The Days of Judgment
The Days of Judgment
A question from Mary…
After saying some nice things about my commentary, Mary asks this question, based on Matthew 12:36-37:
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Mary asks, Can you clarify the “day of judgment” and how it might relate to our reward in 1 Corinthians 3?
Matthew 12:36-37 are the words of Jesus to the religious leaders of His time and place. Specifically, to the Pharisees mentioned in verse 24. These religious leaders saw Jesus do a remarkably powerful and compassionate work – Jesus freed a man who was demon possessed, and at least two of the effects of this possession was that the man was made mute and blind. Again, with great authority and great love, Jesus set this man free – and the reaction of the Pharisees present was to accuse Jesus of being in league with Satan.
In response, in verses 25-29 Jesus exposed the bad logic behind the accusation:
- That it made no sense for Satan to fight against Satan.
- That if the only way to cast out demons is by the power of Satan, then how to the exorcists among the Pharisees do their work?
- That these demonic deliverances actually show that Jesus has come to defeat the power of Satan.
Jesus then gave those religious leaders a solemn warning – the warning of the danger of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Their hardened rejection of him, evident in the depraved ability to see the good and powerful work of God and say, “this is the work of Satan,” meant that they were committing (or were in danger of committing) the sin of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This is the hardened, settled rejection of the Holy Spirit’s testimony regarding who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
Then, Jesus warned them of the coming judgment. In light of all that, it seems best to say that this judgment Jesus mentioned is the ultimate judgment, what we sometimes call the great white throne judgment, based on Revelation 20:11-15:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
This is the ultimate judgment, the division between heaven and hell. This is something that no one escapes, and the religious leaders Jesus spoke to in Matthew 12 were in grave danger of ultimate and eternal destruction. The words of these religious leaders were not small, insignificant things; their words revealed their hearts, and they would have to give account for those words (and the heart behind them) on that day of ultimate judgment. It was a good and compassionate thing for Jesus to give this warning, in hopes that some of them might listen.
Mary asked, how might this relate to our reward in 1 Corinthians 3?
Mary, 1 Corinthians 3 speaks of an entirely different judgment.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15:
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
 I have laid the foundation: When Paul founded the church in Corinth (Acts 18), he set the only foundation that can be laid – the person and work of Jesus Christ. Yet he knew that others would come after him and build on the foundation he set.
 So, let each one take heed how he builds on it. There is only one foundation for the church. If it isn’t founded on Jesus Christ, it isn’t a church at all. So one can’t build on any other foundation; but one can build unworthily on the one foundation.
 Each one’s work will become clear: God will test the building work of all His fellow workers, so each one’s work will become clear. Some build with precious things like  gold, silver, precious stones; others build with unworthy materials like  wood, hay, and straw.
 The fire will test each one’s work: When God tests our work, it will be revealed what kind of work it was. Just as fire will destroy wood, hay, and straw, but not gold, silver, and precious stones; so the work of some will be revealed as nothing on that Day.
Notice that the amount of the work isn’t going to be evaluated (though it does have some relevance). Paul says the work will be tested to see  what sort it is. If one did a lot of the wrong sort of work, it will be as if he did nothing. His work will be burned and will vanish in eternity. Moody wisely said that converts ought to be weighed as well as counted.
Paul also referred to this great testing in 2 Corinthians 5:10:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
When our work is tested before the Lord, we will be rewarded according to what remains.
It is a sobering thought: many, many people who believe they are serving God, but are doing it in an unworthy manner or with unworthy “materials” will come to find in eternity that they have, in reality, done nothing for the Lord. Some will be saved, but with a life that was wasted, and receive no crown to give to Jesus, for His glory (as in Revelation 4:10-11).  He himself will be saved, yet so as through the fire shows that some will be saved, but barely saved, and saved with everything gone.
 If anyone’s work: The fire does not purify the worker, it tests their workmanship. Roman Catholics use this passage to teach purgatory, the idea that when we die, we go to a place where we are purified by fire before we go to heaven. The idea of purgatory has nothing to do with this passage, and nothing to do with any other passage in the Bible.
This passage has first application to Christian leaders, because this is Paul’s topic in context, but the application extends to all servants of God.
All in all, the judgment described in 1 Corinthians 3 isn’t the same judgment Jesus referenced in Matthew 12.
