(Some of the many Q&A's and Bible articles on the "Wielding the Sword of the Spirit" web site at www.matthewmcgee.org)
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Bible Questions and Answers: Right and Wrong

Matthew McGee

Q: Does the Bible have anything to say about abortion?

A: Having children was considered to be a wonderful blessing in the ancient days. So from what I can tell, the idea a trying to intentionally get rid of a child before it was born was a totally foreign concept.

Never-the-less, God's Word protects the life of the unborn just like any other life. Under the Law which God gave to Moses to give to the children of Israel, causing a woman to have a miscarriage was punishable by death. Exodus 21:22-25 (NIV) says, "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."

So under the law which God gave to Israel through Moses, the punishment for killing an unborn child was the same as the punishment for killing an adult, death. Notice that in the above situation, the death of the unborn child was unintentional and due to carelessness during an act of violence. Yet it was still punishable by death. If it had been intentional, you can be certain that the punishment would have been no lighter.

There are also many verses which speak of various patriarchs and prophets being in the womb. Here are a few of them:

Jeremiah 1:4-5 says, "Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."

Genesis 25:21-23 speaks of Jacob and Esau in the womb of Rebekah. "... Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children (Jacob and Esau) struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." Notice that in the womb, Jacob and Esau are called "children", not "tissue" or "fetuses". Hosea 12:3 also makes reference to this, "He (Jacob) took his brother (Esau) by the heel in the womb ...."

Judges 13:3-5 tells how the angel of the LORD appeared unto the wife of Manoah saying, "... Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son (Samson). Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."

Luke 1:41 says, "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost ...."

David, writes in Psalms 139:13, "For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb."

Each of these cases shows that occupant of the womb is a person, a child. Therefore, any harm that one brings to a child will surely be judged by God to be exactly that, and nothing less.

Q: What does the Bible tell us that our government should do in regard to capital punishment?

A: As explained in the article Basics of Understanding the Bible, God has set forth different rules for different groups of people in different time periods. Not only may the rules be different, but the punishment for not keeping the rules may be different. Capital punishment is a prime example.

For instance, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, there was no capital punishment for murder. For that matter there was no sin at all for which to be punished. On top of that, there was no death at all, since the fall of man had not yet happened.

But then a few years after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, Cain, their son, murdered his brother, Abel (Genesis 4:8-15). Yet still, there was no capital punishment for Cain. God had not yet allowed it. Furthermore, God put a mark on Cain so that no one would kill him.

But God changed things just after the great flood, God instituted capital punishment for murder. This is recorded in Genesis 9:5-6 where God told Noah and his sons, "And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.."

Then, around 1450 BC, God gave the law of Moses to the nation of Israel. Under the law of Moses, Israel was to administer capital punishment by stoning, not only for the crime of murder, but also for certain other crimes such as working on the sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36), worshiping idols, committing adultery (Leviticus 20:10), committing homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13), and consulting spirit mediums (Leviticus 20:27 and 1 Chronicles 10:13).

Meanwhile, the rest of the world, the Gentiles, remained under the commandment which God gave to Noah in Genesis 9:5-6 above. And being that we are not under the law of Moses today, we are still to keep the Genesis 9:5-6 commandment.

The Bible makes no distinction between first and second degree murder. To say it another way, the Bible makes no distinction between premeditated murder and murder that was committed at the spur of the moment with very little forethought. All that matters is whether there was intent to kill or cause harm that was not in self defense or defense of others. All murder is punishable by death.

The Bible does however distinguish between murder and manslaughter. That is, it distinguishes between intentional killing and killing that occurs due to accidental carelessness. Under the law of Moses, one who committed manslaughter could flee to a city of refuge to escape the vengeance of the victim's family (Numbers 35:10-34). If the family brought charges to the leaders of the city of refuge, the man who fled would be tried and judged by the congregation of the city. If the killing took place by accident, with no intent to do harm, the manslayer would not be put to death.

During this present age of grace, all murderers should be punished by death, regardless of whether their murder was in first or second degree.

The Apostle Paul confirms this in Romans 13:3-4 when he says, "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 praise of the same: For he (the ruler) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

Now what is a sword used for? It certainly is not for paddling someone's backside. It is used to execute God's wrath by capital punishment.

