Can the Devil Read Our Minds?
Why does Jesus say the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church, since gates are defensive structures?
The modern interpretations of the meaning of the second half of Matthew 16:18 confuse me. Gates are defensive structures, so isn’t the church the one doing the attacking against hell?
Matthew 16:18 – And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Jesus delivered these words at a place called Caesarea Philippi, which was a curious place for Him to go, because it was a very pagan city. Many Israel tours visit Caesarea Philippi, in order to see the place where a pagan temple dedicated to the god Pan used to stand. It was built out of a cave and used for sacrificial practices. They would drop the carcasses of sacrificed animals down a crevice, which they titled “the gates of hell,” because the remains of the animal would go down to some uncertain place which they couldn’t see. So, that imagery was present in Caesarea Philippi.
But even more so, I don’t think Jesus is saying “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the church” as if the Christian church was going to storm Hades. The gates of a city were the place where its leadership met, plotted strategy, and made plans. I think this is a way of Jesus saying that the strategies, plans, and ideas of Hell will not succeed against the church. It’s not so much that there’s an army marching against the church, although metaphorically, you could certainly say that’s true. It’s not so much that the church is storming the gates of hell, although again, metaphorically, you could say it’s true. But all metaphors aside, there are real demonic intelligences, beings, strategies, and plans that are designed and enacted against the church. And Jesus promises that those strategies and plans will come to nothing. The plans and strategies of Satan and his organized dominion will not succeed against the church.
Did Esther sin by becoming queen (see Deuteronomy 7:3-4)?
In light of Scriptures similar to Deuteronomy 7:3-4, did Esther sin by becoming queen?
Deuteronomy 7:3-4 – Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.
I would excuse Esther from this command of intermarriage with the pagans in Deuteronomy 7. I would excuse her because there’s no evidence that Esther had any choice in the matter. This was a recruitment of women all across the Empire to come and please the king, and there’s no indication that she campaigned for the position that she wanted. Maybe she did; we just don’t know. But to my memory, there’s no evidence in the book of Esther itself that she put herself forward to the situation. She could have been a forced into this arrangement. And of course, God had a purpose in it. God used it mightily, and Esther glorified God in it. But there’s no evidence that this was the choice of Esther, so I think we can excuse her from the command in Deuteronomy against intermarriage with pagans.
There were a few notable exceptions to this command, but for the most part it was regarded as disobedience. Israel was not to marry into the pagan nations around them, unless those people converted to the worship of Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel. That door was always open to the pagan nations.
Can the devil read our minds?
Can the devil speak to us in our minds to tempt us? Also, if he has access to a person’s mind, does he know what a person is thinking?
There’s probably not a single person in my audience who has ever been directly tempted or spoken to by Satan himself. Satan is not omnipresent. He can’t be everywhere at once. He’s a singular being. He can only keep his attention on one thing at a time. Satan is not God, nor is he the opposite of God.
We often talk about the devil in a justifiably simplified way, saying that he is tempting us or speaking to us. But what we mean by that is the devil and his agents. There are many demonic spirits in league with Satan who are part of the 1/3 of the angels or stars of heaven who fell with Satan, as described in Revelation 12. When we are tempted, we have been communicated to by demonic spirits.
That’s the real point I want to get at: demonic spirits do have some way of communicating to us. How? I don’t know. It could be a thought or a suggestion. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an audible voice of temptation. But we all know what it’s like to have a thought or a suggestion along those lines. So, there is some way in which demonic spirits can suggest something. We don’t know how that exactly works, but we just know that it does work.
You also ask if the devil has access to a person’s mind. Does he know what a person is thinking? I wish the Bible spoke with greater clarity on that. My understanding is that no, the devil and/or his agents cannot literally read my mind. But I’ve heard someone explain it like this. He said, “If my wife can know what I’m thinking, the devil can as well. In other words, my wife doesn’t need supernatural knowledge or the ability to literally read my mind, to know what I’m thinking. She just knows me so well that she can predict what I’m thinking or what I’m going to do.” In the same way, we are under constant observation by demonic spirits, so they are very good predictors of what we would think, say, or do.
