Ask Me Anything!
What is our position in heaven as kings reigning for eternity?
Can you please explain our position in heaven as kings reigning for eternity? Elsewhere, it is referenced as reigning with Christ. Whom do we reign with in eternity in the New Heaven and the New Earth? We are all His people. There’s no one else in eternity.
The Bible does say that we will reign as kings and priests with Jesus Christ. It says that we will reign as kings and priests, a royal priesthood, as daughters and sons of a King; we have a kingly presence as well, a royal lineage.
So, if it says that we are kings in heaven, then who do we reign over? I’ve got two ways to answer that question. First,we have no idea what God will do when this chapter of His plan of the ages is completed. I’m enthralled by the verse in the book of Revelation where, at the end of all that God has done, He says, “I make all things new.” I think we have very little comprehension of exactly what that newness of all things means. It may be that God will have another type of creation after our old edition of His plan of the ages is finished. That’s possible, isn’t it? And if so, in that coming addition of God’s unfolding plan of the next age, maybe it’ll be clearer and more evident to us what it means that we are kings and priests. We don’t really know; we can’t quite comprehend what the future may hold.
Secondly, I think you’re making a little bit of a leap in logic by saying that a person can’t be a king without someone to reign over. God, even before He created anything, was still a King. God existed as a great King even before He created anything. We don’t need to have someone to reign over for us to be declared kings and priests, a royal priesthood, sons and daughters of the greatest King, the King of Kings, for us to have the royal lineage that we have in Jesus Christ.
Is Jeremiah 31:31 a good verse for a Jewish person to hear?
Jeremiah 31:31 – Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
This is one of my favorite themes in the Bible. I suppose I have a lot of favorite themes, because I love the Bible in its entirety. But one of my especially favorite themes in the Bible is the theme of the New Covenant. The outworking of this great theme of the New Covenant is important for us to understand. It has the potential to help shape the thought process of a Jewish person, toward considering Jesus as Messiah.
If I could converse with a Jewish person about Jeremiah 31:31, where God promises a New Covenant, I would ask them what they think that New Covenant is. I would ask them whether they think that the promise of the New Covenant has been fulfilled. I would ask them what they would comment about the words of Jesus, I believe it’s in the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus said, at the Last Supper, that His death would be the inauguration of the New Covenant. He talked about it being the New Covenant in His blood, referring to the elements of communion, the bread and the cup which we take.
I think that could perhaps be a very fruitful open door. Now, I don’t believe that there any magic keys or techniques to evangelism, but I think this has the potential to be a very fruitful avenue of discussion with a Jewish person and I would recommend it. Again, ask them what they think the New Covenant is. Ask them if they think it’s been fulfilled. Ask them if they think it could be true that Jesus Christ was the one who inaugurated, set in motion, and established the New Covenant.
How can I believe that ALL of Scripture was Holy Spirit breathed?
There are passages in Scripture that many respected pastors believe were added later by scribes. How can I believe that all Scripture was Holy Spirit breathed and still accept that as a possibility?
Let’s go back to our understanding of what we believe. When we say that the Scriptures are inspired by God, I genuinely and truly believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God. I also believe that they’re inerrant. The Bible is true. When it talks about history, it’s true history; when it talks about poetry, it’s true poetry; when it talks about science, it’s true science. The Bible is true: it has no error or mistake in it. It is inerrant.
The things we believe are truly the completely inspired and inerrant word of God, are what we sometimes call the autographs. This would be what was originally written, for example, what Luke originally wrote in the scroll when he wrote Luke and Acts, or what Paul either wrote with his own hand or dictated to a scribe to be written. We believed the autographed copy is inspired and inerrant.
We must admit that our Bibles are not perfect copies of the autograph. Some disputed passages would be the end of Mark 16, or the placement of the story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8, or the section of 1 John 5 known as the Johannine comma. In those places, the question is not whether those are inspired; the question is, were they actually written by their attributed author, like John or Mark?
We don’t claim to have absolutely perfect copies of what was originally written. We do believe that we have very, very good copies. They are not perfect, but they’re very good and trustworthy and reliable. It’s worthwhile for us to investigate these individual textual questions, piece by piece, passage by passage. What’s the manuscript evidence? What’s the historical evidence? What did the early church fathers say as they cited these passages?
