Is God Male or Female?
Is God male or female?
This question comes from Luz: Hello, Pastor. I’m wondering if you can please answer this question or give us your thoughts. It is the idea that God is a female, and what Scripture says about the femininity of God. For example, Job 38 and Isaiah 42:14 – some say these present the idea that God is also feminine.
This is a great question and something that people ask about – so I’m happy to address it. Is God male or female? And how should we think about what is called the femininity of God, or the feminine aspect of God’s nature and character?
A couple of the verses that you mentioned, kind of give us a good starting point. For example, Job 38:28:
Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
Job 38:28 says that the rain has a father, that the drops of dew have been begotten, and there is a “womb” that gives “birth” to the ice and frost of heaven. Of course, the idea here is poetic – that God, the Creator, gives birth to the ice and the frost of heaven. A anything giving birth is not going to be a man or a father, it’s going to be a woman or a mother. While not directly calling God a woman or a mother, by analogy, Job 38:28-29 refer to God in His creator aspect along that way.
Here’s another example: Isaiah 42:14:
I have held My peace a long time,
I have been still and restrained Myself.
Now I will cry like a woman in labor,
I will pant and gasp at once.
Once again, without directly calling himself a woman, or a woman in labor, God makes an analogy saying that He will cry out like a woman in labor. This is in the bringing forth of God’s justice and judgment upon the earth. God says that that’s kind of like the cry, He is going to give out, this impassioned cry, like a woman and labor. Again, this is not directly calling God a woman or God claiming that of themselves – that is the analogy.
Here is one more passage: Isaiah 66:13
As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
Isaiah 66:13 does not directly say that God is a mother or a woman, but it makes an analogy. God displays the kind of comfort that a mother (of course a woman) brings. God says, “that’s the comfort that I’m going to bring to My people.”
So that kind of forms the background to the question that looms broad is God, male, or is God female. The idea is something like this: “Well, everybody thinks God is a man. But there’s lots of places in the Bible where God refers to Himself in some kind of feminine imagery, or He connects Himself to some kind of feminine imagery. So, it’s just as proper to refer to God as being a woman, as it might be to refer to God as being a man.”
That’s the thinking that some people advance and let me say that thinking is very wrong. The thinking that it is just as valid to explain God in feminine terms as it is to explain him in masculine terms, that the two are just as valid, because there are mentions of God in feminine imagery, and there are mentions of God in masculine imagery. Therefore, it’s like a coin flip – choose either one you want, and it’s just as valid to refer to God in the feminine as it is in the masculine. That is wrong thinking, and I’ll explain to you why.
First of all, we understand this mainly from Genesis 1: 27, but also from just solid theology. Regarding the transcendence of God. We understand this principle from Genesis 1:27: So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
God created man in his own image, in the image of God, He created him – the repetition is there in the Hebrew for emphasis. And then the last part of Genesis 1:27, says male and female He created them. Notice it says, both male and female are created in the image of God.
That leads us to believe that God is neither male nor female. He’s beyond male or female. We also understand this from the truth of the transcendence of God. He’s beyond humanity. So, male and female He created them and He created them both in His own image gives us the indication.
I’ll say one more time for the sake of emphasis. God is neither male nor female. That’s our first principle.
Here’s the second principle. As God reveals his nature to us, we see attributes that we normally associate with men, such as strength, a warrior nature, and so forth. And we also see attributes that we normally associate with women such as tender care and nurture. Please note, I’m using the term “normally” and I’m not saying that it’s impossible for a woman to be strong and that it’s impossible for a woman to have a warrior and fight. I’m also not saying that it’s impossible for a man to display tender care, and it’s not impossible for a man to be nurturing. Yet normally and for good reason we associate men with strength and a warrior nature, and we associate women with tender care and nurture. God reveals his nature to us in the scriptures with both aspects, both attributes. That’s the second principle.
The third principle is this: In the Bible, God overwhelmingly presents himself to us in a masculine sense. This is simply beyond dispute. There are thousands of Bible references to God in a masculine sense – thousands! You could count up every pronoun that refers to God and make no mistake about this. The pronouns that refer to God are always in the masculine – this is how God is referred to in the Scriptures (there might be one or two outliers). But overwhelmingly, there are literally thousands of Bible references to God in a masculine sense. And, there are only a handful of references that give a feminine association of God in any way.
