Ecclesiology 36, Q & A
Father, we just come before You this morning praising You for who you are, what You’ve done for us and thanking You for a chance to fellowship together today. I specifically ask you’ll be with this session and the worship service that follows. I pray that things would be spoken of that would build up and edify your people in Your truth and make us good stewards of these things. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.
We’ve been working our way through Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church and spent probably more time than I thought we would on the charismatic movement. So I thought this would be a good time, since we’ve completed the charismatic movement, I thought this would be a good time to stop and pause and allow folks to ask questions. Of course, we try to do that almost every week but we’ve never done a whole session just on Q & A so that’s what we’re going to try to do today. And next week, just a general reminder, is a congregational meeting so we won’t be having the regular adult sanctuary Sunday School class, so when we reconvene I’m going to be continuing on with spiritual gifts, this time not trying to talk about the charismatic movement as much but talking about the remaining gifts and what they are and how you can discover what your spiritual gifts are, what your gift mix is.
So this is a good time to stop and do Q & A so if you have a question what I’ll try to do, for the benefit of people that might be listening online is I’ll try to rephrase your question into the microphone then I’ll try to give an answer to it. If I can’t answer it I’ll just say I don’t know and I’ll do some research on that. How’s that for a politician’s answer? [Laughter] It’s not like I’m running for anything but that’s what they do on TV so I thought it might work in the world of the church. So having sad all that, anybody have a question they want to ask. Preferably if you can do it I don’t know we envision this as being open line Sunday where you can just ask anything like what about space aliens and things like that. My preference would be the questions relate to the subject matter but if you still have some burning question that you want answered you can ask that as well but our preference is for questions to relate to things we’ve talked about. Who wants to go first.
[It’s quiet for a bit] This is an east Q&A session, this is the time to do Q&A sessions when nobody is awake yet.
Janet: “You [can’t understand word] one of the tests of the prophets was that they had full control over their…[Andy: faculties] but yet [can’t hear]
Andy: She’s asking about, I think it’s 1 Corinthians 14:29 if I remember right, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets and then she’s talking about another teaching we did on Ezekiel where God basically made Ezekiel moot, in chapter 3, and allowed him to only speak when God allowed it and opened his mouth again in Ezekiel 33. I guess what she’s asking (correct me if I’m wrong) is in the Book of Ezekiel it seems like God has more control over the prophetic gifts but in 1 Corinthians 14:29 it seems to indicate that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets so how do I reconcile that contradiction? I guess I would say that in 1 Corinthians 14:29 we’re dealing with the age of the church so one of the key things to understand is God’s dealings with Israel and God’s dealings with the church are under a different set of rules. For example, just as one example, the Holy Spirit could come on people and leave them in Old Testament times, that happened with Saul if I remember right, and Samson if I remember right as well, and others. And that doesn’t happen in the church age. So I guess I would say the Ezekiel passage is really different rules where God is working with Israel and 1 Corinthians 14:29 Paul is not laying out principles for all time; he’s just saying this is how it works in the church age. I don’t know of that helps at all.
Anybody else have any questions. You guys need to ask something because I don’t have anything prepared, unless you want to hear my Revelation sermon early and you can get out in time to beat the Baptist to the cafeteria. I say that tongue in cheek of course.
Ellen [can’t hear question] Okay, she’s basically asking when did the church age start and why do we start it in Acts 2 when the church is very Jewish, at least up until Acts 10, you’ve got your first Gentile convert and then finally in Acts 13 is when Paul launches off into his first missionary journey in Southern Galatia and then the Gentiles come in, in droves! So she’s asking if that’s true why are we starting the church in Acts 2 rather than Acts 13.
The short answer to that is we follow what’s called normative dispensationalism as distinguished from hyper-dispensationalism. Hyper-dispensationalism starts the church at some point after Acts 2 for reasons like you’re describing. But by our way of thinking the dominant… you figure out the dominant change of rules now when the population of the church changes but when the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit started. That’s the definitive marker. And when you look at all of the Scriptures, you know, Jesus saying you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now and in Acts 11 when I think it was Peter who says these Gentiles were baptized in the Holy Spirit as we were from the beginning. The only place between those two that it could ever fit is Acts 2.