- One is the great white throne judgment, the other is the “bema seat” judgment of the believer’s works.
- One is for heaven or hell, the other is for reward.
When praying for the salvation of others, is it important to name each individual?
When I’m praying, is it okay to ask for the salvation of many people at the same time, like my family, or is it more powerful if I mention the name of each person one by one?
I do think it’s more meaningful to pray name by name, person by person. But general prayers are not meaningless or insignificant. A few times in his letters, the Apostle Paul says that he “makes mention” of people in prayer. I think there’s a very valid place for prayer that simply makes mention of people, whether it makes mention of them individually or in a group, such as your family.
In my own prayer life, especially when my wife and I pray together, we’ll do both. Sometimes we’ll make mention of particular people in prayer, and other times we’ll pray in a very general sense. Now, I do think that it’s possible for prayers to get so general, that they are essentially meaningless. Honestly, I think that prayers like the following are basically meaningless: “Lord, save everybody in the world. Lord, save everybody in Africa. Lord, save everybody in my city.” Prayers like that are so general as to be essentially meaningless.
But you’re not talking about that. You’re talking about prayers like, “Lord, bring salvation to everyone in my family.” Now, I don’t think that’s a bad prayer at all. That kind of prayer is better than no prayer, to be certain. But I do think that there is somewhat more heart intensity, interest, and focus in prayer that mentions people one by one.
So, I would not call the general prayer for your family bad in any way at all, because I would put it under that category that the apostle Paul did, about making mention in prayer. But I would say that it is even more effective to pray more specifically and pointedly along the way.
Are some believers more anointed with the Spirit than others?
Do you believe that some believers are more anointed than others? Can you explain why some believers evidently have a more Spirit-filled life than others?
This is an excellent question. It’s something that we sometimes may feel a little hesitant to discuss. First, I do want to stress that in a general sense, every believer who is disciple of Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we speak without a lot of accuracy. We talk as if some believers have the Holy Spirit while some believers don’t. Listen, the Bible tells us that if anyone does not have the Spirit of God, he does not belong to God (Romans 8:9). Every believer has the Holy Spirit.
Yet, the Bible also talks about the concept of being able to quench the Spirit or hinder the work of the Spirit, and there’s exhortation to be filled with the Spirit. These things indicate that perhaps the operation of the Holy Spirit is not equal in everybody’s life. Perhaps there are some people who are just more in sync with the Holy Spirit.
Now, your question is, to what do we attribute this? I think in some sense it can be attributed to just a greater desire, a greater willingness. There’s a whole scale of humanity. There’s a whole scale of engagement that people have with the things of God. There are some people who are definitely believers, but they don’t have a lot of interest in going deeper or further in their Christian life. It’s good that they’re believers; we’re not saying that it’s bad in any way. But they just have as much engagement with the work of God and the work of the Holy Spirit as they care to have. And honestly, it may not be that much.
There are other people who seem to have a great passion and desire to follow after the things of God. Basically, they seek after God more, they pray more, they fast more, they are more intent in seeking after God. There is a principle where God says, “If you seek Me, you will find Me; if you draw near to Me, I will draw near to you” (see Jeremiah 29:15; James 4:8). I think this is an undeniable phenomenon.
Now, there is an inherent danger in that phenomenon. It is the great danger of having two tiers of Christianity, separating the really spiritual people from the people who are less spiritual. I think that that’s a complete misreading not only of the work of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, but also of the understanding of the Body of Christ. God’s work and the furtherance of His Kingdom needs people of all sorts. There are some people who seem to be inherently more given to an interest in spiritual things. There are other people who are inherently less given toward an interest in spiritual things; they’re more practical people.
Let me tell you, the kingdom of God needs people who are good engineers, people who are good with mechanics, people who are good with the very practical things. So, we dare not make sort of a class system or a tier system, where you have an upper tier and a lower tier. No. God uses everybody collectively in the work of His kingdom. At the same time, we do need to acknowledge the reality that’s presented to us, both biblically and also through our personal experience, that some people seek after spiritual things in a greater way.