Now, when I say a handful, how many do I mean? I would estimate that there’s not more than 20 in the entire Bible. On the one hand, you have thousands of references to God in a masculine sense, and you have maybe 20 that give some kind of female association of God in any way.
Again, I want to point out what we talked about when we talked about some of those passages from Job and Isaiah – most of these are not passages at all that say that God is a woman. But there’s some attribute that we normally associate with the feminine nature or with mothers, that God also has.
Don’t miss the proportion here. There are thousands of Bible references to God in a masculine sense, and perhaps 20 or fewer that give a female association of God in any way. That’s why we say, God overwhelmingly presents Himself to us in a masculine sense, it’s overwhelming.
Now, I need to add one more thing again, that’s obvious, but we can’t ignore it. Jesus, who was and is God manifested in the flesh came as a man, not as a woman. This is just beyond dispute. Jesus was a man – He was not a woman. Nor was Jesus some kind of androgynous being with no gender. He was a man.
Why this is the case is something worthy to discuss, but that it is the case is plainly true. It’s worthy to ask, “If God is actually not male or female, but beyond gender, why then has God chosen to overwhelmingly display himself to present Himself to us in the Bible as masculine?” Perhaps another time we can discuss the reasons for that, because I think some of that gets into some speculation.
However, there is absolutely no dispute about how God presents Himself to us. We see this both overwhelmingly in the presentation of God in the Scriptures, and especially in the person of Jesus Christ. God wants us to think of him as masculine.
If we rightly divide the word of truth, we will see that God wants us to think of Him in a masculine sense, while at the same time understanding that He is not male or female. We also must say that God has many attributes that we normally associate with women, such as those passages that talk about the motherly care the tender concern of God. I would say that this is a matter of rightly dividing the word of truth. If somebody can take thousands of references to God In the masculine sense, and then take 20 or less associations of God with feminine or what is often thought to be feminine qualities, and say, “that’s equal” – brothers and sisters, that is not rightly dividing the word of truth. That is to take thousands and making it equal to something like 20 or less. We cannot deny that.
Some people say or teach that God is a woman. Sometimes this is done seriously, and sometimes it is done as a joke. Either way, the idea that God is a woman is so misguided as to be dangerous. It ignores or denies how God has overwhelmingly presented Himself to us in the Bible.
I would summarize it as this: the God of the Bible is neither male nor female, but is overwhelmingly presented to us in the masculine sense. The Bible does teach that God has attributes that we normally associate with the feminine nature or with motherly care, but that doesn’t mean that the Bible presents God fundamentally, as a woman or as a female.
Are demons able to introduce unwanted thoughts to us?
Are demons able to introduce unwanted thoughts? And if so, could these be a part of the fiery darts?
Here is a quick, simple answer to the question: yes and yes. We aren’t told this specifically in the Scriptures; there is not a verse that says, demons can introduce unwanted thoughts to us. But demonic beings have somecommunicative ability with humanity. Otherwise, they could not tempt us in in many ways that they tempt us. We don’t know the extent of this and we don’t know how exactly, but there is some ability that demonic spirits have to suggest thoughts. Definitely, this is part of the flaming arrows or fiery darts that are spoken of in Ephesians 6, speaking of what is fired against the believer in what is commonly spoken of as spiritual warfare.
So, there’s a lot we don’t understand about this, and we don’t want to go too far out on speculation. But we can say that there is some communicative ability to us that demonic spirits seem to have we just don’t understand a lot about it.
Should we ask God to heal people, or command it to be done?
Someone said I shouldn’t ask the Father to heal someone, but I should use the authority he has already given me. If healing is a past event (Matthew 8:17), then how should you pray healing over someone.
It’s important to say that there is no single formula given to us in the Scriptures for how to heal people, it just doesn’t exist. Those who want to make a formula or make firm rules saying “this is how you heal people – do this, don’t do that” – that is the wrong approach.
