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In Acts 16:25-32, did the jailer’s family get saved when he believed?
In Acts 16:25-32, Paul and Silas told the jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” I understand the jailer being saved, but it says the whole family. Was that a prophetic thing, a word of knowledge, something else? Salvation is an individual decision, so was this predicted/prophesied?
First of all, salvation is something that happens individually. There’s no such thing as people being saved on behalf of other people. There is some question with this concerning the children of believing parents, as mentioned by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians, but we’ll leave that discussion aside. In the kingdom of God, each individual soul is responsible before God. That’s how salvation works.
Your question here is very logical. How could Paul say to the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your family will be saved”? I think it’s for a couple of reasons. God could have given Paul a supernatural ability to believe in that moment that saving faith would be evident within this family. That could very well happen by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Keep in mind that the Philippian jailer was in a state of brokenness and repentance over his sin. The Apostle Paul spoke to him in this way while in that state of brokenness, saying, “You just need to believe. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” In other words, the same promise of faith was available to the jailer and to his family. If you have a repentant attitude as well as belief on the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Philippian jailer was exhorted to have, then you will be saved. That promise was good for his household too, and not only for the Philippian jailer himself.
This may have been a prophetic word or a word of knowledge. But the Apostle Paul was holding out the promise of salvation to all those who repent and believe. That promise wasn’t just for the Philippian jailer himself, but it was for his entire family. Again, they would have to repent and believe themselves, but that promise of salvation in Christ was open to them as they did.
Paul tells the Corinthian believers that they are being carnal in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. If a believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirt, how can they be carnal?
First, let’s define the word carnal. It’s a word in the Christian vocabulary that for some reason seems to have been more prominent when I was younger than it is now. I don’t hear preachers using that terminology very often today. The word carnal simply means fleshly. It’s possible for a believer, someone who’s born again by the Spirit of God, to allow their fleshly nature to have too much strength, too much presence, and too much domination in their life. That was the problem in the Corinthian church.
We understand that a person can be worldly; the influence of the world is all around them. If a Christian is worldly, they’re allowing too much of the world to influence how they think and act. We would probably rightly call that person a worldly Christian. Well, that’s what a fleshly Christian is. A Christian can be negatively or harmfully influenced by the world around them, by the culture that’s in opposition to God.
There’s also something within our weak human flesh that can have a negative influence on us. Our fleshly desires, the lust of the flesh, our bodily appetites, our strivings after prestige and fame, and the like can all be fleshly influences. When a believer allows those things to have too much prominence in their life, I think it can rightly be said that they are a fleshly believer.
That’s what it means for a believer to live or to act according to the flesh. When Paul says, “Brethren, I could not speak to as spiritual people, but as to carnal, as babes in Christ,” he’s talking about Christians who, are allowing their fleshly nature too much strength, domination, and influence in their walk with God and their life.
Are the “sign gifts” in 1 Corinthians 12 valid today?
Are the gifts talked about in 1 Corinthians 12 valid today, or are they considered “sign gifts” that are no longer there? Could this be a case of repurposing from ”sign gifts” to “edification gifts” to help others in the body? I have experienced such things as words of knowledge and prayed over others and saw healing which seemed to be those gifts.
There are different opinions within God’s family regarding this topic. Other Christians may have a different take on this. But obviously, I believe my view is correct; otherwise, I wouldn’t be presenting it to you.
I definitely believe that the gifts of the Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12 are for believers today, and that they are given and distributed as the Holy Spirit wills. That’s what Paul talks about in this passage. In 1 Corinthians 14, he talks about how these gifts are distributed as the Spirit wills. An individual is not in charge of whether or not they have a gift. Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit. And we rest in that knowledge.
You mentioned the idea of “sign gifts.” This explanation that many gifts of the Spirit are sign gifts is common. But I want you to understand that the Bible itself never makes that designation. The Bible does say that some miraculous things are for signs; it definitely says that. But the Bible never specifies that certain gifts of the Spirit are for signs, and certain gifts of the Spirit are not for signs. There’s not like a menu designation in the Scriptures where Paul says, “Okay, these four spiritual gifts are for signs, and these four spiritual gifts are not.” That is an imposed category upon those gifts. It’s not actually found within the text.
While certain miracles or miraculous gifts can function as signs, the Bible itself never categorizes them that way. Therefore, it never gives them an excuse, saying, “Well, those are no longer in operation because those signs are not given.” When Paul talks about the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians, his emphasis is that they are given for the edification of the body and not fundamentally as signs. I’m not denying that signs can be one purpose for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But Paul’s emphasis in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, in speaking about the gifts of the Spirit, is that those gifts of the Spirit are for the edification of the body.