So the ethnic complexion of the church is not the definitive marker as to when the church age started. It’s when the body of Christ started and you can identify the beginning of the body of Christ when the Holy Spirit started to take people and baptize them into the body of Christ. So 1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us that we have been all baptized into Christ, into Christ’s body and so the key question is if you can figure out when that baptizing ministry started you can figure out when the church age began and when the body of Christ began. And it gets a little tricky because there is no verse in Acts 2 that says “thus saith the Lord, the baptizing work of the Spirit just started.” So you have to look at what Christ says in Acts 1, it’s going to start “ not many days from now,” [Acts 1:5, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”] Acts 11, looking backward these Gentiles were baptized in the Holy Spirit as we were from the beginning, and so the only place between Acts 11 and Acts 1 that it fits is Acts 2. So that’s the big change of rules; that’s what a dispensation is, it’s a change of rules. And that’s the big change and that’s when it started. And certainly the church has gone through a lot of development and one of the areas of development is the transition of the ethnic complexion of the church. I mean, that’s been going on not just back then but that’s been going on for 2,000 years as people from all nations have been brought in. But you don’t figure out when the change of rules started based on when the church ethnically started changing. You figure it out based on when the baptizing ministry of the Spirit started. And we’re convinced it started in Acts 2. That’s the key change right there, so that’s why Acts 2 is sort of a big deal. This is why we disagree with the hyper-dispensationalist that will say well, no, the church really started in Acts 13 or Acts 9 with Paul or if you get into the hyper-hyper dispensationalist they’ll say the church started in Acts 28 because that’s when Paul revealed the mystery of the church. But you see, Paul… the thing they don’t understand is Paul didn’t start the mystery; Paul explained a mystery that already started. Anyway, that’s a big discussion between normative dispensationalists and hyper dispensationalists.
You had a question, I can’t remember what you e-mailed me about but can you say it again. [can’t hear question] Just real quick I would say you can’t hear unless someone is speaking so there has to be speaking for there to be hearing and what I think the miracle that was happening, and this probably goes over stuff you already know well, but all of these Jews from the surrounding area, in fact, if you go down to verses 5-12 really, actually starting in verse 9, [Acts 2] look at all these places, Parthians, Medes, Persians, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, which would be in Babylon, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, and it says both Jews and proselytes, Cretans, Arabs, we hear them in our own tongues of the mighty deeds of God. [Acts 2:9, “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome  both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”]
And Leviticus 23 basically tells all of these Jews that you need to assemble on the day of Pentecost and that’s what they’re all doing there in Jerusalem. Some have estimated there could be as many as a million Jews at this time period in the Jerusalem area and then all of a sudden the apostles broke out in a dialect that those people spoke but the apostles apparently hadn’t learned and so that was a key sign that God gave that the dispensation of the church was starting. So I don’t think it was just some kind of miracle with hearing, it think it was a miracle with speaking and they were hearing something that they should have never heard, people breaking out into their language perfectly without having learned it and I think that was really the miracle and that’s how God testified to this change of rules through a sign. And this was needed because you have to understand that the nation of Israel was under the Law for 1500 years; I mean, that’s a long time to be under a system. And so there had to be a miracle to testify that God was now changing the rules. I think it was hearing but the real miracle was in the speaking because you can’t have hearing without speaking. Does that help at all. [same person says something, can’t hear, something about you wouldn’t need a translator]
Andy: Okay, we’ll the translator is different, that’s within the church because that comes from 1 Corinthians 14 which is talking about within the church. So that’s a slightly different usage of tongues than what we’re talking about here.
Someone says something, can’t hear.
Andy, Yeah, it happened in Acts 2 and I think there’s a few other times in Acts it happened as well but I understand that as a onetime occurrence in Acts, early Acts to testify that everything was changing from a 1500 year system to something brand new involving the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. And that’s what I think Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 where he says tongues, at least the way I’m describing it here, is a sign not for the believer but for the unbeliever. That’s what he’s talking about there. But then verses 26-27 he starts to talk about a use within the church involving a translator. So that’s my current understanding of it. I hope that helps some.
