have and has now taken its place, we should be able to substitute the baptism and read: “And he received the sign of baptism, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being unbaptized; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not baptized.” If it could be proved that baptism has taken the place of circumcision, then this passage would prove that Gentiles should not be baptized and that Paul had a gospel which was designated as the gospel of the unbaptized. Of course, the passage does not teach this, but it does teach that just as Abraham was saved and made righteous by faith alone while he was yet uncircumcised, so also were the uncircumcised Gentiles under Paul’s gospel being saved and made righteous by faith in Christ alone, apart from circumcision or baptism or any other religious ceremony.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Does the parable of the wise and foolish virgins apply to the Church? Please explain.

ANSWER: The first word of this parable in Matt. 25 is very important –“Then.” This definitely shows that the time when the kingdom of the Heavens is to be likened unto these virgins is after the events recorded in Matt. 24, that is, after the great tribulation. In this same first verse Christ plainly states that the Kingdom of the Heavens, not the Body of Christ, is likened unto these virgins. The Church of this dispensation will already have been raptured to heaven when this parable takes place.

Next, notice that the parable is about a marriage feast and not a marriage. These virgins did not come to get married; they came to the feast which took place at the Bridegroom’s house after the marriage in the Bride’s home. According to Rev. 19:7-9 the marriage of the Lamb takes place in heaven, in the Father’s house, that is, the Father of the Bride. The Bride then comes with the Bridegroom to His house; which refers to Christ’s second coming back to earth to take upon His kingly reign in Jerusalem. It is to this procession from the Bride’s house to the Groom’s, after the wedding, that this parable refers. Almost all versions read “marriage feast” in vs. 10, instead of “marriage” as in the A.V.

Next notice the difference in status between the wise and the foolish. It is not that the foolish ones slept; for they all slept. It is not that the foolish had no lamps; for they all had lamps. It is not that the foolish didn’t have their lamps lighted; for they came to the wise, saying, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out.” The only difference appears to be that the foolish had no reserve of oil. Doubtless oil in Scripture often is symbolical of the Holy Spirit, but there is no statement here to infer that the oil stands for the Holy Spirit; for the wise ones refused to give of their oil, “lest there be not enough,” and they said, “Go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” These statements are a little difficult to harmonize with the Holy Spirit. The message for the tribulation period seems to be, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” See Matt. 10:22 and 24:12 and 24:13. Christ said that the love of many would wax cold in that day, Matt. 24:12. It would appear that the running out of oil refers to this waxing cold and failing to endure to the end.

This parable should be studied in its context, from Ch. 24:45 to 25:46, where we find four judgments, that of the Servants, the Virgins, the Traders, and the Nations. Each of these groups contains wise and foolish who will be judged at Christ’s second coming. Each portrays a different aspect of service and relationship. The main teaching point of these parables is stated in 25:13: “Watch, therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” While applications may be made from the parables to spiritual conditions today, we should understand that the interpretation belongs to Israel in the Tribulation days, after the rapture of the Body of Christ.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Why did God have Peter preach to Cornelius instead of Paul?

ANSWER: This is a very logical question, since Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles, we might have expected that the first Gentile would have been saved through Paul. Such was not the case, however, and I believe there is at least a two-fold reason why Peter was used instead. First, the time had not yet come for the beginning of Paul’s distinctive Gentile ministry. Peter was preaching the Kingdom Gospel to the Circumcision, and in the coming Kingdom this gospel will also be preached to the Gentiles. Cornelius therefore stands as an example of Gentile salvation under the kingdom message; whereas Paul’s first Gentile preaching, which was also to a Roman centurion, is an example of salvation in the dispensation of the Grace of God. Peter’s message was: “In every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted of him.” Paul’s message was: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” When Paul began his ministry, his first act was to pronounce blindness for a season upon Bar-jesus, who represents the nation of Israel in its present blindness to the Gospel; whereas when Peter opened his Gentile ministry it was really because of God’s favor upon the nation of Israel. After the present dispensation is over, I believe that God will take up His dealings again with the nation of Israel, where He broke off in the midst of the book of Acts, and will also save the Gentiles as Cornelius was saved. You will notice that while Cornelius was saved through hearing about and believing in Christ, yet God sent Peter to him because he was a good man who feared God and gave alms to God’s earthly people. This will be the basis of God’s dealing with Gentiles in the coming Kingdom age. But when God sent Paul out to the Gentiles it was not because they were doing good or were seeking after God. They were idolaters and God was not in all their thoughts. It is the absolute unworthiness of the Gentiles and the free grace of God extended to them that serves to make this THE DISPENSATION of the Grace of God.

There is another reason why God uses Peter to preach to the first Gentile. God knew that Paul would need the witness of others to substantiate the revelation given to Paul. Therefore when the veracity of Paul’s message was called into question, as it was in Acts 15:1, God used the testimony of Peter in Acts 15:7-11 to substantiate Paul, and in Gal. 2:9 we see that Peter, James and John turned over their Gentile ministry to Paul, recognizing that God had entrusted this new dispensation to him. Thus, we might say, Peter’s Gentile ministry served as a bridge across the gap to Paul, in order that Paul’s message might have a real historical basis.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: I Cor. 13:8 tells us that prophecies fail and tongues shall cease. What prophecies do these refer to, and how can you be so sure that tongues have already ceased? Or for that matter healings? There is ample proof that these miracles are still happening today. --- (B.M.S.)

ANSWER: I Cor. 13:8 does not teach that any prophecy of God will fail of fulfillment, or that the ability to speak will cease, or that there will come a time when no one will have knowledge. Taken out of its context this verse might seem to say this: “whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” Read in its context it will be seen that the words “gift of” must be placed before “prophecies”, “tongues”, and “knowledge.” It is the gift of prophecy which is to fail, and the gift of tongues which is to cease, and the gift of knowledge which is to vanish away.

Suppose we admit that God is still inspiring prophets with new revelations; is this not also an admission that the Bible is an incomplete revelation? And do we not obligate ourselves to accept as Divine truth all of the so-called new revelations of the hundreds of self-styled modern “prophets”? How could we find our way out of the maze of religious confusion if we opened ourselves to accept the voices of the many conflicting modern prophets and closed ourselves to the complete and final authority of the Scripture?

We do not say that healing has ceased. The medical doctors heal many people; the mental healers produce much evidence of healings; God often heals people in response to prayer. What we claim is that the Divine gift of healing, which gives power to a man to miraculously heal the sick and even raise the dead apart from physical means, has ceased. We believe that it would be irrational to argue that we have a complete Bible and at the same time to claim that these gifts are still with us. If one of the gifts have ceased, then all have ceased. There is no basis for teaching that the gift of prophecy has ceased, but that the gift of tongues or the gift of healing is still in operation.

We further believe that the plain dispensational teachings of the New Testament show why and when the sign gifts ceased. Paul states that the gift of tongues was given as a sign to the people of Israel (I Cor. 14:21,22), and as Israel was set aside as this present dispensation of the mystery came into full manifestation under Paul’s ministry, these sign gifts ceased. How else can we explain the fact that Paul, who in his Acts ministry healed all manner of sicknesses and even raised the dead, later was forced to leave behind sick one of his very faithful fellow-workers, and had to prescribe a physical remedy for the ills of another?

C.F.B.


QUESTION: How many imprisonments did Paul suffer at Rome, and during which of the imprisonments were the prison epistles written?

ANSWER: Conybeare and Howson in The Life and Epistles of St. Paul answer the first part of this question thus: “Although the answer to this question has been a subject of dispute in modern times, no doubt was entertained about it in the ancient Church. It was universally believed that St. Paul’s appeal to Caesar terminated successfully; that he was acquitted of the charges laid against him; and that he spent some years in freedom before he was again imprisoned and condemned. The evidence on this subject, though (as we have said) not copious, is yet conclusive so far as it goes, and it is all one way” (p. 537).