Someone might argue that the signs are not needed today, because we have the completed collection of the Scriptures. I understand that argument, but the edification of God’s family is still needed today. And that’s the reason why God gives those gifts. That’s their stated purpose in 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14. While I would recognize that miraculous works or gifts of the Spirit can function as signs, the fundamental reason they’re given is for the edification of God’s people.
Are demons cast out and prophesies still given today?
Is there such a thing as people casting out demons and prophesying as the apostles did today?
Yes. I believe that demon possession is a real thing today, and I also believe that demons can be cast out by the power of God, working through His servants. I believe that there are people today who have cast out demons in Jesus’ name, as the Bible says.
In the modern Western world, we see much less demon possession than is seen in other parts of the world. It isn’t because Satan is no longer active. It isn’t because Satan is no longer interested in doing such things; not at all. But I believe that there is less evident demon possession in the western world for two reasons.
First of all, you have the benefit of 2000 years of Christian influence. Even though Christian influence is fading in Europe and America, it’s still present. There is still a legacy of 2000 years of Christian influence, which I believe has greatly restricted, although not eliminated, the evident ways of Satan’s work among people. I say evident because Satan is working in non-evident ways all the time.
Here’s another aspect that probably carries even more weight. I believe that in the Western world, predominantly, Satan perceives that his strategy and purpose is better served by remaining behind the scenes. So, as much as he can he keeps a low profile. Of course, we do see examples of Satan and demonic activities in the Western world. But in some sense, that’s nothing compared to the evident demonic activity in places where the gospel has never reached, where people are given over to idolatry and animism and other such things.
I believe that there are places in the world where it’s in Satan’s best interest to keep a low profile, and therefore he does. So, Satan is definitely at work. There’s no doubt that he’s at work all over the world. He is the prince of the power of the air, as Peter says; he walks about roaring as a lion. He’s active in the world today. But his strategy may be different depending on location.
So yes, demon possession is real. And I believe that God gives His servants the power and authority to deal with cases of demonic possession when they become evident. We don’t see a pattern in the Scriptures, either in the ministry of Jesus or in the ministry of the apostles, of believers going demon hunting. Not at all. They go about their normal course of ministry, and where there is demonic opposition and confrontation that comes against them, then they deal with it. That is when they cast such things away. That’s how I would understand that kind of ministry in a modern context as well.
Would you consider Acts 2 an awakening or revival?
Would you consider Acts 2 an awakening or revival? It seems more of an awakening to me rather than a revival.
I would agree with you on that, but here’s the difficulty in answering this question. There is no universally agreed upon terminology for this event. The late Dr. J. Edwin Orr, whose scholarship on the subject of revival and spiritual awakening I greatly respect, described revival as the effect of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church, and spiritual awakening as the effect of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the society at large.
The main effect of revival is to awaken and revive the church. Something which already has spiritual life is now being restored and renewed. Spiritual awakening is the act of people coming to Christ and being brought to new life in Jesus Christ.
In Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, we see people passing from death to life, from a status of not being born again to being born again. I think that would be better described as a spiritual awakening. But I acknowledge that somebody else might use different definitions for this terminology.
What does Ecclesiastes 1:18 mean by saying, ‘For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow’?
Solomon was the author of Ecclesiastes. Throughout the book, Solomon writes from the perspective of looking at the world apart from eternity. He repeatedly uses the phrase under the sun. This concept of under the sun is a life lived without consideration of eternity, as if this life is all there is. He repeatedly brings up this theme, that the pursuit of anything without an eternal perspective, including wisdom, is simply vain. It’s vanity, it’s empty, it comes up meaningless.
Only if we will come to the wisdom of an eternal perspective and understand the eternal nature of God and the eternal nature of man within God’s plan, do we start coming to true wisdom. That’s what he’s getting at in this passage. Apart from an understanding of God and eternity, even wisdom can be vain and empty. So, he repeats that same general theme again and again throughout Ecclesiastes: the emptiness of everything in life, apart from a consideration of eternity and the God who governs eternity.
For a more in-depth explanation, I would recommend my verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes to you.
What does it sound like to sing in tongues as 1 Corinthians 14:15 mentions? Is that something we should incorporate into our worship songs?
It would sound like singing in another language because tongues are actually a language. Obviously, it would be melodic, and the words would not be understood by most people present.
Now, is this something that should be incorporated into our worship songs? Just by the way you phrase it, I would say no, because it sounds like it’s something that can be engineered, or something that can be done on command.