There is no absolute formula given to us in the scriptures. There are times when the Bible talks about praying for people, sometimes with the laying on have hands that they would be healed (we see that in the book of James). I’m going to leave the ministry of Jesus somewhat out of this, because even though Jesus told us to do the things He did, we do recognize that there’s a difference between Jesus in us, especially when it comes to authority.
I think especially of the healing that Peter and John did in Acts 3, where a man was healed through the declared authority of Jesus. Peter with great boldness, took the man by the hand and picked him up and he said, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. Peter was not purporting for a moment to act in his own authority, but in the name in the authority of Jesus Christ. I don’t think that there’s a formula for this, I believe somebody should be led by the Spirit. And sometimes the Holy Spirit would say, pray for a person from a distance. Sometimes the Holy Spirit would say, lay hands on the person and pray for them. Sometimes the Holy Spirit may say, be very bold, and do this pronounced the Person healed in the name of Jesus.
I think the greatest error is the idea that there is a one specific formula for this. And I’m always nervous when people try to create one specific formula. First of all, I don’t think the Holy Spirit works that way. Secondly, when we have a formula like that, how easy it is to start to trust in the formula instead of trusting in the living God. It isn’t about technique. It’s about the grace and the goodness and the power of God at work.
Now, the idea that healing is all in the past tense that comes from this idea of Isaiah 53. That’s quoted as you said, in Matthew 8, “by His stripes we were healed” or “we are healed.” I believe that the provision described in Matthew 8 and Isaiah 53 deals with spiritual healing, healing from our sickness of sin. But I think that the Matthew 8 reference makes it clear that it also refers to physical healing, the healing of our bodies, so I don’t have a problem with that.
God has definitely promised perfect heeling to every believer, but the ultimate fulfillment of that is in the resurrection. And that was paid for by what Jesus did on the cross. I can’t say that it’s God’s will to immediately heal every believer right now at this moment, and the only thing hindering perfect healing for any believer right now at this moment, is their lack of faith. The Bible doesn’t teach that, but we can say that God has promised perfect healing to every believer. The ultimate answer to that is resurrection. And God graciously and wonderfully, will give sort of previews of that ultimate coming resurrection power to us in this life right here right now, by wonderfully sustaining and healing people in their physical bodies right now.
Should I drive farther to attend a good church, or go to a church in my community that isn’t as good?
Do I go farther to attend an established reputable Bible teaching church or stay in the community and try to be a godly influence in a church? I don’t feel fully comfortable in due to their religious approach to Christianity.
And I would simply say this: I believe that believers should commit to the best church in their area of commitment that they will faithfully attend. So if you say, XYZ church, that is 50 miles from me – that’s my Church and I’m going to go there. But you can’t really commit to that congregation because of the distance and you irregularly attend, you’re not really connected with the people there. Then I would say, well, that’s not a good church, even though it might be a better church than ABC church that’s closer to you but can’t really make a commitment to that church.
Whatever the practicalities of your life are with travel and transportation and distance and time and all the rest of it. You should figure out what is the best church in your area that you can commit to and you should commit yourself to that church. Of course, you can’t look for perfect church, the perfect church doesn’t exist. You’re always going to have something that you disagree with at whatever church and commit to listen.
The truth is, most pastors have something that they disagree with in their own church! Almost every pastor says, “You know, I wish our church was more like this, or more like that.” And maybe they’re working to move in that direction. But listen, being dissatisfied in some aspect with your church is almost universal. You just have to say, “I know there’s this thing that I’m not quite satisfied with in my church. But in the big picture, this is the best church for me to attend in my family. I’m going to commit to that.”
Were there many non-Israelite prophets?
Were there a lot of non-Israelite prophets like Balaam, for example, who prophesied for pay?
I think that Balaam was an Israelite. He worked in connection with the king of Moab. But I think that he was an Israelite. In any regard, there were not many, very few non-Israelite prophets presented to us in the Scriptures. You could say that Melchizedek was a non-Israelite prophet. You could say that Jethro, the father in law of Moses was a non-Israelite prophet, even though they’re not specifically called prophets – but you could say they somewhat function as that. So, we can point out a few. But for the most part, the prophets that are presented to us in the Old Testament are Israelites. And again, I could be mistaken on this, but I think Balaam would be included as an Israelite prophet.