Q: Does the Bible say anything about cloning humans or animals?

A: I am not aware of anything in the Bible about cloning per say. However, as with most topics, the Bible does give us some guiding principles which we can apply to cloning and thereby determine whether it is within the will of God or not.

First, it seems quite presumptuous for man to say that life needs to begin in a different way than the natural way that God clearly intended.

Also, in humans, the child would have no chance of having both a biological father and biological mother, which the scriptures lay out as the blue-print for the family.

There also seems to be a concern here with union within a family. In the law that God gave to Israel, He forbade them from marrying a near relative (Luke 18:6-16). God knew what our modern day scientists have discovered. That is that birth defects and mutations are more common in marriages between near relatives. God wanted Israel to be special, and he gave them dietary, cleanliness, and other laws to help them be a healthier nation. Now I do not completely understand the cloning process, except that all the genetic material comes from one animal rather than two. Therefore cloning seems to be like an even closer union than a child produced from a near relative.

Also, the survival rate is very low, and the birth defect rate is very high among cloned animals. Therefore, it would seem to be both reckless and cruel to perform such a deadly procedure with humans.

That is quite a lot of negatives. So even though the Bible may not mention the topic of cloning specifically, I believe the guiding principles of the Bible are clearly opposed to it.

Q: Does the Bible recommend that parents spank disobedient children?

A: Yes, certainly. In fact, corporal punishment is not just a recommendation, but a commandment. Some of the most straight-forward statements on disciplining children are given in the book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 13:24 says, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." Spanking one's disobedient child is not child abuse. Not spanking one's disobedient child is the real offense. No loving parent will refrain from spanking their child when correction is needed. Likewise Proverbs 23:13-14 says, "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."

Proverbs 22:15 says, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." Never underestimate the persuasive teaching power of a good spanking, or the sad consequences of not spanking. Proverbs 29:15 says, "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."

Proverbs 19:18 encourages parents to stand firm. "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." When a child needs a spanking, do not let his tears convince you not to carry our your responsibility as a loving parent.

In many places in the Bible, strong parallels are provided between the relationship between God and believers (His children) and the relationship between earthly parents and their children. For example, Hebrews 12:5-8 says, "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." God provides the example, where He chastens His children. Parents should likewise follow God's example, and chasten their disobedient children.

Hebrews 12:9-11 continues, "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."

Q: Does the Bible say whether or not cremation is okay?

A: In the Bible, the examples that we see are of burial. The earliest reference to burial is when God told Abraham in Genesis 15:15, "And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age."

Before Joseph died in Egypt, he said to his brethren in Genesis 50:24-25, "... I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence." And long afterward, the children of Israel carried his bones from Egypt to Israel for burial (Exodus 13:19 and Joshua 24:32).

I am not aware of any Bible passage that expressly forbids cremation. I'm sure that depending on one's culture, some see it as the normal way to do things or as an economical option. To me, it seems rather distasteful, and I wonder if those who invented cremation long ago may have had defiance of God in mind, as though telling Him, "Try and resurrect this." Now we know that God will have no problem resurrecting anyone, whether they were cremated, drowned in the ocean, or whatever. When the time comes, God will even resurrect those space shuttle astronauts that perished in the skies over northeastern Texas. The Bible teaches of two resurrections, the resurrection of life and the resurrection of damnation (John 5:29 and Daniel 12:2). Those who believe the Bible know that the grave is just a temporary place for the body, until the resurrection. I suspect that most do not intend it to be an act of defiance, but cremation seems like a human effort to do something more permanent. None-the-less, God will resurrect every person in their due time.

Q: Does the Bible forbid dancing?

A: In different places in scripture, dancing is at times associated with good and at times with evil, and in other places, it is mentioned in neither a good nor evil context.

Not only is dancing not forbidden, Israel was even encouraged to dance in praise of the Lord. Psalms 149:1-4, "Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation."

Likewise Psalms 150:1-4 says, "Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary ... Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs."

Psalms 30:10-12, "Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever."