Anybody else… yeah, Bill. [can’t hear]
Andy: Did every believer receive the Holy Spirit in Acts 2? Well, there are some issues in the Book of Acts that I would call transitional problems so you’ve got some holdovers from, I think there’s some folks in Acts 19, if I remember right, they had believed under John the Baptist and Paul have you received the Holy Spirit and they said we haven’t even heard there is a Holy Spirit. So there’s some folks that are sort of holdovers from the prior age, they believed in the message of John the Baptist pointing to Christ as the Messiah but they hadn’t received the full package yet because they weren’t there on the day of Pentecost. Of course the New Testament hadn’t been written yet so they had to have further education. So I believe that those sort of transitional figures, if I’m understanding it right, Acts 19, received the Holy Spirit when they heard the complete message. So I wouldn’t make it an ironclad rule that everybody received the Holy Spirit right then and there; there’s a few transitional holdover things going on in the Book of Acts.
A great book on this whole thing is J. Dwight Pentecost’s book, it’s called New Wine: A Study of Transition in the Book of Acts. And some would even put… who was that silver tongued orator, Apollos in that category as well. So I don’t know if I’d make it an iron clad rule that they all received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost because you’ve got these transitional figures.
Judy asks question, can’t hear.
Andy: Right. She’s asking about the Samaritans, how they received the Holy Spirit later but the Samaritans are a little different because they had never believed yet. And real quickly, on the Samaritans, because the Charismatic movement will use the Samaritan example in Acts 8 as sort of an example of people not getting the Holy Spirit until later, because first they believed and then they received the Holy Spirit later when the apostles, like Peter from Jerusalem, came to lay hands on the Samaritans.
And you didn’t really ask about this but let me just sort of interject this, and I think I’ve done this other times, giving you this explanation. One of the things that’s happening there in Acts 8 in Samaria is the ancient conflict between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other’s guts going back almost seven hundred years. And when you study John 4 and Christ’s ministering to the Samaritan woman, the disciples can’t believe He’s talking, first of all to a Samaritan, secondly to a female because women in that culture weren’t treated well.
And the Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews. The Samaritans went and built their own religious system on Mount Gerizim, remember the two mountains, when the Joshua generation… actually the elderly Joshua and the new generation entered the land, remember the two mountains, Ebal and Gerizim, go to Ebal to read the curses of the Law, go to Gerizim to read the blessings of the Law, Deuteronomy 27, Deuteronomy 28, because Gerizim was the mountain of blessings, the Samaritans, who were a half-breed race and they said we’re not going to follow Judaism any more, we’re just going to go set up our shop on Mount Gerizim. So they had a different race, they had a rival religious system and you’ve got to understand…
You know, today everybody is talking about racial reconciliation; the fact of the matter is we’ve got the best book on racial reconciliation ever written, because how in the world are these two groups going to be coalesced into one body? So what happens is Philip, the deacon, if I remember right, goes and evangelizes in Samaria. The Samaritans believe but unlike today (this is another example of the transitional problem in the book of Acts) unlike today they don’t receive the Holy Spirit immediately. And what happened is the disciples, the apostles, like Peter, had to travel from Jerusalem to Samaria to lay hands on the Samaritan believers who are now Christians so that they could receive the Holy Spirit. And so it’s a transitional problem in the Book of Acts because why didn’t these folks receive the Holy Spirit immediately (the Samaritans)?
And people will go to that passage and they’ll build a whole doctrine on it today of the second blessing. At first you trust in Christ and then you receive the Holy Spirit later. No, that’s not the way it works. Romans 8:9 says is you do “not have the Spirit of Christ” or the Holy Spirit, then you don’t have Christ. [Romans 8:9, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”]
So why the delay? Because if the Samaritans had received the Holy Spirit immediately before the apostles came and laid hands on them do you know what you would have had right out of the gate in Christendom? You would have had two churches because that ancient seven hundred year religious and racial conflict between those two groups would have just carried over into the church age. And that’s antithetical to the nature of the church because within the church, the body of Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:28] And the dividing wall has been broken down. [Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall”]
So you don’t have Paul on the scene yet explaining these things in Galatians and Ephesians, etc. So God had to do something in the Book of Acts that’s abnormal, sort of like the questions Bill asked. God was doing something abnormal in the Book of Acts regarding those transitional Old Testament saint-type figures, He did something with them that’s not normative today where He delayed the giving of the Holy Spirit because the Samaritans, when this was done, realized that they didn’t receive the Spirit until the Jerusalem apostles laid hands on them. So Samaria now recognized that they belonged to Jerusalem and Jerusalem now recognized that they belonged to Samaria because we are all one in Christ.