Testimony to this effect has come down to us from Clement of Rome, mentioned in Phil. 4:3, for Muratori’s Canon, from Eusebius and from Chrysostum. There is no ancient testimony against the idea that Paul suffered two Roman imprisonments, Conybeare and Howson go on to say:

“But farther, unless we are prepared to dispute the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles, we must admit not only that St. Paul was liberated from his Roman imprisonment, but also that he continued his apostolic labors for at least some years afterwards. For it so now admitted, by nearly all those who are competent to decide on such a question, first, that the historical facts mentioned in the Epistles to Timotheus and Titus, cannot be place in any portion of St. Paul’s life before or during his first imprisonment in Rome; and, secondly, that the style in which these epistles are written, and the condition of the church described in them, forbids the supposition of such a date. Consequently, we must acknowledge (unless we deny the authenticity of the Pastoral Epistles) that after St. Paul’s Roman imprisonment, he was travelling at liberty in Ephesus (I Tim. 1:3), Crete (Tit. 1:5), Macedonia (I Tim. 1:3), Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20), and Nicopolis (Tit. 3:12), and that he was afterwards a second time in prison at Rome” (p. 540).

All of the scholars I have consulted place the composition of the Ephesian, Phiippian, Colossian and Philemon epistles during the first imprisonment. I Timothy and Titus were probably written shortly before the second imprisonment, and II Tim. was written during the second and final imprisonment. In the first imprisonment Rome had no charges against Paul; it was purely a matter of Jewish accusation. In Rome he had the privilege to live in his own hired house and to minister the Word to his many friends (Acts 28:30). In the epistles written during that time he expressed confidence that he would be released. But in II Timothy the picture is much different. He is now a prisoner of Rome, no doubt arrested during the persecution which Nero waged against the Christians, and he knows that the time of his departure out of this life has come.

Although not a part of the question it should be noted that these facts militate against the ultradispensational, Acts 28 theory, which teaches that the Body of Christ and the present dispensation of the mystery did not begin until after Acts 28. If it could be proved that Ephesians and Colossian were written during the second imprisonment, the Acts 28 theory might have a leg to stand upon, but even Dr. Bullinger, who advocates this theory, is forced by the internal evidence of the New Testament to admit that these epistles were written during the first imprisonment.

The point is that Paul makes it clear in these two epistles that he was in prison for preaching the mystery. (See Eph. 3:1; 6:19, 20; Col. 4:3). This means that he must have been preaching the mystery before he was put in jail, or during the latter half of the Acts. If this is true, then the Acts 28 theory is false. As a matter of fact, Paul stated during the Acts period that he was preaching the mystery, I Cor. 2:7 and Rom. 16:25. Paul was also in bonds at the same time for the hope of Israel, Acts 28:30. These two facts are not mutually exclusive, especially when we understand that by the expression, “the hope of Israel,” Paul means no more than the resurrection of Christ, Acts 26:8, 9. The Jews at Jerusalem gave audience to Paul until he uttered the word “Gentiles” (Acts 22:21, 22), and then they lifted up their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth; for it is not fit that he should live.” Paul was a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles (Eph. 3:1); he was in jail for preaching the mystery, and he was in bonds for preaching a resurrected Christ, Israel’s only hope.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Is it possible for a natural or unsaved man to be saved by just reading the Bible without any one explaining it to him?

ANSWER: There are those who contend that it is impossible for a man to be saved by just reading the Bible. They reason that since faith comes by hearing, the unsaved must hear in order to have faith; that is, they must listen to the preaching of the Gospel. Of course, if this were so, then it would be impossible for a deaf person to get saved; for they cannot hear. It is true that God has ordained that the Gospel should be propagated by preaching, and that is the normal method of evangelizing. However, we are persuaded that the word hearing has a deeper connotation than merely audible sound. There are seven different Greek words used in the New Testament for hearing, and each has a somewhat different connotation. Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words, points out that the noun, akoe, denotes (a) the sense of hearing, as in I Cor. 12:17: “if the body were an eye, where were the hearing.” (b) the organ of hearing, as in Mk. 7:35: “And straightway his ears were opened,” (c) a thing heard, a message or teaching, as in John 12:38: “Lord, who hath believed our report?” (d) the receiving of a message, as in Rom. 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Vine says on this latter passage that it involves “something more that the mere sense of hearing, so with the phrase, ‘the hearing of faith.’ Gal. 3:2,5, which it seems better to understand so than under (c).”

We believe that God hears our prayers, even when they are not uttered audibly. We do not believe that God actually has bodily parts; for He is Spirit, and so He hears without physical ears. Sound, as we know, is simply a series of compressional waves in the gaseous air. Therefore sounds cannot travel beyond the thin limit of our atmosphere, and yet God hears in heaven. God can also speak to the heart of man, without any audible sound. As there are eyes of our mind or understanding, Eph. 1:18, which are not physical eyes, so there are ears of understanding also. Many people hear with their physical ears but do not understand with their spiritual ears, of Acts 28:26. Therefore we believe that it is possible for a person to get a message from God without hearing audible words. We believe, however, that God always channels that message through His revealed Word, whether it come to us from a preacher, from a tract, from a personal worker, or from the Bible directly.

Another argument that is sometimes used to bolster this theory is that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. I Cor. 2:14; therefore the unsaved man could never understand the Bible without having someone to explain it to him. If this verse means this, then it would be impossible to make the natural man understand, even though we did explain it to him. After we had explained the things of the Spirit of God, it would still be true that he could not know them. We believe that God’s Holy Spirit must shine the light into the natural man’s mind before he can understand, and Paul says in the context that God has given us His Holy Spirit for this very purpose. We are not the Holy Spirit. We can’t make any one understand spiritual truth. God may use us as instruments to bring the Word in some form, but only God can give the increase.

Besides these self-evident facts, we must remember that the Bible contains sermons and expositions of the Gospel of salvation. If people got saved through listening to Paul preach, as recorded in Acts 13, why could not people get saved today through reading and thus understanding the very words that he preached so long ago? Are Paul’s words impotent today? Was Paul unable to make himself intelligible? Must I do a lot of explaining to people today before they can understand what Paul was trying to say? This idea borders on the Roman Catholic idea that only the church (that is, the clergy) can interpret the Scripture, and in proof of that we have 2 Peter. 2:20; “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” But since Peter wrote this in a letter, his readers could not have understood what he meant, and would have to wait until a clergyman or priest came along who could explain to them what Peter meant.

We believe that God is able to work directly through His Word in the saving of souls, and this belief is substantiated by the testimony of many who have been saved in this way.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: How can parts of the Bible be applied to today and some to a later period? Where is the dividing line drawn and who has the right to say this is for now and that is for later?

ANSWER: The prophetic character of the Bible is plainly evident throughout. The prophets had a message for the people of their day, and they also prophesied what would happen in a future day, as for example in Zech. 8:20, 23, etc. Jesus said that Moses wrote to Him. This shows plainly that the Bible does have this characteristic. Then Christ foretold to His disciples what would be the sign of His second coming and of the end of the age, as in Matt. 24, 25, showing that there is still much that is yet future and yet to be fulfilled. The only logical and reasonable way to tell whether a Scripture is yet future is to ascertain whether or not it has yet been fulfilled. Some, of course, have tried to give a figurative interpretation to everything in unfulfilled prophecy and they claim that much of the book of Revelation has already transpired. But since every prophecy ever fulfilled in Bible times was fulfilled literally, it is but reasonable to suppose that the remainder will also be so fulfilled. This being so, we know that the rapture of the Church, the Great Tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom and the Great White Throne Judgment are all future.

As regards truth for the present, it is likewise only logical that the Church should take as its own unique instructions those things written by Paul under the special revelation given to him by the ascended Christ; for it was through this man alone that Christ made known the truth about the Church which is His Body. As Dr. Scofield aptly remarks in one of his footnotes: “In his (Paul’s) writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.”