When the armies of Pharaoh were destroyed at the crossing of the Red Sea, Exodus 15:20-21 says, "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."

King David danced before the LORD as the ark of the covenant was being brought to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:14-16).

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven ... a time to mourn, and a time to dance ...."

Jeremiah 31:3-4 says, "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry." Then a little further down in verses 13-14, "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD."

Dancing is also mentioned in the celebration of the return of the lost son in Luke 15:25.

As for dancing associated with evil, dancing is mentioned in worship of an idol in Exodus 32:19 and leading up to the beheading of John the Baptist in Matthew 14:6 and Mark 6:22.

Other Bible references to dancing include Judges 11:34, 21:21-23, 1 Samuel 18:6, Lamentations 5:15, Matthew 11:17, and Luke 7:32.

Much of the modern preaching against dancing is likely in reaction to the vulgarity that is common and has been prolific in recent decades. Of course, dancing in a manner intended to be provocative would be inappropriate outside of marriage. However, as shown by many passages above, saying that all dancing is sinful does not line up with what the Bible says.

Q: What does the Bible tell us about divorce and remarriage?

A: Perhaps the most detailed Biblical passage on divorce is 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 where Paul writes, "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother (Christian) hath a wife that believeth not (a non-Christian wife), and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?"

Jesus said in Matthew 5:31-32, "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." He also says in Luke 16:18, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery." Matthew 19:3-9 expounds upon this further, "The Pharisees also came unto him (Jesus), tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." Mark 10:2-12 also contains this teaching, plus includes in verse 12, "And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."

From the 1 Corinthians passage, it is clear that Christians should not divorce one other. And, a Christian married to an unbeliever should not divorce the unbeliever, unless the unbeliever wants to go. Then the divorce would be okay, and the believer would be free to marry again.

But Christians should only marry other believers. We see this in 1 Corinthians 7:39, "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." The phrase "only in the Lord" means she is only to marry a man who is a member of the body of Christ. Similarly, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" This applies not only to marriage, but to many aspects of relationships with others.

From the Matthew passages, it seems rather clear that divorce in the case of adultery was acceptable under dispensation of the law. It may be logical to assume that this would also be true in this present grace dispensation. But I am not aware of a passage in Paul's writings to the church that okays divorce in the case of adultery. I tend to think it would be acceptable. But for Christians to divorce for anything less than adultery would certainly be contrary to the Word of God.

Q: Is euthanasia (so-called, mercy killing) okay?

A: Putting a person to death not only ends any earthly suffering, but the person goes to one of two places. While putting to death a lost person ends their earthly suffering, it does not end their suffering all together. It moves it to a whole new level of flaming torment as shown in the article, Hell Part 1: Assurance of Eternal Torment for the Lost. So if the person is lost, and unfortunately most people are, euthanasia fails miserably at achieving its intended goal. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Very few people can bear the thought of their dying loved one perhaps being lost. However, this passage makes it clear that this is the case more often than not.

On the other hand, Christians who die, go to heaven where there is no more pain. However, our lives are not really ours to take. They belong to God, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." So this passage can be used as an argument against euthanasia. However, this passage may not be intended to mean that we are to use lots of modern, high-tech machines to artificially operate a dying person's organs for years on end.

One other comment is that death by depriving a person of food and water seems to be most unmerciful. We would not even deal out that sort of execution upon one who is guilty of murder or a bad dog in the pound. Some might claim that a particular person cannot feel the pain of food and water deprivation. I'm sorry, but we do not know that. The brain and nervous system are quite complicated. Just because a person may not be able to express their anguish of the pain that they feel, that does not mean that they cannot feel the pain.

Q: What does the Bible tell us about fasting? Are we supposed to fast, and if so, how and under what circumstances?

A: The Bible gives us no commandment to fast. Most of the Bible is written to the nation of Israel, under the dispensation of the Law. But we are under the dispensation of grace (Romans 6:14) and our apostle is Paul (Romans 11:13). The only place in the Bible where the idea of Christians (under grace) fasting is suggested is where Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7:5, tells husbands and wives, "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency."