Again, I would just say that you can completely rest in your confidence that the Scriptures are absolutely inspired by God. An extremely small proportion of the New Testament text is in question concerning the autograph. That’s our confidence.
Is listening to secular music a sin?
Some things are considered sinful in a Christian culture, or the culture at large, in one culture and not in another culture. For example, it has been said that European Christians feel much freer to drink alcohol, whereas fewer American Christians would feel that same freedom. On the other hand, more American Christians feel just fine going over the speed limit, whereas European Christians would be more fastidious and stricter in observing that. There are differences from culture to culture, and it’s appropriate for us to be respectful of a culture and its perspective on things.
I lived in Germany for seven years when I was the director of and a teacher at a small international Bible college. Those were marvelous years, and my wife would agree. We still value the wonderful friends, colleagues, and associates that we’ve made through those seven years of ministry in Europe, and specifically in Germany. One of the things we learned about German culture is that, when it comes to rules and regulations about the way they do things, they are not cutting corners at all. To them, it’s very important and proper to do things by the book. Now, other cultures don’t have the same concern. What I’m saying is, if you live and minister as a Christian in that culture, you need to be more concerned with doing things by the book. In a culture where it’s not as important, you don’t throw out the book or cease to care, but you don’t have to be quite as concerned. We could draw examples with other kinds of things.
There is a cultural aspect to how secular music is perceived. I don’t think there’s anything objectively wrong with listening to secular music, unless it overtly glorifies Satan, or should for obvious reasons be prohibited to a Christian. In general, I don’t think that there’s anything specifically sinful in it. But I would want to carry in a cultural consideration. For example, if I were to visit your country, I would try to be sensitive to that cultural standard.
It is not that the standard of God changes. We just need to be aware of what the cultural norms are around this. There is a definite time and place to challenge cultural norms; we need to be very aware that that’s what we’re doing and be very upfront about it when we do it.
What is the Book of Jasher?
The Book of Jasher is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18. It is not part of the Apocrypha. However, it is a source book, a writing from Old Testament times. It was used as a source for a couple of references; the things recorded in the Book of Jasher were recorded other places. So, it’s just an ancient work of literature.
Now, we should not think that our Bibles are incomplete because they don’t include the Book of Jasher. We would simply say that the Book of Jasher was not inspired by the Holy Spirit, except if you want to say any place where it happens to overlap with Scripture. Our understanding of the inspiration of Scripture does not say that every piece of ancient Hebrew or Jewish writing belongs in the Bible. Nor do we say that every piece of ancient writing from New Testament times goes into our Bible.
If, for some reason, we found a new legitimate letter of Paul, I would not argue that it should be in our New Testament. God has established the canon. It would be of interest; we read it; it would have interest to us historically. But we would not regard it as something that was missing from our Bible that had to be included. Not everything that the apostle Paul wrote belongs in the Bible; not every writing from ancient Hebrew times belonged in the collection of books that God chose, and His people recognized, as belonging to the inspired Scriptures.
The Book of Jasher is just an ancient piece of Hebrew historical writing, mentioned a couple times in the Old Testament, but it doesn’t necessarily belong in the biblical canon, even if it were to be found or established. Now, I don’t have any doubt that there are books purporting to be the Book of Jasher. But to my knowledge, there’s nothing that anybody would regard as genuine.
What do you think about extrapolating Scripture in fictional form?
What do you think about extrapolating scripture in fictional form, just as Ben-Hur or The Passion of the Christ? Is it a form of adding to the Scriptures?
If it’s understood for what it is, I’m okay with it. We need to understand where the Bible ends, and where historical fiction begins in novels about biblical things. I’ll give you a great example. In our modern day and age, there is a popular television series called “The Chosen.” Lots of people that I talk to love it. I can see what they like about it. It’s a dramatic rendering of the things in the New Testament, with a lot of stuff creatively added. It isn’t always possible for people, but ideally, people understand where the Scripture ends and where the historic embellishment begins.