Christ told His disciples in John 16:12, 13 that He had many things yet to tell them but that they could not as yet bear them, but that later the Holy Spirit would show these things unto them. In the epistles thus inspired by the Holy Spirit we find much of advance and many times things entirely new which supercede the old. When Jesus was on earth He often gave a certain command to His disciples, only to supercede it late with a different command, see Matt. 10:9,10 and Lk. 22:35, 36. Do you suppose that it was difficult for the apostles to understand after Christ spoke Lk. 22:35, 36 whether they should take a purse and scrip? I think not. They would surely understand that they were to follow the last given command. This same simple rule applied to later revelations given in the Pauline epistles will enable one to “rightly divide the Word of truth.”

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Does not the fact that Romans states that the gospel is to the Jew first and that there was much profit in every way in circumcision and advantage in being a Jew, Ch. 1:16 and 3:1,2, prove that at the time Romans was written the Body of Christ and the dispensation of the mystery had not yet begun?

ANSWER: These statements must be considered in the light of their context, and in the light of other epistles written at the same time and even earlier. Let us ask first what Paul meant when he said that the gospel was to the Jew first. He surely did not mean that at the time he was writing the Jews had a priority over the Greeks. Ch. 10:12 states: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.” Therefore Ch. 1:16 cannot mean that there was at that time a difference. Ch. 11 further shows that Israel nationally at that time had fallen from its position of privilege and had been cast away and that blindness in part had happened to the nation. In the light of these and may similar statements it is most difficult to understand how anyone could claim that the Jews were at that time in a place of priority over the Gentiles. Instead, God had concluded them both in unbelief, that is, He had put Jews and Gentiles all on the same footing, under sin, so that He might have mercy upon all.

The fact of the matter is that the Gospel was to the Jew first, and the whole advantage in being a Jew consisted in the fact that God had been dealing exclusively with the Jewish nation for fifteen centuries. He had given them promises and covenants. He had delivered His Word unto them. They were near to God, whereas the Gentiles were far off. When the Messiah came He came only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. After the resurrection of Christ the message of salvation was sent only to the Jewish nations under the Twelve. Historically the Gospel had been to the Jew first, and that surely gave a great advantage to those who were Jews. But the history of that period between the early chapters of Acts and the writing of the Roman epistle shows that the Jews did not profit by the advantage and priority which was theirs by reason of the covenants of promise. Surely we can say that the son of a wealthy man has a great advantage over a street urchin, but if the son squanders all his money in sinful living and ends up on skid row, and the urchin is adopted into the rich man’s family and develops into a trusted and competent business man, we cannot imagine that the son any longer has an advantage.

In order to bolster up the theory that the Body of Christ had its beginning only after Acts 28, it is necessary to take these statements from Romans out of their context and try to make people believe that they mean that the Jews at that time were in spiritual supremacy over the Gentiles, a condition which would surely be antagonistic to the truth of the Body of Christ. Romans 11 by itself disproves the theory that there was a difference between Jews and Gentiles at that time, and Ch. 12:5 proves that the Body of Christ was already in existence.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: If Paul was ministering the Gospel of the grace of God during the Acts period, how do you reconcile this with the fact that he circumcised Timothy, took a Jewish vow and shaved his head in Cenchrea, and again took a vow and shaved his head and even offered an animal sacrifice in Jerusalem?

ANSWER: It cannot be denied that Paul had written during the period that he did these things: “If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing,” and “ye are not under law, but under grace.” And it is most evident from Acts 20:24 that Paul was ministering the Gospel of the grace of God at that time. Therefore, as we see it, only one of two things could be true: either Paul was out of the will of God and was going contrary to what he had written, or there was a dispensational situation then present which made it possible for him to engage in these practices without frustrating the grace of God. We believe that the latter is the true explanation.

While it is true that “in Christ” there was no difference between Jew and Gentile, and that there was no difference in the position of the Jew and Gentile regarding the privilege of salvation, there was this distinction between these two groups during the latter half of the Acts period. Although Israel nationally had been cast aside by the time Paul wrote Galatians and Romans, God permitted the temple with its worship and ministry to continue for some years. During this interim of God’s longsuffering, the Jewish believers continued in their practice of the law; for they had never been commanded to do otherwise. In Acts 15:28 the Holy Spirit placed His approval upon the distinction that the apostles made: namely, that the Gentiles which believe should observe no such things as did the Jewish believers, Acts 21:25. This distinction had nothing to do with the matter of salvation, as Peter plainly states in Acts 15:9, but was concerned wholly with the outward observance of those things of the law of Moses, around which the national life of the Jews was built. For example, in Israel one whole tribe was dependent for its livelihood upon the temple sacrifices and the tithes of the other tribes. As long as God permitted Israel’s national structure to stand, it was necessary for the Mosaic practices to continue.

We must remember that Paul was an Israelite and a Jew, and as such he had a right to become a Jew unto the Jews. This is what he did when he took Timothy, a half-Jew and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters. Of course, Paul would not have tolerated for one moment of the circumcising of a Gentile believer, cf Gal. 2:3-5. And we can be sure that Paul was not surrendering in Acts 21 what he had fought so hard for in Acts 15. It is our firm belief that the transitional character of the latter half of the Acts period fully explains Paul’s seeming inconsistency in engaging in the Jewish practices against which he had warned the Gentile believers. Paul was not perfect in the sense of being incapable of making mistakes, but we do not believe he made any mistake in these particular matters.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Are Christians never named sheep, always saints?

ANSWER: Paul never uses the word sheep as a name for saints today. The only time he uses the word is in Rom. 8:36. “we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” A quotation from Ps. 44:22. He uses the word flock in I Cor. 9:7: “who feedeth a flock, and eateth not the milk of the flock?” And then, of course, he uses the word pastor, in Eph. 4:11, which is literally the word shepherd.

Israel, as God’s covenant people, are looked upon as God’s flock, as God’s pleasant vine, whereas the Gentiles who were alienated from God are looked upon as dogs, as wild beasts and uncultivated plants. Israel was in times past near to God by reason of the covenant whereas the Gentiles were far off. This is no doubt the teaching of the scriptures and it is important to keep these dispensational distinctions in mind.

There is another truth, however, that is just as important, and that is to see that while God did make a difference between Israel and the Gentiles for a while, He did so in order to show that essentially there was no difference. We as members of the Body of Christ can surely appropriate the blessed spiritual truths in such passages as Psalm 23 and John 10. These truths are not for us only: they are also for the redeemed Israel. I fear that some have carried the distinction made above to the extent that they can’t get any blessing out of reading: “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. . . My sheep hear my voice, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Is the Gospel of the uncircumcision the same as the Gospel of Justification by faith, and is justification by faith the same as salvation by grace?

ANSWER: A search of the New Testament Scriptures shows that Paul, to whom was committed the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, used the words justification, justified, justifieth, justifier, and justify 29 times, whereas the apostle of the Circumcision never uses these words, except for James, who in 2:21,24,25 says: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac . . . ye see then how that a man is justified by works and not by faith only . . . likewise also was not Rehab the harlot justified by works . . .” Paul uses the word just in connection with justification by faith 3 times, and this word is used 3 times also in the writings to the circumcision, Heb. 10:38, “the just shall live by faith,” (which is also quoted by Paul in Rom. 1:17 and Gal. 3:11); I Pet. 3:18. “Christ hath also once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust”; and I John 1:9, “. . . He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins . . .”