Could Jesus get sick?
This is maybe a silly question, but could Jesus get sick, like a flu?
That’s a great question – it’s just not a question that I have a good answer to. We know that in His humanity, Jesus subjected himself to human limitations. God in heaven never gets hungry, but Jesus in His humanity got hungry. God in heaven never gets thirsty, but Jesus in His humanity got thirsty. God in heaven never gets tired, but Jesus in His humanity grew tired and slept. We could go on and on with this.
The question is this: did the embrace of humanity by Jesus, His adding of a truly human nature to His deity, did that include the capability to become ill?
Maybe I could make an argument either way. I could say, “No, sickness is a result of the fall and Jesus was in never in any way subject to the ill effects of the fall” – I could make that argument. I could also say, “Yes – as a human, Jesus embraced our humanity and identified as our humanity. When Jesus was circumcised, He bled. So these are things that are just part of His humanity.”
It’s a great question – I just don’t really have a satisfactory answer to, and it is something that I’ve wondered about myself. I could go back and forth and kind of make an argument either way.
Is the gift of tongues for everyone?
Does the gift of tongues apply to all?
No. Paul, speaking of the gift of tongues and giving a rhetorical question (a question with the assumed answer is no). Paul said, “Do all prophesy? Do all speak in tongues? Do all have miraculous gifts?” And the idea is, there is no – not every believer speaks in tongues. There are some who say, well, not all believers speak in tongues because not all believers really want it or they default deficient in this, whatever, but I don’t think the Bible directly indicates that for us.
So if somebody feels they do not have the gift of tongues, there’s no reason for them to feel left out or that they are lacking because they don’t have it. If you just seek God for the gift and if God gives you the gift – praise the Lord. But know that there’s no firm Scriptural reason to believe that God intended that gift, like any other gift of the Holy Spirit to be universal.
How do you make disciples outside of church ministry?
How can you go and make disciples outside of a church ministry?
Through preaching the gospel and our Christian witness, we can see people come to a real trusting faith in Jesus Christ. That doesn’t always have to happen within church ministry. Once they have repented and put their faith on Jesus, then we can simply teach them what it means to live the life of a Christian and do it in a one-on-one or a small group setting. When a person is born again, when they put their faith in Jesus Christ and they are born again. They are regenerate, they are converted by God’s Spirit. They are a believer, but they need to become a learner. And that’s really what the word “disciple” means – it means someone who is a learner. And they need to learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
For example, what does it mean to pray? Let me show you what it means to pray. I’ll show you what the Bible says about prayer, and I’ll show you practically. Let’s pray together and I’ll show you how to pray. What does it mean to read your Bible? Well, let’s see what the Bible says about the Bible. And then let’s read the Bible together, and I’ll show you what it means to read the Bible. What does it mean to trust God? Well, let’s see what the Bible talks about trusting God, then let’s trust God together for something. That’s discipleship. It’s just walking through what it means to be a Christian and doing that with another person.
You don’t have to be a Christian for 20 years before you disciple somebody. Actually, there is a sense in which you just need to know more about the Christian life than that person that you’re talking with. Sometimes people use different books or guides. There are some great materials out there. But you can also just make it very simple. What does it mean for me to be a Christian? Let’s do that together with another person. I’ll show them what it means to live out the basics of the Christian life. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be done in a church setting. But it certainly can be of course.
Do we receive the Holy Spirit when we believe or when we are baptized?
What’s the difference between Ephesians 2:13, and Acts 2:38? Ephesians says that we’ve been sealed when we believe in Acts it says to repent and be baptized to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible tells us that a person receives the Holy Spirit when they believe. A person cannot believe in Jesus apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus made that very plain, that no one comes to Him unless the Father, through the work of the Holy Spirit, draws that person. So, the Holy Spirit must work in a person before they can ever come to Jesus. And when a person believes and is converted, that person receives the Holy Spirit. Paul says in another place, that if anyone does not have the Spirit of God, they do not belong to Jesus – to belong to Jesus is to have the Spirit of God.
