Ask Me Anything
In Daniel 3:16-18, did the Hebrew young men mean to say, “If God doesn’t deliver us” or “If the king doesn’t throw us into the furnace”?
In the German Schlachter translation, Daniel 3:16-18 says, “If it be so,” referring to Nebuchadnezzar’s command to throw the three men into the furnace, but then follows with “And even if it shall not be so,” which is interpreted in some Bible commentaries as referring to the three possibly not being thrown into the furnace at all. This is different from other Bible translations where the second “Even if it shall not be so” refers to the three possibly not surviving, which makes a difference in the total meaning.
Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
The question has to do with those words, “But if it is not.” Do those words refer to God not delivering them from the fiery furnace, or Nebuchadnezzar sparing them from the fiery furnace?
To me, it makes the most sense in the context to say, “We are confident God will deliver us. But even if God does not deliver us, we will not bow down to you.” In other words, the king’s threat of violence against them is worth nothing, and is not going to sway them one way or the other. That’s the way I would understand this.
But I will admit that it’s possible to interpret this as, “Nebuchadnezzar, even if you do not put us into the fire, even if you show mercy to us at this last moment, we will still not bow down before your gods or before you.” I think that the context gives more weight to the first position, referring to whether or not God delivers them. To me, that makes the most sense, given the context.
But you know, there are passages like this which deal with relatively minor things, where the meaning isn’t substantially changed one way or the other. It’s a little difficult to give a final determination on what that would be. But I would be fairly confident here to say that it implies, “if God does not deliver us.”
What is the “unworthy manner” of receiving communion described in 1 Corinthians 11:27-34?
According to 1 Corinthians 11:27-34, what’s the unworthy manner to participate of the Lord’s supper? What are the consequences of not doing it right? What’s the proper way?
1 Corinthians 11:27 NKJV
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
The context of before and after this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 refers to the idea of being very selfish and self oriented at the Lord’s Supper. In the early church, they often celebrated the Lord’s Supper, also known as communion or the Lord’s table; Christians have given it different titles throughout the ages. It speaks of taking the bread and the cup in remembrance, to receive what Jesus did on the cross. When it was taken in the early church, they would do it in the context of a common meal for the fellowship. Some people would call it a love feast, where they would get together and have what today we might call a potluck dinner; people would bring what they could, the food would be shared, and everybody would enjoy it.
1 Corinthians 11:17 says, “Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.” And verses 20-21: “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.”
Paul says that they should consider that the common meal is a place for sharing. It’s a place for loving one another and caring for one another. And instead, they’re not doing; that one’s getting drunk, the other one is leaving hungry. As Paul says, it should not be so— they’re at the Lord’s Supper. They were acting in a very selfish, unloving, greedy way towards one another. Paul says that by this conduct of theirs, they are receiving the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.
I think what this is saying is that we need to love one another and care for one another in the body of Christ. And when there is an obvious and severe breaking of that command, it can put us in a place where we receive the Lord’s table in an unworthy manner. It’s as if they’re saying, “Jesus, we love you, and we receive the work that you did on the cross,” yet they were treating their other brothers and sisters at the Lord’s table in a disgraceful way. It should not be so. That is living an open and terrible contradiction there, right there at the Lord’s Supper. I think that is the unworthy manner.
Now, you also ask, what are the consequences? Well, again, just look in the text. It says that some of them were sick, and there were many who slept— the idea is that they died before due time. Most people understand this to be something of a judicial judgment. I believe that I explain this pretty clearly in my commentary on 1 Corinthians chapter 11. I would recommend you take some time at enduring word.com, and look at my commentary there.
But the most pointed way they were receiving the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner was by their open and severe lack of regard and lack of love for their other brothers and sisters. This is a heavy reminder to us of the importance of love. In the body of Christ, we need to love each other. We must not needlessly divide amongst one another. We need to be loving and caring and filled with concern one for another. Now, there may be other ways to receive the Lord’s table in an unloving manner. But that seems to be what is spoken about most pointedly in 1 Corinthians 11.
Is it a sin to use recreational marijuana?
I do believe it is a sin, and I’ll explain why. There are many people who would answer back and say, “Well, the Bible does seem to permit the drinking of alcohol in moderation. What is the difference between the drinking of alcohol and the taking of recreational marijuana?”