While it is plainly evident that Paul alone unfolds the doctrine of justification by faith, it appears that others knew something about it, and it was even contained in germ in the O.T. Scripture, Heb. 2:4. The Gospel of the uncircumcision is surely based upon the doctrine of justification by faith, but it is more than just that. To see the real distinctions between the gospels of the Circumcision and of the Uncircumcision, it is necessary to study the life of Abram before Gen. 17 and after Gen. 17 as Paul sets it forth in Rom. 4. Before Gen. 17 Abram was a heathen or Gentile coming from an idolatrous home. Josh. 24:2, when God appeared to him and justified him by faith. Some years later God made a further covenant with him and changed his name to Abraham, and it seems evident from Gen. 26:5 that this covenant of Circumcision was a conditional or works covenant; for we read that God promised His blessings to Isaac “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Paul’s Gospel was a message of salvation for Gentiles in their idolatry and heathenism. I Thes. 1:9, apart from any covenant relationship, whereas the Gospel of the Circumcision was a message for a people that were in covenant relationship with God. Because the Gentiles were saved under Paul’s gospel by faith apart from works, they were called children of Abraham, but they were no more under the covenant of Circumcision than Abram was when he was first justified by faith.

For all practical purposes, I would say that justification by faith is the same as salvation by grace.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: In the light of the following Scriptures would you say that the fall of Israel was part of the mystery revealed to Paul, or to use another word, was it unprophesied truth? Deut. 32:21; Isa 65:1; Rom. 10:19, 20; Luke 2:34.

ANSWER: I would not say that the fall of Israel in itself was a part of Paul’s message of the mystery; for it is plainly revealed in the Old Testament. Israel nationally has had several falls and dispersions. The particular truth which Paul connects with the mystery is this, “that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” Rom. 11:25. The fulness of the Gentiles, through and because of Israel’s fall, is the thing Paul is speaking about. Gentile salvation through and because of Israel’s blessing is predicted throughout the prophets, but not the fullness of the Gentiles through Israel’s disobedience and fall, which Paul declares to be the fact in this present dispensation of the mystery.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Is the Great Commission as given in Mark 16:15-18 to be followed in present day missions? I have been confronted by some friends of another church and have refrained giving an opinion without more light on the subject.

ANSWER: We do not believe that this commission is for members of the Body of Christ in this present dispensation for the following reasons:

1. Water baptism for the remission of sins, as commanded here and as practiced by the apostles at Pentecost, Acts 2: 38, cannot be reconciled with the revelation of truth given through Paul for this dispensation. Paul was not sent to baptize, and this fact would immediately rule him out as being under this commission. If we follow Christ by following Paul, preaching the gospel of the grace of God, we will find that we are also ruled out as being under this commission. It is not possible to be sent to baptize and to be sent not to baptize at one and the same time.

2. The gospel referred to in this commission is the Gospel of the Kingdom. This is the Gospel which our Lord preached while He was on earth. It has in view the establishment of the earthly kingdom. This gospel has in it a lot of grace, but it is distinct and separate from what the Scripture calls the gospel of the grace of God, which Christ revealed to Paul after His ascension. One who is preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom today as called for in this commission is just not in the will of God. Of course, most preachers who take this commission for themselves mix in with the Kingdom Gospel quite a bit of truth from Paul’s Gospel, and while people may get saved through such preaching, such converts never become fully established in God’s truth. Paul’s Gospel, Rom. 16:25, is the only thing that can establish believers today.

3. This commission demands something besides believing for salvation. “He that believeth AND IS BAPTIZED shall be saved.” If there is one thing made plain in Paul’s epistles it is that there is no AND to be added after believing, as far as salvation is concerned. We are justified by faith apart from any kind of religious work. Some men, unwilling to give up this commission but seeing the inconsistency with Paul if the baptism is interpreted as water, have argued that the baptism here is Holy Spirit. This is surely a forced interpretation and it is surely one that is contrary to the practice of the Twelve in the early chapters of Acts.

4. The miraculous signs and wonders which were promised to follow the preaching of the Kingdom Gospel do not follow the preaching of the Gospel of the Grace today. There are many who claim the power of healing the sick and speaking with new tongues, and a few try handling poisonous serpents. Of course there are many people, such as zoo keepers, who also handle such snakes, but when the snake bites the religious zealot it has the same effect upon him as it does upon the zoo keeper. And the so-called cases of healing fall so far short of the healings of Scripture that there just isn’t any comparison.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: What is the Church of God, I Cor. 10:32? Paul said he persecuted the church of God. If the Body of Christ did not begin until Acts 13 or later, how could Paul have persecuted the Church of God, if the Church of God in I Cor. 10:32 is the Body of Christ? Can you prove that the church of God which Paul persecuted was different from the one in I Cor. 10:32?

ANSWER: The expression, “church of God,” may be applied to any called-out group which belongs to God. It is not a specific, technical expression, such as “the church which is His body,” Eph. 1:22, 23, although this church is surely also the church of God. In the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament which is quoted in the New Testament, the word “congregation” is rendered by the New Testament word for church, see Heb. 2:12 cf. Ps. 22:22. Upon the authority of this usage we find that the word “church” and the expression “church of God” appear many times in the Old Testament, see Neh. 13:1. Paul in I Tim. 3:5, 15, which was written after the Acts period, still speaks of the Church of God. If there was a difference between the church of God in Neh. 13:1 and that in I Tim. 3:5, 15, then there may be a difference between the Pentecostal church of God which Paul persecuted, and the Church of God in I Cor. 10:32, which Paul established. We believe that there was a difference because the Pentecostal church was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and was wholly Israelitish, whereas the church which is Christ’s body was not a subject of prophecy, and it was and is a joint-body of Jews and Gentiles.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Can you explain Eph. 3:5?

ANSWER: I take it that you have reference to the expression, “as it is now revealed,” which has been used as an argument that the mystery concerning the Body of Christ was revealed in the Old Testament but was not clearly understood, and that it was merely given to Paul to shed more light upon the subject. Those who oppose the truth of the Mystery say that Paul here is talking about the same thing as Peter, in I Pet. 1:10-12. But in opposition to this we have the unqualified statements: “The mystery, which was kept secret since the world began”—Rom. 16:25; “The mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” –Eph. 3:9; “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations”—Col. 1:26. Unqualified statements such as these could not be true if this mystery had been previously revealed. If Paul only shed a little more light on the subject, then we should be able to find this truth in some previously written scripture, and the very fact that no place outside of the Pauline epistles can be found a hint of the truth of the Church which is Christ’s Body in which Jew and Gentile are joint heirs (contra. Deut. 18:13; Zech 8:23), is added proof that the “as” in Eph. 3:5 does not mean this. This “as” should be connected with the “as” in vs. 3.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Is the resurrection “in the last day,” John 6:39, 40, 44, 54, different from the other resurrection?

ANSWER: The resurrection “at the last day” has been taken as proof by Post and A-millennialists that there will be only one general resurrection day, and they think to prove their point by quoting John 12:48: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Therefore they say that the resurrection and judgment of both the saved and the unsaved will take place at the same time, at the last day. In spite of the fact that Rev. 20:5 plainly states that one thousand years intervene between these two events, they hold to their error and explain away the book of Revelation by inventing the interpretation that the first resurrection means the conversion of the sinner. But if this is so, then we must of necessity be now reigning with Christ and such passages as Rom. 8:18-25 and II Tim. 2:12 become senseless. The last day does not always have the same meaning as to specific time; for in John 7:37 the last day was not to be the last of all days, but merely the last day of the feast. So likewise, the last day of the blessed dead is an altogether different day from the last day of the unsaved dead. Therefore no doctrine as to the specific time of these resurrections can be built upon the expression, the last day. The specific time is given in Rev. 20:5, 6.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: When will the saints who lived from Adam to Moses be resurrected? Will they be in the New Jerusalem?

ANSWER: We are told that “many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 8:11, and we believe that that kingdom will be established at the second coming of Christ, so these saints must be raised before the Millennium. We know that all the dead in Christ will be raised before that time, I Thess. 4:13- 18, and we know what is designated as the first resurrection in Rev. 20:5, 6 will also take place before that time. Some believe that the former is just an earlier phase of the latter, the one occurring at the beginning and the other at the end of the great tribulation. I would say that the former is synonymous with the mystery of I Cor. 15:51, 52, and is therefore connected with the Body of Christ solely, which is itself called a mystery, I Cor. 12:27 cf. Eph. 3:3 6. It is logical to suppose that since the truth concerning the Body was a secret revealed only through Paul, that the truth concerning its out-calling was also a secret revealed only through Paul. That would place all of the remainder of the righteous dead in the first resurrection of Rev. 20.