On that practical level, yes, there’s a very real sense in which the devil and demonic spirits can “read my mind,” but I don’t think it’s possible for them to actually know what we are thinking, in a literal sense.
I would like to know your opinion on speaking in tongues. Was it clearly for the apostles at that time, or can we ask for it now?
This is a doctrinal issue about which there is debate among believers. People who take the Bible seriously come to different conclusions on this matter. I want to acknowledge and be respectful of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have a different opinion than I do. But I don’t at all mind sharing my perspective on this.
I absolutely believe that the gift of tongues is for today. Now, I don’t believe that the purpose of the gift of tongues is to speak to other people in their language. Paul says very plainly in 1 Corinthians 14:2a, “He who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but to God.” When a person speaks in an unknown tongue, they’re speaking to God. The gift of tongues is a gift of communication in real human language. There is the potential that it could be angelic languages, as Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13, but we can leave that aside. Either way, tongues are real languages, but they’re for the purpose of communicating with God and not with men. Again, Paul said it so very plainly that it’s curious how some people try to deny it. 1 Corinthians 14:2a, “He who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men but unto God.”
You may wonder about what the people heard on Pentecost in Acts 2. The disciples had a unique phenomenon of a tongue of fire appearing over each of their heads, something which was never again replicated in the Bible. But they also experienced a phenomenon that was replicated in the early church throughout the book of Acts: this phenomenon of speaking or praying in tongues. The crowd who saw and heard this happening at the Feast of Pentecost came from many different nations. And they said, “We hear these people declaring the wonderful works of God and praising God in our own languages.”
When it came time to speak to the crowd, Peter spoke to everybody in Koine Greek, the common language that everyone knew. We see that tongues were not necessary on Pentecost to preach to a linguistically diverse crowd. They all knew the same language, and Peter preached to them in it. No, the gift of tongues was the spontaneous outburst of people praising God, because as 1 Corinthians 14 says, “He who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men but unto God.”
I don’t see any evidence in the Bible, or throughout church history, that God no longer gives this gift. Here’s what I often say to people about the gift of tongues. I am often asked, “David, would you pray for me? I want to receive the gift of tongues.” In return, I always ask them, “Why do you want the gift of tongues?” Because there are a lot of people who desire the gift of tongues in order to prove something. They want to prove to themselves, or to other people, or to a pastor or an evangelist that they really are Spirit-filled.
Friends, that’s not why God gives the gift of tongues. So, I talk it through with people. I discourage them from seeking the gift of tongues to prove something, or to get a thrill, or to have an experience. I ask them, “Do you ever feel limited in your ability to speak with God, to praise Him, to thank Him, to intercede for others beyond yourself, or to pour out your heart before Him? Do you ever feel limited in your ability to pray, as if there’s more in your heart than you can vocalize with your words?” And if a person says to me in response, “No, I never really feel like that,” I say, “That’s fine. When you do feel like that, come back to me and we’ll pray for the gift of tongues for you.” I’ve had other people say, “Yes, I feel like that all the time.” That’s when I say, “Let’s pray and believe God that He’ll give you this gift.” So that’s how I approach it.
I think there has been a lot of damage done in God’s family by those who encourage people to “fake” the gift of tongues, or to seek the gift of tongues in order to prove to other people that they have the Holy Spirit, or that they are baptized in the Holy Spirit, or that they have some special standing or experience. I think all that should be put away. Let’s understand the purpose of the gift of tongues, as explained in 1 Corinthians 14.
Is there a difference in the importance of crucifixion and resurrection?
No, there is no difference because one is only valid with the other. If you had a crucifixion and no resurrection, what good is that? We would know that the price for our sin had not been paid. We would know that Jesus Christ did not triumph over death. We would know that Jesus was a liar because He said that He would be raised from the dead.