And so that was an intentional delaying so a point could be communicated that racial conflicts may have existed in the old covenant but it’s not to continue on into the church age. Remember when Jesus, James and John, who were the sons of thunder, end of Luke 9, came to a Samaritan village. Remember that, and the Samaritans didn’t receive the message of Christ? Remember what James and John, the sons of thunder said? Should we not call down fire from heaven people and devour these people, like Elijah did in the Old Testament, who called down fire on the prophets of Baal. [Luke 9:54, “When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”’]
And why did James and John say that? Because they’re dealing with a 700 year conflict, racial conflict. And so God delayed the Spirit in that particular instance so that racial conflict wouldn’t continue into the age of the church and if it had continued into the age of the church you would have had two churches right out of the gate. See that? And that’s a good Bible study method to follow; you’ve got to be very careful about building doctrine in the Book of Acts totally because there are all kinds of transitional things happening in the Book of Acts that are not normative today.
And this is our difference of opinion with Pentecostal or charismatic theology; a lot of their beliefs, the second blessing, all of these kind of things come from the Book of Acts, and we praise God for the Book of Acts but we treat it as a historical book, not as primarily a theological book. So if you’re finding a practice in the Book of Acts, in order for it to be normative today you also have to find it in the epistolary literature. That’s kind of a rabbit trail on Acts 8 but again a really good book on this is J. Dwight Pentecost’s book, Transitional Problems in the Book of Acts. So I hope that helps a little bit.
[Someone asks a question] The question is what do you do with people that say I’m a prophet because I’ve graduated from the school of the prophets? Well, the first answer to that is there are no prophets today because the canon of Scripture is shut. And we’ve gone through great lengths to explain that apostles and prophets are foundational gifts given at the foundation of the church. So when someone says they’re a prophet it always makes me nervous. I mean, what exactly are they talking about? I mean, at best what we have today are preachers in churches who are not functioning as prophets receive direct revelation from God but they’re proclaiming a closed canon. That’s as close as you have to prophets today, as we’ve tried to unpack in our series.
And beyond that, a school does not give a spiritual gift. As we’ve studied… some verses that come to mind, 1 Corinthians 12:11, Hebrews 2:1-4, that the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts according to what? His will. [1 Corinthians 12:11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” Hebrews 2:1-4, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.  For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,  how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,  God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”]
So whether someone has a particular gift or not is not dependent upon a school. No school can bequeath any spiritual gift. The only thing a school can do is to help you kind of develop in an area of giftedness that you already have. But who has what gift totally depends upon what the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through a person. So (A) I don’t think there are prophets today, and (B) I don’t think a school can give a spiritual gift so when someone says I’m a prophet because I graduated from the school’s supernatural, those premises I don’t really think are valid. Let’s do it like they do it on TV, can we do that, we can kind of shift back and forth between the audience and the online folks so anybody else have a question before we shift back to online?
[Someone asks a question, can’t hear] Yeah, the question was what is the response to a person that says they are an apostle or prophet because they graduated from the school of the supernatural? I would say two responses, what do you mean by prophets because I don’t think there are prophets today, as we’ve tried to explain in the series.
And my second response, and maybe other folks can think of others but I don’t think a school can give you a spiritual gift. I mean, I can be Charles Swindoll all I want but the reality is just because I graduated from a school that he’s the President of doesn’t mean I’m a Charles Swindoll. Maybe I wouldn’t want to be Charles Swindoll, I don’t know but see, people don’t leave room for the Holy Spirit to make His determination when they start saying you have a gift because you went to X school. That’s kind of the world’s way of thinking, by the way, I’m a doctor because I went to get my M.D. My M.D. makes me a doctor so people kind of drag that into Christianity. Well, I went to a school that’s the school of the prophets, therefore I’m a doctor or lawyer because I have a degree and they’re not understanding that a degree is not the same thing as a decree. The Holy Spirit gives the decree; it’s irrelevant whether someone has a degree. I know a lot of people that are very, very gifted and very effective in their ministries that don’t have any degrees. I sometimes wonder, though, if they had taken the time to sharpen their skills could they be a little more effective and maybe spare themselves from erroneous statements that they can sometimes make, that we can all make. But a degree doesn’t give you any… it’s the Holy Spirit that makes that determination. Does that help?