I’ll tell you the difference. The Bible does allow the consumption of alcohol, but it absolutely forbids drunkenness. Absolutely. Now people want to debate, “What does drunkenness mean?” I’ll define it this way: it is being impaired in some way. The alcohol in your system is impairing you, giving you a buzz, making you feel different than you felt before. It does not sharpen your senses, but dulls them. Now, it is possible for a person to drink alcohol without becoming drunk. And it is possible for a person to drink alcohol without the goal of becoming drunk. But the consumption of recreational marijuana is in itself the goal of impairment. That’s what it’s all about. If you go back on the YouTube channel, you’ll find a video I did a few years ago about marijuana and explained this more fully. (See “The Christian and Marijuana,” Feb 6, 2017).
Now, there are people who take different forms of CBD oil, CBD substances, things that can be consumed without any impairment; that’s a different category altogether. That’s like taking an herbal supplement. But where there is impairment of the senses involved, that is a form of intoxication or drunkenness.
I understand that in many places in the United States and in other countries, it’s legal. But look, we don’t believe that just because something is legal, it’s moral. There are many things that are legal in our modern culture that are not moral. So I believe that a believer should not recreationally consume marijuana. The whole issue of taking it therapeutically, apart from an impairment, is another thing altogether, and I won’t put that in the same category.
How can I find love and a spouse?
That’s a great question. It’s something that many people ask for. Many single Christians ache over the idea of wanting to find a spouse, and I understand that. I would simply consider two things.
First of all, recognize that your unmarried, celibate state, is God’s gift, whether it is temporary and you’ll be married later, or whether it’s permanent and it’s just not God’s call for your life to be married. The celibate state is understood by the New Testament to be a gift from God. For many unmarried people, it feels like a curse, but God regards it as a gift. You could even say that Jesus sanctified the unmarried state, because Jesus himself was celibate. The apostle Paul was not married. I think that it’s likely that he was married before his conversion, or early in his conversion. But that’s another story altogether. So first, whether your singleness, your celibacy, is temporary or permanent, seek to regard it as a gift from God, as something that gives you some advantages in life and in service to the Lord.
How do you find a spouse? Instead of putting a focus on finding the right person, put more of a focus on being the right person. I think that’s the best place to start. It’s something that you have more control over than finding the right person. Ask God to work in your life and to make you the kind of person who is ready for marriage, who would be a good spouse to the person that God may lead you to marry.
I also recommend that it’s good to hang out in places where you would want to find somebody that you may marry, such as church or groups like that. I know it’s not easy. But if it’s any comfort, this is a challenge that many men and women face in our modern day.
Why is Acts 8:37 not included in some translations?
Why is the verse Acts 8:37 omitted from the ESV, the NIV, and the NLT?
Acts 8:37 NKJV – Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Your question has to do is with manuscript evidence. I’m not an expert on the Greek manuscripts, and I certainly don’t want to present myself as being an expert. But at least in some way, I know how to read the people who are experts. It’s important that we just take a look. In my New King James Version, it notes that certain manuscripts omit verse 37. But it says that it’s found in the Western texts, including the Latin tradition.
Basically, the issue revolves around this. There are thousands of ancient Greek manuscripts. In general, they are divided into different families or categories. One family of manuscripts includes Acts 8:37, and another does not. The debate is based on which is more likely to be what Luke actually wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when the Holy Spirit moved Luke to write the book of Acts.
These are things that have to be determined on a case by case basis. I would not say that in every sense one particular family of manuscripts is better. Most modern translations are built on the Alexandrian family of manuscripts. It’s from these that we have the oldest existing ancient Greek complete manuscripts. There are other people who think that there is more validity and accuracy to the Eastern or the Byzantine family of manuscripts. Therefore, I think it’s a worthy debate. I wouldn’t write off one or the other with just a flourish; I would examine each one on an individual case by case basis.
Adam was made in the image of God; does that mean he was created without sin?
Seth was born in the image of Adam in a sinful state, but he still had a choice, dominion, etc. Question. When God said, “Let us make man in our image,” could the image mean sinless, like God?
When it says that man is created in the image of God, I do not think the essential idea is sinlessness. After the fall, mankind is still described as being made in God’s image. The idea of being made in the image of God is not tied to the idea of sinlessness, though Adam and Eve would have at first been sinless. It’s tied to the idea of a man having a mind, volition, the ability to choose, reason and intellect, all things after the pattern of God.