However, the Bible also speaks of things that are just normal parts of the Christian life and Christian obedience, and baptism is part of that. That’s the reference in Acts 2:38. That simply says this: Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe that Peter was saying that the Holy Spirit is withheld from a person until they are baptized. But Peter makes clear is that baptism is a normal part of obedience for the Christian. In many cases, our thinking about baptism is really messed up. It’s messed up in a lot of areas. First of all, and with all due respect to the viewers or the listeners of this who believe in infant baptism, I believe that that’s an incorrect and even a harmful teaching. I think that the idea of infant baptism messes up our understanding about many things. But then also even with those who believe in what we call believers baptism, there’s some real faulty thinking along these lines is that people think that there’s no urgency or importance to baptism. They’re far too casual about baptism. They think something like this: “Oh, I’ll trust in Jesus, and if two or three or five or ten years later, I want to get baptized, whenever, it doesn’t really matter.”
No, it does matter. It’s part of Christian obedience. And I think that’s exactly how Peter presents it here in Acts 2. Not that baptism is a requirement to receive the Holy Spirit, but it is a natural part of Christian obedience, something that should be followed up on immediately, very soon when a person believes. That’s how I would express it. I like the spirit of Philip, when he spoke to the Ethiopian eunuch in the book of Acts, he said, there’s no reason for you not to be baptized right away when he had truly trusted in Jesus Christ.
Is being Spirit-filled the same as the fruit of the Spirit?
Could the term Spirit-filled mean to have the fruit or a gift of the Holy Spirit, as in Galatians, Isaiah, 1 Corinthians, and Romans 12?
That’s not exactly how I would phrase it. I think that the term Spirit-filled or to be filled with the Spirit talks about the work or the presence of the Holy Spirit, especially the presence in an ongoing and abundant sense.
But the fruit of the Spirit is more the effect of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life. So really, that’s what I think of when I think of the term Spirit-filled, it has more to do with the effect than with the presence. So, the two are connected, but they’re not really the same thing. One is the cause of the other. I bear the fruit of the Spirit, because my life is filled with the Holy Spirit and I’m walking in step with the Spirit. That’s how I would phrase it for the most clarity.
Is it a sin to get a tattoo?
Is getting a tattoo a sin, even a Christian one?
This is certainly a controversial issue, and believers have different opinions on this. I’ll give you my opinion on this. The Old Testament prohibition of a tattoo in the book of Leviticus, associates that prohibition and the tattoo with markings for the dead. And, by the best understanding that I’ve researched, is associated with Canaanite mourning and burial practices, where people would tattoo themselves in ritual customs for the dead. This really speaks of imitation of those Canaanite burial customs of tattooing for the dead. That is something that believers should not do!
So, I would just say that, that kind of tattoo I think Christians should not get. As for tattoos that have nothing to do with markings for the dead, or with Canaanite burial customs, I would leave that up to the individual Christian conscience. I do think that if you’re a young person, and you are under the authority of your parents (that is, living in your parents’ home supported by your parents), you should not get a tattoo if that would displease your parents. But once you are no longer under your parent’s authority or dependent upon their support, I believe you have the liberty in Jesus to do that or to not do it.
I also believe (and this may be controversial as well), that if you are married, you should not get a tattoo without the approval of your spouse. Because the Bible says that there is a sense in which the body of the husband belongs to the wife, and the body of the wife belongs to the husband. Of course, that idea can be taken in a twisted and wrong way. But there’s a sense in which there’s a mutual ownership or connection. Therefore, I don’t think you should get a tattoo if you’re married, if it would displease your husband or wife. Other than that, it’s open to the individual Christian conscience.
I know that there’s some people who disagree and they belief that the prohibition in the book of Leviticus is universal and applies to every kind of tattoo. I would respectfully disagree with that person, but I see the argument that they’re making. I understand also, that some people say that a tattoo is trying to be worldly, and we should not be worldly. Yet, what is strange about tattoos today is that everybody gets them. There’s nothing remarkable about a tattoo today. If you’re getting a tattoo to be different, you’re kind of being different – just like everybody else! So, people may have their own reasons to get a tattoo, but that’s between them and God.