Even here, fasting is not commanded, and no details are given as far as how long it may last or any other instructions. Due to the fact that mentions of Christians fasting so scarce in Paul's writings, and that there are no commandments for Christians regarding it, it does not seem that fasting is intended to be a key part of Christian life.

Christians do not have to fast to be acceptable to God. Christ died for all of our sins and rose from the dead. Through our faith in this gospel, God has saved us by His grace, and we are acceptable to Him.

In general, I do not recommend fasting to anyone, though it is permitted by scripture. Fasting may conflict with certain medications that are supposed to be taken with food. Anyone considering fasting should check with their doctor first.

Also, I do not think any of the ancient people abstained from water during fasting, but just food. Humans cannot survive more than just a few days without water. We know that Jesus fasted for 40 days, but I believe that was just abstaining from food, not water.

See also Acts 13:2-3 and Acts 14:23.

Q: Does the Bible tell us whether gambling a sin or not?

A: The scriptures do not always address every issue of our lives specifically. But even when we are not given a specific answer, the Bible does give us a set of general guiding principles that we apply to almost every issue that we face in our lives. Gambling is one of those issues that is not addressed in the Bible specifically, but is addressed indirectly.

The tenth commandment, given to the nation of Israel in Exodus 20:17 is, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's." Also, in Matthew 22:39 Jesus said, "... Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Now these were commandments given to the nation of Israel under the law. But we see these very same commandments repeated in Paul's epistles to the church for this grace dispensation. In Romans 13:9 Paul wrote, "For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

When one gambles for money or things, whether it is in a lottery, poker, horse racing, betting on sports, roulette, or whatever, for one to win, someone has to lose. If we want to win a bet, then we are wanting someone else to lose. We are desiring to take that which belongs to our neighbor, while giving nothing in return. How is that "loving our neighbor"? How it that not "coveting that which belongs to our neighbor"? It is not loving, and it is coveting. The fact that they are wanting to do the same to us, does not make what we are doing alright. Two wrongs do not make it right.

Many states governments these days are promoting state lotteries. However, just because the state government facilitates the sin, does not make it alright.

Some might then wonder if that means that investing in the stock market, even in reputable companies, is a sin? No, it is not. Then reason is that if we invest in a stock of mutual fund, we are not trying to get someone else's money for nothing. Your investment helps that business to grow by adding stores or building factories or hiring more people, which in turn helps the economy. There is no attempt by the investor to take that which belongs to someone else. So it is not coveting that which belongs to your neighbor.

Q: What responsibilities do Christians have to governmental authorities?

A: In Titus 3:1, Paul wrote instructing Timothy to teach the churches, "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates ...."

Paul said the same thing in Romans 13:1-3, but going into much more detail, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation (judgment, condemnation). 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 praise of the same ...."

In Romans 13:4-5, Paul explains that the governmental authorities are empowered by God to execute punishment up to and including death for violating the laws of the nation that they rule over, "For he (the ruler) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."

As Paul continues in Romans 13:6-7, he addresses the subject of taxation, "For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour."

This is as Jesus taught in Luke 20:22-25. The chief priests and scribes, wanting to catch Jesus in His own words, sent spies pretending to be ordinary men to ask Jesus, "Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? But he (Jesus) perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's." The money was made in the image of Caesar, but man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27 and Genesis 9:6).

But what do we do if our leaders command us to do something that is directly opposed to the Word of God? One example is in Acts 5:27-29, "... the high priest asked them (the apostles), Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name (Jesus)? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." Peter and the other apostles would not stop preaching Jesus, despite the order from the high priest.

There are some similar examples elsewhere in scripture. In Daniel chapter 3, there is the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. They refused to fall down and worship the golden image as King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded them. In Daniel chapter 6, there is the account of Daniel in the den of lions. Daniel would not abstain from praying to God three times a day, even though he knew that the King Darius had signed a commandment prohibiting it. So if governmental authorities command us to do that which directly opposed the Word of God, it is clear that we should obey God's Word, even though we may face the punishment to which the government may sentence us. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:17-18, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, (if God does not save us from your furnace) be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

Therefore we should pray for our those in governmental authority over us. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."