For a fuller discussion of what it means to be created the image of God, refer to my commentary on Genesis 1-2. However, I would not include among those aspects the idea that man is sinless. The reason why is because after the fall, after we inherited sin from Adam, and after we sinned ourselves, it still says that man is made in the image of God.
Is the Old Testament Apocrypha helpful in any way?
What do you think about the Apocrypha? I heard it has some useful history in it?
The apocryphal books of the Old Testament have value, and include some interesting and helpful history. Our only complaint against the Apocrypha is that they are not on the level of Scripture. By every indication, neither Jesus, the apostles of the early church, nor the authors of the New Testament, regarded those books as authoritative Scripture. It was just simply not in the collection of scriptural books they had at that time. Of course we wouldn’t forbid Christians from reading them. No, not at all. Just don’t regard them as being the same as Scripture.
Was Moses a failure?
No, I do not see Moses as a failure. Moses was a glorious success. There is some tragedy in the life of Moses, mainly in that he was not able to enter into the Promised Land along with the children of Israel. That is a genuine tragedy that the Scriptures connect for us. But I would not say that he was a failure. He succeeded in what God had him to do. To me, in the beautiful way the death of Moses is described in the closing chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, it doesn’t say failure. It says beautiful, glorious success. Our imperfections never make us to be regarded as failures.
What is Christian liberty?
To give a full development of that would take more time and more preparation that I’m ready to give right now. I think it’s worthy for us as Christians to think more about this principle of Christian liberty. We are, in fact, free men and free women in Jesus Christ. Yet the Bible is silent on particular things, either in clear command or clear principle, where the Bible is silent. We have liberty in Jesus Christ, and we also should be careful about being judgmental regarding the liberty of another brother or sister in Jesus Christ. I see a lot of condemnation happening today regarding people in things that are really matters of Christian liberty. I think Christians should calm down a little bit when it comes to those things.
Does the Bible say that we must have formal church membership?
Does it say anywhere in the Bible that a person must be a member of a church? Or is it okay to just attend and tithe and be part of the church, without being a member?
There are Christians who have different opinions on this. Because this is an area that the Bible does not address specifically, I believe that it is an area of Christian liberty. I believe that the Bible does not command formal church membership in the way it is understood today, at least in an American context.
Now, I want to be clear: the Bible does not forbid it. This is an area of Christian liberty. I don’t blame any pastor or church for saying, “Formal church membership is important to us, so we are going to stress it and require it for certain ministry positions at our church.” I don’t mind that in the slightest.
What I would mind is if they felt that it was required for every church to do that, and no longer saw this as an area of Christian liberty. Now, you’ll notice I used the phrase there very carefully, “formal church membership.” I believe the idea of membership in God’s family is very important. But I believe that membership in God’s family is a fact, if we are born again, and we consciously associate ourselves with the family of God. Do you see the distinction? The Bible says we are members one with another, and I think it’s important for us to grab ahold of that, and to simply rest in that truth. We are members of the body of Christ.
I’m very big on the spiritual concept of membership. I’m not as big on the formal requirement of membership. I think that is something left up to each individual Christian church, and to each individual Christian believer.
Will the sins of believers be remembered and judged at the judgement seat of Christ?
It does seem from Corinthians, where it speaks of the judgment seat of Christ, that Christian faithfulness and stewardship will be judged. There is a sense that a lack of faithfulness or a lack of proper Christian stewardship is a sin. Therefore, in some sense, sin will be judged.
But I want you to understand something very important. The judgment seat of Christ, the Bema seat of Christ, is a judgment for believers. It’s not the Great White Throne Judgment, which determines someone’s eternal destiny. The judgment seat of Christ is for those who are believers and are heaven bound; it is not to reconcile sin, since these are believers. These are people for whom sin has been reconciled at the cross. So it’s not for judging sin; it’s for rewarding faithfulness. You could say that there is an implicit judgment in someone not receiving a reward, but it’s really not the same thing.
The purpose of the judgment seat of Christ is not to judge sin. Everybody who stands at the judgment seat of Christ will have their sin already judged in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in what He accomplished at the cross. However, what will be judged is reward. I believe people will be given reward and authority in the age to come, based on their faithfulness in serving God.
What does it mean that believers should be “salt”?
When Jesus used those figures of speech in the ancient world, salt had several different connotations. First of all, salt was valuable. So God’s people should be valuable in their community. Number two, salt had a preserving aspect. This is one of the great uses of salt in the ancient world. Before they had commercial refrigeration, salt was used to preserve things, just like meats may be salted today to keep from rotting. It just makes them last longer. So it was valuable. Salt was a preservative.