[Someone asks a question, can’t hear] Okay, could tongues exist even though I don’t believe in the gift of tongues? I guess God can do anything He wants whether I believe in it or not. I’m sort of the mindset of Phillip Schaff, who wrote the big volumes on church history, and he has a section in there where he talks about all these missionaries that claim to be leading all of these people to Christ through the gift of tongues on the mission field and he basically goes through all of that and says there’s a lot of claims made but the evidence people produce is kind of lacking. So I’m more of the Phillip Schaff mindset on that. I think there’s a lot of things people claim to do that really there’s not a lot of proof for. I think what God wants to do today is to translate the Bible into the languages of every people group so they can have access to it. That to me is really the work of the Holy Spirit which is an outworking of what we would call tongues in the Bible. I don’t know if that helps.
[Someone says something, can’t hear] Okay, is it possible, I guess I would say yes, anything is possible if God… all things are possible if God… God works outside of my understanding of things quite frequently. Is that a good answer? When someone claims that I usually, like Phillip Schaff, want to see the proof. Can I put it this way? I have a healthy skepticism. [Someone asks a question] The question is did God give signs to the Jews and I think the answer to that is yes, He did give signs to the Jews. I think that’s largely what languages or tongues was in Acts 2. And when you look at the teachings and the ministry of Jesus Christ you’ll see very early on, particularly Matthew 1-12, the turning point is chapter 12:24 where He gave a plethora of signs to the Jews. [Matthew 12:24, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.’”]
And one of the reasons He gave signs to the Jews concerning the truth of who He was is (A) prophecy demanded it. I think there’s a prophecy around Isaiah 35:5-6 which says when the Messiah comes He will heal the lame and the blind and loose the mouth of the dumb and all those kinds of things. [Isaiah 35:5-6, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.  Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.”]
And secondly it was part of their worldview where they were looking for signs. So clearly He did give signs to the Jews up until a point; once the leaders attributed, Matthew 12:24. The miracles of Jesus to Beelzebub the signs stopped and that’s when Jesus said no further sign is going to be given except the sign of Jonah, which you know Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights and came out and in the same way the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth and will come out. In other words, no further sign is going to be given except the resurrection.
So yeah, Jesus did give multiple signs to the Jews to fulfill prophecy and part of it was their worldview. But the signs stopped at a point when unbelief amongst the leaders was obvious. And part of that question is did God deal differently with the Greeks who were seeking wisdom. And the answer is yes, God dealt differently with the Greeks through Paul on Aeropagus when he started quoting their poets and philosophers and interacting with their arguments. So God deals differently with different people groups based on their presuppositions and preunderstandings. So I think God deal slightly different with the Jews than He did the Greeks because God is interested in reaching everybody. He’s interested in accommodating His message to everybody. But you’ll notice that with God He does it to a point but He doesn’t let the accommodators take over. So the Jews kept saying well, we want another sign, and we want another sign, and we want another sign and finally God said no more signs.
And with Paul on the Aeropagus, Mars Hill, he got philosophical, quoted their poets but Paul wouldn’t allow the accommodators to control his message because at some point he started talking about resurrection and that’s when people started to sneer. You know, some believed at the end of Acts 17; some sneered, some said we want to hear you further on this. Why did they start to sneer? Because resurrection went against their worldview which was basically Gnostic dualism that the spiritual world is good and the physical world is evil. And obviously you can’t have a God resurrecting in a human body if the physical world is evil. So with both groups it’s true, the Lord accommodates them to a point; He deals differently with different groups but eventually gets to the point where God is making clear that I’m the boss here, not your preexisting presuppositions. I mean, He’ll use the preexisting presuppositions as an inroad but they’re not the final say. I don’t know if that helps but that’s my response to that.
Anybody else have anything? [Someone asks] Is the Book in Revelation 3:5 the same one in chapter 20, verse 12, even though they’re called different names? [Revelation 3:5, “’He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 20:12, “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”]
The general rule of thumb that I follow on this is I let the Book of Revelation interpret itself so I think what the Holy Spirit wants us to do is go over to Revelation 20 to figure out what the Book of Life is and when you do that you see that the Book of Live is the Lamb’s Book of Life, it adds a little bit more detail and it’s a record of everyone who has trusted in Christ. And everyone whose name is not found written in that book is thrown into the Lake of Fire. So it’s a book that’s a record of people that have received the gift of eternal life by faith alone.