In one sense, all believers are anointed. 1 John 2:20 declares, “You have an anointing from God,” speaking to the people of God in general. That’s undeniable. In another aspect, there are some people who seem to have a greater experience of the Holy Spirit, and in part we can attribute this to just a greater seeking and a greater pursuit after spiritual things. And I’ll give you one other aspect to it. Sometimes the Holy Spirit just pours Himself out upon very unlikely people. There’s no explanation for this. It’s part of the sovereignty of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, we need to be very careful to never say that just because the Holy Spirit uses somebody in a remarkable way that that person is especially holy, or especially awesome, or especially godly. Maybe yes, but maybe no. Again, the Holy Spirit has a way of simply using people in a unique and powerful way, sometimes completely detached from that individual’s godliness.
To summarize, every disciple of Jesus who is born again by God’s Spirit has the Holy Spirit. Secondly, some people seem to seek the things of the Spirit more than others, and they are thus rewarded. But thirdly, the Holy Spirit can sometimes just do unusual things, sovereign things that we can’t quite explain.
Which happens first: the war of Gog and Magog or the battle of Armageddon?
A timeline question: What happens first the Gog and Magog war, or the Armageddon war?
That’s a difficult question. I don’t think there is a conclusive biblical answer to it. Personally, I’m inclined to believe that the Gog and Magog war, mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39, happens before the battle of Armageddon. However, the book of Revelation mentions a definite gathering of Gog at the end of all things, after the battle of Armageddon. I think those are distinct things. But I will have to admit that the Bible isn’t as clear on those things as would satisfy all of our curiosity.
So, I would be inclined to think that the Gog and Magog battle that’s described in Ezekiel 38-39 comes before the battle of Armageddon, but I don’t think it’s conclusive. I would recommend to you that you refer to my written commentary for Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 on my website, enduringword.com. Spend some time looking at that. I think that it would be a blessing for you and give you some insights, at least to my perspectives, on that very interesting section where it talks about Gog and Magog. I know that I explain it in some depth in my commentary.
Enduring Word App and Website
I have a written commentary on the entire Bible, which you can find at enduringword.com. You can also find it at blueletterbible.org. And you can find it on our Enduring Word App. Let me tell you, I am absolutely thrilled with the updates we’ve been able to make to our App. Our App development team is doing such an amazing job. They are constantly improving it. It’s so exciting to see what’s happening with our App. When you combine both iOS and Android users, I believe we have something like half a million downloads. Plus, it’s completely free! Our website is completely free as well. We don’t have any paid ads on the website; we want it to be a great user experience.
What does it mean to pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18)?
Ephesians 6:18 – Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
To pray in the Spirit simply means to pray by the empowering, and the wisdom, and the help of the Holy Spirit. I think some people misunderstand that and would connect it only with the idea of praying with the gift of tongues. The gift of tongues is more completely described in 1 Corinthians 12 and especially 1 Corinthians 14, as it might relate to a public meeting. I would say that praying with the gift of tongues includes praying in the Spirit, but the idea of praying in the Spirit goes much beyond that.
Any time we pray, being truly guided by the Holy Spirit, with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we can say that we are genuinely praying in the Spirit. I think we can sometimes lose sight of the fact that when we pray to God, it’s not just a matter of our prayer going up to God. But God wants to help us as we pray. And that’s one of the works of the Holy Spirit: to help the believer as he or she prays and brings the supplication to the Lord.
So really, that’s what we’re talking about when we discuss this idea of praying in the Spirit. It would include the idea of praying with the gift of tongues, but it is by no means limited to that. You can pray genuinely in the Spirit, inspired by the Spirit, guided by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, with wisdom and guidance from Holy Spirit. You can pray in the Spirit and pray very effectively, without ever necessarily praying in tongues.
Did Jesus’ ministry fulfill the prophecy in Jeremiah 16:16?
Jeremiah 16:16-17 – “Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the LORD, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.
That’s a great question. Here are some notes about it from my commentary. Since the context of Jeremiah 16 is the judgment of God, these fishermen being described here are not fishers of men, in the sense of those out seeking to make disciples of Jesus Christ. These are fishers of men in a negative sense. God would send metaphorical fishermen and metaphorical hunters upon His rebellious people to capture them for the promised judgment and exile. The point of it is simply this: they could not hide from the God whose eyes were on all their ways.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God gave this very poetic and powerful description. He told the people of Israel that there was no way they would escape the judgment that God was going to bring on them. This theme is present through a lot of the book of Jeremiah.