No, no, a crucifixion without the resurrection is no good. But how can you have a resurrection without a sin-atoning crucifixion? That’s why I say there is no difference in their importance because they both go together. It’s fascinating to see the importance placed on both the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah and His glorious resurrection, all throughout the New Testament. It’s in the Gospels, the book of Acts, the New Testament letters, and the book of Revelation. The crucifixion and the resurrection are both essential historical truths understood in the light of Scripture.
Which Bible translation would you recommend?
Which Bible translation would you recommend? I have a Scofield Study Bible, and I’m looking to buy another Bible just to be able to cross reference various texts.
I use the New King James Version of the Bible in my verse-by-verse commentary. By the way, my commentary is available absolutely free online. We don’t even have paid ads on our website. We do get a lot of traffic, so we could make some money by hosting ads. But we want it to be a great user experience, so we don’t have any paid ads on our website. The Enduring Word Bible Commentary is the product of my work over the last nearly 40 years, and I wrote it based on the New King James Version. That’s the translation I recommend.
Now you say you have a Scofield Reference Bible, which I believe uses the old King James Version. Newer revisions of the Scofield Reference Bible use the New King James Version, which is the King James Version with some modifications. I think the NKJV is a great translation, and it’s the one that I use the most.
The ESV is very close to the New King James. To be honest, for me, it’s so close that I don’t see any reason to change. If somebody wants to use a contemporary Bible with simplified language, I recommend the New Living Translation. I think that’s a good Bible translation. Maybe someday on the YouTube channel, I’ll teach verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible using the New Living Translation.
Those are some of my ideas about which Bible translations are good. I would caution you not to use the Passion Translation. I do not recommend that version at all. My friend Mike Winger has some great material on that. There’s also The Message by Eugene Peterson, which I have around here somewhere. Read it if you want to, but just understand it’s more of a commentary than it is a translation. If you just read it with that in mind, then fine. This is Eugene Peterson’s take on the Bible and sometimes he nails it, and sometimes maybe not.
Was there salvation for the enemies of Israel such as the Philistines, Amorites, Jebusites?
Perhaps. We find a few unusual situations among some of the pagan peoples. Rahab was a notable example. Rahab saw what the God of Israel was doing, she knew and believed that He was the true God, and she put her trust in the God of Israel. There may have been other pagans who did that too.
God in heaven has the right to judge nations. Just because a nation is judged doesn’t mean that every individual in that nation who suffers under that judgment is necessarily going to hell. That just depends on each individual’s relationship with God, whether they put their saving trust in God or not.
We read about some anomalies and unusual situations where pagan people in the Old Testament put their trust in God, such as Jethro, Melchizedek, and Rahab. Ruth isn’t such a strange example because she had Hebrew influence through her deceased husband’s family. But still, she was a Gentile who came to faith. There were Gentiles from surrounding nations who came to faith in the God of Israel. And God always wanted to make the door open to them, should they be willing to come and submit to Him, and reject their pagan gods. If they put their hope in the God of Israel and the Messiah He promised to bring, they could find salvation, even if their nation itself was under judgment.
Getting to heaven or going to hell is not primarily a matter of what group you belong to. No, no. It’s an individual thing for each person. There are people who live among genuine Christians, but they’re going to go to hell because they never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They never received the righteousness which comes by faith in the Son of God. And there are godly people among the bad groups, at least from time to time, who are going to go to heaven. Why? Because they had that personal righteousness which comes by faith in God’s Messiah and the price He paid for us.
What is the difference between Oneness Pentecostalism and the Trinity?
The Trinity is commonly understood by Protestants, Roman Catholics, the Eastern churches, and the Orthodox communions, as one God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Oneness Pentecostalism (also known as Modalism) rejects that formulation. They say, “No, God instead appears in modes. He was God the Father, then he was God the Son, then he was God the Holy Spirit. Now He is God the Holy Spirit.” They would reject the idea that there are three Persons to the Godhead, who coexist eternally and have relationship one with another. They would argue that the one God has simply existed in three phases or modes: Father, then Son, and finally Holy Spirit.
