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Archive for the ‘Q & A’ Category

I can remember a time when my wife, Beth, hatched some eggs with the kids for a school project. They had such a great time playing with the baby chicks. We then had chicken for dinner about that time and one of the kids suddenly made the connection.
This sparked some interesting conversation about eating meat and (inevitably in our house) what the Bible says about it, etc. As we processed I thought about how in the not-too-distant past many more people did their own slaughtering (e.g., my grandparents) and it was a more natural/normal part of life.
We who get our meat from the supermarket down the road may have a great appetite for meat, but no longer have the stomach for the slaughter part. The whole discussion, however, should also spark some big questions: How do we determine what is moral? Are animals equal to humans—meaning, is it murder to kill an animal? Is it more immoral to kill animals which seem more self-conscious (i.e., monkey vs. fish)?
If there is no God who is above us who has spoken a system of morality, then it’s all just a matter of opinion. If there is, then what He has spoken about what He created should be our guide for answering such questions. So, while I believe we should have as much compassion as possible for our animals and be good stewards of creation, the Bible is clear that it’s not wrong to eat the meat of animals (Genesis 9:1-6; Mark 7:18-19; Colossians 2:16). And eating meat requires slaughter. Not eating animal meat is okay too, however (Romans 14:1-2).
As Genesis 9:1-6 makes clear, mankind is a superior creation because we have been created in the image of God. To kill an innocent human being is to attack the image of God within that person. That is not true of animals. Therefore, it is not wrong to slaughter and eat animals.

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Q: “Where in the law does it say that women should be submissive?”

A: I assume this question came from 1 Corinthians 14:34 which reads: “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.”

To the Jew, “The Law” was another way of saying, “The writings of Moses” or the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).

I take this reference to the Law in 1 Corinthians 14:34 to be referring to Genesis—the story of the creation of man and woman because in two other places in Paul’s writings about the submission of women, he refers to Genesis 2:20-24 and the order in which man and woman were created:

1 Corinthians 11:8-9: “For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”

1 Timothy 2:13-14: “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. “

Again, in both contexts Paul is explaining why wives are to be in submission to their husbands and in both cases teaches that the order in which God created man and woman was significant—it demonstrated that wives were to be subordinate to their husbands.

Peter also uses the example of women in the Law to support his teaching about the submission of women:

1 Peter 3:5-6: “For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

So, this is the understanding of the Apostles (the Apostolic teaching) about the subject of submission from the Old Testament Law.

If you’d like to do some more extensive reading on this subject, I recommend Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood which are both available for free on-line in pdf form.

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Q: What is the torture we receive, according to Matthew 18:34-35, for unforgiveness?

A: This torture is discipline. These passages are not talking about justification or we must conclude that justification requires our work of forgiveness. I like how Dr. Thomas Constable handled Matthew 18:34-35. He tersely listed all the various interpretations:

The idea of God delivering His servants, the disciples, over to endless torment has disturbed many readers of this parable. Some have concluded that Jesus meant a disciple can lose his salvation “if” he “does not forgive.” This makes salvation dependent on good works rather than belief in Jesus. Another possibility is that Jesus was using an impossible situation, endless torment, to warn His disciples. If the disciples knew it was an impossible situation, the warning would lose much of its force. Perhaps He meant that a disciple who does not genuinely forgive gives evidence that he or she has never really received God’s forgiveness.[904] That person may be a disciple, but he or she is not a believer (cf. Judas Iscariot). However, many genuine believers do not forgive their brethren as they should. Perhaps the punishment takes place in this life, not after death, and amounts to divine discipline (v. 14).[905] Another possibility is that Jesus had in mind a loss of eternal reward. Or perhaps this is simply another case of hyperbole to drive home a point. (http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/htm/NT/Matthew/Matthew.htm)

It’s so important to see this parable in its context. The context is addressing humility and forgiveness among brothers (See Dr. Constable’s notes on this entire chapter for more on this). It’s not a salvation passage. So, I agree that the “torture” is either divine discipline—punishment in this life—or loss of reward in the next life. Probably the former. Dr. Homer Kent of Grace Theological Seminary agrees:

Delivered him to the tormentors. Herein is the crux of the interpretation. It cannot refer to the eternal ruin of one truly saved, for that would conflict with the clearest teaching elsewhere. Neither can it refer to some nonscriptural purgatory. Yet the fact that the servant had been forgiven the debt makes it unlikely that he was a mere professed believer. However, if we view the torments as temporal evils visited upon unforgiving believers by their heavenly Father, the previous difficulties are avoided. Tormentors (basanistai) is derived from the verb basanizo, which is used to describe sickness (Mt 4:24; 8:6), and adverse circumstances (Mt 14:24). Lot “tormented his soul” by contact with evil men (II Pet 2:8). Such torments God may use to chasten and produce a proper spirit among his children (I Cor 11:30-32). Thus the divine forgiveness here is that which we must experience daily in order to enjoy perfect fellowship with our heavenly Father, and it fits well this context in which relations among believers are discussed (vv. 15-20). (Pfeiffer, C. F., & Harrison, E. F. (Eds.). (1962). The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament (Mt 18:28). Chicago: Moody Press.)