A major theme of the book of Jeremiah is telling the people of the kingdom of Judah, in the days of Jeremiah, that the judgment they would face was inescapable. Now, there are times when God announced His judgment, and then relented from His judgment because people repented. We find a great example of that in the book of Jonah, with the response of the people of the city of Nineveh. Judgment eventually came to Nineveh, but not in the days of Jonah. They put off the judgment of God by many years because of their repentance.
The poetic description in Jeremiah 16 depicts this phenomenon of God announcing inevitable judgment. These metaphorical fishers and hunters are people who will hunt out the people of the kingdom of Judah for the judgment that is sure to come upon them.
When did David Guzik begin writing his commentary?
What year did you begin writing your Bible Commentary? What year did you finish? Do you continually update it presently?
Thank you for asking those questions. I love talking about my Bible Commentary, just like anybody loves talking about their life’s work. If somebody’s life’s work was to build a house, they’d love talking about the house. If somebody’s life work was to have a medical practice, they’d love talking about their medical practice.
Well, my life’s work is to write and present and distribute and provide a platform in any way that I can to this commentary that I have written on the entire Bible. I can’t give you an exact date, but the work that is now presented as my commentary of the Bible began in probably about 1985. In the year 1985, I was one of the pastors of a relatively small church in Oxnard, Ventura County, California. Together with my good friend to this day, Pastor Lance Ralston, we put together two home Bible studies in August or September of 1982 – 40 years ago now – and we started Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.
Somewhere around 1985, we had decided through prayer and seeking the Lord that I would begin teaching a mid-week Bible study through the book of Revelation. At that time, I was attending junior college or university. For some reason, because of my studies, I decided that I would start to format my teaching notes in a particular way. In community college, I had picked up this way of outlining, with headings and Roman numerals and so on, and it just seemed to make sense to me. So, I decided to apply that method of outlining to my teaching notes when preparing to teach. Really, that was the beginning of what appears today as my Bible Commentary.
I never set out to write Bible Commentary. I just found out that what I prepared for myself as teaching notes was helpful for other people as Bible Commentary. It was somewhere around 1985 that I started preparing my teaching notes for verse-by-verse teaching through books of the Bible, in this format that you see in the commentary now. So I would say that was the beginning of my Bible Commentary.
Now, here we are more than 35 years later. To my recollection, I would say that I finished my work of writing the Bible Commentary about four years ago. I need to go back and mark that date very carefully, because it was sort of an epic date for me. The last book of the Bible that I prepared teaching notes for was Proverbs. And to my recollection, I finished the book of Proverbs sometime in 2018.
So basically, it was well more than 30 years of work in that Bible Commentary, and it’s undergoing constant revision and, hopefully, improvement. We receive grammatical and proofreading corrections all the time for the work we do. We’re always trying to improve it that way. But I’m also going back through the oldest content and revising it, and whenever I finish a new edition of a book of the commentary, we update it on our platforms.
Right now, I’m working through the book of Numbers. It kind of kills me they don’t have as much time to give to that project as I would like, at least in the last couple of months. But I wish I had more time to give it because I love doing that work. So right now, I’ve revised up to about chapter 23 in the book of Numbers. It’s tremendously edifying and a great blessing to me to do that. When I’m done with the book of Numbers, we’ll put that updated content on the website and out on our various platforms.
So, I started writing my Bible commentary, at least in its present format, somewhere around 1985, and I finished it somewhere around 2018. And yes, I am constantly revising it and updating it, both with small corrections like a mistake here and there, a misspelled word, a wrong reference, and things like that, but also with substantial revisions, to the best of my abilities, as I can give it time.
What is a modern equivalent to sackcloth and ashes?
That’s a very good question. I don’t know if I have an immediate answer to that. Sackcloth and ashes in the ancient world and in the biblical world were an emblem of mourning. It’s something that you wore when you were in mourning over somebody’s death. It was a way to afflict yourself.
Sackcloth is a rough kind of fabric to wear. Nobody looks forward to wearing sackcloth on their skin, because it’s itchy, and it doesn’t feel good. It’s not like a nice cotton or velvet; it’s uncomfortable. Ashes just kind of have the significance of being dirty. And know if you ever mess around with an ash pit. We have a fire pit in our own back garden, and we love to sit around and make fires. But those ashes that come from the ash pit are pretty messy. This was a way to afflict oneself, to demonstrate your sorrow, grief, and mourning.