So I think it’s the same book, however one of the points I tried to make last week, and I didn’t have my flashy PowerPoint stuff and charts to show you, which bummed me out because we worked real hard on those PowerPoints, is that there’s a different book in the Old Testament, I think we used Exodus 32:32, Psalm 69:28 where people’s names could actually be taken out of that book. [Exodus 32:32, “But now, if You will, forgive their sin– and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” Psalm 69:28, “May they be blotted out of the book of life And may they not be recorded with the righteous.”]
So people say well, how come your name can’t be taken out of the Lamb’s Book of Life but it can be taken out of this other book in the Old Testament. And I think the Old Testament book is a different book, it’s a book of physical life so when a person is conceived, which is when life begins, their name is recorded in the book that the Old Testament is referencing. And when a person trusts Christ their name is recorded in a different book, the Lamb’s Book of Life which is a book of regeneration. So you have to sort of distinguish these two books or else it looks like the Bible contradicts itself. Revelation 3:5 says my name can’t be taken out of the Book. [Revelation 3:5, “’He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Psalm 65:28 says it can. [Psalm 69:28, “May they be blotted out of the book of life and may they not be recorded with the righteous.”]
How do you explain that difference? And the difference is those are two different books. So when the Psalmist, I think it was David if I remember right, says blot them out of the book he’s not saying take their salvation away; he’s saying kill them. And when Moses prays the same thing in Exodus 32:32, [Exodus 32:32, “But now, if You will, forgive their sin, and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!”] because God, remember, was going to wipe out that whole generation of golden calf builders, Moses says well wipe me out too because remember when God said I’ll just start everything over with you, Moses. And Moses says well kill me too. So he’s not praying for his salvation to be taken away, he’s praying for physical death.
And I think a general good rule of thumb to follow is when you’re in the Old Testament it’s dealing with the book of physical life and when you’re in the New Testament it’s dealing with the Lamb’s Book of Life. So that’s the best I can do with that. I hope that helps some.
[Someone asks a question, can’t hear] He’s asking how do you explain in Acts 8 it looks like a transition is going on there between the Samaritans not receiving the Holy Spirit right away so the apostles laid hands on them and then the Holy Spirit taking Philip to heaven (if I remember right) and also dealing with the Ethiopian eunuch. Is that basically your question. [Same person says something, can’t hear] I guess my answer to that is I’d have to study Acts 8 a little more; did the Ethiopian eunuch receive the Holy Spirit or not, I don’t remember comments on that directly. [same person says more, can’t hear] Yeah, he would be a proselyte, a God-fearer. It doesn’t say… Acts doesn’t tell me everything I want to know; I would assume this, that the Holy Spirit came upon the Ethiopian eunuch immediately because you have to remember that Luke is very selective; he’s covering a 30 or 40 year period, he doesn’t tell us every little thing, he’s just giving the high points that contribute to his argument. So I would assume, without real proof, that the Ethiopian eunuch received the Spirit immediately but there was, as we tried to explain earlier, there was an intentional delay in the Samaritans receiving the Spirit or to resolve the Jew/Samaritan conflict.
That’s another case where I’d look at that and I’d say that interesting stuff, I would sort of just say well, but what doctrines am I going to build from this? I would then go over to Romans 8:9 [Romans 8:9, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”] which tells us that’s what normative for us is you believe and receive the Holy Spirit, regardless of what happened with the Ethiopian eunuch and the Samaritans, just because we have a recognition that there’s all kinds of transitional issues going on in the Book of Acts. I don’t know if that helps.
[Someone else asks a question, can’t hear] The question is, tell me if I’m rephrasing it correctly, what happens to children at the rapture, underage children and also what happens to pregnant women at the rapture, what happens to their children? Again, can I give you my favorite answer, I don’t know exactly because the Bible doesn’t tell me, it doesn’t have a book in it that says okay, look at this section to figure out what’s going to happen to children at the rapture. I can sort of make a guess. Over in, I think it’s 2 Samuel 12, around verse 23, 24, right in there, remember when David’s son died, remember that child that he had through the illicit relationship with David and Bathsheba? David was mourning and then all of a sudden he stops mourning when the child died and everybody wants to know why aren’t you mourning any more, and he says well, he cannot come to me but I will go to him. Remember that passage. [2 Samuel 12:23, “But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”]
So there’s a doctrine in Calvinism that says children go to hell if they’re not one of the elect. I have a very difficult time with that because why would David stop mourning if the child wasn’t one of the elect and maybe went to hell. I mean, to me that wouldn’t be a comfort, would it? To me David was comforted by the death of this very young child.