Here’s a humorous suggestion off the top my head. I think it would be awesome in that series, “The Chosen,” if they had a little red flashing light down at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, which flashed red every time that something was going beyond the biblical description. Sometimes “The Chosen” tries to portray the exact words and the exact circumstances described in the Bible, and other times, it fills that in creatively.
I haven’t seen very many episodes of “The Chosen,” but I’ve seen a few. For example, the Bible says nothing about Peter running a fishing operation on the Sabbath day and thereby offending the religious leaders of the time. The Bible doesn’t mention anything about it. But that’s in the plotline of “The Chosen.” I do think it would be awesome if they had a little flashing red light when the plotline is being developed, saying, “This is extra-biblical.” So, as long as we understand where the Bible ends and where the historical embellishment begins, I think it’s okay.
The problem is when people regard it as being all Bible. If that problem is avoided, I don’t have a problem with it. Maybe I’m a little more generous to this than other people might be. But one of the reasons I’m kind of generous towards it is because of the way that I preach. When I preach, I like to envision the scene that’s happening, and talk about it as if it really happened, envisioning what’s going on in the scene. Some things in the Bible would have a particular smell, but there’s not a lot said about the smells. But I think it would be appropriate as a preacher to develop that scene, understanding where the Scriptures end and where our interpretation or historical embellishment continues, whether it’s a novel, movie, or television series.
I do think there is a danger in things that would directly purport to be the words of Jesus. I have a significant concern regarding a book that was popular some years back and is still popular, the book entitled, “Jesus Calling.” This book purports to be the words of Jesus, but it’s not the words of Jesus. These are the words of a woman, Sarah Young, imagining what Jesus might say. That needs to be held in mind if somebody reads this book: these are not the words of Jesus. This is what someone imagines the words of Jesus to be.
We want to be careful that we don’t assign things to Jesus or other biblical characters if the inspiration of Scripture isn’t there. But I personally want to be somewhat generous in the people imagining and making a biblical scene come alive.
Do you believe that the Jews as a race/nation have a place in Biblical prophecy in the “end times?”
Do you believe that the Jews as a race and nation have a place in biblical prophecy in the End Times? What do you think about the recent reports of a red heifer being developed in Texas for the use in the upcoming temple?
First, I haven’t heard any of those reports of red heifer in Texas. I remember some years ago, it could be 10 or 20 years ago, they talked about the sacrifice of a red heifer in Israel, and the ashes from the burning of that red heifer being used in some temple ceremonies. When most people are talking about the red heifer and get excited about it, it concerns a reestablishment of temple ceremonies and rituals. I haven’t heard about the red heifer in Texas.
Secondly, you ask if I believe that the Jews as a race and nation have a place in biblical prophecy in the End Times? Yes, I do. I believe very strongly that God is not finished with the Jewish people, with Israel as a nation or a race, with the covenant descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – He’s not finished with them yet, period. Jesus said that He would not return until the Jewish people, the descendants of those same ones who rejected Him at His arrest and crucifixion, welcomed Him back, saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Israel will turn to Christ before the final triumphant return of Jesus Christ. That is part of God’s strategy in the very end times. I believe very strongly that God is not finished with the Jewish nation, with the people of Israel, with the covenant descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They still have a place in His plan. And it’s not a place that’s all sweetness and light. It’s a place that has a lot of burdens with it as well. I also believe that the enduring role that the Jewish people have in God’s unfolding plan of the ages is one of the reasons why hatred of Jews is so satanically inspired. I believe that makes them special targets for hatred throughout all the centuries because Satan hates the fact that they have an enduring role in God’s unfolding plan of the ages.
Is it right for a Christian nurse to participate in a patient’s self-assisted suicide?
I’ll give you a very upfront answer. For the most part, Christians should not have anything to do with self-assisted suicide. We believe that our lives are in God’s hands. It’s not right for us to take that responsibility upon ourselves, either for our own life or for the lives of others. I think that “mercy killing,” as it’s been described, is not a positive development in our culture or society.
As a Christian nurse, is it okay for you to participate in some level on a patient assisted suicide? My first reaction is that no, it would be better to remove yourself from that situation for the sake of conscience.