We know that Abraham looked for the heavenly city, Heb. 11:10, and we know that he will sit down in the kingdom of heaven. It would seem from this that there will be a very close relationship between the New Jerusalem and the Millennial Kingdom.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Were the Jews under the Old Testament born naturally as children of God by virtue of the covenants, as I recently heard a radio preacher claim?

ANSWER: The nation of Israel had a place of nearness to God by virtue of the covenants, Eph. 2:12, 17, which the Gentiles did not enjoy until Christ broke down the middle wall of partition, vs. 14. Paul makes it clear, however, that individual Israelites in time past were not born naturally as children of God, but “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” vs. 3. Why should Jesus have told Nicodemus that he must be born again, if he had already been born a child of God by nature? In John 8:44 Jesus called the religious Jews the children of the devil. In Deut. 14:1 Moses called the Israelites children of the Lord your God, but nothing is there said as to how and when they became the children of God.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: It is usually taught from 2 Thess. 2:7 that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the world when the Church is taken up to be with the Lord. Does this verse refer to the Holy Spirit? If so, how can the Gospel of the Kingdom be preached in all the world without the Holy Spirit? (Matt. 24:14) How would there be any witness of Christ without the Holy Spirit?

ANSWER: A number of interpretations have been given to this difficult passage. The earlier protestant commentators tried to make the man of sin to be the Roman Catholic Church and the restraining power to be the Roman Empire which kept the Roman bishops in check until the fall of the empire in 476 A.D. You have stated the generally accepted premillennial interpretation as presented in the Scofield Bible. I personally do not agree that this is the real interpretation of 2 Thess. 2:7, although it is true that the Holy Spirit indwells the church and that the church is going to be removed at the rapture.

The language itself poses one of the greatest difficulties in this passage. What is the meaning of the words, “withholdeth” and “let,” in vs. 6 and 7? In the Greek they are one in the same word, which means to hold fast, and the word is so translated in I Thess. 5:21, “Hold fast that which is good.” To translate this, “Restrain or withhold that which is good,” would completely reverse the meaning. Therefore I cannot believe that this word means withhold or restrain in the passage under consideration. Although I do not agree with Dr. E. W. Bullinger in some of his teachings, I believe he has translated this passage correctly in his book, The Church Epistles,

“Do ye not remember, that while I was yet with you I said these things to you? And what holdeth (him) fast now, ye know, to the end that he should be revealed in his own (appointed) time. For the secret (counsel) of lawlessness is already working: only, there is one (Satan) who at present holdeth fast (to his possessions in the heavenlies) until he be cast out (into the earth), Rev. xii. 9-12, and stand upon the sand of the sea. Rev. xiii. 1, R.V.)”

The unholy trinity of the Revelation, Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet, who shall be cast into the lake of fire finally, are here seen as Satan, the Lawless One and the Man of Sin. According to Rev. 9:1, 2 and 11:7, the Beast is now held fast in the abyss and will come forth in the earth when the angel opens that place at the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

It is evident from such passages as Rev. 11:11 that the Holy Spirit will be present and will be working in the world during the time of great tribulation. The Spirit is omnipresent and of course in that sense has always been in the world and always will be. We must recognize that his ministry has varied during the different dispensations.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Were the Jews under the Old Testament born naturally as children of God by virtue of the covenants, as I recently heard a radio preacher claim?

ANSWER: The nation of Israel had a place of nearness to God by virtue of the covenants, Eph. 2:12, 17, which the Gentiles did not enjoy until Christ broke down the middle wall of partition, vs. 14. Paul makes it clear, however, that individual Israelites in time past were not born naturally as children of God, but “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” vs. 3. Why should Jesus have told Nicodemus that he must be born again, if he had already been born a child of God by nature? In John 8:44 Jesus called the religious Jews the children of the devil. In Deut. 14:1 Moses called the Israelites children of the Lord your God, but nothing is there said as to how and when they became the children of God.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: It is usually taught from 2 Thess. 2:7 that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the world when the Church is taken up to be with the Lord. Does this verse refer to the Holy Spirit? If so, how can the Gospel of the Kingdom be preached in all the world without the Holy Spirit? (Matt. 24:14) How would there be any witness of Christ without the Holy Spirit?

ANSWER: A number of interpretations have been given to this difficult passage. The earlier protestant commentators tried to make the man of sin to be the Roman Catholic Church and the restraining power to be the Roman Empire which kept the Roman bishops in check until the fall of the empire in 476 A.D. You have stated the generally accepted premillennial interpretation as presented in the Scofield Bible. I personally do not agree that this is the real interpretation of 2 Thess. 2:7, although it is true that the Holy Spirit indwells the church and that the church is going to be removed at the rapture.

The language itself poses one of the greatest difficulties in this passage. What is the meaning of the words, “withholdeth” and “let,” in vs. 6 and 7? In the Greek they are one and the same word, which means to hold fast, and the word is so translated in I Thess. 5:21, “Hold fast that which is good.” To translate this, “Restrain or withhold that which is good,” would completely reverse the meaning. Therefore I cannot believe that this word means withhold or restrain in the passage under consideration. Although I do not agree with Dr. E. W. Bullinger in some of his teachings, I believe he has translated this passage correctly in his book, The Church Epistles,

“Do ye not remember, that while I was yet with you I said these things to you? And what holdeth (him) fast now, ye know, to the end that he should be revealed in his own (appointed) time. For the secret (council) of lawlessness is already working: only, there is one (Satan) who at present holdeth fast (to his possessions in the heavenlies) until he be cast out (into the earth), Rev. xii. 9-12, and stand upon the sand of the sea. Rev. xii. 1, R.V.)”

The unholy trinity of the Revelation, Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet, who shall be cast into the lake of fire finally, are here seen as Satan, the Lawless One, and the Man of Sin. According to Rev. 9:1, 2 and 11:7, the Beast is now held fast in the abyss and will come forth in the earth when the angel opens that place at the beginning of the great tribulation.

It is evident from such passages as Rev. 11:11 that the Holy Spirit will be present and will be working in the world during the time of great tribulation. The Spirit is omnipresent and of course in that sense has always been in the world and always will be. We must recognize that His ministry has varied during the different dispensations.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Since the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, is it not impossible for a man TO ACCEPT Christ by making up his mind to. Does not man either believe (by illumination of the Holy Spirit) that Christ has paid for his sins, or otherwise he can’t understand it (no prevenient grace)? Does predestination affect a man before he is born of the Spirit or after? If before, how do we reconcile that with “God is not willing that any should perish” and “to seek and to save that which is lost?”

ANSWER: A clear distinction needs to be made between the moral depravity of man’s will and human responsibility. Man left to himself would never will to do God’s will, because “the carnal mind (man’s whole nature before he is saved) is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” But nevertheless God holds man to be fully responsible for rejecting His mercy and grace. The case is similar to that of a man who is so embittered against another that he declares with a vengeance: “Even though it costs me my life, I will never to my dying day accept anything from that man.” It is not that he couldn’t that he wasn’t able to, but that he had willed that he would not. Man’s moral depravity is not that he is unable to do anything that is good, for unsaved people do many things which are intrinsically good, but that his mind is at enmity with God, so that he does not will to do God’s will.

John 1:13 makes it plain that it is not by the will of the flesh or by the will of man that man is born again. Christ said unto the Jews: “Ye will not come unto me” (you have willed not to come, or it is not your will to come to me.) A study of every occurrence of the word “to will” in the N.T. will bear out the conclusion that no one would ever be saved, no one would ever do the will of God, unless God took the initiative.