So what I believe is children are covered by the grace of God when they are below a certain age, before they can make a decision. And everybody asks well what age is that? I don’t really know what the age is. And a really good book on all of this is the book by Robert Lightner, Safe in the Arms of Jesus: God’s Provision for the Death of Those Who Cannot Believe. Robert Lightner who’s with the Lord not wrote a book called, you can probably find it easily by just typing in Robert Lightner and the age of accountability or safe and secure in the arms of Christ, he deals with all of these kinds of subjects. I’m of the belief that if someone is below a certain age, before they have an ability to make a decision, that they’re covered by the grace of God, which would mean that people that are below that age would participate in the rapture. Do I have a verse that says that? No, it’s just kind of a deduction and so I believe that children would be covered by the rapture if they’re below a certain age of accountability. I don’t have a verse on it that tells me one way or the other but it’s just kind of a deduction.
And then you ask the question, well what about a woman that’s pregnant when the rapture happens what happens to her child, does God do an immediate C-section or what. And the answer is I don’t know, you’ll just have to wait and see. I have a feeling I won’t be disappointed with the results given what I know about the grace of God.
The problem with some of these questions is we just don’t have a lot of data to work with and so we’re having to make deductions from the few pieces that we have. But I really do not agree with the Calvinist view that some would say all children that die in the womb go to hell. Some would say some do. First of all it doesn’t fit right with what I know about God’s grace who desires all to be saved and all to come to a knowledge of Him. And it really doesn’t fit well with David all of a sudden being comforted with the death of that child. I mean, what would a child possibly being one of the non-elect and on their way to hell or in hell, how could that be a comfort to anybody. I hope that helps.
Jim has a question. [can’t hear the question] Okay, a good book on it by Robert P. Lightner is Safe in the Arms of Jesus, the subtitle is God’s Provision for the Death of Those Who Cannot Believe. And Robert Lightner is the real deal, I mean, he’s like the real systematic theologian, for years and years and years at DTS. And that book and anything else he writes will be really good.
[someone else asks a question, can’t hear the question] The first part of his question relates to the closing of the Canon, and my view of it is God decides when the Canon is closed. It’s not a decision man can make. I believe the Canon closed when John penned the very last book of the Bible, chapter 22, the very last verse, the Canon shut. Jude says truth has been once and for all, you know, delivered to the saints. Now whether some bishops figured it out at the Council of Nicaea or whether or not they figured it out it really doesn’t matter, it’s a decision God made.
I think the Council of Nicaea was sort of recognizing something God had already done and to my understanding the real contribution of the Council of Nicaea was the refutation of Arianism where Arius was going around, A.D. 325 something like that, the Council of Nicaea where he was saying things concerning Christ, he even had a song about it allegedly. There was a time in which He was not, so he was trying to say that Jesus was a created being, that’s what he was trying to say and this is an example where majority opinion doesn’t mean you’re right, he got almost everybody within Christendom to agree and there was one fellow that stood up against him named Athanasius, if I remember right, and people criticized Athanasius because he said Jesus is not a created being, Jesus has always been. And people said well, Athanasius don’t you understand that the world is against you? He says it’s not a matter of the world being against Athanasius, it’s a matter of Athanasius being against the world.
So there was a big brouhaha about that and this is how doctrine kind of finally gets settled, not in terms of God’s revelation but man’s understanding of it. And so the contribution of the Council of Nicaea was basically saying that Athanasius has it right. And that’s why there’s a line in the Nicaean Creed that says “begotten” and not made. Jesus is the unique one, but He was not created.
So not if, but when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your house they’re basically going to try to tell you that Jesus was a created being and they’re going against the Nicaean Creed. That issue has been settled a long time. So this is sort of how doctrine…. we take a lot of doctrines for granted and we don’t understand the debates that went on to kind of crystallize our thinking about the Bible. That, to my knowledge, is a great contribution of the Creed of Nicaea. I haven’t studied it enough to figure out what they said about the closing of the Canon but God Himself laid down the standard because He indicates that the Books of the Bible had to have been written by apostles or by someone who knew an apostle, like in the case of Mark, so that the apostle could authenticate what was said.