How should Christ followers celebrate His birth?
First, they should celebrate it according to their Christian conscience. There have been Christians throughout the centuries who have felt that Christians should not celebrate Christmas. For example, the Pilgrims, that group of Puritans who came over in the days of the colonial settlement of what is known today as the United States, didn’t think that people should celebrate Christmas. They didn’t do it. They thought it was considered something secular and that they should not be bothered with it. So, there are people who think that way. I would regard it as concerning Christian conscience.
However, if one’s conscience allows them to celebrate Christmas, then have a celebration. We are celebrating the fact of the Incarnation: that the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, at some definite point in history, added humanity to His deity, and came and was born as a baby in Bethlehem. By doing so, He changed history, not just in this world, but for all eternity forever. That’s something worth celebrating.
So have a party with your family, exchange gifts, use special lights and decorations. You should see Christmas at our home. It’s beautiful. It’s a worthy celebration of this eternity-changing moment in history when God the Son added humanity to His deity.
Again, that’s if someone’s Christian conscience permits them to commemorate Christmas; if not, that’s between them and the Lord, and I make no judgment upon them. But we’re going to have a wonderful Christmas this year. And if your conscience allows you, I hope you do, too.
Did the Nephilim exist after the Flood?
I’ll give you my take on this. If you’re not satisfied with my take, there are people out there who believe differently; I don’t believe this is entirely cut and dry.
I don’t believe that there were genetic Nephilim after the Flood. I do believe that there were people called Nephilim, but to my understanding, only eight survived the Flood. According to Jude, God imprisoned the angels who transgressed, which I think applies to those who transgressed in those days before the Flood. He did not allow them to continue in intermarriage or intermingling between the sons of God and the daughters of men; God said no more of that after the Flood.
Why then were there some people called Nephilim? They were just large people, connected in memory to those ancient, pre-Flood people called the Nephilim. After the Flood, large people were simply referred to as being like the Nephilim. it’s describing people who were legitimately large, but not what we would call genetic Nephilim that seemed to exist before the Flood. That would be the best answer I could give.
I know for some people, that’s not a satisfactory answer. But to me, the alternatives are even worse. What are the alternatives? One possibility is that the Bible is wrong in its description of a global flood. Another possibility is that whatever Satan and his angels were able to do before the Flood, they’re also able to do after the Flood, and then keep on doing it. If that’s the case, I don’t know why the human race isn’t overwhelmed with whatever was happening before the Flood.
I would just say that some people were called Nephilim in memory of those pre-flood people, but not with any genetic connection to it. Again, I recognize that some people would think that’s not a very good answer. But that’s the best answer I could give on that.
When praying for unsaved children, is it biblical to “cover them with the blood of Jesus” or to “claim their soul for God”?
These are figures of speech. The figure of speech expresses a particular kind of heart. If you think about it, what does it really mean to pray that someone’s child would be covered with the blood of Jesus. They don’t mean in a literal sense, of course. But what they mean is, “Lord, I want what Jesus did on the cross to count for them, for their sins to be forgiven, for their stain of sin to be taken away, and righteousness to be bestowed upon them, in light of what Jesus did on the cross.” That’s what’s being spoken about there as a figure of speech. Sometimes we’re uncomfortable with these figures of speech, but if we recognize the heart behind the figure of speech, I don’t have much of a problem with it.
You also asked about this phrase, to “Claim their soul for God.” Again, it’s just a way of impassioned prayer, saying, “Lord, I want them to be saved.” I don’t think that that, in fact, saves them. But there’s nothing wrong with the impassioned prayer to God.
The illustration that has been given is based sometimes on something that Rachel, one of the wives of Jacob, said: “Give me children, or else I die.” It’s a kind of pleading with God. “God, give me this; grant me this request, or else I die.” That has been used through a lot of Christian devotional literature. It’s been used to express the thought of impassioned, or importunate, prayer, which is bold or “respectfully rude” prayer. I think these are people being bold in prayer, and so it can be fine, if properly understood. I suppose somebody could get too arrogant in their praying, and that’s never good. But the phrase itself wouldn’t alarm me; I would just regard it as a figure of speech.