This is especially necessary because our leaders are under continual attack of the forces of evil. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:11-12, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." One example of this spiritual warfare in action is in Daniel 10:20-21, where the angel Gabriel told Daniel the prophet, "... Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince."

Q: What Bible passages are there regarding homosexual activity?

A: There are many passages on this topic in both the old and new testaments. Leviticus 18:22 says, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." The new testament is very clear on this as well. Romans 1:24-27 says, "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."

But in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul says that there is a way out, as there is with all other types of sin. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Note the it says "such were some of you", past tense. God had brought them out of it.

These days there is a lot of debating as to whether certain people are born with these specific temptations or not. Perhaps that would be an interesting discussion, if it even mattered as far as God is concerned, but it does not. The Bible teaches that we are all born with sinful natures as a result of being sons of Adam, and we all need our Redeemer. "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ..." (Romans 5:12). We are all born with a sinful nature. Ephesians 2:3 says that even Christians, before we became believers, "... were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Being born with a temptation for a sin is no excuse for committing that sin, no matter what the sin is. God holds us all responsible, and redemption by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ is our only hope. Romans 5:19 says, "For as by one man's (Adam's) disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Jesus Christ) shall many be made righteous." This verse makes it very clear that we were all made to be sinners by Adam's sin. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin, because we are sinners.

For further reading, see Genesis 18:20 - Genesis 19:28, which describes the events surrounding God's destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The account of Sodom and Gomorrah is referred to again in 1 Kings 14:22-24 and in Jude 7. Also, Judges chapters 19 and 20 provides an account of an episode involving the tribe of Benjamin which was similar in many ways to the account of Sodom and Gomorrah. Also see Leviticus 20:13 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10.

Q: Is the following philosophy consistent with Bible teaching? This philosophy states that our only connection with God is in the present moment. But Satan wants us to have regrets over the past or anxiety about the future, so that our minds will be taken off of the present moment and away from God. If we practice letting go of the past and future and focus on the present moment, then contentment and understanding will replace those regretful and anxious feelings.

A: The scriptures would certainly agree that for Christians, regrets and anxiety are unprofitable, as verses I will mention below will show. However, the Bible does not equate the past with regret or the future with anxiety. Regrets about the past and anxiety about the future are indictments of regrets and anxiety, not indictments of the past and the future.

For new Christians who may not yet understand some key Biblical teachings, simply blocking out the past and future may help bring a feeling of peace, but it is not on a secure foundation. Real peace comes from learning about God's eternal plan and the security it brings. Also, for lost secular unbelievers, restricting one's thoughts to the present is more logical (at least to them). After all, for one who does not believe, the Godless past only holds evolution and random chance, and the future holds sickness, death, and decay. Thus it seems logical to him that the present moment is all he has, and his brief existence in this life is the closest thing to peace he will ever know.

But as Christians, we know that God knew us and chose us in the ancient past (if not in eternity past) before He even created this world. Ephesians 1:3-4 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world ...." And we will live forever in the very presence of God. Today we are to live for Him and do His will. But we have His love and blessing for all time, from eternity past to eternity future.

Regrets over the past? It is only natural for us as humans to regret past sins or mistakes or regret bad things that have happened to us. But when we look at things from a spiritual, Biblical perspective, regrets quickly wither into nothing. One major key to this is that God has forgiven us of all our sins (Colossians 2:13 & 3:13). So why should I beat myself up about them, when God has wiped the slate clean? Also, who could have had more regrets than our Apostle Paul? He was a persecutor of Christians with a bitter hatred (Acts 9:1-2), and even gave his voice to have Christians put to death (Acts 26:10). But once he was saved, Paul accounted all of his prior life as "dung" (Philippians 3:8) and moved on teaching, evangelizing, and doing the will of God.

Anxiety about the future? Philippians 4:6 says, "Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." In Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus told Israel, "... take no thought (be not anxious), saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? ... for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." We can look forward to the rapture, the hope of church. 1 Thessalonians 2:19 says, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" Later in that same epistle, Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." So the future should not be a source of anxiety for us, but a source of comfort.