And Paul came along later but you have to understand that Paul’s writing are testified to by Peter. Peter in 2 Peter 3:15-16 says some of these things Paul says are hard to understand but he wrote with divine wisdom. [2 Peter 3:15-16, “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,  as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”]
So the process of canonization is apostolicity, was it written by an apostle or someone who knew an apostle. So since the apostles have all been dead since the first century you can’t have an open canon by God’s definition, whether a bunch of Bishops figure that out or not is sort of irrelevant. But historical theology, particularly the Creed of Nicaea, has a huge value in terms of crystalizing doctrines like the eternal existence of Jesus Christ that we sort of take for granted. And so historical theology sort of shows us how we’ve come to our understanding of our current beliefs.
And then you asked something about Babylon and I didn’t quite catch it, can you say that again. [Can’t hear what is said] So what did I mean by the Babylonian priesthood? Probable what I meant by that is at one time, at the tower of Babel, there was only one language and there was the worship, and I think you could put this together through extra Babylonian tradition, the worship of the child and the mother because Nimrod, whose name is mentioned in the biblical text, is married to Semiramis, and the two of them have a child named Tammuz, killed by a wild animal and miraculously brought back to life under Satanic power, according to Babylonian tradition. And so when God confounded the language and all the new cultures started everybody took a piece of that with them into their new culture. And that’s why God has to start the nation of Israel, in chapter 12, with the calling of Abram from the Ur of the Chaldeans because in chapter 11 we learn that no other nation could bring forth his son because they’d all been contaminated by this idolatry.
And that, by the way, is why God is so angry (when you go to Jeremiah 44, Ezekiel 8 and Ezekiel 44, (if I remember right) God is so angry about that mother child system coming into the borders of Israel because they were the only nation started independent of the mother child system, because they had a calling on their lives to bring forth the Messiah. So probably when I made reference to the Babylonian priesthood it was probably in reference to the fact that this mother child system has contaminated everything, including Roman Catholicism.
And the book that I get some of this from, although a lot of people don’t like this particular writer, the Catholics really don’t like him, don’t bring up his name in the presence of devout Catholics, is Alexander Hislop and The Two Babylon’s, because his basic point is Roman Catholicism doesn’t come from the Scripture, it comes from this mother child system and everywhere this mother child system went they just changed the names of the child and the mother. In Roman Catholicism the child is Jesus and the mother is Mary.
And part of it is I’m open to his view because we had a Protestant Reformation, that was the whole point of the Protestant Reformation, that the doctrines of Roman Catholicism are not found in the Word of God. I mean, the Catholics belief on Mary is that she remained a perpetual virgin her whole life. Well, just read the Scripture, where did Jesus half-brothers come from? So Jesus was virgin conceived, virgin born but Joseph and Mary had a normal sexual relationship subsequent to that and that’s where the half-brothers of Christ come from. So you start to figure out that the Mary of Roman Catholicism is not the Mary of the Bible. And in Roman Catholicism Mary is actually a Co-Redemptress or someone that you pray to.
Now we as Protestants trying to follow the Bible the best we can want to give Mary her place in the Son in terms of honor but we don’t pray to her at all because [1 Timothy 2:5] “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” And some would even say that Mary was sinless. Well how can that be when Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” which would include Mary. So Mary and Jesus of Roman Catholicism is very different than Mary and Jesus of the Bible. And that’s been recognized through the Protestant Reformation. And Alexander Hislop is saying the reason for that is Roman Catholicism has been infiltrated, like every culture has, with the mother child system. So I believe that the mother child system spread everywhere because there was only one language and God confounded the language and everybody took with them their piece of the mother child system into their own culture. And that would influence everything, including Roman Catholicism. So Alexander Hislop is almost like a cussword around Roman Catholics. So that may be what I was talking about with Babylonian priesthood.
Well, we’re out of time. I feel like that lady, what’s her name, Sarah Sanders, that gets all the questions thrown at her, I always feel happy for her when Q & A time is over but you guys are a little nicer than the White House Press Corps. Did you guys enjoy this, we’ll have to do something like this again in the not too distant future. Let’s pray.
Father, we’re grateful for Your people and their attentiveness and the wonderful questions they ask about Your Word and I just ask You’ll be with us in the main service that follows. We ask these things in Jesus’ names and God’s people said… Amen.