Could you explain the Songs of Ascent? How were the songs used in ancient Israel?
David Guzik’s commentary on the Songs of Ascent: https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/psalm-120/
These were probably songs that were sung by pilgrims, as they ascended, climbed, and made their way up to Jerusalem for the three annual feasts. That’s sort of the majority opinion. I think it’s valid.
In my commentary on Psalm 120, I explain what the Songs of Ascent were all about. Here’s the beginning of that introduction:
Psalm 120 is the first of a series of 15 psalms each with the title, A Song of Ascents. The reason for this collection and arrangement is not precisely stated. Many different explanations have been given for these “degrees” or “steps” or “ascents”:
- The Stairs of the Temple Songs.
- The Step Songs.
- The Gradual Songs.
- The Progression Songs.
- The Procession from Babylon Songs.
- The Pilgrim Festival Songs.
James Montgomery Boice explained the first suggestion: “The Talmud says that the fifteen songs correspond to the fifteen steps between these courtyards (Middoth ii. 5; Succa 51b). Some have even supposed that the songs were sung by the Levites from these steps, though this is pure speculation.”
Probably the best explanation is the last one listed, that these were songs for the people of God as they made the pilgrim journey to Jerusalem and the temple at the three appointed feasts (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles).
How did God “pour out” His wrath on Jesus while He was on the cross?
This is another example of a figure of speech. There are a few places where the Bible speaks of the wrath of God being poured out in judgment. Part of the idea of God’s poured-out wrath is that it’s completely emptied. If you have a cup full of wine or water, and you turn it up on its end, it is completely empty; it is poured out.
When the Bible uses the imagery of the cup of God’s wrath, of God’s wrath being poured out, it’s meant in a sense of it being completely delivered. So yes, obviously, the wrath of God is not a liquid. But it can be completely distributed or placed; it can be emptied upon a particular thing or person.
I often use this terminology; maybe it’s just a habit of speaking for me. The wrath of God being poured out upon Jesus doesn’t mean as if some liquid was poured from the sky upon Jesus on the cross, but that the wrath, the judgment of God, was completely emptied upon Jesus at the cross. The pouring is just a biblical image or terminology, meant to express that idea of a complete distribution and emptying, just as a liquid completely leaves a cup when it’s turned over and poured out.
What does it mean that God created man “in the likeness of God”?
David Guzik’s commentary on Genesis 1 – https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/genesis-1/
I would refer you to my commentary on the book of Genesis, beginning in the section on verse 26.
An understanding of who man is begins with knowing that we’re made in the image of God. Man is different from every other order of created being because He has a created consistency with God.
This means that God created man to be loved, to be consistent with deity. There is a compatibility between the human and the divine, which does not exist between the animal and the divine, or, I believe, between the angelic and the divine.
God created humanity to be compatible with the divine. Now, the human is not the divine; we’re not trying to say that human beings are gods. We’re just saying that there is an aspect of compatibility between the human and the divine, which does not exist between the animal and the divine or the angelic and the divine.
There are several specific things in mankind that make us to be made in the image of God. It means that we possess personality, knowledge, feelings, and a will. Of course, this sets us apart from all animal life and plant life. It shows that human beings possess morality: we can make moral judgments, and we have a conscience. It also means that humans possess spirituality. We are made for communion with God. It’s on the spirit level that we communicate with God.
In my commentary on Genesis 1, I have written a longer explanation of what it means that we are made in the image of God. But I believe the basic thing stressed by the Scriptures is that there is a compatibility between the human and the divine, to which we should pay attention.
Can a believer forfeit their salvation?
That’s a great question. It’s a question that believers love to argue about; believe me, sometimes the arguments around that question become heated. Here’s my simple answer.
An apparent believer can forfeit their salvation, but just keep it at that. Someone who is apparently a believer can forfeit their salvation. I know people who don’t believe that it’s possible for a believer to forfeit their salvation. They would just say, “Oh, well, then they were never saved to begin with.” Okay, fine. I’m not going to debate that point. If that’s how you want to frame it, I’m okay with that. But in saying that, you must admit that person was an apparent believer, and then they fell away.