But many Scriptures contradict that idea. Just consider the passages where Jesus prays and interacts with His God and Father, or consider the baptism of Jesus, where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all present in the same account. There is a lot of Bible content which argues against this oneness view. So, I think Oneness Pentecostalism/Modalism is a mistake and an error to believe about the nature of God.
When Paul says the greedy, swindlers, homosexuals will “not inherit the kingdom of heaven” – does this mean they will go to hell? Is the “kingdom of heaven” the same as Heaven, or is “Heaven’s kingdom” here on earth among believers/the righteous?
When Paul says the greedy, swindlers, homosexuals will “not inherit the kingdom of heaven” – does this mean they go to hell? Meaning, is “the kingdom of heaven” the same as Heaven, or is “Heaven’s kingdom” here on earth among believers/ the righteous?
Yes. To say that they will not inherit the kingdom of heaven means that they will not go to heaven, and instead will go to hell, also called the Lake of Fire or Gehenna. The Bible says that is the destiny of those who reject Jesus Christ and His saving work. To not go to heaven is to go to hell, yes.
You ask a separate question about the Kingdom of Heaven being here on earth among believers or the righteous. I believe that Heaven and Earth are joined at the end; I don’t think there’s a contradiction between them. I think there’s the Heaven where God dwells, and then there’s the New Earth as well. At the very end of the book of Revelation, God’s heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, descends down to the earth. At that point, I believe there will be free travel between earth and heaven. So, I wouldn’t limit the realm of the redeemed in eternity future, to only a celestial city in the sky or Heaven, nor would I restrict them to a renewed Earth. Just as angelic beings can travel freely between heavenly and earthly realms right now, I believe that will be the destiny of believers in the future. The book of Revelation indicates that Heaven and Earth will be joined together in the end of time as we know it.
What is your opinion of the book of Enoch? Is it merely to be used as a historical reference?
I noticed you reference the Book of Enoch during one of your commentaries. The epistle of Jude references it as well. What’s your opinion of the book? Is it merely to be used as a historical reference?
Yes. Christians shouldn’t be afraid of the Book of Enoch. There are a few questions at play here. First of all, there is some question concerning whether the Book of Enoch we have today is the same, or virtually the same, as what they had in Old Testament times. We don’t know what additions or deletions have been made since then. Assuming that it is substantially the same now, we would still regard it as an interesting and helpful book, but not as inspired Scripture.
We are free to say something can be good and helpful without at all being the inspired Scripture of God. The Book of Enoch does not share in the unique description which Paul gave to Scripture in 1 Timothy 3:16, that all Scripture is inspired by God, God-breathed, and is helpful. That is unique to what we call the Bible itself, both in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the Greek Scriptures.
If you haven’t read the book of Enoch, feel free to do so. Just realize it’s interesting, it’s historical, and there may be some value to it, but it’s not on par with the Scriptures at all.
Will overweight Christians go to heaven? Is gluttony truly a sin?
It is entirely possible for a person to be overweight without necessarily being a glutton. Similarly, there are some people who are terrible gluttons but because of their metabolism, they have a pretty thin appearance. Gluttony can’t be directly measured by a person’s body mass index or the number that appears on a scale. Obviously, there’s often some correlation between that, but it’s not an absolute correlation.
Therefore, I would not at all say that overweight Christians can’t go to heaven. But gluttony is certainly a sin. It seems that food idolatry is becoming more and more of a thing. We talk about people being “foodies.” In Philippians 3:19, Paul speaks about people who are under the judgment and condemnation of God, describing them as people, “whose God is their belly.” It’s what they live for. And this is not good. This is not healthy. This is not good for anybody in that situation.
We need to be very careful with this. Gluttony is one of those sins that often goes under the radar. But I don’t have any doubt that there will be some people in hell because they made idols out of the food they eat.