Because such a thing would be a public utterance in tongues, it should very much be led by the Holy Spirit and done according to the order given in the New Testament. I don’t think that it’s something to plan or engineer. Potentially, if it happened sovereignly and spontaneously by the Holy Spirit, that might be another matter altogether. But I don’t think it’s something that necessarily should be planned on or engineered within a worship service.
Is there any significance to near-death experiences, and people who profit from these stories?
Have you ever heard of a near death experience from someone who hasn’t written a book or gone on a TV show? Is there any significance to these? What should we think of these accounts that people are earning money from?
I do remember some people telling me about near-death experiences that they’ve had, and they weren’t writing books or selling videos or making a name for themselves.
What do I think about people who make money off of such things? I think we should be very suspicious of such accounts. Some of these accounts have been demonstrated to be fraudulent. I think that’s something to be aware of, and to be very cautious about
Not every spiritual experience is given to a person so that they can share it with others. I think this is something we’ve forgotten. Everybody wants to be famous and to have their fifteen minutes of fame. People oftentimes try to make a name for themselves.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that somebody had such a legitimate experience, and really did have some kind of heavenly vision or something like that. To them I would say, don’t share it. That’s between you and the Lord. There’s nothing necessary for you to share. Oh, sure, there are people who could be amazed by it, and you probably make some money off it. But those aren’t compelling reasons to share something.
The Bible gives us an interesting example of this. Paul, writing in 2 Corinthians 12, spoke of his heavenly vision. He spoke of it so reluctantly that he wouldn’t even directly say that it was his own personal experience; he spoke in the third person. Paul said that the things he saw were inexpressible things which he couldn’t utter. In other words, there was more to what he experienced that Paul didn’t tell us about. The only reason he shared it was to get to another idea, the reason why God allowed a thorn in the flesh in his life.
Here’s the principle. Paul rarely shared it. He only reluctantly shared it, and he shared it in such a detached way that it wasn’t even entirely clear that it was him who had this experience. I would advise people today who are taken with some spiritual experience like that to have the same kind of reluctance in sharing. I’m suspicious of anybody who wants to make a name or make money for themselves off of such a thing.
How do I study the history of the Bible, translations of manuscripts, and denominations?
How do I study the history of the Bible and the Word of God? I am confused on how the Catholic church relates to Christianity, translations of Hebrew and Greek, and all of the different denominations.
These are some very broad questions. God bless you for wanting to know those things. I’ll recommend a few resources.
First of all, I recommend a classic resource for you. It’s old, but I find that a lot of older books are really good. It’s called Halley’s Bible Handbook. It gives a great background on the Bible, how the Bible came into being, the background of each book of the Bible, and it also has a section summarizing church history. You’re asking about subjects to which people devote their whole lives studying just a small part of that topic. But Halley’s Bible Handbook is a great place to start.
Having been blessed with much, is it presumptuous to think the blessings will continue?
I’ve been incredibly blessed, and I know that I don’t deserve anything I’ve been given. I struggle with pessimism because I feel it’s presumptuous to think I will continue to be so blessed. What are your thoughts on this?
I see some good and some bad in the way that you describe your feeling here. Here’s the good part. You’re not presuming upon the blessing of God. It would be strange for us presume that everything should be comfortable, easy, and great in our life all the time. Jesus did say to us, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Now, I don’t think we have to be defeated or depressed by that tribulation, because Jesus also said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” So, we don’t have to be upset, filled with anxiety, or depressed. But we shouldn’t expect everything to go well all the time either. That’s what Jesus and the rest of the Bible says.
Paul spoke to the Thessalonians about the affliction that they were appointed to. God has appointed some affliction to us in our life. Again, that doesn’t mean we have to be defeated. We thank the Lord that there is victory in Jesus Christ. So, I like it that there’s a humble attitude of not presuming, but there’s a bad aspect to what you’re saying here.
You shouldn’t feel for a moment that God’s blessing is something that you have to earn. That’s the Old Covenant way of thinking, that blessing is received by earning and deserving. That’s Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant. That’s “law” thinking. Under grace, blessing is received by believing and receiving. There is something wonderful about the believer who simply believes that God wants to bless them. And we’re not saying God wants to bless them by making everything easy and wonderful and comfortable in their life all the time. That’s not the blessing we’re looking for. But we can say, “In whatever adversity I may face, there’s a blessing of God in it.”