There is much to learn in God's Word in the lessons of past events and much to look forward to in the glorious future that God has for us and all of His people from all dispensations. God created the world in the past and gave the life of His Son for our sins and raised Him from the dead. In the future, He will raise us from the dead (or translate us at the rapture) and will bring in His kingdom. Even the prayer that Jesus taught the apostles included a plea for God to bring in His future Kingdom which had been repeatedly promised in the past.

So in summary, the proper way to avoid regrets and anxiety is not to avoid thinking of the past and future. Instead we are to look at things from the Christian perspective, realizing that we are forgiven of all our sins and that we are eternally secure in Jesus Christ. Then regrets and anxiety have no home.

Q: By saying that God will or will not do something, or saying that certain parts of God's Word concern the Law of Moses and certain parts of God's Word concern the Grace age, aren't you really "putting God in a box"?

A: When studying God's Word, Bible students regularly come to basic conclusions such as the following:

Christians are not under law, but under grace.
At some future time, God will bring a seven year period of tribulation upon the earth.
All of those who die having not believed the gospel will suffer eternal torment.

These are just a few examples. The point I am making is that God reveals some basic facts in His Word, which we can know with certainty, because God has revealed it. It is not that anyone is trying to "put God in a box" to restrict what He does. It is just a matter of believing what God has said.

Some may accuse those who separate law from grace of "putting God in a box", putting limits on God. They may say, "I believe the whole truth of the Bible, with no limits on what God can do." The problem with that statement is, that the whole truth IS LIMITED. It is not limited by what God can do of course, for He is all-powerful. But it is limited by what God has said in His Word. If we ignore the limits that God Himself has set, then we cannot say that we believe the whole truth of God's Word. And we all know that "... without faith it is impossible to please him ...." (Hebrews 11:6).

Similarly, some may argue the point this way, "I believe that the Bible is the Word of God concerning us all." We should rather believe the Bible concerns whomever God says it concerns. He is the One who we should allow to make that call.

Q: What does the Bible say about Christians taking vengeance upon those who do us wrong?

A: Paul wrote in Romans 12:17-19, "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." That is pretty straight-forward. Avenge not yourselves. Let the Lord handle it. Vengeance belongs to Him. He is the perfect Judge and will repay accordingly and justly.

When verse 19 says "for it is written", it appears to be a reference to Deuteronomy 32:34-35. There, the Lord says that the evil deeds of His enemies have not gone unnoticed and are not forgotten. "Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste."

Paul continues verses Romans 12:20-21, "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Note that in the ancient middle east, it was customary for those who were ashamed of their sin or in great mourning or despair to take ashes from the fire and throw them up into the air upon their own head. So Paul's reference to "heap coals of fire on his head" probably refers to making your enemy feel ashamed and sorrowful for mistreating you by returning kindness instead of revenge.

Paul briefly mentions this same concept in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men." Note that he tells us this applies both "among yourselves" (among believers) and "to all men" (to our dealings with non-believers).

In 1 Peter 3:8-9, the believing Jews are instructed similarly regarding the treatment of fellow believers. "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."

In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, Paul tells how at least part of the Lord's vengeance will be carried out, "... the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power ...." For a detailed study of the vengeance that the Lord will bring upon the world in the end times, see The Tribulation: Israel's Seventieth Week.

So what is for the believer to do? Nothing. Give space for the wrath of the Lord.

Q: Is it alright for women to be preachers?

A: Our Apostle Paul prohibited women from teaching men or usurping authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11-12). "Let the woman learn is silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." This does not mean that women are not allowed to teach at all. Paul says that older women are to teach younger women (Titus 2:4), and women are also to teach their children (1 Timothy 5:14), just not men. Priscilla, with her husband, Aquila, showed the eloquent Apollos "the way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:24-28). As a result, he became a great asset in the ministry. Also, Paul entrusted Phoebe with delivering his epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:1-2). From my own experience, I know that my wife is an excellent Bible study partner. Never-the-less, I see no way that a woman preaching to a congregation of adult men and woman can be anything but a violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. From 1 Timothy 3:2, 3:11, and Titus 1:5-6, it is clear that elders and deacons are to be men. It is most unfortunate that many churches choose to simply ignore passages such as these which do not agree with their view of the world.

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