Now, you could say of all the different kinds of idolatry, would you rather somebody makes a bottle of alcohol their idol, or a plate of ravioli their idol? I’m using extremes here, but it’s probably better that they make a plate of ravioli their idol. But they are both idols. And God wants to take away our idols. God wants us to live in the light of His truth and in the light of His goodness.
Gluttony is an interesting sin, because two people could have similar eating habits, but for one of them, it is gluttony, and for the other, it’s not. It’s one of those issues which is very much conditioned on the heart. The issue is the place food holds in their heart. And that’s hard to judge from the outside, isn’t it? But it’s real when it has a dominating presence.
How can I overcome resentment? The Bible says I won’t be forgiven if I don’t forgive.
What strategies do you suggest for overcoming resentment? I struggle with this. The Bible says I won’t be forgiven if I don’t forgive, so I worry about this very much.
God bless your sensitive conscience on this matter. I mean that sincerely. There are Christians whose lives are steeped in resentment, but the problem is hidden. It doesn’t seem to bother them at all. And that’s bad news. If we’re living in resentment, sometimes people call that bitterness. You could say the both of them are forms of hatred. When we when we live that way, it’s bad. It’s an acid that eats away at our own soul. So, first I would say, God bless you for your sensitivity to this sin.
Secondly, I would say that the most practical thing you can do is pray for the people toward whom you struggle with resentment. And don’t only pray imprecatory prayers, “Lord, repay them,” but pray for their blessing.
I will say this, too. Let’s say someone’s harmed you in some way, and you’re dealing with resentment and working toward forgiveness, and you’re making progress. It’s totally acceptable for you to pray, “Lord, shut that person down so they don’t do that to anybody else.” That’s a fine prayer for you to pray. But in regard to your own heart concerning them, you could pray very simply, “Lord, would You please bless them? Bless their family, bless their walk with You.Bring them closer to Jesus every day.”
In my experience, praying simple prayers like that for people has been a way that I’ve been able to deal with resentment towards them. God uses that as a healing balm in your life. But know that it’s valid to pray, “Lord, don’t allow them to hurt other people the way that they’ve hurt me.” That’s a fine prayer to pray as well.
When Moses intercedes for the people in Numbers 14, and when Hezekiah prays for God to extend his life, it seems like humans are making God change his mind. Can you explain?
These are fantastic examples. I love talking about passages like these because they communicate to us that prayer really matters. God wants us to understand that. Prayer is not simply a self-improvement exercise. Sometimes we think, “I don’t pray to change God; I pray to change me.” It’s fine to have the transforming power of God at work in your life as you pray. Praise the Lord for that.
But friends, there’s a sense in which prayer moves the hand of God. God presents those situations by speaking to us in the manner of men. We don’t believe that God changed His mind. God had His eternal purpose all the time. But the closest analogy we can give, humanly speaking, is to say that God changed His mind.
People might object, “Why didn’t God use other wording that’s more precise?” Listen, God speaks to us in the manner of men. How else could He speak to us? There’s no other way that God can speak to us. We are men and women. So, even though it doesn’t catch the dynamic precisely, it gives us an indication of God’s heart and what’s happening.
The whole point in those passages is to show that God responds to prayer. We need to pray, believing that Heaven and Hell, eternal destinies, light and darkness, bondage and freedom depend upon our partnering with God in prayer. Of course, we understand that God is in charge of all, and His will is going to be worked out perfectly. God does not want us to pray in a detached, fatalistic sense. He wants us rather to pray with passionate hearts, seeking to connect with God’s heart and to see His will be done. Let’s remember that our prayers are not made with the purpose of accomplishing our will, or to get God to do our will, but to accomplish and to further God’s will. And in some unexplainable way, God draws us, His people, into partnership with Him on those things.
Why did God punish Cain for murder, since the law saying “do not kill” wasn’t written yet?
Why does God punish Cain, yet there was no law that said “do not kill”? The law came with Moses – how was he to know or be held to commandments before God gives them to us?