And that answers the question: Does predestination affect a man before or after he is born again? Predestination is according to the foreknowledge of God. Rom. 8:29 cf. I Peter 1:2. Foreknowledge is not merely that God knew ahead of time who would believe, but that he foreknew all things, all possibilities, all that He planned to finally accomplish, how to do all things in the very best and most righteous way. Unless God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, Phil. 2:13, there is no hope that we ever will.

If we were endowed with the omniscience and foreknowledge of God, we could understand how God can save some without being partial or unjust to those who are lost, who, it may seem to us, never really had a chance to be saved since God apparently does not work in them to will and to do. We could understand too how God could permit some to be lost without defeating His own will, Who is not willing that any should perish.

In conclusion it should be noted that God never compels a man to believe. None of the lost will ever be able to offer the excuse: I am lost because God did not force me to be saved, and none of the saved will ever be able to say: I am saved because God forced me to believe. Every saved person has willed to be saved and every unsaved person has willed not to be saved. So after all, the Gospel message is, “whosoever will”: for in the act of faith every sinner must say, “I will,” even though it is all according to the working of Him whose ways are past finding out. Apart from election none would have been saved; howbeit justice would have been done. Through election all will be saved who should be saved, and that according to the very best plan that omniscience could devise in the all-embracing foreknowledge of God.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Is Sunday a holy day and how should the Lord’s people observe or regard Sunday in this age of Grace?

ANSWER: There are several words used in the N. T. to define one’s attitude towards days. In Rom. 14:5 and 6 the expressions: “esteemeth one day above another.” And “he that regardeth the day” occur. The word esteem is more often translated judge. The word regard is usually translated mind, as in Phil. 3:16: “let us mind the same thing.” In Gal. 4:10 Paul says: “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed labor upon you in vain.” The word observe is always translated elsewhere watch, as in Lk. 20:20: “And they watched him.” In Col. 2:16 Paul says: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day.” The meaning of this passage is clearly that the believer is not to permit anyone to sit in judgment upon him in an effort to enforce the observance of the Levitical ordinances, which now are seen to be but shadows of things to come.

There is no mention in the Scripture of Sunday, but of course there is of the first day of the week. It is evident that our Lord was in the grave on the seventh or Sabbath day, and that He arose as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, or Sunday, Matt. 28:1. It is evident from Acts 20:7 that it was by that time the custom of Paul’s converts to hold their meetings on the first day of the week. I Cor. 16:2 also confirms this fact: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.”

The observance of Sunday is thus not to be confused with the keeping of Jewish feast day and Sabbaths; for Paul assuredly approved of the former and disapproved of the latter. Observing Sunday in a scriptural way is no more legalistic than observing the Lord’s Supper. It is evident that many in Christendom have made both Sunday and the Lord’s Supper to be legalistic, but the fault lies with those who have distorted the meaning of these things. Sunday is not called a holy day in Scripture, and it is surely not a holy day in the sense of Col. 2:16.

There is no instruction in the Bible concerning the manner in which Paul and his followers observed Sunday, only that they met on that day for fellowship and for the preaching of the Word. One thing is evident: it was their custom to have a Sunday evening service; for Paul preached until midnight, and the meeting did not break up until day break, Acts 20:7-11.

Since this is the day of grace, it seems that the Lord has left it up to us to manifest as little or as much of that grace as we desire. If we feel that spending one hour out of each week in fellowship and preaching of the Word is sufficient, that is the measure of our appreciation to Him and of His Word. If we feel that we want to glorify Him more, if we have a greater hunger for His Word and for fellowship with those of like precious faith, then we are free to use more of this day which is almost universally set aside for this special purpose. It is evident that people who have to work five or six days a week do not have any other day upon which they can meet in such a way. And it is surely fitting that we as a part of the new creation should meet on the first day, the day upon which Christ arose from the dead in order that He might become the Head of the new creation.

There is probably another principle which we should mention in this connection. It is no more sinful to play golf on Sunday than on Monday, as far as the game is concerned. But if the golf is put ahead of Christ and His work, then there is surely something wrong with the saint. If one can honestly say that he can find nothing else that will bring as much glory to Christ as a game of golf, then the golf is surely in order. It is possible that some Christians do more for the Lord every day of the week than others do in a month of Sundays. and such as one might be well justified in using part of Sunday for recreation. The other principle which must be considered, however, is the influence of such examples upon young and immature believers. If Deacon Jones or Elder Smith spend most of their Sundays in recreation, then Johnny and Mary will feel that Sunday School is enough for them and probably before long will feel that it is too much. We should say with Paul: “Let every man be persuaded in his own mind,” Rom. 14:5,13, 16.

C.F.B.


QUESTION: In what sense is Christ “the firstborn of every creature,” when the context makes Him the Creator of all creation? (Col. 1:15)

ANSWER: The questioner realizes that the context plainly teaches that Christ is the Creator of everything that was ever created, and that verse 15 could not therefore mean that Christ is Himself a part of creation. Arians, of course, have used this verse to try to disprove the eternal deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, but the context will not at all support such a conclusion.

The Expositor’s Greek Testament states that the term, firstborn, “in its primary sense expresses temporal priority, and then, on account of the privileges of the firstborn, it gains the further sense of dominion.” It is interesting to note too that the substantive plural of this word is translated, “birthright,” showing that the word has in it the sense not merely of the time of birth, but of privilege and authority. Since verses 16 and 17, along with many other passages, exclude the idea of the Son of God being a creature, it is evident that the word, firstborn, as used in verse 15 does not mean that He was the first person to be born in the universe, but that by reason of His position as Creator who existed before all creation. He exercises the dominion or lordship over creation similar to that which a firstborn son exercises over his father’s household.

Notice that in verse 18 it is stated that He is also “the firstborn from the dead.” Does this mean that He was the first person ever to be brought back to life from the dead? No; for even in the Old Testament people were raised from the dead, and surely our Lord raised a number of people from the dead during His earthly ministry. What the does it mean that He is the firstborn from the dead? Why just what Paul says: “that in all things He might have the preeminence.”

C.F.B.


QUESTION: Was there any difference between John’s Baptism and that of the Day of Pentecost?

ANSWER: It is commonly taught that there is a great difference between the two: John’s baptism as an Old Testament rite or at least a baptism for Israel; the baptism of Pentecost as the Christian’s.

Our proposition is to prove that there is no essential difference between John’s baptism and that of Pentecost. Both were practiced for the same reasons: “for the remission of sins” and as part of the kingdom of heaven message.

Let us first consider the remission of sins aspect. The beloved physician, Luke, records in his gospel that, “the Word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” Luke 3:2-3. Luke also records the words of Peter to the convicted Jews on the Day of Pentecost when they asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The Peter said unto them, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:37-38.

When the Scriptures assert that both these baptisms were “for the remission of sins” it does not mean baptismal regeneration as some teach, but it means that water baptism was required together with true faith and repentance. In no dispensation has God ever been satisfied with mechanical religion. The Old Testament abounds with God’s utter disgust for animal sacrifices that were offered without true faith and repentance. But is equally true that animal sacrifices were absolutely essential together with true faith. So also with the practice of water baptism in John’s ministry and on the day of Pentecost.

The importance of water baptism stated above is confirmed by Luke 7:29-30: “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” In the light of a clear text like this, how can anyone say that water baptism was not important in John’s ministry and on the day of Pentecost?

Secondly, both John’s baptism and that of the day of Pentecost were in connection with the kingdom of heaven program; i.e. the millennial reign of Christ. John was the herald of the King. His message was to prepare Israel to receive Christ as her Messiah. The people to whom he ministered were in covenant relationship to God; they were not heathen Gentiles.

The angel Gabriel had announced plainly to Mary that the Son she was to bear would “be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” Luke 1:32-33.