In our modern world, we really don’t have universal emblems of mourning. Sometimes people will wear black, but that’s kind of old-fashioned. In some cultures, people would wear a black armband, and sometimes for a long time. In certain cultures, people would put a black band over a picture of the deceased in their home and display it for a set period of time. There are different customs that people would practice in the modern day, but they’re by no means universal.
So, I don’t think we have an equivalent to sackcloth and ashes like people did in biblical times. And I don’t know if this is inherent in the question, but I don’t know if we’re the better for it. I think maybe we would be healthier as a society, first of all, if we were more straightforward in the way that we deal with death. Our main way of dealing with death in our modern world is to avoid the idea altogether. But I think it’s good for us to be coming back to the fact, again and again, that we are going to die. And we’re going to have to face our Maker. People just want to forget about that today. But it’s good for us to be reminded of our own mortality. And it’s also a valid way to honor the dead.
So those were things that were expressed in sackcloth and ashes in the biblical world. I don’t know that we have a universal equivalent to it today. But certainly, we have some things that mark it, such as a memorial service, or an obituary in the paper. But those aren’t ways that people necessarily afflict themselves. That was part of the idea of sackcloth and ashes. It was a way to demonstrate your sorrow over the dead by afflicting oneself.
How is my relationship with God supposed to feel? What if I’m angry at God?
What is my relationship with God supposed to feel like? I’ve been angry at God. Does this damn me?
What a wonderful question. Let me deal with the first part of your question. What is your relationship with God supposed to feel like? Well, let me just ask you: What is your relationship with any other person supposed to feel like? Now, I’m not implying that your relationship with God should be just as you might have with any other person. But certainly, in some way, it’s going to be similar.
What is your relationship with any other person “supposed to” feel like? The answer is it feels different things in different situations. Sometimes our relationships are so happy and wonderful and beautiful and powerful. Sometimes our relationships are tough, and we feel like we’re not getting along. Sometimes we feel anger towards the person we’re in relationship with. Sometimes we can be disappointed with the person we’re in relationship with. Sometimes we can just be out of our minds in love and happy with somebody that we’re in relationship with. All of these things can be reflected in our relationship with God.
Now, it goes without saying, but I need to say it anyway. There is a huge difference in our relationship with God. God is holy and perfect. Any other human relationship that we have with any other person is not marked by that. I don’t want to say this in any way that might sound judgmental or condemning, but I just need to lay it out there. Whenever there’s a problem in our relationship with God, God is not at fault. Now sometimes we feel like that. Sometimes we may even put blame upon God, but please understand this. God cannot sin. He’s never been bad to us. It may feel like it and we may experience it, but it’s not true.
So, there’s no one way that our relationship with God is supposed to feel. I feel a little bit suspicious of people who act as if their relationship with God is always beauty and power and greatness, and they never seem to have any difficulties in their relationship with God. It makes me wonder if there’s any true depth in their relationship. That’s one aspect.
You also say that you’ve been angry at God, so does this damn you? No, it does not. But you need to be careful with what you do with your anger with God. Listen, if you’re angry with God, let me tell you what you need to do. You need to tell Him so. Now, you need to do it with the recognition that you’re wrong, and God is right. But if you’re angry with God, be honest with Him about it.
You can bring the real you to the real Jesus. You don’t have to be fake. You don’t have to be phony with God. If you feel angry with God, tell Him so. Just don’t think that you’re actually justified in your anger. Because you’re not; God is perfect. And if there’s a dispute between God and me, I’m wrong and God’s right. But it’s good, and proper, and healthy, for us to be open and honest in our relationship with God, and simply to tell Him and to confess it to Him.
I think it’s completely fine and appropriate for you to pray something like this. “God, I feel angry with You right now. I know it’s not right. I know that the problem isn’t with You. It’s with me. But I can’t deny how I feel right now. I feel angry. And I bring these feelings to You, and I ask You to help me deal with them. I lay them down before Your throne. God, help me work through this. I know you’re a righteous God. But I can’t deny that I feel angry with You because of a, b, and c,” and you explain why to God. You can do that. You can be honest before God, and it’s a very good thing to do.
Can you explain the avenging of martyrs in Revelation 6:9-11?
Can you further explain Revelation 6:9-11, about avenging the death of the martyrs and the meaning of “until the number of their fellow servants who would be killed was completed”?