Someone might appear to be saved, and yet demonstrate during the final years of their life that they do not belong to Christ, even working to bring people out of the Christian faith and dying while cursing Jesus Christ. Nobody thinks that they’re going to heaven, even if at one time it appeared that they were saved.
We need to understand two things concurrently. First, there is tremendous security for the believer in Jesus Christ. How beautiful, how powerful, how wonderful it is that we are secure in Jesus Christ. We don’t keep ourselves saved. Jesus holds onto us. We love to assure the believer of their salvation.
But at the same time, no one should become presumptuous. No one should assume, “Well, I made a decision or a profession of faith 30 years ago, so it doesn’t matter what I believe or how I live or what I go on now; I’m fine.” Nobody should think that way. To that person I would offer a very strong exhortation and encouragement: “Hey, you need to keep walking with the Lord.”
An apparent believer can forfeit their salvation. I would probably lean on the side of saying that someone who is a true believer cannot. But an apparent believer can. Really, all we have to go on, at least from the external view, is the appearance of things. So, if we want to argue that no, a true believer cannot forfeit their salvation, let’s not forget that an apparent believer certainly can.
If prodigals can make decisions based on their free will, are our prayers still helpful to them?
God can change people’s hearts. Remember the proverb, “The heart of a king is in the hands of the Lord, and He can guide it wherever He wishes.” I believe that’s true. If God holds the heart of a king in His hand, and He can guide it wherever He wishes, then it’s okay for us to pray that God would change the heart of our prodigal children, friends, neighbors, and relatives. We should pray that God removes the veil that blinds them from seeing Jesus Christ and their need for Jesus Christ. We should pray that people will recognize those things, and have that veil cleared away, to see their need and the great provision which God has offered in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and see it with clear, clean eyes.
Yes, I believe people have a real choice. I prefer the phrase “real choice” rather than “free will,” because there are all sorts of things that might bind our will in some way. But despite those things, I think at the end of the day, people have a real choice, not a fake choice. And we can pray that God would take away blinding and veiling influences so that people can clearly see their need and God’s provision.
Is it bad to not always worship first thing in the morning?
It’s a wonderful thing to worship God first thing when you wake up. Now, a lot of people brush their teeth and use the bathroom first, before they do anything else. I wouldn’t get legalistic about it. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a wonderful thing to have time with God in the morning, and to dedicate the early part of the day to Him so that He would be honored and glorified.
But, you know, for some people, they’re at their worst in the morning. And to such people, I say, Give God your best. Spend time with the Lord later in the day when you’re at your best. We dare not become legalistic about such things, even while recognizing that it can be a beautiful thing for somebody to give God the early part of the day. We can just simply take the day as it is, and worship God all through the day, but there’s nothing wrong with starting early on it.
What do you think about vaccination for children?
I really believe that this is a matter of Christian conscience. If God has so moved you in your conscience, and you’re not saying this just because of peer pressure, or social media buzz, or the like, but you’re doing this genuinely out of Christian conscience, then I would say: stay strong in your convictions. I’m making a division between doing it out of Christian conscience as opposed to doing it out of peer pressure, or social media pressure, or cable news influence, etc. If someone is refusing vaccination for themselves, or on behalf of others in their care, out of genuine Christian conscience, then I would say, Stand firm for that. Bear whatever consequences need to be born.
I don’t think God wants us to violate our Christian conscience just because the law gets passed about it. I sometimes bring it back to the issue of meat sacrificed to idols. That was a big area of Christian conscience which the first century church had to deal with. You read a lot about it in 1 Corinthians and Romans. But if a believer felt they should not eat meat sacrificed to idols, their conviction should not change if the government commanded them to eat meat sacrifice to idols.
We need to be discerning and make sure our convictions are based on what we would call a true Christian conscience, not peer pressure, not social media pressure, not news media influence. But if it’s based on genuine Christian conscience, I would support it and say that you shouldn’t give in, unless God moves your conscience otherwise. I feel for believers who are troubled by this and are dealing with it in their own way.