I appreciate that question. Here is the simple way to say it. God has written on the human conscience that some things are wrong. Cain knew that what he did was wrong. His own conscience testified against him. Please remember that there are three main ways in which God reveals Himself to humanity.
First, He reveals Himself to humanity in creation. Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Secondly, God reveals Himself through our conscience. Now, God does not reveal Himself perfectly through either creation or the human conscience. They’re both good, but not perfect. God revealed the wrongness of murder to Cain through his conscience.
The third and the greatest form of revelation God has given to humanity is His word that surpasses everything. His word is sure. Psalm 119:89 – Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.
Sometimes I spend a little time on Twitter and read what people are talking about on there. Sometimes it seems like God’s word isn’t settled on Twitter. People are arguing that God’s Word is not inspired, not inerrant, it’s full of mistakes, or it’s just a joke. But even if it seems on Twitter that God’s word isn’t settled, I don’t care. According to Psalm 119:89, God’s word is settled in heaven, and that’s good enough for me.
So, we know that Cain’s conscience convicted him and told him that what he had done was wrong. We know this because he tried to hide what he did. When God confronted him, he did not say, “Yes, I killed my brother. What’s the big deal? What, was that wrong?” Cain didn’t say that. He knew that he had done wrong because conscience testified against him. And if you remember, God had even given Cain a warning before he killed his brother, saying that sin is crouching at the door, ready to pounce upon him (see Genesis 4:7). God warned Cain about it, but he disregarded God’s warnings, and did what he wanted to do anyway.
Why aren’t Abel and Cain in Adam’s genealogy?
The genealogies you mention are found in 1 Chronicles 1, Luke 3, and Matthew 1. These genealogies contain the lineage of the Messiah. And the Messiah’s lineage did not pass through Cain. It certainly did not pass through Abel, either. Instead, the Messiah came through the line of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve. Since these genealogies are recording the Messianic line, they do not include all the descendants of Adam and Eve.
Let me add one more thing which a lot of people forget. In Genesis 5:4, it says very plainly that Adam and Eve had many other sons and daughters. The only ones mentioned by name in the Bible are Cain, Abel (who was murdered by Cain), and Seth. But there were many other sons and daughters born to Adam and Eve, so that the earth could multiply, and the population could expand throughout the earth. The whole reason for the limited genealogies is simply to record the Messianic line, which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Is it a sin to take medication if you are truly trusting God for healing?
No, it’s not a sin to take medication if you’re truly trusting God for healing. Absolutely not. There are several occasions where the Bible describes the use of some kind of medical substance, poultice, lotion, herb, or oil being used as a cure. In fact, James 5:14 says, Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Some Greek commentators say that this refers to a medicinal application of oil. The idea is that people should get the best medical treatment they can, and have the elders pray for them. There’s nothing between taking medicine and trusting God as the great Physician, the Healer of all. God can use many different ways to heal a person. He can use medical technology, He can use the skill of doctors and nurses and other medical personnel, or He can heal supernaturally. But God uses many different means. Luke was the man who wrote more of the New Testament by word count than any other, in the books of Luke and Acts. Don’t forget that he was a physician by profession. He was a doctor. But God seemed to have His hand upon him.
Did Jacob physically wrestle God Himself? How was that possible?
In the Old Testament, there are several instances where God appears to people in some kind of human form. God can manifest Himself in a human form. God can do that. He did that through the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem and grew up as a boy into a young man into a full-grown man. He launched His ministry when He was thirty years old, and died when He was thirty-three. Through all those things, we know and understand that God can display Himself in a human form.
It seems that there were unique and temporary situations in the Old Testament when God appeared in human form. We consider that to be a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. It isn’t God the Father, because the Bible says that no man has seen God the Father. This isn’t God the Holy Spirit, because we understand that the very nature of spirit is to be immaterial, not material. But God the Son would later add humanity to His deity in a lasting way.