Jesus Christ was the rightful heir to David’s throne and therefore the kingdom of heaven was announced as “at hand.” Israel as a nation rejected Him and cried, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” “We have no king but Ceasar.” They demanded the death of Christ, but God did not withdraw the kingdom from Israel with the crucifixion of Christ. He gave Israel another opportunity to repent under the ministry of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

The Apostle Peter reasoned with Israel to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead to take the throne of David. Let us examine Acts 2:25-36; where Peter quotes David’s words in the sixteenth Psalm that God would not leave his soul in Hades, neither would he suffer his holy one to see corruption. David was not speaking of himself, Peter said, because David died and saw corruption. As a prophet he predicted that God would raise Christ from the dead to sit on his (David’s) throne. “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne” Acts 2:30. It was on the basis of Christ being raised from the dead to sit on David’s throne that Peter was able to offer the kingdom to Israel in Acts 3:19-20, if Israel would repent and be converted.

The Scriptures make it plain that the kingdom could only be offered to Israel after Christ had died and rose again. Thus briefly we have established the proposition that there was no essential difference between the practice of water baptism by John the Baptist and that practiced on the day of Pentecost. Both were “for the remission of sins” and part of the kingdom of heaven program.

D.E.


QUESTION: Just what do you mean by the Transition Period?

ANSWER: The Transition Period was the time of change-over from the Law of Kingdom dispensation to the present dispensation of the Grace of God. We call it a transition period because the two dispensations seemingly overlapped. The old did not immediately disappear, but gradually passed away, while the new grew into prominence. This principle is seen in Heb. 8:13: “By using the words, ‘a new Covenant,’ He has made the first one obsolete. But whatever is decaying and showing signs of old age is not far from disappearing altogether.”

The transition may be likened to the dawn or the twilight, where day and night seem to be mixed, and not to the switching on and off of an electric light. Almost all of the dispensational changes in the Bible involve such a transition, of shorter or longer duration.

Among those who speak of the transition period, however, there are varieties of opinion concerning the actual period it covered. There are some who place the transition period in the latter part of Christ’s earthly ministry, beginning with Matt. 13 and ending with the Cross. These begin the present dispensation either with John the Baptist or at Pentecost. Others place the transition in the first few chapters of Acts, also beginning the Body of Christ and its dispensation at Pentecost. Still others claim the Pentecostal dispensation ran without any transition entirely through the Acts period and ended abruptly with Acts 28:28, and that just as abruptly the present dispensation then began.

It is my conviction that the Transition Period began with Paul’s ministry and covers the latter half of the Book of Acts. There is no indication in the earlier part of Acts that an entirely new and unprophesied dispensation was beginning. The message of Pentecost and thereafter was a continuation of what Jesus began to do and to preach while He was on earth, and it all had reference to the establishment of the earthly Messianic Kingdom. With Paul’s ministry there is the beginning of something new. At the outset, this fact is not seen very clearly, but by the time Paul wrote his first epistles it is very evident that a new dispensation has begun and that a new body composed of believing Jews and Gentiles has been brought into being.

But not only is the new dispensation getting underway; the old is decaying and waxing old. Jerusalem still stands and God still deals in grace towards Israel as long as the Acts period endures. The close of that period marks the end of the long day during which God stretched forth His hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people, Rom. 10:21, and it also marks the end of the Transition Period. From that point on Jerusalem, the temple, the priesthood, and the covenants were completely set aside from for the duration of this present dispensation. Outward signs, miracles, tongues and all that accompanied that Pentecostal period passed away.

C.F. Baker


QUESTION: “You ridicule baptism by water”. Please answer this befuddled Lutheran minister who wants to know: What did Christ mean when He said, “Unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom”?

ANSWER: First, let me state that we do not “ridicule baptism by water” as you state. We believe water baptism was necessary to one’s salvation under the circumcision ministry (Acts 2:38), but that it adds to the completed work of Christ and thus “frustrates the grace of God” in the present dispensation.

John’s baptism was with water. It is clear from a study of the Gospels that it has to do with the Kingdom. The very first time it is mentioned is in connection with the Kingdom. Matt. 3:1-6.

John, who was known as “the baptizer,” proclaimed the Kingdom as being “at hand.” He was not a minister of the Gospel of the Grace of God, but a prophet under the old covenant, appointed to “prepare the way of the Lord,” who was to come “to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” Rom. 15:8.

John’s message was “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and he baptized those who believed his preaching and confessed their sins. The reason why he baptized was in order that Christ should “be made manifest to Israel.” John 1:29-31.

John testified of One who should come after him, and who should baptize also, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by our Lord Himself. Acts 1:4-5.

To bring John’s baptism, which belonged to his Kingdom proclamation, into this present church period has led to confusion and disruption. It has proved to be the bomb-shell which has rent the church into fragments. The baptism for our dispensation is found in Col. 2:12. Here is a baptism about which Israel knew nothing. Their ceremonial cleansing in water was only a weak type of the real baptismal cleansing through Christ’s burial and resurrection.

We have died together with Him, we have been buried together with Him, and we have been raised from the grave also, not from a watery grave by the strong arm of the baptizer, but in Him, by the Almighty arm—“through faith in the operation of God who hath raised Him from the dead.”

Our baptism gives flesh no place. Our cleansing is by the Spirit and finds real and genuine acceptance by our God. If I am complete in Christ no fleshly rite can add to my completeness. If I do add to it I deny that Christ’s work has fully met God’s claims. I dishonor His work by subtracting from its power, and spoil it by adding something of my own dead, putrefying flesh.

Now let us consider the progression from adolescence to maturity, from flesh to spirit. The ministry of John the Baptist and the earthly ministry of our Lord was characterized by one baptism--- that in water. Yet John bore record concerning Christ: Matt. 3:11:

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”

And Christ, just as he was about to ascend to heaven, confirmed John’s declaration, saying, Acts 1:5:

“For john truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

From Pentecost until the close of the Acts period there were two baptisms--- water and spiritual. During the transitional administration (Acts 13-28), however, water takes a secondary place, while the baptism of the Spirit becomes the portion of all.

With the rejection of the offer of the kingdom in the Acts period on the part of Israel, Paul turned to the nations (Acts 28:28), and revealed the truth of the present economy which had been a secret “hid in God” up to that time.

With the change of administration there was a return to the “one baptism” Ephesians 4: 5. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”---The question arises, is it water or Spirit? If we say “water,” we rule out that baptism which entitles us to all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.

It is now that I Cor. 12:13 finds full recognition. Without this baptism, in the one Spirit, there could never be the one body. It is by the one Spirit that we are united one to another and have access into God’s presence. This unity of the Spirit is one of the precious truths of this secret economy.

So then, the baptism in Spirit remains, and as there is but one baptism, that in water disappears. Thus we see that gradually, a step at a time, the progression has been away from the outward expressions by means of water toward the inward reality by means of the Spirit.

No question of infant baptism, or of sprinkling, pouring, or immersion can arise where all is spiritual and divine---and this also settles the controversy of the baptismal formula.

Quoted from ROMANS (P. 287) by Rogers: “Why do good men cling so tenaciously to the external, physical rite and forget the spiritual reality? It is true that the rite is full of significance, and yet it is devoid of real spiritual efficacy. When water baptism was instituted, it was plainly taught that it was but a symbol of spirit baptism. In Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts at the first mention of water baptism the speaker in each case points from John’s baptism in water to Christ’s baptism in Holy Spirit. People persistently cling to John, though he steadily points to the One stronger than he, would come after him, and baptize in Spirit instead of water (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33.”

G.L. Hesselgrave


QUESTION: What is the meaning of the word Zion in Scriptures, and does it ever refer to the Church which is His body?

ANSWER: Nothing certain is known of the meaning of the word Zion. Hebrew scholars differ in opinions on the derivation of the word. Gesenius suggests it may have come from the Arabic word which means “ridge of a mountain”, or “citadel.”

It is evident from 2 Sam. 5:6-9 that Zion was the name of the citadel of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem. Zion was renamed the City of David and came later to be used as the equivalent of Jerusalem.