As believers, we can believe that God wants to bless us, not because we are so wonderful, but because the God we serve is so wonderful. That is a wonderful triumph and a victory in faith. That’s the attitude I would recommend having. It’s presumptuous to think that God wants to bless me because I’m so wonderful. But it’s not presumptuous to think that God wants to bless me because of who I am in Jesus Christ, because of how great Jesus is and how loving and gracious God is. That’s very solid, New Covenant ground to walk on.
What do you make of it when a church says the Zodiac was good and it was the Mazzaroth?
Job 38:32 – Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
The Mazzaroth is mentioned in Job, and the Psalms speak about God arranging the stars. There’s a thought within Christian theology which says that God originally gave an outline of the story of salvation in the stars, and that that story of salvation was later corrupted into the Zodiac.
So, I would be very careful with a church like that because Christians shouldn’t be glorifying or promoting the Zodiac. But if a Christian wants to say that the Zodiac is a corrupted version of something that God spelled out before, I think we can give a little bit of latitude to that kind of thinking.
But it must be emphasized that the Zodiac, astrology, astrological signs, astrological fortune telling, and all that is a demonic corruption of something which perhaps God used at one time to communicate something of the story of salvation to humanity through the constellations in the stars. I have heard this idea. I would grant it a little bit of credence, and I don’t think that I would call it heretical, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in it.
How can we be sure that what we believe is correct?
How can we be sure that what we believe is correct? You hear how Calvinists believe, then how another group believes – I’m so confused about what is correct. Please help!
I understand. Sometimes Christians like to argue a lot about theology. They like to dispute. Sometimes those arguments are helpful and beneficial, but not always. Paul talks about the danger of always arguing about words and phrases without really coming to any resolution on things. So, I think there is a legitimate danger in that kind of arguing.
But those discussions can also have legitimate purpose and help a believer to stand strong for the faith. I think that what you need to do is just read your Bible, take it slow, and don’t feel like you need to have an answer for everything right away.
I want you to know, I feel pretty secure in my theological understanding. I’m still learning. I’m still being corrected on things for sure. But I feel pretty confident. I’m not worried about what to believe about this or that. No, I’m pretty confident my theological understanding. But I’ve been doing this for almost 50 years. I’ve been a believer for more than 45 years. Don’t feel like you need to be in a hurry to have an answer for everything.
If you’re really interested in a specific subject, spend a lot of time reading your Bible about that subject. And then maybe read some books that people have written about that subject, whether it’s heavy theology, or just kind of light theology, whatever it would be. But most importantly, spend time in your Bible and make sure that whatever you believe is rooted and grounded in the Bible.
Look, I’m not a Calvinist. I don’t subscribe to Reformed theology. Although let me say that I don’t regard myself as anti-Calvinist or anti-Reformed theology. I’ve received a lot of blessing and edification over the years from reformed writers and theologians, especially some of the older ones. So even though I’m not reformed in my theology, I feel like I have something to learn from people. And maybe there’s something they could teach me, so I want to be open to that. But I know that my reformed brothers, at least the better ones among them, believe what they believe because they believe the Bible teaches it, and they have a way to explain it biblically. I think that they may prioritize some things differently than I would, or they may put some thoughts or concept differently, but they’re not crazy for what they believe; not at all. And I can respect that, because it has a biblical grounding, even though I think in some places it comes to some wrong conclusions.
If we have a new heart, why does the Bible say our heart is deceitful?
If we have a new heart, why does the Bible say our heart is deceitful? Shouldn’t we consider our hearts to be new as believers and not deceitful?
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9 talks about the heart being deceitful above all things. That’s in the book of Jeremiah, which was written before God instituted the New Covenant in which people are given a new heart. Please remember that the new heart which God promises in salvation is a product of the New Covenant. Jeremiah wrote in an Old Covenant context. People who loved the Lord in the days of Jeremiah did not have the new heart that was promised to people under the New Covenant, because the New Covenant had not yet been instituted by Jesus Christ.
Now, that doesn’t mean that the believer can trust his heart in the way that most people think. The person who is born again by God’s Spirit does have a new heart. In Ezekiel, it was promised as part of the New Covenant that God would remove their heart of flesh and give them a new heart, on which God’s law is written. The new heart can be trusted, so to speak, because it’s born again by God’s Spirit.
But here’s the thing: it may not always be easy for a believer to discern which feelings, impressions, or thoughts come from their new heart, and what might come from their flesh or some aspect of their old nature. We may just sense it as an inward feeling. As a believer, do you really know if that inward feeling within you comes from a new heart, or if it comes from the flesh, or a worldly influence, or some aspect of the old nature? We’re accustomed to saying that any inward feeling is our heart. But not every inward feeling which a believer has is something that comes forth from their new heart. I think that’s the discrepancy.