But salt also added flavor; it made things better. Christian should be the same way in their community. They should be of value in the community, and be a preservative in the community. In other words, they help slow the rate of decay in the community. Then finally, they should add some good flavor to the community.
How can I know the difference between my voice, the devil’s voice, and the voice of God?
Here’s how you can be 100% sure that God is speaking to you— read your Bible. This is how you know 100% that God is speaking to you. It’s given to you in the pages of the Bible. When we’re speaking about what some people regard as a prophetic word from God, ultimately, we never have the same confidence in any such thing as we do in God’s revealed word.
Sometimes you’ll know it was the word of the Lord, because things just work out that way. There was a time in my life where I believe that God brought to me a very clear, specific, remarkable, prophetic word. It had to do with the future of myself, my family, and my ministry. Well, how did I ultimately know that it was the word of the Lord? Because it worked out that way, because things developed in just those ways. But that’s something you can only tell completely in retrospect.
We shouldn’t be trying to hear the voice of God in our own heart, or in our own mind. We shouldn’t be trying to hear the voice of God by chasing around supposed prophets. If you want to try to hear the voice of God, open your Bible. Now, again, I say that as someone who believes that God can, and may speak to us— but we never have the same kind of confidence in our ability to properly hear and understand such a word, as we would have in the Word of God.
Are Christians allowed to have hobbies?
Are Christians allowed to have hobbies? I’m asking this because of the verse which says to love God with all your mind, heart, soul, etc, and the verse which says to focus on the things which are above.
I certainly hope that God allows Christians to have hobbies. I’m a Christian, and I have hobbies that I enjoy. Just like anything that is a gift from God for our lives, hobbies should never become idols in our lives. We can have things, and enjoy them, without them becoming idols. If you can’t have a hobby without it becoming an idol, then you shouldn’t have the hobby, just like anything in your life. But there’s lots of hobbies that I enjoy working on. Right now I’m working on some old cars; I’m working on the engines and the mechanics. I really enjoy doing that, and I enjoy hobbies that are sort of athletic or sports minded. So yes, I hope God allows us and blesses hobbies that we have. I think they’re helpful, they’re useful, and they’re part of rest and recreation. Please remember this: rest and recreation are part of the world that God has given us. He gave us one day out of seven to rest. And we can do that and should do that unto the glory of God.
Does God judge nations today?
Yes. Why would we think that God has stopped judging nations? Now, there is difficulty in making a statement like that. When we say that God judges nations, it’s hard to take a look at any one specific event and say, “I know that’s the judgment of God.” For example, if a hurricane comes and devastates an area, was that the judgment of God? Or is it just the fact that we live in a fallen world, and part of living in that fallen world means that we can have destructive weather patterns? If a disease comes upon a nation or group of people, is that the judgment of God? Or is it just the fact that we live in a fallen world, and disease and sickness can be a part of that?
It can be difficult to discern whether a specific crisis or tragedy is, in fact, the direct judgment of God. But the principle remains that God has the right to judge nations, and God does judge nations absolutely. This is something that, in my observation, drives the secular world crazy. When I listen to atheists speak from time to time, one of the things that offends atheists to no end is the idea that God has the right to judge. They’re always questioning the judgments of God. “Why did God judge this? Why did God judge that? Why did God do this?” They’re always questioning the judgments of God.
Listen, we are not in a place to question the judgments of God. God is a righteous Judge. And he has the right to judge nations and individuals as well. The difficulty comes in confidently saying that any one particular instance or circumstance is the judgment of God.
Is it OK to have pictures of Jesus?
Since I don’t regard them as anything more than suggestions of Jesus, I don’t have a problem with them. If a person was to regard such images or pictures as being actual representations of Jesus, I think that could become problematic. It could become idolatrous. Besides that, I don’t have a problem with it.
Now there are some people say, “Well, in the Old Testament, it says that you should make no depiction of God and Jesus is God. So it’s wrong to make a depiction of him.” And again, I understand why people say that. But I believe that the Incarnation changed things. The Incarnation showed Jesus to the world. And so to speak, it gave God a face. Now, we don’t pretend to know exactly what that face looked like. So we should never hold on to any particular image of Jesus with confidence, because we just don’t know. But to me, it sort of argues against the principle that every image of Jesus is absolutely wrong to me. It’s more in how that image of Jesus is regarded by the individual.