Will the Jews have a different judgment?
Will Jews have a different judgment than all others?
Jewish people may have a different judgment in the sense that they have, or at least have had, access to more of God’s revelation than many other people. When people have more access to God’s revelation, they have a greater accountability. That’s one reason why I think that some Jewish people will have a stricter judgment – simply because they’ve had access to a greater revelation.
Why do some people say, “don’t judge”?
Why do people say don’t judge, but the Bible says to judge in a certain way?
People say “don’t judge,” because either deliberately or by accident, they don’t understand what the Bible says about judging. Famously, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: Judge not lest you be judged, for by the same measure, you judge others, judgment will be given unto you. That is not a prohibition of all judgment. It is a command to judge righteously, to judge fairly. That means first of all, don’t judge anyone by a standard that you are not willing to be judged by. That’s very important – don’t ever judge anyone by a standard that you would not like to be applied to yourself as well. Secondly, it is possible for people to be far too judgmental. They judge with an incomplete picture (this is commonly done). People are judged by one thing that they have said, or one thing that they have done, and that’s used to characterize everything about them.
There might be a place to do that, depending on what they’ve said or done. But often it’s done in a very unfair way. People are also often judged without any sense of context. What was the situation around what they’ve said or done? To take someone’s actions or words out of context and to judge them is to break what Jesus said about “not judging people lest we be judged.” All of it gets back to this: We should only judge people the way we ourselves would like to be judged. And that kind of judgment is correct invalid from a biblical perspective.
What about the harshness of God’s punishment in the Old Testament?
I am troubled by the harshness of God’s punishment in the Old Testament. For example, no promised land for Moses because of one sin. I also think of Achan’s sin and punishment, plus many other examples. Can you expound?
I would simply express it like this: we really should be more astounded by the frequent mercy of God, than being offended at His judgment. The judgments of God are never unfair; God will never give a person a judgment that they don’t deserve. If somebody gets judgment from God, they have deserved it. There’s no doubt about that.
However, God often graciously, withholds judgment. The problem is often we think that the withholding of judgment is what God is obligated to do all the time. If there comes the time that God says, “I’m going to stop showing my mercy in this particular situation, and here, I’m just going to give a view to My justice.” If God says that, it is not God being unfair – God is being entirely fair.
It’s easy for us to think that the God of the Old Testament is this angry mean God, and the God of the New Testament is a Loving God. What we’re missing when we take both of those ideas is that the God of the Old Testament is far more merciful and loving and forgiving than we often imagine. And, the God of the New Testament is far more judging than we usually want to accept.
Yes, there was Achan in the Old Testament, but there was Ananias Saphira it in the New Testament. Yes, Moses was not allowed to enter into the promised land – but Paul died in prison, beheaded without seeing much of the fruits of his labor (I’m not saying that God was punishing Paul when he died; just that Paul didn’t die in great triumph with everything around him seeming to be fulfilled). The point of it is, is that God is both merciful and just, and we see this expressed and explained in both the Old and the New Testaments.
One more thing: I find it interesting that people who strongly object to Gods right to judge in either the Old or the New Testament, they are in fact judging God. They’re saying, “God doesn’t have the right to judge humanity, but I have the right to judge Him.” We want to stay away from that thinking and it just makes us realize that the fear of the Lord is something for us to take seriously.
Should we refer to God as a “He”?
Should we not refer to God as a He?
This goes back to the lead question today: is God male or female? I think it’s entirely correct for us to refer to God as He, because that’s how God refers to Himself again and again, thousands of times in the Scriptures. It is entirely fine for us to refer to God as He – no problem with that. We just have to keep it in the back of our mind that God is, in fact, beyond male or female. Yet as I said before, God has predominantly, overwhelmingly, revealed to us from the Scriptures that He is to be referred to as He, so that’s fine to do.
Were there dinosaurs in Jesus’ day?
Did dinosaurs exist in Jesus’s day?