First of all, we must understand the difference between Old Covenant and New Covenant. Secondly, we understand that even under the New Covenant, the fact that we have a new heart doesn’t mean that every inward feeling is wholly good and true. Even with the new heart, we can still have inward feelings that come from the flesh, that are influenced by the world, or which are in some way connected to our old nature.
Why doesn’t the Bible ever mention God giving Eve the breath of life?
What does it mean that the Bible never mentions God giving Eve the breath of life when she was created from Adam’s rib/side? Is it implied?
Yes, it’s implied. Think of it this way. God made Adam from non-living substance, the dust of the ground. But God made Eve from living substance, Adam’s side. That distinction may be relevant here. God created Eve out of matter that already had life in it. It was living substance. God created Adam out of the dust of the ground, which had no life in it. That may be part of the reason why there is no specific mention of Eve being given the breath of life.
Is speaking in tongues the only evidence of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life?
My pastor says that unless we speak in tongues, we don’t have evidence that we have the Holy Spirit. What is your perspective on this?
I would respectfully disagree with your pastor on that. Sometimes the gift of tongues is imitated or feigned; it can be faked. The legitimate gift of tongues is an evidence of being filled with the Spirit or baptized in the Spirit, but in no way would I say that it is the evidence.
The evidence of being filled with the Spirit and walking in the Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit in somebody’s life. Remember that description from Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” All those things are characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. That’s the mark of someone truly being filled with the Spirit. Spiritual gifts or signs can be an evidence, but they are certainly not the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
If a person doesn’t have love, joy, peace, long-suffering, self-control, gentleness, and all those things that mark the fruit of the Spirit as described in Paul’s letters, I don’t want to hear about what amazing spiritual gifts they have. You need to have the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life. That’s the real evidence that you are filled with the Spirit.
When will the saints who die after the Rapture get their new glorified eternal bodies?
When will the saints who die between the Rapture and Satan’s release from the bottomless pit get their new glorified eternal bodies?
The Bible doesn’t tell us directly, so I think it would be presumptuous to claim something directly. But I would suppose that one option would be to receive their glorified bodies upon death. The saints who lived during the Millennium will have extremely long lifespans, but they will die. So, they could receive a resurrection body upon death. A second possibility is that they could receive resurrection bodies at the end of the age, when Satan is defeated in the final battle and things are resolved in God’s plan, and things move on to the Great White Throne Judgment. I would say it’s one of those two places, although we have to admit that the Scriptures do not give us specific details about it.
Ezekiel 36:17 begins with, “son of man.” Is this the Lord talking to the Lord about what He is going to do?
No. In the book of Ezekiel, “son of man” is a reference to Ezekiel the prophet. It’s something that God called Ezekiel, kind of emphasizing his humanness. When Jesus used the term Son of Man of Himself in the Gospels, He was connecting it back with the book of Daniel, where the Son of Man is a Messianic figure attributed with God’s judgment and glory. So, when Jesus uses the figure “Son of Man,” He’s not meaning it in the Ezekiel sense of just another human being, a man who’s a man. He’s tying it back to Daniel, where Daniel speaks about seeing the Son of Man in the apocalyptic sense.
How can we simply explain the gospel?
When someone asks, “What is the gospel?” what’s the simplest answer we can give before going into depth? I know the gospel but find myself a bit anxious when having to state it in a short sentence.
I’ll give you the best description of the gospel that I can. First of all, remember what the word gospel means. The word gospel means good news. So, the gospel is a message; it’s good news.
Here’s how I would define the gospel. The gospel is the good news of what God has done to rescue fallen humanity in the person and work of Jesus Christ, especially by what He did in dying on the cross and rising from the dead. That’s simply how I would describe it. That’s the gospel. That’s the good news. That’s essentially Paul’s description of the gospel in the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 15.
Does revival start with a believer repenting? What are some sources to study revival?
Normally, yes. We don’t want to make rules for revival. One of the hallmarks of revival is that God may do things a bit differently. But normally, customarily, repentance is a huge part of that work because judgment begins at the house of God. God generally cleans things up and gets things in order in His house first before an outpouring of the Holy Spirit happens. That’s a common pattern.
There are some great revival resources by the late Dr. J. Edwin Orr available on our YouTube channel and other sources on the Internet. I recommend those to you highly. Yes, I would say that revival normally begins with repentance among believers and getting things right among the household of God.