Even John MacArthur—who, as a Lordship guy, tends to assume all punishment is hell—got this right and agrees:

18:34 his lord, moved with anger. Because He is holy and just, God is always angry at sin, including the sins of His children (cf. Heb 12:5–11). torturers. Not executioners. This pictures severe discipline, not final condemnation. all that was owed him. The original debt was unpayable and the man was still without resources. So it seems unlikely that the slave was saddled once again with the same debt he had already been forgiven. Rather, what he now owed his master would be exacted in chastening by his master until he was willing to forgive others. (MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 18:34). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Hope this helps. Now, get out there and forgive!

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As a pastor, I often get questions from people about various things. Sometimes, I feel others might be asking the same questions, so I share these exchanges here. I’m not the Bible Answer Man, but I hope my answers are helpful. 

Q: Obamacare supposedly has the chip system involved and could have prophetic significance and could be a sign of just how close the Lord’s return really is. Could you read (this link) and let me know your thoughts? (The link led to the following text which can now be found on numerous websites.)

“There’s a pretty starling thing in the bill that 95% of Americans won’t like.
The Obama Health care bill under Class II (Paragraph 1, Section B) specifically includes ‘‘(ii) a class II device that is implantable.” Then on page 1004 it describes what the term “data” means in paragraph 1, section B:
14 ‘‘(B) In this paragraph, the term ‘data’ refers to in15
formation respecting a device described in paragraph (1),
16 including claims data, patient survey data, standardized
17 analytic files that allow for the pooling and analysis of
18 data from disparate data environments, electronic health
19 records, and any other data deemed appropriate by the
20 Secretary”

What exactly is a class II device that is implantable? Lets see…Approved by the FDA, a class II implantable device is a “implantable radiofrequency transponder system for patient identification and health information.” The purpose of a class II device is to collect data in medical patients such as “claims data, patient survey data, standardized analytic files that allow for the pooling and analysis of data from disparate data environments, electronic health records, and any other data deemed appropriate by the Secretary.”
This sort of device would be implanted in the majority of people who opt to become covered by the public health care option. With the reform of the private insurance companies, who charge outrageous rates, many people will switch their coverage to a more affordable insurance plan. This means the number of people who choose the public option will increase. This also means the number of people chipped will be plentiful as well. The adults who choose to have a chip implanted are the lucky (yes, lucky) ones in this case. Children who are “born in the United States who at the time of birth is not otherwise covered under acceptable coverage” will be qualified and placed into the CHIP or Children’s Health Insurance Program (what a convenient name). With a name like CHIP it would seem consistent to have the chip implanted into a child. Children conceived by parents who are already covered under the public option will more than likely be implanted with a chip by the consent of the parent. Eventually everyone will be implanted with a chip. And with the price and coverage of the public option being so competitive with the private companies, the private company may not survive.”

A: I looked at the text of the health care bill (http://docs.house.gov/rules/hr4872/111_hr4872_reported.pdf) and it does contain the section about a “class II device that is implantable.” When you read the entire context though, right after “implantable” is “life-saving or life-supporting”. In other words, it is discussing many medical devices that are implantable. It’s about doing analysis of devices that are “life-saving or life-supporting”—not devices used for tracking people. I found a short list of Class I and Class II devices on the FDA website (http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfpcd/315.cfm) and the FDA’s definition of a Class II device: “Most medical devices are considered Class II devices. Examples of Class II devices include powered wheelchairs and some pregnancy test kits. 43% of medical devices fall under this category” (http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ResourcesforYou/Consumers/ucm142523.htm). I also found this page (http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/ucm072141.htm) which does discuss the “implantable radiofrequency transponder system”. That technology is very real, but it’s just one type of Class II device. In other words, the text of the health care bill that supposedly is mandating that we all get a tracking device under our skin is not saying that at all—whoever originally wrote the text for the link you sent me was deliberately misrepresenting the truth! The language in the health care bill is about how one of the new government agencies created by this health care monstrosity will be doing analysis on “most medical devices”—tools used for health care. But, this transponder thing is not being mandated by the health care bill.

I’m certainly no fan of Obamacare, but this legislation has no direct connection with prophecy or the Antichrist or the mark of the beast. I found the article on the FDA’s website about “implantable radiofrequency transponders” fascinating because this kind of technology could very well be used by the Antichrist. But, we’ve known for decades that this technology was available, so it’s not a big revelation at this point.

The mark of the beast will be voluntary and people will know exactly what they’re getting—and it won’t happen until the Tribulation. Even if it was in this legislation, an implant to get health care before the Rapture is not the mark of the beast.

For now, let me recommend you avoid websites like the one your link took me to. This world is getting crazier all the time, but we’ve got to keep our heads…and do our ministry: “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Tim 4:5, NIV). I’m afraid reading sites like the one you sent me is going to get you sidetracked.