Why did Jesus cry at the tomb of Lazarus? Does God still cry?
Why did Jesus cry? And why was he troubled in spirit when Lazarus died? Does God still cry?
First of all, why did Jesus cry? We’re told that Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus did not cry merely out of sorrow for the death of Lazarus. Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew it wasn’t over. No, I think that the sorrow of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus was more complicated than that. No doubt there was a strong element in it of Jesus sorrowing over the wreckage that sin and death had done to humanity. Jesus came from heaven, and knew life eternal in a way that nobody else who ever walked this earth had known. He also knew, in a way that nobody else ever knew, how tragic and terrible the destruction of death was upon Earth. That’s an aspect of it.
I think Jesus also sorrowed at the unbelief of people. It was a source of great sorrow for Jesus that there were so many people unbelieving at the tomb of Lazarus. I think that was another factor very much involved. I think those are reasons why Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. That’s why he was troubled in his spirit.
Does God still cry? I would say no. Now, the Bible does not specifically tell us that God does or doesn’t cry, using those specific words. But even though there is a time for tears now, for the people of God on earth, there will be no more tears when we are in heaven. God will wipe away every tear.
I don’t think Jesus is still weeping in heaven. Not at all. Jesus is in his glorified Body. God still feels sorrow over things that happen on Earth. But he does not cry, even as believers will have every tear wiped away.
Can you explain forgiveness? I struggle with setting healthy boundaries.
Can you please explain forgiveness? I am asking because I struggled to balance forgiveness and setting healthy boundaries.
I have some more detailed teaching on this on my YouTube channel, but let me give you just a very quick summary. I believe that there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. There are some people who believe that those two things are really the same. And they would say that there is no true forgiveness if there is not reconciliation, but I would disagree with that.
I believe that you can truly forgive somebody in your heart and in your words, and still be very guarded about your relationship with them, because they do not recognize their sin in a full aspect, or you are not safe around them. It is okay to genuinely forgive someone, and nevertheless to set real boundaries in your relationship with them. That’s the distinction I would make.
There’s a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. I believe that God commands us as believers to forgive. I don’t believe that there’s really any passage in the New Testament that would seek to restrict the forgiveness of Christians. Rather, God intends for us to have a very open hand with the forgiveness that we would give to other people. Within that difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, you no longer hold that person’s sin against them, yet you have the wisdom to know that they still could sin against you in the same way, because there hasn’t been a proper repentance or restoration. Until that happens, you’re just not reconciled to the same relationship with them.
What about medication that may cause impairment?
How about medication that causes impairment, like antidepressants, pain medication, or sleeping pills?
There is impairment that happens to a person as a side effect of taking a medication, and there are people who take drugs or medications for the purpose of the impairment. That’s really the difference between the two. If a medicine is prescribed by a doctor, and is proper for a person to take, and it causes impairment on some level, I regard that as a side effect. Under a doctor’s care, I don’t think there’s any sin in that. However, when a person self-medicates, or takes a drug or medication for the purpose of impairment, that’s the difference. It’s like drinking for the purpose of getting drunk. That’s what the use recreational of marijuana is like. It’s using marijuana for the purpose of impairment.
Now, somebody may say, “Well, I use marijuana for this purpose, and the impairment is a side effect.” Listen, if that is true, that’s between you and God. We understand that there could be people who are lying about such a thing, but again, that’s between them and God, and God will deal with them on that.
Can we end our marriage for the sake of gospel?
Can we give away our marriage for the sake of the gospel like Paul?
I would say no, because Paul very specifically speaks about this in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul says that if a believer is married, they should not seek to end their marriage, supposing they could serve the Lord better as a single person. No, if we’re married, God has great service unto him and great purpose working in our lives through that institution of marriage. Paul speaks very pointedly to this.
Now, when Paul speaks about it in 1 Corinthians, it’s in terms of being married to an unbeliever. But the same principle would apply if you’re married to a believer. We should not think if we are married, that we could honor God more by not being married. That’s not how God wants us to think. If it is true that Paul was married, and I believe he was, and later we know that during the years of his apostolic ministry, he was not married, then it’s either because his wife died, or his wife divorced him. His wife abandoned him, perhaps because he became a believer; we don’t know. But if it is true that Paul was married, it wasn’t that he just left his wife; because later on he says, “Don’t do that.”
Where is God in all the pain, suffering, and darkness that I see around me?