Zion is mentioned 7 times in the N.T. (spelled Sion): Matt. 21:5; John 12:15; Rom. 9:33; 11:26; Heb. 12:22; I Peter 2:6; and Rev. 14:1. In every one of its many O.T. occurrences and in all of its N.T. references with the exception of one, it should be evident that the word applies to the actual city of David, where God chose to place His Name. The language of Heb. 12:22 might seem to indicate a figurative usage, but even there it is evident that Zion is not called the church for the church is mentioned as separate and distinct from Sion. Hymnology and much of theology to the contrary, members of the body of Christ are not marching to Zion.

(Charles F. Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with permission)


QUESTION: What about the parable of the ten virgins in Matt. 25? I have not as yet found a satisfactory interpretation of this parable.

ANSWER: The fact that the Kingdom of the heavens is likened to ten virgins, at once settles the issue of its interpretation. It applies to the Messianic Kingdom and not to the Body of Christ.

The first word in this chapter, THEN, settles the time of its fulfillment. It is after the tribulation of those days, mentioned in the chapter before, that these things take place. THEN shall the kingdom of the heavens be likened unto ten virgins.

It is evident that our Lord is the Bridegroom. There is no mention of the bride at all, so we are not called upon to speculate about that point. The ten virgins represent those, apparently of Israel, who will be expecting their Messiah to come. The oil, which is generally made to mean the Holy Spirit, could hardly be thus applied; for the wise virgins could not have given the foolish ones the Holy Spirit; nor if they could would the have said, “Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you;” nor would they have told them to go to them that sell, and buy for themselves; for the Holy Spirit can not thus be bought.

It is my belief that expositors have read entirely too much into this parable. It is simply a lesson in watchfulness. The Lord does not say that a wedding is actually going to take place, but that His followers are to be just as watchful and ready for His return as such virgins would be who were awaiting the return of a bridegroom to enter upon the marriage feast. The ones who are not prepared are going to be shut out.

The whole context, beginning with Matt. 24:42, is concerned with watchfulness. The four parables which follow: that of the Servants, that of the Virgins, that of the Talents, and that of the Sheep and the Goats, all teach various aspects of watchfulness and preparedness for the coming of Christ back to earth.

(Charles F. Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with permission)


QUESTION: John preached repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. This was God’s way at that time for an individual to be saved, was it not? Was Christ’s message identical with John’s? This means that they were saved, not by grace thru faith alone, as we are today, does it not? Yet, was not Abraham justified by faith alone and doesn’t one of the prophets say that the just shall live by his faith?

ANSWER: You are correct concerning John’s preaching. This same order was preached while Christ was on earth, and also at Pentecost, Acts 2:38. Yes, before this present dispensation God had various requirements which men had to meet if they were to be saved, but these works were the works of faith; they believed God and therefore did what God said to do. When Paul was sent out with a message of justification entirely apart from the works of the law, he used Abram before he was circumcised, to show to the Jews that if God had justified Abram this way, He could still do so. There is this one big difference, whereas both we and Abram were justified by faith alone, we were not given the same message to believe that Abram was given. God told Abram how He would multiply his seed, and he believed God. For believing this God justified him, Gen. 15:5,6. Today God tells us about Christ and His finished work, and upon believing this He justifies us. Paul shows, of course, in Rom. 3 and 4, that although Abraham didn’t have the same message to believe that we have, yet Christ’s death was the only basis upon which God could remit the sins of those who lived in past ages (3:25) C.F.B.

(Charles F. Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with permission)


QUESTION: I heard a preacher say that the “pleroma” of Rom. 11:25 had reference to the completion of the Body of Christ. Is this the correct interpretation of this verse?

ANSWER: No. This interpretation ignores the fact that national distinctions were lost in the Body of Christ (Gal. 3:28). We believe the “pleroma” of the Gentiles has reference to the “times of the Gentiles” spoken of by our Lord (Luke 21:24).

The salvation of Israel does not depend upon the completion of the Body of Christ but upon the coming of “the Deliverer out of Zion.” Rom. 11:26. G.L.H.

(Charles F. Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with permission)


QUESTION: Is it true that one of the differences between the dispensations of law and grace is that under the law people were commanded, whereas under grace there are no commands?

ANSWER: If you will read through Paul’s epistles you will find that he uses the words command and commandment several times in addressing members of the Body of Christ. See I Corinthians 7:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:4, 6, 10, 12; I Timothy 4:11; 6:14; I Corinthians 14:34; I Thessalonians 4:11. Besides the use of the words themselves, Paul many times uses the imperative mode of the verb, and according to the dictionary the imperative is expressive of positive as distinguished from advisory or discretionary command; in other words, a positive command. It is not simply good advice when God imperatively states: Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God. It is a command. I would say that there are better ways of distinguishing law and grace than by the use of the word command.

(Charles F. Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with permission)


QUESTION: What difference does it make whether we begin the Church at Pentecost, as most Fundamentalists do, or with Paul during the Acts period as you people do, or after Acts as the so-called Acts 28 people do?

ANSWER: It should be evident that God would not give any Scripture, any commission, any religious program for the Body of Christ before He had revealed that there was to be such a thing as the Body of Christ. If we say that the Body began at Pentecost, then the commission of Mark 16:15,16, the preaching of repentance and water baptism for the remission of sins, and the miraculous signs and wonders with tongues, healings, and all the rest, should logically be the program for the Body of Christ. This is what all Pentecostalists believe and try to practice. Many Fundamentalists claim to believe it but are illogical in not practicing the program. If we say that the Body began only after Acts 28, then none of the Scripture written before that, including at least six of Paul’s epistles, do not contain specific instructions for us in this dispensation. If we begin the Body with Paul in mid-Acts then all of Paul’s writings are for and about the Body of Christ. Thus where we begin the Body of Christ determines largely the commission and the spiritual and religious program we are to follow.

(Charles F. Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with permission)


QUESTION: What kind of glass was Paul talking about when he said, “Now we see through a glass darkly?"

ANSWER: He was not talking about glass, nor was he talking about seeing through it. He was talking about a reflector or mirror. The mirrors of that day were made of polished copper which reflected comparatively little light. The passage should be translated: “For now we see in a mirror dimly.” Mirror occurs also in James 1:23, and the verb, to see one’s self in a mirror, in 2 Cor. 3:18.

(Charles F. Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with permission)


QUESTION: Doesn’t John 5:39 indicate that we cannot be sure about having eternal life? We may think we have it, but that doesn’t mean that we do.

ANSWER: We could answer this question by quoting another statement by John: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life? (I John 5:13). Jesus was not casting doubt upon the Scripture. He was telling these Jews that they thought they had eternal life simply because they searched the Scriptures. One can study the Bible all of his life, but he will never receive eternal life until he finds the Christ who is revealed therein. Eternal life resides in Christ. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).

(Charles F. Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with permission)


QUESTION: If Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, why did God send Peter instead of Paul to first preach to the Gentiles?

ANSWER: First of all it should be remembered that Peter at this time was preaching the circumcision-kingdom gospel. The kingdom gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles in the future when God fulfills His promises to Israel in the establishment of her kingdom. Cornelius is a picture of Gentile salvation in the coming kingdom. God sent Peter to him because he was a good man, one who feared God and gave alms to God’s earthly people. But when God raised up Paul he did not send him to deserving Gentiles, but to the undeserving and ungodly, with the gospel of the grace of God.

Doubtless, another reason for having Peter go to the Gentiles first was to substantiate the revelation given to Paul. There needed to be a historical bridge for Paul’s ministry. He had received his revelation directly from Christ in heaven apart from any human instrumentality. What evidence did he have that his message was genuine? From Acts 15 it is evident that God used the testimony of Peter to substantiate Paul’s claims. Then Peter, James, and John turned over their Gentile ministry to Paul, recognizing that God had entrusted this new dispensation to him.

(Charles Baker in Truth Magazine – Used with Permission)