Let me recommend the best website out there regarding prophecy: The Pre-Trib Research Center: http://www.pre-trib.org.
And here’s a great article I hope you’ll read—it’s about the mark of the beast: http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/mark-of-beast.

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As a pastor, I often get questions from people about various things. Sometimes, I get questions I feel are common, but perhaps some people don’t bother to ask for help. I’m not the Bible Answer Man, but I hope my answers are helpful.

Q: I’ve been realizing how seriously I need some help in learning how to spiritually lead (my wife). I fully understand it is my responsibility, and I was wondering, what are some things you do to lead your wife?

A: My take on the whole subject of leading our wives is perhaps different than what you might hear at a marriage conference or whatever. Beth and I have been to conferences or read books together and heard about couples who have never missed a single day in their 76 years of marriage studying the Bible and praying together between 4-6 a.m. We come away feeling like pond scum.

But, I’ve come to believe that every individual and every couple is different when it comes to devotions/prayer life. We have a great deal of freedom and we need to discover what works best for us. The goal is to seek first the Kingdom, but exactly what that looks like can be very different from house to house. We too struggled early on in our marriage, so I encourage you to try to develop a pattern now—before more children come. But, even if you have a pattern, my advice is to not be legalistic about it. Do the best you can, but don’t get upset if you miss a day or two or a week or two at times.

We go through “seasons” where we do better. Seasons where we do worse. God’s “mercies” are new every morning—you can start fresh today. At this “season” in our lives, we’re working hard at “family” time rather than just “couple” time. When I’m home in the evenings, we’re reading/discussing Proverbs together (especially with the older children) and then praying together as a family. We can’t do this every night and we don’t lose sleep on the nights we can’t. We just do our best and work hard at being as consistent as we can. I also take very seriously the idea of “praying without ceasing.” We try to work spiritual conversations and prayer in as often as possible. We (usually Beth and the kids) pray at the beginning of the day when we start school—which begins with “Bible Time”. We pray over every meal. We pray with each child as we put them to bed (the best prayer time all day!). And I also believe one of the best ways to lead our wives spiritually is to make sure they’re in church and Community Group. This may seem basic, and if your wives love to be there it’s easy. But, leading our wives spiritually isn’t just about prayer and individual Bible study. It’s about fellowship in the local church, and discovering their gifts and freeing them up to serve and develop relationships in the context of ministry. Sometimes it’s about leading them to pull back and NOT serve for a while—making sure she’s hearing a message or staying in the Socratic discussion instead of serving in back every week.

Leading our wives spiritually is a lifestyle that includes many different aspects and I think it’s important to see the “collective whole”. But, obviously, times alone with my wife, talking and listening and praying are some of the sweetest times of all. Do it as often as possible. Initiate. Try to do it in a way that she doesn’t even know it’s “scheduled”.

My point is: In leading our wives—just as in discipling anyone—there are no black and white answers and plug-and-play methods. Experiment. Be creative. Be flexible. Study your wife and discover what works best with her (e.g., Early morning or late at night? Study/read together or study/read seperately then get together and talk? Does she feel you need to study together or does she feel you both get enough study at other times and you just need to talk/share/discuss then pray over what’s happening right now?). Just keep trying to make it a natural part of your lives together. Whatever you do, never give up.

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Election? Free Will?

Question from a friend and my response:

Question: “I’m studying through Romans. So far I’ve read through it a handful of times and I’m already getting into some interesting stuff, for example, election and free will. Do you know of any authors who present clear Biblical arguments for the case of free will, especially that discuss Romans 9? I know I lean heavily toward the reformed position on this and I really want some different perspectives. Right now I just simply cannot find in Scripture where the free will position is clearly asserted or argued. I may also be misinterpreting Romans 9 with regards to election. That’s why I’m hoping you might be able to point me toward some quality resources.”

Response: “I think this is an important and even exciting subject to explore, but I will also include here a warning or a plea not to let it create division. It is a hotly debated subject and people on both sides get pretty torqued up—even to the point of accusing each other of heresy sometimes. The fact is, there are plenty of passages that seem to argue for Calvinism and there are plenty of passages that seem to argue for Arminianism. You may have noticed that I don’t pound the pulpit on this one even though I have some pretty strongly held convictions. I will make those clear when I preach passages that deal with the issue. The real test is to wrestle with all these issues and come away agreeing to disagree agreeably. I can recommend two books—one is Chosen But Free by Norm Geisler. This is billed as a “balanced view of Divine Election”. Geisler will say he is a “moderate Calvinist”. This book spawned a second book, The Potter’s Freedom by James R. White. The subtitle of this book is “A defense of the reformation and a rebuttal of Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free“. It argues for the reformed or Calvinist position. The copy I have of Chosen But Free is actually a Second Edition which includes a response to The Potter’s Freedom. So, these two books pretty much cover the debate and both address Romans 9 pretty extensively. I would also highly recommend Reign of the Servant Kings by Joseph Dillow (updated recently and title changed to Final Destiny). You can read the first chapter here.”

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