But before Jesus was born, there were times when the Lord would temporarily add humanity to His deity and appear as a man. That is who Jacob wrestled with, because it says very specifically in Genesis that Jacob spoke of seeing the face of the Lord and interacting with Him on that occasion. I would say that was simply a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. That’s also who appeared to Abraham, when the two angelic beings went off to Sodom; that’s who appeared to the mother and father of Samson; that’s who appeared to Gideon. We see several of these appearances throughout the Old Testament.
How was it possible for Jacob to wrestle with God Himself? Well, God was holding back. Obviously, at any moment, God could have just defeated Him. But God was teaching Jacob, making him expand himself in the most complete way possible, so that he would have nothing left in himself to trust in and he could only trust in God.
How is fasting helpful in our faith?
Fasting is an important and often neglected part of the Christian life. My father-in-law, Nils-Erik Bergström, wrote a book called Dedication through Fasting and Prayer. You can find it on Amazon. Not much has been written on fasting. I think you’ll appreciate my father-in-law’s perspective, because he’s a man who has made fasting a regular practice of his life for decades.
There are many benefits to fasting. People are finding out all the time about the nutritional and physiological benefit of fasting, such as weight loss. That’s great. But there’s a spiritual dynamic as well. Learning how to say no to your flesh is a very helpful thing. We don’t want our flesh to be in charge of things. There’s a very real and conservative place for being able to say no to the flesh. And dear believer, if you can never say no to your flesh, then how far can you go advance in your walk with God? Fasting is a very practical way to say no to the flesh. It’s a way to prioritize seeking God. It’s a way to demonstrate our passion or alignment with the purpose of God. There are many spiritual benefits to fasting.
Why do we have two different genealogies of Jesus starting from the sons of David? There are differences between some of the names.
Why do we have two different genealogies of Jesus starting from the sons of David? There are differences between some of the names.
Basically, one set of genealogies follows the line going to Mary, and the other genealogy follows the line going to Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus. Look at my commentary for Matthew 1 and Luke 3 to compare both and read more information. One genealogy establishes the legal line of Jesus through Joseph, and the other establishes his genetic line through Mary. And there’s a purpose of God in both of those.
Is the tithe system still in continuation today?
Based off the way you phrased the question, I would answer this way. No, the tithe system is not still in continuation today, but the tithe principle is still in continuation today. We don’t have the kind of economy described in the Old Testament when it talks about the giving and the using of the tithe. So no, that system is no longer in place. But the principle is.
In the New Testament, Paul says that the giving of a believer should be proportional. He says that as one has been blessed, so he should give. In other words, the more you have been blessed, the more you should give. So, if the giving of a believer should be proportional, according to New Testament, then what proportion should we give? I would say that tithing 10% of your income is a good goal. I say that and some people freak out. I understand why they would freak out. They would say, “How can I give 10% to God? We’re barely getting by, and we don’t have any money.” This is what I’d say to them. “Why don’t you start by giving 1% to God? Give 1% of your income to God and take it off the top. That’s the first thing you do with your paycheck. Prioritize that. You honor the Lord first, let’s just say with 1%. Dedicate that unto the Lord, and then see what God does. Maybe God will bless. Often God will. And God will continue to bless, and you’ll be able to give more. If you can’t start with 10%, start with some proportion.
The system of the tithe is no longer in place, but the principle of tithing through proportional giving is still very much in place. It’s been the practice of my wife and I throughout the years of our marriage, and we feel God’s blessing is upon us and upon our financial life.
Can you elaborate on the difference between belief and faith?
There’s really no difference. To my understanding, the ancient Greek word that’s translated as belief or faith is the same. Practically speaking, there’s really not much difference. This is the way I like to explain Biblical faith or biblical belief. This definition comes from the writings of Kenneth Wuest, who is a very practical and helpful Greek scholar for laymen. He said that, in the New Testament, faith means to trust in, to rely on and to cling to. When we hear the word faith or belief today, we often just equate it with intellectual agreement. Biblical faith is much more than that. It’s to trust in, to rely on, and to cling to Jesus. You could express that either as belief or faith in a Biblical sense.