Revelation 6:9-11 – When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
I believe that this passage from Revelation 6 speaks in broad terms of calamity that will come upon the world in a specific period of time that precedes the glorious return of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we call that the last seven years, or the Great Tribulation. Whatever you want to call it, there’s a definite period of time described in the Bible which precedes the glorious return of Jesus Christ. That glorious return is described in Revelation 19.
What’s described here in Revelation 6 is part of that. It describes a severe persecution, that those who come to faith in Jesus Christ during that great period will have to endure. And what God is simply saying here is that there is, in the mind and in the wisdom of God, a specific number of those martyrs who will be fulfilled, and God will not pour out His answer against those persecutors until that number of specific martyrs has been fulfilled. It’s a way of demonstrating the sovereignty of God over all these things. God will not respond to those persecutors until the specific number of people whom He has allowed to be persecuted unto death are martyred and sent unto glory, the glory of a glorious martyrdom before God in the name of Jesus Christ. It’s speaking of the number of those martyrs being fulfilled.
Should people in ministry use cuss words? How can I encourage young people to keep their words pure?
What Scripture or guidance should I share with youth who use cuss words but are active in ministry? I don’t want to come off as judgmental, but I want to open their eyes to this issue.
Maybe you and I come from a same generation. I’m one of those who think that when the Bible says that we should allow no impure communication to come out of our mouth, especially for those of us who feel called to the ministry, we should take that to heart, and should let no impure communication come out of our mouth.
There are Scriptures that speak very much about the importance of the words we say, as demonstrations of our righteousness and our walk with God. I think it is particularly the responsibility of those who want to represent Jesus Christ and serve the body of Christ by fulfilling a call to ministry, that they should particularly say, “I’m not going to use profanity, I’m not going to swear, I’m going to choose better words to express myself.”
I know that with the younger generation, they seem much less concerned about this. But honestly, I think that they should be concerned. I think it’s something that God is concerned with. Now, is it possible to make too much of the issue? Yes. We shouldn’t act as if a believer or a pastor is going to lose all his reward and be cast out of the kingdom of God for saying swear words or using profanity. I don’t want to exaggerate it. But neither do I want to minimize it.
I just wonder why those who are serving Lord don’t aspire to do better, to speak better, and to show themselves – dare I say it? – intelligent. It’s just so lazy to use all the profanity that people use today. How lazy it is to speak that way. And I don’t think it’s honoring to the Lord.
So, you asked me what you can say. I would just communicate that part to them. But at the same time, we’ve got to acknowledge this. There is such a thing as a well-chosen Spirit inspired word of admonishment, word of correction, word of rebuke. Those things are very real. However, there’s also such a thing as just nagging. I don’t want to be a nag. I might say something to somebody, and they understand how I feel about it. If they don’t receive it, it’s between them and the Lord. So, I don’t want to nag. But I don’t want to close myself off from speaking a Spirit-inspired and appropriate word in a particular setting to somebody.
I think there’s a place for this for normal everyday believers, but especially for anybody who feels called to ministry as a pastor and elder serving the Lord. As the Bible says, we should be careful to let no impure communication come out of our mouth (see Ephesians 4:29).
Can you give advice on how to read the Old Testament?
Can you please give advice on how to read the Old Testament without feeling like you’re reading a history book?
Well, here’s the deal. Sometimes when you read this Old Testament you are reading a history book. But here’s the difference. It’s a history book that doesn’t just tell you history, it tells you His Story. Of course, if you put “His Story” together, it says history. That’s a little word game we use to explain it sometimes.
The Old Testament tells the story of what God does, but it tells it in His story. It’s extremely important and helpful to constantly ask yourself, as you read through the historical patches of the Old Testament, “What is God’s story in the midst of this? What is God doing in this? I see that man did this and that and all the other things. And that’s the story of history, yes. But what I’m really concerned with is, what did God do?” What does that say about the nature of God, the promise of God in the Messiah Jesus Christ, and the way that God wants to relate to His people, right here and right now? So don’t just look for the history. Look beyond the story to find His story.
I was a history major in university. I love the study of history. Right now, I’m teaching an online video history class for a Bible school and school of missions in Africa. And I’m very excited to do it. We’re going to be releasing some of those videos on my YouTube channel. Some people will be interested, and some people won’t, but we’ll release them, nevertheless.
I’m fascinated by history. But even more importantly, I’m fascinated to see God’s hand at work in and through history.