I can give you a pretty firm “no” to this question – dinosaurs did not exist in Jesus’s day. That’s only 2,000 years ago. I don’t think there’s many people arguing that dinosaurs existed 2,000 years ago, although there are a few people who believe that at least dinosaur-like prehistoric-type creatures still exist in some unknown jungle or place on the earth.
Are dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible?
Are dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible?
We don’t really know. Some people think that the reference to Leviathan or the reference to Rahab (as a creature not as the person in the book of Joshua), in the book of Psalms and in the book of Job. Some people think that those might refer to what we would call dinosaurs, but I don’t think we can positively say that. So, we don’t know that the Bible makes any specific reference to dinosaurs.
Did Peter and Paul anticipate the rapture?
If Peter knew that he would die like the Lord foretold. And if Paul knew that he would go to Rome at some point as the Lord told him, do you think that they were teaching an in-any-moment rapture?
We can try to make arguments from silence and say along these lines: The Bible teaches an any-moment rapture, therefore Peter and Paul believed in any moment rapture. Yet it doesn’t come immediately to mind any place where Peter made reference to the rapture of the church or an immediate catching away of God’s people.
Some people think the term “rapture” is a joke or ridiculous. But it just refers to the catching away of God’s people that’s described in 1 Thessalonians. If people want to mock the 1 Thessalonians passage – then go ahead and mock. But the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians, that the people God will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. If you want to mock the idea of that, well, I would simply answer that the Bible teaches it plainly. I don’t think that the term “rapture” is preferred, but it’s the it’s the just term most people understand to refer to the “catching away” that 1 Thessalonians describes.
I think Paul did teach the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I don’t know how fully developed the eschatology of the early church was, but they definitely believed that Jesus Christ was coming back, and that He was coming back soon, and that we should be ready for the return of Jesus Christ. If that’s referring to the imminent return of Jesus, then so be it.
Is the prohibition of worship in California something to obey or to resist?
Do you think that the prohibition of worshiping the Lord in California applies to our rights and obligations to obey God rather than humans mentioned in the book of Acts?
I think that churches should continue to meet, and that churches should continue to minister one to another. I do know that pastors are doing that in all different ways. I know some churches that are meeting without any changes – there’s no distancing, no masks, and they’re just meeting as if nothing is wrong.
I know some churches that are meeting outside, and it is convenient for them to do it. So, they’re meeting outside and they’re taking a few other precautions. I know some churches that are meeting predominantly online – the sermon is online, but much of their church gathers in house meetings (something like a watch party, so to speak) where they get together in house meetings on Sunday – there is the communion, the fellowship of the saints in that way.
So I believe it’s important for churches to meet; but how exactly they meet should be left up to the pastor and the leaders of that particular congregation. I’m not going to second guess a particular pastor or leader of a congregation. They can sense what God wants them to do, given their congregation, their community, their circumstances, which can be different from congregation to congregation and from community to community.
I do think that the state of California is overstepping its bounds. How that should be responded to, I think should be left to each individual congregation. I can’t give a blanket statement that would apply to every congregation, other than I do believe that the state is overstepping its bounds. At the same time, this is not of a nature that would demand that every person should respond to this in the same way.
What part of the Bible was written to the Gentiles, and what part to us?
Which part of the Bible was written to the Gentiles, and how do we incorporate the whole Bible to our lives if it’s not written to us?
There are some books of the Bible that were written predominantly to Gentiles, such as the more Gentile congregations that Paul ministered to, and maybe a letter such as Philemon or maybe Titus – but that’s just the immediate audience. We believe that the Bible is not only a human writing, from a human author to a human audience, and to a specific human audience. The Bible is also the Word of God. And in that sense, the Bible has something to say to all of humanity.
It is always important to understand the context. A promise to ancient Israel may not apply to us today. However, it’s still for us in some sense that we should know and understand – maybe just as it reveals to us something about the nature of God.
Still, I am very cautious – it should not be done – this dividing the Bible up into sections of, “this is for me, and this is not for me.” The entire Bible is for all of humanity. Of course, there are some aspects of understanding context, that would tell us that a specific aspect of promise or judgment isn’t directly focused against us. But it still reveals something about the nature and the understanding of God that is for us to receive and understand.