I’m having a tough time as an ER nurse, seeing the realities of people addiction, violence, neglect, abuse. How can God love all these people? It’s hard to square my faith, with what I see.
I feel for you in this situation. I feel for the up-close and personal view you have of the fallenness, pain, and brokenness of humanity in general. That’s a hard thing to stomach. Yet this is the universal condition of humanity. I want you to imagine just for a moment that you could go back in time, 100 years or 500 years. Whatever pain, suffering, loss, death, and brokenness you see today, would have been much worse in older times. We have made remarkable progress in those things. And part of that comes from our heritage in the Western world of 2000 years of Christianity.
But this is a broken fallen world. It is the power of Jesus and the love of Jesus that brings even some light into this broken and fallen world. I guess I start from a more pessimistic place: humanity is broken and fallen. Any relief or blessing in the midst of that is a precious, beautiful gift of God.
I am so happy that even with this burden you feel, looking at the darkness and the brokenness of humanity around you, especially at your job, I’m glad God has you there. Ask God every day, as you work there in the emergency room, to enable you at least in some small way to be his light, to bring His truth and peace in the midst of that difficulty.
Are Jews sinners because they don’t believe in Jesus?
I can answer that a few different ways. On the one hand I could say No — Jews aren’t sinners because they don’t believe in Jesus. Jews are sinners because they’re descendants of Adam. We’re all sinners. It’s not specifically one’s failure to believe in Jesus that alone makes them a sinner. We’re all sinners. So that’s one way I can answer the question.
The other way I can answer the question is to say, Yes, any person who rejects the person and work of Jesus Christ, as His person and work is revealed to us in the Bible, is sinning. You’re rejecting God. Let’s remember something. There are some people, maybe people from the Jewish faith, or the Muslim faith, or other faiths, who say, “Well, listen, I really love God. But I’m not into Jesus.”
Let me tell you something. The God who actually exists in the universe, the Creator of all things, that God was perfectly revealed to us by Jesus Christ. If you reject Jesus, you’re rejecting God, because Jesus is the perfect representation of God. If somebody doesn’t like something about Jesus, that’s something they don’t like about God.
So I could answer your question a few different ways. I could say No — Jews are sinners, because they’re descendants of Adam, just like everybody in humanity. Or I could say Yes — anybody who rejects Jesus Christ is rejecting God. And that’s a sin.
Was the wood from the burning bush that Moses saw the same kind of wood used later to make Jesus’ crown of thorns?
I would very simply and directly say that is a speculation. The Bible does not specifically tell us that is the case. We can’t say with confidence that it was the case. Some people conjecture that maybe it was, others that it wasn’t. We don’t really know. So I would not confidently say that was or is the case.
Was it the death of Jesus and His physical blood that made atonement, or just His death?
I think you’re making a distinction here that the Bible does not make. When the Bible talks about the blood of Christ, it’s simply the Bible’s way of speaking of his death. If you remember back in the Old Testament, in the book of Leviticus, it says that the life is in the blood. When a person dies, their blood is shed, so to speak, even if that’s not exactly how they died. To say “the blood of Jesus” is actually to say, “the poured out life of Jesus.” It was his real death that was communicated by his real shed blood.
There was nothing magical or mystical in the physical blood of Jesus that saved people. We can reasonably suppose that the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross were in fact splattered with bits of his blood. It would make sense. But I don’t believe those Roman soldiers were saved because a bit of the physical blood of Jesus landed on them. That’s not what brings salvation. It was the real death of Jesus, offered as a sacrifice, as a substitute for the sins of humanity, that accomplishes many, many things for the people of God.
Did the angel move the stone at the tomb of Jesus to let Jesus out of the tomb, or to let others into the tomb?
The angel moved the stone so that the followers of Jesus and anybody else could go into the tomb and see that it was empty. We know that the resurrected body of Jesus was different than his body before the resurrection. Resurrection is not just the resuscitation of a dead body. It is a new order of life and existence. It’s based on the old body; to be certain, there’s a connection between the original body and the resurrection body, but they’re not the same thing.
We know from the Gospel of John that Jesus had the ability to appear in a room without entering through a door or a window. He just sort of materialized in a room. That shows a physical capability or property which our present bodies do not have. Jesus could have just left the tomb without going through the door opening that was covered by the stone. He did not need the stone to be rolled away to get out. No, the stone was rolled away so that people could see in and see that the tomb was empty, and that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.